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Saturday, October 19


By the way, is it true that Tim Horton's was named after a hockey star who was killed in an auto crash, or is that just Canadian urban (tundra?) legend?

7:37 AM


Canadian judges take children from their mothers because the mothers smoke.

Now we find out:

One-third of Canadian children under 11 overweight

Watch out for surveillance cameras and private detectives the next time you take your child to Tim Horton's.

7:36 AM


The Vatican has rejected the Dallas proposal. The Vatican seems to have been unhappy with:

« The vague definition of sexual abuse

« The lack of a statute of limitations

« The provision for suspension after a credible accusation

« The use of lay review boards.

Canon law provides that priests can be removed or suspended only after a trial, and that allegations of child abuse must be made by ten years after a victim's 18th birthday.

No one, including victims, would deny that there should be a clear definition of what constitutes abuse. No one thinks that an accusation equals a conviction. A priest may be falsely accused, and needs protection both from false accusations and from misunderstandings. Priests deal with distraught, disturbed people, often about sexual issues, in private circumstances, and therefore are more vulnerable to false or baseless accusations.

However, the statute of limitations is simply a human construct. If it does not serve justice, it should be changed. Victims are often so traumatized that they cannot report abuse for decades. Sometimes fear is the motivation: the priest tells the victim that no one will believe him, that he will go to hell if he tells anybody.

The underlying problems the Vatican's response reveals are

1. The Vatican is still concerned almost exclusively with the rights of priests and not with protecting children. Despite the Pope's comment on the horror of child abuse, bishops in the past have failed to discipline priests because they know that that the Vatican will not back them up when the priest appeals or will make the process so onerous that a bishop must devote all his time to handling one case.

When victims in the past have appealed directly to the Vatican (as in several Irish cases) the Vatican never responded even when the cases were so egregious
that the local bishop had to resign when the case became public. The Vatican does not place a high priority on protecting children.

Cardinal Keeler (with whom I have strained relations) at the request of his lay board publicized the names of all the priests who had credible accusations against them. This was to help parents and relatives identify and help victims. Did your son associate with Father X a lot and then engage in self-destructive behavior? If Father X's name is on the list, perhaps you should ask your son if something happened. Boys are so fearful of being thought to be homosexual that they will punish themselves rather than admit that they have been abused. The New York Times reports that Cardinal Keeler's action in publicizing the names made some in the Vatican unhappy. The Vatican focuses not on the need of victims for help, but on the right of priests to maintain an undeserved good reputation

The Vatican also regards ordination as a lifetime ticket to financial support (a key issue in many cases). Marriage terminates this right; abusing children (even if proved) does not.

2. The Vatican does not like to argue cases on itheir merits but rather by appeals to the authority of documents the Vatican itself has written (we can't do this because we said we can't do this. End of discussion). The Dallas guidelines conflict with canon law. Yes, so what? The substantive question is which is better, canon law or the Dallas guidelines. Perhaps canon law should be changed.

Cardinal Ratzinger recently did this when he said that the concept of preemptive war was not found in the catechism and therefore it could not be just. But that doesn't answer the question. Can preemptive war ever be just? Should England and France have gone to war with Hitler when he occupied the Rhineland, or did they have to wait until he started shooting? Does the United States have to wait until an Iraqi nuclear bomb is detonated in midtown Manhattan, or should we invade and destroy bombs before they can be smuggled here? The questions are hard, and short circuiting them by a circular appeal to authority (not divine revelation) is not intellectually honest.

3. Are the laity part of the Church or is the Church simply the ordained clergy and its employees? When bishops have for decades failed to protect Catholic children (and two thirds of America bishops have transferred abusing priests) shouldn't the laity be consulted on how best to project their children? Clericalism is a distortion that has deeply affected the mindset of the church at all levels, from the Pope on down.

The Vatican has managed to give the anti-Roman elements in the Church the high moral ground. Reform movements that promote laxity don't inspire much lasting enthusiasm. But reform movements that can portray ruling elites as corrupt can lead to real revolutions. Someone in Rome should study the case of Dr Martin Luther

7:28 AM

Friday, October 18


Our visits to Canada (at least the Anglophone parts) offer a vacation from American rudeness to a land in which drivers actually stop at crosswalks. Quebec offers the additional attraction of a Gallic attitude to the drinking age: if someone is old enough to lift a glass (say 3. 4 if one is being conservative) he is offered wine at a restaurant. However politeness can contain the seeds of fascism. It is only one stop from obeying traffic laws (something the Quebecois also do not do) to the concentration camps for smokers.
Halifax leads the way in repressive politeness. The National Post reports:

The Maritime city has demonstrated an unusual zeal in recent years for endorsing all manner of health-related by-laws, from relatively routine regulations governing cycling and cigarette smoking, to considerably less mainstream laws dictating disposal of construction and demolition debris, open-air fires, unleashed dogs, pesticide use and perfume application.

Perfume. It is illegal to wear perfume in Halifax in public places because some people get the vapors. I can't stand perfumes that contain musk and to me smell like the wearer has neglected basic bathroom hygiene. But I think the proper response is gagging, not calling the police to issue a ticket,

Whence the Haligonian prissiness?

The city's mindset has also been shaped by its demographics, which include a large number of university students, a small but dedicated cluster of organic farmers and as many as 10,000 Buddhists who have emigrated from Boulder, Colo.

The Buddhists are new to me. Next time I am in Halifax I shall take time from the entertaining exhibits on Nova Scotia explosions and shipwrecks to investigate the Buddhist migration.

But the underlying case is Canadian politeness.

Nancy Radcliffe, a former Halifax Daily News columnist, said the problem was Haligonians were "too darn polite. We don't want to inconvenience anybody, so we're constantly giving up our rights because somebody claims it's offending them."

Tim Horton's, the Canadian mecca of doughnut worshippers, has signs that some of the doughnuts may have been in buildings that may have contained a dread poisonous substance: peanuts.
I would be more impressed by Halifax's devotion to a clean environment if it didn't dump all its raw sewage directly into the ocean.

The ecofascism leads to less amusing behavior. The National Post also reports:

A judge has ordered a four-year-old boy removed from his mother's home because she was exposing him to second-hand smoke.
"I am not prepared to play with the life and health of this child," Mr. Justice Bruce Glass wrote.
"I find that the health of Christien is being placed at risk by exposure to tobacco smoke when in the care of his mother ... Christien deserves the best opportunity to get a healthy start with his life. To make sure of that, he is going to reside with his father."
The parents, who were never married and who live in Southern Ontario, will retain joint legal custody.
The judge ruled that the boy's mother, Noella LeClair, 21, has not made a serious effort to stop smoking, despite her claims that she has been trying ever since a court order forbade either parent from smoking around the boy.
"Once the trial is over, she will revert to doing what she wants. I do not believe her when she says that she does not smoke in the presence of her son," the judge wrote.
In a trial that featured surveillance video and hair samples presented as evidence against the mother, accusations of hypochondria levelled against the father, Stewart Miles, for his concern about the boy's suspected asthma, and a psychologist's failure to decide who is the better parent, the mother's smoking tipped the scales against her.

Yes, surveillance cameras, no doubt activated by nicotine.

Surveillance video taken by a private investigator was also shown in court of the mother and a friend both smoking cigarettes while driving in a car with Christien.

No, parents shouldn't smoke around their kids. It gives a bad example and the smoke can't do any good for the kids. Nor should parents feed their kids doughnuts from Tim Horton's: refined carbohydrates are the prime culprit in childhood obesity. Maybe the government has to play the role of Official Nag at times but taking a child away from his mother because she smokes? Beware, all Canadian parents with officially designated bad habits. Wait until the courts try to take children away from parents who offer their kids wine at dinner. or even drink in front of their children: Quebec will secede so fast that federal officials will be trapped in their offices and forced to burn their paperwork to survive the winter

5:30 AM

Thursday, October 17

According to the Alliance for Marriage, American corporations give a vast amount of money to organizations who exist to promote homosexuality. A recent press release says:

one of our main organizational opponents - the LAMBDA Legal Defense and Education Fund - has a major donor list that reads like a Who's Who of corporate America. This list includes such corporate giants as:

Deloitte & Touche
Ford Foundation
JP Morgan Chase
United Airlines
American Express
AOL Time Warner
Bridgestone - Firestone
Fox Entertainment
Wells Fargo
Ernst & Young
Charles Schwab
Pew Charitable Trust
Philip Morris

If "you're in good hands with Allstate," one now has to wonder whose hands.

11:59 AM

Wednesday, October 16


I was surprised last evening when a news commentator on TV declared that the current crisis back east - the sniper in Washington - could not be the work of a terrorist group, because terrorist groups would not do things this way. Id est, killing one person at a time. Terrorists would not do things that way? The Sicarii, for instance?

Some of the news commentators seem to labor under the bias that terrorism is a fairly new activity, performed exclusively by folks who set severe limits on their imaginations.

7:37 PM


When a student organization at Concordia University Montréal invited former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak last month, pro-Palestinian students rioted and prevented him from speaking by breaking down doors, breaking windows, and doing other very Un-Canadian things. The university administration reacted by forbidding any public discussion of the Middle East. The National Post quotes a rabbi:

"Right now, if you just look at it objectively, the people who kicked in those windows, the people who punched an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor to the ground, who chanted, 'Death to the Jews,' as far as they're concerned, they won," he said. "You have to address the fact that a game plan of violence on campus stifled free speech."

Simon Wiesenthal is horrified by the resurgence of anti-Semitism:

these are not ordinary times, as I never thought I would live to see the day when there would be more open expression of hate against Jews than in the 1930s. Tragically, that is the situation today around the world."

The peace loving Palestinians say they will do the same thing if Netanyahu returns:

Chadi Marouf, director of the student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, said he would be "horrified" and "shocked" if Concordia tried to bring the hard line Mr. Netanyahu back to campus. He said those who resorted to violence last month were a small minority, but he predicted that if another speech were scheduled, protesters would again attempt to shut it down.
"The reason we were blocking the guy was because he was a war criminal. Since that has not changed -- he is still a war criminal -- we would try to block him again," he said.

Last year when we were visiting our son at McGill we saw flyers denouncing McGill and Concordia as "Jew-controlled" The flyers listed the names of university officials who were Jewish, and helpfully gave their home addresses and descriptions of their children.

A little background: Concordia is not Lutheran; it is an English speaking university formed from several antecedent institutions when education in Quebec was reorganized along language rather than religious lines. One of the antecedent institutions had a substantial Jewish component, because McGill once had a Jewish quota. Therefore Concordia has a substantial Jewish enrollment.

But Canada's declining birth rate has led to increased immigration, and some of it has come from Moslem lands, and some of them have imported virulent anti-Semitism. Officials, paralyzed by politeness or timidity or craven fear, allow the Jew-baiting to go on with no rebuke.

6:30 PM


The Catholic Medical Association's An Open Letter to the Bishops, revised in late July, illumines the problem the Church faces with homosexual clergy:

Many have pointed out that solving the problem of sexual abuse by clergy will necessarily involve addressing the problem of SSA [same-sex attraction, i.e., homosexuality] among priests. . . . As the revelations of abuse have become public it has become increasingly clear that almost all the victims are adolescent males, not prepubescent boys. The problem of priests with same-sex attractions (SSA) molesting adolescents or children must be addressed if future scandals are to be avoided.

And then they offer a convincing analysis of the link between homosexuality and "dissent":

In treating priests who have engaged in pedophilia and ephebophilia we have observed that these men almost without exception suffered from a denial of sin in their lives. They were unwilling to admit and address the profound emotional pain they experienced in childhood of loneliness, often in the father relationship, peer rejection, lack of male confidence, poor body image, sadness, and anger. This anger, which originated most often from disappointments and hurts with their peers and/or fathers, was often directed toward the Church, the Holy Father, and the religious authorities.

Rejecting the Church's teachings on sexual morality, these men for the most part adopted the utilitarian sexual ethic which the Holy Father so brilliantly critiqued in his book, Love and Responsibility. They came to see their own pleasure as the highest end and used others - including adolescents and children - as sexual objects. They consistently refused to examine their consciences, to accept the Church's teachings on moral issues as a guide for their personal actions, or regularly avail themselves of the sacrament of penance. These priests either refused to seek spiritual direction or choose a spiritual director or confessor who openly rebelled against Church teachings on sexuality. Tragically, these mistakes allowed these men to justify their behaviors.

They take slight issue with the way the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts the question of homosexuality's origin. I think they are concerned with its agnosticism about the matter because such agnosticism may encourage people to think that, if we don't know what causes it, we can't attempt to cure it. Their experience and study, related in another, quite helpful statement titled Homosexuality and Hope is that homosexuality can be cured. They write in their Open Letter to the Bishops:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that homosexuality's "psychological genesis remains largely unexplained" (#2357). While it is understandable that the writers of the Catechism would not wish to make a definitive statement about a question which is at the center of such a contentious public debate, this statement does not accurately reflect what is known about homosexuality.

There is ample evidence that same-sex attraction has many different causes. These lead to significant childhood and adolescent emotional pain and psychological problems. Among males these could include a weak masculine identity, social isolation and loneliness, peer rejection or a poor body image and in females, a mistrust of male love or a weak feminine identity. No one can say "this is the cause" for same-sex attraction as though there were a single cause, but an individual can come to understand the origins of his or her own same-sex attractions through insight gained in therapy.

I commend both documents, not only to Catholics but to anyone whose church is affected by homosexuality. While wishing that the Catholic priesthood and the ministeria of all the churches were 100% heterosexual, one feels great sympathy for the homosexual man and woman, given the sorrows and pains from which their condition seems to come. But the churches do them no favors if they do not instruct them to seek healing.

1:54 PM


Below are excerpts from "A Call for the Faithful Confession of Christ on Campus: An Open Letter by Concerned LCMS [Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod] Campus Pastors in Response to Recent Events at Valparaiso University: 11 October 2002":

... The September 11, 2002, event entitled "A Community Gathering of Remembrance, Repentance and Renewal" sponsored by Valparaiso University and held in the Chapel of the Resurrection, a service featuring the procession of vested clergy from several denominations, a rabbi, imam and several LCMS clergymen, was an affront to the God who will tolerate no rival gods (1 Kings 18:21). Yet, in this ceremonial assembly, replete with candles and chanting, there were several competing "gods" as each spiritual leader, in sequence, invoked his god, spoke for his god from their sacred writings, and then declared a blessing from his respective god. The dimmed lights over the risen Christ on the cross overshadowing the altar did not excuse the providing of an opportunity for those who deny that very resurrection. Why would LCMS clergy promote this obvious expression of idolatry in a chapel dedicated to the glory of the Triune God and the proclamation of Christ alone (1 Cor. 10:14-22; 2 Cor. 6:14-18)? Has our Synod become so uncertain of the clear teaching of Holy Scripture that we can call good that which God condemns? Instead of conforming to the muddle and chaos of the unbelieving world, let the LCMS serve the mission of Christ alone, bringing sinners to Him in the life-giving waters of Holy Baptism and teaching them the fullness of His Word that they might rejoice in His salvation. ...

We, the undersigned who serve in LCMS campus ministries on secular campuses throughout our nation, are betrayed by the actions of LCMS clergy who organize and/or participate in such unionistic and syncretistic worship services. ...

The letter is signed by 29 Lutheran (Missouri-Synod) campus pastors from around the country.
I don't know what else took place at the 9-11 anniversary service at Valparaiso, but the leading edge of apostasy in its various forms seems to appear most predictably in the institutions of higher learning associated with any particular denomination. This is an old story, and I say nothing profound, but something worth repeating: if you want to keep your churches orthodox, keep an eye on your colleges (and seminaries), which seems to be what the signatories-all campus pastors-are doing. Good for them.

11:49 AM

Tuesday, October 15


. . . in Trial of Suit By Bishop Charles Bennison and Episcopal Diocese. Following is the press release issued yesterday by a small church in West Philadelphia, St. James the Less. The parish - whose rector, Fr. David Ousley, has written for Touchstone - withdrew from the Diocese of Pennsylvania and now faces a suit from the diocese to take its property. I put it on the record here as a good example of what religious liberalism is like in practice. In the end, it is more about power than ideology.

On Tuesday, October 15, Judge Joseph O'Keefe of the Philadelphia Orphans Court (a division of the Court of Common Pleas) will hear the case of Bishop Charles Bennison and The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania vs. Church of St. James the Less and four of its board members. Why is this small parish in the Allegheny West section of North Philadelphia and four of its parishioners being sued? It is one more chapter in the story of Charles Bennison and the Diocese of Pennsylvania vs. those who hold traditional Anglican religious views.

Background of Lawsuit
The Church of St. James the Less withdrew from the Diocese in 1999, following years of increasing intolerance of its traditional religious viewpoint within the Episcopal Church in the U.S. According to Father David Ousley, Rector of the parish, "There have been many changes in Episcopal Church doctrine within the past thirty years, including teachings on divorce and remarrriage, the ordination of women to the priesthood, and major doctrinal revisions to the American version of the classical Anglican Book of Common Prayer used by Anglicans worldwide. The Episcopal Church is committed to those fundamental changes in the faith, and increasingly intolerant of dissent. The majority of Anglicans around the world, however, have rejected such changes and continue to practice the Anglican faith as it has been handed down through the generations ň just as we try to do at St. James the Less. As has become very apparent in recent months, we are not alone, even in the United States. Many other parishes have also rejected the doctrinal revisions. In fact, an increasing number of parishes are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to remain affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Some see a major exodus beginning, as one parish after another leaves the Episcopal Church."

The decision to withdraw from the Episcopal Church in 1999 was not an easy one. According to Becky Wilhoite, a long time parishioner, "It was then that we came to the painful, but unavoidable conclusion that, in spite of our years of effort to find tolerance, if not real acceptance, within the Episcopal Church, Bishop Charles Bennison and the Diocese of Pennsylvania were simply not going to allow us to continue to practice our religion in the way we always have. In fact, they were clearly taking steps to force us either to change our religious views and practices or leave the Episcopal Church. With sadness, in the spring of 1999, we took the legal steps necessary to withdraw our church corporation from the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The technical way we did that was to merge our existing corporation with another nonprofit corporation, as is permitted under Pennsylvania law. That is one way legally to withdraw a church corporation from a denomination. Since then we have been registered with the Commonwealth as an unaffiliated church corporation."

The Diocese's Attempt to Seize Parish Property and Money
In response to the increasing exodus of parishes across the country, the Episcopal Church is more and more frequently trying to seize the assets of departing parishes. According to Father Ousley, "Since its founding, the Church of St. James the Less has been a separate Pennsylvania church corporation with title to its parish property and control over all of its business affairs. Many Episcopal Churches across the country have disaffiliated in recent years. Often the local Diocese has tried to claim ownership and control of parish property, taking it away from the parishioners. Some of those disputes have been resolved through negotiation but many have resulted in litigation brought by local Dioceses. Property litigation is currently pending in a number of state courts across the country. We are just one among many parishes facing lawsuits."

Parishioner Becky Wilhoite says "Our parishioners were very disappointed that, after basically kicking us out of the Episcopal Church by requiring that we act in violation of our religion and personal conscience, the Diocese now wants to take our property, too. We are just trying to be faithful to our heritage and the ministry God has given us in this neighborhood. Why do they want to do this to us? We would have thought that as professing Christians they would want to support the work we do in the community ň including the day school we started in 1999 - even if they cannot agree with our doctrinal positions."

Ms. Wilhoite explained that the legal papers filed by the Bishop and Diocese in July 2001 spell out what they want the Court to do. "The Bishop and the Diocese have asked the Court to dissolve the parish and appoint the Bishop trustee of all parish assets, giving him full authority to do whatever he wants with them." She continued, "Our ministry is important in our neighborhood. We are a vital urban parish. Our neighbors have made it very clear to the Bishop how outraged they are by his actions. The last time the bishop showed up at the parish, a good number of our neighbors (people who are not members of St. James), picketed in front of the parish with signs telling the Bishop to leave us alone. The Diocese has told some people that it wants to use our property as an Episcopal church and continue the ministry, but their conduct doesn't bear that out. They have closed a number of city parishes in recent years. What is the likelihood that the Diocese will find another group of parishioners to fill the church and dedicate themselves to this neighborhood and the ministry that we have here? Besides, the Bishop is asking the Court to dissolve the parish and give him full control of the parish property and assets. This doesn't sound like he's planning to continue things here. Surely, if what the Bishop cares about is the people in this neighborhood, he should see that it is far better to leave us alone and let us do what we have been doing here ň being faithful Christians serving our neighbors for over 150 years. Why do the Bishop and the Diocese want to destroy that?"

"One thing that is particularly outrageous is that the Diocese claims that we •diverted' the property from the parish. That's ridiculous. The parish property and other assets still belong to the parish, as they always have. All we did was withdraw from the Episcopal Church. We own the parish property and other assets. We didn't •divert' them anywhere. They're right here. Yet, the Bishop and the Diocese claim that the leaders of the parish violated their fiduciary obligations to the parish by taking the legal steps necessary to withdraw. That's absurd. The leaders of the parish did exactly what the parishioners wanted them to do ň get them out of an unbearable situation of intolerance in the Diocese. The Diocese had been threatening to take legal action against us for years. So, we considered all of our options and ultimately decided to withdraw. That is what any prudent Christian would do in these circumstances. There is absolutely no way this can be construed as •breach of fiduciary responsibility.' It's just the Bishop and the Diocese continuing their effort to intimidate and punish us, as a parish and as individuals. I guess they believe they have the power and the might to do whatever they want. But, it is a sad, sad thing for all of us that people who call themselves Christians choose to resolve differences by intimidation, coercion and lawsuits."

Contact: The Rev'd David Ousley: 215-229-5767 or

8:14 AM

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