Saturday, June 03, 2006

Divorce, Single Parenting and Kids' Well-being

Me is sending this message

ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome

Divorce, Single Parenting and Kids' Well-being
Studies Show Importance of Stable Family Structure

NEW YORK, JUNE 3, 2006 ( Changes in family structures have placed many children in difficulties. In a nutshell this is the argument of two studies released March 30 by the Institute for American Values. The studies, both authored by Norval Glenn and Thomas Sylvester, are based on an examination of articles published in the Journal of Marriage and Family from 1977 to 2002.

Introducing the first study, "The Shift: Scholarly Views of Family Structure Effects on Children, 1977-2002," the authors comment that academic opinions can be broadly divided into two camps. The first can be termed pro-marriage, and argues that the decline in marriage has been a troubling trend, especially for children.

The second, labeled "pro-family diversity," maintains that families haven't been weakened by divorce and unwed childbearing, but have just changed in form. The changes in family structures, this opinion holds, have not had such a negative effect on children after all.

In the 1970s, right after divorce laws were liberalized, the more optimistic view prevailed. By the end of the 1980s, concerns increased and many commentators worried about increases in divorce and single parenting.

Research and debate on family structure effects continued in academic journals in the following years. More recently, the debate over divorce and unwed mothers has taken a back seat to conflicts over the issue of same-sex unions and their possible legalization.

Better with both

Glenn and Sylvester contend that the research over the effects of the shifts in family structure that started several decades ago is now clearer. "Most family scholars," they comment, "apparently now agree that the preponderance of the evidence indicates that children tend to do best when they grow up with their own two married parents, so long as the marriage is not marred by violence or serious conflict."

In many cases the divergences of opinion now center more on whether society can somehow compensate for the changes in family structures, so as to reduce the negative effects on children.

To provide a clearer opinion of research into family issues, Glenn and Sylvester examined all the relevant articles -- 266 in all -- published in the Journal of Marriage and Family over a 26-year period. This publication, they noted, is the most influential journal in family social science in the United States.

Glenn and Sylvester looked at three main family structures: children living with married biological or adoptive parents; children living with only one parent; and stepfamilies.

They found there was a substantial change in the studies, in the direction of expressing concern over changes in family structures, in the periods 1977-1982, and again in 1983-1987. Thus, concerned views became more prevalent, but it was not a steady change.

One important study they cite is a 1991 meta-analysis by Paul Amato and Bruce Keith, who pointed out that a host of negative outcomes are associated with parental divorce. Amato and Keith wrote: "The results lead to a pessimistic conclusion: the argument that parental divorce presents few problems for children's long-term development … is simply inconsistent with the literature on the topic."

Contrasting (and rosier) views were not absent, however. Glenn and Sylvester cited examples of some studies that denied any significant problems related to divorce.

Hard data

There is, nonetheless, an important factor to consider. The more-concerned views tended to be based on quantitative research, while the sanguine approach tended to be expressed in theoretical articles. "A major reason for this difference," Glenn and Sylvester conclude, "is probably, though not certainly, that the views of the authors of the quantitative pieces were more constrained by 'hard data' than those of the other authors and thus were less affected by preconceptions and ideological biases."

They do, however, add a note of caution regarding the quantitative studies. The evidence for negative effects on children resulting from changes in family structures is not conclusive. This is so because, ideally, evidence would have to be based on random studies; these cannot be done since it is impossible to divide families into groups and artificially impose divorce on the couples in one group and use the other as a control group.

Thus, Glenn and Sylvester caution that the statistical methods used are fallible. Nor is it possible to statistically prove a strict cause-effect relationship between divorce and negative consequences for children, they maintain. Still, the preponderance of the evidence "indicates that family structure matters, and matters to an important degree, for children," they conclude.


The second paper by Glenn and Sylvester is titled: "The Denial: Downplaying the Consequences of Family Structure for Children." It looks at some of the arguments used by the authors of articles published in the Journal of Marriage and Family to justify a more optimistic view of the consequences of family changes.

In the early period, some academics argued that the increase in absences by fathers was not new, as in the past parental death used to be quite frequent. This thesis was debunked, however, in later years as subsequent research showed that parental death and divorce have different consequences for children. Outcomes for children who lose a parent to death, in fact, are substantially better than for children whose parents divorce.

Other earlier studies maintained that, in the case of a father's absence, other male figures (such as grandfathers, stepfathers and boyfriends) could serve as alternative male models or substitute for the missing parental role. Evidence to support this view is, however, scarce. "The hope that other men can easily substitute for absent biological fathers has received little or no empirical support," according to Glenn and Sylvester.

A more recent trend is to simply argue that divorce does not of itself necessarily doom children to suffer. But this approach is simply exaggerated, as serious family scholars never held that each and every child touched by divorce would be negatively affected.

A more serious argument made by some scholars who are relatively sanguine regarding divorce is that many problems assumed to be the result of the divorce actually stem from pre-divorce parental conflict.

A review of the evidence examined by Glenn and Sylvester reveals that some studies do, in fact, indicate that a portion of the alleged effects of divorce were present before the divorce occurred. There is not, however, agreement about the size of those effects.

Research leads to the conclusion that the end of a highly conflicted marriage seems to normally improve outcomes for children, freeing them as it does from an angry and unstable home life. But divorces that dissolve low-conflict marriages appear to have a strong negative influence on children. Importantly, the paper observes, one nationally representative study estimates that around two-thirds of divorces stem from low-conflict marriages.

An authentic good

Benedict XVI, in a May 11 address to members of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, observed: "Marriage and the family are rooted in the inmost nucleus of the truth about man and his destiny."

He continued: "The communion of life and love which is marriage thus emerges as an authentic good for society." Moreover, the Pope insisted that we must avoid confusing marriage with other types of unions, which are based on a weaker type of love.

"It is only the rock of total, irrevocable love between a man and a woman that can serve as the foundation on which to build a society that will become a home for all mankind," the Holy Father concluded. Secular academic research amply backs up that conclusion.


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Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Conference: Pope Benedict XVI: A New Pontificate

This really looks like a VERY interesting conference! I would love to be able to attend.

17th Annual Summer Institute Conference Schedule

Pope Benedict XVI: A New Pontificate

Speakers List Schedule Cost
Directions Accommodations
Downloadable Adobe PDF file of the Registration form

Register Online

Speakers List

Francis Cardinal Arinze: Benedict XVI and the Spirit of the Liturgy

Cardinal Arinze has served as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and other pontifical councils and committees. In 2002, Cardinal Arinze was appointed prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, succeeding Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez.

Rev. Benedict Groeschel, CFR: Benedict XVI and Biblical Exegesis

Fr. Groeschel is an internationally renowned speaker, writer, and founder of the community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. The Community, which follows the Capuchian Tradition, is dedicated to preaching reform within the Church and caring for the homeless in the South Bronx and Harlem sections of New York City, as well as in London and Honduras.

Timothy O’Donnell, STD, KCGHS: Benedict XVI and Deus Caritas Est

Dr. O’Donnell is a renowned speaker, author, host of a number of EWTN programs, and the President of Christendom College where he also teaches Theology and History. He is a Consulter to the Pontifical Council for the Family and a member of the Catholic Academy of Sciences and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

Mrs. Helen Hull Hitchcock: Benedict XVI and the Reform of the Reform

Helen Hull Hitchcock is founding director of Women for Faith & Family (1984-present) and editor of Voices. She is also editor of the Adoremus Bulletin (1995-present), a monthly publication of Adoremus - Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, of which she is a co-founder and member of the executive committee. She has published many articles and essays in a wide range of Catholic journals.

Dr. Pia de Solenni: Benedict XVI and the Role of Women in the Church

Pia de Solenni, the former Director of Life and Women’s Issues in the Department of Government Affairs at Family Research Council in Washington, DC, is currently working with the Diotima Project. Her expertise covers issues relating to women’s health, life issues, and culture. She is an ethicist and moral theologian who is often quoted in newspapers nationwide, including The New York Times and The Washington Times. She received her doctorate in Sacred Theology summa cum laude from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome.

Rev. William Saunders, PhD: Benedict XVI and the Compendium of the Catechism

Father Saunders is the author of a weekly column in the Arlington Catholic Herald, Straight Answers, and of two books, Straight Answers and Straight Answers Vol. II. He serves as Pastor of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Potomac Falls, VA, and teaches Theology, Catechetics, and Church History at Christendom College's Notre Dame Graduate School in Alexandria, VA.


Friday, July 28, 2006
5:45-6:45 pm


6:45-7:00 pm Welcome: Dr. Steve Snyder, Dean
7:00-8:00 pm Fr. Benedict Groeschel: Benedict XVI and Biblical Exegesis
8:00-9:00 pm Eucharistic Candlelight Procession/Benediction
Saturday, July 29, 2006
9:00-9:30 am Registration
9:30-9:45 am Welcome: Dr. Steve Snyder, Dean
9:45-10:30 am Helen Hull Hitchcock: Benedict XVI and the Reform of the Reform
10:30-11:15 am Dr. Timothy O'Donnell: Benedict XVI and Deus Caritas Est
11:30-12:30 pm Mass - Cardinal Arinze
12:45-2:00 pm Boxed Lunch, Book Signing, Confessions
2:00-2:45 pm Fr. William Saunders: Benedict XVI and the Compendium of the Catechism
2:45-3:30 pm Dr. Pia de Solenni: Benedict XVI and the Role of Women in the Church
3:45-4:45 pm Francis Cardinal Arinze: Benedict XVI and the Spirit of the Liturgy
4:45-5:00 pm Wrap up and Blessing


Discounted Prices: Registrations must be postmarked by July 14.
Friday Night Only: $25/person
Saturday Only: $75/person
2-Day: $85/person

Regular Prices:
Friday Night Only: $30/person
Saturday Only: $100/person
2-Day: $110/person

Special Rates for Priest, Religious, and DREs. Call 800.877.5456 ext 292 for details.

More on Fr Todd, A son becomes a Father

There are many blogs that have been writing about Fr Todd, and asking for prayers. His own blog has become a memorial for him. Three others that will help to point you to some of those online can be found here, which is a gateway to the news articles and some blogs; here and here.

Fr Todd had blogged about his vacation during the week before he died in the accident. He had said a First Communion Mass the weekend prior to his death, among other things. In his short time as a Catholic priest, Fr Todd made an impact on many people, personally, and in the cyberspace of blogdom.

May he rest in peace. He will be missed by many.

God bless!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Thoughts on Second Amendment......

I came across an article by Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret quite by accident, when googling someone with a similar name. But the thoughts written in this piece, found on another site altogether, are very similar to those I have had over the years regarding Second Amendment rights.

My thoughts are not only for the Jewish people, but for all Americans. And I can't find one word in that essay, which Robert attributes to his late son's thinking process using Ariel's skills as a Talmudic scholar, that I can disagree with.

By the way... the name that I was attempting to find on Google, I found (unsurprisingly) on Robert's blog. What a tribute he has paid to a retired Chaplain of the Army, his father,
Colonel Abraham Avrech, Ret. US Army.

God bless!!

Radix Needs Help

Forgive the length of this, but I don't want a word missed.

Seldom will you ever see a real request for financial assistance when you visit my blog, but tonight, I got this email forwarded by a dear friend. Radix needs help. Anyone not familiar with them can go to their webpage, and you can see the work that they do! This is basically a two man operation, founded by Doug Barry, with Eric Genius.

Their most famous work is The Passion of Christ, but they have others... POWERFUL! Pray about it, and if you have some extra, perhaps you can send them a portion of it?

Fellow Warriors

I am not going to mince any words with you. Nor am I going to dazzle you with fancy slogans or clichés. What I am going to do is put it right on the line. Recently I had a conversation with a brother in Christ who said that he would never have known that Radix operated financially from day to day on a shoestring for the past 14 years. He said that by looking at our website and the products we produce it appeared to him that all was financially just fine. He went on to encourage me to be more open and direct about our financial needs. I believe that God was speaking to me through this advice and so I now reach out to you! And I believe that God will respond through you.

Please consider these words of Hugh of St. Victor from 1140 A.D.

"For the Incarnate Word is our king, Who came into this world to war with the devil; and all the saints who were before His coming are soldiers as it were, going before their king, and those who have come after and will come, even to the end of the world, are soldiers following their king. And the king Himself is in the midst of His army and proceeds protected and surrounded on all sides by His columns. all are really serving the one king and following the one banner; all are pursuing the one enemy and are being crowned by the one victory."

My fellow warriors the time is urgent, now more than ever, RADIX needs your financial support or we will become one more casualty in this spiritual war, a war that is being waged for your soul, my soul and the souls of our children. The time is now to step up the fight! If we don’t rise to the challenge before us, then what chance do our children and grandchildren have at a decent world to live in?

Recently, Catholic World News reported, “The chief exorcist of Rome has warned that the Church is not sufficiently conscious of the devil. ‘The devil is extremely satisfied, because he is at liberty to do his work,’ said Father Gabriel Amorth.”

These are chilling words! That the Church is not sufficiently conscious of the enemy that works tirelessly to destroy souls is chilling. You and I are part of this Church!

Anyone who has the eyes of faith can surely see the manifestation of the spiritual war that is being waged against Christ and those who have chosen to follow Him. No matter where you turn, there is a battle being fought. Everyday we are faced with a deluge of news headlines and clips from these battles. One of the most recent examples being the movie based on the novel by Dan Brown, "The Da Vinci Code." This is just one more brick in the building of the anti-Catholic war machine that is being perpetuated on a regular basis.

We Are Witnessing a Deluge of Attacks
That are Straight Out of the Pit of Hell

Consider the following:
* The assault on anything Christian in our public offices and schools, on flags, emblems, state logos and even the pledge of allegiance is under attack
* The homosexual lifestyle being pushed upon society even in our schools, and anyone who speaks out against it is labeled, insensitive, homophobic or full of hate.
* The battle that ran through the courts to determine if Terri Schiavo should lose her life by State sponsored murder in the name of mercy
* The continued beheading of human beings in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries
* The battle to redefine marriage and make illicit homosexual unions acceptable
* People prosecuted in Canada for “hate speech” for publishing in a newspaper, Biblical quotes opposing homosexuality.
* The UN’s population Control efforts including coerced abortions and forced sterilization of women
* The bizarre challenges for the so called “right” to partial birth abortion
* The brainwashing of our children through cable and public airwaves with shows like MTV, VH1, The Simpsons, Blind Date, South Park to name just a few.

The pornography industry is taking in around 15 billion dollars annually in the U.S. and nearly 60 billion worldwide. These numbers are probably higher but much of the money made from this filth is not reported due to the criminal element that accompanies it.

As Christians we are called to sanctify the temporal order, to make holy that in which we live. Not run from it and bury our heads in the sand. Every one of us has a role and an obligation to fight this spiritual battle with everything we have, even if it costs us our life. (See the article Called to Knighthood in the War Room on our website)

My fellow warriors for Christ, and I call you warriors because that is what you and I become when we have received the Sacrament of Confirmation. “We are Knights in God’s army!” We cannot escape this responsibility! It is our duty and an honor to fight for the kingdom of Heaven. We are living in very difficult and trying times. The task at hand is not for the faint of heart, but it is a task that our Lord has given to each and every one of us and He will hold us accountable for it. The King of Kings is not a pushover. He will not take lightly those of us who shirk our duty.

The Church teaches us that as Christians, our life on earth is a warfare. It is a battle that must be fought until we breathe our last breath and face our Lord to give an account of how well we battled in the face of the enemy. (Listen to our Final Voyage: Navigating the Waters of Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell at our website)

St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10-17
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

“The Flaming Darts of the Evil One”

As we continue to present the Word of God to the world and advance on the territory of the evil one, the intensity of his attacks are felt. In conversations that I have had with many brothers and sisters that are involved in Catholic ministry work I have been told that RADIX is not alone in feeling the reprisals of the enemy. For many of us the attacks have become much more intense. Every convert, every abortion that is averted, every teenager who turns to God, every heart that turns to God’s mercy through the healing sacrament of Confession, every soul who responds to the Truth of Jesus Christ through the efforts of Radix, brings with it ever increasing counter attacks by the Devil.

And one way the evil one works to destroy our mission is through our finances! The financial aspect of any ministry is essential. The enemy knows this. He knows that funding is necessary if we are to continue to wage a war against him on all levels.

Fellow Warriors, We Need Reinforcements
And We Need Them Now!

Every army must have a continuous supply line enabling the flow of food, ammo, fuel, and other supplies to reach the front lines. This supply line is essential in order to push ahead and reclaim territory lost to the enemy. You are our supply line! And with your help, we produce the dramas on DVD, the CD's, the LIVE stage dramas, presentations to both adults and teens including going into their schools and parishes not to mention our website which reaches over 50,000 people every month from around the world.

WE NEED YOU RIGHT NOW to help us reinforce and strengthen our front lines. There is much we are doing, with your help, to fight the enemy in this culture of death that has infiltrated our borders and our world. We are using the tools of wewn radio, EWTN television, the internet, public and private events and more to bring the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” to all four corners of the earth. But we are in great need of your financial support to tighten the lines, fill in the gaps and keep the pressure on the enemy.

We need you right now to join forces with us by making a tax-deductible donation in any amount you can, $50, $100, $1000, $10,000. There is no War Chest here at RADIX to fund this spiritual war we are fighting. We do not receive money from the diocese nor does any business or corporation sponsor us. We rely on you to stand side by side with us, covering our flanks as we continue to push forward and take the fight to the enemy.

Please understand that every dollar you give deals a deadly blow to the enemy’s war plan. Every dollar makes it possible for one more Spiritual POW who has become hostage to sin and spiritual corruption to be freed from the vices of the enemy.

We must continue this fight until the day we hear Our Lord say “Well done my good and faithful soldier.” On that day, every effort you have made, and every dollar you have spent in support of the mission to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world, will be made known to all humanity. What a glorious day that will be.


The above link will take you directly to our website. Please be as generous as you can. We only get one shot at life, together, let’s make it count! If you can, please consider joining our Battalion. The Battalion is a group of committed supporters of RADIX. Individuals like you, that donate to RADIX monthly thereby creating a solid financial foundation upon which we can operate and grow.

I am humbled to ask you for your help. But I know from more than fourteen years of traveling and fighting this fight in the trenches, how necessary your kindness and generosity is in getting the job done. I can not do what I do without your prayers and financial assistance. Please stand with me in these difficult days and together we can be instruments of God’s grace, wielding a blazing sword of Heavenly light, striking at the darkness that has penetrated and imprisoned so many lives. Let’s work together to free souls from the enemies grasp and one day may we all joyfully meet in Heaven where all the wounds we have received from the hard fought battle will be forever healed.

If you don't want to make a donation online, give me a call at 402-794-2100 and I would be happy to speak with you and take your donation over the phone, or you can write to me at,

Radix Inc
PO Box 22483
Lincoln, NE 68542

Thank you again for your prayers and support and I know I can count on you.

“Fight the Good Fight for Love of our Lord and the Salvation of Souls.”

Miles Christi Sum
Your brother,


If you have trouble with the links, you can cut and paste this address into your browser:


Annulment: the new divorce?

So others see it also? This article discusses both a Civil Law annulment, and a Church Declaration of Nullity as though they were similar. They are not supposed to be alike, and grounds are totally different, supposedly. But this from a country where King Henry VIII founded his OWN Church and beheaded not only some of his wives in his mad six wife saga, but also many of his great Catholic Church leaders such as Sts John Fischer, and Thomas More! The Church has got to begin to listen to those who hold marriage to be permanent and indissoluble, as it did when Henry wanted to ditch Catherine...Where are today's John Fishers and Thomas Mores????

One of the FIRST steps to take is to call it by its correct name!
Declaration of Nullity.

God bless!

Annulment: the new divorce?

Daily Mail
12:06pm 30th May 2006

Against a background of spiralling marriage failure and, as of last week, groundbreaking divorce settlements, it was only a matter of time before we came upon an alternative to the messy, costly divorce - enter the annulment.

Now every Tom, Dick and Nicole seems to be getting in on the act.

First there was Renee Zellweger, who had her four-month marriage to Kenny Chesney annulled on the grounds of 'fraud'. And now Nicole Kidman is said to have been granted an annulment of her ten year marriage to Tom Cruise, so she can remarry in a Catholic church.

Although the marathon length of the marriage in this case was unusual, it seems the phenomenon is not - and it is clear not all annulments are for such pious reasons.

Who could forget Britney Spears's annulment after a drunken wedding in a Vegas chapel, immediately releasing the pop star from her illadvised nuptials?

Or how, the same year, hotel heiress Nicky Hilton managed to quietly dissolve her marriage to 33-year-old Todd Meister, despite the two claiming the matrimony was heartfelt and remaining friends. It's no coincidence that with annulments, both Britney and Nicky managed to shake off their new spouses and save their fortunes. Because of the complexity of the laws, with an annulment, traditional alimony is not guaranteed.

"In the UK there are two forms of annulment - religious, performed by the Church, or a legal petition for annulment," explains divorce lawyer, Vanessa Lloyd-Platt.

"In the former, there's no necessary financial settlement or alimony. In the latter, you could have almost the same claims as you would on divorce proceedings: you can request the same settlement as in divorce, and it's up to the courts to determine."

This is what happened when Mick Jagger legally annulled his 16-year marriage to Jerry Hall, claiming their Hindu wedding ceremony in Bali was not recognised under English law. This claim was upheld, but he allegedly still had to pay Jerry in the region of £30million.

But surely if there's even a chance that wives or husbands could hold on to their respective fortunes if they go for an annulment, every ill fated marriage would end this way?

Vanessa Lloyd-Platt is quick to reiterate that avoiding massive payouts can't be taken for granted and that the criteria for annulment are difficult to prove, making her confident that, despite a small increase, we will not see a raft of copycat legal annulments in the UK.

"With the grounds including bigamy or marriage to a family member, it's clear the main claims in this country would be nonconsummation - and we see cases of this so rarely, I can't imagine it becoming a trend," says Vanessa.

Father Shaun Middleton, priest of St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in London's Notting Hill, thinks that the drive for annulment is psychological: "Annulment is good because it means a clean break. It did happen, but it didn't."

Does he think it's a growing trend? "I certainly seem to be getting quite a few of those blue forms."

Where legal petitions of annulment have their rules, so do religious ones. The two main reasons the Catholic Church can grant an annulment are lack of due discretion (you made a rash mistake and didn't know what you were doing) or error of person (you think you are marrying one person, but end up with another).

But isn't that the way all falling out of love goes? Doesn't that mean every failed marriage is invalid?

"The Church is much more progressive than the legal system in the way it sees nullities," explains Fr Middleton.

"Annulment existed before divorce. It's not all about not having intercourse. The Church can call an end to a marriage if you feel you didn't freely give your consent."

So in an age when getting married three or four times is not unheard of, are we about to see multiple annulments? It seems the Church has headed this one off at the pass.

"I did once see someone who wanted to annul two marriages," says Fr Middleton, "but the Church does a sneaky thing. When you get married again you have to have a psychological assessment to prove you really are in full control of your senses, and then there's no way out."

The question is, is anyone getting married ever going to be in full control of their senses, especially now they know they don't have to be - because that is their way out.

Monday, May 29, 2006

May He Rest in Peace.... A Priest Forever

Awhile back, I came across a Blog with a funny name.

Shortly before I had found this blog, Fr Todd Reitmayer had been ordained a priest. I read all of his prior essays there, and often went back to check for new things. I enjoyed reading his work, and would like to have met him in person.

His Memorial Mass, for those living near Sioux Falls, will be on May 31 at noon.
For more details, see the notice from the Diocese.

The funeral will be in Texas on May 30. More details can be found here. There is also notice of his death there, with many comments from people he has touched in his short period of time as a priest.

May he rest in peace.

HT to Catholic Fire.

Memorial Day, 2006

I tried to find my previous postings for Memorial Day, and I cannot! I have a very hard time believing that I would actually not have written before on this date, because it is always an important day to me.

I touched on many topics for Veteran's Day, 2004, and three others for Veteran's Day, 2005 here, here, and here.

I am sitting here feeling shame that I have no previous words to return to for this day! I have 'celebrated it' since I was a child, in Girl Scouts, marching in the parade, (crossing that dreadful main draw-bridge over the River running through my town with the grates that you could see through ... ), helping to plant flags, reading names of fallen soldiers on our Memorial in downtown that is no longer there. I am, therefore, ashamed of myself for not remembering to put even a small note to mark Memorial Day, 2005 here, in my blog.

But I think that maybe part of the reason that I have written on Veteran's Day and somehow missed last year's Memorial Day is because I have not personally lost anyone member of my family, my friends, my class to war.

I am a member of the Vietnam War era, torn by protestors who, in my humble opinion, often crossed the line into the area of treason.

There were many of my friends drafted into the Military in that large lottery draft that took men aged 19-26 in huge numbers in the year we married, 1970. Some newlyweds returned from their honeymoon to find the mail included the new husband's draft notice, with orders to report almost immediately. They came VERY close to drafting my own new husband that year. A brother enlisted into the Air Force when his own very high number proved that he would never be drafted (about 300). The following year, they drafted very few, in comparison.

But those who enlisted or were drafted that I knew, all returned home. Some forever affected by what they had seen and heard over there...affected enough to cross the line into alcoholism and drugs to help them forget. And each of them knows someone on that Wall in DC.

Today, we remember those who have died for our country in any of the wars of the past, and say thank you. Thank you not only to those who gave their lives, but also to the families that they left behind.

And some of us ask for forgiveness for having forgotten, even for a brief minute, their sacrifice.

God bless!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Benedict XVI Speech (transcript) from Auschwitz

Got this in the email... not sure where it would be posted, but if anyone does, please let me know so that I can give the online url. Thank you and God bless!

To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible -- and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a Pope from Germany. In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can only be a dread silence -- a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?

In silence, then, we bow our heads before the endless line of those who suffered and were put to death here; yet our silence becomes in turn a plea for forgiveness and reconciliation, a plea to the living God never to let this happen again.

Twenty-seven years ago, on June 7, 1979, Pope John Paul II stood in this place. He said: "I come here today as a pilgrim. As you know, I have been here many times. So many times! And many times I have gone down to Maximilian Kolbe's death cell, paused before the execution wall, and walked amid the ruins of the Birkenau ovens. It was impossible for me not to come here as Pope."

Pope John Paul came here as a son of that people which, along with the Jewish people, suffered most in this place and, in general, throughout the war. "Six million Poles lost their lives during the Second World War: a fifth of the nation," he reminded us. Here, too, he solemnly called for respect for human rights and the rights of nations, as his predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI had done before him, and added: "The one who speaks these words is ... the son of a nation which, in its history, has suffered greatly from others. He says this, not to accuse, but to remember. He speaks in the name of all those nations whose rights are being violated and disregarded ..."

Pope John Paul II came here as a son of the Polish people. I come here today as a son of the German people. For this very reason, I can and must echo his words: I could not fail to come here.

I had to come. It is a duty before the truth and the just due of all who suffered here, a duty before God, for me to come here as the successor of Pope John Paul II and as a son of the German people -- a son of that people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by false promises of future greatness and the recovery of the nation's honor, prominence and prosperity, but also through terror and intimidation, with the result that our people was used and abused as an instrument of their thirst for destruction and power.

Yes, I could not fail to come here. On June 7, 1979, I came as the archbishop of Munich-Freising, along with many other bishops who accompanied the Pope, listened to his words and joined in his prayer. In 1980, I came back to this dreadful place with a delegation of German bishops, appalled by its evil, yet grateful for the fact that above its dark clouds the star of reconciliation had emerged.

This is the same reason why I have come here today: to implore the grace of reconciliation -- first of all from God, who alone can open and purify our hearts, from the men and women who suffered here, and finally the grace of reconciliation for all those who, at this hour of our history, are suffering in new ways from the power of hatred and the violence which hatred spawns.

How many questions arise in this place! Constantly the question comes up: Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?

The words of Psalm 44 come to mind, Israel's lament for its woes: "You have broken us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with deep darkness ... because of you we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For we sink down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up, come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!" (Psalm 44:19,22-26).

This cry of anguish, which Israel raised to God in its suffering, at moments of deep distress, is also the cry for help raised by all those who in every age -- yesterday, today and tomorrow -- suffer for the love of God, for the love of truth and goodness. How many they are, even in our own day!

We cannot peer into God's mysterious plan -- we see only piecemeal, and we would be wrong to set ourselves up as judges of God and history. Then we would not be defending man, but only contributing to his downfall. No -- when all is said and done, we must continue to cry out humbly yet insistently to God: Rouse yourself! Do not forget mankind, your creature!

And our cry to God must also be a cry that pierces our very heart, a cry that awakens within us God's hidden presence -- so that his power, the power he has planted in our hearts, will not be buried or choked within us by the mire of selfishness, pusillanimity, indifference or opportunism.

Let us cry out to God, with all our hearts, at the present hour, when new misfortunes befall us, when all the forces of darkness seem to issue anew from human hearts: whether it is the abuse of God's name as a means of justifying senseless violence against innocent persons, or the cynicism which refuses to acknowledge God and ridicules faith in him.

Let us cry out to God, that he may draw men and women to conversion and help them to see that violence does not bring peace, but only generates more violence -- a morass of devastation in which everyone is ultimately the loser.

The God in whom we believe is a God of reason -- a reason, to be sure, which is not a kind of cold mathematics of the universe, but is one with love and with goodness. We make our prayer to God and we appeal to humanity, that this reason, the logic of love and the recognition of the power of reconciliation and peace, may prevail over the threats arising from irrationalism or from a spurious and godless reason.

The place where we are standing is a place of memory. The past is never simply the past. It always has something to say to us; it tells us the paths to take and the paths not to take. Like John Paul II, I have walked alongside the inscriptions in various languages erected in memory of those who died here: inscriptions in Belarusian, Czech, German, French, Greek, Hebrew, Croatian, Italian, Yiddish, Hungarian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Romani, Romanian, Slovak, Serbian, Ukrainian, Judeo-Spanish and English.

All these inscriptions speak of human grief, they give us a glimpse of the cynicism of that regime which treated men and women as material objects, and failed to see them as persons embodying the image of God.

Some inscriptions are pointed reminders. There is one in Hebrew. The rulers of the Third Reich wanted to crush the entire Jewish people, to cancel it from the register of the peoples of the earth. Thus the words of the Psalm: "We are being killed, accounted as sheep for the slaughter" were fulfilled in a terrifying way.

Deep down, those vicious criminals, by wiping out this people, wanted to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind, principles that are eternally valid. If this people, by its very existence, was a witness to the God who spoke to humanity and took us to himself, then that God finally had to die and power had to belong to man alone -- to those men, who thought that by force they had made themselves masters of the world. By destroying Israel, they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful.

Then there is the inscription in Polish. First and foremost they wanted to eliminate the cultural elite, thus erasing the Polish people as an autonomous historical subject and reducing it, to the extent that it continued to exist, to slavery.

Another inscription offering a pointed reminder is the one written in the language of the Sinti and Roma people. Here too, the plan was to wipe out a whole people which lives by migrating among other peoples. They were seen as part of the refuse of world history, in an ideology which valued only the empirically useful; everything else, according to this view, was to be written off as "lebensunwertes Leben" -- life unworthy of being lived.

There is also the inscription in Russian, which commemorates the tremendous loss of life endured by the Russian soldiers who combated the Nazi reign of terror; but this inscription also reminds us that their mission had a tragic twofold aim: by setting people free from one dictatorship, they were to submit them to another, that of Stalin and the Communist system.

The other inscriptions, written in Europe's many languages, also speak to us of the sufferings of men and women from the whole continent. They would stir our hearts profoundly if we remembered the victims not merely in general, but rather saw the faces of the individual persons who ended up here in this abyss of terror.

I felt a deep urge to pause in a particular way before the inscription in German. It evokes the face of Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: a woman, Jewish and German, who disappeared along with her sister into the black night of the Nazi-German concentration camp; as a Christian and a Jew, she accepted death with her people and for them.

The Germans who had been brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau and met their death here were considered as "Abschaum der Nation" -- the refuse of the nation. Today we gratefully hail them as witnesses to the truth and goodness which even among our people were not eclipsed. We are grateful to them, because they did not submit to the power of evil, and now they stand before us like lights shining in a dark night. With profound respect and gratitude, then, let us bow our heads before all those who, like the three young men in Babylon facing death in the fiery furnace, could respond: "Only our God can deliver us. But even if he does not, be it known to you, O King, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up" (cf. Daniel 3:17ff.).

Yes, behind these inscriptions is hidden the fate of countless human beings. They jar our memory, they touch our hearts. They have no desire to instill hatred in us: Instead, they show us the terrifying effect of hatred. Their desire is to help our reason to see evil as evil and to reject it; their desire is to enkindle in us the courage to do good and to resist evil. They want to make us feel the sentiments expressed in the words that Sophocles placed on the lips of Antigone, as she contemplated the horror all around her: My nature is not to join in hate but to join in love.

By God's grace, together with the purification of memory demanded by this place of horror, a number of initiatives have sprung up with the aim of imposing a limit upon evil and confirming goodness.

Just now I was able to bless the Center for Dialogue and Prayer. In the immediate neighborhood the Carmelite nuns carry on their life of hiddenness, knowing that they are united in a special way to the mystery of Christ's cross and reminding us of the faith of Christians, which declares that God himself descended into the hell of suffering and suffers with us. In Oswiecim is the Center of St. Maximilian Kolbe, and the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. There is also the International House for Meetings of Young people. Near one of the old prayer houses is the Jewish Center. Finally the Academy for Human Rights is presently being established. So there is hope that this place of horror will gradually become a place for constructive thinking, and that remembrance will foster resistance to evil and the triumph of love.

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, humanity walked through a "valley of darkness." And so, here in this place, I would like to end with a prayer of trust -- with one of the psalms of Israel which is also a prayer of Christians: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff -- they comfort me ... I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long" (Psalm 23:1-4,6).

(Official translation)

Holy Father at Auschwitz ... Rainbow Appears

Barely had this news come to my attention when the main stream media covered the event in its news or so it seemed.

The visit to Auschwitz was not originally on the schedule of events planned for the papal trip to Poland, Navarro-Valls told reporters. But Pope Benedict insisted on adding the stop. "I want to go to Auschwitz," the Pope said, according to Navarro-Valls; "I can't not go there."

Answering a reporter's question, the Holy Father said that he goes as a Catholic, not as a German. But others, speaking on the subject added more...

Speaking to reporters in Warsaw, Cardinal Walter Kasper (bio - news) agreed that the trip to Auschwitz will be powerfully symbolic, carrying great importance for Christians as well as Jews. The fact that the Pope is German adds to the significance of the event, he noted.

Cardinal Kasper said that it is difficult to explain the impact of a trip to the most famous Nazi concentration camp. "You cannot forget the past," he said; "it is not permissible to forget such a thing. But you can be conscious of it, so as to be attentive for the future."

In looking for the photo that they had on the news, showing this part of his visit there, but found a short series of them here.

And this story goes into much more detail of the actual event.

Benedict afterwards descended into the bowels of the grim barracks to pray before a lighted candle in the cell where Catholic priest Maximilian Kolbe died in 1941. Kolbe had offered to take the place of a prisoner whom the Nazis had sentenced to death by starvation.

A rainbow broke through a leaden sky as Benedict, an aide holding an umbrella over his head, later paused before each of the 22 plaques at the Birkenau annex’s International Monument to the Victims of Fascism.