Friday, November 26, 2010

A Serious Look at START

Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online, takes a look at the flaws and loopholes of Obama's much ballyhooed treated with Russia.
President Obama insists that New START is important as a step toward his dream of a nuclear-free world. Where does one begin? A world without nukes would be the ultimate nightmare. We voluntarily disarm while the world’s rogues and psychopaths develop nukes in secret. Just last week we found out about a hidden, unknown, highly advanced North Korean uranium-enrichment facility. An ostensibly nuclear-free world would place these weapons in the hands of radical regimes that would not hesitate to use them — against a civilized world that would have given up its deterrent.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

N. Korea, etc.

An insightful discussion on world events with former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Liberalism Infecting Catholic Parishes

From Saint Sebastian Parish, an ultra-liberal parish in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Note that the contentious word "Christmas" faces the church building, largely out of view, while "holiday" faces the busy intersection. Think this is accidental?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Combat Paramedics in Afghanistan

An interesting clip from the front lines of battle.

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Setting the Record Straight

Here is a concise, serious analysis by George Weigel of the weekend's "big story" involving the Holy Father's comments on fighting HIV in Africa and the use of condoms.

From National Review:
The first false assumption beneath the latest round of media condomania is that the Church’s settled teaching on sexual morality is a policy or a position that can change, as tax rates can be changed or one’s position on whether India should be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council can change. To be sure, the theological articulation of the Catholic ethic of sexual love has been refined over centuries; it has come to an interesting point of explication in recent years in John Paul II’s “theology of the body.” But it has not changed and it will not change because it cannot be changed. And it cannot change or be changed because the Catholic ethic of sexual love is an expression of fundamental moral truths that can be known by reason and are illuminated by revelation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Value of a Buck

Representative Paul Ryan will work overtime to try to block the Fed's latest "brilliant" move. Hasn't the Federal Reserve done enough already?

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan represents a blue-collar district that was pummeled by the recession - its auto factories shut down, its workforce fractured by some of the highest unemployment rates in Wisconsin.

Yet when the Janesville Republican looks at the Federal Reserve's latest effort to create jobs by pumping $600 billion into the economy, he wants none of it.

Ryan and other conservative critics argue that the Fed's strategy to buy Treasury securities - and, in turn, create a new cycle of lending and hiring - amounts to little more than printing money and diluting the dollar's value.

The Fed has no business cheapening the nation's currency, Ryan says, even if a weaker dollar might provide a short-term elixir for struggling industries in his southeastern Wisconsin district by making American exports less expensive overseas while increasing the prices of imports sold in the United States.

"There is nothing more insidious that a government can do to its people than to debase its currency," Ryan said.

A Few Steps Behind (Again)

The latest example of why the Vatican's communication office should be reevaluated, if not replaced, comes on the heels of the pope's enlightening discussion of condoms and the fight against HIV in his latest book, Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times. The book is set to be released this week, but excerpts made their way to the press.

Secular media outlets could hardly contain themselves as they pounced on the book's excerpts, claiming something extraordinary, i.e., that the putatively immoveable, hardline Holy Father might indeed be showing signs of budging on this controversial subject, and thereby bringing the Church in line with the 21st century. The Vatican communications office still lives in the good ole days of the afternoon newspaper, and has yet to fully recognize and adapt to the immediacy of the internet age. Where is the rapid response on this? I wasn't all that impressed with the "clarification" offered today by the communication office.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ron Paul Takes on the TSA

This one is a bit of a screed, but it's mostly correct and entertaining.

The Great Switch

From the Telegraph:
Dr Williams acknowledged that traditionalists who cannot accept Church of England plans to ordain women bishops were in “considerable confusion and distress”.

But the Pope’s offer to accommodate disaffected Anglicans would leave the Church with “practical challenges” as vicars resign and churches lose worshippers, he said.

Dr Williams’s comments came in his first media interview since The Daily Telegraph disclosed that five Anglican bishops were to join a new section of the Roman Catholic Church established by Pope Benedict XVI.


I just heard Mark Steyn refer to the United States Secretary of Homeland Security as Janet Incompetano.

That is just funny, worthy of sharing.

Crippling the Fed.

Writing in the Washington Post, George Will takes aim at the Federal Reserve. It's an excellent piece.
The Fed's large, and sufficient, original mission was to maintain price stability - to preserve the currency as a store of value. "Mission creep" usually results from a metabolic urge of government agencies. The Fed, however, had institutional imperialism thrust upon it when Congress - forgetting, not for the first or last time, its core functions - directed the Fed "to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates." The last two goals are really one. In the pursuit of the first, which requires the Fed to attempt to manage short-term economic growth, the Fed has started printing $600 billion - this is the meaning of what is called, with calculated opacity, "quantitative easing."

Serious Sign of Trouble

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON — Is marriage becoming obsolete?

As families gather for Thanksgiving this year, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren't needed to have a family.

A study by the Pew Research Center highlights rapidly changing notions of the American family. And the Census Bureau, too, is planning to incorporate broader definitions of family when measuring poverty, a shift caused partly by recent jumps in unmarried couples living together.

About 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from 1960, according to the Pew report being released Thursday. About 15 percent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent have parents who were never married.Within those two groups, a sizable chunk — 6 percent — have parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kids together without getting married.

According to the Pew survey, 39 percent of Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete...

Is it any wonder then, why homosexual "marriage" is picking up steam in this country? This is an area where lay Catholics in particular are going to have to step up to the plate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Is Now

1994 TIME Magazine cover

Ramesh Ponnuru compares the state of the Republican Party in 1994 with that of today. He argues that the similarities so often drawn between the two periods are superficial. Ponnuru explains why that is a good thing. It's a very smart analysis, from National Review Online:
Republicans don’t want what happened after the last Republican takeover to recur. During the winter of 1995–96, the new Republican Congress battled with Clinton over the budget — a battle that reached its climax in partial shutdowns of the government. The public sided with Clinton. His approval ratings rose while Gingrich’s plummeted.

The conservative campaign to limit the size and scope of the federal government never really recovered from this defeat. Within a few years congressional Republicans were beginning to run for reelection on pork and incumbency rather than reform, and George W. Bush was advancing a “compassionate conservatism” as a way of distinguishing himself from the Gingrichites.

But there are several differences between 2011 and 1995 that should work in favor of Republicans.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Medal of Honor Today

Today marks the first time since the Vietnam War that the Medal of Honor will be awarded to a living recipient; all the others since then have been given posthumously. Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta is refreshingly authentic and modest about his incredible deed. In a time of widespread egotism and shallow, hollow celebrity, it's about time someone who actually deserves some recognition gets it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

High Stakes and Great Lakes

We're beginning to see more shades of red in the bluish Midwest. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Once again the industrial Midwest has proved the pivot point in a dramatic American election.

Only this time the region swung red not blue, accounting for a hugely disproportionate share of the GOP's gains on Nov. 2 and reshaping expectations about the 2012 electoral map.

"The most significant election development of 2010 was the newfound weakness of Democrats in the industrial heartland of the country," says Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg. "This is a region that has been marginally Democratic for a very long time. And the bottom fell out."

Obama's Elitism Slips Out

From Politico:
Other presidential Freudian slips even left a sense that Obama is hostile to accumulating wealth. His lectures to bankers, credit card company executives and health insurers sounded unduly harsh to some voters. Perhaps they felt validated in their suspicions when Obama said in April, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

His assertion just after the midterm elections that voters’ concerns about his policies stemmed from his failure to fully explain them — implying that they hadn’t understood him — inadvertently revived the perception of a man who elevates himself above the electorate.

The Truth about Taxes

Here's a great video that easily debunks the laughable White House spin on the current tax policy debate.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Steps

Most serious Catholics will agree that over past forty years or so we have witnessed a general breakdown of Catholic identity in the United States. Such a statement is certainly going to generate debate, but let's face it, with notable exceptions, the Catholic leadership in the states has messed up in things both large and small: Catholic schools, liturgical life, seminaries, administrative decisions, Catholic hospitals, the retreat movement, etc. I don't say this to be gratuitously critical or unduly harsh. It's simply a statement of fact. While many bishops, ensconced and detached in their curial bubbles, floating in the heavens, may pat themselves on the back for holding the line, it is the lay Catholics who are actually in the pews day in and day out, week after week, year after year, who have been the primary recipients of the worst of the failed experiment that saw a toxic blending of egalitarian-tinged liberalism with watered down Catholicism.

I'd like to offer some ideas that might help push back the tide, at least a bit. Most, if not all will center on liturgy. What possibly can an untrained layman know about liturgy? Perhaps it is audacious to offer these bold suggestions, but I will do so anyway.

1. Away with "Eucharistic Ministers": One of the most unfortunate moves over the past several decades has been a slow, creeping erosion of the distinction between the laity and ordained ministers, namely, the priests. In a misguided effort to involve more of the people in the goings on at the altar, it was thought appropriate to introduce waves of laity to serve as "extraordinary ministers" (the correct nomenclature). The original thought was that, for exceptionally large congregations, extraordinary ministers could help mitigate the time it took to distribute Holy Communion. But it didn't take a rocket scientist to see what would inevitably happen, and indeed, what has happened. Soon, a few extraordinary ministers became armies of "Eucharistic ministers" who, regardless of the size of the congregation, now file into the sanctuary to take their rightful place next to the priest and to take up the sacred vessels, a duty traditionally reserved for priests and deacons. At his ordination, a priest's hands are consecrated with holy oil in anticipation of their indispensable role in the consecration of the bread and wine, which become the Body and Blood of Christ. With the introduction of Eucharistic ministers, the line between the priest and the laity has become blurred, if not erased. Laity today handle the Sacrament in ways that were unthinkable only a couple generations ago. The issue is out of control at some, if not most, parishes. I've heard of instances when the priest remains in his chair while the "ministers" distribute Holy Communion. This needs to be reined in, and fast.

2. Away with Communion in the hand: Some of this will tie into the first suggestion and, like the first, needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. For centuries, receiving Communion in the hand was not merely a liturgical solecism that would rightly be seen as scandalous; even further, it was absolutely verboten. Pope Paul VI, who many see as a more progressive pontiff, strongly defended and upheld the tradition of receiving Communion on the tongue when pressed to ease up on the tradition. He said the following on the subject: "A change in so important a matter that has its basis in an ancient and honored tradition does not simply affect discipline, but can also bring with it dangers that, it is feared, may arise from the new way of administering Communion." Receiving in the hand started off on shaky ground as an aberration born out of disobedience in the late 70's and, since receiving unenthusiastic, resigned approval from the top, it has spread through the Church like a fire through dry forest. Communion in the hand has enabled numerous instances of abuse, both intended and unintended, with regard to the Body of Christ. I agree with Father John A. Hardon's characteristically candid assessment of the issue when he said, "Behind Communion in the hand --I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can-- is a weakening, a conscious, a deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence."

3. Away (in most circumstances) with Communion under both Species, excepting intinction done by the priest or deacon: This suggestion, quite simply, would go a long way in limiting accidental spilling of the Precious Blood by well-intentioned, yet sometimes careless or inattentive faithful. We should look for ways to minimize accidents of this nature, and limiting the reception of Communion to one species could help accomplish this. I also think that Communion under both Species, as it is most commonly practiced in the average parish, contributes to a false theology of the Eucharist. People who are not properly catechized may tend to think that Christ's presence is somehow divided between the Consecrated elements. Of course, this presumes that there is widespread believe in the Real Presence to begin with.

4. Away with altar girls: Once again, the obsession with egalitarian overtures is responsible for this phenomenon. Allowing altar girls for Mass was seen as a concession of sorts to the feminist movement. The green light for the girls sent the wrong signal, in my opinion, as it gave the impression that the Church is susceptible and vulnerable to gradual inroads made by the feminist movement, which has always seen female ordination as their (un)holy grail. Also, the sanctuary has traditionally been the domain of the priest acting in persona Christi, and the proximity of altar boys to the altar affords them the chance to get an up-close and personal glimpse of the most significant moments of a priest's life. Introducing girls in the sanctuary is, sorry to say, a distraction from that unique opportunity a young boy has at that time to consider a vocation to the priesthood. George Weigel made this point more eloquently than I have here. I wish I could find the article.

5. Away with kitsch and iconoclasm: Bad taste has inundated Catholic liturgical life, from music, to vestments, to schmaltzy homilies that would make Oprah proud. The list could go on. Let's get serious about re-engaging our unrivaled artistic patrimony and start acting like adults with good taste!

6. Away with versus populum: Let's see much more ad orientum, where the priest and people face the same direction for prayer. Ad orientum is often misleadingly described as the priest with his back facing the people, as though this was done as a sign of disrespect to the laity by an elitist cleric. Also, there is no mistaking where the attention during Mass is focused when the priest is facing ad orientum: the Eucharist, where it should be. However, when the priest begins to face the people, Mass becomes more and more about him, his "style" and report with the people, and less and less about Christ in the Eucharist. The pope makes many salient points on this subject in his excellent book, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

7. "Hello!" to Sacred Space: I set up "sacred space" to contrast it with the now-popular "gathering space" that has been introduced in so many parishes across America. Usually, the gathering space is intended to serve as an agora, usually in the back of the church, for people to congregate and shoot the breeze before and after Mass. Instead of a sanctum sanctorum for the encounter with mystery and the ineffable God, the church building has morphed into a comfy, familiar social hall to meet and greet each other. I came across a once beautiful gothic church in Saint Louis that fits this description to a tee. This particular gathering space was carved out of the back third of the church building, the pews removed to accommodate, not a mystery but a crowd, and even a board with name tags for all the parishioners to wear during Mass. Some of the names even had smiley faces next to them. I think I did that once too, in kindergarden. Also, at the other end of the church, in the sanctuary, let's aim to make that a "Reserved for" area once again. Do I really need to see everyone listed in the baptism registry mincing about in an space that was once reserved exclusively for priests and deacons? Really, I will not feel excluded or left out. I'm not that touchy.

8. "Hello!" to Latin (or at least beautiful English): There is just something indescribably beautiful and alluring about the haunting chants conducted in this ancient tongue. (It took far too long to do away with "And also with you," by the way.) I think we've gotten stuck in an unfortunate misconception about the meaning of the "universality" of the Catholic Church. I like to think that universality means, at least in part, that wherever I go in the world, whatever the culture and language of this or that particular people, the Catholic liturgy will be more or less the same, in terms of how it is executed. It seems that nowadays, "universality" translates into an obsession to accommodate every single language and culture under the sun. There are ways this can be done; I'm just not so sure that liturgy is the place to do it, especially in Western countries.

So these are some rough ideas that, while hardly dispositive or original, may be helpful at turning things around. I may add to them over the next couple days.

The Bush Silent Treatment

Former President George W. Bush is hitting the media circuit of late to promote his memoir, Decision Points. Throughout the interviews and trips down memory lane with the likes of Matt Lauer and Oprah, Bush remains adamant about not wanting to re-enter "the swamp," his way of referring to the public back and forth about politics. Even when it comes to replying to the numerous attacks made on his presidency by his churlish successor, Bush stubbornly maintains an impenetrable silence. At one level, I confess that I do admire this discipline. It must be maddening to the left that Bush cannot be lured back into the colosseum. As I see it though, Bush is wrong to spurn every opportunity to pointedly retaliate, at least in some way, to the sources of the criticism. He owes it, not so much to himself, but to his loyal supporters of eight years to fight back.

Bush sees the issue as being about two things: the importance of maintaining a dignity with regard to the office of the presidency, and a personal disdain for political mudslinging. He genuinely sees it as beneath him. A former president should not criticize his successor, according to Bush. To do so would be unseemly, à la Jimmy Carter, who never ceased lobbing sour grapes at the Bush White House. (Never mind that no one was really listening to Carter anyway.) To be fair, the argument has its merits. Usually when Jimmy Carter is offered as an example of what you're trying not to imitate, I'm likely to be sympathetic. Carter seems to revel in being undignified and surly, and his name is used by both parties as a political epithet and the paragon of what every man who enters politics hopes not to become. I understand the fear, but George W. Bush, the man who stood atop the rubble of the twin towers to rally America to retaliate, doesn't have to worry about mirroring the rabbit fighter Jimmy Carter in any way, shape or form.

Those who voted for Bush, defended his presidency then, and his legacy now, would like to receive some support from the top gun himself. Instead, we repeatedly observe our reticent former president slapped by any and every Democrat who passes by. To see our point man shy away in the face of countless accusations against the policies that defined his presidency feels not unlike an abandonment of troops in the midst of an ongoing fight. As much as W. would like to fancy himself an ordinary citizen who should be free to "submerge" (his words) under the still waters of normalcy and anonymity, he cannot. Bush will forever be a very public, controversial figure, and will always be inexorably linked to his time in office and the policies that were hammered out during those momentous eight years.

The fighters for conservatism, still in the trenches mind you, or "the swamp," as Bush would have it, went to the mat for him year after year, in good times and bad (and there were some pretty miserable moments if you recall), and now they simply expect Bush to do his part. There's no hiding allowed in this business.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Powerful Ally

From Politico:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform law.

McConnell argues in his brief , obtained by POLITICO, that the requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance “dramatically oversteps the bounds of the Commerce [Clause] which has always been understood as a power to regulate, and not to compel, economic activity.” He also argues that if the mandate is deemed constitutional, there will no longer be any real limit on Congress’ power to regulate citizens’ activity.

It will be fascinating to see how this develops.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Welcome Aboard!

From the Telegraph:
Five Anglican bishops quit Church of England for Rome

Five bishops have resigned to join the Roman Catholic Church as an exodus of Anglicans begins.

The five will convert to Roman Catholicism in the first wave of protests over plans to ordain women bishops in the Church of England for the first time.

The Roman Catholic Church backed their move, which was first reported in The Daily Telegraph, and promised a "warm welcome" to all Anglicans who decide to switch allegiance to Rome.

Senior Catholics are finalising plans for the English Ordinariate, a new body created by the Pope to accommodate Anglican converts who cannot accept women bishops.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Encouraging Trend

From the Telegraph:
There seems to be only one political argument of interest left in the Western democracies: how “big” should the state be, and what are the proper limits of its responsibilities? Abstract as it may sound, this question has had a quite startling impact on the everyday experience – and voting habits – of people in the most advanced countries of the world.

In the United States, the electorate’s considered answer to it has humiliated a president and swept an extraordinary number of neophytes – whose primary attraction was their loathing of government power – into the most powerful legislature in history. In Britain, it has become the dominant theme (in fact, the raison d’être) of a coalition between a Left-of-centre party and a Right-of-centre one, which has managed to achieve a remarkable degree of agreement on the need to reduce – or, at least, to examine rigorously – the role of government intervention in all areas of social life.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

State Surge

From ABCNews:
Republicans gained a historic edge over Democrats in state legislature elections that will have national implications for years to come.

State legislatures in 44 states are responsible for one of the most important political processes: drawing district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a process that usually triggers partisan bickering, the reigning party usually has the upper hand, especially if the governor is also from the same party and cannot veto the legislature's decisions.

Republicans took control of at least 19 Democratic-controlled state legislatures Tuesday and gained more than 650 seats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The last time Republicans saw such victories was in 1994, when they captured control of 20 state legislatures.

Republicans haven't controlled as many state legislatures since 1928.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Good morning America!

The good news is obvious: Nancy Pelosi, the unbearable cat's-paw of the president, was resoundingly fired last night. I watched her give a pep talk earlier in the evening. She came across as delirious, twitchy, nervous, defensive and unconvincingly sure of herself. She knew what was coming. You could see it in her face and in her awkward arm flailing.

Beyond that, there are more reasons to celebrate yesterday's results:

- The historic Republican gains in the House of Representatives,

- ObamaCare will no doubt be sabotaged by Boehner and company through ingenious legislative tricks, until, of course, a Republican prez. (or the Supreme Court) delivers the coup de grâce to the abominable law,

- Marco Rubio is Florida's senator-elect (He will soar from now on.),

- Arch-liberal Russ Feingold of Wisconsin went down in flames to the Tea Party's wrath (a particularly sweet victory for yours truly),

- The newly christened Republican governors and state legislatures in formerly Democratic strongholds in the Midwest and elsewhere will translate into redistricting procedures that will highly favor Republicans in Congress, up to 16 GOP seats, I read somewhere. This is huge.

- The severely hobbled Democratic majority in the Senate (they will be virtually impotent from now on),

- The unmistakable rebuke to the most conspicuous narcissus in the political world, Barack Obama (who suffered the ultimate humiliation of seeing his former senate seat overtaken by a Republican). It will be interesting to see how he will explain his embarrassment at today's press conference.

- Republicans appear to be reading their mandate appropriately, with a sense of humility as to themselves and to lessons learned, and ferocity as to prepping to engage the president's agenda.

There were some bitter pills from the evening:

- Barbara Boxer, dumb, shrill and prissy Barbara Boxer, is still a senator from California, demonstrating that the bluest of blue states is incurable in terms of its attachment to irrational uber-liberalism. In any other state, a candidate as attractive as Carly Fiorina would have won by a huge majority. She would have been a star in the senate and a jewel for conservatism, but alas, it's California, the land of... oh yes, fruits and nuts, or something. At least Boxer was given a good scare, for once in her political life.

- Harry Reid, while roughed up, remains. This is also a tough one to swallow. I truly thought Angle was going to topple him, and that the sad man would be history. Nevada, what were you thinking?

All in all, Conservatives are standing tall today.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Record Turnout Anticipated

Thank the tea party

There could be a new record for turnout in a midterm election set Tuesday night.

Dr. Michael McDonald, who tracks election turnout at George Mason University, projects that a record-breaking 90 million people will cast ballots for 2010 candidates, the largest number of voters to date in a midterm election.

The current midterm record was set in 2006, when 86 million voters went to the polls.

McDonald, who bases his projections on early voting data as well as trends in individual states, calculates that turnout will be about 41.3 percent of the eligible voting population.

The President and His "Enemies"

Here's an excerpt from prepared remarks to be given later today by Ohio Representative John Boehner. They come in response to the president urging Latino voters last week to go to the polls on Tuesday so that they can "punish our enemies." How nice.

From Politico:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a president in the White House who referred to Americans who disagree with him as ‘our enemies.’ Think about that. He actually used that word. When Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush used the word ‘enemy,’ they reserved it for global terrorists and foreign dictators — enemies of the United States. Enemies of freedom. Enemies of our country.

“Today, sadly, we have president who uses the word ‘enemy’ for fellow Americans — fellow citizens. He uses it for people who disagree with his agenda of bigger government — people speaking out for a smaller, more accountable government that respects freedom and allows small businesses to create jobs. Mr. President, there's a word for people who have the audacity to speak up in defense of freedom, the Constitution, and the values of limited government that made our country great. We don't call them ‘enemies.’ We call them ‘patriots.’”

It's clear who is going to be punished this election, and it's not Republicans, or for that matter, the people who have the temerity disagree with the president.

Dems and Catholics

An encouraging study, from the Telegraph:

Are US Catholics about to produce one of the biggest ever swings against the Democrats?

Terror at Mass

BAGHDAD — Fifty-two hostages and police were killed on Sunday when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held by al-Qaida-linked gunmen, a deputy interior minister said.

Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal said on Monday that 67 people were wounded during the raid of the church in central Baghdad by gunmen demanding the release of al-Qaida prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

The toll only included hostages and police, not attackers.

The standoff began at dusk Sunday when militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the nearby Iraqi stock exchange and then entered the nearby Our Lady of Deliverance church — one of Baghdad's main Catholic places of worship — taking about 120 Christians hostage. ...

A cryptically worded statement posted late Sunday on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, said it would "exterminate Iraqi Christians" if Muslim women are not freed within 48 hours from churches in Egypt.