Monday, December 31, 2007

The "Virgin" Mary?

With tomorrow being The Solemnity of the Mary, Mother of God, I thought it may be appropriate to consider the virgin birth. While I disagree with atheist Paul Tobin's view of Jesus a whole, I think his view of the virgin birth is dead on.

1) The Isaiah 7:14 passage that Matthew and Luke use to "foretell" the virgin birth is a Greek mistranslation. In Hebrew it just means young girl.

2) The Isaiah passage refers a boy to born shortly, not some 700 years in the future after the death of Ahaz and Isaiah.

3) Neither Paul nor the Gospel of Mark, our earliest Christian sources mention the virgin birth.

4) It seems to be an import from the Roman mystery religions. It was a "creative" way for Matthew and Luke to demonstrate that Jesus was God's son.

Personally, I have no problem believing that Joseph and Mary had sex, conceived Jesus, and at conception, the Word became Flesh in a very special way that has never happened before or since, but I have a feeling that others may find that view horrific (but hopefully not).

Does it really matter to if Mary had a virgin birth within the greater scheme of the paschal mystery?

A Faithful Catholic

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Vatican Folds Under Pressure?

Last week, I was praising the Vatican for its scholarly honestly in its plans to portray the birth of Jesus in Nazareth via its annual Christmas creche. Per Catholic News Service, someone had the creche revised before its unveiling on December 24th to have the birth occur in Bethlehem instead, according to the tradition in Matthew's Gospel, that the holy family is from Bethlehem originally and did not travel there for the census (as in Luke's Gospel). As can be seen in my previous blog's comments, this is a surprisingly touchy subject, especially considering that I was praising the Vatican for its scholarly integrity. I received comments from distraught readers that for some reason were aimed at me instead of the Vatican that wanted to bring them into 20th century biblical scholarship.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, December 17, 2007

Jesus Had Christmas At Home In Nazareth

As reported at Catholic News, the Vatican creche this year depicts a scene of Jesus to be born at home. Whether this is at home in Nazareth or Bethlehem, Pier Carlo Cuscianna, director of technical services for Vatican City, did not say. His silence indicates that this creche represents Jesus being born at home in Nazareth, not Bethlehem.

What a breath of fresh air. The conflicting infancy stories in Matthew and Luke that both have Jesus being born in Bethlehem are beautiful, but obviously false. They were written in the creative spirit of the authors to fulfill Old Testament prophesies, but at some point we need to dispel the myths of our faith, so that we can look more honestly at the Gospels to see who Jesus really was.

So bravo to Pier Carlo! You made my Advent. This may also be a continuing sign that Benedict is truly a person of scholarly honesty.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, December 10, 2007

Can I Have Some of Your Kool-Aid Drew Mariani?

Last Wednesday afternoon, I made the mistake of turning on "Relevant" Radio. The Drew Mariani Show was on and Drew was trying to give me the special Kool-Aid. The show was on birth control. I believe that under most circumstances, the use of birth control is a good thing. Drew is of the traditional belief that birth control is an intrinsic evil - wrong in any circumstance.

He then explained that when you except birth control, you are not far from becoming pro-abortion, which means you are about to think that euthanasia is a good idea, which means that you are about to support genocide. Uh?

Logically then, since I think birth control is okay, I guess I also think that the genocide of all Native American tribes, Jews, Shiite Muslims, and any other group that I'm not a part of is a wonderful idea. The next logical conclusion is that almost every American would also think that genocide is okay. Unfortunately, he didn't explain at all how this sequence occurs, I would imagine because it does not make any sense. Also, if you look at my previous blog entry, the US and WI bishops appear to be swaying towards genocide themselves.

Someone please let me know when "Relevant" Radio is having another fundraising drive so that I can donate. (I'm being very sarcastic.)

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, December 3, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

US Bishops Fine With Birth Control Methods Other Than NFP

The United State Conference of Catholic Bishops approves of the use of chemicals for birth control when money and political pressure are involved. It is the official policy of our US Bishops to approve the use of emergency contraception by Catholic hospitals if a woman is admitted who was raped and it has been confirmed that she is not currently pregnant.

It seems odd to me that contraception can be used by Catholic hospitals, though traditionally (pre-Vatican II) it has been considered an intrinsic evil that cannot be condoned under any circumstances. This view is enunciated regularly by conservative Catholics and "Relevant" Radio.

Since approximately 1/3 of hospitals are Catholic hospitals, the main reason for this exception is obviously money and legal pressure. This appears to be the only to sway the arrogance of some bishops regarding the issue of birth control.

In truth they are also afraid to prohibit the use of birth control in hospitals. If they did so, they would have one of two situations. Catholic hospitals would either disobey the bishops or they would say, "Fine, but only if the diocese covers the legal costs when we are sued." The bishops fear both of these options.

Now if only there were a way to create a similar catch-22 with regards to the ordination of women. We would be ordaining women within the year if anyone was ingenious enough to think of the situation.

A Faithful Catholic

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weakland Playing Cards!!! Collect them All!!!

A while back a I happened upon one of these "prayer" cards. I know that at times I have been critical of Archbishop Dolan, but I have never mass-produced any prayer cards for his immediate removal. This is one of my problems with a particular brand of conservative Catholics. Their reason is always: "The Pope said so," "The bishop said so," "Canon Law said so," until of course the pope, bishop, or canon law disagrees with what they think. I also cannot stand liberals who quote the pope to make their case before conservatives. It indicates to me that the intellectual well has dried up.

To be honest, at times I wish we did have a different bishop, but as my initial blog states, the larger problem is the way in which the Catholic Church is currently structured. It now gives too much power to pope and bishop - whether liberal or conservative. There's an old story of a milk corporation with a great boss who is getting his workers to organize a union. One of the workers says to him, "Why are you having a union organized? You are a great owner. No one has a problem with your management." The owner wisely said to the worker, "While that may be true, I will not always be the owner."

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pope Benedict Endorses My Blog!

In a recent address to Italian students, Pope Benedict stated that the search for truth and faith are not mutually exclusive. In fact, "it is precisely the steady courageous search for the truth that opens the doors to faith." That's what this whole blog has been about: the search for truth without compromise. I find that some Catholics would like to compromise my thoughts with anti-intellectual epitaphs such as: "The Pope said so..." "The Pope is the authority..." "This Vatican document states..." "Canon Law states..." and so on and so on.

Benedict questioned the belief of some "that whoever has faith must renounce an unencumbered search for truth." That is one of the main reasons for my remaining Catholic: the strong intellectual tradition. Sure, in the process, those great heralds of a thinking Catholicism such as Aquinas and Newman will often find themselves wrongly condemned or chided, but in the end the Catholic Church will bless them and thank them.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Liturgical Police Sting in Kohler!

In Kohler, WI, a new blog was started by a Catholic who feels fatherless (FL). Why exactly, because Bob Lotz, the priest at St. John's in Kohler does not refer to God as Father and does not celebrate the Mass "by the book."

In one of her/his latest blog entries, FL goes point by point of the abuses and follows with a long list of addresses for concerned citizens to write to.

FL, among a few others, seems concerned that Jesus may not be coming Mass (or at least not coming to Mass happily) because Lotz celebrates Mass a little different than the GIRM exactly specifies.

There seems to be a concern that using a glass cruet at consecration means that Jesus will not become present in the wine or least disdains having to become present within in it. Jesus: "Well, the the Pope said, ‘No glass,’ so I guess I’ll skip this Mass.”

And I'm certain that in the first decades of the church, before the Mass became standardized, that people substituted all sorts of words for Father and used many non-standard materials for chalices. According to FC's logic, I bet Peter and Paul themselves said a few illicit or invalid Masses. And since the synoptic Gospels portray Jesus as using different words and rubrics during the Last Supper, perhaps two of the Gospels have taught us illicit or invalid consecrations.

This is just nitpicking legalism. In any case, the Mass is always in need of reform. If it was not, then the bishops of our church would not be constantly changing it. Where does the legalism end?

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, October 22, 2007

Reaching the Children

I was talking to someone working at a parish that has around 30 - 50 confirmation candidates every year. They've been helping out with confirmation there for the past five years. I asked them if the teenage confirmands they see are at all like the very conservative seminarians one typically finds at Saint Francis Seminary (which is closed).

NO! was the emphatic response. There has been varying degrees of interest by the confirmands concerning religion, but they had never seen a confirmand as conservative as most of the new priests being ordained in Milwaukee. It is these outdated teachings in our Church concerning gays, birth control, and women's ordination that is guaranteeing their disappearance after confirmation.

If the Archbishop is truly concerned about Energizing our Vibrancy (and I believe he is), it would be extremely helpful if Dolan would speak out concerning the injustice of these current "official" Church teachings. It would energize a passion and pride in their faith that the confirmands now feel themselves not able to have. I know this dream is up there with pigs flying at the moment, but the idea needs to be repeated until it no longer sounds foreign. Most Catholic teens stay religious as adults, they just do it somewhere else.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig: Meets Msgr. Stenico

According to the today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Washington Post, and, Vatican official Msgr. Tommaso Stenico & Sen. Larry Craig both have similar problems. They both like to pretend to be gay, but they are not... really.

Stenico, one of the section chiefs for the Congregation of the Clergy, was caught on camera by a private Italian TV network, making gay sexual advances on a young man. Stenico, 60, has written many books and hosts a catechetical program on TV. Taking a page from Paris Hilton, he brought the young man to his Vatican office where he uttered such phrases as "You're cute" and "You're so hot" while touching the man's thigh. The young man, after asking Stenico one too many times whether they were about to commit a sin, was asked to leave. Stenico had repeatedly told him that gay sex is not sinful.

I , of course, have no problem with gay people or gay priests, but I'm getting a little sick of U.S. and Vatican officials not owning up to their own actions and desires. It hurts a cause they obviously want to be a part of - the promotion of a view that gay sex is just as wonderful and healthy has straight sex. Instead of turning their lives around and being someone people can be proud of, they yell conspiracy.

Stenico states that it was part of his science project to investigate the "diabolical plan by groups of Satanists who target priests [to have gay sex]." If anyone discovers the Satanic faith-sharing group in Milwaukee that tries to have gay sex with priests, please let me know. I'll pass the info on to Stenico & Craig.

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vibrancy Document Online

I found a copy of the Vibrancy document online.

Maybe everyone else already knew where to find it, but I haven't seen a link to it on any other blogs. So here is Jim Connell's blueprint for a sustainable vision of the Archdiocese in the future. Jim Connell's plan may not win the day, but right now it's the only one out there. He, at least, has put out an idea. He refers to it as a plan for "vibrancy," but it is really a plan to deal with the shortage of priests. As he states: "in ten years those ranks (the priests) could easily be one-half what they are now." Things will change, but will anyone but Dolan and the priests of this Archdiocese have a voice in how this all shakes out?

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, October 8, 2007

Big Mac Known Better Than 10 Commandments

According to a recent study, more Americans can list all the ingredients in a Big Mac than remember all ten commandments. Of 1,000 participants, 60% could recall all of a Big Mac's ingredients, while less than 30% could recall the commandment to not take any false idols. Unfortunately, they did not list what percentage could recall all 10 commandments, but it must have been pretty low.

I must admit that I am not as big on the 10 commandments as I am on the seven virtues. The seven virtues are chastity, abstinence, liberality, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. I prefer the 7 virtues because they give us something to strive for instead of stay away from (for the most part). In that sense they are more positive and more inclusive of fully lived Christian life. The virtues ask: "How can I best live out the Christian life" instead of "What do I have to avoid to get to heaven?"

Sadly, I would guess that less people could name the 7 virtues than list all 10 commandments. In addition, when the powers that be put together the new catechism in the 1990's, they made a conscious choice to follow the commandments rather than the virtues in the morality section. That indicates that our church hierarchy emphasizes the avoidance of evil rather than striving for goodness. It might seem that I'm cutting hairs, but I think that in general, it's a fair assessment.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Age of John Paul II Continues...

As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Archbishop Dolan gave the homily at the annual Roman Catholic Red Mass in Washington D.C. Sunday for the Supreme Court Justices. He opened with an anecdote about John Paul II and how he changed somebody's life. Now I know I can be a complainer of sorts, but it seems that JPII is the content of a lot of Dolan's homilies. My own personal prejudice is that people are more moved by examples that are common to them. JPII, according to our official church doctrine, was ontologically changed at ordination and thus, stories about him do not always move me as much.

Our church is (I think for worse) in the age of JPII. There used to be pre-Vatican II priests and Vatican II priests, and now there are JPII priests. Unfortunately, I can't find it right now, but the Saint Francis Seminary web page used to have bios of all the seminarians that included a paragraph of their influences. Almost every single one mentioned JPII. Yes, I know, JPII was moving to them, but they're considering priesthood. The average person in the pew is not considering priesthood (and 50% of them are told not to consider it). But shouldn't our focus as a church be on Jesus and how the "lay" person can follow in his footsteps. I'm not interested in following in JPII's footsteps.

In any case, my two cents: Venerable Archbishop and JPII priests, please use examples and anecdotes those of us in the pew can relate to a bit more (someone who is not ordained or part of religious community). Thank you.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 24, 2007

Jesus & Mary Don't Use Threatnening & Violent Language

According to, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has ruled that the Marian apparitions that Patricia De Menezes claims to have seen beneath her English pine tree since 1984 are "highly questionable" and are not worthy of belief. In the interim, Patricia founded the Community of Divine Innocence. They speak mainly on behalf of the unborn and are 3,000 members strong in 43 countries.

Her community has never received Vatican approval because its constitution is based on the "flawed" spirituality of the alleged sightings which permeate the document. This spirituality is based on the alleged visions in which Jesus & Mary use "unusually violent and threatening language" that is often hysterical.

Basic to the authenticity of any vision is it they cannot contradict core teachings of the Catholic Church, a.k.a., Jesus threatening to bludgeon somebody. Also, the apparitions must make sense. These apparitions promoted calling all aborted children martyrs for the Christian faith. As the CDF points out, one can only be a martyr if they "bear witness to Christ." Otherwise, anyone person of any religion who died from any evil cause could be called a martyr.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 17, 2007

Army of Mary Goes Too Far For Vatican

It often seems that you can have groups on Irrelevent Radio and those like them say the craziest things, but the only way the Vatican will do anything about the extreme right is if they start ordaining their own priests. That was the case late last week when news broke that the Vatican had excommunicated certain members of the Army of Mary, located in Quebec.

Their literature had insinuated for years that Marie-Paule Giguere (pictured right) not only had visions of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, but that she was the reincarnation of the Virgin herself.

We saw the same thing happen with Archbishop Lefebvre, who founded the Society of Pius X. He disregarded the post-Vatican II Catholic Church and was only excommunicated upon ordaining four bishops to continue his work.

It seems that ultra-conservative groups with anti-Vatican II sentiment often get preferential treatment compared to those on the progressive side of church issues. It could just be the way that the "Catholic" media covers it, but that's my impression. Even now, Benedict is reaching out to the Society of Pius X. And some would say that this Latin Mass thing is an olive branch in their direction. When will there be an olive branch for the Matthew Fox's and Rev. Alice Iaquinta's?

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 10, 2007

5 Years of Archbishop Dolan

It seems that whenever I read something by Dolan lately he mentions that he has been here five years. He intimates that it's time to assess. I wholeheartedly agree. In the last five years, the two things that Dolan has done that stick out the most to me: 1) He will forever be known as the bishop who closed St. Francis Seminary and put an end to it grand history. It will be a very long time untll lay people and priestly formation students study together again. 2) The continuing decline of the Catholic Herald. The Catholic Herald was bad under Weakland; now it is plain unreadable. It's a paper devoid of news, it is usually made up solely of propaganda.

It is also true that there are many bishops around the United States worse that Dolan, a lot worse to be frank. But I don't think "He wasn't as bad as others" is much a legacy. He is jolly, but that does not make up for the total lack of consensus that he has shown. Why he asks for opinions that he does not care about I do not know. The grossest example of this is of course the committee he set up to give him a recommendation about the future of St. Francis Seminary. Why even ask? And then why say you'll follow their advice, only to close down the Seminary a year later. He'll listen. He'll smile. He'll tell you that what you said was wonderful. Then he does something completely different.

Five Years Later... And he's not as bad as other bishops.

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mother Teresa Was Normal

The last couple weeks has seen Mother Teresa as a news item. She's become the media's poster child for doubt. But any Christian whose faith has seen any amount of adult development knows from experience that what she went through was normal. I wish she would have stated these revelations of doubt publicly while she was alive, because I think it would have been tremendously powerful. And it could have helped so many Christians that find themselves in doubt, but feel guilty about it because they somehow think it's their fault. There is this sense that the Mother Teresa's of the world know all the answers and are so certain of everything, but our faith is a living struggle in the search for truth and relationship with our God. Dry spells are part of the territory. Hopefully it is not always a duration 40 years long. I could give a list of reasons why I think spiritual dryness can be helpful to our spiritual life, but I would be grasping. All I know is that in some ironic way, it has helped to deepen my faith in God and the message of God's Word, Jesus.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Zubik See Women Bishops in Our Future

Bishop Zubik of Green Bay is on his way out to Pittsburgh, but while in Green Bay he appeared to have a good time. According to a June 26th comment on, Zubik put his miter on this girl confirmand and said: "It is never too early to plant the seed of ordination." Then they compare him to a flag burner and then somehow jump to the Arian heresy of the early church.

Assuming that what they are stating about the event actually happened, I'm sure it was in good fun. I never got the sense that Zubik was a flaming liberal like the anti-Vatican II web page Traditio would like to paint him. According to their web site, the last Pope that they recognized was John XXIII. It's odd how different the same picture can seem to two different people. I see Zubik the conservative who courageously spoke out about immigration issues and was willing to have fun with a confirmand, and they see Zubik the flaming pinko liberal who's bringing God's church to the brink of hell fire and damnation.

In any case, I really like this picture, I only wish that the quality was better.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bishop Sklba Comments on Lay Preaching

Last year when, for all intents and purposes, St. Francis Seminary closed, its preaching institute was also abolished. One of the purposes of the Preaching Institute, which had been established in the early 1980's by Archbishop Weakland, was to certify lay preachers in the diocese and make sure that they were properly trained. Thankfully, there still are lay some people preaching in the Archdiocese, but Archbishop Dolan has expressed that this should no longer be the case. And with last years closing of the Seminary and the Institute, the training of lay people in the art of preaching ceased.

The interesting twist in this dismal story is that at the inauguration for Cardinal Stritch's St. Clare Center for Ministry Formation on Friday, Aug. 10, Bishop Sklba spoke very much in favor of lay preaching. According to a Catholic Herald article, Bishop Sklba stated that he felt preaching was the primary mission of the church that lay ministers should also be associated with preaching. He went on to state that" [a] compelling question for our day is the challenge to find a way of including our lay ecclesial ministers into the ministry of preaching in a way that respects the integrity of the Eucharist, the needs of our people and the gifts which these individuals can bring to the life of the church.” The reason he states that it needs to respect the integrity of the Eucharist, is that the official theology states that having someone other than the presider preach would make the mass too disconnected.

Intriguingly, Sklba's statement seems to be in direct opposition to the wishes of Archbishop Dolan for our Archdiocese. But at the same time, I do not think the Catholic Herald would print such an article without the knowledge of Dolan. If all the above is correct, I can only assume that Dolan is open to dialogue on the issue. Or at least he is open to his auxiliary bishop raising the question in a public forum. In any case, this is very positive. The next hopeful step would be to reinstate classes for the training of preaching for the laity.

A Faithful Catholic

Friday, August 17, 2007

TMJ 4 News Story on Rev. Iaquinta

Last night, TMJ Channel 4 did a story and interview with Alice Iaquinta regarding her ordination to the priesthood on Sunday. The Archdiocese is for the moment taking the smart move of of simply saying that her ordination is not valid that they will pass on the matter to Rome for consideration. No one from the Archdiocese wanted to go on camera. Click here to see the video of this story.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rev. Alice M. Iaquinta?

Documents coming from Rome can seem bleak at times, but there is definitely a sense of pride in knowing that yet another woman has been ordained from Southeastern Wisconsin. I think when all is said and done, the Church of Milwaukee & St. Francis Seminary might make an impressive footnote in the story about how the Roman Catholic Church finally came to accept the ordination of women.

According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on Saturday, Alice Iaquinta was to be ordained yesterday in the Twin Cities by a female bishop. This female bishop was formerly ordained a bishop in secret by a group of male bishops in good standing with Rome and thus allowing these brave women to take part in the "apostolic succession" that is so important to Rome's definition of Church (I peripherally touched on this in a post a few entries down).

In any case, I am very proud to say that I once had the opportunity to meet Alice and found her charming, engaging, intelligent, and thoughtful. Perhaps sadly, I think she knows more about the Catholic Tradition than many of the priests ordained today. I think she will make a wonderful addition to Roman Catholic priesthood. Congratulations Alice!!!

A Faithful Catholic

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Karen Marie Knapp, RIP

On the Catholic blog, Against the Grain, I noticed that Karen Marie Knapp passed away. She wrote the blog From the Anchor Hold. I did not know her, but read her blog regularly. I didn't always agree with her viewpoint, but I felt that it was always well thought out and heart felt. As did Against the Grain, I will post her last request:

"I live alone. I have no kin less than a full day's drive away. I'm chronically ill with a disease that is incurable and fatal. Though I am doing all the things I need to do to collect on the '15 to 20 years of medically manageable symptoms', such as taking all my medicines, doing my physical therapy, using my oxygen, and so on, the fact is that I could easily be Called at any time. And the first notice of my passing, when my body finally stops working entirely, is very likely to be a blaring loudspeaker just like the one in the cafeteria this noontime, at some hospital or skilled nursing facility. I hope that when my time comes, and the loudspeakers start hollering about my room, that there is someone who takes pity on me and prays for me. It's on that list of the Things Catholics Do, the Works of Mercy: Pray for both the living and the dead."

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, August 6, 2007

Can the Catholic Church Learn From the U.S. Military?

In the July 5 issue of Origins (a documentary service by Catholic News Service), Christopher Ruddy (a theologian from the University of St. Thomas) shared his two cents about the reasons behind the sexual abuse crisis. His mantra throughout is: "Accountability for bishops, identity for priests and adulthood for the laity."

In making a loose comparison between generals and bishops, I think he hit the problem right on the head. He quoted Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling in an article from the Armed Forces Journal concerning the failure of generalship in Iraq:

"Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America's general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces are generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage.

"Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer's potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer's advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentive for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late 40s."

Enough Said.

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What's the Deal withe Medjugorje?

Earlier today the Catholic Herald published a story about the Medjugorje pilgrims who were in that horrific bus accident. And while I feel for the victims of the accident, I don't quite understand the fascination of the pilgrims or the Catholic Herald's implicit affirmation with these so-called apparitions of Mary.

There is just so many questions surrounding those "apparitions." First and foremost. the shrine's leading priest, Fr. Zovko, has had his faculties suspended and has suffered censure for still hearing confessions afterwards. His order says he's a priest in good standing, but that basically means that he hasn't been excommunicated, yet. The previous bishop thought it was a hoax and current bishop also thinks it's nonsense. The commission that was set up to study the matter believed it was fake and both bishops asked pilgrims to stop coming. My understanding is that no priest entering that diocese has permission to use his faculties if he is there for the purpose of bring pilgrims to Medjugorje. The current bishop, Bishop Peric, has also stated that he feels the Franciscans running the shrine have broken their vow of poverty with the wealth they have amassed from pilgrims.

A commission says it is a hoax, the bishops believe it is a hoax, and the Franciscans there are getting rich. Seems like a mess to me. Many passengers in the accident felt that God saved them. Perhaps they were just lucky and the Catholic Herald should cover the accident as such.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, July 16, 2007

Vatican To Other Churches: "We're Better Than You."

Why why do I belong to this Roman Church? I'm sure some of you are asking that exact same thing. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, overseen by Cardinal Levada (and obviously with the blessing of Pope Benedict) released a document trying to explain away a change of wording that Vatican II made about the Church of Christ "subsisting" in the Catholic Church. Previously, they had been seen as the same thing - and conservatives in the church have been trying to ease that blow to their ecclesial ego ever since.

I do believe that the Catholic Church has a richness found nowhere else, otherwise I wouldn't be Catholic. But there are other churches that have gifts we lack, but we don't then say that the Catholic Church lacks the fullness of the Church of Christ. As an example, evangelicals as a rule have a very personally dynamic relationship with Jesus as Lord that is awe-inspiring. Catholics as a general rule are more booky, and I think we have some of the best academic scholarship.

In any case, I do not see how this is helpful to ecumenical dialogue. Thankfully, I think it will be largely ignored anyway on the local level, but it is definitely the Vatican taking a step in the wrong direction. I mean, telling other Christians they don't really have a church in the technical sense. It's like I'm on a elementary school playground, but instead the people saying these things are old enough to be retired.

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Milwaukee Does Not Want A Home-Coming For Bruskewitz

There was a comment on one of my earlier blogs from a Lincoln native who fully supports Bishop Bruskewitz. Fabian Bruskewitz is originally from the Milwaukee Archdiocese. I checked out his blog and found myself rather disturbed. He has a Bruskewitz quote on his blog. I can't guarantee that Brusketwitz actaully said or wrote it, but it's obvious that the supports this point of view and it sounds like something Fabian would say:

"The Catholic Church teaches that all homosexual acts and any sexual abuse of minors or others are mortal sins," Bruskewitz said in the statement. "Such sins and heinous crimes should be appropriately punished by the authorities of the church and the state."
I find it particularly disturbing how gay adult sex is considered in the same breath as sexual abuse of minors, as if they were the same thing. I suppose the blogger and Bruskewitz are both saying that they would be just as disturbed by hearing that their adult sister had consenstual sex with another woman as they would be by hearing that their 6 year-old niece was raped by a 50 year-old man. It's this type of outdated poorly thought out pre-Vatican II moral theology that is making it a simple decision for young adults to leave the Catholic Church.

I must thank the blogger for one thing though. I am very grateful this day that Timothy Dolan is the Archbishop of Milwaukee

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, July 2, 2007

Archbishop Makes Catholic Schools Priority To Combat Sexual Abuse Crisis

I don't want this blog to be overly negative, but I do not understand this capital campaign at all as reported in the Catholic Herald. The Archbishop has been told time and time again about how parishes are strapped for money, so now he wants to introduce a $105,000,000 capital campaign that raises money by taking money from parishes. And if I understand his logic, he's doing it to combat the sexual abuse crisis because "We've been beaten up." Making parishes more strapped for money will bring us together. This just seems like an excuse to put forward his Catholic schools agenda. He states that the money will be for all religious ed programs, but who uses more money under the auspices of religious ed than Catholic schools. Catholic schools are huge money pits compared to your average Sunday school program.

So if you are at a parish with a school, the parish will probably get back their campaign money plus some. But if you are at a parish without a school, kiss that money good-bye. I suppose my bias is that I'm not a strong advocate of Catholic schools.

The larger issue is that the Archbishop said that he is doing this based on his "listening," but that's just a fancy catch word. Nobody told him, according to his own testimony, that they wanted money taken from all the parishes in this Archdiocese to be given to Catholic schools. Some people told him that they wanted Catholic schools strengthened, but I don't even know what that means. And there definitely no listening sessions that I'm aware of that asked the people of this Archdiocese what they wanted to do with their parish's money. I might be completely wrong, but I think this is just the Archbishop's pet project and he is using the sexual abuse crisis to get it off the ground. Not that Catholic schools is a bad thing to support, but he definitely did not ask anyone I know if we wanted to make that the number one priority in this Archdiocese. It's all very disappointing.

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Next Pope Will Be Better Than Expected

Benedict has again shown why he is more moderate than John Paul. First he met with Hans Kung, then he let a synod of bishops meeting in Rome talk about whatever they wanted to for a day (neither of these things were ever allowed by John Paul), and now he has reversed John Paul's regulation changes regarding how a pope is elected. Surprisingly, I have not seen this reported on the US Bishops media outlet,, but had to get it off the AP wire.

JPII had made the terrible change in 1996 to allow a pope to be elected by simple majority if he could not be elected by a two-thirds majority after 33 rounds of voting. This would have allowed for a very conservative man to be elected during the next papal conclave. All a ultra-conservative block of cardinals would have to do is wait out 33 rounds of voting. And I believe this is what JP wanted. Benedict is giving us all chance by forcing the next conclave to compromise and choose someone a little more to the center. A few years ago I wouldn't have said this, but hopefully we will get someone similar to Benedict, who appears to a be true bridgebuilder.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, June 25, 2007

Call to Action is Coming!!!

Call to Action is coming to Milwaukee again this fall. There will be a little bit of a Catholic springtime on the weekend of November 2-4. One of the most promising speakers that will be coming is Robert McClory. He's giving a presentation called: The Church WILL be Democratized: The Why and the How. He's a professor emeritus at Northwestern and will be giving his presentation Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

If you've never been to Call to Action, it's worth going. It's the largest organized Catholic event I can think of in America where true intellectual dialogue is welcome. But conservatives beware, if you give as an arguement: "The Pope says so," that will not be good enough. Popes have been wrong plenty in the past. Call to Action's web site is It's less expensive to go if you sign up by July 15th. I must admit that this is one of those shining gems in our Milwaukee Archdiocese. We are so lucky to have it here every year.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, June 18, 2007

Stritch opens St. Clare Center to train lay church leaders

The Journal Sentinel reported last week that Cardinal Stritch University was opening a St. Clare Center for Lay Ministry Formation. I'm glad to hear that someone has done something about the void left by the closing of St. Francis Seminary. I applaud Dr. Scholz & Company for all their hard work. It was a real shame when St. Francis closed. It still boggles my mind. Two and a half years ago, the Archbishop sets up a committee to put their ears to the ground, do some research, and give him a recommendation about the future of St. Francis. They report to him that it is very important to keep St. Francis open, especially since it gives future lay ministers & priests a chance to connect before they get to the parish and work together. So the Archbishop responds, Bravo, let's keep it open. Only to close the Seminary a year later. The worst part is that the Archbishop still states that St. Francis Seminary is open. No seminarians or lay students study or take classes at St. Francis, but it's still open because the seminarians have mass their and talk to priests. This double speak reminds me of 1984. It's very ungood.

In any case, since the Archbishop closed the seminary with absolutely no plan for the future of the lay ministry in Milwaukee. The plan stated that seminarians, deacons, and lay certificate students would all have places to go; but properly trained lay ministers, they can go to... oh, someone will figure it out. And o thank God, or rather Dr. Scholz for having the vision and foresight, as well as the dedication to make the St. Clare Center a reality. He has possible saved the future of lay ministry in Milwaukee.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jesus, The First Pope?

I just found this picture of Jesus on the a Relevant Radio web page that was celebrating June as The Month of the Sacred Heart. I must admit that I don't ever remember seeing this picture before. It just seems a little tacky to have Jesus wearing the pope's crown. As one of the titles of the pope is "Vicar of Peter," does that mean that Jesus is the "Vicar of Peter." Obviously, he is the Vicar of Christ; he speaks for himself. I don't have any problem per say with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but this painting seems like papal propaganda in the worst sense possible. It says not only that the papacy is extremely important, but that Jesus was the first pope.

Is this painting implying that Jesus was the first pope? Because I'm pretty sure that Catholic tradition states that Peter was the first pope. Though that is disputable, because St. Irenaeus states that Peter & Paul founded the church in Rome, which no scholar takes seriously. Most serious scholars (meanings ones that makes sense and look at more sources than those that back up their pre-established point of view) believe that there were a number of elders/bishops/overseers at the beginning of the early church in Rome. I'm sure that if Peter or Jesus had become the first bishop of Rome, the author of Acts of the Apostles would have said something. I hope this entry is not too cynical or trite.

A Faithful Catholic

Friday, June 1, 2007

Women Ordained Priests in Canada

Earlier this week in Toronto, five women and a married man were ordained to the priesthood by a female bishop. And my initial response is "good for them." We need more priests. Based on my knowledge of a women in this diocese being ordained, this group typically ordains women who are just as qualified academically as Pope-sactioned priests.

I was reading another blog that commented on this ordination before it happened, and I thought he made some interesting points. He stated that "valid matter" was needed to perform sacraments. He gave the example that you can't use milk for baptizing. As such women are not "valid matter" for ordination. I wrote him a response reminding him that under certain circumstances you can baptize with milk, in face certain official books give spit as an examle of valid matter that can be used in an emergency for baptism when no water is available. Also, of course, lay persons can baptize in an emergency when no priest is available.

I think that this argument could also be used to justify ordaining women when there is a vocational crisis. We need our sacraments. And I am very proud of the male bishops who were brave enough to ordain the original group of female bishops. But even without the emergency argument, there is plenty of evidence that relates how certain doctrines, even those concerning sacraments and valid matter, have changed and evolved over time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More Latin in Our Future!?

It looks like Benedict is preparing a document for allow greater use of the Latin Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. Personally, I am fine with that. The more diversity, the better. It's an important part of our tradition. I just wish that there was greater freedom granted to the current vernacular Mass. Every time there is word of a new Mass change or lectionary translation change, I have to take a deep breath, because they usually lead to something less progressive. The changes are usually throwbacks to more literal, less understandable translations; or they pontificate changes that demean the laity and deify the priest, because it seems that some bishops are concerned that the laity can not tell who the priest is, even though he's the only man wearing a dress.

So, like I said, I am all for more diversity in our liturgy styles. I just wish that the Vatican would pander to the progressives a little more (or at all) and not just worry about bringing the arch-conservative break away churches back into the fold. The greatest growing religion in America, last time I checked, is liberal Catholics becoming something else. It would be nice to try and put a stop to that.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Lay Saints in Our Future

Benedict XVI has been a breath of fresh air compared to John Paul II. He has met with Hans Kung, allowed controversial issues to be discussed at bishops synods and the like. There is a lot more I hope for, but another seed of hope is his changes to determining the calandar of saints in the Roman Church's universal calander.

I guess it is really the Catholic Church's saint version of affirmative action. The article from states:

"Special consideration will be given to saints from countries not already represented in the general calendar and from underrepresented categories, such as laypeople, married couples and parents, the norms said. In addition, the norms said, 10 years should have passed since the canonization ceremony to ensure ongoing, widespread devotion."

In one sense the road to canonization is too complicated and too expensive. It would probably be better if the canonization process was mostly left up to the local or national church conferences. But the fact that in 25 years I might be able to open up a saint of the day book and see the greater international diversity of our church as well as more lay people is a fascinating thought. Maybe there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

A faithful Catholic

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Zubik on Immigration

I saw today that Bishop Zubik of the Diocese of Green Bay put out a statement asking the Common Council of Green Bay to "vote against any initiative that would require documentation of residency for those seeking business licenses and prohibiting businesses from employing undocumented immigrants."

I'm very happy with his stance, and thought I should give him the recongnition that he deserves, but from now on I plan on making this blog limited to more in-house church issues. For the most part I do not have a problem with Catholic social teaching as such, but I do not want to make this a blog where I complain about our Archbishop, Timothy, not condemning the war in any substantial way. To his credit, he attended an ecumencial prayer service for peace a few weeks back. But I will leave that to others, since asking bishops to speak out against the war is not really a controversial in-house Roman Church issue, meaing that no bishop has threatened a politian who chooses to vote against the war with a "communion embargo." For good local information on the Catholic anti-war movement, I suggest checking out Catholics for Peace and Justice.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, April 30, 2007

Pope Benedict Prays for More Priest Vocations

An article today on Catholic News Service states that at a Mass where Pope Benedict ordained 22 men, be pleaded for more vocations to the priesthood. I cannot believe we are still having this debate, but of course the easy answer to his prayers would be to allow women and married men to become priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

Last I heard, the core of the faith was contained in the Nicene Creed. And the Nicene Creed does not state: "I believe in an all male celibate priesthood. I believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church where chrism oil will NEVER be touch the body of a woman for the purpose of ordination."

The real reason there are not women priests right now is that until recently, women were not considered whole human beings. Both Augustine and Aquinas state as much. And the reason that marriend men are not ordained priests in the Roman Church is because Rome does not want priests saying Mass who have just had sex. There are numerous documents throughout the ages by bishops and theologians asking priests not to "descrate" themselves with their wives before celebrating Mass.

For more infomation on this debate which should be over by now, check out

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reconciliation & General Absolution

I thought a good first topic to tackle would be General Absolution. Another blogger seemed excited about the issue of a Catholic church in the Archdiocese that was rumored to be having a general absolution service in December. I have nothing against individual reconciliation. I have benefited many times from it. But the Vatican itself has stated that in "exceptional situations" general absolution may be used.

I know that they probably mean a situation where there's one priest in a mission area for a short time and a billion people there want reconciliation, but there is another take on it. I was talking to a priest recently about his rather large parish and he told me that there were only four sinners at his parish. Meaning that of the thousands of parishioners, only four people ever went to confession. Parishes that have communal reconciliation and/or general absolution, have the ability to reach hundreds more that otherwise will not go to confession. Timothy and bishops around the U.S. have been trying to push individual reconciliation for a couple decades with no success. I say let's reach the people. Get your parish to have a general absolution service if possible, or at least a communal penance service. The other upside is that such a move may help Catholics come back to the graces and blesses afforded in an individual reconciliation experience.

A Faithful Catholic

Initial Blog Entry

This is my first blog. And I won't lie. It's mostly spurred on from reading Catholic Mike, who for better or worse is rather well read. I couldn't find anything else in the Milwaukee area that looked at things from a more progressive point of view. So I have started this blog.

I'm a faithful Catholic. I welcome comments and plan to usually post them unless one person comments too often or not with a spirit of generosity.

I think we are in a wintertime in the Catholic Church right now. Pope John Paul II gave us papal representatives and not bishops. He gave us "yes men" and not scholars, not thinkers. The future of the Catholic Church looks bleak. But I'm still here. I'll go down with the ship, but I hope that it does not come to that. There are still so many good priests, good lay people, great theologians, but I think it is possible that John Paul "The Great" may go down in history as the man responsible for killing the Catholic Church.

In large part the blame goes back to Vatican II. So many, countless wonderful things happened there. They addressed the issue of collegiality among the bishops and a voice of the faithful among the laity, but they installed no safeguards to insure this vision and the thinking progressive episcopate has been decimated, almost without exception. We have been left with a Papal Regime, a Leader and followers; not an interactive world church community.

If we are lucky enough to survive the winter, I believe the next big change will be in Church structure. We have seen the seeds of this in the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandal. We now have an advisory board with lay people with the job of watching the bishops. Most American Catholics know that we need lay people that actually have a real say, real power. That will be the next step needed to keep the Catholic Church from becoming a museum a hundred years from now.

In my blogs to come I plan on touching on many issues, but this initial blog should give anybody reading this an idea of the framework that I am thinking in. God's peace to you.

A Wintertime Catholic