Saturday, January 31, 2004

Confirming my Earlier Announcement to Run For Prez

I ran across the link above that offers a short quizz to determine which candidate for President comes closest to your views. Thanks to Fr. Jim Tucker and Steven Riddler for pointing us to this test and sharing their results.

My own results are more similar to Steven than Fr. Jim.

The good father appears to be libertarian leaning Republican, which makes sense, since Republicans are distrustful of big gov't, and libertarains are simply the extreme of this.

Steven is a little more politically conservative than I am, but we both have Kucinich above Bush.

As anyone can see from my writing, there are no surprises here. Almost everybody is above Bush for me. Prior to this test, I didn't even know who Howard Phillips is, and as I read the description, I thought, "What a nut".

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (Jcecil3) (100%)
2. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (77%)
3. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (72%)
4. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (69%)
5. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (67%)
6. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (64%)
7. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (59%)
8. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (39%)
9. Libertarian Candidate (31%)
10. Bush, President George W. - Republican (28%)
11. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (10%)

In the explanation of the ideal candidate, the quiz tells me to write in my own name. Jcecil3 for Prez!


Jcecil3 for Prez

Ok, ok....the post immediately below this one was written in jest, but just in case someone does want to start a "write in" campaign, I made a link you can email now.

If nothing else, maybe we can get Catholics speaking up to the two parties about some common concerns that liberal and conservative Catholics hold together.


Friday, January 30, 2004

Disputations Challenges Catholics to Start Their Own Party

"I've decided that, from now on, whenever I see or hear someone write or say, "We need a political party that is good on all aspects of Catholic social teaching," I will reply, "So start one."
With this challenge, I have decided to announce the formation of the Catholic Peace and Justice Party, and as its first (and only present) member, I hereby nominate myself for President of the United States.

On Foreign Policy
As your President, I will apologize openly to the U.N., and specifically to France, Germany and the people of Iraq for the war. I will then beg and grovel the U.N. to send support to help stabilize the region so that we can bring our military troops home as quickly and safely as possible.

In the place of military troops, I will send Peace Corps volunteers paid with federal funds, and I will encourage Catholic Lay missionaries to join them (but the feds won't pay for the Catholic lay missions - sorry folks, we've got to preserve some religious liberty under Vatican II guidelines).

I will meet with leaders of North Korea and Iran on neutral territory and ask them what we can do to mutually disarm. I will commit to the elimination of the huge stockpile of WMDs held by the world's only superpower (us). I may try to bribe the Koreans and Iranians to hold up their end of disarmament in their own nations with USAID if all else fails. I will also invite Muslim clerics to the White House to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Oh, and the Pope can come on Easter if he wants.

I will also commit to a peace strategy in Israel. If Israel withdraws from the occupied territories, I will increase USAID to Israel and Palestinians. If Israel does not withdraw, I will withdraw all U.S. support to Israel. If Israel withdraws and Palestinian terrorism continues, I will go to the U.N. to request an international law enforcement effort to shut down Palestinian terrorism.

I will increase the individual pay of soldiers, but cut military spending by at least 30 percent by reducing discretionary spending on technology designed to find new ways to kill people. The savings will be diverted to expanding Peace Corps operations. We'll wage the war on terror with love, generosity and forgiveness, the way the Lord Jesus wants!

Life Issues
I will support a amendment to the Constitution for the Right to Life that will outlaw all death penalty, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and any abortion that does not meet the principle of double effect (ie - it will be permissible to remove uterine cancer that threatens both mother and child simultaneously, even though removal of the cancer unintentionally terminates the pregnancy).

I will also support strict gun control: absolutely no handguns, and no firearms that can be easily concealed and are not used routinely for hunting. I will also require safety locks on permitted weapons. We will reduce violent crime further by tackling the root causes of crime, such as poverty. We will target our social services particularly at unwed mothers.

I will strictly enforce existing laws forbidding cruelty to animals, and stop all federal funding to animal testing. OK, this last one comes form the left wing of the Church, but why fight me unless you got something against chimpanzees or something?

Women's Issues:
Just to demonstrate that my pro-life commitment is not aimed at holding women down, I will appoint an all female cabinet and all women Supreme Court Justices. She doesn't know it yet, but pro-life feminist lawyer, Helen Alvare will be my first appointment to the high court if she accepts the position.

I will also support an ERA amendment that does not include a pro-abortion provision. We will fight for equal pay for equal work and equal opportunity.

We will aggressively fight sexual harassment. We will make mandatory life sentencing without parole for anyone who is convicted of rape. We will also eliminate all forms of marriage penalty tax and provide a tax credit to families with children who live on one income (whether the mother or the father is the stay at home parent, we are encouraging someone stay home with the kids).

I also support mandatory paternity leave for fathers of newborns that matches the benefits currently awarded mothers. It must be mandatory so that men will not use forfeiture of their rights as an unfair advantage over women in the work-place. We can make it mandatory for women too if need be.

The requirement for citizenship to the United States will be restored to the requirements of our original founders. Just show up, and consider yourself a citizen. America will exercise the Biblical virtue of hospitality like no nation prior.

However, new citizens will want to register their names at the social security administration, as our newborn children do. This will help ensure that we you receive any entitlements due citizens of this great country.

likewise, we will offer free health exams and vaccinations to new citizens, because, while we want to be hospital to people, we do not want to be hospital to foreign diseases.

Health Care, Social Security, and the Budget:
Good service costs money when you turn to private enterprise, and the same holds true with the federal government. Some of my opponents (one in particular) claim you can have a safety net for the poor without paying for it. It's a sin to tell a lie, so I won't lie to you. I'm going to raise taxes. I will repeal 100 percent of Bush's tax cuts and put the money to use in health care. In order to save social security, I may even need to go a bit higher than pre-Bush days, unless we can get those budget surpluses going again.

I will consult Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan to come up with a sound plan, and probably let Hillary be my female cabinet member in charge of this stuff. If she only wants health-care, maybe I'll ask Geraldine Ferraro to lend a hand. We might borrow some ideas from Gephardt as well.

Our plan on tax increases will target the wealthier folks and big corporations, because only in America, with our infrastructure, can a person amass so much wealth. They owe us, because we made them. The tax investment will go to people and infrastructure. We will declare war on poverty!

Civil Rights:
I will support two separate affirmative action programs in colleges and universities. I will support a class based affirmative action program that ensures the poor are provided an opportunity go to the best colleges, and I will support race and ethnicity based affirmative action that ensures cultural diversity on our campuses.

Big Labor:
Love you guys and gals. You gave us back the Sabbath and increased job security and raised wages. Yet, I think you need to get busy. The service industry, and particularly IT service and Wal-Mart needs unionized. And we need to export unions too, especially when corporate America is off-shoring their mistreatment of workers.

I'll restore Headstart that was cut under Bush, as well as re-funding school lunch programs.

Mandatory testing? Baloney.

I want our kids to know how to pass the test of life, and life ain't standardized. I'll increase Pell grants, support a moment of silence in public schools, and entertain the notion of school voucher (why should parents of Catholic school children pay twice for their child's education - once to the state, and once to the Church).

I'll spend more than Bush and promise better results. But if you want real success, get involved in your kids education too, and support local levies. Get our teachers a living wage!

Family Values:
I'll do what I can as President to restore the value of traditional marriage in many ways. There will be a tax credit for being married that increases with time married. I will actively support the restoration of "fault divorce" (is that what it was called before "no fault divorce" came along?).

I will allow federally funded abstinence programs. Yet, I believe some training on contraception also should be permissible to public schools alongside of abstinence programs. I'll be the first to admit that I share many questions with the secular world about Church teaching on contraception. Nevertheless, I will support legislation that would force contraceptive companies to advertise only in print media like cigarette companies. There will be no federal funding of contraceptive technology or distribution. I support our freedom to choose on this matter, but pay your own bill and don't expect a government entitlement.

On gay marriages, I'm going to have to break from my own party line (ie - the Church). I'll appeal to Church teaching on the primacy of conscience, and the Catholic Church's encouragement to "take a stand" under pressure from others. Afterall, y'all want a leader, and not a follower.

I'll leave it to the theologians whether a gay union can be called sacramental in the strict sense of the world, and the state cannot force gay marriages in a church. However, it would be wrong for the state to discriminate in the application of benefits due to everyone in civil matters. Gays and lesbians living in an arrangement that in every way mirrors marriage, even including children, should enjoy the same legal and tax benefits as other unions. This is especially true when children are involved!

The War on Drugs
Let's stop the cost ineffective method of spending on more and more policing just to wind up only arresting small time peddlers and focus our money on rehabilitation and drug counseling.

The Patriot Act
We do not support it. If it passes renewal, I will not sign it. Indeed, I'm thinking that we may use an executive order to bring John Ashcroft up on war crime charges. Just a thought.....

The Environment:
I haven't yet picked the woman who will run this department, but we'll have Ralph Nader and Al Gore assisting her. It might be interesting to get Libby Dole on this one to create a tri-partisan effort going between Dems, Reps, and the newly formed Catholic Peace and Justice Party.

Cloning and Stem Cell Research:
No federal funding of either, and I will sign a bill to prohibit either if it came across my desk. BUT, if a human being is ever cloned, do not abort it!

Vice President:
I know it's early yet, and I haven't really cleared it yet with the potentials. How about Sister Joan Chittister?

If her order doesn't let her, maybe I'll just have to ask my wife or my mom.

Church and State?
I will obey the bishops in all private morality, and respect the democratic process in the governance of the state publicly. Secularist have nothing to fear: I'm not going to put bowling balls around the statue of liberty to form a rosary. If these ideas stand on their own, whether you are Catholic or not, vote for me!

I also will refrain from publicly stating my more theologically liberal views. As President, I can probably get a private audience with the Pope anyway. Maybe in a one-on-one, he can help me understand why women can't be ordained.

Or, maybe once we have our little face-to-face, he'll say, "You know Mr. President, you're absolutely right. Don't know how I missed it before. I'm going to ordain Mother Angelica tomorrow before its too late! Thanks Mr. President, you saved the Church from grave error!"

I say "Mother Angelica" because, if I were Pope, I would issue a statement allowing women's ordination, then bind her under obedience to be the first. The conservatives would hate me for ordaining a woman, and the liberals would hate me for ordaining her. I'd sit back the rest of my papacy and watch the fireworks.

Ooohhh. But I'm not running for Pope (yet, anyway).

Remember: write "Joe Cecil (jcecil3)" in for President of the United States of America next November, and support the rest of the "Catholic Peace and Justice Party" as we grow!


Thursday, January 29, 2004

More For Democrats to Consider

In Re-igniting the Religious Left by Joe Feuerherd writing in the National Catholic Reporter, we are reminded that there once was a religious left in this great nation. The thoughts below are my own thoughts generated by this article, without referring specifically to anything the author said.

I remember in the 1970's at family re-unions where the great majority of my relatives were Democrats who would argue with the Republicans that it was morally impossible for a Catholic to be Republican. Up until the 1970's, to be Catholic was to be a Democrat!

In the 1930's, priests joined workers on the union picket lines. In the 1940's, the American Church expanded a huge network of social service agencies rivaling the federal government. In the 1950's, Catholic intellectuals were in the forefront of liberal thought about building a social safety net. Some were even beginning to challenge gender stereotypes. In the 1960's, priests and nuns marched with civil rights protestors and anti-war demonstrators.

And it wasn't just the Catholics....the Methodists were experiementing with the "social gospel", and the Quakers were always anti-war. African-American Christians were always socially progressive, even as they affirmed the traditional family and leaned to the pro-life side.

Todd of Catholic Sensibilities recalled a few days ago his entusiasm for the pro-life movement in his younger days. He wrote as follows:

In my younger days, I had hopes that the prolife movement was going somewhere. Naively, I thought it had the makings of another civil rights struggle,....,I was surprised the seamless garment notion didn't take root more strongly.
This is exactly how I feel about the pro-life cause. I participated in Operation Rescue, marched on DC, volunteered at Project Gabriel, passed out fliers on college campuses, etc...

But the Democratic party somehow made a shift away from appealing to religious and spiritual motivations for taking social action.

Maybe there was a tacit agreement among ecumenically sensitive liberals not to discuss doctrine and focus on political action. However, we now see that this tactic made voters vulnerable to a Bush, who can speak convincingly of a deep personal religious faith even as he contradicts the Gospel in practice.

I believe that as the party became less vocally religious, more militantly pro-abortion and pro-gay, they lost of some of their religiously left base.

Those who wanted to see a consistent ethic of life in the 1970's and 1980's were slowly pushed out of the party or silenced. This is perhaps the greatest mistake of the party. While the Republican tent can manage to hold Powell and Schwarzenegger, who are both prominent and pro-choice, the Democrats have failed to show the same tolerance.

Some of those who could accept that racial discrimination was wrong had a harder time accepting that a behavior, such as homosexual acts, might have a genetic motivation, and that homophobia may be as sinful as racism. As the party became more adamently pro-abortion and pro-gay, votes shifted right.

Perhaps left leaning hearts began to gradually swing back to the left with the increased awareness of homosexuality that came from the spread of AIDs in the 1980's and the more "in face your face" style of modern gay activists in the 1990's. But votes had already shifted right before this.

Americans grew more affluent in the same time period as well, and many moved into positions of business leaders. The rhetoric of fiscal conservatism appealed to many. This is certainly a factor in Republican success, but I think it a mistake to see this as the only factor.

Democrats have got to learn to speak convinclingly about how faith and spirituality guide many progressive and liberal decisions. Liberals who are religious have to come out of the closet!

Maybe we need to take lessons from Act-Up.

I know there are liberal priests and seminarians and I see liberals every week at Mass. Do we need to start "outing" one another?

Maybe not....but we need to stop hiding our religion and our religious beliefs that motivate us to work for social peace and social justice. We need to allow some pluralism within our ranks.

If we don't, we will face four more years of Bush tyranny!


Something For Democrats to Consider

Yesterday, I stated that Democrats ought to consider that they are losing the potential "swing vote" that may be deeply conflicted over the war in Iraq, but also cannot bring themselves to vote pro-choice.

I have been having some discussions with pro-life conservatives over why I cannot vote for Bush in good conscience, but I also need to mention that I have strong reservations about Kerry, Dean and Clark right now on abortion.

Let me make this clearer to my more liberal and progressive readers - especially those in the Democratic party. I voted for GW back in 2000 on the single issue of abortion, and I have never voted for a pro-choice candidate for President. While I have come to regret my vote for Bush, and even loathe this administration, if the Dems do not soften on abortion, they may force me to chose a write-in candidate, and they may lose other votes to Bush.

What would a softened stance on abortion look like?

Ultimately, I do not deny for one second that I would wholeheartedly support an amendment to the Constitution that guarantees the protection of the right to life to every human organism from the moment of conception until natural death. Under this type of legislation, the death penalty should also be abolished, and all forms of euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other threats to human life. I support a consistent ethic of life: the seamless garment approach.

This said, I have written in many places of the complexity of the political debate in the United States over abortion, and my own opposition to Bush based on other issues, like the war and the economy and my lack of faith that he is truly pro-life anyway. I know I am not alone in facing this complexity. I have suggested that progressives and liberals should soften their own stance on abortion to find a middle ground with pro-lifers to gain the votes of people like myself.

What might be acceptable compromises that would allow me and those like myslef to vote for a pro-choice candidate in the effort to beat GW Bush?

1) First and foremost, pro-lifers do not want federal funding of abortion. This is an absolute non-negotiable. Any Presidential candidate who supports federal funding of abortion will not get my vote.

2) Protect the right of hospitals and health care facilities that are religiously affiliated to refrain from procedures that are considered immoral by the religious body that runs the facility. Again, this is a non-negotiable.

3) John Kerry states that he did not support the ban on late term abortions because it did not contain a clause that permits such abortions for instances when the life of the mother is in danger. Create legislation that will contain the exception Democrats find acceptable, and still reduce the number of late term abortions.

4) The abortion pill, RU 486, is administered in a hospital setting in almost all other nations where its sale is permitted. There are risks to women who take this drug. Pass legislation that will require safer administration of this drug in a hospital setting (this pill is never safe for the unborn child, but at least protect the mother).

5) Several states have tried to pass legislation that would permit choice, while reducing the number of abortions by ensuring women make an informed choice. Courts have struck some of this legislation down. Create legislation allowing a 24 hour waiting period and requiring a doctor to explain the stage of pregnancy and fetal development, even using ultra-sound or other appropriate technology so that women understand fully what choice they are making.

6) Dennis Kucinich has stated that he opposes abortion, and yet supports choice. He seeks to reduce the number of abortions through social policies that remove the reasons women seek abortion. Al Gore took a similar stance. The idea is to tackle a wide range of issues such as reducing poverty and improving sex education. All Democrats can and should take a similar approach and be as detailed as possible about such plans.

7) If you are personally opposed to abortion on moral grounds, but believe in enforcing the current law of the land, make it clear, as Cuomo, Kucinich and Gore always seem to do, that you are personally opposed to abortion. Indeed, part of my reasoning on why Catholic politicians should not be excommunicated is that they have a moral responsibility to represent their constituents collective will. Make it clear that if your constituents indicated that most of them are pro-life, you will consider voting for an amendment for life.

8) Do not alienate people of faith by refusing to share your own personal spirituality, or worse, by deriding religious values.


The Priesthood in Peril, by John Monczunski

This article was sent to me by a frequent reader, Jim McCrea. It is a little long, but not too difficult, and very thought provoking. It also references a Father Melvin Blanchette, who was a spiritual director and counselor of mine in my last two years in formation for priesthood, before I left.


Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Why I Cannot Vote For Bush in Good Conscience

The latest article I have posted to my homepage answers the questions people keep asking me about how Catholics can oppose Bush when everyone else is pro-life and supportive of gay marriage, and why I quote the magisterium when it supports me, even as I withhold assent on issues such as contraception and women's ordination.


Evidence That the War Was About Oil and Military Superiority, Rather Than Terrorism

The link above is to The Project for the New American Century (PNAC). It's members include such prominent figures as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Lewis Libby and many others.

Read for yourself, in thier own words, how and why they argued for U.S. occupation of Iraq without U.N. support long prior to the Bush Presidency and the events of September 11, 2001.

Bear in mind, as well, that even though they still explicitly make mention of oil and U.S. military superiority over the European Union, they have cleaned up the site a bit when people like myself were referencing it prior to the war!

I am posting this here because people like Jeff Miller (the Curt Jester) scoff at the notion that the war was about oil!


NCR Editorial Quotes Paul O'Neill on Why Bush is not a Good Republican

O'Neill's book The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill is referenced in the article as follows:

O'Neill, the book makes abundantly clear, never quite fit in at the Bush administration?s highest circles. He was an old-school Republican -- more George I than George II. For example, he held to the belief that the federal government should not run huge deficits and that it was a bad idea to squander a $5.6 trillion surplus on tax cuts that disproportionately aided the wealthy....
Meanwhile, amid the Enron and Global Crossing scandals, Greenspan and O?Neill -- a former corporate CEO -- pushed for regulations that would hold CEOs directly responsible for ensuring that their financial statements were accurate. Bush, under pressure from his corporate "base," chose a lesser course.
O'Neill faults Bush for rejecting "..., the efforts of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and his ally O'Neill to bring real accountability to corporate CEOs."

O'Neill also claims that the Bush Administration sought justification for war with Iraq from the first days Bush took office, and the events of September 11 were never the reason for war. NCR takes for granted that its readers are familiar with the substantiating documentation that proves beyond doubt this is true.

He also slams Bush-Cheney on the rejection of Kyoto Protocol in global climate change. According O'Neill, a long time old school Republican, Kyoto represented a move toward environmental policy that was economically responsible, and it was shot down by ideological extremists.


Kerry Wins New Hampshire

Senator John Kerry wins the New Hampshire primary by a comfortable margin, with Howard Dean placing second and John Edwards a distant third.

Here is a site that offers overviews for all the candidates, including Bush/Cheney and some past or potential future candidates (including Hillary). I defaulted it to Kerry on values.

On sixty minutes last week, Kerry claims that his vote authorizing the use of force in Iraq was intented as a vote to allow the United States to offer support to a United Nations effort to remove Saddam if the U.N. deemed that military action was necessary and appropriate. Kerry claims he never supported the President in a unilateral pre-emptive attack on Iraq. If this is true (and I need to research this), then Kerry actually voted in the manner the Holy Father wished the United States would act.

I continue to also be looking at each candidates stance on abortion, and I have a message for the Democrats:

To all Democrats: You are losing many Catholic votes on abortion who otherwise are conflicted on the war and the economy. Consider the possibility that the party is taking too militant a stance on this single issue, and losing what otherwise might have been a "swing voter".


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Catholics for Dean Blog

I am not yet supporting Howard Dean for President, but he does have me intrigued somewhat. This blog link above was created by a Catholic who strongly supports Howard Dean for President and wishes to defend that position against more conservative Catholic bloggers. While I'm not fully backing one of the Dems yet, there is no way in heck Bush is getting my vote.

As I wrote in the comments box of The Curt Jester on Catholics for Dean:

I feel it would be a mortal sin for me to vote for GW Bush.

- He waged an unjust war of agression with proper authorization according to just war docntine (only the UN can enforce UN resolutions) and was warned by the entire ordinary magisterium that this war was unjust.

- Cheney, Rumsfled, and Wolfowitz all supported the war since 1997 for the purpose of gaining economic and military superiority over the emerging Eurpean Union, and control of Europe's supply. Cheney's own company has profited from war in Iraq and does business in Iran that may be illegal. Powell has admitting no WMDs have been found in Iraq, there was no smoking gun, and no evidence of ties to Al Aqueda. The war was and is about oil and money, and the administration has lied to the American people and the world, and they can even stand up and admit it, and nobody seems to care.

- Bush has paid nothing but lip service to the pro-life cause. Partial borth abortions are rare to non-existent. He explicitly refered to the embryo as "potential life" in his compromise position on stem cell research (where he allows current stem cells to continue to be replicated and studied, and passed no law against stem cell research - just cut federal funding to new research). Bush will not do more to end abortion than any Democrat, and he believes he has the pro-life voter anyway no matter what he does.

- Bush reinstituted the federal death penalty for the first time in 34 years and has used! The death penalty was explicilty condemned in Evangelium Vitae.

- The Patriot Act has lead to people being arrested and held without representation or due process, and even shipped abroad to be tortuerd by proxy. Federal judges and legislators are deeming that it violates the constitution, but John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge seem determined to stay the course. Bush wants to be Big Brother.

- Bush claims to be for education, but he cut the most succesful education program ever - Headstart. He also cut school lunch programs for hungry children. He also cut Pell Grants.

- Bush claims to a fiscal conservative, but he has turned a budget surpluss into a half trillion dollar deficit. Discretionary spending has increased at close to 10 percent per year under Bush, while taxes have been cut to an all time low, and the taxes have one primarily to the "investor class". The money is not going back into the economy as unemployment remains high (only 1000 jobs created for Dec) and millions remained without affordable health care. An emerging class of working poor is showing up in soup kitchens.

- Bush has alientated the rest of the world. If we were attacked again, we would be without help.

I believe it is sinful for me to vote for GW. It would violate my conscience as a Catholic.

Check the link to Catholics for Dean out, and keep an open mind that there may be far more moral choices than GW Bush!


Catholic Church in Thailand Seeks to Strengthen Family Values

"In a country suffering from divorce, prostitution and poverty, bishops have decided to launch a year dedicated to the family and pro-life issues."


Priest Confesses to Abusing Child Between 1997 and 2001: Offers Insiders View of How He was Dealt With

The actual Headline of this story is Abused Teen Sues Diocese for $150M by Rita Ciolli, and it deals more with the current court proceedings in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Nevertheless, the intersting piece of the story to me was this:

Hands caused quite a stir last year when he gave Dowd a detailed sworn statement, hoping that his cooperation in his victim's case would help him get a more lenient sentence. In that extraordinary 138-page statement, Hands named names and provided an insider's view about how the diocese handled sex abuse cases. Hands said some abusers were shipped out of state in what was known as "The Florida Solution." Hands was also a key witness before the Suffolk grand jury that issued a stinging report in February 2003 detailing the cases of abusive priests and how the diocese protected them.
I sincerely hope that the Bishops have learned since 2001 that people like Hands cannot be shuffled around. The recent nature of this case, however, shows just how serious the problem could be. It remains possible that in time, truthful allegations will come forth for the period of time leading right up to the time the Charter of the Protection of Children was being drafted.


Statement of the Islamic-Catholic Liason Committee

Catholic and Islamic leaders came to agreement on 6 major points summarized below:

1) Because we, Christians and Muslims, believe in one God, we acknowledge that peace is a name of God, and that human dignity is a gift of Almighty God. We therefore appeal for continuous prayer for peace, and we affirm that justice and peace are the basis of relations and of interaction among human persons.
2) We appeal for an immediate end to all conflicts, including all forms of armed conflict, as well as all forms of aggression against the security and stability of peoples. We affirm the rights of peoples to self-determination, so that human life be spared, especially that of innocent people, children, women, the elderly and the disabled.
3) We appeal for the full respect for humanitarian law and for the rights of civilians, as well as those of prisoners, during armed conflict; and furthermore that no one be prevented form access to water, food, medicine, and medical care. We also appeal [for] the preservation of infrastructures, property, homes, trees, animals and all that is necessary for life. This appeal is based on common religious values and the need to uphold international conventions.
4) We appeal for respect for the sacred character of places of worship and for their protection in time of war and in peace, and for the right of worship to be upheld.
5) We affirm the right to religious freedom and the practice of our religions according to their particularities.
6) We are convinced that violence generates violence, and that this vicious circle should end. We declare that dialogue is the best way for treating conflicts and wars and for realizing justice and peace among human beings and societies, and therefore we encourage the development of the culture of dialogue.
Let us pray for continued dialogue between Catholics and Muslims.


VP Cheney Meets With Holy Father

It appears that the visit was cordial, and even included an exchange of gits. The Pope gave Cheney some Rosaries among other tokens.

The Holy Father did encourage Cheney to work to gain international cooperation in the rebuilding of Iraq, and refrained from overt criticism of the war. In months past, Pope John Paul II had criticized America's unilateral approach and challenged the international community to say no war. Other Vatican officials have sharply criticized the Bush doctine of "pre-emptive war".

However, it seems the Vatican is prepared to stop criticizing the war itself, and start looking forward to re-construction of Iraq and renewal of international ties. At this point, I think we have no other option.


Monday, January 26, 2004

Federal Judge Rules Portions of Patriot Act Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled that the Patriot Act contaisn language that violates the first and fifth amendments of the U.S. Constitution. By not properly distinguishing between rigthful expression of the freedom of speaach to encourage non-violaence, and wrongful encouragement to terrorists, the law is too vague.

The case involved a federal threat of 15 years in prison to those who stated that teh Kurds should engage in non-violent active resistance to Turkey.

Let me point something out to readers: I voted for Bush (and repent for this). I did so because I thought he was pro-life, and I expected his staff to reign him in on his more radical or ignorant tendencies. I am also a financial conservative who sometimes feared the idea of big government.

Bush is creating a police state - and the courts agree with me here. Bush is running up a huge deficit (see below). Bush has done nothing but paid lip service on abortion (3rd term abortions are rare to non-existent). Bush got us in an unjust war. Bush has re-instituted the federal death penalty. Unemployment is higher under Bush than under the Dems. Bush is wrecking the environment. Bush is turning back the clock on affirmative action. Bush's education plans could only come form someone lacking a good education (especially basic math). Bush has advisors who have turned out to be those who personaloly profit fromt he unjust war, were willing to lie to go to war, and who have no desire to reign in his ignorance or lunacy - they're crazier than he is!

We need regime change in the United States!


Bush Runs Federal Defecit Up to Nearly Half a Trillion: Blames Legislators

As election year approaches, Bush has run the federal defecit up to about $477 billion in 2004. I suppose that Republicans can take comfort that it isn't quite as bad as projections in August, which were $3B higher.

Bush blames Congress....I guess he forgot his own party controls them, and it's his job to lead the party.

I know there are other financial conservatives out there who have to be asking, "Is a vote for Bush really a vote for fiscal responsibility?"

Consider: Clinton created a budget surplus. Howard Dean has a track record of balanced budgets.

Of course, I oppose Bush for a lot of reasons: waging an unjust war, reinstatement of the federal death penalty, turnign our country into a police state through the Patriot Act, cutting vital social programs, wrecking the environment, and only paying lip service to the anti-abortion cause.

Yet, the economy was front and center of the last three or four elections. Unemployment is still high. Many Americans lack affordable health care, and Bush is giving tax cuts to the rich while running an expensive unjust war. To any fiscally responsible person, I continue to ask, how is this good for the economy????


Saturday, January 24, 2004

What if....?

I've been debating in private email with a reader who supports the SSPX. Anyone who has done this knows how exhausting this can be sometimes.

I got to thinking though about an article by John Allan that Todd at Catholic Sensibilities linked regarding proposed changes to the ICEL translation of the liturgy. Apparently, they are considering some roll backs in language to pre-Vatican II days. I find the proposals objectionable because they are from a too literal rendering of the Latin Mass, and the Latin was a poor translation of Aramaic thought.

(ie - "and with your spirit" instead of "and also with you" when the priest says "The Lord be with you" - implying matter/spirit dualism).

What if the hierarchy got so fed up with their loss of power since Vatican II that they actually tried to make us go back to the Latin Mass?

I was born in 1965, and have no memory of the Latin Mass. I've been to (approved) Latin Masses as an adult, and not found them as attractive as the Novus Ordo.

But what if the Latin Mass were forced on us 40 years after Vatican II, and everyone under 40 had this whole new experience of liturgy to deal with?

I know it sounds proposterous, but who would have guessed the proposed changes in ICEL were comming ten years ago?

Would you remain Catholic? Do you think it would cause a schism? What do you think would happen?


Amy Welborn Says Good Riddance to Gambling in Catholic Churches

My own comments in her comments box was as follows:

While I was in formation for priesthood with a Franciscan community, a large number of the Friars were against any form of gambling being used for our fund-raising.

Their reasoning was not unlike what people say above, plus a few arguments: we seemed to feed some gambling addicts, some gamblers were non-Catholic, it was scandalous to new Catholics, it wasn't good for ecumenical relations, Christian theology shouldn't imply a belief in superstitious luck, we shouldn't encourage materialism, and the events weren't always social, but turned competitive instead.

One Friar who had said that he opposed gambling in a homily had a story to tell.

He began by saying that could not say too much, for reasons that became obvious. A man had come to him in confession and after confessing some horrific things, the man said, "Father. If the Church doesn't have casino nights, my friends will, and you don't want that."

Right or wrong, that story pretty much ended the argument among the Friars.

I'm still not sure how I feel about it....


A Personality Test Specifically For Catholics

Thanks to Paul of for this interesting little quiz:

John Paul II
You are Pope John Paul II. You are a force to be
reckoned with.
Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I wonder what His Holiness would think to know that he and I supposedly test alike??


A Focus on the Bottom Line

A reader left some comments below questioning some statements I made on Bush's State of the Union Adress. I critiqued many things in Bush's speech, such as the unjust war in Iraq, the Patriot Act that strips our civil liberties, the specifics of his education plan, his ability to balance a budget,. etc....

However, the reader believes that Bush's tax cuts put more money into the hands of the people so that it can be put back into the economy. I offered a detailed response, but let me simplify it here to a bottom line question:

Are you better off personally than you were four years ago?

From June 1996 to Jan 2000, I managed to double my salary without switching jobs, make investments that were climbing, etc....

Since Jan 2000, I have only received one raise at that same company, despite the fact that my leaders say I am doing an excellent job that exceeds expectations. My stocks are darn near worthless. Some of my co-workers of years past are gone - they did not survive the downsizing.

I am a business person, and I understand some basic ecoomics. I presented my reader what I think are rational arguments why Bush's econmic plans do not add up, and why Clinton's did. But forget the complex argumentation.

I ask the reader and everyone else convinced of bush-o-nomics, are you, personally, better off today than you were four years ago?

There is an important follow-up question that needs to be asked to keep the survey fair.

If the answer is "yes", did you earn more or less than $200,000 when Bush took office?


Powell Admits Iraq May Have Had No WMD's

Let's face the facts folks....the war with Iraq was an injustice. As we approach the season of Lent (five weeks from now), let American Catholics pray over how we will do penance for our injustice. (Voting against Bush would be a huge sign to the world of our sincerity).


India Kashmir Police to Release Political Prisoners

In a gesture of peace with Pakistan, India has agreed to release 18 political prisoners. Let us pray that the peace process between these two nuclear powers continues to progress.


Friday, January 23, 2004

Should Dennis Kucinich be Given More of a Hearing?

I was listening to a Democratic debate between all the primary candidates last night on a late news show. I couldn't sleep, and I haven't made up my mind yet who I will vote for - other than that it will not be Bush.

In the worse case, I will write my own name before voting for Bush (and my real name is not "jcecil3", so if you want me as President, please write Joe Cecil and then specify jcecil3 in parenthesis so that we can show who you meant).

All the candidates spoke well, and I agreed with many points by all the candidates. Indeed, other than abortion, there was nothing with which I strongly disagreed.

However, I was surprised to find Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton were making the most sense to me!

The front runners are Kerry, Edwards, Dean and Clark. I hardly hear or read about the others, while Kerry, Clark and Dean are all over the news.

Are people being too swayed by looks?

While we ponder that question, I decided to go to Dennis Kucinich's Website today to check him out more seriously.

He voted against the war in Iraq for very good reasons, while Kerry, Edwards, and Lieberman supported the war. I hold this against the latter three, and when you throw in that they are pro-choice, despite some good points, they weren't winning my heart yet.

Clark opposed the war in Iraq, is Catholic, and came across much more politically savvy than the press gives him credit for being. I'm going to be watching him. However, he is another pro-choice candidate. Same goes for Dean - some great points, but so insistently pro-choice.

So this left Kucinich. Kucinich is from my home state, and I remember when he was mayor of Cleveland. He came across last night as very intelligent, and I agreed with every word he said, and he was far more detailed in his answers without being too complex.

So I got to wondering how he feels about abortion. According to his site: "I do not believe in abortion. I do, however, believe in choice. I have always believed in the goal of reducing the need for abortions."

OK. I know that pro-life purists will not be satisfied with this response, and I'm not 100 percent satisfied. But I am 100 percent dissatisfied with G.W.Bush, who isn't likely to do more about abortion than he has already done. Besides, Bush re-instituted the federal death penalty, which also contributes to the culture of death, and he waged an unjust war!

Could it be that Dennis Kucinich is the candidate for progressive Catholics who wish to vote on pure principle, regardless of electibility?

Of course, this raises the whole issue of whether we vote in part for whoever will beat Bush, or whether we vote for the candidate we most agree with regardless.

Kucinich is a vegan and advocate of the Department of Peace and a chariperson of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He is passionate about education, health care, workers, and the environment. I haven't read every one of his positions yet, but I'm liking much of what I read so far. Check him out.


Amy Welborn Reminds us to Tell the Whole Truth When Critiquing the Church

After doing an excellent job of explaining the motive and goals of those who critique Church leadership or seek reform in the Church, even with brutally honest and sometimes harsh words, Amy Wellborn reminds us just reason to remember to tell the whole truth:

Now, onto the other side. There is a legitimate concern by some of the only story being told about the Church is the sad, tragic, negative one. They want to make sure that the whole picture is presented, and done so consistently. There are good bishops, many good priests, and countless holy lay people. Doing the work of Christ. They want to make sure that in the truth-telling about the sinners, the saints are not obscured.
Amen Amy. In light of the post I made below, let me say that there are good bishops, and despite my disagreements with him over women's ordination, married priests, and some other issues, I think the Holy Father is generally a pretty good leader as I defined leadership below. Maybe he could listen to opposing arguments just a tad more, but considering he could use excommunications and threats and chooses not to, he's better and more liberal than most prior Popes.


An Interesting Blast From the Past

Ed at Iron Knee posted this article by Daniel Callahan that was published in The Atlantic in April of 1967.

The article is about the U.S. Bishops and the lack of authentic leadership they display.

I was just appraoching two years old at the time of original publication.

It is interesting to note that most of what progressive laity cared about at the time is now considered middle of the road and even "traditional" Catholicism.

For example, few conservative Catholics today would consider desegragation of schools to be a purely "progressive" cause that could get one labeled a heretic by laity - and we would be shocked if a moderate to conservatively liberal Bishop today silenced a priest speaking out against racial discrimination. Yet, in 1967, laity were calling such priests heretics, and moderate to conservatively liberal Bishops were silencing them!

I would invite today's "middle of the road" to conservative laity to consider that we might draw a correlation to homosexuals today.

The Bishops continue to cater to the same groups of Catholics outlined in this article, and the progressives continue to respond in the same manner. Will the progressives be as effective today as we were on issues of race?

Only history will tell.

It is uncanny how little has changed, and how prophetic Callahan was in predicting the consequences of the intransigence of Bishops. Callahan accurately predicted a sharp drop in vocations, and even made a gentle warning to the Bishops that they might see a mass exodus of priests from active priesthood.

Remember that in 1967, the decline in vocations had only just begun. Few people expected the trend to continue for 37 years, or to assume the global proportion it has. Furthermore, even Callahan did not quite believe the mass exodus of priests that occurred in the 1970's would really happen, though he saw it could happen.

What is even more uncanny is that Callahan accurately predicted the Bishops' response to such things.

Not long from now, though, he may believe it [that he needs to change, which he does not yet believe]? When he discovers one day he can't fill parish vacancies, does not have enough manpower to cover educational, social, or military chaplaincies, and finds on his desk a pile of requests from his priests asking that they be allowed to return to the lay state. If he is truly a child of the system which made him a bishop, he will doubtless be tempted to explain away the facts before his eyes as symptomatic of worldliness creeping into the Church, as a sign of the corruption wrought by an unwise zeal for reform, as the final pernicious result of meddlesome laymen and disloyal priests venting their hostility toward authority. He well might, in other words, interpret his troubles only as a sign of the essential wisdom of his intransigence, and see his own God-given duty as that of holding on to the good and the true in the face of the anti-Christ. The attraction of this stance, with its flavor of holy martyrdom, should not be underestimated. It was a favorite among the conservative minority at the Council, as one vote after another went against them. It could well spread among the American bishops as their difficulties mount.
Of course, the one thing that Callahan, nor anyone else outside the hierarchy could anticipate in 1967 was the sex abuse crisis.

Callahan pointed out in '67 how the Bishops had sort of struck a deal with a huge number of Catholics in the middle that they would require very little from the laity if the laity required very little from them.

It wasn't that Bishops were "immoral" or even racists. Callahan demonstrates that many Bishops were somewhat liberal in private. But the Bishops do not like confrontation, were not passionate about their own beliefs, were trained ina culture that prized docility, may have been lazy in some cases, and for a host of reasons chose not act.

Progressives were having a hard time convincing the great middle majority of Catholics that race, poverty, worker's rights, Vietnam, and so forth were important moral issues that demanded a mass change of attitude. They sought help from the Bishops.

The Bishops could not really be attacked by progressives for thier lack of support for progressive causes because they were men perceived to be of high personal moral integrity. He could afford to say nothing, and the great masses would support him in his position so long he never challenged them too greatly.

This is no longer true.

Today, middle of the road to conservative Catholics are disgusted by the cover up of child sexual abuse in which numerous Bishops participated. The last line of defense for the intransigent Bishop has been stripped away. If he does not exercise leadership, people will be angry, and people will sue!

Of course, the fact that Bishops are sinners does not make progressives right (or conservatives for that matter). However, it does make the Bishops vulnerable if they do not change some fundamental ways of acting. I think even conservatives will agree with this assesment in high-level principle, if not in my particular applications.

The fundamental problem is that Bishops do not understand what real leadership and real authority is.

A true leader is one who sees where the people are going, and runs ahead, and then stops to help those behind avoid pitfalls on the way.

We speak in Church circles of "servant leaders", and it's a good concept, but even liberals can soften it too much. A leader is a servant who serves by giving direction.

Leaders challenge people, but not in an effort to hold status and power given by another. Rather, when a leader does challenge people, it is to bring out the best in those being challenged. A leader uses power to empower others!

The point is that leadership involves taking risks!

A leader takes a risk to run ahead of others alone. A leader takes a risk of ticking another person off when he or she says, "Don't go that way, you'll fall into a hole." A leader takes a risk in listening to others enough to gather the information to make a decision - his or her own mind might be changed, and this is risky. A leader takes a risk because she or he may need to correct peers or those who hold higher positions, and that can have repurcussions.

What distinguishes a leader is that she or he acts on conviction and belief, and Bishops cannot sit around anymore keeping their convictions to themselves.

Whether challenging racism or homophobia (progressive causes), or challenging pornography (a conservative cause), the Bishops must have the courage to be confrontational. This courage extends not simply downward, but side to side and upwards.

A leader will truly and actively listen to others. This is part of discerning where we need to go. At the same time, a leader has the courage to say, "I hear what you are saying, and I understand your position to be....and I respectfully disagree because of...."

For example, there are Bishops who do not believe that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was infallible. Cardinal Mahoney implied as much when the sex scandals broke out. He stated to the secular press that when he went to Rome, he would ask the Pope whether married clergy and women priests might be part of the solution.

Yet, I have never Mahoney publically state that Oridnatio Sacerdotalis should not be considered infallible for such and such reasons, and consideration of women's ordination is important for this and that reason. If he has privately challenged the Pope, good for him, and I commend the fact that he said something even if it was little! I wonder if he has done enough though....

What's bothers me even more is that I am sure he is not alone in believing that OS is not infallible, and nobody else is even implying their opinion!

Any Bishop who feels women could (or should) be ordained and hasn't said so, either to the Pope, or to his peers, or to the public, is not acting as a leader. He is acting as a follower.

Take the issue of homosexuality. Anyone who has been in priestly formation or priestly life knows there are gay bishops - and lots of them. They aren't a small minority. I would venture to say that it would not surprise me in the least if half the bishops might be homosexually oriented. Why aren't these men or their more liberal heterosexual peers speaking out against the more ludicrous accusations of some of their peers who are giving the middle of the road to conservative laity what they want to hear?

On the sex abuse issue, a recent audit found the Bishops compliance at about 90 percent. Why isn't this 90 percent putting a ton of pressure on the remaining 10 percent to get their act together, and why isn't there any Bishop suggesting the next steps to do even better than they have done over the last two years to rectify the problem. The Bishops appear to be in a hurry to just get past this and get back to the way things used to be.

Things should never return to the way they used to be when it comes to the sex abuse scandal!

But aren't all Christians, and particularly those in priesthood, called to humility and obedience? Aren't I encouraging disunity, pride and dissent that leads to sin?

Of course humility is a virtue, and humility is expressed in an openess to conversion - a constant openess to change. A leader really listens to all points of view (humility), and then, a leader becomes a catalyst for change!

This is not pride if the leader truly hears all sides, faces difficulty honestly, and enlist the help of others to effect change. Sometimes, a little "disunity" is necessary in the short term in order for the the truth to emerge from the couldron of conflict.

Our primary obedience is due to God when it comes to moral issues, and these are moral issues. The time and place for humility and docility before legitimate "positional" authority is when those in authority are not requiring you to violate your own conscience.

As Callahan pointed out in 1967, many of the American Bishops were known to be liberals behind the closed doors of the Vatican Council proceedings. It is their inability to translate what they believe into public action that displays a lack of leadership!

Callahan shows how the institutional structure of the current selection process to episcopacy actually works to ensure that good leaders are not selected. The system is designed to ensure that docile followers make it to the top as long as they are good fund raisers.

Well, the Church does need good fund raisers, but she also needs leaders!

The role of a bishop in the New Testament or early Church is that of leadership - not fund raising. Callahan demonstrates that the current state was not always the way things were - even in the American Church. John Carroll was a better leader than today's crew!

Let lay people be hired to do good fund raising and administration, and let's get some real leaders with vision and courage in the episcopacy!

Until we do, all the trends Callahan forsaw 37 years ago will continue.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

Disputations on the Pope's Comments on the Mel Gibson Movie on the Passion

For some reason, there are 32 comments and climbing at Tom's sight. The Pope seems to have said "it is as it was" to a secretary in regards to Mel Gibson's The Passion. The Vatican later denied he said such a thing, and controversy is brewing over who's telling the truth, why, and does it matter....


Condensed Version of the State of the Union Address and the Democratic Response

Nick summarizes the President in three sentences, and the Dems in two sentences per speaker. It's a bit easier to read than my own commentary on The State of the Union.


Please Pray For a Greater Respect For Life in the United States

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen!


The Enneagram: Another Personality Quiz

I never thought much of the Enneagram, but it was popular in religious communities back in the 1990's while I was in formation for priesthood with the Franciscans.

Here are my results for those curious to know me better who believe in this stuff. These particular descriptions do not seem far off the mark:

Conscious self
Overall self
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test



On the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I am recycling my article on my thoughts about abortion. I am pro-life and this position influences my vote. I offer reasons for this potion based on non-religious arguments, as well religious arguments - clearly distinguishing each.

At the same time, I offer some critique of the pro-life movement, such as bishops telling politicians how to do their job, and violent tactics. I offer some different strategies for those who are pro-life that I believe would be more effective than some of our failures. I also emphasize the mercy of God that can bring healing to women who experience post abortion.

For those persons who do experience negative feelings about a past abortion, I also recommend Project Rachael as a source of finding healing, comfort, support and grace.


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The State of the Union

This is the latest article posted to my homepage and is a commentary on the transcript of G.W.'s state of the union address last night.

It's been a very busy day for me, and this is sort of rushed as of right now. I'll be going back to edit later.

On the same note, I have had much time to read the news or other blogs I have some catching up to do....


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

John Kerry Takes Iowa Primary by Storm

Catholic Democratic candidate, Senator, John Kerry, came out from behind to take the Iowa primary in a surprise upset. Senator, John Edwards, finished in a close second with the front running Dr. Howard Dean finishing third with less than a third of the vote.

For those unfamiliar with Kerry's stance on the issues, his web-site can be accessed Here.

Personally, I am dissapointed by Kerry's support for the war in Iraq and his stance on abortion, but he has Catholic support on many other social issues - especially from women's religious communities (ie - nuns and congregations of sisters). A week ago, I thought he did not stand a chance of being elected, but Iowa has proved that he can garner the vote.


Monday, January 19, 2004

In Honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Another blogger printed the entire text of King's speech from the Lincoln Memorial as well as some academic research.



I apologize to readers who have left comments in the past.. It seems to the conversion to HaloScan has unfortunately lead to deletion of prior comments - not due to HaloScan, but due to Blogspeak did not accurately track them......


Friday, January 16, 2004

The Big Five Personality Test....

Thanks to Steven Riddler for this test. There is a longer advanced, and a shorter test. The advanced test results provide further detail within each area, but would take up too much space here (and are probably none of your business anyway). Below are my results on the shorter version, which were confirmed overall on the more advanced version of the Big Five.

The Big Five Personality Test
Extroverted|||||||||||||| 52%
Introverted |||||||||||| 48%
Friendly |||||||||||||||||| 72%
Aggressive |||||| 28%
Orderly |||||||||||||||| 62%
Disorderly |||||||||| 38%
Relaxed |||||||||||||||| 64%
Openminded |||||||||||||||| 68%
Closeminded |||||||||| 32%
Take Free Big 5 Personality Test

The explanation provided by the testers is in bold font, with some observations by me in regular font:

Extroversion results were medium which suggests you are moderately talkative, optimistic, sociable and affectionate.

The opposite trait is introversion in this test. On the MBTI, I come out INTJ, meaning I am more energized by introverted activity than extroverted activity (like blogging).

On the advanced "Big Five", my Extroversion was slightly lower at 48%, and the description remained the same. My "I" score was always low on the MBTI, but not so close to the middle as this test.

This test seems to measure some different traits of introversion-extroversion than the MBTI. Traits measures within this polarity are sociability, gregariousness, activity level, excitement seeking, assertiveness and cheerfulness. I am highest on sociability, and lowest on excitement seeking and assertiveness.

Friendliness results were high which suggests you are very good natured, trusting, and helpful but possibly too much of a follower.

The Advanced test gave the same description and scored friendliness slightly lower at 66%. The polar opposite is defined as aggression. I am not a very aggressive person.

As a Manager at work, I am forced to act agressively in ways that stretch my personality. In other words, what I can do, and what I want to do are two different things.

That's why they have to pay me to do it!

But the stretch is also good growth that not only helps me, but the team and the organization.

Orderliness results were moderately high which suggests you are organized, reliable, neat, and ambitious but possibly not very spontaneous and fun.

The advanced version scored me a little higher at 66%. I am a "J" on the MBTI as well. The description is accurate as heck!

The opposite trait is disorderly.

Emotional Stability results were moderately high which suggests you are relaxed, calm, secure, unemotional but possibly too unobservant of your feelings.

Again, the description was the same for the Advanced test. I scored a 64% on the advanced test, which was slightly lower.

The warning that I may be unobservant of my feelings came out in psychological tests during seminary as well. The testing contrast is between relaxed and emotional.

Openmindedness results were moderately high which suggests you are creative, original, curious, imaginative but possibly not very practical.

Well, isn't this description obvious to any reader? I had the same description on the advanced test, with a score of 64%. The opposite trait is close-mindedness.

Overall (of the Big 5 factors), you scored highest on Friendliness and lowest on Extroversion.


I finally Figured Out the Comments Problem...

The Blogspeak service was acquired by HaloScan (which I think I will like better anyway). HaloScan is more familiar to most bloggers anyway, and I only hesitated to switch for fear of losing old comments.

The good news is that HaloScan seems to say they will be converting my old comments over into their system. So don't panic if you left me some insightful comment in the past!

A big bonus to HaloScan in my mind will be that comments will now read top to bottom oldest to newest, which makes more sense. Like I say, I only avoided the conversion earlier for fear of losing stuff.

The conversion should be complete by tonight according to the HaloScan web sight.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

Can Outsiders Be Insiders, by Father Peter Stravinskas

Mark Shea originally posted this article to his blog today, and I thought it was a worthwhile article for three reasons:

1) It deals primarily with salvation outside the Church and defends the possibility (and probability).

2) It deals secondarily with how doctrine develops, which is the entire point "progressives" try to drive home.

3) It gives a positive reference to Father Francis Sullivan, and Stravinsky seems popular with the conservative Catholic bloggers. In turn, Sullivan is the author who has helped me the most to work through the issues I raise on infallibility and authority on my homepage.


My Comments Function is Acting Up Again!!!

It seems to be slowing down response time too.....


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Andrew Greeley Slams Younger Priests

In the current issue of The Atlantic, Father Andrew Greeley writes as a priest and sociologist (he does have a doctorate in sociology) about the growing conservatism among younger clergy. Greeley blames the clergy as a whole, and younger priests in particular, for the growth of lapsed Catholics - the second largest religion in America next to active Catholics!

Greeley states "Older priests today often complain that their younger colleagues are arrogant, pompous, and rigid, and that they love to parade around in clerical dress."

Greeley is pessimistic for the future of American Catholicism with this new breed, but I see hope in his statistics.

Considering that the average age of priests is in the fifities, if Greeley's statistics are accurate, well over half the clergy in America believe women should be ordained, priests should be permitted to marry, contraception is not always a sin, and homosexuality is not always wrong. Even among the younger priests, the minority that hold these views is a sizable minority - from 36 percent to half on any given issue!

And consider this....the oldest group, those aged sixty-five to seventy-five, are more liberal than today's youth, and these men were trained in the Pre-Vatican II era and have had plenty of hierarchical encouragement to remain conservative.

What this tells me is that like parents, priests mellow with age and experience. As the oldest of nine children, I know my youngest sister was not disciplined as strictly as I was, and my parents would be the first to admit it! It appears priests also learn to lighten up.

An even more hopeful trend to consider is that our future bishops have to come from the current pool of ordained men - who seem, as a whole, to be liberal. Bishops will usually be chosen from the middle aged group in Greeley's study - the most liberal generation of all.

With the statistics Greeley sites, there is a better than fifty percent chance that liberals will become bishops, or be influential classmates and friends of more conservative bishops.

Indeed, Ed of Iron Knee has often argued that he thinks the majority of bishops are already privately liberal. He bases his argument on the fact that he went to seminary at the same time as our current bishops, and the generation was liberal.

Despite his pessimism, Greeley is providing statistical evidence that, contrary to conservative wishes, the Church is well on her way to liberal reform.

As a seminary professor of mine used to say to the more conservative students: "Vatican II was a freight train, and the train has already left the tracks. There's no turning back, no matter how hard you try."


More on Contraception v. NFP

I was checking out the new blogs on Gerard's List, and came across

Paul seems to be archiving weekly, and does not have a permalinks to each post yet. He wrote (or norrowed) the following analogy on January 9, 2004 to explain why contraception is wrong compared to natural family planning:

An anonymous commenter at Amy Welborn's blog has offered this brilliant analogy showing the moral difference between contraception and NFP.
"Imagine a local symphony that is funded solely by its patrons, and each patron therefore has an obligation to support the symphony, at least insofar as he is able. The symphony performs some concerts that are free and open to the public; it performs other concerts that are by paid admission only.
"If one patron (let's call him "Nat") goes only to the free concerts and has a good reason for doing so (e.g., he can't afford to pay), no one would claim he was doing anything wrong. He would be complying with his duty to support the symphony insofar as he is able, while at the same time taking advantage of the symphony's benefits on the terms they were offered to him. If, however, another patron (let's call him "Art") goes to one of the paid-admission concerts but avoids paying by sneaking in, he does do something morally wrong, even if he does it for the same reason that Nat attends only the free concerts (i.e., he can't afford to pay). Putting aside the consequentialist arguments that differentiate Art from Nat (e.g., if a lot of people sneaked in, the symphony might go out of business), Art's actions are distinguishable because, by their very nature, they are a rejection of the symphony's stated policies and represent a statement by Art that he will dictate the terms on which he will enjoy the symphony. Art, in short, refuses to listen to the symphony's imperatives and listens instead to a law only unto himself.
"The Church's distinction between contraception and periodic abstinence is, I think, analogous. God offers us the gift of sexuality on certain terms: sex results in pregnancy on some days during a woman's reproductive cycle; on other days it does not. If we have a just reason to avoid pregnancy and choose to have sex only on the infertile days, we comply with those terms in a way that we do not when we use contraception, which overrides God's basic terms of sexuality and assumes for ourselves the right to have sex whenever we want with only the consequences we desire."
My response is as follows:

The analogy fails to make sense of the contraception debate because there is no inuitively obvious connection between concert attendence and sexual relations - between financial ethics, and sexual ethics. But to use the analogy by extending it, maybe we can understand the other side:

Nat only goes to the free concerts and is acting rightly. This is more like a single man who dates, but does not have sexual relations with those he dates.

Art sneaks in to the symphony when he is supposed to pay. Art is like a fornicator.

Meanwhile, Ted goes to some of the paid admission concerts, and some of the free concerts, but he does not go to all concerts. He is the married man using NFP.

There's another guy, call him Bob, who goes to all concerts anytime he wants, and he pays for the privalege. This is the married man using contraception. He's also a big donor (ie - married catholic very involved in the Church in other ways).


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Yet another quizz......

My life is rated PG-13.
What is your life rated?


NCR's John Allen Explains Differing Worldviews Between the Vatican and the Bush Administration

The link above will take you to a full length feature article for the January 16 cover story for the National Catholic Reporter. In his weekly Word From Rome, Mr. allen summarizes the key points as follows:

Preventive War: The Bush administration believes that since the primary threat today comes from terrorist organizations, you can't wait for formal declarations of war, or even traditional threats such as troops massing on one's borders, before taking action. The Holy See believes that a State has the right to use force only in clear cases of self-defense. Otherwise, "preventive war" is a euphemism for aggression.
International Law: The Vatican believes in a robust system of international law to ensure the strong do not impose their will on the weak, while the United States has long been ambivalent about features of the international legal system such as the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the Bush administration believes some aspects of international law are not adequate to the challenges posed by terrorism.
The United Nations: The United States sees the U.N. as a forum for cooperation among sovereign states, but not as an organization whose blessing is mandatory before action can be taken. The Vatican seeks a U.N. with teeth to ensure that globalization works for the common good, and to ensure that all nations participate democratically in framing of global policies.
The U.S. Role in the World: The Vatican is an advocate of multi-lateralism, in part because it's leery of a world dominated by Washington. Some Vatican thinkers believe that American culture - which they see as individualistic, hyper-capitalistic, and dualistic - leaves something to be desired as a vehicle for Roman Catholic anthropology and social ethics.
To me, the Vatican position simply makes more sense. I can't help feeling that any rational person, and especially a Catholic, should not be siding with the Vatican on the war in Iraq. On this issue, I can be more conservative than the conservative American Catholics. The war in Iraq violated just war principles, and we need to seek international help to resolve the mess we made.


Monday, January 12, 2004

How Avoiding Sin Can Lead to Sin

This is my latest article added to my homepage.

This article is prompted by a couple of emails I received this last weekend. Volume was lower than normal, but pretty diverse.

I received these emails from such divergent people as the following:

- A new Catholic encouraging me because she shared many of the same questions I do, especially regarding contraception.

- Another reader who said I breed confusion and detract from the Church's ability to issue moral challenge, especially in regards to contraception.

- A member of the SSPX or some other Latin Mass loving group who claims the Novus Ordo is illegitimate.

- A gay Catholic and regular reader forwarding information for possible future posts.

I think this article addresses the concerns of the second reader more than others, but all should find something of use here if I wrote clearly enough. Let me know what you think.


WaPo Article: Study Published by Army Criticizes War on Terror's Scope

The article by Thomas E. Ricks states:

A scathing new report published by the Army War College broadly criticizes the Bush administration's handling of the war on terrorism, accusing it of taking a detour into an "unnecessary" war in Iraq and pursuing an "unrealistic" quest against terrorism that may lead to U.S. wars with states that pose no serious threat.
The report, by Jeffrey Record, a visiting professor at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, warns that as a result of those mistakes, the Army is "near the breaking point."
Our troops are unnecessarily in harms way so that the Bush administration can pursue its unjust doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive war. Even our military recognizes the futility of the Bush doctrine on war. Why do conservative Catholics continue to support this action that makes no sense to our religious leaders, and no sense to our military leadership?


Saturday, January 10, 2004

Bush Seems to Have Planned War With Iraq During First Days in Office

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill charges in a new book that President Bush was planning war with Iraq in his first days in office - long before the events of September 11!

Just yesterday, I posted my thoughts on Powell's admission that there was no "smoking gun" when he presented trumped up evidence to the U.N. Security Council that Iraq had WMD's (see yesterday's passionate post).

O'Neill also claims in his new book that Bush was "despondant" over economic matters - which should cause financial conservatives some concern. Who is really running the economy?

But the economy is a side issue....

It is now well known that Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney belonged to a think tank called PNAC that advised war with Iraq as early as 1997 in order to establish U.S. supremecy over the emerging European Union. I have posted links prior to the war to prove this in the past.

The thought was that through control of Iraq's oil, France and Germany could be held in line (no wonder they resisted us). As an added bonus, we learned that Halliburton oil - Dick Cheney's company - would profit from the war, and Bush could settle a vendetta over threats to his father's life.

How can any Catholic argue today that what happenned in Iraq was not evil by Catholic moral principles????

Don't get me wrong....Saddam Hussein was no saint. Neither is Kaddafi or Castro, Putin, Jiang Zemin, Eyadema, Kim Jong Il or even Musharref and a host of other world leaders that the United States is not attacking.

What I am arguing is not that these others are some sort of saints. I am saying Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz seem to be playing the same game by the same rules on par with the rest of the world's leaders, and Americans seem utterly blind to this - or we simply do not care!

We are being lead by despotic men with no regard for human life or Godly justice. Sadly, so few people care and so few people are informed enough that the "powers that be" seem to know they can let people like me speak the blatant truth and it won't be listened to!

May the Lord have mercy on this nation!


Thanks to Father Jim Tucker for Yet Another Quizz. Which Greek God Are You????


?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

This seems a fairly accurate description, though I have been developing the leadership aspect at work over the past few years....


Holy Father Urges Respect for the Mentally Handicapped

"Handicapped people," reads the message, "even when they have mental limitations or sensorial and intellectual handicaps, are completely human subjects with the sacred and inalienable rights due to every human creature. . Only when the rights of the weakest members of a society are recognized can a society say that it is founded on law and justice."
The Holy Father emphasizes that "a society that only gives space to its fully functioning members who are totally autonomous and independent, is not a society worthy of man. Discrimination based on efficiency is no less condemnable than discrimination based on race, sex or religion."


Friday, January 09, 2004

Powell Admits There Was No "Smoking Gun" in Iraq

This should cause grave concern to U.S. Catholics who supported the war based on the premise that Iraq was an immanent threat due to possession of WMD's. Powell also admitted that there were and are no definitive ties between Iraq and Al Queda!

We fought an unprovoked war of aggression against a soveriegn nation that was not an immanent threat to our security!

We did this under the pretense of enforcing international law, though we were completely without international support!

This war killed thousands of civilians and left the entire region unstable for what will likely be decades!

We did this with no solid plan for nation building afterward, and there were voices (including my own) saying we cannot go to war without a plan to rebuild!

Those who initiated the war profited from the war (i.e. - Halliburton and Dick Cheney)!

Now...., Those who planned the war began those plans years ago, and seem to say now that they knew that the case against Iraq was overstated.

Saddam may have been an evil dictator, but this is true of many leaders - North Korea, Togo, and even China come to mind. And as evil as Saddam was, if the U.S. were to pull out of Iraq now, there would be huge bloodshed between Sunni's, Shiites and Kurds, with possible intervention from Iran or Syria, which nobody wants. For all his faults, Saddam held the country together!

Those Catholics who argue that the war is justified in hindsight by the fact that Saddam was an evil dictator need to consider that in Catholic moral theology, the ends do not justify the means.

The Holy Father reiterated this in January 1 message on peace, where he also condemned the use of unilateral force - a clear reference to the U.S. invasion without U.N. support! This was said by the Holy Father prior to the invasion on multiple occassions. The Pope obviously thinks the U.S. did wrong!

I am not trying to justify despotism and tyranny, and I am not trying to downplay the fact that Saddam probably violated human rights, and gravely so. However, the way to correct this is probably best done through international institutions - as was done in Kosovo to remove Milosovich. I'd like to think that there is even a non-violent solution to resisting evil, as we saw with Ghandi.

We spurned international cooperation in resolving problems and human rights abuses in Iraq.

Instead, the leaders of the United States decided to act deceptively with the people of America and the global community in order to wage a war that violated every principle of just war doctrine.

Catholic leaders the world over warned against this - and I joined them by writing the President, my legislators, and through web debates and protests prior to the war. I do not say this to toot my own horn, but to point out that we cannot hide behind the excuse that nobody could have forseen all of this. People did forsee it - and those people (ie - the Pope and bishops) are the very people supporters of the war often claim we should obey!

The tragedy of 9-11 was awful and unjust. We are rightly angered by what happened, and rightly fearful for our future. Yet, these emotions do not justify violating the eternal principles of right moral behavior!

I am not criticizing the brave women and men in uniform who are serving duty in Iraq. The soldiers are not necessarily responsible for the decisions of their leaders. It may be admirable if any of them chose to conscienciously object to this war, but the responsibility for the war ultimately rests with the Bush adminstration and its supporters among voters. I support our troops and want them to come as quickly and safely as possible. Regarding the adminstration, it may be time for regime change in the United States!

American Catholics who supported the war in Iraq need to wake up. The war was wrong - plain and simple.

What do we do about it now?

That's a tough question, and I am not in favor of full withdrawal. The opposing ethnic groups in Iraq will kill one another, and terrorism would rise!

When we sin as individuals, we know that to get out of the cycle of sin, we need to confess our sin, apologize, ask for the help of God, and try to make retribution if possible. When we get into addicitions to sin, we need to ask for help from other people as well.

I would argue that the same thing needs to happen collectively.

We Americans - as a people - need to confess to God and the world that we messed up - even sinfully so. We need to ask God for help. We need to apologize to the world community. And we need to admit that we are in a situation resembling an addicition. We need to ask for international help us break the cycle of violence we created!

And since we have ticked the rest of the world off already, asking for help needs to take the form of some serious groveling!

I don't see any other way out of this mess.


The Curt Jester Offers a Good Laugh

I don't usually agree with Jeff, but I find him humerous much of the time.