From Father Francis Spirago's Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1904), 187-188
Friday, April 29, 2011
From Father Francis Spirago's Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1904), 187-188
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The protest caused such an uproar that the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico was forced to cut the exhibit short by four months. For nearly eight years Alma Lopez’s exhibit has not been seen – no museum would touch it.
One year later, the American Association of Museums (AAM) held its 96th Annual Meeting in Dallas. One of the featured panel discussions was about the Sante Fe controversy and why the defenders of Our Lady were so effective. The discussion was a veritable how-to manual about making effective protests.
Now Alma Lopez is showing the same picture at the Oakland Museum of California and protests are mounting. The conclusions of the panel discussion need to be applied.
Catholics who protest blasphemy are often told they are just giving
free publicity to the offending work. The truth, however, is quite the contrary - as the other side tells us.
Here is the first-hand account of the AAM meeting that shows how effective a protest can be – from the mouths of those on the other side of the museum door.
Read this report and learn how to stop blasphemy.
“Accept that you are not going to win. There is no win in such a controversy. You’re just going to survive. Those are the facts. It’s not pretty, but those are the facts.”1
Such was the counsel of journalist Hollis Walker to museum directors and curators regarding protests against blasphemous art. Her comments run quite contrary to what protesters are frequently led to believe.
Indeed, Catholics who protest blasphemy are often told that they are ineffective since the offending piece is rarely removed. At best, they are told, their anti-blasphemy efforts are but symbolic gestures. Others dismiss all protesting as free publicity for the offending work.
The arts establishment pretends not to notice protesters and makes it seem that the protesters’ efforts are of no avail.
Rarely does the protester see what actually happens on the other side of the museum doors when blasphemy is displayed. Piercing the silence, however, can be quite revealing.
Panelist John McCarthy told the audience that only 300 appeared at the TFP rally. However, TFP members collected over 600 signatures.
The American Association of Museums (AAM) held its 96th Annual Meeting in Dallas on May 12-16, 2002, at the Dallas Convention Center. More than 5,000 museum professionals representing approximately 1,000 museums from every state and 30 foreign countries convened in what was termed “the largest cultural gathering in the world.”
This august forum was the scene of a panel discussion that shows just how seriously the arts establishment takes anti-blasphemy protesters.
“I felt I was at a secret meeting of the opposition,” said TFP observer James Miller, who attended the event. “I couldn’t believe how they just said everything. It was like being on the other side of the museum door during the protest.”
Even more revealing was the fact that the panel focused on the controversy surrounding a blasphemous portrayal of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in February of 2001. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and its America Needs Fatima campaign worked together with local activists to protest the portrayal. The rally gathered nearly a thousand Catholics.
“Our Lady of Controversy”
“Our Lady of Controversy: The Cyber Arte Exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art” was the very suggestive title of the panel discussion. Various experts from the museum field were selected to speak to the audience on how to deal with protests against blasphemy.
As the title suggests, the panel’s purpose was to discuss the controversy that surrounded Alma Lopez’s “Our Lady” at Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art. Press reports described the exhibit as a computer collage portraying a bikini-clad Virgin of Guadalupe held aloft by a topless female angel.
For months, this “artwork” divided the community. The June 30 rally in front of the museum united offended Catholics from all over New Mexico and at least seven other states. The America Needs Fatima campaign mobilized tens of thousands nationwide to send “Enough is enough!” protest postcards. The TFP website asked supporters to send instant e-mail protests. The effort received letters of support from bishops, priests, and national conservative figures, including congressmen.
The panel speakers stressed that controversy is extremely upsetting and outlined some tactics for dealing with the problem. Above all, it became very clear that they do not view protests as free publicity.
“I was amazed to hear them confess how utterly vulnerable they felt,” reported Mr. Miller. “They really take protests seriously.”
Indeed, the panel moderator complained that museums are naïve about their work and totally unprepared to deal with such controversies. Panelists reported their own helplessness in explaining to the public their reasons for airing blasphemy. They noted how one scene of a protester praying a rosary on the evening news had the effect of erasing any sympathy for the museum from the viewing public.
They were especially exasperated by the fact that the museum was constantly on the defensive and could never break out of the media siege.
How Effective Protests Are
Ironically, all the myths about blasphemy protests were destroyed by the very people who display such works. They testified that protests are not just symbolic gestures or free publicity but effective statements that echo throughout the arts community.
Alma Lopez, creator of “Our Lady,” speaking on the panel, admitted that it was “difficult and hard to go through all this.” She received hundreds and hundreds of e-mails per day from offended Catholics and even from children. The controversy surrounding her unpopular work left her perplexed and “marginalized.” “People are really paying attention to them,” she complained, “and our voices are not being heard at all.”
“The press with the twenty-second sound byte just kills you,” commented John McCarthy, deputy director of the Folk Art Museum. “There is no way you can present your story.”
Because of the work of a few dedicated protesters, everyone from the governor’s office to the museum regents were suddenly concerned. The controversy became national and even international news.
Panel speakers were also impressed by the organization of the protesters. They presented slides and video clips to illustrate the point.
They were surprised by the fact that the protesters were “more coordinated” than they were. Everywhere they turned they met opposition and “organized loud protest.”
The museum directors had hoped to diffuse the controversy by entering into dialogue and compromise with protesters. The unbending attitude of the protesters left them empty-handed.
In fact, it was the directors who eventually made concessions. They canceled the four-month extension they had planned for the exhibit, closing it on the originally scheduled date. Even so, the protesters were still not satisfied.
“How serious do you take these people?” Mr. McCarthy asked, then answered himself: “Very serious!” He further noted that the museum was always unprepared, especially since the protesters “never, never gave in on any point.”
It is important to note as well that the panelists acknowledged how important it is for the local bishop to speak out against blasphemy. The fact that Archbishop Michael Sheehan of the Santa Fe Archdiocese condemned the work at the beginning of the showing caused irreparable damage to the museum public relations campaign.
“If only bishops and priests realized just how effective their protest could be!” commented Mr. Miller after the session. He observed how panelists qualified the Archbishop of Santa Fe as one of the “most powerful people in the state of New Mexico.” His condemnation was hardly free publicity.
Journalist and panel member Hollis Walker bluntly told the audience that blasphemy protests are no-win situations for museums. Their best policy is defense and damage control.
“At the very beginning, if you see something like this erupting, my best advice to you is to go hire the best public relations crisis consultant you can find,” she stressed, “because the internal public relations and marketing people at museums are not equipped to deal with this kind of issue.”
Dr. Joyce Ice, director of the Folk Art Museum’s Office of Cultural Affairs, told the audience how controversy affects the judgment of museum directors. She pointed out “that the danger now lies not so much in being silenced but to censor ourselves in the future.”
Journalist Hollis noted that the large art community in Santa Fe remained silent during the controversy. While Catholics united and proudly stood behind Our Lady of Guadalupe, the local arts establishment did very little to come to the aid of their fellow artist.
Museum Director Tom Wilson pointed out that the controversy created a rift with the local community. Months after the exhibit came down, the wounds were still open. “We have not completely finished the healing process, or maybe in some ways you can say we haven’t really begun it,” he said.
Nearly a year after the whole controversy, the reverberations of the protest still linger. One of the questions posed to gubernatorial candidates this fall was how they would have handled the “Our Lady of Guadalupe controversy.”
Even the long-term future of the exhibit itself was affected by the protests. When asked by TFP observer James Miller about the future of the exhibit, panelists did not know, although they assured the audience that it presently had a home in the Museum of International Folk Art – safely stored in the basement.
Why Protests Are Necessary
Perhaps one of the most influential panelists was Jim Fitzpatrick, a lawyer from the Washington, D.C., firm of Arnold & Porter. Mr. Fitzpatrick has defended many offensive art pieces in what has come to be known as the “cultural wars.” He also outlined the chilling perspective of what museum will try to show in the future.
Make no mistake about it, the issue is more than just art. Mr. Fitzpatrick correctly classified the controversy surrounding these exhibits as religious, political, and ideological clashes. From the very beginning, the flashpoint of cultural wars has been art-termed-blasphemy and it will continue to be so in the future.
Mr. Fitzpatrick called upon the arts establishment not to cave in to protesters who oppose what they consider blasphemous portrayals. Rather, it must redouble its efforts and present things that challenge or even violate society standards.
“The standard of universal decency and acceptability in a society like ours,” he claimed, “is simply meaningless.”
Moreover, Mr. Fitzpatrick outlined the areas of “art” where the museum community must defend itself.
There are three areas where I think museums are going to be subject to attack: Images of gay sex will be a problem because society has still not broadly accepted that way of life. Second, “kiddy porn” portrayals of young children in sexual situations will continue to be highly controversial and this is one area where the courts have given more elbow room to legislators and officials to limit creativity….
“It’s clear,” Mr. Fitzpatrick continued, “that allegedly blasphemous works of visual art are going to be of continuing concern.”
The statements of Mr. Fitzpatrick and other panelists make clear why protests are so very necessary. Without them, the arts community has a virtual blank check to push back the standards of decency and morality that still remain in society.
A How-to Manual in Reverse
“Our Lady of Controversy: The Cyber Arte Exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art” panel discussion was an important look “behind the doors” of the arts community.
By outlining their tactics against protesters, the panelists inadvertently provided a veritable how-to manual in reverse that can help protesters design a more effective protest.
Indeed, there are several lessons to be learned. First, listening to the other side should destroy the myth that all protest is useless. Quite the contrary, protest is the only effective means of defending the Faith and Catholic morality in face of ever-more-horrific attacks. Protesters must be convinced that blasphemous portrayals can be no-win situations for museums.
Second, museums and theaters are ill equipped to deal with well-organized protests. Protesters must be “wise as serpents and simple as doves” (Matt. 10:16) and develop peaceful protests that reflect a will never to give in. They must resist the efforts of museum directors who would lead them to compromise their principles through dialog in hopes of defusing the controversy. Uncompromising protests serve to underscore the ugliness of blasphemy and enlist the sympathy of the public.
Third, clergy should be encouraged to add their voices to this struggle. The testimony of museum directors leaves no doubt that the voices of bishops and priests are among the most effective means of protest.
Fourth, since blasphemous art is the flashpoint of the culture wars, protesters must redouble their efforts and continue to stand tall in the face of adversity. Protesters are an important line of defense in keeping out a new wave of other portrayals (such as “kiddie porn”) that will erode public morality yet further.
Finally, Catholics protesting blasphemy do more than just preserve public morality. By protesting, they defend the honor of God and Our Lady. This task is a right, a duty, and a privilege. Even if protests were less effective, this defense alone would justify all the effort. Continuing in this struggle, protesters can be assured that God and the Blessed Mother will bless these efforts, and they can count on more victories and more strength to carry on the struggle to defend Christian civilization against an increasingly immoral and pagan world.
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1. All statements from museum panelists quoted in this article are taken from tapes 02446-0901 and 02446-0902 of the talk “Our Lady of Controversy: The Cyber Arte Exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art,” recorded at the American Association of Museums’ Annual Meeting & Museum Expo 2002. Tapes were produced by Chesapeake Audio/Video Communications, Inc. Elkridge, Maryland,
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Friday, April 15, 2011
After reading the life of any saint, we close the book exclaiming, “What a great saint! I did not think something like this could exist.” Indeed, as long as it is well written, the life of any saint is a unique marvel full of surprises.
The life of Saint Bernadette Soubirous is no exception. She was a French peasant girl from an area of the Pyrenees mountains which, from a certain standpoint, blends together aspects of Spain and France. She looks very French although she has Spanish features. Looking at her authentic pictures (not usually found in churches), we see a person with a slightly squarish face with regular and well-defined features. She has large black eyes with a certain fixed Spanish gaze unlike the quicker and darting French gaze. Her Spanish gaze is penetrating almost to the point of an x-ray. Together with her Spanish nose, her face presents a coherence that really stands out and marks her from top to bottom.
Her mindset is direct and straightforward. She does not mince words. She was a person with very high horizons but had a very simple upbringing, meaning that she was never taught to be reserved or discreet. What she thought, she would come right out and say.
Her whole expression is one of complete detachment. She was completely humble and did not want to be anyone special. Her goal was to go about the service of Our Lady without caring about what others think.
|Photo of Saint Bernadette Soubirous. Her whole expression |
is one of complete detachment. She was completely humble,
and her goal was to go about the service of Our Lady
without caring about what others thought.
Consider the fact that Saint Bernadette could have become vain when seeing huge crowds gathered to see her speak with Our Lady at the Grotto during the apparitions.
This fact is aggravated by the fact that Saint Bernadette was from the countryside where such attention causes a much greater impression. The smaller the town, the more importance one attaches to it. It is easier for a New Yorker (to use an American example) to criticize New York than for villagers to criticize their own little town. When the mayor of the small village dies, the whole town shows up for the funeral. The entire village represents the whole world. It is considered extraordinary.
We might add that this atmosphere of the small countryside village has much more life and is more accommodating than the huge modern-day Babels in which the individual is like a loose grain of sand. In the village, each inhabitant is like the living cell of an organism. In New York or Sao Paulo, each is like a grain of sand in a huge pile in which each grain weighs on top of the others, and from which every windstorm takes grains far away.
Thus, we can understand what it meant for Saint Bernadette to have the whole town of Lourdes come see her. It was something extraordinary. However, her reaction was not to become vain. Rather she remained indifferent to the attention. During the whole time, she was completely and naturally herself before everyone. When called by the police to speak about the revelations, she behaved with extraordinary fearlessness and ease. Toward her parents, the parish priest and other upright people with whom she dealt, and later with her religious superiors, she was a model of respect and obedience.
Thus, we can see in her the spirit of a true ultramontane and Catholic woman. She is a true saint totally indifferent to the pomp and esteem of this world. By disregarding everything, she was not disregarded. For if she would have sought the applause of the world, she would not be free to do anything except those actions which would gain her this applause. She would be forced to play to their tune. Saint Bernadette Soubirous’ attitude was to be herself. If the world did not like it, she did not care. All she cared about was being faithful to the Holy Catholic Church.
When it came to legitimate authorities, her attitude was different. She took great care to show extreme obedience and respect. This is because there was a supernatural principle that was involved and not merely the human factor of herself. She did not care about the ways of the world, but she showed all due care and respect to things with a religious root, which came from God.
|Our Lady of Lourdes in the grotto where she appeared to Saint Bernadette and declared |
“I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Saint Bernadette Soubirous impressed many by her conduct during the apparitions. She converted countless people simply by the way she made the sign of the cross. She learned this from Our Lady – the supreme model of friends and worshippers of Jesus Christ – and thus she acquired a love of suffering and of the Cross of Christ. Hence something of Our Lady’s unction would show in her when she made the sign of the cross.
Even after the apparitions, she edified people as they watched her make the sign of the cross, something we often do haphazardly without attaching due importance to what we are doing.
However, what most deeply impressed people was her whole demeanor during the apparitions. They perceived she was in contact with something they could not see but came from outside her.
They noted an extraordinary transformation in her. From a simple peasant girl, she would take on a majesty that impressed everybody. One lady from high society who saw her during an apparition said she had never seen a girl from the aristocracy with the bearing and stature of Saint Bernadette while speaking to Our Lady. In other words, because she was dealing with the Queen of Heaven and Earth, this Queen communicated to her something regal, and something of this virtue remained in her soul.
Many people realized that Our Lady was speaking to her, not because they saw Our Lady but because they saw Bernadette as a mirror of Our Lady. Indeed, during the apparitions, the seer was a kind of Speculum Mariae, or better, Speculum Justitiae. It is truly admirable to see how Our Lady communicates her virtues to her devotees, who, so to speak, imbibe them from her.
|Through Our Lady, Saint Bernadette acquired a love for suffering and of the Cross of Christ. She offered her life as an expiatory victim for sinners, but above |
all for a mysterious sinner who she did not name.
When a sister at her convent insisted with Sister Bernadette to tell them about the dress Our Lady was wearing when she appeared. She answered that if they wanted to know the details let them ask Our Lady to come back so they can see for themselves.
This was characteristic of Saint Bernadette’s many picturesque comments. Her superior often tried to make them less biting and more polite but finally allowed them to go through. Bernadette’s sayings had a note that was both comic and fiery with a sharp edge that showed her bubbly temperament.
When asked if she was proud of being chosen by Our Lady, she replied: “Who do you think I am? The Blessed Mother picked me because I was the most ignorant one. Had she found someone more ignorant than me she would certainly have chosen her.”
Such a comment was not only humble but also quite true. Humility is truth. Our Lady chose her because she was the most ignorant girl in Lourdes. Before the revelations, she was a good girl but not a saint. Our Lady chose her because her ignorance was one of the extraordinary arguments to confirm the apparitions. She was such an ignorant peasant girl that she simply had no means to know about the spiritual things she told the authorities. She did not have the spiritual background to maintain the attitude she maintained. Her ignorance was one of the apologetic aspects of Lourdes.
While very lively, Saint Bernadette could easily go unnoticed. In time, her illness gradually wore her down. Actually her situation is similar to that of Saint Therese, the Little Flower. She offered her life as an expiatory victim for sinners, but above all for a mysterious sinner who she did not name and for whom she suffered horribly so he would make amends and be sanctified. Was it a man of her time or a man to come in the future, whose existence Providence revealed to her? No one knows.
One biography of Saint Bernadette mentions the fact that Our Lady revealed a secret to her, which she never said anything about. It seems that it was something related to the identity of that mysterious sinner. Thus the three great apparitions of Our Lady of our times all had secrets: Our Lady of La Salette, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady of Fatima.
Let us ask Saint Bernadette to obtain for us a great devotion to Our Lady and that she may increasingly communicate Our Lady’s virtues to us.
The preceding text is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on April 15, 1966. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
BRUSSELS, Belgium, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Brussels was hit in the face with custard pies by homosexual activists who oppose what the head of the Belgian Catholic Church has said about homosexuality.
The archbishop, widely recognized to have been installed in Belgium by Pope Benedict XVI to reform the liberal Belgian Church, which has been riddled with covered-up homosexual abuse scandals, has been verbally and physically attacked, and ostracized for his staunch orthodox Catholicism.
This week, a well-known Belgian prankster, known as “The Glooper,” who has targeted French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Microsoft founder Bill Gates in the past, posted videos of the pie attacks on YouTube.
At least four pie attacks took place before and during the archbishop’s speaking presentation at the renowned liberal Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve near Brussels.
This is the second time that Archbishop Leonard has been attacked with pies by homosexual activists. In December 2010, a man ran up to the archbishop during a service at the Brussels cathedral and shoved a cherry pie in his face, apparently in connection with his statements on homosexuality.
All the incidents stem from comments Leonard made in a book released last October, in which he said that AIDS is a consequence of risky sexual behavior, including homosexual sexual activity. “AIDS at the beginning multiplied through sexual behaviour with all sorts of partners or else through anal rather than vaginal sexual rapports,” said Leonard.
“When you mistreat the environment it ends up mistreating us in turn,” he continued. “And when you mistreat human love, perhaps it winds up taking vengeance … All I’m saying is that sometimes there are consequences linked to our actions. I believe this is a totally decent, honourable and respectable stance.”
In December, Leonard was targeted by homosexualist groups, condemned by the country’s prime minister, and distanced by his fellow bishops. A lawyer, acting on behalf of a homosexualist lobby group, filed a formal complaint against Leonard for “homophobic statements” and “violating an anti-discrimination law.” Academics at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, where his talk took place earlier this week, circulated a petition at the time calling for Leonard’s resignation from his post as the university’s chancellor.
“There is in the homosexual tendency and practice an orientation that is not coherent with the objective logic of sexuality,” he wrote at the time.
Archbishop Leonard has also been attacked for his views on abortion. A key speaker at last year’s March for Life in Belgium, Leonard has been an enthusiastic supporter of the pro-life initiative.
The activists who attacked the archbishop with pies said it was precisely for such views that they were targeting Leonard. One of them reportedly told Belgian media, “for all those homosexuals who daren’t tell their parents they are gay, for all those young girls who want to have an abortion, he absolutely deserved it.”
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
And unfortunately, it will be on public display until May 29!
The silence and indifference of Catholics encourages the promoters of blasphemy to push their agenda.
We ask, why so many blasphemies against the Blessed Mother? I don’t have all the answers, but perhaps they’re trying to shake the deep love and veneration you and I have for Holy Mary.
If the promoters of blasphemy hope to dull our love for God’s Holy Mother with these shocking and repeated attacks, they are dead wrong! Much to the contrary -- we will strive to increase our love for the Blessed Virgin Mary by protesting blasphemy with ever-greater zeal and increasing our acts of reparation! I’m sure you agree that we must rise to this occasion and protest, with all our hearts.
We must show Our Lord Jesus Christ that we care and that we love His most pur and holy Mother, the Patroness of the Americas, and that we will defend Her holy honor no matter how many times She is attacked and insulted. We will continue to do this by our prayerful protest and reparation, as it is the only way of showing our gratitude and our only hope of redeeming ourselves.
That is why I am urging you to speak out, and to:
On behalf of the Virgin of Guadalupe’s most pure honor, please join us in this peaceful and prayerful protest.
Monday, April 11, 2011
(LifeSiteNews.com) - The Catholic archbishop of Santa Fe has issued a pastoral letter, read in all parishes of the archdiocese on April 3, that explains the Catholic Church’s position on reception of the sacraments to those living in cohabitation.
“We are all painfully aware that there are many Catholics today who are living in cohabitation,” the pastoral letter by Archbishop Michael Sheehan begins. “The Church must make it clear to the faithful that these unions are not in accord with the Gospel, and to help Catholics who find themselves in these situations to do whatever they must do to make their lives pleasing to God.”
The Gospel teaches that, when it comes to sexual union, “there are only two lifestyles acceptable to Jesus Christ for His disciples: a single life of chastity, or the union of man and woman in the Sacrament of Matrimony,” the archbishop states. “There is no ‘third way’ possible for a Christian. The Bible and the Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman and opposes same sex unions.”
In the short and concise pastoral letter, Archbishop Sheehan explains the objection of the Church to the “three groups of people who are living contrary to the Gospel teaching on marriage” receiving Communion.
These three groups are those who cohabit; those who have a civil union with no sacramental marriage; and those who have a civil union who were married before.
“These people are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion. They are in great spiritual danger. At the best - and this is, sadly, often the case - they are ignorant of God’s plan for man and woman. At the worst, they are contemptuous of God’s commandments and His sacraments.”
The solutions available to these people are straightforward, according to the archbishop.
“Of these three groups, the first two have no real excuse. They should marry in the Church or separate.”
“The third group, those who were married before and married again outside the Church, can seek a marriage annulment and have their marriage blest in the Church. Please remember that divorce still is no reason to refrain from Holy Communion as long as they have not entered into another marriage or sinful relationship. Many Catholics are confused on this point.”
Archbishop Sheehan also states that people in these three situations may not be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, nor be admitted to the role of sponsor for Baptism or Confirmation.
“It is critical for the sponsor to be a practicing Catholic - and can anyone be seriously called a practicing Catholic who is not able to receive the sacraments because they are living in sin?” the archbishop posits.
“Many of these sins are committed out of ignorance,” Archbishop Sheehan observes, adding, “I ask that our pastors preach on the gravity of sin and its evil consequences, the 6th and 9th Commandments of God, and the sacramental nature and meaning of Christian marriage.”
“I urge especially young people to not cohabitate which is sinful, but to marry in the Church and prepare well for it,” the archbishop concludes.
The full text of Archbishop Sheehan’s pastoral letter, titled, “Pastoral Care of Couples Who are Cohabitating” is available here.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
This photograph is of Saint Gemma Galgani (1878-1903), a famous mystic who lived in the enchanting town of Lucca, Italy.
Her countenance is impressive for several reasons. First, we note her profound reflection and the harmony of her traits. Second, the saint’s gaze has something elevated and sublime about it. Her thoughts are not of this earth: her countenance displays a supernatural aura.
Her dignity and angelic purity are striking. This is seen by the way her head rests on her shoulders: straight and unpretentious.
She wears no adornment at all. Her hair is simply combed and arranged. Her face is very clean and reveals nothing of a desire for embellishment.
Her dress is black and simple. Yet, St. Gemma combines an extraordinary dignity with a virginal purity which is impalpably reflected in the luminous splendor of her skin. One could say that her skin is as luminous as her gaze. Moreover, her gaze reflects total uprightness. It is that of a mystic immersed in that which she sees. Even we discern something of what she perceives.
The virtue of fortitude also shines forth in her countenance. When the Faith commands her to do something, her will is unbending.
What does she desire? She wants to serve God, Our Lady and the Catholic Church. She forges ahead on this road regardless of the obstacles. She represents the strong woman of incomparable values referred to in Holy Scriptures. Like a rare stone, one readily walks to the ends of the earth to find her.
Her feast is on April 11.
(Published in the August 1999 issue of Catolicismo)
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
One of the major arguments that feminists use to impose abortion upon our country is that women, especially poor women, are going to get abortions anyway.
By providing “safe” facilities to these poor women, we can prevent them from resorting to shady back alley abortion doctors, persons lacking the necessary skills, or environments lacking minimal medical standards. Such operations, they claim, were often botched and lead to the death, not only of the babies, but countless women.
As bad as the back alley abortion is, the front alley abortion is much worse.
Front alley abortions are those legal abortion mills that operate normally and are open to the public. They have all the appearances of a legitimate business. They may even have nice sounding names like Woman’s Medical Society or similar misnomers.
These establishments have all the protection of the government since abortion enjoys legal protection under law. They also have the slavish support of liberals and media who see these mills as essential to “reproductive rights.” Government regulating agencies seem to be more interested in tanning salons than what goes on inside these abortion mills.
The appearance of these clinics in the front part of the alley, and not the back, gives them all the appearance of respectability.
Protected by the veneer of this respectability and the force of law, some operators have used these fronts as a shield allowing them to commit the most horrible acts with impunity. What goes on behind the closed doors of these front alley clinics can go far beyond anything in the back alley.
Of course, the most obvious case is what is now called Gosset’s House of Horrors, alias Women’s Medical Society, a clinic operated in West Philadelphia by Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D. According to the District Attorney’s report, Gosnell staffed his decrepit and unsanitary clinic entirely with unlicensed personnel, let them practice medicine on unsuspecting patients, unsupervised, and directed them to heavily drug patients in his absence. In addition, he regularly performed abortions beyond the 24-week limit prescribed by law. As a result, when viable babies were born, Gosnell killed them by plunging scissors into their spinal cords. He taught his staff to do the same. Meanwhile, government regulatory agencies turned a blind eye to blatant violations of health codes and practices.
Yet it seems Gosnell’s case is not the only one. Other houses of horror have been found. While most do not reach the point of Gosnell’s “House of Horrors,”the blatant disregard for any kind of standards seems to be a typical or systemic characteristic of front alley abortion mills. Indeed, violations of health regulations rules seem to be a common occurrence – and government failure to enforce the regulations as well. Consent laws are often circumvented by operators who secure abortions for minors. As the recent sting operations against Planned Parenthood have shown, many employees appear to have adopted the policy of failing to report abuse to the authorities. Many abortion doctors seem to have a hard time holding on to their licenses – and some workers never had them in the first place.
Just recently, the Texas Medical Board, for example, received complaints about the medical practices of twelve Texas abortion providers, called the “Dirty Dozen” by a pro-life watchdog group who claim to have documented violation of state and federal abortion laws. These front alley clinics were chosen at random and pro-life activists say that they found mishandling of private patient medical records, violations of consent laws, violations of the 24-hour waiting period required by law, improper disposal of biohazardous medical waste, the counseling of minors on how to flout parental notification laws, and more.
That is to say, behind the shield of the front alley abortion clinic some of the most horrific things still take place. Yet it is not surprising. The nature of the business of abortion is such that it brutalizes human sensibilities. In this sense, every abortion, front or back alley, is a tragic denial of our humanity and will lead to that which is inhuman.
Monday, April 4, 2011
No one denies that some priests have terribly abused minors, and some bishops failed to act properly to stop this unspeakable harm. This is the qualifier that must be placed before any rational discussion of the sexual abuse scandals.
However, there is a story that is not being told. In the hysteria surrounding these scandals, many innocent priests are being falsely accused. No one tells their story. David F. Pierre’s book Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church is a book that does much to expose this grave injustice.
The book is incredibly focused. It does not seek to enter into the details of many of the cases he cites. His message is simple: There is a double standard involved in the prosecution of abuse cases. There is a one-sided bias that assumes any priest who has been accused is “guilty until proven guiltier.”
The author cites case after case of media mistreatment of the scandals. One finds total publicity for those making accusations and little exposure for the priests to proclaim their innocence. The slightest charge receives a media uproar whereas the rampant abuse in the public schools and administrative cover-up get almost no coverage.
However, the worst part of this attack is that the priests themselves are marked forever as an accused. When priests are exonerated, their innocence is rarely reported and some are taken out of their ministries “just in case.” Some of these are priests with excellent records of decades of parish work without incident. The priest who has every right to his good reputation is not given this right. A number of priests have even refused to plea bargain and admit to a guilt they do not have. One of these chose to go to prison until he can establish his complete innocence.
Mr. Pierre cites numerous cases of false accusations – and false settlements which again are rarely reported. Many dioceses without the resources to get involved in many lawsuits simply make a joint settlement which assumes guilt on decades-old cases and besmirches the good names of the dead who have no defense. At times diocesan officials did not even ask for specifics about the time and place of alleged abuse, turning the settlement into something similar to “a trip to an ATM machine.”
Indeed, there is a double standard which the book well documents. In the name of one scandal, another one has been created by those leading the charge to associate every Catholic priest with abuse. There should be one standard – the standard of justice where everyone is innocent until proven guilty and not “guilty until proven guiltier.”
To purchase Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church by David F. Pierre, Jr., please click here for our Amazon.com link. A percentage of what you pay will benefit the TFP.
Friday, April 1, 2011
There are so many politically correct causes out there that it would not surprise me that even the most basic truths might be called into question.
For example, I was taught in my arithmetic class in primary school that 2+3=5 and any other answer would defeat the arithmetic purpose of counting. However, I could imagine confronting an activist that would contest this primary truth and proudly proclaim that 2+2=5.
The activist would affirm that in the name of “number equality” there is no real reason why 2 and 2 cannot add up to 5. All numbers are equal and they can pretty much add up to what we want them to mean. As long as we can add them together, why not allow them to equal 5?
Of course, my reply would be that 2+2 is simply not 5 no matter how much you wish it to be so. If you do this, you will destroy arithmetic. As soon as I say this, I already expect to hear the indignant response of the number equality activist almost shouting at me:
Why can’t 2+2=5? How concretely does my believing this hurt you? You are free to believe 2+3=5. Why do you hate those who proclaim the contrary? How does this destroy arithmetic?
Of course, the fact that my activist opponent believes that 2+2=5 does not really concretely hurt me. It will not directly destroy arithmetic. There are plenty of individuals out there who believe crazy things and this one would merely join the crowd of flat earthers.
However, the problem starts when the activist’s ideas start gaining acceptance and spreading around. Suddenly, merchants will be confronted by number equality activists who insist upon paying $4 for five dollar purchases. If the merchant refuses, he finds himself surrounded by activists screaming discrimination and insisting upon receiving five-dollar goods.
While even this might not destroy arithmetic, it certainly would cause major mathematical problems and agitation inside all areas of society where numbers have importance. As time goes on it would start to wear upon society.
The next phase, however, is where the real problems start. Suffering from the discrimination of merchants and other number-intensive trades (engineers for example), the activists will seek to have their cause recognized by the state. For too long, 2+3=5 has dominated arithmetic. In the name of equality and diversity, the 2+2 crowd will demand recognition and acceptance for number equality and arithmetic rights. They might even put some provisions in the law to punish those mathematically incorrect who refuse this recognition.
Even at this point, the activist will insist that the 2+3 people have nothing to fear. They are still free to believe in their cause as a kind of parallel universe where numbers don’t merely add up but serve a function in society.
Then we reach the final phase of the number equality agenda and here we return full circle to where it all begins. With state recognition of 2+2=5, the primary schools would be forced to teach that both 2+2 AND 2+3 are equal to 5. The children are free to choose which option or options they feel more comfortable with. And here, yes, arithmetic is destroyed since it can no longer fulfill its function of counting.
I am reminded of the number equality activists in the same-sex “marriage” debate. One man and one woman equal marriage. It has a specific function in society of procreation, the mutual affection of spouses and the education of children. The minute you introduce another formation which features a naturally contraceptive union, it is not marriage no matter how much marriage “equality” activists insist that it is. The minute you get state recognition for this new formula and insist that it be equally taught to children as marriage, marriage is destroyed.
It is something that should be as obvious as 2+3=5.