Saturday, March 06, 2004

FR. MATEO AT CATHOLIC INFORMATION NETWORK discusses Kabbalah: Never before have I read anything about Cabala (which is spelled sometimes with a Q or a K) until I read the New Catholic Encyclopedia article on the subject after receiving your message. I don't suppose the Roman Catholic Church has any particular "view" on the study of the Cabala. I read that it is a Jewish mysticism with Gnostic elements which arose in the Middle Ages at the same time and in the same area of Europe in which the Albigensian heresy arose. If Cabalism is truly gnostic, it will profess some kind of secret knowledge not available to ordinary people, and it will tend to deny the possibility of immediate, loving union with God.... The Bible warns us emphatically: "Do not trust every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God" (1st John 4:1). ... Many great saints warn of the huge danger of deception if one tries to walk the paths of mysticism without guidance. St. Teresa and others insist that a very experienced, very learned guide is necessary, and she lived in Carmel for 24 years before finding one. Mickiewicz, John Paul II's Polish poet that Webb calls an occultist, and Soloviev, another poet that James Webb places in the occult revival, are admired by the Pope. Both are messianists. Rabbi Luria was a mystical poet and messianist. John Paul II is a poet...see Roman Triptych... and also a messianist? CarrieTomko@aol.com

CHRISTIAN KABBALAH according to the website linked below and here, which pml also linked in a comments box, looks first to Raymond Lull. I looked up Lull in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Here is what it says in part: The Church authorities, however, recognized the dangerous consequences which follow from the breaking down of the distinction between natural and supernatural truth. Consequently, in spite of his praiseworthy zeal and his crown of martyrdom, Raymond has not been canonized. His rationalistic mysticism was formally condemned by Gregory XI in 1376 and the condemnation was renewed by Paul IV. Not a particularly good recommendation. The Encyclopedia doesn't even mention Kabbalah in its description of Lull. Clearly, to me at least, in 1914 there was no thought of using Kabbalah as a way of explaining Euchristic Adoration. What's more, if Lull's teachings were previously condemned by two popes, reviving them today puts us into the position of having to choose which pope to follow. This appears to me to be yet another case of a new spirituality coming from Rome. I have never heard the name Raymond Lull in Catholic circles. I have seen it many times in researching occult literature. The next category under the topic of Christian Kabbalah is Renaissance Kabbalah, and Pico della Mirandola is cited. Once again, I have only heard this name from occult sources. The Catholic Encyclopedia offers this: The proposed disputation was prohibited and the book containing the theses was interdicted, notwithstanding the author's defence in "Apologia J. Pici Mirandolani, Concordiae comitis" (1489). One of his detractors had maintained that Kabbala was the name of an impious writer against Jesus Christ. Despite all efforts Pico was condemned, and he decided to travel, visiting France first, but he afterwards returned to Florence. He destroyed his poetical works, gave up profane science, and determined to devote his old age to a defence of Christianity against Jews, Mohammedans. and astrologers. Once again the 1914 Encyclopedia does not validate the Catholicity of this teacher of Christian Kabbalah. Moving on in the article to Rosicrucian Kabbalah places us decidedly outside of Catholic teaching up to the present papacy. Rudolf Steiner, Theosophist and founder of Anthroposophy, was a Rosicrucian. The Encyclopedia doesn't mention Steiner. but does condemn Theosophy: In of a Christian ethical phraseology, theosophy in reality is a form of pantheism, and denies a personal God and personal immortality. The article mentions Robert Fludd and Thomas Vaughn, neither of whom are even mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia. To take up Rosicrucian Kabbalah is to depart from Traditional Catholicism. The Anthroposophist Valentin Tomberg believed Anthroposophy and Catholicism could be synthesized, and the Vermont Sophia website is promoting this idea on the web. Joan Chittister is also promoting some sort of illuminated monastic life in her book. The last entry under Christian and Rosicrucian Kabbalah is Occult Kabbalah, which speaks for itself. CarrieTomko@aol.com

RABBI ISAAC LURIA Here is a biography of Rabbi Luria from the Jewish Virtual Library. He wrote his own version of the Kabala. He was a mystic poet. Similar to the Polish poet Mickiewicz and symbolist poet Soloviev, possibly. They all seem to have shared mystic visions, Rabbi Luria's vision was of Elijah and other deceased teachers of the past. He also shares Messianism with Mickiewicz and Soloviev...and John Paul II? From the website: Luria originally won fame as a mystical poet. He later started teaching Kabbalah in an academy, and would occasionally speak in Ashkenazi synagogues. He was friendly with other Safed scholars, and formed a group of Kabbalists who met each Friday to confess their sins to each other. He revealed to his disciples the locations of graves of rabbis that he claimed to have discovered through spiritual revelations. He taught his students orally, teaching both theoretical Kabbalah and methods to communicate with the souls of tazddikim (righteous people). He felt that he could see people's sins by looking at their foreheads. On the Sabbath, he dressed in white and many followers considered him a saint. Some say he believed himself to be the Messiah, the son of Joseph. Luria was known for his innovative ideas in understanding creation and various other metaphysical concepts. He created the idea of zimzum, the belief that God in a way "shrunk himself" to leave a void in which to create the world. He was conservative in interpreting Jewish law and believed that each commandment had a mystical meaning. He respected all strains of tradition and customs in Judaism and although he was of Ashkenazic descent, preferred Sephardic prayer liturgy. Lurianic Kabbalah refers often to Messianism and many say that his Messianic ideas paved the way for the false Messiah, Shabbetai Zvi. I have heard of Rabbi Luria possibly in the novels of Chaim Potok which I read many years ago, but know little about him. His cosmology is described briefly at this website. In reading it, it occurred to me that possibly the "Divine spark" of the New Age Movement and the occultists might come from Rabbi Luria. This website also offers a link at the top to Christian Kabbalah. Here we get Raymond Lull, a name tossed around in occult circles. Also Rosicrucian Kabbalah, which would include Rudolf Steiner. The trail culminates in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a prominent lodge in the French occult revival, and references to Blavatsky, Levi, Gerard Encausse. What is called Christian Kabbalah would most likely be classified as Gnostic Christian Kabbalah. A side observation...scroll down this Christian Kabbalah website until you get to Rosicrucian Kabbalah. Occult doctrines are transmitted in symbols. Consequently artistic renderings are significant. Look at the picture. There is the triangle with a sort of eye in the center, a symbol common in Freemasonry. And something else--a palm tree. Next time you are in the store, take a look around at the latest decorating style. Palm trees everywhere. Egyptian theme everywhere. Interestingly enough, in arts and crafts in the 90s, another Masonic symbol suddenly became popular, the black and white check pattern. It appeared primarily in folk art pieces, as did the beehive, another Masonic symbol. Yet the popularity of those symbols was nothing by comparison with the currently popular palm tree/Egyptian theme which is appearing on household linens, in furniture, and even on clothing and luggage. Symbols easily enter into our thought patterns. We don't dissect them as we do a philosophy transmitted in words. They simply become part of our "landscape" so to speak. We learn quickly to take them for granted, while they alter our thinking in subtle ways. It's interesting that just at the time when the occult seems to be entering our religions, symbols used in occult transmission have entered into our styles of interior decoration. CarrieTomko@aol.com

30 DAYS INTERVIEWS CARDINAL DANNEELS On that occasion you also described the shadow that has fallen on the concrete application of the liturgical reform. DANNEELS: It happens when those who should be in the service of the liturgy seem to become its owners. The true subject seems no longer to be Christ himself, but the person or the community performing a rite of self-celebration. Instead of performing a gesture already given, they multiply discourses, they give out teachings. What then is the criterion for real reform of the Church? DANNEELS: The criterion can only be that of the salvation of souls. Salus animarum suprema lex. It is the binding, normative criterion that should be used to judge every change even in the ways of exercising potestas within the Church: encouraging the life of faith and the salvation of all believers, as the opening of Sacrosanctum Concilium points out. When the criterion is encouraging the Christian life of believers, the conditions for a real reform that Yves Congar set out in his book True and false reform in the Church are respected, and they are still valid. To what do they refer? DANNEELS: For example, a condition for a real reform is patience, a certain patient sense of time, whereby the Church does not reform itself by revolution, but through organic processes. There are no abrupt and violent turns, there are no wrenches. With the criterion of the salus animarum, let�s pause to consider some possible prospects of reform. Starting from lay believers. In the Church, when the laity are spoken of, what is meant, almost without noticing it, are people belonging to organized movements. DANNEELS: I have no objections to the movements, but something needs to be kept in mind and that is that charisms pass away. Perhaps keeping that in mind would suffice so as to remain in humility and avoid shutting in on oneself. And then those who really have the gift of a charism usually aren�t aware of it, they don�t notice it. Others in the Church notice it, and the person isn�t always very happy with the recognition. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ANOTHER BOOK ON THE SCANDAL HITS THE BOOKSTORES Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal by David France. An article, linked at the Abuse Tracker website, appeared in The Daily Star Online. From the article: France said he was an investigative reporter for Newsweek when the Boston Globe broke the sex-abuse scandal in January 2002. "I was the mayhem guy, and it looked like there was mayhem in Boston, so I flew up," France said. As he covered the unfolding story, France said, it became obvious that sex abuse was systemic in the Catholic Church, and he decided to take a close look at the emotional issues. "All the action was really interior," France said. "Trying to capture it as a journalist was difficult. It was a hard thing to report. "It's unusual for an investigative reporter to turn their tools on an emotional story," he said. France said he reported on the story two years ago and then began working on the book in earnest in January 2003. He said he finished the manuscript in October, and Random House moved fast to get the book published. The book tells the stories of 150 people, France said. On his book tour, France has appeared on CBS's "Early Show" , "Hardball" on NMSNBC, NBC's "Nightly News" and ABC's "Nightline." Random House has clout! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, March 05, 2004

THE CHRISTIAN CABALA As it has been called... is there such a thing? In a comment box below pml linked this website of the Association of Hebrew Catholics. The website contains an article that first appeared in The Hebrew Catholic #77, titled "The Eucharist and The Jewish Mystical Tradition" Part 1 by Athol Bloomer, a Jewish Catholic and lay missionary with the Missionary Society of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. The website also contains a picture of the citation they have received from the Pope. In reading through the article, I found many of the same words describing the Tree of Life that are used by the occultists including Blavatsky and also used by Soloviev. The meanings attributed to the parts of the Tree bears some resemblance to Soloviev's descriptions of Kabala, though they are not identical. If this is what it means to be Catholic, then perhaps Blavatsky got it right. BUT...Theosophy has been determined by the Church to be outside of Catholic doctrine according to the Catholic Encyclopedia which says: Theosophic teaching comes to the front in the third period of Greek philosophy. Hence it is found in the Jewish-Greek philosophy with the neo-Platonists. The theosophic atmosphere due to the influence of the Orient is plainly shown in Plotinus. The Gnostic systems reveal more theosophy than theology and in the Jewish Kabbala is found a theosophy mixed with various forms of magic and occultism. The Renaissance brought into modern thought neo-Platonism and the Kabbala, e.g. Reuchlin (d. 1492), Agrippa (d. 1535), Cardano (d.1576), Paracelsus (d.1540), Weigel (d. 1588). More important is the teaching of Jakob B�hme (d.1624). He taught that the "eternal dualism" of God is the ultimate cause of all evil; that there is a "dark" negative principle in God, which evil element makes manifest His goodness. Without this there would be no revelation. Further, were it not for this principle God could not know Himself. B�hme's teaching influenced Baader, Schelling, and Gegel. Theosophic principles colour the theology of Swedenborg, and are found in the group of modern thinkers, especially neo-Hegelians, who claim that the existence of God is know by direct intuition or by a special faculty of the soul. Turning to the Encyclopedia entry for Kabbala I found: The term is now used as a technical name for the system of esoteric theosophy which for many generations played an important part, chiefly among the Jews, after the beginning of the tenth century of our era. It primarily signifies reception, and, secondarily, a doctrine received by oral tradition. Its application has greatly varied in the course of time, and it is only since the eleventh or twelfth century that the term Kabbala has become the exclusive appellation for the system of Jewish religious philosophy which claims to have been uninterruptedly transmitted by the mouths of the patriarchs, prophets, elders, etc., ever since the creation of the first man. The two works which the advocates of this system treat as the authoritative exposition of its doctrines are the Book of Creation and the Zohar. The entry goes on to describe these books in detail. Under the section titled the "The Zohar" is a sub-heading titled "Theurigical content of the Zohar" which says: The theurgical, or last chief element of the Zohar, needs no long description here. It forms part of what has been called the "practical" Kabbala, and supplies formulas by means of which the adept can enter into direct communication with invisible powers and thereby exercise authority over demons, nature, diseases, etc. To a large extent it is the natural outcome of the extraordinary hidden meaning ascribed by the Kabbala to the words of the Sacred Text, and in particular to the Divine names. Under the section titled "Conclusion" is this: Of course, the Book of Creation does not go back to Abraham, as has been claimed by many Kabbalists. Its ascription by others to Rabbi Akiba (d. A.D. 120) is also a matter of controversy. With regard to the Zohar, its compilation is justly referred to a Spanish Jew, Moses of Leon (d. 1305), while some of its elements seem to be of a much greater antiquity. Several of its doctrines recall to mind those of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, the neo-Platonists of Alexandria, the Oriental or Egyptian Pantheists, and the Gnostics of the earliest Christian ages. Its speculations concerning God's nature and relation to the universe differ materially from the teachings of Revelation. Finally, it has decidedly no right to be considered as an excellent means to induce the Jews to receive Christianity, although this has been maintained by such Christian scholars as R. Lully, Pico della Mirandola, Reuchlin, Knorr von Rosenroth, etc., and although such prominent Jewish Kabbalists as Riccio, Conrad, Otto, Rittangel, Jacob Franck, etc., have embraced the Christian Faith, and proclaimed in their works the great affinity of some doctrines of the Kabbala with those of Christianity. At the time this Catholic Encyclopedia entry was written, Kabbala was clearly outside the realm of Catholic theology. Yet today John Paul II gives a citation to Jewish Catholics who believe the Kabbala expounds on Catholic theology. Eliphas Levi, father of the modern occult revival, constructed much of his teaching around the Cabala. Here is a website offering Levi's books. Notice the title of the first book listed. Aleister Crowley, an occultists frequently called a "Satanist" also wrote on the topic, though he spelled it differently. At this website you will find 777 and other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley H. P. Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, wrote on Kabala: Faith alone, one grain of which as large as a mustard-seed, according to the words of Christ, can lift a mountain, is able to find out how simple becomes the Cabala to the initiate, once that he has succeeded in conquering the first abstruse difficulties. The dogma of it is logical, easy and absolute. The necessary union of ideas and signs; the trinity of words, letters, numbers and theorems; the religion of it can be compressed into a few words: 'It is the Infinite condensed in the hand of an infant,' says Eliphus Levi. Ten ciphers, 22 alphabetical letters, one triangle, a square and a circle. Such are the elements of the Cabala, from whose mysterious bosom sprang all the religions of the past and present; which endowed all the Free Masonic associations with their symbols and secrets, which alone can reconcile human reason with God and Faith, Power with Freedom, Science with Mystery, and which has alone the keys of the present, past and future. Opening the doorway to the Kabbala is like opening Pandora's box. All manner of ideas will pop out, some of them not at all Catholic. It is risky at best and can easily be destructive of faith. It seems very odd that the Pope would be encouraging such activity. CarrieTomko@aol.com

"THE ETERNAL FEMININE" From Zenit: Janine Hourcade has just written a book on "The Eternal Feminine: Mystical Women" ("L'Eternel F�minin. Femmes Mystiques," published by Carmel), with an introduction by Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. In responding to a question about the teachings of John Paul II which impressed Hourcade, she says: Much can be said about the teachings of John Paul II on woman. Every woman should be full of gratitude for this. He has proclaimed the dignity of woman, limitless faith in the "genius of woman," in official texts and also in private. The first time he used this expression was in the presence of Maria Antonietta Macciochi, university professor and European deputy influenced by Marxism and feminism. How can we women of the 21st century not be seduced by the challenge he gives us: a new feminism, removed from a deadly militancy and from servile submission to the patriarch? The divine feminine. The concept is going around. But where did it begin? And how did it get into the Church? The last thing I can imagine the Blessed Virgin doing is claiming the "divine feminine." Not her style at all. She consistently pointed to her Son. One possible source for the Pope's concepts regarding femininity might be Soloviev's ideas. In the book Vladimir Soloviev & His Messianic Work by D. Stremooukhoff, translated by Elizabeth Meyendorff, I found this passage: The primitive divinity was unique and the necessity of its manifestation introduced an internal split: "that which manifests itself is the same supreme god. But next to it there appears the material cause of its manifestation, its primordial nature, which acquires its creative power and which, by passively determining it, produces a world of new forms. It is as an acquiring and child-bearing principle, a feminine force; primitive man, not knowing any abstract notions, personified it with the traits of a feminine divinity, of the first goddess, of the universal mother...after which the supreme god appears as an exclusively masculine divinity, as the universal father." [footnote indicates that quote taken from vol. I of the 9 volume works of Soloviev - ct] The cult of this Urania the queen of the heavens, can be found in all religions. The interaction of these two divinities, one masculine and the other feminine, produces others who in polytheism do not cease to multiply. This interaction conditions in this manner the mythological process which according to Soloviev passes through uranian solar, and phallic phases. (Meyendorff, p. 36-37) (emphasis in the original) Soloviev had three visions in his lifetime, all of the same woman. The first came in church at age 9. The second came in London when he was studying the Cabala in a library in the British Museum. The third came shortly thereafter in the Egyptian desert. His work is devoted to this mystical woman. Until his trip to London, Soloviev refuses to accept the feminine principle as a positive one since he believes that the prophets of Israel fought against it. Now that he finds it in the books of Solomon, in which it is interpreted with the help of Jewish theosophy, he no longer has any reason not to accept it, all the more so since it presents itself in the form of a radiant vision which transports the emotional conviction of the philosopher.... While the Apostle Paul compares Wisdom with Jesus Christ, certain Cabalists distinguish between two Wisdoms: one, the Hokhmah sephiroth, is identified in the Christianized Cabala with the second hypostasis of God, while the second Wisdom is the tenth Malkhut sephiroth, which has the complementary name of "Wisdom at the end" or the "Wisdom of Solomon." It is by virtue, a feminine sephiroth and sometimes identifies itself with the Shekhinah, which is the divinity in the world. When Soloviev later develops his Sophianic doctrine, we will see the analogy between his thought and the ideas which he could find in the Kabbala Denudata of Knorr of Rosenroth.... Soloviev, however, was not satisfied with the Cabalistic doctrine; he wanted to know everything that could have been written about the subject, which fascinated him more and more. He therefore undertook the study of the gnostics and particularly of the Boehmists. If, as M. A. Koyre rightly noted, the Hohkmah as a male principle cannot be identified with the gottliche Sophia of Boehme, Malkhut, as Molitor wrote, seems to him to correspoond to it in certain ways. The Boehmist doctrine has a great influence on Soloviev, as we will soon see. The introduction of Feminity, which entails the necessity of divine manifestation, allows Soloviev also to accept certain ideas of Schelling's last philosophy, which he argues against in The Mythological Process in the Paganism of Antiquity. In short, Soloviev arrives at a system of theosophy which is strikingly reminiscent of his own work on the Cabala. Therefore, he supports the esoteric tradition which E. Dermenghem qualifies as being "Western" and which according to him "is basically the Judaeo-Christian Cabala" which stands in opposition to the tradition of the Buddhist East. (Meyendorff, p. 50-52) After an explanation of Jewish Messianism as it related to Cabala in which the author states "...the Cabala was used by messianic movements either among the Israelites or among the Christians.." comes this statement: Thus, to a certain degree, his [Soloviev's] views are similar to those of G. Postel, who taught that the Word, becoming incarnate in Jesus, saved only the animus, while the perfect redemption of the world will take place only when He becomes a woman and saves the anima of the world. (Meyendorff, p. 52-53) God must become a woman to save the world? Um, could we please locate that in Scripture? No, I didn't think it was there. Soloviev, as I mentioned above, left the British Museum following a vision of his mystical Sophia, believing she had called him to the Egyptian desert, where he has a last vision of her. As Meyendorff says, "Probably it is Isis, the Egyptian aspect of the Sophia, as Plutarch bears witness to, which draws Soloviev to Egypt." (p. 55) The author further comments on this mad dash to Egypt: In London and in Egypt, he gave reasons for his sudden departure which seem to be interesting. He confided to M. M. Kovalevskii that "spirits" revealed to him the existence of a Cabalistic society in Egypt and had promised that they would introduce him. This explanation of the grounds for his trip to Egypt agree perfectly with the account of Melchior the Vague, who met the philosopher in Cairo. Vogue writes of how Soloviev was looking for "a tribe in which the initiated preserved, he had been told, some secrets of the Cabala, some Masonic traditions inherited directly from King Solomon." (Meyendorff, p. 54) And further: It appears that it is theurgical art that Soloviev is searching for in Egypt. Even later, he will be interested in Egyptian theurgy, which according to him is important because it has many links with Alexandrian theoosphy and Christian doctrine. (Meyendorff, p. 56) In summary, and this is of central importance, during his stay abroad Soloviev had become a mystic, a visionary. Here he found his "eternal companion" and it is to this companion that he devotes all of his life....Soloviev's manuscripts and drafts were coverd with notes and interspersed with strange passages written in a "mediumistic" script and signed "S" or "Sophia -- these passages sounded like "love letters." (Meyendorff, p. 57-58) Soloviev departs significantly from Christian theology. How, then, is it that John Paul II recommends the study of Soloviev? Where is the historical evidence of other Catholic theologians who teach from the Cabala? Where in Scripture or Tradition do we find this concept of a female divinity saving the world? And how do we fit Jacob Boehme's influence on Soloviev into a Catholic theology? Boehme was first of all a Protestant. I find it ironic that Boehme appears in Soloviev's background just as he appears in the background of John Wesley/ Holiness Movement, the precursor of Pentecostalism. Just what spirit has been invited into our Church via the study of Soloviev at the highest level? And how do we condemn the nuns who boast of the divine Sophia when a philosopher of papal choice does so as well? The nuns who appear so out of step with Catholicism apparently are right in step with Soloviev. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, March 04, 2004

ROBERT SCHUMAN In trying to understand why this man is being proposed for beatification, I have done a web search. Here is a timeline of his life. He was under house arrest at one point. Apart from that, there is no evidence of suffering or holiness in this timeline. Apparently he was responsible for a joint agreement between France and Germany that created a coal and steel "high authority" which would cement a relationship that it was hoped would prevent another war. This seems to have been his greatest lifetime achievement. But again, how does this tie into holiness or saintliness? Catholic News Agency has a story on its website outlining the Pope's address to a meeting of the Robert Schuman Foundation: Speaking first on Robert Shuman, the post-war French Minister of Foreign Affairs and regarded as the �father� of the European Union, the Pope noted he spent his �political life in the service of the fundamental values of freedom and solidarity, understood fully in the light of the Gospel.� Schuman, in fact, helped reconcile Germans and French after the War. The blue and golden stars of the flag he proposed for Europe are inspired in the colors of Virgin Mary. The Church in France has started his cause of beatification. There is that favorite word "solidarity" again. He uses the phrase "unity in diversity" in speaking of the EU: �For this reason,� he continued, �it seems logical that the future European constitutional treaty, aimed at achieving �unity in diversity�, should make explicit mention of the Christian roots of the continent. A society forgetful of its past is exposed to the risk of not being able to deal with its present and � worse yet � of becoming the victim of its future!� In looking for information on the beatification process for Schuman, all I came up with is this blog: Robert Schuman (1886-1963), the man who made possible the birth of the European Union, might soon be a saint. Jacques Paragon, the postulator of the cause of beatification, announced on May 15, that the diocesan investigation of the cause of beatification is due to conclude, possibly this year. From Zenit. This comment from the British Council EU News Digest: One of the founding fathers of the European Union, Robert Schuman, could become a saint. A group of Polish Catholics has reportedly started looking into whether Mr Schuman deserves sainthood. His beatification might, it is suggested, pacify those Poles who want God included in the Union's Constitution. This comment from the Irish Examiner: The EU has come a long way from the time of Robert Schuman, who was the first president of the European Parliament. It was his concept of a European Coal and Steel Commission which led to the subsequent European integration and the EEC which has evolved into the present European Union. A celibate and devout Catholic, he was beatified by the Vatican in 1995. Brickbats, rather than beatification, seems to be the appropriate lot of most of those highly paid individuals in Brussels at present. Lee Penn mentioned Robert Schuman in his report on the New Age Movement: The implosion of the Soviet Empire has not dampened the enthusiasm of today's New Age writers for world government and socialism. Robert Muller favors using the European Union as the basis for "World Union." Then, "since Russia reaches into the North of Asia, the old dream of Eurasia can be implemented. The plan of Robert Schuman who dreamt of integrating the African countries into Eurafrica can be implemented.� In the meantime, the US can organize the Americas from Alaska to the Tierra del Fuego and the two unions can be integrated into a World Union." This ought to be interesting news for the Latin Americans who cherish independence from the Yankees. Projects for the world government would include global prohibition of alcohol, a global ID card for all, global police and military forces under the control of "the Ministry of Peace" (the same term that Orwell used in 1984 for Big Brother's military force), a global secret service, "world penal legislation," a global property register similar to "what the young French revolutionaries did for France," a global income tax, and a global computer database to house "all data on our planet, on its environment, and on humanity." CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE SCANDAL IN SUMMARY an article in the "Irish Examiner" is linked at CruxNews. It's a good sumary of the most shocking events over the last decade, including a list of bishops involved in the scandals. There are other good stories at Crux as well. Check it out. THE SCANDAL AND THE VATICAN Another story linked at CruxNews...Reporter Pete Waldmeir of The Detroit News: The only news that�s more appalling than the recent report that some 11,000 youths under 18 may have been abused by some 4,400 Roman Catholic clergy in the United States alone over the last half-century is the Vatican�s ambivalent response. As far as the church�s brass is concerned, it�s a local problem to be dealt with locally. If the regional dioceses think they should install a zero-tolerance rule that will remove molesters and sexual predators immediately and permanently, so be it, although Rome still doesn�t wholeheartedly agree with that solution. Or if some of the local bishops continue to shy away from confronting the problem and merely dole out a series of slaps on the wrist, that�s OK, too. The Vatican�s reaction to the sad news released by the Catholic Church in the United States makes you wonder just what planet those leaders are living on. CarrieTomko@aol.com

MORE ON FR. MINKLER Check out the report at CruxNews.Com. The link there will take you to a website which displays a photo of the letter Fr. Minkler wrote to Cardinal O'Connor. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ROBERT SCHUMAN TO BE BEATIFIED by the Pope according to the euobserver.com. According to French daily Le Figaro, the Pope is set to beatify Robert Schuman - one of the founding fathers of the EU - next September. This is the first step on the road to Sainthood. The Head of the Catholic Church will take up an invitation to address the Council of Europe in Strasbourg next September - if his ailing health allows. And he is expected to use this occasion to beatify Mr Schuman, to underline the Christian roots of Europe. As the article indicates, Robert Schuman was the father of the EU. In Robert Muller's online biography, Schuman gets a mention: Today, thanks to the dream and efforts of his compatriot Robert Schuman who similarly hated these borders, Robert Muller's passport reads, "European Union" with the subtitle France, and he is free to cross all western European borders. Take a close look at the website. Notice the book, The Externalization of the Hierarchy by Alice Bailey? Bailey's books were channeled as this website describing her indicates. The publication of them is overseen by Lucis Trust (originally Lucifer Publishing Company). This is the company Rubert Schuman keeps.? Or have they borrowed him like they borrow so many other people and ideas? Alice Bailey and Robert Muller are at the heart of the New World Order. Why would Pope John Paul II beatify a leader of the organizational structure that opposes the Church? A Zenit article indicates that the euobserver was correct in reporting this intended beatifucation. This statement from the Zenit article places the Pope clearly in the New World Order camp. John Paul II has presented Schuman on several occasions as a model for Christian politicians, particularly when the Pope visited Strasbourg in 1988. When the Holy Father received the participants of a seminar organized by the Robert Schuman Foundation last Nov. 7, he highlighted the figure of the promoters of European unification: Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Alcide de Gasperi, men "inspired by a profound Christian faith." This would explain why both he and the NWO promoters use the phrase "Unity in Diversity." The Statesman also carries the article about the intended beatification. So does The Washington Times. Expatica also has the story. The Telegraph Weekly fron Nepal also has the story. But here is the clincher. From WNRF - Spirituality in World Affairs: 9. I continue as an active member of the canonization of Robert Schuman, my compatriot from Alsace Lorriane, who was a political saint and achieved peace between France and Germany and fourteen other European countries by creating a European Union. He never saw it completed. I went to his tomb to report it to him. 10. I am planning with the Thomas Merton Foundation on Spirituality and Politics a millennium conference. They found a note by him envisioning such a conference of world leaders to ask the question: "How can we practice contemplation in a world of action?" At that meeting, I will advocate how this is possible by practicing, as I do, the constant Presence of God. All the above are only continuations of my efforts exercised since I joined the United Nations after the horrors I saw in World War II. It started with the creation of a spiritual Pacem in Terris society in the UN, meetings with spiritual leaders at the UN, my fundamental book New Genesis: Shaping a global spirituality. I could list a multitude of efforts and results: three visits by two Popes to the UN; the Assisi meetings of the Pope with religious leaders which I proposed to the Mayor of Assisi; the creation of a World Congress of Religions and Peace, and World Parliamentarians and Religions. Make no mistake, Robert Muller is a proponent of United Religions Initiative, founded by Bishop William Swing, with United Nations status, promoting the worship of Gaia. Holy Father, where are you taking us, and why? Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

THE HARP AS A LIVINGROOM ACCESSORY My husband, the consummate country music lover, has discovered the harp. (He hates it when I talk about him online and I've been doing it too much lately, so I'm hoping he continues NOT to read my blog.) But anyway... The harp. Here is one of the albums, titled "A Wild Rose," he bought recently. Mist & Moonlight by Pamela Bruner. If you like celtic music, click the 4.5Mb MP3 link and you'll get the recording device that will play a vocal. Most of her music on the album is instrumental, however, and the tempo is quick, unllike most harp music. He has this one, too. I have several of Barbara Ashbury's hammered dulcimer tapes. She and her partner were two of the best musicians on that instrument on the arts and crafts circuit, and I've been to a lot of art festivals. She has changed to the harp and added some spirituality to the website: While Barbara Ashbury�s creativity was blossoming, she discovered Iridology and became passionate about the healing arts, studying Herbology, Sclerology, the use of Essences, and Energy Work . She became a licensed Reflexologist, and the seed for Higher Light Music was planted. By 1999, Ashbury had mastered the Celtic harp and was inspired to pursue a solo career. She founded Higher Light Music, composing and performing the music for her 2000 debut CD, Silent Rose. Conceived as a contribution to the healing arts, she feels Silent Rose represents a turning point for herself, both personally and musically, a culmination of her studies and passions. Her music appeals to a wide audience, from massage therapists to yogis, from Lamaze instructors to stressed parents, as well as doctors in need of soothing music for their patients, or those simply looking for lovely romantic dinner music as a background to an enchanting evening. Sigh. The trend was obvious on the arts and crafts circuit back in the late 90s. Nice wholesome Colonial American craft fairs were giving way to Celtic fairs that included some lovely stuff and some of the sort of stuff I write about in my blog. Don't suppose I'll be buying any more of her albums. Actually even back in the 90s there was something a bit unwholesome at craft fairs. Encampments. With Indians. In costume. Which meant loin cloths that occasionally slipped. I remember one fair in particular. The port-a-pot was up the hill behind our booth and the grass was slippery if you were wearing moccasins... Always used to wonder how they managed to sit around on bales of straw. But this is about the harp. There are not many harp builders in America. Last count I heard was 30. So my husband the woodworker thinks he needs to build one. Now understand that he can't play a harp. Or anything else that makes music for that matter. Still he wants to build a harp. And put it...where? exactly? He hasn't said. A harp is not welcome in my livingroom so he had better not have any ideas about storage in there. Woodworkers need to be gently prodded into more practical ventures, like end tables and bathroom cabinets, and boxes that hold file cards. This exotic harp stuff just isn't in my decorating scheme. I thought I had convinced him it was a bad idea several months ago when he first conceived it. He stopped talking about it. But the idea has come roaring back with more vigor than ever in recent days. I think I may have to call in reinforcements. Specifically, his mother who is most practical and will see this harp folly for the nonsense it really is. (Hey, we could be arguing about taking out the garbage like normal couples, but where would be the entertainment in that?) CarrieTomko@aol.com

DISCUSSION AT ENVOY ENCORE today concerns an article by Jennifer C. Braceras at National Review Online. After citing several examples of anti-Christian bias in media reporting on "The Passion", Branceras offers: Whether the film is a faithful recreation of the Evangelists' accounts, I cannot say. Indeed, I have not yet seen the film, and I certainly have no expertise on the Christian Bible or the history of the time period in which Jesus lived. As one who has followed the controversy surrounding this film, however, I can say that the blacklisting of this film has occurred for one reason and one reason only: because Mel Gibson is a religious and devoted Catholic who has attempted to use his craft for purposes of evangelization. And, as many religious people have already come to realize, public professions of faith are often scoffed at by the liberal elite. To understand the double standard, one need only compare the attacks on Gibson with the virtual anointing of Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code. For those who have been living under a rock for the past year, The Da Vinci Code is a Grisham-like thriller that portrays the Catholic Church (and, indeed, all of Christianity) as conspiring to conceal the "truth" about Jesus � that he was a mere mortal who, contrary to biblical accounts, married and fathered children. According to the book, early Christians understood this about Jesus and, as a way of honoring his alleged wife and co-prophet, incorporated practices of "goddess worship" into their religious rituals. In an effort to consolidate its own power and to prevent women from gaining social and political influence, the Church is alleged to have created the myth of Jesus Christ as divine and banned any practices honoring the female prophet. From that time forward, the Church has been so desperate to hide the "truth" about Jesus that it regularly resorts to murder, theft, and widescale repression � particularly of women � to prevent its revelation. It is not unreasonable to suspect that this spread of goddess worship can be attributed to the teachings of Soloviev. An Orthodox website points this out: Vladimir Soloviev's (1853 - 1900) writings have in many ways contributed to dissemination of the Sophian mythology in Russia. This brilliant thinker exercised an enormous influence upon Russian religious philosophy and theological thinking. His impact is great even today. The concept of Sophia occupies an exceptional place in Soloviev's writings [144] where it underwent all kinds of metamorphoses. He would associate it with Christ, with the "soul of the world" (World Soul), with "ideal and eternal universal humanity", with the Mother of God, with the "guardian Angel of the world" [145]. (Soloviev's) Sophia acquired also a completely different spiritually questionable aspect -- that of Eternal Femininity (Die ewige Weiblichkeit) which arose on the basis of Romanticism, rabbinic cabbala and stormy gnostic fantasy. This feminine aspect of Sophia had a special personal meaning for Soloviev. It was a kind of mystical experience of love which accompanied him all his life. "Sophia" inspired not only his poetry but his entire philosophic creativity. For Soloviev the philosopher she was not so much a speculative, as a mystically-real phenomenon (no matter how paradoxical it may sound). Soloviev (as also later Fr. S. Bulgakov) had a visual perception of Sophia and he described his mystical encounters with her image in his innermost lyrical poems which subsequently inspired the whole generation of Russian symbolists (A. Blok and A. Bely, in particular). We would not speak of this obvious spiritual delusion and somewhat sinister metaphysical "romance" of Soloviev with "Sophia" had they not persisted in the teaching of two famous theological thinkers of the 20th c. -- priests Pavel Florensky and Sergei Bulgakov who today have many followers in Russia and in many other countries. The Pope's promotion of Soloviev is not qualified. He places the Russian philosopher before us wholecloth: I learned with deep joy of the international Conference organized by the Ukrainian Catholic University, in collaboration with the Solovyov Society of Geneva and other cultural Ukrainian Institutions, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov. On this happy occasion I would like to convey through you, Venerable Brother, my cordial greetings and encouragement to the organizers, the speakers and the participants of this Conference for this initiative that aims to examine in depth the thought of one of the greatest Russian Christian philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries.... May the rediscovery of the treasures of his thought foster a better understanding between East and West and, in particular, hasten the progress of all Christians towards full unity in the one fold of Christ (cf. Jn 10: 16). So is it any wonder that the Mercy Sisters have taken up goddess worship as Michael Rose at CruxNews points out? It could be said they are doing what the Pope recommends. Despite the scandal at Womenspace in the fall of 2001, when Brisbane�s Courier-Mail exposed its role in promoting Dark Goddess celebrations, goddess chants, and, particularly, the radical feminist theology of Australia�s leading feminist scholar, Sr. Wainwright, Womenspace continues its mission of promoting "women�s spirituality." Its library includes such titles as: CC Brondwin�s Clan of the Goddess: Celtic Wisdom & Ritual; Carol Christ�s Rebirth of the Goddess; Elaine Lindsey�s Rewriting God; Sr. Joan Chittister�s In Search of Belief; Marion Woodman�s Dancing in the Flame; Patricia Monaghan�s The New Birth of Goddesses; and Starhawk�s Spiral Dance. This listing of titles is just a small fraction of the "latest additions" to the library, published in the Womenspace newsletter one year after Archbishop Bathersby ordered the religious women to end their "damaging" activities. One hopes that the Holy Father did not have this use of Soloviev in mind, but given all of the confusion within the Church today...all of the topsy turvy theology...one certainly cannot be sure when he does not qualify his recommendation of Soloviev in his address to a Catholic conference on Soloviev's philosophy. Braceras concludes her comments at NRO with this: Certainly the concerns of Catholic groups that widespread acceptance of The Da Vinci Code will increase anti-Catholic prejudice are as valid as those of the organized Jewish community who fear an anti-Semitic backlash as a result of The Passion of the Christ. But while critics of Gibson's movie are given center stage in the mainstream media, critics of Brown's novel are regarded as paranoid and given little credence. Of course, neither The Passion of the Christ nor The Da Vinci Code should escape exacting criticism. The media should be careful, however, not to tip the scales in favor of one group's concerns at the expense of another. She will get no argument from me. CarrieTomko@aol.com

REMEMBERING FR. JOHN MINKLER With all the fuss over TPOTC and the sexual abuse report, Fr. John Minkler has been forgotten in blogland. Here is a short news clip from Capital News 9 indicating another letter has been found that seems to substantiate the first. Minkler's signature is similar to the one released by the diocese on a statement Minkler signed disavowing knowledge of a letter to then Cardinal John O'Connor, citing alleged sexual misconduct by Bishop Howard Hubbard. Aretakis said, "The Albany Diocese is still denying that Fr. Minkler wrote the June 1995 letter and in fact this letter not only refutes that, but it corroborates many of the things that are in the first letter." CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

CURRENT READING MATERIAL I'm ploughing through Vladimir Soloviev & His Messianic Work. It's written for philosophers who are comfortable with the jargon, so somewhat slow going. The book does confirm that occultists had significant influence on Soloviev, including Boehme and Swedenborg. A quick web search brings up these websites which make the Boehme-Soloviev link: From Esprit Systems, Inc. Jacob Boehme was highly influential on subsequent thinkers, including William Law, Dionysius Freher, Nicolas Berdyrev, Soloviev, Hegel, Schelling, William Blake, Isaac Newton, Franz von Baader, and George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. Notice that this one also make the link to William Law, who influenced John Wesley. * * * From a lecture at the Steiner Archive: Soloviev: It is not a life of Jesus but an understanding of Christ that culminates in what Soloviev wrote about Him and His part in the evolution of the earth. Boehme: But even now we can point to moments in this development when someone feels this free imaginative life springing up in his soul. In these beginnings it is still in great measure unfree, but we may see how so significant a man as Jacob Boehme, quite soon after the fifth post-Atlantean age began, felt how it was trying to develop in his soul. In fact, Boehme and Soloviev are mentioned repeatedly throughout this lecture. * * * From the Fielding Graduate Institute A Russian orthodox mystic, Vadimir Soloviev (4) had a vision of Sophia in which he experienced bliss at seeing God in the beauty of a mountain range so breath taking that the site took his breath away. As a result he created a theology called Sophiology in an attempt to resacralize nature and remove it from the evil state it occupied after Adam and Eve fell from Eden. However since the prevailing orthodox doctrine could not accept the integrative vision of spirit in matter, he was ostracized from his church. Sophia�s wisdom to Soloviev seemed to be the experience that there was no division between spirit and matter. In fact he implied that one could find wisdom through the material world. Bulgakov (18), one of Soloviev disciples�s, makes the point that Sophia is unspeakable and unknowable but she is where the �creaturely world is united with the divine world in divine Sophia� (19). Some Sophia scholars such as Thomas Schilflinger (20) and Susan Schaup (21) conclude that the visionary experiences, seemingly feminine in nature, of the great European mystics, Hildegard von Bingen and Jacob Boehme were of Sophia. * * * From a history of Russia at Eastern Michigan University He [Soloviev] became especially interested in the Jewish Kabbala and in the works of the mystical German writer of the early seventeenth century, Jacob Boehme. Boehme emphasized the universal role of the Divine Wisdom, "Sophia" in the Greek. Divine Wisdom or the Wisdom of God had also been written of in the Bible and in Kabbalistic texts and depicted in Russian icons. Churches, the various St. Sophias, had also been dedicated to it in Soloviev's native land. (See, for example, St. Sophia in Novgorod, where Soloviev greatly admired an icon of Sophia the All-Wisdom of God.) * * * From a website dedicated to women priests The sophiologists were also indebted to the Protestant mystic Jacob Boehme (1575-1624), whose more or less heterodox system integrated evil into God as a necessary motor for starting the movement of emanations. The male and the female principles, which originated in the male and female elements of the divine world�called, respectively, Fire and light�coexisted originally in Adam. The externalization of woman resulted from Adam�s fundamental fault of seeking for companionship outside instead of inside himself, where woman belonged in the primordinal order of humanity. Another line of thought which had a direct influence on sophiology is more surprising than these classical loci for a doctrine of the eternal feminine. The French sociologist and philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857) tried to form what he called the �religion of humanity,� in order to give spiritual depth to what he foresaw as the last stage of mankind, the �positive� age destined to succeed the theological and the metaphysical stages. The �Great Being� which he equated both with God and with mankind he described in feminine terms. Comte had a direct influence on the Russian sophiologist, Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900).(21) CarrieTomko@aol.com

DEAL HUDSON'S E-LETTER The Debate CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter March 2, 2004 ********************************************** Dear Friend, In all the excitement over the bishops' Review Board report on Friday, I didn't get the chance to tell you about last Thursday's debate over The Passion at the Center for Jewish History in New York. It was quite an experience, and I'll give you the full rundown in a moment. But first, I need to update you on a couple items... First, a few weeks ago, I told you about the problems that erupted in the Arlington diocese when Catherine Nolan, the director of child protection and safety, presented the Good Touch/Bad Touch child safety program to Catholic school parents. As you probably recall, the parents were outraged by the program's explicit content and the fact that they hadn't been consulted about their children's education in this delicate matter. The situation was reaching the boiling point. Sooner or later, something had to give. In this case, it ended up being the program... and Catherine Nolan. Nolan resigned from her position shortly after a series of heated confrontations with parents, and the diocese dropped the Good Touch/Bad Touch program. Furthermore, they've announced that they'll be investigating the VIRTUS "Protecting God's Children" program, which several other solid dioceses have recommended. This is great news for Arlington; the diocese was right to take the parents' concerns seriously. Congratulations to all involved. Now, before I get to the debate, I need to clear up one point I made in my last e-letter about the National Review Board's report. In it, I wrote: "Overall, 81% of abuse victims were male, and 78% were at or past the age of puberty. In general, the highest rate of abuse occurred among males aged 11 to 14. In other words, most of the abuse involved gay priests molesting teenage boys. This is called homosexuality, not pedophilia." Several friends wrote in to object to the distinction I make here, and to ask if I was trying to minimize the abuse. First, I apologize for not being clearer in what I wrote. Here's my point: Pedophilia is the adult attraction to prepubescent children. An attraction to post-pubescent teens is, by definition, not pedophilia. Rather, it would be better described as homosexual abuse with a minor. However, this is NOT to minimize the monstrous nature of the abuse, one way or another. Both are awful. I was in no way trying to downplay the seriousness of the offense. In fact, the only reason I made the distinction at all is because in finding a solution to the problem, we need to know exactly what that problem is. We would approach rampant pedophilia differently than we would the homosexual abuse of minors. (And again, BOTH are gruesome crimes against kids.) In other words, let's get the diagnosis correct before we prescribe the cure. Anyway, I hope that helps clear up any confusion. And now, at long last, on to The Passion debate... As I mentioned to you last week, I'd been invited with several other journalists and scholars to speak on a panel regarding the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's film. The group included Sister Mary Boys of the Union Theological Seminary; Dr. Paula Fredriksen, a professor of scripture at Boston University; Rabbi Eugene Korn, formerly of the Anti-Defamation League; and Peter Boyer, a staff writer for the New Yorker who did a profile of Gibson for that magazine. The event was moderated by Ed Rothstein, the culture critic for the New York Times. Each of us had 15 minutes to present our views of the film and the controversy surrounding it. Afterward, we were given time to discuss each opinion. Now I've given hundreds of speeches all over the country and have been in the hot seat plenty of times in television and radio interviews. I enjoy a healthy debate. But this time, the situation was different. This was going to be tough. For one, I was the person on the panel most identified as a supporter of the film. With the exception of Peter Boyer, the others were outright antagonistic toward the film and Gibson himself. And the crowd was a tough sell, too. I've never been in a more emotionally charged debate and I was nervous. The hall was overflowing -- about 250 people packed into the main auditorium, with another 200 or so watching the debate in a separate hall. The other presenters gave their various cases for and against the movie. Sister Boys seemed angry towards the film. Boyer, a southern Episcopalian, pointed out the movie's huge box office success, noting that the millions of Christians who are seeing the film are not seeing anti-Semitism. (Boyer was a welcome voice of reason throughout the evening.) Rabbi Korn, on the other hand, condemned it outright. The film would inflame anti-Semitism, he said. He even seemed to imply that it would be the beginning of a second Holocaust, a comment that drew loud applause from the crowd. When my turn came to speak, I began by saying simply, "I loved this film." I went on to explain that I shared the audiences' abhorrence of anti-Semitism, but that I couldn't find ANY anti-Semitic themes in the film. In fact, if anything, I thought the movie would help diminish anti-Semitism. People leaving the theater after seeing this movie aren't concerned with playing the blame game -- they're too focused on their own sins that led Jesus to suffer and die. I ended my comments by reading the prayer that Pope John Paul II left at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on his 2002 trip to the Holy Land and emphasized once again that it's completely reasonable to like this movie and not be anti-Semitic. That's when the free-wheeling discussion began. Most of the panelists just rephrased their opening statements... the film was dangerous and likely to inflame hatred, etc. After just about every comment, the moderator would come back to me for a response. It was a difficult balancing act to maintain, but I tried to focus on being as precise as I could and hoped that I got my point across. Sometimes I did, and sometimes I didn't. When I told the audience that I had purposely looked for anti-Semitism during my second viewing of the film but still couldn't find it, there were groans from the crowd. At another point, I told them I thought the film was the rebirth of great Christian art in our time. Even louder groans. People began jumping out of their seats to ask questions, and the situation got more heated. Fortunately, Rothstein did a good job keeping things from getting out of hand. In the end, I don't know if I was able to reassure the skeptics that The Passion isn't anti-Semitic. Still, I was encouraged by the positive reactions of a few people in the crowd who told me that they were now able to see things from another perspective. I spent the hour before the debate in prayer and meditation (the organizers were kind enough to give me my own room), and that really helped me stay focused and calm. In the end, I did what I could. Hopefully, that was enough. I'd like to thank the staff of the Center for Jewish History for inviting me to take part in this important debate. While we may disagree on the merits of The Passion, I found them to be exceedingly kind and generous hosts. I'll talk to you again in a few days, Deal P.S. If you're interested, here's the text of the prayer the pope left at the Wailing Wall in 2002: "God of our fathers, You chose Abraham and his descendants To bring your Name to the Nations: We are deeply saddened By the behavior of those Who in the course of history Have caused these children of yours to suffer, And asking your forgiveness We wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood With the people of the Covenant." To learn more about CRISIS Magazine, visit http://www.crisismagazine.com/subscribe.htm CarrieTomko@aol.com

RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY SLIPPING AWAY According to Media Monitor "Blind Eye on Russia" by Notra Trulock, democracy in Russia is disappearing slowly and the media is failing to report it. This is contrary to what we would expect if the Fatima consecration had been completed as Pope John Paul II insists that it has. If, however, the consecration has not been done as heaven requested, this situation in Russia would be exactly what we'd expect. Is John Paul II somehow involved in this slippage in democracy? It's no secret that he does not favor American democracy or American materialism. His position on the war with Iraq gave us ample evidence of that. He is also known to have met with Gorbachev on a few occasions. Was the fall of the iron curtain merely a strategy in communist worldwide aggression, as some believed back in the 90s? The Bush administration seems to have caught on that democracy in Russia is dying�or may already be dead. In the gentlest of terms, Secretary of State Colin Powell recently chided the Putin government for its authoritarian rule and continued brutal campaign in Chechnya. The New York Times� editorial page took note of Powell�s prodding, but then criticized the administration for its �studied silence about Russia�s glaring faults.� But a former Moscow bureau chief for U.S. News and World Report says the Times has itself been part of the problem. Writing in The New Republic, Masha Gessen charges that the U.S. media�s coverage of Russia in recent years has �largely papered over� the death of democracy there. With few exceptions, she writes, our media have failed to accurately convey the downward spiral of events in Moscow. She credits the Washington Post as being among the few U.S. outlets that has even bothered to report on the rollback of democratic gains achieved in the early post-Soviet period. Last September, it ran one story about the erosion of liberties under the Putin government. Gessen contrasts U.S. coverage of last December�s national election in Russia with that of the foreign media. Much of the U.S. coverage followed the lead of a New York Times� editorial titled �Russians Inch Toward Democracy.� She writes that most U.S. media outlets depicted the election as a �pro-Putin landslide that somehow would foster democracy. Outside the U.S., however, the election was reported for what it was��a democrat�s nightmare� in the words of the London-based Economist. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CALIF. RULING THAT CATHOLIC CHARITIES MUST PAY FOR BIRTH CONTROL PILLS is a topic of the day at Patrick Sweeney's blog. Check out his dissection of the decision. It's not as anti-Catholic as it appears to be when viewed as he explains it. CarrieTomko@aol.com

HYPOCRITICAL BISHOPS And Catholic World News is saying it! Phil Lawler indicates the Bishops think they are above Canon Law, and "zero tolerance" does not apply to them: "The terrible history recorded here is history," said Bishop Wilton Gregory, speaking to reporters about the latest and most comprehensive report on the sex-abuse scandal. We're heard that line many times before. Every previous time, it's been proven false. This time will be no exception. In fact, I'll prove it false right now. Bishop Gregory, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, assures us that the sex-abuse scandal is now behind us, since "known offenders are not in ministry." That's demonstrably not true. Archbishops Weakland and Sanchez-- known and confessed offenders-- have resigned their archdiocesan assignments, but they continue to function as bishops, performing Confirmations and receiving the full dignity of the office they disgraced. Several other less prominent bishops remain "in ministry," even after resigning in the face of sex-abuse accusations. The American bishops are still not being held accountable. In their long-awaited report, unveiled Friday, the National Review Board called attention to the blatant double standard in the bishops' policies regarding sexual abuse, the "Dallas Charter:" The Review Board also believes that any discussion of the Charter's zero-tolerance provision would be incomplete without noting that there is no equivalent policy of zero tolerance for bishops or provincials who allowed a predator priest to remain in or return to ministry despite knowledge of the risks. What should have been done about the bishops who failed to carry out their responsibilities? The answer, as the National Review Board pointed out, is found in the Code of Canon Law. Nevertheless, although Canon 1389 provides for a penalty, including dismissal from office, for a Church official who with culpable negligence fails to perform an act of ecclesiastical governance, Church officials in the United States rarely enforced Canon 1395. Nor have any bishops in the United States been punished under Canon 1389 for a failure to enforce Canon 1395. If the bishops who tolerated or overlooked or covered up sexual abuse were also subject to effective discipline, we might finally reach the point at which the sex-abuse scandal was truly a question of past history. But even now, despite the near-universal condemnation of their response to the sex-abuse scandal, the American bishops show no inclination to police themselves. Will anything short of new bishops give us the confidence that we can move forward and once again trust the hierarchy? Since we are not suffering from the abuse scandal exclusively, but rather we are suffering from 40 years of ineptness of the leadership where liturgy, catechesis, theology, and numbers in the pews have all been in decline. It is time for a new direction. Can the leadership that has failed provide it? In fact, since it has been made clear in the expose of the Legionaries that Rome had full knowledge and failed to act, and since we know that Rome has had full knowledge of numerous abuses of the laity via bishops who refused to follow Rome's direction, will anything short of the dawn of the next pontificate give us the confidence to move forward? It's time for the Curia and the Bishops to reveal what influence lies behind the sexual abuse scandal and all of the other scandals over the years since Vatican II. There is more to this story than has been told. Something caused it, and there will be no cure until that "something" is revealed and eliminated. There will be no trust either. How long can the Church afford to remain in Limbo? Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, March 01, 2004

TRAFFICING IN CHILDREN'S ORGANS IN MOZAMBIQUE Independent Catholic News reports the death last Friday of one of the nuns of the Servants of Mary Immaculate. The nuns who broke a story about trafficing in human organs subsequently received death threats: Earlier this month the sisters had given interviews in which they said they were convinced Nampula was at the centre of an international ring selling children's body parts for use in magic rituals in several African countries. In their report they said there have been several attempts to abduct children from their orphanage. They also spoke of children who had escaped traffickers and showed pictures of children who had been killed and had organs removed. CarrieTomko@aol.com

POPE AND CARDINAL SUED Yahoo News Reports: ROME - A Muslim activist sued the pope, a top cardinal and other church officials Saturday, claiming their comments about the superiority of Christianity violated the Italian constitution. Activist Adel Smith said he was seeking a court condemnation of the comments but no monetary or other punitive damages. CarrieTomko@aol.com

MODERN CHILD SLAVERY IN BRITAIN from the Guardian Unlimited: The Home Office minister Beverley Hughes has told the Guardian that the new powers are needed to tackle "this vile form of modern slavery" under which traffickers bring children to Britain simply to help adults already here to claim asylum or welfare benefits. "There is even some suspicion that some children are rotated around a number of families for that purpose," said Ms Hughes. It is believed that this new form of child slave trade has emerged with the rise of asylum applications from east Africa in the last year. "We have got to get this nailed down in relation to child slavery. When you talk, as I have, to people who have been trafficked you get such a terrible sense of the exploitation, the intimidation, the threats that are made against them and their families back home, and the imprisonment," Ms Hughes said. The new powers will mean that traffickers who bring a child or a vulnerable adult into Britain for these purposes will face prison sentences of up to 14 years. The new trafficking powers to be introduced today come on top of longer sentences for those who traffic in prostitutes, and for purposes of domestic slavery and so-called "organ harvesting". CarrieTomko@aol.com

DAVID MILLS AT THE TOUCHSTONE BLOG has a couple of interesting posts up. Relaying information from a book called The First Cuckoo: More Classic Letters to The Times 1900-1975, he writes: Dr. Martin Routh, president of Magdalen College in Oxford (C. S. Lewis' college) from 1791 to 1854 "could see no reason for the installation of baths in the college since the young men were up [at the college] for only eight weeks at a stretch." The railway to Oxford was built in his 89th year and he refused to believe students who told him that they'd got from London to Oxford in two hours, calling them "conspirators bent on making him take leave of his senses." You'd think his senses would have taken leave about the third or fourth week at the very latest! Perhaps he had an olefactory weakness. Another comment pertains to TPOTC, and whether to take the kids: The Catholic priest quoted in the following blog wrote a follow-up message, which included some good advice to parents: "Another frequent response [to his message] was, "What then do you think about children seeing the movie?" Parents, be very cautious. If you can't see it ahead of time to make judgments, don't take your teenagers unless you are confident that the emotional distress won't trigger crude defense mechanisms such as scorn, anger, or depressive guilt. Even some adults coming out of the movie have not been able to transcend these reactions, so we can't presume that children will be able to do so." CarrieTomko@aol.com

A WEEK OFF ? I could think of more convenient times, but it's looking like this will be a week of rest from the Catholic blogs. Why? Because the hot topic is The Passion of the Christ, and it promises to occupy everyone's thoughts for the better part of the week, barring a priest murdering his bishop or something. There is little I can add to the discussion. I haven't seen it. I probably won't see it, whether I buy a ticket or not. I have this unfortunate quirk of passing out at the sight of blood, and everything I've heard about this movie leads me to believe I'd make it through about the first ten minutes before assuming the position on the floor. Amy has a post up this morning that discusses the inaccuracies in the movie and wonders why Gibson didn't consult an historian. Actually he did. Just not the sort of historian the article has in mind. It sounds to me like Gibson thought a seer would be more accurate in the details than an historian. A lot of people think that mystical knowledge is more authentic than scholarship. I guess we'll have to wait till the next life to ask the obvious question. Incidentally, the fact that Emmerich has been beatified (canonized?...I should know the answer, but I don't) is not a guarantee that her prophecy is historically accurate. Joachim of Fiore was also beatified, but his prophecy was labeled "heresy" by the PTB in Rome. One thing bothers me about TPOTC. All of the pictures that have been used in articles and ads show Christ covered in blood. Scripture tells us the soldiers cast lots for his robe. Why would they have wanted a blood soaked robe of a criminal? Doesn't jive for me. When I say the stations, it always comes back to me that not only did Christ have to commit Himself to the Passion in the Garden of Gethsemene. He had to do it moment by moment throughout the awful event. The passage in Luke (4:29-30) indicates that Jesus could disappear from the midst of an angry crowd. He had the power to remove Himself from a situation. Presumably that power would have extended to the Passion as well. Yet in the midst of the awfulness of that event He remained to see it through. Who among us could do that? Realizing this invariably brings me to reflect on the birth of my daughter. In the Lamaze classes I practiced natural childbirth. I would do it without drugs. Yes, that was the way to go, and I knew the techniques to make it happen. I was very confident and gave my husband instructions not to listen to me when I asked for pain relief when the big event arrived. You can fill in the rest of the story, I bet. It was the day my doctor was supposed to leave on vacation. My labor stopped a short while after I got to the delivery suite. So labor was induced, and I discovered that it wasn't possible to breathe unless the contractions stopped for a moment. Which they didn't. My husband reminded me of his promise, and I reminded him that if he wanted to live through this delivery he would keep his mouth shut starting now! (A woman in childbirth seldom minces words.) The spinal brought blessed relief, and made it possible to actually remember the birth of my daughter. It also makes me appreciate what Christ did for me during the Passion. Thinking about this invariably makes His Divinity shine through His Passion for me. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, February 29, 2004

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE COMPOSER OF THE SCORE FOR THE PASSION John Debney: John Debney is used to writing movie scores for comedies like LIAR, LIAR and BRUCE ALMIGHTY, but he admits that composing the score for Mel Gibson�s powerful movie, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, was the most difficult assignment of his life. For it turned out to be a battle between good and evil that he had never experienced before in some 20 years in Hollywood. �I don�t think I will ever be given the opportunity to write again for a movie as powerful as this one,� he said during a recent media interview in Beverly Hills, California. �I was stretched every which way but loose. I was stretched by Mel Gibson. I was stretched by the Guy Upstairs and also I was stretched by the guy downstairs. What it did was completely strengthen my faith and I have realized something very interesting. I had never before subscribed to the idea that maybe Satan is a real person, but I can attest that he was in my room a lot and I know that he hit everyone on this production.� Debney said that the battle he felt with Satan as he wrote the music became �really personal between us.� He went on to say, �I had all these computers and synthesizers in my studio and the hard drives would go down and the digital picture that lives on the computer with the music would just freeze on his [Satan�s] face. Then the volume would go to ten and it would happen all the time. �The first time it happened, it scared me. Once I got over the initial shock of that, I learned to work around it and learned to reboot the computers and so I would start talking to him. �There was one day when I had been on the movie for about four months when it really became bad that day and a lot of things that were causing doubt in me and I had had enough. The computers froze for about the tenth time that day and it was about nine o�clock at night and so I got really mad and I told Satan to manifest himself and I said, �Let�s go out into the parking lot and let�s go.� It was a seed change in me. I knew that this was war. I am not a physical person, but I was really angry on this occasion. CarrieTomko@aol.com

RUNAWAY JURY I saw the film tonight on DVD, a captivating movie based on John Grisham's novel. The good guys win. Of course it's impossible throughout most of the movie to tell who the good guys are. And there is the little matter of the immoral means used by the good guys. But still, aside from that, it's a feel good movie after it's concluded, leaving the viewer with a belief that everything will turn out alright in spite of the sinfulness of man. Of course it's not realistic. Life doesn't always turn out alright. In fact it rather frequently does just the opposite. But I got to wondering, after watching this movie, whether Hollywood could change that for the better. Is society ready to follow idealistic theater art? Are we so jaded by evil depictions in the movies, of the typical content of the evening news, that we would embrace morality on the screen once again, so that just for a couple of hours we could believe it's possible? Would the knight in shining armour have box office appeal in modern costume on a steady basis? There is no nudity in Jury. Not a great deal of violence either once you get past the opening scene. The legal maneuverings, typical of Grisham, break the law, and the perps of these maneuverings are never challenged by legal authority. What's more, all of the main characters are guilty to a greater or lesser extent. Yet despite all of this, justice gets done in a fast-paced setting and a satisfying way. Like life for a person of faith? Injustice in the short run becomes justice in the long run when our case is heard before the Ultimate Judge. The same Judge who has an unseen and unacknowledged hand in this script. Is it perhaps possible that our longing for a hero to worship is behind all of the attention that The Passion of the Christ is getting? Are we nursing a secret hunger to embrace once again goodness, altruism, valour, courage, uprightness, discipline, sacrifice, and all of the virtues I've neglected to mention, in exchange for the pessimism and discouragement that is too often our daily fare? Have we reached a turning point? The pendelum always swings. We have taken porn just about as far as it can go. And hasn't the movie about violence and destruction become too commonplace to generate much interest? Murder and mayhem? Yawn. Maybe a lot of us are beginning to sense this is a dead end street with some very deep ruts and little of the magic carpet ride; and that explains part of the popularity of Grisham's heroes and Christ crucified on the big screen. What can I say? I'm a Christian who knows that ultimately Christ wins and looking for signs of hopefulness are second nature. CarrieTomko@aol.com

LEAD ME LORD One of my favorite hymns. If it wasn't playing when you got to the website, click "organ" or "piano" to hear it. The "bells" link didn't work very well when I tried it. While you're in the website, check out the home page. Lots of hymns there. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ODDS AND ENDS First, "Open Windows: Why Vatican II Was Necessary" by George Sim Johnston, Crisis Magazine, March 2004. In a comments box below Colleen asked what I didn't like about the article. First of all, the magazine cover asks the question "Was Vatican II a Mistake?" Coming as it does, just days after the release of the sexual abuse statistics, and at a time when many are calling those statistics the "fruits of Vatican II," it seems reasonable to expect that the answer to the cover question would be "Yes, at least in some ways." However, what we get in this one and only article that is devoted to the cover topic, is a recapitulation of Vatican II appologetics. Untimely at best. The last thing I need right now is to be reminded of all the good intentions of Vatican II when what I'm seeing are the evil results in screaming newspaper headlines across the nation. But in addition to that general disappointment are some specifics regarding the claims of the article. For example... "Until Vatican II, there was little sense of calling the laity to serious ascetical struggle and adult intellectual formation. All that was the preserve of the priests and nuns, who wre somehow the "real" Church. The council was a clarion call to the laity to share actively in the mission of the Church." Prior to the Council we had much stricter ascetical practices than we have since. Consider the fast before Communion--prior to the Council we fasted from midnight. Consider the Lenten fast--prior to the Council we ate meat only once a day throughout Lent, and not at all on Friday as was the practice every Friday of the year. Prior to the Council we fasted every day of Lent in the way that we fast now only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Prior to the Council we observed "ember days" before feast days. Prior to the Council morning and evening prayers were emphasized. Since the Council I hardly ever hear it mentioned. Our ascetic practices were much greater prior to Vatican II. "People in the pews would say their rosaries or do private prayers and devotions during the Mass. The council wanted to change this. The Mass is the summit of Christian life here on earth, so there should be 'full, conscious and active participation.' The word 'active' in the original text could better be translated as 'authentic,' and by 'participation,' they meant mainly interior participation. In other words, silence " While rosaries and private devotions were typical of the generation of folks in their 50s and older prior to the Council, it was not true of younger people who almost invariably attended Mass with a missal from which they read all of the prayers of the priest. In fact, it can be argued that we were more fully participating in the liturgy prior to the Council because we said each and every prayer, while today we say only those prayers specifically designated for the laity. Recollection was easier when our eyes were on the words in the missal than it is now that we are free to gawk around. I find it much more difficult to concentrate on Mass now than I found it back then. In order to overcome distractions I have to sit up front. Prior to the Council I could sit anywhere in church and the experience of hearing Mass was the same, which means that my interior participation was greater prior to the Council. "The most radical departure from history in the council's teachings concerned religious freedom." Forcing conversions is anathema. However, ecumenism today is convincing too many Catholics that all religions are the same, that we can join any worshipping community in prayer without offending God. Which is a serious error. Dominus Iesus has not succeeded in remedying the problem. "At the council, the Church moved to a relational, Trinitarian theology of the human person. Our faith is not simply the intellectual acceptance of a series of creedal statements but a relationship with a Person." Prior to the Council I had no doubt that my faith was relational. That was its greatest strength. I knew God as friend. Following the Council I began hearing statements from the pulpit such as "We used to talk about having a relationship with Christ. Now we must turn to our fellow man and seek Christ in him. It's no longer a one on one relationship with God. Now it's all about community." I nearly left the practice of the faith because of teachings like this one. As a child growing up in the 50s, nothing meant more to me than my relationship with God. So the notion that we only discovered such a relationship with God after the Council is simply an error. What's more, in typical Catholic homes prior to the Council there were sacramentals. Holy water fonts at the bedroom door. Blessed candles lighted in a thunderstorm. Novenas said when a crisis arose. Statues, pictures, and crucifixes scattered about the house. Blessed palms sometimes woven into shapes and placed in conspicuous places. May altars. But the gravest indication that the fruits of the Council were not sweet is the number of Catholics who no longer practice the faith, coupled with the sexual license of priests and laity alike. So while we are in the midst of discovering the rotten fruits of the Council is hardly the time to be presented with a magazine article that touts the so-called "necessity" of Vatican II. ***************** Steward, I'm not so sure we will ever reach a point when all the bad news has been exhausted. We are much too good at reinventing bad news to hope for it. What is most disturbing to me is that I believe the spiritual cause of our present decline is not going to be exposed. That "smoke of Satan" referred to by Pope Paul has not been revealed. Without revealing it, can it be evicted convincingly? Perhaps if the Fatima consecration is done, mentioning Russia specifically, it can. Without that, I'm not hopeful. ***************** A reader emailed me with comments about the Bishop's letter which was read at his Mass last evening. Since we are both in the same diocese, I went to Mass expecting to hear the bishop's letter read to us as well. But, no letter was read. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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