Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Controversy Over Catholic Majority On US Supreme Court?

Alito troubled by concerns over court's Catholics

PHILADELPHIA -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito voiced frustration Tuesday over what he called persistent questions about the court's Roman Catholic majority.

Alito aired the topic in a speech to an Italian-American law group in Philadelphia.

"There has been so much talk lately about the number of Catholics serving on the Supreme Court," Alito said in a speech to the Justinian Society. "This is one of those questions that does not die."

Alito complained about "respectable people who have seriously raised the questions in serious publications about whether these individuals could be trusted to do their jobs."

He said he thought the Constitution settled the question long ago with its guarantee of religious freedom.

Alito, 59, the son of an Italian immigrant, is one of six justices on the nine-member court who were raised Catholic, including new Justice Sonia Sotomayor. A dozen of the 111 jurists in the court's history have been Catholic.

The Roman Catholic Church endorses positions on several high-profile legal issues, including abortion, the death penalty and gay marriage. Some commentators have argued that Catholics in the court's conservative voting bloc - Chief John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Alito - are likely to oppose abortion or otherwise apply Catholic teachings to their rulings.

In a telephone interview, Notre Dame law professor Richard W. Garnett echoed Alito's comment that the religion of qualified justices will not determine their views of pending cases, even if their experiences might shade it.

"It's not the calling of a Catholic judge to enforce the teachings of the faith. It's the calling of a Catholic judge, as well as he or she can, to interpret and apply the laws of the political community," Garnett said.

However, noting Sotomayor's "wise Latina woman" comment, he added: "No one thinks the moral commitments of a judge are irrelevant. I don't think anybody can completely put aside who they are."

Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said he believes the focus on the religious makeup of the court is really a ruse.

"I think it comes down to one issue, it's abortion," he said. "The people who are complaining about Alito and Roberts are the same people who would have nine Nancy Pelosis on the Supreme Court who are pro-choice Catholics."

President George W. Bush nominated Alito to the high court four years ago from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Gospel According To U2

My family and friends tease me all the time for calling U2 lead singer Bono a modern day prophet. His lyrics challenge us to live the Beatitudes and proclaims God in our midst. His One Campaign ( unites people all over the globe to pressure governments to do more for the poorest of the poor especially those devastated by the leprosy of our day, AIDS.

As I see it, Bono is a modern man of God. If you doubt my opinion, watch his speech at the 2006 U.S. National Prayer Breakfast and draw your own conclusion.

Holiness comes in many forms. In our modern age, I believe one of those forms is a rock star singing and speaking with a clear voice about the troubles of our times and calling us to our better angels.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Enigma - The Child In Us

I am a huge fan of a European world beat group called Enigma. It did a song in 1996 mixing lyrics found in ancient Sanskrit, Latin and English. The result is a beautiful song called "The Child In Us."

Enclosed is the video and translation of both Sanskrit and Latin.


(Sanskrit: prasanna vadanaaM saubhaagyadaaM bhaagyadaaM hastaabhyaaM abhayapradaaM maNigaNair-naanaavidhair-bhuushhitaaM) Translation: Who is of smiling face? Bestower of all fortunes? Whose hands are ready to rescue anyone from fear? Who is adorned by various ornaments with precious stones?

(Latin: Puer natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis: cujus emperium super humerum...) Translation: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government will be upon his shoulder.

Some day you came. And I knew you were the one. You were the rain, you were the sun. But I needed both, cause I needed you. You were the one I was dreaming of all my life. When it is dark you are my light. But don't forget who is always our guide. It is the child in us.


The meaning is both universal and timeless.

Peace & Blessings...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

God's Ample Blessings

I was reminded of God's ample blessings this past week in a most unusual way.

This past summer was the first summer in nearly a decade that I did not play hardball. Baseball is a passion in my life. I love the game and the joy it brings to both watch and play.

The reason I did not play baseball was due to being invited into the Deacon Formation Program of the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese. I knew this four-year educational commitment would be time-consuming and have a deep impact on family life. As I looked at things I could give up, baseball was the one selfish endeavor I could no longer justify.

I made the announcement to my team's managers about four games into last season, but asked that we keep it quiet to the other guys until the end of the season. After toiling for years in mediocrity in the Puget Sound Senior Baseball League, our team, under the new name Iron Pigs, was finally on a winning streak and I didn't want to create any distraction, minor as it might be.

That was until we went into a losing skid near the end of the season. With three games left, we had a team meeting after a tough loss and everyone was asked to say something if they had something to say. I was the last to speak and told the team this would be my last season playing baseball. My calling to the diaconate would take me away from the game I loved. I told the guys I had never been in a championship game in all the years in the league and hoped we might be able to go out winners this season.

We won the next three games by a combined score of 60 to 23. We were white hot going into the playoffs. After battling through some adversity in the playoffs, we worked our way back into the championship game.

On a rainy September night, we lost the game by a few runs. My baseball playing days were over. As I packed my baseball bag for the final time, I noticed my teammates secretly gathering at the side of the field. They were doing something, but I could not tell what. After my bag was packed I walked up to the guys and my teammate Jeff stepped forward and presented me with the game ball signed by all the guys. They also told me that the team had voted to retire my number 21. It would never be worn by another Iron Pig. I was humbled to tears. And speechless. I told the guys what an honor it was to play with each and every one of them and to know them personally. We were a community of friends who cared about each other. That is what I would take with me on my life's journey.

Fast forward to last weekend. I saw on Facebook posts that my former teammates were in the Championship game again. Against the same team that beat us last year. The Iron Pigs would need to win a playoff doubleheader to be PSSBL Rocky Division champions.

After my son and I did our monthly volunteer food pick-up for the Mukilteo Food Bank, we drove down to Peter Kirk Park in Kirkland to watch the guys play. They were up by a dozen runs and saving some of their better arms for game two. Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, we could only stay about an hour to watch. While there, Jeff pulled out a baseball from his bag. It had my number #21 on it. He said he carried it all season as a good luck charm. What a beautiful gesture.

As we parted, I said a little prayer for victory for the guys.

That night as I was driving home from my commitment, I had a voicemail from the team. They were out celebrating after winning both games. The Iron Pigs were champions! And they had a message for me: They wanted me to have a championship patch for my Iron Pigs jersey.

The tears came again as I stammered to tell my wife what the guys were doing.

God blesses us all in our lives. We just have to open our eyes to see... and blink through the tears.

Former Teammate Jeff With The Championship Trophy

Thursday, October 1, 2009

And Jesus Wept...

Bishop Raymond Lahey resigns
By Brian Lazzuri

Bishop Raymond Lahey has resigned as shepherd of the Diocese of Antigonish (on Nova Scotia's north coast). Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation Sept. 26.

The resignation was announced at Masses throughout the Diocese over the weekend. Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini has been appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Antigonish. He is also administrator for the Diocese of Yarmouth.

“Bishop Lahey has resigned for personal reasons. We are grateful to him for his dedicated and generous service to the Diocese. Let us all hold him up in prayer,” Archbishop Mancini wrote in a letter to priests and laity.

He assured the priests, religious and laity of his “continued pastoral care and support” and asked for “collaboration” and prayers.

Archbishop Mancini concluded the brief letter by renewing all pastoral and curial appointments.

He will also be meeting with priests of the Diocese during an Oct. 1 luncheon at Our Lady of Fatima Hall, Sydney River.

A letter from Bishop Lahey, ad-dressed to the priests, deacons, religious and parishioners, was posted on the Diocese of Antigonish’s website Sunday afternoon.

“I want to let you know that after much thought and careful consideration, I decided to submit to the Holy Father my resignation as Bishop for personal reasons,” Bishop Lahey wrote.

He acknowledged the “challenges” the Diocese is facing and expressed his confidence “that your faith and compassion will continue to sustain you as they have always done.”

Bishop Lahey also expressed his confidence in Archbishop Mancini and those who serve in leadership roles in parishes.

“To so many of you I would want to say a personal word of farewell and thanks. However, I have already left the Diocese to take some much-needed time for personal renewal. I simply ask for your prayers, as I assure you of my continued prayers for all of you.”

Sunday morning Archbishop Mancini announced he was appointing Father Paul Abbass as local spokesperson for matters relating to the Diocese. Father Abbass is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Frenchvale as well as Episcopal Vicar and Director of Pastoral Services. He will continue on in those duties.

“I, like everyone else, was surprised and taken aback [by the decision],” Father Abbass said Monday morning.

“When I read the letter from the Bishop, and saw that it was after prayerful consideration and it was a personal decision, I accepted that,” the priest said.

He noted there was a general affection for Bishop Lahey among many parishioners so there is concern whether he is OK.

“The only thing I think is regret-table is that some think it is con-nected to the recent legal settlement,” Father Abbass said, referring to the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the Diocese.

The lawsuit concerned acts and allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy of the Diocese of Antigonish since Jan. 1, 1950. Bishop Lahey had signed a settlement agreement with lead plantiff Ronald Martin Aug. 7. Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice David MacAdam approved the $13 million agreement Sept. 10.

“I think the Bishop himself would find it regrettable if people were trying to connect those two and suggest in any way that this puts that agreement at any risk. We are going forward. It is an issue of justice and reconciliation that we are determined to honour. It is categorically in no jeopardy whatsoever.”

In an earlier press release, Father Abbass said the settlement is “a legally binding document.”

“It involves painful spiritual healing, profound understanding from all and difficult financial sacrifices. While the resignation of our former Bishop will be a loss to our Diocese in many ways, his departure does not diminish the legal and spiritual commitments we have made.

"After having spoken with Archbishop Mancini, I want to as-sure everyone, and particularly the victims of sexual abuse, that nothing in the recent court approved class action settlement agreement will change as a consequence of this transition in leadership," Father Abbass said.

Martin’s lawyer and Class Counsel John McKiggan said he has received calls from victims inquiring how Bishop Lahey’s resignation would affect the settlement agreement.

“The Bishop's resignation will have no effect on the obligations of the Diocese to compensate survivors in accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement,” McKiggan said.

“I must say that I have a great deal of respect for Bishop Lahey. I believe Bishop Lahey is a decent man who was committed to doing the right thing for survivors of priest sexual abuse in the Antigonish Diocese,” the lawyer said.

McKiggan praised the courage of Bishop Lahey’s apology and his client’s commitment “to seek justice on behalf of his brother David and other survivors of sexual abuse in the Antigonish Diocese.”

“Bishop Lahey acknowledged the responsibility the Diocese of Antigonish had to help those [who] had been sexually abused by priests of the Diocese. [He] has set an example for other Bishops to follow,” McKiggan said.

Victims of sexual abuse have until March 10, 2010, to file applications to take part in the settle-ment. All payments will be made by November 2012. The funds for the settlement will come from the Diocese and its parishes.

Father Abbass also addressed some of the other challenges facing the Diocese.

"This transition in spiritual leadership comes at a time of significant pastoral challenges. Our Diocese is proactively addressing pastoral planning, the amalgamation of par-ishes and a renewal of our approach to evangelization and ministry.

“These are important initiatives that speak directly to our spiritual health as a Diocese. We will be working closely with Archbishop Mancini to ensure these initiatives maintain their momentum," Father Abbass said in the release.

He emphasized ministry is done in parishes. “So all that good work — worship, education and service — continues on in each parish in this period of transition. I would assure people there are leadership mechanisms to carry us forward.”

The priest said the appointment of Archbishop Mancini was “timely.” By appointing an administrator quickly, Father Abbass believes the Vatican “understands our diocese is undertaking some major issues that are important to all of us.”

“We can take some hope from that they recognize our need for leadership,” he said.

Archbishop Mancini will serve as administrator until a new Bishop is appointed by the Holy Father.

“We don’t have any control or influence of that whole process. The Holy Father works with his nuncio here in Canada to look at potential candidates for the episcopate,” Father Abbass said.

Canada is currently without a nuncio as Archbishop Luigi Ventura was appointed as Apostolic Nuncio to France earlier this month.

“No nuncio could complicate things,” Father Abbass said but noted no one knows what work has already been completed in the proc-ess to replace Bishop Lahey.

“I think we understand as we move forward we are a community of faith. The Bishop is certainly the shepherd but we also need to be conscience there is a Good Shepherd and, in faith, we believe the Good Shepherd is with us as we walk through these times,” Father Abbass concluded.

Bishop Lahey was installed as the eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish June 12, 2003. He was previously Bishop of the Diocese of St. George’s, Nfld. Prior to that, he served as a priest in the Diocese of St. John’s. Bishop Lahey is 69 years old. Bishops are required to submit a resignation letter at the age of 75.

The Vatican Information Service announcement said the Holy Father accepted Bishop Lahey’s resignation “in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

The code states: “a diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is ear-nestly requested to present his resignation from office.”

With files from Nicole Myshak of The Atlantic Catholic.

Reprinted from