Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Happy Solemnity Of The Mother Of God !!!

And a Happy New Year Too!!!

And, may continue to bless you and yours during the remainder of the Christmas season !!!


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Do as I Say, Not As I Do: By Anna Quindlen

The "Special Edition" of Newsweek issued last week (January 5, 2004 edition) features the article above by Anna Quindlen. Here are a few selected paragraphs to wet the appetite:

Shading or trading the true facts of your life in exchange for power and influence is a recurring leitmotif in the relentless self-invention of America. It even has its own literary adjective: Gatsbyesque. The result is a peculiar sort of lie, the square peg of human behavior forced into the round hole of public persona.
Thus this year alone we had William Bennett, whose best sellers on virtue had established him as the nation's morals czar, unmasked as a guy with a bad gambling jones. Rush Limbaugh said the football player Donovan McNabb was getting a free pass from the mainstream media because they liked the idea of a black quarterback, then took a free pass himself from the conservative media because they liked the idea of a conservative commentator, even one who, improbably, turned out to have an illegal OxyContin habit.
But the deception at the heart of the long, long life of the late Strom Thurmond trumped all in the "do as I say, not as I do" department. The man who ran for president as an ardent segregationist was unmasked as the father of a black woman, the out-of-wedlock daughter of his family's 16-year-old maid. It sounded like the plot of a Douglas Sirk movie, except that it happened to be true.
Ms. Quindlen goes on to ask how far theese conservative cultural icons are from becoming like Clinton, and asking the meaning of the word "is". It's a good question.


Rebecca Blogs About Liberation Theology

There was awhile when my own blog seemed to be the only English Catholic blog mentioning Liberation Theology in any positive way. I am no loner alone...


Monday, December 29, 2003

Just the other day, I was asking for job leads in the non-profit world. I do not know how useful this site will actually be, but for others interested in such jobs, the link above may be helpful....


NCR's John Allen Reports on the Situation in the Middle East from Vatican and International Perspectives

We all know that the situation in Palestine and Israel is very complex, and that until we can create peace in the Middle East, terrorism remains a threat to all people. John Allan offers us some facts and perspectives on what is occurring that we don't always see in secular American media.


Sunday, December 28, 2003

Pray For the Victims of Earthquake in Iran!

The death toll may reach over 40,000. Pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased, and comfort and aide to those who survive.


I Don't Know How I Missed This News Item...

....Lauryn Hill Confronts the Hieararchy on Clerical Sex Scandals!

This must have occurred while I was on my recent business trip right before the holidays. I was a bit too tide up in meetings to do more than read the front page....

I just read in my diocesan newspaper that U.S. pop singer, Lauryn Hill stunned an audience of Cardinals, Bishops and other Catholics at a Vatican Christmas concert on December 13.

Before singing, Ms. Hill stated that she wished to read a message. She said that the biggest mistake people make is to "worship people when they need to be praying to God." She went on to say, "I don't believe in representatives on earth, I believe only in God. Human beings sin, and they are responsible for corruption. Therefore, repent, repent." She then clarified that she was speaking primarily of the sexual abuse scandals and cponcluded, "I know that some of you may be offended by what I'm saying. But what do you have to say to those families that were betrayed by the people they believed in? And what do you say to the children who were violated in mind and body?"

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the papal vicar of Rome who was seated in the front row, rose and left the hall. Cardinal Ersilio Tonini denounced Hill's actions stating that she came with clear intent to offend. Bishop Salvatore Fisichella stated that Christmas was not the time to think about such things. William Donohue, the President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in New York City stated that Columbia Records should "show her the gate".

In light of all this criticism, let me be what may be the only Catholic blogger to say, "Way to go Lauryn!"

I think Columbia Records should give her a big fat raise!

I have long admired Lauryn Hill's chutzpah and the concern for social justice and the powerless that sometimes expresses itself in her music and her conduct. Frankly, I would have been dissapointed if she said nothing controversial to such an audience, and a direct critique of the bishops to their face alone and on their turf took great courage.

While I may differ with her theologically on the notion of grace mediated through human agency, it's about time someone said something about the crisis right inside the Vatican! I am not denying the teaching authority of the bishops, nor am I denying the good they do, nor am I denying the validity of sacraments they perform.

However, I agree with Ms. Hill that I am not seeing signs of real repentance among the bishops for very real and very serious and very criminal sins committed by some of these men. Someone needs to speak out!

Way to go Lauryn Hill!!! God bless you!


Happy Feast of the Holy Family !!!

On Thursday, we celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In this event, God shows us a human face by entering wholly and completely into the human condition. God chose not to become an angel, or a dolphin, or a monkey, or some alien creature from outer space. God chose to become human! In the incarnation, the incomparable dignity of the human person is revealed. We are the center of the mind of the creator of the universe!

The Christmas season lasts until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. Thus, there twelve days of Christmas, as a popular hymn, The Twelve Days of Christmas indicates. Indeed, this hymn was written as a Catechism of Catholic faith for the underground Church in England at a time when Catholics were not permitted to worship openly. See The Lyrics Explained for further detail.

In the Liturgy of the Hours, special collects and petitions celebrating the incarnation are recited with a repetition of the Psalms and hymns of Christmas until the Feast of Epiphany. The daily Mass readings also emphasize the season. The calendar of saints adds a different emphasis to the meaning of the season.

On last Friday, we celebrated Christ's continued living presence in the Church by honoring Saint Stephen, the first deacon and first martyr of the Church. This is the origin of the line to the hymn, Good King Wenceslas looked out, On the Feast of Stephen,..."

Stephen's story is told in the first century Book of Acts, chapters 6 and 7, by the same author of the Gospel according to Luke. Like us, Stephen longed for the day of the Lord's second coming, and he had a foretaste of this coming as he was stoned to death.

On Saturday, we celebrated the Feast of John the Evangelist commemorating the Beloved Disciple who is also the supposed authority behind the text of the fourth Gospel and the Johanine Epistles.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family, and the readings for today's Mass focus on the importance of family relationships. The family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is held up as a shining example of committed married love and the devotion of parents to child, and child to parent. The first and second reading provide practical advice to maintaining a strong and healthy family, reminding all of us to be loving, forgiving, and humble with one another.

Despite my liberal leanings on such issues as monogamous relationships between adult homosexuals, contraception, and readmittance of divorced and remarried Catholics to communion, I empathize with the conservative Catholic sense that the family is under attack in modern society.

While I do not believe that allowing gays some form of civil union and even a Church blessing threatens the traditional family, I do believe that there are very real threats to the family today. The Church wisely reminds us of the importance of family on this solemn feast.

It is highly appropriate that during a time of year when families typically gather, we should have a Church celebration of the family.

The threats to today's family are workaholism, bread by consermerism and the competitiveness of unbridled capitalism. A culture of fast food, ever faster access to information, ever greater consumption, and quick fixes to problems also breeds a lack of patience in families, and subtly encourages such sinful behavior as gambling and illicit drug use. As couples spend less and less time together and with their children, adultery can become a greater temptation, as can pornography. These are the real threats to family.

One anecdote is prayer. The family that prays together stays together. We also need to make time to eat meals together, share housework together, and spend "quality time" simply enjoying each others company. This is difficult, but Christians must make a conscious effort to place family life above work and consumption.

This is not to say that work is a bad thing, and I have written elsewhere on the spiritual value of hard work. But there is a time and a place for everything. God even commands the Sabbath, and studies show that people who attend church regularly live longer than those who do not - even after accounting for other factors such as smoking or drinking. For example, a smoker who attends church weekly typically lives longer than a smoker who does not!

We can strengthen family life by following the wisdom of our ancestors. Start with making regular Mass attendance a family priority! Add to this a real and conscious effort to have at least one meal together every day, and to begin and end that meal with prayer. Then look for opportunities, even if once a week, to spend time with each other in work and play. Slowly, family life will be revitalized, and so will your spirit!

Today's feast is also a good reminder to care for our elders. The first reading from the Book of Sirach reminds us to be considerate to our fathers even as they age and their minds fail.

The second reading, while encouraging children to obedience, encourages parents to be gentle and nurturing to their children - lest the children become discouraged. Husbands and wives are to be mutually loving and submissive to one another.

Had today not been a Sunday, the 28th of December is also the traditional feast of the holy innocents. On this day, we remember the babies who were killed by King Herod according to chapter 2 of the Gospel according to Matthew. The story is a reminder of the human capacity for grave evil, and the celebration of the innocents as saints is a reminder of the infinite value of human life from conception until natural death.

December 29th is the Feast of Thomas Becket, a bishop and martyr of the faith who was unjustly put to death by agents of King Henry II. His story reminds of again of Christ's continued life in the Church inspiring us to act as he acted. Thomas Becket is a symbol for all political prisoners, exiles, and those persecuted for conscience sake.

On December 31, we celebrate the Feast of Pope Sylvester I. Sylvester reigned as Pontiff in the early fourth century during the reign of emperor Constantine. This was an age when the great Trinitarian doctrine and the theology of incarnation was reaching a high level of development. He opposed the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ, and he opposed the Donatists, who claimed that sinful priests performed invalid sacraments.

The New Year will be ushered in with the Solemnity of the Mother of God in the United States. In this way, we welcome the New Year by honoring our mother in faith and the mother of our Lord and Savior. Just as Christ did her bidding at the wedding feast of Cana in John's Gospel, Catholics believe that her prayers in heaven find a special place in the heart of Christ. Because our saving God came to us through her womb in response to her "Yes" to God, we call her the mediatrix of grace!

January 2 is the feast of Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzen - two of the greatest and most prolific Scripture scholars of the fourth century Church.

January 3 is the Feast of Saint Genevieve, a virgin who counseled kings in the sixth century.

January 4 is the Feast of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first person born in the United States of America to be proclaimed a saint.

January 5 is the Feast of Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, another saint of North America, though born in Bohemia and immigrated tot he United States as a sort of missionary and bishop.

Finally, the Christmas season will end on January 6th with the Feast of the Epiphany. An epiphany is a revelation or unveiling of God's presence in our world. On this day, we remember the visit of the magi to the home of Joseph, Mary and Joseph. The Feast may be transposed to the closest Sunday.

The week following the Epiphany, though not technically in the Christmas season, we celebrate the baptism of the Lord and the beginning of his public ministry. This begins Ordinary Time until we enter into Lent in preparation for the Easter celebration of the central mystery of our faith: the Resurrection!

As we continue through the rest of the Christmas season, may your families be blessed by the intercession of the Holy Family in heaven.


Saturday, December 27, 2003

Howard Dean on Social Justice Issues?

I am in a quandary how I will vote in the upcoming presidential elections, and decided to take another look at Howard Dean's homepage to see if he might be the candidate.

Dean recently claimed he is more financially conservative than Bush, and many Democratic detractors agree with him. His track record in Vermont was conservative when it comes to balancing a budget and acting with fiscal responsibility. Dean has called Bush's tax cuts while increasing spending for a war irresponsible. On this score, I agree with Dean, and I am convinced that recent signs of recovery would have happened as soon or sooner even if Gore had won the last election. To quote his father's own critique of Reagan, G.W. Bush's reagonomics are "voodoo economics".

I am overall pleased with what Dean says about security and the Patriot Act. I agree with Dean that the Ashcroft style of counter-terrorism is going too far and stripping our civil liberties.

I also agree with Dean on his liberal or progressive outlook on affirmative action, immigration, most women's issues, and his overall message of restoring a sense of community. I agree with Dean's liberal outlook on social issues such as homosexuality. I also like Dean's position on the environment.

I really wish Dean were more liberal on two issues, and more conservative on a third.

On the two issues I wish he were more liberal: gun control and the death penalty.

Dean states that the Bush administration has failed to enforce and close loopholes in existing federal gun control laws, but Dean sees no reason to expand gun control laws. He claims the states need to make this decision. This is a very republican attitude, not unlike his financial conservatism. Living in the most violent industrialized nation on earth, I am not convinced that we do not need stricter gun control.

In my mind, hand guns serve no purpose other than killing or wounding another human being. A shot gun or rifle can be used for hunting or sport, but a handgun exist for the sole purpose of use against human beings. Handgun manufacture and ownership ought to be illegal. Those who believe a gun is a necessary form of self-defense from criminals should keep a rifle in their bedroom, not a hand-gun. It would be more difficult for criminals to carry weapons into public places un-noticed if they were carrying rifles and shot-guns, rather than handguns. I wish Dean were a stronger advocate of gun control.

On the death penalty, Dean criticizes the Bush administration for using the federal death penalty inappropriately, and promises to severely curtail use of the death penalty. However, Dean is not for abolishing the death penalty. In my mind, the crucifixion of Jesus is the ultimate proof that human beings do not rightly apply the death penalty. God does not approve the death penalty, because justice is his, and his alone. We are called to temper justice with mercy. I am completely opposed to the death penalty in all instances, and I wish a candidate were running who was brave enough to say the same!

On the issue where I do not feel Dean is conservative enough, he is simply too adamantly pro-choice. I wish the Democrats understood how many liberal and progressive Catholic votes they are losing on this issue. As liberal as I am, I know Catholic people far more liberal than myself. I know hundreds, if not thousands of liberal Catholics. Yet, almost every liberal Catholic I know, with only about three exceptions, is pro-life to some degree! Even if Dean does not wish to change the law, I wish he were simply silent about it...But he appears to be strongly pro-choice, making him a weak candidate in my mind.

Kerry presents the same problems as Dean on abortion and the death penalty, but Kerry also supported an unjust war, and is less financially conservative. He does not have my support, despite the fact that he is a Catholic.

I do think that the Republicans in general, and the those Democrats who support people like Dean are correct that fiscal responsibility is important to many Americans. I agree with Dean that one can be socially liberal and fiscally responsible at the same time. Bush won the votes he did in 2000 because he promised "compassionate conservative". He has renigged on the compassion, and renigged on fiscal responsibility. Democrats should hammer on fiscal responsibility the way Clinton did.

In my mind, Bush is sort of the opposite of a older generation of New Deal Democrat. If Democrats of old said "Tax and Spend", Bush says, "Don't tax, but keep spending". Furthermore, his priorities on spending make no sense. Shut down headstart at home and nation building in Iraq, but invest in enormous military spending.... If Lyndon Johnson tried too hard to have guns and butter, Bush is trying too hard to have twice the guns without any butter.

In my mind, Bush got us in an unjust war. His administration should have foreseen the difficulties of nation building in Iraq, and I (through letter writing) and many liberals in politics told them so before the war began! He has failed to redeem the situation by seriously requesting that the United Nations help us rebuild, which may be the only viable option left. I don't hear enough from the Democrats how to fix things now though...too many candidates are afraid to publically admit there is a real problem with the current situation - but there is!

There have been some major victories for the pro-life position under the Bush administration: a ban on new stem cell research, a ban on late term abortions, and the Schiavo case opening doors to further prevent euthanasia (enacted by the President's brother). Bush stays quiet on abortion, the way I wish pro-choice Democrats would if they can't be pro-life.

Despite the gains for the pro-life movement on abortion, I wonder what God thinks of Bush re-enacting the federal death penalty after 34 years of non-use of it. I wonder what God thinks of Bush's track record of death as govenor of Texas. Is a man who starts wars so easily, and inflicts the death penalty so readily really pro-life? Or, is such a man a control freak, who sees the abortion issue at some pre-conscious or unconscious level as a way to control women's sexuality?

I have heard many Catholic Bush supporters say that they are pleased by the President's willingness to use religious language. I feel just the opposite when I hear President Bush use Biblical imagery in a speech or appeal to God's name. I get mad almost everytime, thinking to myself that in context, he is violating the second commandment: Thou shall not use the name of the Lord your God in vain! It is a sin to use God's name to label your opponents as "evil-doers" and make your own cause sound holier than the Bible and Tradition warrant. If religious language is to be used in politics, Lieberman seems to be doing a better job of finding the right balance, but he is not a viable candidate for many other reasons.

I don't know who I am going to vote for yet...I'm just batting around the things on my mind right now as I try to discern what God really is calling our nation to do....What are others thinking?

Peace and blessings!


The Wonder of Google!

Go to Google and type in the words "miserable failure" as your search. Note what your top search result will be!


Question For Those Working in the Non-Profit World?

I work in a corporate environment in a for-profit organization in the field of information technology. I am typically cautious of saying too much about what I do on the web, lest I violate some corporate policy, violate the privacy of people in my life, or commit some other indiscretion.

I am a manager, and the particular service my company provides our clients involves a system and processes for adminstrating insurance products, including paying insurance claims on destroyed homes.

In some ways, I find meaning in my work in the sense that what I do helps shelter the homeless in a time of disaster. I also have opportunities to build teamwork and coach and mentor others - skills that the seminary helped developed in me.

I have been doing this for seven years, and sort of fell in this line of work by accident when I left seminary. I am very good at my job, have learned much, and get good performance appraisals, have improved profits, am well liked by my direct reports most of the time, and have a happy client. There is nothing wrong with what I do, and I enjoy it and find spiritual value in my work.

I have received promotions and raises as an objective indicator I am doing things fairly well. I could do some things better, of course, but my point is that I am confident that I am a competent worker.

I think all Christians can find meaning in their work, and as Christians, we give a witness simply by working hard and being ethical and kind.

While my current work is meaningful, I have wanted to work in the non-profit sector since the day I left seminary.

I suppose that I make a disctinction in my mind between finding meaning in your work, and being drawn to a particular work as a calling because of the meaning inherent in that work.

Perhaps this comes from my strong sense of being called to priesthood that lead me to explore seminary life. Despite now being married, I still feel called to serve others and God in a particular way.

I can find meaning in working as a grill cook at McDonald's (a job I held decades ago). Yet, few people would ever claim to have a vocation to work at McDonald's.

Everyone I know outside of work (and even some co-workers) tell me I am called to something else than what I currently do...and they don't really have to tell me this, because I feel it strongly in my heart.

I have interviewed at Catholic schools, Habitat for Humanity, a Food Bank, and several other places.

I know about networking, and I do volunteer work and meet with people doing the type of work I want to do. I also understand the potential concern hiring managers may have about being able to afford me, and I have been selective in my applications to chose jobs that were paying about the same as what I was making at the time of application.

What sparks this recent post is that I just had an interview before Christmas and eventually did not get the job. My dissapointment is that I honestly felt that this opportunity was like a vocation - I felt called to it, just like marriage or priesthood!

It was more than finding meaning in your work. It was finding work that drew me to it by its inherent meaning!

The job would have been with a food bank tring to coordinate efforts of several agencies that use the food bank services. I thought the job would be a fun challenge and one that would tap skills I already use every day in my current job, as well allowing me to gain new skills.

I am a bit hesitant to raise all of this publicly in a blog (that my current employer or employees could read), but I am also sort of desperate to figure out what I am doing "wrong", or what I could do better - or simply get some ideas from someone who succesfully made the transition from profit to non-profit.

In the "for profit" world, I am quite successful and capable of finding work and moving up the "corporate ladder". Nobody seems to seriously doubt my abilities and I have often proven myself the "most qualified candidate" for the positions I sought.

While I can be among the last two candidates under serious consideration for a non-profit job, I can't seem to convince the hiring managers that I am THE ONE for the job. This has gone on for seven years.

I am feeling a bit like Isaac in the book of Genesis, where he worked as an indentured servant to Laban for seven years plus seven more.

I suppose it is impossible for someone to answer my questions without looking at my resume and interviewing me....But I am wondering if anyone knows if there is a specific skill or a specific way of presenting yourself to hiring managers in the non-profit world that gets the job? Has anyone else made the transition from corporate to non-profit, and maybe has a tip for me? Has anyone reading done the hiring of such a candidate, and can share what WOWED you in the interview process?

I am also wondering if anyone has any leads for a manager or director or executive position in the non-profit sector that you might think I may find interesting. I know most readers do not know me personally, but I guess I am hoping that from what I write, someone may know of something that matches my profile.


How I Spent Christmas

I see that many bloggers have shared how they spent the holidays, so I thought I would share as well.

I began the celebration of Christmas with Vespers in my house on Christmas Eve, and then my wife and I took a nap so we would not be tired at Midnight Mass. We both sing in the choir, and our parish celebrated Midnight Mass at the traditional hour of Midnight!

We picked up our aunt (on my wife's side) and her nine year old son on the way to Mass, and arrived at the church by about 10:30 to practice our music. We practiced for about an hour, then the choir shared some refreshments and fellowship for about half an hour before Mass.

To understand the selection of music by our parish, I must point out that our parish is made up of several immigrant communities in a large metropolitan area. We have large Spanish and French speaking communities, and, including my wife, four choir members speak Swahili as their first language! The French speakers are largely Haitian and West African, and the Africans may have other languages such as Wolaf. We also have a sizable Asian minority in our parish.

Our prelude for the Mass was short. We did the Puer Natus (a boy is born), which is a fourteenth century Gregorian chant. The women sang the first verse, followed by the men, then all sang the third verse. This was done in traditional chant style. Then we returned to the first verse, and the basses and tenors went in a drone singing "alleluia" on the root of the chord, while the altos and sopranos sang the words tot he melody, and drums and shakers were used to spice up the chant.

Next, the priest made the announcement of the birth of Christ locating the event in a chronology from the creation, and the time of Abraham and Moses, down to the emperor. The processional started as we sang O Come All Ye Faithful in Latin, English and Spanish. This was sung with the accompaniment of the organ and trumpets and drums.

We sang a multi-cultural Gloria in English, Latin, French, Swahili, and Spanish to the tune of Gloria in Excelsis Deo - a composition of our choir director taken from a French carol.

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah (9:1-6) was proclaimed in French. Psalm 96 was done in Spanish with an English response (Today is born our savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. The second reading was proclaimed in French from Titus 2:11-14.

We did an Haitian Halleluia with a African American Gospel style proclamation. The Gospel according to Luke 2:1-14 was proclaimed in English, Spanish and French - followed by homilies by three different priests in each language.

The petitions were made in English, French, Spanish, Swahili, Wolaf, and Bengali, and the response was sung in English, Latin and Spanish (Lord, hear our prayer; Deus exaudi nos; Senor, escuchanos)

During the preparation of the gifts, we sang O Magnum Mysterium, a sixteenth century Spanish chant by Tomas Luis Victoria. This was done a capella. We followed this with a traditional French carol, Il Est Ne (le Divin Enfant). This was done with drums, shakers, and a piano.

The Sanctus was a combined English and Spanish version of the Mass of Creation by Marty Haughen. The memorial acclamation was "Christ has died, Christ is risen. Christ will come again" from the same Mass. The Eucharistic prayers were recited in English, French and Spanish by the priests who gave the homilies.

During the rite of peace, we sang a traditional Central American song of peace that is fast paced and involves clapping: Si tu corazon es como el mio, dame la mano y mi hermono seras... The Agnus Dei was done in French in a West African melody taught to our parish by our West African members.

During the communion procession, we sang A Medianoche, a Spanish Christmas hymn arranged by Casareo Gabarain, and number 61 in the Flor y Canto hymnal.

We followed this with an African American Gospel style version of Go Tell it on the Mountain, which was extremely fun for those of singing bass. The piece was arranged by Leon Roberts.

After communion, the meditation hymn was Silent Night sang a capella in Spanish, Swahili, French and English.

We closed with an arrangement by African American composer, Kenneth Louis, of Handel's Joy tot he World. As a postlude, we sang the secular Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano.

My wife and I slept in on Christmas day, and awake to say Lauds together, and then exchange our gifts. We called my parent's home to wish my side of the family a Merry Christmas (they live eight hours away, and we went there last year). Later in the day, we went over to our aunt's house again to meet up with the rest of her family.

The evening included the huge meal, the exchange of gifts, the men arguing politics and religion, followed by games and carols late into the night. It was a pleasant holiday.

Yesterday, my wife and I spent most of the day just relaxing and returned to our aunts to eat some of the leftovers. (She only lives a couple of blocks away).

Today, my wife has to work. She is a nurse in a Catholic hospital. I am just catching up on blogging and reading some novels and enjoying some time off from work. Yesterday was the feast of Saint Steven - the Church's first deacon and martyr. Today is the feast of John the Evangelist. Tomorrow will be the feast of the Holy Family, and the liturgical celebration of Christmas in the Liturgy of the Hours and daily Mass will continue until Epiphany.

Peace and Blessings to all in this joyful time of year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Orthodox Youth Trapped in Mudslides on Christmas

Let us pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died, and for the families of all who suffered this tremendous loss.


Steve Bogner Links to "Belief-O-Matic" Quiz

Personally, I found the quiz very flawed. I think there is a presumption in the wording of the questions that Roman Catholicism is a literalistic form of fundamentalism. I found it hard to chose the answer that I knew used the most "Catholic" language, because the wording also implied a certain literalism I cannot accept.

For example, question number 4 asked:

4. What happens to humans after death?
a. Souls are judged immediately for a foretaste of heaven or hell. At the final judgment, God (or Christ) will resurrect and judge all for heaven or hell. (Or souls may also be judged for punishment and/or purification before heaven.)
b. Death results in unconsciousness until, at the final judgment, God (or Christ) will raise the living righteous to heaven; resurrect and destroy the wicked on earth; return the righteous to a paradisal earth for eternity.
c. Souls don't survive death. God (or Christ) will resurrect the righteous at the final judgment for eternity in heaven or on a paradisal earth; the wicked will remain dead.
d. The soul's spiritual development continues after death so that all may eventually experience the indescribable joy of closeness to God. Hell is not a place but the tormented state of remoteness from God.
e. Rebirths occur (continually, or until all life's lessons are learned and one merges with the life force, or until complete enlightenment and eternal bliss are attained).
f. There is definitely an afterlife, but the specifics cannot be known or are unimportant--most important is one's conduct in life.
g. No afterlife; no spiritual existence beyond life; no literal heaven and hell. Or not sure. Or not important.
h. None of the above.
I chose answe "d." even though "a." is the answer with the more "Catholic" language. Answer "a." speaks of the Church's teaching of an immediate judgment after death, and a final judgment, with a possibility for purgatory in between. I believe in what the Church teaches.

What I struggled with is that I think of purgatory and hell as our choice, and not God's punishment! The Holy Father has confirmed this view as well, so I am not standing outside of our tradtion.

I think of "purgation" less as punishment, and more as spiritual growth after death. The judgment is seen by me to be less of God dictating what will happen to us from without, and more as God discussing our life with us, so that we come to a state of happiness when we see the perfection of God, or unhappiness while we struggle against God. Answer "d." is more correct, but probably less Catholic to the author of the quiz.

On a different question, I could not select any answer, and left it blank because none of the options would match what any Christian, regardless of denomination, should believe.

The question was question number 12:
12. Choose ALL statements below that represent your beliefs.
a. Adhere strictly to the rites, practices, precepts, commandments, prohibitions, laws, sacraments, or ordinances of the faith to be rewarded after life.
b. All, even the wicked, are rewarded after life (e.g., go to heaven, merge with God) as God(s) is infinitely good and forgiving.
c. Extinguish all cravings, attachments, and ignorance, or rid oneself of all impurities, to become fully enlightened.
d. Learn all life's lessons through rebirths.
e. Realize your true nature as purely spirit (or soul) and not body, as one with the Absolute, Universal Soul.
e. Live very simply; renounce worldly goals and possessions.
f. Tap the power of the Ultimate (God, or the divine) through intercessory methods such as psychics, channeling, tarot cards, crystals, magic.
g. Humankind is "saved" through human effort rather than through religious or spiritual means.
All of these answers are incorrect according to almost all Christian denominations.

Answer "a." implies crass works righteousness. I

ndeed, not one of these responses contains a theology of grace - which is the center of the Christian proclamation - that we are saved by God's initiative! Grace is the means of salvation. This quizz does not offer a single response that says we are saved by grace or faith.

Most responses are based in one way or another on pure works righteousness, which is the heresy of Pelegianism!

Catholics believe that works are necessary for salvation, but even works are a product of grace. We are saved by grace alone!

Protestants take the Catholic position to an extreme and say that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone apart from works, such that works are not necessary at all. Yet, in both cases, grace is the first and final cause of salvation - not works! All answers in question 12 imply that in one way or another, we rely on our works, which is simply anti-Christian.

I am not aware of a single Christian denomination on earth that officially teaches pure works righteousness with no mention of grace, and the Bible nor tradition can support such a doctrine!

Response "b." may sound like grace, but it leaves no freedom for our response. It implies we cannot reject the free gift of grace. It implies there is no hell or purgatory at all, and this is not Christian belief. Hell is the compliment to our freedom. God permits the possibility of our rejecting Him.

Responses "c." and "d." turn back to pure woirks righteousness, as does response "e." The response in "e." also contains the heresy of dualism. We are not pure spirits trapped in aillusory bodies. We are embodied souls where the soul is the life force of the body, and the body is so holy that God took on flesh and promises to raise our bodies in the last days!

All the rest of the responses go back to pure works righteousness. The author of this quizz does not understand the theology of Christian grace - which is taught by every Christian denomination I am aware of. With no response that includes grace, but allows human freedom, the author has demonstrated a profound ignorance of the real meaning of Christian theology - so profound that we have to question the results of the quiz itself!

So, the responses offerred to question 12, if read carefully, should lead every Christian to leave the answer blank.

Given all these caveat, here is how I fared:

1. Orthodox Quaker (100%)
2. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (94%)
3. Seventh Day Adventist (90%)
4. Eastern Orthodox (87%)
5. Roman Catholic (87%)
6. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (85%)
7. Liberal Quakers (76%)
8. Unitarian Universalism (72%)
9. Bahá'í Faith (65%)
10. Orthodox Judaism (65%)
11. Hinduism (63%)
12. Reform Judaism (60%)
13. Sikhism (59%)
14. Mahayana Buddhism (55%)
15. Theravada Buddhism (54%)
16. Islam (54%)
17. New Age (52%)
18. Neo-Pagan (51%)
19. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (45%)
20. Jehovah's Witness (45%)
21. Jainism (43%)
22. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (33%)
23. Secular Humanism (32%)
24. New Thought (31%)
25. Taoism (28%)
26. Scientology (27%)
27. Nontheist (21%)



I know I am a couple days late wishing all a Merry Christmas. I have been busy with family, friends, and parish celebarating the incarnation of our God in the human flesh of Jesus Christ! Better late than never. I wish all my readers a very joyous and happy holiday season!


Thursday, December 18, 2003

It Appears That My Comments Service Deleted All Prior Coments Temporarily

Seems the problem is resolved now, but if anyone knows a way to prevent this, pass it on to



Last night, I went for a drink during happy hour with a few male business associates who work in the same field and hold client facing management positions.

The conversation of strip clubs came up (raised by another person). I was shocked to learn that these guys I have known for years went to such places - sometimes together.

What was shocking is that I considered these guys "conservative" - not the sense I usually use the word, but simply in the sense of being devoted family men, church goers, and hard working business men.

I was also shocked to learn that their wives know about it.

Don't get me wrong, I think its better to be honest with your spouse about such things than to lie. Yet, it would be even better if there were nothing of the sort to tell your spouse, wouldn't it?

The whole conversation made me very uneasy. I thought to myself, "Is this what it takes to get ahead in the inner-circle of corporate leadership?" I was wondering, "How do spouses come to accept such behavior?" I also wondered what I was supposed to say to give some sort of Christian witness, other than that I don't frequent such places. Then I wondered if not going along occasionally to such places might be a hindrance to creating business opportunities and advancing in career development? Could this be what causes so many women to hit the proverbial "glass ceiling"?

What do others think and do in such circumstances?


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I Realized I Lost My Archives When I Changed This URL - But Not Permanently

My May 2003 Archives

My Septemeber and October 2003 Archives

My November 2003 Archives

Any December 2003 Crossover Archives


I'm still trying to catch up from work left behind while I was away last week, and had to put in some overtime. So, I'm a little slow blogging these days.


Monday, December 15, 2003


During the reign of Tiberius Caesar, the Romans had to deal with terrorism in the Middle East. Two insurgents were captured alive on one occassion: a common rebel and a king.

A decision was made to allow the native population to try the king and give him the death penalty. In a symbolic gesture that the Romans were not responsible for the king's fate, the Roman Procurator literally washed his hands of the affair before the natives.

That Procurator's name was Pontius Pilate, and the charged man was Jesus of Nazareth.

Should Saddam Hussein be tried by the Iraqi people rather than the world courts of the United Nations?


Sunday, December 14, 2003


I just returned form Mass to discover that Saddam Hussein has been captured alive. Two immediate thoughts come to mind.

First: This is an historic opportunity to demonstrate to the world that there is another way to maintain peace and justice than the way of vengefulness and hate. Saddam Hussein should not be put to death, and Christians should be at the forefront of calling for another alternative. As Pope John Paul II indicated in Evengelium Vitae, the death penalty no longer serves humanity any purpose, and other means of justice and security exist.

Second: As Christians, our Lord and Savior and Master has not only suggested, but commanded that we pray for mercy and blessings upon our enemies.

Please join me in prayer:

Father in heaven, bless Saddam Hussein in this life and the next. Reveal your infinite mercy to him now. Shower your unconditional love upon him. Grant that just as you have not treated we who share faith in You as we truly deserve, so too, may Saddam Hussein come to know your great grace!
Turn our hearts away from the temptation of vengeance and hatred, and help us to love Saddam and all Arab people.
We pray too for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, and blessings and mercy on Osama Bin Laden and all Arab peoples. We pray that the wrongs and injustices of dictatorships will be righted without violence, and that healing and peace based on harmony and justice will flow throughout the Arab world.
We pray for the protection of the U.S. soldiers and their rapid and safe return home. We pray for forgiveness upon the United States for waging a war of aggression, and we pray for healing upon the land of Iraq for the ravages of war and the effects of Saddam's prior rule.
We pray for a peace based on justice tempered with love and compassion.
In Jesus' name we pray!



A democratic public relations consultant was quoted in an article in The Providence Journal regarding the decision of the U.S. Catholic bishops in Massachusetts to try to garner support for legislation outlawing gay marriage.

The issue is whether the Massachusetts bishops have any credibility on such an issue after the sex abuse scandals of last year:

"I think it's a huge mistake," said Michael Goldman, a Democratic political consultant. "If I were giving them PR advice I would tell them to focus on the many positive things that they do in so many areas, including health care, housing and caring for those who are needy. On other issues, they have limited credibility with people."
Aside from political considerations, I believe there are theological reasons the bishops should back off on this issue. I honestly do not think the Bible or Sacred Tradition provide the clarity on the issue of the homosexuality that current conservative Catholics seem to claim. The notion of "orientation" was unconsidered until this century in theological discourse. References to homosexual acts in the Bible and Tradition are extremely sparse and may refer to other issues such as inhospitality, idolatry, prostitution, or pedophilia. No infallible documents have been issued.

There are good Scriptural and theological reasons to believe that some sort of blessing on a same sex relationship can be done in the ecclessial context, such as the ancient Christian rite of adelphopoesis. Furthermore, there is absolutely no theological justification for denying civil benefits to homosexuals who otherwise would qualify for benefits if there partner were of the opposite gender. Discrimination of this type is not Christian!

All these theological issues aside, I also agree with this consultant that there are political reasons for the bishops to be quiet on the issue of gay marriage. Even if the bishops are "right" in God's eyes, the bishops are risking many other God approved good works and solid teachings for the sake of this single issue.

Even if they feel "right", they should be careful not to lose ground on the other issues by placing undue emphasis on this issue. Furthermore, with their own history of sexual misconduct, cover and scandal, the bishops are not likely to win this one no matter how "right" they are. Therefore, it is not worth the risk on losing other equally or more important battles.


Saturday, December 13, 2003

It's pretty amazing how I think this actually does seem to describe me (and I usually don't think much of these things)

you are lightcyan

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very low - you have better things to do than jump headfirst into every little project. You make sure your actions are going to really accomplish something before you start because you hate wasting energy making everyone else think you're working.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the html color quiz


The Meaning of Christmas

My latest article added to my home page was actually largely written for a newsletter in 1999. The intended audience was an immigrant community including some non-Christians who were somewhat unfamiliar with the meaning of Christmas from a religious perspective, and unfamiliar with American customs at Christmas.


Friday, December 12, 2003


Unfortunately, I am too tired to blog tonight. More to come.....


Monday, December 08, 2003

Blessed be Mary on this Feast of her Immaculate Conception.

I am out of town on business travel till Friday, Dec 12. I may not be able to blog until I get back.


Friday, December 05, 2003


If anyone has this page bookmarked or added to favorites, note that the URL has changed from to

I just wanted a more consistent name. Sorry for any inconvenience.


Thursday, December 04, 2003

Ed, of IronKnee Asks an Intriguing Question About the Cost of War

Ed asks what we could accomplish if we spent the time and energy and money on fighting poverty that we are spending on the military effort in Iraq. It's an intriguing question, and Ed does some of the math for us.

Ed Also Has a Thought Provoking Post on the Principle of Double Effect

I don't know if I can agree with the application of the principle of double effect to physician assisted suicide, but I think Ed has presented a good summary of this Thomistic primciple and several possible applications in classic Catholic moral theology.


Ad Alteri Dei Finds More Evidence that Inclusive Languege is Part of Catholic Tradition in Latin Text

Interestingly, it seems some liturgigists in the past inserted "et sorores" after "fratres" in many liturgical text. A St. Blogs member found some evidence in a nineteenth century text.


Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Flos Carmeli raises the issue once again in a comment to my article, Poverty of Spirit: Was Jesus a Marxist?, whether my use of liberal or conservarive lables serves to alienate, or persuade.

I honestly do get his point.

Hardly any of us like to read an author saying that some opposing view from the author may be in spiritual danger, and if the author is using a label for that opposing view that we identify with, it can be especially uncomfortable.

On the other hand, commenting on my debate at Disputations on the use of inclusive language, Mark Shea made the following comment on his blog:

"I feel so empowered! Memo to jcecil: It's not all about power. Lose the Marxist paradigm and you'll take a step closer to reality."
Mark wrote this before I wrote my piece, and my title and theme are partly a reaction.

Other Catholics have labeled me a liberal or progressive and things much worse like "heretic" before I ever began blogging, and I was introduced to blogging by someone who disagreed with me and identifies himself as a conservative (see First blog I ever read, quoting me from a threaded discussion forum).

In my piece on poverty, I was trying to lead the reader to see the connection between my thought and something we all take for granted as Christians: care for the poor.

I was trying to show that care for the poor leads logically to something we don't all take for granted: solidarity with those who perceive themselves as impoverished, disenfranchised and oppressed.

In doing so, my intent is precisely to make us a little uncomfortable....have us raise questions not only about poverty, but about our culture, and its institutions, traditions, symbols, language, systems and structures.

I want us to question the prison system, where over half our inmates are Black, while only 13 percent of the general population is Black. I want us to question why the Bush administration has actively worked against affirmative action with no alternate solution to the problem of racial inequity that is obvious.

I want us to question AIDs funding, and whether lack of funding might come from quarters who assume drug addicts and gays deserve AIDs as Pat Robertson once implied.

And why do people worry about the civil benefits of a gay domestic partnership so much? What harm is done to any of us as individuals if civil law permits this?

And why do we insist on calling gay activist "nazis" while any major city crime report will show that gays are victims of violence by people claiming to be straight about 10 times more than straights being threatened in any way by gays. Yet, even after repeated debates on this issue, Mark is still doing it.

I want us to raise questions about why women are circumcised in some parts of the world, sold, sexually exploited, and raped.

We should also ask why we still can't revise our culture so that women and men earn the same amount. Why aren't women and men doing the same amount of housework and child care to facilitate this.

I want us to ask why women do not share full equality of opportunity as men (they can't be priests).

And if we can't even agree to use perfectly good english words that are inclusive when a Biblical author intended inclusivity (such as when we insist on saying "mankind" instead of "humanity"), this may be a clue to the answer of these "why?" questions.

Ultimately, the White straight poor fall victim of prejudices too. If I say "trailer trash", it conjures images that people understand. "Hobo" evokes an image. We walk past White homeless men trying not to make eye contact.

It is obvious that people disagree with many of my positions.

Perhaps it is the language I use that alienates. Or perhaps it is the paradigm Mark and his readers use to interpret the Gospel compared to my paradigm - and it doesn't matter whether we want to call my paradigm Progressivism or Marxist or Mickey Mousism or simply Christian - it is a different paradigm than Mark Shea's and many other bloggers.

On the economically poor, many Catholics will find they want to believe I am on to something.

Even Mark admits in the link posted here that my heart may be in the right place, and Flos Carmeli admits that there are some areas where he definitely agrees, and some areas where he agrees with nuance, and others he feels strongly opposed.

And if readers who use terms like "dissidents" and "heretics" and "nazis" to describe their opponents suddenly find that my heart is in the right place or they can even agree with me on a few things, then I have accomplished something, even if my writing seems to have an edge. Afterall, if we can start to see that we each have a good heart and some areas of agreement, that is not a bad thing.

It is precisely by looking at the Gospel sayings on poverty and the people Jesus associated with, and the way he treated people that lead me to what people call my more "leftist", "radical" or "Marxist" conclusions.

And many Catholics who agree with me on all these issues seem to call themselves liberals or progressives, while many who agree with Mark Shea seem to want to call themselves conservatives.

Mark Shea and his supporters and even his detractors who are further to the right will sometimes question the moral right of people who think like me to call ourselves Catholic. They will call priests who think like us "dissidents" (Mark's term for Richard McBrien). Some will go so far as to say we are "heretics".

So, do I take an alienating tone?

I guess I do, but I am writing to a group of people who seem to get a meaning out of the Gospel that is very different from what it says to me.

I'm not saying that Mark and those who are further to the right than he are "heretics" or "dissidents". Nor have I called him a "fascist" as he calls others. I have simply called him what he seems to wish to be called - a conservative.

When I gave the same label to some others, such as Flos Carmeli and Disputations, and they objected, I removed the label.

There is nothing intentionally offensive about the label, since it is the label many Catholics proudly wear.

If my writing stirs a troubled conscience in those who wear the label because there is a valid connection between the economically poor and women and gays and Blacks, then maybe I am on to something. If your conscience is stirred, maybe your heart is drawing you toward the "liberal" side.

And from my paradigm, much of what passes for rational argument is really rationalization for what we feel. But I also believe that most people do have good hearts, and that some of the rationalization we do is learned behavior that is not heart-felt. If I did not believe people have good hearts, I would not bother writing.

I even believe Mark doesn't really feel that gays are "nazis", despite his repetition of this theme. Indeed, his recent attempts to try to nuance a bit to demonstrate that he doesn't mean all gays are a move closer to the left, and that's progress.

Listen to your heart, and your head will follow.


Newsweek Cover Article on the Role of Women in Bible

This week's issue of Newsweek has an excellent cover article on the role of women int he Bible and the early Church. The article attempts to help us work through what is based on solid historical research, and what is more speculative. For a secular magazine, I think they did a fantastic job.

John Dominic Crossin, one of the most liberal Biblical scholars of Jesus Seminar fame, reminds us that the evidence for Jesus being unmarried is strong compared to speculation about a marriage to Mary Magdalene, and he questions why feminist would want to reduce Mary to Mrs. Jesus, rather than an important woman in her own right.

Phyllis Trible appeals to the original Hebrew rendering of the curse upon Even to highlight that "it doesn't say he shall rule over you. It just says he does rule over you - a description of the way things are." I think this section could have been a bit stronger by remininding readers that the curse occurs as a result of sin, and the curse is reversed by the redemption, as evidenced by Gal 3:28!

Overall, this is an excellent piece, and the insights highlighted are largely based on the canonical texts - so believers will be forced to deal with the implications of the rethinking of Mary and other women that is occurring as women gain access to a theological education.

Fifteen hundred years of almost exclusively male and predominately celibate interpretation is finally being questioned by well reasoned research showing that women played a much greater role in the early Church than the Vatican currently admits.

This artlicle lets the cat out of the bag. Serious scholarship is now being filtered to the masses, and there's no way to turn it back. Anyone - cleric or lay - can now go online and check out the references these scholars make.

I am utterly convinced that anyone who looks at the historical record will come away saying that there is absolutely no grounds for excluding women from ministerial priesthood and greater roles within the Church today.


Monday, December 01, 2003

Old Commonweal article on Catholic Blogging

Recently, Flos Carmeli and Disputations discussed the use of lables of "liberal" and "conservative", particularly on my site.

Steven really did not object to them, but I think Tom might find them problematic, so I removed some descriptions from my homepage, though I still think many bloggers fall to the right of most of my positions.

Of course, true leftists and hard-core secular progressives might find me mildly interesting, but would think I am too far to the right. Indeed, a Catholic progressive such as Matthew Fox or even the more moderate Hans Kung would find me hopelessly trapped in conservativism.

In fact, I received an email from an old seminary professor saying he would place himself left of me, and a friend who left seminary called me to say my sight was far too moderate. Ed of Iron Knee says I am a bit too conservative on abortion, and he thinks most bishops privately think like him on many issues - and I believe he is likely correct on that perception.

Polls would show that I am actually a mainstream, middle of the road American Roman Catholic - only differing from the "cafeteria Catholics" bloggers criticize in that I tend to quote the official Church documents, the Bible and/or orthodox doctrinal principles to back-up my opinions.

Perhaps it's all a matter of perspective.

I happenned across the article above, by Peter Feuerherd. It was written for Commonweal a good five months before I started blogging, and is a year old now. It actually helped lead me to take an interest in creating an alternate voice in blogdom. This is what Peter says of those who blogged before me:

The Catholic blog world is, in some respects, analogous to the world of talk radio: while the conversation may often be spirited, and occasionally learned, it often runs the gamut of views from A to B. In other words, it leans strongly to the conservative, or, as some would prefer, the "orthodox" side of church discussion.
It is a parochial world, a place where conservative Catholic bloggers are quick to defend writers such as Scott Hahn from attacks by other, even more conservative, writers, such as those who frequent the New Oxford Review. This is done without feeling the need to explain, for example, who Hahn—a convert from evangelical Christianity and a writer of works defending traditional Catholic teaching—is. For those unfamiliar with the tight world of Catholic "orthodoxy," a scorecard may be needed to follow some of the players.
Other arguments in current Catholic blogdom share a kind of rarefied air that is too heady for the average person in the pew.
Of course, I knew who Scott Hahn was prior to blogging, but hardly gave blogging any thought after reading the article last year.

I had written elsewhere in a post now archived that I was exposed to actual blogging after this article was published in Commonweal. Rerum Novarum posted a critique of an argument I had made about the Church supporting slavery in The Catholic Community Forum just prior to being banned from the forum for promoting women's ordination.

Whatever one thinks of my site, or Steve or Tom, I think that maybe Catholic bloggers have taken for granted for awhile that their views are mainstream within the Church hierarchy itself, or becoming mainstream among the hierarchy and maybe even the general Catholic population.

It is true that many bloggers will find Vatican support on some issues that the rest of us find questionable, such as married priests, women priests, contraception and homosexual unions.

However, with the possible exception of homosexual unions, mainstream Catholicism is largely questioning the same things I question, not just in America, but throughout the world. Even on homosexuality, Catholic views have steadily shifted left over the last decade or more in America and Europe. Furthermore, the developing nation priests are beginning to quietly ask these questions, as well as questions more germain to their cultures: liberation theology and polygamy being higher on their lists - but liberal questions none the less.

What I try to demonstrate on my blog is that the masses are not simply blind children being fooled by some force outside of Catholicism, such as communism or secular hollywood. These questions we all are asking arise from our own internal sources and our rights to ask the questions are protected by our own Canon Law. All the evidence points to a shift left occurrring from the bottom up in Catholicism.

Yet, Catholics around the world remain almost unanimously affirming of the real core elements of out faith - all the things truly known by everyone as infallible: the creeds, the seven sacraments, the two great commandments and the golden rule, the need for grace. Poll after poll will show that Catholics who go to Mass regularly take the resurrection seriously, believe in real presence, have some devotion to Mary, try to follow the ten commandments, have some sort of regular prayer life.

Yet, on the issues I raise, in many cases, such as contraception, less than half will agree with the Vatican. Even on the more controversial homosexuality, a large minority of Catholics approaching half with each passing day are now questioning Rome.

What does it mean when the sense of the faithful questions certain teachings so broadly? Can this really be ignored if there are also strong theological arguments indicating they may have reason to question a teaching? Are all these issues related in some way other than the conservative shiboleth that liberals are just sex crazed?


Thirty Six Years of Ecumenical Dialogue Dissolved Over Robinson Ordination

The Vatican has indicated plans to cease ecumenical dialogue with Anglicans over the Gene Robinson ordination. The relationship was already strained over women's ordination, and this has become the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

In an effort to heal the rift, the bishop who consecrated Gene Robinson resigned from his position of co-chair on the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC).


Church and State Clash Over Vouchers

The Washington Post reports on a case going before the Supreme Court called Locke v. Davey. Joshua Locke qualified for a tax subsidized scholarship in the state of Washington, but the scholarship cannot be used for his pursuit of a degree in pastoral ministries at a Christian college.

The ACLU and the People for the American Way argue that using state funds to pay for the teaching of religious ideas that are not held by all tax payers violates the non-establishment clause of the Constituional First Amendment.

Davey and his supporters argue that the withholding of state funds to which he is entitled violates his freedom of religious worship according the same principle.

The case is important because if Davey wins, some of the legal barriers used by states against voucher programs will be declared unconstitutional.

In the old days, Catholics often argued against anti-Catholic bigotry by proudly saying that we paid taxes to support public schools, while simultaneously keeping education spending low by sending our own children to privately funded Catholic schools.

Historically, Catholics in America were able to do this because we had a large pool of celibate women's communities that could staff such schools at extremely low cost. Furthermore, the school buildings were often constructed by Catholic immigrants who donated their time after regular day jobs in construction. In today's American Catholic experience, we can no longer rely on cheap construction labor or nuns to staff our schools. Voucher programs may be the only means of keeping Catholic schools open in the long range.

Father Andrew Greeley, the famous priest and novelist, also holds a doctorate in sociology and has conducted extensive research that shows Catholic schools provide enourmous benefit to society and the Church. Graduates of Catholic schools tend to be much more involved in volunteer social services than graduates of public schools. Graduates of Catholic schools are far more likely to go on to higher education than most public schools. Graduates of Catholic schools tend to score higher on standardized tests. Furthermore, we catholics value the fact that our children have access to the sacraments and sound moral teaching in our Catholic school system.

Yet, is it right to ask non-Catholic tax payers to pay for our Catholic education?

Ideally, a voucher system simply says that a tax payer has the right to use his or her taxes to pay for the type of education he or she wants. We tax all citizens for education because even secular society recognizes the importance of an educated society. Yet, a voucher allows each tax-payer the freedom to decide what type of education the tax payer wishes to receive. In other words, if done right, vouchers do not take tax money away from non-believers in order to pay for the religious education of believers. Rather, vouchers simply allow each tax-payer to decide what type of education is most important to him or her.

The court case is not specifically about vouchers. Yet, because it will have implications on voucher rulings, we should follow the case closely.