Wednesday, April 30, 2008

From the official Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - In today's general audience, which was held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope dedicated his remarks to his recent apostolic trip to the U.S.A. and the headquarters of the United Nations, from 15 to 21 April.

After recalling how the motive for his U.S. visit was the bi-centenary of the elevation of the country's first diocese, Baltimore, to the status of metropolitan archdiocese, and the foundation of the sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville, the Holy Father affirmed that his aim had been "to announce to everyone the message that 'Christ is our Hope', the phrase which was the theme of my visit".

During the meeting with President George Bush in the White House, said the Pope, "I had the opportunity to pay homage to that great country, which from its beginnings was built on the foundation of a harmonious union between religious, ethical and political principles, and which still constitutes a valid example of healthy laicism, where the religious dimension, in the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but turned to advantage as the 'soul' of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of the rights and duties of human beings".

The Holy Father then went on to explain that he had supported his "brother bishops in their difficult task of spreading the Gospel in a society marked by no small number of contradictions, which also threaten the coherence of Catholics and even of the clergy. I encouraged them to make their voices heard on the moral and social questions of the day, and to form the lay faithful so they become good 'leavening' in the civil community on the base of that fundamental cell which is the family. In this context, I exhorted them to re-present the Sacrament of Marriage as a gift and an indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman, the natural environment in which to welcome and educate children.

"The Church and the family, as well as schools", the Pope added, "must co-operate in offering young people a solid moral education. ... Reflecting upon the painful question of sexual abuse of minors by ordained ministers, I told the bishops of my closeness, and encouraged them in the task of binding wounds and strengthening their relationships with their priests".

During the Eucharistic celebration held in the Nationals Stadium in Washington, said Pope Benedict, "we evoked the Holy Spirit" upon the Church in America that she "may face current and future challenges with courage and hope". And when meeting with representatives of other religions "in what may be considered as the homeland of religious freedom, I recalled how such freedom must be defended with congruous efforts to avoid all forms of discrimination and prejudice. I also highlighted the great responsibility religious leaders have, both in teaching respect and non-violence and in upholding the deepest questions of the human conscience".

On the subject of his visit to U.N. headquarters in New York, the Pope pointed out that "providence gave me the opportunity to confirm" - on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - "the importance of that Charter, recalling its universal foundation, in other words the dignity of the person who was created by God in His image and likeness in order to co-operate in ... His great plan of life and peace".

In St. Patrick's Cathedral the Pope had celebrated Mass for priests and consecrated people. "I will never forget", he said, "with how much warmth they congratulated me for the third anniversary of my election to the See of Peter. It was a moving moment, in which I particularly felt the support of all the Church for my ministry. And I could say the same about my meeting with young people and seminarians".

At Ground Zero "I lit a candle and prayed for all the victims of the terrible tragedy" of 11 September 2001, said the Pope. And he concluded his reminiscences of his U.S. visit with the Eucharistic celebration in New York's Yankee Stadium which he described as "a feast of faith and of brotherhood. ... To that Church which now faces the challenges of the present time, I had the joy of announcing "Christ our Hope', yesterday, today and forever".

Prior to the audience, the Pope blessed a statue of St. John Leonardi (1541-1609), founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God, which has been placed in a niche on the exterior wall of the Vatican Basilica. On 8 august 2006, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by virtue of the powers granted by Benedict XVI, proclaimed him patron saint of pharmacists.
AG/APOSTOLIC TRIP U.S.A./... VIS 080430 (800)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Vive La France

Dear Friends of La Maison Française,

Following last year’s success with close to 50,000 visitors, the embassies of the 27 EU Member States and the Delegation of the European Commission in Washington will open their doors to the public and invite you to enjoy the diversity and richness of European culture on Saturday, May 3, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Like last year, you will be able to travel across Europe in a single day for free, thanks to a complimentary shuttle service to all participating embassies departing from Dupont Circle, Farragut North and Cleveland Park Metro Stations. For complete information, please visit: The EU Open House is part of Cultural Tourism DC “Passport DC” (

The Embassy of France will welcome you, your family and friends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Discover every facet of the inner workings of our embassy by talking to members of each department (diplomatic, commercial, cultural, scientific, military, transportation, air and space technologies, etc.) and enjoy music performances, children’s activities and French food.

Program of the EU Open House at the Embassy of France:

1) Enjoy music and special performances in the Embassy gardens:- Shows by a magician who flew in from France for the occasion- Concerts on the terrace by Mediterranean band Gibraltar- Special arts-and-crafts workshop for kids
2) Sample food and refreshments (cash bar and buffet):- Sip champagne or have a cup of coffee on the terrace at Le Bistro- Partake of light fare: pastries, crêpes, croissants, etc.- Savor a selection of wines at various stations

3) Sit down to a full meal at the Embassy cafeteria (seating limited, reservation mandatory):
RESERVE now for a four-course French lunch at the Embassy's cafeteria that includes an appetizer, main course with side dishes, cheese and baguette, and a delicious dessert from our own in-house pastry chef (wine by the glass or bottle additional).- $25
- from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.- For reservations: (in "Highlights")

Enjoy a taste of France… right here in Washington DC!Looking forward to welcoming you!

From the Embassy of France in the United States

---------------------Facebook users: become a "Fan" of La Maison Française – Washington DC

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Neither am I one who punches the Air

But I tilt at Windmills Sometimes

I Corinthians 9 is worth reading in whole. Now read it again slower. Not to beat a dead horse, or a headless ostrich standing in quicksand, but this makes it pretty clear that there was some "right" for the apostles to be married, just like the "brethren of the Lord" and Cephas (Simon/Peter, the Rock, aka First Pope) and all the other apostles of an age to be married. It's as old a right as that Ox you don't get to muzzle (or gore) according to Moses. You don't get to Muzzle an Ox because Ox's have to eat too. They are especially hungry it seems when they are working. And 1 Corinthians talks about a "Hope" that is rooted in the Rights there enumerated. Who says the Bible doesn't give people rights? The one to "have a wife" is as important it seems as the one to be able to make a living from the work of the gospel. Priests ate then too what was left over of the sacrament just like they get to down the rest of the wine at the altar.

Paul concludes that-hey- I have this right just like everyone else, but I really don't want to be a stumbling block to anyone, or cause scandal- because that would render everything I am doing fruitless. It would just defeat the purpose- I would be as one boxing in the air.

So the test has nothing to do with holiness or purity in a pure sense. It has to do with the perceptions, and whether the perceptions of taking and providing for a "wife" would cause a perception that defeated the message.

So it is the perceptions and the reception of the message that has to be analyzed to see whether a stumbling block arises in assessing the appropriateness of abstinence from marriage.

Air-boxing can be caused by a variety of other perceptions creating stumbling blocks- such that a married Apostle/priest would in fact be someone who was not perceived as Paul was, while a single Priest/Apostle might be the light-weight champion of the World.

The other apostles apparently felt they could multi-task better than Paul. They could look after the needs of a wife and visa-versa and be effective in getting out the message. Paul was a unique frequent flier. He walked all over from Jerusalem to Rome and everywhere in between. Not likely that he would find anyone willing to pack the dishes that often. He took out a lot of take-out. Other people prefer regular home cooking and it makes them more effective.

There apparently is a solid Right- one exercised by most of the Apostles, Cephas and the brothers of the Lord himself. If it was so unholy wouldn't Jesus be reading the riot act to his own brothers? And if it was so unholy to have a wife why would he choose Peter as the Rock instead of John the Baptist for example or any other single person to be the Rock? Something about Married makes one a Rock. It's that old family stability thing.

And today's reading says it all- why are we putting this yoke on people so heavy to bear? What's the point? Really. The reference to "unlawful marriage" is translated in other versions as "sexual immorality"- which is conjugal relations outside proper lawful marriage. It is unlawful because it is not an actual lawful marriage- it is the conjugal act outside the lawful marriage. That is an admonition against unchastity. It is not an admonition against marriage to anyone.

And somehow the above "rights" give life to Hope. They give Life.
And He came that you should have Life, and have it abundantly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Home Girl Scores Huge in Pennsylvania

Everyone has said it all already, so I just add:


Hillary's home girl likeability index skyrocketed yesterday as she was flanked by the people who matter most to her: her daughter, her husband, her mother and the constituent American salt of the earth people in Pennsylvania who proved once again that you can't put a good woman down. Double- Digit leads placed her in the best tradition of friends of the fighting Irish and everyone else from everywhere else of every rainbow shade and color who lives in Pennsylvania-the microcosmic melting pot just south of that great State of New York. The road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue does indeed run right through Pennsylvania. This daughter of a Penn State football player has risen from humble but honest beginnings to be the greatest female political figure in modern American history.

I am more proud to be a sixth generation Pennsylvanian today than I was two days ago.
Pennsylvania means Family to anyone from there- and family values of people holding families together in tough times-which she has admirably done beyond the past assaults against her family. Now, she stands, comfortably looking more and more like the Grand Dame of the Republic. If my Pennsylvania grandmothers were alive today they surely would be proving white women can jump as they high five each other with shouts of "You Go Girl!" I imagine them spinning cart wheels in heaven.
Yes, the Tide is Turning- and a strong wind is blowing. A very strong wind.


For all you foodies, there is a georgeous little article in today's Washington Post about the owner of Cafe Milano in Georgetown getting to make lunch for the Pope at the Nunciature. What a menu. What a cake!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008



From the Vatican Information Service; official Vatican Press Office:

VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2008 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. local time today, the Holy Father participated in an ecumenical meeting at the church of St. Joseph. The event was attended by 250 representatives from 10 Christian confessions.

At the beginning of his address, the Holy Father expressed his appreciation "for the invaluable work of all those engaged in ecumenism: the National Council of Churches, Christian Churches Together, the Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, and many others. The contribution of Christians in the United States to the ecumenical movement is felt throughout the world", he said.

The Holy Father expressed the opinion that "globalisation has humanity poised between two poles. On the one hand, there is a growing sense of interconnectedness and interdependency between peoples even when - geographically and culturally speaking - they are far apart. ... On the other hand, we cannot deny that the rapid changes occurring in our world also present some disturbing signs of fragmentation and a retreat into individualism".

The Pope then went on to express his concern for "the spread of a secularist ideology that undermines or even rejects transcendent truth. The very possibility of divine revelation, and therefore of Christian faith, is often placed into question by cultural trends widely present in academia, the mass media and public debate. For these reasons, a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as ever. Christians are challenged to give a clear account of the hope that they hold.

"Too often", he added, "those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called 'prophetic actions' that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of 'local options'".

"Faced with these difficulties", the Pope went on, "we must first recall that the unity of the Church flows from the perfect oneness of the Trinitarian God". With reference to the Apostles, he also recalled how "the ultimate effectiveness of their preaching" depended "on the work of the Spirit Who confirmed their authoritative witness".

"The power of the 'kerygma' has lost none of its internal dynamism", he continued. "Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to that found in secular ideologies, which, in alleging that science alone is 'objective', relegate religion entirely to the subjective sphere of individual feeling".

The Holy Father made it clear that although "scientific discoveries, and their application through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new possibilities for the betterment of humankind. This does not mean ... that the 'knowable' is limited to the empirically verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of 'personal experience'.

"For Christians to accept this faulty line of reasoning would lead to the notion that there is little need to emphasise objective truth in the presentation of the Christian faith, for one need but follow his or her own conscience and choose a community that best suits his or her individual tastes. The result is seen in the continual proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimise the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living".

The Pope told the representatives of different Christian confessions that "only by 'holding fast' to sound teaching will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching. This is the message which the world is waiting to hear from us.

"Like the early Christians, we have a responsibility to give transparent witness to the 'reasons for our hope', so that the eyes of all men and women of goodwill may be opened to see that God has shown us His face and granted us access to His divine life through Jesus Christ. He alone is our hope!"

"May this prayer service", the Holy Father concluded, "exemplify the centrality of prayer in the ecumenical movement; for without it, ecumenical structures, institutions and programs would be deprived of their heart and soul".

Monday, April 21, 2008

Strict Obedience To Error

And All God's Children Said: "HUH?"

It is remarkable and amazing how some people want to spin the Pope's tour. The newspapers pick up and headline boldly the sex scandal- "Pope meets with Abuse Victims!!" in the same vein as they headlined the last Pope meeting with the Turkish guy who shot him. -As if that is all he said or did while here.
The priest yesterday seized on the Pope's comments on the plane to DC in which the Pope indicated that it was better to have fewer good priests than more bad ones. What the Pope was referring to of course was totally excising the church of the cancer of pedophilia and getting rid of the child molesters. What the Priest used his words incorrectly to signify was the justification of keeping out any of the ones who feel called to be married affirming the mandatory universal priestly celibacy rule.
The fact that 20,000 US Priests who found a higher degree of love and devotion to a woman that they married and had their own families were expelled from the ranks of priestly service while some 5,000 child molesters parade around in embroidered finery and dare to lecture anyone on morality is not so much shocking as it is just stupid. The "if you don't agree go be a Protestant" attitude is really amazing.
This priest said that the reason for the adherence and obedience to the rule of mandatory celibacy makes sense because it keeps people's priorities straight. It is in fact an idolotry that serves an institution with properties and displaces the higher value of Love. Love of community in a superficial way can never replace love of a spouse, another with whom one is "one" such that life is created by the union This is a love that reflects that "oneness" when Jesus says "I and the father are one" and reflects the conjugal bond that God himself had with the Virgin Mary which created Jesus himself. There is nothing higher- parading in white doily overslips isn't higher, self denial and self flagulation isn't higher, lecturing people on morality isn't higher, selfish celibacy because it's "easier" isn't higher, and pimping yourself out to a cadre of lonely sugar mommas who pay the electric bill isn't higher. None of that is intrinsically holier than real love to a real woman or real man.
There is nothing higher than Love, because Love is God. Love is not just a "virtue"- it is God himself. The greatest of Faith, Hope and Love is Love. This was the Pope's Hope Tour. Hope is a meaningless statement without Love because there is no Hope without God. Love, even as it is written in Corinthians 13 (a verse said at half the Christian weddings) is the Greatest of these: Faith, Hope and Love.
This Priest in this homily indicated that the rule of celibacy is needed in a universal way and it can't operate one way for someone and another way for another one. I beg to differ. Not only are people uniquely created by God as different people, but the gifting of the Spirit is not an automaton universal factory spraybrush sort of attribution. The Holy Spirit gifts people uniquely and differently for their calling.
There have been priests with whom I have been deeply inspired and impressed with what they have done with their calling to the Priesthood- and these are people who clearly are living in the sacred space of the heart of Jesus. One Jesuit Priest I was recently on retreat with has already served comforting and giving peace to people in leper colonies in India, immigration deportation detention centers, hospices as an orderly, and other places where the love of Christ came unexpectedly through his presence, kindness and comfort. One has no doubt that he is called to celibacy and gifted with its graces and found deeper love through his service.
There are other priests who are not wired to find deeper love through this kind of service- but who nonetheless are great preachers, counselors, or gifted in administration or other aspects of priestly services that the church needs- and some of them are not gifted or graced with celibacy and have a partner of the opposite gender that God has ordained in the highest love for them to be with. Those people should be allowed to fulfill their calling in all the fullness of its expression.
The church now just waits them out and if they don't cause serious scandal by sinning so as to be thrown out, just waits until they are too old for it to make a difference and chastized that it should pass. Ridiculous.

It's a really good thing that I can take the Eucharist even when I disagree with aspects of the homily or when the priest is sinning or in error.
It's a really good thing that the Eucharist is so powerfully the presence of the Divine Love that not even a ridiculously wrong homily, or a pious pretending priest can dilute or diffuse the meaning of it and it's power- a power to Love, as Christ loved. Because, as John tells us, God is Love.
There are two foundational commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. The second is like it:
Love your neighbor as yourself. As yourself. The oneness achieved in Holy Matrimony is the closest expression of a Love that is as oneself because two become One. One. Just as "I and the Father are One."

There is a verse that says (find it for me) that at the end there will be many, many people who will say "But Lord- Didn't we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do mighty mighty works in your name? And Jesus will say to anyone who did not do the Will of God "Get away from me you evil-doers"
This is incredibly telling- because he is speaking to not only the church here, but the church leaders- the clergy-the people who were so self impressed and self satisfied that they prided themselves on everything they did in the name of Jesus- they prophesied, they cast out demons, they did Mighty Mighty works- not just piddley squat works- Mighty Mighty works. Surely people on earth applauded. Surely there were monuments to their accomplishments that were widely hailed. Surely these were famous admired people on earth.
And still Jesus will say- but you were outside God's Will. You did not do God's Will. Great- you did all that other stuff- but nonetheless- You did not do God's Will- and so you are "evil doers."

The Catholic Church is outside God's will in enforcing a mandatory celibacy on everyone as a condition of priestly employment that attempts to demean, destroy or diminish priestly calls of people who are called to Love in their own Family context, taking a wife and having a family.
Priestliness is no more synonymous with celibacy than it is with "poverty" and even the men in black called "Secular" priests know that they didn't vow that one.
Obedience to anything outside God's Will is a sort of Death of Spirit. Persisting and Insisting on Obedience to anything outside God's Will means you live half a life and half a lie.

If the Pope does not take the opportunity to see the deeper meaning and cleaning of Church Doctrine here as it pertains to the forced obedience to the mandatory celibacy rule, he will be missing an enormous historic opportunity to align the church back into God's will in a fuller way.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nice Job Father Kevin commenting on Channel 9; the official press release below

From the Vatican Information Service, official Vatican Press...

VATICAN CITY, 17 APR 2008 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. local time today, the Pope arrived by car at the Nationals Park Stadium of Washington D.C., which has capacity for 45,000 spectators and is the most modern baseball stadium in the United States. The Holy Father was welcomed by Archbishop Donald William Wuerl of Washington, by Adrian M. Fenty, mayor of Washington D.C., and by Theodore Lerner, owner of the stadium and its team.

Benedict XVI made a tour of the stadium by popemobile before moving to the sacristy. Mass, dedicated to the faithful of the archdiocese of Washington, began at 10 a.m.

In his homily, the Holy Father recalled how Pope Pius VII had divided the diocese of Baltimore and established the dioceses of Boston, Bardstown (now Louisville), New York and Philadelphia. "Two hundred years later, the Church in America can rightfully praise the accomplishment of past generations in bringing together widely differing immigrant groups within the unity of the Catholic faith and in a common commitment to the spread of the Gospel", he said.

Benedict XVI then went on to express the hope that "this significant anniversary" and his own visit "will be an occasion for all Catholics to reaffirm their unity in the apostolic faith, to offer their contemporaries a convincing account of the hope which inspires them, and to be renewed in missionary zeal for the extension of God's Kingdom.

"The world needs this witness", he added. "Who can deny that the present moment ... is a time of great promise, as we see the human family in many ways drawing closer together and becoming ever more interdependent. Yet at the same time we see clear signs of a disturbing breakdown in the very foundations of society: ... increased violence; a weakening of the moral sense; a coarsening of social relations; and a growing forgetfulness of God".

"The fidelity and courage with which the Church in this country will respond to the challenges raised by an increasingly secular and materialistic culture will depend in large part upon your own fidelity in handing on the treasure of our Catholic faith. ... The challenges confronting us require a comprehensive and sound instruction in the truths of the faith. But they also call for cultivating a mindset, an intellectual 'culture', which is genuinely Catholic, confident in the profound harmony of faith and reason, and prepared to bring the richness of faith's vision to bear on the urgent issues which affect the future of American society".

Recalling how his U.S. visit "is meant to be a witness to 'Christ our Hope'", the Pope expressed the view that "Americans have always been a people of hope" whose ancestors came to the country "with the expectation of finding new freedom and opportunity", and of building "a new nation on new foundations.

"To be sure", he added, "this promise was not experienced by all the inhabitants of this land; one thinks of the injustices endured by the native American peoples and by those brought here forcibly from Africa as slaves. Yet hope, hope for the future, is very much a part of the American character. And the Christian virtue of hope ... has also marked, and continues to mark, the life of the Catholic community in this country".

He continued: "It is in the context of this hope born of God's love and fidelity that I acknowledge the pain which the Church in America has experienced as a result of the sexual abuse of minors. No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention. Nor can I adequately describe the damage that has occurred within the community of the Church. Great efforts have already been made to deal honestly and fairly with this tragic situation, and to ensure that children - whom our Lord loves so deeply, and who are our greatest treasure - can grow up in a safe environment. These efforts to protect children must continue".

Pope Benedict called on the faithful to do everything possible "to foster healing and reconciliation, and to assist those who have been hurt", as well as "to love your priests, and to affirm them in the excellent work that they do".

"Through the surpassing power of Christ's grace, entrusted to frail human ministers, the Church is constantly reborn and each of us is given the hope of a new beginning" said the Holy Father. "Let us trust in the Spirit's power to inspire conversion, to heal every wound, to overcome every division, and to inspire new life and freedom. How much we need these gifts! And how close at hand they are, particularly in the Sacrament of Penance!

"The liberating power of this Sacrament ... needs to be rediscovered and re-appropriated by every Catholic. To a great extent, the renewal of the Church in America depends on the renewal of the practice of Penance and the growth in holiness which that Sacrament both inspires and accomplishes".

"'In hope we were saved'", exclaimed the Pope, exhorting the faithful "to continue to be a leaven of evangelical hope in American society" and, by the witness of faith, to "point the way towards that vast horizon of hope which God is even now opening up to His Church, and indeed to all humanity: the vision of a world reconciled and renewed in Christ Jesus, our Saviour".

At the end of his homily, the Holy Father addressed some worlds to the Hispanic community. "The Church in the United States", he said, "welcoming so many of her immigrant children to her bosom, has grown thanks also to the witness of faith of the Spanish-speaking faithful. ... Do not let yourselves be defeated by pessimism, inertia or problems. ... The Lord calls you to continue contributing to the future of the Church in this country and to spreading the Gospel".

Mass over, the Pope blessed the first stone of the altar of the John Paul the Great Catholic school of the diocese of Arlington, and the first stone of the new chapel of the St. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California.


Stop Kvetching- Start Changing

If you want things to be different, then be different. If you want to see Peace, then Make Peace. If you want to see people set free, then set them free. If you want conflicts cleared, then clear them. The Kingdom of God is within you.
Pick up the phone, take initiative, dare to be the dream you have.

Jesus was out preaching on the hillside one day and a crowd of about 5,000 people gathered to hear him. He knew they were hungry. He found a small boy who had just one fish and a loaf, and with it he fed all the people on the Hill such that there were baskets of fragments left over. When he took the boy's provisions and gave them to his disciples to hand out on the hill to everyone he did not tell them first to castrate themselves, leave their wives or promise never to be kissed before touching the bread and fish. Think about it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Antie-Emm, We're Not In Kansas Anymore

Oh-Wrong Red Shoes!

I got the same feeling as Dorothy in the wonderful world of Oz as I watched the Papal Mass.
It was almost otherworldly. Love those red Prada Papal shoes!
I watched on the church basement big screen. I felt a little guilty eating almond croissants provided by the nice church ladies in violation of the no eating an hour earlier rule until I reminded myself-it's just TV! But it wasn't just TV. It was almost like being there. I bowed to the ground for the Papal blessing in front of his face like he was three inches in front of me. And I actually knew a few characters I saw. My favorite Federal Judge was carrying a yellow umbrella in the front for the Priest closest to the Pope at communion. There was a Cardinal McCarrick spotting behind the prayer in many languages. Archbishop Wuerl was magnificently poised and jubilant in a subdued way. A priest who has said a few masses at my local church who is secretary to Wuerl was visible also. A guy I saw sing at a local joint called The Kennedy Center closed with the stirring Pannis Angelicus named Placido. Nice. Really Nice.
This has been an unbelievably exciting week! First I got a glimpse of the speeding Popemobile waiving yellow roses and a small Papal flag. Then I felt lifted by Dorothy's hurricaine of dramatic turmoil into the land of Fuscia Yamulkas and embroidered cone-head kingdom kindness. For all the cynicism about various church doctrines and speculation about this Pope, one thing that came across beautifully is that he is a really Sweet Man. Really. He clearly has been battered by the sort of demonic assaults you would expect of anyone in that position holding down the fort for the Lord, and the dark circles under his eyes show it, but his eyes speak a rare gentle sweetness that has seen both deep suffering and joy. I think he actually cares.
He's a straight talker of few words. He isn't a flowerly speaker-he gets to the point. He doesn't mince words. When he is disdainful of something you can tell. He said he was chagrined at those who take/espouse views outside their baptismal covenantal promises and obligations. That was the only possibly thinly veiled reference to the pro-choice legislators who came. But it also could mean those in the current administration off the ranch on adherence to the "Way, Truth and the Life" in the manifold complexity of all that means.
He mourned with the victims of sexual abuse and actually had a moment praying with them later in the evening I understand. He tipped his hat to the suffering of African Americans brought here against their will and the harms inflicted on the Native Americans. He and Archbishop Wuerl spoke of a great immigrant nation of people who came with the virtue of Hope.

Isn't Wuerl photogenic? He should do more TV.

The Pope's homily was diplomatically crafted to convey something deeper than the doctrinal divisions that have us spinning in the blogosphere. He conveyed quite simply, that he is the Pastor of this adoring American flock, and he loves us back. He loves you back.
Did you cry? I cried more than once. And I am a hard nosed cynical Presbyterian convert. For anyone worried about that old catholic buggaboo-over the top Mary idolotry, none of it was there- Jesus is Lord was all over the Stadium in song and verse. No Ave Maria, No Regina Coeli (all of which I love)- nothing an old Presbyterian couldn't love.

If you missed him here- catch him at Yankee Stadium.

He's here to give you his Peace. My Peace I give to you, not as the world gives you Peace. Next stop the UN.

Long Live the Pope. Viva Il Papa

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

From La Maison-Thanks Roland

Dear Friends of La Maison Française,

I would like to inform you that the internationally renowned Gregorian choir from Le Mans in Normandy, will give 2 exceptional concerts in Washington DC, on April 18 and 20. Forty-two members of the choir have flown into town, including French conductor Philippe Lenoble.

Program: (texts and songs)- The texts: “Scènes Mariales” (related to the Virgin Mary), will be read by their author, Father Marcel Guillet -- priest of the Solesmes Abbey parish -- and by filmmaker Jean-Luc Solal. - The music: Gregorian chants, as well as Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Palestrina, Caccini and FauréOrganist: Monique Poirier

The texts will be read in French, with an English translation on the programs.

(1)WHAT: Gregorian choir from France (details below and at Friday, April 18 at 7:30 pm WHERE: Saint Matthews Cathedral - 1725 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Washington D.C. 20036ADMISSION: Free - Donations to cover the costs of the event are greatly appreciated. Suggested offer: $20.

(2)WHAT: Gregorian choir from France (details below and at WHEN: Sunday, April 20 at 6:00 pmWHERE: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Crypt, 400 Michigan Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20017ADMISSION: Free - Donations to cover the costs of the event are greatly appreciated. Suggested offer: $20.


Roland CeletteDirector of La Maison Franç



The 'Maîtrise' origin can be traced to the XIVth century manuscripts of St Julian of Le Mans (April 30th, 1348), time when a lot of French cathedrals organized their own charter. Before, Aldric, the bishop of Le Mans in the IXth century, may have already used his singing talent and influenced the religious singing art in Maine! This bishop, pre-cantor at the Metz cathedral, indeed practiced the Gregorian chant in the native place of this new repertory, a real synthesis of Roman and Gallican chant. No more than two generations separated Aldric from this unique musical phenomenon in the Western music history. In Le Mans, we are therefore the direct heirs of this treasure which is the Gregorian chant. Documents prove that it was always sung at the cathedral. It still is today, especially for big celebrations.

The Maîtrise is currently composed of about sixty youths and adults, men and women, who enjoy meeting once or twice a week. We not only prepare the cathedral services, but also concerts performed in Le Mans, in the Sarthe, in the Loire Valley and abroad. The choir has had exchanges with several countries: Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Russia and more. It recently travelled to Rome, Poland and Jerusalem and is planning a tour in Washington DC. Thanks to its teaching approach in the art of singing, The Psallette – St Vincent school in Le Mans helps recruit and train new singers. The Le Mans Gregorian choir, internationally reknown, is a simple continuation of the 'Maîtrise' male choir. Since September 1974, Philippe Lenoble, deacon, has been leading the 'Maîtrise de la cathédrale', the Gregorian choir, as well as the young singers of La Psallette.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Petrine Paradoxes

Today's Politico takes note that John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi will be attending the Papal Mass at National's Stadium. They will be taking communion. "All of you" apparently means "All of you" in the Mass when the Priest quotes Jesus as stating "take, eat, this is my body..."
Ironic it seems in that this very issue largely derailed the Kerry Presidential candidacy by making his potential excommunion something catholics squirmed at as they were all but mandated to vote against him for his pro-choice views. Will there be a show down tomorrow or will Kerry and Pelosi be publically "faced" by the Bishops dropping the eucharist in the bowls in front of them with a cursory "Next!" I for one will be watching--from a safe distance on a church basement big-screen.

Then there is that pesky business of the Pope refusing any Priest his own natural children. Any woman in love with any Priest can count her discarded eggs- pretty much one a month, as she sheds more blood monthly than any Priest will likely see in a lifetime unless they volunteer for the Red Cross suffering the sins of "celibacy." That innocent life shed- discarded as if it were nothing- when it possibly was intended by God to be half of something called a zygote. How isn't that against the Pro-Life mandate. Petrine Paradoxes. Perhaps there is a log the size of Yosemite in the Papal Pupil.

The Pope indicated on the ride over that he was "ashamed" at the sex scandal and will not allow pedofiles in the church. Gee. Good. No more pedofiles. It's such a foul word I don't even want to know how to spell it. Glad we cleared that up. When Martin Luther went to Rome, he saw such debauchery and depravity he reported back to his humble peasant Germany that the place was "Babylon." Naked boys bopping out of cakes, orgies and priestly lovers abounded. Not a few out-of-wedlock children were hidden or aborted also. We are more sophistocated these days. A little more subtle. Five Hundred years and 2 Billion dollars later.....

Priests get emotionally intimate with people-have you noticed? Have you noticed that about 20,000 of them left the priesthood because they married and found the celibacy rule inconsistent with their following Christ discipleship path? Some recklessly play hearts with a betrayal worthy of Judas in self-deception that this is actually virtue. And the heresy that any monogamous devoted marital intimacy with women is an anathema to "purity" and "holiness" persists with such arrogant vengeance that you can get kicked out of the Dominican House for questioning it. Revenge of the Albigensians.
I digress.

What I hope that the Pope tries to communicate is that Jesus, author of all Life, one in being with the Father who is pure Love, came that we should all have LIFE and have it abundantly. He came that we all should have LIFE, lots of it-abundantly. Life, Life and more Life. Twins even. Quadruplets. And he came to bring his Kingdom to Earth as it is in Heaven. So while we gaze heavenward, lets not ignore the one standing right in front of you. And the LIFE that is in Christ Jesus is not a narrow political agenda. It speaks equally to murder in insane unjustified war. Reasonable people cannot differ on the deception that propagated this war and the evil that has ensued. Only reasonable people can differ with evil people.

Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory- earth too. If only we let it in.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pray for the Pope

Right On The Papal Mark

I recall that twenty or so years ago I took off work to watch the Papal motorcade of Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles. My Jewish boss, a law partner in an LA firm was bemusedly receptive to my driving to a bad section of downtown LA, parking within a mile of the place and walking for acres on streets strewn with Holy Cards to catch a glimpse of the top of the Popemobile, such that it was in the late 80s.
Pope Benedict, it is hoped will leave a legacy mark that fuses the discontented litigious paranoi of today's church in a way that allows cracks of Christ's light of Hope, Peace and Love to penetrate the political maelstrom of it all. Will it be warm and fuzzy? "He's not a Rock Star" a Pastor admitted. Not the charisma of the other guy. Kind of a Grandpa Munster countenance. But something still etherially respectworthy- something intangibly quietly thoughtfully Holy.
His resume does not read "Could have been in the Bundestaag but instead chose to serve the starving masses" but his intellect tells you already. He could have been a wheeling dealing Bavarian pheasant hunting tycoon or the equivalent boast of a Wall Street lawyer doing instead public interest work for battered women in landlord tenant court. This Pope is a wired brain-heart combination that makes him much more than the "tweener" we feared (meaning just a filler in between the real deals) This guy will make a mark. And he will start making it tomorrow when "Shepherd One" lands on American soil.

It's worth a prayer. In fact, it's worth staying up all night to pray. It's His Story in the making- and you are invited. You can even catch a glimpse of him on Pennsylvania Avenue around noon as the Popemobile travels from the White House on Wednesday. Not kidding. This Wednesday.
Thursday his Mass from the new Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC will be televised and Fr. O'Brien, a lawyer-priest from Holy Trinity in DC will be a featured commentator on Channel 9 or 7.

This stuff doesn't happen every day. I wonder if Oprah will get bumped.

Sunday, April 13, 2008



Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look around and take note! Search its squares and see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth--so that I may pardon Jerusalem.
- Jeremiah 5:1-1
(Thanks to the Sojourner folks for that one.)

The Benedict predecessor of this Pope Benedict was a Peace broker in WWI. Let's see if this Pope has as much luck with Bush in ending the obscene nightmare he created in Iraq under the ruse that it had anything whatsoever to do with that ridiculous pretext 9-11. If you are in DC pick up a copy of the Rock Creek Press, that Independent newspaper which details how the FBI dropped the ball in not investigating anything about the identity of the planes that hit in 9-11. The FBI answered a FOIA asking for details on investigations of the "crash" scenes by stating that ZERO investigation was done because the identity of the planes was presumed. Nice work Sherlock.

(Later theological rantings will follow as the Spirit moves.)

The Pope comes to Washington as Priests in town try to engender warmth and excitement. The Jesuits did the best job at explaining the Vicar's role as Peter's successor. Walk on Water. He actually did it for a bit. You can too.
The heavily latino parishs will have a full showing of rosary swinging support. People will take off work to line the route of the Popemobile which will be an interesting site on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Matthew reference to the Rock on which the church is built is displayed prominently on a church like a banner hanging from a Frat House. No one, it is anticipated will post a sign stating "Where's Your Wife" or "The Rock Was Married."
He turns 81 on Wednesday, the day he meets with Bush at the White House. Maybe people will sing "Happy Birthday" in between the Regina Coeli as the Popemobile passes.
Elderly Jewish people who don't buy German cars or eat Struddel out of respect for The Memory will recall that this Pope was "Hitler Youth," and speaks with a thick German accent. Pro-Choice Democrats will recall that letter to the editor that was published in the Wall Street Journal on the Eve of the 2004 election tanking the Catholic vote for Kerry and starting a firestorm of excommunication talk for any and all pro-choice politicians by the battling Bishops. He is expected to lay down the iron fist of the cannon law on any Catholic College or school who hosts a Democratic pro-choice politician when he addresses Catholic University.
People will recall that 2 Billion dollars has been paid to victims and at least four American diocese bankrupted over the issue of sex scandals-priests behaving badly with their sexual selves----single, celibate priests. And People will recall that the book is still shut closed and a doctrinal done deal on any Priest being allowed to be Married. Insane- Some Priests sworn to "obedience" just cheat. Be honest. They just cheat. They emotionally cheat, some physically cheat. They excuse themselves as "weak" go to confession and carry on again. Because that is a pharisaic burden too heavy to bear for all those not gifted by the Holy Spirit for the specific calling of celibacy, while they may in fact be legitimately called to Preach in the Priesthood. The conflation of the Priesthood with a presumption of a gifting of the Holy Spirit for celibacy is as absurd as it is totally unbiblical and against the Sacred Heart of God. Call me "in error" if you will-I think the Pope is here totally off the rails.
Sorry, just don't buy that one. That's my Presbyterian background. Everything I have seen in the Catholic world confirms this view. Recent polls peg 70% of all American Catholics agreeing with me.
For some great priests it isn't a problem at all. For others it clearly is a huge problem- and for that subset those priests can be truly good preachers. So they should be allowed to be good preachers and marry the one they believe called to marry, and stop coming on to dirty dozens of others.
The Catholic Church is not served well by the institutional mandate without option of mandatory celibacy imposed from on high as a condition of Priesthood. It is not a calling of the Holy Spirit or a qualification of purity- it is a joke. It is not a mandate of Christ -as admitted by Pope John Paul II. Every Believer who repents, is baptized and is saved is a candidate for the personal investment of the Holy Spirit who gifts some for specific purposes; some are gifted to teach, some to prophesy, etc. NOT ALL so gifted are invested with the graces and spiritual gifts of celibacy. This does not make them less pure, it makes them more honest and more human. Human is, as a creation of God, very good according to God. Celibacy was never envisioned by Jesus as a qualification of the priesthood and Jewish priests were required to be married. Scripture is clear that the character qualifications of "good family man" were character pre-requisites to being a Deacon or Bishop. Sure some could mimick the Ethiopian Eunich, but an ENTIRE CLERGY of eunichs means that the church is distorted, malformed and disabled; it has cheated itself out of many spiritual gifts of many people- which is why God in part allowed the Protestant Reformation to happen. The Holy Spirit also attempts to guide the Protestant world.
Not only do women suffer under this rule, not only are women insulted by this rule, but the reputation of the Church as a whole suffers greatly. Not just because of the sexual scandals and 2 billion dollars of pay out to victims (ouch) but because the church should not have as part of its clergy some priests known affectionately as "Padre Player" or "Father Philander" or "Father F-U" Some Priests have emotionally abused, damaged and abandoned women who will never have a claim for anything because they will just be accused of being too stupid to fall for it. This is a scandal. It is an insult.
The church male institutional structure- all male authority- all single male authority- renders it absolutely clueless about the deeper issues pertaining to the emotional needs and well being of womanhood. I hope that any women emotionally conned into thinking a priest loves them will deliver a box of one month's extracted dripping used tampax to the priest just to show them exactly how much blood is monthly shed by women with a note stating "this is my blood which is innocently shed for the forgiveness of your egoistic selfish sins."
If anyone were to Protest the Pope's arrival at all, it wouldn't do any good to post a sign saying "Where's Your Wife?" He wouldn't even be impressed with a four part liturgical gregorian chant of Happy Birthday.
But if every woman lined Pennsylvania Avenue with a month's worth of extracted blood soaked uterine wall dripping used Tampax that might get his attention. He's attracted to blood- I hear he drinks it daily.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Married since 1947. Say a prayer for Prince Philip-in hospital.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Pope's Coming-

From: Reverend Monsignor Walter R. Rossi
Rector, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC

Prayer Intentions for Pope's Visit

In just two weeks the National Shrine will be hosting the Holy Father during his historic first visit to the United States.

Pope Benedict XVI will tour the Great Upper Church and celebrate a private Evening Prayer with the United States’ Bishops on Wednesday, April 16, 2008.

While this event is closed to the public, I would like to offer you, as a special friend to the National Shrine, a way to participate spiritually by sending me your prayer intentions. These intentions will be remembered at the Solemn Vespers by the Holy Father.

In order for me to include your prayer intentions, I need to receive them by no later than next Friday, April 11, 2008.

I hope to include as many people in this way as possible, so if you know of others that would also appreciate having their intentions remembered during the Holy Father’s Evening Prayer service, please forward this email to them so that they may also participate. Please keep the priests and staff of the Shrine in your prayers as we finish our preparations for this momentous occasion.

He would appreciate very much donations-


What did you think was in Bensalem, Pennsylvania?


Katharine Drexel Shrine Designated as National Shrine

ZENIT-the View From Rome reports:

U.S.-Born Saint Was Dedicated to Eucharist

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania, FEB. 28, 2008 ( The U.S. episcopal conference named the shrine of St. Katherine Drexel as a national shrine, making it the 27th with that title in the United States."It was with great pleasure that I received the news that the Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel has been elevated in status to a National Shrine,'' said Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia. "This designation is especially gratifying because Mother Katharine's love of the Holy Eucharist and care for God's poor and oppressed was formed in the archdiocese of Philadelphia. "I pray that the honor bestowed upon the shrine will open opportunities for others to hear God's word and reflect upon St. Katharine's message of love and service to all.''

Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia in 1858. Her life was devoted to the Eucharist and to serving the poor and socially oppressed among Native and African Americans. Mother Drexel built the shrine in 1893, two years after founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

She spent the final 20 years of her life in prayer and reflection at the mother house in Bensalem, located just outside Philadelphia. Her body is entombed under the main altar of St. Elizabeth Chapel.Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1988, and almost 12 years later, aided by the 1994 healing of a deaf girl accepted as attributable to miraculous intercession, she was canonized in 2000.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


News Flash, Vatican Disinformation Service

This morning, in contradiction to a thousand years of institutional unbiblical bondage to a spiritual fiction, the Pope has finally admitted that Priests who are not gifted by the Holy Spirit with the grace of celibacy, should not be forced to be and allowed to instead follow their natural God given passions and marry honorably. In a twist of unfathomable inclusion, the Pope actually polled a group of third order lay women on their views on the subject. One remarked "You are kidding! He actually cares what we think and feel? He's not calling us overly emotional women? PL's-priest lovers, or too sexy for our scapulas?"

Noting with remarkable heretofore unseen intellectual honesty, the Pope finally admits that it was Paul who made the statements prefering celibacy which were offered in an optional not mandatory sense even by Paul, and not Jesus --while Paul himself was careful to note he was not presuming to speak for Jesus in his preferences.

Further, the Pope admitted that Saint Peter was a married man whose wife likely was crucified upside down next to him and he will thus commission a statue of Mrs. Peter Pope to be displayed prominently in the Vatican for the first time. This was met with shreaks from the bad- dye- job- gray-blue- pink haired set of old maids protesting "Good God! Peter had a wife?!--priests can marry? we'll lose them all! who are we going to fantasize about now!! Who will take us to lunch on pilgrimmages?".

In his streak of astonishing further intellectual honesty the Pope continued that priests who hit on and emotionally lead on ten to fifteen women, with a few hiding in the basement kitchen in any given parish for profit can be in fact much less holy than a man who marries honorably one woman and attempts to build a family, maintain a home and educates his own children. In a surprising twist of insight, the Pope admits that the people who had the faith enough to create an infant could be in some cases seen as having actually more faith than someone who repudiates ever having natural children and instead sprinkles other people's children with baptismal water.

"I baptize my baby every night" said a mother in her 40s whose miracle baby was conceived naturally. "I thank the father, son and holy spirit every time I bathe his perfect little body."
At the conclusion of the 50 days of Easter, the Pope will require priests who otherwise would be considered sort of emotional con artists to search their souls and "shit or get off the pot" -by either declaring and affirming themselves gifted with a total lack of natural desire for physical intimacy with women (which is what a gifting of celibacy in fact means) or declare their openness to the intention to marry and have a family one day. They will not be forced to get engaged immediately, just end the charade. They will not lose their jobs, because once a priest always a priest and it is a vocation not just a "job."

The Vatican will henceforth stop the policy of mandatory de facto castration of all seminarians. The head enforcer of the Doctrine of the Faith concluded "It's possible Jesus wanted priests to be real men before they were real priests. We have no biblical exegetical evidence of any apostle wearing a white doily over-slip except perhaps the Mary Magdelene" Hiding under vestment dresses and white doily baby doll over-slips will thenceforth become optional. The Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement will sell at substantial discount Cordoroys, Jeans, Oxford button downs, ties and leather Jackets in their thrift shop starting on Pentacost.

Stunning the Cardinals the Pope admitted that the church isn't supposed to be making martyrs of it's own people (leave that to China and Somalia), and that actual Martyrdom of the faith only occurs when a non-believer kills off a believer for reasons of their standing on faith and belief in Christ (see,, Voice of the Martyrs), not when the hierarchy of the church itself imposes an unbiblical restraint of personal liberty as a condition of employment or "vocation" wholly outside anything Jesus ever commanded or said to drive the faithful crazy. Further priests aren't supposed to be martyring their female congregants for being stupid enough to fall for them. In a surprising twist of conscience the Pope conceeded the use of the term "Martyrdom" to signify his forced celibacy rule and the torture some frustrated priests inflict on women was, well, just plain flat out twisted.

Dominican Friars protested "Am I supposed to put my kid to bed and run out to the hospital to give last rights?" to which the Pope noted that "on call" Doctors in every major hospital in the world leave their homes to perform emergency night surgeries, and even firemen sometimes get called out of bed in the line of duty. Additionally it is forseen that the new rules will easily triple the priesthood in ten years thus lightening everyone's schedules. "Next thing the Pope will want us to do is make tents" protested a Dominican.

It is predicted that four hundred previously homeless women in American metropolitan areas will now be able to move into the rectories of the priests who were dating them. Roughly 4,000 near homeless women who thought they were dating them will learn someone else grabbed their fancy first and finally get a clue and get real jobs.

One parishioner protested to the Pope in the comment period preceding the Bull "Great, now my Parish is going to feel like an episode of 'The Bachelor' with the lectors chosen based on their virginal cuteness date-worthiness factor" to which the Pope replied- "What, you didn't notice it already is an episode of The Batchelor? This way the Priest just has to pay for the dates!" The Pope further commented "There is nothing mandatory about taking the bait and you can still feed and clothe the homeless, replace the burned out candles, conduct RCIA and CCD classes on chastity, and water the garden flowers if that gives you joy when the Priest marries someone else-it's not a license to be licentious, just a licence to wed. Try the Personals. I recommend a nose job first."

A Rush on the Italian Embassy for Visas to Italy for the Papal wedding blessing and extended honeymoons in Sardinia and Capri are expected for those soon to be engaged to Priests. The Vatican Treasury is offering installment payment plans for rings.


Let them eat cake.

What's Happening at Holy Trinity (Washington, DC)


God’s Movement to End Hunger in Our Time
Presenter: David Beckmann
A Lutheran Minister as well as an Economist
Sunday, April 6, 2008: At Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Georgetown, Washington, DC

10:20 – 11:15 a.m. in the Theater
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the Parish Center, McKenna Hall
Through his presentation, Rev. Beckmann will look at the biblical roots of justice, and the great poverty and hunger exodus of our time. He will explore the ways in which God invites us to be part of this exodus through faith-based advocacy efforts.
Beckmann is one of the foremost advocates for policies and programs to reduce poverty in the United States and worldwide. He has been president of Bread for the World for fifteen years, leading large-scale and successful campaigning to strengthen U.S. political commitment to overcoming hunger and poverty. Before that he served for fifteen years at the World Bank.
A Lutheran clergyman as well as an economist, Beckmann earned degrees from Yale, Christ Seminary, and the London School of Economics. He has written many books and articles, including “Transforming the Politics of Hunger” and “Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World.”
–– This lecture is part of the series, A Year of Prayer: Living a Faith that Does Justice ––