Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Guest Blog Over At Patheos

I have written a guest blog for Steel Magnificat on Patheos

My Pro-Life Paradigm Shift

Talking a little about Fr. Pavone and talking about being pro-life

"My idea of the dignity of the person has become much broader because of this."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

May Baby Choice Finally Be Laid to Rest

I am often a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to stories like this. I like to see them unfold first. More often than not, there are details that emerge over time. The reactions to the story, as well, become part of a bigger picture. So, I wait, I watch, I read most of what has been written and I research related articles. Sometimes I end up writing about it. Sometimes I don’t because I think that others have pretty much said all that can be said. Often far better than I ever could have. In this case, there have been many blogs and articles written. I will be linking to a good many of them at the end of this post. However, I am thinking there is one point of view that may have gotten lost in the shuffle. One voice that still needs to be heard, a voice that cannot speak up for itself. After reading all the articles and connecting all the dots it has occurred to me that there is still one thing that is left to be done.

Many by now are probably aware of the controversy created by Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. On Sunday, Father Pavone posted a video on Facebook of the remains of an aborted baby laying naked on an altar. In the video Father Pavone stands behind the altar voicing an appeal that we vote for Donald Trump for president. Which was almost immediately followed by an overwhelming reaction from Catholics denouncing the video as wrong on many levels.

Scott Eric Alt wrote a piece detailing how the action was a desecration of the altar. His article was picked by many outside news sources. Along with Alt, many writers from Patheos such as Mark Shea, Matthew Tyson and Keith Michael Estrada, to name but a few, denounced the video because of the desecration of the altar and the total lack of reverence for the dignity of the human person that should have been shown towards the remains of the baby. Some of them writing several articles each.

One writer, Mary Pezzulo also wrote more than one article on Patheos. A particular post, Has Father Pavone Kept Mummified Human Remains For More Than A Decade?, caught my attention.

In her article Mary writes: Alert reader and commentator Patricia Larson Guilfoyle recently posted the following, on my post about Father Pavone’s desecration of an infant and an altar earlier today:

A dead baby VERY SIMILAR to this one was put on public display in Charlotte before the 2012 Democratic National Convention. When asked what happened to the baby’s remains after the “event,” which featured the baby in an open casket on the sidewalk outside a Catholic church (which was closed at the time), Father Pavone would not say anything other than that he has a memorial to the unborn in New York that his ministry manages. The reason I note the similarity between the two sets of remains is that the bruising and discoloration are due to the effects of a saline abortion, a late-term abortion procedure no longer performed in the U.S. (Dilation & Curettage has been the preferred method since the mid-1990s). More than one person involved with the Charlotte “event” told me the baby’s remains are kept in a container with formaldehyde, and that Father Pavone had custody of the container.

Mary then adds "This is a very good point. When I looked at that photo of the deceased infant, and I don’t recommend you do, I was convinced I’d seen it before too."

It astounded me that there were Catholics that thought that keeping the remains of an aborted baby in formaldehyde, so thatit could be trotted out for various events would by any stretch of the imagination, in any dimension of reality, be deemed acceptable. It astounded me even more to think that Catholics did know this and ignored it for the sake of a cause.  Regardless of how good that cause may be.

One comment to a blog post does not, however, a reliable source make.  Although it can pique one's interest to investigate further. In my investigation I came across a couple of references from 2006 and 2007

Pavone in July 2006 traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, to brandish a fetus in a jar of formaldehyde, and ultimately bury it, in conjunction with Operation Save America protests of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. Jackson police commander Lee Vance described Pavone’s possession of the fetus as “a legal issue.” Pavone in the end opted not to bury the fetus, which he said he had shown in protests in several other locations around the country, but vowed to bury it later in the year in Alabama.

And from 2007

Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, said the fetus, which is being preserved in a formaldehyde-like solution, will be buried in Alabama in a few months. Pavone said the fetus was aborted at about 18 weeks. It has been used in demonstrations in New York and Columbus, Ohio, he said, and will be in several more before being buried.

Eventually I discovered an archived article from the Catholic News Herald that details the event in 2012. The following are portions of that article. Emphasis in bold are mine.

Protestors said “Baby Choice” was a victim of a second-trimester saline abortion…The body of the intact Caucasian fetus, at 20-22 weeks gestation, was covered with black spots where the salt solution burned off the top layer of her skin.
The only information that Father Pavone disclosed about the baby, dubbed “Baby Choice,” was that he had acquired her from outside North Carolina and brought her to town so that her funeral could coincide with the demonstration.

“The baby whom we honored last week was entrusted to a colleague of mine, who came to me to ask if we could arrange for burial. When I told this colleague that there would be a memorial service held by Operation Save America, and that I would be speaking at it, she arranged to entrust the body to us for this service,” Father Pavone said in an email Tuesday, adding, “Many of the public events like Operation Save America holds involve memorial services. There may or may not be a baby to bury. Different babies, at different times, have been made available, and we have subsequently had burials for them.”
“Baby Choice” has been the name given to various fetal remains obtained and displayed by anti-abortion groups including Americans Against Abortion, Operation Rescue/Operation Save America and Priest for Life over the past three decades.

The first “Baby Choice” appeared in 1985, and is similar to the baby memorialized in Charlotte last week: a girl at the same gestational age, who died from the same abortion procedure, featuring similar black burn marks on the skin.

Father Pavone said the baby in Charlotte was not the original 1985 “Baby Choice.”

In a July 26 release from Priests for Life, he noted, “It is not often that we have the bodies of aborted babies. Unfortunately, the act by which their lives are dishonored and their bodies dismembered takes those bodies and discards the with the medical waste.

“But once in a while, we are able to retrieve these bodies. When we do so, we give them the honor that others have denied them. The act of violence that killed them is done in secret; we believe that the act of reparation that honors them should be done in public. The cold-hearted killing was done in darkness; the broken-hearted mourning should be done in the bright light of day.”
However, two Operation Rescue/Operation Save America members described the baby as not being recently deceased, saying they have used her in similar demonstrations elsewhere.

Organizers insisted that they treat the baby’s remains with dignity and respect as part of their fight to end abortion.
Dr. Patricia McEwen – whom the Priests for Life office referred inquiries to about “Baby Choice” and now serves with Operation Save America, Life Coalition International and Doctors for Life International – said she first met “Baby Choice” in 1991, and that the baby regularly travels around the country in anti-abortion demonstrations. The baby is the victim of “a very old saline abortion,” McEwen said, and is kept in formaldehyde when not being used in demonstrations.
“We’ve gotten attached to this little one. She’s the evidence of our sins, of our crimes against the little ones,” said evangelist Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, who said he once carried “Baby Choice” on a six-month walk across America in 2004. “It’s not like we want to exploit her or anything like that…”

The article goes on to say: Father Pavone said he buried “Baby Choice” on July 29 in Staten Island, N.Y., where Priests for Life is headquartered, in a plot that the organization has reserved…One of the Operation Rescue/Operation Save America protest organizers said he did not know beforehand of plans to lay the baby to rest and said that a symbol such as “Baby Choice” remains important to their cause,
Not all pro-life advocates felt this was appropriate. Later in the article it was noted that:

Maggi Nadol, director of the Diocese of Charlotte’s Respect Life Office, did not attend the demonstration, and there were no other local pro-life leaders visibly present. On Tuesday, Nadal said, “Respect for Life calls us to treat the human body with dignity.” Nadol said she could understand a situation where an open casket was used in a service for an unborn child once. But she expressed concern about it. “If the body is being used as a tool to bring people together, it is deceit.”

It seems that Patricia Larson Guilfoyle's comment on Mary Paluzzo's blog was correct in the fact that the remains of the baby from 2012 were preserved in formaldehyde and used for multiple demonstrations over a period of years. Is it, however, the same remains used in the most recent video?

Father Pavone has presided over many funerals for aborted babies. Often they are open casket public events that coincide with demonstrations. In 2006 or 2007 the baby was named Rebecca; in 2010 there was Abel; 2011 the baby was Esther; we read about baby Choice in 2012; in early 2013 there was Daniel and then Daniel Pavone later that year; Amos was the name of the baby in 2014. In all of these cases the baby is described as intact and from the second trimester. They are also described as heavily bruised and discolored due to a prostaglandin abortion. Were they all the same baby? In the long run it really doesn't matter if there was one baby or several. Either way, the remains of aborted babies, rather then actually being buried, find their final resting place by being preserved in a solution at a memorial and then are "disinterred" when deemed necessary to make a point. It seems this has been a common and ongoing practice. It also seems that it hasn't really been that big of a secret. The rest of us just haven't been paying attention or didn't connect the dots.

Many have speculated that the baby in Father Pavon's video was not actual remains but rather just an image. There are, in fact, two videos. One that was posted on Facebook and another much shorter video that was posted to YouTube. The baby is in a different position in each video so when comparing the two you can see that it is actual remains and not merely an image. Father Pavone says in each of the videos that it is a baby. That was the point after all. However, if there are still doubts, Snopes.com investigated the story and here is part of what they reported.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic clergy activist group, Priests for Life, confirmed that the fetus was real and was given to the organization by a pathologist under a strict agreement on confidentiality, although she was able to tell us that it was aborted in the second trimester of pregnancy. The group has dubbed the fetus "Baby Choice."
In the video, Fr. Pavone has the fetus on an altar, which the spokeswoman said is located in a room that is sometimes used for Mass at the organization's headquarters in Staten Island, New York. The Priests for Life group originally performed a funeral service for the body, which is preserved in formalin and normally kept in a memorial chapel. On the Sunday before the contentious 8 November 2016 presidential election, Fr. Pavone put it on wider display and urged the religious to vote against legal abortion by ousting Democratic lawmakers…

Is this "Baby Choice" the same "Baby Choice" from 2012? It doesn't really matter. It is the treatment of the babies regardless of if there has been one or several.

Father Pavone has said that it is not about his treatment of babies but rather how the abortionists have treated the babies. Respectfully, I beg to differ. It is ALL about the treatment of these babies be it the abortionist's or ours. Their wrong does not make ours right. The very point of pro-life advocacy is predicated on the dignity of every human life. Their dignity in life and their dignity in death. They are persons not symbols. They are not opportunities to advance a cause or to force people to recognize the horrors of abortion. When we receive their bodies we don't own them. We cannot arrogantly determine that they be used for a greater good. How dare we? When we receive their bodies we give them reverence and respect by performing the final work of mercy of burying the dead. Not a temporary burial so that we can take them out and use them for our own purposes. A permanent burial. We then allow them to rest in peace praying that the Lord grant them eternal rest and allow his perpetual light to shine upon them. Anything else is an assault on their person hood and dignity that mirrors in attitude those who assaulted them physically and took their lives.

We will never convince others of the dignity of children in the womb if we treat them as possessions whose bodies we may use according to our own determinations. We can show all of the images and videos we want to try to shock people into the reality of the desecration through abortion. But that is not what  people will see. Instead they will see the hypocrisy of our own disregard of those little bodies and our lack of recognition of that child as a unique, individual person and a child of God.

My purpose in writing this post is to shine a light on this situation in order to advocate for Baby Choice and his/her immediate, final and permanent burial. Cardinal Dolan of the archdiocese of New York does not have a connection to Priests for Life but he may have jurisdiction of the proper interment of this child's remains. Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo Texas is the bishop over Father Pavone. These two bishops may be able to jointly insist that Baby Choice be permanently laid to rest as well as future remains that Father Pavone may receive.

Church regulations state that fetal remains "must be respected just as the remains of other human beings." This would include a timely burial and treating the remains with reverence for the sake of the dignity of the child and that the risk of scandal may be avoided.

I am praying for Father Pavone that the Lord will give him a new understanding regarding this. 

The one thing left to be done is for Baby Choice to finally be laid to rest.

For what it's worth

The following are links to some of the blog posts and writers that have written their opinions on this controversy

Scott Eric Alt - To Give a Defense


Mary Peluzzo - Steel Magnificat


Mark Shea - Catholic and Enjoying It

Keith Michael Estrada - Proper Nomenclature

Matthew Tyson - Mackerel Snapper

Rebecca Bratten Weis - Suspended in Her Jar

Sam Rocha

Anthony Lane - The Impractical Catholic http://impracticalcatholic.blogspot.com/2016/11/fighting-sin-with-sacrilege-dumb.html#.WCPvZYWcH4h

Elizabeth Scalia

Friday, July 15, 2016

Scripture Alone?- Showing Up Catholic Episose 17

Here is a link to my latest episode of Showing Up Catholic for the Vericast Network

Showing Up Catholic Ep. 17
“Scripture Alone?”
July 14, 2016

Is scripture alone sufficient as a rule of faith? Protestants think so. Debates often pit scripture against tradition. The Catholic Church teaches the unity of scripture and tradition. In this episode we discuss how we can remain confident in the Churches teachings. Oral tradition, written tradition, and the authority of the Church assures us of the authenticity and correctness of a teaching far more precisely and reliably  than an individual interpretation of scripture alone


If you want to catch up on any past episodes of Showing Up Catholic that you may have missed.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Respecting Bishops...Even When They Play The Ukulele

Earlier this week Church Militant reported on a Confirmation Mass at Assumption Grotto in Detroit. According to the report, Auxiliary Bishop Donald Hanchon played the ukulele and sang during his homily. The parish organist, apparently feeling that the ukulele was inappropriate for the liturgy, began to play the organ at full volume in order to drown out the Bishop and continued to play even after the Bishop had stopped. Well, I guess they showed that Bishop what's what now didn't they? And Church Militant was on the scene.

Am I the only one wondering how serendipitous it was that Church Militant was on the scene, at the ready, to record and report on the public comeuppance of this Bishop? I have got to be honest here. What I am seeing is an adolescent prank with adolescent justifications. Another opportunity to publicly demonstrate and reinforce the narrative that our bishops are failing us. For how can we maintain a campaign of resistance to bishops without exposing the evidence of their failings? Failings that would appear to abdicate authority and therefore justify the taking of that authority into our own hands?

The Bishop's actions were described as a stunt and antics, as banal and irreverent. In the com-boxes descriptions included shenanigans and sacrilege. The parish of Assumption Grotto is described as reverent and the organist as playing more appropriate themed music. Many commenters applauded the organist for having the temerity to show the Bishop the error of his ways. Although some commenters expressed that this may have been somewhat of a disrespectful way to treat a Bishop, the consensus seemed to be that it was justified because the Bishop had committed a far greater error.

You might feel that ukuleles are inappropriate at Mass. That's ok. You might feel that someone should correct the Bishop regarding what might be perceived as irreverence during the liturgy. That's ok, too. You might even think that the Bishop should have at least been able to recognize that the ukulele might not go over so well at some parishes as it would in others thus adjusting his homily accordingly. That's ok as well. The issue isn't that we sometimes don't agree with the way a bishop is doing things. It isn't that we might at times criticize the behavior of a bishop. The faithful have a canonical right and duty to the let the bishop know when they think something might not be right. The issue is not that at times there may be the necessity to publicly criticize or correct a bishop. The problem is all in the manner in which we do so. Criticism should not demean the authority of the bishop, his office or create harmful divisions in the Body of Christ. We are to show bishops reverence and be attentive to the dignity of their person. (Code of Canon Law 212). In matters of opinion we are to avoid setting forth our own opinions as doctrines of the Church. (Code of Canon Law 227) We are also not supposed to incite animosity or hatred against a bishop or provoke others to disobey them. (Code of Canon Law 1373)

I can't help thinking how we could even consider it possible and reasonable to uphold the reverence of a Mass with something that was irreverent as well. Wouldn't it be irreverent to interrupt a homily and disrupt a Mass as a protest? Wouldn't it be disrespectful to mock a bishop as he stood liturgically and sacramentally in the person of Christ? Doesn't it demean the authority of a bishop not to acknowledge that his judgment, authority and discretion regarding the liturgical use of a homily out ranks that of an organist? Shouldn't we consider that the manner in which a story is reported might incite animosity or provoke disobedience? Or possibly that might be what is going on in the comment discussions?

Church Militant reports that Bishop Hanchon is well known for playing his ukulele during his homilies. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the Archbishop is aware of it, as well, and allows it. It isn't reported, however, that any parishioners of Assumption Grotto made any attempts to address this with the Bishop through proper channels before the Mass. It was also not reported that such requests had been to no avail, therefore forcing a protest as a last resort. As a matter of fact, one commenter related the following

"Bishop Hanchon celebrated Confirmations in the Extraordinary Form for the Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel a few months ago. We knew of his inclination to play his ukulele and politely but clearly requested that he not do so at our Mass. He gladly agreed."

It would appear that no attempt was made regarding a similar request to the Bishop before this particular Mass. He was not given the fair chance to gladly agree to their request or ignore it. It seems that knowing full well that the ukulele is a possibility, all you have to do is merely wait for that to occur. With media on standby you can then just pull a stunt of your own. When asked by Church Militant if he had made a deliberate attempt to silence the bishop's performance, the organist remarked with a smile, "I'm not going to confirm or deny anything."

So how did Bishop Hanchon react to the interruption of his homily? Graciously and with aplomb, he said, "Only at Grotto do you get that sort of accompaniment. Thank you very much."

Sticking it to the man is an expression that essentially means resistance to authority either passively, openly or via sabotage. We talk about reverence, we talk about admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant, we talk about orthodoxy but sometimes we are just sticking it to the man. We abandon reasonable attempts to solve a problem. Like recalcitrant children, we resort to public displays to humiliate, to mock and ridicule, to call attention to ourselves, to force others to do things our way. We forget about the Golden Rule, justifying our behavior with the fact that the other guy was worse. Now, my momma done told me that two wrongs don't make a right but that doesn't seem to matter much when what we want is to stick it to the man. This was the public sabotage of a bishop and a mass as a first resort rather than allowing the bishop the benefit of favorably responding to a respectful appeal. Of course, a bishop responding to a reasonable request makes for a far less sensational news item. This was sticking it to the man just for the sake of sticking it to the man because it was unnecessary. Or even worse, judging from some com-box responses and the coy response of the organist, sticking it to the man for kicks and giggles. I have to wonder about the Catholic mind that would think of such a thing as being appropriate and reverent during a mass merely because it employed an organ.

"But inasmuch as love suffers me not to be silent in regard to you, I have therefore taken upon me first to exhort you that you would all run together in accordance with the will of God. For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the manifested will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to the utmost bounds of the earth, are so by the will of Jesus Christ… Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God."

"It is therefore fitting that you should, after no hypocritical fashion, obey in honour of Him who has willed us, since he that does not so deceives not the bishop that is visible, but seeks to mock Him that is invisible. And all such conduct has reference not to man, but to God, who knows all secrets.”

“It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not steadfastly gathered together according to the commandment.”

-St. Ignatius of Antioch

The Church has taught from it's earliest days that we should demonstrate the highest of respect for and harmony with our bishops whether they are deserving of it or not. The Church teaches reverence for the Mass. The Church also teaches the highest regard and respect for our bishops. We do not abandon one teaching in order to uphold another.

Bishop Hanchon, for the sake of his office, deserved better treatment than this. He deserved to be approached beforehand with a respectful request. Past behavior indicates that he would have been open and accommodating had such a request been made. He deserved better than to be hijacked during a Mass for the sake of attention seeking and a media presence. He deserved better than a bias that attempted to diminish his position. He deserved better than scathing com-box excoriation and mockery.  He deserved better than to be ridiculed in follow-up blogs. He deserved to be treated fairly because he is a bishop. We all deserved better because we are supposed to be better. Better than a giggling prank aimed at demeaning a bishop at the expense of the mass. Better than such a lowering of the bar of expectation regarding how Catholics live out exemplifying the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.

"...for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love" Ephesians 4:12-16

For what it's worth.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Heart's on Fire - Showing Up Catholic Episode 14

Here is the latest episode of Showing Up Catholic for the Vericast Network.

Showing Up Catholic Ep. 14
“Hearts On Fire”
April 28, 2016
This episode is all about heart. Do we have hearts that are on fire with the love of Christ? With some help from St. Ignatius and Pope Pius XII we talk about uniting our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. With hearts on fire we then go forth to set the world on fire for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humanity.


Holding Out for a Hero

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

Such has been the persona of Michael Voris. The Catholic media man and white knight who's mission it is to right the wrongs in the Church by trapping and exposing all the lies and falsehood. If you follow the more sensational aspects of Catholic media you will have heard of him. I have the feeling, however, that the majority of Catholics in the world might not really know who Michael Voris is. They are merely living their faith the best they can and trying to share it with the world around them. They are holding out, not for a hero, but for one who loved them so greatly that he died to give them life. They serve the God who so loved the world that he gave his only son to save it. They haven't been holding out for a hero, probably don't see the need for one. If they see heroes at all it is in the example of those who have gone before. Those of proven mettle through heroic virtue. Those who lived and died dedicated to passing on what was given to them. It was through those lives lived for the sake of others, far more than their ability to expose and right wrongs, that we are given the precious gift of our faith.

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
He's gotta be sure
And it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life

The trouble with heroes is that they gotta be larger than life. None of us really are. There are times, however, when we bestow upon someone that level of import and relevance. In the last week or so, whether you regard Michael Voris as a hero or an anti-hero, he has become larger than life. Countless articles, blogs and even odes have been written about him. He has been lauded and applauded for his courage, integrity and honesty. Com boxes have been buzzing hot and heavy about him. People have argued and divided over him. The outpouring of support for him was a proud day for the Catholic Church. He has been called the poster boy for mercy and by some, I would say, deemed the future St. Michael of the Vortex.

So what did Micheal Voris do that was so extraordinary and larger than life that we would be willing to extend to him such charity and mercy? A charity and mercy that we are almost obstinately unwilling to give to others? That, quite honestly, even he himself was often unwilling or incapable of giving to those he sought to expose? What did he do that was so worthy of praise, honor, glory and accolades?

He publicly admitted to the sins of his past and that those sins had included a homosexual lifestyle. That's it? Why, yes, yes it is. He owned up because he thought he was under the gun of a public disclosure if he didn't.

Let's just let that sink in for a minute. I've got time...

Don't all of us have to own up to and be accountable for our past? He is not the first under threat of exposure to choose to make public a sordid past nor will he be the last. What makes this so special and worthy of all the attention that has been given to it? Isn't Michael Voris, then, no better than the rest of us? Bingo.

Then why?

Because there were many who believed that his muck rucking constituted the fighting of the good fight. They need a hero and he was it. And if he isn't, if he is just like everybody else, sinners that we are, they are not sure what they can believe in anymore. And because we are afraid. We are afraid of the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. We are afraid that since men are in the Church that evil lurks there too. We are afraid of the evil that lurks in our own hearts and in the hearts of the person next to us.  That  mercy or forgiveness may not be available to us because of it. Essentially, we are afraid that evil might be winning. So we have set ourselves against each other and sometimes against the Church, exposing and pointing out the sins of others. We squabble amongst ourselves. We defend those who we consider our own and recriminate those who are not. We construct saviors and villains that oppose them. Michael Voris led that charge for many and without him where do they go? 

Most of all, it is because we are "oh ye of little faith".

Jesus Christ, though he certainly is larger than life, did not come to be larger than life. He came to be life itself and to give it to us abundantly. He told us not to be afraid. He told us that evil has already been defeated. It doesn't win, it isn't winning and it won't win. To believe otherwise gives it a power that it does not possess. Only a lack of faith makes it appear larger than the life of Christ. It makes us afraid and holding out for heroes.

As for Michael Voris? He only faced what is common to all of us. The consequences in this life of our choices both past and present. Did he do it well? Only God knows the sincerity of a man's heart. In charity we pray for him as we should always pray for each other. We might want to stop holding out for him to be our hero, though. We might want to stop making him larger than life. He doesn't have what it takes. None of us do.

4You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 Jn 4:4

For what it's worth.

Holding Out for a Hero - written by Jim Steinman and Dean Pitchford

Monday, March 21, 2016

Showing Up Catholic

Here are some episodes of "Showing Up Catholic" on the Vericast Network that you may have missed.

Showing Up Catholic Ep. 11
“I’ve Been Through The Desert”
March 9, 2016

Spiritual dryness, times of testing, suffering and hardship. These are often described as desert experiences. Lent is a time in the desert as well. In this episode Vickie talks about spiritual benefits that can come from our times in the desert if we are willing to lift our heads and look beyond hardship.


Showing Up Catholic Ep. 10

“Sharing in Christ’s Suffering”
February 26, 2016

Do Catholics have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Most definitely. We encounter him in many ways. During Lent we demonstrate that relationship by compassionately and gratefully contemplating his suffering for our sake. We join him in his suffering to share in the redemptive work of the Cross. In this episode Vickie gives a perspective on sharing in Christ’s suffering. She also shares a few prayer devotions that may help us deepen our relationship with Christ and enrich our pious practices for Lent.


“Confessions of a Pope Defender” — Showing Up Catholic Ep. 8

In this Episode Vickie talks about what it means to be a Pope defender. She investigates some Church documents that might give us some food for thought regarding our relationship to the Pope in the Mystical Body of Christ. She talks about some ways that we can express questions, concerns and difficulties we might have with the Pope while maintaining unity and integrity to Church teaching.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Showing Up Catholic Episode 9 - Mercy and Reconciliation

My latest episode of "Showing Up Catholic" for the Vericast Network

"Mercy and Reconciliation"

During Lent we contemplate the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection. Mercy is an essential component of that mystery. Mercy is at the core and center of the Gospel message. In this episode, Vickie examines what our most recent Popes have said about mercy. She discusses as well the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a means to experiencing God's mercy.

Watch it here

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oh Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord please don't let me be misunderstood
The Animals 1965

From the very first day that he stepped out on the balcony of St Peter's, there have been those who have been horrified at Pope Francis. As a matter of fact, a blog headline on that first day of his pontificate read "The Horror". Even though the only actions the Pope had taken, as the Pope, at that time was that he wanted to dress and live simply, he waved and he asked for prayer. Even so, from that day to this, for nearly three years many have done whatever they can to prove that Pope Francis is not the man for the job. Every breath he takes, every move he makes, every single day and every word he says, they've been watching him. Watching for every misstep, watching for every misspoken word or mistranslation, watching for every analogy that might not hold up. Scrutinizing every  homily for the most minuscule perception of inconsistency. Then using those perceived inconsistencies to prove that Pope Francis is not worthy to be pope. Not only is he not worthy through an impression of ineptitude but rather they contend that he is an intentional heretic and a danger to the Church. They are then completely justified in turning others against him.

I have begun to get the reputation of a pope defender of none renown. I don't have enough people reading my blogs to claim any renown. Even so there are a couple of people who have Googled me and have seen that I have defended the Pope on more than one occasion. Those who wish to challenge my position often resort to a question like "Oh, so you just (blindly) think everything the Pope does is just swell?" Not necessarily. But I do give him the benefit of the doubt when something controversial is reported and I investigate. More times than not I find that while it may be said that the Pope is possibly unorthodox in style he is not heterodox in what he has said or done. I try to discover what the Pope may have been intending to teach me. I also know, if he makes a mistake, that "all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose"(Rom 8:28). So when the Pope makes a mistake, even if he is out and out wrong, I am not afraid the Church will come crashing to the ground. I believe that the Holy Father loves God and has been called according to his purpose, that Jesus sanctifies his Bride the Church and that the Holy Spirit is active in guiding it. I do not expect perfection from the Pope, I know that he is human. The Church does not teach that everything that the Pope says and does will be perfect, that it will not be subject to human flaws. The Pope's intentions are good. I believe, however, that he is often deliberately misunderstood. Some may say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That may be so. But right back at ya. It could also be said that to justify turning others against the Vicar of Christ, through intentions that we might consider good, a grave matter as well.

The words of the Holy Father are often challenging. They require us to dig a little deeper and think a little harder. Knowledge and understanding are more easily retained when we have to seek it for ourselves rather than having it spoon feed to us. I think that we don't always want to put that much effort into it. We prefer to be spoon fed a pablum of Vatican clarifications of the Pope's words and intent. I wonder sometimes, is the Pope really that confusing? Because I am not confused by him. I wonder if it is truly a matter of ambiguity and lack of clarity or if many are confused by him plain and simply because they are being told that they are supposed to be? I do know that the Pope is often misunderstood. I also know with certainty that there are times that this is intentionally and deliberately so.

Recently such misunderstanding has surrounded the homily that Pope Francis gave on the Feast of the Holy Family. There are some that have determined that the Pope said that Jesus sinned or that he required forgiveness and mercy due to sin. I have read that homily and can say that even on the face of it, Pope Francis said no such thing. A couple of bloggers that I know have written some very good articles explaining things, both men far more astute and erudite than I in the areas of theology and apologetics. The first being Scott Eric Alt's article "Does the Pope Really Think Jesus Sinned" and a second piece by Dave Armstrong "Pope Francis Espoused a Sinning Jesus? Think Again"

My perspective comes from that of your common every day pew sitter. Speaking as an average Catholic I think you can give most of us a little credit as to having a certain amount of intelligence and at least an elementary knowledge of Church teaching. We also can handle a bad analogy from the Pope or something that might be misspoken without getting all shocked, shaken or jeopardizing our faith. Most of us do have the ability to interpret something that might be unclear through something that has been previously made clear. The Church teaches that Jesus was fully human in everything except sin. That has been made clear. The Pope has said it, as well, more than once as referenced in the two articles I have mentioned. The Pope does not then have to clarify that in every homily. He might be able to assume that would be the default understanding. Unless, of course, you are looking to find fault with something that he said.

Our Holy Father, in his homily, spoke of the family as being on pilgrimage together specifically in worshipping and praying together. He spoke as well of the importance of mercy in the family and that family is "a privileged place" of giving and receiving forgiveness and "experiencing the joy of forgiveness."  He then used the gospel of that day, the finding of Jesus in the temple, and related it to the human experience within this context. Although I would recommend reading the entire homily in order to clearly understand the context of Pope Francis' words, the following is the portion that seems to have been the source of misunderstandings.

At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents (cf. Lk 2:51).  This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families.  A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience.  We know what Jesus did on that occasion.  Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him.  For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents.  The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it.  Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt.  Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience.  Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.
In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them.  How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.

The word "sin" is not actually used within the homily, not once. The Holy Father does use the word "mistake". Within context, however, it seems that he is speaking about our experiences in families and not speaking of Jesus. Most of the objections seemed to arise from the use of the word "escapade" and the idea that Jesus may have asked for the forgiveness of his parents.

You may find the use of the word "escapade" to be a little cheeky. Then again, the word is enclosed in quotation marks indicating the Pope was probably being a little tongue in cheek and not literal. Lord help us, however, if our faith can be shaken on a cheeky reference from the Pope. Then again, have any of us been in a situation like that, where we couldn't find one of our children? Not through sin or fault but because of a miscommunication or misunderstanding? Then, after they are found safe and sound the story is told at family events as an "escapade"? I can relate a story from my own family. My sister and her son became separated at the mall. Often we tell our children to stay where they are when they become separated and wait for us to find them. My nephew, thinking the one place his mother would have to return to would be the car, went out to the parking lot, got in the car and waited patiently for his mother to find him. He was completely unaware of the furor going on inside of the mall as my sister searched frantically for him with the help of mall security. Did my nephew sin? Of course not. He did what he thought would be the right thing. Eventually he was found safe and sound. This "escapade" is now part of the lore related at family events.

In a similar way, Jesus thought that he was in a place where his parents could find him. He answered a call to be in his father's house. When Mary and Joseph found him they expressed that anxiety, without sin. Any parent who has lost a child for more than a minute understands the profound depth of that kind of distress, as well as the depth of relief when they are found.  In answering his parents some have said that Jesus was challenging them with a higher calling to be in his father's house. I think, however, that it was possible that there was merely some surprise there. "I had no idea. I honestly believed that if you couldn't find me you would know that I would be in my father's house and would be safe there." Honoring your father and mother is a commandment. The Lord holds that commandment in high enough regard that the keeping of it will bring you long life and the answers to your prayers. So could Jesus have asked forgiveness because of his parents distress? To honor his father and mother? Jesus often did what was right because it was right. He did many things to demonstrate humility, obedience and because they were required by the commandments. So I find it completely credible that Jesus may have said "I'm sorry you were so worried." and his parents may have responded "We are sorry that we did not understand,"

Have you ever said you were sorry not because you were at fault due to sin, but because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication? Have you said your were sorry because it was the right thing to do? Have you said you were sorry because, even though you were not at fault, not to do so would have been a matter or pride? Have you ever said you were sorry because the other person might need to hear it? I have. Jesus who was perfect, and his parents who were of far greater virtue than me may have as well. Sometimes asking for forgiveness is an act of humility. And sometimes when we ask for forgiveness we are actually extending mercy rather than requiring it.

"Let us not lose confidence in the family!  It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing.  Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness.  To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission - the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life - which the world and the Church need, now more than ever."

These are the final words of the Holy Father's homily. I believe we should take them to heart and extend them to the Pope as well. We should, through charity, first seek understanding regarding what the Pope says and does. Sometimes he may very well be wrong. In this case, I do not believe that he was, nor do I believe that his message was as confusing that some would have lead us to believe. His words did not put into question the teaching that Jesus was without sin. Nor did they cause me to doubt his divinity. The default position in reading this passage of scripture is that Jesus was without sin and that Marty did not sin as well. The default position with the Pope should be to seek orthodoxy first. Unless of course one chooses to be obstinate in misunderstanding him.

He's just a soul whose intentions are good.
Oh, Lord please don't let him be misunderstood.

For what it's worth.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Headlines, G-Spots, Hoax and Hype

Put the words "female sexual" anything with the word Vatican and you've got yourselves a headline that will certainly pique the interest of many. That's the function of a headline, to intrigue and interest the reader enough that they will then read the article. However, often in today's world of scrolling and trolling on the internet many readers don't go beyond the headline. So it is that headline that tells the story for them and what might actually be in the article or what actually might be the truth really doesn't matter much. The damage has been done with a provocative headline. Often sensationalism is used in either subject matter, language or style. Designed to startle, to deliberately create controversy or to excite and please vulgar taste, sensationalism overly hypes or exaggerates events. They can contain biased impressions which may or may not cause a manipulation of what the truth is but definitely persuades the reader to view an event in a particular way. It is quite possible to whip people into an emotional frenzy through sensationalistic headlines. Sometimes creating tempests in teapots and mountains out of mole hills. When it comes to the Vatican and sex these headlines can cause many Catholics to clutch their pearls, fetch Miss Pitty her smelling salts and start breathing into paper bags as their confidence in the Church ebbs away. Looking to the storm they are overcome and begin to sink below waves of fear and anxiety. Because if the Church is as scandalous as the headline suggests then what confidence can one have in it? Often the damage in stories that are approached in this manner, to the confidence of the faithful, the reputation of the Church, and collaterally done to others outweighs any benefit that might be found under the auspices of truth or the exposure of wrong doing.

Recently, right before Christmas such headlines began to appear on the internet. Some of them quite explicit.

Secrets of the G-Spot Unravelled by the Vatican

Plastic Surgery Conference at Catholic University in Rome to Explore Female Sexual Pleasure

Theology of the Lady Parts (this article has been removed)

G-Spot Papacy

Learn Secrets of the G-Spot at College Linked to Vatican

Catholic University to reveal nuns secret of the female body

Theology of the Clitoris ( This article been removed)

Vatican FacePalm: Make Plans To Attend Genitalia Enhancement Class

Female Genital Conference Comes to Vatican City

Get a Better Sex Life Via The Vatican's Catholic University

Vatican Invites Expert to be Greeted by Pope Francis and Give Lessons to Amplify Their G-Spots

The story seems to have been broken by The Daily Mail. Subsequent early reports seemed to piggy-back on this article as their only source and then began to link and reference each other. Then it was a hoax. Then it wasn't a hoax. Blogs were written, blogs were retracted, there were mea culpas given and mea culpas taken away. There was hype, there was bias, there was immature prurience.  Much of what was printed was the product of the playground of suspicious minds in its exaggerated  and sensationalized over-sexualization. I get that coming from the secular sources. That's sort of how they are. Some of them are not going to pass up the chance to give the impression that the Catholic Church has an element of celibate old men who are obsessed with sex because they aren't having any. Or because they think all Catholics are obsessed with sex due to the fact that the oppressive nature of Church doctrines severely limits our sexual freedoms. Catholics of course know better. Right?

So let's get to the story. Before we do, I would like to say a couple of things up front. The Pope was not really involved. Nor any involvement with nuns.  The Vatican is not giving classes on finding G-Spots and enhancing female sexual pleasure. What happened was that a group of doctors are holding their First World Congress in the city of Rome this coming April. They reportedly would be using the conference center at the Augustinian Patristic Institute as their venue. Is that it? Why the hoopla? You said there was sex. What were they, gynecologist or something? Well, as a matter of fact...

The Congress

The medical group holding the congress is the ESAG, European Society of Aesthetic Gynecologist.  They specialize in cosmetic gynecology. Some of what they do is to reconstruct, to restore and to repair. Some of their procedures, however, are purely cosmetic for the purposes of appearance or sensation. The president and founder is Dr. Alexandros Bader. In October they announced that they would be holding the1st International Congress of the European Society of Aesthetic Gynecology in Rome in April and that the venue would be the Patristic Institute Augustinianum. There would, of course, be lectures and videos of procedures along with booths set up by various companies involved with medical supplies and equipment. Most of it standard conference stuff. The cost for participants would include fees for the event ranging from €150.00 to €690.00, €95.00 for a dinner, a stay at a 4 star hotel and air fare. Most conferences and congresses also include social events and this one is no different. They begin to advertise a Vatican link and imply an inside tract to some Vatican events. These include a papal audience, a papal blessing, a tour of the Vatican gardens and St. Peter's Chapel. Their brochures and website contain Vatican imagery and it was implied that the conference itself would be in Vatican City. The Patristic Institute is linked to the Vatican. They also advertise that there will be many events in Rome as the city will be celebrating Rome's birthday. Some of their claims may have been exaggerated advertising. Since making headlines they have removed the Patristic Institute as their venue from a bluevents site and their website, merely saying that the event would take place in Rome. They have removed any reference to anything besides social events occurring in Vatican City. A spokeswoman for the event said the conference venue was not within the walls of the Vatican City. “There are plenty of foreigners coming from all over the world and they want to be close to the centre of Rome, that’s all,” she said. Hence the Vatican references to draw attendance.

The Vatican Link?

The Patristic Institute is linked to the Vatican, especially in proximity. It is right next door just outside the walls of Vatican City. It is an institution of higher education of the Catholic Church in Rome. It is responsible for the study of patristic theology - the history and theology of Church Fathers. It is associated with the Pontifical (under the direct authority of the Holy See) Lateran University. The Congregation of Education, a part of the Roman Curia, has overview of the Institute. The Congregation of Catholic Education of the Vatican City State is an organization overviewing Catholic seminaries, schools and educational institutes as well as all universities, faculties, institutes and schools of higher education. Although the Vatican has direct authority of the Patristic Institute, I doubt that Vatican or Curia officials have much to do with the day to day arrangements for the conference center. The Patristic Institute would have been the one allowing the ESAG to use its facilities. They offer their conference center  for conferences and congresses regularly.

The Papal audience, tour of the Vatican Gardens, etc, upon further investigation, were apparently part of a tourist package. It was to be the weekly general audience not a private audience. The general audience is public and is attended by thousands. You do need a ticket to attend but the tickets are free. My brother and his wife took our mother to Rome recently. They managed to tour many parts of the Vatican without any inside connections to or special consideration from any Vatican officials. They attended a general audience. You might get close enough to get a really good picture of the Pope like my brother did.

But that is far from a personal or private encounter with the Pope.

At the end of the audience the Pope imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon the crowd which also extends to loved ones that are sick and suffering and blesses any religious articles. This Apostolic Blessing in no way endorses any person or group who may be in the crowd.

The social events or tourist package were the only things that would be going on inside of Vatican City. There is no evidence that the Pope and/or the Vatican had invited, sponsored or endorsed the group or that the Pope himself would be greeting them nor giving them a special or personal blessing. The conference itself was reportedly being held at the conference center of the Patristic Institute outside of Vatican City. A hands on course with live cases, that apparently was the main fodder for the salacious headlines, is actually a 3 day course to be held after the Congress itself, at yet another separate location according to a statement by the ESAG and its website.

The Hype

Some may feel that a just-the-facts-ma'am rendition of this story possibly downplays a certain incongruity in the fact that a Catholic Institution would allow its facility to be used by this particular group of doctors. Some may feel that it would have been wise or prudent of the Patristic Institute to take a pass on this particular event to avoid even a hint of impropriety. Some types of cosmetic surgery most certainly are seen as encouraging sexual promiscuity and as objectifying women, which does not coincide with the Church's teaching on sexual purity as well as those on human dignity. These would be valid opinions and valid concerns. And I would agree with them. That would, of course, be assuming that the Patristic Institute realized it. It is completely possible that they merely booked an event with what they thought were medical professionals. It is also assuming that the event was actually booked at all.

I will say that some Catholic bloggers did not go over the top and tried to stick to facts. Although few  were able to avoid the somewhat sophomoric nudge, nudge, wink, wink entendre of the term hands on expressed in scare quotes. Even when quotation marks or italics weren't used there was still an air quoted quality about the way it was written. Some, however, went so far as to elicit images of women being thrown akimbo on conference tables. Again, any hands on procedure with live cases would have been inappropriate in connection with the Patristic Institute. But further investigation has revealed that the 3-day hands on course would not be connected with the Institute at all, but instead would occur after on the days following the Congress.

Writing about this as a controversy would have been appropriate. Expressing the concerns I have previously mentioned would have been appropriate. This story could have been told with maturity and without sensationalizing and over-sexualizing. That is a far cry from many of the headlines and blogs that were actually written. I wonder if a dissatisfaction with the current papacy caused some to jump the gun on this story without thoroughly investigating it. Especially in early reports. I wonder if that dissatisfaction caused some to prematurely jump on a bandwagon to criticize the Vatican and then exacerbate the tone set by the Daily Mail. It took a cursory investigation to find out that the Papal Audience that was reported was a general audience and not a private one. Most Catholics know what the general audience is and that there are guided tours of the Vatican gardens. Why not clear up that discrepancy, as well as any others, rather than allow hand wringing over the Pope personally greeting sex experts and having tea with them in the Vatican gardens? Why was the exaggeration and the inflammatory sexual language necessary at all if not to encourage outrage, hand wringing and a dissatisfaction with the Vatican? Although many of the headlines were not technically deceitful, I would say that they misled in their provocative and colorful language in order to evoke an emotional response. Shouldn't Catholic writers set a higher standard of integrity, fairness, charity and self-discipline?

The Hoax?

Maureen Mullarkey wrote a piece for the Federalist. The Patristic Institute contacted the Federalist to correct the story saying that there would be no ESAG conference. The Federalist then removed the story and Mullarkey wrote an apology on her blog stating that the whole thing had been a hoax and that she had "allowed my distaste for this grotesque pontificate to get the better of me." Whether or not the Patristic Institute referred to it as a hoax is unclear and as yet unsubstantiated. Did they actually say "hoax" or was that just assumed because of their denial. So far only bloggers have used the term hoax. Father Federico Lombardi, of the Holy See Press Office, is reported as having issued a disclaimer as well. Although the source of the quote appears to be an interview in an Italian blog and I have yet to find an official Vatican source or press release for it. A couple of  blogs then removed their articles and others issued an oops as well.

If it was a hoax it would have been an elaborate one. It is possible that Dr. Bader and the ESAG indulged in some hype that they then had to back track on and remove from their websites. A couple of bloggers began to question the credibility of the denial issued by the Patristic Institute based partially on the fact that the Daily Mail was letting their article stand. It also seemed unbelievable to them that a reputable and reportedly world renowned doctor would risk his reputation on a hoax.  The blogger that pens the blog St. Cobinian's Bear, decided to dig deeper and contacted Dr. Bader. Based on this contact and Dr. Bader's assurance that he had documentation that there had been an agreement with the Patristic Institute, people began to believe that between the Vatican and Dr. Bader, Dr. Bader was the most credible. It is now being reported that the Patristic Institute, embarrassed by the bad press, reneged  an agreement with the ESAG and then lied about it. Apologies were withdrawn , oopsies were retracted and blogs began anew. 

The Story Ends

Dr. Bader and the ESAG have issued a press release announcing the change in venue for the 1st World Congress. Siting "a series of recent misleading articles, which reported defamatory inaccuracies, resulted in an unfavorable response and finally cancellation of the venue rental." According to the statement, the ESAG continues to claim that they indeed had an agreement with the Patristic Institute and had been completely upfront about their topics before hand and that the Institute were the ones who backed out. They claim to have the documentation to back that up. However, they have not been willing to make that documentation public.

It seems that both the Patristic Institute and the ESAG are sticking to their story, yet neither has ponied up and proved it. According to the St. Corbinian's Bear blog who was in contact with Dr. Bader, the ESAG has lawyered up and the Patristic Institute is not responding to his inquiries. Of course, if there had been no agreement in the first place, there would be no way for the Patristic Institute to prove it, besides a denial. You cannot usually produce documentation for something that never happened. It may just be that the burden of proof would be with the ESAG.

Did the Patristic Institute lie and then Father Lombardi doubled down on that lie? Did Dr. Bader and the ESAG advertise a venue that they had not yet procured? We may never know for sure. Many believe that it had to be one or the other. Either one is lying or the other has to be. Would that life were always so black and white, so cut and dried. There are many possible scenarios here. If there had been an agreement, maybe both the Institute and Dr. Bader should have been smart enough to understand the PR nightmare their association would have presented. It certainly would have saved the besmirching of either's reputation. It would have saved a lot of virtual ink as well. It is possible that there was something scheduled at the Patristic Institute, either signed and sealed, tentative and penciled in, or merely being discussed. Then both were embarrassed by the bad press. So the ESAG let the Institute withdraw, both parties actually relieved to put an end to it. When the Institute issued its disclaimer, if they said "there is no event scheduled", they may technically have been telling the truth. Because at that time no event was scheduled. It would have been a fudging of the truth. We would, of course, and should expect better from the Institute. They should have been better than that. Rather than try to get off on a technicality, admitting a mistake would have been a far better choice. Assuming that is, indeed, what they did. It is possible that the ESAG fudged a little on their advertising as well. Which is why, according to their statement, the ESAG "understands the situation and has made the decision to organize the Congress at a different venue in Rome on the same dates as scheduled." It may have been a way for everyone to save face. They seem far more interested in the defamation of the articles written than in any breach of contract with the Patristic Institute. Then further embarrassment ensued with the renewed blogging with allegations of  hoaxes and accusation of lies. Those may have been directed more at the Vatican, yet fell on the ESAG as well. It is possible that Dr. Bader and the ESAG feel that far greater damage was done to their reputation by articles and blogs than in anything the Patristic Institute may or may not have done. Their statement seems to indicate as much and that any legal action, if taken, "against everyone for any direct and indirect damages suffered due to malicious, defamatory and generally tortious conduct." would be directed toward the defamation of the articles. That, of course, are my own personal thoughts. I will let the reader decide for themselves.

Which leads me to my final thoughts and commentary. As Catholics we should be able to write about an event without manipulation. To tell it straight  and let others decide for themselves. If you can't tell by my comments so far, I was as much dismayed by how this was written about as I was by the events themselves. There seemed to be a lack of integrity, definitely a lack of restraint, and a lack of fairness in the narrative presented. It did not, in my opinion, properly reflect a true Catholic character. I think we could have done better. I think we should have done better. It might be said that Catholics were not any worse or more inaccurate than everybody else. But that is exactly my point. We are not everybody else. We are not the other kids. We, in fact, belong to our Lord Jesus Christ and everything we do reflects on him and his Gospel. Everything we do should be for the honor and glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we should act as if God were our editor and every word we write would be presented directly to him. Because, in fact, it is presented before him. We aspire to a more excellent way, follow the golden rule, check the wooden beam in our own eye before the splinter in another and know that the measure which we measure will be measured out to us. We measure ourselves not by whether or not we were technically accurate but by the impact we know and intended in our hearts  to have on another. If the Patristic Institute and the Vatican lied then shame on them. But we need to set the same standard across the board. There is enough shame to go around. In a zeal to find fault with the Vatican many wrote with absolutely no regard to the collateral damage of their words.

I commend those who tried to investigate, who tried to stay ahead of the pack in digging deeper. I commend those who may have joined in at first but later realized that things were getting out of hand and toned down their rhetoric. None of us is perfect. But rather we should learn from this and next time just do better. Because we are supposed to be better. Many may have been too quick to follow what was misleading. Many may have been too quick to resort to the salacious and the sensational. Many  may have been too quick to misrepresent. Many may have been too quick to disregard the reputation of another. Many might have been a too quick to yell liar. I have the feeling, however, that sure as I'm sitting here, that show most likely will go on again. Let's hope that when it does self-discipline, virtue, integrity to truth, fairness, charity and a regard for others does not allude us.

For what it's worth.