Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Next radio show today at 1:30ET (12:30pm Central)

Call in and ask your question. Or reply with a question as a comment here. You can ask anonymously. The phone number is 818-394-8550 or email philinaberdeen@gmail.com

Comments also welcome.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Next radio program at 1:30pm Eastern (12:30pm Central) Today

To listen to my live show, click the play button in the column to the right.

To call in, dial (818) 394-8550.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Next Program on Monday, September 26 at 1:00PM EST (12:00PM Central)

Please call into the show. Press the play button on the right to hear the live episode, or if it is not playing, to hear the latest episode.

The number to reach me on the air is 1 (818) 394-8550.

Or you can add a comment to this blog post or email me at philinaberdeen@gmail.com

I'm now on the air until 3pm ET. Please call in.

Listen by pressing play on the side

Friday, September 24, 2010

Next Radio Program at 1:00 ET Today

Hey everyone,

I will be airing my next radio broadcast today at 1:00PM Eastern Time (12:00 Central). The show is 2 hours.

To listen, go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/holymotherchurch/2010/09/24/the-catholic-faith-discussion-forum

As usual, I will be discussing Catholic issues, but also general issues of morality, ethics, etc. from a Catholic perspective.

Please feel free to call into the show at 1 (818) 394-8550.

I will also answer qusetions I receive via email. There are two ways to reach me:

1) Comment on this blog post
2) Email me at mailto:philinaberdeen@gmail.comwith subject RADIO SHOW

Hope you can listen in!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

My radio show is on the air right now - please listen

Hi everyone,

I have a Catholic Radio Show which is on the air right now.

You can listen here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/holymotherchurch/2010/09/23/the-catholic-faith-discussion-forum-1
Please call in. I have no callers so far. The number is 1 (818) 394-8550

Don't be shy!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Could dust threaten the Sistine Chapel

It seems the millions of visitors to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City are carrying dust and pollen with them. This may cause problems down the road and so the Vatican is looking at ways to protect the artwork.

Here is the full article:

Tourist crowds threaten Vatican's Sistine Chapel

(AP) – 1 hour ago

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican Museums chief warned that dust and polluting agents brought into the Sistine Chapel by thousands of tourists every day risk one day endangering its priceless artworks.

Antonio Paolucci told the newspaper La Repubblica in comments published Thursday that in order to preserve Michelangelo's Last Judgment and the other treasures in the Sistine Chapel, new tools to control temperature and humidity must be studied and implemented.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people a day, or over 4 million a year, visit the chapel where popes get elected, to admire its frescoes, floor mosaics and paintings.

"In this chapel people often invoke the Holy Spirit. But the people who fill this room every day aren't pure spirits," Paolucci told the newspaper.

"Such a crowd ... emanates sweat, breath, carbon dioxide, all sorts of dust," he said. "This deadly combination is moved around by winds and ends up on the walls, meaning on the artwork."

Paolucci said better tools were necessary to avoid "serious damage" to the chapel.

Visitors who want to see Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" in Milan must go through a filtration system to help reduce the work's exposure to dust and pollutants. This has made seeing da Vinci's masterpiece more difficult: 25 visitors are admitted every 15 minutes.

The Sistine Chapel, featuring works by Michelangelo, Botticelli and Perugino, underwent a massive restoration that ended in the late 1990s. The restoration was controversial because some critics said the refurbishing made the colors brighter than originally intended.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hilarious Protestor

While some were protesting with simplistic slogans like Nope to the Pope, one man had a hilarious poster that showed his true Catholic understanding and sense of humour.

Check out the story here: http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/09/19/one-protester-the-pope-would-have-liked/

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Papal Protestors Oppose Freedom of Religion

Isn't it so ironic? Secularists, atheists, and the liberally-minded all say that people have the right to believe or do anything they want. If you want to have sex with anyone, go right ahead. If you end up pregnant, get an abortion if you want. If you want to have a religion, have one, but if you don't want one, then don't. So much choice. Freedom in their minds is the ability to do anything one wants. Ironically though, behind this thin veneer of freedom, we find a dictatorship. You can believe anything you like, as long as it agrees with them.

Kind of reminds me of Henry Ford when he said you can have any color car you want, as long as it's black. A prominent group of atheists including Richard Dawkins is protesting the Pope's visit to Britain. Along with him are many secularists and liberals in general who want the pope nowhere near the UK.

They say the state should not be sponsoring the trip of the leader of a Church which condemns the killing of children in the womb, restricts (as Jesus did) the ministerial priesthood to men, and which upholds the traditional views on marriage which preclude homosexual unions and contraception.

They say we are free to believe anything we want, as long as we support abortion, female ordination, homosexual unions, and contraception. Sounds like doublespeak to me. Kind of like calling North Korea, which doesn't hold elections and oppresses its people, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

These individuals do not want freedom, they want oppression. They demand that everyone support their agenda and allow all kinds of moral evil, while at the same time preventing people from upholding traditional values.

While the Pope calls for freedom of religion and conscience, these tyrants say the state should do all in its power to eradicate religion and religious belief. Only atheism, they say, can be acceptable. Richard Dawkins gets so much media attention where he is able to express all his atheistic beliefs. He writes books which sell to millions of people. Yet when another man, namely Pope Benedict, is invited to offer his thoughts, Richard Dawkins is livid. He even tried to have the pope arrested.

Richard Dawkins and his atheist cronies have no real power right now and yet when the pope visits they receive extraordinary levels of media coverage. With the little power they have, they try to destroy freedom of religion, they say any expression of a thought contrary to theirs should be banned, and they generally try to create an atheistic totalitarian regime.

Imagine what they'd do if they had any real power.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

14:06ET Mass has ended

The Scottish Mass has ended. The pope's trip to Scotland is now officially concluded.

Ita Missa Est!

13:46 All nationalities receive communion from the pope

All kinds of people are receiving the Eucharist from the pope. One Indian lady was wearing a sari. When receiving they kneel in front of the pope who is sitting. He places the eucharist on their tongue and a priest hold a communion patent under their mouth.

13:43ET Pope giving communion

The pope and other bishops and priests are distributing communion to the masses now.

While people receive the Eucharist, the choir is singing a St. Teresa's Church favorite, Take and Eat. There is a certain Scottish flavour to their rendition.

13:28ET Pope continues with Eucharistic Prayers

The pope's English is really very good. Very clear and easy to understand.

13:26ET Pope prepares and censes altar

The pope prepares the altar with incense.

13:21ET Offering of the gifts

Several people bring forth the gifts of bread and wine to the pope, which he will pray over and they will become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

The going forward included two ladies of African descent, a young disabled man and another women, a young couple, a young woman and an older woman, and a young boy and girl.

13:15ET General Intercessions of Papal Mass in Scotland

The pope leads general intercessions after a moment of silence following his homily.
(After each petition, the choir sings, Lord Hear Our Prayer)

1. For Pope Benedict, all ministers of the church, and the people they are called to lead and serve. that united in one spirit, they may be true servants of the Gospel

2. For those who serve us in public office that they may come to the aid of those in need.

3. (Given in another language, probably Scottish Gaelic)

4. For an increase in vocations, after the example of St. Ninian, that men and women may serve with love.

5. For our young people, as valued members of the Body of Christ, that they may always choose the path that leads to life

6. For those who have died in the hope of rising again that they may know the hope of God forever.

7. Pope: Father, hear the prayers of your people. We ask you to grant what we have brought you in faith. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Congregation: Amen.

13:01ET Papal homily

The pope is now giving his homily.

He is starting by thanking the bishops of Scotland.

Here is a summary of what the pope is saying:

Jesus is proclaiming his coming by going from town to town. Much has happened since the visit of Pope John Paul II. He called Catholics to walk hand-in-hand with other Christians. Benedict said to continue workign with them based on their common Christian heritage.

St. Paul appeared to the Romans to say we belong to Christ's body and each other in respect and love. This year marks for the 450th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Also it is the anniversary of the modern ecumenical movement.

St. Paul lists gifts, including teaching. The preaching of the gospel has always been done together with concern for people in the world.

St. Andrews is beginning to mark the 600th anniversary of its founding.

Scottish Catholic Schools have given education to many students. Helped young people in spiritual growth and growth in professional life. Never lose sight to use talents and experience. Engage the culture at all levels.

Some now seek to exclude religious blief from public discourse or to privatize it. Religious freedom is a guarantee of respect and makes us look upon each other as a brother and sister. Our baptismal calling is to be examples. Society needs clear voices to call for true welfare of citizens and offers protection to them. Do not be afraid to take up this struggle.

There are many great saints from these areas.

Be patient in suffering. Persevere.

Brothers, let me encourage in your pastoral leadership, as you know one of your first duties is to your priests and their sanctification. They are alter christus. Bring charity which flows from Christ. Pray for vocations. That the lord may send laborers to the harvest. Priests are central to the life of the Church.

Give ourselves completely to the service of God.

Deacons serve in their own way. Encourage them to grow in their mission.

Priests of Scotland, you are called to holiness and to serve God's people by modeling your lives on the mystery of God's cross. Preach the gospel with a pure heart and a clear conscience. Become shining examples for young men. Let them join you in your single-minded service of God's people.

Let me encourage the monks, nuns. Live a Christian life of prayer.

My dear young Catholics of Scotland, live lives in imitation of our Lord. Abuse of money, sex, pornography. These things are destructive and divisive. Only our Love of Jesus Christ can last. Search for him, know him, love him, and he will set you free from slavery. Put aside what is worthless, and learn your own dignity as children of God. Jesus asked us to pray for vocations.

I pray that many of you will know and love Jesus Christ. Dedicate yourselves completely to God, especially those of you who are called to the priesthood and religious life. The Church now belongs to you. Dear friends, I express my joy in celebrating this Mass with you. I send my prays in the ancient language of your country.

God's peace and blessing to you all. May God bless the people of Scotland.

---- End ----

Please note: That was not a precise transcript and many words and sections are missing. I simply typed as much as I could. I hope I captured the gist of the pope's message.

12:56ET Gospel Reading

The gospel is from Luke Chapter 10, verses 1 to 9 and is being sung.

It is from the Jerusalem Bible translation.

Here is the text from another translation:

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy (-two) 2 others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
3 Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' 4
If a peaceful person 5 lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'

12:43 Singing the Gloria in Excelsis Deo

The choir is now singing the Gloria in Excelsis Deo

12:39ET Mass Begins

The Holy Father is now preparing to speak and begin the Mass.

Mass begins at 12:39ET. The pope celebrates the Mass in English. He begins with the Confiteor.

Now a choir sings the Kyrie.

12:38ET Hymn sung by choir

The hymn being sung uses the tune of Lord of All Hopefullness, but I do not know if that is the hymn being sung, because the words sound different.

The pope gave two bishops of Scotland special chalices as gifts. They in return gave him a gift as well.

The bishop now speaking is greeting the pope and saying that it is the feast day of St. Ninian. He goes on to speak of St. Augustine of Canterbury and St. Columba. They say the faith went from Scotland to Ireland.

They mention also St. Aidan and the Venerable (St.) Bede.

The bishop mentions St. John Ogilvie who was martyred for his alligiance to the church.

The bishop now mentions John Henry Newman who will be beatified during this trip.

He said JPII "challenged us for the future to walk hand in hand."

He finishes by giving the Bishop of Rome "a hundred thousand welcomes".

12:29ET The Papal Procession has begun

A numbers of bishops in procession have entered Bellahouston field, including one Eastern Catholic bishop. A hymn is playing. The pope is now becoming visible and the crowd has erupted in applause. The music is reminiscient of the music you hear at the Vatican during solemnities. The pope is donning a gold miter and cloak, and carrying a gold crucifix. The music is English and speaks of the "Shepherd of Israel", referring to Jesus.

As the bishops make their way into the area, they kiss the altar on which the sacrifice will be celebrated.

12:25ET Weather in Glasgow

The current weather condition in Glasgow is 14 degrees C, or 57 F. It seems a little windy but the skies are clear. Pilgrims are still awaiting the pope.

12:23ET Large crowds awaiting Pope

Right now there are large crowds assembled in Bellahouston Park awaiting the arrival of the pope. There are many flags, mostly Vatican flags. The people are chanting something about the pope as they wait for Mass to begin.

Papal Mass coverage beginning at 12ET

I will be covering the Papal Mass by Pope Benedict XVI at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Coverage will begin at 12ET. Let's hope for a large turnout.

Another Popemobile Video

This video gives an idea of the level of security around the pope. Fascinating.

If Americans can do anything well, it's security, in the form of secret service and so on. Just amazing. Did you hear the helicopter overhead? And these are just the visible vehicles and officers. There are countless officers in the crowds and snipers atop buildings, etc.

Interesting video about the "popemobile"

Pope arrives in the UK

Pope Benedict arrived in the UK today and on his way in the airplane, he made a pronouncement about the sexual abuse scandal.

He said, "These revelations were for me a shock and a great sadness. It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly ministry was possible," he told reporters aboard his plane to Scotland. "How a man who has done this and said this can fall into this perversion is difficult to understand."

He went on to add: "It is also a great sadness that the authorities of the church were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently quick and decisive in taking the necessary measures."

From my perspective, the pope has been personally hurt by the abuse scandals. He is a very holy and humble man and when he heard about these things, he was very sad for the victims.

Obviously though his comments were not enough for certain groups. SNAP, the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests, called the pontiff's remarks "disingenuous" and said he didn't go far enough.

I doubt the pope would ever be able to do enough to appease certain groups. I think the pope has done everything possible to ensure the safety of children and punish wrongdoers.

He first arrived in Edinburgh to meet with the Queen. At around 12ET today, the pope will celebrate Mass at Bellahouston Park, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How will the pope be received in the UK?

A lot of commentators have made the point that Pope Benedict XVI will not receive the best welcome when he goes to the UK because of all the protesters and the general apathy toward religion and specifically Catholicism in the country. But I think they are making some incorrect assumptions.

First of all, the pope has visited places which would be much more hostile toward him, such as:

Turkey from November 28 to December 1, 2006
This was one of the pope's first visits to a foreign country as pontiff. Less than 1% of the population is Christian and the country is described as Muslim by the government. The man who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II advised the pope not to visit.

Cameroon from March 17 to March 23, 2009
The pope visited this country just a year after it experienced its worst violence in 15 years.

Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories from May 8 to May 15, 2009
Obviously there is a great deal of religious violence between Muslims and Jews in these areas. Christians have also been the untold victims of these battles. Yet, despite the risk, the pope visited this area.

On top of this, the media is generally reporting from a so-called "balanced" point of view where they find it necessary to interview both those in favour of the pope's visit and those against it. However, they tend to focus on the opposed because it makes for better news.

I've seen it happen before though. The media will report how there will be protests and apathy, etc. but then when the pope actually arrives, these reports are proven wrong once again as millions of people flock to hear the Bishop of Rome.

Itinerary of Pope's Trip to the United Kingdom

The Pope will be visiting the UK starting tomorrow. Here is a brief itinerary for his visit:

Thu. September 16
Arrival in Scotland at 5:30 AM ET / 2:30 AM PT
Visit with Her Majesty The Queen at 6 AM ET /3 AM PT
Mass at Bellahouston Park at 12 PM ET /9 AM ET

Fri. September 17
St. Mary's University at 5:00 AM ET /2 AM PT
Meeting with Youth at 6:30 AM ET / 3:30 AM PT
Meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury at 10:30 AM ET / 7:30 AM PT
Westminster Hall at 12:00 PM ET / 9 AM PT
Westminster Abbey at 1PM ET / 10 AM PT

Sat. September 18
Mass in Westminster Cathedral at 5:00 AM ET /2 AM PT
St. Peter's Residence at 12:00 PM ET /9 AM PT
Hyde Park at 1:00 PM ET /10 AM PT

Sun. September 19
Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman
Live at 4:30 AM ET / 1:30 AM PT
Departure at 1:00 PM ET /10 AM PT

I will try to keep my readers updated as much as possible on the Holy Father's trip.

Papal Protesters Plan Pitiful Parade

The Holy Father will be visiting UK, starting in Scotland, on Thursday. He'll then make his way down to London. The British media has been doing its darndest to present this trip as a terrible idea, giving a huge platform to any and everyone who has a beef against the papal visitation.

In this article I will attempt to show the reasons for the protests and demonstrate why they are senseless.

1) They want the Church to change its 2000-year-old belief system
This is perhaps the most perplexing goal of the protesters. They want the Vatican to change its stance on many of its doctrines. This is an absurd demand. Would these people demand that Muslims stop recognizing Muhammed as a prophet or protest the fact that Jews wear a yalmulke and perform circumcisions?

The Church has held these beliefs for millenia and they are not going to (and indeed cannot) change them for the will of a small group of people.

They want the church to ordain women, promote contraception, and teach that abortion is alright. The Church cannot "decide" to change her teachings on the sanctity of life anymore than it can decide to stop teaching that God is a trinity. I really find it quite funny when people ask for such things. Would anyone ask the Dalai Lama to stop believing in reincarnation simply because they didn't want to believe in it? It's absolutely absurd.

2) It's too expensive
The pope's trip to the UK will cost British tax payers about £20 million. Many of the protesters, which include secularists, atheists, and those against Church teaching, say this is far too much. However, I heard no such protest in the UK when the King of Saudi Arabia visited, even though his country does not allow freedom of religion and where women have few rights. Nor did I hear protests about money when the President of China, where human rights violations are commonplace, visited.

It seems its ok to spend a lot of money when the leaders of China and Saudi Arabia arrive, but spending money on the Pope is unacceptable.

3) The pope must address the sex abuse scandal!
I get where the protesters are coming from on this one. Here's a church where a lot of young boys were sexually assaulted by priests, and the pope has yet to make a single comment on it or create any laws against it! It's almost as though the pope doesn't care at all. In fact, some would say he's personally responsible. If only he could do "something".

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but the pope HAS done a lot. First of all, he's spoken on the sex abuse scandal dozens of times. He has referred to removing these abusive priests as "removing the filth" from the Church. In all its history, the Church has condemned sexual abuse, especially of minors. In this case, most abuse was of a homosexual nature between a teenage boy and a male priest.

In 1962, the Vatican published guidelines for exposing any priest who committed illegal acts of homosexuality, pedophilia, and zoophilia. Not reporting a priest who did these things could carry possible excommunication.

In 1983, the Vatican specifically mentioned sexual abuse of minors as a serious crime.

After that, year after year, the Vatican continuously denounced sexual assault of minors. The Church encourages people to work with law enforcement when such cases arise.

Sexual abuse sadly exists in all facets of society, most of the time at greater levels than are seen in the Catholic Church. For example, schools have been a veritable breeding ground of sexual assault. Basically any area where adults are caring for minors there will be sexual assault. I even read a report that showed that in New York City, sexual abuse of minors in schools was rampant and that only 1% of perpetrators were reported. The rest were either transferred to another school or kept on.

Despite all of this, there are no protests over teachers or schools. Nor are there protests against scout organizations, swim facilities, etc. It seems some people are very selective about who they will protest when it comes to sexual abuse.

Also, despite the Vatican and local churches doing a great deal, people keep harping on thoroughly unspecific demands, such as "more transparency", or "tougher guidelines", etc. However, no mention is ever made of any actual efforts by the Church. I think the reason for this is protestors are desperate to paint the Church in an entirely negative light, and they believe that by continually demanding seemingly very reasonable requests and then claiming the Church is doing nothing, they hope to gain public support. But why do they not protest any other group that is responsible for sexual abuse?

Those who are opposing the pope's visit typically have a grudge against organized religion or anyone who preaches moral standards. Also, the target of their protests are not Muslim or Jewish groups. Instead, they go after the easy target, the one that will not fight back. The Catholic Church is also the one that speaks the truth and has the most authoritative voice.

I wish I was among the enormous crowds of people welcoming the pontiff in Scotland in a few days from now.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What makes something "offensive"?

What makes something offensive or blasphemous? Is something offensive only if someone takes offense to it? Conversely, is everything that anyone find offensive actually offensive?

These questions are all basically asking the same thing: is blasphemy, offense, and even sacrilege subjective or objective? Most people contend they are subjective, but I disagree.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Blasphemy (Greek blaptein, "to injure", and pheme, "reputation") signifies etymologically gross irreverence towards any person or thing worthy of exalted esteem.

It does not mention a particular individual's feelings toward something. Therefore, a drunken sailor who uses the Lord's name in vain may not have any moral qualms about doing it. This action would nonetheless be considered offensive.

The reason I bring up this issue in the first place is that because most people now view blasphemy or offense as subjective, they reason that we should not limit exposure to such things or try to eliminate them because someone somewhere will be offended anyway.

I have seen things which are offensive and give me an immediate negative reaction. However, a friend might see the same thing and say "Well, I don't see what's so offensive about that. I don't really think it's blasphemous". They may even indicate that they were not disgusted by it, or that they can tolerate viewing such a thing.

They equate their internal reaction to a work of art, sound, or other experience with how offensive or blasphemous it is. In other words, if something does not make them upset or angry, it should be permitted.

This stance however quickly becomes a form of emotionalism, where moral decisions are made based on fleeting feelings. This is a very dangerous road to take. How we behave toward persons and objects must be determined by their inherent value, not by a visceral reaction. No different than a person's value does not depend on the amount of love the other feels for that person.

Determining what actually is offensive can be a challenging task. I have already explained why personal feelings cannot be used exclusively to determine if something is offensive or not. With a well-developed sense of justice, a person can correctly identify offensive or blasphemous things. However, without such a sense, many offensive things would not appear as such.

I believe something can be considered offensive or blasphemous when proper consideration is not given where it is due. Or when someone or something is portrayed in a way contrary to its inherent dignity.

It would be offensive to portray a clean person as filthy, or to portray a tall man as short. Blasphemy is basically something which is offensive that is directed toward God or something holy. Since God is all good, it would be blasphemy to say he is anything other than good. To call God bad would be blasphemous because it is contrary to truth.

How we show honor and respect to someone will vary according to culture and tradition. In the Western World, a hand shake is the norm. In Asian countries, a bow is customary. Although the specific practice to show respect changes, the need to do so does not. For instance, in an absolute sense Jesus merits our honour and praise. Although the way Jesus is honoured may vary by culture, our need to do so does not.

Blasphemy and offensiveness are actions or words which are contrary to the Truth, not emotional reactions.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Does the Vatican have bad PR practices (or none at all)?

I just read an article by Ann Widdecombe of the Guardian. She says the Church does so much good, but unlike other institutions, does not mention the good work it does. It also doesn't go out of its way to make a great defense for any accusations of wrongdoing. She wonders if the church should put more effort into PR. The most shocking thing I found about this article is the comments below. I guess I wasn't really shocked, but as usual, the people just said the Church deserves all the bad press it gets, and more. They basically say the church is guilty for even worse things than the media accuse it of. Of course, any time anyone writes an article which doesn't show the church in a bad light, some people really fly off the handle.

Here is the article:

If only the Catholic church did PR

Divine injunctions forbid the Vatican boasting of its good work, so the only news we get is bad news

Alastair Campbell once famously said that the Blair government did not do God. Equally true, but perhaps less generally recognised, is that the church does not do PR. If only it did then much of the controversy around the papal visit would fade into insignificance. But unfortunately for the modern media, there are some quite specific divine injunctions forbidding it.

The notorious Foreign Office memorandum mocking the visit suggested the pope should open an Aids clinic. "Don't they realise the church runs more Aids clinics across the world than any single nation?" wailed one prominent Catholic when I met him by chance.

"Does it?" I answered.

That simple exchange demonstrates the difference between the church and the secular world. The Vatican does not publish endless reports of the church's work, accompanied by boastful advertising hoardings and party political broadcasts. It doesn't even make a fuss when its missionaries and aid workers die in the cause.

Indeed, when I wanted facts and figures on the church's overseas aid for a debate, I had to search hard. Christ said, "do not your good deeds to be seen before men", so the church dutifully hides them or at least refrains from ostentatiously displaying them. The same applies to its rescuing thousands of Jews during the second world war (many of them hid in the pope's own summer residence).

One of the biggest propaganda coups against the Catholic church in recent years has been to portray it as riddled with paedophiles whose vile activities it has sought to cover up. Apart from the occasional defensive flash when a senior churchman is wrongly accused of inaction, the church has merely apologised and asked for forgiveness.

Well, so it should. One child abused would be one too many; but it is frustrating that the church does so little to put its role in proportion. Meek and mild may be good, but leaving the ordinary members of the flock bleating in bewilderment as the wolves of Fleet Street snarl around them, jaws foaming with allegations, is not so good.

After all the dust had settled in America, 98% of priests were untouched by allegations, let alone convictions. We do not yet know the final figures for Ireland but what we do know is that there is nothing unique to the Catholic church about child abuse. Teachers, care home workers and scout masters are just a few other examples, while the biggest category of abuse is, horrifically, within families. The church of course would never seek to compare its own sins with those of others, so this point is never made.

The same applies to the allegations of cover-ups. In the 1970s the National Council of Civil Liberties, an eminently respectable body staffed by eminently respectable people like Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman, actually allowed affiliation with the Paedophile Information Exchange, so little was the nature of paedophilia understood.

Cases were often dealt with by magistrates and sentences could be light. In the 1980s I was doing Samaritan training and, far from reporting cases, we treated child abuse no less confidentially than any other crime. It was the mid 1990s before we had a sex offenders' register in this country. Why would the Catholic church be expected to know what the rest of the world did not?

However, there is no explanation for the church's feeble response to the allegation that the pope had said ordaining a woman is as bad as abusing a child. Everybody understands the categorisation of offences in America into misdemeanours and felonies. The church does the same with sin and grave sin. Just as the inclusion of burglary and murder in felonies does not imply an equivalence of seriousness, so the inclusion of female ordination and child abuse in grave sin does not imply equivalence. Wakey, wakey.

So, yes, this visit will be controversial and many of the allegations will go unchallenged. For those of us who do both God and PR, that will be as frustrating as it is heartbreaking.

--- END

The original article can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/07/if-only-catholic-church-did-pr

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pilgrimage tomorrow near St. John's

Tomorrow will be the 6th annual Flat Rock Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is a 4.2 km walk to the shrine, where St. Michael's Church is also located. Everyone is welcome to participate. After the walk, pilgrims are invited into the hall for some food, followed by confession and Holy Mass. I will be a marshall, making sure pilgrims peacefully coexist with traffic.

Most years that this event has taken place, it has been quite nice weather-wise. However, this year there is a 60% chance of showers. Hopefully this will not deter "true" pilgrims. If however, some are unable to walk in inclement weather, there will be several vehicles driving the path.

During the walk there will be prayers such as the rosary, and singing of church hymns. People are asked to arrive by 10:30am so that the walk can begin promptly at 11.

For more information on this penitential pilgrimage, please visit the website at

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Catholic Church condemning Upcoming Qur'an Burning

The Vatican council on Interreligious dialogue has come out against a plan by a United States pastor to burn copies of the Qur'an on September 11th, nine years after the World Trade Centre attacks.

The Vatican says this action does violence against a religion and is considered a hate crime. Sept. 11 will also coincidentally be just a couple of days after Eid, the day after Ramadan where Muslims break their month-long fast.

Federico Lombardi, the current director of the Holy See Press Office, says:

The terrorist attack of September 11 was surely a horrendous crime and we cannot forget the incredible loss of human life and the suffering that it had caused but the correct way to demonstrate our horror for this crime is surely not the outrage against the sacred book of an immense religious community, the Muslim world, for which we have to demonstrate profound respect.

The Catholic Church respects religious freedom all around the globe. Therefore, the Vatican has always condemned attempts to curtail this freedom. For example, the Church opposed a law banning minaret construction in Switzerland. Also, the archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, has said Muslims have the right to build a mosque and community centre near ground zero.

The Catholic Church recognizes that many many Christians live under persecution by governments and people of certain religious groups. Therefore, in order to advocate for the freedom of Christians, the Church also requests the freedom of all religions.