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Divine Mercy Sunday, The Crown of Our Easter Celebration

by Dr.  Tom Neal via WordonFire.org


This final Day of the Easter Octave, named Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope John Paul II in 2000, is a “hermeneutical crown” of the eight-day-long celebration of that Eighth and final Day of creation.

Hermeneutical? The word simply means “interpretive,” or the science of discovering meaning. Hence, I mean that this feast of Mercy really gets to the core of Easter’s true meaning.


Mercy, as I intend it here, is love encountering evil and overcoming it, healing it, redeeming it and raising out of its ruins surpassing goods that could never have been apart from these evils. Though God never positively wills an evil, He permits evil only in view of the greater goods He might draw from them. And it is mercy that sustains the mysterious logic of the felix culpa, the “happy fault” of Adam that we sing of in the Exultet at the Easter Vigil.

The whole economy of God’s work in Jesus is at heart a work of mercy, with the Passion being the inner core of that heart. In the Resurrection, God the Father accepted his Son’s sacrifice as a new and eternal mode of God’s being God: in the heart of the eternal Trinity is forever the risen Body of Jesus ever-marked with the signs of the Passion. God now, only and for all ages, relates to creation through the open wounds of the Risen Christ.

To me, this is utterly astonishing to ponder: God’s mode of being-God — etched in His flesh — is forged by mercy’s response to human hatred and cruelty. This is the message embedded in the icon of Divine Mercy revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska.

Eucharistic Chaplet

It’s also the meaning of the “Chaplet of Mercy” that St. Faustina received from God in a vision. The Chaplet is an offering of the Slain-Risen Lord to the Father — by His priestly people — asking the Father to be who he has shown himself to be in Christ: Mercy. As such, the Chaplet is an extension of the liturgical-sacramental offering of the same Slain-Risen Lord that is the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

To see this, one need only reflect on the words of Eucharistic Prayer I that follow the Consecration: “…we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation…”

In this sense, I have always found the Chaplet to be a superb way to prepare for, and extend forward the celebration of the holy Eucharist into life. It shapes in me a deeper awareness of my sharing in Christ’s royal priesthood through Baptism. This priesthood calls me to — at every moment — offer both my own life as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1) for the life of the world, and to offer the living sacrifice of Christ Himself.

A number of years ago, this insight — like lightning — flashed in my mind during the per ipsum at Mass. The per ipsum is the moment, at the end of the long Eucharistic prayer after the Consecration, when the priest lifts up the Host and Chalice toward the Father and prays,

Through him, and with him, and in him,

O God, almighty Father,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all glory and honor is yours,

for ever and ever.

On behalf of all and for all, the priest offers up God to God, the Son to the Father, and the faithful, united to the Son in His self-offering, seal their co-offering by a solemn and oath-making  “great Amen.” As we were singing thrice the great Amen, I understood with what seemed like absolute clarity this Amen was our co-pronouncing with Christ His tetelestaiconsummatum est, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I also saw in that moment that our “Amen” was also our consenting “we are able”:

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized…”

That “cup” and “baptism” are, of course, references to his Passion.



The Chaplet, as a para-liturgical devotion, sustains the moment of our liturgical “great Amen.” It affirms the staggering truth that in Christ we have the authority to — at any moment we choose — apply the infinite treasury of God’s mercy to the world. And the sobering truth that we are willing to join Jesus in His self-offering.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

It causes me to tremble. May He who is Risen to forever intercede for us before His Father sustain us daily in fidelity by His grace.

The Holy Cardinal Who Died in a Prostitute’s Home

by Joanna Bogle via CatholicHerald.co.uk


At last Cardinal Jean Daniélou is beginning to be honoured as he should be

In a way, it was a form of posthumous martyrdom: the once distinguished Jesuit dying in humiliating circumstances, on an errand of mercy, his reputation in tatters and his Jesuit confrères unwilling to offer any defence of his actions.

Cardinal Jean Daniélou was a Prince of the Church who had spent the first part of his priestly life seeking to renew and restore an authentic understanding of the riches of the Church Fathers and the need for a return to these sources of theology.

He was part of the ressourcement group – with Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar and the young Joseph Ratzinger – who had a profound and valuable influence at the Second Vatican Council. The older among them, including Daniélou, had suffered considerably in earlier years, as their exploration of the writings of the early Fathers challenged the standard Neo-Thomism of the day. Absolutely orthodox in their beliefs, they were regarded by some as dangerous Modernists and by others simply as tiresome individuals whose call for a fresh sense of mission and evangelisation was surely unnecessary.

Publishing patristic texts in a series, Sources Chrétiennes, in the 1940s, Daniélou and de Lubac opened up the Church Fathers to a new generation, an approach to theology offering a rediscovery of treasures. Joseph Ratzinger, a peritus (adviser) at Vatican II 20 years later, described the sense of vigour and hope that accompanied the debates in Rome: a recognition of the Church’s glorious truths for which the world was aching.

But then came the betrayal, of which Daniélou spoke in a Vatican Radio interview in 1972: “A false interpretation of Vatican II … secularisation, a false conception of freedom”, and a collapse of authentic religious life, with priests abandoning their vows, a whole vision of consecrated life at risk. The Jesuits of his own community were caught up in this: his superior would in due course leave the priesthood and dedicate his life to legalising abortion in France.

Daniélou had been appointed cardinal by Paul VI in 1968. He had politely refused the honour several times before. But the Pope told him he was needed “so that you can suffer with me for the Church”, and he accepted.

Suffering there was indeed. Paul VI was attacked and denigrated with passion across the Western world for affirming the Church’s unchanging teachings in Humanae Vitae, and his final years saw him facing forces of hatred and contempt that at times seemed almost overwhelming.

Here I have a personal memory. In the ideological battles of those years, people who loved the Church and defended the Pope seemed few and, at times, almost voiceless. Catholic institutions, publications and seminaries united in condemning Paul VI’s encyclical. Liturgical and catechetical chaos contributed to the gloom. The Faith Movement, led by the splendid Fr Edward Holloway, launched a series of booklets teaching the truth and celebrating the Church’s message. One was Daniélou’s I Believe in the Church.

The booklets were sold from our house in a London suburb. A spare bedroom was taken over for this purpose and, as the work expanded, the stock migrated down the corridor into my room, where my (ever-loyal, non-Catholic) father constructed metal shelving. I woke every morning to the works of Daniélou and Cardinal Wright, as well as Frs Holloway, Nesbitt and Tolhurst, in bright 1970s covers that seemed so modern at the time. I was occasionally dragooned into helping with the packing and posting.

Daniélou wrote with a great love of the Church. He knew her faults and had suffered from them. But he had no rancour. Rather, he wrote, “what draws me to the Church is not the sympathy that I feel towards the people who compose her, but what is given to me through these men, no matter who they are – that is to say, the truth of Jesus Christ. I am attached to the Church because she cannot be separated from Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ freely gave himself to her, because I cannot find Jesus Christ in any authentic way outside her.”

In May 1972 Daniélou was found dead in a prostitute’s house with a large sum of money in his pocket. Of course, there were headlines. The Jesuit community, immediately setting up an inquiry, discovered the truth with no great difficulty. Daniélou had been known to carry out all sorts of charitable visits to the poor and the marginalised. His last was to a woman whose husband was in prison and needed legal help. She described with complete simplicity what had occurred: the good priest had come to bring the money, then collapsed and died in her presence. There was never any question of immoral behaviour. He was simply a good man who had carried out innumerable works of charity to similarly needy people over many years.

But – and here’s the horror of it – the Jesuits refused to make public their findings, allowing the public to gloat over the mystery of the death of this once-revered man. He was loathed by the then leadership of the Paris Jesuit community because he had denounced them for abandoning their vocation and had espoused complete loyalty to the Church in her hour of need.

Today, the truth is known and Daniélou is beginning to be honoured as he should be. I am rather proud to have been a part of the group that stood by him, even when his reputation was unjustly tarnished. I’m discovering with joy his earlier writings, and being nourished by them. The post-Vatican II chaos gave way to happier times, with St John Paul the Great paving the way for a new era.

There’s probably a case to be made for the cardinal’s beatification. There are certainly lessons to be learnt from his life and even from the manner of his death. To meet God in humiliating circumstances, misunderstood as a villain and yet acting with great charity, is to meet the Man on the Cross. Thank God for the life and work of Jean Daniélou.

Kresta in the Afternoon – April 10, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 10, 2015


4:00 – Joseph Pearce: Evangelizing through Culture


5:00 – Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Nabeel Qureshi was raised in a devout and loving Muslim home and was passionate about his faith. He eventually discovered evidence of Jesus’s resurrection and divinity and was in a difficult position: he couldn’t deny the evidence, but he didn’t want to deny his family. Nabeel joins us today with the story of his dramatic and challenging journey

Kresta in the Afternoon – April 9, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 9, 2015


4:00 – How I Made Peace with my Sister’s Killer

Jeanne Bishop’s story begins with tragedy: her sister, brother-in-law and their unborn child were brutally murdered in their home. In her dying moments, Jeanne’s sister wrote ‘love you’ in her own blood. A local teen was arrested and convicted for the murders. Jeanne decided to forgive him and move on, and even became a strong opponent of capital punishment. She refused to let herself think about her sister’s killer and thought forgiveness was enough…until she realized she also need to confront him and reconcile. Jeanne joins us today with her story about moving beyond mere forgiveness to the deeper waters of redemption and grace.

5:00 – Tsarnaev Sentencing: Consider the Victims

Yesterday Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts relating to the Boston Marathon Bombing and subsequent police chase. Seventeen of these charges carry the death penalty and Tsarvaen’s sentencing trial begins next week. Raymond Flynn, former mayor of Boston, is a pro-life Catholic who opposes the death penalty. However, he says that the families of the victims must be considered when sentencing is reached. He joins us today.

5:20 – Kresta Comments: Forgiveness and Justice for the Evilest of Deeds

5:40 – Kresta Comments: Obama Calls for Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy 

A Catholic School Removes Teacher for Defending Faith

by Anne Hendershott via crisismagazine.com




Chesterton once wrote that “War is not the best way of settling differences—but it is the only way of preventing them from being settled for you.”  If the Catholic Church is to continue to teach the timeless truths about the dignity of all human persons from conception to natural death, and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, the Church needs to begin to seriously engage in the war that has already been declared against her by those who wish to destroy these teachings.

In the past few weeks, there has been an escalation of the attacks against the Church in places like the Archdiocese of San Francisco where Sam Singer, the head of a high priced Public Relations firm, was hired to wage war on Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone because of the archbishop’s strong defense of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Organizing protests, and enlisting the local media to help him in his battle against the archbishop, Singer has been successful in waging a well-funded media war on the Church and her teachings.

Likewise, in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, a battle began last week against a priest who gave permission to show a pro-life film, To Be Born, to a sixth grade CCD class. Described in the local newspaper as holding “rabid anti-abortion views,” the priest—a pastor who is beloved and greatly respected by his faithful parishioners at St. Monica’s Catholic Church—was called a “bully” in a front page story of the Wilkes Barre newspaper. Unfortunately, instead of fighting back with the truth of Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life, the priest has appeared to accept the criticism of showing a pro-life film to “sensitive” sixth graders by admitting that he “showed poor judgment” in allowing the pro-life film to be shown. The CCD teacher who showed the pro-life film has resigned. She was already under attack from parents because she had the temerity to disclose to her students that “not everyone goes to Heaven.”

While it is understandable that the Pennsylvania pastor would want to de-escalate the public controversy by apologizing for allowing the film to be shown, his failure to engage in the battle makes things harder for those on the front lines of the ongoing war on the unborn. It would have been better if the priest was at liberty to explain that the reason sixth grade CCD students need instruction in the pro-life teachings of the Church is because by the time they reach sixth grade many students have already been introduced to the pro-choice message of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood in their middle schools. The Affordable Care Act opens the door to Planned Parenthood clinics in public middle schools and high schools—providing grants for establishing “School Based Health Centers” run by abortion providing organizations. While the law prevents these clinics from being used to provide abortion, the middle and high school clinics make abortion referrals, and assistance in accessing contraceptives and abortifacients. Planned Parenthood runs school-based clinics in many middle schools throughout the country.

In addition to the clinics, fifth and sixth grade students are exposed to sexually explicit messages in the books recommended by Common Core Standards throughout the country. Mary Jo Anderson published an article last year in Crisis, entitled, “Common Core Sexualizes American School Children,” which asks the question, “why has so much disturbing material been systematically built into the Common Core recommended texts?” CCD is supposed to be the place where public school children learn about the teachings of the Church—teachings that can counteract what they have learned in their public schools, and it is unfortunate that this priest did not simply say that.

It is difficult to fight these kinds of battles—especially when the media favors those who attack the Church. Archbishop Cordileone has been under siege since he arrived in San Francisco—but he has been courageously fighting a noble fight against an overwhelmingly greater force that wants the Church to just stay out of the conflict over same-sex “marriage.” It is unfortunate that some of his brother-bishops—including the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey—have decided to surrender in the face of the enemy.

Two weeks ago, when Patricia Jannuzzi, a religion teacher at Immaculata High School in the Diocese of Metuchen, posted a statement supporting traditional marriage on her personal Facebook page, angry same-sex “marriage” advocates, some of them Immaculata alumni, demanded that she be removed from her teaching position, and that the school address the “homophobic undertones in the school.” Creating achange.org petition called “Stop the Public Hate Speech of Teachers” alumnus Tom Robinson (class of 2001) posted: “I know that many of you want to see Mrs. Jannuzzi fired, but addressing the systemic problem of homophobic undertones in the school and publicly posted on social media is much more important than one person keeping her job.” For Robinson, anyone—including a religion teaching at a Catholic high school—who refuses to support the goodness of homosexual acts is an enemy that must be destroyed.

Jannuzzi is indeed being destroyed. Much of the media—including the local newspapers—have described Jannuzzi’s Facebook posting as a “rant” when the reality is that she wrote: “We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity!” Pointing to her statement that “(gay activists) want to reengineer western civilization into a slow extinction,” as evidence of her hatefulness, more than 1,000 individuals have signed the petition to have her removed. And, rather than defending Jannuzzi for her willingness to defend Catholic teachings, the principal and the pastor of her school have suspended her—sending a letter to alumni, parents and students apologizing for “any hurt this has  caused to any individuals and the negative light in which it has cast our school.”

And, to make matters worse, on March 20, Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski, the episcopal leader of the Diocese of Metuchen, appeared to concur with the high school administrators by saying that “the teacher’s comments were disturbing and do not reflect the Church’s teachings on acceptance…. Pope Francis reminds us that we are to accept all of our brethren. We must ensure that our educators steer away from harsh and judgmental statements that can alienate and divide us.”

What Robinson—and those who have signed the change.org petition—want is for the Immaculata High School to stop teaching what the Church teaches about same sex behavior. For them, Church teachings on homosexual behavior are hateful. He makes it clear in his post:

We are asking for action to be taken and hate speech to stop at Immaculata.  A school-wide Stop Hate Speech awareness day and sensativity [sic] training for students and teachers would go a long way.  Knowledge is power and providing students with knowledge about how to act in society is just as important as learning geometry, writing, or a foreign language.

Contrary to what Bishop Bootkoski seems to suggest, in 2010, Pope Francis referred to the trend towards same-sex “marriage” as a movement that begins with the devil, cautioning us to “not be naïve: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a move of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” In a criticism of the Immaculata decision to suspend the offending teacher, Rod Dreher asks: “Could Pope Francis Teach Here?” Dreher points out that in January, Pope Francis gave a homily in which he called same-sex “marriage” an “ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family.” Pope Benedict XVI warned in 2012 that the policies which “undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.” Jannuzzi was merely echoing Benedict who knew that this was a war that needed to be fought.

We are all called to fight that war. Robert P. George, a law professor at Princeton and Harvard, and the vice chairman of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom, is advising parents of students at Immaculata High School to boycott the school until Mrs. Jannuzzi is fully reinstated. The suspension of this faithful teacher—a teacher who in 2012 was given the Regina Nostra medal by the diocesan bishop for her “love and devotion” to Immaculata High School and the parish—is proof that Immaculata High School is “not a fit place for your children.” George has posted Jannuzzi’s photo on his own personal Facebook page—and has asked that others join this fight. Over the weekend, the family lawyer announced that Jannuzzi’s contract will not be renewed in the coming school year despite the bishop’s public statement implying that her suspension was only temporary.

There will be cultural battles because there can never be common ground on issues like abortion and same-sex “marriage.” No institution like the Catholic Church can exist in isolation from cultural conflicts. Sociologists like James Davison Hunter and the late Philip Rieff have cautioned us that we can never get “beyond” the culture wars. Rieff’s books, Triumph of the Therapeutic and Charisma, remind us that, “Where there is culture, there is struggle.” For Rieff, culture is war by other—normative—means. “By its very nature the work of culture—including Catholic culture—is the matter and manner of disarming competing culture.”

This is not to suggest that the Church must be filled with hostility. It does not mean that the Church is resistant to all change. The Church, like all institutions, is constantly being “re-created” in certain ways as some change is inevitable—it is inherent to culture as it emerges through conflict. However, this re-creation cannot be guided by the changing values of a secular culture. The Church cannot change her infallible teachings—the teachings of the Magisterium—including the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of the family. These are not just “values” because values change. These “non-negotiable” teachings are the definitive teachings of the Church and they will never change. Thus, to the extent that secular forces challenge Church teaching, the culture wars will continue.

The constant battles have already made many of us war-weary—including, most likely, the leaders of Immaculata High School and the Diocese of Metuchen. But, we can never concede defeat because of political pressure from alumni, donors, or movie stars like Susan Sarandon who criticized Jannuzzi on behalf of her nephew who matriculated there. Pope Francis warned us to be wary of “popular opinion.” On December 9, 2013,in an address to the members of the International Theological Commission, he said that although the Church must pay attention to the sensus fidelium, or the sense of the faithful when exercising its teaching authority, the Church should never confuse that sense with popular opinion on matters of faith. Pope Francis has made it clear thatsensus fidelium does not mean “majority opinion.” The Holy Father knows, as his predecessors knew, that we are at war with a movement that began with the Fall of Man in the Garden, and will continue until the end of time. It is a war without end—but we are emboldened in the battles as long as we remember to “Thank God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (Cor 2:14).

‘Shell-shocked:’ new details about NBC’s handling of the Brian Williams scandal

by Brian Stelter via money.cnn.com


The crisis inside NBC News over Brian Williams’ puffed-up stories was made worse by the anchorman’s denial and his strained relationship with executives in charge of the network, according to a new probe in Vanity Fair magazine.

As the crisis over Williams’ exaggerated war stories unfolded, network executives were frustrated by Williams’ “inability to explain himself,” the story says. The anchor “appeared shell-shocked” when the scandal emerged, rendering him unable to respond effectively.

In February, amid the series of embarrassing revelations, Williams was suspended without pay for six months. His “NBC Nightly News” is now being anchored by Lester Holt. It is unclear whether NBC will let Williams return at the end of the suspension period.

At issue was Williams’ involvement on an Iraq War mission in 2003. Over the years, his recounting of the mission turned more dramatic, to the point he was saying that an RPG had struck the helicopter he was aboard. In fact, that happened to a different helicopter, not the one Williams was on.

The Vanity Fair story, authored by Bryan Burrough, says NBC’s internal fact-checking investigation of Williams is ongoing. It has been led by Richard Esposito, the head of investigations for NBC News.

“People who have spoken to Esposito say his group has compiled a number of other incidents that, taken as a whole, paint a portrait of Williams as a man who has consistently burnished his stories,” Burrough writes.

The magazine also addresses the Williams scandal in editor Graydon Carter’s monthly letter to readers. He concludes that Williams’ “regrettable self-immolation” should not end his broadcasting career.

“Taken all together, he would be an enormous asset anywhere,” Carter writes. “And if NBC is smart, once Williams’s time in journalism purgatory is up, the network will find a big chair for him and tether him to it for a good long while.”

Carter’s commentary and Burrough’s reporting were both published online on Tuesday, the second day on the job for the new chair of NBC News and MSNBC, Andy Lack. Williams’ fate rests with Lack and the man who just put him in charge, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke.

Burke is described in the story as a competent executive who has improved NBCUniversal’s standing in many areas, but has struggled to manage the network’s news division. “Even some of Burke’s defenders admit he has only himself to blame for the decline of NBC News,” Burrough writes.

The author zeroes in on Burke’s 2012 choice to name Pat Fili-Krushel the chair of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC, despite the fact that she had “virtually no experience in journalism.” Fili-Krushel has become “the scandal’s second victim,” Burrough writes, now that Lack has taken over.

Lack has decades of experience in journalism. He previously ran NBC News between 1993 and 2001.

Burrough’s story, which relies heavily on anonymous sources, adds new details about what happened inside NBC in the key hours leading up to Williams’ initial — and inadequate — apologies for exaggerating the Iraq story.

Williams told an exaggerated version of the story on “NBC Nightly News” in late January, as part of a tribute to a military veteran who had been with him on the mission. Fili-Krushel’s hand-picked deputy, NBC News president Deborah Turness, noticed Williams’ story “and liked it, terming it ‘very sweet,’ ” according to the story. “What she liked even more, she told one listener, was its performance once it was posted to Facebook, which she called ‘extremely good.’ ”

Indeed, Williams’ tribute to the veteran was widely shared on Facebook. But that’s also where several vets posted comments saying that Williams had falsified parts of the tale. It is unclear when Williams first saw these comments. But according to the story, whenever he found out, “he did not tell Turness or Pat Fili, even though he and Fili had lunch the following Tuesday.”

The same day Williams and Fili-Krushel had lunch, February 3, Stars & Stripes newspaper reporter Travis Tritten interviewed some of the soldiers on the mission and prepared a story about Williams’ misstatements.

On February 4, Tritten contacted NBC to ask for comment. Williams spoke on the record to Tritten without his bosses knowing, according to the story — a sign of how his relationships with Turness and Fili-Krushel were lacking.

Turness learned about the apparent exaggerations around 3:30 p.m., three hours before “Nightly News” broadcast time. She then tried to work with Williams on the wording of an apology that he read on the air. But the statement seemed to only exacerbate his problems.

“Burke learned of things only after the apology broadcast,” Burrough writes. The surfacing of a David Letterman clip from 2013, where Williams told another misleading version of the story, made clear to the executives that the discrepancies were very serious. The next day, Burke began holding crisis meetings.

But Burrough quotes NBC sources who say Williams had a hard time acknowledging the scope of the situation, even as questions began coming up about other past stories he had covered.

Furthermore, the story affirms other recent reports about chilliness between Williams and his “Nightly News” predecessor Tom Brokaw, who remains an important voice inside NBC.

Burrough quotes a friend of Brokaw’s, who says, “Tom will never say this for the record, but I’ve talked to him about this, and I can tell you for a fact Tom is livid about this. Tom didn’t push Brian out, but he didn’t try to save him, either.”

The story also quotes a source who implies that Williams believes Brokaw is to blame for his sudden downfall: “I talked to Brian about this, and I’ll never forget what he said at the end. He said, ‘Chalk one up for Brokaw.’ “

U-M reverses course, will show ‘American Sniper’

by David Jesse via freep.com




After a day filled with intense controversy, the University of Michigan reversed course late Wednesday night and decided to show the movie “American Sniper” at its originally scheduled time and place.

“It was a mistake to cancel the showing of the movie ‘American Sniper’ on campus as part of a social event for students,” the statement from E. Royster Harper, the vice president of student life, said. It was sent just after 10:45 p.m. to the media.

“The initial decision to cancel the movie was not consistent with the high value the University of Michigan places on freedom of expression and our respect for the right of students to make their own choices in such matters.

“The movie will be shown at the originally scheduled time and location. We recognize, however, that some students are uncomfortable with the content of the movie, and appreciate that concern.

“Therefore, the university also will show an alternative movie, “Paddington,” in another location on campus at that same time and date to provide our students with additional options that evening.”

The university had cancelled the planned showing of the Iraq War movie after students, mostly Muslim and/or Arab, complained about it. The movie had been planned to be shown on Friday night at a social event for students.

That set off a firestorm of criticism – including from U-M football coach Jim Harbaugh, who tweeted: “Michigan Football will watch “American Sniper”! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!”

Lamees Mekkaoui led the drive to get “American Sniper” tossed. She questioned why the school would play a movie that makes her uncomfortable and promotes what she and others have said are anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments.

The drive, which included a letter signed by a couple of hundred fellow students, led the university’s Center for Campus Involvement to pull the film from its lineup of UMix events.

“The movie American Sniper is not about a racist mass murderer or a criminal,” that petition said. “If the University prevents a movie like this from being shown, it promotes intolerance and stifles dialogue and debate on the subject and goes directly against the atmosphere UMix purports to provide. As adults at a public university, we should have the option to view this movie if we so choose and have the opportunity to engage on the topics it presents to come to our own conclusions on the subjects. Students should be trusted to interact responsibly on a movie no different than any other film depicting the lives of the troops at war, such as Saving Private Ryan.”

Midafternoon Wednesday, the university said it would show “American Sniper” at a different time and different place with an discussion to follow. It said it would replace it with the “Paddington” kids movie.

“American Sniper,” directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, is based on a true story. It is the autobiography of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who served in Iraq and has the most confirmed kills as a sniper in U.S. military history.

It was a major hit at the box office but drew controversy over its depiction of the prolonged war.

Mekkaoui, a sophomore at U-M, said she’s seen the movie.

“I felt uncomfortable during it,” she told the Free Press. “As a student who identifies as an Arab and Middle Eastern student, I feel that ‘American Sniper’ condones a lot of anti-Middle Eastern and North African propaganda,”

She wrote one letter to the university’s Center for Campus Involvement, asking for it to be pulled from the schedule of Friday’s UMix event.

“I like those events,” Mekkaoui said. “I don’t think this film fits that event, which is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. I think it should be played, but not at this event.”

She sent a second letter signed by a couple of hundred students, including some from the Muslim Student Association. Mekkaoui is a member of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality and the Middle Eastern and Arab Network at U-M.

“Student reactions have clearly articulated that this is neither the venue nor the time to show this movie,” the Center for Campus involvement said in a statement it posted on Facebook and Twitter. “We deeply regret causing harm to members of our community, and appreciate the thoughtful feedback provided to us by students.

“We … did not intend to exclude any students or communities on campus through showing this film. Nevertheless, as we know, intent and impact can be very different things. While our intent was to show a film, the impact of the content was harmful, and made students feel unsafe and unwelcome at our program.”

On campus Wednesday, many students said they didn’t have a problem with the film being shown.

“I think you can show it and if it offends you, then just don’t go,” said junior Mary Coles, 21, of East Grand Rapids. “It wasn’t like it was mandatory to go. It was just an optional event you could go to if you wanted to. Pretty easy to skip if you don’t like what they are showing.”

Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj

Ordination Class Of 2015 Shows Increase In Number Ordained, Reflects Positive Impact Of Support From Families, Catholic Schools, Parish Priests

April 7, 2015


WASHINGTON—The 2015 class of men ordained to the priesthood report that they were, on average, about 17 when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood and encouraged to consider a vocation by an average of four people. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say they were encouraged by a parish priest, as well as friends (46 percent), parishioners (45 percent), and mothers (40 percent). On average, they lived in the diocese or eparchy for which they will be ordained for 15 years before entering seminary. Religious ordinands knew the members of their religious institute an average of six years before entering.

The total number of potential ordinands for the class of 2015, 595, is up from from 477 in 2014 and 497 in 2013.

The Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) gathered the date for “The Class of 2015: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood.” CARA collects the data annually for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. Approximately 69 percent of the 595 potential ordinands reported to CARA. These 411 respondents include 317 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood, from 120 different dioceses and archdioceses, and 94 ordinands to the religious priesthood.

The full report can be found online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/ordination-class/index.cfm

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, found that the data gave reason for hope but also provide areas for further growth.

“It is encouraging to see the slight increase in the number of ordinations this year in the United States,” Bishop Burbidge said. “When asked about the positive influences they encountered while discerning the call, those to be ordained responded that the support from their family, parish priest, and Catholic schools ranked very high.”

Father W. Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat, cited educational debt as a growing concern. “Over 26 percent of those ordained carried educational debt at the time they entered the seminary, averaging a little over $22,500 in educational debt at entrance to the seminary. Considering the high percentage of the men ordained already having earned an undergraduate degree, it will be important to find ways to assist in debt reduction in the future.”

Among the survey’s major findings:

•  The average age for the Class of 2015 is 34. The median age (midpoint of the distribution) is 31. Eight in 10 respondents are between 25 and 39. This distribution is slightly younger than in 2014, but follows the pattern in recent years of average age at ordination in the mid-thirties.

•  Two-thirds (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white. Compared to the adult Catholic population of the United States, they are more likely to be of Asian or Pacific Islander background (10 percent of responding ordinands), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (14 percent of responding ordinands). Compared to diocesan ordinands, religious ordinands are less likely to report their race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white.

•  One-quarter (25 percent) were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Poland and Vietnam. On average, respondents born in another country have lived in the United States for 12 years. Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to diocesan priesthood for each of the last ten years were born outside of the United States.

•  Most ordinands have been Catholic since infancy, although 7 percent became Catholic later in life. Eighty-four percent report that both of their parents are Catholic and more than a third (37 percent) have a relative who is a priest or a religious.

•  More than half completed college (60 percent) before entering the seminary. One in seven (15 percent) entered the seminary with a graduate degree. One in three (34 percent) report entering the seminary while in college. The most common fields of study for ordinands before entering the seminary are theology or philosophy (20 percent), liberal arts (19 percent), and science (13 percent).

•  Half of responding ordinands (51 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is a rate higher than that of all Catholic adults in the United States. In addition, ordinands are somewhat more likely than other U.S. Catholic adults to have attended a Catholic high school and they are much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (45 percent, compared to 7 percent among U.S. Catholic adults).

•  Six in ten ordinands (61 percent) report some type of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education. Four percent of responding ordinands report prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces. About one in six ordinands (16 percent) report that either parent had a military career in the U.S. Armed Forces.

•  Eight in 10 (78 percent) indicate they served as an altar server and about half (51 percent) reporting service as a lector. One in seven (14 percent) participated in a World Youth Day before entering the seminary.

•  About seven in 10 report regularly praying the rosary (70 percent) and participating in Eucharistic adoration (70 percent) before entering the seminary.

•  Almost half (48 percent) indicated that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood. On average, two individuals are said to have discouraged them.

Keywords: ordination, class of 2015, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, priesthood, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, diocesan priesthood, religious life, USCCB

Catholic Bashing at Work and in the Media

by Bill Donohue via CatholicLeague.org

Steven Rosen, co-founder of Rainmaker Associates, a financial recruiting firm, has been sued by one of his employees, Joseph Modica, for allegedly mocking his Catholicism.

According to Modica, Rosen said, “You don’t really believe Jesus was born to a Virgin Mother, or are you that big of a moron?” He is also accused of saying, “Is it that stupid Ash Wednesday again? You better not come to work with ashes on your head.” Rosen is being sued for $5 million for harassment that led to a hospitalized panic attack.

Bill Donohue comments on this story today:

The New York Daily News and the New York Post covered this story, but not the New York Times. Worse, the story by jewishbusinessnews.com was itself bigoted. It is not unusual for the New York Times to ignore anti-Catholicism, but it is unusual to see a responsible media outlet write disparagingly about Catholicism in an article about alleged anti-Catholicism.

Jewishbusinessnews.com has a piece today on this story that exhibits both ignorance and bigotry. The ignorance is displayed in the headline: “Easter Special: Steven Rosen Sued for Making Fun of Immaculate Conception.” In fact, that is not why he was sued: the Immaculate Conception and the virgin birth are not identical. Worse is what the reporter said about the Virgin Mary comment that is attributed to Rosen.

“To be fair,” says S.M. Lightening, “generations of Jews have found that story hard to swallow, but, hey, if old man Joseph the carpenter took her word for it, who are we to argue. Still, to us Jews it always sounded like a good recovery line when you start showing. Certainly better than the classic, ‘I fell for it’ folks use in emergency rooms. ‘God put it there’ is much classier.”

We are asking for an apology. So should you.

Contact CEO Sima Ella: [email protected]

Kenyan Students Asked for Prayers Before al Shabaab Shot Them

by John Burger via aleteia.org


There are no cows in the Maina household. And now, there is a far greater emptiness.

“I sold them to pay his school fees,” Stanley Maina Waiharo told the Guardian. It was the kind of sacrifice that’s accompanied by the expectation that something will come of it. A willing sacrifice.

“I took a loan of 200,000 shillings ($2,163) to educate my son so that he could have a better life than me,” Maina said of his firstborn son, John Mwangi Maina, 22. “Then these people just took him away.”

John was the first person in his wider family to get a college education, he said.

“This was a boy who, when everyone else was out there playing, he was always indoors studying. He took his studies very seriously,” Maina told the newspaper. “We had so much hope in him.”

Details are emerging of the lives snuffed out in the al Shabaab attack at Garissa University College last Thursday—at the beginning of the Easter Triduum. Attackers killed 147 persons, mostly students. The Islamist terrorist group targeted Christians, attacking the campus in the early morning and storming into a prayer service.

Many of the victims were prayerful and self-sacrificing. Mainareportedly escaped and could have saved his life, but went back to rescue his girlfriend. That’s when he was shot.

Students also displayed an attitude of abandoning everything to providence in the midst of the attack. “At this point, we leave everything to God,” was the last text Ayub Njau Kimotho, 21, sent to his brother. A second-year Business Administration student, Kimotho’s whereabouts are still not known.

“He is a prayerful man and had left his room with one of his roommates to go for morning prayers,” his brother, Daniel Chege, told the Daily Nation.

Elizabeth Namarome Musinai, 20, called home and frantically told her father, “There are gunshots everywhere! Tell Mum to pray for me — I don’t know if I will survive.”

The call at dawn was one of several her family received Thursday as the drama unfolded at the college. As Yahoo News told it, at about 1pm, a man got on the line to demand that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta be contacted within two minutes and told to remove troops from neighboring Somalia, where they are fighting al-Shabab extremists.

He phoned back promptly. When told the president had not been contacted, he said, “I am going to kill your daughter.” Three gunshots followed, and he hung up. When Elizabeth’s father, Fred Kaskon Musinai, called the man back, he said he was told: “She is now with her God.”

Likewise, Milcah Ruto, who was waiting to identify her daughter Judy Chepkemboi, recounted the final conversation she had with her.

“My daughter was able to call me on that fateful day and stated that they had been attacked by the Al Shabaab,” Ruto told Capital News, a Kenyan outlet. “‘I am under the bed and I need your prayers since we are in danger.’ That was the last conversation I had with her.”

Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a letter of solidarity saying, “The Catholic Church commits to activate the parish networks for our Christian faithful to lend their support and prayers.”

He called on religious leaders to “desist from teaching and preaching hatred for people who do not subscribe to their religion and doctrines, and recognize that everybody believes in a Supreme Being.”

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