Monday, July 30, 2007


Gen. Petreaus

The following excerpts are from an op-ed piece that appeared today in the NY Times. Written by Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, of the left-leaning Brookings Institution (hardly a bastion of neoconservative "ideology"), the piece gives a balanced assessment of the improving situation on the ground in Iraq. The article is worth reading in its entirety, but I've selected a few of the more salient observations.

"In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work. Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference."

"Things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq)."

"The additional American military formations brought in as part of the surge, General Petraeus’s determination to hold areas until they are truly secure before redeploying units, and the increasing competence of the Iraqis has had another critical effect: no more whack-a-mole, with insurgents popping back up after the Americans leave."

"In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pope on Vacation

“This is a vacation with few public appearances, a vacation that is a bit monastic, Benedictine,” the German pope’s private secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein, told the Italian newspaper Il Giornale.

A nice article:
Different Strokes for Different Popes

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Capitalism vs. Collectivism

This is very short (about 3.5 min) and very funny: Newt Gingrich on Immigration

On Dissent

"When theology organizes itself according to the principle of majority rule and constructs a countermagisterium which offers the faithful alternative modes of behavior, it misses its own essence. It sets itself up as a political factor, utilizes channels of power to represent its interests and appeals to the political model of the majority. By disavowing the Magisterium, it forfeits the firm ground under its feet and, by stepping out of the realm of thought into the play of power, it also falsifies its scientific character. It thus loses the two foundations of its existence." -Pope Benedict XVI

More Muslims Rejecting Violence...?

British Muslims March

It is still troubling that such percentages of the Muslim community give carte blanche to extremists within their ranks, notably among the Palestinians, but this news is encouraging.

From the Associated Press
Survey: Muslims Around World Rejecting Islamic Extremism

Muslims around the world increasingly reject suicide bombings and other violence against civilians, according to a new international poll dealing with how the world's population judges their lives, countries and national institutions.

A wide ranging survey of international attitudes in 47 countries by the Pew Research Center also reported that in many of the countries where support for suicide attacks has declined, there has also has been decreasing support for Al Qaeda leader Usama Bin Laden. The 95-page survey found that surging economic growth in many developing countries has encouraged people in these countries to express satisfaction with their personal lives, family income and national conditions, said Andrew Kohut, the center's director.

"It's a pro-globalization set of findings," Kohut said.

Most notably, the survey finds large and growing number of Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere rejecting Islamic extremism. Ten mainly Muslim countries were surveyed along with the Palestinian territories, as well as five African nations with large Muslim populations.

For example, the percentage of Jordanian Muslims who have confidence in bin Laden as a world leader fell 36 percentage points to 20 percent since 2003 while the proportion who say suicide bombing is sometimes or always justified dropped 20 percent points to 23 percent. Other countries where support for bin Laden declined are Lebanon, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait.

The report said support for such bombings and terror tactics has dropped since 2002 in seven of the eight countries where data were available. In Lebanon, the proportion of Muslims who say suicide attacks are often or sometimes justified fell to 34 percent from 79 percent while just 9 percent of Pakistanis believe suicide bombings can be justified often or sometimes, down from 33 percent in 2002 and a high of 41 percent in 2004.

But support for suicide bombings is widespread among Palestinians, the report said, with 41 percent saying such attacks are often justified while another 29 percent say they can sometimes be justified. It found that only six percent of Palestinians — the smallest in any Muslim public surveyed — say such attacks are never justified.

Amid continuing sectarian violence in Iraq, the survey found there is broad concern among Muslims that tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims are not limited to that country and represent a growing problem for the Muslim world more generally.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Debate

As contemptible as the Democratic debate last night proved to be, Sen. Joe Biden made one comment that salvaged the event from total embarrassment. He responded to an idiotic question posed by a Youtube pygmy that, more or less, asked how soon the troops in Iraq would be pulled out after a Democrat assumes the presidency.

Biden was remarkably direct and honest, for a Democrat. The pièce de résistance was the following line:

"Seventy percent of all the deaths (in Iraq)... have been those roadside bombs. We had money in that bill to begin to build and send immediately mine resistant vehicles and increase by 80% the likelihood none of your cadets will die, general -- and they (the Democrats on stage) all voted against it. How, in good conscience, can you vote not to send those vehicles over there as long as there's one single, solitary troop there?"

Indeed, every Democratic Senator at the debate, with the exception of Biden, voted against funding the war provisions bill; a significant component of which was to be dedicated to the reinforcement of military vehicles. Shame on those who voted against it, and one is forced to recognize a certain gravitas, even integrity, in Biden.

The Martyrs of Otranto

The Ottoman Empire

After conquering Constantinople, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II set his sights on Rome, hoping to reunite the Eastern and (defunct) Western Roman Empire under one ruler. As he put it, "There is to be only one faith, one empire, one sovereignty in the whole world.” And further, "I give thanks to Muhammad who has given us this splendid victory; but I pray that he will permit me to live long enough to capture and subjugate Old Rome as I have New Rome." Envisioning himself as the successor to Caesar, Mehmet came frighteningly close to accomplishing his goal. Celso Maffei wrote to the Venetian Doge, "The axe is at the root. Unless divine help comes, the doom of the Christian name is sealed."

In 1481 a massive Ottoman fleet landed in Otranto, a town located in the southern “heel” of the Italian peninsula. An enormous number of the town’s population was put to the sword by the Muslim invaders. Noteworthy among a long list of atrocities committed by the Turks: the archbishop and bishop were killed, the latter sawed in half, 800 citizens who refused to convert to Islam were led to a hill and summarily beheaded while others were shackled and sold into slavery. In all, some 12,000 Italians were killed. A worried Pope Sixtus IV called for a crusade and, were it not for the combined forces of King Ferdinand I of Naples, France and Hungary, not to mention the unexpected death of the seemingly invulnerable Sultan (some would rightly call his demise an act of divine providence), Rome might have finally fallen to the armies of Islam.

The remains of the martyrs were collected by pious souls and, today, they repose in the Church of Saint Caterina in Otranto.

Faith and Reason, According to Pope Benedict

A thought-provoking observation:

"Augustine is unthinkable without his passionate journey to a radical Christian life. Moreover Bonaventure and the Franciscan theology of the thirteenth century would have been impossible without the imposing new representation of Christ in the figure of Saint Francis of Assisi, nor could Thomas Aquinas have existed without Dominic's breakthrough to the gospel and to evangelization...Pure rationality is not itself sufficient to bring forth great Christian theology."

La Vita Romana

Oggi, un amico Italiano mi ha inviato questo articolo. E interesante, e per tutti noi che siamo stati in Roma, sappiamo che e una cosa della vita Romana che uno non si puo ignorare, sebbene che si tenta! Ma anche penso che questo articolo ci fa capire, o vedere con piu chiarezza, un problema grave che esiste, non soltanto in Italia, ma in tutte le paise occidentale. C'è una mancaza generale, specialmente fra i giovani, riguardando una consapevolezza sulla dignita della persona...

Roma, il Nudo da Passeggio


Taki, nella sua rubrica High Life sullo Spectator «Beautiful Rome». Anne Hathaway «Dreaming Roma». Sienna Miller «Fantastic Rome». Anna Wintour, direttrice di Vogue «Rome is romantic and charming». I personaggi dello star system hanno elogiato nelle settimane scorse la Roma di Valentino, tutta sfilate ed eleganza, discrezione e stile. Hanno portato a Londra ed a New York una immagine della capitale bella e sconvolgente come una foto di Mario Testino per Vanity Fair.

Ma la Roma estiva, accaldata, sudata, lucida di creme ed abbronzanti, nuda e cruda è ben diversa dalla chic Roma del gran sarto di piazza Mignanelli.

È la Roma di via del Corso, che marcia seminuda verso la meta. Certi pomeriggi basta fermarsi in largo Goldoni e guardare le due colonne umane che provengono una da via Condotti e l’altra dal Corso, verso e da piazza del Popolo. Su dieci donne, almeno cinque mostrano molto più del necessario. Seni straripanti sotto le micro magliette. Ombelichi spesso emergenti da pance adipose. Fondi schiena che fanno intravedere tutto il possibile. Gambe in completo plein air, su su fin quasi all’ultimo piano. La pelle di queste guerriere è in genere abbronzata o rossa di calore, specie nelle viaggiatrici nordiche. Le nude affrontano in modo sfacciato le svestite, soprattutto se sono in gruppo.

Le più aggressive sono le spagnole e le sudamericane, capaci di entrare in quello stato, e per rinfrescarsi, anche nelle chiese come San Carlo al Corso, ben vigilate per fortuna da sacrestani molto rigorosi.

Ma non solo le donne danno spettacolo. Uomini e ragazzi non sono da meno: canottiere, hot pants, mezzibusti nudi, bicipiti ben oleati e tatuati. Fontana di Trevi è di fatto una spiaggia in piena Roma. Le passeggiate archeologiche sono il trionfo dello spogliarello turistico. Solo a South Beach (Miami) si vede così tanta carne in giro. La città santa assume tratti da spiaggia popolare. Ovviamente attorno a tutto questo nudo prospera il peccato di desiderio. Ho visto gruppi di seminaristi abbastanza turbati da quei corpi di donne in mostra. Sul Corso può venire il torcicollo a forza di voltarsi e guardare. Ma anche certe signore non trascurano qualche occhiata al palestrato dai capelli lucidi di brillantina e la mini canottiera nera.

In largo Goldoni si respira sesso alle cinque della sera. Rispetto all’anno scorso le zone scoperte sono aumentate, come la temperatura. E che succederà l’anno venturo quando, a causa dell’effetto serra, la stagione estiva sarà ancora più torrida? L’area del nudo dalle borgatare e dalle turiste si estenderà ad altri ceti sociali oggi ancora fedeli al lino e alla cotonina? Walter Veltroni dovrebbe dedicare nel programma del partito democratico qualche riga anche a questi devastanti effetti climatici. Ed estetici.

Ma l’impazzimento estivo tocca anche la Roma di certe feste trimalcionesche. Il settimanale Panorama, nel numero di due settimane fa, ha raccontato la capitale smutandata fra parties alla mozzarella ed eccessi post felliniani. E quasi ogni giorno su «Cafonal», la rubrica di Dagospia, il pasto nudo di dame e cavalieri è illustrato dalle impareggiabili foto di Pizzi, un paparazzo artista che dipinge la Roma torrida gaudente e molto pulp, che non ostenta la carne e il sesso in via del Corso ma negli hot parties di mezza estate. «Che Dio salvi la città dal peccato», ha detto domenica scorsa, durante l’omelia di una messa celebrata in latino, un sacerdote della chiesetta tradizionalista di via Leccosa. Faceva caldo. E le signore ben coperte combattevano l’afa con bei ventagli fin de siècle.

Copyright ©2007 La Stampa

Monday, July 23, 2007

Podcasts and Popes

Andrew Keen wrote a book entitled, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy. He takes aim at the shoddy quality of internet media and news. He claims that blogs and web videos are not up to par, quality wise, with the more experienced and controlled mainstream media. He makes a curious observation about Wikipedia that I think could also serve as a useful tool for Catholic apologetics. Here's an excerpt from a review of the book:

His (Keen's) attack even encompasses one of the web's more widely admired experiments - Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia written and edited by anyone who wants to have a go, on the principle that the crowd possesses an aggregate wisdom all of its own. "To my mind Wikipedia is not wise," says Keen. "It's dumb. Not necessarily because all its contributors are dumb, but because if you don't have an editor in charge, and you don't have singular voices, then the intellectual quality of what the crowd produces is very low."

Couldn't the same argument be brought to bear on theological disputes? Keen's take on Wikipedia is a mirror image of the Catholic assertion for Papal primacy over the more democratic approach of Protestants.

On Faith

Here's Archbishop Dolan on threats to the Church:

“Maybe the greatest threat to the Church is not heresy, nor dissent, not secularism, not even moral relativism, but this sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms.”

Saturday, July 21, 2007

On the Liturgy

From a recent letter by Archbishop Burke:

"Not infrequently, I meet young people who are attracted to the former Order of the Mass, even though they had no experience of it when they were growing up. What attracts them is the beauty and reverence, which the earlier form very much fosters. Such beauty and reverence should also be evident in the celebration of the Novus Ordo. Because the ordinary form is greatly simplified, the priest and those who assist him must be attentive to the divine action taking place and not give way to an informality and familiarity which is offensive to the nature of the Sacred Liturgy."

'Al Qaeda school' Found in Italy

Italian police display a laptop confiscated during the raid

From the BBC:


Italy police raid 'terror school'
Police in central Italy say they have uncovered a bomb school for Islamist militants after raiding a mosque in Perugia and making three arrests.
Evidence of training in explosives and poisons, and instructions on flying a Boeing 747 were reportedly found.

Police said the suspected cell had links to a group associated with Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

They seized the imam and two other men, all Moroccans, and have a warrant for a fourth man believed to be abroad.The three detainees refused to reply to questions when they were brought before a local magistrate.

Twenty foreign students were also arrested in a related dawn raid and police said that those without residence permits would be deported.

Perugia, a popular tourist destination because of its medieval and Renaissance palaces, is home to Italy's University for Foreigners, where hundreds of students from the Middle East are enrolled in university courses in Italian and other subjects.

The discovery of the alleged terrorist training centre is a matter for serious concern to the Italian authorities, the BBC's David Willey reports from Rome.

Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said it was now necessary to pay close attention to mosques being used for activities unrelated to religion. The suspects were running an "in-depth operation of instruction and training in the use of weapons and combat techniques suitable for terrorist acts", police said.

Chemicals - including acids and cyanide - were found in the mosque's cellar and equipment for remote detonation of explosives was also discovered, they added.

"The investigation has shown that... there was a continued training for terrorist activity," anti-terrorism police head Carlo De Stefano said.

"We have discovered and neutralised a real 'terror school,' which was part of a widespread terrorism system made up of small cells that act on their own."

According to the police, the Perugia cell had contacts with two members of the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group arrested around two years ago in Belgium.

The group is believed to have ties to al-Qaeda and has been linked to the 2004 Madrid bombings and 2003 attacks in Casablanca.

The detained men were named as imam Korchi el Moustapha, 41, Mohamed el Jari, 47, and Driss Safika, 46.

'Quiet community'

Officers are reported to have spent two years investigating activities at the mosque.

Between daily prayers, the small mosque at Ponte Felcino doubled as a training camp, a police statement said.

The imam allegedly held courses, showed propaganda messages and made fiery sermons inciting a small group of disciples, some of them children, to join a Holy War.

The director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community, Sheikh Abdul Adid Palazzi, told BBC News that he was not surprised to hear of the arrests.

"It is the top of the iceberg in our country - like in the rest of Western Europe. Most mosques are controlled by extremist pro-terror organisations - 90% of mosques," he said.

"And I think the percentage is more or less the same in Italy, Britain, France and Germany."

However the imam at the central mosque in Perugia, which has a 10,000-strong Muslim community, said the Ponte Felcino group had not appeared dangerous.

"Generally it's a quiet community," Abdel Qader told Italian news agency Ansa.

"A few made some noise over the international situation but those were just words. We trust justice... and if any [of the suspects] has made a mistake, he will have to pay."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Netherlands Threatens Nicaragua over Conservative Abortion Laws

This the "Friday Fax" from C-FAM two weeks ago, written by Samantha Singson.

(NEW YORK — C-FAM) Bert Koenders, Dutch Minister of Development, has told the government of Nicaragua that his country may withdraw much needed development assistance unless Nicaragua liberalizes its abortion laws.

Last October, the national Parliament of Nicaragua unanimously modified its penal code to ban all abortions. Prior to the vote, a coalition of UN officials and country representatives, including UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) tried to stop the Parliament from changing the law.

Since the legislation passed, the Nicaraguan government has been the subject of increasing pressure from the pro-abortion radicals from around the world. Last January the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women told Nicaragua to review “laws relating to abortion with a view to removing punitive provisions.” Human Rights Watch mounted a legal challenge to the Nicaragua’s abortion law claiming that Nicaragua’s ban on abortion is contrary to international documents. The nation’s high court is expected to deliver a decision in the case in the coming months.

Nicaragua has repeatedly spoken out at the UN in defense of its pro-life constitution and laws. At both the Cairo and Beijing conference, as well as at other UN meetings such as the Disabilities Convention negotiations, the Nicaraguan delegation defended the right to life from the moment of conception and stated that abortion or the termination of pregnancy cannot in any way be considered a method of regulating fertility or birth control. Nicaragua has also stated that “The domestic laws governing [abortion] are within the sovereign purview of the Nicaraguan nation.”

This is not the first time that Nicaraguan aid has been threatened because of the government’s conservative position regarding life and family. In 2000, Scandinavian representatives threatened to withdraw much needed financial assistance from hurricane-ravaged Nicaragua. Several Scandinavian ambassadors chastised Nicaraguan representative Max Padilla for representing the conservative views of his government which included resisting any attempts to: expand access to abortion, redefine the family to include homosexual couples and redefine gender to mean a “social construct” instead of a biological distinction. Padilla’s refusal to change the definition of gender resulted in his dismissal.

“Even if an abortion is medically necessary, it still remains illegal in Nicaragua, which results in the death of women. We should emphasize that this is completely unacceptable,” Koenders told the Dutch Platform of Millennium Goals. He continued, “I do not want to immediately cancel our aid to Nicaragua, but we will certainly weigh the matter.”

British MEP Nirj Deva told the Friday Fax, “This latest threat by the Netherlands to withdraw financial assistance to Nicaragua because of the abortion ban is not an EU initiative but an instance of one EU member state speaking unilaterally on this subject.” Mr. Deva added, “This certainly is not reflective of a unified EU position on the matter.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Roberts vs. Obama: Empathy or Impartiality?

While speaking to a gathering of abortion rights activists, Sen. Obama underscored what he believed to be an important factor in determining the viability of a Supreme Court justice:

"We need somebody who's got the empathy to recognize what it's like to be a young teen-aged mom."

No Senator, we need judges who can understand the pronounced meaning of our Constitution and apply that reading to the cases brought before the Court. Compare the pandering patois of Obama to the well-informed and common sense approach of Chief Justice John Roberts, given during his confirmation hearings.

"Somebody asked me, you know, 'Are you going to be on the side of the little guy?' And you obviously want to give an immediate answer. But as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy is going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution. That's the oath. The oath that a judge takes is not that 'I'll look out for particular interests.' ...The oath is to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States, and that's what I would do."

Someone Finally Gets It Right

Erin Burnett, appearing on the Today Show this morning, discussed the booming US economy. For once, someone in the mainstream media got it right on. I'm forced to wonder, though, how her upbeat report went over with the execs at the network. Her final two points need to be pounded into the heads of anyone you hear inveigh against Bush's "tax cuts for the rich." The more you earn, the more you pay in taxes; that's how our income tax system works. I raise a glass to Ms. Burnett.

"You know, it's an amazing thing here. We're looking at the Dow Jones Industrial Average, up 30% over the past six months, 30 days this year alone we have had record closes for that index. So it's really another day, another record on Wall Street. It's also worth noting that while politicians talk about two Americas, virtually all Americans are seeing wages rise and unemployment is at a historic low. The issue of taxes is important here. The top 1% of Americans pay 30% of taxes in this country. The bottom 20% of American wage earners pay only 5%."

"Theology is born when the arbitrary judgment of reason encounters a limit, in that we discover something which we have not excogitated ourselves but which has been revealed to us." Pope Benedict XVI, The Nature and Mission of Theology

Monday, July 16, 2007

Novak's Three Points

Catholic scholar Michael Novak suggested recently in an article that President Bush do more to make his case to the American public regarding the situation in Iraq. Novak focuses on three dimensions of the war that Americans cannot afford to ignore. The story tied to the first point is horrific.


1) Barbarism: It must be made clear the sheer barbarity of the enemies our men and women are encountering in Iraq. Michael Yon has reported the story of a couple families in Diyala Province being courted by al Qaeda. Each family, with a son about eleven years old, was invited to a lunch by al Qaeda and “sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.” We need no starker reminder.

2) Terror: The point of this barbarity is to evoke terror and compel zombie-like obedience and subservience. Terror is a psychological weapon. The point of terror is to invade the soul of opponents, and thus to compel them to cease resisting, and to lay down their arms. The point of treating women harshly is to induce terror. The point of almost everything is to evoke and to multiply terror.

3) Tools: The best instrument of terrorists is, first, the international media, which allows them to strike fear of their primitive barbarity even into the hearts of peoples far away, convincing them and convincing their governments that fighting terror is hopeless. Second is the use of the Internet, which inspires millions of young Muslim men in every part of the world to seek after invincibility, power, and the gaining of respect through fear. The Internet is also used to teach amateur groups how to make for themselves, and deploy for themselves, simple instruments of local terror.

These three characteristics of our enemy need to be elaborated with new detail every day. Otherwise, the people might never learn the danger that approaches them. Most of the press refuses to report evidence of primitive barbarism and fanaticism. Multiculturalism inhibits the enlightened from politically incorrect observations. Thus, many are inhibited from reporting reality as it is. They try to suggest that our enemy is like us. (Our enemy never makes this mistake). Our media have largely become deception-based institutions, all too willingly self-deceived. We must gently make them confront this.

Catholic Shrine in La Crosse, WI

Archbishop Burke, of Saint Louis, is overseeing the construction of a Marian Shrine in Wisconsin. When completed, the Shrine Church will be an impressive tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I've included here some pictures of the Shrine, very much a work in progress, along with excerpts from the website describing various aspects of the Shrine itself. Archbishop Burke travels frequently to Rome and is well acquainted with the particulars of historic Church architecture. The Shrine will mirror the stunning beauty of Catholic Churches found in Europe.

The Shrine Church, done in the Romanesque style, will be the heart of the Shrine. It is the goal of every pilgrim to enter the Church and to pray there, especially before the Blessed Sacrament reposed in the tabernacle, directly behind the altar of sacrifice and beneath the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pilgrims will come to the Shrine Church, most of all, to receive God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and to participate in the Holy Mass. Through her beautiful image behind the altar of sacrifice, Our Lady of Guadalupe will continue her mission of bringing Christ to us and bringing us to Christ.

In the transepts and along the side aisles will be many devotional areas, dedicated to our Lord and His Blessed Mother, and to the saints, especially Saint Joseph and Saint Juan Diego. Stained-glass windows will depict the life of the Blessed Mother and titles of honor from the Litany of Loretto will be etched in gold-leaf throughout the main floor. The church will seat approximately 400 people on the upper level.

The crypt of the Shrine Church will have a hall of donors, in which gifts to the Shrine will be appropriately memorialized. It will also have additional devotional areas, and a smaller chapel for prayer services, penitential services and spiritual presentations.

A beautiful bronze image of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the tilma of Saint Juan Diego in the presence of Bishop Juan de Zumárraga will be placed in the plaza of the Shrine Church.

Construction for this beautiful church was begun on May 13, 2004 and continues. The corner stone was blessed and placed by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke on May 19, 2005.

Bush Akin to Hitler? Yes, According to Muslim Congressman

More insane bluster from the left in America.

Excerpts from the Telegraph:

Bush like Hitler, says first Muslim in Congress
By Toby Harnden in Washington

America's first Muslim congressman has provoked outrage by apparently comparing President George W Bush to Adolf Hitler and hinting that he might have been responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Addressing a gathering of atheists in his home state of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, a Democrat, compared the 9/11 atrocities to the destruction of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1933. This was probably burned down by the Nazis in order to justify Hitler's later seizure of emergency powers.

"It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that," Mr Ellison said. "After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted."

To applause from his audience of 300 members of Atheists for Human Rights, Mr Ellison said he would not accuse the Bush administration of planning 9/11 because "you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box - dismiss you".

Vice-President Dick Cheney's stance of refusing to answer some questions from Congress was "the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship", he added.

Mr Ellison also raised eyebrows by telling his audience: "You'll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists all you want."

A convert to Islam who was previously linked to the extremist Nation of Islam, Mr Ellison, 42, has cultivated a moderate image since being elected last November, concentrating on issues such as health and education.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rebutal to Moore

Here's an excerpt from an article written by Richard Lowry. He offers a nice analysis of the different expectations or attitudes Americans and Europeans have regarding the responsibilities of government. He's not pollyannaish when it comes to problems in America but he rightly faults Michael Moore for outright dishonesty in his latest documentary/propaganda film, Sicko. The whole article is worth reading but here are two paragraphs that stood out.

"You would never know (from watching Sicko) that America ranks highest in the world in patient satisfaction, or that only about half of emergency-room patients in Canada get timely treatment. This is not to say that Moore doesn’t highlight real problems in the American insurance system — which is badly distorted by the fact that most people get their insurance through their employers — but his complaint goes much deeper: Americans don’t have the “free” things of the French, who not only get lots of paid vacation, but have government nannies come to their homes to do their laundry for them after they have children."

"Moore hints at — of course — a conspiracy to try to keep us from liking the French for fear that we too will develop a taste for the good life on the government’s dime. Unfortunately for Moore, it’s worse than that. America has a deep-seated individualistic value system that, coupled with the lack of European-style class conflict, inhibited the rise of social democracy here. As one historian has put it, if you were to set out to design a society hostile to collectivism, 'one could not have done much better than to implement the social development that has, mostly unplanned, constituted America.'"

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Crisis in Catholic Social Thought

I've provided the link to a lecture given by Prof. William Luckey regarding the influence of the German Historical School in Catholic social thought, economics in particular. The speech was delivered fairly recently at the Austrian Scholars Conference. The talk is about 45 minutes long but can be broken into segments. He's a good deal of fun to listen to so, what may sound like a very boring topic is, in fact, very relevant and insightful. He keeps your attention.

In the lecture, Luckey discusses the great impact this particular school of thought had, and in a certain sense continues to have, in Catholic circles regarding economic theory. Of particular interest is his explanation of the G.H.S.'s ties to Revolutionary France. Luckey defines romanticism as a "cult of the past" and he weaves together a long list of influential thinkers that includes Rousseau, Hume, Hegel, Marx, Von Kettler, etc. His theory is that Catholic enthusiasm for what is now known as distributism emerged straight from the G.H.S's fallacious understanding of the market. To quote Luckey: "Many critics of the free market system were literary men who used strong similes and metaphors to attack it." These men, while wielding powerful pens and possessing a gift for language, had little knowledge of the rules of economics. They consequently stumbled into one economic folly after another. Luckey informed me that documents have recently been uncovered in Germany, yet to be translated into English, that reveal a concerted effort, on the part of heavy weights in the G.H.S. movement in the 19th century, to infuse Catholic social teaching with the School's ideologies. They achieved limited success and pyrrhic victories, but Pope John Paul II's Centesimus Annus proved a major blow to the movement's objectives. (I say "pyrrhic victory" because the distributist movement is completely marginalized in Catholic circles and is not taken seriously by any noted Catholic intellectual.) Luckey reveals how, in preparation for writting the document, the Holy Father spent an entire day discussing economic theory with Friedrich von Hayek. Luckey is currently writing a book on the subject, which no doubt will cast more light on this fascinating subject.

Reflections on Big Business

Normally, a trip to Walmart or Target would be inconsequential and hardly worth mentioning. But I thought I'd share my reflections on a recent trip to Target. Walking up and down the spacious, immaculately clean aisles, I couldn't help being amazed at the selection, quality and prices. After returning home from Italy, the Target experience was something of a culture shock. I never saw anything comparable to this in Europe; a continent where government regulations on business hamstring enterprise and the development of corporations. I used to dread going to the grocery store in Italy: uncouth workers, interminable lines, limited selection, high prices, untidy aisles, the list, (fruits of socialist machinations) could go on and on. There was a good number of "mom and pop" stores but these were incredibly expensive. By comparison, shopping for the basics in America is a breath of fresh air. People from all walks of life shop at Target because Americans, rich or not, like a good deal, and Target delivers on that front. Walmart and Target have their fair share of critics, most notably on the far left bank in American politics (Clinton, Obama, Edwards) but their critiques are ill-founded.

Many romantics (and there are legions among the Catholic far right and far left) bemoan the plight of the "mom and pop" stores that sink into oblivion beneath the quicksand of the mighty corporation. If you look around, though, you can still find these stores and if you have the extra cash, by all means shop there. I will be the first to admit that there is something quaint about the small business that is conspicuously missing at Walmart, but the growth and success of Walmart owes much to the fact that everyday people prefer lower prices and efficiency over quaintness and provincialism.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Roaring US Economy

The economy, by all standards, is hot. The Dow Jones closed this week at record numbers. But if any doubts linger among the doubting Thomases out there that news in this nation is managed by the agencies, read the following headlines:

"Retail Slump in June Hints at Tired U.S. Consumer" -Reuters

"Stocks Surge on Retail Sales Reports" - CNN

Well, which is it?

Steyn on Islam and the West

Mark Steyn
Well worth a read:

National Review: Happy Warrior

Denial Is a River in Washington, and London:

‘Any attempt to identify a murderous ideology with a great faith such as Islam is wrong, and needs to be denied,” declared Jacqui Smith, the new British home secretary, starting her job with a bang, or near-bang, as a flaming Jeep Cherokee (doing a fine impression of a Chevy Blazer) crashed through the terminal at Glasgow Airport, with one of its passengers staggering from the wreckage screaming, “Allah! Allah!” Two days later, nine persons, including seven Spanish tourists, were killed by a somewhat more efficient suicide bomber in Yemen.

Nevertheless, the new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has banned ministers from using the word “Muslim” in connection with terrorism. As the Daily Express reported, “The shake-up is part of a fresh attempt to improve community relations and avoid offending Muslims.”

The world’s prime ministers and presidents have been “avoiding offending Muslims” for five years now. The first reaction of almost every Western leader to September 11th was to leap in the limo and hie himself to the nearest mosque. As President Bush said the other day in a return visit to the Saudi-funded Islamic Center of Washington, “To underscore America’s respect for the Muslim faith here at home, I came to this Center six days after the 9/11 attacks to denounce incidents of prejudice against Muslim Americans.”

It wasn’t entirely clear that there ever were significant “incidents of prejudice against Muslim Americans,” and among those assembled for the president’s post-9/11 Islamoschmoozing sessions there were more than a few chaps with a long track record of prejudice against non-Muslims.

You’ll recall that Mr. Bush’s line back then was that “Islam is peace.” The president is not to my knowledge a practicing imam. (I would hesitate to issue so definitive a pronouncement about the Prince of Wales.) So it is not clear on what authority the infidel-in-chief issues such statements. But a good basic rule in those early days was: Whether or not “Islam is peace,” whenever Mr. Bush says it is, the particular Muslims in his immediate vicinity are not the best exemplars of it.

At the prayer service at the National Cathedral on September 14, 2001, the principal representative of the religion of peace, Muzammil Siddiqi, could muster only the vaguest, most imprecise condemnation of terrorism. Which is hardly surprising given his track record of support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Another honored guest, Abdurahman Alamoudi, a longtime adviser to the Pentagon, founder of the organization that supplies Muslim chaplains to the U.S. armed forces, and designer of a course on Islam taught in the California school system, is now serving a 23-year jail term for his part in a Libyan terror plot.

There are many peaceful Muslims, but not always the ones in the presidential photo-ops. CAIR’s head honcho has made admirably plain his ambition to live under sharia in the United States: The followers of the religion of peace, in that sense, share exactly the same goals as their more incendiary coreligionists.

For his encore performance at the Islamic Center, President Bush was betting on the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a sort of European Union or British Commonwealth for 57 of the world’s Muslim nations. He announced that America would be appointing its first ever envoy to the OIC, who “will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states and will share with them America’s views and values.”

Just for starters, try to imagine an “Organization of the Christian Conference,” with presidents and prime ministers meeting at summits. Those lefties who profess concern for what America is doing to provoke “the Muslim world” would go bananas if any Western politician started referring to “the Christian world.” The fact that one formulation slips off their tongue so carelessly while the other would cause them to gag on their words is a revealing example of how easily Western secularists accept Islam’s political sovereignty.

And to put it another way: Regardless of whether Islam is a religion of peace, is it a politics of peace? The Organization of the Islamic Conference is the largest bloc on the new U.N. Human Rights Council, which explains why that pitiful joke of a transnational body does nothing for human rights. True, the OIC issued a “Declaration on International Terrorism” in 2002, and it’s fine as far as it goes, which would seem to be as far as the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Red Brigades:

“5. We reject any attempt to link Islam and Muslims to terrorism as terrorism has no association with any religion, civilization or nationality;”

Fine. Whatever. Religion-of-peace boilerplate.

“10. We reject any attempt to link terrorism to the struggle of the Palestinian people in the exercise of their inalienable right to establish their independent state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital;”

Er, okay. That gives a pass to Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and whatnot . . .

“11. We reject any attempt to associate Islamic states or Palestinian and Lebanese resistance with terrorism, which constitutes an impediment to the global struggle against terrorism;”

. . . and that pretty much absolves Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and everybody else. So are there any actual terrorists operating anywhere today that this “International Declaration” is designed to cover?

“12. We condemn Israel for its escalating . . .”

Of course.

Somewhere out there, there may well be an Islam that’s a bona fide “religion of peace,” but it’s not to be found among the shifty dissemblers of the OIC. Six years into the “War on Terror,” if we have learned anything, it should be the impossibility of trying to win without taking on the ideology. The president should not be fawning on the OIC, he should be disabusing them of their illusions.

Instead, we continue to embrace them. Jacqui Smith wants any link between terrorism and Islam to be “denied.” Just because denial is a river in Egypt is no reason it can’t be diverted into the Thames and the Potomac.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Iraq Progress Report

A realistic assessment of the situation in Iraq reveals significant progress since the implementation of the surge in Baghdad. The highly anticipated report highlights eight pluses, eight negatives and a couple mixed bags: some good and some bad. Inscrutable Democrats, leftists and political neophytes of all stripes, (none of whom are strangers to this blog apparently) will no doubt focus exclusively on the negative. Certainly, grave problems persist and there's a long road ahead; most disappointing is the slow pace at which the Iraqi government is progressing. But military objectives are being met satisfactorily.

Incidentally, I would argue that the Iraqi Parliment is having more success in the arena of legislative activity than the Democrat-led congress. Pelosi and Reid face a conundrum of sorts, as they promised swift action on a host of issues after their elevation to majority status in Congress. Yet, despite all the high expectations, they have failed to deliver on all but one of their much-hyped "Six for '06" campaign promises. They were able to pass a minimum wage increase, tucking it away in a bill already bloated with pork. But on every other goal, they have failed. If indeed their "mandate" for change was so cut and dry, so clear, then overriding a veto shouldn't be a problem. Perhaps their failure to do anything but harry Bush with meaningless resolutions explains why their approval rating is lower than the president's. Maybe it's the US Congress that requires "Benchmarks" to monitor progress.

Here's the link to the report.



A headline from the AP reads:

"Heavy Kids Face Big Stigma"

The article went on to lament how serious a problem obesity is for American youth. It all comes back to parenting. What are these kids eating day in and day out? How many hours are they passing in front of the television or computer? The article reports that, by 2010, about one-half of North American youth will be obese. This is staggering and embarrassing. And, to be blunt, America is gaining a much-deserved reputation for being a nation of roly-polies. In Italy, I rarely saw an overweight person and when I did, he/she was more often than not, American. I'm reluctant to signal out those areas where I believe Europeans understand things better than we do, but this one's a no-brainer.

I would venture to say that the problem doesn't lie in laziness per se, but in the quality and quantity of food in America. The diet in this nation is abysmal, portions are gargantuan and kids are brought up to believe it's alright to gorge themselves. We hear repeated complaints about the rising costs of health care. No doubt, these costs would fall sharply if we would only learned how to take better care of ourselves.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Justice:" Iranian Style

Last week, an Iranian man was finally executed after languishing in prison for eleven years.

- The crime: adultery

- Method of execution: buried up to the waist and stoned to death

The woman, for reasons of modesty, is to be buried up to the neck and done away with in similar fashion

The EU and UN have reacted with half-hearted condemnations or just plain silence. But watch the hysterical ballyhooing of the soi-disant enlightened ones in Europe, who, in-between coffee breaks, frequently demonstrate in piazzas to condemn the US for allowing capital punishment.

A theory that has been floating around out there is worthy of more attention: To much of the world, war per se is not the object of international scorn, but US-led wars. The death penalty per se is not the object of international outcry, but capital punishment in the US. The emission of carbon per se is not secular civilization's collective original sin, but US carbon emissions. Notice a common thread?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Latest from Vatican City

The Vatican has released a new document that aims to clarify certain teachings of the Second Vatican Council. It was released by William Cardinal Leveda's office and comes in the form of five questions, followed by a brief answer. I thought the second question/answer was noteworthy, as it sheds greater light on the Council's use of the term "subsists in" to describe the relationship between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church.

Predictably, the media is going to town with the document. Always ready to ignite simplistic controversy, MSNBC's headline boldly reads: "Pope: Other denominations not true churches." What's so surprising about this? If "Church" is to be understood as it has been since the dawn of Christianity, in terms of possessing traceable apostolic succession and valid sacraments, then the Council's conclusion, that only the Catholic and Orthodox can be rightly considered "Churches" is entirely logical and inescapable. Words, names, titles, etc. mean things.



The Second Vatican Council, with its Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, and its Decrees on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) and the Oriental Churches (Orientalium Ecclesiarum), has contributed in a decisive way to the renewal of Catholic ecclesiolgy. The Supreme Pontiffs have also contributed to this renewal by offering their own insights and orientations for praxis: Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam suam (1964) and John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint (1995).

The consequent duty of theologians to expound with greater clarity the diverse aspects of ecclesiology has resulted in a flowering of writing in this field. In fact it has become evident that this theme is a most fruitful one which, however, has also at times required clarification by way of precise definition and correction, for instance in the declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973), the Letter addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Communionis notio (1992), and the declaration Dominus Iesus (2000), all published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection. Among the many new contributions to the field, some are not immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt. A number of these interpretations have been referred to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate.


First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.

This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council[1]. Paul VI affirmed it[2] and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution Lumen gentium: "There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation"[3]. The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention[4].

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ "established here on earth" only one Church and instituted it as a "visible and spiritual community"[5], that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.[6] "This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him"[7].

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church[8], in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.[9] Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the Catholic Church.[10]

Third Question: Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?

Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure, but which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity"[11].

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church"[12].

Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term "Church" in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?

Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. "Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds"[13], they merit the title of "particular or local Churches"[14], and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches[15].

"It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature"[16]. However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches[17].

On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history[18].

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense[20].

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

William Cardinal Levada

Monday, July 09, 2007

Book Recommendations

I'm about half-way through this book and I can't put it down. If you've got the time, pick it up.

I bought this one for the long flight from Rome to Chicago. It's a gripping story and highly relevant for today.

The Politics of Emotion

Happy Al

Drew Westen is a psychologist and brain researcher who has written extensively on the role of emotions in politics. The article, appearing in the LA Times, is worth a glance. He chides Democrats for failing to utilize emotional arguments to make their case, and cites several examples of Democratic ineptitude when facing a crisis or responding to a particular charge or challenge. If they are to have any succees in the future, he warns, they will have to immerse their political strategy in emotions rather than facts and data. He makes good points, but ever since the 2000 elections, all I hear from Democrats are emotional screeds tinctured with blind, hysterical anger. It is their staggering paucity of ideas and policies that has lead to their misfortunes. There is always room for legitimate criticism but there is a need for solutions as well. Elections cannot be won simply by rattling off a litany of grievances. It is also a bit troublesome that Westen is encouraging a new political discourse based primarily on emotions, rather than facts or logic. Regardless, it is still a good read. The address to the LA Times article is given below the pull-quotes that I found most salient.

"In his new book, "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation," Westen, who is not affiliated with a particular candidate, lays out his argument that Democrats must connect emotionally with the American electorate — and that he can teach them how."

"The political brain is an emotional brain," he said. "It prefers conclusions that are emotionally satisfying rather than conclusions that match the data."

"Similarly, when you refuse to dignify an attack, it gives the other side exclusive rights to the network of associations that constitute public opinion and particular feelings — which is what decides elections.",0,3671214.story?coll=la-home-center

Happy Howard

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Elderly Italians Turning to Foreigners for Care

Here's a sobering report from the AP. I certainly noticed this trend in Italy. I was truly surprised if I saw a family with more than two kids. I could probably count on my hands the number of times I saw Italian couples with three or four children. More common was to see a married pair well into their forties with one very well-dressed tot. The excerpts from the article betray the mortal consequences of a contraception-hooked, abortion lovin' culture.


"Long life and low birthrates have conspired to change family life, which long had been the one institution Italians could count on while history rolled past, with its parade of conquerors and short-lived governments."

"Italy's demographics — and Europe's as a whole — give new meaning to the term "Old World." Twenty-four of the world's 25 oldest countries are in Europe, noted a joint report by the European Commission and AARP, a U.S. lobby for the elderly. Japan's population, with 27 percent of it older than 60 in 2005, is a shade grayer than Italy's 26 percent."

"Italy, home to the Vatican and predominantly Catholic, legalized abortion in 1978, and Italians upheld the law in a 1981 referendum, despite fierce opposition by the Vatican to abortion. And Italians have long tended to ignore Vatican teaching forbidding contraception."

*** "While decisions to have one or no children might make for easier lifestyles when young, a generation or two later the choice means fewer children and grandchildren to help the aged."

*** "In 1950, Italy had five adult children for every elderly parent. Now five has shrunk to a a statistical 1.5 and by 2050 there won't even be one adult child for every elderly person, said Antonio Golini, a demographer at Rome's La Sapienza University."

The Pope's Letter to Bishops

This is a translation of the pope's letter to the bishops that accompanies the motu proprio. The document itself will be posted once an official copy in English is made available.
My dear Brother Bishops,

With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as Pastors the text of a new Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio data” on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. The document is the fruit of much reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.

News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.

This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.

In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question.

This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal. Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood. This was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration. We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988), guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal; that document, however, did not contain detailed prescriptions but appealed in a general way to the generous response of Bishops towards the “legitimate aspirations” of those members of the faithful who requested this usage of the Roman Rite. At the time, the Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of Saint Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more painfully. Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet come about. Nonetheless, a number of communities have gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio. On the other hand, difficulties remain concerning the use of the 1962 Missal outside of these groups, because of the lack of precise juridical norms, particularly because Bishops, in such cases, frequently feared that the authority of the Council would be called into question. Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu Proprio. The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations.

In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often. Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.

It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.

I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

In conclusion, dear Brothers, I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22: “Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum”).

Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the Bishop, whose role remains that of being watchful that all is done in peace and serenity. Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio.

Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.

Dear Brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to your hearts as Pastors these pages and the norms of the Motu Proprio. Let us always be mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of Ephesus: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28).

I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, dear Brothers, to the parish priests of your dioceses, and to all the priests, your co-workers, as well as to all your faithful.

Given at Saint Peter’s, 7 July 2007