Saturday, May 04, 2013

Sousa Mendes saved more lives than Schindler so why isn't he a household name too?

"With the Nazi invasion of France came an order from Portugal that no Jews or dissidents be granted passage. But one man stood tall against the decree – and in issuing visas for 30,000 people, Aristides de Sousa Mendes was to risk everything. Seventy years on, the people whose lives he saved are battling to restore his honour..."

Read more about this Catholic hero here.  

See also the Sousa Mendes Foundation 

His grandson wrote this article that points out the interesting fact that we have Mendes to thank for Huey Lewis and the News, Salvador Dali and Curious George!

Gen X Revert: Popping readers' faces for 10 years

Years ago this blog had Haloscan comments but those disappeared one day and I was left with the Google/Blogger comment system.  Now, all I ever get is spam which is annoying except when I get good spam like this (on the post about Pope Francis canonizing 800 martyrs):

"The article provides proven useful to me personally.  It's very useful and you are clearly really experienced in this field.  You get popped my own face to different opinion of this specific matter together with intriguing and reliable content material."

Glad you enjoy my blog dear reader.

Egypt's Christians Celebrate Coptic Easter

Happy Easter to all the Eastern Christians celebrating it tomorrow, especially those suffering under muslim domination. 

"Pope Tawadros II led his first Easter Mass as head of the ancient Coptic Church in Egypt praying for security and prosperity on Saturday at the same cathedral that was the site of sectarian clashes weeks earlier.

The Orthodox Easter mass, meant to be a religious celebration that marks the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion, took place amid increased attacks on churches.

Egypt's Orthodox Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country's 90 million people, have long complained of discrimination. Clashes between Muslims and Christians have become more frequent after a breakdown in security following the ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak from power in a 2011 uprising."

More here from ABC News

Friday, May 03, 2013

New Book by Alice Von Hildebrand

The great Alice Von Hildebrand is now 90 years young.  She has written a small book - click on the name to see more details:

Dietrich von Hildebrand and Edith Stein: Husserl's Students

A brief exploration of the parallel lives of Dietrich von Hildebrand and Edith Stein based on their memoirs. 

Embattled president of St. John's University, Fr. Donald Harrington, to step down

From the New York Post

"The embattled president of St. John's University is announcing his retirement today, and his chief of staff has already resigned in the face of an ongoing probe of lavish gifts they received from a corrupt dean at the Queens college who killed herself during a federal fraud trial, among other issues.

Father Donald Harrington, a Vincentian priest, who spent 24 years at the school, emailed his resignation as president to the St. John's community this afternoon. It is effective July 31.

His chief of staff Rob Wile's resignation is effective June 30, sources said."
"The stunning developments follow a series of damning articles in New York Magazine that explored the tight connections between Harrington, Wile and St. John's dean and fundraiser Cecilia Chang.

Chang, the the vice president for international relations and dean of the Institute of Asian Studies, killed herself in November during her ongoing Brooklyn federal trial on charges of embezzling more than $1 million from the school."

I posted about this scandal here after reading an article in Crisis Magazine.  There are still many questions I would like to see answered including:

  • Why did Fr. Harrington participate in business partnerships with Wile that involved hundreds of thousands of dollars?  As a Vincentian priest why would he need to make money in addition to what he is paid as president of a University? 
  • How did the board allow Wile to be paid such an high salary?  Did anyone raise any alarms about this?
  • Why did the University loan Wile money at no interest? 
  • Who on the board allowed these loans and are they still allowed to sit on the board?
  • How did Chang get away with so much corrupt behavior for so many years?  How does a Catholic University not clamp down on corruption quickly?
  • How does the University's Catholic identity fit into this scandal?  Are there going to be major reforms to prevent this corruption from happening again?
  • What is the Vincentian community going to do to prevent their priests from being able to get involved in major business dealings involving corruption?
  • Did Wile pay back every dime of the money he borrowed? 
  • Why is Wile being allowed to resign effective June 30?  Shouldn't the University want him out immediately?
More details on the sleaze involving Harrington and Wile can be found here - Top St. John’s Official Blocked Payback Request

"The 2011 probe of Cecilia Chang, the corrupt former St. John’s dean who stole more than $1 million from the university, revealed that Rob Wile, chief of staff to St. John's president Father Donald Harrington, had charged $25,000 on brands like Prada, Ferragamo, and Lanvin to one of Chang's Taiwanese credit cards, which was billed to a university account. Now sources inside the investigation reveal that they told Harrington in 2011 that Wile should reimburse St. John's at least some of the money. Harrington said he'd consider the recommendation, "but it went nowhere," to the shock of one investigator.

Instead, "Wile got raises," as one source put it, after the investigation began in 2010. That year he received an additional payment of $150,000 in a category marked “other reportable compensation," according to an IRS form. Sources say the $150,000 included a $100,000 retention bonus and $50,000 in debt forgiveness. Wile received $370,000 in interest-free loans from St. John's and that year received more in compensation than any other current employee except the basketball coach, according to documents. He also approved some of Chang's expenses."

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Pope Francis to canonise 800 Italians slain during historic siege

"Pope Francis is preparing to canonise an estimated 800 Italian laymen killed by Ottoman soldiers in the 15th century. The canonisation service will be on May 12 in St Peter’s Square and it will be the first carried out by the Pontiff since he was elected in early March.

The killing of the martyrs by Ottoman troops, who launched a weeks-long siege of Otranto, a small port town at the most eastern tip of southern Italy, took place in 1480.

When Otranto residents refused to surrender to the Ottoman army, the soldiers were ordered to massacre all males over the age of 15. Many were ordered to convert to Islam or die, but Blessed Antonio Primaldo, a tailor, spoke on the prisoners’ behalf. “We believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and for Jesus Christ we are ready to die,” he said, according to Blessed John Paul II, who visited Otranto in 1980 for the 500th anniversary of the martyrs’ deaths."

More on the canonizations here.

More on the history of Otranto can be found on Catholic Answers here - How the 800 Martyrs of Otranto Saved Rome

The Bishop of Rome as Christian Radical

Click this link to read the whole article by George Weigel in First Things. 

"Pope Francis believes that the Church in Latin America took a decisive step toward a new future in 2007. Then, at the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held at Aparecida in Brazil, the leaders of the Church moved far beyond the “kept” Catholicism of the past—the Catholicism that was “kept” by legal establishment or, more recently, cultural habit—and embraced a robustly Evangelical Catholicism in which, as the pope wrote, “the whole of ministry (is) in a missionary key.”

The move from “kept” Catholicism to Evangelical Catholicism is for everyone, the pope seems convinced."

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

In Rio slum, residents recall 1980 visit, look forward to Pope Francis

From Catholic News Service:

"RIO DE JANEIRO (CNS) -- Carlos Rojas is the keeper of 240 keys at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Vidigal, a hillside slum in south Rio de Janeiro. He opens the church each morning, guards, cleans and closes it each night.

Before the church was built eight years ago, priests celebrated Mass in the street. Wanting their own space, Catholics in the community walked the hillside, going door-to-door, collecting signatures and eventually winning enough support to build their own sanctuary.

Brazil has more Catholics than any country in the world. In 1980 Blessed John Paul II visited the favela, or slum, and left his gold cross-shaped ring there, urging the community to sell it and use the money to better living conditions. Rojas was on the committee that helped to coordinate the visit.

In July, another pope will come to Brazil for World Youth Day."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

John W Blewett, RIP

John Blewett was the managing editor of The Latin Mass Magazine.  I enjoyed his gentle humor at the Latin Mass conferences I attended in New Jersey.  He led a full and interesting and important life.

"John Wesley Blewett, 84, of Santa Paula, California, a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, as well as a successful businessman and dedicated leader in pro-life and Catholic causes, passed away on Friday, February 8, 2013, in Ventura, California. He died as he had hoped, surrounded by family and fortified with the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church.

A man of many careers, John brought the same determination, enthusiasm and energy to everything he did. His career included work as a longshoreman on the docks of Seattle during World War II, as a sportswriter for the Seattle Times, as an executive in the Kaiser family of companies, as Vice President of Thomas Aquinas College, as President & CEO of the Wanderer Forum, and finally, as Managing Editor of The Latin Mass Magazine.

John was born June 1, 1928, in Butte, Montana, and attended high school in Seattle, Washington. After serving two years in the Army, he attended Seattle University on a basketball scholarship, graduating in 1951."

Full Obit here

Help the Orphans of Haiti

A Concert for Mercy

Saturday, May 4, 2013, 3:00PM

St. Agnes Parish Center, 29 Quealy Place, Rockville Centre, NY

To Benefit

"La Maison des enfants de Madame Mole” Orphanage , Haiti

Sisters of Charity of St. Louis

Donation: $10.00

Contact: Jemima Desroches, Administrative Assistant

Office of Multicultural Diversity, 516-678-5800, X407

Catholic Deacon Sentenced for Stealing From Collection Plates

It is rare to hear of a Deacon scandal - the thousands of deacons in the Church are generally models of Christian gentlemen.

"GRAND HAVEN, MI – Joseph Thomas Finnigan, the 73-year-old Catholic deacon who admitted stealing $120,000 from Grand Haven collection plates over some five years, will spend the next year of his life in jail and the rest of his life trying to pay back the money."

More details from Michigan Live

Shanghai bishop Jin Luxian dies at age 96

"Born into a Catholic family in Shanghai in June 1916, Jin was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1938 and spent several years studying in France, Germany, and other European nations. Returning to his native Shanghai in 1951, Jin was imprisoned for nearly two decades under Communist China's founder, Mao Zedong, who ordered Chinese Catholics to cut their ties with the Vatican and jailed hundreds of priests and nuns as counter-revolutionaries.

Jin was paroled in 1972 and put to work as a translator based on his knowledge of several European languages. Following Mao's death in 1976, he was formally released and named Shanghai bishop in 1988 by the Patriotic Association. Although the Vatican recognized another priest as Shanghai bishop, Jin worked tirelessly to recover church property and rebuild congregations, achieving a remarkable degree of independence from the authorities in Beijing."

Click here for the rest.  Pray for the Church in China, that it may be given more freedom and grow.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Priest collapses, dies at altar during service


From New Zealand:

"Hundreds of parishioners watched in shock as a Catholic priest died at the altar during mass, moments after baptising a baby.
Napier's longest-serving priest, Monsignor Timothy Francis Hannigan, 81, collapsed at the altar during communion at St Patrick's Catholic Church on Sunday.
A doctor and nurses in the packed church rushed to help the popular priest when he slumped to the ground about 9.30am, but he died by the altar of the church where he had served for more than 30 years" 

Read the whole story here

Timothy Hannigan

10 Reasons Why Youth Leaders Should Get In Shape

Go to the Christian Post to read the 10 reasons, which should apply to all priests, deacons, nuns, and all who work in ministry.

Related:  Nerd Fitness posts stories of nerds (people who are into gaming, science fiction, etc..) who get into shape and level up their life.  One of the stories involves a seminarian at Mundelein Seminary who lost 115 lbs.

"I’m originally from Odessa, TX, hometown to Permian football and Friday Night Lights (Steve’s note: great book, decent movie, INCREDIBLE TV show).

My journey began in the Summer of 2010 when I was studying Spanish in San Antonio, Texas. I had just gotten a physical the week before where my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic and had high blood pressure. I was weighed in at a whopping 376-pounds and was extremely unhappy with where my life was going (many tears were shed over my physical wellbeing).

I was in the Spanish program with a few buddies of mine who had always been health conscious.

I asked for their help and we developed an exercise routine that involved swimming and the elliptical machine for an hour a day, six times a week. With their help and support, I stuck to that program for the rest of the summer."

Read the whole story and an interview with Ryan here.

The Polish National Church

The Catholic Church has had many groups break away from it over the centuries, besides the protestants.  One such group is the Polish National Church which seems to have been started in 1897 as a result of harsh treatment of Polish Catholics in the United States by the Church hierarchy and issues of parish ownership.  In 1984 a dialogue was started between the Catholic Church and the Polish National Church and in 2006 a Joint Declaration on Unity was issued.  Locally, there is a Polish National Catholic Church on Long Island - St. Francis in East Meadow.  This is one of many examples of Christians breaking apart from one another and at the least we should be working to be as united as possible despite differences in practice, theology, ecclesiology, and worship.  It also shows that, despite the Church being at a height of cultural influence and internal strength in the decades from the late 1800's right up to the 1960's, there were problems that caused divisions and break away groups.  At least since Vatican II, the Church has been attempting to dialogue and unite closer with all groups and there has been some success. 

Excerpt from the Joint Declaration:

"In response to an inquiry from the Archbishop of Baltimore, His Excellency William Keeler, then President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, His Eminence Edward Cardinal Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, stated in 1993 that members of the Polish National Catholic Church in the United States and Canada may receive the sacraments of Penance, Holy Communion and Anointing of the Sick from Roman Catholic priests if they ask for them on their own, are properly disposed and not otherwise excluded from the sacraments in line with the provisions of canon 844 �3 of The Code of Canon Law. This was followed in 1996 by a letter by Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb, the Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, to the bishops of the United States spelling out in more detail the conditions under which Polish National Catholics may receive the aforementioned sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. In 1998 the Polish National Catholic Church issued Guidelines for the Reception by Polish National Catholics of Sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. Canon 844 �2 of The Code of Canon Law also specifies conditions under which Roman Catholics may receive the sacraments in the Polish National Catholic Church."

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Religious Freedom Forums

From The Long Island Catholic:

"Rabbi Aryeh Spero, author of “Push Back: Reclaiming Our American Judeo-Christian Spirit,” will be speaking about religious freedom on Long Island May in early May.

On Wednesday, May 1, Rabbi Spero will be the guest at a public forum sponsored by the St. Patrick, Huntington, chapter of the national Catholics for Freedom of Religion (CFFR) at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, 440 West Neck Rd., Huntington.

On May 2nd, he will address a Catholics for Freedom of Religion at Infant Jesus Church in Port Jefferson.

For details on the Port Jefferson event, click PORT JEFFERSON RABBI SPERO FLYER FINAL

For details on the Huntington event, click HUNTINGTON RABBI SPERO FLYER REV FINAL.

Church Stabbing in New Mexico

Four people hurt in Albuquerque church stabbing

At least four people were hurt at an Albuquerque church Sunday when a visitor jumped out of the pews and stabbed a choir member during a song, police and witnesses said.

The victims did not appear to have life-threatening injuries, police said.

Two parishioners told the Los Angeles Times that after communion at the St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church on Sunday morning, a man in his teens or early 20s leaped from the pews and stabbed the choir's lead singer while the choir was singing."

Scientists Find Way to Turn Stem Cells Into Brain Cells

Of course, once again, we are talking about ethical stem cells from bone marrow:

"Scientists have discovered an antibody that can turn stem cells from a patient's bone marrow directly into brain cells, a potential breakthrough in the treatment of neurological diseases and injuries.

Richard Lerner, of the Scripps Research Institute in California, says that when a specific antibody is injected into stem cells from bone marrow—which normally turn into white blood cells—the cells can be triggered to turn into brain cells.

"There's been a lot of research activity where people would like to repair brain and spinal cord injuries," Lerner says. "With this method, you can go to a person's own stem cells and turn them into brain cells that can repair nerve injuries."

Read the whole article from US News

Long Island Press calls Islam a Religion under attack

Muslim Americans: Behind the Veil of a Religion Under Attack

The above is the title to an article in The Long Island Press.  My response is 'Religion Under Attack', wait...What?  Islam is not under attack in the United States, nor does the article actually show that it is.  The article mocks the NYPD for keeping an eye on the Muslim community but there is obviously a problem around the world with Islamic terrorism and radicalization of young people and as the article points out, this directly has affected the US several times.  Here in the US there has been no major backlash, no riots, no mass murder of Muslims after 9/11, after the underwear bomber, the Food Hood Massacre, the shoe bomber, the Times Square Bomber, the Boston bombers, so there is no fact behind Islam being a 'religion under attack'.  In fact, worldwide, if you keep up with news from places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia and the Philippines you realize that the religion that is under attack around the world is Christianity.  So, while Muslims in the US and elsewhere do not deserve harrassment, questioning of their patriotism, and certainly not violence, they do need to recognize there is an issue in their communities and it needs to be addressed, just as Americans have issues with violence, incredible ignorance, and immorality and these need to be addressed as well.  I do not want to see innocent Muslims in the US or elsewhere harmed in any way, but let's not kid ourselves, Islam is not under attack in the US, but around the world Christianity is.