Friday, October 31, 2003

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

My latest article added to my homepage explores three aspects of American culture from a progressive Roman Catholic point of view.


I Finally Made it to Steve Bogner's Site and Found it Interesting

Steve has left a number of comments in my blog, and I finally made it over to take a look at his blog. It's definitely not easy to label this guy. The link above is to an article I found interesting that supports some of my own positions. I'm sure there are some articles there that I won't agree with too, and that's great.

I've added you to my favorites menu Steve.


Christian Martyrdom is not a Thing of Ancient History

The posting of this EWTN article on the arrest of converts from Islam to the Christian faith is in no way intended to imply that Muslims are a violent people. The vast majority of the world's billion Muslims are peace-loving people who seek to serve Allah in all they do.

The article points out that there may be some human rights abuses occurring currently in Egypt, as well as in nations such as the Sudan, Iran, and even Saudi Arabia, where the death penalty is still permitted for apostasy from the Islamic faith (where conversion to Christianity is considered a form of apostasy).

Note that most Muslim countries do not have such laws, and it may even be questionable whether such laws are always enforced. The average Muslim is likely as appalled by the thought of inflicting death on someone as the average American would be, or the average Christian. It is not in human nature to kill others without provocation. If anyone, Christian or Muslim, feels that they must use death threats to force religious belief, such a person is exposing the weakness of their own faith. The crusaders were guilty of the same thinking.

Nevertheless, persecution of Christians is occurring in the Middle East, and denial of the fact does nobody any service. Islam and Christianity can only make peace when we agree to put an end to this type of behavior on both sides. We all, Muslim or Christian, need to call this what it is: an injustice!

Christians can and should be encouraged by the courage of our brothers and sisters who are willing to lay down their lives for their beliefs, and we should pray for this persecution to end. We should also pray for blessings and mercy on our persecutors.

Where Christians may be tempted to violence against Islam, we must suppress this urge, and seek to establish peaceful dialogue.

At the same time, we should not fear to say to the leaders of these predominately Muslim nations, "Let our people go."


Prayer for Peace

The following prayer is a slightly modified version of a prayer card distributed by Pax Christi. This is an ecumenical prayer for Muslims, Jews and Christians developed largely from the Eucharistic prayers of the Mass of Reconciliation.

O God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name forever.
We know it is You who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of war.

Your power changes hearts.
Muslims, Christians and Jews remember,
and profoundly affirm,
that we are followers of You, the one God,
children of Abraham, brothers and sisters;
By your power, enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.

Strengthen our resolve to give witness
to these truths by the way we live.

Give to us, O God:
Understanding that puts an end to strife;
Mercy that quenches hatred, and
Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.

Empower all people to live Your law of love.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

Andrew Sullivan's Blog is Fantastic

I actually found Andrew's blog through Mark Shea's site. Andrew is a Catholic gay male who writes passionately and intelligently about gay issues.

A caveat needs to be made. Andrew has stated that at some point in his recent history, he has given up on the Church.

Two thoughts on this:

First, his concern for things of the church - even arguing from the Catechism recently on a point with Mark Shea and Amy Wellborn indicates to me that he has not really given up on us.

Second thought: We Catholics believe that once you are Catholic, you are always Catholic for eternity. Andrew, whether you want to be connected to us or not, you are! You and I will be Catholic even if we are shoveling coal together in hell.

But I don't expect to see you hell. Having looked at a few of your articles, I see a passionate soul searching for God and righteousness, and I hope to share a glass of wine with you at the Father's table one day. Don't give up on us, brother, because we aren't all giving up on you!

I'm adding a link to Andrew's blog to my homepage.

Peace and Blessings!


Civil Discourse Would benefit Nation and Church: An NCR Editorial

Some good points are made here on the necessity to be polite when we disagree with others.


Father Raymond Schroth Argues in NCR that it is Pure Myth That Liberals Control the Media

This is an interesting piece that suggests that liberals are the minority in the media, and that conservatives have succesfully created a myth taken for granted by much of American culture.



Holy See Asks for Ban on Cloning in all its Forms

This article from EWTN is actually a couple of days old.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore made the odd statement: "It must be clear that the position my delegation takes is not, in the first instance, a religious one. It is a position informed by the process of reason that is in turn informed by scientific knowledge."

What is odd is that the Archbishop is clearly saying this is not a matter of faith, leaving a door wide open for dissent.

He went on to argue that the critical issue is that cloning involves "the creation of human beings for the express purpose of destroying them."

I am pro-life, and naturally believe it would be wrong to clone a human life for the express purpose of destroying said human person.

Yet, what if cloning is done with a different intent, such as creation of a child for a widow or infertile couple?

I would assume that the church would object to this type of cloning for the same reasons we object to in vitro fertilization: it separates procreation from the conjugal act.

What surprises me in the EWTN release is that this is not mentioned, or even considered. Perhaps this is not mentioned because there has not been a widespread acceptance of the reasoning on in vitro fertilization.

I'm not sure how we should think about cloning yet. My feelings say "No. We should not do this." Yet, I cannot quite articulate a rationale argument why we should not do it if the intent is not to destroy the child.

Anybody else have thoughts on the issue?


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I Totally Misunderstood an Article by Mark Shea and Made a Harsh and Unnecessary Comment

Mark Shea wrote his 1:13 PM post today against a conservative telling the other person not to demonize liberals as being "totally in league with the devil". He quoted his opponent twice, where his opponent used this line.

I completely mis-read Mark's article, thinking he, Mark Shea, was saying liberals are totally in league with the devil. I went off on him somewhat in his comment box, when Mark was really arguing quite the opposite - Mark was really saying the same thing I was saying to him.

My apologies to Mark for accusing him of not reading anything but like minded conservative thinkers, which appears to be untrue. Indeed, his point was a defense of we liberals, and the links he has point out some pitfalls of pride. Let me swallow mine and say I'm sorry again Mark.

Peace and blessings!


EDS Announces Cuts of 2,500 More Jobs

The world's second largest information technology service provider announced for the second time this year that it was cutting jobs. The IT industry in general has been tumltuous, with lay-offs, wage freezes, and even salary reductions. Those left behind are often overworked and underappreciated.

Given that only about four years ago, information technology employed more people than any other industry in the U.S. - including auto manufacturing - should IT workers seek to unionize?


Some rambling thoughts...

Yesterday, I saw a young man forced to leave his job because his immigration status was questionable. The fellow is a hard worker, and it pains me to witness this. I wish I could do more than simply complain in a blog and pray.

My fellow Americans,...,unless you have Native American blood, your ancestors were once immigrants to this land. The Bible portrays hospitality to strangers and foreignors as among the highest of virtues. I undertsand our concerns about jobs and national security, but I think we often ask the unreasonable of many immigrants I know. People are not illegal. Let's consider changing our laws regardiing immigration!

One place to start would be to have a mechanism for employed immigrants already in the United States and abiding by the law to apply for new visas and resolve expired visas from offices within this country. Current law requires the immigrant to leave and re-enter with permission from a U.S. embassy abroad. This is non-sense.


Enter the Narrow Gate: In "Today's Take", NCR has Pat Marrin reflect on the Meaning of Ramadan to a Catholic

In these post Sept 11 times, Marrin offers us an interesting spiritual exercise to connect with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Remaining Catholic, he fasts with Muslims during Ramadan.

Marrin also warns of the dark side of religion expressed by both Muslim and Christian fanatics. Yet, he also reflects on the meaning of life for those willing to die for others. For Marrin, the virtue of a martyr appears not to be in the easy moment of death. Rather, it is the life we live day by day where danger may hang over our heads, and we react with zealous love.

There's some great rhetoric in this article, such as these little gems:

I think it is easier to die for something than to live for it, to go into situations of great confusion and hostility, to work day by day to meet the immediate needs of those who are suffering most. This is dangerous work Those who do it are "entering by the narrow gate."
Jesus entered by the narrow gate when he accepted the possibility -- the inevitability -- of his own death as a servant of the poor. From that moment he was a "dead man walking." The mystery was and is that those who can make this same decision come alive.
Are we willing to become dead men walking?

Peace and Blessings!


Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Ono's Thoughts was labelled "liberal" or "progressive" by Disputations in a thread entitled "Where is Everyone?" prompted by Domenic Bettinelli's request about why there are no progressive Catholic bloggers.

The discussion generated by Domenic and Tom (Disputations) was good, and elements have been incorporated in my most recent articles of the past few days.

The one issue I am still pondering is this: Tom sees a corrollation between Ono's writing and mine...but I'm not sure what the connection is.

I've only written one sports analogy, where Ono seems to write about sports all the time - with little correlation to theology or politics.

Maybe it's because Ono supports John Kerry...Perhaps Tom thought Ono and I are alike since Kerry is a democrat.

Actually, since Kerry supported the war in Iraq, and is pro-abortion, and is not significantly challenging the Bush tax cuts, I don't necessarily support him. Indeed, I don't easily fit in the democrat-republican labels.

Here's why:

My ideal candidate would reverse Bush's tax cuts to pay for the following: She would reverse Bush's budget cuts that decreased social services for the poor such as headstart and school lunch programs. The ideal candidate would have a strong health care plan and be open to tighter environmental regulation. The budget would be balanced through decreased military spending.

OK. Sounds a bit like Gore, or maybe Gephardt so far, but I have more.

The ideal candidate would have opposed the war in Iraq, and would have a good plan to rebuild and get out of there. Now I'm sounding like Dean or Wesley Clark - but Dean supports the NRA and Clark is still a hawk in some ways.

My ideal candidate would be willing to improve relations with Mexico and revisit the issue of using an amnesty for legalizing the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants working their buns off in the United States. These were actually Bush considerations prior to 9-11, at least at a brainstorming level.

She would be a proponent of some type of affirmative action, and would crack down on racial profiling by police. This is definitely anti-Bush.

She would fire John Ashcroft on the first day in office, and put some checks balances on the DHS. Now I'm almost sounding like a libertarian.

She would not stand in the way of state legislation permitting equal protection to gay domenstic partnerships, but also support the family. She would allow religious expression in public - such as permitting the ten commandments to be posted with other significant western documents in a public court, or having a blessing at her innaguration.

She would be open to dialogue with the pro-life movement on the issue of abortion, even limiting or outright abolishing abortion on the demand! She would also oppose the death penalty and support gun control. I know, now all readers are saying "You're dreaming jcecil3!" - and that's my point. I can't easily wear the label of one party or another.

On a few small issues, I'd like to see her dialoguing with the conservatives. In addition to the pro-life position on abortion, I'd be open to moments of silence in public schools, and classes about religion and ethics as well. I'd also be open to something like school vouchers. Here I side somewhat with the republicans.

She would be a finacial conservative, which sounds republican at a glance, and in some ways is a more republican virtue. However, I mean it more in the sense that Clinton was conservative compared to Carter or Mondale. Let's not fortget that under Clinton we had a budget surplus.

By this, I mean that rather than the typical tax and spend shotgun approach that generates a flurry of activity without any measured results, there is a willingeness to spend on targetted programs as long as measurable results are produced. Special attention needs to be paid to infrastructure, as Clinton said all along.

This is a conservativism that does not simply say "no" to every social program in kneejerk republican reaction, nor does it spend willy-nilly just to make us all feel we are doing something. If done well and working in conjunction with the federal reserves, the economy can be primed and still have a strong safety net.

None of the democrats offer this type of platform yet, and neither does any republican. I'm looking forward to the candidate who does offer such a platform, whether the republican party or the democrats give it to us.

You'll also note the use of a feminine pronoun...and yes...I would like to see a woman and/or a minority in the White House.

Peace and Blessings!



My Dad is overall a conservative Republican and a conservative Catholic. Maybe he's not as conservative as some bloggers or other internet Catholics, but he's definitely more conservative than I am.

We were having a discussion last weekend where he drew an analogy to sports that I thought really expressed very well how conservatives and progressives see things differently.

He was speaking of his own feelings when the Mass changed to the vernacular after Vatican II. He stated that he liked the symbolism of the Latin liturgy, because it showed a global unity no other denomination could claim.

When the Mass went to the vernacular, he felt a sense of loss, but realized that as long as everyone was saying the same thing in thier own language, it really was not a "substantial change", and he could accept that the pros out-weighed the cons for the change.

However, what Dad was concerned about was that Vatican II not only changed from Latin to the vernacular, but that there were options among Eucharistic prayers, optional feast days and so forth. So many options,...What he felt was lost was sense of unity because everyone is doing something different.

I pointed out to him that as long as a validly ordained priest is saying the essential words of consecration, our unity is maintained. He said I was being "minimalist" and turned to a sports analogy.

He pointed at the football game on the television and stated something like: "Look, I have the option of watching American football here, or I can change the channel to watch Canadian football, or even soccer. However, those are different games. I just want to know we are all playing the same game."

I disagreed with my father, but decided to extend his own analogy.

I said something like: "Look Dad. It's true that we may be able to speak of certain types of worship being a different game. However, what I feel you are doing is saying that we not only must play football by American rules, but we must always run the ball, instead of passing. And we can never use a 'T' formation anymore, because everyone has to use the 'I' formation to create team unity. And we must play 5 men on the defensive line every play, regardless of what we think the offense might do."

I've been reflecting on my various debates with conservative Catholics over the years, and even debates I have on occassion with progressives who I think go too far in another direction. My anology applies to both sets.

For example, clerical celibacy is an issue that all sides consider a discipline, rather than an infallible doctrine.

I believe that conservatives err too much toward unity when they try to mount arguments that the rule simply will not change. I think progressives sometimes err in the other extreme when an occassional liberal argues all priests should be married, or argues that celibacy is unhealthy.

The case I make is for optional celibacy, which is what Christ offerred the Twelve.

If we argue everyone must be celibate, we are making the rules of the game too tight - just like saying foward passes are suddenly forbidden in football, and we must run the ball every play. Where would the suspense be in the game if we cannot sit and watch and wonder whether the next play will be a pass or a run? And just because our team has a good running game does not mean that we never try to pass!

Conversly, if we argue that everyone must be married, we might as well argue that the running play is now illegal, and we are going to pass every play.

I am all for options within a framework. I believe the spirit leads the Church to do something different when we're in a situation of third down and one within ten yards of a goal than we might do when it's fourth down and 15 on our own 20.

There are rules that I am following in trying to discern the Truth contained in the deposit of faith, and I believe that the mistakes of many conservatives and progressives is to confuse game strategy with the actual rules of the game. It is not minimalism to be clear on the distinction between the rules of the game and strategies for winning the game.

I do not believe that optional celibacy for priests, male and female priests, reconciling divorced Catholics, and even the blessing of a union for gays is taking away from the game, or changing the game. Rather, within the rules of the game established by Christ and revealed in Scripture and Tradition, I see these things as means of adapting our play in the game to our current situation. It's doing what Jesus advised - being open to the signs of the times.


Monday, October 27, 2003

Who Has the Power

Of course, God has the ultimate power....

Yet, in this article, I offer reasons to ponder that the hierarchy of the Church may have recently abandoned the Gospel tradition in its non-infallible teachings to unconsciously support worldly principalities, dominations, and powers. This article is sure to stir up the passions of conservatives, and promises to be thought provoking.


Todd Decides to Start a New Progressive Catholic Blog

Not much there yet, but Tom promises to offer some progressive Catholic commentary. Welcome to Blogdom Todd. It's nice to have an ally.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

A Question For More Experienced Bloggers and/or Tech Geeks...

Ok. Time for humility. I have to ask for help.

I'm relatively new at this whole blogging thing,....or new enough that I only just now learned how how to link to a particular post...I know I've been at this since around May...but I'm still learning and trying to incorporate feedback.

I'm not a tech geek...and I'm new enough that I only recently discovered how very different my comments function is than other Catholic bloggers.....

Heck, I'm learning HTML commands that I want to use by by going to other blogs and selecting "View|Source" from my toolbar to figure out how y'all do things. That works for some simple commands, but when we're accessing a java packet, I'm lost.

So here's the question...How do I get a FREE comments function that displays like everyone else's (oldest on top, newest on bottom - allowing HTML code to be used in text box, etc...) and can I convert from one FREE comments site to another without losing anyone's comments who already made a comment?

If you understand what I'm asking and know a solution, please email me at


Hundreds of Workers Arrested in Wal-Mart Stores

Three hundred or so immigrants with improper documentation were arrested in Wal-Mart stores this morning. The workers were largely part of cleaning crews employed by Wal-Mart through third party vendors.

I have a few divergent thoughts on this subject.

First, the majority shares of Wal-Mart belong to the founding family, the Waltons. If they knew this, shame on them for seeking "cheap labor" rather than paying a just wage.

Let me rephrase that....

Regardless of whether they knew of the immigration status of the employees, I find it hard to believe that literal BILLIONAIRES - the Walton family taking up about a third of the richest 15 people in the world - could not do the math to figure out these cleaning crews were not earning a living wage!


Second thought: people are not "illegal". As much as 9-11 scared us Americans, we cannot treat immigrants as though they are second class citizens - or worse, literal non-citizens.

I grew up around a large number of second and third generation of Italians. In typical childish fashion among boys, we teased each other about our ethnicity. Being a krout and a Mc (Irish, pronounced "mik"), I would tease my Italian (WOP) friends in Catholic grade school (and don't take me wrong, my best friend is an Italian and I love him like a brother).

Do those Catholic Americans who are of Italian descent remember what WOP means? It meant "without papers". We Catholics who are largely descendants of all sorts of "illegal immigrants" need to speak up for our sisters and brothers!

C'mon people. How many of us are willing to clean Wal Mart stores for a living? Immigrants - regardless of their legal status - are doing all the HARD work in this country. They are doing the Sh*t jobs the rest of us refuse to do.

I understand the fear of terrorism, but let's not forget that Timothy McVeigh was not an immigrant. Think of the psycopathic killers in the news over the past decade. Other than the DC sniper case, they are all white male Americans! Our biggest threats are not immigrants. Our biggest threat is white males. AND I SAY THIS AS A WHITE MALE AMERICAN!

Stop arresting immigrants who happen to lack documentation, yet do all the hard work none of the rest of us will do!

If we want to do something to the immigrant without documentation, I say, "Give 'em a big fat raise!"

Peace and Blessings!


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

This Blog Lead Me to Start Blogging

Never let it be said that I do not give some room to the conservative side here. I was browsing through blogs and found the very blog where I discovered the whole idea of blogging.

Rerun Navarum is the owner of the site, and the link above to a particular article he wrote against a progressive was directed at me - Rerun quotes me from an exchange I was having in one of these threads.

The quotations of me are a bit of context, and do not show all the supporting documents I provided throughout the forum for my assertions (maybe in more than one post). I am not sure though. Even with quotations of me ripped out of context, and the lack of supporting documents, has Rerun really answered the progressive challenge?

I leave it to the reader to decide.

At any rate, Rerun placed his argument as a link in a post in the discussion, and I said to myself, "What the heck is blogger?" Shortly after this, I was kicked of the Catholic Community Forum and within a couple of weeks, and an article appeared in Commonweal about Catholic blogging. I started surfing Catholic blogs, and wound up eventually creating my own blog here. I'm happy to run across the blog that started me blogging.


WaPo Article Adresses Character Education in Public Schools

Of course, Catholic schools have been doing this for years....but it's nice to see our secular counterpart is exploring the issue.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

WaPo Provides a Protestant Ministers Perspective on Liberal-Conservative Divide

A Protestant minister speaks about how the old divisions between denominations is giving way to a divide between political liberals and political conservatives.

Is the Catholic Church dividing in a similar way?

In some ways, we may be mirroring this trend, but each side has a uniquely Catholic perspective that we should not lose sight of. There is a uniquely Catholic way of being liberal, and a uniquely Catholic way of being of conservative.

For example, a conservative Catholic can't really get around the social teaching of the Church, and a progressive Catholic has to deal with questions of authority if she or he is going to remain Catholic.

I don't have an essay written on this yet...I need to gather my thoughts. Any ideas?


Washington Post Article Describes Growing Up Gay.

Why do Catholic conservative bloggers call these people "brownshirts"? Obviously, nobody facing these challenges would choose to be gay, and anybody facing these challenges who spoke out a little radically should be shown some compassion instead of anger.


Good News on Battle Against Euthanasia

Terri Schiavo was ordered by Gov. Jeb Bush to be given life support. Another win for the pro-life movement.

Now if we could just get a victory on the death penalty and get our troops home from Iraq, America would be on its way to becoming a nation that chooses life!

God sets before us life and death. Choose life.

And keep on praying....


Good News on Battle to End Abortion on Demand

On this issue, I am basically with the conservatives. Only with the principle of double effect should an abortion be legal.

In the situation of abortion, the principle of double effect states that when both lives are in jeopardy, and the intent of a procedure is to save a life, and there is no intent whatsoever to destroy life, a death is permissible. The common example is uterine cancer that will kill both mother and unborn child, where removing the uterus will save the woman, and aborting the unborn child is not intended.

Anyway, this legislation is good news for pro-lifers.


Some Catholic Humor

I created a place to hold jokes and articles of a Catholic nature that I found humorous. A link is on my homepage above. Just bear in mind, I didn't write this stuff (though I wish I did in some cases)


From NCR: Coming soon: 'an effective and intelligent campaign' By Joan Chittister,OSB

Sister Joan examines the Holy Father's apology on behalf of the Church to women a few years back and asks if his current words match his deeds. In particular, she asks what teh Church's strategy is to address JP II's words:

Such respect (for women) must first and foremost be won through an effective and intelligent campaign for the promotion of women, concentrating on all areas of women's life and beginning with a universal recognition of the dignity of women."
What is this intelligent campaign, and what does it mean for the Church? Good questions, Sister. Keep asking....



Monday, October 20, 2003

On The Unforgivable Sin

My latest article looks at what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.....


Save the Life of Terri Schindler-Schiavo

There is much being said all over Catholic blogdom about the case of Terri Schindler-Sciavo in Florida, where special consideration is being given to legislation to overule a court decision to starve a person supposedly in a vegetative state.

I am with the conservatives on this one!

Some appeals are being made to the fact that there is evidence that Terri is not vegetative, but I am opposed to starving even those who are in such a state.

I believe that the Church rightly teaches that all human persons have an incomparable value revealed in the incarnation event. Pope John Paul II's Encyclical letter Evengelium Vitae is a masterpiece, and the highlight of his papacy in my mind. Paragraph number 3 speaks to the incomparable value of human personhood revealed int eh incarnation that I already mentioned.

Here is what The Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about Euthanasia:

2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.

2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.

Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.

The impulse to stop suffering is good, holy and virtuous. However, in moral reasoning, the edns can never justify the means. It is wrong to deliberately kill another human person, even to stop suffering.

There is a right disctinction between actively killing and passively allowing a person to die, when "heroic means" would be the only way to support life.

However it very clearly crosses a line in my mind to use starvation as a means to let someone die. Feeding people is not "heroic means" to sustain life by any reasonable person's definition. To use this reasoning opens a door to infanticide by starvation, genocide by starvation, etc...

God gives us a choice between life or death. Choose life!

Peace and Blessings!


Sunday, October 19, 2003


In honor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on the day of her beatification

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight. Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the world the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

(Spoken by Mother Teresa of Calcutta).


Saturday, October 18, 2003

The Case Against ALL War!

My latest article explores a Catholic defense of active non-violent resistance to evil as an alternative to war, and presents the case that this position is morally superior to just war theory.


Friday, October 17, 2003


Washington Post on JPII's 25th Jubilee

Despite my disagreements with the Holy Father on issues such as the ordination of women and married men, I do think he is a man of great integrity. Indeed, he may even be a saint. The Post reports today on the Holy Father's jubilee Mass and the popularity of our Pontiff.


Thursday, October 16, 2003

On Vocation

My latest essay is probably the most personally revelaing. It addresses my personal sense of my vocation to marriage and priesthood, and then draws a correlation to women who feel called to ordained ministry. Specific questions are asked of opponents to women and married priests that nobody seems to want to answer.


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

NCR Editorial Examines Priesthood Shortage

The editorial correctly points out how conservatives sometimes use statistics disengeniously to ignore the crisis. For example, rather than saying seminary candidates increased from 25 to 28 in one year, it is reported that enrollment increased 12 percent. If two years prior, the number was 30, this fact is ignored.

Another fact not addressed in the editorial is that conservatives often look at high enrollment numbers in developing nations. However, what is conveniently left out is a measure of priest to lay person ratio in those nations. While seminary enrollments are up in some developing nations, those same nations are experiencing a shortage in priest to laity ratio that is similar to developed nations.

The bottom line number we should all be looking at is the world-wide number of priests. According to Cara, the number of priests world-wide has declined from 413,600 in 1980 (2 yrs into JPII's reign) to 405,178 in the year 2000. In the same 20 year period, the number of baptized Catholics has increased from 723.7 million to 1.045 billion.

In my own essay, The Elephant in the Living Room..., I examine some root causes for these trends.

This will sound harsh, yet it is basically true:

The Vatican is holding the Eucharist and Confession hostage, in exchange for male celibate committment.

Christ unquestionably ordained married men, and probably ordained women (i.e. - a woman named Junia is called an Apostle in the New Testament). Perhaps the Holy Spirit is denying the Church celibate male vocations until she wakes up and does what Christ did!


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

NCR Editorial Blames JPII for Polarizing American Catholics

Whichever side of the "poles" we take, it is not good for the Roman Catholic Church in America to have many of its most active and most theologically educated members angry and distrustful of the hiearchy. This editorial looks at the role the Holy Father has played in fostering this polarization.


Monday, October 13, 2003

Sixty Minutes Story on Saint Making:

Last night, Sixty Minutes did a piece on saint making in the Roman Catholic Church. Overall, the program was pretty good, and presented a good portrait of Mother Teresa of Calcutta's impending canonization. However, the program chose to focus a good amount of attention to the miracle requirement in most canonizations.

Father Richard McBrien was asked what he thought of the reported miracles of Saint Padre Pio. McBrien flatly answered, "I don't believe in that." I expect he'll get a lot of hate mail for that comment.

McBrien went on to try to explain that an exclusive focus on miracles turns our religion into a show. He also stated a healthy person who woke up with wounds in their hands would go to the emergency room.

To some extent, I agree with McBrien that too much focus on the miraculous makes religion a circus side-show or Vegas act. The saints are known to be holy not because of unexplainable phenomenon, but by the demonstrable charity, mercy, prayer and holiness they displayed in their words and deeds.

Yet, I do think that we cannot rule out the possibility that God occasionally hits us on the head with an awesome display of his power. At the same time, I don't think it is proper to describe a miracle as anything unexplainable. It's a miracle if a conversion happens as a result of hidden prayer, or a doctor makes a healing when the outcome was grim.

I wrote a piece on Miracles and Apparitions a little while ago. Take a look and let me know what you think.


Monkeys Move Mechanical Arm With Their Brains

I'm not sure how I feel about experiementation on animals. I think it always and everywhere wrong to arbitrarily hurt animals, and I generally feel a bit queezy about experimenting on one of God's precious creatures.

Yet, if the intent is to benefit humanity, and there is no intent to inflict suffering, and even some effort to reduce suffering, I can live with it. Regardless of what we feel about animal experimentation, I have to admit that the results of this particular experiement are simply cool!

The benefits to parapelegics are obvious.

Sadly, it's probably only a matter of time before the military is using this technology in some wireless off-shoot where soldiers kill remotely with the precision of short range weaponry.

Pray that we use technology wisely.


Selling the Good News

My latest essay....


Saturday, October 11, 2003


Rush Limaugh admits to drug use

Maybe its not proper for progressives to gloat and engage in gossip, but I can't seem to help myself. I do pray that Rush finds the grace strenghth to overcome his problems. Lord have mercy on us all.


Friday, October 10, 2003

Questions About Baptism

My latest essay.


NCR's Tom Fox writes about why "Why Catholics Are Jittery"

This short article on the changing demographics of global Catholicism speaks to the need for de-centralization away from Rome in order to meet the needs of local churches outside of Europe and North America. The author refers heavily to a Commonweal article by Archbishop Rembrant Weakland. I read the same article, and while I agree with the impulse of Fox and the Archbishop, I am not sure Weakland's solution of restoring a role similar to the ancient Patriarch really solves the problem.


Thursday, October 09, 2003

Members Urged To Stop Funding Episcopal Church

The Washington Post continues coverage of the looming potential schism in the Episcopal Church over homosexuality. The Protestant conservatives are arguing based on "Apostolic tradition" and the "historic teaching of the Church", rather than appealing to Scripture. Personally, I am not aware of extensive teaching in tradtition about homosexuality prior to the nineteenth century. While there are sparse references to homosexual acts after the fourth century, the entire of concept of orientation did not exist prior to the 1900's. I believe that this new concept invites us to re-examine the teachings about the acts in light of new discoveries.


Wednesday, October 08, 2003



Episcopal Faction Plans To Battle Action on Gays from The Wasghington Post, Oct 8, 2003 by Richard N. Ostling

It is sad that Protestants would divide over this issue. Scripture says absolutely nothing about the homosexual orientation, and very, very little about homosexual acts. What references there are to the acts are more vague than people think when examined in historical and literary context.

I do not believe God wants us dividing over an issue that He seemed to think so unimportant that only five passages or so ripped out of context can be evenly vaguely associated with our current debates. See my own detailed examination of Scripture, Tradition and natural law on this issue at: Thoughts on Homosexuality


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

My most recent essay on religious art and the 1st commandement

This essay was permanently posted to Jcecil3's Progressive Catholic Reflections, and addresses non-Catholic criticism to the use of statues and religious art in worship.


NCR's Today's Take from Oct 6, 2003: Defiling Language

National Catholic Reporter columnist, Dennis Coday, comments on the dishonesty of the Bush adminstration regarding the war in Iraq and reconstruction efforts.


Washington Post Article on John Paul II's Personal Dissapointments

A very good article by Daniel Williams in today's Washington Post speaks primarily to the dissapointment of the Pope over his inability to heal the rift between Roman Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy. The article also speaks to dissapointments about the materialism and consumerism sweeping Eastern Europe, and the inability of the Holy Father to have the European Union formerly recognize the influence of Christianity on its culture. This article is fair to the Holy Father, and more a testament to the Holy Father's private passion than a criticism.


Army Aggressively Recruits Minorities in High School

The National Catholic Reporter offers details on how the military has aggressively targetted inner-city areas to form Junior ROTC and Cadet programs before students are old enough to think critically about U.S. foreign policy and the inherent racism of such programs.


Monday, October 06, 2003







From The Washington Post on Tuesday, September 30, 2003:

Census Finds Many More Lack Health Insurance
By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 30, 2003; Page A01

"The number of Americans who lack health insurance climbed by 5.7 percent in 2002, to 43.6 million, the largest single increase in a decade, according to figures to be released today by the Census Bureau. "

See the full article here: Many Lack Health Insurance


Justice Launches Criminal Investigation Into Leak
Washington Post staff reports
Tuesday, September 30, 2003; 10:15 AM

The Justice Department has opened a full investigation into the allegation that administration officials leaked the name of a CIA operative, the White House counsel's said in an e-mail ordering White House staff to "preserve all materials" related to the probe.

See full article at White House Misconduct???


Unemployment continues to soar: Unemployment Figures for Sept 2003

I haven't posted to this page since June 3. There is a very interesting article in this week's National Catholic Reporter by John Allen on religious pluralism:

Pluralism conference report; A conversation with Fr. Roger Haight; The Sant'Egidio conference; Slovakia preview By John Allen for National Catholic Reporter September 12, 2003 Vol. 3, No. 3 The Word From Rome at NCR

Here are some select quotations form the link I found interesting:

"Among other things, both Christianity and Islam police orthodoxy in ways that other religions often can't, or won't. While that capacity to enforce boundaries can afford cohesiveness and a strong sense of identity, it also means that creative thinkers inside both traditions sometimes face special pressures."

"In theological debate, pluralism is usually contrasted to "exclusivism," the view that only one religion saves and followers of others are excluded, and "inclusivism," the view that only one religion saves and followers of others can be included. The officialRoman Catholic position is generally held to be a form of inclusivism - salvation comes from Jesus Christ, but non-Christians can receive its fruits, though in a less comprehensive way. "

"In fact, pluralism arouses resistance from religious institutions. If all religions are equally valid, it's hard to know why I should be especially committed to any one of them except for psychological or biographical reasons. It's no surprise that pluralists face a backlash. To judge from Birmingham, that's especially the case for Christians and Muslims."

Here is the revised statement of principles as adopted by the participants in the Birmingham summit.

1. Interreligious dialogue and engagement should be the way for religions to relate to one another. A paramount need is for religions to heal antagonisms among themselves.

2. The dialogue should engage the pressing problems of the world today, including war, violence, poverty, environmental devastation, gender injustice, and violation of human rights.

3. Absolute truth claims can easily be exploited to incite religious hatred and violence.

4. The religions of the world affirm ultimate reality/truth which is conceptualized in different ways.

5. While ultimate reality/truth is beyond the scope of complete human understanding, it has found expression in diverse ways in the world’s religions.

6. The great world religions with their diverse teachings and practices constitute authentic paths to the supreme good.

7. The world's religions share many essential values, such as love, compassion, equality, honesty, and the ideal of treating others as one wishes to be treated oneself.

8. All persons have freedom of conscience and the right to choose their own faith.

9. While mutual witnessing promotes mutual respect, proselytizing devalues the faith of the other.

The June 9 issue of Newsweek has a very good cover article on the issue of abortion. It may be the most balanced piece I have seen in the secular press. It's well worth picking up, and demonstrates that there may be a shift at the grass-roots towards the pro-life position, or at least a willingeness to not write us off as cooks.

Interesting Articles on Islam and other topics from the May 30, 2003 issue of NCR


Friday, October 03, 2003

Conservative Catholic commentator, David Quinn, writes in Crisis magazine a little bit about his own struggles to come to terms with the fact that the ordinary Magisterium seems to be opposed to the war in Iraq - a war he supports. It's funny to me how conservatives often accuse liberals of doing too much guessing about the motives of their opposition, and not enough hard theologizing. It seems to me that this is exactly what Quinn is doing.

Read his article here: What the War Revealed