Thursday, April 30, 2009

US Rep. Ron Paul, M.D. Agrees With Al on Swine Flu Hysteria

Take a deep breath - without a mask - and listen to Ron Paul put this into perspective. Then go back and read our post from Tuesday on this topic.

Obama on FOCA at press conference last night

Is is just me or did he not at all answer the question? While I am happy that he seems utterly unwilling to push in any way for FOCA to be placed on his desk, what does it say about that man that he told a Planned Parenthood gathering during the campaign "Well, the first thing I'd do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act"?

"All of Humanity Under Threat"

The World Health Organization has warned that "all of humanity is under threat" from a potential swine flu pandemic and called for "global solidarity" to combat the virus. Let's review: 8 dead in Mexico. 1 dead in U.S. (from Mexico). The annual death toll attributable to influenza and its complications averages 20,000 annually in the United States alone. The latest scare comes from the London Telegraph. Meanwhile Joe Biden says to stay off of planes and subways. To which NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg says: I'm riding the subway to prove it's no problem.

Tony Blair Lectures Pope

A key policy advisor has left his job at the foundation established by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, amid reports of a disagreement about Blair's public criticism of the Catholic Church. Blair, who became a Catholic after leaving office, has told homosexual activists that he thinks the Church needs to change its teachings on matters of sexuality. His adviser, William Chapman, reportedly found that Blair's public remarks made it difficult if not impossible to enlist support from senior Church officials.

More from the UK Telegraph here.

Fr. Jenkins in Tough Spot / Decided No Laetare This Year

Judge John T. Noonan Jr., the 1984 recipient of the Laetare Medal, has accepted an invitation to deliver an address in the spirit of the award at Notre Dame’s 164th University Commencement Ceremony on May 17. His speech will be in lieu of awarding the medal this year.
Read the text of the announcement from Notre Dame here.
It appears that the Laetare Medal has been given continuously since 1883. This will be the first year since its inception that there will not be a recipient although I don't know if it has ever been refused before.
Also, it seems obvious that Fr. Jenkins was unable to find anyone to either receive the medal or would appear as a "balance" to President Obama after he vowed immediately after Glendon declined that Notre Dame would bestow the medal on someone else.
I interviewed Noonan back in 1998 on a book he wrote on religious liberty and liked him. Before Roe v. Wade he was considered a pro-life thinker and I would be interested in knowing more about the history of his convictions if anyone can feed me a few tips.

Today on Kresta - April 30, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Apr. 30

3:00 – The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue and Vice for Box Office Success
How is a successful film created? Stan Williams argues that The Moral Premise is the single fundamental element that is found in all successful movies. His book explains how the Moral Premise creates great motion pictures that resonate with large audiences. He joins us in studio to discuss it.

3:40 – Kresta Comments

4:00 – MI Congressman Thaddeus McCotter Condemns “Cruel, Forced Bankruptcy” of Chrysler
Chrysler will file for bankruptcy after talks with a small group of creditors crumbled just a day before a government deadline for the automaker to come up with a restructuring plan, President Barack Obama said today. The Obama administration said it had hoped to stave off bankruptcy for the nation's third largest automaker, but it became clear that a holdout group wouldn't budge on proposals to reduce Chrysler's $6.9 billion in secured debt. Clearing those debts was a needed step for Chrysler to restructure. We talk to US Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of MI to look at what this means and what the future holds for Chrysler.

4:20 – Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion
We live in a cynical age. Cynicism is in the air we breathe; it is a cultural norm; it is the default setting and lens through which many of us view the world. Why is cynicism so pervasive? What does it promise? How does it work? And what does it deliver? Dick Keyes probes the intellectual and cultural underpinnings of cynicism in its modern and postmodern manifestations. In analyzing our cynicism toward individuals, institutions and God, he gives cynicism the scrutiny it deserves, arguing for its merits as a tool for discernment while pointing out its limitations.

5:00 – 3,562 Miles – Across America – 12 States - Souly Walking
Jon Leonetti and Jesse Weiler believe there is no greater life to be lived than a life in God. Where we no longer set our gaze on the world, but rather embrace the love and peace that our God is continually offering us. A life immersed in the love of God is important. So important that they have decided to walk over 3,500 miles, Ocean to Ocean, across America, stopping to speak at church’s, school’s and youth gatherings a long the way. They are walking to raise awareness in the hearts of young people all across America on the importance of living this life in Christ. They are asking their generation to live life in a new way. A life no longer focused on the empty promises of this MTV generation, but a life now that is focused on the promise of fulfillment, immersing ourselves in the Love of God. We catch up with them in Denver, CO.

5:20 – Month of Mary Begins Tomorrow / Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing
With the Month of Mary beginning tomorrow, we turn our attention to the Blessed Mother and the power of the rosary. Fr. Dwight Longenecker is here to help us discover the parallels between our lives and the Mysteries of the Rosary while experiencing the healing graces of Our Lady. Where our lives are characterized by trauma, stress, pain, or sadness, this ancient contemplative prayer can bring acceptance, understanding, and joy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Demographics and Depression

"Three generations of economists immersed themselves in study of the Great Depression, determined to prevent a recurrence of the awful events of the 1930s. And as our current financial crisis began to unfold in 2008, policymakers did everything that those economists prescribed.

"Following John Maynard Keynes, President Bush and President Obama each offered a fiscal stimulus. The Federal Reserve maintained confidence in the financial system, increased the money supply, and lowered interest rates. The major industrial nations worked together, rather than at cross purposes as they had in the early 1930s.

"In other words, the government tried to do everything right, but everything continues to go wrong. We labored hard and traveled long to avoid a new depression, but one seems to have found us, nonetheless."
The head of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, is one of the world's foremost economic historians of the Great Depression. But is this a crisis outside the lesson book of the Great Depression?
Champions of free markets and fiscal conservatives have been reduced to sitting on the anxious bench agonizing about their marginalization. Started under the Bush administration the panic is in full throttle with Conservative thinkers increasingly recognizing that the movement which claims the smile of Ronald Reagan now looks as grim as it did under the scowl of Barry Goldwater. Do Conservatives have anything new to offer than warmed over platitudes. David P. Goldman, associate editor of First Things wades into some deep, dark waters.

Swine WHO?

To follow up on the posting from yesterday on the media's attempt to keep us all in a constant mode of fear and hysteria - most recently on the supposed swine flu pandemic - we now hear from the World Health Organization. Those numbers of 150 dead in Mexico you keep hearing about. Not so much. WHO says the actual number is 7. That's right - 7. But be sure to keep tuned to your favorite 24-hour news network, because you may be number 8!

Racist Recession?

Unemployment among blacks is entering Depression era numbers. The latest seasonally adjusted U.S. Bureau of Labor unemployment statistics reveal that blacks have an unemployment rate of 13.3 percent compared to 7.9 percent for whites. For black men over 19 years of age it's even worse. Who is responsible?

Anthony Bradley writing for Acton Institute has some worthy thoughts on a vexing and what many fear is an intractable problem.

Today on Kresta - April 29, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Apr. 29

3:00 – It Happened in Italy: Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust
We hear one woman's discovery---and the incredible, unexpected journey it took her on---of how her grandparent's small village of Campagna, Italy, helped save Jews during the Holocaust. Elizabeth Bettina discovered, much to her surprise, that her grandparent's small village, nestled in the heart of southern Italy, housed an internment camp for Jews during the Holocaust, and that it was far from the only one. We follow her discovery of survivors and their stories of gratitude to Italy and its people. And we explore the little known details of how members of the Catholic Church assisted and helped shelter Jews in Italy during World War II.

3:40 – April 29, 1992 – Rodney King Verdict / Riots
“All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” wedded the American soul to the concept that freedom comes from our humanity, not from the government. But American governments legally suspended the free will of blacks for 150 years, and then denied blacks equal protection of the law for another 150 years. How did this happen in America? How were the Constitution and laws of the land twisted so as to institutionalize racism? And how did it or will it end? Judge Andrew Napolitano takes a no-holds-barred look at the role of the government in the denial of freedoms based on race.

4:00 – Baptized By The Pope
Heidi Sierras
had been preparing for it for more than a year, and two weeks ago it happened: The 29-year- old CA woman was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome's St. Peter's Basilica, followed by confirmation and her first Eucharist as a new member of the Catholic Church. "I feel complete now," she said after the service. "I felt empty before, but now I am complete." The pope baptizes as many as seven people a year, representing the seven continents of the world. Sierras represented North and South America. She shares her experience.

4:20 – The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita
Dr. Rudolph Alvarado's compelling and in-depth biography captures the story of Joe Hernandez, a Catholic Mexican-American, who despite his ethnic background became thoroughbred horse racing's greatest race caller at a time when most Mexicans were being repatriated due to America's Great Depression. This biography uncovers the extent to which Hernandez went to fit into this Anglo-American dominated world, and reveals that Hernandez's impact on the sport of thoroughbred horse racing went far beyond that of being a race caller. The book comes with a CD of Hernandez's most famous race calls, some of which we will play for you as we talk with Rudy.

5:00 – Direct to my Desk

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today on Kresta - April 28, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Apr. 28

3:00 – TBA

3:20 – Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) Jumping the Aisle

Veteran Rep. Sen. Arlen Specter disclosed plans today to switch parties, a move intended to boost his chances of winning re-election next year. "I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," Specter said in a statement posted on a Web site devoted to Pennsylvania politics and confirmed by his office. With Specter, 79 and in his fifth term, Democrats would have 59 Senate seats. Al Franken could make it 60. PA Political Scientist Paul Kengor is here for the analysis.

Watch live video from Kresta In The Afternoon's channel on
3:40 – Mary Ann Glendon Refuses ND Honor / Notre Dame Alumni Confirm $8.2 Million In Withheld Donations
Former Ambassador to the Vatican and Harvard prof Mary Ann Glendon has declined Notre Dame's prestigious Laetare Medal and will not stand on the same platform with President Obama during the Notre Dame commencement exercise. Fearing that her actions might be misunderstood or interpreted maliciously she publicly released her rejection letter to Fr. Jenkins yesterday. Meanwhile, organizers of, an online effort urging alumni and donors to the University of Notre Dame to withhold donations, announced yesterday that they have personally confirmed over $8.2 million in withheld donations as a part of their national outreach effort. Several of the largest gifts include estate bequests to the University that have been removed from donors’ wills. We talk with Greer Hannan, one of the student leaders of NDResponse, and David DiFranco of

4:00 – Kresta Comments

4:20 – Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity
It's not that the dignified and rarefied old Episcopal Church quit believing in God. It's that the God you increasingly hear spoken of in Episcopal circles is infinitely tolerant and given to sudden changes of mind--not quite the divinity you thought you were reading about in the scriptures. William Murchison is here to tell the story of the Episcopal Church's mad dash to catch up with a secular culture fond of self-expression and blissfully relaxed as to norms and truths. An Episcopal layman, Murchison details how leaders of his church, starting in the late 1960s, looked over the culture of liberation, liked what they saw, and went skipping along with the shifting cultural mood--especially when the culture demanded that the church account for its sins of "heterosexism" and "racism." Episcopalians have blended so deeply into the cultural woodwork that it's hard sometimes to remember that it all began as a divine calling to the normative and the eternal.

5:00 – Testimony

Fr. Ed Fride, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Ann Arbor, MI, has been a Congregationalist, atheist, Charismatic Christian, and more before finding the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church. He is with us to discuss his journey from disbelief, to yearning for truth, to the Catholic Priesthood.

Nuns Ruin Women's Sex Lives

Cosmopolitan Magazine's new Executive Editor seems to have little regard for a civil tone - at least when it comes to Catholics. Nicole Beland was asked by a reader in her final "Men's Health" column, "My sexually repressed wife can't even say 'sex' without whispering. How can I help her open up?"

To which Beland replied, "It's not easy to undo damage caused by years of exposure to Catholic-school nuns or overly conservative parents. She may need therapy to accept that sex can be a wholesome and glorious thing . . . Every positive thing you say about sex will undo some of the negativity she's been brainwashed to feel her whole life."

She subsequently got into a war of words with our friend Bill Donohue at the Catholic League. Maybe Ms. Beland needs to read the myriad of studies available that show greater sexual satisfaction in marriages that adhere to Catholic Moral Teaching on matters of sexuality.

"Premarital sexual involvement is also a predictor of lower marital satisfaction (Kelly & Conley, 1998 Larson, 2000; Popenoe & Whitehead, 1999; Waite & Gallagher, 2001). In men, premarital sex even predicts later extramarital sex (O'Connor, 2001). Couples who did not engage in sexual activity before marriage report greater sexual fulfillment after marriage (LaHaye & LaHaye, 1994; Waite & Gallagher, 2000)."

Swine Flu and Sex: A State of Perpetual Arousal

After finishing Monday's broadcast I went home to a 7 year old boy bursting with T-Ball success and a plate of exceptional chicken cacciatore and the good company of my wife. Within minutes panic broke out when Fox News' Shepherd Smith entered the room.

Immediately he warned of the coming Swine Flu epidemic. Chaos had seized Mexico.
Being the parochial thinker that I am, my attention only settled down when he shifted to the United States. Then I sat riveted, spaghetti hanging out of my shocked mouth. My seven year old pleading precociously for a vaccine. The Department of Homeland Security assured us that the President was following the threat and had already prepared for a "pandemic". [Aren't there other 'threats' they should be preparing for?].
Nearly forty Americans had reported Swine flu like symptoms and the "most brilliant and brightest" medical minds were solving the problem. Everyone was commanded to wash their hands, don't touch their eyes or mouth, avoid travel, stay away from doctors or hospitals where many diseases dwell.

Don't worry, Smith soothed us, we've faced this before. Why back in the 1930s 1 whole person died and a national panic spread across the land. Later we invented a vaccine. Now we have almost rid the land of the scavenger. Since the thirties a full 3 people have died. As he raved on I became aware that this story wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Only one person had entered the hospital. BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN DISTRESS BECAUSE OF SWINE FLU IN AMERICA? MILLIONS BECAUSE OF FOX NEWS' REPORTING. Only one person has been hospitalized. The few dozen others with symptoms are recovering nicely at home. Nobody has even approached death. IN THE TIME THAT SMITH REPORTED ON THIS dozens of Americans had been in fatal auto accidents.

Many people have found Fox News a voice of fresh air because it has been more conservative politically and religiously than other networks. This was an underserved market. Fox's magic, however, derives from keeping the viewer perpetually aroused by fear, sex, patriotic sentiment or conservative indignation.
FOX plans to hold viewers' attention by portraying a world always in a state of war and uncertainty. The news works best when it keeps you living in a state of perpetual fear and arousal, emotionally vulnerable and driven by sentiment. This renders viewers more susceptible to commercial and political appeals.
It's a disgraceful manipulaton of audience and a wicked abuse of trust. Read Intermirifica from the Second Vatican Council, the decree on social communications. It's a bit dated but its principles are solid and would revolutionize broadcasting.
The hackneyed line "If it bleeds, it leads" is just an old symptom of today's much more sophisticated attempt to sustain viewer attention in the 24 hour news cycle. Increase the level of threat from crime, weather, terrorism, illness, natural disaster or other tragedy. Leave people dependent on your outlet for news alerts. Always report breathlessly and with a tinge of panic in your voice. Heighten urgency and uncertainty and then promise that you are on the job ready to bring another dose of infotainment to allay the fears. It is the salt-water effect. Fox promises to inform you even as they increase your sense of dismay.
I managed to finish my meal but not the digestion. You've now gotten a picture of my brain secreting thought like my liver was secreting bile. Those swine!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Glendon to Jenkins: I won't be used

Former Ambassador to the Vatican and Harvard prof Mary Ann Glendon has declined Notre Dame's prestigious Laetare Medal and will not stand on the same platform with President Obama during the Notre Dame commencement exercise. Fearing that her actions might be misunderstood or interpreted maliciously she publicly released her rejection letter to Fr. Jenkins. Here are a few quotes but read the whole thing to get a sense of tone.

"First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

"Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:
• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”
• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

"A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice."

Congratulations to Dr. Glendon for refusing to be used as Obama's foil. She, no doubt, had been invited to serve as a "balance" and to show how Notre Dame welcomes all points of view. She said, "I will not be co-opted." Now it's up to the students to rise to the occasion and avoid being co-opted.

Today on Kresta - April 27, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Apr. 27

3:00 – Columbine: 10 Years Later
Last week we commemorated 10 years since the Columbine massacre. In a new remarkable account of the April 20, 1999, Columbine High School shooting, journalist Dave Cullen not only dispels several of the prevailing myths about the event but tackles the hardest question of all: why did it happen? Drawing on extensive interviews, police reports and his own reporting, Cullen meticulously pieces together what happened when 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 13 people before turning their guns on themselves. The media spin was that specific students, namely jocks, were targeted and that Dylan and Eric were members of the Trench Coat Mafia. According to Cullen, they lived apparently normal lives, but under the surface lay an angry, erratic depressive (Klebold) and a sadistic psychopath (Harris), together forming a combustible pair. They planned the massacre for a year, outlining their intentions for massive carnage in extensive journals and video diaries. We take an in-depth look.

4:00 – The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal
In this timely new Politically Incorrect Guide, Robert Murphy argues that free market failure didn't cause the Great Depression and the New Deal didn't cure it. He says World War II didn’t help the economy or get us out of the Great Depression; it took FDR to make the Depression Great; and Herbert Hoover was more like Obama and less like Bush than the liberal media would have you believe. He is here to make his case.

4:40 – Win the World Without Losing Your Soul
Challenging the idea that morality is checked by the door at the workplace, Dave Durand uses 12 accessible lessons to help embrace both success and integrity in professional and personal life. Through practical philosophy and inspirational stories, he will show that individual growth gained the right way is no longer an out of reach ideal. By focusing on “success” as a concept free of guilt and not measured with dollar signs, the workplace is revealed in a fresh, energetic light that is vastly different from what has come to dominate common thinking on this everyday subject.

5:00 – GM Announces More Cuts and The End of Pontiac
General Motors Corp. could be majority owned by the federal government and the United Auto Workers under a massive restructuring plan laid out today that will cut 21,000 U.S. factory jobs by next year and eliminate the storied Pontiac brand. The plan, which includes an offer to swap roughly $27 billion in bond debt for GM stock, would leave current shareholders holding just 1 percent of the century-old company, which is fighting for its life in the worst auto sales climate in 27 years. What will the impact of this announcement be? We look at it with George Schwartz of the Ave Maria Catholic Values Funds.

5:20 – Kresta Comments on the need for Catholic Radio

5:40 – Disney Earth
A 20-foot great white shark hangs in the air, its entire bulk suspended a meter or more above the surface, its jaws closing on a fur seal gulped from the surf in a mighty leap. Time-lapse photography reveals exotic fungi extruding netlike, lacy veils, bright orange slime molds throbbing and quivering as they spread across the rain forest floor. A menagerie of African animals, struggling through desert to the river for the seasonal floods. Welcome to Disney’s Earth. Adapted from the groundbreaking 9-hour BBC miniseries “Planet Earth,” Earth offers an impressive selection of some of the most astounding images ever captured of the natural world. It was released this weekend and Steven Greydanus has the review.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bishop D'Arcy Has Company

Archbishop Hughes to Boycott Xavier University Commencement Over Pro-Abortion Honoree

Archbishop Alfred Hughes, Archbishop of New Orleans, has made public his letter to Dr. Norman Francis, president of Xavier University of Louisiana, announcing that he will boycott the university’s May 9 commencement exercises to protest the selection of pro-abortion Donna Brazile as speaker and honoree. Archbishop Hughes is also opposing the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama at commencement.

Archbishop Hughes cites instances in which political commentator Donna Brazile has expressed pro-abortion and pro-artificial contraception points of view as the reasons for his boycott of Xavier’s commencement. He notes that Xavier was founded by Saint Katherine Drexel and offers prayers that the university “will be faithful to that legacy in every way.”

Here is the full text of Archbishop Hughes’ letter.

This One Speaks For Itself

Below is an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Is your job as a reporter to report on the document or to advertise in search of a dissenting opinion and then report on the dissent? How about an ad like this instead: "President Obama pledged to reduce the number of abortions and work with pro-life forces to provide support to those who chose life. If you are a post-abortive woman who regrets her abortion we we'd like to hear your story."

Seeking input: Are you a Catholic who uses Reiki?
The U.S. Conference of Bishops' Committee on Doctrine has dismissed the eastern healing practice of Reiki as superstition and not appropriate for use by Catholic chaplains, hospitals, retreat centers or other institutions.

If you are Catholic and have experienced Reiki, we'd like to hear your story. Contact Annysa Johnson at

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Documents: Pope Pius XII Planned to Move Vatican to Portugal if Captured by Nazis

According to newly-found documents in the Vatican's Secret Archives, Pope Pius XII told senior bishops that should he be arrested by the Nazis, his resignation would become effective immediately, paving the way for a successor. The bishops would then be expected to flee to a safe country – probably neutral Portugal – where they would re-establish the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and appoint a new Pontiff.

That Hitler considered kidnapping the Pope has been documented before, but this is the first time that details have emerged of the Vatican's strategy should the Nazis carry out the plan.

Vatican documents, which still remain secret, are believed to show that Pius was aware of a plan formulated by Hitler in July 1943 to occupy the Vatican and arrest him and his senior cardinals.
On 6 September 1943 – days after Italy signed the September 3 armistice with the Allies and German troops occupied Rome – Pius told key aides that he believed his arrest was imminent. Hitler ordered the kidnapping, according to historians, because he feared that Pius would further criticise the Nazis' treatment of the Jews. He was also afraid that the Pontiff's opposition could inspire resistance to the Germans in Italy and other Catholic countries.

Vatican Demands Retraction

When the British papers report on Church news, it seems to be about a 50/50 proposition that the reporting will be anywhere near accurate. In this case - they struck out.

Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, asked for “an immediate and unambiguous denial” of a “completely untrue” April 20 London Times article. According to the article, Pope Benedict intended to give Prince Charles a facsimile of the 1530 English request for King Henry VIII’s annulment from Catherine of Aragon. Richard Owen of the Times wrote a revised story that appeared in the April 21 edition.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ND Student Newspaper Rejects Ad - After Approving IT

The Notre Dame Student Newspaper, The Observer, has rejected the ad seen here, purchased by Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, less than 24 hours after it was to be printed - and after previous approval. It makes one wonder who is making the decisions??? Below is the e-mail sent to Monica Miller last night. The contracted full-page ad was to run today. (Click on the ad to see it enlarged)

Hi Dr. Miller,

I was just reviewing your ad order and the ad that you sent. Everything is scheduled accordingly. However, the ad material that we received is too graphic to be printed in our paper. I understand that the point of the ad is to reveal the truth of abortion and it is very powerful to this effect.

Unfortunately, we will be unable to run this material. We will, of course, return the check as soon as we receive it.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us in the office. I would be more than happy to discuss this with you.

Mary Clare Rodriguez
Advertising Manager
The Observer

UPDATE: (1:50 p.m.) - Monica spoke today with Mary Clare - Advertising Manager. She again simply reiterated that the photos were too graphic. Monica said she'd be willing to crop them. Apparently Mary Clare will talk to her Editor and get back to Monica but added that the paper does not show "dead bodies." As Monica told me: "Pray for a mountain to be moved".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vatican debunking the "Galileo Affair"

"Galileo and the Vatican” is the title of a new book that gathers together the documents of the commission created by Pope John Paul II on the famous Italian scientist and, according to Cardinal Paul Poupard who headed up the study group, seeks to debunk the black legend and other myths about this case.

Cardinal Poupard recalled that John Paul II publicly apologized about Galileo in October of 1992.“The Pope was concerned about clearing up a bad image of the Church in the eyes of the public, in which she was portrayed as the enemy of science. This is a myth, but myths pervade history and are not easily eliminated,” he said.

The 300-page book has been published in Spanish and Italian. It is not yet available in English. The Galileo case is one of the historical bludgeons that is used to beat on the Church — the other three being the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Pope Pius XII and the Jews. It is important that Catholics understand exactly what happened between the Church and the great scientist. Al took an extensive look at the facts of this case with Catholic writer and historian George Sim Johnston that put to rest almost every aspect of the reigning Galileo legend.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New African Bishop Dismisses Condoms

Another Bishop that is Catholic and supports Church teaching. Shocking!!!

Addressing the media for the first time ahead of his consecration as Botswana's Bishop this weekend, Bishop Valentine Seane said, "to use a condom is like replacing self-control, faithfulness...ultimately it (condom) will replace the way you control yourself."

Seane stressed that he will not promote the use of condoms. "The society can do that...we will promote family values...condom is artificial contraceptive...a means to satisfy human greed so that people can have concubines," he said in part.

He also said that there was no condom until 1950, and praised natural family planning methods as the best and appropriate methods of spacing children. "Other gadgets came into being to promote laxity...any time is tea time...if he searches in the pocket and finds a condom, he says it is time..."

This on the heels of Pope Benedict's trip to Africa where he made similar comments regarding the promotion of condom use in Africa.

One need only read the opinion of Harvard scientist Edward C. Green to see that the “current empirical evidence supports” Pope Benedict’s comments on AIDS and condoms.

But I thought that it was the Church that was opposed to science?

Miss America Finalist Defends Traditional Marriage...Loses

Miss North Carolina - Kristen Dalton - was crowned Miss USA last night, but the highlight of the night came in the final question round when Miss California, Carrie Prejean, defended traditional marriage when asked by judge Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip blogger.

Carrie promptly lost and came in second. Granted, this was not a lesson in oratorical genius, but today Perez Hilton said he did not vote for her because of the content of her answer, not the delivery.

The answer sparked a shouting match in the lobby after the show. "It's ugly," said Scott Ihrig, a gay man, who attended the pageant with his partner. "I think it's ridiculous that she got first runner-up. That is not the value of 95 percent of the people in this audience. Look around this audience and tell me how many gay men there are."

One might be inclined to ask if the "fact" (highly questionable if you listen to the applause she got when she said marriage is between one man and one woman) that 95% of people in the audience support gay "marriage" says more about America or more about the insular make-up of the Hollywood audience.

Keith Lewis, who runs the Miss California competition, said today that he was "saddened" by Prejean's statement. "As co-director of the Miss California USA, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss California believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman."

Co-director Shanna Moakler said that she fully supported Lewis' statement.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Kresta Commentary - Dead Men Stay Dead...Almost All the Time...Then and Now

Dead Men Stay Dead…Almost All the Time…Then and Now
April 17, 2009
Al Kresta

“Jesus’ resurrection shattered the after-life expectations of the ancient world,” I told a friend last week. He replied that “people back then believed in resurrections - resurrections weren’t that incredible.” Feeling superior to past generations is a form of self congratulation that C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.” Could my friend really think that Roman executioners didn’t really believe that dead men stayed dead? That those crucified bodies on the roadsides were not regularly eaten by dogs, or dumped into a grave to rot, or the bones polished and placed in an ossuary?

Electromagnetism, string theory and stem cells haven’t changed our fundamental human confidence in direct sense perception. When we and the ancients notice that a person hasn’t been breathing for a few hours and feel his body grow cold, we both know that he’s dead, not merely sleeping. Crypts and corpses formed as firm a union in the 1st as in the 21st century.

Why do we patronize the ancients? Wouldn’t you think that life without refrigeration, anesthetics, flush toilets, and first class travel would incline a person to adopt a tough-minded approach to life’s likely outcomes? Don’t deprivation and suffering hedge against holding extravagant expectations of what life ultimately holds for you? The hardships of ancient peasant life, I’m sure, seemed pretty good prima facie evidence to many that life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” in the famed phrase of David Hume. Our first century ancestors were probably less Pollyannaish than we are about the material world’s stern refusal to fulfill our fondest desires when and where we want. It’s hard to imagine a smiley face bumper sticker urging us to “Expect a miracle today” decorating the rump of a jackass in 70 A.D. Jerusalem. Prayers were not more commonly answered, miracles were not more commonly performed in olden days. Far more than ourselves, the old holies found themselves companions to infant mortality, famine, drought and disease despite their prayers and because of God’s economy of miracles. The Psalms and Qoheleth as well as Christ’s warnings and the Apostles’ betrayals leave no doubt that unbelief about God’s control of human history is an equal and chronic temptation for the antique and the modern.

Yes, of course, ancient peoples were ignorant of many facts that we now take for granted but they weren’t more gullible! The wife of a goat breeder might not have known the number of chromosomes that a man and woman each contribute to an embryo but she had no doubt how goats and humans go about reproducing their kind. This is precisely why Joseph, upon learning of the Virgin’s pregnancy, immediately planned to break off the engagement. Why did it take an act of divine revelation to convince him that Mary’s child had been miraculously conceived? Simply because he wasnt ignorant of how children, sheep and goats are normally conceived. He knew so well that he needed convincing that Mary was a sheep and not a goat, so to speak.

Life’s material processes are indifferent to our wishes and ideals, the way that keyboards are indifferent to the sentence I am writing. Nature resists and even repudiates our desire for eternal life and it is against this unsympathetic backdrop, that the good news of Christ’s resurrection sounds forth. As New Testament scholar N.T. Wright puts it in his magisterial The Resurrection of the Son of God: : “The fact that dead people do not ordinarily rise is itself part of early Christian belief, not an objection to it. The early Christians insisted that what had happened to Jesus was precisely something new; was, indeed, the start of a whole new mode of existence, a new creation. The fact that Jesus’ resurrection was, and remains, without analogy, is not an objection to the early Christian claim. It is part of the claim itself.”

The early Christian understanding of Easter was not that this sort of thing was always likely to happen sooner or later, and finally it did. The empty tomb and the subsequent appearance of Jesus of Nazareth weren’t to be counted as a freak occurrence on a par with the Bermuda Triangle or the detection of poltergeists. It wasn’t a sign that this particular rabbi exercised more spectacular powers than competing wonder-workers. The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was the beginning of a whole new world. The Human Race had been given a second chance.

The historical foundation for Christ’s Resurrection is as strong as ever because it rests on our basic trust in our senses. Yes, dead men stay dead unless there is credible testimony to the contrary. The ancients needed to be convinced every bit as much as we do. The Resurrection is simply the best explanation of the evidence even if its supernatural character offends the sensibility of historians. As Evangelical philosopher William Lane Craig argues: “The resurrection of Jesus is a miraculous explanation of the evidence. But the evidence itself is not miraculous.”
o Jesus’ burial
o the discovery of his empty tomb
o his post-mortem appearances
o the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection and rise of the Christian Church.

“None of these four facts is any way supernatural or inaccessible to the historian. To give an analogy, did you know that after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, there was actually a plot to steal his body as it was being transported by train back to Illinois? Now the historian will obviously want to know whether this plot was foiled or not. Was Lincoln’s body missing from the train? Was it successfully interred in the tomb in Springfield? Did his closest associates like Secretary of War Stanton or Vice-President Johnson claim to have seen appearances of Lincoln alive after his death, and so on? These are questions any historian can investigate. And it’s the same with the four facts about Jesus.”

Even anti-supernaturalists concede the fact of a burial and the discovery of the empty tomb. Likewise, there is widespread recognition of Paul’s remarkably early “eyewitness tradition” to the resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-8; cf: Gal 1:18; Lk 24:36-42; Jn 20:19-20). Further, the Church’s birth in a hostile environment so soon after Christ’s death indicates that some remarkable experience regalvanized the band of disciples who had been scattered by Jesus’ premature and violent death. Something fortified them, fused them together again and propelled them back into the heart of Jerusalem. What was it? The reappearance of the crucified Christ…now raised in glory…and made evident to their senses. The same sense that had told them that dead men stay dead.

Thus strengthened they made the case for the resurrection. In the presence of hostile audiences, men and women who themselves had witnessed the main events of Palm Sunday and Good Friday and could challenge the Apostles’ account of the facts, to that audience, they made their shocking proclamation. This Jesus who you killed has been raised from the dead and we are witnesses to his glory. Repent and believe the good news.”

Sometimes proclamation requires confrontation and pushback might follow. Had the Jews or the Romans hidden the body, they could have conveniently pulled it out of cold storage dropped it onto an ox-cart and wheeled it out through the streets of Jerusalem exploding the delusion of the Apostles. Christianity would have been killed not in the cradle but in the womb. But they didn’t - even though it would have served their purposes to restore quiet and shut down these zealots.

On the other hand, had the disciples stolen the body (Mt 28:11-15), they were caught in a psychological impossibility. Here they were putting their lives on the line for a phony confection they had slyly cooked up. People may die for what they believe. Nobody dies for what they know is a lie.

The historic arguments are powerful but we can also know the Resurrected Christ today because He is alive and available for us. As Benedict XVI teaches in Saved by Hope #31:

“His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is ‘truly’ life.”

However absurd the notion of the resurrection of the body may seem to our friends, neighbors, and the opinion makers in New York and Washington D.C., they should at least acknowledge that the Christian tradition has located redemption right where the ultimate horror lives- in pain, mutilation, death and decay. The world still largely believes that dead men stay dead so, fittingly, it is right there at the doorway of slime and stench, membranes and myelin sheaths, decomposition and disease, that the light of glory shines. And the Resurrected Jesus is not shy about his materiality.
· “Put your fingers in my side. Touch my scars.”
· “Let us break bread together.”
· “Let’s grill some fish this Sunday down on the Galilean seashore.”
· “A ghost doesn’t have flesh and bone as you see I have.”

Our friends may think our solution is implausible but it is hard for them to think that we’ve got the problem wrong. Love is the final apologetic and as the Song of Songs says it is “stronger than death.” Love renders plausible those realities which are not so easily seen. In truth, we aren’t so different from the ancients. We fundamentally believe the evidence of our senses that dead men stay dead…unless some trustworthy witness sees differently. And if some dead guy doesn’t stay dead then he’d better have something more to offer than a freak show. He must offer the cure for what ails me. “I have a disease. I want to live forever.” Nature always tells me No. In Jesus I finally think I hear “Yes, for this you were born. I, in you, and you, in me, as I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Where I go, you will follow and my destiny will be your destiny.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

“Now if the rising of Christ from the dead is the very heart of our message, how can some of you deny that there is any resurrection? For if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, then Christ was never raised. And if Christ was not raised then neither our preaching nor your faith has any meaning at all. Further it would mean that we are lying in our witness for God, for we have given our solemn testimony that he did raise up Christ…Truly, if our hope in Christ were limited to this life only we should, of all mankind, be the most to be pitied!” (St. Paul first letter to the Corinthians chapter 15, Philips paraphrase.).

Today on Kresta - April 17, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Apr. 17

3:00 – Sign and Counter-Sign: Theological and Canonical Reflections on Religious Life in View of the Maciel Disgrace
The name of Marcial Maciel now seems destined to become a byword for duplicity and manipulation of the most craven and cynical kind. In the wake of Maciel’s disgrace, a lively debate has ensued over the future of the religious congregation that he founded. Some charge that the Legion of Christ is bound so inextricably to the persona of its founder that the congregation cannot continue and must be suppressed or merged into another order or congregation. However, defenders of the Legion and its associated lay organization Regnum Christi argue against suppression, pointing to their good works and the undoubted existence of many faithful members who played no part in the Maciel fraud. We take the opportunity to examine – with canon lawyer Michael Dunnigan - theological and canonical reflections on religious life in view of the Maciel disgrace.

3:40 – Pope Benedict’s Divine Mercy Mandate
On the world stage and in the life of the Catholic Church, John Paul II became known as the Great Mercy Pope devoting his second encyclical to Gods mercy, forgiving his would-be assassin, making Sr. Faustina, the great apostle of Divine Mercy, a saint and establishing Divine Mercy Sunday as a universal feast day in the Church. With that feast upon us this Sunday, Pope John Paul the Great’s successor, Benedict XVI, has become known as a Pope of Mercy in his own right. He opened the first ever World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in Rome last April and at its conclusion called the participants to go forth and be witnesses of Gods mercy. David Came is here to help us discover Pope Benedicts Divine Mercy Mandate.

4:00 – Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood
Upon graduating from Princeton with high honors, Donovan Campbell joined the United States Marine Corps, despite pleas from friends and family to choose a safer, more lucrative profession. Campbell was inspired in large part by his Christian faith, which he believed called him to serve others and, in doing so, to live out the example of Jesus Christ. Campbell has served three combat tours and has become highly decorated in the process. Throughout his new book, Campbell describes how his Christian faith molded his concept of leadership. Believing that Jesus Christ’s willing sacrifice provided Christians with a strong servant-leadership model, Campbell sought to copy that model while leading his men. How can the Christ-like servant-leader model be applied in other areas of life? He’s here to tell us.

4:40 – Mt. Soledad Cross in Court AGAIN!
If you thought this story had already come to a conclusion – multiple times – you are in good company. So did we. However, the fight over the Mt. Soledad Memorial is back in court again. Arguing that removing the memorial would cause “real, irreparable harm” to war heroes and their families, the Thomas More Law Center has filed a brief opposing a legal challenge to the constitutionality of California’s historic Mt. Soledad cross which honors veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Over 2,100 plaques honoring individuals or groups of veterans are displayed near the Mt. Soledad cross, which is the centerpiece of the veterans’ memorial. Some of the plaques display Stars of David in honor of Jewish veterans. A large American flag flies at the memorial’s base. Attorney and former marine Brian Rooney is here to discuss the case.

5:00 – The Case for the Historical Resurrection
A resurrected body. Glorified. Fully God and fully man. When the alternatives have all spent themselves in fruitless clamor for our attention, it's the old Christian story that still persuades. Catholic writer, speaker and apologist Mark Shea is here to offer a comprehensive and far-reaching argument for the historical veracity of Christ's resurrection. We look at evidentiary claims that support a historic belief in the resurrection.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Today on Kresta - April 16, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Apr. 16

3:00 – VA Tech Tragedy – April 16, 2007

On an unforgettable April morning, Virginia Tech student Lauren McCain lost her life, along with thirty-one others, at the hands of a gunman in the largest mass murder in modern U.S. history. But what could not be destroyed was Lauren's unyielding faith and spirit, which live on in the memories of those who knew and loved her. It has now been two years since that tragedy, and Beth Lueders tells the extraordinary story of this historic tragic event, and more importantly, its aftermath as survivors struggle to make sense of it, to cope, and to keep their faith stronger than ever before.

3:40 – R.I.P. - A Tribute to Dr. Thomas Dillon - President of Thomas Aquinas College

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4:00 – Change is Possible

Discovering a child’s or loved-one’s same-sex attraction (SSA) can be the start of a difficult journey. Countless questions and fears arise as you try to find adequate and meaningful resources to your most pressing questions. Richard Cohen speaks to this challenge from a first-hand experience. He is here to share his personal testimony of “Coming Out Straight”, the real causes of SSA, the process of healing, and what you can do to promote change.

4:20 – University of Notre Dame President Rejects Students' Requests for Dialogue
In a private letter addressed to a coalition of 12 campus groups and organizations, University of Notre Dame president, Fr. John Jenkins denied students’ requests for dialogue on the issues surrounding the University’s invitation to and honoring of President Barack Obama at this year’s commencement exercises. Responding to a letter sent to him by representatives of the ND Response coalition on April 7th, the University’s president wrote that “conditions for constructive dialogue simply do not exist” and that students could disregard his earlier invitations to meet with him. John Daly, Media Coordinator of the ND Response Coalition is with us.

4:30 – University of Notre Dame President Rejects Students' Requests for Dialogue
Alumni and financial supporters of the University of Notre Dame this week launched a new online effort to withhold donations until Rev. John Jenkins is replaced as president of the prominent Catholic university. The national alumni coalition is urging alumni and friends of the university to withhold donations, which could add up to tens of millions of dollars. The coalition website – - urges supporters to withhold all contributions to the Notre Dame General Fund until President Jenkins is replaced with someone who is committed to the authentic identity of Notre Dame, grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Coalition representative David DiFranco, ND Class of 1995, is with us.

4:40 – “Da Vinci Code 2” puts spotlight back on Opus Dei
The film of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons—opening next month—is reviving interest in Opus Dei, the real-life Catholic organization caricatured in The Da Vinci Code as an ecclesiastical mafia and guardian of the Church’s darkest secrets. The assault on Opus Dei—which helps ordinary Christians pursue holiness in their everyday work and family life—reveals more about Hollywood than about Opus Dei. In a candid new book edited by Opus Dei member Marie Oates, women of Opus Dei tell their own stories of how they find God and serve their neighbor in their professional work and at home.

5:00 – Sign and Counter-Sign: Theological and Canonical Reflections on Religious Life in View of the Maciel Disgrace
The name of Marcial Maciel now seems destined to become a byword for duplicity and manipulation of the most craven and cynical kind. In the wake of Maciel’s disgrace, a lively debate has ensued over the future of the religious congregation that he founded. Some charge that the Legion of Christ is bound so inextricably to the persona of its founder that the congregation cannot continue and must be suppressed or merged into another order or congregation. However, defenders of the Legion and its associated lay organization Regnum Christi argue against suppression, pointing to their good works and the undoubted existence of many faithful members who played no part in the Maciel fraud. We take the opportunity to examine – with canon lawyer Michael Dunnigan - theological and canonical reflections on religious life in view of the Maciel disgrace.

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Part 2
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5:20 – Pope Benedict’s Divine Mercy Mandate
On the world stage and in the life of the Catholic Church, John Paul II became known as the Great Mercy Pope devoting his second encyclical to Gods mercy, forgiving his would-be assassin, making Sr. Faustina, the great apostle of Divine Mercy, a saint and establishing Divine Mercy Sunday as a universal feast day in the Church. With that feast upon us this Sunday, Pope John Paul the Great’s successor, Benedict XVI, has become known as a Pope of Mercy in his own right. He opened the first ever World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in Rome last April and at its conclusion called the participants to go forth and be witnesses of Gods mercy. David Came is here to help us discover Pope Benedicts Divine Mercy Mandate.


Theological and Canonical Reflections on Religious Life
in View of the Maciel Disgrace

By R. Michael Dunnigan, JD, JCL
The following article will be appearing in the May 1, 2009 issue of the St. Joseph Foundation’s newsletter, Christifidelis.

“[Maciel] was a man with an entrepreneurial genius who, by systematic deception and duplicity, used our faith to manipulate others for his own selfish ends.”
—Archbishop Edwin O’Brien (Baltimore)

“The problem is if someone’s leading that kind of a double life, I’d be very concerned about the structure they set up that would make it possible to live such a double life.”
—Archbishop Thomas Collins (Toronto)

The name of Marcial Maciel now seems destined to become a byword for duplicity and manipulation of the most craven and cynical kind. Father Maciel (1920-2008), the founder of the Legion of Christ, already had been forced to live out his final years in prayer and penance as a result of credible allegations that he had sexually abused 20 or more boys and young men. Then, earlier this year, it came to light that Maciel had lived a “double life” for years and that he had fathered at least one child with at least one mistress. (The child, a daughter now 22, was born when Maciel was 68.) There are strong indications that Maciel also committed financial improprieties, possibly including diversion of Legion assets to his family and to his mistress and daughter. In addition Maciel is suspected of having committed the grave canonical crime of granting sacramental absolution to persons with whom he engaged in sexual sins (cf. cann. 977, 1378 §1). Rumors are circulating suggesting other serious misdeeds as well.

In the wake of Maciel’s disgrace, a lively debate has ensued over the future of the religious congregation that he founded. Some charge that the Legion of Christ is bound so inextricably to the persona of its founder that the congregation cannot continue and must be suppressed or merged into another order or congregation. However, defenders of the Legion and its associated lay organization Regnum Christi argue against suppression, pointing to their good works and the undoubted existence of many faithful members who played no part in the Maciel fraud.

George Weigel effectively has formulated the central question: Can the good that has come from the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi be disentangled from the person and legacy of Fr. Maciel? [G. Weigel, “Saving What Can Be Saved,” 9 Feb. 2009,] Not surprisingly, this debate has occurred primarily on the practical plane so far, and on that plane, the prospects for the Legion appear bleak. The most urgent practical questions are

· whether any members of the current leadership helped Maciel perpetuate his fraud,
· whether the Legion’s power to attract vocations and lay support can survive the Maciel disgrace, and
· whether a congregation that has identified with its founder’s persona to such an extreme degree could possibly distance itself sufficiently from him to cleanse itself of his corruption and to accept reform.

As important as these questions are, the debate about Maciel and the Legion should not be confined to the purely practical plane. Rather, the Maciel disgrace also raises serious theological and canonical questions that to date have received little attention. This scandal provides an occasion to reflect on the meaning and purpose of religious life in the Church, and these reflections suggest that the theological and canonical obstacles facing the Legion are, if anything, even more daunting than the practical challenges. This becomes apparent when one examines the Legion’s arguments in favor of its continued existence.

The Administrative Argument
Legion spokesmen and prominent Legionary priests argue that Maciel’s life of fraud has no impact on the Legion charism or the future life of the congregation. The Legion’s arguments are not frivolous, but they are rather weak, and in the end, they do not withstand analysis.
One of the most frequent arguments in favor of the Legion’s continued operation is that the Holy See’s 1983 approval of the Legion’s constitutions and organizational documents (statutes) amounts to an assurance that the Legion’s charism is a valid path to holiness (cf. G. Matysek, “Archbishop O’Brien raises concerns about Legion of Christ,” Catholic Review, 25 Feb. 2009 [quoting J. Fair],; “A Legion Priest [T. Williams] Answers OSV Questions,” 5 Feb. 2009,; “Report: LC ‘town hall meeting’ with vocations director [A. Bannon],” 19 Mar. 2009, In the words of Legionary priest Thomas Williams, “We have the assurance of the Church’s magisterium to rely on.”

Thus, Legion spokesmen seem to be arguing that the Church’s approval of a religious congregation’s constitutions is equivalent to a guarantee from the Church’s magisterium of the validity of the charism and of the perpetual existence of the congregation. This position is not entirely devoid of scholarly support, but it finds little or no basis in the teachings of the Councils that specifically address the Church’s teaching office, namely the First and Second Vatican Councils (cf. A. Dulles, Magisterium [Sapientia, 2007], p. 78). The magisterium is the Church’s teaching office (munus docendi), but the approval of a congregation’s constitutions, by contrast, seems quite clearly to be an exercise of the Church’s governing office (munus regendi) [cf. can. 576]. Such a decision certainly represents a judgment that the congregation’s spirituality is calculated to lead to holiness, but it is no absolute guarantee and is by no means irrevocable.

Both history and canon law make this clear. The Church has indeed seen fit to suppress certain religious communities at various times in her history. The suppression of the Jesuits in the eighteenth century is the most famous example, but by no means the only one (cf. Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Religious Life”). In fact, serious sexual misconduct like Maciel’s figured prominently in the suppression of the Piarist order in the seventeenth century (cf. K. Liebreich, Fallen Order [Atlantic, 2004]).

Moreover, the law of the Church expressly provides for the suppression of religious institutes and congregations (cf. can. 584). To be sure, such a step is not to be taken lightly. However, the obstacles to the Holy See’s suppression of a religious community are prudential and administrative, rather than doctrinal. As a result, they are by no means insurmountable and therefore provide no absolute guarantee that a particular religious congregation will continue into the future.

This is especially true in the case of the Legion. That is, given Maciel’s utter duplicity, the Holy See might well conclude that Maciel essentially defrauded the Church in securing her approval of the Legion’s constitutions and statutes. Suppression regrettably would cause pain to innocent Legionary priests and Regnum Christi faithful, but one certainly can imagine the Holy See reaching the conclusion that such a step is necessary for the undoing of the fraud and the prevention of future harm.

The Donatist Argument

Legion members reportedly have cited St. Augustine’s anti-Donatist writings in support of the Legion’s continued existence (cf. “Maciel and Donatism,” 5 Mar. 2009, The Donatist controversy of the fourth century concerned the relationship between the worthiness of the minister and the validity of the sacraments. During the persecution of Diocletian, some priests had weakened and turned over the sacred books to the Roman authorities. Some of these priests later were reconciled to the Church, but the Donatists refused to accept them as ministers of the sacraments because of their earlier betrayal. Augustine, by contrast, advanced the orthodox Catholic teaching that the validity of the sacraments hinges on the priest’s ordination, not on his personal worthiness.

Although there is indeed a danger in drawing too many conclusions from the unworthiness of a priest, the comparison between the Donatist controversy and the Maciel scandal does not hold. The most basic reason is that none of the Legion’s critics is impugning the validity of the sacraments administered by Maciel or any other Legionary priest. In addition, with regard to the decision of individual members, departure from the Legion or Regnum Christi is in no way comparable to the decision of the Donatists to separate themselves from the Church (cf. ibid.).

The Legionaries no doubt are aware that the Donatist controversy has no direct application to the Maciel scandal, and almost certainly are invoking it merely as an analogy. Even so, however, the analogy breaks down. The reason is that the context of these two events is essentially different. Donatism concerns the validity of the sacraments, which is judged by a minimal standard, but the Maciel disgrace, because it concerns religious life, implicates a higher standard.

The lesson from the Donatist controversy seems a strange one at first glance: the standard for judging sacramental validity is surprisingly, perhaps even shockingly, low. Thus, the Church recognizes that baptism may be administered not only by a priest, but also by a layman or even a non-Christian (cf. can. 861 §2). With regard to the Eucharist, the sacrament would be valid even if the priest were in a state of mortal sin while celebrating it. Moreover, when one considers the words that are necessary for bare validity of the sacraments, one similarly is surprised to learn how minimal the essential formulas are. This astounding minimalism is a great blessing to the faithful because it assures them that, even in the face of illicit additions and omissions in the liturgy, most attempts to administer the sacraments nonetheless remain valid.

The Maciel scandal, however, is another matter altogether. The key fact is not that it was a priest who committed all of these sins and crimes, but rather that it was a founder of a religious congregation. The standard for sacramental validity may be a minimal one, but the standard for religious life is not. This is why the Donatist analogy ultimately fails. Consideration of Maciel’s double life from the perspective of the very meaning and purpose of religious life sheds light on its true significance and consequences.

A Sign of the Age to Come

Most Catholics have little opportunity to reflect on the meaning of religious life, that is, the life of nuns and brothers who profess the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Most instinctively categorize brothers and nuns as belonging to a larger category of people, including the clergy, who have some sort of official role in the Church. Catholics who have had the benefit of a thorough formation in the faith can distinguish the distinctive characteristics of some of the major orders, such as the Franciscan embrace of poverty and the Jesuit dedication to teaching. However, even for well-formed Catholics, it often is difficult to describe the basic purpose and meaning of religious life itself.

Moreover, this is even more difficult to articulate in the Vatican II era. Although the Council of Trent had referred to religious life as a state of perfection, Vatican II deliberately avoided using this language (though it certainly did not repudiate it). That is, the Vatican II Fathers chose instead to emphasize the “universal call to holiness” shared by all the faithful. It is clear that religious life does not pertain to governance of the Church, which is the role of the clergy (some of whom, however, also belong to religious orders). Nor is religious life any kind of midway state between the laity and the clergy. Rather, religious life belongs to the holiness of the Church (cf. can. 574).

However, if all the faithful are called to holiness (cf. Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 40), then what is distinctive or unique about the religious state itself? References to the charism of the Legion of Christ frequently appear in the current debate over the Maciel disgrace. Of course the presence of a charism is indeed crucial to religious life, but surprisingly, it seems that even the charism is not the central reality of religious life as such. After all, the Dominicans are superb preachers, but there are many brilliant preachers who belong neither to the Dominicans nor to any other religious order.

What is it then that Jesuit priests and Franciscan nuns share in common as religious that is not shared by those of us among both the laity and clergy who do not belong to any religious community? The answer is that they and their communities are public witnesses to the faith. All Catholics of course are called to witness to the faith, but the religious do so in a distinctively public way. Their witness does not consist only in words or even in deeds, but in the entirety of their lives. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta understood this perfectly. Thus, she insisted that the witness of her Missionaries of Charity was more central even than their heroic work.

“You must tell people what brings us here. Tell them that we are not here for the work; we are here for Jesus. All we do is for him. We are first of all religious. We are not social workers, not teachers, not nurses or doctors; we are religious sisters.” (C. McCarthy, “Nobel-Winner Aided the Poorest,” Washington Post, 6 Sept. 1997, p. A17, )

Those in religious life give witness both to the world and to the rest of the Church (cf. SCRIS & Cong. for Bishops, Mutuae relationes [1978], 11 & 14a). Their first duty is to this mission, even before the specific work of their own communities. “The apostolate of all religious consists first of all in the witness of their consecrated life” (can. 673). This is the reason that members of religious communities take public vows. Catholics often refer to their priests as having taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, this is incorrect. Although priests have obligations of obedience and celibacy (cf. cann. 273, 277), they generally do not make vows unless they enter religious life. The public nature of the religious witness also is the reason that the religious generally wear a distinctive habit. Father Benedict Groeschel, referring to his own Franciscan habit, put it memorably,

“I don’t walk around looking like an ad for The Canterbury Tales for no good reason at all.”

But what exactly is the content of the witness of religious life? What is the message that the rest of us are supposed to take from the presence of the religious among us? The answer is that the religious are a sign of the age to come (cf. LG, 44; Vatican II, Perfectae caritatis, 1; can. 607 §1). They are the eunuchs for the Kingdom of God that the Lord mentions in the Gospel (Mt 19.12), and the meaning of their life of perfect continence is a total gift of self to the Lord. That is, chastity represents dedication to Him “with an undivided heart” (PC, 12). Observance of the Commandments leads to salvation, but religious life represents an even “more generous” service to the Lord (MR, 8). Members of religious communities practice and publicly profess chastity to live lives of integrity and to give the world and the Church a sign of the heavenly kingdom, a sign of the age to come.

The higher standard to which the religious are held is not merely a pious aspiration. On the contrary, it finds concrete expression in the law of the Church. For example, canon 1397 provides penalties for homicide and for using force and fraud to abduct, imprison, mutilate, or gravely wound another person. If a diocesan priest were to commit one of these crimes, then one or more penalties would be applied to him according to the seriousness of the crime. He might be deprived of an office or a privilege, or in an especially serious case, he could be dismissed from the clerical state (cf. can. 1336). When a member of a religious community commits one of these crimes, however, the law provides that he or she must be dismissed from the religious community (cf. can. 695 §1). Thus, if a Norbertine priest were to commit the crime of abduction, he might or might not be dismissed from the clerical state, but the law would require his dismissal from the Norbertine religious community. (With regard to the particular crimes of Maciel himself, canonist Edward Peters persuasively argues that they warranted both Maciel’s expulsion from religious life and his dismissal from the clerical state [“So if Maciel was a criminal (or a sociopath), what of his charism?” 8 Feb. 2009,].)

This higher standard that the Church sets for the religious is the reason that the analogy of the Donatist controversy to the Maciel disgrace falls short. There is no greater mockery of the religious life than the spectacle of a founder of a religious congregation leading a double life of cynical deception and predation. Legion spokesmen pile scandal on top of scandal when they refer to Maciel as if he were merely a weak man or a flawed instrument (cf. C. Wooden, “Spokesman [J. Fair]: News that Founder Fathered Child Causes Legionaries Pain,” 9 Feb. 2009, The outrage is not that Maciel was a sinner or even that he fell into sexual sin on several occasions. Rather, it is that for years he led a double life, the very antithesis of the life of integrity that is the hallmark of the religious. He played the whole Church, including its cardinals and popes, for suckers. All the while, he not only demanded that his subjects take him as their model, but he also permitted them to defend him publicly and to venerate him as a living saint.

Legion spokesmen insist that God can write straight with crooked lines and that the Holy Spirit can use even flawed instruments to accomplish His purposes. True enough, as far as it goes. But how far does the argument go? At the end of March 2009, news reports appeared that the Holy See would be undertaking a visitation of the Legion and all of its institutions. The key questions likely will be the practical ones concerning how deep of an imprint of his own distorted personality Maciel impressed upon the Legion:

· What is the significance of the vow that Maciel required his subjects to take never to criticize him or other superiors?
· What is the connection between Maciel’s alleged abuse of the sacrament of confession and the Legion’s allegedly irregular practices in the area of spiritual direction and confession? (Some accuse the Legion of unlawfully restricting the Legionaries’ choice of spiritual directors and confessors [cf. can. 630].)
· Which members of the Legion’s leadership collaborated with Maciel to conceal his double life?

I find it difficult to escape Archbishop Collins’s conclusion, quoted at the head of this article, that the Legion must indeed bear distortions as a result of Maciel’s powerful influence and the extraordinary devotion that the Legionaries had to him. However, even apart from the answers to these factual and practical questions, I hope that the members of the visitation team will reflect profoundly on the meaning of religious life itself. Legion spokesmen are correct that Maciel’s sins and crimes, great as they were, did not prevent the Holy Spirit from working in the lives of Legion members. But does this necessarily mean that Maciel’s work can continue to wear the Church’s crown? For my own part, I do not see how the Church can continue to hold up, as an example of holiness and integrity of life, a work wrought by a man whose life was a lie, a fraud, and a brazen counter-sign to authentic religious life.

The Once and Future Founder

Many believe that the future of the Legion will depend on its ability to separate itself from its disgraced founder. The Legion is now grappling with this question. On the one hand, it reportedly has ordered the removal of Maciel’s portraits from Legionary schools, but on the other hand, it insists that it will not renounce him. Moreover, one of the Legion’s most accomplished priests, Father Thomas Williams, asserts that Maciel’s writings remain an authentic expression of the Legion’s charism. Many critics, however, urge the Legion utterly to repudiate Maciel and to cleanse itself of everything connected with him.

On this question, the Legion may be more realistic than its critics. Maciel’s imprint on the Legion is extraordinarily deep. All new congregations are closely attached to their founders, but in the case of the Legion and Maciel, the attachment was extreme. Maciel’s birthday was celebrated as a holiday; he was held up as a model of behavior; and his own writings are central to Legionary formation.

In addition, we have concrete evidence as to the difficulty or impossibility of the Legion distancing itself from Maciel. In 2006, the Holy See disciplined Maciel as a result of credible allegations that he had molested numerous boys and young men. The Holy See urged the Legion to distance itself from its founder. However, the Legion was unable to do so. Legionaries continued to assert that Maciel had been wrongly accused, and they continued to venerate him as a hero (cf. L. Goodstein, “Catholic Order Jolted by Reports That Its Founder Led a Double Life,” New York Times, 3 Feb. 2009,; R. Zoll, “Vatican to Investigate Scandalized Religious Order,” AP, 31 Mar. 2009 [quoting E. O’Brien]).

It is easy to criticize the Legion on this score, but it is likely that any religious congregation placed in a similar situation would have similar difficulties. Again, the key to this scandal is not that it concerns a Catholic priest, but rather that it arises in the context of religious life. The renowned moral theologian Germain Grisez has offered a trenchant observation. The Maciel scandal, he says, is not comparable to a sexual scandal involving a diocesan bishop. A founder cannot be “removed” in the same way that a diocesan bishop can. When the diocesan bishop leaves office, the clergy of the diocese cease collaborating with him. However, even after the death of a religious founder, the members of his congregation never cease collaborating with him in their own service and life (cf. “Text: Open letter to Legionaries by Dr. Germain Grisez,” 5 Feb. 2009,

That is, Legion spokesmen are correct that they cannot go on without their founder. However, they have drawn the wrong conclusion from this. They conclude that they therefore will go on with their founder, but the correct conclusion seems to be that they simply cannot go on.

In a variation on the “administrative argument” discussed above, several prominent Legionary priests have asserted that the Holy See’s approval of the Legion’s constitutions amounted to the Church taking the Legion’s charism out of Maciel’s hands. The scandal certainly would be more manageable if things were this simple, but they are not. It is true that the members must learn to distinguish between the congregation’s charism and the founder’s personality, but this distinction is not a compartmentalization and the charism remains always linked with the founder.

This may seem difficult to understand, and with good reason. St. Paul complained forcefully about the faithful espousing allegiance to those from whom they had received the Gospel instead of simply to the Lord.

“What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong ot Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1.12-13)

St. Augustine similarly counseled that good sheep put their hope not in the one who gathered them in, but rather in the Lord Whose Blood has redeemed them (Letter 208). However, as Grisez indicates, there nonetheless is a sense in which members of a religious community maintain an enduring relationship with their founder. Thus, venerable communities such as the Order of Friars Minor are referred to most often not by this official name, but rather by the name of Franciscan, which identifies them directly with the name of their glorious founder.

Religious brothers and sisters must indeed put their hope in Christ alone, but at the same time, the living out of their vocation takes place in communities that are bound to maintain fidelity to “the spirit of the founders” (cf. LG, 45). This was a central theme in the Vatican II teachings on religious life. “[T]he spirit and aims of each founder should be faithfully accepted and retained” (PC, 2). Moreover, the Holy See has continued to emphasize the importance of the founders in its pronouncements on religious life since the Council (cf. MR, 8). Religious founders are described as “raised up by God” (“Statutes of Int’l Un. of Superioresses Gen’l,” Canon Law Digest 6, p. 463), and the charisms of religious communities sometimes are called simply the “charism of the Founders” (MR, 11). Moreover, canon law obliges the religious to “observe faithfully the mind and designs of the founders” (can. 578).

What would it mean to maintain fidelity to the “spirit” of Marcial Maciel? What would it mean to “faithfully accept” the “spirit and aims” of this man? Or to follow his “mind and designs”? To ask the question is to answer it.

This is not simply a matter of embarrassment and shame. The Legion is in peril not because it has a scandalous episode in its past, but rather because it is saddled with a founder whose spirit and legacy provide none of the vitality necessary for a religious congregation to endure. This is especially important in times of reform. A religious community almost inevitably requires reform at various stages in its history, and reform means, above all, a return to the founder. Renewal “bear[s] the distinctive mark of the spirit of the Founders” (cf. CLD 6, p. 463).

A religious congregation’s traditions, its founder’s spirit, and the founder’s aims constitute the patrimony of the congregation (cf. PC, 2). This patrimony is a treasury that sustains the congregation and its members in all times, and especially in times of reform. In this sad case, however, Maciel simply has left the Legion with little or no patrimony. That is, his “spirit,” his “aims,” and his “mind and designs” provide nothing on which the Legion can rely. (Cf. E. Peters, “So if Maciel was a criminal (or a sociopath), what of his charism?” 8 Feb. 2009,

Grace Abounding

There are several possible futures for the members of the Legion who played no part in Maciel’s deceits. As individuals they could join other congregations or become diocesan priests. As a group they might discern whether they are called to form a new community, or they might seek incorporation into another religious community (cf. can. 582). However, my own opinion is that the congregation founded by Marcial Maciel, the Legion of Christ itself, cannot survive.

Some have expressed wonder that, despite Maciel’s duplicity and manipulation, good nonetheless could exist in the Legion. However, this is no cause for wonder at all, for “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5.20). Maciel betrayed many, not least of all the faithful members of the Legion who had no part in concealing his crimes. Moreover, all throughout this long betrayal, their Lord remained always in their midst suffering the same betrayal. Though the Legion itself may not survive, the innocent Legionaries have reason to hope that the Lord in His mercy will prevent their good work from being lost.

R. Michael Dunnigan is a canon lawyer and civil lawyer, and he serves as General Counsel to the St. Joseph Foundation in San Antonio, Texas.

Copyright 2009 R. Michael Dunnigan