Monday, October 29, 2007

Pope Rebukes State's Bishops?

Pope Benedict today encouraged a group of Catholic pharmacists to exercise conscientious objection rather than prescribe drugs that can cause abortion or euthanasia:

"It is not possible to anesthetize the conscience, for example, when it
comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short
someone's life," the Pope said...
"I invite your federation to consider
conscientious objection which is a right that must be recognized for your
profession so you can avoid collaborating, directly or indirectly, in the supply
of products which have clearly immoral aims, for example abortion or
euthanasia," he said.

The Inside Blog's Deal Hudson (who graciously links to CT Catholic in his comment) says this about today's news:

This can only be considered a direct rebuke to the decision of the
Connecticut
Catholic Conference and the Connecticut bishops to allow Plan B
to be offered by Catholic hospitals in the state.

I'm not so sure. The Connecticut Bishops' September 27th statement said they were complying with the state law (requiring Plan B to be administered to rape victims without an ovulation test) because of scientific and doctrinal uncertainty on whether Plan B is abortifacient. A clear statement from Rome that Plan B is or can be abortifacient and is therefore forbidden would indeed be a direct rebuke to Connecticut. But the quotes above do not say that. Given their current position, I would expect our bishops' response to be that emergency contraception to a rape victim is not one of the "clearly immoral aims" the Pope is speaking about and that his statement does not apply to their new policy.

Whatever the real import of the Pope's remarks, there is no question that the firestorm over Plan B is still raging among Connecticut's Catholic laity. Intense e-mail exchanges involving a list of about 50 local Catholics have been ongoing (one new blog in our Connecticut links is a product of those debates). The Archdiocese's annual respect life mass was sparsely attended. And the state's pro-life community is more dispirited than I have ever seen them (and in Connecticut, that's really saying something!).

The bishops, too, are thought to be having a rough time of it. Many who heard the Archbishop's homily on Plan B at the pro-life mass noted his defensive tone.

So, where do we go from here? How do we take back the high ground in the fight for life in Connecticut and how do we do it as a unified flock under the authority of our shepherds? I don't know the answers, but those are the questions we should be pondering. Having won their Plan B victory, pro-abortionists are no doubt planning their next assault. What are we doing now--and not just after the fact--to stop them?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Overstating your case . . . not inherently evil?

I have spoken to many people over the past few weeks about the Bishop's statement capitulating on Plan B and have a couple of theories. We all keep hoping that "the Bishop's must know something that we don't." Something so super-secret that they can't even tell it to their flock, I guess. Based on what we do know, here is what I am thinking (and I don't like what I am thinking) . . .

Charitable Interpretation A
The most charitable interpretation I can think of is that the Bishops chose to protect jobs and access to health care instead of "falling on their sword" over Catholic teaching on abortion and protecting nascent life. After all, the legislature dreamed up a scenario whereby - a recently raped victim, at a catholic hospital, is ovulating, and wants Plan B, but can't get it - has never happened, and it is unlikely to happen in the future. Anyway, if you read Bishop Lori's post on his blog about the subject, he basically states that their decision is about protecting the hospitals, i.e. money.

Charitable Interpretation B
But another reason the Bishops capitulated, that seems to be forming from various sources, is that the Bishops simply overstated their initial objection to Plan B. That the Bishops, the manufacturer of Plan B, and the Federal Drug Administration all overstated Plan B's ability to "thicken the walls of the uterus to prevent implantation" of a fertilized egg. That it all has been much ado about nothing. I can kind of believe it because if you think the FDA has 100% knowledge about all the drugs they approve, you would be naive. I can tell you that many times the side-effects or additional effects of a drug are overstated or exaggerated to protect against potential lawsuits and other reasons. I can envision a scenario where "thickening of the uterine wall" was added because it enhanced the drug's perceived effectiveness and/or because that could happen in theory. So you have a "perfect storm" of Bishops, a manufacturer, and licensee drawing lines in the sand over a side effect that probably never really happens, effectively anyway. After some serious digging, the bishops discovered that the manufacturer's claims were overstated and as a result, their opposition to Plan B was overstated.

If this charitable interpretation is true, however, the Bishops should still err on the side of life and not distribute Plan B, because there must have been some chance of creating a chemical abortion, even if the science isn't crystal clear. Additionally, if it was all a big misunderstanding, surely the bishops could have stated as much in their statement. Eating a little crow, instead of trying to create the impression they weren't breaking ANY laws - God's or the State.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What's happening on Plan B

Other blogs and websites have provided exceptional analyses of the Bishops' statement complying with Connecticut law requiring them to offer chemical abortions in their hospitals. Most importantly, First Things, the most influential American catholic magazine read by officials at the Vatican, had this incredible letter written by Connecticut professor Mike Augros, respectfully and humbly asking "why?" Human Life International also has a consise rebuttal to the Bishops statement. The National Catholic Register released an editorial today analyzing what happened in 2006 vs. 2007, a la my last post. Great minds think alike, what can I say. (Hi Tom.)
Another notable website is The American Papist, which provides a chronological rundown of post-statement, Plan B events, and thorough, intelligent analyses. Fallout from the Bishop's decision is reaching a creshendo in the blogosphere. Where do we go from here? I would oppose any petitions or paid advertisements. That is so Voice of the Faithful and Call to Action. Personal letters to the bishops letting them know of your prayers and your child-like questioning of their decision, must be done, even if they are never opened. Pope Benedict would like to hear from you too. His e-mail address is benedictxvi@vatican.va.

The "freepers" over at FreeRepublic.com have a lively discussion of Bishop Lori's blog post regarding Plan B. Who would have thought?

Friday, October 5, 2007

A "you-know-what" storm in CT over Plan B

Connecticut and national Catholic media has weighed in on our Bishops' decision not to adminster ovulation tests to rape vicitms in accordance with a new state law. Sounds very reasonable doesn't it, unless the failure to administer such a test could result in the death of a person. But, I digress. There have been some very interesting news reports and press statements responding to the bishop's statements last week.

Most recently, Raymond Arroyo on EWTN's show The World Over, tonight, during the opening segment commented on Connecticut's bru-ha-ha over Plan B.

And in Connecticut, the Bishops there have agreed to supply the so called "emergency contraception drug" (Raymond could barely spit it out) called Plan B to victims of rape at the State's catholic hospitals. Plan B also works as an abortafacient. Though the drug is a contraceptive and clearly violates church teaching, the Bishops justified the decision saying that the drug would not be administered if the patient's pregnancy test came back positive. The new guidelines are an attempt by catholic hospitals here to comply with state law.

Raymond followed the statement with a classic Arroyo stare into the camera as though he couldn't believe what he just reported. Then, I detected a half smirk. I froze it for HeSaid to see, and he agreed. It was a classic half smirk by Raymond Arroyo.

Lifesite.net has a scathing news report on the Bishop's statement. It is a thorough "take down," based on science and Vatican statements on Plan B. On October 2, they reported a story based on an interview of Barry Feltman, the Connecticut Conference of Catholic Bishop's spokesperson on this issue. It's very revealing, in particular, Barry stated that the medical sources consulted by the bishops to formulate their response to the Plan B legislation were at best "confidential" and worst, paid employees of the catholic hospitals.

The Connecticut House "Republicans" issued a press release last week praising the bishop's ultimate decision, but lambasting their process. Good luck to Dave Reynolds of the Connecticut Catholic Conference on getting cooperation with any legislation in the future. So, not only did the Bishops loose their shirt, pants, the whole wardrobe, on this issue. Because of their erratic, unprofessional behavior, they have nearly guaranteed that issues important to the church and faithful catholics in Connecticut will be ignored in the future. Nice.

Did I mention that I don't blame the bishops entirely for this extremely embarrasing debacle. If faithful catholics (including the alternative national press) put this level of pressure on the Connecticut legislature and the bishops before the legislation passed, then we wouldn't be having this moment. Take a look at how simply this legislative proposal was defeated in 2006. Jim Papillo sacrificed reappointment as the State's victim's advocate to kill this legislation last year before it even made it out of committee. I've linked to his testimony above, and provided a snipit below of his slicing and dicing of Chris Murphy at the Committee Hearing, exposing their anti-catholic agenda.
PAPILLO: Well, I can say this. In the six-plus years that I've been the State Victim Advocate, I've had not one call from a rape victim complaining about the issue that's being addressed here, number one.
I don't even know if he was interested, but the guy would have made a great executive director for the CT Catholic Conference. The position has been vacant for over a year.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

When all else fails, try humor . . .

Saint Thomas Aquinas said "It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes." That line is so dry, it is actually funny. For your "relaxation of the mind" I've reproduced some playful satire about our bishops from Creative Minority Report, a hilarious catholic blog by Matthew Archbold. You may remember that Archbishop Burke spearheaded an effort to refuse communion to pro-abortion politicians during the last election cycle.

Archbishop Burke Refuses Communion to Connecticut Bishops

In a stunning move, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, a veteran of clashes between Catholic bishops and politicians, has now announced that he's turning his ire towards the bishops who ok'd Catholic hospitals administering of abortifacients.

Burke has attempted to for years to enlist fellow bishops to deny Holy Communion to wayward politicians. But now the conservative cleric is invoking the church's highest punishment -- mortal sin -- to persuade the lay and ordained Catholics who distribute Communion at Mass to safeguard the sacrament by refusing communion to the bishops of Connecticut.

Drawing on the works of the late Italian Jesuit scholar Felice Cappello, Burke says those ministers are "held, under pain of mortal sin, to deny the sacraments to the unworthy.

On the other hand, Lesbian Priest of the Liberal Catholic Church Candy Feelgood said the Connecticut bishops are guilty only of "daring 21st century ecumenism."

"If they're guilty of anything it's loving too much," said Feelgood. "If Archbishop Burke is against these poor bishops receiving communion they can always come here. We actually leave the communion wafers in a bag and anyone can come up and take it and eat it. It comes with three different flavors of salsa dip too. There's no reason Jesus shouldn't taste good."

In a stunning move, Planned Parenthood is siding with Archbishop Burke in exclaiming their displeasure with the Connecticut Bishops. "We've monopolized the abortion industry for so long that we're not happy to see any competitors enter this line of business," said Planned Parenthood spokesperson Ivana Muerte. "If someone wants a baby dead they should have to come see us and we'll take care of the problem for the low low price of $148."

Muerte said the new competitor in the field may force the abortion giant to start discount abortions or perhaps offer a 2 for 1 deal on Sundays.

The Connecticut Bishops said they were still unsure of the science of abortion and the Church hadn't clearly issued any directives on the issue of murder.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Your jobs or your integrity . . .

To save jobs and money our Connecticut Bishops blinked on Catholic teaching. I'm not as angry as I was yesterday because I've concluded that the legislature basically used a straw-man to further their anti-religious fervor. We could have fought a much better campaign against their false teachings. After all, we have the truth on our side. But we lost fair and square, and only more involvement in the legislative process (and really better education of the Catholic public), earlier and more frequently, could have prevented the capitulation last week.

You can read Bishop Lori's 9/29/07 blog providing some of the background to the Conference's retreat and it ultimately boils down to a very tiny chance of killing a very tiny person versus the very real possibility of losing a lot of money, jobs and healthcare for many. sigh.

Consider this . . . the pro-abortion advocates at the legislature basically dreamed up what is really a fantasy scenario whereby a recently raped, ovulating woman, without a ride, at a Connecticut Catholic hospital really wants, but is denied, Plan B. This scenario is a far-fetched pro-choice fantasy and has never happened and probably never will. Nevertheless, they easily coax public opinion in their favor. It really isn't hard since the Church hardly puts up a fight. But anyway, they get the legislation passed. Are the bishops really supposed to spend a ton of money on legal fees, fire people from their jobs (because that is what will happen if they close emergency rooms), basically "fall on their sword" over what is probably an imaginary scenario? Prudence would say "no."

Very likely no lives will be lost from complying with this law. What has really died is a big teaching moment and witness for the truth, and frankly, those moments "pass away" every day. I would like the bishops to "fight back" against the forces of evil in our legislature, but I would also like them to be real agents for teaching the catechism at Confirmation, to scold pro-choice legislators (Hello Representatives DeLauro, Larson, Lawler), to enthusiastically encourage abstinence and natural family planning, theology of the body, real feminism, and come down hard on contraception in general. I think a reason we lost at the legislature is that most Catholics in Connecticut didn't even know the church still believes life begins at conception, or why it matters. Isn't THAT the real scandal.

The bishops created this mess for themselves, no doubt. The Conference has been without a head for their legislative arm for over a year. Months of inter-diocese nit-picking, hem-hawing, and general lackadaisical management of the process has ensured mass-confusion at the Capitol on issues that effect the laity and the church. (Did anyone notice that the position for Director of the CT Catholic Conference just finished a second round of advertising. What is going on there?) The laity remains woefully uneducated on their democratic responsibilities as Catholic citizens. Paralyzed by fear of losing their tax-exempt status, CT Catholic churches seem unable to encourage even their church-going members to vote a pro-life ticket, or to even vote at all.

But we can't just blame the bishops. Anyone who didn't at least contact their legislator about Plan B, attend Catholic Concerns Day, work on a campaign, write a letter to the editor, attend a hearing, or encourage friends and relatives to do so are also partly to blame for the passage of Plan B. Don't feel too bad though. The bishops were nowhere to be seen at the Capitol in the weeks leading up to the vote. Here is Archbishop Mansell pirogi-ing it up in Poland with the Knights of Columbus on May 5, the week Plan B hit high gear at the Capitol. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference, and the stingy, resolute forces at the Capitol still would have won this year. But imagine for a moment the tall, commanding, peaceful, assuring, fatherly yet stern presence of Archbishop Mansell strolling the Capitol corridors, gently asking to speak with a legislator or 2. It would have turned many votes and minds. He could have gotten 50 people to show up with him at a press conference and maybe he wouldn't be in this "pirogi" now.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Local Reaction to Plan B sucker punch

Connecticut old timers will tell you that this isn't the first time the CT Conference of Catholic Bishops has weakened near the end of a legislative battle. With Connecticut's adoption of laws legalizing abortion and liberalizing homosexuality, the CT Conference of Catholic Bishops after initial strong and forceful resistance, has a tradition of trading their moral authority for quiet and quick compromises. You don't blame some for suggesting that the Archdiocese was blackmailed and threatened into making some of these unsavory legislative compromises. But I have my own thoughts below.

I tuned into Brad Davis this morning while brushing my teeth and nearly gagged when he claimed that any Catholic that disagreed with Archbishop Mansell is a Catholic with a "problem." Now usually this type of reflux means that I'm pregnant again, but this time it was genuine disgust. Brad Davis had a long "conversation" with Archbishop Mansell on behalf of the disgruntled parishoners at Mt. Carmel in Waterbury last week. I think the Archbishop put the local version of the "Papal Whammy" on Brad, because ever since his "conversation," Brad Davis hasn't breathed a word against the Archbishop. I even learned this morning that Brad is a "Roman Catholic," something I didn't know after listening to him all these years.

On the spiritual front, we have reports of a crucifix bleeding (what is the official Catholic term for this?) at a parish in northern Connecticut. I am not at liberty to give more details, but at least one witness has "connected the dots" to the Archbishop. In particular, the Archbishop is scheduled to bless their new sanctuary soon, and if icons start weeping across Connecticut when the Archbishop shows, well . . . you heard it here first.

The level of "sucker punch" is strong with area Catholics, of course. But even local legislators are expressing their bewilderment over the Conference's behavior. Mark Pazniokas of the Hartford Courant had a brief report in CAUCUS - Politics from CT to DC, and reports that Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. stated:
For those very same bishops to do a 180-degree turnabout two days before the legislation becomes law, without any adequate explanation, is incomprehensible," Cafero said. "It shows apparent disregard and disrespect for the political process and those of us who worked in their behalf.
I wonder what changed. Why didn't the CT Conference change their Plan B protocols 2 years ago? It would have saved me and countless other loyal Connecticut Catholics time spent writing letters, talking to fellow parishioners, defending Catholic teaching, protesting with several small children at the Capitol. What a waste of time! A holy, Catholic friend of mine can only think of the poor souls lost. But me, I'm concerned with the egg on our collective faces.

Talk about egg on your face, the Family Institute of Connecticut (an ecumenical, non-partisan organization) was searching for a person with whom they could file a suit against the State to stop Plan B. Who knows whether they will proceed. Getting out there to fight the culture wars can leave you a little lonely. This topic is also burning up the Catholic blogosphere. For other discussions about the Conference's turnabout on Plan B, you can see: American Papist Curt Jester Jimmy Akin (Part 1 and Part 2) and Diogenes.

Nationally, Deal Hudson, formerly of Crisis Magazine, is urging Catholics to contact the CT Catholic Conference and adds in his article on CatholicInsider.com:
When official institutions of the Catholic Church make these kinds of decisions, the rest of us end up looking, well, silly.
My husband reminds me that it's the legislation, not the bishops, that require us to drop the ovulation test. So, it's not like the bishops thought this up on their own 2 days ago. It came from the anti-Catholics at the legislature, whose heads nearly popped when they found out the hospitals were administering ovulation tests! But, the whole hub-bub about ovulation all comes from the Church. It was part of their initial, well-thought protocols. The test, though imperfect, was there to err on the side of life.

I just have to believe that when presented with a what could be considered a reasonable "way out" by their expensive attorneys, the loss of untold funds from the state, and even more money about to be spent on a possibly fruitless lawsuit, the bishops eyes glazed over, they started mumbling to themselves about monstrance polish, gave a slow head-nod to their fancy attorneys and set into motion their plans for retreat.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Outrage and Shame over Plan B in Connecticut

I have a set of grandparents who, back-in-the-day, used to be quite sharp and acerbic, they spoke the truth without regard to noses bent or feelings hurt (especially when it came to mine). But now, when they hear disagreement, they get a far-away look and glassy-eyed, they stare at the floor, shrug their shoulders and mumble something about diabetic shoes. They forget their manners and pretend you were not talking. They change the subject and undermine or even contradict previously held truths. Their former zeal for taking-down falsehoods now lost in a fog of daily talk-shows and newspaper gossip columns. It's like they have retired their minds.

The same "retirement of mind" appears to have happened to our Connecticut bishops. No longer willing to call Plan B an abortifacient (as, until very recently, even Plan B's website self-referred to as such), they issued a collective "far-away look" Thursday and mumbled at least 3 times that they are actually unsure what Plan B does. Let me refresh their memories from their own Connecticut Conference of Catholic Bishop's Q&A still, temporarily I presume, located on their website:

7) Connecticut�s Catholic hospitals have said that Plan B can sometimes cause an abortion. Is this correct?

The primary mechanism of Plan B is to prevent ovulation, and therefore conception.

The secondary mechanism of Plan B is to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum, which is abortion. This is confirmed on the manufacturer's web site that says, Plan B may also work by preventing it (the fertilized egg) from attaching to the uterus (womb).

8) Is it a true statement to say that forcing Catholic hospitals to provide Plan B under all cases is equivalent to forcing Catholic hospitals to perform an abortion?

Yes.


When Plan B cannot act as a contraceptive, it can only act to cause an abortion. Forcing Catholic hospitals to provide Plan B in these situations forces the hospitals to perform abortions.
Well, well. I don't know how they could have been more acerbic or truthful there. Nothing like plain-talkin to drive home a point. Now for the glassy-eyes from yesterday's press release . . .
The administration of Plan B pills in this instance cannot be judged to be the commission of an abortion because of such doubt about how Plan B pills and similar drugs work and because of the current impossibility of knowing from the ovulation test whether a new life is present. To administer Plan B pills without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act.

Since the teaching authority of the Church has not definitively resolved this matter and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work, the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut have stated that Catholic hospitals in the State may follow protocols that do not require an ovulation test in the treatment of victims of rape, . . . .

OK, now that I am sitting on my chair again, can we just address the little statement "because of the current impossibility of knowing . . . whether a new life is present." How many times have you sat in a college dorm, stood by the company water cooler, eaten at the family dinner table and had that nugget of wisdom spat at you. . . "Well, nobody knows if it's really a life, so abortion isn't killing." That line is so, well, 1980s. If the bishops are going to start spewing pro-choice propaganda, they should at least bring their arguments into the current century and claim while a fertilized egg may be alive, it isn't a person.

Next. Who was the lucky person at the CT Conference that had the task of so blatantly backtracking from the Bishop's noble and forceful original position? I hope it wasn't Barry Feldman, that poor guy looks like he is about to get a case of the vapors every time I see him on TV.

Besides arguing that they should err on the side of destroying life, the Bishops make a crucial blunder by suggesting they have no moral obligation to provide an ovulation test. How queer, I thought the debate was about abortion, not ovulation tests. What the bishops have done, perhaps unknowingly, is misdirect the focus of the debate to ovulation tests and create an effective diversion. It is a cheap debating trick used by every high school debate team.

"To administer Plan B pills without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act" they state. What about administering Plan B without a pregnancy test? Would that be "intrinsically evil"? I think so. And to those people (i.e. Catholics) who equate the soul of a fertilized egg with the soul of a gestating baby, what difference should there be? Both deserve a test before being subjected to a deadly drug. And suppose there was no accurate test? Then we must err on the side of life and not administer the deadly drug at all. The Bishops have made a heart-sickening slight of hand. Claiming if they avert their eyes, then no evil is taking place.

The alternative to testing, isn't administering Plan B blindfolded, it is to not administer Plan B at all. Avoiding culpability because they didn't "know" or refused to "know" smacks me of moral relativism.

I also find their choice of the word "intrinsic" interesting. Intrinsic, is defined, in part, as "belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing". If something is "intrinsically evil", it is evil without regard to knowledge or purpose. Causing abortions IS intrinsically evil even if you don't know for sure you did it. Knowledge is irrelevant. I think the word the bishops, or their lowly attorney, was actually searching for was "intentional". Administering Plan B without an ovulation test could possibly not be "intentionally evil", but judgment will be deferred on that question to a later day and a much higher Judge.

I have more to say on this topic, but have to defer completion till tomorrow. . .


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Upcoming Events

At 3 p.m. today there will be a Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford for married couples celebrating special anniversaries in the year 2007.

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 7 th the Archdiocese of Hartford will hold its annual Rosary Rally at Immaculate Conception Church in Waterbury.

At noon on Saturday, October 13th there will be a public forum and recitation of the rosary on the green in front of St. Teresa's Church in Woodbury to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Of late, I've been blogging about the bad stuff about our Church appearing in the local papers. But there's lots of good stuff happening that--surprise! surprise!--you probably won't hear about in those same papers. We'll make more of an effort to bring the good stuff to your attention as well. If you hear of a CT Catholic event that should be mentioned in this space, e-mail us at CTCatholic@gmail.com

Fr. Grant Screws Up Big

He's either guilty or an idiot:
Naugatuck priest arrested again

NAUGATUCK — A borough priest accused
last month of sexually assaulting a
teenage boy was arrested at St. Mary's
Church on Saturday after he attempted to
have contact with his alleged
victim.
The Rev. Robert J. Grant, was outside
of his car near the North
Main Street church when he tried to call the boy, who
was also near the
church, over to where he was standing, said Lt. Robert
Harrison, Naugatuck
Police spokesman.
Grant, a Roman Catholic priest who
formerly served St.
Mary's and St. Hedwig's churches, was charged with breach of
peace and was
released on $200,000 bond Saturday night. He is scheduled to
appear in
Waterbury Superior Court on Oct. 3.

I mentioned before how his parishioners were standing by him. Will that still be true after today's news?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big Fuss at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Parishioners at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Waterbury are again making their voice heard via the front page of the local newspaper:

WATERBURY -- A group of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioners has decided
to stop making weekly contributions to the church to protest the continued lack
of a pastor.
The Rev. David Borino was transferred from the Town Plot parish
in March by the Archdiocese of Hartford pending the outcome of an investigation
into unspecified financial irregularities in the church. The parish finance
director also was placed on administrative leave.
Since then there has been
no communication to the parish from the diocese, which also has let several of
its own deadlines to conclude the investigation pass without comment.
"We
will not give any more money until it's resolved and we have Father Borino
back," said Rocco Orso, one of the leaders of a group of about 150 parishioners
who have been meeting to discuss the matter.

In fact, the archdiocese's spokesman is quoted later in the article saying that it had concluded its investigation and is waiting for Fr. Borino to respond to its findings.

It's easy to feel some sympathy for both the parish and the archdiocese in this matter. On the one hand, many who've dealt with the archdiocese on behalf of their parishes know firsthand how unresponsive the archdiocese can be.

On the other hand, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parishioners are known for making a stink in the press when they feel they have not been adequately consulted about something. In today's article they complain about priests arriving 45 minutes late for funeral masses and not visiting their hospitalized parishioners. I'm sure it is indeed the case that the spiritual needs of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parishioners are not being met. And, given the archdiocese's growing priest shortage, I'm sure it's true elsewhere too. Have any priestly vocations come out of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish lately to help us address the problem? If so, the article doesn't mention it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Priests in the News

Yes, it's been awhile since we've blogged, but can you blame us? Here's a run-down on a few items that are simply unavoidable for a blog whose title is "The Connecticut Catholic." As you'll see, they're not pleasant topics.

First, there's this in today's Courant:

A former New Milford man claims in a lawsuit filed Friday against the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford that he was repeatedly abused by a Simsbury
priest 30 years ago.
Niles Mallory charges that, beginning when he was 16
years old, the Rev. Ivan Ferguson assaulted him in Ferguson's bedroom in the
rectory of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church in the Tariffville section of
Simsbury.
The sexual assaults took place in 1977 and 1978, according to the
suit.
Before he died at age 68 in 2002, Ferguson was sued for similar
behavior. A $22 million settlement between the Hartford Archdiocese and 43
victims in 2005 was designed in part to compensate an unspecified number of
Ferguson's victims.

And a few days earlier there was this:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A former priest pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of
thousands of dollars from his church by setting up secret bank accounts to pay
for a life of luxury, including traveling around the world and buying a
condominium.
The Rev. Michael Jude Fay, who resigned last year as pastor of
St. John Roman Catholic Church, pleaded guilty Wednesday to interstate
transportation of money obtained by fraud. He faces up to 10 years in prison, a
$250,000 fine and must pay restitution.
Prosecutors said Fay took between $1
million and $2.5 million over seven years, but the priest has disputed that. He
admitted taking between $400,000 and $1 million.

The papers have been extraordinarily reticent about how Fay's fraud was specifically to pay for that "life of luxury" with his homosexual lover. Of course, they're far less reticent in the alleged details regarding Fr. Grant:

WATERBURY — A Roman Catholic priest at two Naugatuck churches allegedly
coerced a teenage boy into giving him oral sex several times in exchange for
wine and money, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released at Waterbury
Superior Court on Wednesday.
A 16-year-old boy alleged in the affidavit that
the Rev. Robert J. Grant, 63, of St. Mary's and St. Hedwig's churches, paid him
between $100 and $150 each time the boy performed oral sex on Grant. The
affidavit also says that the boy, who was 15 when the incidents began between
July and August 2006, gave Grant several back massages at St. Mary's Church in
exchange for $50 each time.

The Archdiocese appears to have been taken completely by surprise regarding the allegations against Fr. Grant. The first press accounts quoted officials saying Fr. Grant had a spotless record during his 14 years as a priest. Grant is also a member of the Fraternity of Priests, a group of priests within the Archdiocese known for their doctrinal orthodoxy. The rumor in Naugatuck is that the alleged victim is the son of a church janitor whom Fr. Grant had just fired and that the accusation is some sort of payback. And the Waterbury newspaper ran a seperate article just on the strong support Grant has received from his parishes in the wake of these allegations. None of this proves he's innocent, of course, but it's worth noting the strong support he has on the ground in Naugatuck.

Finally, I want to note one happy item--the passing of an elderly priest of the Bridgeport diocese who was a good man and known for his committment to the pro-life cause. Fr. Bill Smith was also a friend to Donna Maria of the Embracing Motherhood blog:

I have known dear Fr. Bill for almost thirty years and have learned so much
from his holy life. I plan to write about him soon in upcoming posts, but for
now I am weary. It has been a long week - watching Fr. Bill in his last days.
When he barely had strength to continue living, he was concerned about giving us
blessings - sometimes in Latin! The blessings in his last couple of days were
given to us with a hand almost too weak to be lifted. His love for his friends
and family will continue, no doubt from his eternal rest.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rose Hawthorne - Connecticut roots and a "reputation of sanctity"

We just finished reading Rose Hawthorne: Pilgramage of Nathaniel's Daughter by Arthur and Elizabeth Odell Sheehan, an old Vision Book. I like to purchase used hardcover copies of the Vision series books. This one was from the library of Santa Maria School (location unknown). In the spring of 1968, R. Saliano from room 205 took out Ms. Hawthorne's biography 3 times. I hope she didn't wait till the last minute to write her book report (like I used to). She was the only student to check out Rose's story at Santa Maria. It reflects, I think, the general lack of knowledge about this interesting woman.

Rose Hawthorne, or Mother Mary Alphonsa, as she became, was a convert to Catholicism. A story that speaks to today's society, she and her husband struggled in their marriage and ultimately she received permission from her Bishop to separate (her husband was alleged to be an alcoholic and went on to become editor of the Atlantic Monthly Magazine). Moved by the terminally ill poor persons who surrounded her, she created homes and hospitals for them after becoming affiliated with a Dominican order (eventually to become The Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne). The Connecticut connection is that in 1887, she and her husband resided in New London, where they were good friends with Alfred and Adelaide Chappell, whose Catholic faith apparently inspired the Lathrop's to become Catholics. I wonder where in New London the Lathrop's and Chappell's lived?

Rose's cause for canonization is complicated by the relationship with her husband. But I say, what a saintly example of how to live a life of holiness even after an unfortunate separation from your spouse. Her cause for canonization is being tendered by the Rose Hawthorne Guild. It looks hopeful, according to Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell, O.P., the appointed Postulator. The Diocesan phase should be completed this year. It would be wonderful to someday recognize both Father McGivney and Rose Hawthorne as Connecticut saints.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NFP, the new cool

Did anyone else see the new NFP advertising campaign for Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (currently happening) organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops? I am so tickled at how incredibly modern, sophisticated, upbeat and trendy it is, and all conforming with Catholic teaching on marriage and procreation. See, Catholicism can be hip! I want to order a poster and put it on my wall, just so I can be a part of this wonderful and exciting project. Just as good is the poster from 2005. I am so glad they decided to use the picture of me and HeSaid. We are just so into NFP, and I think it really comes through in our picture.
That said, kudos to Bishop Lori for encouraging his diocese to participate in this exciting campaign. That Betty Anne Casaretti, head of their Family Life Ministry, is a real hot shot and totally on the ball. This is generally true of Bishop Lori's entire operation, and demonstrates why he is a rising star in American Catholicism (whatever that is). Check out the website for the Diocese of Bridgeport (and Bishop Lori's blog). It includes homily notes, prayers, links, etcetera related to NFP.

I have to admit, that an enlightened advertising campaign sponsored by a national Catholic organization is more thrilling to me than even the pope's montu proprio last week permitting a more liberal use of the 1960's version of the Latin Mass. I suggest that is because of where I see the battle lines drawn in today's society. No longer is it Protestant vs. Catholic, as in my grandparent's generation, or liberal vs. traditional Catholicism, as in my parent's generation. Those are side shows compared to the secular humanism vs. religious battles being fought today. No longer welcome in the public square, people of faith who wish to speak their mind or influence opinion in the political, social and work arenas are forced to leave their religion at the door, so to speak. Our reference to God and His Providence hold little weight today. The effectiveness of those references have been squandered by scandal and self imposed religious ignorance. To be persuasive, we should always provide social science evidence to support our religious assertions (ie: marriage helps women and children, the poor need our support, abortion is bad for society, etc.). After all, the Second Vatican Council authoritatively wrote, "Methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God." (Gaudium et Spes, 36). But now, people of faith no longer compete on a level playing field in public discourse with other "religions", like secular humanism, consumerism, paganism, socialism, etc. These religions are given a "leg up" because they are not labeled as such. But they are deities in our society, with new monuments built each day (and have more followers in CT than Jesus). They are savy, have control of our media and schools. But Jesus advised us to be as innocent as sheep but still wear leopard prints, or something like that. The point is that we must avail ourselves to hip and trendy advertising campaigns to reach the flock in this modern time, and I applaud, enthusiastically, and loudly, this NFP campaign by the USCCB and the Diocese of Bridgeport. Hurray!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Welcome Back Old Friend

When I was new to my faith about 10 years ago, my fiance and I attended a Catholic homeschool conference at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, I'm sorry, I mean . . . the Conference and Retreat Center at the The Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary (does anyone know who sponsored that event?). At that event, there were guest speakers of all types discussing Catholic family life, homeschooling, curriculum, and liturgy. They had a good turnout, and I recall sitting among the crowd of about 50 people and hearing one speaker opine that the Novus Ordo was not illicit because the Holy Spirit would not lead us astray for 30 years, and we as faithful Catholics must kind of "get over it". At the time I recall sniffing to HeSaid that the Catholic Church had been around for about 2000 years, and that maybe 30 years of an illicit Mass could happen without spiritual intervention. My thoughts in this area were buttressed when I attended my first Latin Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows in Hartford. I didn't become a regular attendant (my tastes run more toward the 30 minute, no-frills Mass usually offered at 7am on Sunday mornings), but I recall wondering if the Catholic Church had indeed created something invalid with the Novus Ordo. My understanding of His Mercy and obedience to the Church have matured over the years, but I had always hoped to see a liberalization or liberation of the Latin Mass in our Archdiocese. As it happens, Pope Benedict XVI felt the same way, and issued a MOTU PROPRIO today (ironically, it is in Latin, so I cannot read it) that, for our purposes, permits priests to perform a traditional Latin Mass without a waiver from Archbishop Mansell.

You can read more local reaction about this in the New Haven Register article.

We know of 4 Latin Masses in Connecticut: At a certain church in New Britain (sorry, does anyone know which Parish this is?), St. Brigid of Kildare in Moodus, Sacred Heart in New Haven, and Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Bridgeport. Please let me know of other licit Tridentine Masses, and I will list them.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Bishops Have a New Advisor

Yesterday, unverified former altar-girl, co-founder of the pro-abortion PAC - Emily's List, and our fair Connecticut Representative to the US House, Rosa DeLauro issued another missile, I mean, missive agitating the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to "mobilize Catholic opinion" against the war in Iraq. Set aside your opposition or support for the war, I find it interesting that the lady who led the charge against Pope Benedict XVI in May for voicing his opinion in the "public square" about pro-abortion politicians somehow thinks she can set the agenda for Catholic bishops. I guess advocacy can only flow one way in Rosa's world. It seems Pope Benedict can't voice his opinion about politics because he is religious, yet she can advise the Catholic Bishops because, well, she is a politician? She and her deanery of 18 rebel Catholic politicians continue to try to mobilize what's left of the Catholic Left - a la Voice Of the Faithful and Call to Action- for 2008. Lucky for them the bishops of the Catholic Conference had previously hired a media director, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, to respond and speak to the great unwashed Catholic laity about accusations made by their elected representatives. I don't know, maybe it is some type of high-handed psychological strategy to send a spokesperson to respond to the 18 high level national politicians. But, sounds more to me like hiding behind the skirts of a hired gun. I mean, I mean, why not use the Conference to coordinate a response by the 18 or so bishops and archbishops (hello, Archbishop Mansell) to the offending politicians? Wouldn't that be a good use of all the teamwork/bonding skills they've learned, or whatever it is they do, at those expensive conferences? Sigh.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Brownback vs. Dodd on Catholicism in Public Life

Connecticut's own U.S. Senator (and presidential candidate) Chris Dodd, a pro-abortion Catholic, debated Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) on the role of the Catholic faith in their public duties. Brownback, a convert, got our official endorsement back in March.

"Debated" may not be the best way to describe it. The event, which occurred a few months ago at Boston College, was moderated by an uncharacteristically subdued Tim Russert. Dodd dodged the specific question of how his Catholic faith informs his positions on abortion and gay marriage and no one called him on it. Brownback did a great job explaining his views and was Catholic across the board, regardless of whether that meant taking the liberal or conservative position on a particular issue. But he chose not to engage the contradictions between Dodd's professed faith and his support for attacks on human life and the sanctity of marriage.

It is still very early in the process and perhaps there was nothing to be gained by having a real debate at this stage. But if Brownback is to break out of the second tier of candidates then at some point--against both Guiliani and pro-abortion Catholic Democrats--those issues must be engaged.

You can watch the debate here.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Somebody feed the Sheep

We have this running joke in our family that priests and bishops save their fanciest hats for when they are meeting behind closed doors. Forget witnessing marriages or administering first Holy Communion, if you want to see fancy duds, watch EWTN when the US Conference of Catholic Bishops meets. Collegiality is the rule among the bishops. I suppose it helps to grease the wheels of progress among all the different strong personalities at these meetings. But, from what I can tell (and I am just a little catholic home-schooling mom from CT), collegiality just cost us Plan B in the legislature this session.

When asked why they voted for Plan B this session, 8 out of 10 legislators* responded, in some form or another, that the Catholic bishops were unsure of what their position was, so they just voted for it. The bishops alternately said a compromise was feasible (roll the tapes of Archbishop Mansell at Catholic Concerns Day), or they were waiting for an expert ethics opinion (see Haas OpEd in Courant), or, to top all others, that it was a matter of "faith" among the different bishops (see below). Sigh.

I hate to criticize Archbishop Mansell - he is a holy man with an awesome memory - but, what happened with Plan B this session? Only now are we starting to see a little life in the Archdiocese and Connecticut, organized by the faithful flock. And, honestly, that horse has left the barn. I am struck by the statements made by the spokesperson for the Connecticut Catholic Hospital Association, Barry Feldman:

"You're talking about religious beliefs and not facts. The bishops of New York have religious beliefs that they interpret in one way, and the bishops in Connecticut view the moral analysis differently,"
HeSaid already commented on this in an earlier post. But, what is going on here? Do the remarks, and the lack of perceptible action by our Archbishop, come down to the Connecticut Conference of Catholic Bishops being more concerned about collegiality among their fellow bishops than they are about fighting hard about Plan B here in Connecticut? I think so.

How is that, you ask? Only 1 state didn't fight Plan B because they determined it wasn't abortion. Unwilling to criticize Cardinal Egan of New York for their decision not to fight a Plan B bill, our bishops got all weak-kneed up at the Capitol. Unable to state clearly that Plan B was against Catholic teaching, lest they offend their NY brethren, they sunk into a kind of Catholic relativism, simply saying that it was a matter of "faith" and interpretation. Good grief, did they want the legislature to win? In the meantime, we the sheep are left to defend the Church ourselves in hand-to-hand water cooler combat. Sure, our bishops will file a lawsuit and spend $65 to $100 thousand of our weekly contributions fighting this battle in court. But, why not spend a little of your own "Archbishop Capital" getting dirty at the Capitol fighting for your sheep. Submit OpEds. Have letters read from the pulpit. Organize rallies! This isn't only about saving lives, its about defending our faith, making this a teaching moment, and giving your best to your flock.

I know the Archbishop is doing a lot behind the scenes - working with lobbyists, making phone calls, praying - but a public education campaign, that is sure of it's message and aimed at the flock, is desperately needed.


*as assertained by me reading the morning papers.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Why Did State Senate "Breach the Wall"?

In the wake of this week's 32-3 state Senate vote forcing Catholic hospitals to facilitate chemical abortions on its premises, the CT Catholic Conference has e-mailed an alert on the legislature's "breaching the wall" between church and state. We're not crazy about the "wall" metaphor, which is not in the Constitution and is frequently put in the service of all manner of secularist mischief. But for once, it seems apt. Archbishop Mansell and Bishop Lori get to the heart of the issue in their letter to the legislature:
"The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut are responsible for establishing and
determining what moral guidelines Catholic institutions should follow; not the
ConnecticutGeneral Assembly."
So why did the Senate breach the wall? Because of the more permissive policies of the dioceses in our neighboring states:

Waterbury Sen. Sam S.F. Caligiuri, R-16th District, said the compromises
reached in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota swayed his vote.

"Unfortunately, the Catholic conference in Connecticut hasn't reached that
conclusion. It remains to be seen whether it will. But because of that, it has
become clear to me that we aren't talking about Catholic teaching as an
institution, but rather a conflict between a compelling state interest and the
opinion of some Catholics in Connecticut about what Catholic teaching ought to
be providing for," he said.


Even with there being a different Catholic hospital policy elsewhere, surely the teaching authority of the Catholic bishops of Connecticut carries more weight than a mere "opinion of some Catholics in Connecticut about what Catholic teaching ought to be"? From whom did Caligiuri get such a subjective view of the Bishops' authority?

Oops. Looks like he may have got it from the Church's own point man on Plan B, St. Francis Hospital general counsel Barry Feldman:

Feldman also responded to the arguments that Catholic bishops in New York,
New Jersey and Minnesota agreed to compromises on emergency contraception for
rape victims.

"You're talking about religious beliefs and not facts. The bishops of New
York have religious beliefs that they interpret in one way, and the bishops in
Connecticut view the moral analysis differently," he said.


"Religious beliefs and not facts"? What the--? He also gave this quote to another paper:

A spokesman for the Connecticut Catholic Conference, Barry Feldman, said
the church’s bishops in this state "see things differently" concerning this
issue from their counterparts in those other states. He said that, because the
pope has not taken a position on this issue, bishops in different states are
able to decide what position to take for their dioceses.

"When it comes to religious beliefs and moral values, no position is
right or wrong
," said Feldman. (emphasis added)

The charitable assumption here is that the papers are either misquoting Feldman or taking him out of context. But given the difficult position neighboring dioceses have put our state's Bishops in, public statements that are or can be made to sound like relativism ought to be avoided. At least more than the otherwise-odius "wall of separation."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Informational Forum on Parental Notification

Bob Muckle and his crew over at Connecticut Right to Life Corporation are still using snail mail to send their "action alerts" - but I won't pick, because I love those guys - plus, they do more than I do on right to life in Connecticut - plus, plus, our opponents do enough picking for all of us. (completely unbelievable!! - Bob, you are storing treasure in Heaven, please continue your good work for all of us.)

Anyway, THIS Friday at 10am, room 2-C at the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford there is going to be an Informational Forum on Parental Notification. It has been forever since the Connecticut legislature has had an opportunity to hear from pro-lifers. The , I assume, has also notified persons***who somehow find their website and complete the "Grassroots Action Center" questionnaire and check-off that they would like to receive information regarding pro-life issues*** about the forum and have, as usual, provided an awsome summary of the issue. (Be sure to check out Archbishop Mansell's Statement on the Earned Income Tax Credit - what is that thing anyway??)

Let legislators know that yes, we, the "great unwashed" are still out here, and no, we are not going away. We care about mothers and their pre-born children, we care about the great genocide happening right here in Connecticut. Stand up for the truth. CRLC has asked us not to bring any stickers, posters, signs, t-shirts, buttons, etc - to the informational hearing - sigh. Try to get there before 10AM so that you can get good seats and BE COUNTED!! News reporters traditionally snap a picture and count heads at the beginning of an event - then they dash to their next assignment. So, be there early to be counted so that others across the State will appreciate, what they already know deep in their hearts, that abortion is wrong, and that other reasonable people also think it is wrong.

Monday, April 23, 2007

State Catholic Wins Blog Award

Congratulations to Suzanne Temple, winner of the best new homeschool blog award.

Blessed Among Men is one of a number of great local Catholic blogs that we've linked to in our blog roll and we encourage you to visit it regularly. Suzanne's blog is a window into some of the great things Connecticut's Catholic homeschool moms are up to.

Catholic homeschooling in our state is a phenomenon in itself. There are about a half dozen groups of families--large families, at least by modern standards--that we know of. We're creating a separate tab just for them and will try to keep you informed of the happenings in that wonderful universe--events you won't hear about in your diocesan newspapers.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Courant Not at Fault in Foley Scandal

Is the Courant guilty of anti-Catholic bias in its reporting on the Fr. Foley scandal? No. Others disagree, though. Courant reader representative Karen Hunter has been running their letters on her blog:

A Southington reader wrote, "Please cancel the balance of our subscription
to The Courant. Your obvious anti-Catholic bias, evidenced by five days of
headline articles referencing Father Foley, has become too disturbing. You even
included some shameless piling-on by a non-Catholic clergyman and at least one
columnist.

The letters on Hunter's blog raise good points about anti-Catholic bias at the Courant more generally, the amount of attention given to the Foley matter and some aspects of the scandal that were downplayed or ignored. But is that the same thing as saying the Courant is guilty of anti-Catholic bias in its reporting of the Foley scandal?

Again, I have to say no. What is "too disturbing" about the Foley scandal is that the facts reported by the Courant are true--not that the Courant reported it. George Weigel published The Courage to Be Catholic at the height of the scandals that came to light in 2002--and what he said then holds true now:

"[T]he Church owes the press a debt of gratitude. Because of the press,
some sexual predators have been arrested and jailed. Because of the press, the
authorities were able to locate predators like Paul Shanley and former Dallas
priest Rudy Kos before they could do any more damage to young minds and souls;
in both instances, Church leaders had failed to protect either the Church or
society. Because of the press, the Catholic Church has been forced to recognize
that it is in more trouble than its leaders and lay people might have imagined."
Weigel continues, "If God could work through the Assyrians in the Old Testament,
God can certainly work through the New York Times and the Boston Globe today,
whether the Times or the Globe realize what's happening or not."

Again, this is not to excuse those pro-abortion media personalities or pro gay "marriage" legislators who are milking the Foley scandal for all it's worth in order to further whatever axes they have to grind against the Church (see Don Pesci on "undifferentiated condemnation"). The simple fact is that the Courant broke a story that is true. And--to borrow Weigel--if God could work through the Assyrians in the Old Testament, God can certainly work through the Hartford Courant today, whether the Courant--and even some of the Church's well-meaning defenders--realize what's happening or not.

Catholics Protest War at Groton Sub Base


Photo above clipped from the Easter edition of the Sunday Republican.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Saturday, April 7, 2007

125 Years of Catholic Brotherhood


Never let it be said that the Connecticut General Assembly is all bad. 125 years ago last week, for instance, it chartered the Knights of Columbus, which has grown into the largest and most sucessful order of Catholic laymen in the world. The K of C, still headquartered here in the Constitution state, held a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary's Church in New Haven on March 29, the anniversary of its founding. Catholic Yalie blogger Stephen was there:
Archbishop Mansell spoke without notes for a great deal of time. The
history of the Knights was recounted with stunning accuracy, including many
dates and names. The congregation was reminded that the anti-Catholic forces
battled by the first Knights are still at work today. The example of the
Pro-Life cause was given, especially the extreme villification of the Catholic
hospitals in Connecticut, which are resisting the Plan B abortofacient. His
Excellency once again amazed the congregation by reciting from memory a list
longer than follows here...
Congratulations to the Knights and their families. Servant of God Fr. Michael J. McGivney, pray for us!

Fr. Looney's Good Friday Confess-a-thon

A day late with this story, but it's worth bookmarking for next year. Kudos to Fr. Joe Looney for making the front page of the Courant's Good Friday edition:
Call it a confess-athon. The Rev. Joseph Looney of St. Margaret's Church in
Waterbury is hosting a 12-hour call for confessions today at his
parish. Frustrated with the declining number of Catholics who confess their sins
before a priest, Looney advertised a "Notice to All Sinners" in a local
newspaper this week...

The Rev. John Gatzak, director of communications for the Archdiocese of
Hartford, said the Catholic Church has seen a decline in the number of
confessions in the past two decades. Gatzak attributes the decline to society's
aversion to admitting our faults and failings."Confession is a painful
experience to look within yourself and say `what is wrong with me?'" Gatzak
said. "We would rather look at what is `right with me.'"

This is true also of certain approaches to Christianity--Catholic and otherwise--that are popular with the public right now. Good on Fathers Looney and Gatzak for reminding the whole state of a message we need to hear--especially on Good Friday. And good on the Courant for running it.

Catholic League Defends Family Institute of Connecticut

"So labeling people as intrinsically evil and objectively disordered is a
respectful thing in your view?"

--Rep. Michael Lawlor (D-East Haven) in attempted attack on Catholic
teaching

LifeSite News is reporting on misrepresentations of Catholicism made by state legislators during a badgering line of questioning endured by the Family Institute's Brian Brown at the recent gay "marriage" hearing:

Representative Michael Lawlor, a proponent of homosexual 'marriage'
repeatedly asserted falsely that Brown, a Catholic, believed homosexual people
were intrinsically evil. Lawlor, joined by Senator Edwin Gomes continued
this line of attack even after Brown repeatedly insisted that he agreed with the
Catholic Church's position that homosexual acts, and not homosexual persons are
intrinsically evil.

Brown presented an admirable defense of his faith and his stand in favour
of the traditional family based on rational argument. Nonetheless, the
repeated and discourteous attacks by Lawlor and Gomes drew criticism from the
Catholic League.

Read the Catholic League's letter to state lawmakers here. See their transcript of the offending questions here. See the Air Maria video here. The Lifesite article also has contact info for anyone wishing to write to the legislators in question and to the speaker of the house.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Fr. Foley Scandal

The Hartford Courant this week exposed the scandal that the Rev. Stephen Foley--a former police chaplain whom the Archdiocese banned from public ministry 14 years ago due to suspected sexual abuse of young boys--was still driving a black Crown Victoria equipped with emergency lights and similar police car-type accessories. The Crown Victoria is the official car of the state police and Foley's accusers say it was how he lured his victims. The Archdiocese paid $850,000 to one of Foley's accusers in 2002 and settled 43 abuse cases--2 of which involved accusations against Foley--for 22 million dollars in 2005. But until the Courant ran its stories this week Foley was still driving that car while living at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.

To read the Courant's full coverage go here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Official Pre-Primary Presidential Endorsement

I'd like to officially endorse Senator Sam Brownback as my pre-primary candidate for president in 2008. This guy is the most solid candidate on family and pro-life issues. A catholic convert, he braved the cold in January at the annual March For Life in Washington DC. He, and his supporters, were everywhere, including the National Catholic Cathedral. Senator Brownback and his wife Mary have five children. The most out of any candidate in the race so far! He is a former FFA state president. For those of you who don't know, that is Future Farmers of America! Here is what his website states to his Catholic Coalition supporters:

Senator Brownback, a Catholic, believes that we must build a culture of life where the inherent dignity of every human person is respected. His vision of human dignity is a holistic vision, reflected in his unwavering support for the unborn child, his work for the poor in Africa who are at constant risk of violence or famine, and his advocacy for political dissidents in repressive nations such as North Korea or Cuba.

Senator Brownback was honored and deeply moved by the opportunity to meet two giants of human history, the late Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. It is their same vision of human rights, freedom, and respect for life that illuminates Senator Brownback's work on daily basis. Senator Brownback authored the bills that granted both of these great saints the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award granted by the United States Congress.

Senator Brownback needs our support. Even though we are the Siberia of presidential politics - nobody cares about us. And that can be a good thing considering how deep blue our state has become. But, this candidate needs Catholic mo-jo. Please visit his website and consider supporting his candidacy, through prayers, water-cooler chit-chat, and donations.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Desperately seeking . . .

young faithful families to attend Catholic Concerns Day!

This year on March 22. If you have any interest in the state of our State in Hartford, I strongly encourage you to bring your family and a friend to Catholic Concerns Day at the Capitol. If you have any interest in the state of your diocese, I also encourage you to attend. Let the bishops see who they represent at the Capitol.

Catholic Concerns Day starts with a Mass at the very fire-retardant St. Joseph's Cathedral, then a march to the Capital to meet legislators and generally show our numbers. In years past, we would collect outside the Capitol Building, but based on the date for this year - I expect we will be inside the Legislative Office Building. It is a family-friendly* opportunity to express our views on school choice, the earned income tax credit, capital punishment, affordable housing and, oh ya, Plan B, gay "marriage", abortion, and stem cell research.

In addition to attending Catholic Concerns Day, please, contact your legislator and let them know that you were there, and how you feel about these important issues. Please don't be concerned about the language, how articulate or persuasive you are. What matters is that you contact them.

*Full disclosure, that in the past, I have heard that there are a handful of protesters along the marching route. I have never seen or noticed them, but use your best judgment on attending.

First, do no harm

I don't think that that's what Catholic healthcare should be about.
Jon O'Brien, President
Catholics for a Free Choice


That was the new president of "Catholics" for a Free Choice on March 8, 2007 with Colin & Friends complaining about the Connecticut Bishops' decision to require a negative ovulation test before providing an abortafacient to rape victims in CT Catholic hospitals. Because . . . didn't you know, Catholic health care should be about convenience not "doing no harm."


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Fr. Borino Removed While "Financial Irregularities" Probed

WATERBURY - The Rev. David J. Borino, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Church, has been removed from the parish during an investigation of "financial
irregularities," according to the Rev. John Gatzak, director of communications
for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

--Waterbury Republican-American, 3/6/07

OLO Mt. Carmel parish is known locally for having run the previous pastor out of a town on a rail. When the poor guy tried to restore the original beauty of the church--because, he said, an earlier renovation in the 1970's had Protestantized it--parishioners published a steady stream of letters in the local newspaper tearing him to pieces. They felt they had not been adequately consulted and that the church's present condition was just fine. They also objected to what they perceived to be the pastor's derogatory use of the word "Protestant." I can't recall another instance where parishioners lit off after their own priest in as public a manner as the Mt. Carmel crowd did a few years back.

As for Fr. Borino, well, even blogging under a pseudonym I think it proper to leave out the rumors I'm hearing and just limit this post to what I know for sure. I can tell you that a few years ago he asked the Sisters Minor of Mary Immaculate--at the time, one of the most dynamic religious orders in the Archdiocese--to leave OLO Mt Carmel parish. The reason? Financial strain.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Idle Hands Are the Devil's Tools

Fr. Joe Donnelly, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Southbury, will replace recently deceased priestly dynamo Fr. Philip Cascia as chairman of the board of directors for Waterbury's St. Vincent DePaul Society:

Cascia founded the local St. Vincent agency in 1978. It operates the
largest homeless shelter in the state, a soup kitchen and food pantry, a thrift
store and low income housing.
Donnelly said he will continue Cascia's vision
to help the city's less fortunate.

Fr. Joe is one of the two or three most liberal priests in the entire Archdiocese of Hartford. If he were put in charge of, say, liturgical norms for the Archdiocese, it would not be a cause for celebration. But St. Vincent DePaul seems like a good fit for him. And who knows? Perhaps it will leave him less time to encourage his parishioners to join Voice of the Faithful. Up to now parishes under his authority have coincidentally become local focal points for the dissident front group.

(Article & photo from the 3/4/07 Sunday Republican.)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Things to make them go hmmmm . . . .

Them legislators, that is. We must shake up their notions of who their constituency is. Let them know about you and the issues you care about. A mentor told me once that if you don't tell someone about how they are bugging you, then it is YOUR problem, not theirs. Let's make it their problem.

To start, find your legislator. Then, contact your legislator in a personal way. Inviting them to dinner, is a perfectly fine way to interact. It is done all the time. Across Connecticut each night, hungry, tired legislators show up on the steps of their constituents to be refreshed and enlightened about everyday people. They are not 3-headed beasts (usually), and even then, they don't eat much. It doesn't have to be fancy or formal. Just extending the invitation will, how shall I say . . . raise your profile with the selected legislator. Wouldn't it for you?

Another very fine way to approach your legislator, a method I prefer, is to send a hand-written note from the heart. These people have largely heard the technical and objective pro and con of every argument. Hand written notes provide them with props to wave on the chamber floor, when they vote against same-sex marriage, cloning-to-kill, Plan B mandates, etc. They love them, they carry them around, they show them to their colleagues, they make a difference. Don't even think of sending an e-mail or a typed letter. Drag out the stationery your Aunt Kathy gave you at your Sweet 16, and send a one-pager, in blood. NO, wait, pen is better, and tell them what you think. Keep it simple and secular. Please, by all means, mention that you are Catholic, but don't get yourself marginalized by overdoing it. Even Jesus, in Matthew 10:16-17 said, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, . . ."

If you want a shared experience, you have an opportunity on March 22, 2007 to attend Catholic Concerns Day at the State Capitol in Hartford. We'll be there! Now, to the issues . . .

Abortion

At some point this session, thanks to a small, hardy group of pro-life activists, the Connecticut General Assembly's Select Committee on Children will be having an Information Forum on Parental Notification. Just to get the legislature talking about abortion, and to hold a formal meeting to discuss issues surrounding abortion, is a success! Please write to your legislator and ask them to support any legislation that prevents our minor children from being victimized in the name of sexual freedom.

Plan B
See my post on this weighty issue. On the bright side, it is fun to hear liberal legislators debate whether life begins at conception or implantation.

I know, it seems silly, but yes, FATHERHOOD
Our legislators need to know that you think fathers matter. Senate Bill 858 sponsored by Senator Gary Lebeau, and Representatives Marie Lopez Kirkley-Bey and Douglas McCrory is a start. It asks the legislature to fund a study to review the connection between fatherlessness and poverty. From here, we will have a basis to ask the legislature to permit abstinence programs in Connecticut. We remain a state that refuses to accept federal money to subsidize these programs.

GAY "MARRIAGE"
Again, how does this affect us? With the increasing absence of God in our culture, the State has become the standard by which many people determine truth. It is a powerful teacher. Licensing marriages by the State, minus a gender, institutionalizes and sanctions raising children without fathers. Obviously, after gay "marriage" I will continue to know that mommies and daddies are very much needed, that a happy marriage with a mom and dad is best for my children. Hopefully, my daughter will also be instilled with that sensibility. But, what about my future son-in-law? Growing up in a world were a marriage can be anything you want, will he place the same value on his contribution? The state already, on many levels, ameliorates the importance of fathers for society. Gay "marriage" will continue and increase that trend.

So, with humility, with love, with courage, and with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit can only work if you do, please contact your legislators.