Is the new Pope a Catholic? Yes, strangely

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Written on 9:17 PM by Jack B.

So says Gerald Warner in this very fine column in the UK Scotsman.

My favorite passage:


"Firstly, it is necessary to dispose of the sexual distractions that obscure the more important issues because the secular media is interested in fornication, not transubstantiation. It is a depressing measure of the cloacal character of our age that the election of a successor of Peter is greeted with a raucous clamour over condoms. The so-called "liberals" are behaving at the moment as if the Church was in the grip of a fierce reaction. That is not happening. The reality is that, after four decades of demolishing the liturgy, devotional practice and Church authority, the wreckers have hit bedrock, reaching the essential core doctrines of the faith, which the indefectible nature of the Church makes it impossible to revise or abandon."

This Guy Didn't Get The Memo...

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Written on 9:10 PM by Jack B.

The new pope won’t close the U.S. Catholic cafeteria, a column by Jack Crowe, which starts out:

"I am a cafeteria Catholic. Married priests: yes. Women priests: yes. Contraception: yes. Gay marriage/civil union: yes. Abortion? Although I am personally against it, like former President Bill Clinton, I think it should be safe, legal and rare.

You see, I am one of those "relativists" who then-Cardinal Ratzinger—now Pope Benedict XVI—condemned during his pre-conclave homily. Let me give you an example. The Catholic Church is against the use of condoms because it interferes with procreation. But condoms can prevent millions of people from contracting AIDS in Africa. It is a no-brainer that the relative benefits of stopping AIDS outweigh the Church’s admonition against contraception. So call me a relativist."

You know what they say about ostriches with their heads in the sand? Well, I guess here's another one.

Catholics are Stupid (so some say)

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Written on 8:19 PM by Jack B.

Steve Kellmeyer writes this interesting piece that takes on the notion that Catholics are obedient brain-dead lemmings, a stereotype that still sadly persists.

Czech Church not exactly pleased with new Pope

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Written on 6:58 PM by Jack B.

Via a one paragraph summary in The Prague Post comes this little tidbit from the editorial pages of Pravo:


"Fifteen years of relative freedom have also left a mark on Czech Catholics: Not one Czech prelate would pretend in the media that he identified with the papal election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger or supported his theological and moral stances, Petr Uhl writes in Pravo April 22.

No religious officials outwardly criticized the new pope, but Bishop Vaclav Maly pushed the democratization of the church: Will the bishopric conferences be granted more authority? John Paul II did not devote much time to reform. The Czech church is more liberal than Slovakia's or Poland's but still not as liberal as in the West. Spokesman for the Czech Bishopric Conference Daniel Herman supports the idea of a modern church and worries over its possible conservative future. Frantisek Radkovsky, the bishop of Plzen, emphasizes compromise and was not pleased to say the new pope would continue traditional moral stands. The more Czechs will learn about this, the better. There will be less anti-Catholic prejudice, Uhl writes."

Considering that the Czech Republic is largely regarded as the most secular country in all of Europe (even more than France!) and the Church barely exists there post-Communism, I don't think the Czech bishops or the spokesmen should be saying anything at all. Obviously what they're doing is not exactly working.

Color Me Shocked

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Written on 6:22 PM by Jack B.

None other than the NY Times runs an op-ed that is actually, kinda, maybe pro-Benedict XVI. German writer Martin Mosebach's A Pope Without a Country looks at the "restrained" (to put it midly) reaction of a German pope (well this German pope) in his native Germany.

The best quotes come (for me) in the beginning:


"German Catholicism is quite wealthy and very middle class. It enjoys significant state privileges and is afraid of stepping outside the bounds delineated by state and society. German bishops and prominent lay members are forever worried about losing their voice in the democratic consensus, their position within an enlightened liberal society.

It's as if they've forgotten how old the church really is, how many social systems it has outlived, how many epochal ruptures it has withstood, and the fact that it has spent entire centuries not being fully "up to date" - perhaps especially at the time of its founding in an urban, enlightened, multicultural, atomized and individualized society that it slowly infiltrated and transformed.

Pope Benedict XVI may be convinced that democratic institutions have as little right to interfere in the structure of the church as all the many emperors and kings who tried to do as much in past centuries. This stance has made him unpopular among his fellow German clergymen, who are intimidated by contemporary culture, but it also fascinates intellectuals who are far removed from the church, and who aren't swayed by any superficial rhetoric of reconciliation. In Benedict, they see the authentic representative of a religion that they don't know whether to view as still dangerous or possibly as the only remaining counter to a secular society."


The money quote comes for me in the part I've put in bold. The Church in the
West (and not just the German Church but this goes for the American one as well)
has lost sight of it's history, of how strong it can be, of how much it's
withstood. They are more concerned with sucking up to the elite and to the
powerful, to the politicians, to the media, to academia that they've turned the
Church into a weak brother, a wussified syncophant afraid of giving offense to
the likes of the NY Times (ironic, considering where this article came from).

That's why we have so many mediocre bishops, priests, and laypeople. They are so afraid of what others will say they won't take a stand, not for the Church nor for it's teachings. And that's also why people (especially bishops) who do just that like the late Cardinal O'Connor if NY, Archbishop Chaput of Denver, Archbishop Burke of St. Louis, Pope John Paul II and now Benedict XVI cause such consternation and distress within and outside the Church. They don't care what people say, they don't care about criticism, they are not afraid to preach the Truth (as the Church sees it) even when it makes them unpopular. They have ignored the modern unspoken "Gentlemen's Agreement" between some members of the Church and non-Catholic largely non-religious liberal Western World - if you just shut up and don't talk about your archaic dogmas and all that Jesus-talk, then you will be accepted. If not then you will be shunned and pushed down the class and social ladder. It seems to me, acceptance has always been a goal of Catholics in countries where they have been minorities like the US, the UK and Germany and increasinly so where they are now virtual minorities in Spain, Italy and France. Those like Benedict who refused to bend down to the dictates of the Powers that Be and disrupt the status quo must expect to be villified.

Can I just say how much I love Ella Fitzgerald?

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Written on 5:54 PM by Jack B.

I'm listening her to now (and have been for the past hour while I do my research paper) and she has the most beautiful, soothing smooth voice. Usually I get angsty and bored when I try to do school work but listening to Ella has been me in such a tranquil mood that I feel no need to get up from the computer and procrastinate. Thank you, Ms. Fitzgerald!

Sometimes God Tries To Tell Us Something: The Life & Death of Pope John Paul II

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Written on 2:02 PM by Jack B.

Unlike others who have been blogging constantly since before and after the death of Pope John Paul II, many of whom have had some poignant and touching thoughts, I have been searching for words to describe the passing of this great and good (the two are not always mutually exclusive) man. Mostly I've just been soaking up the coverage and experiencing this historical moment. One that may, perhaps, come once in a lifetime - the passing of someone who both a saintly figure and a major figure on the world stage.

Pope John Paul II has been the only pope I've ever known. I was alive for some of the reigns of Paul VI and John Paul I but I was too small to remember them. They seem like figures of history, just two-dimensional figures photographic images. John Paul II seemed very real. I felt I knew him better than some members of my family. So perhaps the reason I haven't been able to deal with it is because it's still hard to believe he's dead. Sick as he's been, John Paul has always seemed so indestructible. When I heard he'd been given "Last Rites" I didn't think much of it. He'd been sick before and recovered. He would again. Then the next day I wake up to find out he'd had heart failure and was in grave condition. I still couldn't believe it - not until I saw the immense crowds outside St. Peter's praying for his recovery. A recovery that they knew would not be forthcoming. The world was on a death watch and the media did what it does best - basically advertising it as such. "Don't turn the channel," they seemed to say "the Pope might die at any moment". I admit to being to being one of those sucked in to the non-stop coverage.

I'm not one an old-fashioned deist who believes God created the world and that's it. But I'm not convinced either that God is as active in the affairs of man as some might think. After the mess man has made of things over the past few centuries I wouldn't be surprised to find out the Creator of the Universe is more interested in observing the progress of microscopic bacteria on a planet in another galaxy than the meddlesome, sometimes selfish, sometimes bloodthirsty descendants of Adam. Sometimes though I think HE does like to send his ungrateful creations on Earth a message (whether we heed it is another matter entirely). Sometimes these messages can be rather obvious (think of The Great Flood or the Exodus from Egypt), sometimes simple but with great meaning (think of Christ) and sometimes seemingly complex but in reality so clear that only the hard-hearted and self-absorbed (which is unfortunately a lot of people) can't see it. The life of Karol Wojtyla is one of those last kind of message.

But then I look at what's going on now these past few days since the Pope's death and when I see the outpouring of genuine love (and some phony love too no doubt) for a man said (by his critics) to be an out-of-touch autocrat in a so-called archaic church on the decline it brings to mind many questions:

- If Catholicism is dead or dying (especially in Europe) as some tell us

Like I said, sometimes God tries to tell us something.
But the BIG question is: How many of us are listening?

The Eugenics Wars and the Pope

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Written on 10:54 PM by Jack B.

Via Amy Welborn's Open Book is this Dallas Morning News article by Christine Rosen (registeration required - use Bug Me Not) about "an eerie similarity to their rhetoric and tactics" between the pro-embryonic stem cell movement and the eugenics movement.

The Eugenics movment has always interested me since I did a paper in an anthropology class on the population control movement and was stunned to find out many of the racist and bigoted origin of the movement which ultimately culminated in the Nazi horrors. At that point the eugenics advocates stopped calling themselves and just referred to themselves as "population control" advocates. Underneath though they remained the same bunch of rich WASPs whose goal was to eliminate from the earth as many dark-skinned non-Protestant people as possible. To this day such white American billionaires such as Warren Buffett, Ted Turner and Bill Gates are among the greatest benefactors of "population control" in the 3rd World (i.e. Africa, Asia and Latin America) and such largely white American foundations such as The Ford Foundation and The Packard Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation continue to give grants to organizations determined to have "population control" and "reproductive freedom" throughout the world. And one of the most-die hard eugenists was Margaret Sanger, one of the founders of Planned Parenthood which continues her "work" to it's day. While Dawn Eden at The Dawn Patrol has been viligant in exposing some of Planned Parenthood's more modern excesses, the roots of what made that multi-billion dollar (and government funded) organization what it is today can be traced back to the eugenics movement (though of course they deny it).

Of Finals, Papers and Blogs

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Written on 2:10 PM by Jack B.

I work during the week and go to school at nights. My weekends are the only thing I have free - unfortunately this also means anything I have to get done I do then. Right now I am up against the hardest and busiest part of the year (for me) and that's FINALS month. For the next weeks I'll be busy, busy, busy writing papers and doing research, editing my work, checking my sources. I can leave my work at work but my schoolwork is a different story. I managed to get through my Undergraduate years without creating any debt but the only way I can afford Grad School was to take out loans - which means whenever I do graduate I'll have to pay those loans back. So I have an incentive not to fail in any of those classes these loans are paying for.

The reason I bring this up is because there's a bunch of stuff I want to blog about this weekend but I don't know if I'll have the time. I've got an 8-10 page paper due on Tuesday and I haven't even started it yet (blame my procrastinational tendencies or as my family would say, "my laziness"). But I will it get done, by hook or crook I always do (whether it gets an "A" is a different story).

I could have really used this when I was an Undergrad...

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Written on 11:22 AM by Jack B.

Rate My Professor - just look for your college and then look for a particular professor and see how former students grade them and what they have to say.

Personally I don't really have any horror stories about professors - most of mine have been great and the ones that weren't were at least "ok". But I do know a lot of students who have had their whole semester ruined (let alone a class they needed for credits) by just one bad professor - who are by usually either incompetent, boring or dictatorial. Like I said I haven't experienced that first hand but if it weren't for all the great professors who have lent me help, support and the benefit of their time I don't know how I could have made it through 5 years of undergraduate school. Now that I'm a Graduate student, choosing the right professors and the right classes are even more important because the classes are so demanding and the work is that much harder.

Neil Cavuto - Someone Who Gets "It"

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Written on 8:10 PM by Jack B.

I've been busy collecting (the often hysterical) articles from all over the place disparaging the new Pope just hours and days after taking office and those (more sane) ones who have defended him but for me the most succint, compact and to the point response to the whining howls of East Coast media elites like Maureen Dowd , Tina Brown and their ilk comes from someone who is not a professional critic of culture or religion but someone who deals with finances and business, Fox News's Neil Cavuto in his piece: Like A Rock

Let me post the entire (short) piece, it says everything I've been thinking since watching the MSM go apopletic on the election of Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy:

Here's a newsflash: The pope is Catholic.

I say that because so
many seem to forget that — seemingly demanding Pope Benedict XVI be something he
is not.

Well, here's another news update: He will never be for abortion.
He will never be for euthanasia. And if you ever say the Catholic Church should
be a democracy, he will never say it is. Because it isn't.

Most
Catholics know that. A lot of Catholics hate that. But I think we'd all be wise
to get over that. Because of this: The pope is here to espouse not the whims of
our times, but the values that stand the test of time.

Some can quibble
over whether priests should marry or laypeople should be more involved. The
church evolves on such matters.

But on basic matters — matters of life
and death, right and wrong — there are no ifs, ands or buts.

On these
matters, any pope — including this pope — stands firm. As so he should.

POSITIVE Benedict XVI Editorial Cartoons

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Written on 10:11 PM by Jack B.

Christine over at Ramblings of a GOP Soccer Mom has posted a bunch of positive (from a Papal POV) editorial B16 cartoons. I can't choose a favorite myself (although the one with the devil is particularly good IMO) but I suggest others take a look themselves.

The first thing to watch in this pontificate will be...

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Written on 2:40 PM by Jack B.

As Hugh Hewitt pointed out a couple of days ago"By my count, 48 of the cardinal-electors are 74 or older, meaning they will not vote on the next pope if the new one reigns for a half dozen years". I've thought about this too. I always thought that Pope John Paul's successor would come from the next consistory that he convened but since that was not to be I am really curious who Benedict picks in the next group of Cardinals. Especially since there will soon be a lot of places to fill as a lot of electors are approaching 80. I wouldn't be surprised if in fact that Benedict's successor is someone who he gives the red hat too and not one of the Cardinal's who elected him.

If that becomes the case we could concievably have the case where Benedict XVI (made a cardinal by Paul VI) will be succeeded by someone he made a cardinal and thus decreasing the chances that any of the 100+ men John Paul the Great created in his papacy (the 3rd longest in 2000 years) would ever become pope. Ironic, no?

According to Fr. Fessio, Benedict XVI's former student and publisher (at Ignatius Press), in a radio interview (also with Hugh Hewitt), the former Cardinal Ratzinger was a fan of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. Personally of all the American hierarchs I would love to see him a Cardinal. Orthodox, Franciscan and Native American he would drive the media crazy and would be a great contrast to more medicore figures (in my opinion) like Mahony of LA and Egan of NY.

Pope Benedict XVI - Now I Believe It

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Written on 12:18 AM by Jack B.

I confess that I never thought Cardinal Ratzinger would ever be pope. To me John Paul II (the only pope I've ever known) was a force of nature - every time he got sick I always thought he would recover, I never actually imagined him dying no matter how much weaker and immobile his body became. He just seemed so alive to me. So I thought John Paul would definitely live more than two years and that by then Ratzinger would be 80 and not even a cardinal-elector anymore. Even when many made him the odd-on favorite going in I couldn't quite believe it.

Don't get me wrong. I've read some of Ratzinger's writing and find him brilliant, and to me in video clips or pictures he doesn't come off as a reactionary but as a very shy humble man (although I haven't been able to get the quote from Kathy Shaidle at Relapsed Catholic about him having a "resemblance to Mr. Burns and Nosferatu, along with his Stalag 13 name" out of my mind since I read it). I would have rejoiced at his election - I just didn't think it would actually happen.

Then when it did I just couldn't get used to it. The only man I'd ever seen in my lifetime wearing the white pope suit was John Paul II. Benedict XVI just looked like the old Cardinal Ratzinger dressed up in John Paul's clothes. I still had a problem calling him Benedict too.

Yet yesterday as I watched the installation mass live for the first time I saw him not as Joseph Ratzinger, Head of the CDF, but as Pope. Holy Father. Vicar of Christ on Earth. It's as if he himself at age 78 has changed, his demeanor, his posture. Of course this is how people who knew him say he's been all along but that's not how I've seen him or read him portrayed as in the last 20+ years - and it came a shock (a pleasant one) to me. His homily was particularly moving because with the decline of John Paul, I had ceased listening to JP2's actual homily over the last few years (which he had a more and more difficult time getting out) - to me John Paul himself was the homily. His body language, his strength, his determination spoke to me more than a thousand words about the Gospel message. I found myself watching him rather than listening to him (then reading the homily later). But with Benedict (who doesn't exude that dramatic actor's flair of his predecessor) I found myself listening to the Pope's words and found them poetic, encouraging, (and though the media would probably hate me for saying this) true.

Lines like:

The Church is alive – she is alive because Christ
is alive, because he is truly risen. In the suffering that we saw on the
Holy Father’s face in those days of Easter, we contemplated the mystery of
Christ’s Passion and we touched his wounds. But throughout these days we
have also been able, in a profound sense, to touch the Risen One. We have
been able to experience the joy that he promised, after a brief period of
darkness, as the fruit of his resurrection.

and

And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the
desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment,
of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness,
the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human
life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal
deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth’s treasures no longer
serve to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve
the powers of exploitation and destruction. The Church as a whole and all
her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards
the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who
gives us life, and life in abundance.

and

My dear friends – at this moment I can only
say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and
more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in
other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you
together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let
us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to
carry one another.

and

This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it
is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to
serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is
true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and
death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us
out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendor of God’s light, into
true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be
fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with
so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of
God. It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to
men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we
meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some
casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a
thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is
necessary.

and
And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on
the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people:
Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you
everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in
return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true
life.

These are not the words of a reactionary. These are not the words of someone who someone who want to turn the clock back. These are not the words of any of the insulting labels then have been attached to this man since his election. These are the words of a shepherd. A disciple of the Man from Galilee. Someone who can step into the Shoes of the Fisherman. These are the words of a Father, a Papa, a Pope. And so now Cardinal Ratzinger has been replaced in my mind with Benedict XVI and I doubt I'm the only one. I think it will be increasingly difficult for the media to continue to paint him with a cold and harsh brush.

I don't know how long Benedict XVI will be pope. Probably at his age he's expecting a short reign himself but I think he's exactly what we need in the present moment just as John Paul II was. So for the Church's sake (and thus the world's) I can only say "Sto Lat, Papa Benedetto!" - may he live a hundred years.

Ratzinger/Pope Benedict Blogs

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Written on 11:27 PM by Jack B.

Of course you have Against the Grain by the folks behind the Ratzinger Fan Club

Then we have The Pope Blog which is still in business into the new pontificate.

Romanitas which succeeds the Papabile blog (now that the conclave is over of course)

B-16 Reporting on the Pontificate of Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI edited by Michael S. Rose of Crux News which also has posted one of my new favorite quotes (in a humorous way)- in this story by the NY Times (who else?) called For America's Divided Roman Catholics, a New Disagreement (registration required - use bugmenot.com). Here's the passage with the money quote:

R. Scott Appleby, a historian on American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, said many Catholics were dismayed, stunned and depressed at the selection of Cardinal Ratzinger.

"This is their worst nightmare come true," said Professor Appleby, who predicted that the selection could lead to a "winnowing" of the American church.


Boo Hoo, Mr. Appebly (who you may remember was one of the laity invited to speak at the USCCB meeting in Dallas about the sex abuse scandal). I weep for you and your "many Catholics" - NOT!

Until the election of Benedict XVI I hadn't quite realized the resentment about the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church that were out there (well I knew there was in the Mainstream Media but I didn't think they would be so blatant about it) even among some so-called Catholics. They were really biding their time until JP2 died I guess and now that they didn't get what they wanted they're whining like a bunch of babies (except at least actual babies have the excuse of being infants).


JP2 & B16

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Written on 10:19 PM by Jack B.

Here we have two men - Karol Wojtyla and Josef Ratzinger - born of traditional enemies (Poland and Germany), lived through the same cataclysm but seeing a different side to it (WWII). One grew to priesthood in a totalitarian atheist Poland, the other in an increasing decadent and secular West Germany, one an extroverted actor and "philosopher-king", the other an introverted academic who tended to work behind the scenes. One always presented as optimistic, the other as forbidding (no matter if it was the truth or not). One regarded as a living saint by even many of his enemies, the other as the "Grand Inquisitor" of legend by his.

Two men. One right after the other, from differing environments and perspectives but with the same worldview, who came to know and rely on each other. Seeing a kindred spirit, seeing the same forces at war in the world even when the world told them to "shut up" or to "get with the times". Two men who came at just this time when their particular talents needed them most. Wojtyla may always be seen as John Paul II, Benedict XVI may always be seen as Cardinal Ratzinger - but both Vicars of Christ, Successors of Peter, literal "rocks" (like the Catholic Church itself) holding firm while the rest of the world drifts, falls and topple. I'm not much into this Holy Spirit thing (just look at John XII or Alexander VI) but more and more I think there's something to it.

Just as I thought...

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Written on 3:20 PM by Jack B.

I was at work when the new pope was announced. My thanks go out to all the commentators at Amy Welborn's Open Book whose excitement stirred my own even thoughh I couldn't see (or hear) what was going on. I got almost the same thrill as if I had been watching it live.

The Worst Thing About the Conclave...

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Written on 10:10 AM by Jack B.

...is that because of the differences between the New York City and Rome time zones, by the time the white smoke finally does appear I won't be there to watch since it will be in the during my working hours. Sure they'll replay the moment a zillion more times later on but there still won't be the feeling of immediacy or suspense. By the time I get home who the next pope will be will be all over the place. They'll be no surprise when I do see whoever it is coming out on the balcony.

There's something about watching it live and being part of history that gets missed when watching tape of it. Yesterday, on my day off, I kept the TV going all morning and all afternoon (even when I was busy doing something else) just to see some smoke coming out of the old stove pipe, even though I knew it was highly unlikely that anyone would get elected on the first ballot. I felt compelled to watch it nonetheless. But since Rome time is different than my time I don't think I'm going to get another chance.

Separation of Mass Communication and Canonization? (aka More Evidence Some People Have Got to Get a Grip)

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Written on 8:36 PM by Jack B.

Susan Jacoby, "secularist" (her own term) and author of the book,"Free Thinkers", takes a different take than most anti-catholics - instead of going after the dead pope himself she goes after the mainstream media for showing him too much respect in this shrill screed: A Respect That Fails To Respect The Facts from NY Newsday (a paper that has been a constant target of Bill Donohue & The Catholic League for its anti-catholicism). It seems a lot of people (the ones who don't like religion in general and Catholicism in particular) still can't deal with the amount of respect and love shown for the late John Paul II.

Highlights include:
"The talking heads never hinted that there might be reasons other than anti-Catholic bigotry for the head of a government founded on the separation of church and state to keep a respectful distance from a church that still regards other denominations as "deficient" - the word used in a statement issued in 2000, not in 1600, by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (officially called the Inquisition in less ecumenical times). Many Americans, including the Bushes and Clinton, profess those "deficient" faiths." So? He was still a Head of State (though something tells me Ms. Jacoby resents that fact) and EVERY religion thinks it's the TRUE or BEST one (even the Bushes and Bill Clinton's) What she's really saying is how dare the Catholic Church still continue to think it has the "Truth"(with a capital T) - and of course notice the usual anti-catholic reference to the "Inquisition" which hasn't existed in almost two centuries.

"During the funeral coverage, few alluded to Ratzinger's authorship of the Vatican document reaffirming the inferiority of non-Catholic religions or to his efforts - at the behest of the pope - to suppress theological dissent within the church. " Hmm, a dig at Ratzinger. How original *sarcasm alert*.

"For a non-Catholic to express skepticism about the pope violates the unwritten American code against speaking ill of anyone else's religion. This misguided notion of tolerance, which confuses respect for liberty of religious belief with respect for the content of particular beliefs, pervaded the hagiographical media orgy in Rome." More to the point why would any non-Catholic (without an axe to grind) want to speak ill of the pope right after his death. Here is the crux of the matter for Ms. Jacoby - she can't stand the fact a man and a faith she has such obvious disdain for got such positive and respectful treatment in the (usually secular) mainstream media.

"But the most reprehensible lacuna concerned one of John Paul's greatest predecessors - the open-hearted and open-minded reformer John XXIII. In print and on TV, commentators repeatedly and erroneously declared that John Paul was the "first pope" to reach out to Jews" Funny, most just commented JP2 reached out the most not that he was the first. I love how she tries to minimize a part of JP's papacy that even his critics respect - his effort at Jewish/Catholic relations.

"John, who died in 1963, called upon bishops to debate Catholic doctrine in a spirit of "holy liberty." He said he had no wish to claim infallibility and expressed embarrassment at being called "Your Holiness." So just because he didn't want to be called "Your Holiness" he didn't claim infallibilty? Last time I checked that was one of the Catholic dogmas one had to believe in, so I conclude John XXIII did as well, especially since he was a big supporter of the canonization effort of the so-called "reactionary" pope who proclaimed the doctrine of papal infallibility - Pius IX. How does that fit in her thesis? John XXIII also took part in the ancient monarchial trappings of being lifted up in his throne by the Papal Gentleman and wearing the jeweled papal tiara - something the less "open-minded" John Paul II did not.

My favorite quote: "media drumbeat about the pope's holiness - now focused on the possibility of his soon being declared a saint - strikes a note, verging on sacrilege, for those who believe in the separation of mass communication and canonization." I must have missed that part of the Constitution? Where is that prohibited? They didn't talke about that Amendment in any of my Political Science classes.

and of course what pope-bashing ending would be complete without quoting that well-known "independent-minded theologian" Richard McBrien of Notre Dame.

Personally, I believe Ms. Jacoby is full of it - does that make me "independent-minded" too?

Another Moment of Leonard Nimoy Zen

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Written on 4:17 PM by Jack B.

Leonard Nimoy anagrams

A Moment of Leonard Nimoy Zen

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Written on 9:51 AM by Jack B.

Random Advice from Mr. Spock - because who knows more?

John Paul II was the Evilest Evil that ever Eviled

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Written on 1:14 PM by Jack B.

So who was the biggest mass murderer in the last half century - the Soviet commisars? Nope. Idi Amin? Guess again. Fidel Castro? No. How about Osama Bin Laden? What are you crazy everyone knows it's this guy - Karol Wojtyla aka Pope John Paul II. Recently departed before he could pay for his crimes against humanity?

Don't believe me? Just take a gander at the articles I got on just a cursory google search (because I was bored) earlier today:

Tim to speak ill of a dead leader who let millions live in anguish by some Australian person

or
Then of course there's this masterful response (NOT!) by a petty bigot named Christopher Hitchens who's spent his entire life hating all relgions (especially Catholicism and especially people like Mother Teresa and John Paul II) and can't get over himself - for some reason there a bunch of conservatives who like him because he supported the war in Iraq (who knew that was it all took)

or
The Pope Has No Vestments
by the Freedom from Religion Foundation...you know the nice folks who protested the lowering of the flag at half-staff for the Pope in Wisconsin. Hey, it's not like he was a head of state or something. Oh wait, he was? Someone should tell them that.

or how about this
The Pope Who Revived the Office of the Inquisition
An American Catholic Reflects on Papacy of John Paul II
by someone who seems about as Catholic as Frances "I want to eat your babies" Kissling, or in other words, not at all.

or this
Pope John Paul II, a reactionary in shepherd's clothing. by some Green Party guy.

or this (heck there's loads of them out there)
A British Obituary of Pope John Paul II
The Pope has blood on his hands
from those the UK Guardian - hey we all know how much the British press loves the Catholic Church, right?

The knives are out indeed. Who knew the old guy was so evil? I didn't. Here am I thinking he was one of the gentlest, human and holy people to come out of the bloodiest century known to man when all the time he was someone who puts Pol Pot and Hitler put together to shame.*sarcasm alert*

Who also knew there were so many bad writers out there with nothing to do in their lives but criticize others? And unoriginal ones at that. If you read the articles carefully they all basically regurgitate the same accusations. It's like there's some kind of anti-John Paul talking points out there. I wouldn't be surprised if there was.

Meanwhile don't you hate it (I'm sure the dissidents do) when Screamin' Bill Donohue of the Catholic League turns out to be right? Remember he did say ... POPE’S BURIAL ENDS THE LULL—STORM COMING

Links For All Your Conclave Needs

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Written on 7:31 AM by Jack B.

Papabile (Blog)
The Pope Blog
How Popes are Elected - free lectures from The Teaching Company
Catholic-Hierarchy.Org - every Bishop and every Diocese in the world
College of Cardinals - website from Aquinas Publishing
Cardinals of the Catholic Church - from Catholic-Pages.Com
CardinalRating.Com - photos and articles on every Cardinal, tries to track down the particular theological position of each
Father Richard John Neuhaus's Rome Diary

Orson Scott Card on the Pope

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Written on 7:17 AM by Jack B.

Orson Scott Card (of Ender's Game fame) is not only one of the best Sci-Fi writers in America but also a devout Mormon. Which makes his article on Why I Miss Karol Wojtyla all the more resonant.

I think the comparison of John Paul to the literary Beowulf is very interesting, and the more I think about it, very apt.

Religious Seating Arrangements at the Pope's Funeral

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Written on 6:33 AM by Jack B.

While reading the official seating arrangements of the non-Catholic religious figures at the Pope's funeral a couple of tidbits stood out to me.

First that the Orthodox/Eastern Churches had primacy of honor in the seating arrangement, another example of the late Pope's pontificate-long efforts at reunification. Also that ALL other Churches, other than the Eastern Churches, are listed as "ecclesiastical communions" and not just Churches, in keeping with Vatican custom. It shows I think that even in death the Pope's ecumenical priorities in respect to the "sister-churches" of the East are taken note of and continued even though relations with some Protestant and Jewish groups are much better than that with, say, the Russian Orthodox.

Glad to see the Billy Graham Organization of Evangelicals sent 4 representatives including two members of the Graham family. Billy Graham (who is also very sick and could use prayers) is not only a great Christian but also has taken heat over the years for his warm relations with Catholics and admiration of John Paul II in particular.

Of course I didn't expect to see the name of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson immediately after the Graham delegation but then on reflection - why not? Jesse always manages to show up everywhere. He's a little like my US Senator Chuck Schumer - show him a camera, and he'll be in front of it. At least Al Sharpton wasn't there (though I must admit to feeling warmer towards Rev. Jackson lately since he crossed ideological lines to help save Terri Shiavo).

Another interesting thing to note was the presence of 2 former Catholics who left the Church has and were there as dignitaries of other faiths. One was Most. Rev. Joris Vercammen, who's a former Catholic priest who left the Church and become one of the top dogs at the ultra-liberal Old Catholic Church which broke with the papacy after Vatican I.
Also there was Mario Scialoja of the Muslim World League - Italy, who converted to Islam while Ambassador of Italy to the UN and was later posted to Saudi Arabia which legally tolerates no religion other than Islam and punishes and jails anyone wearing a cross or caught with a Bible. Converts from Islam to Christianity (or any other religion) face death. Which makes this article he wrote about the difficulties of Muslims in free and liberal Europe all the more ironic. Scialoja was just the first Ambassador of Italy to Saudi Arabia to convert from Christianity to Islam. One of his successors in the post did the same. Obviously the Vatican is more open minded in it's protocol when dealing with former Catholics then people who are still Catholics (even if name only). I remember there was a ruckus when the President of Portugal was refused an audience with the Pope "because he insisted on being accompanied by his second wife, who like himself is divorced and remarried".

The full seating arrangements (including Heads of States) can found in this PDF document which sometimes doesn't seem to want to load properly.

When did it become "John Paul's conservative" doctrine and not just "Catholic" doctrine?

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Written on 12:07 AM by Jack B.

Just finished watching Nightline on ABC and there was a whole episode theorizing whether there could be a pope of color (Gee, you think so? Golly, Ted Koppel, what a shock! *sarcasm*) and how John Paul's "conservative" doctrine is influencing the Churches in Africa and S.America. The gist of it was that if the next Pope wasn't more "liberal" on some things the folks in those areas (especially Latin America) would leave the Church for Evangelical churches (which are actually tend to be even more conservative but don't let logic get in the way). The only way the RCC can compete with the Evangelicals is to have more priests and the only way to do that is drop the celibacy rule. I'm sure the next Pope would appreciate all this free advice from ABC *more sarcasm*. They even had the reporter go up in front of the Evangelical church meeting and ask how many of them used to be Catholics and almost all hands went up (he didn't ask about the theology taught by the Evangelicals which tend to be especially anti-Catholic among the missionaries in Latin America that target Catholicism, so there's more than just big bad celibacy going on here, but once again don't let logic get in the way). That stunt by the way was a really classy thing to do on the day of the Pope's funeral ("hey how many ex-Catholics do we have here") in a report that must have been rushed into production to be timed with tonight's broadcast.

Ted Koppel then had R. Scott Applebly of Notre Dame and a priest specializing in Africa with the US Conference of Bishops. When Koppel asked the priest if there really was a chance an African could become Pope, the priest had to inform him that Church already had 3 African Popes in the past so it wouldn't be anything new. Koppel was dumbfounded and had the priest tell them when exactly this (African popes) had happened. You would think being an experienced reporter he would have done his own research before going to air with this topic but again logic doesn't matter. Koppel was also confused how it is that the Africans and Latin Americans were more "conservative" than their American and European counterparts (this after the report told us that Latin American Catholics don't pay attention to the Pope's "conservative" doctrine even if they're mourning him now). Appleby who has written quite forthrightly about how ABC had previously edited him "to support a one-sided, melodramatically somber "script" that had obviously been outlined in advance by the show's producers for maximum lurid effect" in an earlier primetime special about the sex scandal took pains to point out that one couldn't say that the Third World Cardinals were more "conservative" than their (largely white) neighbors except in areas of sexual matters, like abortion and birth control, which were part of Catholic doctrine and not just "John Paul's" idea and that in most issues they were actually more "progressive" than the more "Western" Cardinals. Once again Koppel looked clueless. Did he do any research for this show? The USCCB priest basically agreed with Koppel and they both tried to assure him that if a Latin American/African got elected they wouldn't be as "conservative" as everyone thinks and were really "liberal" on many issues.

My question is: what's wrong about being "conservative"? In a country that currently has its executive and legislative branches controlled by "conservatives" and where the opposing party tend to run away from the label of "liberal", you wouldn't think "conservative" was a dirty word. Yet even in all the faux-gushing by the Mainstream Media about the Pope since his death, there's always been a sneer when they mention the Pope was a "conservative" and, as if to make up for this horrible sin on the part of John Paul, they bring up his so-called "liberal" positions of opposition to the death penalty and criticism of capitalism, as if to say the Pope really was one of "us" (meaning the commentators). What they don't understand is that John Paul's so-called "conservative doctrine" he supposedly "imposed" on the Church and his more "liberal" ideas all came from the same world-view and same set of beliefs. John Paul's line of thinking was consistent, he didn't think in terms of liberal/conservative because Catholic doctrine itself doesn't. John Paul didn't invent any "doctrine". If any member of the chattering classes ever actually read one of his well-thought out encyclicals or even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (available in most libraries and bookstores) maybe they wouldn't make such asinine statements.

As a matter of fact I tend to think that this episode of Nightline was more about Ted Koppel -and the folks in the ABC newsroom's - "fears" about a "conservative" Pope "of color" than it is about if the Catholic Church is ready for it or not.

Papa, Till Next We Meet...

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Written on 1:12 PM by Jack B.


"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" - Phillipians 1:21

Haiku #8 - For Pope John Paul the Great

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Written on 9:48 PM by Jack B.

Emilia's Lolek
Son of Wadowice, of Krakow,
Of Rome, of the World.

Unbending but loving
A canny politician
Yet still God's servant.

Defying labels
Others would apply to him
They didn't understand.

True to tradition
True his Master called the Christ
True to Mother Church

The Bark of Peter
Never seemed so strong to those
Who hung on to it

Others fell off-side
Blinded by their own vain light
But Jesus remains.

Totus Tuus to
The Blessed Virgin who was
There at journey's end.

Once he looked to us
Then we came to him. Grateful.
No, Karol, thank you.

Who's Going To Be the Next Pope? ... A Few Guesses

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Written on 2:03 PM by Jack B.

There's already a lot of talk on the MSM about who the next pope will be and what's going on in the conclave (not to mention the actual betting that's been going on even before the pope died) but there's 2 things you can count on:

  • Outside of a few names (Ratzinger, Sodano, Arinze) the media have no clue who most of the cardinals are. That's why they're basically putting out names of those who have been mooted before - i.e. Ratzinger, Hummes of Brazil, Danneels of Belgium (the last 2 because they're seen as "progressive"), Scola of Venice, Tettamanzi of Milan (the last 2 because they're Italian), Schonborn of Vienna(the media love aristocrats), Arinze (mostly because he's black - as if that's a novelty - as if the Papacy hasn't been held by Africans before - as is their aren't other African cardinals - the media is so stupid sometimes) and of course Rodriquez of Honduras and Carrerra of Mexico (who are being pushed by the Latin media - just watch Univision and see). That's a small section of names among 117 (possibly 118).
  • The Cardinals, on the other hand, DO know most of the other cardinals. In this age of mass communicationa and mass travel they certainly can see or read about their fellow papabiles. When Karol Wotija was elected John Paul II it was a surprise to the media and the world but not his fellow cardinals, among whom he was a man to watch.

My own picks (based on no more or less knowledge than the talking heads on cable) -

The Pope will Probably Be: One of the 2 German speakers (Ratzinger if they go old, Schonborn if they go young), one of the Italians or one of the South Americans.

If I was Picking the Pope He Would Be:
Charles Chaput of Denver (oops, he's not a Cardinal - darn it) OK then, George Pell of Sydney - a strong outspoken shepherd and a brilliant mind (much like John Paul) who would drive the media crazy (he's already loathed by the MSM Down Under - imagine if he became the Vicar of Christ!)

The Pope will Definitely NOT Be: Any American cardinal, who with the exception of Cardinal George of Chicago, are a bunch of the most mediocre and appeasing clerics you'll ever find. I wouldn't trust them with my lunch money let alone the keys of the kingdom. Especially Egan and Mahoney. Oh, for the days of Cardinal John O'Connor - what a pope he would have made!

The Pope that Would Make the Media's Head Explode: Cardinal Bernard Law. No, I don't want to see it happen ... but just imagine. The folks at the Boston Globe who thought they had his head on their wall would be in a total meltdown. I can't imagine how the Boston reporters covering the conclave must be feeling already knowing that even though they had vanquished him, he's on the inside of the biggest current story in the world and they're on the outside looking in. If I didn't hold Cardinal Law and his cronies in such disdain it would be amusing,

Haiku #7 - For Terri Shiavo

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Written on 10:20 AM by Jack B.

Her name was Terri
Her crime was being alive
So they had her killed

By prone starvation
Was Terri done in, but her
Pure soul journeys on

Left us far too soon
Put to death in evil ways
Loved ones left mourning

When I was younger
I imagined my country
Was better than this