The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Although I am an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church, the opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. In offering these personal opinions I am not acting as a representative of the Church or any Church organization.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Vandalism at Catholic Churches

I keep reading about small and large acts of vandalism taking place at Catholic churches around the country. The latest took place in the LA suburbs just this past week, at St. Rose of Lima church and school in Maywood, California. It was of such a nature -- lots of sacrilegious activity involved -- that the local police are calling it a hate crime.

Anyway, the story got me thinking and I realized that every parish to which I have belonged for more than a year was vandalized at least once. Now don't go making any connections between my presence and the vandalism. My point is that this has been going on for a long time and isn't all that uncommon. From what I've read recently, though, it would seem that the vandalism is growing in severity and also becoming increasingly sacrilegious; that is, it is aimed specifically at Catholicism.

Too bad. A lot of churches are no longer open, even during the day, so folks can stop by and pray. And almost every church and school now has a sophisticated alarm system -- except, apparently, in Maywood, CA. Just one small indicator of how the world has changed in recent years.

Here's a short video about the damage inflicted on St. Rose of Lima church and school...

God's peace...

Catholic School Fires Atheist Teacher

Usually when we read about someone losing their job, we are saddened, especially today given the current state of the economy and the exceptionally high rate of unemployment. Keeping a job isn't always easy these days. But then I read a story about a fired teacher on the USA Today website and found myself saying aloud, "It's about time!"

Abby Nurre, 26, taught math at St. Edmonds Catholic School. in Fort Dodge, Iowa. But then the young teacher decided to join Atheist Nexus, an website for "nontheists." She went on to confess on her Facebook page that she did not believe in God. When the school discovered her professed atheism, she was called into the principal's office and asked for an explanation. This led to her suspension and eventual firing by the school board. The Diocese of Sioux City supports the decision to fire Nurre. Diocesan spokesperson, Kristie Arlt, stated, "The main thing is that she stated she didn't believe in God. It's pretty hard to put that same teacher in front of students in a Catholic school system." No kidding.

Well, it seems the young atheist is all aflutter over her firing and can't understand why the Catholic school system sent her packing. She actually sees no problem with an atheist teaching in a Catholic school.

The case has received a bit of publicity because the school wanted (appropriately) to deny her unemployment benefits since her beliefs (or lack thereof) violated the terms of her employment. A judge, however, ruled otherwise asserting that the school didn't prove misconduct. Ms. Nurre remains upset and told the Associated Press, "It still doesn't take back anything that happened, I never got to say goodbye to the kids."

She also, apparently, remains confused as to her beliefs: "I'm not an atheist. I'm not a Catholic. I'm not a Christian. I'm somewhere in between." Well, I'm glad she cleared that up.

I don't think I've ever run into a teacher in a Catholic school who openly professed atheism, but I have met a lot who openly and publicly (in their classrooms) disagree with Catholic teaching on all kinds of moral issues. They, too, should not be teaching in Catholic schools.

Three cheers for the principal, the school system and the Diocese of Sioux Falls.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The True Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2010

Once you get past the idiotic car commercials and all the other ads that bombard us with their Memorial Day sales, I suggest you take a quiet moment to reflect on the true meaning of this very special day. 

For 235 years the citizens of this nation have answered the call to defend it from those who would destroy it, and to come to the aid of other nations who lacked the resources to defend themselves against aggression. Since our nation's founding well over a million Americans have given their lives during time of war, and another million-and-a-half suffered wounds.* Millions more, of course, served our nation bravely during those wars and by doing so willingly disrupted their lives so that other Americans could continue to live in the freedom we cherish.

Today, while countless Americans sit in their easy chairs watching American Idol or Survivor or other mindless forms of entertainment, thousands of young men and women are serving our nation heroically halfway around the world in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places they are not even permitted to mention. They are fighting our enemies in distant lands so you and I won't have to face them here at home. It is not a pretty war, and some of these brave souls are dying, many as a result of cowardly, suicidal acts that don't discriminate between civilians and combatants. But our brave men and women are also working closely with the people of these far-off countries winning their hearts and minds. Our enemy today is like none we have ever faced. They are stateless and live in the shadow areas of many countries. They are a brutal, vicious enemy, an enemy that rationalizes virtually any horrific act as a religious mandate. But one thing we can count on: evil such as this will never prevail.

And so today take a moment to recall those whom you have known who gave their lives for this country, who gave their lives for you. Pray for them and for their families, for those who loved them. Thank God for them and their selfless sacrifices. And thank God, too, for all those who continue serving our unique and blessed nation today.

I have included below a photo of the memorial plaque listing all those in my United States Naval Academy Class of 1967 who gave their lives while serving on active duty. May they rest in the peace of Jesus Christ. They were my classmates and my friends. Many died in Vietnam when we were all young. I miss them and pray for them daily. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

God bless America and those who have died keeping her free.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Strange Things

I believe I can safely say that it takes a lot to shock me. I been around both the block and the world a few times and have come face to face with some pretty nasty stuff. I've seen abject poverty of the kind that simply does not exist in this country. I've witnessed acts of horrific brutality spawned by ideological hatreds that a rational human being can barely comprehend. But I encountered most of this in distant or unusual places during particularly challenging times. And so, I suppose these encounters weren't unexpected.

I am far more disturbed when such things occur in the midst of the day-to-day human activities in our supposed civilized societies. Abortion, of course, is a perfect example. Not long ago, certainly during my lifetime, abortion was considered a serious crime -- the murder of an unborn child -- and those who performed and procured it were prosecuted accordingly. It was certainly treated as a serious crime during the Nuremberg trials. Among the charges for which several Nazis were tried and convicted was the "encouraging and compelling of abortions." Indeed, it didn't matter whether or not the abortions were voluntary. The War Tribunal that announced these convictions stated:

"The acts and conduct, as substantially charged in the indictment ("encouraging and compelling abortions") constitute crimes against humanity as defined in Article II (c) of the Control Council Law No. 10 and...(they) also constitute war crimes."
Dr. Joseph Mengele (left). Mengele, called the "Angel of Death" at Auschwitz, later escaped to Buenos Aires, where, under an assumed name, he specialized in abortions

We've sure come a long way in 60 brief years. Abortion is one of those "crimes against humanity" that truly does shock me because I simply cannot understand how a civilized society can allow it. Perhaps we're not really as civilized as we think.

Abortion today is really no different from the brutal, and very public, human sacrifices performed by the Mayans to appease their gods. As acts of appeasement, these sacrifices were really selfish acts, murders sanctioned by a society in the hope that they would bring about some improvement in the lives of those committing them. Isn't that exactly what abortion is -- a selfish act? Isn't it simply the murder of an inconvenient human being, someone whose continued existence would make the mother's (and father's) life more difficult? The only difference I can see is that today's human sacrifices are carried out more or less privately. But given current trends in "entertainment" I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some media outlet is planning a live abortion reality show. Can YouTube be far behind? So I suppose, in a very real sense, we have regressed back to the uncivilized times of the Mayans and all the other pre-Christian, pagan societies that glorified sacrificial death.

Mayan human sacrifices

Sometimes, though, it's not what people do that shocks me; rather, it's what they say. One would think that the President of the United States has some able and thoughtful speech writers, and that on those few occasions when there's no teleprompter and he's forced to ad lib, he would weigh his words carefully. After all, the media captures his every public utterance and those recorded words won't ever go away.

President Obama recently signed the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act, “which authorizes the State Department to include information about attacks on journalists in its human rights reports.” I'm not familiar with every aspect of this legislation, but it sounds like a good thing to me and I'm glad the president signed it. Unfortunately, it's what he said as he signed the legislation that bothers me.

As you probably recall, Daniel Pearl was the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and savagely murdered by an Islamist terrorist group in Pakistan back in 2002. These vicious killers didn't just murder Pearl, they beheaded him and videotaped the act. Then they released the video, joyous that they had rid the world of, in the killer's words, "the American Jew Daniel Pearl." Nice folks.

And so what does the president say as he signs this legislation named in honor of Daniel Pearl? Here's the quote:
"Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is."

Captured the world's imagination? It's hard to believe he used those words. Apollo 11 captured the world's imagination. Mother Teresa captured the world's imagination. The destruction of the Berlin Wall by the German people captured the world's imagination. The victory over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan captured the world's imagination. An Olympic skier, or skater, or sprinter, or hockey team might capture the world's imagination. But the brutal torture and beheading of Daniel Pearl did not in any way "capture the world's imagination." That would be like saying, "The vicious shooting spree at Columbine High School captured the world's imagination."

No, Mr. President. The loss of Daniel Pearl horrified me and every civilized person who heard about it. It showed me how close we are to sliding back into barbarism, a state, by the way, that far too many of these Islamist terrorist groups actually hope for. Pearl's death came about because of a visceral hatred for Americans and an even greater hatred for Jews, the latter which extends all the way back to the days of Mohammed himself. And, I'm sorry, but it didn't remind me of "how valuable a free press is." No, it reminded me, and just about any sane human being, of how brutal and vicious an enemy we face in this war on terror, a fact we must never forget.

[The above photo is of Daniel Pearl as I am sure his family would like to remember him. By the way, Pearl was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who now sits in the prison for terrorists at Guantanamo.]

Oh, yes, after signing the "Press Freedom Act", the president refused to take any questions from the press who had gathered there for the ceremony. And as soon as the signing was complete the press were all herded out of the room. Deliciously ironic, isn't it?

Finally, I came across this item that truly shocked me. A Korean couple let their baby starve to death. Why? Because they were busy playing an online "game" in which they raised a virtual child. Apparently they spent many, many hours raising this make-believe child and while doing so totally neglected their own very real baby girl. There are so many things wrong with this that one doesn't know where to begin. All I will say is behold the fruits of the contraceptive mentality that considers human life to be virtually valueless. It also shows us the kind of world we can expect as God is removed from human activity and thought.

Yes, sadly, the world can continue to shock us, and I expect things are not going to get better any time soon. But you and I do not have to accept this degradation of our civilization. We can fight it in our own lives by how we act and what we say. We can live our Faith as it really is and not as some gross politically correct imitation. We can be active witnesses to Jesus Christ in the world pointing out the Way, the Truth and the Life to all whom we encounter. In other words, we can be the disciples He calls us to be.

Eric Voegelin summed it up well in his book, Science, Politics, And Gnosticism when he wrote:

"...the spiritual disorder of our time, the civilizational crisis of which everyone so readily speaks, does not by any means have to be born as an inevitable fate; that, on the contrary, everyone possesses the means of overcoming it in his own life. And our effort should not only indicate the means, but also how to employ them. No one is obliged to take part in the spiritual crises of society; on the contrary, everyone is obliged to avoid the folly and live his life in order."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bishop Wenski Preaches

As I mentioned as few weeks ago, Thomas Wenski, our bishop here in the Diocese of Orlando has been elevated to Archbishop and will soon be installed as the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Miami. This past Tuesday evening, the pastor of our parish, along with three deacons and their wives, drove to Orlando to join Archbishop Wenski as he celebrated a Mass of Farewell at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, a beautiful church that I recommend visiting during your next Disney vacation. Mass was followed by a delightful dinner at a local hotel. It was a wonderful evening, and provided us with an opportunity to say goodbye to our shepherd.

Archbishop Wenski is a remarkable man. Fluent in Spanish, Creole, Polish, and probably a few other languages, he seems to be the perfect fit for the Archdiocese of Miami with its large Hispanic and Haitian populations. He was also born and raised in the Miami area, so this will be a homecoming for him. But what many folks don't know is that he also drives a Harley, a rather rare avocation for a bishop. The photo at left shows him about to tear up the highway. You gotta love a bishop biker.

The archbishop and I arrived here in Orlando at about the same time, and during the past few years I have heard him preach on numerous occasions. But I have especially enjoyed his homilies aimed at the young men and women who were about to be confirmed. Today while doing a little surfing on YouTube, I discovered that a video of one of these homilies is available online. Because of YouTube's 10-minute restriction, the homily is divided into three videos for a total of about 26 minutes. (Only a bishop can get away with a 26-minute homily in the Catholic Church.)

The homily was delivered at St. Paul's Parish in neighboring Leesburg, FL, and among the confirmandi were a number of young men and women from our parish. The videos are well worth watching, and provide a wonderful catechesis on how we, as Christians, must live in the world as witnesses of Jesus Christ. I have included all three segments below:


God's peace...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

US Bishops and "Coalitions"

Yesterday I mentioned the decision by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to withdraw from  the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR) because of the LCCR's "advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ Conference," specifically, positions that are openly pro-abortion. This was a good decision by our bishops, but it's also the kind of decision they should never have to make.

The political and advocacy landscape of our nation is littered with hundreds of organizations and coalitions similar to LCCR. Each of these organizations was formed to address a real or perceived need or to bring about change in some area of public (and occasionally private) life. But most organizations tend to stray from their initial vision. As their membership increases and their bank accounts grow, their vision often expands to encompass other goals which may or may not be related to their original goal. LCCR, for example, has apparently decided that abortion advocacy is a logical expansion of their original focus on civil and human rights. This expansion, which quite honestly should have been expected of a politically left-leaning organization such as  LCCR, apparently took the bishops by surprise and led to their decision to withdraw from the coalition. A similar thing happened with regard to Amnesty International a few years ago when that organization decided to support "abortion rights." I can't recall whether the USCCB was an organizational member of Amnesty International, but it was apparent that they had, at the very least, publicly supported AI and their positions.   

My question is: Why does the USCCB feel the need to join any coalition or organization, particularly one without a specifically religious focus? It would seem that doing so has a much greater downside than upside. As LCCR and Amnesty International have shown us, organizations can be unpredictable, especially if they are even partly motivated by ideology. Organizations, particularly coalitions of organizations, are dynamic, not static.  Unless a member organization has total control of the coalition's vision, goals, and direction, some of these changes will not reflect the member organization's values and conflict will result. This, in itself, is a good reason not to join such coalitions.

But more important, organizational membership in coalitions can confuse the organization's individual members. Unless there is total foundational alignment between the organization's and the coalition's values and beliefs, members can come to believe that the very real differences that do exist are not all that important. This can be especially damaging when these differences reflect moral issues or key tenets of one's faith.

And then there is the most important reason: independence. Any conference of Catholic bishops should always speak and teach independently of secular, or even other religious, organizations. If should not give the impression, through its membership in outside organizations, that it is in any way beholden to them. The bishops, after all, are the successors to the Apostles and accordingly are called to speak for only one organization, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, They can do this best through their independence, by giving themselves the freedom to teach and preach the Word of God, and the freedom to praise and criticize without being second-guessed.

I don't understand why the USCCB feels compelled to join these coalitions and therefore give the impression that it buys into their wide gamut of values and beliefs. Doing so only runs the risk of sacrificing its credibility when it comes time to speak to the faithful on important issues of faith and morals. Why can't our bishops simply work with these coalitions toward the achievement of common goals, and do so without joining them? Sure would save a lot of embarrassment and apologizing.

Or so it least to me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Latest from the Pro-Death Community

Here are just a few of the more recent happenings within the pro-death community:

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR) is a DC-based national civil rights coalition that's been around since 1950 when it was organized to support the passage of civil rights legislation. But in recent years the LCCR has apparently expanded its agenda to include advocacy of pro-abortion nominees for the Supreme Court. It recently came out strongly in favor of Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination. In response the U.S. bishops withdrew from the coalition. Addressing the bishops' decision, Bishop William Murphy stated, "The LCCR has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ Conference.  No one will doubt the ongoing commitment of the Catholic bishops to upholding civil and human rights, but this action was necessary to avoid any confusion about its protection of the most basic human right, the right to life of the not-yet-born.”

The announcement from the US bishops can be read in its entirety here: Bishops Withdraw From Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Coalition.

Three cheers for the US bishops!

D.C. running low on free condoms. Just in case you've lost sight of the purpose of government, the folks in the District of Columbia will take great pains to remind you. The district, you see, prides itself on the fact that it has already distributed over 2.5 million free condoms this year. The trouble is, it doesn't always have the money to pay for them, so there's been a serious delay in getting these freebies to those who want them, specifically the activists preparing for next month's "Capital Pride" celebrations (and the DC Department of Education). Oh, yes...the city has also had to upgrade its free condoms from the Durex to the Trojan brand. Apparently the latter are a higher quality product and therefore considerably more expensive. The upgrade was in response to complaints from the recipients of this governmental largess. By the way, these condoms are also distributed at schools throughout the district, available to any child who asks.

What a world we're leaving to our children and grandchildren...

Pro-abortion TV Commercial. Marie Stopes International, a so-called "sexual health clinic" in the UK, aired a 30-second commercial Monday night on Britain's channel 4 during a popular game show. The ad, which targets pregnant women, promotes the organization's abortion services. The commercial doesn't specifically mention abortion, but everyone in the UK knows what the organization does, just as everyone in the US knows that Planned Parenthood is just another name for an abortion mill. Last year Marie Stopes aborted 65,000 unborn babies, but apparently that's not enough...hence, the commercial.

You can view it yourself below, and here's a link to the relevant news story on the Telegraph's website: Britain's first abortion television advert.

As you can see, the battle for hearts and minds -- and lives -- continues. It's a battle that's been waged for thousands of years, all the way back to Moses when he pleaded with the Israelites: "I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live" [Dt 30:19].

More on Russian Orthodox - Catholic Relations

As a particularly relevant follow-up to my post of a few days ago, I suggest reading an interesting commentary by Joseph Wood on the current status of the changing relationship between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Published online by, Wood's comments address both the positives and the negatives of the relationship and the growing hopes for the future. Here's the link: From Russia With Love?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Holy Shroud Exhibition Ends

On May 23 the Holy Shroud Exhibition ended. Here's an interesting (but brief) video describing the exhibit of the Shroud in Turin and some of the latest discoveries concerning the holy relic:

I have also included two other brief videos describing the Holy Shroud and some of the more recent discoveries. Both are certainly worth a few minutes of your time.


I hope there will be another public exhibition of the Shroud again in the not too distant future. Perhaps next time I'll be able to make the trip and see it first hand.

Orthodox - Catholic Cooperation

As I have mentioned on several previous occasions, it is particularly heartening to observe the progress that's been made ecumenically between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Following the lead of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, the Holy Father has been very active in working toward future unity. Interestingly, although the greatest obstacles to unity have seemed to arise more frequently from the Russian Orthodox community than from the Greek Orthodox, the latest initiative involves some direct meetings between the Vatican and the Russian Church. And the centerpiece of these meetings has been the arts and music.

Here's a brief video describing the concert that followed the Vatican meetings between the representatives of the two Churches:


After two days of meetings that included a conference focusing on "Russian culture and spirituality in the Vatican," Metropolitan Hilarion, the chief ecumenist of the Russian Orthodox Church and a composer in his own right, indicated that although the Churches must engage in theological discussions, it is also necessary that they engage in a "dialogue of the heart." He went on to say, "It seems to me that there are things which cannot be transmitted either through theological discourse or diplomacy, but can be transmitted through the language of art."

And perhaps more telling, the Metropolitan also said,
"Today, both of us see the importance of promoting Christian values in society. We cannot reduce our relations to just the unresolved theological questions." This comment echoed Pope Benedict who urged the two Churches to work together to bring people to an understanding of the essential role of faith in both private and public life. 

The next major step would be a meeting between Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill (the Russian Orthodox Patriarch), something that will likely have to await progress on some of the issues that separate the two Churches, specifically the problems surrounding the tensions in Western Ukraine. As always, our best approach is to trust in the movement of the Holy Spirit as He strives to bring the Church to the unity Jesus prayed for.

If you're interested in reading more about the subject, here are a few links:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Georgetown Should Lead and not Bar the Way

Back in the early sixties I attended Georgetown University for all of one year before receiving a congressional appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Now...let me say from the outset that my year at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service was a lot more fun than the subsequent four years at Annapolis. Indeed, there was really no comparison. After all, in those days the Naval Academy was severely lacking in some of the basic necessities that motivate the average college-age male -- e.g., beer and girls -- particularly during the monk-like existence of a midshipman's plebe (aka, freshman) year.

Now, don't worry, this deacon is not going to get all confessional on you and reveal the failings that marked "my salad days, when I was green in judgment..." Yes, I enjoyed myself while at Georgetown. And yes, I downed my share of cold beers at the 1789 and at Mac's Pipe and Drum at 34th and M, and I enjoyed the company of a number of lovely young ladies who attended Georgetown or other Catholic colleges in the DC area. But life was different 48 years ago, even life on a college campus. Despite occasional slippages, we were essentially moral young people. We certainly had no trouble recognizing immoral behavior in ourselves or others. We repented and went to confession frequently, and attended Mass on Sunday morning. And the university actually encouraged and supported us in this. Yes, it was a different world.

I mention all this because of what seems to have happened at Georgetown University in recent years. Our nation's oldest Catholic university has, in essence ceased being Catholic. Here are just a few examples from the university's recent record. Draw your own conclusions. I will begin with an event that almost boggles the mind:

Sex Positive Week. Last year GU hosted what was billed as "Sex Positive Week" during the first week of Lent. The event was hosted by the school's feminist and homosexual student clubs. It was quite an event and included forums on fetishism, cross-dressing and bondage. On Ash Wednesday there was a talk on "non-exploitative" pornography; but, wait, that's not all. One of the highlights was a talk by a pornographic filmmaker who spoke on “Relationships Beyond Monogamy." On and on it went...and also included theater, sex-positive poetry readings, and homemade pornography. Now, keep in mind, this is all being held on campus at an ostensibly Catholic (Jesuit) university and funded by the Student Activities Commission.

A Georgetown blog, lists details of some of the week's events. (If you're easily bothered by details on such subjects, I suggest you scroll down a ways.) I include the links just to show you I'm not making this up. The following is straight from the blog...

  • Tristan Taormino. The self-proclaimed “anal sexpert,” author, and pornographic director will be speaking in ICC 115 on Saturday at the event “Relationships Beyond Monogamy.” Her racey bibliography includes Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships and True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn and Perversion
  • Jenny Block. The author of Open: Love, Sex & Life in an Open Marriage will be speaking at the same event. But If the first chapter of her book (PDF), which sincerely discusses the difficulties of modern women, is any indication, she’ll won’t be anything like Taormino.
  • Last night’s “Torn about Porn” event, a discussion about whether images from No Fauxxx shown in a slideshow are “Sex Positive”—that is, affirming rather than objectifying or exploitative, like sex-negative porn. I attended this for tomorrow’s article. While you can construe the ten or so images in the slideshow as ‘offensive,’ the conversation was grounded, with most students concluding that porn is porn, and these images in particular are just “porn with hipsters in it.’
  • Mitzi from Black Rose, a D.C.-based bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism organization “that hosts, among other things, educational classes revolving around BDSM activities, issues, and safety.” She spoke at Monday night’s “Sex Positive … What’s that?”
  • Ricci Levy of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, a group which “educate[s] the public on the importance and value of sexual freedom and counter the arguments of groups seeking to restrict sexual rights”  (think Lawrence v. Texas) and “oppose[s] abstinence-only sex ‘education’ and endorse an age-appropriate, comprehensive approach to sex education.” She also appeared at Monday night’s “Sex Positive … What’s that?”
Isn't all this wonderful?

Cross Cover-Up. Back in April of last year, when President Obama selected Georgetown as the site of a policy speech, the university covered the Christian symbols (a cross and the letters I.H.S.) behind the president's podium, thus hiding the university's supposed affiliation with the Church.

The photo at left shows the IHS and Cross (circled) in their usual location. In the photo below, they have been covered up for the president's speech.

It seems a bit reminiscent of what took place in the courtyard of the high priest 2,000 years ago when Peter denied Our Lord.

Hey...Every Religion's Cool. From the Georgetown website:

Protestant, Jewish and Muslim worship takes place on campus [at Georgetown] in services organized by the Office of Campus Ministry and student groups. Bible studies, daily retreats and three Sunday worship services in the Protestant tradition take place on campus. The Jewish Chaplains and the Jewish Student Association hold a Shabbat dinner each Friday. A Muslim prayer room in Copley Hall is used for Islamic prayer and worship daily and there is a large Muslim community worship service each Friday. On Tuesday evenings there is an Orthodox prayer service in Copley Crypt.
In other words, religious services of other religions are offered on a Catholic campus, and this in Washington, DC where such services are available at numerous locations throughout the city. It's just another example of the relativism and syncretism that Pope Benedict XVI has consistently warned against.

Georgetown, of course, isn't alone. It activities and policies are mirrored by most of the other large, Catholic colleges and universities throughout the country. But as the nation's oldest Catholic institution of higher learning, Georgetown should lead the way in the New Evangelization by strengthening and not weakening its students' faith. And more importantly, it should certainly not be promoting and financially blatant immorality on campus.

Now when folks tell you that schools like Georgetown are no longer Catholic, you'll know what they mean.

Pray for our Catholic schools at every level.

Noah's Ark??

It seems some folks are absolutely certain that they've located Noah's Ark, or what's left of it, on Mt. Ararat in the Aras Mountains in modern day Turkey. Okay, they're pretty sure they've found it...well, maybe, sorta, could be...

The people who made the "discovery" consist of a team of Turkish and Chinese explorers -- and interesting combination in itself -- operating under the organizational auspices of Noah's Ark Ministries International Limited. You can check out their website at Noah's Ark Search. It includes some neat videos taken during the expedition.

The team claims it located some large chunks of ancient wood at about the 12,000-foot level of the mountain and that the wood has been dated to 4,800 years old. They reportedly found and entered a wooden ship-like structure embedded in the mountain's ice. As you might expect, other explorers who have been searching for the ark for years doubt the conclusions and suggest that it's all the result of an elaborate hoax. And so the whole thing has boiled over into a delicious controversy among all these different ark-searchers. You can read about the controversy here. Each, of course, wants to be the first to find the ancient craft.

A view of the "ark's" interior

Personally, I can't see how one could positively attribute any large wood fragments, even those found on top of Mt. Ararat, to Noah's Biblical ship. I don't believe they found a "Noah was here" inscription carved into the wood. But, then again, the story of Noah's ark eventually settling on top of a mountain is unique in ancient literature. So what else could it be? The remains of an ancient ski resort? If the wood and the structure are ultimately confirmed to be legitimate by a reputable third party, it will be interesting to see what kind of alternatives to Noah are suggested by the scientific community.

I know they're all very sincere, but I think these ark-searchers could be spending their time more productively on other pursuits. For example, Dr. John D. Morris, one of the ark-searchers who doubts the authenticity of the find, is President of Dallas’ Institute for Creation Research and a fundamentalist Christian who led 13 expeditions to Mt. Ararat between 1971 and 1990. Can you think of anyone else who has made more unsuccessful exploratory trips for any other purpose?

Anyway, it's all very interesting, if a bit strange, that so many people seem to need to find the ark to confirm their belief in the truth of Scripture. I'm a little surprised they're not trekking through Iraq looking for the Garden of Eden. One would hope their faith is not dependent on such physical evidence.

I certainly don't believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ because I also believe in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. I see the Shroud simply as a nice gift left behind by Our Lord, not as the source of my faith. How does that old hymn go? "We walk by faith and not by sight..."

Shroud of Turin

One of my disappointments this year is not being able to travel to Turin, Italy to view the Shroud of Turin, an ancient artifact that many (including me) believe to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ. The current exposition of the Shroud began on April 10 and will conclude this Sunday, May 23, when Pope Benedict XVI will venerate the Shroud and then celebrate Mass in the Piazza San Carlo where he will be joined by what is expected to be a huge crowd. The Archdiocese of Turin expects nearly 2 million pilgrims to have viewed the Shroud during the exposition.

If you are interested in learning more about the Shroud of Turin, visit the official website: The Holy Shroud. I've included a photo (below) of a full-length negative of the Shroud. Click on the image for a large photo.

...and here are links to some of the more interesting websites devoted to the Shroud:

Shroud of Turin Story.

The Shroud of Turin Website (by Barry Schwortz, an orthodox Jew who now believes in the Shroud's authenticity.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cardinal Newman Society in Support of Catholic Education

If you read this blog, even occasionally, you know that I have an interest in the renewal of Catholic higher education and the re-establishment of Catholic identity at Catholic colleges and universities. And because of this, I was especially pleased to hear that the Cardinal Newman Society has launched a major effort to support Catholic educators and bishops who are concerned about the state of Catholic higher education today.

According to a press release by the Society, this effort is the focus of the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education under the leadership of Dr. David House. The Center will study the best practices of Catholic institutions and encourage collaboration by sharing the results with other schools. In its release, the Society went on to say,
"The Center´s work focuses on issues of practical importance to college leaders and bishops in three key areas: institutional mission, academic quality and student life. Some of the topics for 2010 include measures for self-assessing Catholic identity; the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Vatican´s guidelines for Catholic colleges, on the document´s 20th anniversary; defending Catholic colleges against government threats to religious liberty; core curricula at Catholic colleges; and students´ spirituality and sexual activity on Catholic campuses."
Significantly, the newly formed Center has the active support of the Vatican, and one of its key advisers is Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome. Apart from the Pope himself, the Apostolic Signatura is the highest judicial authority of the Church, the supreme tribunal with the mission of ensuring justice in the Church is administered properly.

All in all the Center is a worthy undertaking. Let's pray that it receives the support of both our bishops and the leadership of our Catholic colleges and universities. And pray too for the cause of the canonization of John Henry Cardinal Newman (see photo), a cause led by Archbishop Burke.

And lest I forget, if you visit the Center's website, you can sign up for their email newsletter and keep informed on their activities. It's free.

The Cardinal Newman Society also publishes its Newman Guide To Choosing a Catholic College, an excellent publication that is also available online at The Newman Guide. If you're the parent or grandparent of a Catholic high school student, this guide should be required reading. And here's a link to a video overview of the Guide: Guide helps U.S. Catholics choose colleges.


Apple's Jobs: No Porn for iPhone & iPad

Occasionally common sense comes from uncommon places. Apple, Inc., that icon of the hi-tech counterculture -- you know, the folks who used to go to work in tie-dyed t-shirts just to drive those button-downed IBMers nuts -- has come down squarely on the side of morality and decency. 

In a response to an email complaining about Apple's restrictive policies on applications for the iPhone and iPad, Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, responded by talking about freedom:

"Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin', and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away."
Heavens! His take on freedom sounds remarkably similar to the Church's traditional theological understanding of freedom -- the freedom to do good and avoid evil.

And during a Q&A session in April, Jobs was asked whether Apple had "plans to allow unsigned applications on the iPhone?" (Unsigned applications are applications not approved by Apple.) Jobs' reply was beautiful:
"(W)e do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone...You know, there's a porn store for Android. You can download nothing but porn. You can download porn, your kids can download porn. That's a place we don't want to go - so we're not going to go there."
Three very loud cheers for Apple and Steve Jobs. His comments make me happy that I bought the iPhone and not one of the Android-based phones. I just may have to make the transition from PC to Mac. Now if I could only convince dear Diane to let me buy an iPad...

Here's a link to a story on Jobs' comments: Steve Jobs says 'No Porn' for iPhone and iPad Apps

Monday, May 17, 2010

French Catholicism -- Rebounding?

Probably about 30 years ago, while browsing in a used book store, I picked up a copy of a book published by Maisie Ward (of the famous marital and publishing partnership, Sheed and Ward) entitled, France Pagan? I believe it was written around 1940 by a French priest active in the worker-priest movement of that time. I don't know what happened to my copy, so I can't provide many details. I suspect I lent it to someone and then both lender and lendee forgot about it. Nevertheless, I do recall the author estimating that less than 10% of French workers at the time were practicing Catholics. The rest were, in essence, pagan -- fitting products of the French Revolution.

I've been to France only a few times, and then only for relatively brief visits; but on each visit I was struck by the lack of religious faith among the people I met. One of my bad habits when I travel is to somehow inject the subject of religion into every conversation that lasts longer than three minutes. The French would either scoff or raise an skeptical eyebrow or just smile knowingly, amazed that a seemingly intelligent person could still take religion seriously. I also noticed that, were it not for the tourists, the churches would be almost empty. I remember attending Mass at the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris on a beautiful Sunday morning in May 1985 and being surprised by an almost empty church. Perhaps 100 people joined me for Mass that morning and I suspect most were tourists and not Parisians. And yet when I left the church after Mass I found myself engulfed by probably several thousand locals just hanging out on the steps enjoying the view of the Parisian skyline or strolling around the grounds.It was all very depressing and brought to mind that Maisie Ward book.

And then back in January I posted something decrying the destruction of old churches in France -- Pagan Europe -- in which I also mentioned Ward's book. But then today I came across an article that gives me hope. It seems the French Church is following the Holy Father's lead and using popular media outlets to attract young men to the priesthood. One element of this more aggressive approach is the use of Facebook. I could give you the gist of the story, but I think it's best read in its entirety. Here's the link to, surprisingly, an AP story: French church recruits young priests via Facebook. It's well worth a read. Perhaps the Spirit has decided that the Internet can also be used for good. It's a nice story.

Pray for vocations...

Catholic AM Radio Station in Washington, DC

A couple of Texan millionaires have provided the necessary funding ($4 million) to start up a Catholic radio station in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. WMET (1160 on the AM dial) will transmit from suburban Gaithersburg, MD thanks to Texan land developers Donald and Phillip Huffines. The station, operated by Guadalupe Radio Network of Midland, TX, will provide daily 24-hour English language programming.

According to the Catholic Radio Association, this move is one more in a growing trend. Just ten years ago, in the year 2000, there were only seven Catholic radio stations. Today there are 165! And it's all the result of lay people buying up radio stations and using the free content provided by EWTN, the network founded by Mother Angelica in Birmingham, AL. What a wonderful example of Catholic laity taking up the challenge issued by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI to take an active role in the New Evangelization. Here's an article in the Washington Times on the purchase of the station. The following video of Raymond Arroyo's show on EWTN also discusses the purchase of the station.

This new station, of course, is particularly welcome because it will broadcast Catholic programming within the DC Beltway. Maybe Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and some of our other Catholic pols will occasionally tune in and listen. Could we perhaps soon witness the mass conversion of Catholic politicians to actual Catholicism? Hey, it could happen: "The Spirit blows where it wills..." [Jn 3:8]

All you DC-area Catholics should support this new station along with its sponsors so it will be a commercial success. DC is a tough radio market because all the movers and shakers are way too busy listening to themselves.

Pray for the station's success and for conversion in our nation's capital. God's peace...

Episcopalian One-upmanship

Actually, I should not have used the term "one-upmanship" when speaking of the Episcopal Church. It is, of course, a sexist term, one that kicks sand in the face of the diverse beings among us. Trouble is, I couldn't think of a suitable substitute. It will have to do.

The Episcopal Church, you see, continues to break new ground. First, it ordains women priests. Then it decides that openly homosexual men (and, of course, women) should also be elevated to the presbyterate. From here the next logical step was women bishops and then an active homosexual male bishop, preferably one who has dumped his wife for a male lover. But it ain't over, for there are new peaks to climb, new icons to smash. For the first, and I'm sure not the last, time the Episcopal Church has ordained a lesbian as a bishop. The Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, of Baltimore, was ordained Saturday in the Long Beach Arena before a crowd of 3,000. She will serve in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

It seems the crowd was very pleased since they burst into applause after the ordination, although at least one man and a boy dissented. According to a news report, "the man stood, shouted about the need to repent and held up a sign that read 'Do not be deceived, homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.'" Moments later a young boy in the same section rose holding a Bible and shouted similar slogans. Both were escorted from the arena by security guards. Of course, two people dissenting from the bleachers are the least of the church's problems. This act will lead only to more fracturing within the worldwide Anglican communion. Click here to read one take on the issue: Upheaval in the Anglican communion over lesbian bishop.

I'm really not all that sure what our Episcopalian bothers and sisters will do next, but I'm sure the plans are in place. So many barriers remain to be broken down. Unless it's already been done, maybe we will soon see our first transgendered bishop. Of perhaps, in an effort to quash one of today's greatest sins against diversity -- speciesism -- they might decide to ordain a goat. Guess the rest of us will just have to wait and see.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

Homily: Solemnity of the Ascension

Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47; Eph 1:17-23; Lk 24:46-53

Let’s see, is anyone here retired? Hmm, maybe I should have asked if anyone wasn’t retired.

As most of us here know, retirement can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be a confusing time for some folks, especially when it’s compounded by a move away from long familiar surroundings. It’s hard to leave a place where you raised your children, to sell a home filled with memories, and start all over in a new place. It’s hard to say, “Goodbye,” to the old friends, to the children and grandchildren…

Of course, we try to soften the pain of parting by making promises: “I’ll phone you every week.” or “We’ll email pictures to each other.” or “We’ll visit every summer.” Yes, we try to convince ourselves that nothing will change, but it’s just not the same, is it?

Now, what does all this have to do with the Ascension?

Well, I suspect Jesus’ disciples experienced some of these same emotions. Once again, Jesus had left them alone. Once again, they faced an uncertain future, accompanied by an overwhelming sense of loss, feelings of emptiness. This Jesus, whom they loved so much, this Jesus, whom they had known in His humanity, was lifted up in His divinity right before their eyes.

He was gone. And as often as he’d reminded them — in a little while I will leave you — it really hadn’t sunk in. They realized that Jesus would no longer be present as a matter of fact; no, his presence instead would be a matter of faith. He’d no longer be seen and heard with eyes and ears, no longer be touched.

To make matters more frightening, He’s left them with an enormous responsibility, one they couldn’t begin to comprehend. Tell them about me, he commanded. Preach about me, tell them everything I told you…and tell everyone…tell all the nations of the earth.

And so what did they do? The angel tells us: "Why are you just standing there staring up at the sky?" Yes, there they were, unable to move, staring skyward in their disbelief, awestruck by what they had just witnessed.

There was something urgent about Jesus’ departure, wasn't there? Just a few words…and He was gone. The disciples must have wondered why: Why did He have to go now? We wanted more time with Him. There’s still so much we don’t understand. Why couldn’t He have stayed with us a little longer? Eternity can wait. We need you here now!

They’d followed Him, watched Him, and learned from Him. They were eyewitnesses to all He’d done and all that had been done to Him. But that had simply been their time of preparation. And now, the preparation was over.

As they stood on that mountain with Jesus, He assigned them the monumental task that would bring new purpose to their lives: You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth. Of course they weren’t ready for it. They weren’t ready for His departure or for the task.

How could they part from the one they loved and go on without Him? But they could and would go on…because of the promises that Jesus made. You see that’s what the Ascension is all about. It’s really all about promises. And unlike us, Jesus always keeps His promises.

It was those promises, and the assurances they brought with them, that softened the pain of parting. I’ll stay in touch, He said. I’ll never leave you alone. I’ll be with you always. I’ll send you the promise of my Father. I’ll send you an advocate, the Holy Spirit who will teach you all things. And, don’t be afraid, because I will come back to you. Yes, for Jesus a promise is more than a good intention, more than a sentiment. It’s a divine truth. It’s a reality.

And here’s the wonderful part of all this. Jesus’ makes the same promises to us. That’s right, just like the disciples, we shouldn’t stand around staring up at the sky wondering when he’s coming back.

We wait because He told us to wait, but He told us to wait productively. For we share in same task, the same responsibility, He gave to the disciples. What He gave to them, He gives to us. What He was to them, He is to us.

The Jesus we wait to see, the Jesus we hope to see, is the same Jesus who walked with the disciples…the same Jesus who was beaten and crucified…the same Jesus the disciples watched ascend into the clouds of heaven…the same Jesus who gives Himself to us in the Eucharist at this Mass and at every other Mass. Body, blood, soul and divinity – He is present just as He was present to the disciples. But the disciples hadn’t understood any of this yet.

He must have felt sorry for them. He loved them so much. And so He lingered with them a while. I’m sure it was hard for Him to leave, as it always is with people who love one other. His human heart made Him take them aside one last time.

Then He left. He left so they could receive His most precious gift, the Holy Spirit, the gift He instructed them to pray for. And we too need to accept His Spirit of Truth, especially when it challenges the spirit of the world.

And let us never forget that Jesus, God incarnate, took human form. He suffered the very real death of that human body, rose from the dead and lives today…all in that human body. The Risen Jesus who ascended to the Father did so in a human body, sanctified by His Divinity. In all of this Jesus sanctified the body by taking on human flesh. He sanctified all human life and brought a new holiness to our humanity.

And so, when I hear someone speak of an unborn child as if it were only a useless piece of tissue, something to be discarded in the trash, I can only imagine the reaction of our Savior. How did He put it? “…as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” All those useless pieces of tissue with their tiny beating hearts, those least brothers or sisters of Our Lord, have been sanctified by their Creator Who shares in their humanity. And so, whatever we do to these least ones, we do to Jesus Christ Himself.  Do you see now why the Church has consistently called abortion an inherent evil, one that can never be condoned?

Indeed, in our sinfulness we need repentance today just as the world always has. We need to thank God for God, for our Risen Lord, that He lives in His risen, human body. He is as present as He ever was, in the Eucharist, in His Holy Word, in the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, and in each of us, in our community of faith here in Wildwood. And His work, the work He gave to his disciples, continues through all of us.

We haven’t been left alone; we have His Spirit to guide us, and we have each other. This Church He founded is not a church of the few, not a church of the elite…No, it’s a universal Church – go to all nations, He told them. It’s not a church of the perfect, but a Church of sinners, a messy, complicated, fragile, often confusing Church. But it’s a Church that, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, brings God’s Word, God's love, and God’s truth to a broken world.

It’s Jesus’ Church; it’s the Apostles’ Church; it’s our Church; and it will continue to exist, continue to thrive, continue to bring God’s grace to our sinful and problem-filled world until Jesus comes again in glory.

And for all that we say: “Thanks be to God!”

Church History: Book Recommendations

Among my many interests is Church History. It is just an interest; I am by no means an expert. And while I have read rather extensively on the subject, I approach this reading not as a student but just as a reader. As a result, I seem to recall little of what I have read. Indeed, I can safely join with Flannery O'Connor and claim, "Total non-retention has kept my education from being a burden to me."

And yet, despite my lack of expertise and my sketchy knowledge, I have enjoyed many of the books that make up my growing Church History library; and so I have decided to share several of my favorites. I trust you will enjoy them as much as I have. All relate to the early Church, those first few centuries of Christianity as it expanded and defined itself while it confronted threats both internal and external.

The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of GodThe Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God, by Robert Louis Wilken, is a marvelous book, a well-written and comprehensive overview of how the early Christians thought about their faith, about God and the world. Written for all of us, not just for scholars, it provides a window into the development of Christian thought by those remarkable teachers in the early Church. Wilken connects the dots between such brilliant early theologians as Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius and others. The author is Professor of Early Christian History at the University of Virgina and the author of many other excellent books on the subject. He is also a frequent contributor to First Things, one of my favorite magazines. Other books by Dr. Wilken in my library include: The Christians as the Romans Saw Them and The Land Called Holy: Palestine in Christian History and Thought. Both are worth reading.

We Look for a Kingdom: The Everyday Lives of the Early ChristiansWe Look for a Kingdom: The Everyday Lives of the Early Christians, by Carl J. Sommer, takes the reader back to the first and second centuries of Christianity and reconstructs the lives of the early Christians. The author has made use of the most recent archaeological and documentary discoveries to bring this era to life and to trace the development of the key concepts that are the basis of our faith. His main focus, though, is on the spiritual lives of these early Christians, our mothers and fathers in faith, and the lessons we can learn as we face the challenges of our modern world. More than a book on early Church history, it is also a book on spirituality and should be approached with this in mind. The author is a student of Historical Theology, and Ignatius Press publishes the book.

Church and State in Early ChristianityChurch and State in Early Christianity, by Fr. Hugo Rahner, S.J., the renowned church historian address the relationship between Church and state during Christianity's first eight centuries -- from the Apostolic Age to the time of Charlemagne. In addition to the author's expert commentary, the book also includes a selection of many early documents thus providing the reader with first-hand evidence of the nature of this evolving relationship. Indeed, the inclusion of these source documents are what make this book so valuable. And given the current controversy in our own country, and really throughout the entire world, on the nature of the relationship between religions and the state, this book offers some serious insights that should not be ignored. In the words of Church historian and Christendom College president, Dr. Warren Carroll, "This is Catholic history as it ought to be written by Catholics."

The Fathers of the Church, Expanded EditionThe Fathers of the Church, Expanded Edition, by Mike Aquilina, offers the reader a brief introduction to the Fathers of the early Church, the leaders and teachers of the Christian community during its formative centuries. It is well-written and easy to read, and contains just enough brief selections from the Church Fathers to whet your appetite for more. When you have finished this book you  will want to learn more about what the Fathers thought and taught and wrote. The author has writtten or edited a number of other books for Our Sunday Visitor books.

That's enough...for now. God's peace...

Strong Support for Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict was greeted by a huge crowd of supporters when he led the Regina Caeli at noon on Sunday. Estimates of the size of the crowd ranged to well over 200,000. This gathering of the faithful demonstrated their strong support for this pope as he leads the Church through these difficult times. Overflowing with enthusiasm, the people gathered in St. Peter's Square waved yellow balloons and held banners that showed their solidarity with the Pontiff. Banners and signs included: "Together with the Pope" and "Your Holiness, you are not alone" and "The whole Church is with you."

Pope Benedict said he was comforted by such a "beautiful and spontaneous show of faith and solidarity" and went on to remind the gathering that "The true enemy to fear and combat is sin, spiritual evil, which, unfortunately, also infects members of the Church." In anticipation of the Church's celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost, he said, "In the course of this week we will pray with the whole Church for the coming of the Holy Spirit, asking him to pour out his gifts upon our families, our parishes, and all whom we love."

Here's a brief glimpse of the scene -- from the Vatican's YouTube page.

Pray for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Want to Lose Your Faith? Go to a Catholic College.

Lest you think the above heading is an intentional exaggeration, I suggest you read a study released in February. It examines the beliefs of students at Catholic colleges and universities, focusing particularly on the changes those beliefs undergo over four years. The study, conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), and presented to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, included some disturbing findings.

Apparently, over four years Catholic students' support for the Church's teachings on moral issues declines significantly. The decline is only slightly less among students who attend Catholic institutions than those who attend secular schools. According to the report, released by the Cardinal Newman Society, only 16% of students at Catholic institutions become more pro-life, while 31% moved in the opposite direction, becoming more supportive of abortion. And 39% became more supportive of same-sex marriage. But the most disturbing finding is that their attendance at a Catholic college or university results in no statistically significant difference in students' attitudes toward such issues as abortion, same-sex marriage, the death penalty, etc.

Indeed, Patrick J. Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society, didn't pull any punches in addressing these findings:

“Catholics should be alarmed by the significant declines in Catholic practice and fidelity at many of America’s Catholic institutions. Everyone expects a Catholic college to be markedly different from a secular one. Students should be inspired to embrace and deepen their Catholic faith, not negotiate around Catholic moral teaching.”
But Richard Yanikoski, President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, didn't seem very bothered by the results:

“...a typical Catholic undergraduate student attending a Catholic college or university emerges more spiritually intact than if she or he had attended a public or secular private institution, but not nearly as spiritually active as would have been the case a few decades ago.”
Now that's a scary comment. I guess he thinks it's good that students lose their faith a little more slowly at Catholic colleges than at secular institutions.

The report of the findings is actually pretty interesting and can be accessed here (a ten-page pdf file): Special Report: Are Catholic Colleges Leading Students Astray?

This study is one more good reason for Catholic high-schoolers and their parents to avoid all those colleges that describe themselves as an "institution of higher learning in the Catholic tradition" or the "...Jesuit tradition"  or the whatever "tradition." When you see words like that you can be pretty sure it's a tradition long since suppressed. Instead, check out the schools I mentioned in yesterday's post. Not only will your daughter or son get a quality education, but they just might save their soul too.

(There is a touch of irony that the report came out of Georgetown University, one of those Catholic schools that lost its true Catholic identity some time ago.)