Philippines Catholics to rally against government population policy

Philippines Catholics to rally against government population policy

Manila, Jul 22, 2008 / 02:40 am (CNA).- Thousands of Catholic faithful are expected to attend a prayer rally and march at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on Friday in protest of a proposed population policy. Some policy provisions would permit government funding for artificial birth control, while others would fully fund tubal ligations and vasectomies. The bill also proposes a non-mandatory “two child policy” and requires employers in collective bargaining agreements to fund contraceptives.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said in a statement that the rally and march will be a movement of Christian believers who oppose “immoral” policies. The event coincides with the fortieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae.

“It will be a bit festive because of the Humanae Vitae’s fortieth year but very militant as well,” said Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary for the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life. “It is our way of telling our legislators strongly but respectfully that we are in opposition of these bills,” he continued.

Members of over 45 lay and religious Catholic groups will attend the three-hour rally, which will include a Mass celebrated by several clergymen, including Angel Lagdameo, Archbishop of Jaro and CBCP President. The event will also feature testimonies and talks from clergymen, married couples and experts on Humanae Vitae, including the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Gaudenico Rosales.

Father Castro said the rally could be the prelude to many others if Congress approves the bill, whose full name is an “Act providing for a national policy on reproductive health, responsible parenthood and population development.”

According to Father Castro, the bill is moving through the lower House with “great speed.”

Attorney Jo Imbong, executive secretary of the CBCP Legal Office, said the bill would fully fund tubal ligations and vasectomies for indigent patients and others as part of PhilHealth benefits. She reported that the bill also defines hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, and other contraceptives as “essential medicines.”

It also proposes that taxpayer-funded Mobile Health Care Service vans provide birth control methods in all congressional districts.

Fenny Tatad, executive director of the Bishops-Legislators Caucus of the Philippines, criticized the bill’s requirement that some employers provide contraceptives for employees and also its two-child policy.

“This and all the above-mentioned proposals are considered gross violations of the pro-family provisions of the Constitution and the universal right to health of citizens,” Tatad said. “Public funds coming from Catholic taxpayers will fund these programs which is oppressive and in violation of their universal right to religious freedom and the freedom to live their faith in an environment that is free of coercion and harassment.”

No action to be taken against professor who threatened to desecrate Eucharist, university says

No action to be taken against professor who threatened to desecrate Eucharist, university says

Professor P.Z. Myers / Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson

Morris, MN, Jul 23, 2008 / 04:53 am (CNA).- The University of Minnesota has told CNA that disciplinary action has not been taken against Professor Paul Zachary Myers, a biology professor at the school’s Morris campus who threatened to acquire and desecrate a consecrated Host on his popular science blog Pharyngula. However, impeachment proceedings have begun against the University of Central Florida student senator who took a Host from a Catholic Mass in the incident which inspired Myers to make his threat.

Daniel Wolter, the News Service Director in the Office of University Relations at the University of Minnesota, reiterated in an e-mail to CNA that Professor Myers’ views “do not reflect the views of the University of Minnesota.”

“We appreciate the Catholic League's making us aware of the improper link to Myers' blog that was on the University website,” Wolter wrote. “That link has been removed as it was a violation of University web policy.”

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights had criticized Myers’ threat in a July 10 press release, calling for those who oversee Myers to “act quickly and decisively.”

University’s response

Wolter said in his e-mail that “no disciplinary action has been taken against Professor Myers.”

He referred CNA to Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson’s message to the University of Minnesota at Morris community for further comment.

In her statement, Chancellor Johnson said:

“I deeply regret that the postings have been so upsetting to so many people and that this has, in turn, caused some individuals to question the values of civility, respect, academic inquiry and critical thought that are the hallmark of this institution.”

She said personal and intellectual engagement at the school is done in “in the framework of intellectual and critical inquiry, not from a platform of name-calling and derogation.”

In her message, Chancellor Johnson voiced her expectation that faculty and staff “interact and engage in a civil and respectful way in the workplace, and it is my hope that this demeanor would extend beyond the boundaries of their University responsibilities and commitments.”

The outcry surrounding Professor Myers stems from his threats to acquire and desecrate the Eucharist in a July 8 posting on his blog Pharyngula. In that post, in which he derisively called the consecrated Host a “cracker,” Myers wrote:

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers wrote. “…if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage… but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”

Subsequent to posting his request for Communion hosts on his blog, Myers told CNA that he had received hosts from a number of people, both in person and through the mail.

The case of Cook

Myers made the threat in response to an incident at the University of Central Florida (UCF) where student senator Webster Cook had taken a consecrated Host from a June 29 Mass and kept it in his possession for a week despite pleas for its return.

Cook claimed he had received death threats because of his action and filed an official abuse complaint with the UCF student court, alleging that a Catholic leader had forcibly tried to retrieve the Host which Cook had taken back to his seat. His complaint was dismissed.

Cook has also charged UCF Catholic Campus Ministries with violating campus anti-hazing rules governing the coerced consumption of food and has alleged the Catholic group has violated the school’s underage drinking policy by serving communion wine to underage students.

Catholic students had filed a formal complaint against Cook for disrupting the Mass. Cook also faces charges that he represented himself as a student senator in the incident.

On Thursday night after fifteen minutes of deliberation 33 of the 35 UCF student senators voted to impeach Cook on the charge he represented himself as a student senator, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The vote does not remove Cook from office, but instead begins an investigation that could remove him from his Senate seat if he is found to have violated Senate ethics rules.

The impeachment was prompted by an affidavit filed by a student government official, which includes statements from those associated with the Catholic Campus Ministry who confronted Cook at the June 29 Mass.

Cook was not at Thursday night’s Senate meeting, but was reported to have been on a planned family trip.

Myers: It’s about being forced to show respect

This past Sunday, Professor Myers wrote on his blog that he would desecrate a Koran in addition to desecrating a consecrated Host, writing, “Thanks to all who have demanded that I treat that silly book [the Koran] with disrespect, I’ll have to treat both equally.”

Catholic League President Bill Donohue had recently noted that in 2006 Myers had criticized those who published inflammatory cartoons disparaging the Muslim prophet Mohammed. In a Tuesday statement, Donohue said:

“The latest threat by Myers only makes matters worse. Instead of treating Catholicism with the respect he has previously shown for Islam, he now pledges to disrespect Islam the way he pledges to disrespect Catholicism (once again!). This is his idea of equal treatment.”

Donohue argued that Myers had an opportunity to either rebut or sustain claims that there is a “moral vacuity” in Darwinian visions of society, depending on whether or not he engaged in the threatened desecrations.

In an interview with Catholic Radio International, Professor Myers portrayed his threats as the result of what he perceives to be Bill Donohue’s forceful tactics rather than any official actions by the Church.

Myers was asked by radio show host Jeff Gardner if any official representative of the Catholic Church had told him he had to believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. “Well, that’s actually a very good point,” said Myers. “There’s been no official response from the Catholic Church and I would make a deal here, that I would return these wafers to the nearest Catholic church if the Church would come out and disavow the tactics of Bill Donohue and the people who have threatened my job and have threatened my life,” Myers said.

Lambeth: African prelate demands resignation of gay bishop

Lambeth: African prelate demands resignation of gay bishop

London, Jul. 23, 2008 ( - An Anglican archbishop from Sudan has called upon an openly homosexual American bishop to step down "in order to preserve the unity of the Anglican communion."

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, speaking to the world's Anglican leaders at the Lambeth Conference, said that Bishopo Gene Robinson of New Hampshire must resign his post. He added that the other Anglican leaders who ordained Robinson should "confess to the conference" that they were wrong to do so.

Although he is taking part in the Lambeth Conference, Archbishop Deng reminded his colleagues that nearly 250 Anglican bishops are boycotting the event, primarily because of the split opened by the appointment of Bishop Robinson. Most of the prelates involved in the boycott are from Africa, where the Anglican communion has experienced robust growth in recent years.

Speaking on behalf of those African Anglicans, Archbishop Deng said that the acceptance of homosexual relations "violated Anglican norms." He reported that the willingness of American and European church leaders to accept homosexuality had caused major problems for Anglican churches in Africa. "We are being called 'infidels' by the Islamic world," he told them.

The Sudanese archbishop complained that the Lambeth Conference has not allowed for a forthright discussion of homosexuality, and exhorted leaders of the Anglican world to begin that conversation.

A spokesman for Bishop Robinson said that the American prelate had no intention of resigning.

Muslim warriors" threaten bishop in Philippines

Muslim warriors" threaten bishop in Philippines

Manila, Jul. 24, 2008 (CNA/ - A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines’ Basilan province has received a letter from self-described “Muslim warriors,” possibly linked to Abu Sayyaf, who are threatening him with harm if he does not convert to Islam or pay “Islamic taxes.”

Further, authorities are seeking the return of three adults and two children, all Catholics, who were kidnapped in the same area this week.

On July 19 Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela sent a copy of the threatening letter to Church-run Radio Veritas in Quezon City, UCA News reports. Bishop Jumoad told UCA News that a student at Claret College in Isabela was told to give the letter to the school secretary who could pass it along to the bishop.

The writers of the letter claimed to be “Muslim warriors” who “don't follow any laws other than the Qur'an.” They say the bishop should convert to Islam or pay the Islamic tax, called a jizya, to their group in exchange for protecting him “in the place of Muslims.” If the bishop refuses, the letter threatened, “force, weapons or war may be used” against him. Citing bombings in other Philippines cities, the letter said he should not feel safe even if protected by soldiers.

Bishop Jumoad was given two mobile cell phone numbers and told he had fifteen days to respond. The letter bore the two names “Puruji Indama” and “Nur Hassan J. Kallitut,” both of whom were titled “Mujahiddin.” The letter was accompanied by a letterhead in the local dialect that said “Al-Harakatul Islamiyya.” The bishop said he has seen the phrase “Al-Harakatul” in kidnapping incidents in Basilan involving the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. He also reported that other Catholics have said they are receiving threatening letters. “Bishop, we are disoriented and we cannot sleep. What is our reaction to this?" they have reportedly said.

On July 21 the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’’ CBCP News reported that three adults and two children who are members of a parish in Basilan had been kidnapped from a public jeep. Provincial administrator Talib A. Barahim on Tuesday told UCA News that no one has reported receiving a ransom demand.

Muslims who commit violence were rebuked at a joint conference between Catholic bishops and Muslim scholars on Monday in Manila, where Hamid Barra, the Muslim convener of the conference, underlined Islamic belief in the sacredness of life.

“It is God who gave life; he is the only one authorized to take life,” he said.

Barra, an Islamic law expert, explained that non-Muslims protected by an Islamic state are required to pay the jizya tax, which is used to support the needy, but no such payment is required in a non-Islamic state.

St. Louis archdiocese sues rebellious parish

St. Louis archdiocese sues rebellious parish

St. Louis, Jul. 24, 2008 ( - The St. Louis archdiocese has filed a civil lawsuit against the board of a rebellious parish, in an effort to restore archdiocesan control.

The archdiocese argues that the leaders of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish has violated their own corporate bylaws by rejecting the authority of the local archbishop. Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke excommunicated the board members of the parish after they defied the archbishop and appointed a pastor who was not in good standing with the Church. The archdiocese has announced that if the lawsuit is successful, a new administrator will be appointed to lead St. Stanislaus Kostka parish.

In the suit filed in Missouri court on July 23, the archdiocese is joined by six parishioners, including three former members of the board of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. The former board members-- Bernice Krauze, Stanley Rozanski, and Robert Zabielski -- have all been reconciled with the Church.

The priest currently heading the parish, Father Marek Bozek, was also excommunicated by Archbishop Burke. Father Bozek, a priest of the neighboring Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese, came to the parish without ecclesiastical approval, having been suspended by his own bishop there. A native of Poland, Father Bozek has a checkered career that includes participating in a feminist "ordination" ceremony-- another offense that would bring automatic excommunication.

Father Bozek is one of the two named defendants in the lawsuit brought by the archdiocese; the other is Bill Bialczak, the chairman of the parish board.

That parish board voted in June to dissolve itself, and schedule new elections in August.

Sacred Music — Time to Reconnect with Worship?

Sacred Music — Time to Reconnect with Worship?
by Richard Perrignon
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Over the years, criticism of music in Catholic worship has become something of a fashion. But when an internationally renowned musician of the caliber of Peter Phillips, artistic director of the world-famous vocal ensemble The Tallis Scholars, joins in — and looks to the pope for the Church's artistic salvation ("Can Pope Benedict restore church music?" The Spectator, November 28, 2007) — it is time for the Church to sit up and take a good look at itself. Phillips makes his point thus:

For a Church which prides itself on continuation and tradition this [public criticism of Church music in the 20th century as in the 16th] is a sorry record indeed. The Anglicans, with their long-lived choir schools and uninterrupted support for good choral music of every period, have done very much better. As have the Orthodox. Nonetheless it does seem as though the low standards tolerated and encouraged by the Catholic hierarchy since Vatican II are at last being addressed . . . Through countless reigns it has been assumed that music is something which can be ordered to size and then cut to fit an agenda, like a vestment or a smell or even an architectural interior, and yet still be attractive music. That this is not true is something which is coming home to roost.

Phillips refers to the recent criticism of choral standards at St. Peter's Basilica by Monsignor Valentin Miserachs Grau, director of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, who says that the standards were not enhanced by the practice of inviting foreign choirs to sing regularly, and applauds Pope Benedict's push to make more of the local Vatican choir.

After drawing a parallel between Pope Benedict's love of chant and that of his predecessors in the 16th century, Phillips continues:

By 1600 polyphony was on the way out, chant was not on the way in, and the standard of singing in Catholic services began a long descent which eventually made possible the decisions of Vatican II.

In this way, Phillips echoes a chorus of criticism which has been growing since the 1960s, when implementation of the Vatican II pronouncements on music commenced. See, for example, Thomas Day, Why Catholics Can't Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste, New York, 1990; D. Daintree, "Spare me this music", The Tablet, June 24, 1995; D. Thompson, "In the name of all that's holy", The Spectator, London, November 2007.

A fresh assessment is called for. But by what standards should such an assessment be conducted?

According to Phillips, "true art . . . is the goal here". One might ask, as did Pilate of truth, "what is art?" Perhaps the correct answer is, "that which humanity judges it to be over the ages". From experience, Phillips knows that the sacred polyphonic music of the Renaissance era — by which I mean music sung in many parts, usually unaccompanied, by composers like Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria, Guerrero, Dufay, Brumel, Tallis and many others — is considered by people around the world to be "high art", no less than the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, the sculpture of Michelangelo, or the architecture of Bernini.

Specializing in this sacred polyphony, Phillips and the Tallis Scholars regularly fill concert halls around the globe, and sell recordings as if they were hot cakes. The New York Times has dubbed them "the rock stars of Renaissance vocal music". Theirs is not "popular" music, in the sense that the rock-'n-roll industry might use the term, but its popularity is manifest nevertheless. So powerful is the intrinsic appeal of this music, expressing as it does the entire gamut of human emotion, that it retains its popularity even when divorced from the Catholic liturgy for which it was designed.

The public performance, recording and sheer availability of this polyphonic music is a very contemporary phenomenon. Due to the prodigious musical scholarship of the twentieth century, and the advent of ever more advanced recording and distribution technologies for sound and printed music, this form of sacred art is more widely appreciated, available and demanded today than it has ever been in history. The pity is that today, great Catholic polyphony is far more likely to be found in a record store, or on iTunes, than in a Catholic church. By failing to reserve a place for this art in its worship — or worse, by driving it from the liturgy altogether — the Church fails to keep up with the times, and loses the very contemporary relevance with many clergy so ardently crave.

Its popularity aside, there is another compelling reason why this music ought be re-connected with the living liturgy. It expresses the sacredness of the liturgical action, and of the occasion. It is, by its very nature, "other worldly". It defines sonically the difference between a sacred space or experience — that is, within a church or sanctuary — and the ordinary experience of everyday life. Recently, Pope Benedict referred to this concept, in a different context, as the "sacrality" of religious experience.1 A sense of the sacred is absent when the air waves are dominated by music whose aim is to express and reflect the ordinary in human experience, either by adopting musical idioms common to pop music or strains commonly heard in American sitcoms, or simply by the banal nature of monodic musical construction, which characterizes much of the music heard in Catholic parishes today.

Re-connecting with Catholic heritage

How, then, can this high art be re-connected with the liturgy of the Catholic Church, or of other Christian denominations which seek to make appropriate use of our common cultural heritage?

Phillips points to the Anglican tradition, "with their long-lived choir schools and uninterrupted support for good choral music of every period . . ." There can be little doubt that good choral music needs good choral schools. Though the Anglican choral tradition is a fine one, the practice of music in contemporary Anglican worship is not without problems,2 and it would not be correct to suggest that it surpasses, or ever did surpass, that of the Catholic tradition at its highest levels.

But the Catholic Church has no lack of excellent choir schools. For centuries, the endowment and conduct of such schools has been at the center of Catholic tradition. Excellent contemporary examples are readily to be found at Regensburg Cathedral in Germany (of which Pope Benedict's brother, Georg, was himself musical director), Notre Dame in Paris, Westminster Cathedral in London, and at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, to name but a very few.

The Catholic Church has chosen to concentrate its artistic resources on the pursuit of musical high art in those cultural centers where it is considered most appropriate — namely, the major cathedrals around the world. There is simply not the money to endow professional choir schools in every parish.

This, however, cannot explain why liturgical music generally — and parish music in particular — has reached its current state. Nor does it justify denying ordinary Christians, for whom it is not convenient to attend Mass at a major cathedral, access to high musical art in the context of their worship. Still less can it justify denying to the children of the faithful proper access to instruction in the techniques of its practice. After all, the Catholic Church has over the centuries amassed a corpus of musical art which is second to none. The Church has a cultural duty — quite apart from its religious duties — to assure the survival of that corpus of sacred music, and its continued availability to the faithful whom it exists to serve.

Where Church music got off-track

So, how did we come to this pass, and what's the way out?

Much of the current malaise can be traced back to the Second Vatican Council, and the implementation of the norms contained in Chapter VI of its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which was promulgated on December 4, 1963. It is not intended here to examine the arguments for and against the policies expressed in Chapter VI, or to engage in controversy over the extent to which sacred music was already in decline prior to the 1960s. Doubtless, debate on these issues, and the historic legacy of Vatican II, will continue for many years.

Three things, however, are tolerably clear.

First, it was not the intention of the Council Fathers to denigrate sacred music, still less to eliminate chant or sacred polyphony from the liturgy. So much is clear from the terms of Sacrosanctum Concilium itself. Indeed, it is stunning — and sad — to compare the sentiment and exhortations expressed by the Fathers with the reality of what followed:

Article 112: The musical tradition of the universal church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy . . . Therefore, sacred music is to be considered the more holy, the more closely connected it is with the liturgical action, whether making prayer more pleasing, prompting unity of minds, or conferring greater solemnity on the sacred rites . . .

Article 114: The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30.

Article 115: Great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiates and houses of study of religious of both sexes, and also in other Catholic institutions and schools. To impart this instruction, teachers are to be carefully trained and put in charge of the teaching of sacred music. It is desirable also to found higher institutes of sacred music whenever this can be done . . .

Article 116: The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman Liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.3

Reading these exhortations, one can be forgiven for wondering what went wrong. The contemporary reality is so far divorced from the desires of the Fathers that one's natural inclination is to inquire who sabotaged the implementation of these fine sentiments. Much of the blame, regrettably, must lie with those charged with that implementation and with the administration of the affairs of the Church generally — that is, the clergy itself. And — unless the Church undergoes a radical reorganization of its hierarchical structures, which seems unlikely — it is from the clergy that the proper implementation of the Council's desires must ultimately come.

Secondly, in the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium that followed, bishops took advantage of the permission in SC article 36 to use vernacular languages in the celebration of the Mass according to the revised Roman Missal of 1970. When the Missal was translated into vernacular languages, Latin was effectively eliminated from the liturgy entirely. The immediate result was that chant and polyphony — the art forms that had been used over the centuries to set the Latin prayers of the Missal to music — became immediately obsolete. Not only was this music not encouraged or provided for in the vernacular celebrations of the Mass, it was seen as being indelibly associated with an obsolete Liturgy and with the Tridentine tradition.

This view was historically misinformed, however. Most sacred polyphony pre-dated the Council of Trent by decades or centuries. The Council of Trent did not ban sacred polyphony, though it did not encourage it.4 The 19th-century account by Abbe Giuseppe Baini about how the Council Fathers were persuaded against such a ban by the music of Palestrina, who thereby "saved" sacred music, is apocryphal.5 But the Council of Trent's generally negative attitude toward polyphony may account for the demise of that music in Catholic liturgy within about fifty years. The official rehabilitation of sacred polyphony and authentic chant would not happen until the early 20th century.6

Even after the Mass was translated into vernacular languages following the Second Vatican Council, there was no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There were and still are plenty of ways to utilize sacred polyphony — and chant — in the vernacular liturgy, to its great benefit. This is done by skilled choirs weekly, if not daily, in major cathedrals around the world.

The spirit of disruption

But one must remember the social and historical context in which Vatican II was conducted. The 1960s witnessed an era of iconoclasm, and the glorification of youth, which — in the West at least — was enjoying the benefits of post-war prosperity and the economic empowerment that comes with disposable income. It was the era of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and other popular ensembles who were accumulating immense fortunes by forging new mass markets for the consumption of recorded and printed music, composed of emerging generations of cashed-up teenagers. It was an era in which anything old was despised, and which saw the general deconstruction of anything that smacked of tradition. As Bob Dylan proclaimed, "The times, they are a-changin'".

Thirdly, the Council Fathers desired — by no means unreasonably — that the faithful should actively participate in the liturgy. This was one of the most pervasive themes of Sacrosanctum Concilium:

Article 14: Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the Liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people" (I Pet 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In the restoration and promotion of the Sacred Liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

The Council desired that congregational participation should extend to music-making, among other things:

Article 30: To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

However, the Council never contemplated that musical activities of congregations would banish properly trained choirs from the liturgy, for which they specifically reserved a place:

Article 29: Servers, lectors commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function. They ought, therefore, to discharge their office with the sincere piety and decorum demanded by so exalted a ministry and rightly expected of them by God's people. Consequently they must all be deeply imbued with the spirit of the Liturgy, each in his own measure, and they must be trained to perform their functions in a correct and orderly manner.

The Council expected and desired a balance between choral and congregational music-making. Precisely where that balance should lie would no doubt depend on the solemnity of the occasion and other practical factors. The requirement for balance was quickly forgotten, or conveniently ignored, in the zeal of many clergy and lay musicians — particularly those who had neither a taste for musical high art, nor the skills to perform it — to appear to implement the liturgical norms of the Council.

There grew up in the 1970s a mentality in which anything learned or old — chant, for example, or sophisticated choral music — was feared and loathed as being "elitist" and considered ripe for destruction. Choral music was often replaced wholesale by monody. That is, single-line music with instrumental accompaniment — almost always an electric organ. This led to the absurd contemporary spectacle of cantors — often egged on by an admiring clergy — singing so-called "congregational" music solo, or practically so, amplified by ever more powerful public address systems, which serves only to belie the fact that the congregation cannot, or does not want to, participate in this way.

So it was almost inevitable that, despite the manifest intention of the Council Fathers to preserve the "sacred treasury" of music built up by the Church through the ages, that very treasury should be driven from the Church, in the perpetual search for something new. Now, in the fullness of time, our folly in this sad saga of artistic deconstruction has become clear, rendering our worship commonplace and often uninspiring.

Musical education is essential

If that is the cause of the problem, what is its cure? Is it simply a contest between "good" and "bad" music, between what Professor Day has described as "reformed folk" and high art? Is one kind of music to be preferred to all others, and are those others to be excluded from worship? The answer must surely be "no". Such a course would only perpetuate the so-called "liturgy wars", which have raged in America for decades, between musicians and so-called "liturgists" of either faction. It turns us against each other without justification, and produces nothing but the scandal of division at the Lord's table.

The answer, surely, is education. At present, Catholics in Australia are often denied access to the simplest musical education at the parish level, which would enable them to appreciate — or even perform — the art which is their culture and heritage. It is here that the parish choir tradition — for which the Anglican Church is famous — provides a valuable example. Children in an ordinary English village have a much better chance of joining a properly directed parish choir than do their counterparts in Australia, regardless of denomination. In a properly formed and instructed choir, children can learn basic skills of music reading and voice production, and of singing in multiple parts, accompanied and unaccompanied. They are exposed to an artistic repertoire stretching from chant to the present day, which can form the basis for more detailed study later, or just for exploring the artistic riches of their cultural heritage in adulthood.

It is this culture that produces the great musicians of the English cathedrals, and of the world-renowned college choirs of Oxford and Cambridge universities, of which the choirs of King's College and St. John's College are but examples. We in Australia would do well to emulate this parish tradition, and to encourage its higher development at our university colleges and cathedrals. It means investment, yes, but of a much more modest character than setting up professional choir schools of paid singers outside the cathedrals. It is a practical goal. It has the potential to disseminate musical learning to a far greater cross-section of Christians than currently, and to feed our cathedral choir schools with already formed musicians, capable of greater artistic achievement by reason of their learning and experience. Education itself will in time create the demand for a higher standard of musical worship, ensuring that the vision of the Council Fathers is achieved.

For this to occur, there must first be a change of heart among those entrusted with the administration of the affairs of the Church. What is needed is a newfound respect — echoing and giving effect to that of the Council Fathers — for tradition, for learning, and for the proper place of high art in our worship.

So, from where will this initiative come? It has already started in the right place — that is, in Rome. In a hierarchical Church, reform often has a greater chance of success if it comes from the top. Peter Phillips is right in looking to Pope Benedict for artistic salvation, and he is right to hope that, from Pope Benedict, it will come. Let us hope that reform will come soon.


1. Pope Benedict XVI, letter dated July 7, 2007 addressed to the bishops of the world, accompanying the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. The latter authorized the more general celebration of the Mass as published in the Roman Missal of 1962, as the "extraordinary expression" of the Latin rite, alongside the "ordinary expression" of the same rite, the post-Vatican II Roman Missal of 1970 (Novus Ordo). Both are in Latin, but only the latter has been translated into the vernacular, and has been celebrated in parishes around the world from the 1970s to the present day.

2. For a trenchant critique of the current situation in Sydney, see Peter Phillips's article, "Beyond words: Sing in the Pews", The Spectator, January 16, 2008.

3. Vatican translation. [Accessible online at: - Ed.]

4. The recommendation the Council made at its 22nd sitting on September 17, 1562 reads as follows: "Ab ecclesiis vero musicas eas, ubi sive organo, sive cantu lascivum aut impurum aliquid miscetur item saeculares omnes actiones, vana atque adeo profana colloquia, arceant ut domus Dei vere domus orationis esse videatur ac dici possit." [Let them exclude from churches those pieces of music, whether sung or played, which are tainted with anything sensual or impure, and all things secular, and vain or even blasphemous utterances, so that the house of God may be seen to be, and may truly be called, a house of prayer.] (Author's translation).

5. Baini, G., Memorie storico-critiche della vita e dell' opera di Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina, Rome, 1828. For critiques of Baini's account, see Stove, Palestrina: Prince of Music, Sydney, 1990, page 46; Pyne, Palestrina: His life and times, New York, 1970, page 47ff; and Coates, Palestrina, London, 1948, page 11 et seq.

6. The official version of Gregorian chant in the Tridentine era was the Editio Medicaea published in 1614, and essentially reprinted by Friederich Pustet as the Regensburg edition of 1871. Though not completed until after Palestrina's death in 1594, this version grew out of the papal commission to him and Annibale Zoilo of October 25, 1577, to conform the chants of the day to the new Breviarum Romanum (1568) and Missale Romanum (1570), prepared on the recommendations of the Council of Trent. For the text of the commission, see Strunk, Source Readings in Music History, New York, 1950.

It was not until the Motu Proprio issued by Pius X in 1903 [Tra le sollecitudini — accessible on the Adoremus web site: - Ed.] that the scholarly revisions of the chant by the monks of Solesmes were adopted as the official versions of the Church: see Dickerson, The Story of Christian Music, Oxford, 1992, pages 126-127.

Pro-lifers in mass rally in Manila

Pro-lifers in mass rally in Manila

Manila, Jul. 25, 2008 ( - Pro-life activists gathered in Manila on July 25 in a massive rally organized by the country's Catholic bishops and several lay groups to express opposition to a drive for a government-sponsored contraception campaign.

The demonstrators expressed their opposition to the Reproductive Health bill, now pending in the national legislature. The bill would launch a national drive to promote contraceptive use.

The rally, held at the University of Santo Tomas, was deliberately scheduled on the 40th anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (doc). Participants paid tribute to Pope Paul VI, the author of that 1968 encyclical, and to the Catholic Church generally, for upholding the dignity of human sexuality and the integrity of familiy life.

Manila's Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales led a large group of bishops at the rally. Also present were Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, the president of the Filipino bishops' conference; and Archbishop Edward Adams, the apostolic nuncio in Manila. Several members of the Filipino parliament also addressed the crowd.

Minnesota professor claims to have desecrated Eucharist

Minnesota professor claims to have desecrated Eucharist

Morris, MN, Jul 26, 2008 / 02:40 am (CNA).- Saying “Catholicism has been actively poisoning the minds of its practitioners” and characterizing religious instruction as “a devastating crime against the whole of the human race,” University of Minnesota at Morris biology professor Dr. Paul Zachary Myers claims to have carried out his threat to desecrate the Eucharist.

Prof. Myers says that he pierced a Host with a rusty nail and then threw it in the trash alongside coffee grounds, banana peels, and pages torn respectively from the Koran and a book by the atheist polemicist Richard Dawkins.

In a rambling prelude to his announcement of the desecration, Myers tried to explain his actions in a Thursday post on his blog “Pharyngula.” Referencing the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which he said codified Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist and established legal punishment for Jews, he said that accusations of Eucharistic desecration had been harmful to Jews in medieval Europe.

“That is the true power of the cracker, this silly symbol of superstition. Fortunately, Catholicism has mellowed with age — the last time a Catholic nation rose up to slaughter its non-Christian citizenry was a whole 70 years ago, after all — but the sentiment still lingers,” he said, apparently making a reference to the Spanish Civil War.

Myers said he had received “thousands of mindless comments” from Catholics and quoted several letters he had received. He said prayerful letters with no threats were representative of the majority of his e-mail, but he also quoted several threatening and bizarre e-mails.

The professor argued that Catholics were intolerant for demanding he be fired and sending threats, repeating his claim that he was motivated by the case of Webster Cook, a student senator at the University of Central Florida, who was accused of taking a Host from a Catholic Mass and keeping it in a plastic bag.

Responding to charges that he is an evil man, he said the truly evil were “hypocritical” clerics who dressed ornately while preaching poverty, people who “undermined family planning efforts for the poor.”

He then asserted that religious education is a crime against humanity, saying:

“And if I wanted to be so evil that I would commit a devastating crime against the whole of the human race, twisting the minds of children into ignorance and hatred, I would be promoting the indoctrination of religion in children's upbringing, and fomenting hatred against anyone who dared speak out in defiance.”

Saying he was inspired by an old woodcut that depicted Jews stabbing the Host, Myers then said he pierced what he claimed was a consecrated Host with a rusty nail.

“And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffee grounds and a banana peel. My apologies to those who hoped for more, but the worst I can do is show my unconcerned contempt,” he wrote.

Myers did not say where he had acquired the reputed consecrated Host or who had provided it.

He said the also threw in pages from the Koran and Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion,” posting a picture of the act on his blog which appeared to support his claims.

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, responded to Myers’ reported action in a Thursday statement.

Noting that a formal complaint has already been made against Myers, Donohue said “What he did—in both word and deed—constitutes a bias incident, as defined by the University of Minnesota.”

University policy states “Expressions of disrespectful bias, hate, harassment or hostility against an individual, group or their property because of the individual or group’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion…can be forms of discrimination.”

“It is important for Catholics to know that the University of Minnesota will not tolerate the deliberate destruction of the Eucharist by one of its faculty. Just as African Americans would not tolerate the burning of a cross, and Jews would not tolerate the display of swastikas, Catholics will not tolerate the desecration of the Eucharist,” Donohue said.

Pro-life student group sues Michigan university

Pro-life student group sues Michigan university

Detroit, Jul 26, 2008 / 09:14 am (CNA).- A pro-life student group at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan is suing the school alleging its free speech rights were violated last spring when the university denied funding for a week of pro-life events.

The group Students for Life said that, as a registered campus organization, it should be entitled to a portion of student fees like other groups are. The student group said it sought $4,000 from the university’s student council for snacks, T-shirts, fliers, and publicity but said the request was denied. A smaller budget was submitted and likewise rejected, according to the group.

Students for Life’s lawsuit says the initial request was rejected because of “spiritual and religious references.” However, the pro-life group says that it has no specific religious affiliation.

Students for Life Executive Director Kristan Hawkins explained to CNA that the situation was “strange” because the Students for Life group received event funding from Wayne State in the past. The move to deny the group financial support clearly “reflects on the current student government,” she said.

Hawkins described the situation as “tragic” because the Students for Life group on the campus has always acted in a professional manner. There is “no reason for this at all,” she asserted.

The group reportedly wanted to hold a pro-life trivia game on a stage at a busy area of the Student Center North Commons but was told to use another area, the lawsuit further alleges. The events also included the opportunity to have a photo taken with a model of an unborn child.

In the lawsuit, Students for Life and group members Juliegha Norus and Mark Robertson are seeking to have the university’s student fees spending policy declared illegal. The lawsuit also seeks unspecified monetary damages.

“Access for these groups to funding and facilities must be provided without regard to the group's viewpoint. When a public university enforces a viewpoint-discriminatory policy, the school violates the Constitution,” the group’s attorney Joseph Martins told the Associated Press.

Kristan Hawkins said that this type of behavior by student governments is a tragic pattern that has been moving across college campuses in the United States.

S. Dakota abortion clinic still no longer performing abortions, local pro-lifers say

S. Dakota abortion clinic still no longer performing abortions, local pro-lifers say

Sioux Falls, Jul 29, 2008 / 12:11 am (CNA).- South Dakota pro-life advocates continue to report that the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is no longer performing abortions after a rigorous informed consent state law took effect earlier this month, though they say further investigation is required for confirmation. “We were the first state that ever made Planned Parenthood put up a closed sign,” one pro-life leader said.

Dr. Allen Unruh, a leader in South Dakota’s Vote Yes for Life campaign, wrote a statement last week describing how on Monday, July 21 a sign on the Planned Parenthood clinic door said it was closed and women who had scheduled abortions were turned away.

“On this Monday, no unborn babies died in South Dakota by an abortion,” he said.

The clinic normally flies in a doctor from Minneapolis, Minnesota to perform fifteen to twenty abortions every Monday.

Dr. Unruh credited the state informed consent law for discouraging doctors from performing abortions.

“The penalties for abortionist's non-compliance could include a prison sentence, loss of medical license, and civil liability. In South Dakota, a wrongful death case can be brought for the death of an unborn child at any age of gestation,” he said.

“Time will tell if an abortionist will take the medical and legal risk of completing abortions in South Dakota without compliance to the 8th Circuit decision,” Unruh continued in his statement. “The new rules are that they must tell the truth. The immediate beneficiaries of this new law are the women and their children. The women will be better informed, and that information, for some, will most likely result in the women keeping their children. More children will live.”

In an interview with CNA on Monday, July 28, Dr. Unruh said there were still indications that no abortions were being performed at the Sioux Falls clinic. Sidewalk counselors had told him that none of the women who were apparently scheduled for abortions had showed at the clinic by 9:30 am.

He said pro-life advocates are still investigating the situation at the Sioux Falls abortion clinic, but Unruh was triumphant.

“We were the first state that ever made Planned Parenthood put up a closed sign,” he told CNA.

When informed of CNA’s Thursday interview with Minnesota-based Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola, who denied that abortion services had stopped in Sioux Falls, Dr. Unruh replied:

“Why didn’t the abortionists fly in on that day? They cannot deny that they had a closed sign there last Monday.”

He told CNA that local pro-lifers feel that the cessation of abortions in South Dakota is a “Gettysburg in the ‘civil war’ for the unborn.”

“What happens in South Dakota can change the world forever,” he said.
Dr. Unruh directed attention to the Initiated Measure 11 Campaign, which he said bans abortions “as birth control” and contains several exceptions which voters had requested in a previous pro-life initiative that failed to pass. He noted that the campaign website is located at

Aggressive protesters”

Aggressive protesters”

Governor signs law that could mean tougher stance by law enforcement against pro-lifers outside abortion centers

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill extending for another five years the “Reproductive Rights Law Enforcement Act,” which requires the state to gather statistics on crimes against abortion providers – and adds a provision that could result in police taking a more hostile approach against what Planned Parenthood calls “aggressive protesters.”

According to a July 25 press release from the governor’s office, Schwarzenegger signed the bill, SB 1770, last week along with four other pieces of legislation. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima was the bill’s author. The measure passed the state Senate 24-13, and the Assembly 45-29, largely along party lines – Democrats in favor, Republicans opposed.

The bill extends from Jan. 1, 2009 to Jan. 1, 2014 the “sunset provision” of the existing law. In addition, it adds a requirement that law enforcement personnel receive additional training on how to recognize crimes against abortion clinics and abortion providers, with the goal of less mediation and more arrests.

Reports from the California Department of Justice mandated by the existing law suggest the extension may not be necessary. According to the Department of Justice, just 31 crimes against abortion providers were reported between 2003 and 2006.

In 2003, according to the Department of Justice, there were 10 reports of crimes against abortion providers; eight reports in 2004, nine reports in 2005 and just four reports in 2006. Of the four reports in 2006, three were assaults occurring in Butte, San Joaquin, and Riverside counties, and one was for vandalism in Los Angeles County.

But Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest abortion provider, complained to the legislature that the Department of Justice’s statistics are misleading because police officers often do not report violations of the state’s Freedom of Access to Clinics Act. “Statewide, Planned Parenthood health centers, their clients, practitioners, and volunteers face arson attempts, blockades, repeated vandalism, aggressive protesters, intimidation, threats and more, all in direct violation of the California FACE Act,” said a legislative analyst’s evaluation of the bill.

According to Planned Parenthood and its allies, law enforcement has systematically under-reported crimes against abortion providers, often preferring to make peace between pro-lifers and abortion providers during confrontations than to make arrests. According to the legislative analyst, “A survey by the California Senate Office of Research showed that more than half (50.9%) of participating clinics and medical offices experienced anti-reproductive rights crimes between 1995 and 2000. Forty-eight percent of survey participants who reported the crimes to law enforcement were dissatisfied with the response. The report indicates, ‘complaints about responses included officers who were unfamiliar with the law, officers who tried to mediate… rather than mak[e] arrests, and law enforcement agencies accused of refusing to enforce laws other than for major cases.’”

Pro-lifers who conduct vigils outside abortion centers, however, say it is they who are the victims of mistreatment. For example, in October 2007, the Rev. Walter B. Hoye II, executive elder of the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church of Berkeley, who for the last two years has regularly engaged in pro-life sidewalk counseling at the Family Planning Specialists abortion clinic in Oakland, told California Catholic Daily that he and other pro-lifers are frequently harassed, bullied and physically attacked by “escorts” hired by the abortion clinic.

“We are supposed to share the sidewalks, but I myself have been pushed and shoved,” Hoye said. “If they are on the left, I go to the right. If they want to walk ahead of me, I let them.”

Hoye said the escorts are so aggressive that some pro-lifers fear for their safety. “I have witnessed them stalking,” he said. “They will follow you to your car and write down your license plate number. One lady that I work with had to take refuge in a coffee shop because they kept following her, trying to find her car. She was afraid to go back to her car. They jumped in their car and followed her to her car, then blocked her, preventing her from pulling out.”

Abortion clinic escorts have subjected elderly women who join Hoye to the same aggressive behavior. “I saw them push an 89-year-old lady! They also pushed an 80-year-old woman I work with,” he said. “The 89-year-old lady stands on the edge of the curb on the sidewalk and says softly, ‘Abortion stops a beating heart.’ That’s all she does. And do you know what they do? They stand on both sides of her, shouting ‘La, la, la, la, la!’ as loud as they can.”

Philippines: bishops locked in political battle on contraception

Philippines: bishops locked in political battle on contraception

Manila, Jul. 21, 2008 ( - Catholic bishops in the Philippines remain locked in a political battle with lawmakers promoting contraception.

Alberto Romualdez, a former government health secretary, told a reporter that the pending Reproductive Health Bill is not "an issue that the Church should interfere with," the Philippine Daily Inquirer said. “Why should the House and the Senate negotiate with the Church on a social issue?" he asked.

Sponsors of the bill, which would expand government support for contraception, have vowed that they will not be swayed by the efforts of the bishops. The bishops, for their part, are organizing a mass demonstration on July 25 to rally opposition to the bill.

Leaving Right After Communion

Leaving Right After Communion

And More on Mass Outside a Sacred Space

ROME, JULY 21, 2008 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: Unfortunately some in the parish have developed the poor habit of leaving Mass immediately after Communion. I estimate around 30%, or approximately 225 people, leave early. Our church holds 750, so the disappearance is definitely noticeable. Could you provide a theological discourse on why this is not appropriate behavior? -- D.S., Port Charlotte, Florida

A: This is a perennial problem, but one which must be faced with patience, insisting, as St. Paul would say, "Opportune et inopportune" (in season and out of season), until the message reaches home.

This question reminded me of the story of a saintly priest who had the same problem with one of his devout parishioners who attended daily Mass but left immediately after Communion. He solved the problem by ordering two altar boys with lighted tapers to walk on either side of him as soon as he started to leave the church and accompany him all the way to his carriage.

When, after three days repeating this action, the somewhat flustered and embarrassed gentleman asked the priest for an explanation, he was told that since Christ was still present in him as he left the church, his presence had to be honored by lighted candles. Needless to say, he never left early again.

This anecdote could serve as a starting point for the priest to reflect with the people on the importance of giving thanks for the gift of Mass, of being spiritually nurtured by God's word, of participating in his unique sacrifice, and by receiving Communion.

This also requires that there is effectively a period of silence after the Communion song and that the priest, deacon and other ministers lead by example, dedicating two or three minutes to silent reflection at the chair.

On occasion the priest may assist the people by directing a brief meditative prayer of thanksgiving. This is especially effective at so-called children's Masses for, while the prayer is ostensibly directed toward the children, it often serves adults just as much.

Another point to be emphasized is the importance of assisting at the entire Mass. There are many plastic images to illustrate this, but most can grasp that if their boss, or the local mayor, summons them to a meeting, they would not dare leave before their host has formally brought it to a close. Even more is this true when a beloved parent, sibling or lifelong friend invites us to spend time with them.

If we behave thus before mere human authority and relationships, then how much more should it be true when our host is the Father who created us, the Son who died and rose for us, and the Spirit who gives us life.

Let us leave courtesy aside for a moment and return to thanksgiving. The Mass is something we celebrate together as Church and as a worshipping assembly united to Christ through the priest. It is not just something we do as individual Christians.

In the same manner, our thanksgiving for Mass cannot be reduced to the individual sphere and must be carried out as Church. This collective thanksgiving is done through the priest at the closing prayer to which all respond "Amen."

Finally, the Mass is intimately united to Christian life and mission. The final blessing and dismissal send us forth to transmit what we have received to our brothers and sisters. If we leave directly after Communion, then we lose this important component of our spiritual life.

From a very material standpoint one could also see if there is some tangible motivation that leads so many of the faithful to leave early. Is there a bottleneck in the parking lot? Are Mass schedules too close together? If there are real practical inconveniences involved, then theology alone will be ineffective in changing people's habits until these are resolved.

Football coach Sonny Lubbick and Bishop James Conley become new Catholic Foundation board members

Football coach Sonny Lubbick and Bishop James Conley become new Catholic Foundation board members

Denver, Jul 18, 2008 / 05:46 am (CNA).- Colorado State University football coach Sonny Lubbick and Bishop James D. Conley, the new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver, have joined the board of the Catholic Foundation along with several other new members.

Sonny Lubbick in his fifteen years as CSU football Head Coach led the team in its most successful era. However, a statement from the Catholic Foundation noted, “it is Mr. Lubbick’s love for and commitment to the Church in northern Colorado that he brings to his service as a trustee of the Foundation.”

Bishop Conley has served as a Kansas parish pastor, a theology instructor, and a Vatican official. He was appointed to the Archdiocese of Denver in April and was ordained bishop on May 30.

The two new members joined the board at the trustees’ June 30 quarterly meeting.

Three other leading Catholics joined the Catholic Foundation Board at its March 17 annual meeting. They are Lou Jahde, who founded Palace Construction in 1963 and is now its CEO; Kevin J. Kopp, who is Senior Vice President and Senior Institutional Consultant at Smith Barney, and a successful money manager who has helped establish the 529 College Plan for the state of Colorado; and Terry Polakovic, a co-founder and executive director of ENDOW, a Catholic women’s studies program based on the teachings of Pope John Paul II.

Gerald J. “Bud” Laber, President of the Catholic Foundation, welcomed the new members, saying “each of our five new Trustees is an extraordinary addition to the Foundation and I look forward to working with them to ensure a promising financial future for the Church in northern Colorado and beyond.”

The Catholic Foundation board is predominantly composed of lay Catholic men and women who help the Foundation foster philanthropy, manage funds, and make grants to advance the priorities of the Catholic Church in northern Colorado and elsewhere. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees awards over $5 million in grants annually.

Boycotters protest McDonald’s support for ‘homosexual agenda

Boycotters protest McDonald’s support for ‘homosexual agenda’

Washington DC, Jul 19, 2008 / 12:18 am (CNA).- Some supporters of traditional marriage are protesting the fast food corporate giant McDonald’s over its decision to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and its spokesman’s remarks suggesting those who disapprove of homosexual acts are driven by hatred.

The American Family Association had organized a boycott of McDonald’s for joining the NGLCC, Cybercast News Service reports. The boycott coalition also objects to the corporation’s donation of $20,000 to the chamber and the chamber membership of Richard Ellis, McDonald’s vice president of communications.

The announcement of the boycott prompted McDonald’s spokesman Bill Whitman to say in response “Hatred has no place in our culture. That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment.”

The comment was an “insult” according to Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs at the Liberty Counsel, which supports the boycott.
“He insulted tens of millions of Americans who believe that the historical definition of marriage between one man and woman is important and crucial to society. He said that we’re haters and we’re motivated by hate. That, on its face, is a bold-face lie,” he told Cybercast News Service.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, also attacked the comments.

“This is a canard that the homosexual activists have been pushing for years – that if you oppose homosexual activism you are somehow a ‘bigot,’ or a ‘hater’ or a ‘homophobe.’ It’s a scandal to see a spokesman for a seemingly pro-family organization like McDonald’s echoing the gay line like this,” LaBarbera said.

McDonald’s did not respond directly to questions about Whitman’s comments. However a letter attributed to McDonald’s chief diversity officer Pat Harris, said:

“At McDonald’s, we respect and value everyone… Diversity and inclusion are business imperatives and integral parts of our culture. We have a long and proud history of leadership in these areas and continually strive to maintain a work environment where everyone feels valued and accepted.”

“We recognize and appreciate the contributions diverse groups and individuals bring to our society, including McDonald’s. We stand behind and support everyone’s right to live and work in a society free from discrimination and harassment.”

A statement from NGLCC president Justin Nelson and CEO Chance Mitchell said the main focus of the organization is to connect major corporations with “LGBT-owned (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered) businesses that want to ensure their diverse supply chain looks like the customer and employee bases they have, or the customer and employee bases they are trying to attract.

“A company's decision to become a corporate partner doesn't reflect its entrance into the so-called ‘culture wars,’ as the conservative AFA suggested, but rather its commitment to diversity in the workplace and in its supplier relationships.”

Labarbera challenged the statement, saying the NGLCC is “a homosexual group which is working to extend advances made by homosexual activist groups over the last two decades or more” that also takes positions on legislation that concerns homosexuality.

“McDonald’s paid $20,000 so that one of its top executives could have a seat on the (NGLCC’s) board of directors,” LaBarbera said, according to Cybercast News Service. “How is that not an endorsement of the homosexual agenda?"

Disposed of as a specimen

Disposed of as a specimen”

Mother settles lawsuit over disposal of her aborted baby as medical waste

Los Angeles County has settled a lawsuit filed against it by a woman whose aborted child was tossed out as medical waste even though she had asked that the baby be returned to her for a proper burial.

Yolanda Garnett, 36, underwent an abortion on Feb. 20, 2006 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and requested that, following an autopsy, the infant’s body be sent back to her so she could bury it. Instead, the county coroner disposed of the aborted child as hazardous medical waste.

Garnett filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Sept. 25, 2007 alleging negligence by the coroner and the county mortuary. The suit sought more than $25,000 in damages.

The lawsuit did not specify how the child died, but the second of two autopsies revealed the cause of death as abortion, according to a response filed by the county. The aborted baby was 19 weeks old at the time of death, said attorneys for the county, and under such circumstances, California law does not permit issuance of a death certificate and a permit for burial or cremation could not be issued.

"Under those circumstances the remains could not be released to the next of kin, so the fetal remains were disposed of as a specimen per Department of Coroner policy," said the county's response to the suit.

Documents filed in the case indicate a settlement was reached between Garnett and the county on July 9, but terms of the settlement were not made public, nor were the circumstances surrounding the abortion.


Posted: Thursday July 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm EST by Judie Brown
It was like a breath of fresh air this morning to read a recent New York Times article regarding an effort apparently being pursued by the Bush administration, entitled "Abortion proposal sets condition on aid."

The article describes the current draft of a proposed rule being considered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Apparently, the administration has decided at this time, its 11th hour, to take action that would require, according to the article, "all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control."

The language is reported to read as follows:

any of the various procedures – including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action – that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.

"Well," I said to myself, "after eight years in office, the president and his staff have chosen to be perfectly clear about what they consider to be abortion and how they believe it should be handled when federal dollars are involved. What a tragedy that it took eight years for a simple recognition of at least part of the truth to become part of the political rhetoric."

However, I have to tell you I believe that this is too little, too late. First of all, if the New York Times article is to be believed, this proposal will garner immense opposition from the abortion cartel. One of its most ardent advocacy groups has already stated that the proposed language would "cover many types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and emergency contraception."

And, of course, the abortion cartel will clamor that any such move is preposterous and it will be screaming incessantly! As a matter of fact, the organization that is the main beneficiary of birth control marketing, Planned Parenthood, has already launched a campaign to oppose the proposal. You can see it at the following URL:

While it's about time that such a definition of abortion became a point of discussion and the pill's true nature exposed, I believe that the proposed language is disingenuous to the core. I believe it is actually nothing but a trial balloon that the White House knew, if leaked to the New York Times, would provoke heated debate and thus provide them with a reason to back off and do nothing, which has basically been their modus operandi for the past eight years. On its action web site, Planned Parenthood claims that the President is "selling out women's health care." Of course, that is absurd, but why did he wait so long to take this first step? Perhaps because he is not really serious about implementing this new rule in the first place.

For those who have no memory of the Bush administration's history in this matter and thus wonder why my skepticism is at an all-time high, it would help to revisit a couple of the interesting things that have defined this period in political history.

Under the Bush White House, funding for organizations such as Planned Parenthood has steadily increased. As one Stop Planned Parenthood International report reveals, just between fiscal years 2001 and 2003, taxpayer dollars pouring into PP's coffers increased from $202.7 million to $254.4 million.

Emergency contraception, also known as the "morning-after pill," a powerful set of pills designed to "protect" a woman from becoming pregnant, was approved for over-the-counter use in 2006. This regimen has always made it possible for a preborn child to be aborted, and, tragically, the political opposition to it has never been forceful.

I could go on, but I think the point has been made. While we can and should applaud the effort to expose the precise manner in which the birth control pill works, we should not be celebrating what appears to me, at least, to be a sop! However, I pray that my jaundiced view is proven to be totally in error. Time will tell.

Judie Brown

Filipino bishops' leader backs withholding Communion

Filipino bishops' leader backs withholding Communion

Manila, Jul. 16, 2008 ( - The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has given his unqualified support to a brother bishop's pastoral letter barring pro-abortion politicians from receiving Communion.

Archbishop Jesus Dosado had Ozamis has drawn some criticism for his strong stance-- just as an influential American Church leader, Archbishop Raymond Burke, drew criticism for taking the same stand in his St. Louis, Missouri archdiocese. (Archbishop Burke has now been appointed to a top Vatican post, as prefect of the supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.) But while Archbishop Burke won little support from other American bishops, Archbishop Dosado has seen the bishops of the Philippines rally to his defense.

Archbishop Angelo Lagdameo of Jaro, the president of the country's episcopal conference, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the pastoral letter by Archbishop Dosado "is based on canon law and we are all bound by it."

Archbishop Lagdameo went on to say that he was planning to institute the same policy for his own archdiocese. He said that the policy should extend not only to politicians but to all Catholics who provide public support for abortion. A third Filipino prelate, Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Linguyen-Dagupan, had told reporters that the questions raised by Archbishop Dosado in his pastoral letter might be brought up for approval by the entire bishops' conference. But the president of the conference told the Daily Inquirer that no such nationwide vote is necessary. Since the policy is dictated by canon law, Archbishop Lagdameo said, all of the bishops of the Philippines are already bound by it.

Filipino archbishop bars pro-abort pols from Communion

Filipino archbishop bars pro-abort pols from Communion

Manila, Jul. 14, 2008 ( - In a debate reminiscent of recent disputes among American bishops, Church leaders in the Philippines have taken up the question of whether pro-abortion politicians should be barred from the Eucharist-- with one archbishop answering with an emphatic Yes.

Archbishop Jesus Armamento Dosado of Ozamis has announced that politicians who support legal abortion will not be allowed to receive Communion.

"The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion merely as a consequence of being present at Mass is an abuse that must be corrected," wrote Archbishop Dosado in a pastoral letter released on July 13. He said that Catholic politicians who vote or campaign for legal abortion should be denied Holy Communion "until they bring to an end the objective situation of sin."

"This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty," the archbishop said. "Nor is the minister of the Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin."

Another ranking Filipino prelate, Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Linguyen-Dagupan, said that the ban on Communion for pro-abortion politicians-- which now covers only the Ozamis archdiocese-- could be extended throughout the country. The issue could be brought before the bishops' conference for consideration of a nationwide policy if conditions warrant, Archbishop Cruz told a broadcast audience on Radio Veritas. "It has not yet reached that level," he said.

The speaker of the Filipino parliament, Prospero Nograles, disagreed with Archbishop Dosado's pastoral letter. While saying that he personally opposes abortion, Nograles said that Church leaders should "respect separation of church and state."

But Archbishop Cruz supported his fellow prelate, saying that denial of the Eucharist is an appropriate ecclesiastical sanction. He told Radio Veritas, the bishops' broadcast outlet: "If a priest or bishop does not punish a public sinner, it is the priest or bishop who is wrong."

Concert Puts Gospel on Center Stage

Concert Puts Gospel on Center Stage

Pilgrims Brought Together Through Music

By Catherine Smibert

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 15, 2008 ( The Gospel is potent when it is presented in song, say the composers of the official World Youth Day anthem.

ZENIT spoke with Guy Sebastian, Gary Pinto and Paulini Curuenavuli today before they joined other musicians to participate in a festival of song presented to pilgrims after World Youth Day's opening Mass.

Sebastian and Pinto said it is an honor to witness the strength of the Gospel when presented in music.

Sebastian, a winner of Australian Idol, said he hopes that the youth day anthem "will further help to cement the message of this amazing event into people's hearts."

"Through singing 'Alleluia, receive the power,' the youth will know that it is not through our own talents that we do this, but by the power of God," he said. "Nothing is impossible to his Holy Spirit."

Pinto offered encouragement to all young Catholic musicians and artists, consistent with the call of Pope John Paul II in his 1999 Letter to Artists. He said that as musicians, "we are in the vocational service of beauty. What greater beauty to be presenting to people than that of God? It's so humbling and spiritually rewarding to be able to give the gifts he gave us back to him."

The World Youth Day theme song performers were joined in the festival by acts including artists such as Tap Dogs, Fire Dancers and the Australian Girls Choir.

The festival ended with a spectacular display of fireworks shimmering off the harbor.

Conveying the message

Youth day organizers insist that contemporary music with a Catholic flavor is playing a key role in conveying the messages they aim to present.

Tongan-Australian singer, Paulini, who performed with her band, identified why this is the case.

"Music is something that everyone loves and it brings them together," she told ZENIT.

Another group, the Emmanuel Worship band, from Brisbane, Queensland, performed their pieces in a special Queensland gathering today.

The troupe has been involved in spreading the World Youth Day message around Australia, via a series of events with the cross and icon journey.

Patrick Keady, keyboardist and composer in the Emmanuel Worship group, told ZENIT: "In music ministry, what we are trying to do is communicate an age-old message, which has seemed dead, but it's not; it is fresh, alive and vibrant.

"Music is a universal language that everyone gets. When you speak this language, it helps the transition from an old generation to a new generation who needs to rise up and take their place in history. And it does it in a way that they understand."

Christian bands seek to take advantage of particular styles of music to help others experience the Gospel.

"The beginning point definitely has to be a personal relationship with Jesus," said 23-year-old Bernard Drumm, guitarist from another performance group -- Mass Revival.

These two Christian bands, as Catholics, also try to help people see another face of Catholicism.

"A lot of young Catholics have been brought up with many misconceptions about the Church and its teachings," said Drumm, a seminarian. "They think that it's something from yesterday that doesn't relate to today."

"As Catholics," he continued, "we seem to spend a lot of time defending our beliefs and trying to explain ourselves into oblivion [...] rather than just allowing the joy we find in [the faith] to inspire the core of the hearts of others so they may begin their own search for that truth, which is the source of our joy."

The drummer for the Mass Revival band, Michael Campbell, feels that "the sense of sharing that music provides is representative of what's here at World Youth Day when you have so many people from different cultures and languages coming together, singing and dancing in the Lord."

Lead singer Daniel Foster added: "World Youth Day shows you are part of a huge Church and that this is an event showing that we are one Church holding an event for our young people in Australia, and even non-Catholics will see that this is really something.

"So as each of us musicians and artists use our gifts in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, in God's name and for his sake, we pray that he use us to assist in refreshing and reviving our Church here in this great southland and across the world."

Brazilian law would prohibit Christian teaching on homosexuality

Brazilian law would prohibit Christian teaching on homosexuality

Rio de Janeiro, Jul 15, 2008 / 01:36 pm (CNA).- The Brazilian Senate is considering a bill approved unanimously and without debate by the country’s House of Representatives that aims to promote homosexuality and prohibit Christian teaching on the issue, under the guise of combating discrimination.

According to the Association of the Defense of Life, the bill would make it crime punishable by five years in prison to impede expressions of “homosexual affection” in public places or private places open to the public.

It would also punish those who deny employment openly homosexual teachers in schools with up to three years imprisonment, making it impossible for Catholic or Christian schools to prevent homosexuals from joining their faculties.

The bill would also impose prison sentences on any kind of moral, ethical, philosophical or psychological expression that questions homosexual practices. In this way, “a priest, a pastor, a teacher or even an average citizen who says in a sermon, a classroom or public conversation that homosexual acts are sinful, disordered or an illness could be denounced and detained,” the association said.

Beatification near for Cardinal Newman

Beatification near for Cardinal Newman?

Birmingham, Jul. 15, 2008 ( - The Vatican has directed that the body of Cardinal John Henry Newman should be exhumed from a simple cemetery and preserved in a marble sarcophagus in the Birmingham Oratory, according to English newspaper reports.

The Vatican has not formally announced the directive, which requires approval from British government officials. But Father Paul Chavasse, the provost of the Birmingham Oratory, confirmed that the Vatican had made the request.

In April, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints receive a report testifying to the validity of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Cardinal Newman: the cure of a Massachusetts man from a crippling spinal illness. Scientific consultants concluded that there was no medical explanation for the cure, and if their conclusion is ratified by a panel of Vatican-appointed theologians, the path will be cleared for the beatification of Cardinal Newman.

Church officials in England hope that the beatification of the famous theologian-- a convert from the Church of England and a towering figure in the English intellectual world of the 19th century-- could take place before the end of this year.

The order to reinter Cardinal Newman's remains is a clear sign that Vatican officials, too, believe the beatification could take place soon. Father Chavasse of the Birmingham Oratory explained to the Daily Telegraph that the in preparing for a beatification, the Vatican wants to provide opportunities for the faithful to reverence the candidate's remains. "These have to be identified, preserved and, if necessary, placed in a new setting which befits the individual's new status in the Church," he said.

Minnesota professor repeats threat of Eucharistic desecration

Minnesota professor repeats threat of Eucharistic desecration

P.Z. Myers / Bill Donohue

Morris, MN, Jul 16, 2008 / 03:58 am (CNA).- University of Minnesota at Morris biology professor P.Z. Myers has repeated his threat to desecrate the Eucharist, saying “I have to do something. I’m not going to just let this disappear.”

Speaking in an interview with the Minnesota Independent, Myers characterized the Eucharist as a “cracker.” He said that the vitriolic responses he received from self-described Catholics had strengthened his resolve.

“I have to do something,” he said in the interview. “I'm not going to just let this disappear. It's just so darned weird that they're demanding that I offer this respect to a symbol that means nothing to me. Something will be done. It won't be gross. It won't be totally tasteless, but yeah, I'll do something that shows this cracker has no power. This cracker is nothing.”

According to Myers, a minority of the threats even directed anti-Jewish remarks at him. Myers was in fact raised Lutheran.

When the Minnesota Independent asked Myers how his proposed action differed from U.S. military personnel’s reported abuse of the Koran, Myers responded:

“There's a subtle difference there -- maybe an important difference. I don't favor the idea of going to somebody's home or to something they own and possess and consider very important, like a graveyard -- going to a grave and desecrating that. That's something completely different. Because what you're doing is doing harm to something unique and something that is rightfully part of somebody else -- it's somebody else's ownership. The cracker is completely different. This is something that's freely handed out.”

Myers claimed the furor generated by his threat was a result of the weakening state of religion. “This is them lashing out. It's a disparate ploy to be relevant and to be important again... They're looking for somebody to take their ire out on.”

Last week Myers had threatened to desecrate the Eucharist in response to a Florida incident in which a student senator allegedly held a consecrated Host hostage.

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers wrote on July 8 on his blog Pharyngula. “…if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage… but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, in a Tuesday statement criticized Myers for showing deference to Islam but not Catholicism in Myers’ Minnesota Independent interview.
Donohue cited Myers’ 2006 remarks on a Danish controversy surrounding derogatory depictions of Mohammed, in which he said the cartoons “lack artistic or social or even comedic merit, and are presented as an insult to inflame a poor minority.”

Donohue continued: “He even went so far as to say that Muslims ‘have cause to be furious.’ (His italic.) Worthy of burning down churches, pledging to behead Christians and shooting a nun in the back…”

“We hope Myers does the right thing and just moves on without further disgracing himself and his university,” Donohue stated. “The letter I received from University of Minnesota President Robert H. Bruininks makes it clear that school officials want nothing to do with his hate-filled remarks. It would also be nice if Myers’ fans would cease and desist with their hate-filled screeds.”

In a Friday Catholic League statement Donohue said that Myers’ remarks and the reactions of Myers’ supporters has prompted Thomas E. Foley, a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, to voice concern for Catholics who are attending the September convention.

“Accordingly, Foley has asked the top GOP brass to provide additional security while in the Twin Cities so that Catholics can worship without fear of violence,” Donohue said.

The Florida incident which provoked Myers’ desecration threat happened in June when Webster Cook, a student senator at the University of Central Florida, reportedly received a consecrated Host at a campus Mass and took it back to his seat to show his curious friend. When confronted by a Catholic leader who reputedly tried to retrieve the Host, Cook left the church and stored the Sacrament in a plastic bag. He returned the Host on Sunday July 6 and apologized, but said he was motivated by his opposition to the Catholic campus group’s use of student funds.

Catholic students in an official complaint charged Cook with disruptive conduct, while Cook responded with an official complaint concerning alleged physical force.

According to, Cook is now pressing charges against the University of Central Florida Catholic Campus Ministries for hazing, alleging the Catholic group violated an anti-hazing rule against the forced consumption of food. The rule is normally applied to fraternity initiations.

Cook has also charged the Catholic group of violating the school’s underage alcohol policy by serving communion wine to underage students.

Anthony Furbush, an officer in the university’s Student Government Association (SGA), has filed an affidavit of impeachment against Cook, alleging that he violated SGA ethics when he announced that he was an SGA official during the Mass. He claimed this status as a reason he did not have to leave the Mass when asked. If impeached, Cook would be stripped of his SGA position

Obama’s radical abortion views”

Obama’s radical abortion views”

Pro-lifers pray outside San Diego Convention Center while Barack Obama speaks inside

News from the Trenches

Thirty Catholics, joined by two Evangelical Christians and two representatives of Operation Rescue, prayed for the protection of innocent unborn babies from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. while pro-abortion, presumed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke to the La Raza Convention in downtown San Diego on Sunday, July 13.

Catholics prayed the Rosary and sang hymns for an end to abortion throughout the protest. The group held banners reading “We are praying for an end to abortion” and “Life is precious,” along with signs in English and Spanish that read “Abortion kills children.”

The pro-lifers stood directly in front of the Convention Center just north of a similarly sized group of the San Diego Minutemen, who were protesting other Obama policies. Along the park across the street a group of about 250 Obama supporters gathered. When a passing car would give them a sign of approval they all began to cheer as if they were at a sporting event. The crowd was young, under 40, with only a handful of people with gray hair. Noticeably, no one among the Obama supporters carried an American flag.

Obama’s pro-abortion views are so extreme that, while an Illinois state senator, he refused to vote for a bill for three years that would have protected babies born alive after an abortion. The Infant Born Alive Act was passed in that state only after he left the senate.

Those attending traveled from as far away as Escondido, Alpine and Chula Vista to bring attention to Obama’s extreme pro-abortion stance. One young woman who supports Obama approached Terry, a sidewalk counselor at local abortion mills. She asked her for pro-life information and Terry informed her of Obama’s radical abortion views and directed her to the Priests for Life web site for pro-life information. The woman was appreciative and receptive.

We were blessed to be a pro-life witness to all the people walking to the ballpark for the Padres game; one man stopped to tell us that he was grateful for our presence there and is praying for us. At least one local news station, KUSI-TV, covered the protest on their 11 o’clock news that evening.

Thank you to everyone who sacrificed their Sunday afternoon to stand in defense of those who cannot speak up for themselves and to all of you who could not be there but prayed for this intention at home!

-- Sue Lopez

Bishops of Costa Rica warn that ‘rights’ for gay unions undermine family

Bishops of Costa Rica warn that ‘rights’ for gay unions undermine family

San José, Jul 14, 2008 / 11:00 pm (CNA).- In a message made public last Thursday, the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica explained that respect for the dignity of persons with homosexual inclinations cannot lead to the recognition of “rights” that attack the foundation of the family as the basic cell of society. The bishops asked lawmakers to reject a proposed law that would make gay unions equivalent to marriage.

The bishops warned that politicians “cannot and should not legislate against correct reasoning, because if they pass the law it would lose moral force.” They explained that “laws favorable to homosexual unions are contrary to correct reasoning because they confer legal guarantees proper to the institution of marriage to unions between people of the same sex. Considering the values in question, the State cannot legalize these unions without failing in its duty to promote and protect an essential institution for the common good, which marriage is.”

The bishops’ responded to those defending the “right” to gay marriage by stressing, “It is necessary above all to reflect on the differences between homosexual behavior as a private phenomenon and public behavior, legally tested, approved and converted into an institution of legal order. The second phenomenon is not only more grave but also of greater and deeper scope, as it could entail changes contrary to the common good of the entire social order.”

“Civil laws are structural principles of man’s life in society, for good or for evil.”

“From a logical constitutional perspective, it is impossible to homologate or make marriage equivalent to any other kind of arrangement that, with a mere change of vocabulary, seeks to have the same kind of legal standing,” the bishops said. “In light of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family and, on the basis of Costa Rican law authentically interpreted by the Constitutional Court, it is unacceptable and incongruent to approve a measure that aims to transfer the entire legal structure of marriage to unions between homosexuals.”

Lastly, as shepherds of the Church, the bishops called on “Catholic lawmakers to speak out and vote against this measure, and to those who do not share our faith, to examine the arguments we have laid out. And in conformity with the rules of correct reasoning, of human nature and of life in society, not to cast their vote for a bill that clearly goes against the common good of the residents of our country.”

Professor who threatened desecration claims to have consecrated Hosts

Professor who threatened desecration claims to have consecrated Hosts

P.Z. Myers

Morris, MN, Jul 16, 2008 / 01:11 pm (CNA).- University of Minnesota Morris biology professor and science blogger Dr. Paul Zachary Myers, who last week threatened to desecrate the Eucharist and to broadcast the act on the internet, says he has acquired Eucharistic Hosts consecrated at a Catholic Mass.

Prof. Myers explained in an e-mail to CNA that he has received the Eucharist from several people. “So far, the crackers I have received have been given to me in person or sent to my home address.”

Myers has been derisively referring to the Eucharist as a “cracker.” He began his desecration campaign on his blog “Pharyngula” in reaction to an incident at the University of Central Florida in which a student senator allegedly held the Eucharist hostage.

When asked by CNA whether he considered taking consecrated Hosts from a Catholic church to be theft, he replied:

“I'm not taking the crackers from any church. I'm not interested in attending church, nor would I misrepresent myself as a Catholic to receive it.

“It is freely handed out to people taking communion in the church. The people who are sending me crackers have received it openly,” he wrote.

Myers also could not see how others could consider taking a consecrated Host to be theft. “No. This ‘theft’ nonsense is a rationalization people are making up to justify hysteria.”

Myers said the reason to abuse a Host is “to expose the witch-hunt tactics of extremist Catholics like Bill Donohue.”

CNA asked Myers if he had received any “intellectually worthy” replies to his desecration threat, to which he responded “No.” “It's your job to give me one. ‘I will pray for you,’ ‘you must hate Catholics,’ and ‘why don't you desecrate a Koran?’, which are the most common messages I'm being sent, are not rational.

He noted that his blog Pharyngula has an open comments policy where critiques are already posted.

On Friday the Catholic League reported that Thomas E. Foley, a Virginia delegate to the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Minneapolis has asked that increased security be considered for the event in light of Myers’ threat to acquire and desecrate the Eucharist.

“I just felt security at the Republican National Convention ought to look at him and his followers,” Foley told CNA in a phone interview on Wednesday morning. He reported that he had not received an update about his request.

Voicing his concerns about Myers, Foley said: “What I think he has done, he’s loaded a cyberpistol and he’s cocked it and he’s left it on the table. He may have set something in motion that no one can stop. It was irresponsible, a hell of a thing to do.”

Foley explained that he thought Myers should not be able to incite such acts with “impunity,” saying that he was especially disturbed by the comments posted on Myers’ blog. He said it was “eye-opening” to read the people who supported Myers’ action. Even at his age of 63, Foley said, he had never “personally encountered such bigotry.”

He also objected to Myers’ recent description of Catholic League President Bill Donohue as “braying,” which Foley, a self-described Irish Catholic, claimed was “a great insult for the Irish.”

Foley said he believes Myers was telling his readers to acquire a consecrated Host at Mass, which Foley thought would result in disruptions.

“What’s he telling them to do? Consecrated Hosts are not just lying around,” he said to CNA, noting that the only other possible way to secure a Host would be to accost a priest, nun, or layman taking the Sacrament to the sick. Even E-bay, Foley emphasized, has prevented the sale of consecrated Hosts.

Foley said he thinks Myers’ actions have ended his career. “Who can listen to him lecture on science without thinking ‘Polly wants a cracker’?” he asked.