Catholic Stuff (2010-12)
(musings on matters of religion, faith and morals)

More recent 'Catholic Stuff' postings can be found here.

Fail Mary: President Obama has surely been the most openly anti-Catholic politician since the days of the Know Nothings in the 1850s. The Department of Health and Human Services has implemented a new policy obliging almost all Catholic institutions in the United States to cover all forms of birth control, including sterilization and the morning-after-pill abortifacients via their health insurance plans.

Bishop David Zubik has explained to his Pittsburgh diocese that Obama is a 'To Hell With You' guy: "To Hell with your religious beliefs. To Hell with your religious liberty. To Hell with your freedom of conscience." Obama is the man who:

Supports infanticide.
Supports abortions on demand.
Infringes on basic religious freedom with those anti-Catholic HHS mandates
Bears false witness against Mitt Romney - repeatedly.

Despite this, the vast majority of faculty and staff members from the nation's top Catholic universities donated to President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign over Republican nominee Mitt Romney's. I am astounded by this.

91% of the employees at 23 different Catholic schools gave to Obama, according to Federal Elections Commission data available on and analyzed by the conservative college site Campus Reform.

100% of the donations from faculty and staff members from College of the Holy Cross, Loyola University Maryland and Thomas Aquinas College went to Obama. Of the schools surveyed, Villanova had the smallest percentage of donations going to the president's re-election bid at 87%. These numbers are a disgrace. (posted 12/10/12, permalink)

Horrible Homilies: Thomas G. Long, who teaches at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, has written about bad sermons, noting that "for many people, the words boredom and sermon are a proper pair, like horse and carriage. Pulpit search committees almost always top their wish lists with "good preacher" and report that their searches lead them through dry and waterless places."

Last year, Monsignor Mariano Crociata, secretary-general of the Italian Bishops' Conference, made a splash on the pages of the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano when he slammed dull homilies. "Too often, sermons are just boring mush."

Double Amen. I wish all sermons were restricted to five minutes. If you can't get your point across in that time, you're trying to cover too much ground. Or bloviating.

I want the old smoker-priests back - the ones who would do a 38-minute Sunday Mass because that was as long they could hold out before they needed another Lucky Strike fix. They gave pretty good sermons, as I recall, and they rarely lasted longer than five minutes - even with the coughing. (posted 10/15/12, permalink)

There's A Thin Line Between Just-Kidding & Blasphemy: I hope I haven't crossed it with this item which my brother gave me several years ago:

While God probably has a sense of humor, I doubt he cut Teddy Kennedy any slack. (posted 8/13/12, permalink)

We Know Who He Means: Baltimore archbishop William E. Lori has said, "For Catholic voters in November, the question to ask is this: Are any of the candidates of either party, or independents, standing for something that is intrinsically evil - evil no matter what the circumstances? If that's the case, a Catholic, regardless of his party affiliation, shouldn't be voting for such a person."

This sounds like ... (more >>>)

Book Review: 'Defending The Free Market' by Rev. Robert Sirico

Over the years, I've sat in many a pew listening to priests try to interpret Jesus' words, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." I've yet to hear a cogent explanation from the pulpit.

If all those now-deceased successful entrepreneurs have gone to Hell because they've made lots of money on earth, I would think that they'd have used their skills to turn Hades into a five-star destination. Kinda like a Four Seasons resort but a little hotter. Maybe if you've become really wealthy on earth, you'll be upgraded (or is it 'downgraded') to Concierge Level. And, with Steve Jobs down there, you'll have some awesome electronic devices - not to mention a devilishly-fast internet connection. Perhaps the 'hell' part of Hell is having to teach Attila the Hun to use a computer: "Owwww! Quit clubbing me, dammit! Just hit the F7 key."

I'm always amused when - after the camel/needle's eye homily - the next words always seem to be, "Please be generous during our weekly collection which begins right now." There's a sort-of ironic 'money is evil but give us your money anyway' vibe.

When you look at the donor names under the stained glass windows in most churches, it's always those rich capitalists - the parish's merchants, insurance agency owners, manufacturers of goods and the like - who have underwritten the cost of the various niceties within the place of worship. Or have their names placed discreetly at the base of religious statues in and around the church.

This one's from 1928 - in memory of a loving husband, good father (who sent his three children to private Catholic schools) and speakeasy owner. It was a bar until Prohibition made that illegal. Since the government offered tavern keepers no compensation for destroying their enterprises, he used his entrepreneurial talent to remain in business. And made enough money in a few years of doing so that his widow was able to be the patroness of this pricey and enduring statue.

Then there's Luke quoting Jesus, "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Well, I'm fine hangin' with those forelock-tugging unfortunates who tried to be tidy, helpful and inoffensive during their time in this world. Many of them were impoverished because of circumstances beyond their control and/or various catastrophes, especially in centuries past. But what about the Jerry Springer poor - those loud-mouthed, vulgar cretins with a sense of entitlement larger than Octomom's belly in her ninth month? The ones who regularly intone the phrases "Oh no she di'int!" and "You go, girl!" in voices more shrill than a pack of howler monkeys with hemorrhoids.

Are we supposed to spend time with those repulsive social flotsam in the afterlife? Doesn't sound like my kind of Heaven. As Kathy Shaidle has often warned, "The poor are the rich Jesus warned you about." You know, the obese ones with flat screen televisions bigger than mine. Or yours.

'Defending The Free Market' begins with the author as a young dope-smoking liberal, palling around with Jane Fonda and her friends. I thought, "Oh no, this is going to be me-centric drivel in the manner of Tony Hendra's dreadful tome." But it wasn't. Don't be scared off by the first chapter.

Scirico is a Catholic priest and co-founder of the Acton Institute, a non-profit organization focused on the study of religion and liberty. Father Sirico's book provides a solidly Christian perspective on capitalism and free markets - and how capitalistic practices make the world a better place and help the poor throughout the world. Fr. Siroco has said that while he was a seminarian, he was frustrated by listening to "homilies preached that inevitably insulted business people."

He then takes practical theological teachings and applies them to current social issues such as health care, environmentalism and welfare, demonstrating that many 'compassionate' solutions are harmful to those being helped. Noble gestures and smug self-congratulations do not measure effectiveness; the cold hard data about a program's results are what matter.

'Defending The Free Market' provides real-life examples illustrating the success of capitalism all over the world. Father Sirico shows why properly-directed charity is better than welfare, why starting a business is one of the best ways to reduce poverty, how government health care is often bad for patients and how people can protect the environment without government 'assistance'.

One caution: The camel-needle and blessed-poor conundrums are not addressed in Sirico's book. Perhaps the good Father will deal with these in a future publication.

Father Sirico's well-written book is a refreshing read. For those tired of the Kumbaya-style liberal-style clerical attitudes of recent times, it will be a pleasant eye-opener. Recommended. (PS: The author's older brother is Tony Siroco, who played Paulie Walnuts in 'The Sopranos'.) (posted 8/7/12, permalink)

Everything Must Go: Ralph Cipriano has written, "The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is holding a fire sale after running up $11.6 million in legal bills in the fiscal year prior to the priest abuse trial. Facing a $17 million operating deficit, the archdiocese is now selling off the cardinal's mansion on City Line Avenue, and closing down the 117-year-old archdiocese newspaper, 'The Catholic Standard & Times.'"

When I was growing up, the latest issue of the Sunday 'Catholic Standard' could always be found in our living room.

catholic blog
Atlantic City's famous boardwalk and Margate's iconic Lucy the Elephant

Also for sale is the grand summer vacation home in Ventnor, NJ - between Atlantic City and Margate - where Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua once entertained wealthy donors. The three-story brick and stucco oceanfront mansion that covers an entire city block along the boardwalk "is assessed at $6.2 million." (posted 7/3/12, permalink)

Book Review: 'American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us' by Robert Putnam and David Campbell

The content of this book is based on two comprehensive religious surveys conducted by the authors. It contains a great deal of information in its almost 700 pages. The problem is that it reads like a doctoral thesis. It is full of statistics which are presented in a dry, often mind-numbing manner.

After the 50th time the authors wrote "in our next chapter ...", I was ready to scream. The book is packed with graphs; many of them are grayscale bar graphs - with four or five shades of gray - that are annoyingly hard to read.

In many cases ... (more >>>)

Time For U.S. Bishops To Take A Big Drink From The STFU Chalice: Last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized the Republican House Budget Committee for failing to meet certain "moral criteria" by "disproportionately cutting programs that serve poor and vulnerable people." The letter criticized cuts in the proposed Paul Ryan budget to food stamps and other assistance programs for The Poor.

I would remind readers that Kathy Shaidle, who knew poverty well as a child and young adult, has written that "the poor are the rich Jesus warned you about."

Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, singled out food stamp programs, urging lawmakers to reject "unacceptable cuts to hunger and nutrition" programs for "moral and human reasons." He said spending cuts should instead be made to subsidy programs that "disproportionately go to large growers and agribusiness."

"Cuts to nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment," said the letter, signed by Bishop Stephen Blaire. "These cuts are unjustified and wrong."

I call bullshit. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

It should be noted that the Cato Institute has declared that President Obama is "the greatest welfare President in modern American history." The federal government will spend more than $668 billion on anti-poverty programs this year, an increase of 41% - more than $193 billion - since President Barack Obama took office. State and local government expenditures will amount to another $284 billion, bringing the total to nearly $1 trillion - far more than the $685 billion spent on defense. The low, dry hum you're hearing is Thomas Jefferson spinning in his grave at 5,000 rpm.

Federal, state and local governments now spend $20,610 a year for every poor person in the United States, or $61,830 for each poor family of three. Since when is a family of three with an income of over $61K considered poor?

In 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in America, the poverty rate stood at around 19%. Since then, total federal, state, and local spending on anti-poverty programs has amounted to $15 trillion, yet the poverty rate now stands at 15.1%, the highest level in nearly a decade.

I am sick and tired of the "social justice" wing of Catholicism. Pope Leo XII coined the term Social Justice in his 1891 encyclical, 'Rerum Novarum'. It was intended to be a synonym for 'legal justice'. But it was hijacked by activist do-gooders.

Jonah Goldberg has written, "Social-ism is about what activists call 'social justice', which is always 'progressive' and egalitarian but not invariably statist. As a practical matter, 'social-ism' works from the assumption that well-intentioned leaders and planners are both smart enough and morally obliged to, in Obama's words, "spread the wealth around" for the betterment of the whole society in general and the underprivileged in particular."

'Social justice' has become a smarmy, squishy, lefty and wiggly phrase used to justify everything from illegal alien sanctuaries to cookies for the homeless - as if they don't already get enough sugar from all those bottles of Night Train Express. And don't get me started on the Fat Poor. If you were really poor, you'd be thin. Rail thin.

Speaking as a Catholic, here's my response to the Bishops: Bite me. And, by the way, your Annual Diocesan Appeal letter just went in the trash. (posted 4/25.12, permalink)

Church? Or Something Else? Most of the Catholic churches in the Northeastern U.S. are stately edifices. Many were built in the first half of the 20th Century when congregations were large and donations were generous. Most were constructed of stone with enchanting saint-filled stained glass windows and acres of marble inside. St. Martin of Tours Church, completed in 1955 and located in NE Philadelphia, is a good example. I once attended grade school there and also served as an altar boy.

In the Pacific Northwest, there are not many old churches. A lot of were built in the 1960-70s and were done on a budget, just like school gymnasiums and mid-priced restaurant chains. As you might expect in the Land of Trees, there is often an abundance of wood inside and out. Many of the churches out here have a 'modern, simple and modest' architecture - congregations are smaller and money is therefore tighter. They look like either a basketball gym or an Outback Steakhouse.

So ... if you're visiting the Northwest, how do you tell if you're in a church or something else? Here's a tip: If the wall sign inside the door reads 'Pax Vobiscum', it's a Catholic church. If it says 'Fair Dinkum', you're at an Outback and may want to order a Bloomin' Onion appetizer.

PS: We currently attend Mass at St. James (Vancouver, WA), one of the oldest parishes in the state. It looks like a 'real' church and has been recently and lovingly restored.

joe sherlock catholic blog

St. James Parish dates to 1846 and was once the cathedral of the Diocese of Nesqually in the Washington Territory. The present church building was competed in 1885. (The Diocese was moved to Seattle in 1907.) The church's exterior was constructed of bricks made by the Hidden Brick Company of Vancouver. The cut stone lintels and trim came from Camas, WA and the stained glass windows were designed and made in San Francisco.

The interior columns are Philippine mahogany and the interior walls are plaster with fir wainscoting. The altar and backdrop are beautifully carved oak with gold leaf accents. (posted 4/11/12, permalink)

Nonbeliever Nonsense: Ace - who describes himself as "atheist/agnostic (or even Deist) depending on the day of the week" - has written, "If atheists are so logical and rational and sensible - which is the key point of atheistic evangelism, of course - why are they behaving in counterproductive, emotional, cult-like ways?

Because a local religious group had blessed a highway, the atheists came in with "unholy water" and scrubbed the highway to remove the blessing.

So, um, you fight what you believe is their pretend magic with your own pretend magic?"

Read the entire article.

I have several friends who are atheists or agnostics and they don't proselytize about it. They are good people, trying to live their lives as best as they can. Unfortunately, there are 'activist' atheists around who - like all activists - want to cram their viewpoint (in this case non-religion) down everybody's throats.

On a related note, Alaska Airlines stopped giving out their little inspirational cards in January of this year. The cards, which take a line or two from the Book of Psalms, have been an AA trademark for 30 years. But some people - read: atheist jerks - registered their 'offense' when the little cards were given to them.

sherlock religion blog

But, as the old saying goes, there are no atheists in foxholes. Or in airplanes during very turbulent weather. (posted 3/21/12, permalink)

Anti-Catholic In The White House: On January 20 - three days before the annual March for Life - the Obama administration announced its final decision that Catholic universities, hospitals and charities will be compelled to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients, such as the morning-after pill. The administration has insisted that Catholic institutions be forced to pay for the privilege of violating their convictions.

Michelle Malkin has written, "The ACLU and the feminists have joined with Obama to threaten and sabotage the First Amendment rights of religious-based health care entities. The agenda is not increased "access" to health care services. The ultimate goal is to shut down health care providers - Catholic health care institutions employ about 540,000 full-time workers and 240,000 part-time workers - whose religious views cannot be tolerated by secular zealots and radical social engineers."

In an extraordinary move this past weekend, New York Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan and other archbishops throughout the nation had their priests read letters denouncing the Obama administration policy from the pulpit at Sunday Mass. Excerpt: "We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens."

37% of all Democratic voters identify themselves as Catholic. I hope and pray that this egregious act sinks Barack Obama in the 2012 election. (posted 2/2/12, permalink)

Closing Time: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced last week that it will be closing four of its high schools and 44 (out of 156) elementary schools, shocking the local Catholic community.

Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast, West Catholic (my dad, many of my uncles and cousins and friends graduated from there), St. Hubert and Conwell Egan high schools will be closing at the end of the school year in June. St. Hubert High School for Girls opened back in 1941. I dated several young ladies from St. Hubie's in the early 1960s.

Officials also confirmed that 44 out of the 156 elementary schools in the Archdiocese will be closing as well.

Consolidations on a grade school level include Pope John Paul II Regional, Bridesburg and St. Timothy, Philadelphia - merging at the St. Tim's site. In high school, I used to go to the Friday night dances at St. Tim's.

Our Lady of Consolation will be merged into St. Matthew on Cottman Avenue. I completed five years of grade school at St. Matt's before our family moved to another parish.

Our Lady of Ransom - once the location of a fairly popular Saturday night dance back in the day ("I'm goin' to Ransom tonight, are you?"), will merge into Resurrection of Our Lord School.

The archdiocesan school system currently serves 68,000 students – a 35% drop in enrollment since 2001 and the same number that the school system served 100 years ago. This is a far cry from the peak of 250,000 students in the early 1960s, when the area was full of Irish, Italian and Polish families.

The Catholic School System in Philadelphia has suffered for many years from rising costs (grade and high school used to be free, supported entirely by parish donations) and dwindling enrollment. Higher tuition, shifting demographics (Philadelphia has become increasingly black and most blacks are not Catholic) and the rise of charter schools have siphoned off many students.

Nationwide, Catholic schools have lost more than 587,000 students since 2000, according to the National Catholic Education Association. At least 1,750 schools have closed across the U.S. (posted 1/9/12, permalink)

This Kinda Spoke To Me. Jim Benton has produced a heart-warming cartoon for believers:

(posted 1/5/12, permalink)

sherlock car blogRequiescat In Pace: John Cardinal Foley, who for many years did the English-language television commentary for the Vatican Christmas Midnight Mass, has died at age 76 after a long battle with leukemia.

Foley died at Villa St. Joseph in Darby, the retirement home for archdiocesan priests. It is the same town in which he was born. He graduated from St. Joe's Prep in 1953.

When Foley was elevated to Cardinal in 2007, a large contingent of Prep alumni and friends traveled to witness the ceremony, including veteran character actor Henry Gibson (SJP '53), who found fame in the late '60s as the poet on 'Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In'. Gibson died in 2009.

Foley was laid to rest in an old wall crypt in a room below the altar of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The crypt opening was so low in height that the traditional arched lid of his casket had to be removed and a flat-top lid substututed in order to slide though the small rectangular opening.

We had visited the cathedral during our Philadelphia trip in June 2011. (posted 12/14/11, permalink)

sherlock catholic blogTwo, Four, Six, Eight. Time To Excommunicate: The Catholic Church should develop some backbone and very publicly kick that ghastly Nancy Pelosi out of its Congregation of the Faithful.

And not just for the sin of Pride - I mean, how many facelifts has she had anyway?

Consider this: "Nancy Pelosi is upset that the U.S. Catholic bishops wouldn't approve if the Obama administration did, in fact, decide to force insurance companies to cover birth control, contraception and drugs that could cause abortions.

The bishops say that, under such a decision, some religious groups might have to provide the insurance against their moral and religious views.

She was skeptical earlier this year that Republicans would fight for conscience protections for health care providers out of any noble motive.

Republicans must want women to "die on the floor," she said, just because they don't want to compel health care providers to assist with abortions."

Pelosi continued, "I'm a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it ... but they have this conscience thing (that puts women at risk)."

Nuff said. Don't let that heavy carved wooden church door hit your scrawny, liver-spotted ass on the way out, Nancy. (posted 11/23/11, permalink)

But Remember, The Left Thinks Catholics Are 'Oppressors': A first-person account of the Pope's visit in Spain has reported, "We went in and people were shouting filthy slurs and cursing the Pope and it was awful.

So we knelt down and prayed a Rosary for them in the crowd and got surrounded by angry protesters, shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags.

A gay couple came and made out in front of us ..."

The left, the atheists, the gays - so many of them are full of rage, rudeness and intolerance. Unless, of course, it's about Muslims (who will kill them) or Black Muslims (who will beat the crap out of them). Then they suddenly want 'peaceful coexistence' and 'tolerance'. And rainbow flags. And "please don't hurt me."

But Catholics - who will simply respond by praying harder - no problem, pick on them.

I'm ready for the Second Crusade. And, this time, it won't be just about Muslims. (posted 8/24/11, permalink)

Religious Demographics: For the first time in Germany's history, the number of Catholics who left the church was higher than that of baptisms: in 2010, 181,193 left Catholicism, 170,000 were baptized.

Undoubtedly, some of those who left went out feet first as the ranks of the faithful are diminished by the death rate, which in many developed countries exceeds the birth rate. (posted 8/15/11, permalink)

New Numbers On Child Abuse: Christopher Taylor has written, "Comparing the incidence of sexual misconduct in schools with the Catholic Church scandal ... a study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded that 10,667 young people were sexually mistreated by priests between 1950 and 2002.

In contrast, the extrapolates from a national survey conducted for the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000 that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee between 1991 and 2000.

The FBI estimates that as much as half of the priest cases were exaggerations or fraud. That means that there may have been as many as two hundred times as much abuse by teachers than priests in the same time period."

catholic blogI grew up in Philadelphia and served as an altar boy in two of the almost 300 parishes in the area. I was never harmed by a priest. Nor do I know anyone who was. That doesn't mean sexual abuse didn't happen. Documents in possession of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office have provided lurid details of assaults on children over the years, as well as medical and psychiatric records and, importantly, internal letters and other records that showed how the archdiocesan hierarchy dealt with abuse allegations.

In the wake of the most recent sexual abuse scandal at the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Cardinal Justin Rigali has stepped down. Rigali had faced heavy criticism ever since a grand jury report charged that the Philadelphia archdiocese had failed to pursue sex-abuse charges against 37 priests. After initially claiming that no priests who faced credible allegations were still in active ministry, the Cardinal was forced to back down and to place 24 priests on leave while charges against them were investigated.

Sadly, two of the more egregious incidents occurred at St. Jerome's, where I was once a parishioner. Allegedly, two priests and a teacher sexually abused a 10-year-old boy at the Northeast Philadelphia parish, and another priest assigned to St. Jerome Parish allegedly raped a 14-year-old boy. (These incidents happend long after I had left the neighborhood.)

Nevertheless, the sexual abuses in the Catholic Church as a whole are apparently not as extensive as thought. And it is very sad that the same standards of investigation and discipline are not being applied to the much larger public school employee abuse problem.

Regardless of whether the perpetrators are secular or religious, there is a special place in Hell for those who hurt children. And for those who enable such deviants.

Not too long ago, many religions - including Catholicism - believed that "devils walk among us" - soulless creatures who commit mayhem and inspire other weak-minded souls to follow in their path. Hence the Christian prayer, "Lead us not into temptation. And deliver us from Evil." In those days, the general consensus was that there should be a death penalty to rid the world of such abominations.

Mental health professionals now declare that such individuals - including child abusers - are presently-incurable sociopaths and psychotics, implying that:

1) someday we'll be able to cure such people and ...

2) there are no such things as devils who assume human form.

I'm not so sure about that. (posted 7/21/11, permalink)

Fifty Years Later: In June 2011, I attended my 50th high school reunion at Saint Joe's Prep in Philadelphia, PA. I had a wonderful time and I think all the other Preppers I met did too. (Details on the rest of our Philadelphia visit can be found here.)

Out of a graduating class of 197, there were over 55 attendees. Some I have seen many times over the years. Others I haven't laid eyes on since I was 18. I've kept in touch with friends and also attended every reunion - held every 5 years or so - since graduation.

All of us wore name tags. We are now old men and ... (more >>>)

joe sherlock catholic blogCINO Alert: Villanova University's 2011 commencement speaker was U.S. Senator Bob Casey, who "voted against the 'Mexico City Policy', thereby allowing the U.S. government to pay for abortions overseas, and against the de-fund Planned Parenthood amendment to the 2011 budget."

Another CINO: Catholic In Name Only.

Villanova is not the only one. The Cardinal Newman Society has reported, "The "commencement" speaker at Georgetown University's third annual Lavender Graduation ... was openly gay U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He supports "full reproductive freedom" including abortion rights."

Lavender Graduation is a special ceremony for gay students. Does Georgetown have a Green Graduation for Irish-American students? Or a Red Graduation for Native American students? Just wondering.

Meanwhile, Fordham University's law school mustered up a pro-abortion Republican, former New York Governor George E. Pataki, to speak and receive an honorary degree.

The article concluded, "A Catholic education should mean more than that - if, at these institutions, it still means anything at all." (posted 5/27/11, permalink)

Elevation: On May 1, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI beatified the late Pope John Paul II before a crowd of 1.5 million. Beatification is the first major milestone on the path to possible sainthood, one of the Catholic Church's highest honors.

This is the first time a pope has beatified his immediate predecessor. It was also the fastest beatification on record, coming just six years after John Paul died and beating out the beatification of Mother Teresa by a few days.

He is now designated as Blessed John Paul II. His coffin has been removed from the below-altar papal crypt in St. Peter's Basilica and will be placed in a new crypt, near Michelangelo's Pietà statue.

I've posted more on John Paul II here. (posted 5/2/11, permalink)

God Bless These Priests: 'Baby Joseph', who was hours from being pulled off life support at his Canadian hospital has been rescued by the national director of Priests for Life and taken to the U.S. for treatment.

Thirteen-month-old Joseph Maraachli suffers from a rare, progressive neurological disease which, Canadian doctors said, has left him in a vegetative state beyond recovery. He has been at the Children's Hospital in London, Ontario, since Fall 2010.

The Priests for Life website noted: "The medical board overseeing his case is apparently convinced that giving proper care to 'Baby Joseph' is futile. They don't mean that the medical care won't help him. They mean his life in its current condition isn't worth the trouble."

This is what happens when cost-conscious bureaucrats are given stethoscopes and allowed to make medical decisions.

Coming soon to an Obamacare-ruled medical facility near you. (posted 3/15/11, permalink)

Holy Donuts: Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert, CA offers coffee and donuts after the 6:45 am Mass on Sundays. The donuts are from Swiss Donuts and taste spectacular. One of the volunteers let me in on the secret: "Before Mass, Father comes out and blesses the donuts.

I love California church. Elapsed time from the start of Mass until I was standing outside with a fresh and freshly-purchased custard-filled donut in my mouth was only 36 minutes. It was a sweet and simple ceremony (none of that hugging and hand-shaking crap) and then the congregation could go forth and enjoy God's blue skies. And donuts. (posted 2/24/11, permalink)

I Didn't Think Anyone Went Broke In The Porn Biz: A Slovenian Catholic bishop has resigned, prompted by a reportedly "disastrous" financial situation in his archdiocese.

The archdiocese had accumulated around $1.1 billion in debt stemming from its stakes in a chain of failing business companies, including a nationwide TV network known for its variety of porn channels. (posted 2/7/11, permalink)

My Jesus Mercy is a short Catholic prayer (once worth 300 days indulgence) asking the Lord to be merciful either to ourselves or others that need it. It is often a request on behalf of the dying or newly deceased.

For many, the prayer brings to mind the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14, about contrast between the self-righteous Pharisee and the humble publican - a man who appealed to God for mercy and forgiveness of his sins.

I don't usually follow inside-baseball political stuff but I recently learned that two of the nation's premier "moral issues organizations," the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, are "refusing to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in mid-February because a homosexual group, GOProud, has been invited."

The same day, I received an e-mail notifying me about the death of one of my high school classmates. I found his photo in my yearbook but didn't remember him. Charles and I never shared the same homeroom or other classes.

Reading his obituary, I learned that he was gay. He was with the same partner for almost 30 years and was a friend to many people. Posted tributes referred to Charles as "a kind, very funny and generous man." "Your smile and kind heart will truly be missed." "I'm so grateful that I got to know you and that you were my friend." "... a gentle and funny guy ... We could always count on him for a laugh!" "I can still hear his laughter." "He was the most generous person when it came to family that I have ever known."

Many religions, including Roman Catholicism, would automatically condemn ol' Charlie to Hell for being a practicing homosexual, wishing that he would spend eternity with Satan, Hitler and Pol Pot. Yet these same Christian denominations also proclaim that "Jesus is merciful."

Charles lived his life as best he could and, apparently, was a positive influence on others. He caused neither violence nor harm to his fellow man. It seems that he neither hid his sexual preference nor proselytized it.

I'd like to think that, at this man's final judgement, the Lord took all that into account and paid attention to his own heart and common sense rather than the fallible rigid rules of organized earthly religions. I would also hope that other earthbound organizations, such as the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America would seek to find common ground with rather than exclude their political brethren in what seems like an otiose display of Pharisee-like self-righteousness.

Finally, on behalf of Charles, I would plead: My Jesus Mercy. (posted 1/11/11, permalink)

Holy Cow: Direct from the Sacred Heart Parish Bulletin in Battle Ground ... a new ad:

sherlock blog
(posted 1/5/11, permalink)

The Trouble With Twitter: Joshua Harris presents 'Jesus Calls Peter':

(posted 7/26/10, permalink)

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Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.