July 2007 Archives



I think I've beat this subject to death, but this was too good to pass up. I'm tired of seeing Christians suck up to Christopher Hitchens just because he wants to kill lots of terrorists.

Let's just let this be the final word:

Hitchens also claims not to want to “prohibit” religion, even though he has long praised its forcible suppression, telling PBS that “One of Lenin’s great achievements … is to create a secular Russia. The power of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was an absolute warren of backwardness of evil and superstition, is probably never going to recover from what he did to it.” Of course, what Lenin did to Christianity in Russia was to unleash murder and terror. Indeed, Hitchens told Radar Magazine, in April, that if the Christian Right came to power in America, “It wouldn’t last very long and would, I hope, lead to civil war, which they will lose, but for which it would be a great pleasure to take part.” Hitchens still clings to his Marxist roots, and the urge to hurry History along—by gulags and firing squads if necessary --is always there.

He hates Christians as much as he hates Muslims.

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Hornet's nest


Can anybody incite a s***storm like John Bambenek?

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They actually let us go through with it! We have a house!

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While we're breaking big news...


...we become homeowners on Monday.

Well, not so much homeowners as homeowers. We'll really own it in 30 years.


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Hello world!

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I look forward to meeting you early next year!

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Movies as History


An interesting article (.pdf), not so much for the main narrative, but more for the underlying portrait on the state of higher education and the thinking of college administrators today.

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Mariotti on Zambrano


In early June:

Zambrano said all the right things after the 6-2 win. The night before, he told himself, "Tomorrow is the season opening for you. Forget about anything else. Just start from tomorrow." But isn't that a dicey proposition for anyone thinking of paying him up to $100 million -- that he starts the season two months late?


This is the Wham Bam Thank You Zam that Cubdom adores. This is the ace/stud/stopper who gives his team a chance not only to topple the Brewers -- a rotation-challenged ballclub with no arm to match him -- but do some damage in a month that must be whispered around Wrigley Field (October, shhhh). In nine starts since his Nuts on Clark, two-round smackdown of Barrett, he has been baseball's surest thing, allowing two or fewer runs eight times. His latest win was his 12th, inching him toward Cy Young Award contention and his first 20-win season. He has been so brilliant, you wonder if he'd have won 30 if he'd punched out Barrett in Mesa...

It is the duty of the Tribsters, then, to respond in kind and give him his money now in their final act.

Let's just call him fair-weather Jay.

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Well, I guess I'm just never running for president


If being chronically late warrants top-of-the-page "flash" treatment on Drudge Report, I have no hope.


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This is Ri-*******-diculous


The Boston Globe books section just posted about a dozen articles about H---- P-----.

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A conversation


Me: "Matthew did you just fart?"

The 3-yr old: "No, I made a sound like a locomotive!"

Me: "Matthew, what are you supposed to do after you fart?"

The 3-yr old: "Chugga chugga choo choo!"

For the curious, he did eventually do what he was supposed to do - say excuse me and then go to the potty.

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"Do you need anything more?"


Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio has a pleasant little article in the May/June issue of Lay Witness on Our Lady of Guadalupe. It's not very long - it's just a brief witness of his own devotion to the Virgin of Tepeyac and a call for all of us to take her as a patroness.

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There's no place like Rome


Homepage of Vatican City State

Don't miss the Webcams page, where you can take a virtual pilgrimage to the tomb of Pope John Paul the Great.

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Representative Government

Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the fiscal crusader who's never met an earmark he likes, questioned Democratic Rep. Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana on the House floor Tuesday about whether the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure actually exists - since, hey, it's getting like a million bucks or something.

Visclosky, who chairs the spending subcommittee responsible for the project, had to admit that, well, he didn't have a clue.

After a lengthy back-and-forth, Flake, complaining that his staff couldn't find a website for the center, asked Visclosky, "Does the center currently exist?"

"At this time, I do not know," the Indiana Democrat replied. "But if it does not exist, the monies could not go to it."

And who could possibly be the sponsor of such an earmark? Yes, you guessed it, the man Republicans love to hate, Pennsylvania Democrat John P. Murtha.

Despite the money's uncertain destination, the House rejected Flake's measure to strike the funds, 326-98. And the Visclosky bill also sailed through, 312-112.

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“It’s only a matter of time.?


Have time for a laugh?

What I imagined the people around me were saying when I was . . .


“Oh, man, I can’t believe that kid Simon missed that ground ball! How pathetic!”

“Wait. He’s staring at his baseball glove with a confused expression on his face. Maybe there’s something wrong with his glove and that’s why he messed up.”

“Yeah, that’s probably what happened.”

Read the rest.

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2 on bio-ethics

  1. Will Saletan, Slate's tortured conscience on life issues, has an interesting column on the current state of liberal/progressive bio-ethics.
  2. Bobby Shindler, brother of the late Terri, had an op-ed in an upstate New York paper on recent cases of PVS patients regaining consciousness and questions the media's handling of the ins and outs.

Hat-tip for both links to Wesley Smith.

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Leisure Sunday


The Physiology of the Wine Critic: 1, 2, 3.

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Probably the best political cartoon of the year.

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U of I Newman Center in the Catholic Post


This week, my diocesan newspaper leads with the building project at St. John's Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois.

The expansion is needed because St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, which serves about 12,000 Catholic students at the University of Illinois, does not have enough residence hall space for students who would like to live there, nor meeting space for its many ministries and social outreaches.

When completed, the new 127,000 square-foot structure will add 316 beds. The hall will have two wings, one six stories in height and the other three. It also will include a second floor outdoor terrace, a 300-seat cafeteria, and a Newman Club where students can study and socialize.

The new building is expected to be finished by July 2008, when the project’s second phase -- an extensive renovation of Newman Hall -- will begin. Plans for the renovation are now being finalized, and the formal kick-off of a fundraising campaign will be announced at the end of the summer, said Randall.

(That first link will expire when the next issue comes out, so go to their archive page if you're reading this after July 20.)

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For your reading pleasure

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  • NY journalist sneeringly laments miniscule down-tick in Gotham promiscuity.
  • One for the wife: A Touchstone article from a while back about forming children. It's a decent article, but I'm mostly posting it because my wife will enjoy his (entirely negative) take on The Giving Tree.
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What a bargain!


Noonan, today:

Americans hire presidents and fire them. They're not as sweet about it as they used to be. This is not because they have grown cynical, but because they are disappointed, by both teams and both sides. Some part of them thinks no matter who is president he will not protect them from forces at work in the world. Some part of them fears that when history looks back on this moment, on the past few presidents and the next few, it will say: Those men were not big enough for the era. But this is a democracy. You vote, you do the best you can with the choices presented, and you show the appropriate opposition to the guy who seems most likely to bring trouble. (I think that is one reason for the polarity and division of politics now. No one knows in his gut that the guy he supports will do any good. But at least you can oppose with enthusiasm and passion the guy you feel in your gut will cause more trouble than is needed! This is what happens when the pickings are slim: The greatest passion gets funneled into opposition.)

We hire them and fire them. President Bush was hired to know more than the people, to be told all the deep inside intelligence, all the facts Americans are not told, and do the right and smart thing in response.

That's the deal. It's the real "grand bargain." If you are a midlevel Verizon executive who lives in New Jersey, this is what you do: You hire a president and tell him to take care of everything you can't take care of--the security of the nation, its well-being, its long-term interests. And you in turn do your part. You meet your part of the bargain. You work, pay your taxes, which are your financial contribution to making it all work, you become involved in local things--the boy's ball team, the library, the homeless shelter. You handle what you can handle within your ken, and give the big things to the president.

And if he can't do it, or if he can't do it as well as you pay the mortgage and help the kid next door, you get mad. And you fire him.

Americans can't fire the president right now, so they're waiting it out. They can tell a pollster how they feel, and they do, and they can tell friends, and they do that too. They also watch the news conference, and grit their teeth a bit.

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Ah, memories


Last summer, The family took a trip to California. I started to blog on it, but after slogging through the unpleasant memories of getting ill at the end of the trip, I took a break and never got back to it. I was cleaning out unpublished posts and decided to go ahead and post the gruesome part. Here it is, for the morbidly curious.

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Wolfe on Kirk

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This essay by Alan Wolfe disparaging conservative hero Russell Kirk has drawn praise and scorn around the web. I won't get too much into it, since outside of the first 30 or so pages of Kirk's biography of Edmund Burke which I checked out from the library recently, I'm not familiar with his work. There are a few glaring idiocies, however, that even an unstudied political layman like myself can ridule.

Kirk admits of two possible exceptions to his insistence that ideology is a monopoly of the left, although each of them is cited to confirm his point. Nazism, too, is an ideology--but we should not forget that the Nazis, like all ideologues, held "that human nature and society may be perfected by mundane, secular means." Of all the crimes committed by the Nazis, the proclivity for human perfectibility is an odd one to choose; but it is Kirk's choice.

What a stupid, stupid criticism. The entire Nazi program, from the idealization of blond, blue-eyed Aryans to exterminating Jews and the disabled, was an attempt to perfect the human race. It would be "odd" to choose to discuss the Nazis' desire to rule all of Europe as the master race, but only if you don't care about discerning and defeating bad ideology. The Nazi's didn't stand for "killing the Jews." That was just the worst of the heinous practices flowing from a truly vicious ideology of racial superiority. At the root of that ideology was the notion that human perfection was attainable through the elimination of the inferior. Had the Nazis had their way, Jews, slavs and the lame would have been just the first martyrs to that lie.

So though one may of course argue (wrongly) that simply believing humanity can be perfected is not so awful a thing, it was the cardinal sin of Nazis and Marxists alike in that it served as a justification for the spilling of blood and oppression of spirit those ideologies brought about. This is obviously Kirk's point, and though, as I said before, I've not read much Kirk, Wolfe's obtuseness on this, along with the rest of what follows, is enough to make one view Wolfe's essay with suspicion.

Anyone who believes that religion is essential to social order needs to answer the question of which religion it should be, since the truths taught by one are rarely the same as those taught by others.

Absolutely false. That Wolfe says this with a straight face and goes on to blather on for seven paragraphs about which religion Kirk could have/should have favored (without mentioning that Kirk was an adult convert to Catholicism!) is embarrassing. For a prominent American intellectual, Wolfe is clearly in over his head.

First of all, though it's not the case that any old religion will do (there are some really heinous religions out there that are incapable of forming the basis of a well-ordered society), it is the case that a society that does not have a common religious identity ends up with some form of civic religion, and that never ends well. Either the state will start to act like the god we've made it into with disastrous if not horrifying results, or the political body will dissolve and collapse upon itself. A state is not something to live or die for - community, family and religion are.

Second, Wolfe's depiction of Catholicism as ideological and therefore antithetical to Kirk's idea of conservatism conflates theology with political philosophy, a mistake I'm betting Kirk would not make. More basic than that, Wolfe never describes what exactly defined Kirk's conservatism. In one section, he opposes it to Kirk's idea of liberalism, but we get no description of what this thing is that Kirk defended. Wolfe describes Kirk's opinion that religion is the foundation of a good society, but that's not a political philosophy. Now, from the little I know about Kirk, I'd say he advocated adhering to our traditions, looking to them first when in need of wisdom, departing from them only when they were shown to be inadequate in the face of the challenges of the time and even then seeking to preserve those things that are good within them. That's a fine thing, and in fact seems to me to be the best way to organize a society, as opposed to the liberal tendency towards sweeping transformation which solves few problems and creates as many. Am I right about that? You will never know by reading Wolfe's essay, which let's remember, purports to be a critique of Kirk's political conservatism.

That's the problem: the essay is one long substanceless cheap shot. Nowhere does Wolfe quote Kirk at length and none of his ideas are treated with any depth. Wolfe's style of argument is: Kirk liked X; there are bad things about X; so Kirk is a fool. For example, read Wolfe, and all you'll know about Kirk's ideas on the Constitution is that he considered it a pillar of our society and that most of the framers were Christian. Wolfe deftly weaves those two facts into four paragraphs of ridicule.

And as if all this wasn't enough, after heaping 6500 words of meritless scorn on Kirk's grave, Wolfe hawks a loogy on it, by implying - and I'm not making this up - that Kirk was into pornography.

I simply can't fathom what Wolfe was trying to do with this hatchet job. Perhaps The New Republic is trying to flex its liberal creds by taking on a conservative icon, throwing red meat to liberals to remind them that the hawkish TNR differs from the allegedly Republican party in many ways. This article fails even at that; it's cheapness is so overt that even the commentors at liberal Matthew Yglesias's weblog are almost uniformly defending Kirk.

UPDATE: A somewhat relevant excerpt from Fr. Neuhaus' "The Public Square" column in the May 2007 issue of First Things:

“The biblical prohibition ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is a piece of naïveté compared with the seriousness of Life’s own ‘Thou shalt not’ issued to decadence: ‘Thou shalt not procreate!’—Life itself recognizes no solidarity, no ‘equal right,’ between the healthy and the degenerate parts of an organism. . . . Sympathy for the decadents, equal rights for the ill-constituted—that would be the profoundest immorality, that would be anti-nature itself as morality!” Thus spake Nietzsche. Of course, the statement is from the texts edited by his pro-Nazi sister. But, as Fr. Edward Oakes points out, similar statements are to be found in other writings. For instance, in Ecce Homo, one of the last books he sent to the publisher before he collapsed into insanity, there is this: “‘If we cast a look a century ahead and assume that my assassination of two thousand years of opposition to nature and of dishonoring humans succeeds, then that new party of life [!] will take in hand the greatest of all tasks—the higher breeding of humanity, including the unsparing destruction of all degenerates and parasites.’ The metaphysical and ethical continuity from these grim passages to Mein Kampf is seamless.”
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World Maintains Semblance of Justice

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Summorum Pontificum


Below is the Vatican Information Services daily dispatch containing the text of today's motu proprio.


VATICAN CITY, JUL 7, 2007 (VIS) - Given below is a non-official English-language translation of the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" of Pope Benedict XVI, "Summorum Pontificum," concerning the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. The original text is written in Latin.

"Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of supreme pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, 'to the praise and glory of His name,' and 'to the benefit of all His Holy Church.'

"Since time immemorial it has been necessary - as it is also for the future - to maintain the principle according to which 'each particular Church must concur with the universal Church, not only as regards the doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but also as regards the usages universally accepted by uninterrupted apostolic tradition, which must be observed not only to avoid errors but also to transmit the integrity of the faith, because the Church's law of prayer corresponds to her law of faith.' (1)

"Among the pontiffs who showed that requisite concern, particularly outstanding is the name of St. Gregory the Great, who made every effort to ensure that the new peoples of Europe received both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture that had been accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He commanded that the form of the sacred liturgy as celebrated in Rome (concerning both the Sacrifice of Mass and the Divine Office) be conserved. He took great concern to ensure the dissemination of monks and nuns who, following the Rule of St. Benedict, together with the announcement of the Gospel illustrated with their lives the wise provision of their Rule that 'nothing should be placed before the work of God.' In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many peoples in the virtue of religion and fecundated their piety.

"Many other Roman pontiffs, in the course of the centuries, showed particular solicitude in ensuring that the sacred liturgy accomplished this task more effectively. Outstanding among them is St. Pius V who, sustained by great pastoral zeal and following the exhortations of the Council of Trent, renewed the entire liturgy of the Church, oversaw the publication of liturgical books amended and 'renewed in accordance with the norms of the Fathers,' and provided them for the use of the Latin Church.

"One of the liturgical books of the Roman rite is the Roman Missal, which developed in the city of Rome and, with the passing of the centuries, little by little took forms very similar to that it has had in recent times.

"'It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman Pontiffs directed their energies during the subsequent centuries in order to ensure that the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date and when necessary clarified. From the beginning of this century they undertook a more general reform.' (2) Thus our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X (3), Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII all played a part.

"In more recent times, Vatican Council II expressed a desire that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time. Moved by this desire our predecessor, the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, approved, in 1970, reformed and partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church. These, translated into the various languages of the world, were willingly accepted by bishops, priests and faithful. John Paul II amended the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus Roman pontiffs have operated to ensure that 'this kind of liturgical edifice ... should again appear resplendent for its dignity and harmony.' (4)

"But in some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms. These had so deeply marked their culture and their spirit that in 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a concern for the pastoral care of these faithful, with the special indult 'Quattuor abhinc anno," issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted permission to use the Roman Missal published by Blessed John XXIII in the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988, John Paul II with the Apostolic Letter given as Motu Proprio, 'Ecclesia Dei,' exhorted bishops to make generous use of this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired.

"Following the insistent prayers of these faithful, long deliberated upon by our predecessor John Paul II, and after having listened to the views of the Cardinal Fathers of the Consistory of 22 March 2006, having reflected deeply upon all aspects of the question, invoked the Holy Spirit and trusting in the help of God, with these Apostolic Letters we establish the following:

"Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.

"It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church. The conditions for the use of this Missal as laid down by earlier documents 'Quattuor abhinc annis' and 'Ecclesia Dei,' are substituted as follows:

"Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.

"Art. 3. Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community" celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues.

"Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may - observing all the norms of law - also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.

"Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

§ 2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held.

§ 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

§ 4 Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.

§ 5 In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is the duty of the Rector of the church to grant the above permission.

Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognised by the Apostolic See.

"Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 § 1, has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

"Art. 8. A bishop who, desirous of satisfying such requests, but who for various reasons is unable to do so, may refer the problem to the Commission "Ecclesia Dei" to obtain counsel and assistance.

"Art. 9. § 1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it.

§ 2 Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls would seem to require it.

§ 2 Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962.

"Art. 10. The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.

"Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", erected by John Paul II in 1988 (5), continues to exercise its function. Said Commission will have the form, duties and norms that the Roman Pontiff wishes to assign it.

"Art. 12. This Commission, apart from the powers it enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and application of these dispositions.

"We order that everything We have established with these Apostolic Letters issued as Motu Proprio be considered as "established and decreed", and to be observed from 14 September of this year, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, whatever there may be to the contrary.

" From Rome, at St. Peter's, 7 July 2007, third year of Our Pontificate."

(1) General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, no. 397.

(2) John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," 4 December 1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

(3) Ibid.

(4) St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Motu propio data, "Abhinc duos annos," 23 October 1913: AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," no. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

(5) Cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Motu proprio data "Ecclesia Dei," 2 July 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.

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Letter to Bishops on "Summorum Pontificum"


VATICAN CITY, JUL 7, 2007 (VIS) - Given below is the text of the English-language version of Benedict XVI's Letter to all the bishops of the world concerning his Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum," which was published today:

"With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as pastors the text of a new Apostolic Letter 'Motu Proprio data' on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. The document is the fruit of much reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.

"News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.

"This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.

"In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions - the liturgical reform - is being called into question.

"This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal form - the 'Forma ordinaria' - of the Eucharistic liturgy. The last version of the 'Missale Romanum' prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a 'Forma extraordinaria' of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were 'two rites.' Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

"As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a 'Forma extraordinaria' of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal. Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood. This was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration. We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

"Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his Motu Proprio 'Ecclesia Dei' (July 2, 1988), guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal; that document, however, did not contain detailed prescriptions but appealed in a general way to the generous response of bishops towards the 'legitimate aspirations' of those members of the faithful who requested this usage of the Roman Rite. At the time, the Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of St. Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more painfully. Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet come about. Nonetheless, a number of communities have gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio. On the other hand, difficulties remain concerning the use of the 1962 Missal outside of these groups, because of the lack of precise juridical norms, particularly because bishops, in such cases, frequently feared that the authority of the Council would be called into question. Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu Proprio. The present norms are also meant to free bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations.

"In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often. Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.

"It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The 'Ecclesia Dei' Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the 'usus antiquior,' will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.

"I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church's leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: "Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return ... widen your hearts also!" (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

"There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

"In conclusion, dear brothers, I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own diocese.

"Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the bishop, whose role remains that of being watchful that all is done in peace and serenity. Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio.

"Furthermore, I invite you, dear brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.

"Dear brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to your hearts as pastors these pages and the norms of the Motu Proprio. Let us always be mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of Ephesus: 'Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.'

"I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my apostolic blessing to you, dear Brothers, to the parish priests of your dioceses, and to all the priests, your co-workers, as well as to all your faithful."

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A plea from Cyprus


Here is the address of His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus at his audience with Pope Benedict XVI in June, which included this powerful plea:

Our presence here today, Your Holiness, is an appeal to you, the Pope who comes from a friendly country, traumatized by division for decades, like ours, but thanks be to God reunited. Therefore, you alone can understand how sad we feel! Our Homeland and Your Sister, the Apostolic Church of Cyprus, is suffering but is also persevering with dignity through the intercession of her saints and in particular the protection of her founder, the blessed Apostle Barnabas.

Human rights are trampled upon, monuments are destroyed, works of our spiritual patrimony become the object of international trade, and the division of the last European capital, Nicosia, seems doomed to continue. Will no one hear our just lament and raise their voices in protest to the powerful of the earth, who exploit Christ's Name but are deaf to the law of love?

Your Holiness,

We ask your support through the invincible weapons of brotherly prayer, but also through your fatherly cry for the defence of the inalienable rights of the Ancient and Apostolic Sister Church of Cyprus, this crossroads of peoples, religions, languages and civilizations of the Mediterranean and Middle East.

We want you beside us! Through us the Holy Apostle Barnabas invites his elder brother, the Blessed Apostle Peter, to make a first Visit to his humble home and to receive hospitality in it, to feel as though it were his own home and to bless it!

More on the Cyprus mess.

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News we all can use

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July Papal Prayer Intentions


Here are the Pope's prayer intentions for July:

General intention: "That all citizens, individually and in groups, may be enabled to participate actively in the life and management of the common good."

Missionary intention: "That, aware of their own missionary duty, all Christians may actively help all those engaged in the evangelization of peoples."

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This one's for my peeps

VATICAN CITY, JUN 30, 2007 (VIS) - Today, Benedict XVI received in audience prelates from the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference, who have recently completed their "ad limina" visit.

Addressing the bishops, the Pope noted how their reports had highlighted a "concern for the challenges and difficulties that have to be faced at this moment of history," because "over the last few years many things have changed in the social, the economic and even the religious field, at times opening the way to religious indifference and to a certain moral relativism which influences Christian practices and which, indirectly, also affects the structures of society."

"This religious situation," he went on, "calls out to you as pastors and requires that you remain united in order to make the presence of the Lord more palpable among mankind through joint pastoral initiatives that respond to the new realities. ... You bishops and priests in particular are called to an indispensable and profoundly committed mission: ensuring that the Church remains a place where the mystery of divine love is taught and lived.

The Holy Father then went on to recall that "priests are in the front line of evangelization" and that, for this reason, bishops' relationship with them must not "be merely institutional" but "animated above all by charity." He also called for prayers that the Church in Puerto Rico may enjoy "many holy vocations, especially at the current time in which young people often find it difficult to follow the Lord's call into priestly or consecrated life."

Turning to consider Puerto Rican society, the Pope noted "the spread of a mentality inspired by laicism which, more or less consciously, gradually leads to derision or ignorance of the sacred, relegating faith to a merely private sphere. ... A correct notion of religious freedom is not compatible with such an ideology which at times presents itself as the only voice of reason."

Another "permanent challenge," said the Holy Father, is the family which "finds itself beset by the many snares of the modern world, such as overriding materialism" or "the lack of stability and faithfulness in couples." Hence "the need to intensify ... an incisive form of pastoral care of families, to help Christian couples accept the fundamental values of the Sacrament they have received."

"The aforementioned religious indifference and the temptation of an easy moral permissiveness, as well as ignorance of the Christian tradition, ... exert a great influence over new generations. Young people have the right ... to be educated in the faith. For this reason, in the integral education of the very young, religious education must not be neglected, also in schools."

Benedict XVI concluded by recalling that Catholics, "called to concern themselves with worldly affairs so as to order them in accordance with the divine will, must be courageous witnesses of their faith in the various areas of public life. Their participation in ecclesial life is, furthermore, fundamental and, at times, without their collaboration your apostolate as pastors would not reach 'all men in all times and places'."

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