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MSNBC has the scoop—"discovery"!—of the week: although the Catholic Church doesn't ordain women, a "small but fervent group of women is determined to change all that." (In related news, the Berlin Wall recently fell and Larry Bird just retired.) The video features a graphic with the wording: "Women Priests: Breaking Barriers in the Catholic Church." But one of the priestettes, Elizabeth Jane Via, who works for the district attorney's office in San Diego (and who is described in the report as a "law and order kinda person), says, "I accept and understand that I am violating the law of the Roman Catholic Church." Because, you see, people who violate the laws of San Diego should be prosecuted and go to jail, while people who violate the laws of the Catholic Church are heroines, MSM stars, and women of great faith.
But faith in what? Via states, "I believe the law [allowing only certain men to be ordained] is unjust." So she believes in her authority over against the authority of the Church. Not surprisingly, she immediately falls back on the false dichotomy used by such dissenters: "What I like to say is that the Church has already changed. It's the Vatican that's behind." Ooooh, the nasty Vatican. Wrong answer, girlfriend; besides, it merely makes you sound like a hyper-liberal Protestant. What you really mean is that the Magisterium is wrong and you are right, which requires a severing of authority from communion, which in turn, if taken to its logical conclusion, radically redefines the meaning and nature of "Church" and finally dissolves the validity of both the papacy and apostolic succession. And yet Via and Co. claim their ordinations are "legitimate" because they were carried out by a couple of (unknown) Catholic bishops. (Insert your own wisecrack here about "Via media," if you desire.)
Again, applying simple logic, the priestette's view of the Catholic Church must be a variation of these perspectives: 1) the Church is a man-made institution that must change with the times, or 2) the Church is an institution founded by Christ but under the control of men who hold beliefs contrary to those of Christ. In the first case, the most logical thing to do, as a radical feminist-type, is to simply attack and destroy the Catholic Church. And, of course, there are many feminists and their supporters who do just that; they, I think, are far more logical than women such as Zeman, who seem to operate in a fuzzy, confused world of nostalgia intermingled with feminist politics.
In the second case, it seems absolutely nonsensical to be working to be ordained and given offiical recognition by the very men who represent and defend the very thing you detest and oppose. Again, it seems more logical to simply scrap the entire thing and say, "Hey, we are the true Church! We don't need the Catholic Church!" If the bishops suddenly stated, "Whoops! Our mistake! We just realized that women can and should be ordained!", it would still mean that priestettes would be ordained and recognized by the very authority they detest as patriarchical and male-dominated. It would also mean (to repeat what I've already said) that infallible teaching can be fallible, which means the Catholic Church is a complete farce. And who, really, wants to be ordained and given props by a farcical Church (yes, yes, I know—waaaay too many people)?
Why does this rankle me so? Part of it is simply the brazen illogic, self-obsessive bloviation, and disdainful dissent so readily evident in the priestette movement. Their theology is lousy. Their ecclesiology is incoherent. But there is also the fact that these women, in seeking to "empower" women and pursue "justice," are (unwittingly or not) attacking authentic femininity and making a mockery of not just the priesthood, but of the unique nature of women, especially as embodied by the Blessed Mother.
The 1976 CDF document,Inter Insigniores, stated, "Women who express a desire for the ministerial priesthood are doubtless motivated by the desire to serve Christ and the Church." Perhaps; I'm not so sure. God alone will judge their motivation, but isn't it striking how so many of these women don't seem interested at all in Christ and have only criticism for the Church (or, as noted above, make an artificial, convenient division in the Church so they can appear to be pro-Church while bashing Church authority). Inter Insigniores further stated:
And it is not surprising that, at a time when they are becoming more aware of the discriminations to which they have been subject, they should desire the ministerial priesthood itself. But it must not be forgotten that the priesthood does not form part of the rights of the individual, but stems from the economy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The priestly office cannot become the goal of social advancement; no merely human progress of society or of the individual can of itself give access to it: it is of another order.
It therefore remains for us to meditate more deeply on the nature of the real equality of the baptized which is one of the great affirmations of Christianity: equality is in no way identity, for the Church is a differentiated body, in which each individual has his or her role. The roles are distinct, and must not be confused; they do not favour the superiority of some vis-a-vis the others, nor do they provide an excuse for jealousy; the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (cf. 1 Cor 12-13). The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints.
The Church desires that Christian women should become fully aware of the greatness of their mission: today their role is of capital importance, both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true face of the Church.
The Theotokos is the greatest of her Son's disciples. She was not ordained, nor did she seek to be ordained, and yet she is the greatest of the Saints. Why? Because instead of saying, "My will be done," she said, "Thy will be done." Because instead of chasing after power and self-fulfillment, she praised God: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." And because instead of pursuing position, she embraced the Passion. Instead of obsessing about gender, she gloried in the Gospel. Instead of attacking the Body, she became the Mother of the Body. Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles and Excerpts:
the Son of God came the first time, St. Augustine stated in a sermon,
"he came in obscurity, it was to be judged. When he comes openly it
will be to judge." This observation is a helpful yet challenging bridge
between last week's Gospel reading -- the parable of the sheep and the
goats -- and today's Gospel reading, proclaimed on the first day of the
"Advent" comes from the Latin word adventus, which in turn is a
translation of the Greek word parousia. Both words indicate a coming,
or arrival, and a presence. Advent focuses simultaneously on the first
and second comings of Christ, and his presence with us now, especially
in the Eucharist. The parousia -- sometimes called the second coming of
Christ -- will be realized fully at the end of time, but has already
been initiated by the Incarnation, which revealed the glory of God
among men (see Jn 1:14).
While some Christians fixate upon the return of Christ to the point
that little else matters, Catholics should -- especially during Advent
-- gaze upon and receive the Eucharist, knowing that it is why anything
matters at all. In doing so, we proclaim his coming, anticipating the
culmination of time and history.
What is Advent? Many answers can be given. We can grumble and say that it is nothing but a pretext for hectic activity and commercialism, prettified with sentimental cliches in which people stopped believing ages ago. In many cases this may be true, but it is not the whole picture.
We can say the reverse, that Advent is a time when, in the midst of an unbelieving world, something of the luminous quality of this lost faith is still perceptible, like a visual echo. Just as stars are visible long after they have become extinct, since their erstwhile light is still on its way to us, so this mystery frequently offers some warmth and hope even to those who are no longer able to believe in it.
Advent is a time when a kindness that is otherwise almost entirely forgotten is mobilized; namely, the willingness to think of others and give them a token of kindness. Finally Advent is a time when old customs live again, for instance, in the singing of carols which takes place all over the country. In the melodies and the words of these carols, something of the simplicity, imagination and glad strength of the faith of our forefathers makes itself heard in our age, bringing consolation and encouraging us perhaps to have another go at that faith which could make people so glad in such hard times.
And this, from Pope Benedict XVI's homily given at the vespers of the first Sunday of this Advent:
With these vespers we begin the itinerary of a new liturgical year, entering into the first of the seasons that constitute that year: Advent. In the biblical reading that we just heard, taken from the First Letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul uses precisely this word: "coming," which in Greek is "parousia" and in Latin, "adventus" (1 Thessalonians 5:23). According to the common translation of this text, Paul exhorts the Christians of Thessalonica to keep themselves irreprehensible "for" the coming of the Lord. But in the original text we read "in" the coming ("en te parousia"), as if the coming of the Lord were, more than a future event, a spiritual place in which we already walk in the present, during the wait, and in which we are perfectly vigilant in every personal dimension. In effect, this is exactly what we live in the liturgy: celebrating the liturgical seasons, we actualize the mystery -- in this case the coming of the Lord -- in such a way as to be able, so to speak, to "walk in it" toward its full realization, at the end of time, but already drawing sanctifying virtue from it from the moment that the last times have already begun with the death and resurrection of Christ.
The word that sums up this particular state in which we await something that is supposed to manifest itself but which we also already have a glimpse and foretaste of, is "hope." Advent is the spiritual season of hope par excellence, and in this season the whole Church is called to be hope, for itself and for the world. The whole spiritual organism of the mystical body assumes, as it were, the "color" of hope. The whole people of God begins the journey, drawn by this mystery: that our God is "the God who comes" and who calls us to come to meet him. In what way? Above all in that universal form of hope and expectation that is prayer, which finds its eminent expression in the Psalms, human words by which God himself has placed and continually places the invocation of his coming on the lips and hearts of believers.
That's not news, of course, to those of us who do home school. (And I do use the word "fanatics" with tongue firmly in cheek.) But myths, stereotypes, and silly notions persist. So this lengthy piece in the Winter 2009 issue Education Next is another welcome addition to the growing body of work, both popular and academic, about the demographics of today's home schoolers, which are far more diverse than many people realize:
Survey research has revealed a heterogeneous population of home schoolers and
higher rates of minority home schooling than expected. Economist Guillermo
Montes’s analysis of data from the massive 2001 National Household Education Survey
found that 70 percent of respondents cited a nonreligious reason as the top
motivator in their decision to home school. Home schoolers whose motivations
are primarily religious have certainly not gone away, but they are now joined
by those whose reasons range from concerns about special education to bad
experiences with teachers or school bullies to time-consuming outside
activities to worries over peanut allergies (see Figure 1).
Increasing participation in home schooling among African Americans has drawn
media attention in recent years. The U.S. Department of Education estimated
that by 2003 there were 103,000 black home schoolers (see Figure 2).
Nonprofits, including the Children’s Scholarship Fund, founded in 1998, have provided vouchers to help low-income
families afford private schools, and some are using the money to home school.
Several nationwide support groups have been formed by African Americans to
build momentum; the newest and largest is the National African-American
Homeschoolers Alliance, cofounded in 2003 by Jennifer James. By 2006 the
organization had 3,000 members. James learned of home schooling by watching the
success of home schoolers at the Scripps National Spelling Bee and embraced it
for her family. “Families are running out of options,” James told the
St. Petersburg Times in
2005. “There’s this persistent achievement gap, and a lot of black
children are doing so poorly in traditional schools that parents are
looking for alternatives.” Home schooling is becoming the method of
choice for many, and as such “the Black homeschool movement is growing
at a faster rate than the general homeschool population,” according to
J. Michael Smith, president and cofounder of the Home School Legal
Defense Association (HSLDA), the nation’s most powerful home-school
Growth in home schooling can be spotted among other ethnic and
religious groups as well. Native Americans in Virginia and North
Carolina have founded home-school organizations in an effort to escape
assimilationist public schools and preserve their traditional values.
Hawaiian natives have found home schooling to be the solution to the
gulf between tribal ways and public education. Jews, especially those
who follow the Orthodox tradition, have been home schooling in much
greater numbers in recent years. While Roman Catholic families have
long had a presence in the home-schooling world with such institutions
as the Virginia-based Seton Home Study School (founded in 1980), recent
years have seen an explosion in Catholic home schooling and resources.
Islamic home schooling has also grown rapidly, especially since 9/11,
largely because “the public school system is not accommodating to
Muslims,” in the words of Fatima Saleem, founder of the Palmetto Muslim
Homeschool Resource Network.
False Freedoms: On the Terror in Mumbai | Jose Yulo, Ed.D. | Ignatius Insight | November 28, 2008
If I'm offered a choice between A and B, I'm free to choose one or the other, but it's
a case of very limited possibilities. Suppose I want both A and B...I'm presented
with an array of unlimited options, I have the opportunity to fulfill myself as
an autonomous agent...That's what I call "freedom." -- Lucifer, in Raymond Dennehy's
Aristotle, is a property of the will which is realized through truth. It is
given to man as a task to be accomplished. There is no freedom without truth. -- Pope John Paul II, Memory and
The day before
Thanksgiving was one of horror and sorrow for the citizens of Mumbai and all of
India. Seemingly from out of nowhere, a thoroughly organized and systematic
plot to spread wanton carnage and death commenced in this city, a situation yet
unresolved at the time of this writing.
attacks were hotels frequented by western expatriates, seized and followed by
ensuing hostage standoffs. Most recently, a Jewish outreach center was taken
by gunmen, all happening as U.S.-based representatives of the group were
literally cut off in mid-sentence on the phone from the resident rabbi in
Mumbai. Read the entire column...
"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union." (President Abraham Lincoln, "Proclamation of Thanksgiving", October 3, 1863)
"I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the LORD hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves therein. (Ps. 69:31-34)
O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods." (Ps. 95:1-3)
"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations." (Ps. 100)
"When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; and my prayer came to thee, into thy holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to thee; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the LORD!" (Jon. 2:7-9)
"For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. Listen to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go forth from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples. My deliverance draws near speedily, my salvation has gone forth, and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be for ever, and my deliverance will never be ended. Hearken to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of men, and be not dismayed at their revilings. (Isa. 51:3-7)
"He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God. Under the test of this service, you will glorify God by your obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ, and by the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others; while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" (2 Cor. 9:10-15)
"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Tim. 4:4-5)
"And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen." (Rev. 7:11-12)
"And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, "We give thanks to thee, Lord God Almighty, who art and who wast, that thou hast taken thy great power and begun to reign. (Rev. 11:16-17)
Christians and Muslims, Living Together | Preface to English Edition of 111 Questions on Islam | Samir Khali
Samir, S.J. on Islam and the West | Interviews conducted by Giorgio Paolucci and Camille Eid
It Is a Fact That Muslims Are Now Part of Western Society
Due to large-scale immigration to Europe and the Western nations from Muslim
countries since World War II, Islam is no longer a distant, exotic religion. In
fact, Muslims are present throughout Europe and in many parts of the United
States. Demographers project that the number of American and European Muslims
will increase in the immediate future.
At present, Europeans are dealing with the challenge of protecting their values
while seeking a solution to the social ills of alienation, segregation,
poverty, and terrorism associated with the Muslim immigrants. Europeans express
concerns about the rapid development of Eurabia.
Since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center "Twin Towers"
in New York City on September 11, 2001, Islamophobia has spread through the Western
nations. The following pages were prepared to help readers understand three
Since 1965, the Church has been working to
canonize Pius, but has slowed the process because of serious doubts
raised about the pope's legacy, by Jews and Catholics alike.
Sept. 15 to 17, as Catholics were marking the 50th anniversary of
Pius's death, Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF) held a symposium at the
Vatican to try to put the controversy to rest. Among the 80
participants from around the world - Jewish and Christian clergy,
historians, journalists, and authors - was Rabbi Eric Silver of Temple
Beth David in Cheshire. Silver had been with PTWF in 2005 when Pope
John Paul II granted his last private audience.
"We studied the
documents in the Vatican's archives and had eye-witness interviews, and
what we learned was truly world-shaking," Silver says. "There is nobody
who did more to rescue Jews than Pius."
Rabbi Shriver makes an argument that I've not heard before:
One problem for scholars and others looking at Pius's legacy is the lack of cleardocumented
evidence of his efforts to save the Jews. With no records, it's easy to
point to what he didn't do, says Rabbi Silver. "But my question is
this: Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out why there is no
paper trail? Rome was occupied by the Nazis, there were German spies in
the Vatican, so what would have happened if they had found physical
evidence of the pope's actions? There is not a paper trail linking the
Final Solution to Hitler. If you don't want to give credit to the pope
because there was no paper trail, you can't blame Hitler for the Final
Solution, because there was no paper trail there either."
And makes, again, one of those "obvious" points that some people either overlook or simply dismiss:
Silver cites Hitler's foreign minister
Joachim von Ribbentrop, who allegedly claimed at the Nuremberg Trials
that he had "a whole desk full of protests" from the pope, and from no
other European leader. "Eichmann, in his diary, records that his
efforts are being frustrated by the pope; he just can't prove it,"
"People say, 'Why didn't the pope speak out? He
should have denounced Hitler,'" Silver says. "That was easy for FDR to
do 4,000 miles from Rome. The Vatican is 110 acres, the world's
smallest country, and it was ringed by German-occupied Rome, with the
closest German 200 yards away. If the pope speaks out and Hitler
invades the Vatican, Pius can fight back with his 22 Swiss Guards.
Dutch clergy ran up a trial balloon by speaking out, and immediately,
40,000 Dutch Jews were rounded up, including Edith Stein."
The conclusion of the article is definitely worth quoting:
A book is planned on the symposium
proceedings and findings. "This is the greatest character assassination
in the 20th century," Krupp says, "I'm doing this for the Jewish people
- for when the Holocaust happens again, not if it happens. If the guy
who did so much for us last time is demonized, what will the next guy
who wants to help us say?"
Silver says the symposium "completely
turned me around. It turns out that Pius wasn't a collaborator or in
collusion; he didn't keep quiet in exchange for the safety of
Christians. In August 1942, the murders in the concentration camps were
publicized, and the Allies did nothing. Anyone who wants to examine
what Pius did or didn't do needs to do so in the context of what others
did or didn't do, and for that you don't need access to the Vatican
... to the Holy Land, which took place earlier in November, can be seen and heard in a number of videos shot by Steve Ray, who, along with his wife Janet, guided the pilgrimage. Here is one of videos, which includes remarks made by many of those on the pilgrimage, including Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, and Fr. Mark Cristina of EWTN:
From today's edition of Vatican Information Service:
CALLED TO LIVE IN CHRIST'S LOVE FOR OTHERS
VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2008 (VIS) - Continuing his series of catecheses on St. Paul, in this morning's general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke of the consequences deriving from justification by the faith and by the action of the Spirit in Christian life.
In his Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle of the Gentiles "gives radical emphasis to the gratuitousness of justification" and "highlights the relationship between faith and works", said the Pope.
In the same Letter, St, Paul says that "by bearing one another's burdens, believers fulfil the commandment of love. Justified by the gift of faith in Christ, we are called to live in Christ's love for others, because it is on this criterion that we will be judged at the end of our lives".
"Christ's love for us ... claims us, welcomes us, embraces us, sustains us; it even torments us because it forces us not to live for ourselves alone, closed in our own selfishness, by for 'Him Who died and has risen for us'. The love of Christ makes us become, in Him, the 'new creation' that is part of his mystical Body which is the Church.
"Seen in this light", the Holy Father added, "the central importance of justification without works, the main object of Paul's preaching, presents no contradiction to faith working through love, on the contrary it requires that our own faith be expressed in a life in accordance with the Spirit".
Going on then to refer to "the unfounded conflict" some people have seen "between the theology of St. Paul and that of St. James", the Pope pointed out that while the former "is primarily concerned with showing that faith in Christ is necessary and sufficient, James stresses the consequent relationship between faith and works. Hence, for both Paul and James, faith working through love bears witness to the free gift of justification in Christ".
The Pope noted how "we often fall into the same misunderstandings that characterised the community of Corinth. Those Christians thought that having been gratuitously justified in Christ by faith, 'all things are lawful for them'. Often, we too think it is lawful to create divisions within the Church, Body of Christ, celebrating the Eucharist without caring for our brethren in need, or aspiring to the most exalted charisms unaware that we are limbs of one another, etc. The consequences of a faith not incarnated in love are disastrous because it is reduced to the arbitrariness of subjectivism, harmful to us and to our fellow men and women".
"What we must do", he went on, "is gain a renewed awareness that, precisely because we have been justified in Christ, we are no longer our own but have become temples of the Spirit and hence are called to glorify God in our bodies. We would undervalue the priceless value of justification if, bought at a high price by the blood of Christ, we did not glorify it with our body, with all our lives".
"If the ethics which St. Paul proposes to believers do not deteriorate into forms of moralism but retain their importance for us today, this is because ... they are rooted in the individual and community relationship with Christ, to then take concrete form in a life lived according to the Spirit. The essential point is that Christian ethics do not arise from a system of commandments", the Pope concluded, "they are a consequence of our friendship with Christ. This friendship influences our lives, if it is real it is incarnated and fulfilled in love for others. That is why any form of ethical decline is not limited to the individual sphere but is, at the same time, a devaluation of individual and community faith, from which it derives and upon which it has an incisive effect".
Having concluded his catechises, the Pope greeted Spanish-speaking pilgrims, mentioning the forthcoming "march to demand the release of hostages, which will take place this Friday in Colombia. I raise fervent prayers to God that this scourge may come to an end and that harmony and peace may soon be achieved in that beloved nation", he said.
The following message from Fr. Fessio, S.J., was published on the inside cover of the Fall 2008 Ignatius Press catalog:
Dear Ignatius Press Reader,
As you can see in the photo above, I was blessed with the opportunity of personally presenting to the Holy Father the Ignatius Press paperback edition of his book Jesus of Nazareth. The occasion was appropriate because it was just before the first session of the annual meeting with his former students at which we discussed central themes for the 2nd volume he is now working on.
He was pleased but not surprised because he knew that Ignatius Press was in the process of publishing the paperback edition. But he was both pleased and surprised when I gave him the new Study Guide to his book and explained why we had written it.
The Holy Father has a great gift of making the mysteries of our faith understandable to ordinary Catholics. But they are mystery and there are depths of insight and meaning in Jesus of Nazareth which many will miss without some sound guidance. That's why we published this Study Guide: so that everyone can derive the maximum benefit from this foundational and important work. And we've designed it both for individual use and for study groups.
We all have much to learn from this extraordinary Pope, and Ignatius Press is honored to be able to provide you with so many good books both by and about him. This Fall season we're delighted to offer a full menu for a real spiritual feast. In addition to Jesus of Nazareth and the Study Guide, you'll also find Pope Benedict's Church Fathers, the continuation of his Wednesday talks on the saints of the early Church; Christ Our Hope, the official record of his historic visit to the United States; and Peter Seewald's Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait (beautifully illustrated). Peter Seewald is the former fallen-away Catholic, Marxist atheist, journalist who, after a book-length interview with then-Cardinal Ratzinger (Salt of the Earth), returned to the Faith.
May these books be a source of many blessings to us all.
From LifeNews.com, this piece (ht: Mark Shea) about how the media almost completely ignored the issue of abortion during the presidential campaign:
The new Pew Forum study found less than 1 percent of campaign news coverage related to abortion issues.
The Pew study examined 7,592 campaign stories from 48 news outlets during the general election.
They covered from June 1, the week that the primaries ended and Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign, to October 15, the day of the last presidential debate.
Pew found only 283 stories in which religion or religious issues played a significant role and only 9 percent of these stories covered the issues of abortion or stem cell research, with abortion getting the most attention of the two.
Although abortion was covered more prominently in previous presidential elections, Pew found this year was an exception.
Pew's report said the coverage abortion and pro-life issues did receive "tended to come in the form of reaction to statements by the candidates and quickly receded without generating any sustained narrative."
When the mainstream media bothered to cover pro-life issues, a good portion of it centered around criticism of Governor Sarah Palin.
The Pew Forum report explains that most of the religion-oriented coverage offered by major news outlets focused on false reports that then-Senator Obama was a Muslim. "Meanwhile, there was little attempt by the news media during the campaign to comprehensively examine the role of faith in the political values and policies of the candidates, save for those of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin." And: " Together, social issues – including abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research – composed 9% of religion-focused campaign news but less than 1% of campaign news overall. Abortion was by far the biggest of these, again, largely focused on Palin." More detailed analysis of this topic can be found here.
It would be far too easy, of course, to simply say, "The MSM was biased and didn't do a good job covering the campaign in an even-handed, objective fashion." Well, duh. Of course not. That ship has not only sailed, it crashed, burned, sunk, and turned into fish food some time ago. The problem is far deeper than bias; it is the stark and striking fact that more and more Americans are not only in the dark about what this or that candidate believes, they don't seem altogether concerned with educating themselves about such matters. And that, in turn, reflects the culture of passive receptivity inculcated through public education and pop culture, which has left far too many people completely clueless about first principles, the permanent things, and the basics of American history and government. Hand in hand is the loss of an authentic Christian comprehension of morality, never mind any sense of Christian culture. And then?
But when the Christian faith falls into ruins and faith in mankind's greater hope is lost, the myth of the divine state rises again, because man cannot do without the totality of hope. Although such promises pose as progress and commandeer for themselves the slogans of progress and progressive thinking, viewed historically they are nevertheless a regression to an era antedating the novum of Christianity, a turning back along the scale of history. And even though their propaganda says that their goal is man's complete liberation, the abolition of all ruling authority, they contradict the truth of man and are opposed to his freedom, because they force man to fit into what he himself can make. Such politics, which declares that the kingdom of God is the outcome of politics and twists faith into the universal primacy of the political, is by its very nature the politics of enslavement; it is mythological politics.
So said Joseph Ratzinger nearly thirty years ago, in this homily. He pointed to the example of the early Christians as a guiding light during such dark times:
The Christians were by no means fearful, gullible people who were taken in by the authorities and did not know that there can be a right to resistance and even a conscientious duty to resist. The very last sentence shows that they recognized the limits of the state and did not bow to it in matters where they were not allowed to bow to it because it opposed God's will. Even more importantly, the fact remains that they still did not attempt to destroy that state; rather, they tried to build it up. Amorality is fought by morality, and evil by a determined adherence to the good, and in no other way. Morality--doing good--is the true resistance, and only the good can be a preparation for a turn for the better. There are not two kinds of political morality: a morality of resistance and a morality of ruling. There is only one morality: morality as such, the morality of God's commandments, which cannot be temporarily suspended in order to bring about a change in the status quo more quickly. One can build up only by building up, not by destroying--that is the political ethics of the Bible from Jeremiah to Peter and Paul. The Christian always supports the state, in this sense: he does the positive, the good things that hold states together. He has no fear that he will thereby favor the power of the wicked, but he is convinced that evil can be dismantled and the power of evil and of evil men can be diminished only by strengthening what is good. Anyone who accepts the killing of the innocent and the destruction of other people's property as part of the bargain cannot appeal to the faith. The words of Saint Peter are quite explicitly against such methods: "Let none of you suffer [condemnation] as a murderer, or a thief" (4:1 )--and at that time he was speaking also against this sort of resistance. The true, Christian resistance that he is demanding occurs only in the situation where the state demands the repudiation of God and of his commandments, where it demands evil, against which good is still commanded.
Recently, at the annual fall assembly of the United
Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops, archdiocesan administrator Bishop
Robert J. Hermann stated that for any bishop, it would be a "privilege
to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion."
His comments were picked up by media outlets across the country and
have been touted in the blogosphere as a courageous statement in the
defense of unborn human life. St. Louis Review staff writer Jennifer Brinker recently met
with Bishop Hermann, where he reflected on his statement and also
answered several other questions relating to the issue of abortion, the
bishops’ meeting and the recent presidential election. Let's delve right into the issue at hand. At the recent bishops' meeting in Baltimore, you said this:
We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution.
I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow
to bring about an end to abortion. If we are willing to die tomorrow,
then we should be willing to, until the end of our lives, to take all
kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide.
Could you explain a little bit more about the point you were trying to get across? I think that the way abortion has been presented over the past
35 years so often is that this is something that's horrible, and we
need to stop it. But it seems to me that people do not realize that it
is 50 million children that we have killed. We have campaigned to save
the baby whales, and yet we vote in pro-abortion politicians—which
doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
I feel we need to be in an awareness-raising campaign to open our eyes
to really see the destruction that we've brought about. There should be
50 more million Americans in our midst, and anyone under 35 can look
around and say, "Where are they?" And, "I'm very lucky to be alive."
We are grateful for all the soldiers who have died to defend our
freedom. But at the same time, we aren't making similar efforts to
protect the unborn. And so that's my concern—to raise the consciousness
of all people to the atrocities that we're committing.
What was the reaction of your fellow bishops after you said this? The reaction was one or two bishops started clapping, but then
we moved on immediately (to other business). I received numerous
comments from other bishops, thanking me for making this courageous
statement. I said any bishop there could have and probably would have
made the same statement.
After I had finished, Bishop (Robert) Finn and Archbishop (Joseph)
Naumann and Bishop (Michael) Sheridan commented. Archbishop (Charles)
Chaput sought me out and commented. So numerous bishops had come up to
me and thanked me for the comment. I said we're only doing what we're
supposed to be doing, that's all.
The newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published a lengthy and laudatory retrospective on the Beatles Nov. 22 to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the "White Album," the group's groundbreaking double-record set.
"Forty years later, this album remains a type of magical musical anthology: 30 songs you can go through and listen to at will, certain of finding some pearls that even today remain unparalleled," it said.
With rock songs like "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Helter Skelter," ballads like "Julia" and "Blackbird," and dreamlike pieces like "Dear Prudence," the album represents the "creative summit" of the Beatles' career, it said.
Okay, fine. Whatever. This doesn't bother me at all, even though I've never been much of a Beatles' fan (gasp!); in fact, I almost never listen to their music. Here is the source of my irritation:
What characterized the "White Album" and the Beatles best music in general was an inventiveness that stands in stark contrast with popular music today, the newspaper said.
"Record products today seem mostly standardized and stereotyped, far from the creativity of the Beatles," it said. The modern pop music industry is too willing to sacrifice originality and fantasy in order to satisfy the consumer models it has adopted and promoted, it said.
The newspaper also recalled that the Beatles were recording with rudimentary tools compared to those used by the high-tech recording industry today. Even so, "a listening experience like that offered by the Beatles is truly rare," it said.
Where to begin? First, it is misleading in its comparison of the best music from one generation with the best-selling music of another generation. It's not just apples and oranges, it's apples and horse manure. If you are going to compare the Beatles, who produced some of the best pop/rock of their time (and, yes, of the past forty years), with Britney Spears, Hannah Montana, David Archulata, Pink, and any given "flavor of the month" boy band, then you must be fair, turn the tables, and compare, say, U2, Radiohead, Prince, Coldplay, and The Police—just to name a few—to such stellar 1960s artists as Bobby Goldsboro, Lulu, Boxtops, and Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, all of whom had big-selling albums between 1965-1969.
Second, it must be recognized that the music industry has changed dramatically in the past forty years. Most of the best pop/rock music of today is not released by major labels, nor do artists need to rely on major labels the way they did forty years ago. There's no doubt that the Beatles, along with artists such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, U2, and a handful of others, were consistently able to combine commercial success with artistic merit (don't even bring up The Rolling Stones: I loathe them and their music). This is, I think, more difficult to accomplish today—not because there aren't good pop/rock artists (more on that in a moment), but because the marketplace is far different from what it was in the good ol' days; it is fragmented and wildly diverse, in large part due to the internet and advances in computer technology. I'm not saying things are better, but that they are quite different. And that difference makes all the difference when it comes to the comparisons made (wrongly) by L'Osservatore Romano.
Third, the article states, "The modern pop music industry is too willing to sacrifice originality
and fantasy in order to satisfy the consumer models it has adopted and
promoted." Sure, that is true of a significant portion of the modern pop industry, but is it true of all pop music? Or, turning the table again, was the "pop music industry" of the 1960s filled only with people wishing to make music of timeless artistic merit? I don't think so (which is one reason I don't listen to much of Sinatra's music from the late Sixties). Good pop music is usually made despite the whims and machinations of the music industry, not because of it.
Fourth, there is a lot of good, excellent, and even exceptional pop/rock music being produced today. And, to build upon the last point, much of it is being created outside of or on the fringes of the mainstream pop music industry. Yes, there is also a lot of dreck. A lot. But there always is. But for every Britney Spears there is a Brandi Carlile, Kate Bush, Tracy Chapman, Tina Dico, or Cowboy Junkies; for every David Archulata there is a Van Morrison, Seal, Sting, Jeff Buckley, Iron and Wine, Sigor Rós, Sufjan Stevens, or Martin Sexton; for every Pink there is a Björk, Lamb, Portishead, or Sarah McLachlan. For every boy band there is a Soundgarden, Radiohead, Muse, or Porcupine Tree.
Finally, the Beatles, Michael Jordan, and "Lost" only come along once in a great while, not only because they are so good, but because they do things in a way that wasn't done before. The "rudimentary tools" used by the Beatles were far superior than what anyone had just a few years before them, and they made it possible for the musical ideas of Paul, John, George, and Ringo to come to fruition. In a similar way, the advent of stereo sound in the 1950s paved the way for Sinatra to enter into the second great phase of his career, the Capitol years. But it usually takes time for the cream to rise to the top, and only time will tell what artists from the first decade of the 21st century will be worthy of listening to again and again years from now. I'm not sure if the L'Osservatore Romano will be paying attention, but I hope to be.
journalists "get" religion? How do we improve the odds that our newsrooms
get it right? It's crucial that journalists find journalistic solutions to
this journalism problem.
* Journalists must face this reality: It's
impossible to understand what is happening in our world without
understanding the power of religion in real life at the local, national
and global levels.
* Journalists must be more humble and own up to
our mistakes. In particular, we need to be more careful about our use of
religious language, especially loaded labels such as "moderate" and
* Newsroom managers, even during these hard times,
must seek out skilled professionals who want to work on this beat, while
striving to promote cultural and intellectual diversity. They need to
offer training to other journalists whose work constantly veers into
religious territory. Today, religion stories are everywhere.
Reporters and editors who cover religion must find ways to get inside the
daily lives of the people they cover. When religious believers tell their
stories, we have to understand what they are saying and try to accurately
capture their point of view, even when what they believe is
As President-elect Obama builds his new administration, his list of new appointees makes it even more apparent that he is comfortable with the pro-abortion lobby. This became even more clear on Saturday when Ellen Moran, executive director of EMILY’s List, was named White House communications director.
For a candidate to be considered for funding from EMILY’s List there are three requirements: The candidate must be a woman; she must be a Democrat; and she must support unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
In related news, at least on a loosely analogous level, there is rain in the forecast for Oregon this winter.
The final wording of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)
has yet to be set, but there is every indication that it will be the
most radical piece of pro-abortion legislation ever proposed at the
federal level. The near certainty that FOCA will be re-introduced
(compounded by the increased likelihood that it will pass and be signed
into law) means that, ready or not, Catholic bishops will have to face
squarely the problem of well-known Catholic legislators supporting a
specifically and gravely evil bill. As I see it, bishops have four
options for dealing with Catholic legislators who support FOCA:
From Quas Primas (On the Feast of Christ the King), by Pope Pius XI, promulgated on December 11, 1925:
19. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. "You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men." If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.
20. If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth—he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ! "Then at length," to use the words addressed by our predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, twenty-five years ago to the bishops of the Universal Church, "then at length will many evils be cured; then will the law regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."
24. If We ordain that the whole Catholic world shall revere Christ as King, We shall minister to the need of the present day, and at the same time provide an excellent remedy for the plague which now infects society. We refer to the plague of anti-clericalism, its errors and impious activities. This evil spirit, as you are well aware, Venerable Brethren, has not come into being in one day; it has long lurked beneath the surface. The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God's religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences. We lamented these in the Encyclical Ubi arcano; we lament them today: the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result. Many of these, however, have neither the station in society nor the authority which should belong to those who bear the torch of truth. This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights.
Fr. John Cihak is an adjunct professor of theology at Mount Angel Seminary (Oregon), serves as
Director of Pro-Life Activities for the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, and is
State Chaplain to the Knights of Columbus (Oregon). I've had the great pleasure of knowing him since the time of his ordination some 10 or 11 years ago, and have always been impressed by his keen intelligence and obvious holiness (his dissertation, defended in Rome, was on von Balthasar). Shortly after the election he wrote a letter to his parishioners that is starting to garner attention similar to that being paid to remarks made by Fr. Jay Scott Newman of South Carolina. Fr. Cihak wrote, in part:
my view as a priest, scholar and professor, never before has the
Culture of Death been given so much power in this country. Our new
president is committed to promoting and protecting with law
intrinsically evil acts, acts that are never justified and should never
be done by a rational person. The fruit of this conviction is that he
is committed to creating and ratifying unjust laws. The clearest deed
that will reveal this truth is when he signs the ‘Freedom of Choice
Act’ into law, which was one of his campaign promises. This legislation
will virtually abolish ANY restrictions on abortion that exist now.
This legislation will result in the killing of tens of thousands of
innocent children. The killing of the innocent is a sin that cries out
to Heaven for justice (Gen. 4:10). Those who voted for this president
will now share in the indirect responsibility and guilt for these
killings. Such is the serious nature of voting.
Those who voted for him may respond that their vote was not based on
his pro-abortion stance but other social issues. The response I gave in
a previous homily is that clearly and logically this election did not involve a situation of ‘proportionate reason’ mentioned in the USCCB’s Faithful Citizenship. The
issues of quality of life come into play only when candidates vying for
office are equal on the issues dealing with life itself.
The ‘Freedom of Choice Act’, and other unjust legislation like it that
will likely be proposed, also has the potential to force the Church out
of health care. The Church, as the bearer of the Gospel of Life, will
refuse to take part in committing intrinsically evil acts. The names
like Providence, St. Vincent, Sacred Heart may remain on the outside of
the hospitals, but their internal policies may no longer meaningfully
reflect the teachings of Christ and His Church. Thus the legislation
would spell disaster for the poor and will create a huge societal
problem since the Church is one of the major providers of health care
in the country, especially to the poor. Moreover, if the Church is not
providing health care, then those with terminal illness and those who
do not seem to have a sufficient ‘quality of life’ will lose their last
protection from those who will want to kill them to save health care
dollars - still more innocent lives lost.
And then this, which has stirred up some controversy:
And so as the pastor of your souls
and as your spiritual father, I urge you to prepare yourselves
spiritually, through prayer, fasting, virtuous living and most of all
faith, hope and love, for what is to come. Let us recommit ourselves in
joy to protect and cherish the weak and vulnerable among us. If you are
one who cast your vote for our new president, I urge you to seek the
mercy of Jesus through the Sacrament of Confession that you may be
absolved from the great evil this president says he will do. Jesus
Christ has already definitively broken the power of evil and death. He
will never abandon us or the world. He may be asking the members of His
Body to have a deeper share with Him in the Cross, that the world might
Cihak, who was also at St. Anne Catholic Church
in Grants Pass for two years, said in a phone interview Thursday he
wanted to clarify the sentence urging Catholics to seek forgiveness
because he has received the most comments about it.
never stated a vote for Obama was a formal or material cooperation with
evil," he said. Also, a vote for Obama is not a mortal sin, he said.
"I didn't say anything about people refraining from Holy Communion," he said.
said the letter was written after the election, so it wasn't an attempt
to influence how people vote. He said he considers the letter
nonpartisan because he would have condemned any candidate who supported
abortion, no matter what party he or she belonged to.
said his views are shaped by both the teachings of the church and by
the many parishioners who have come to him seeking post-abortion
"There is not only a child lost, but it has devastating effects on the mother, and the father, too," he said.
said abortion is "intrinsically evil" and as a priest he said he feels
obligated to speak to his parishioners on the subject. He said the
number of abortions in this country is alarming.
Through this logic, the logic of
reason and the logic of faith, the first sieve would eliminate
pro-abortion candidates from our consideration. Their position would
not make it through the first sieve because these non-negotiable issues
have to do with intrinsically evil acts. Abortion is always the direct
killing of innocent human life. It is the defining issue for a rational
person who understands the natural law; it is the defining issue for a
Catholic who knows Jesus Christ and His revealed law. Certain acts and
political positions are always wrong, and no one may deliberately vote
in favor of them. Those with a direct vote (legislators) may not
support these evils in legislation or programs. Those who elect
politicians (citizens) indirectly support these evils if they vote in
favor of candidates who propose to advance them. Abortion is the taking
of innocent human life, and to support that and to vote for those who
support it and promote it means that one takes at least indirect
responsibility in the deaths of those children.
Back in the last election in
2004, our own Archbishop Vlazny also clarified the issue of
pro-abortion candidates and the reception of Holy Communion. He writes,
“Let me say this. Catholics who publicly disagree with serious church
teaching on such matters as abortion or same sex marriage should
refrain from receiving Holy Communion. These women and men need to
understand that what the reception of a sacrament means in the life of
the church. The reception of Holy Communion is a sign that a person not
only seeks union with God but also desires to live in communion with
the church. Such communion is clearly violated when one publicly
opposes serious church teaching. Reception of Holy Communion by such
public dissenters betrays a blatant disregard for the serious meaning
and purpose of the reception of the Eucharist.” If you are struggling
with these words, pray for illumination; pray for conversion.
So we have our two basic “sieves
of logic” to help us sort through this election and every election. We
are rational persons who can know and follow the natural law, and we
are Catholics who know, love and strive to follow the Lord Jesus. We
have our rational combine to cut through and sort the political
landscape. Jesus tells us today that it doesn’t matter whether we come
to the harvest at the very beginning or in the twilight of the day. He
wants us working there nonetheless, and will reward us with the “daily
wage” he longs to give us, eternal life.
I think we now live in a time
when we have to choose. We have to choose between being a Catholic in
communion with Christ and His Church and supporting a pro-abortion
position. This I know is difficult for some people because some
Catholics have never before been explicitly asked to choose. But now we
have to choose between those two. We cannot adhere to both. St. Paul
tells us that there is nothing in common between Christ and Belial. Now
the request that we choose is an invitation to conversion. I don’t know
about you, but the pro-choice position will not bring me to heaven.
Jesus Christ will bring me to heaven. When we go to vote in November, I
would ask that you think of final judgment that will determine our
eternal destiny. We will be judged according to our deeds in this life.
How do I want to stand before God and the millions of little children
in His arms? I know when push comes to shove, I want to be where Jesus
Christ is because for me “For me life is Christ.”
Not surprisingly, some Catholics are upset by Fr. Cihak's recent remarks, as the Mail Tribune reports:
Zon said he was surprised that Cihak had written the letter to his parishioners.
"He didn't come across to be that sort of a priest," Zon said. "I was quite disturbed about him making that remark."
who voted for Obama, personally doesn't approve of abortions, but he
also feels it's a woman's right to choose what she wants to do with her
He said the church should do more to encourage women to find ways to avoid abortions.
But, apparently, Zon doesn't think a priest telling people that abortion is a grave evil is part of the work of lessening the number of abortions. It is, I think, just one example of the "let's have it both ways" approach taken by many Catholics. There is lots of fussing about "avoiding abortions" (as though they are like acne or black ice on a winter highway), along with defiant talk of supporting a woman's "right to choose". So, what is more sacred: the right to life or the right to choose to end the life of the unborn? It's that simple; there really are some things in this world that are black and white, cut and dried, and non-negotiable.
There is something else at work, however, that I've been pondering of late, which is the nearly sacred character of voting, as understood by many Americans. It has gotten to the point where you'll hear people say, "It doesn't matter who you vote for; what matters is that you vote," as though the act of voting is somehow an exercise in existential affirmation: I vote, there I am! And part of the quasi-sacred nature of voting is that no one has the right to tell me about the likely consequences of my vote. Notice that I didn't say "no one has the right to tell me how to vote." That, of course, is how it is put, but that also avoids the truth of the matter.
Let's imagine that a president of the United States created a new cabinet position: Secretary of Reproductive Justice. The person appointed has these goals: to make abortion as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, with the monetary support of tax dollars. All hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, will be required to provide every sort of "reproductive health" service. Would it then be offensive for a priest or bishop to say: "This new position is evil; it is contrary to Catholic teaching." And so forth. Would people react the same way? Perhaps. But I think (and maybe I'm delusional on this point; I'm open to that criticism) that less Catholics would be upset. In other words, because voting does have this quasi-sacred quality—and because clergy and religious groups aren't supposed to support a specific candidate or party—it would be viewed differently.
But what, in the end, is the difference? Without putting words in his mouth, I think this is part of what Fr. Cihak is getting at. It's as though we must treat political candidates with a different set of critical criteria since, whatever else we do, we must not tread too closely near "My Sacred Right to Vote However I Like!" And although Fr. Cihak's remark about going to confession could have been expressed with more precision, I took it to mean, at the very least, that voting for a candidate involves a certain amount of responsibility for the candidate's actions—especially when they are keeping with what is known about the candidate prior to his election. As Fr. Cihak noted in his October homily, "As thinking Catholics we approach a political scene which does not completely reflect the Catholic position." I think almost all Catholics would agree with that remark. The question, of course, is how do Catholics maneuver through the minefields of political engagement? That debate, in certain ways, is beginning anew.
Mary in Byzantine Doctrine and Devotion | Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.
In the various Christian traditions Marian doctrine and
devotion take shape in manifold and diverse ways. Since the
Second Vatican Council the Church has striven to promote a new
and more careful study of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of
God, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church; to encourage
theological faculties in the pursuit of knowledge, research,
and piety with regard to Mary of Nazareth. The Mother of the
Lord is understood as a "datum of revelation"
and a "maternal presence" always operative in the
life of the Church. 
The history of theological reflection witnesses to the
Church's faith and attention regarding the Virgin Mary and
her mission in the history of salvation. Especially is this
evident in the Western Church. 
The deeper understanding of the mystery of
the Theotokos, the more profound is the understanding
of the mystery of Christ, of the Church, and of the vocation
of humanity. Concerning Mary, everything is relative to Christ;
only in the mystery of Christ is her mystery fully clear.
Conversely it may generally be said that knowing Mary
illuminates our appreciation of the mystery of Christ and of
the Church. 
degree in which the mystery of the Church is understood, the
mystery of Mary is apparent. Knowing Mary, the Church
recognizes its origins, its mission of grace, its destiny to
glory, and the pilgrimage of faith which guides it. 
The Virgin Mary is like
a mirror reflecting the mighty works of God, which theology
has the task of illustrating. The importance of Mariological
reflection derives from the importance of Christology, from
the value of ecclesiology and pneumatology, from the meaning
of Christian anthropology, and from eschatology, and is an
integral part of them.