Archive for August, 2011

Islam Overtaking Catholicism in France

Islamic mosques are being built more often in France than Roman Catholic churches, and there now are more practicing Muslims in the country than practicing Catholics.

Nearly 150 new mosques currently are under construction in France, home to the biggest Muslim community in Europe. The mosque-building projects are at various stages of completion, according to Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the Muslim Council of France (CFCM), who provided the data in an August 2 interview with the French radio station RTL.

The total number of mosques in France has already doubled to more than 2,000 during just the past ten years, according to a research report “Constructing Mosques: The Governance of Islam in France and the Netherlands.” France’s most prominent Muslim leader, Dalil Boubakeur, who is rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, recently called for the number of mosques in the country to be doubled again – to 4,000 – to meet growing demand.

By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church in France has built only 20 new churches during the past decade, and has formally closed more than 60 churches, many of which are destined to become mosques, according to research conducted by La Croix, a Roman Catholic daily newspaper based in Paris.

Although 64% of the French population (or 41.6 million of France’s 65 million inhabitants) identifies itself as Roman Catholic, only 4.5% (or 1.9 million) of those actually are practicing Catholics, according to the French Institute of Public Opinion (or Ifop, as it is usually called).

By way of comparison, 75% (or 4.5 million) of the estimated 6 million mostly ethnic North African and sub-Saharan Muslims in France identify themselves as “believers” and 41% (or 2.5 million) say they are “practicing” Muslims, according to an in-depth research report on Islam in France published by Ifop on August 1. The report also says that more than 70% of the Muslims in France say they will be observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in 2011.

Taken together, the research data provides empirical evidence that Islam is well on its way to overtaking Roman Catholicism as the dominant religion in France.

As their numbers grow, Muslims in France are becoming far more assertive than ever before. A case in point: Muslim groups in France are now asking the Roman Catholic Church for permission to use its empty churches as a way to solve the traffic problems caused by thousands of Muslims who pray in the streets.

In a March 11 communiqué addressed to the Church of France, the National Federation of the Great Mosque of Paris, the Council of Democratic Muslims of France and a Muslim activist group called Collectif Banlieues Respect called on the Catholic Church – in a spirit of inter-religious solidarity, of course – to make its empty churches available to Muslims for Friday prayers, so that Muslims do not have to “pray in the streets” and be “held hostage to politics.”

Every Friday, thousands of Muslims in Paris and other French cities close off streets and sidewalks (and by extension, close down local businesses and trap non-Muslim residents in their homes and offices) to accommodate overflowing crowds for midday prayers. Some mosques have also begun broadcasting sermons and chants of “Allah Akbar” via loudspeakers in the streets.

The weekly spectacles, which have been documented by dozens of videos posted on ( here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here), have provoked anger and disbelief. But despite many public complaints, local authorities have declined to intervene because they are afraid of sparking riots.

The issue of illegal street prayers was catapulted to the top of the national political agenda in France in December 2010, when Marine Le Pen, the charismatic new leader of the far-right National Front party, denounced them as an “occupation without tanks or soldiers.”

During a gathering in the east central French city of Lyon on December 10, Le Pen compared Muslims praying in the streets to Nazi occupation. She said: “For those who want to talk a lot about World War II, if it is about occupation, then we could also talk about it [Muslim prayers in the streets], because that is occupation of territory. It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of districts in which religious laws apply. It is an occupation. There are of course no tanks, there are no soldiers but it is nevertheless an occupation and it weighs heavily on local residents.”

Many French voters agree. In fact, the issue of Muslim street prayers – and the broader question of the role of Islam in French society – has become a major issue ahead of the 2012 presidential elections. According to a survey by Ifop for the France-Soir newspaper, nearly 40% of French voters agree with Len Pen’s views that Muslim prayer in the streets resembles an occupation. Another opinion poll published by Le Parisien newspaper shows that voters view Le Pen, who has criss-crossed the country arguing that France has been invaded by Muslims and betrayed by its elite, as the candidate best suited to deal with the growing problem of runaway Muslim immigration.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose popularity was at 25% in July – worse than any predecessor less than a year ahead of a re-election bid, according to the TNS-Sofres polling group – has been spooked by Le Pen’s advance in the opinion polls. He now seems determined not to allow Le Pen to monopolize the issue of Islam in France.

Sarkozy recently called Muslim prayers in the street “unacceptable” and said that the street cannot be allowed to become “an extension of the mosque.” He also warned that the overflow of Muslim faithful on to the streets at prayer time when mosques are packed to capacity risks undermining the French secular tradition separating state and religion.

Interior Minister Claude Guéant on August 8 told Muslims who have been praying on the streets of Paris that they should utilize a disused barracks instead. “Praying in the street is something that is not acceptable,” Guéant said. “It has to stop.”

Meanwhile, France ushered in Ramadan by inaugurating a new mega-mosque for 2,000 worshipers in Strasbourg, where the Muslim population has reached 15%. Construction also continues apace of a new mega-mosque in Marseille, France’s second-largest city where the Muslim population has reached 25% (or 250,000). The Grand Mosque – which at more than 8,300 square meters (92,000 square feet) will accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers in a vast prayer hall – is designed to be the biggest and most potent symbol of Islam’s place in modern France.

Boubakeur, of the Grande Mosque of Paris, says the construction of even more mosques – paid for by French taxpayers – would ease the “pressure, frustration and the sense of injustice” felt by many French Muslims. “Open a mosque and you close a prison,” says Boubakeur.

But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has implied that the construction of mosques and minarets actually is part of a strategy for the Islamization of Europe. Publicly repeating the words of a 1912 poem written by the Turkish nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp, Erdogan said: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”

Reflecting on the retreat of Catholicism and the rise of Islam in France, Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini, an Italian Franciscan who heads the Izmir archdiocese in Turkey, and who has lived in the Islamic world for more than 40 years, has recounted a conversation he once had with a Muslim leader, who told him: “Thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you. Thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you.”

St. Joan of Arc, Pray for Us

Apart from the Mass Killings, Things are so Pleasant!

One-child policy a surprising boon for China girls

That’s the headline on an  AP story  that should win some sort of prize for morally obtuse reporting.

The most obvious outcome of the China’s one-child policy, coupled with the deeply-ingrained desire for male children, has been the routine destruction of Chinese girls in the womb. The UN estimates that 43 million girls are “missing” in China today, due primarily to sex-selection abortions.

But for those who aren’t killed, the policy is a “boon,” AP tells us. The story explains that there are more girls studying in the finest schools, more girls owning laptops, more girls receiving lavish gifts from their families. Life is good—for those girls who survive long enough to experience it.

After 14 paragraphs of upbeat reporting, the AP story finally notices a cloud on the horizon:
Crediting the one-child policy with improving the lives of women is jarring, given its history and how it’s harmed women in other ways. Facing pressure to stay under population quotas, overzealous family planning officials have resorted to forced sterilizations and late-term abortions, sometimes within weeks of delivery, although such practices are illegal.

So if you don’t count the women who are slaughtered in the womb, and the women who are subjected to involuntary sterilization, and the women who have their unborn children torn from their wombs by the government-backed butchers who drive around the country in vans equipped as slap-dash abortion clinics, and the women who live in fear, trying to dodge the family-planning officials who will punish them for pregnancy, and those who live with regrets, having sacrificed their children—if you exclude all those women—well then the one-child policy is a “boon” to the others.

Thanks, AP. Always nice to see a “good news” story. 

The Modern Prometheus

In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, there is a passage that (were it true) claws at the soul until it is left open and raw with spiritual bleeding. In a black paroxysm of despair, Victor Frankenstein’s monster compares his lot to Satan’s: “The fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am quite alone”.

Shelley’s book originally carried the subtitle “Modern Prometheus.” In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals. The subtitle, therefore, refers to the novel’s theme, whereby modern man is reaching into dangerous areas of knowledge.

Victor Frankenstein used corpses to create his biped, which wanted to become the god of a new race. He intends for it to be beautiful, seemingly a reference to God’s creation of the angelic choirs. But when it comes to life, he is revolted by its gargoyle-like deformities, its shocking ugliness. After taking murderous revenge on various people for his hopeless plight, the grotesque beast commits suicide.

This seems to be a metaphor for some recent news.

On September 5, 2007, in England, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Agency (HFEA) made the decision to allow science to create human-animal hybrids. A bill is soon to be decided that will “make this a positive right … But even if the bill doesn’t pass, the administrative interpretation of the HFEA will permit creation of human-animal hybrids to go forward … Two teams of scientists have already applied to HFEA to create human-animal hybrids”.

In a sense, this was bound to happen, because science today does not believe in the human soul. As the authors of The Spiritual Brain – A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul point out:

“Most scientists today are materialists who believe that the physical world is the only reality. Absolutely everything else – including thought, feeling, mind, and will – can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena … The discipline of neuroscience today is materialist. That is, it assumes that the mind is quite simply the physical workings of the brain”.

Having been created by a human, Frankenstein’s monster had no soul. But having a brain he could think, a process alleged to be “quite simply the physical workings of the brain.” In any case, not having a soul, he is left off the hook of eternal damnation for his murders and suicide. But humans do have souls. So, the grafting of a human with an animal brings up an interesting, albeit a macabre question, as to whether or not the new hybrids will have souls

For anyone who has seen the hideous movie The Fly, this question is accentuated. The story is about a scientist who experiments with a teleportation device. During his testing, his atoms get scrambled together with those of the fly, creating a half-man, half-fly hybrid. One can speculate that the human part of this hybrid retained its soul, so, like the Frankenstein tale, the audience can leave the scene knowing that hell has not overridden God’s creation, but abusively tampered with it.

It is interesting to note that when Our Lady in Fatima showed the children Hell, both animals and humans were seen:

“Submerged in that fire were demons and souls in human shapes who resembled red-hot coals, black and bronze-colored embers that floated about in the blaze … The devils stood out like frightful and unknown animals with horrible and disgusting shapes, but transparent like black coals that have become red-hot”.

The souls had “human shapes,” while the devils appeared as “unknown animals with horrible and disgusting shapes.” Since this vision came directly from Our Lady, the fact that animal forms were given to devils is not adventitious. This leads me to a theory.

Not being a doctor of either positive or speculative theology, I will hypothesize as a Catholic layman, that the human part of the soon-to-be-created hybrids will have souls. Thus these creatures will be similar to the man-fly hybrid in the movie. Similar but not the same, because the man-fly hybrid resulted from an accident, not intentionally – in the teleportation instrument of the movie, the fly had not been seen. The new hybrids will be intentional, creatures that defy thought. God created us in His image, but the new hybrids will be metaphysical monstrosities, something out of Greek mythology. If the hybrids are females, perhaps they will be like Echidna, half-woman, half-snake. Or a harpy, half-bird and half-woman. If masculine, a half-man and half-animal could be like a Centaur. Presently the unbaptized have Limbo as an option, but will the new hybrids have this option?

It was said of Hitler’s Germany, “How could it be that a cultured people at the heart of Europe ever allow such a man and the Nazi party he led to power?”  A fortiori, this same question can be asked of present day England regarding its decision to allow animal/human hyrid experimentation to go forward. The insane power of the Nazi quest operated on a kind of presupposition that human thinking had gone mad. But the quest to biologically combine the human world with the animal world goes beyond madness, penetrating into the mind of Satan. It is the roar of Lucifer, “I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14: 14).

St. Michael’s reply to Lucifer will always be repeated by God’s troupes:

“Unable to countenance the impudence of a creature thinking he were equal to God, [St. Michael] courageously stood up in the divine assembly to defend the rights of God with a rebuke that issued from the depths of his being as a question something like: ‘And just who could possibly claim to be like God?’ …”

Then Michael cast Lucifer out of Heaven with all his rebellious companions”.

After showing the three children the relentlessly horrific vision mentioned above, Our Lady said to them, “You have seen Hell…” Now, as the bio-technological Prometheus reaches its nadir in the land of St. Thomas More, the vision seems to be repeated: We could shortly be seeing an image and likeness of hell.

May Our Lady send St. Michael to assist us as the Revolution in the Church and the world spin out of control, trying to “ascend above the height of the clouds.”

The Revenge of the Gods of the Copybook Headings

All of our economic woes, more or less, have come from defiance of what Rudyard Kipling called the Gods of the Copybook Headings. These are the nonpartisan, scientific, and implacable laws of economics and human behavior on which Henry Ford elaborated as follows:

Most of the wisdom of the world was in the copy books. The lines we used to write over and over again, the homely old maxims on which we practiced to obtain legibility of our p’s and q’s, were the essence of human wisdom. (Ford Ideals, 1922)

The implacable laws in question include the basic economic concept that no system can deliver more value to its stakeholders than it produces. Ford’s mastery of these principles, along with what we now call lean manufacturing or the Toyota production system, built a multibillion-dollar enterprise and made the United States the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. Ford prospered by acting in accordance with the Gods of the Copybook Headings, while Kipling described what happened to those who went against them:

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

The “Gods of the Market Place” refers to temporary fads like Dutch tulip bulbs, dot-com stocks, mortgage-backed securities, and, if the Obama administration has its way, carbon credits. These lesser gods of Kipling’s pantheon are temporary, ephemeral, and mortal, while those of the Copybook Headings are eternal and immutable. Kipling continues:

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Eight-thousand-dollar handouts to first-time home-buyers, $7,500 tax credits to purchasers of the General Motors Volt, and multibillion-dollar “stimulus packages” all sound like “robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul,” or incurring billions in national debt for the same purpose. The next sentence is even more terrifying in light of Bank of New York Mellon’s proposal to charge depositors to hold large sums of cash. The concept of negative interest suggests that the bank does not expect to loan the cash even at trivial interest rates, which suggests in turn that there are no economic opportunities to which borrowers might apply the money.

The Great Depression was the opposite of the scenario described by Kipling because people had very little money. Anybody with the independent means to grow, mine, or make something could, however, usually get by. Farmers could, for example, often exchange food for vital services like medical care. This leads to the point, which Ford stated explicitly, that any society’s affluence relies directly on its ability to grow, mine, and/or manufacture things. Only with the products of mining, agriculture, and manufacturing can we then pay for services like medical care, news and commentary, and so on, along with entertainment that improves our quality of life.

Our country’s problem is very straightforward, and it is quite likely that the investment community recognized it during the first week of August. There is a widespread delusion, which is shared by the numerous members of Congress, that it is possible to have an affluent society without growing, mining, or manufacturing anything. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said openly that we can run an economy by trading in carbon credits:

According to financial experts, carbon permits could quickly become the world’s largest commodities market, growing to as much as $3 trillion by 2020 from just over $100 billion today. With thousands of firms and energy producers buying and selling permits to emit carbon, transaction fees for exchanges and clearing alone could top nearly half a billion dollars.

No, Senator, a commodity is something you can eat (cattle, pigs, wheat, soybeans), burn to make energy (coal or oil), or use to manufacture something (iron, aluminum, and now rare earths that are unfortunately controlled by China). Carbon credits have less intrinsic value than baseball cards, collectible comic books, and Dutch tulip bulbs (an investor who lost his life savings on those could at least plant them and have tulips) and are therefore not commodities.

To this may be added the president’s belief that we can build a “green economy” on “renewable energy.” There is nothing at all wrong with green manufacturing; Henry Ford made enormous profits, paid higher wages, and lowered his prices simultaneously by eliminating material and energy waste from his processes in an era with few if any environmental protection laws. The problem consists of subsidies or mandates for cost-ineffective renewable or green energy sources. If, for example, Mr. Obama’s friends and campaign donors at General Electric could make cost-effective solar panels or wind turbines, they would not need government subsidies or mandates for the purchase of their products.

If delusions like “green economy” and “carbon permits as commodities” represent our country’s understanding of basic economic science, it comes as no surprise that investors don’t want to stay around when, as Kipling concluded:

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Rudyard Kipling, with his gift as a poet and prophet, has put this into focus in his poem, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.” Although written in 1919, it is pertinent to the conditions that exist in the world today. His “Gods of the Copybook Headings” are, in effect, those rules of human conduct that are so well defined by centuries of experience that they have become immutable. To disregard them, says Kipling, will inevitably lead to failure and destruction.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

A Colossal Monument to Diabolic Disorientation

Mammoth and Meaningless

From the November 2007 issue of Catholic Family News
By John Vennari

The Church of the Holy Trinity opened at Fatima on October 12, the eve of the 90th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun. It is a project conceived and completed by Shrine Rector Luciano Guerra, the man who permitted Hindus to worship at the Catholic altar at Fatima in 2004.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone presided over the building’s consecration, blessing the new church accompanied by an altar girl at his side who carried the holy water.

I traveled to Fatima to witness the event, and to take a good look at the new structure now open to the public. It is a stark monstrosity with no soul. I snapped many photos, a small portion of which are included in the photo report in this issue.

` In a certain sense, the place needs little commentary. Most who look on it recognize its gargantuan hideousness. The Catholic soul gazing on it is shaken to his inmost being, and whispers prayers of reparation that a building so grotesque could be presented to God and to the Catholic world as a church at the very spot sanctified by Our Lady’s visitations 90 years ago.

The new building is billed as the fourth largest church in the world, following behind the more Catholic structures of St. Peters in Rome, Our Lady of Aparecida Shrine in Brazil, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast.

The architecture is primarily functional and thus thoroughly modern. The main purpose in the building’s design is for easy movement of the large crowds that flock to Fatima each year. The building seats 9000 people, has a center wide enough for three SUVs to roll side-by-side down the main aisle, and has no columns so as not to obstruct live television broadcasts. As in movie theaters, the floor slopes down from back to front.

The round, windowless exterior looks more like a maximum security prison or a whale aquarium than anything remotely Catholic. The large concrete walls that run across the center and jut out from the back give the appearance of something from an outer-space film. The building could be called “Intergalactic Center for Peace among the Planets” with no questioned asked.

The building’s cavernous interior is stark and cold, the spiritual equivalent to a walk-in freezer. Apart from the large crucifix, grotesquely topped with a Neanderthal face of Our Lord, the building could pass for something from the United Nations. The absence of windows augments its ugliness.

Behind the crucifix is a large mosaic of “The Heavenly Jerusalem” composed of artwork that is modern but not as offensive as the rest of the building.

The Blessed Sacrament is kept in some far-off area that is either impossible to find or closed to the public. There is no sanctuary lamp. A priest of my acquaintance searched the hall for 15 minutes and never found a tabernacle. I asked another priest wandering around inside where is the tabernacle. “I have no idea” he said half-laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Then there’s the “Tall Cross” — a steel-monstrosity of a crucifix that soars 110 feet in the air next to the new temple. It looks as if it was made with melted steel girders.

The Shrine commissioned modern German artist Robert Schad to design the cross within the iconography of the new Church of the Holy Trinity. According to the August 30 Jornal de Notícias, Schad was selected because of his persistence with Rector Guerra and the support of the basilica’s architect, the Greek Orthodox Alexandros Tombazis.

Schad described his work of art thus: “It is a crucifix turned towards the 21st century, showing a heartfelt stylized Christ which pays tribute to all the world’s cultures… the simplicity of the work also has something sensual.”

Newspaper accounts of the building’s cost vary between 85 to 99 millions dollars. The church was supposed to open May 13 th,  but numerous delays prevented its opening until October.

The ecumenical intent of the building appears obvious. Cardinal Saraiva Martins said on Portuguese television that the new basilica is Fatima for the 21st Century and a sign of inculturation, putting the Church right in the middle of modern culture.

Bishop Antonio Marto, the Bishop of Lierra-Fatima, said in mid-2006 that the new basilica at Fatima will not be an ecumenical temple, but qualified that the identity of Fatima allows space for universal and interreligious dialogue.

In other words, the church at Fatima will not be an interreligious shrine, but a Catholic shrine where ecumenical activity occasionally occurs.

The structure of the new building speaks the voice of ecumenism. The 1993 Directory for the Application of the Principle and Norms of Ecumenism, quoted many times in CFN, encourages numerous interreligious activities that have always been condemned by the Church as grave sins against the Faith.

One of the proposals in this Directory is to construct a single church to be owned and used by Catholics and non-Catholics [#138]. In these ecumenical churches, the Blessed Sacrament should be placed in a separate room so as not to offend the sensibilities of non-believers [#139]

Likewise, Cardinal Kasper’s newly-released booklet, Handbook for Spiritual Ecumenism, recommends various ways that the proposals of the Ecumenical Directory be put into practice.

The Cardinal makes special mention of how Marian shrines must become ecumenical: Pay due attention, in national and international sanctuaries dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to the presence and pastoral needs of those visitors who belong to other Churches and Ecclesial communities by making available appropriate prayers or meditations, along with the use of appropriate liturgical signs and symbols. (pp. 34-35).

The new basilica of Fatima seems to have followed the Ecumenical Directory in the absence of a public tabernacle or sanctuary lamp, and in keeping the Blessed Sacrament in a remote area impossible to find. There can be no doubt that the basilica would have been designed according to the ecumenical imperatives of Cardinal Kasper, since the Cardinal’s Handbook was result of proceedings from a 2003 Plenary Session at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The points in his booklet would be known to Church officials for many years.

Along the same lines, the Fourth European Conference of Directors of Pilgrimages and Rectors was held in September 2004 at the Marian Shrine in Kevelear, Germany. The conference was promoted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. The meeting’s purpose was to advance the practice of ecumenism in Catholics shrines and pilgrimages throughout Europe (see CFN, Sept, 2006).

Fatima Rector Luciano Guerra spoke at the Kevelear conference, which was attended by Catholics, Schismatic Orthodox, Anglicans and Evangelical Protestants. Here, Guerra boasted of his ecumenical endeavors at Fatima.

Every year for the last four years, said Guerra, we received the visit of a group of Anglican priests normally accompanied by a bishop. They stay several days in Fatima, taking part in some of the celebrations and even in the Eucharist, but without concelebrating or communicating [receiving communion]. The Shrine makes available to them the interior chapels of the lodging houses, so that they may celebrate their own rites. Already this year [2004] the Anglican Archdeaconry of Gibraltar held its Synod in one of the lodging houses of the Shrine.

Rector Guerra, being thoroughly ecumenical, and no doubt being aware of Cardinal Kasper’s push to open Marian Shrines to the ecumenical dimension, would have designed the new church to serve the new interfaith orientation rather than the Catholic Faith of all time.

Thus it is clear the new basilica at Fatima is a monument to the diabolic disorientation of neo-modernism and ecumenism. This explains why there is nothing Catholic about its construction. This explains why there is nothing holy in its appearance. This explains why the average Catholic who still has the sensus fidei gapes at the building as something from another planet.

Even the poor Portuguese people are perplexed, despite their humble temperament to keep their misgivings to themselves. One woman I spoke with at Fatima told me she went around asking Portuguese pilgrims what they thought of the new building. Each of them replied with a shrug of the shoulders, hardly a 90-million-dollar response.

America: Time to Start Over

This must have been what it was like living in the 1930s: politicians running around, fingers in their ears, unwilling or unable to confront a rising conflagration that they helped to light.

Back then, the threat came from a revivified and revanchist Germany. Western leaders stood by while the Germans rearmed, then looked the other way as ever larger chunks of the Continent fell to the blitzkrieg. When the enervated Western elites finally took a stand over Poland, it was too late — the fire was so large that, by the time it was finally quenched, the world lay in smoldering ruin.

Today we face a different, though no less mortal, sort of threat: the wealth of the West has been revealed to be largely illusory, built on the foolish foundations of credit that shift and scatter like sands in the wind. Individuals, governments, and corporations for decades have borrowed against the future, gambling that later economic growth would finance current incredibly high living standards, standards which every good Westerner came to believe their birthright.

It never occurred to these citizens and policy-makers that the economic growth they counted on may never arrive, that their obscene levels of borrowing would themselves be enough to strangle future wealth in its cradle, long before it had a chance to grow.

The reality is this: the total debt portfolio of the United States is conservatively estimated at $130-150 trillion. And that’s just us; add up the red ink of every person, nation, and company on the planet and we’re talking many hundreds of trillions. To put that in perspective, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the whole world was last year a mere $65-70 trillion.

In short, we have been living a “hundred of trillions” lifestyle on “tens of trillions” in actual wealth. The difference between the two sums is money that would have belonged to the future: future kids would have used it to pay for their education, future inventors to invest in their ideas, future couples to buy their first home. It is money they will now never have; we have plucked it from their pockets and purses before they were even born. It’s easy, after all, to rob someone who doesn’t yet exist. So that we could pretend to be richer than we are, we have ensured that our children will be poorer than they deserve to be.

This is a monstrous moral failing, a horrendous crime against our heirs. The difference between ourselves and Bernie Madoff? Not much, really. It is the height of hypocrisy to put a man like Madoff behind bars for engaging in the same sorts of financial shell games that we like our politicians to play. Social Security is every bit as much of a scam as a crooked hedge fund, yet FDR is lionized while Madoff rots in a cell — nothing could better encapsulate the moral and literal bankruptcy of our civilization.

The consequence of all this debt is easy to predict — decay, decline, demise. Such has been the fate of all entities, both public and private, whose commitments have so overwhelmed their resources, and such will be our own fate. We have murdered our future with a million papercuts; our republic was KIA by IOU.

Watching the eunuchs in Washington squabble over the debt crisis is a sobering experience, in that it makes perfectly clear that our political class is every bit as unequal to the times as was its 1930’s counterpart. I shudder to think how pale and poor are the hands that hold the reigns of state in these times of peril. Our politicians really haven’t the slightest clue what they have wrought, nor the faintest idea of the severity that awaits us.

Of course, the thing about democracies is they usually get the political class they deserve. The American voting public proved its utter unworthiness to govern itself when in 2008 it elected an attractive but empty suit to the most consequential office in the world. He shouted hope. What for? We didn’t ask. He promised change. What kind? We didn’t care. He looked good on TV, which is really, when you get right down to it, all that matters these days.

I have come to the conclusion that this crisis is so vast that it is effectively beyond the scope of our present institutions to effectively address. That is because our institutions are part of the problem; indeed, they are the problem.

The old way has brought us to this precipice, and will sooner or later push us over. Time to start dreaming of a new way.

Time to start America all over again.

The Warrior’s Tale


The warrior’s tale is a simple enough thing. Strong as steel, but fragile as chance. It is the wind in his soul and the wall we build around ourselves to tell us who we are.

Before there were cities or nations, and railways and airports, computers and telephones– the tale was told around campfires. Acted out in pantomime, dressed up in animal furs and cave paintings. But the tale was the same. The people were confronted with a threat and they called upon the best and strongest of their men to go out and fight it. These were their warriors. What they did in the face of that threat is the tale.

The tale has many variations. Sometimes there are many warriors, sometimes only a handful. They march into the village of the enemy in triumph, or they make a last stand on a rocky outcropping, spending the last of their heart’s blood to buy time they will never know. There is the weak man who becomes strong, the strong man who becomes weak, the woman who mourns the man who will never return, and the man who goes off to battle with nothing to lose. These tales have been told countless times in the ages of men, and they will be told again for as long as men endure.

It is not only the warriors who need the tale, or those left behind. Future generation learn who they are from this tale. “We are the people who died for this land,” is the unseen moral of each tale. “We bled for it. We died for it. Now it is yours to bleed and die for.”

The warrior’s tale tells each generation that they stand on the wall against a hostile world. And that the wall is made not of stones, but of their virtues. Their courage, their integrity and their craft. Theirs is the wall and they are the wall– and if they should fail, then it will fail. And the land and the people will be swept away.

What happens to a people who forget the warrior’s tale and stop telling it around their campfires? Worse , what of a people who are taught to despise the figure of the warrior and what he represents? They will not lose their courage, not all of it. But they will lose the direction of that courage. It will become a sudden unexplained virtue that rises to them out of the depths of danger. And their wall will fail.

It is the warrior’s tale that makes walls. That says this is the land that we have fought for, and we will go on fighting for it. It is sacrifice that makes mere possession sacrosanct. It is blood that turns right to duty. It is the seal that is above law, deeper still to heritage. Anyone can hold a thing, but it is sacrifice that elevates it beyond possessiveness. And it is that tale which elevates a people from possessors of a land, to the people of the land.

Universalism discards the warrior’s tale as abomination. A division in the family of man. Their tale is of an unselfish world where there are no more divisions or distinctions. Where everyone is the same in their own way. But this tale is a myth, a religious idea perverted into totalitarian politics. It is a promise that cannot be kept and a poison disguised with dollops of sugar. It lures the people into tearing down their wall and driving out their warriors. And what follows is what always does when there is no wall. The invaders come, the women scream, the children are taken captive and the men sit with folded hands and drugged smiles dreaming of a better world.

The warrior’s tale explains why we fight in terms of our own history. The Great Swamp Fight. The Shot Heard Round the World. The Battle of New Orleans. Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, Belleau Wood, Pearl Harbor, Heartbreak Ridge, the Tet Offensive, Kandahar, and Fallujah. Generations of sacrifices must be defended. And those who wage war on us must be made to pay.

Universalism demands that war must answer to universal aims and objectives. That there is a universal law higher than war. But this is a children’s story. The laws of men derive from their own interests. Those who can rule by force or coalition make their laws to serve their own ends. This is the way of the world.

Those who pretend to live by universalism will still fall to the law of steel. Rhetoric is no defense against fire and lead, and international codes have no defense against those who will break them. The talk may go on, but it is the warriors who will end it. It is still the warrior’s tale to tell, even if all others have forgotten it.

The warrior’s tale is no happy thing. It is bitter as bile and dark as death. But it is also a grand and glorious thing. For even in its full naked truth, it is the story of perseverance in the face of every agony and betrayal. It is the tale of how we live and why we die.

Even when all others forget their tale, the warriors remember. Even when they are called peacekeepers and turned into an army of clowns for the satisfaction of their political masters. The armies may decay, but warriors still remain in their cracks, on their edges– men who are not wanted, but are needed because they are the only ones who can do the grim work and do it well. They may only be a hundredth of an army, or a thousandth. A fraction of a fraction. But without them there is no army, only empty uniforms.

When the warrior’s tale is forgotten, then they become shadows. Dangerous men despised and feared. Thought of as killers, dismissed as monsters and stared at like beasts in a cage. But the society cannot deny them. It cannot deny that part of them. When the warrior diminishes, the energy is directed elsewhere. Sport becomes an obsession and matches end in bloody violence. Crime increases. Prisons fill up. So do police forces.

As the external war fades, the internal one begins. Barbarians come from without. Buildings burn, mobs rage and there is a savagery in the air.

No law can protect a society that has forgotten the warrior’s tale. It will turn outward, and adopt the warriors tales of outsiders. The samurai will replace the cowboy. The sports star will be an outsider. Its heroes will become foreigners. Men who will understand the virtue of violence and will do what their own have been forbidden. Men who have the vital energy that a society without a warrior’s tale lacks.

When a people give up their own warrior’s tale for that of others, they lose the ability to resist them. For each people’s warrior’s tale says that we are people, and they are enemies. We are warriors and they are murderers. When a people have no other warrior’s tale but that of their enemies, they will come to believe that they are monsters. And that their enemies are brave warriors.

The day will come when they are asked who they are, and they will not know. They will point to their possessions and the names of their streets and cities. They will speak of higher ideals and cringe for not living up to them. They will be asked why they fight, and they will say that they do not want to fight. That all they want is peace at any price.

Even the most powerful of civilizations with the mightiest of cities becomes prey when it forgets the warrior’s tale. It takes more than weapons to defend a city, it demands the knowledge of the rightness of their use. It is no use dressing men in uniforms and arming them, if they are not taught the warrior’s tale. And it is nearly as little use, sending them off to watch and keep, if the men above them discard the warrior’s tale as violent and primitive gibberish.

An army of millions is worth little, without the warrior’s tale. Strategy is technique, firepower is capacity, both begin and end with the human mind. “Why do we fight,” is the question that the warrior’s tale answers far better than any politician could. “We fight because this is ours. It is our honor, our duty and our war. We have been fighting for hundreds and thousands of years. This is what makes us who we are.”

We are the people, says the warrior’s tale. But we are every people, says the universalist’s tale. All is one. There is no difference between us and them. And we will prove it by bringing them here. Then the walls fall and it falls to the warriors to make their last stand. To tell another warrior’s tale with their lives.

This is the quiet war between the philosopher merchants who want trade and empire, and the warriors who know that they will be called upon to secure the empire, and then die fighting the enemy at home. It is how the long tale that begins with campfires and ends with burning cities goes. The story that begins with cave paintings and ends with YouTube videos. Whose pen is iron, lead and steel. And whose ink is always blood.

We have been here before. Told and retold the old stories. The forest, the swamp, the hill and the valley. And behind them the lie, the maneuver and the betrayal. The war that becomes unreasoning and the people who forget why they fight. And one by one the warriors slip away. Some to the long sleep in the desert. Others to secluded green places. And still others into the forgetfulness of a people’s memory. The hole in the heart of a people who forget themselves and become nothing.

Social Justice

Faith Hope and Charity

The call for “social justice” is often employed today, not as a mandate for the application of Catholic principles and precepts in the public square, but as a slogan for those who wish to promote agendas that are frequently at odds with authentic Church teaching.

“Social justice” is a term that is Catholic in its very origin. It was first employed in the 1840’s by an Italian priest in a book that he wrote to address some of the challenges faced by rural people as they moved into cities and towns in order to provide labor for industry.

It would be some fifty years later that Catholic social doctrine as we now know it came to real prominence in Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, Rerum Novarum, in which he set about defining “social justice” without ever employing the phrase.

With all of the confusion surrounding social justice these days, now seems a very good time to examine what it is, as well as what it is not. Now, I don’t propose to give an exhaustive treatment of how social justice is most properly applied in the details; rather, I’d like to offer a sense for what social justice properly understood demands of us, and how its demands are often distorted by today’s secular interests.

Those inclined to do so will find the task of deciphering the truth from the deceptions that are so commonplace in current political discourse as it applies to social justice fairly easy from here.

Okay, so what is social justice?  First, let’s consider the word “social;” it means of or relating to cooperative, interdependent relationships and associations among human beings. Remember that word “associations.” It will come up again.

It is in considering the word “justice” that we most need to make sure we are focused on the Church’s understanding as opposed to the secular world’s definition. The term ‘justice,’ in common usage implies ‘to render to every man his due.’  In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what ‘due’ is to be rendered to each person.

So the question remains, what is man’s due?

The world will tell us that man’s due is a function of absolute freedom, and it manifests itself largely in the so-called “right” to seek pleasure without moral restraint or judgment. At its worst the notion of absolute freedom for one man becomes the weapon by which another man’s freedom is taken; extending even so far as to consider it “justice” to take an innocent life through abortion, euthanasia, or the destruction of human embryos for medical purposes.

“Justice” in this view is also sometimes invoked for inflicting an artificial equality (also labeled as “fairness”) upon society in a way that attempts to override the legitimate uniqueness of individual human persons.

This can be discerned in social systems that attempt to downplay the connection between skill, effort and outcome; e.g., in educational systems that shun traditional grading methods, or in “competitions” that take an “everyone’s a winner” approach, or in economic systems that divorce production from remuneration. At its most egregious we see it in statist systems of governance that seek to redistribute temporal goods in the name of fairness, sometimes even going so far as to reject the right to private property.

The secular view of justice-as-fairness also manifests itself in radical feminism — embraced as it is in varying degrees by both men and women alike – in which the unique qualities that are proper to males and females are eschewed as mere cultural constructs that only serve to restrict and confine human potential.

All of these initiatives misnamed as “social justice” have a common theme; they are built on the assumption that rendering to every man his due is ultimately defined, though not always explicitly so, in terms of the avoidance of suffering.

The challenge in maintaining clarity in the matter for Catholics lies in the fact that the secular view of social justice as we’ve discussed it thus far presents what seems like rather admirable ideals: freedom; equality; fairness and the avoidance of suffering… In other words, it doesn’t really seem at first blush to cry out for rejection.

It is helpful to recognize that the secular view of social justice is untenable at its root because it is born of an unwillingness to embrace the fact of the human condition; i.e., it is unwilling to accept who we truly are.

We are created beings, body and spirit, beholden to the Creator in whose image we were made. We are endowed with a free will indeed, but one that is duty bound to the Divine law above all else. We are beings of equal dignity one to the other, but we are also uniquely endowed with God’s gifts such that no two are alike.

Furthermore, we are uniquely dignified among all creation thanks to our unique relationship with the Creator, and we are therefore of inestimable worth, but we are also fallen and sinful and destined without exception – in this life – to suffer and die.

This last truth of the human condition – that all must suffer and die – is of paramount importance in conceiving of “justice” rightly. When we embrace the reality of human suffering as it relates to justice, not only are we coming to terms with who we are; we are also coming to terms with who God is.

Human suffering has always had this effect on humanity, moving us to question, why do we suffer?  How can God allow such things? Is God not just? What is the meaning of life?

The reason the world struggles so mightily to understand justice is simple; the world has rejected the reality of sin. Is God not just? Yes, of course He is just, and His perfect justice allows suffering in order to redeem the sinner. It’s simple; failure to recognize sin is failure to recognize justice.

Christ is the Justice of God. It follows, therefore, that failure to recognize Christ is failure to understand justice.

“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely” (Proverbs 28:5).

Christ is justice. This means that mercy, love and truth as revealed in Him is justice.

Still seem like a vague concept? Don’t feel bad. Pope Leo XIII said of social justice:

The discussion is not easy, nor is it void of danger. It is no easy matter to define the relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labor. And the danger lies in this, that crafty agitators are intent on making use of these differences of opinion to pervert men’s judgments and to stir up the people to revolt (Rerum Novarum 2).

The teaching found in Rerum Novarum is as relevant now as ever in combating the errors of the world. The agitators are agitating with remarkable tenacity!

Pope Leo went on to give us valuable core principals that form the basis for Catholic social teaching. We need to embrace these core beliefs or we’re going to be misled. Ultimately, in the interest of space, the heart of the matter is this:

The true worth and nobility of man lie in his moral qualities, that is, in virtue… Christian morality, when adequately and completely practiced, leads of itself to temporal prosperity, for it merits the blessing of that God who is the source of all blessings; it powerfully restrains the greed of possession and the thirst for pleasure. (Rerum Novarum 24, 28)

Above all, justice comes from grace…  Social justice lies in the fullness of morality as defined by God, not as calculated by majority rule. It is a function of grace, not government.

The last point I want to leave you with is this: the oft overlooked principle of subsidiarity tells us that human needs are best met by the smallest possible unit of society — the individual, the family, the parish, the community, etc… We must therefore be wary of excessive government control.

On this point, know this: in Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII pointed to the freely formed associations of men in response to the demands of social justice no less than 48 times, and he pointed to the State as the servant of the people who form them.

Keep these thoughts in mind the next time someone calls for social justice and ask yourself, is the “justice” they invoke according to the world, or is it authentic justice — that which is made manifest in Christ?


The word socialism may indicate various things. There is the socialism which is immoral and unchristian, which declares that “property is robbery,” and which would rectify inequalities by seizing on all wealth and dividing it among all men.

There is a doctrinaire socialism, which has its plans carefully elaborated on paper without taking account of human nature. It disregards the law that a social system must be developed from the living organism of society, and can not be manufactured brand-new for the occasion out of the brain of an amateur.

Then there is the socialism of responsible statesmen who yield bit by bit to the requirements of the multitudes. This, is founded, not on any deep, true principles, but on present material interests; it proceeds sometimes on right and sometimes on wrong lines, and at the best only does imperfectly what Christianity would have done in the natural course had it not been impeded.

Finally there is a Christian socialism, grounded on the equality of all men as declared by God, on brotherly love, and on the right of every man to receive a proper subsistence in return for honest labour. —Bishop James Bellord, 1899

Tolerance and Diversity: America’s Experiment with Dishonesty

Tolerance is a call to allow others of different political, social, philosophical and religious persuasions to be a part of what has long been established in the nation. Sister, diversity, is the gate keeper of new changes that tacitly are the promise of a way to better living, through change itself. The slogan of  Barack Obama’s campaign and now his administration is ‘change we can believe in.’  No need to criticize that grand notion, all we need to ask is; how has that been going?

Change is good with practical limitations applied but total change may actually be the axe that smashes the foundations of a people and brings their social construct to the ground. Finding ways to control and utilize the great Mississippi River are changes that we accept but should the river suddenly change course the nation would be plunged into confusion.

It is only when we ask and attempt to answer the question, ‘what is the motive behind the call to change;’ from which we would expect an entirely new reality to emerge. Tolerance and diversity is a concept that has gone largely unexamined and has no clear definition. By allowing other ideas, cultures and behaviors on a new grand scale, do we mean to establish them? If they were not already established why are we allowing them? If they are transient, nascent and mere bumps along the cultural journey of a people then aren’t we submitting our nation to the rule and sway of pop culture?

How have the religions, social concepts and political persuasions we are so eager to allow, faired in their own settings or place of origin? Has Islam done anything to pull nations out of seventh century social patterns that see women as chattel, children as shields for terrorists and other cultures as the great Satan? Until that happens, what is our keen interest in the new to us religion predicated upon? What is the attraction?

Why weren’t we suddenly driven to study and allow the Taoist religion of Japan into our culture immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? We were all willing to accept that Japan had given us full reason to see her as an enemy. What has changed in the American psyche that after watching two of our tallest buildings crumble to dust with 3,000 people in them we now are urged to refrain from labeling the perpetrators of this act as terrorists. We are encouraged to allow them to build mosques and we have charged or commissioned entire governmental agencies like NASA to reach out to Muslims in good will. It is from these kinds of changes that we get the first clues that tolerance and diversity not only need to be better defined but they need to be scrutinized from top to bottom.

Calling for other ideas to be tolerated is at the surface a very noble idea. When changes are forced on people against cultural norms already accepted and practiced, the real purpose of the call to change becomes apparent. It is not the acceptance of others ideas and cultures that is being called for it is the establishment of them against what already prevails. That, by any other name is known as an invasion or as some might say an attack.

In order for tolerance to be effective it must by nature be allowed to raise questions about what is true and ultimately what is practical. You can toss socialism around or fling it in the face of every American, but we have been established as a capitalistic society and we didn’t get that way overnight. It has been thoroughly tested and proven to work, where socialism is still floundering around the globe and nations have risen and fallen trying to make it work.

When it was accepted that we were a people of the Constitution, founded on Biblical principles and open to any private capitalistic venture that the imagination could conger, we stumbled from time to time, but this great river flowed in only one direction. Now we spend our days struggling to define, address and categorize the so called ‘change we can believe in.’

An advanced degree in psychology is not required to see that any relationship predicated on changing a partner’s entire personality, characteristics and basic beliefs, is doomed to failure. Even if a mate is very young the odds are against us, if we think we can remake them into our own image. America is no young mistress anymore but she is a fully developed women of the world and the idea the she needs to suddenly be transformed or changed is as absurd as trying to reverse the flow of the Mississippi.

It is here that we can say that change is good if it is not an invasion of our culture that results in its demise, but it is not worth anything if it is founded on ulterior motives and practiced at the expense of honesty.

Trying desperately to pull America out of the great cultural melting pot she has always been, and drop her in the great sludge pot where everything is forced on us to the exclusion of our own seasoned and well formed culture, is a kind of rape. We naturally go on the defensive when this happens and the evidence of this active defense is seen in the new isolationism so apparent in terms like, the left, the right, far left, far right, centrist, independents and libertarians. These terms indicate our level of resistance to the great sludge pot of change, not that we can believe in, but that is wrecking the country, if we would be honest enough to admit it.

There are as many definitions of these almost overused terms as there are terms but in general anything left of center could use any one of the following definitions. It can’t be wrong if it feels so right. My opinion is as good as law. Keep God out of everything. The constitution is not progressive and should be re-written. I have a great secular education therefore I’m too smart to be wrong. I’m too ignorant to know what you are talking about. I keep an open mind that hasn’t any room for you or your ideas.

Those to the right of center can be described by other definitions gleaned from their oft repeated exclamations and assertions. Such as; I like America the way it used to be. We should check if that’s constitutional. We’re proud of our men and women in uniform, let’s pray, Stop spending our money faster than we can make it. Abortion is murder. Gay is not natural unless you mean you’re just happy. What does the Bible say about that?

As for those in the center it is hard to imagine a more miserable place to try to balance a life without very much clear definition. Centrists remind me of the scriptural passage in which Christ offered the only definition that would actually describe the middle of the road position.
” But because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” Rv: 3:16

Soldiers of truth don’t end their support of the troops when first blood is drawn and they want to know the extent of the victories and the defeats. There is no successful warfare without knowing both. To show the world the enemies of democracy, freedom and this very nation, can never be called; far anything. It is always right to tell the truth and to uphold the great country we all have been so blessed to be born in.