Friday, February 18, 2005

The interdict of St. Stanislas Kostka

Some people outside of the Catholic community might have heard of a parish in St. Louis called St. Stanislas Kostka, and their struggle to maintain their parochial independence from the evil Archbishop Burke, who would take their parish assets and sell them off. This is the story their "Board of Directors," as well as the St. Louis media would have people believe.

As is usually the case, the media isn't telling the whole side of the story. St. Stan's was founded with a unique parochial structure in 1880, one that allowed the parish to have a board of directors independent of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, but whose bylaws provided for union and authority with the Archdiocese of St. Louis as a Roman Catholic parish operating under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese, and therefore under Canon Law.

In 1917, the Holy See outlawed the notion that parishes could operate with any Board of Directors independent of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Burke's predecessor, Justin Cardinal Rigali, first approached the board of St. Stan's in an attempt to rectify the issue and bring the parish into alignment with Canon Law. Instead of willful obedience, the members of the 'board" changed the by-laws of the parish so as to take the Archdiocese out of the equation entirely. While the rest of the Catholic world must obey their Bishop, St. Stan's "board" apparently thinks themselves immune from ecclesiastical law. They have rightly incurred an interdict and are being denied the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity, because they are not in union with the whole Church.

In studying the relevant documents relating to the St. Stanislas case, I have learned that among other things:

1. The St. Stan's board of directors obtained a liquor license over the objections of both the pastor and parents of children undergoing religious education. The purpose was so that drinks could be sold on Sunday after the 10:00AM Mass when children of the parish were being given religious instruction. Both pastor and parents objected, but the board applied for and received a liquor license from the City of St. Louis and continue to operate a bar on church grounds after Mass over the objections of many parishioners.

(A note here: I like an ice-cold Budweiser as much as the next man, and as long as it is taken in moderation, there is no problem with that. Opening a bar on church grounds for use on a Sunday, however, shows immense disrespect for the Church, for the Lord, and for the Blessed Sacrament. Just because those involved have Polish heritage doesn't mean it entitles them to disrespect Our Lord in this way.)

2. Archbishop Burke has removed priests from the parish because the "board of directors" has made life intolerable for priests there, and for the ecclesiastical order of the Church.

3. Bishops have been trying to bring St. Stan's into line with the Church since 1917. The latest conflict actually began when Justin Cardinal Rigali was Archbishop of St. Louis, and it has merely carried over to Archbishop Burke's tenure. Considering the hardness of head and heart of these people, I think the Church has been unusually lenient and very merciful with them.

These people have GOT to be brought into line.

Check out some of the relevant documents here. Especially this Question and Answer document.

Interdict may be too mild a form of punishment for these lunatics.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The chickens come home to roost

Well, those of us in the conservative movement who had our doubts about the effectiveness of war in Irag were vindicated yesterday when CIA director Porter Goss told the Senate select committee on Intelligence "The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists." In other words, Goss is admitting that the conflict in Iraq is stoking the terrorist fire.

I don't want anyone to misintrepret what I am saying here. I strongly support our troops in Iraq, and I believe that what was began there needs to be seen through to both a just and a victorious conclusion. However, before this war began, liberals weren't the only ones complaining that the war might be a problem. The left won't fight even when it is right to do so, but no heed was paid either in the White House or Congress to the fact that many conservatives thought that the war had all of the earmarks of a quagmire. Many of us warned that a war in Iraq, rather than bring about a victory against terrorists, would give our enemies more of a reason to fight.

Much good has been accomplished in Iraq, including elections and the foundation of a free government. (We would do well to remember, however, that the new government will be primarily a Shia Muslim one, and Shia governments have traditionally been very anti-American, see Iran.) What's more, now that the war has occurred we simply cannot afford to withdraw from Iraq unilaterally. The primary goal of the United States, however, has yet to be met. The stated purpose for invading Iraq was that such an invasion would help defeat terrorism. If Porter Goss is to be believed, the very existence of the war is aiding and abeting the enemy, just as many of us warned.

I hate to say "I told you so," but a whole lot of people did just that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Syrian problem

It seems that in attacking Iraq, one of the great difficulties the United States have encountered is that their interests (and the interests of the civilized world) in other parts of the Near East are placed in jeopardy because of an inability to effectively respond to other crises in the region.

Such seems to be the case with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Here was a man who did a great deal to bring about peace in Lebanon after a 15-year civil war, in a country bitterly divided between Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and Maronite Catholic Christians in union with Rome. Peace in Lebanon was not in the interest of Syria, which has 15,000 troops there. The Syrian government says that these troops are there to protect Syria's internal security, but their past behavior has indicated that they are really present in Lebanon in order to try and set up a government friendly to Syria.

Hariri was assaninated, and much of the world is under no illusion that any other party was responsible except Syria and those who sympathize with her. Washington has recalled the U.S. Ambassador to Damascus, but at this point, it seems that this is all that can be done. A military response might be for more appropriate and sufficient, but the U.S. cannot afford to stretch their military resources any thinner. Those resources are occupied considerably with Baghdad and its environs.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Death of a saint and end of an era

As I write this, Doug Keck of EWTN is translating and narrating the funeral Mass for Sister Lucia of Fatima. For those who are not Catholic and/or not aware of who this woman was, it was the young lady to whome, along with her cousins, Our Lady appeared at Fatima in 1917. To this little girl was revealed an image of Hell, prophecies of the rise of Communism and of the great carnage of the 20th Century, and a third secret which, though revealed, is a source of great controversy within the Church.

There can be little doubt that Lucia will be raised to the Honors of the Altar as her cousins have been...

Fatima changed the Church forever, so much so that we have added a prayer at the end of each decade of the Holy Rosary which the Blessed Virgin gave to the children and to the Church there:

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.

So fast was her loyalty to the Holy Father that she often asked the bishop when he would visit her Carmelite convent "how is the Holy Father."

Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of the Holy Rosary and Mother of the Church, pray for us.

Mutually-assured destruction of Democrat obstruction

Just as I am convinced the Democratic Party is rudderless and without an agenda (as evidenced last week by their nomination of Howard Dean to lead them...showing without question that they are scraping the bottom of the political barrel), I am also convinced that they have yet to accept defeat by the American people at the polls. The biggest reason exit polls indicated that people supported President Bush was moral values, and more specifically, many Americans understood that the President would appoint judges that respected those moral values.

Yesterday, the President had the intestinal fortitude to submit to the Senate for consideration the names of 20 federal judicial nominees that the Senate failed to act upon in the last term, largely because of Democrat obstructionism. The Jackass Party now says it will engage in obstructionism yet again, with Ted Kennedy going so far as to say that the President is "more interested in picking fights than picking judges." Let's be honest here: The Democrats are interested in picking judges alright, only the ones who embrace their un-American vision for this country.

The response of Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee has been that he prefers to negotiate all of this through diplomacy, rather than change Senate rules. However, to guarantee that these candidates get a fair hearing, he says he has the 51 votes needed to change Senate rules in a very specific way to require that all federal judicial appointments get an up-or-down vote.

I am no fan of Senate rule changes, because the filibuster has been used many times in 200-plus years to block bad legislation, and it ought to continue to be an option for just that purpose. It was never intended as a play-toy to be used by one political faction or another as if they were whining children. This is precisely what Democrats have done to the filibuster. They do not use it as it was intended, to block dangerous legislation (in fact, much of the legislation they have decried as harmful to civil liberties or hurtful to the poor they have allowed to sail through the Senate without a contest), they merely use it to prevent the appointment of judges who think like America.

Senator Charles "Gun-Grabber" Schumer of New York, a man who is likely the second-most liberal member of the U.S. Senate next to his junior Senator (Hillary), has described the proposed rule-change as "the nuclear option:"

"The nuclear option is aptly named because it will blow up the Senate. We don't know if Senator Frist has 51 'yes' votes, but it would be a tragedy for the Senate and for the country if he does. It would reverse almost 200 years of history and dramatically change what the Senate has always been."

I must say that I find it intreaguing that the Democrats were eager to change the rules of both the House and the Senate when they were in control of those bodies in such a way as it benefited them. Now, when the GOP tries the same sort of tactic, the Jackasses accuse the Republicans of attempting to forment nuclear (or as our Fearless Leader would say, "nucular") war.

The Democrats are engaging in this "smear and shear" debate because they know and understand all too well the kind of mandate the Republicans were re-elected on. It was not a mandate for war, because the polls indicated then the same thing that they show us now, the people are uncomfortable with the war. Instead, it was a mandate for moral values and judicial restraint, and it was so pronounced that if the GOP fails to deliver, they may suffer for years to come. The Dems are very aware of this reality, and they know the only tool they have to stop the judicial agenda for which the people sent the new Congress to Washington is to obstruct it.

Many of us have fought very hard in order to be able to have the opportunity to set the judicial agenda for America, that we might have judges who respect life and uphold moral values and Constitutional principles. This may be the only chance we have to make an impact, and it is "our moment in history." Senator Frist knows that we must make history, or merely be a footnote within it.

Here's to the President for having Balls of Brass!

The Washington Times contributed to this post.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The paper prayer rug

Periodically, Nicole and I will receive "junk mail" at our residence. This isn't uncommon, as I'm sure everyone receives those kinds of mailings from time to time. As it happens, a piece of what I perceived to be junk mail had been left unopened that had been in the mail earlier in the week, and I was helping Nicole with cleaning our domacile. I saw this envelope, on the front of which was declared that a miracle was about to happen to my family. Unable to resist, I opened the mailing and found inside a letter addressed to "Someone Connected to this Address," stating that the people at St. Matthew's (54 year-old) Church were praying for me, and what's more, they had a powerful prayer rug that they had mailed me. This rug, they said, had the power of prayer attatched to it and had been blessed by the elders of their church. I was to place the rug in a Bible or under my bed at night in faith, after praying with it over my knees, that whatever my prayers and needs were, God would answer these prayers and deal with these needs. A further dig inside the envelope revealed that the "rug" was really a piece of paper with a picture of a rug on it. On the rug was an image of Our Lord with his eyes closed. I was told in the letter that if I looked long enough, I would see Our Lord's eyes open, but I did not see this after staring at the image for several minutes.

At first, based on the tone of the letter and the fact that the grammar was terrible, I assumed that it came from someone with a badly misinformed fundamentalist outlook. Further, at the conclusion of the letter was the tell-tale request for money. Considering that I did not know these people from Adam, I very quickly discerned that this was some sort of scam. I thought I might use the reply envelope they sent to send them a Catholic Answers tract.

Curiosity got the better of me, however, and Nicole and I did a Google search for them. What we found was far worse than simple ignorance. Saint Matthew's Churches claims to be a 54-year old ecumenical ministry with several churches under its care. A careful examination of the website showed that this was the same organization that sent me the envelope because they have the same Tulsa, Oklahoma mailing address, but yet say they are not located in Tulsa. In fact, after carefully checking their website, we are still unsure where they are located.

What is most frightening about these people is that if they are a real religious organization (something I think is doubtful based on their lack of disclosure), they have a strange theology that is a mixture of Cathlicism, Anglicanism, and fundamentalism. Their bishops claim apostolic succession through the Anglican line and through several schismatic Orthodox and Catholic groups, a fact that automatically invalidates their succession. What's more, they try very hard, but with poor grammar and bad theology, to connect themselves with the Holy Catholic Church.

If Saint Matthew's (54 years old, as they are so anxious to point out) Churches are a real ministry, they don't give the newcomer much of a chance to become a part of their community. We are told all about their beautiful "St. Matthew's Cathedral," even given a picture, but we aren't told where it is located that we might worship there. There is a phone number, but you are told on the website that you can leave a message, and if you are in need of ministry one of their elders will get back to you "if they can." At least one third-party website we found said that the leader of this groups has been under suspicion of fraud for many years.

Whatever they are, real or phony, St. Matthew's Churches need prayer. If they are phoney, they've likely taken advantage of untold thousands of unsuspecting people. If they are real, they have chosen to believe in a series of falsehoods, and may face eternal damnation.

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