"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Novus Ordo Nitemares: Jesus "Begged" For Forgiveness? Miracle of Dialogue & Francis Awarded Again

Novus Ordo Nitemares: Jesus "Begged" For Forgiveness? Miracle of Dialogue & Francis Awarded Again
This blog is laoded with the latest "Numbskullery" coming from the Vatican II "cult of man"

Francis: homily for Feast of Holy Family

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday morning - the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Jubilee for Families in the context of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy currently underway in Rome and around the world. Below, please find the official English translation of the Holy Father's remarks, including his extemporaneous additions.


Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
27 December 2015
The biblical readings which we just heard presented us with the image of two families on pilgrimage to the house of God.  Elkanah and Hannah bring their son Samuel to the Temple of Shiloh and consecrate him to the Lord (cf. 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28).  In the same way, Joseph and Mary, in the company of Jesus, go as pilgrims to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover (cf. Lk 2:41-52).
We often see pilgrims journeying to shrines and places dear to popular piety.  These days, many of them are making their way to the Holy Door opened in all the cathedrals of the world and in many shrines.  But the most beautiful thing which emerges from the word of God today is that the whole family goes on pilgrimage.  Fathers, mothers and children together go to the house of the Lord, in order to sanctify the holy day with prayer.  It is an important teaching, which is meant for our own families as well. Indeed, we could say that family life is a series of pilgrimages, both small and big.
For example, how comforting it is for us to reflect on Mary and Joseph teaching Jesus how to pray!  This is a sort of pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of education in prayer. And it is comforting also to know that throughout the day they would pray together, and then go each Sabbath to the synagogue to listen to readings from the Law and the Prophets, and to praise the Lord with the assembly.  Certainly, during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they prayed by singing the Psalm: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’  Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem (122:1-2).
How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal!  We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation.  And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer.  What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism?  Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children?  To bless them, that is, to entrust them to the Lord, just like Elkanah and Anna, Joseph and Mary, so that he can be their protection and support throughout the day.  In the same way, it is important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals, in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need.   These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of everyday life.
At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents (cf. Lk 2:51).  This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families.  A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience.  We know what Jesus did on that occasion.  Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him.  For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents.  The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it.  Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt.  Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience.  Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.
In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them.  How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.
Let us not lose confidence in the family!  It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing.  Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness.  To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission - the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life - which the world and the Church need, now more than ever.


Philippines: The Church is still hoping for the miracle of dialogue!!

The Islamic State contamination is reviving military groups and seems to be standing in the way of the eagerly awaited ratification of a signed peace agreement
We dont need conversion...we need dialogue! #Novusordites

Three attacks in three days. Three terrorist raids in the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat in the Southern Philippines, which took place just before Christmas, striking Christian villages, civilian targets and a Catholic chapel packed with faithful on the even of the Feast of the Nativity. At least 9 faithful were killed in the attacks which caused another displacement, left families terrified and shaken by this blind act of violence but comforted by Pope Francis’ heartfelt message of solidarity. Three offensives that were launched in order to show that the news about a weakening is false and that ties with the Islamic State, which is ravaging the Middle East, are stronger than ever, flaunting photographs and video footage to prove it.

The most significant thing of all is the serious political impact these three attacks have had: they have buried the last remaining and dwindling hopes for the Philippine Parliament to turn the peace agreement signed by President Benigno Aquino JR.’s government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on 27 March 2014 into law. The hope was that this would happen before the term leading up to new Presidential and general elections in May 2016. It was believed the agreement would seal the end of the southern war and was therefore welcomed.

By launching a coordinated Christmas offensive, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) – which had, in recent months, announced that it shared the Syrian and Iraqi Caliphate’s ideology – achieved its main objective: to completely derail the peace process in the south - at least for now - and delay the whole thing until the next government takes over. It will therefore be the next President of the Republic of the Philippines who will have to deal with the hot potato of the chronic instability in the southern Philippines.

BIFF militants have refused since the start to negotiate with the government in Manila. They, along with other radical groups such as terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, are causing persistent instability and tensions which in the past year too have boiled over into sporadic but acute violence, with southern Filipinos living with the sword of Damocles constantly over their heads.

It should be said that before the official signing of the agreement, a number of criticisms were made about the memorandum of understanding presented. Notably, the agreement, signed with just one of the guerilla movements, did not seem inclusive enough of the various other local Islamic groups, the Moro National Liberation Front for example, the first guerrilla formation.

Furthermore, as they years passed, new militant cells began to develop. Having broken away from established groups, they rejected the idea of an agreement a priori, choosing armed struggle as the only way forward along an obstinately secessionist path.

Today, Aquino’s government cannot but take stock of failed efforts to halt violence and pacify the area. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, who heads the President’s peace process office, denounced “BIFF’s attempt to destabilise the situation and draw attention to its cause,” inviting the group to “recognise the people’s desire for peace, tranquillity and a normal life”.

The Catholic Church tried in recent months to make the most of this desire for peace as the prerequisite for a new era of well-being and peace for all, Muslims and Christians, urging Manila’s army to limit the “collateral damage” caused by the military campaign launched against BIFF in February 2015. It urged the government to make every effort to bring these new militants to the peace negotiation table.

“We sincerely hope they will consider the possibility of a negotiation. We all know that a military offensive cannot lead to anything good,” Manila’s Auxiliary Bishop, Broderick Pabillo, remarked. But the groups that continued to spread chaos, preventing peace, even in light of the 2014 agreement, appeared straight away to be an obstacle that would be difficult to surmount.

Despite it all, the bishops of Mindanao – the largest island in the southern Philippines –, first and foremost Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, have never stopped believing in reconciliation and emphasise the need “to make every effort to keep on trying, always leaving the door open for mediation, even with those who it seems will not be shaken”. The Church still hopes this “holy door” of dialogue can be crossed in the Jubilee Year, though this would take a miracle. 

Francis Calls For Israel To Be Divided In Christmas Day Sermon At Vatican

Let the endgames continue... 


Francis used his Christmas message to urge Israelis and Palestinians to formulate a two state solution by sitting down at the negotiation table and agreeing a peace deal to allow both sides ‘to live together in harmony’. He asked that Israelis and Palestinians resume direct dialogue which would ‘enable two people to live together in harmony and end a conflict which has caused great conflict for the entire region’, before praying for an end to the civil war in Syria and ‘in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people’. READ MORE


Catholic priest sues Baton Rouge TV station for defamation on report of child abuse litigation 

A Catholic priest at the center of a contentious court case pitting the secrecy of the confessional against state laws designed to protect children is suing a Baton Rouge television station over the station’s reporting of the case.
The Rev. Jeff Bayhi claims he has been defamed and is seeking damages from WBRZ-TV in 19th Judicial District Court.
In the underlying court case on which WBRZ has reported, Rebecca Mayeux claims when she was 14 she told Bayhi — her pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption in Clinton — that she was sexually abused by a now-deceased church parishioner. She alleges Bayhi neglected his duty under Louisiana law to report the alleged abuse to authorities.
“During this reporting, WBRZ-TV and its employees presented Mayeux’s claims against Father Bayhi in such a manner as to create the impression that those claims were facts instead of mere allegations,” lawyer Henry Olinde Jr. writes in Bayhi’s suit against the station.
WBRZ news director Lee Polowczuk said Dec. 22 that the station’s attorneys were reviewing the suit and he could not comment on the specific allegations in it. “We’re confident the outcome will be in WBRZ’s favor,” he added.
Olinde declined to elaborate on the suit.
Bayhi, in response to the Mayeux lawsuit and in his suit against WBRZ, maintains that as a Roman Catholic priest he is bound by the sacred seal of confession and can neither disclose what happens in any confession nor confirm or deny that a confession ever took place.
“Should Father Bayhi violate that sacred seal in any way, his faculties as a Roman Catholic priest would be immediately and automatically suspended by the Vatican itself,” Olinde points out in the priest’s suit against the station.
Mayeux’s parents sued Bayhi in 2009, as well as the Baton Rouge diocese of the Roman Catholic Church and the late George Charlet Jr., the man who allegedly abused her.
During a Jan. 20 news report, Bayhi’s suit claims, WBRZ and its employees prominently displayed a graphic on the screen that stated “woman claims priest abused her at age 14” and “priest died while authorities were investigating.”
“WBRZ-TV and its reporters knew that there was never any allegation that Father Bayhi abused, or had sexual contact with, Mayeux,” Olinde states in Bayhi’s suit.
In addition to defaming him, WBRZ invaded Bayhi’s privacy by casting him in a false light to the public, the suit alleges.
Bayhi’s suit, filed Nov. 20, has been assigned to state District Judge Wilson Fields.
State District Judge Mike Caldwell is presiding over the Mayeux suit.
The Baton Rouge diocese tried to block Mayeux’s testimony about the alleged confession at the district court level, but Caldwell ruled the priest-penitent privilege was hers to break.
A Baton Rouge state appellate court reversed the judge, saying a priest is a mandatory reporter of abuse only when the information is received outside the confidential communications of confession. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal also said the state’s mandatory reporter laws are criminal in nature and do not provide a right for civil suits, even if the priest had learned of the abuse outside of the confessional.
But the Louisiana Supreme Court found that priests are mandatory reporters of abuse and said Mayeux could testify about her alleged confessions. The justices sent the case back to Caldwell to determine “whether the communications between the child and the priest were confessions per se and whether the priest obtained knowledge outside the confessional that would trigger his duty to report.”
The diocese ultimately sought relief from the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Louisiana high court’s ruling violated the First Amendment by allowing states to override a religion’s view of what its own faith means and requires.
The nation’s top court declined in January to intervene in the case.

Francis awarded....AGAIN! ...How lovely 

Francis awarded Europe’s prestigious Charlemagne Prize for peace work

He is the second pontiff to receive the prestigious annual honor given by the German city of Aachen
 Francis has been awarded the European Charlemagne Prize for 2016 in recognition of his efforts at global peace and cross-cultural understanding, making him only the second pontiff to receive the prestigious annual honor given by the German city of Aachen. 

Awarding of the prize was announced at mid-day Wednesday in Germany and confirmed at the Vatican by spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, who told reporters that Francis had decided to accept the honor as an encouragement to those working for peace around the globe.

In their lengthy citation for choosing the Pope as this year’s honoree -- available online in German -- the prize committee quotes from the pontiff’s address to the European parliament during his one-day visit to their headquarters in Strasbourg, France in November 2014.

They cite the final section of the address, in which Francis calls on the parliamentarians to “abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith.”

That address, the prize committee states, shows the Pope’s appreciation and work for the ideals of Europe’s founders and for the great potential of the continent.
The Charlemagne Prize has been given since 1950 by Aachen -- where the famed Christian ruler lived and is buried -- to honor “the most valuable contribution in the services of Western European understanding and work for the community.”
Among other recipients of the award have been former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in 1956; King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1982; and Americans George Marshall, Henry Kissinger, and Bill Clinton in 1959, 1987, and 2000, respectively.

Pope John Paul II received the award in 2004 as an “extraordinary prize” in addition to Irish politician Pat Cox.

Lombardi said Francis would not be traveling to Germany to accept the award, but that the prize committee would be sending someone to Rome to formally present the honor. The spokesman said the Pope’s acceptance of the award is unusual, as he prefers not to accept awards but wanted to in this instance as a symbolic sign of encouragement for peace efforts.

The spokesman also noted that it was significant that the pontiff accepts the award as a European leader who comes from outside the continent, being a native of Argentina.

In an essay, Italian bishop Alberto Marcello Semeraro, quotes a document issued  by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1973, which invites Ordinaries to apply “the Church's approved practice in the internal forum” mentioned during the last Synod on the family. The restrictive clause about living in “total abstinence” was introduced by John Paul II and up until the Council it only applied to married priests
 Paragraph 86 of the final report of the last Synod on the family, talks about “accompaniment” and “discernment” when it comes to remarried divorcees given that all stories and situations are different. The document makes no explicit reference to access to the sacrament of the Eucharist: this has led some to affirm that the text in question gives no indications concerning the readmission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments on a case-by-case basis, while others declared their disappointment at the fact that certain suggestions for greater openness were not approved.

It is now interesting to read an Italian essay by Bishop Albano Marcello Semeraro, titled “Il Sinodo della famiglia raccontato alla mia Chiesa” (“The Synod on the family explained to my Church”, MiterThev editions). In this essay, the prelate, who attended the Synod discussions and was among the rapporteurs who presented the final document, explains the outcome of the concluding assembly of bishops to his priests and faithful. Semeraro insists on “the primacy of grace (which is tantamount to mercy),” which “entails attention being focused on people, on the uniqueness and distinctiveness of each person’s story and life journey, with its wounds and miseries. God’s attention is fixed on them, His look is one of mercy, He doesn’t look first to the law to justify or point the finger, but at the person, in order to heal and cure.”

The Bishop of Albano, a dogmatic theologian, observes: “this transition from the morality of law to the morality of the person is fundamental. I consider it to be one of the most significant aspects of this Synod examined before going on to present a proposal of the Pope. In short, the question is not just about a series of individual questions but primarily regards a moral theology approach.” Semeraro says the following about the possibility of readmitting remarried divorcees to the sacraments: “The Synod refrained from presenting in merely theoretical and abstract terms the question regarding the possibility of admitting baptised faithful who have divorced and are civilly remarried to the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. It called for a focus on the person. It did not by-pass the problem but rather laid the foundations for a solution, inserting the question regarding the discernment of imputability in the numbers directly related to it.”

The essay’s accompanying notes are particularly interesting. In one of these (32), Bishop Semeraro writes: “Clearly, “internal forum” solutions are in no way similar to a “decision in good conscience” which only regards the individual (on the couple, as the case may be) before God; in fact they go much further”. To prevent the “risk of privatising access to the Eucharist unduly and creating a polarity between doctrinal objectivity and subjective morality” it is “important to clarify that what happens in the “internal forum” is literally a real process (“forum”) which takes place in the sacramental context (“internal”, meaning within the sacrament of penance and reconciliation) involving a faithful and an authorise minister of the Church”.

In the next note (33), the bishop recalls that “the proposed solution” presented in the Synod’s final document “is congruent with what the Holy Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated during the pontificate of Paul VI.” Here he refers to the “Haec Sacra Congregatio” letter on the indissolubility of marriage, dated 11 April 1973. The final paragraph of this letter reads: “As far as the admission to the sacraments is concerned, ordinaries should on the one hand encourage the observance of the Church’s current practices and on the other, ensure that the pastors of souls show a special solicitude to those in irregular unions, solving such cases by implementing Church practice as approved in the internal forum, in addition to any other just means”. This response, issued by the Congregation, was approved by Pope Paul VI and confirmed by a letter dated 21 March 1975, which the Secretary of the former Holy Office, Jean Jérôme Hamer, sent to the Archbishop of Chicago, Joseph Louis Bernardin, then President of the US Episcopal Conference.

It is interesting to note that the document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith approved by Paul VI, talks explicitly about admission to the sacraments for people “in irregular unions” and the implementation of the “Church’s approved practice in the internal forum”. However, no further specifications or limitations are mentioned. The man who deemed it necessary to add the clause about living “in total abstinence” – which had been absent up until that point – was Pope John Paul II, in the homily he pronounced on the conclusion of the 6th Synod of bishops (25 October 1980). As is known, Wojtyla then inserted this very clause in paragraph 84 of the “Familiaris Consortio” encyclical, in which the Pope stressed the importance of discernment in different situations, using words also mentioned in the final document of the latest Synod: “Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is in fact a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children's upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.”

Bishop Semeraro recalls how the moralist theologian Bernhard Häring had pointed out the origin of this effort to live in abstinence. In 1990,in his book, “Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried”, Häring wrote that according to pre-conciliar practice, priests who married, violating the celibacy rule and failing to deliver on their promise, could be absolved only if, he and the mother of his children (the two having married in a civil ceremony), renounced conjugal relations and were prepared to live as brother and sister. Until the Council, the commitment to total abstinence from sexual intercourse therefore existed as a practice for those priests who, after committing to a life of celibacy, had fathered children and entered civil marriages in order to guarantee the legitimacy of offspring, at a time when being an “illegitimate” child carried a serious stigma.

Although the restrictive clause of total abstinence as a condition for remarried divorcees to access the sacraments - which was not mentioned in any the declarations made by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith  during Paul VI’s pontificate - “was repeated in later texts” that came after the “Familiaris Consortio”, it has now been “omitted from the Synod’s  Relatio Finalis,” Mgr. Semeraro writes. “This procedure, which is a part of theological reflection, is a way of leaving a text “open”, a text which the Synod wished to entrust to the Pope for further discernment.”

Priest used gay app to find underage teens

CALABRIA, Italy - A bishop reportedly helped an Italian priest cover up his alleged trysts with teenage boys. The priest was arrested last week after a police investigation concluded he had been using a gay dating app to hook up with minors, and his bishop, Francesco Milito, is implicated in protecting him from the law.
Two months ago, police found Fr. Antonello Tropea, 44, with a teenage boy, parked in a secluded area. At the time, Fr. Tropea claimed to be the boy's physical education teacher, but the police were suspicious and began an investigation.
Police wiretaps showed that Fr. Tropea was using a gay dating app, Grindr, to hook up with teenagers and men, paying them to have sex with him in his car and the rectory. Father Tropea pretended to be a sales rep using the alias "Nicola," presumably using the name of his parish San Nicola di Mira (St. Nicholas of Myra) in Messignadi.
Reports say Bp. Milito was warned about Fr. Tropea's scandalous activity by parishioners and by an anonymous letter allegedly written by a nun. The police investigation reveals that Bp. Milito warned Fr. Tropea back in July to "avoid speaking to the police" about any of these instances.
While it appears that no legal action has yet been taken against Milito, Judge Antonio Bark accused the monsignor of failing to take neither the "precautionary measures nor the minimum verification of charges against the suspect."

Catholic church takes loss in loan settlement with Burlington College

 The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington lost at least $1.5 million and perhaps as much as $2 million on a $3.65 million loan to Burlington College, according to financial statements from the church. In 2010, Burlington College bought the former diocese headquarters on North Avenue for $10 million. The diocese sold the property to help cover the cost of a $17 million settlement with victims of priest sex abuse in Vermont. The college borrowed heavily to buy the 33-acre prime Lake Champlain waterfront property. The purchase was part of an ambitious expansion plan for the school, led by Jane Sanders, the former Burlington College president and the wife of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. In August 2011, Jane Sanders resigned (link is external) as doubts emerged about her plans and fundraising strategy. The college trustees gave her a $200,000 early exit package.

Sanders hoped to double the size of the college (link is external) and create a new campus at the diocese location. When she signed off on a $6.7 million loan from People’s United Bank and a $3.65 million loan from the diocese in 2010, she was banking on pledged donations from supporters.
The diocese loan was settled earlier this year, and recently released documents show the diocese lost $1 million in principal payments, plus $500,000 to $1 million in interest accrued but never paid over a five-year period.

Former Burlington College President Jane O’Meara Sanders. Photo courtesy of Burlington College.
A VTDigger investigation in September showed that Sanders overstated pledged donations (link is external) used to secure the People’s bank loan. Pledged donations never materialized, according to documents and statements from college officials. Ambitious plans to boost enrollments failed, pushing the college toward financial collapse.
Sanders declined to be interviewed for this and previous stories about the loans.
To avoid bankruptcy, the college sold 27 acres to developer Eric Farrell in February for $7 million. At about the same time, Burlington College settled the loan with the diocese.
Farrell plans to build more than 700 units of housing on 15 acres of the property. As part of the deal, the Champlain Housing Trust and other partners will build 160 units of affordable housing. The college will retain a 6-acre parcel.
The development, which includes a 12-acre park, was approved by the Burlington City Council Monday night. Many residents laud the deal for striking a balance between the city’s need for affordable housing and open public space, but a vocal contingent decry the deal as a giveaway to a wealthy developer.

The diocese takes a haircut

Arriving at a precise figure for the amount the Roman Catholic Diocese lost is difficult because Farrell, church officials and Burlington College officials refuse to discuss how the loan was settled.
The church and the college declined multiple interview requests, and neither would answer a set of written questions about how the loan was discharged.
VTDigger requested an interview by email with Bishop Christopher Coyne; and made interview requests to Rev. Msgr. John McDermott; Diocese CFO Martin Hoak; Burlington College President Dr. Carol Moore; Burlington College CFO Gibson Smith; and Burlington College Board Chair Yves Bradley.
“They probably refused to talk to you about it, because it’s none of your business,” Farrell said. He, too, declined to provide details of how the debt was settled.
Martin Hoak, the diocese chief financial officer, declined to answer financial questions but said a “careful reading” of the church’s public audited financial statements would provide answers.
Here’s what the documents show: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington lost $996,000 of the $3.65 million principal on the loan it made to Burlington College.

Burlington College, Roman Catholic Diocese of BurlingtonBurlington College, and the former headquarters of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Photo by Phoebe Sheehan
There is also no evidence that the diocese received any interest payments during the five-year life of the loan. Depending on who had prevailed in a disagreement between the diocese and Burlington College over whether the loan went into default, the unpaid interest totaled between $593,000 and $923,000.
If a default occurred, the total loss to the church, principal plus interest, would be just shy of $2 million. If a default did not occur, the loss would be a little more than $1.5 million.
Burlington College paid the diocese $542,000 prior to June 2014, reducing the amount the church was owed to $3.1 million. Then sometime prior to June 2015, the loan was settled for a $1.05 million cash payment and a $1 million investment in an unidentified company.
The $1 million investment represents a 16.7 percent stake in that company. The audit states that the diocese plans to exercise a “put option” in February 2016, meaning they will cash out for the agreed upon $1 million. Returns on the investment so far totaled $60,822 as of a June 2015 diocese audit, the most recent financial information available from the church.
While it appears the diocese plans to request the $1 million owed, “that doesn’t mean the company has the cash to pay if off,” said Don Keelan, a CPA who helped VTDigger analyze the financial statements.
Keelan said the investment is “certainly at risk.” If the diocese can’t collect, “that loss (on the principle) of $996,000 could be a lot greater.”
“When you step back from it all, here the (diocese) had a note from the college where a good portion didn’t materialize, and now the note was converted into another instrument, an investment in an LLC. That’s not very liquid,” Keelan said.
“The diocese should be getting their money, that’s what they need, not putting themselves in a speculative position. It goes to show how desperate the diocese was to collect on this,” Keelan said.
Burlington College and the diocese both refused to name the company the diocese now partially owns. In a statement, Burlington College officials said, “Any questions about the details of the financing that EF Farrell, LLC utilized to purchase the property should be directed to Eric Farrell.”
In November 2014, Seven Days reported that it had obtained a document detailing a “proposed transaction between the diocese and Farrell.”
According to Seven Days, (link is external) the deal Farrell proposed involved the church forgiving $2 million of the Burlington College debt and accepting a $1.5 million investment in the company Farrell created to build his planned housing development.
Farrell declined to say if the diocese owns a stake in the housing project, noting that it’s not a matter of public record. “I have a group of investors who joined me in that company, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to say who they are,” he said.

Eric FarrellDeveloper Eric Farrell at a Dec. 21 City Council meeting where a development deal he reached with the city was approved by councilors. Photo by Morgan True / VTDigger
The proposal reported by Seven Days closely mirrors the arrangement financial documents show was used to settle the loan, except that it appears the diocese negotiated a slightly more favorable deal, which included a cash payment and a write off of only $1 million of the principal as bad debt, instead of the $2 million in the proposal reported by Seven Days.
If the diocese owns a stake in Farrell’s project, that $1 million investment may never materialize. As City Councilor Tom Ayers told residents in an attempt to placate those who feel the city’s deal with Farrell was reached behind closed doors and without sufficient public input — a point Ayers contested — the public process “is just beginning.”
In order for the developers to move forward, the project must get environmental approval through the Act 250 process, approval from the city’s Development Review Board and other city boards and commissions. It also needs zoning changes related to height and density approval. All of the processes will provide opportunity for public involvement, Ayers said.
If Farrell is unsuccessful overcoming the regulatory hurdles, the loss to the church could be greater. The church also has an option to cash out their stake this February, provided Farrell has the money.
At the same time, Keelan acknowledged that if Farrell did partially pay the diocese with an investment in the housing project, it would have reduced the amount of cash he needed at the closing with Burlington College.
That means Farrell may have only paid $6 million in cash at closing for a $7 million purchase price on a property that the City of Burlington valued at nearly $20 million in 2010.

Uncollected interest

The diocese 2014 and 2015 financial audits show no evidence that Burlington College made any interest payments on the $3.65 million loan. A Burlington College audit from 2013 shows the school was not making any principal or interest payments and the amount of unpaid interest was listed on the books as a liability.
The original note had an interest rate of 3.6 percent. Interest payments for the first 18 months of the loan were deferred and would have been forgiven if the $3.65 million principal was paid before December 2014. It was not.
Starting in July 2012, Burlington College was to begin making monthly principal and interest payments of $36,265, which it did not make. As a result, the diocese served Burlington College with a notice of default in August 2012, and began charging an 8 percent “penalty interest rate” stipulated in the loan.
The college disputed the loan was in default. The college audit states that payments to the diocese were contingent on whether the college had at least $1.45 million in the bank prior to making each payment.
The college was unable to make principal or interest payments because it hadn’t banked that amount, according to the audit. The diocese sought to impose the higher interest rate, which it says would have resulted in the college owing $140,000 more in interest as of June, 30, 2013.
“The ultimate resolution of this matter is unknown,” the Burlington College audit states.
With the penalty rate being applied from August 2012 to when the loan was settled earlier this year, the uncollected interest would total $923,000. Without the penalty interest, the interest owed to the church would be $592,000.

Paid a premium?

Though unwilling to answer questions about how the Burlington College loan was settled, Martin Hoak, the diocese CFO, provided a statement disputing that the Roman Catholic Diocese lost money in the deal.
The CFO says an independent appraiser the church hired assessed the 33-acre, lakefront property with several historic buildings, including a 19th century orphanage, for $6 million, $4 million less than what the college paid.
“Therefore, all funds received above that amount are a premium, and any amounts not collected on the loan reduces our premium, but are not a loss,” he said. Hoak did not respond to VTDigger’s request for a copy of the appraisal.
Boston-based Joseph J. Blake and Associates appraised the property for $11.9 million in 2010 at the time of the sale to Burlington College. The city of Burlington valued the property at $19.8 million.
The Blake and Associates appraisal says the college’s $10 million purchase price was agreed to after “several negotiations” with the diocese. At one point, the diocese was “anticipating” a price of $12.5 million, according to Blake and Associates.
Keelan, the CPA, called Hoak’s assertion that the diocese received a premium “totally bogus.”
“In 50 years of doing this I’ve never seen such a claim,” he said. “They didn’t get the principal back, and they didn’t get any interest payments, so they had to book a loss.”

How "Pope" Francis became the ‘People’s Pope’ in 2015

Francis is known for being a different kind of pope. He has called for equal pay for women, advocated for forgiveness for women who have received abortions and couples that have been divorced or remarried, and even pushed world leaders to address climate change.

Over the last year, he has also made efforts to interact with different people and speak up for their needs. He has met with members of the LGBT community, people with disabilities, prisoners and others.
While he has not accepted same-sex marriage and is still criticized for the treatment of women in the Catholic Church and the handling of the sex scandal, Francis has continued his strides to be the “People’s Pope.”
Here’s why he has earned that title:
Pope Francis in virtual chat: ‘I’m a dinosaur.’
Pope Francis held an Internet “Hangout” with children who have disabilities in the United States, Argentina, India and Spain. The children were able to ask the pontiff questions and tell him about their hopes for the future. Read more here.
He had lunch with gay, transgender inmates.
When the pope had lunch with about 90 prisoners of a detention center near Naples, Italy, he did not exclude gay and transgender inmates. Francis also visited Scampia, an extremely poor neighborhood dominated by the mafia. He encouraged people to try to resist exploitation. Read more here.
He met with a gay rights activist.
The pontiff arranged to meet with a gay rights activist during his visit to Paraguay, becoming the first pope to publicly engage with LGBT activists. While he still believes that marriage is defined as being only between a man and woman, Francis has actively tried to be more welcoming to the LGBT community. Read more here.
In Bolivia, he made a plea for man and nature.
During his visit to Bolivia, Francis met with members of the World Meeting of Popular Movements, who are people from the margins of society. Speaking specifically to the Native Americans, the pope apologized for the actions of the Conquistadors and the church’s role in exploiting them. Read more here.
He took selfies with students in the U.S.
Francis made an effort to engage with the crowds that gathered in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia during his visits. He even took selfies with some students. Watch here.
Pope Francis embarks on historic trip to the US
Generating a sense of palpable excitement, crowds gathered to celebrate Pope Francis' historic visit to the United States.
Francis met with a gay couple while in U.S. The pope again showed his openness to the LGBT community by meeting with a gay couple while in Washington, D.C. The next day, he also met with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who became known for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the pontiff did not publicly speak about either meeting. Read more here.
He spoke at a Ground Zero prayer service.
Francis spoke at an interfaith prayer service at Ground Zero during his trip to New York. He also met with families at the World Trade memorial who lost loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Watch here.
As the first Latino pope, he brought hope to Spanish Harlem.
While in New York City, the pope made a special visit to East Harlem to meet with a group of Catholic students and members of the Spanish Harlem community. The visit was remarkable for a community troubled with poverty and violence. Read more here.
Homeless man on the pope: ‘You know you are not alone.’
The pope attended a lunch with some of New York’s homeless population, blessing the meal and briefly interacting with the group. Read more here.
He stopped to bless children.
Francis blessed a number of children at each of his stops, including a girl in a wheelchair. He also halted his motorcade in Philadelphia when he noticed a boy with a disability behind the barricades. He went out of his way to bless the boy and his parents before leaving. Watch here.
Pope to prisoners: I share your plight.
Francis visited inmates of a correctional facility in Philadelphia to deliver a message of solidarity and hope. Watch here.
Pope meets with church sex abuse victims
The pontiff made a speech to survivors of sexual abuse by members of the church. He made the promise that everyone who had a role in the scandal will be held accountable. At the same time, however, Francis has been criticized for not carrying out that promise. Watch here.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles: “It’s time to establish a greater solidarity with Islam”

The contemporary "Catholic" Church has wholeheartedly endorsed that idea that Islam is a religion of peace, and that Muslims are the first victims of jihad terrorism. This proposition is enforced as an iron dogma, the one non-negotiable point in today’s comfortable suburban Church: anything goes, everything is winked at, moral teaching is discarded or ignored left and right, but whisper that Islamic jihadists point to the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism, and you’ll be the new Jan Hus.
The piece in the Los Angeles archdiocesan newspaper is just one example of the barrage of nonsense that comes from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on this issue, but it is noteworthy in being particularly counterfactual. It spends a great deal of time admonishing us that the first victims of Islamic jihad terror groups are other Muslims, as Fr. Ronald Rolheiser apparently believes, with Barack Obama and numerous other Western leaders, that this proves that the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the rest are un-Islamic. In fact, it only establishes that they believe their Muslim opponents to be un-Islamic, and because Islam mandates death for heresy and apostasy, they kill those opponents.
Rolheiser also says: “But the Muslim religion is not to blame here. There is nothing inherent in either the Koran or in Islam itself that morally or religiously undergirds this kind of violence.” Well, let’s see. Apparently Rolheiser has overlooked just a few passages from the Qur’an, including:
2:191-193: “And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers.”
4:89: “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of Allah; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”
5:33: “This is the recompense of those who fight against Allah and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement.”
8:12: “When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, “˜I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers” hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!–
8:39: “Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely; then if they give over, surely Allah sees the things they do.”
8:60: “Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to terrify thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not; Allah knows them. And whatsoever you expend in the way of Allah shall be repaid you in full; you will not be wronged.”
9:5: “Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.”
9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden — such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.”
9:111: “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.”
9:123: “O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the godfearing.”
47:4: “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. So it shall be; and if Allah had willed, He would have avenged Himself upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will not send their works astray.”
But of course the Bible is full of violence, too, eh? Sure, although there is actually nothing in it remotely equivalent to the Qur’an’s open-ended and universal commands to wage war against and subjugate unbelievers. And also, one finds the same calls to violence when one turns to the authoritative sources in Sunni Islam, the schools of Sunni jurisprudence (madhahib):
Shafi’i school: A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates about jihad that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)…while remaining in their ancestral religions.” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).
Of course, there is no caliph today, and hence the oft-repeated claim that Osama et al are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But they explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes “obligatory for everyone” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: ‘Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until “the final descent of Jesus.” After that, “nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent” (o9.8).
Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”
However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.” (Al-Hidayah, II.140)
Maliki school: Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”
Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”
This is also taught by modern-day scholars of Islam. Majid Khadduri was an Iraqi scholar of Islamic law of international renown. In his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject, Khadduri says this about jihad:
The state which is regarded as the instrument for universalizing a certain religion must perforce be an ever expanding state. The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world….The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state. (P. 51)
Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad. In his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, he quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.
Blissfully or willfully ignorant of all this and much more, Rolheiser says: “It’s time to establish a greater solidarity with Islam.” With Islam, mind you — not with Muslims who genuinely reject all this and want to live in peace with non-Muslims as equals in a secular society without trying to gain hegemony over them. No, Rolheiser thinks the Catholic Church should establish greater solidarity with Islam, which denies that Jesus is the Son of God (Qur’an 19:35), denies that he was crucified (Qur’an 4:157), denies that he is divine (Qur’an 5:17 and 5:72), says that those who say Jesus is God’s Son are accursed (Qur’an 9:30) and calls upon Muslims to make war against and subjugate them (Qur’an 9:29).
When reality becomes so horrible as to be undeniable, people like Fr. Ronald Rolheiser and the publishers of Angelus will be asked why they kept their people ignorant and complacent in the face of the advancing jihad threat instead of preparing them for what was coming.
Our Muslim brothers and sisters,” by Ronald Rolheiser, Angelus: The Tidings Online, December 3, 2015:
This is not a good time to be a Muslim in the Western world. As the violence perpetrated by radical Islamic groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram becomes more and more prevalent, huge numbers of people are becoming paranoid about, and even openly hostile towards, the Islam religion, seeing all Muslims as a threat.
Popular opinion more and more blames the Muslim religion itself for that violence, suggesting that there is something inherent in Islam itself that’s responsible for this kind of violence. That equation needs to be challenged, both in the name of truth and in the name of what’s best in us as Christians.
First of all, it’s untrue: Painting all Muslims with the same brush is like painting all Christians with the same brush, akin to looking at the most depraved man who calls himself a Christian and saying: “That’s Christians for you! They’re all the same!”
Second, it’s also unfair: Islamic militants no more speak for Islam than Hitler speaks for Christianity (and that comparison isn’t idly chosen). Finally, such an equation misleads our sympathy: The first victim of Islamic terrorism is Islam itself, namely, authentic God-fearing Muslims are the first victims of this violence.
When we look at the history of any terrorist Islamic group such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda, we see that it first establishes itself by terrorizing and killing thousands of its own people, honest, God-fearing Muslims. And it goes on killing them. ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram have killed thousands more Muslims than they have killed Christians or persons of any other religion. While their ultimate target may well be the secularized Christian West, more immediately their real war is against true Islam.
Moreover the victims of Islamic terrorists are not just the thousands of moderate Muslims who have been direct victims of their violence and killings, but also all other Muslims who are now painted with the same brush and negatively judged in both their religiosity and their sincerity. Whenever Islamic terrorists perpetrate an act of violence, its victims are not just those who die, are injured, or who lose loved ones, it’s also all true Muslims, particularly those living in the West because they are now viewed through the eyes of suspicion, fear and hatred.
But the Muslim religion is not to blame here. There is nothing inherent in either the Koran or in Islam itself that morally or religiously undergirds this kind of violence.
We would holler “unfair” if someone were to say that what happened during the Inquisition is inherent in the Gospels. We owe Islam the same judgment. One of the great students of world religions, the renowned Houston Smith, submits that we should always judge a religion by its best expressions, by its saints and graced-history, rather than by its psychopaths and aberrations.
I hope that others offer us, Christians, this courtesy. Hitler was somehow a product of the Christian West, as was Mother Teresa. Houston Smith’s point is that the latter, not the former, is a truer basis for judging Christianity. We owe our Islamic brothers and sisters the same courtesy.
And that’s more a recognition of the truth than a courtesy. The word “Islam/Muslim” has its origins in the word “peace,” and that connotation, along with the concept of “surrender to God,” constitutes the essence of what it means to be a Muslim. And for more than 90 percent of Muslims in the world, that is exactly what it means to be a Muslim, namely, to be a man or woman of peace who has surrendered to God and who now tries to live a life that is centered on faith, prayer, responsibility and hospitality.
Any interpretation of Islam by a radicalized group that gives divine sanction to terrorist violence is false and belies Islam. Islamic extremists don’t speak for God, Mohammed, Islam, or for what it means to surrender in faith, but only for a self-serving ideology, and true Muslims are, in the end, the real victims of that.
Terrorist attacks, like the recent ones in Paris and Mali, call for more, not less, sympathy for true Muslims. It’s time to establish a greater solidarity with Islam, notwithstanding extremist terrorism.
We are both part of the same family: We have the same God, suffer the same anxieties, are subject to the same mortality, and will share the same heaven. Muslims more than ever need our understanding, sympathy, support and fellowship in faith.
Christian de Cherge, the Trappist monk who was martyred by Islamic terrorists in Algeria in 1996, wrote a remarkable letter to his family in France shortly before he died. Well aware that he had a good chance of being killed by terrorists, he shared with his family that, should this happen, they should know that he had already forgiven his killers and that he foresaw himself and them, his killers, in the same heaven, playing together under God’s gaze, a gaze that lovingly takes in all of God’s children, Muslims no less than Christians.

"Catholic" Newspaper Names Same-Sex Marriage Plaintiffs 'Persons Of The Year'

The National Catholic Reporter has named two of the men at the heart of the Supreme Court's landmark same-sex marriage case its "persons of the year."
Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon were two of the several dozen plaintiffs in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of these couples and legalized marriage equality nationwide.
"Bourke and DeLeon are emblematic of this major challenge facing the church today, because they force us to ask not how will we live out a hypothetical situation, but how will we live with Greg and Michael. They give flesh to an abstraction," the National Catholic Reporter wrote in an editorial Monday.
"The answers the church is giving now are con­fused, uneven and often cruel," it added. "Greg and Michael -- and countless gay, lesbian and transgender Catholics -- deserve better."
The National Catholic Reporter is an independent weekly paper that covers topics related to the Catholic Church, and has long called for the church to be more accepting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Last year, Pope Francis received the Reporter's "person of the year" honor. Other past honorees include Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who was in the minority in Obergefell, opposing legalized same-sex marriage.
Bourke and DeLeon have been together for 33 years. In 2004, they traveled with their two children to Niagara Falls, Canada, and got married, at a time when conservative legislatures and then-President George W. Bush were pushing for marriage equality bans. The marriage wasn't legal in the couple's home state of Kentucky, which meant the two men couldn't be recognized as the parents of their children, Bella and Isaiah.
That legal distinction made itself felt in day-to-day life in unexpected ways, the couple said. For example, when Bella and Isaiah needed passports, DeLeon was the one to go with them, because in the eyes of the law, he was their only parent.
Both men have been active in their Catholic parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, for nearly 30 years. In March, The Huffington Post spent an evening with Bourke and DeLeon in Louisville as they worked a Friday fish fry during Lent.
"I've been here almost four years, and there might be a handful of people who are uncomfortable," Father Scott Wimsett, the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, said at the time. "But [Bourke and DeLeon] are loved and respected and people call them. They're involved, and you see how they fit in."
"They're just good people," Wimsett went on. "And that's kind of what it's all about, isn't it?"
Bourke said he and DeLeon were "surprised and deeply moved" to receive the honor.
"The Catholic Church has long created a climate of shame and exclusion for LGBT Catholics," Bourke told The Huffington Post Monday, "and this bold statement by the National Catholic Reporter could be an important step in changing policies and rhetoric in the Church about God’s LGBT people who seek only to be included and treated with the same dignity as anyone else."
"Our warm and welcoming parish make it easy and joyous to stay," DeLeon added. "We are blessed to practice the faith of our birth, the faith that we have shared for 33 years."
Bourke and DeLeon's marriage was in the spotlight long before the Supreme Court case.
In 2012, the Boy Scouts forced Bourke to give up his leadership position with the local troop due to his sexual orientation. At the time, the Boy Scouts banned openly gay members and leaders. Bourke had led local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops for years, and he and DeLeon had both been active in scouting themselves. Their son Isaiah was an Eagle Scout.
Although Wimsett and the local troop stood up for Bourke and refused to force him out, the Boy Scouts eventually threatened to revoke the troop's charter unless he left.
"So because I love the troop and I love the boys and I love scouting ... I resigned reluctantly," Bourke told The Huffington Post in March.
After the controversy, Bourke began speaking out more frequently on equality issues, which made him and his family more comfortable being in the limelight when Bourke and DeLeon became Supreme Court plaintiffs.
The National Catholic Reporter noted that Bourke and DeLeon are luckier than many other gay Catholics, because while they are parishioners and volunteers, their "livelihoods do not depend on the institutional church," which still opposes marriage equality.
The publication said there should be "church personnel policies that ensure that employees can en­ter into legal, civil marriages without fear of losing their jobs."
"Changing the law was a one-time event. Change comes to peoples and communities slowly," wrote the editorial board. "As ordi­nary people -- and one hopes Catholic bishops -- come to know more people in same-sex marriages, hearts and minds will change. Acceptance will re­place fear."
"The Catholic Church has a great opportunity here and now to embrace change," Bourke said Monday, "and move forward in creating God's church based on Christ's teachings of equality and inclusion for all."

A non-European pope is hailed as the greatest European??

HERE is a piece of news that may have escaped you in the Christmas rush.

First, recall that the German city of Aachen likes to think itself as the starting point of modern Europe as a political and cultural entity. It was the home city of Charles the Great or Charlemagne, who by the time of his death in 814 had forged a powerful empire in the heart of the continent. Apart from lending his name to a colleague's splendid column in The Economist, Charlemagne managed, so his admirers say, to invigorate the European spirit by infusing Christendom with a reviving dose of classical Roman culture. Every year since 1950 the burgers of Aachen have honoured an outstanding contributor to the modern cause of European unity. (Eastern Christians, by the way, don't quite follow that argument; they blame Charlemagne for corrupting the papacy by blackmailing the pope into crowning him emperor, and for setting in motion Christianity's east-west schism.)
All the founding figures of the European Economic Community, later the European Union, received their due, as did Winston Churchill. Hitherto the only ones honoured from outside Europe have been Atlanticist Americans: secretaries of state George Marshall (author of the post-war recovery plan) and Henry Kissinger (credited with asking rhetorically, what Europe's telephone number was); and Bill Clinton, who as president oversaw NATO expansion and imposed pax Americana on the Balkans.
In 2016, though, the European-unifier-of-the-year, and recipient of the Charlemagne prize, will be Pope Francis. A paradoxical selection, in some ways. He is the first non-European pope in 1,300 years. He views the world from the perspective of the global South. A product of Peronist Argentina, he empathises easily with people in the developing world who view the capitalist North, including prosperous Europe, as a zone of exploiters, money-lenders and polluters, bent on growing rich at the southerners' expense. Above all, he presides over a faith whose locus, as a colleague has written, is moving southwards as Christianity in various forms flourishes in the south and vanishes from its European heartland.
But the selectors are adamant that Pope Francis, more than anybody else, has breathed new life into the construction of Europe at a time when that effort was sagging. They cite his oft-stated belief that Europe must be based on ideals, not economic calculation: above all the ideal of the sanctity of human life. For example, the pontiff reminded the European Parliament about a year ago that "at the heart of the (European) project was confidence in man, not so much [in man] as a citizen or an economic agent but in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity."
As you might expect, the citation hails the pontiff's generous stance towards the migrants pouring into Europe, and his famous outburst, soon after taking office, about the migrants crossing the Mediterranean and in some cases drowning. "Who has wept for the deaths of these brothers and sisters? The globalisation of indifference has taken from us the capacity to weep."
The pope, then, is being commended for his view that Europe can fulfil its own vocation, and perhaps atone for past sins, by being hugely generous to non-Europeans. There is much to be said for this. In its self-satisfied moments, Euro-rhetoric sometimes presents the old continent as a uniquely virtuous haven of law-abiding, peace-loving, rights-respecting folk who must avoid being tainted by too much contact with outsiders, or what a famous English poet of imperialism, Rudyard Kipling, called "lesser breeds without the Law". A pope who can see things through the spectacles of a world colonised by Europe can be a helpful antidote to such smugness.
But of course, Europe needs more than humility or self-abasement if it is to absorb the migrants who are now sailing or trudging towards its heart. It needs strong, job-creating economies. That might be a good topic for the pope's acceptance speech in a few months'


 Judeo-Masonry has taken over the Church....

Zionism, Christian history, and the pope

Pope Francis recently declared that attacks not just on Jews but on the State of Israel are equally anti-Semitic. In a late-October address to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II decree that transformed relations between Jews and Catholics, the pontiff concluded: “The State of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity.” Largely lost in the coverage of his remarks was any historical perspective on the degree to which Francis decisively overturned statements made by influential Catholic theologians, and by popes, on Zionism in the 19th and 20th centuries.
What had been the authoritative Catholic view on Zionism reaches back to the fifth century and to the church father, Augustine of Hippo. For Augustine, Jews had been exiled from their land and dispersed among the gentiles for their guilt in the death of Jesus. There they would be condemned to wander and to live, until the end of time, in a state of anxiety, misery, and servitude to gentile emperors and kings. This “doctrine of Jewish witness,” which underscored the sole responsibility of Jews for the death of Jesus of Nazareth, tried to explain why they had been exiled from their homeland (though the historical truth, little known, is that large numbers of Jews lived in the land in Augustine’s time).
It would be hard to exaggerate the catastrophic impact of this line of thinking. Not only was it the ideological seed for a history of calamities, a history in which Jewish communities, over the centuries, were murdered in the first three crusades, killed by the thousands for supposedly poisoning wells and causing the Black Death, forced to convert or emigrate, ghettoized, and made to wear stigmatizing clothing by popes. This Augustinian “theology of the Jews” was also the dogmatic ground for Catholic opposition to Zionism. Indeed, the Vatican did not recognize the State of Israel until December 1993. When Theodor Herzl, perhaps the most important father of modern Zionism, asked Pope Pius X to lend his support to the establishment of a Jewish homeland, the pontiff infamously responded, “Non possumus” (“We cannot”). This was the beginning of what seemed, until Francis’ historic remarks, to be indefinite papal opposition to Zionism.
No pontiff was as actively opposed to the establishment of a Jewish homeland as the controversial wartime pope, Pius XII. After successfully persuading many that Jews were aggressors and belligerents — this just years after the few survivors of Hitler were struggling to establish a homeland to ensure them basic security — he issued no fewer than three encyclicals opposing the State of Israel. The Church began to associate Zionism with Communism and other impious movements and to regard Israelis as contestants for the same territory: what the Church proprietarily regarded as “the Holy Land.” The statements of Pius XII put a seal on anti-Zionist attitudes that began with Herzl’s unhappy meeting with the pope in the early 20th century.
While Pope Francis visited the State of Israel in 2014, he made no statement like the one he recently expressed. But in his October remarks, he stated, “To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism.” Only against the lachrymose background of centuries of theological anti-Judaism, persecution, ghettoization, genocide — and, above all, papal opposition to Zionism — can we appreciate the import and novelty of the Holy Father’s declaration on anti-Semitism and the State of Israel. In historical context, Francis’ statement must be perceived for the welcome and fundamental reversal it is.

Sister Buder yesterday & today

 In 1970, Sister Madonna Buder, above, left the Augustinian Order to which she belonged and joined the Sisters for Christian Community, an organization that aims to apply directly the teachings of Vatican II. In this community each nun decides how, where and when she exercises her "apostolate."

Sister Buder, then, decided to live her "religious life" by entering into sports competitions. She chose to participate regularly in the Ironman Triathlon, which is a competition that includes swimming, bicycling and running a total of 140 miles in a maximum of 17 hours.

Buder was born in 1930 and completed her first Triathlon at age 52; she continues to do so until today, at age 85.

She became a model of what, according to the Conciliar Church, a modern nun should be...

Sister Madonna Buder 02 Sister Madonna Buder 03
Photos from the Internet first seen in Catapulta