Saturday, September 03, 2005

Today's Catholic Cultural Heritage Images

From the official Website of Sacro Monte di Varallo

The Sacro Monte of Varallo is the work of two great churchmen and of a number of artists headed by Gaudenzio Ferrari. The two churchmen are: the Franciscan friar, Blessed Bernardino Caìmi, and St. Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. At Varallo Fra Bernardino Caìmi put into practice the idea that he had been turning over in his mind during his stay in the Holy Land.

His aim was to erect buildings that would recall the "holy places" of Palestine, those places which evoke the characteristic monuments of Christ's stay on earth (the Stable at Bethlehem, the House in Nazareth, the Last Supper, Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre). He began his work in 1491 and carried on with it as long as he lived (i. e. until the end of 1499), assisted by Gaudenzio Ferrari who continued the idea and decorated a number of chapels with frescos and statues.

St. Charles Borromeo appreciated the work already done when he paid a visit to the Sacro Monte in 1578 and, giving the place the appropiate name of "New Jerusalem", made it more widely known among his contemporaries. Returning there at the end of October 1584, he decided to develop the idea by building new chapels which would illustrate the work of Jesus more completely.

For the great Bishop of Milan it was an effective means of his time, giving them greater religious fervour and protecting them from the heresies that threatened northern Italy. He utilised the project for the rearrangement of the Sacro Monte drawn up by Arch. Galeazzo Alessi in 1592 and, adapting it to his own plan, gave instructions for the resumption of work.

The work continued until 1765. During this century and a half new artists added their names to Gaudenzio Ferrari's: Morazzone, Tanzio, the Fiamminghini and the Danedi where painting was concerned; Giovanni d'Enrico and Tabacchetti for sculputure, to mention only the most noted of them. St. Charles Borromeo's idea and the efforts which derived from it made the Sacro Monte of Varallo the prototype of those other Sacri Monti that arose in the area during the 17th century (Sacri Monti of Orta, Varese, Oropa, Crea and Locarno).

Today the Sacro Monte of Varallo continues to be a school of Christian thruth and life, while at the same time it is the most precious treasury of art in Valsesia. Varallo Sesia, a pretty tourist resort situated at the confluence of the River Sesia and the mountain stream of Mastellone, is proud of its climate and its art treasures. Loreto, s.Marco, S. Gaudenzio, the Madonna delle Grazie, S. Giacomo and the Palace of Museum are the finest evidence of the good taste of the people of Valsesia.

This gives you an idea of what I'm talking about today. The shrine seems to be on a mountain, and features a group of about 45 chapels, external to a main basilica, each dedicated to some aspect of the story of salvation, especially the life of Christ. Each chapel is adorned with a combination of architectural detail, statuary, and painting combining to create a scene. The art is some of the best of the Italian Baroque. The work on Sacro Monte went on over generations.

it was intended as an alternative to making the actual pilgrimage to the Holy Land, then under the control of the Moslems, who could be none too pleasant to Christian pilgrims. Indulgences were granted for the pilgrimage to Sacro Monte.

Adam and Eve

The Mocking of Christ

Reaching Golgatha

The Crucifixion

A scene from the life of St. Francis.

One of the frustrating things about this research has been that there appear to be few images of this popular site in Italy's Piedmont region available on line. Also, almost all the information on line is in Italian, which I don't read.

Here is a site that provides images of some of the 45 chapels.

See more images here.

Chapel 27, here called the Tribunal of Pilate, but I have seen it called the Ecce Homo Chapel as well. Note how the interior architectural detail of the room combines with the fresco and the statuary to form a cohesive whole.

I also like The Descent From the Cross.

Go Eagles!

BC Football kicks off its first season in the ACC against Brigham Young University in an hour.

OK, its an old image of Doug Flutie getting ready to pass

Fight Song: "For Boston"
(T.J. Hurley, class of 1885)

For Boston, for Boston,
We sing our proud refrain!
For Boston, for Boston,
'Tis Wisdom's earthly fane.
For here all are one
And their hearts are true,
And the towers on the Heights
Reach to Heav'ns own blue.
For Boston, for Boston,
Till the echoes ring again!

For Boston, for Boston,
Thy glory is our own!
For Boston, for Boston,
'Tis here that Truth is known.
And ever with the Right
Shall thy heirs be found,
Till time shall be no more
And thy work is crown'd.
For Boston, for Boston,
For Thee and Thine alone.

Statue of Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer In the Vatican

From Zenit.

This, too, will send the Dan Brown people into fits.

Disasters Get Us Thinking About Preparation

And Dymphna's Well has a good list of items you should have to prepare for the worst.

The Knights Templars Restored

For real, recognized by legitimate authority, and in communion with Rome.

Ordo Militia Templi And Opus Dei has Dan Brown and his fellow tinfoil hat folks in a tizzy!

The Catholic Monarchist has an exclusive interview.

Here is their website.

And the website of the US Magisterial Delegation

And this is what Wikpedia has to say about them.

Do the words, "None shall pass!" come to mind?

By the way, they are committed to the traditional Latin Mass said under proper authority.

More Wodehouse Parody

Over at Disputations.

Because it is the weekend, a holiday weekend, and it's been a mighty rough week emotionally for all of us.

Boston's Great Weather

The humid tropical air pumped in our direction at midweek by the remnants of the hurricane, along with the high winds, are gone. It is in the 70s, with bright cloudless blue skies, no humidity to speak of, and a light breeze. This is just perfect weather, which the long-range forecast says will continue through Wednesday of next week.

September in New England is really the best. It is not yet cold enough to need a sweater or jacket. It is comfortable for sleeping. You can still wear shorts if you want, but light khakis are also very comfortable.

Yet, yesterday, I overheard 2 women on a bench (they were black) agreeing that the 70s were too cold. It must be a Northwest European thing to exult in slightly coolish weather. After all, we have millenia of genetic history with this sort of temperature as the very highest we have to endure. Then again, I like rain, too.

Check Out Credibility For Probably the Last New WYD Photos

Hey, it takes longer to get back to Australia than to the US from Germany.

And this is the first time I've check this blog in a week or so.

St. Blog's Parish Hall and Ever New Close Down

Mary Herboth has closed down and wiped out Ever New. At the same time, she has shut down St. Blog's Parish Hall. We will miss both, and wish her well in her new endeavors.

I Buy It

I have been wavering on the issue of whether to rebuild New Orleans in situ.

Dom Bettinelli has convinced me of the wisdom of doing that. The US needs the port of New Orleans. A lot of economic factors that impact the whole country depend on the use of the port facilities there. And if the port is needed, the people who will work the port need housing, schools, hospitals, stores, etc.

So OK. We rebuild the place where it is. Maybe we can raise the place above sea level, as was done for Galveston. But you can bet it will cost a bundle. It will make the Big Dig look like a simple repaving job.

Saint Pope Gregory the Great

This is what the Golden Legend has to say about this truly great Pontiff.

The Mass of Saint Gregory is always the central image just below the banner for Recta Ratio(From The Hours of Henry VIII by Jean Poyet c. 1500). Father Tucker at Dappled Things has a selection of depictions of this miraculous event here.

The Seven Prayers of Saint Gregory
To further honor this great saint, I am including here the devotion to the Crucified Lord that is attributed to him, the Seven Prayers of Saint Gregory, which was a staple in medieval books of hours.

Translation by Michael Martin of Theasaurus Precem Latinarum (it is also available at Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group, under Files, Catholic Prayers, Prayers For Specific Purposes.

O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee hanging on the Cross, wearing a crown of thorns upon Thy head. I beg Thee that Thy Cross may free me from the deceiving Angel.
1 Pater and 1 Ave

O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee hanging wounded on the Cross, given vinegar and gall to drink. I beg Thee that Thy wounds may be the remedy of my soul.
1 Pater, 1 Ave

O Lord Jesus, I ask by the bitterness of Thy Passion, which Thou didst undergo in the hour of Thy death, so much so when Thy most holy soul left Thy blessed body. Have mercy upon my soul when it leaves my body, and lead it to eternal life.
1 Pater, 1 Ave

O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee placed in Thy tomb, anointed with myrrh and aromatic spices. I beg Thee that Thy death may be my life.
1 Pater, 1 Ave

O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee descending into hell and freeing the captives from there. I beg Thee, that Thou mayest never permit me to enter there.
1 Pater, 1 Ave

O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee rising from the dead, ascending into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of the Father. I beg Thee that I may be worthy to follow Thee and be with Thee. Amen.
1 Pater, 1 Ave

O Lord Jesus, O good Shepherd, preserver of the just, justifier of sinners, have mercy upon all the faithful and be gracious to me, a wretched and unworthy sinner.
1 Pater, 1 Ave

I beseech Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, that Thy Passion may be a strength to me by which I may be strengthened, protected and defended. May Thy wounds be to me food and drink by which I may be nourished, inebriated, and delighted. May the sprinkling of Thy Blood be to me an ablution for all my sins. May Thy death be eternal glory to me. In these may my refreshment, joy, health, zeal, delight, and desire of my body and soul, now and forever.

Another Prayer:
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, place Thy Passion, Cross, and Death between Thy judgment and my soul, now and in the hour of my death.

Deign to grant me grace and mercy, pardon to the living, eternal rest to the dead, peace to Thy Church, and life and eternal glory to all sinners. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Holy Father Urges Catholics To Reproduce More

With declining birthrates in Catholic countries, feminism, divorce, abortion, contraception, late marriages, a materialism that demands goddies for the adults at the price of having fewer children, and Moslem immigration, many traditionally Catholic countries like Italy and Spain could be Islamic republics in a century if Pope Benedict's advice is not followed.

Of course the Holy Father wants all this increased reproduction to take place in the context of stable Catholic marriages.

Nevertheless, the Holy Father's recommendation is clear. Marry. Give up the pill and the condom, and just get down to nature's business.

And sound advice it is, too.

Let's Hope the Senator Is Overestimating

But Senator Vitter (R-LA) says he thinks the death toll will start at 10,000 and rise from there. I pray he is wrong. That pessimism will be forgiven him.

He is right that more troops are needed, and more quickly deployed regulars, too, not slow-to-mobilize Guardsmen. The thing about the regular army is that they are already in uniform and on base. You just get planes to a nearby airbase, march them to them, and load 'em up and fly 'em in. Guardsmen are slower to mobilize, though they probably hae more disaster-relief experience than the regular army does.

It Looks Like Order Is Being Re-established At the Convention Center

From someone on the scene. Troops began to move into the area an hour ago. The media is way behind events there.

Update: That was 5 minutes ago. New Orleans is an hour behind the East Coast, I think.

As Bad As I Feel About the Situation Down In New Orleans

The part of me that craves and demands order is reasserting itself. My first reaction was numb shock and denial. The last two days I've been searching the internet for the next installment of Today's Catholic Cultural Heritage Image, and running into numerous roadblocks. That was what I choose to deal with, burying myself in searches through French and Italian websites trying to get information about a monastery there appears to be little in English about. That, and my reading of Father Faber's All For Jesus, and Monsignor Knox's Spiritual Aeneid.

Then came sadness.

Now we are back to normal. I've had enough of the slack-jawed stupidity I've been reading about.

The situation there has been out of control. Notice, I'm sayng "has been" because ven as i am writing, I hope, order is being restored. It is time to stop being gentle with the thugs. The local government there seems hopelessly incompetent. It is time to push it aside, ignore it, and give it the scorn and contempt it deserves. The situation must be federalized entirely. Every New Orleans cop, firefighter, EMT, etc. now takes his or her orders from the US Homeland Security Department.

It is time for the place to be flooded with troops who have shoot-to-kill orders regarding those setting fires, those looting for booze, drugs, jewelry, electronics, and money (not commodities like food, water, or medicine), those shooting at relief workers, those terrorizing others. The roving gangs must be obliterated. They have put themselves outside of human society and deserve no mercy.

Order is the number one concern for all human society. Without order, we are like animals. Those behaving like animals there now, no, worse than animals, need to be put down. Even if establishing order out of chaos means troops shooting dozens of looters and bayonets on every street corner, order must be re-established as the first priority.

After order is established, two things need to be done. Adequate levels of food, water, and vital medicines need to be channeled to the people who are still there. At the same time, those still there need to be taken out of the city and to temporary holding facilities. The logistic channel must be flexible enough to follow them to their destination, so that the current breakdown in the chain of supply is not repeated. By Saturday night, there should not be a single civilian in New Orleans. There should only be Corps of Engineers personnel working on rebuilding the levees, and military personnel patrolling the streets.

Once the levee is rebuilt, it will be time to think about pumping, and rebuilding. But for now, the complete evacuation of the city and the reestablishment of order and keeping the folks who are displaced fed, housed, and clothed are priority number one. And frankly, order comes even before getting people out of the city.

Of Course Cardinal Mahony's Response Will Be To Spin

Testimony from Los Angles pervert priest cases will be made public.

The Saint Vincent de Paul Society

This is my personal choice for giving direct aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Long before there was Catholic Charities, there were the Saint Vincent de Paul Societies, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and burying the dead.

I Don't Know If This Will Actually Help

My brief experiment with a Site Meter a few months ago told me that my readership is about as glued to the Northeast US as I am. I have only scattered readership over the rest of the country, mostly fellow bloggers, I would imagine.

But if anyone reading this blog happens to be in the area of Mississippi, the Carmel at Covington MS needs food to accomodate the many religious refugees it has had to take in from houses further south. According to this post at The Inn At the End of the World, there is a highway open to get there. If you can afford to stop off at a Costco and drop something off there, it would an excellent way to help.

New Orleans Just Seems To Be Going From Catastrophic To Apocalyptic

The infrastructure of urban life has collapsed. Now there have been explosions at a chemical plant, and there is a huge chemical fire going on. The conditions people have been living in are, frankly, subhuman. No showers, no air conditioning, toilets not working, no medicine, no food, no water, the dead left sitting there to rot or be eaten by alligators, disease and filth-filled flood waters engulf the city.

The civil social order has broken down. Gangs of savages are running the streets shooting at rescuers, looting, and preying upon the victims. There are not enough emergency personnel to keep order and rescue people at the same time. Inside the Superdome and the Convention Center, police have been driven off by gangs, rapes and beatings seem to be the order of the day.

It is right now not a sure thing that New Orleans, will survive this. This almost beggars the imagination, but an entire city (one not all that much smaller than Boston, unless you count the metropolitan areas' populations, by the way) is off the grid. It has effectively been taken out. It is not a functioning part of the United States at this moment.

It has been raised by some that a city 7 feet below sea level and at the confluence of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River might not be worth rebuilding in site. It might be a better idea to abandon the site and rebuild elsewhere. The US House Speaker thinks so. I'm not sure that I disagree.

This disaster feels so different from September 11th. Then, a US City was attacked by foreign terrorists. It rallied the whole country. The damage was undone swiftly. Both the mayor and the governor of New York were competent, and dealt with the problem effectively. This hurricane has essentially done to New Orleans what al Qaeda could not do to New York City: take it out. While the federal response has been slower than it ought to have been, much more of the blame for this situation must rest with the Mayor of New Orleans, who is busy whining about federal bailouts, and the governor of Louisiana. I don't recall a single instance of finger-pointing after September 11th. But Louisiana, with its almost-Third World levels of corruption and incompetence is a very different kettle of fish from New York four years ago.

While defiance is the proper response to terrorism, what do you do about an act of God?

For now, all we can do is donate, and pray. There will be special collections at Mass. You can give to Catholic Charities, the American Red Cross, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and other worthy organizations that will be giving direct aid to those poor people.

Utility workers and people who know how to swing a hammer will be needed from all over the country to rebuild, wherever it is decided to rebuild.

But for most of us, who feel proud of ourselves if we succeed in changing a lightbulb, prayer is our most effective response. Our Lady of Good Succor is the Patroness of New Orleans. But I think Our Lady of Sorrows, to whom the month of September is dedicated, might be just as suitable.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The End of Civilization In Miniature


3:06 P.M. - (AP): Fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. "This is a desperate SOS," the mayor said.

Anger mounted across the ruined city, with thousands of storm victims increasingly hungry, desperate and tired of waiting for buses to take them out.

"We are out here like pure animals. We don't have help," the Rev. Issac Clark, 68, said outside the New Orleans Convention Center, where corpses lay in the open and the and other evacuees complained that they were dropped off and given nothing -- no food, no water, no medicine.

4:15 P.M. - (AP): Police say storm victims are being raped and beaten inside the New Orleans Convention Center.

About 15,200 people who had taken shelter at the convention center to await buses grew increasingly hostile.

Police Chief Eddie Compass says he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly beaten back by an angry mob.

Compass says, "We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten."

He says tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon.

In hopes of defusing the unrest at the convention center, Mayor Ray Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a bridge to the city's unflooded west bank for whatever relief they can find. But the bedlam appeared to make leaving difficult.


September's Calendar Image from Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc du Barry shows us the vendanage, or wine grape harvest, which takes place in Europe in September.

Important feasts celebrated during September include:

3. St. Gregory the Great
2. The Martyrs of September
5. Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta
8. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
9. St. Peter Claver (USA)
12. Most Holy Name of Mary
13. St. John Chrysostom
14. Triumph of the Cross
15. Our Lady of Sorrows
16. SS. Cornelius and Cyprian
17. St. Robert Bellarmine and Bl. Hildegard von Bingen
21. St. Matthew
22. Martyrs of Valencia
23. St. Pio of Pietrelcina
24. Our Lady of Mercy and Our Lady of Walshingham
26. SS. Cosmas and Damian
27. St. Vincent de Paul
28. St. Wenceslaus
29. Michaelmas
30. St. Jerome

This month, the Michaelmas Embertide falls on Wednesday 21st, Friday 23rd, and Saturday 24th. Given the disaster that has struck the Gulf Coast states, it would not be inappropriate to offer one's fasting and prayer during this embertide for the repose of the souls of those killed, and for consolation and succor for the survivors.

The monthly dedication for September is to Our Lady of Sorrows (the feast of which is observed September 15th).

The Holy Father's prayer intentions for the month of September are:

General - For governors and governments: may they always respect the fundamental right to religious freedom of every person.

Missionary - For young Churches: may they proclaim the Christian message so it may penetrate and enrich all local cultures.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mother Of God, Pray For Us!

From the Associated Press 15 minutes ago:

Hurricane Katrina probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans, the mayor said Wednesday — an estimate that, if accurate, would make the storm the nation's deadliest natural disaster since at least the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. "We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and other people dead in attics, Mayor Ray Nagin said. Asked how many, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."

I was looking at numbers this morning on Fox, and noted that no hurricane had killed even 200 people in the US since 1926.

Good Catch

The New Liturgical Movement blog has snagged Father Schall as a contributor.

Catholic Churches Destroyed by Katrina

Free Republic is keeping track.


A 360 degree tour of the Stations of the Cross and the Holy Sepulchre.

Via The Catholic Monarchist.

The only problem is that I haven't figured out how to get to Stations 2-14. I must be especially obtuse this morning.

Lower Than Cockroach Excrement

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., that is. Read and see why.

Incredibly stupid, too.

Saint Raymond Nonnatus

That's right, Saint Raymond Who Was Not Born. Relax. He was "not born" in the same sense MacDuff in MacBeth was "no man of woman born,": he was from his mother, untimely ripped. Because of the circumstances of his birth, his patronage includes pregnant women, newbies, midwives, and obstetricians.

Read more about St. Raymond here.

And another short biography here.

It Is Bad Down There

There is no other way to put what has happened down in the Gulf Coast. There may be a million people homeless, and there could be hundreds dead. The flooding is almost beyond comprehension. I read this morning that the rescuers are now in such need of getting to trapped survivors, they are putting off dealing with the dead they find. If that does not make your heart go out to the folks down there, nothing will.

Penitens has a good list of how you can help.

I imagine they will need everything: clothing, food, potable water, blankets, reconstruction help, and most of all, prayer.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hilary's Back!!!

With a new blog:

The Devout Life.

The League of Evil Traditionalists, which Recta Ratio just joined (scroll down to the very bottom of the page, past even all the very POD images from old Missals) is back up to almost full strength.

About Homosexuals In the Priesthood

This is in response to The American Inquisition's rather surprising objection to barring homosexuals from the priesthood as currently projected by a Vatican document under consideration.

Well, first of all, let's dispose of the pedophilia straw man. By clinical definition, pedophilia is sexual contact, or desire for such, with pre-pubescent children. Now you can argue all day long about whether homosexuals are more inclined towards genuine pedophilia than the population at large. I think they are. But that doesn't matter.

While some very sickening priest personnel files were released here in Boston that did involve genuine pedophila, they were very few. Almost 85% of the victims were young boys ages 12-18, meaning they were pubescent or post-pubescent teenagers.

The clinical term for attraction to this group is called ephebophilia. But since all the offenders were male, as were all the victims in the 85%, we can dispense with the fancy term, and just call it what it is called on the street: gay priests "chicken-hawking," which I am told is a well-known term in the homosexual community, and means hitting on and having sexual contact with teenage boys. This is a well-known usage among homosexuals, I have read, and is a very widespread practice. In some of these cases that we read about in the pervert priest files, these activities took the form of initiation, which is exactly what chicken-hawking is all about: satisfying various urges by the adult homosexual for young sex partners, while recruiting new members into a lifestyle that cannot naturally reproduce if it strictly follows its inclination.

This abuse causes enormous psychological and psycho-social damage to the victim, especially when it involves betrayal by a trusted semi-parental figure, like a priest. This kind of contact leads to life-long confusion about sexual roles and orientation, especially since the victims are at a time in their life when they are trying to establish their sexual identity.

That is part of why so many of these victims are not exactly your leading citizens today. They tend to be from broken homes, or in homes where various social pathologies are playing out already. Often the priest is contacted and asked to take the boy "under his wings" a la Bing Crosby or Spencer Tracy. And if the priest is a homosexual with an entirely different agenda, then the path to enormous damage and enormous legal claims is wide open.

Some never establish themselves again in life. While it may be too much to claim that they were not "dented cans" before the homosexual priest buggered them, in fact, the Church in the various settlements has essentially accepted them as people who would all be major league baseball players, doctors, nurses, and investment bankers, but for the pervert priest abuse.

Given the 85% figure (again that of all the sexual abuse that has been revealed in the last 3+ years, 85% was perpetrated by male priests on boys between 12 and 18: not nuns on girls, though there was some of that, or nuns on boys, though there were a couple of instances of that, or priests on teenage girls, though there were a few instances of that, or priests or nuns on pre-pubescent children--all of those combined to make up the other 15 or so percent) representing the vast majority of these sex abouse cases, one has to come to the conclusion that, but for those 85% of cases, we would be talking about something very different.

Without the 85%, there would be a handful of instances of priest/religious predation. While there might be disturbing headlines and settlements in the (total) $10 million dollar range, the nature of the problem would be entirely different. We would have an annoying and disturbing set of circumstances. But it would have been easily dealt with. It would not have become an earth-shattering crisis in the Church. There would be no total settlement cost approaching 1 billion dollars. We would not have seen people staying away from Mass in droves. We would not see so many wallets slammed tight against the Church. We would not see the pressing need to shutter so many churches so quickly, so that the diocesan structures can pay the settlement costs as well as their regular expenses.

Given the 85% figure, the nature of the crisis becomes obvious. It is not a pedophile priest crisis. If it were, there would be more cases of priests going after toddlers. It is not a sex abuse crisis. If it were, then there would be more cases of priests going after teenage girls. But there are not. It is a gay priest crisis, because that is the overwhelming dimension of the problem, the thing that stands out.

Now, let us run some numbers. Eighty-five percent of the abuse was done by male priests to teenage boys. Of the men currently in the priesthood, surveys taken by Father Sipe and others indicate that up to 1/3 of the total priesthood self-identifies as gay. Among religious priests, priests in orders, that percentage may climb to nearly one half. That means 85% of the abuse came from a pool of only a third of the priesthood, while the remaining two-thirds of the priesthood account for only 15%.

There are many reasons for this disproportion, as we have heard over the last 3 years. The priesthood, like the "helping professions" generally are natural magnets for closetted homosexuals. They can feel useful by "helping" others while getting some prestige at the same time.

Moreover, many men in a certain age cadre that now dominates the ranks of US bishops and senior priests actively sought out places in the priesthood in the mid-late 1960s in order to avoid military service during the Vietnam War. And a disproportionate number of these genteel draft-dodgers were homosexuals. Even without the homosexual aspect of this, the seriousness of the vocations at that time has to be called into question. While many of the "I'm just getting out of the draft" priests left after the draft ended, some, lured by the vested pension rights, free housing, not-all-that-bad salary, and other benies, stayed.

And finally, the priesthood offered a chance for men who were confused about their sexual orientation to hide out, to not have to deal with women except superficially, to be safely closetted and respected. And the vow to never touch a woman was no burden.

So we are now reaping the whirlwind. The seeds were sown back in the 1950s and 1960s as seminaries, in order to keep numbers high, looked the other way and did not enquire very deeply about the sexual orientation of the candidates for priesthood. There is the story of John Geoghan, one of Boston's most notorious pervert priests. He got into the seminary and remained there despite serious questions about sexual orientation, because his uncle was a monsignor, who pulled strings for his career. Cardinal Cushing let it slide, and ordained him, as well as Shanley, and Birmingham, and now-Bishop McCormack (not an abuser himself, but an enabler of the abuse of his classmates at seminary as early as the 1960s, continuing when an Archdiocesan official in Boston, and when Bishop of Manchester: incidentally, a guest in the 1980s at Paul Shanley's gay B&B that he ran in California with another gay ex-priest!).

Now, whatever the historic realities regarding the activities of priests, monks, nuns, etc., the Church has always stood against homosexual acts. In fact, sodomy is one of the four sins crying out to heaven for vengeance. In the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, one of the Vatican dicasteries issued a letter addressed to the bishops of the US instructing them to not ordain homosexual men, because it was considered imprudent to have homosexual men in a situation in which they would be in contact with young boys on a disproportionate basis.

But the letter did not bind the religious orders, only the secular clergy. And moreover, the letter was ignored by the bishops, A) because Vatican II was about to occur, and all the remnants of "old Church" were swept aside in the wave of enthusiasm that believed all we would ever need to run the Church from then on would be the "spirit of Vatican II." The letter was among the things considered "old Church". B) It was ignored because it lacked the signature of the Pope. It had only a Vatican cardinal's signature.

If 85% of the sex abuse is by homosexual priests on young boys, and gay men make up a third of the priesthood, there are some sober realities that that information requires.

First is a reluctant conclusion that this is a gay problem.

Second is that there is an obvious solution to that problem, one that has a precedent with an organization also very much in the news.

When the Boy Scouts were battered by numerous lawsuits because various homosexual adult scoutmasters sexually abused teenage boys, they came to the conclusion that, to survive as an institution, they needed to ban homosexual men from acting as scoutmasters. This has led to the Boy Scouts being the focus for hatred and retaliation by the highly organized and affluent homosexual lobby. But nevertheless, if you have an organization in which young boys are exposed to adult men in an unsupervised and largely unrestricted setting, if you want the organization to survive and not be torn down by sex abuse lawsuits, you need to preemptively assure that the adult men entrusted witht he care of the boys are not inclined to sexually abuse them.

Unfortunately, since homosexual men are disproportionately inclined to sexual contact with teenage boys, the only way to insure that homosexual men do not prey on teenage boys while under the aegis of the organization, is to bar homosexual males from positions in which they have unlimited and unsupervised access to teenage boys.

Since you can't make homosexual men priests and then limit their ministry unnaturally (Father X can't be parish Youth Minister, Father Z can't visit the school unless Sister Superior promises to not leave his side for a second, Father Y has to be watched when couching the softball game at the parish picnic), it is better to not make them priests at all.

In fact, I accept that homosexual men, men inclined to an act that is "objectively disordered" and men disproportionately inclined toward contact with "pretty young boys" cannot be validly called to the priesthood. They have a vocation, in whatever trade or industry they can make a go of it. They have a deeper vocation to overcome the unnatural urges that heredity or acculturization (or maybe just confusion caused by childhood sex abuse themselves: so many of the pervert priests we have heard about were themselves abused, sometimes by priests, when they were young) has saddled upon them. Given that they have such a struggle to overcome, and that the presence of teenage boys would be a constant temptation for them, they ought not, in Christian charity, be placed in a position which makes the temptation worse.

There is another reason for prospectively barring homosexual men from entry into the priesthood. That is the issue of role models.

In a society in which homosexuality is chic, hip, and trendy, where many TV shows are suggesting that homosexuality is not just OK, but cool, where many many young people are being tempted to "experiment" with homosexual activity-- almost indoctrinated in public schools to not just tolerate homosexuality, but embrace it-- where truly evil organizations like NAMBLA (which Father Shanley, one of Boston's most notorious pervert priests, was present to give his blessing to when it was founded) are promoting such experimentation in order to keep a supply of fresh young flesh for its members, society needs stable mature, manly men who are not afflicted with effeminacy and "objectively disordered" inclinations to counteract all these influences. And that would be where Catholic priests come in.

Bing Crosby and Spencer Tracy became iconic "priest" role models because they were manly, not effeminate. Because they were mature, not sexually immature, because they were normal men, not flamers. Unfortunately, the success of their movies led the general public, including the church-going or at least socially Catholic population to believe that all priests were like them, that all could be relied on to act as substitute fathers for troubled boys, that all would take the boys out to baseball games and on camping trips in perfect chaste safety.

We can't get past the fact that priests are not just Mass-sayers. They are pastors. And as such, they have to lead not just by words, but by example. And what kind of example is it if the priest has boyfriends who stay over at the rectory or vacation with him? Not the sort of example that should be set in a Church that teraches that homosexuality is objectively disordered.

Why shouldn't the Catholic priesthood, whose members stand as Alter Christus when on the altar, contain only men who are, in fact, good role models for Catholic young people? Do we want to further promote homosexuality, joining the Church's voice to the chorus coming from society that says, "it's not just Ok to be queer, but hip."

Should not the entire priesthood reflect the unchanging view of Holy Mother the Church about what is normative behaviour, and what is not?

This is no time to go wobbly on the homosexuality issue. Right now, the Church is fighting nobly to prevent or overturn gay "marriage." There is some chance that we might win this battle. Moreover, up to 25% of the Anglican Communion, disgusted with their sect's constant liberal drift on gay priests, gay bishops, performing gay "marriage," women priests, women bishops, etc., are seriously considering swimming the Tiber to swell the more conservative ranks of the one Church that has not, officially, at least, given an inch to modernism. This would be a disasterous time to say that gay priests are OK. We would lose the momentum that will draw serious Christians back to Rome (and that, in my opinion is the only true ecumenism, conversion back to Rome), a thing that would be benficial to us (so many more conservatives in communion with Rome!), but to them. Sacrificing future gay priests is a small price to pay for undermining the schism and heresy that is protestantism.

The argument that homosexuals ought to be treated like people from different races who were discriminated against in the past does not bear scrutiny. First of all, race cannot be changed. It is the way people are. There is much evidence that some self-identified sexual orientation can be changed. But it takes a lot of work. People may dispute this, but there are folks out there who claim to be "ex-homosexuals." There are no "ex-blacks," outside Michael Jackson's family.

Besides, race is mostly pigmentation. Sexual orientation is behaviour. The defining thing about homosexuality is gay sex. The Gay Culture does not consider a person with homosexual urges who consistently refuses to act on them gay. For them, unless they want to swell their numbers for statistical purposes, people are gay if they engage in gay sex. Those who do not are not "truly gay" to them. They are treated as the Uncle Toms of homosexuality.

Then there is the obvious comparison with women. Women have been discriminated against historically. They are being denied ordination now. Ought they not be ordained to make the priesthood truly equal opportunity and fair?

No. Women cannot be priests. There is no record that Jesus included any women among the Apostles. The priesthood belongs exclusively to men, because Christ Himself so ordained. Likewise, there is no evidence that any of the Apostles were gay. Is it too much to say that the lack of overtly gay Apostles argues for a non-gay priesthood? I think not.

And finally, there is the liability issue. If gays make up a disproportionate percentage of the priesthood, and also a disproportionate percentage of the ranks of sexually abusive priests, they create a disproportionate amount of liability that needlessly jeopordizes the existence and health of the Church.

In an age where over a billion dollars has or will soon be siphoned from the limited wealth of the Church here in the US, where so many young people depend on close relations with the Church and its personnel for moral and daily guidance, we cannot afford to maintain gay men in the priesthood. The risk is too great.

A billion dollars is a lot of money for an institution that typically runs on a shoestring. If we take more hits like this, there will be no Catholic Church left in the US. Every single church building, school, rectory, convent, monastery, seminary, hermitage, chancery, oratory, shrine, and chapel will have to be sold off to line the pockets of plaintiff's lawyers. One diocese in Canada is doing just that.

The unique psychological damage done by homosexual predation, which is much worse than the damage done by heterosexual predation (would anyone claim that a 16 year-old boy who was "abused" by a 26 year-old nun is really "damaged," or a 17 year-old girl "abused" by a 28 year-old priest: no, absent coercion, there is no serious damage in these instances, as they are just nature taking its course--but they are sinful), makes it imperative to bar homosexuals from positions of authority in the Church.

If we allow gay men to stay in the priesthood, to continue to form a dominate group within the priesthood, we will take that hit.

And it is feasible to implement, given the batteries of psychological testing and profiling candidates for the priesthood have to go through. All you have to do is re-adjust the perameters of the testing to screen out homosexuals. There is a lot more to it than just checking off the "heterosexual" box on the questionairre.

Moreover, our young boys, who will one day make up our cadre of priests, deserve to be able to come to priests for questions and guidance, for confession and instruction without fear of homosexual rape. By putting men with questionable sexual orientations in positions in which they had unrestricted and unsupervised contact with just the thing many, if not most, homosexual men are most tempted by (teenage boys), the Church did those boys, and the priests a disservice. The nature of the priesthood requires that contact to be effective.

Therefore, if the Church is to survive, it cannot allow homosexuals to make up such a huge percentage of the priesthood.

As far as possible, the Church must do what it can to protect the teenagers from potentially predatory adults, while counselling those adults to seek conversion. It will not have done all it can do, until it prospectively bars homosexual men from the priesthood. It may seem harsh, but it is necessary.

One last thing, is that this ban is required to reverse the current trend towards a very feminine Church. At the vast majority of parishes, the personnel that makes the parish tick is disproportionately female already. A manly influence from non-effeminate priests is needed to counteract this influence, or church-going will become a "women" thing.

And with a third of all priests now homosexual, when homosexuals make up, at most 5% of the total population there is a disproportion that must be redressed. The heavy homosexual influence in the priesthood is not healthy, and must be redressed. In fact, any homosexual presence in the priesthood is not healthy, and should be eliminated, over time.

We have the means. Most Catholics who know the fact and have reflected upon the statistics, have the will. It must be done for the future of the Church. It is the right thing to do. Let's get it done now, while Pope Benedict is healthy and in command of the situation. Let's not wait for the next crisis to make it even more imperative. Because by then, a personality who understands the problem may not be in charge.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Not Much On the Meeting Between Fellay and Pope Benedict

Just that the talks proceeded in the context of love for the Church, and that a step-by-step process seems to be called for.

Nothing really substantive.

I did not expect much to come from today's meeting. What progress there is will come from lower-level discussions.

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

"I must decrease, as He must increase."

Caravaggio's 1609 Salome with the Head of John the Baptist

Benozzo Gozolli, c. 1461-62

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Installment Number 167 In the Banning Gay Seminarians Saga

Why don't they just do it, get it over with, and make it from the highest level possible?

You know who will be upset about this: dissenters, who already can't stand Pope Benedict XVI.

Great Short Wodehouse Parody

Over at Disputations.

Plum fans, dash over and take a dekko.

Pray For the Folks Down In Louisiana

It looks like Hurricane Katrina is heading right for them, packing 165 mph winds.

Father, all the elements of nature obey Thy command.

Calm the storms and hurricanes that threaten us and turn our fear of Thy power
into praise of Thy goodness.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

Pour on those prayers!!! This is from the National Weather Service, not a joke:


Good heavens! This is the most dire warning I have ever seen. Pray that the storm veers off or diminishes in intensity!

Today's Catholic Cultural Heritage Image

A detour from my Pugin/Neo-Gothic-athon.

The Ognissanti church, Florence.

See the original 800 pixels here.

The church was built in 1249. This was an Italian "wool church," meaning that its existence and magnificence owe a great deal to the wealth engendered by the wool trade to prominent members of the congregation. But wool merchants aside, the congregation also included some of the foremost artists of the Italian Rennaissance, Sando Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio among them. It was also the parish of the Vespucci, one member of the family being Amerigo Vespucci, whose name is enshrined in the continents he first named, North and South America.

The church has had an interesting history. The Umiliati monks founded the place, but left it to the Franciscans in 1561. The church has been rebuilt twice, in 1582 and 1748. The parish was suppressed twice, in 1810 and again in 1866. In 1923, it was being used as a store and a police station. The Franciscans handed it over to the Benedictines, who administer it today.

If Today Were Not A Sunday

It would be the feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo.

Saint Augustine by Sandro Botticelli, 1445

Here is what the Golden Legend has to say about Saint Augustine

Here is a short biography of this great doctor of the Church.

Saint Augustine's Threnus Prayer
It is sometimes called A Prayer For Those In Tribulation
This is one of the very best penitential prayers I have ever come across and it reflects a deep understanding of fallen human nature.
(based on the translation by Michael W. Martin of Thesaurus Preces Latinarum)

We would be wise to place before Thine eyes, O Lord,
Our misdeeds and the wounds we receive.

For if we do, the less we suffer
And the greater we merit.

We feel the punishment for sin,
Yet we do not shun our obstinacy in sinning.

Our fragile nature is shattered by Thy scourges,
Yet our evil ways remain unchanged.

The sick mind is wrenched,
Yet the stiff neck is not bent.

Life sighs in pain,
And yet, it does not amend itself.

If Thou waiteth, we do not reform,
If Thou punisheth, we do not last.

When accused, we admit what we have done,
Yet when punished, we forget.

If Thou punisheth, we make promises;
If Thou holdeth back the sword, we do not carry out our promises.

If Thou striketh us, we cry out that Thou might spare us;
If Thou sparest us, we again provoke Thee to strike us.

If difficulties come, we ask for a time for repentance.
If mercy comes to our aid, we abuse Thy patience which has spared us.

Even when our wounds are scarcely healed,
Our ungrateful mind forgets.

If Thou hearest us quickly, we become haughty from mercy.
If Thou art slow, we complain out of impatience.

We are willing to serve Thee because of what Thou hast done,
Yet we do not fear to neglect what Thou willst have us do.

Thou hast in Thy power, O Lord, we confessed sinners;
Be merciful, for Thou art kind and loving.

We have known that, unless Thou forgiveth us,
Thou shalt justly punish us.

But with Thee is much pity
And abundant forgiveness.

Grant, without any merit on our part, what we ask,
O Thou, who hast made from nothing those who ask Thee.

Have mercy on us crying out to Thee, O Lord.
May the voice of the faithful and of the tearful stir up Thy mercy.

May that forgiveness not consider that we sin,
While it reflects on the fact we ask.

Since it is a great misery that we are accused,
May the fact that we are miserable make Thy mercy be the greater.

We beg Thy help,
And before Thee we place the evils and sorrows of our crimes.

By our prayers we look for Thy mercy,
The very mercy which we have spurned by our sins.

Raise us up in Thy mercy, O Lord our God,
So that in the fellowship of salvation and the joy of charity,

While we long to be saved,
We may rejoice in the faith and peace of all the nations.

Through Christ our Lord Who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

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