Syte Reitz

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world…….

Impeachment: Desperate False Accusations, trying to take down a righteous man

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As we approach tonight, the vote of the United States House of Representatives, in which the extreme “progressive” left will try to defame one of our best Presidents through false accusations and impeachment, let us remember to put these events in God’s hands with prayer. Heaven will be stormed with prayer, as is appropriate.   

We don’t (as the left does) lash out, lie, don black masks, or riot. 
Instead, we support our President with letters, donations and prayers, and prepare quietly for the next election, knowing that this good and wonderful man is in God’s very capable hands.  

President Donald J. Trump’s letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (who is heading these proceedings) outlines the injustice and false accusations, and is printed below.

But first, a few quotations from the Holy Bible that many of us try to live by: 

Exodus 20:16:

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Psalm 109:1-5

For the leader. A psalm of David.

O God, whom I praise, do not be silent, for wicked and treacherous mouths attack me.
They speak against me with lying tongues; with hateful words they surround me, attacking me without cause.
In return for my love they slander me, even though I prayed for them.
They repay me evil for good, hatred for my love.

Psalm 109:29-30:

Clothe my accusers with disgrace; make them wear their shame like a mantle.
I will give fervent thanks to the LORD; before a crowd I will praise him.

Deuteronomy 19: 19-20

The judges must investigate it thoroughly. If the witness is a false witness and has falsely accused the other, you shall do to the false witness just as that false witness planned to do to the other. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.
The rest shall hear and be afraid, and never again do such an evil thing as this in your midst.

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Madam Speaker:

I write to express my strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade being pursued by the Democrats in the House of Representatives.  This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history.

The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence.  They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever.  You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!

By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy.  You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme—yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America’s founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build.  Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying “I pray for the President,” when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense.  It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!

Your first claim, “Abuse of Power,” is a completely disingenuous, meritless, and baseless invention of your imagination.  You know that I had a totally innocent conversation with the President of Ukraine.  I then had a second conversation that has been misquoted, mischaracterized, and fraudulently misrepresented.  Fortunately, there was a transcript of the conversation taken, and you know from the transcript (which was immediately made available) that the paragraph in question was perfect.  I said to President Zelensky:  “I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”  I said do us a favor, not me, and our country, not a campaign.  I then mentioned the Attorney General of the United States.  Every time I talk with a foreign leader, I put America’s interests first, just as I did with President Zelensky.

You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches of government into an impeachable offense—it is no more legitimate than the Executive Branch charging members of Congress with crimes for the lawful exercise of legislative power.

You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion dollars of U.S. aid money to coerce Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his son millions of dollars.  You know this because Biden bragged about it on video.  Biden openly stated:  “I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars’…I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours.  If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’  Well, son of a bitch.  He got fired.”  Even Joe Biden admitted just days ago in an interview with NPR that it “looked bad.”  Now you are trying to impeach me by falsely accusing me of doing what Joe Biden has admitted he actually did.

President Zelensky has repeatedly declared that I did nothing wrong, and that there was No Pressure.  He further emphasized that it was a “good phone call,” that “I don’t feel pressure,” and explicitly stressed that “nobody pushed me.”  The Ukrainian Foreign Minister stated very clearly:  “I have never seen a direct link between investigations and security assistance.”  He also said there was “No Pressure.”   Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a supporter of Ukraine who met privately with President Zelensky, has said: “At no time during this meeting…was there any mention by Zelensky or any Ukrainian that they were feeling pressure to do anything in return for the military aid.”  Many meetings have been held between representatives of Ukraine and our country.  Never once did Ukraine complain about pressure being applied—not once!  Ambassador Sondland testified that I told him: “No quid pro quo.  I want nothing.  I want nothing.  I want President Zelensky to do the right thing, do what he ran on.”

The second claim, so-called “Obstruction of Congress,” is preposterous and dangerous.  House Democrats are trying to impeach the duly elected President of the United States for asserting Constitutionally based privileges that have been asserted on a bipartisan basis by administrations of both political parties throughout our Nation’s history.  Under that standard, every American president would have been impeached many times over.  As liberal law professor Jonathan Turley warned when addressing Congressional Democrats: “I can’t emphasize this enough…if you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power.  It’s your abuse of power.  You’re doing precisely what you’re criticizing the President for doing.”

Everyone, you included, knows what is really happening.  Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016, in an Electoral College landslide (306-227), and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat.  You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it!  You are unwilling and unable to accept the verdict issued at the ballot box during the great Election of 2016.  So you have spent three straight years attempting to overturn the will of the American people and nullify their votes.  You view democracy as your enemy!

Speaker Pelosi, you admitted just last week at a public forum that your party’s impeachment effort has been going on for “two and a half years,” long before you ever heard about a phone call with Ukraine.  Nineteen minutes after I took the oath of office, the Washington Post published a story headlined, “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.”  Less than three months after my inauguration, Representative Maxine Waters stated, “I’m going to fight every day until he’s impeached.”  House Democrats introduced the first impeachment resolution against me within months of my inauguration, for what will be regarded as one of our country’s best decisions, the firing of James Comey (see Inspector General Reports)—who the world now knows is one of the dirtiest cops our Nation has ever seen.  A ranting and raving Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, declared just hours after she was sworn into office, “We’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf****r.”  Representative Al Green said in May, “I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected.”  Again, you and your allies said, and did, all of these things long before you ever heard of President Zelensky or anything related to Ukraine.  As you know very well, this impeachment drive has nothing to do with Ukraine, or the totally appropriate conversation I had with its new president.  It only has to do with your attempt to undo the election of 2016 and steal the election of 2020!

Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me.  His shameless lies and deceptions, dating all the way back to the Russia Hoax, is one of the main reasons we are here today.

You and your party are desperate to distract from America’s extraordinary economy, incredible jobs boom, record stock market, soaring confidence, and flourishing citizens.  Your party simply cannot compete with our record: 7 million new jobs; the lowest-ever unemployment for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans; a rebuilt military; a completely reformed VA with Choice and Accountability for our great veterans; more than 170 new federal judges and two Supreme Court Justices; historic tax and regulation cuts; the elimination of the individual mandate; the first decline in prescription drug prices in half a century; the first new branch of the United States Military since 1947, the Space Force; strong protection of the Second Amendment; criminal justice reform; a defeated ISIS caliphate and the killing of the world’s number one terrorist leader, al-Baghdadi; the replacement of the disastrous NAFTA trade deal with the wonderful USMCA (Mexico and Canada); a breakthrough Phase One trade deal with China; massive new trade deals with Japan and South Korea; withdrawal from the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal; cancellation of the unfair and costly Paris Climate Accord; becoming the world’s top energy producer; recognition of Israel’s capital, opening the American Embassy in Jerusalem, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; a colossal reduction in illegal border crossings, the ending of Catch-and-Release, and the building of the Southern Border Wall—and that is just the beginning, there is so much more.  You cannot defend your extreme policies—open borders, mass migration, high crime, crippling taxes, socialized healthcare, destruction of American energy, late-term taxpayer-funded abortion, elimination of the Second Amendment, radical far-left theories of law and justice, and constant partisan obstruction of both common sense and common good.

There is nothing I would rather do than stop referring to your party as the Do-Nothing Democrats.  Unfortunately, I don’t know that you will ever give me a chance to do so.

After three years of unfair and unwarranted investigations, 45 million dollars spent, 18 angry Democrat prosecutors, the entire force of the FBI, headed by leadership now proven to be totally incompetent and corrupt, you have found NOTHING!  Few people in high position could have endured or passed this test.  You do not know, nor do you care, the great damage and hurt you have inflicted upon wonderful and loving members of my family.  You conducted a fake investigation upon the democratically elected President of the United States, and you are doing it yet again.

There are not many people who could have taken the punishment inflicted during this period of time, and yet done so much for the success of America and its citizens.  But instead of putting our country first, you have decided to disgrace our country still further.  You completely failed with the Mueller report because there was nothing to find, so you decided to take the next hoax that came along, the phone call with Ukraine—even though it was a perfect call.  And by the way, when I speak to foreign countries, there are many people, with permission, listening to the call on both sides of the conversation.

You are the ones interfering in America’s elections.  You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy.  You are the ones Obstructing Justice.  You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain.

Before the Impeachment Hoax, it was the Russian Witch Hunt.  Against all evidence, and regardless of the truth, you and your deputies claimed that my campaign colluded with the Russians—a grave, malicious, and slanderous lie, a falsehood like no other.  You forced our Nation through turmoil and torment over a wholly fabricated story, illegally purchased from a foreign spy by Hillary Clinton and the DNC in order to assault our democracy.  Yet, when the monstrous lie was debunked and this Democrat conspiracy dissolved into dust, you did not apologize.  You did not recant.  You did not ask to be forgiven.  You showed no remorse, no capacity for self-reflection.  Instead, you pursued your next libelous and vicious crusade—you engineered an attempt to frame and defame an innocent person.  All of this was motivated by personal political calculation.  Your Speakership and your party are held hostage by your most deranged and radical representatives of the far left.  Each one of your members lives in fear of a socialist primary challenger—this is what is driving impeachment.  Look at Congressman Nadler’s challenger.  Look at yourself and others.  Do not take our country down with your party.

If you truly cared about freedom and liberty for our Nation, then you would be devoting your vast investigative resources to exposing the full truth concerning the FBI’s horrifying abuses of power before, during, and after the 2016 election—including the use of spies against my campaign, the submission of false evidence to a FISA court, and the concealment of exculpatory evidence in order to frame the innocent.  The FBI has great and honorable people, but the leadership was inept and corrupt.  I would think that you would personally be appalled by these revelations, because in your press conference the day you announced impeachment, you tied the impeachment effort directly to the completely discredited Russia Hoax, declaring twice that “all roads lead to Putin,” when you know that is an abject lie.  I have been far tougher on Russia than President Obama ever even thought to be.

Any member of Congress who votes in support of impeachment—against every shred of truth, fact, evidence, and legal principle—is showing how deeply they revile the voters and how truly they detest America’s Constitutional order.  Our Founders feared the tribalization of partisan politics, and you are bringing their worst fears to life.

Worse still, I have been deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process from the beginning of this impeachment scam right up until the present.  I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses, like the so-called whistleblower who started this entire hoax with a false report of the phone call that bears no relationship to the actual phone call that was made.  Once I presented the transcribed call, which surprised and shocked the fraudsters (they never thought that such evidence would be presented), the so-called whistleblower, and the second whistleblower, disappeared because they got caught, their report was a fraud, and they were no longer going to be made available to us.  In other words, once the phone call was made public, your whole plot blew up, but that didn’t stop you from continuing.

More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.

You and others on your committees have long said impeachment must be bipartisan—it is not.  You said it was very divisive—it certainly is, even far more than you ever thought possible—and it will only get worse!

This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth.  You are not just after me, as President, you are after the entire Republican Party.  But because of this colossal injustice, our party is more united than it has ever been before.  History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade.  Your legacy will be that of turning the House of Representatives from a revered legislative body into a Star Chamber of partisan persecution.

Perhaps most insulting of all is your false display of solemnity.  You apparently have so little respect for the American People that you expect them to believe that you are approaching this impeachment somberly, reservedly, and reluctantly.  No intelligent person believes what you are saying.  Since the moment I won the election, the Democrat Party has been possessed by Impeachment Fever.  There is no reticence.  This is not a somber affair.  You are making a mockery of impeachment and you are scarcely concealing your hatred of me, of the Republican Party, and tens of millions of patriotic Americans.  The voters are wise, and they are seeing straight through this empty, hollow, and dangerous game you are playing.

I have no doubt the American people will hold you and the Democrats fully responsible in the upcoming 2020 election.  They will not soon forgive your perversion of justice and abuse of power.

There is far too much that needs to be done to improve the lives of our citizens.  It is time for you and the highly partisan Democrats in Congress to immediately cease this impeachment fantasy and get back to work for the American People.  While I have no expectation that you will do so, I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.

One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another President again.

Sincerely yours,

DONALD J. TRUMP
President of the United States of America

cc:       United States Senate
United States House of Representatives

 

 

Herculean Effort, Real Science

SOooooooo proud of my husband Rolf– he initiated & put together an editorial,  collecting input from 37 of the world’s most prominent engine engineers (his field) on the impact of the internal combustion (IC) engine on global warming, and on the future of IC engines. 
Real and honest science, with recommendations for future directions. See the full editorial in the International Journal of Engine Research entitled The Future of the Internal Combustion Engine
After only a short time up online, the editorial has already had thousands of downloads.  It comes out in print in the January 2020 issue of the Journal.  

In a Hurry?

The “Executive Summary” and “Closure” at the end of the editorial are great for those in a hurry, and are posted just below. The rest of the article supplies enough details and data to satisfy the most discerning of scientists.

Oh No! Not Politics? 

The article is not at all political, and does not take sides with climate “alarmists” or climate “deniers,” as the opposing political camps have often been called.
It simply presents pertinent powerful facts, which lead logical people to make their own inescapable conclusions.
For example, IC engines provide 25% of global power, while producing only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, research of the last several decades has reduced pollution by IC engines by a thousand fold.
We are now at the point where more pollution is caused by the wear of automobile tires on the road than by the vehicle’s emissions. This makes the modern day IC engine vehicle equivalent to electric vehicles in terms of pollution. In fact, vehicles with catalytic air cleaners will actually exhaust cleaner air than they take in, in cities such as Los Angeles.

Enjoy! 

IJER editorial: The future of the internal combustion engine

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1468087419877990 

Below is the Executive Summary and the Closure — 
(Entire Editorial at: 

IJER editorial: The future of the internal combustion engine )

 

Internal combustion (IC) engines operating on fossil fuel oil provide about 25% of the world’s power (about 3000 out of 13,000 million tons oil equivalent per year—see Figure 1), and in doing so, they produce about 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Figure 2). Reducing fuel consumption and emissions has been the goal of engine researchers and manufacturers for years, as can be seen in the two decades of ground-breaking peer-reviewed articles published in this International Journal of Engine Research (IJER). Indeed, major advances have been made, making today’s IC engine a technological marvel. However, recently, the reputation of IC engines has been dealt a severe blow by emission scandals that threaten the ability of this technology to make significant and further contributions to the reduction of transportation sector emissions. In response, there have been proposals to replace vehicle IC engines with electric-drives with the intended goals of further reducing fuel consumption and emissions, and to decrease vehicle GHG emissions.

Figure 1. World energy consumption by source (millions of petroleum equivalent) in the last 25 years.1 About 70% of fossil oil (i.e. about 3000 Mtoe) is consumed in IC engines.

 figure

Figure 2. Global warming potential (GWP) in CO2 equivalent tons by sector.2 Transportation contributes about 10%.

Indeed, some potential students and researchers are being dissuaded from seeking careers in IC engine research due to disparaging statements made in the popular press and elsewhere that disproportionately blame IC engines for increasing atmospheric GHGs. Without a continuous influx of enthusiastic, well-trained engineers into the profession, the potential further benefits that improved IC engines can still provide will not be realized. As responsible automotive engineers and as stewards of the environment for future generations, it is up to our community to make an honest assessment of the progress made in the development of IC engines over the past century, with their almost universal adoption to meet the world’s mobility and power generation needs. Considering that the maturity of IC engine technology is something that many other technologies/possibilities do not have, we also need to assess the potential for future progress, as well as to assess the benefits offered by competitor technologies, in order to make responsible recommendations for future directions.

Factors impacting that future are discussed in this editorial and include the following:

  • - The fact that affordable energy has been instrumental in raising the standard of living in the world dramatically, particularly in poor countries, and the fact that so far in the history of humanity, the burning of fossil or bio-derived fuels has been the only reliable source of energy;
  • - The fact that the entire planet is linked by a massive transportation infrastructure that is largely based on the IC engine and that would require decades and tremendous expense to replace;
  • - The dramatic advancements in IC engine technology that have brought pollutant levels down a 1000-fold in past decades, and which now make particulate emissions from tire and brake wear a larger problem than engine emissions (in both IC engine powered and electric vehicles);
  • - The obstacles still faced by proposed alternatives, such as electric vehicles powered by batteries, which have tremendous cost, weight and other limitations, and which are hoped to be fuelled by renewables, such as wind and solar that currently represent only a miniscule fraction of the world’s energy supply;
  • - And the fact that concerns about the impact of IC engines on climate change have become politically charged, even as they need to be assessed impartially. There is need for informed, data and science-driven government policies that promote a managed, realistic transition to sustainable future energy systems.

The vast majority of automotive engineers, including IJER editorial board members, are optimistic about the continuing importance of the IC engine to meet the world’s mobility and power generation needs. Certainly, exploring new and competing engine technologies, as well as new fuels, is important for a sustainable future for our planet. The inescapable conclusion reached in this editorial is that, for the foreseeable future, road and off-road transport will be characterized by a mix of solutions involving internal combustion engines (ICEs), battery and hybrid powertrains, as well as conventional vehicles powered by IC engines. Thus, there is a pressing need for recruiting the brightest young minds to engage in this effort.

(Aside: Here we skip the bulk of the detailed article and skip to “Closure;”  for the entire article, go to The Future of the Internal Combustion Engine )

In summary, the ICE, and IC engine research have a bright future, in contrast with some widely distributed media reports (e.g. The Economist19). The power generation and the vehicle and fuel industries are huge, representing trillions of dollars (US) per year in turnover, with a massive infrastructure. We are certainly in revolutionary times, but it is clear that power generation sources will not become fully renewable and transport will not become fully electric for several decades, if ever. However, research to improve efficiency and methods to reduce dependence on fossil fuels are exciting directions for future IC engine research. It is very likely that highly efficient “fully flexible” engines with hybridized solutions will be a big part of sought-after efficiency improvements, as well as emission/GHG reductions.20 Finally, it must be acknowledged that, in practice, people select their choice of powertrain based on numerous factors, including cost. Consumer preference is not decided by politicians, nor by car-makers, nor academia. Policy unilaterally favoring one technology solution may be deeply inefficient and perhaps even the wrong eventual solution. A better approach is to use real-world data to allow competing technologies to flourish; if they evidence efficiency improvements and emission reductions, and they then need to be delivered as soon as possible. Continued progress requires that we recruit the brightest young minds to engage in this effort to deliver a vibrant and sustainable future for the ICE.

(Entire Editorial at: 

IJER editorial: The future of the internal combustion engine )

A photo history from my brother “Vyt’s” childhood photo album.

Albert Vytas Strazdis, 1950-2010

Vyt’s (and my) parents, Albin and Rūta Strazdis 1949, New York
Fr. Pakalniškis’ bio below; Stasė Kerpytė studied to become a pathologist, and Jurgis Savaitis became a Chase Manhattan Bank Vice President in New York City

Father John Pakalniškis  (in photo, priest baptizing Vyt)

On Wednesday, February 25, 1987, Fr. John Pakalniškis offered the prayer at the United States House of Representatives commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the Independence of Lithuania.

Father Pakalniškis was (in 1987) the supreme chaplain to the Lithuanian Scouts Organization, as well as the vice president of the Lithuanian Priests’ League of the United States.

He was born in New York City, and when he was 6 years old in 1921, Father Pakalniskis moved with his parents to Lithuania, where he completed his education. Ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1939, Father Pakalniškis also graduated from the University of Vytautas the Great in Kaunas, Lithuania, that same year.

His first assignment was the assistant at the Cathedral Church in Kaunas,where he also taught religious courses.

On June 7, 194 7, Father Pakalniškis came to the United States, and served as assistant pastor to three parishes in Brooklyn, until July 16, 1978, when he was appointed the pastor of the Annunciation Church.

Father Pakalniškis taught generations of children religion at our Maironis Lithuanian Saturday school in Brooklyn, celebrated Masses for the school, and was chaplain for numerous groups, including the Lithuanian Scouts.

Father Pakalniškis officiated at the wedding of Ruta & Albinas Strazdis, the baptism of their children, Albert Vytas, Joan Ruta (Syte), and Lucius Algis.

He also baptized Syte’s children Christopher Vytas and Tomas Jan, and officiated at Syte and Rolf’s wedding at Anunciation Parish. 
He was a spiritual father to numerous Milukas families and other New York Lithuanian families at the Church of the Annunciation in New York, and was truly a priest after Christ’s own heart.

Firstborn son & Mom (Rūta Strazdis)
Matas Milukas
Vyt’s Grandpa (“Papė”)
Born in Lithuania 1885

In 1906, at the age of 21, Matas emigrated to the US, served as organist in Maspeth and Brooklyn, New York, and did volunteer work several days per week for his brother Fr. Antanas Milukas in Philadelphia, publishing Lithuanian books and newspapers, and teaching religion at his brother’s parish.
After marrying Emilija Dauknys, and having one son, Antanas, they returned to Lithuania in 1920, where the rest of their family was born and raised.
Matas worked in the Bank of Lithuania in Kaunas, and was fluent in over 5 languages.
After fleeing Lithuania on foot during World War II at the age of 59 with most of his adult children, Matas arrived in New York in 1946. He assisted in the writing of his famous brother’s biography, wrote stories of his childhood for his 25 grandchildren, and lived in New York, until his death in 1997. He is buried in St. Charles CMT cemetery.
Albinas Antanas Strazdis was born in 1921 in Brooklyn, New York.
He moved to Lithuania with his parents around age 11, then back to New York alone during World War II.
In New York he met Rūta, married in 1948, and had 3 children– Vyt, Syte and Luke.
He obtained Bachelors and Masters degrees in Civil Engineering at night school, worked for the New York State Department of Transportation as a bridge supervisor, had an office in the World Trade Center towards the end of his career, and was invited to supervise the reconstruction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York after his retirement.
He retired to Sunny Hills, Florida, with his wife around 1987.
Cousin
This photo was taken soon after Antanas (back row, far right) was reunited with his family in New York ~1963. Antanas had spent years in a Siberian concentration camp, deported there by Soviets during World War II, despite being an American born citizen, who thought he would be safe staying in Lithuania during the war after the rest of his family had fled.
Tėti’s (Albin’s) parents, Marija & Kazimieras Strazdas, were deported to Siberia by the Soviets during World War II, for being “capitalists,” after their one acre farm, one cow and one sewing machine were confiscated. They struggled to survive in Siberia for almost 2 decades, before the Soviets released them to Tėti after they became pensioners. They were reunited with their children in New York around 1964.
An historical link from Radio Free Europe regarding that deportation, thanks to my cousin Phil Skabeikis, who posted the link on facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/rferl/videos/371839610075791/?t=5

One More (Sad) Treasure

One more treasure from my basement is the Sunday bulletin from Madison’s St. Raphael Cathedral, March 13th, 2005, shown below.

This was the last day Masses were celebrated at the Cathedral, before the Cathedral burned down in the early morning hours of March 14th, 2005, due to break-in and arson.

This Thursday, March 14th, 2019, is the fourteenth anniversary of the Madison St. Raphael Cathedral fire.

Download or View Below

Download the Cathedral Bulletin 3-13-05 PDF here, or view by scrolling below.

Note that in his bulletin pastoral letter, Msgr. (now Bishop) Swain provides us with a great examination of conscience for Lent.

Astonishingly Perceptive Wisconsin State Journal Article Portrays Bishop Morlino in 2004

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Treasures in My Basement
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Not being much of a newspaper clipper, nor information hoarder, I was surprised to unearth several treasures in my basement, including notes I took at a Future Society meeting addressed by Bishop Morlino and a Wisconsin State Journal article which introduced Bishop Morlino to Madison almost exactly fifteen years ago, on February 15th, 2004, about six months after his arrival in Madison.

The front page Sunday article was remarkably positive, surprisingly perceptive, and provides one very elegant bookend to Bishop Morlino’s life here with us in Madison for the past 15 years, so I had to share.

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The Wisconsin State Journal article began with several striking headlines:

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MORLINO: CONFRONTING SECULARISM IN MADISON

DIOCESE HAS NEVER HAD A BISHOP LIKE MORLINO

HE WADES INTO CONTROVERSY, BUT HE IS TOLERANT OF THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH HIM.

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Bishop Morlino’s address to the World Future Society was one of his early encounters with secular Madison and was entitled “The Future of Religion.” It was presented at Fluno Hall on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus.  Bishop Morlino pointed out during that address that Democracy maximizes individual freedom and minimizes restraint by the government.  Thus it requires free self-restraint, which makes sense only in a religious framework.  Government ought to favor authentic religion– when self-restraint under God is promoted, the government has less restraining to do.  Religion, therefore, must have a future if democracy is to have a future.
In hindsight now in 2019 with Antifa type disorder rampant, this prediction by Bishop Morlino made 15 years ago (in 2003) comes across particularly inspired.

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Hoping to share the nostalgic Wisconsin State Journal article with fellow Catholics who are mourning our loss of Bishop Morlino on November 24, 2018, I rushed to Wisconsin State Journal archives to find the link to this old article  — only to find that in order to see anything more detailed than the fuzzy 2×2 inch image of the whole front page, readers had to subscribe to the Wisconsin State Journal($19.99/month).

This inspired me to photograph, transcribe, and share excerpts of my newspaper clipping with my family and friends here below, with some occasional commentary.

The Wisconsin State Journal front page Sunday article from February 15, 2004:

MORLINO: CONFRONTING SECULARISM IN MADISON

DIOCESE HAS NEVER HAD A BISHOP LIKE MORLINO

HE WADES INTO CONTROVERSY, BUT HE IS TOLERANT OF THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH HIM.

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By William R. Wineke
Wisconsin State Journal

Six months after becoming spiritual leader of 265,000 Roman Catholics in southern Wisconsin, Robert Morlino is proving to be a bishop far different from any the Madison Catholic Diocese has seen before.

He is at once more self-assured and, paradoxically, more humble than any of his predecessors, more willing to engage in public controversy on behalf of his church and more tolerant of those who disagree, a man who seems at ease with himself, his values and his abilities.

He also begins his leadership of the diocese at a time when trends in the church that have been occurring for years are reaching crisis proportions. His priests are getting older and there are a few replacements in the pipeline. The result is that each pastor serves an increasing number of parishioners each year, parishes are being merged and ongoing scandals in the church at large are testing the faith of Catholics locally.

Perhaps his biggest challenge, however, is confronting what Morlino sees as a pervasive secularism in Madison.

Morlino said his first six months here have convinced him of the necessity for dialogue with the outside culture.

“Madison has to face all the challenges of secularism,“ he said. “I think the challenge in Madison is to enter into dialogue with the culture that is secular. To strengthen people’s faith requires some flexibility and versatility.“

He says he is somewhat surprised by the extent of the secular culture here and by what he perceives as a split between the culture of Madison and of the rest of the 11-county diocese.

“I knew it theoretically before I came here, but I didn’t realize how strong that culture is,” he said.

He does much of his teaching through his column in the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Herald.

In a recent column dealing with the referendum on expanding gambling at Madison’s DeJope  bingo hall, Morlino put the whole issue into the reference of the cities alleged secularism. He said it is hard to argue against gambling in the city that welcomes abortion and the production of anti-Catholic plays, such as “Corpus Christi,“ a play that portrays Jesus and his disciples as gay. A national organization, America needs Fatima, has organized a protest against its performance, which is scheduled for March 5-27 at the Bartell  Theater.

“The kind of community we are seems to indicate a high comfort level with virtually no public morality,“ he said.

But, he asked, “is that really the kind of community we want to be in the Diocese of Madison and in the state of Wisconsin looking into the future?“

His column reported in the front page story in the Wisconsin State Journal, elicited responses of both support and outrage.

Both the State Journal’s and the Capital Times’ editorial pages criticized Morlino‘s position, and Capital Times columnist (Aside from Syte: calumnist?😂) Doug Moe wrote a piece on the newspaper’s front page taking the Bishop to task. The common thread in the editorial response was that Morlino hasn’t lived here long enough to pass judgment.

Those who argue with him tend to do so from the perspective that in a pluralistic society, secular values of open-mindedness should prevail.

The State Journal’s editorial page, for example, has been barraged with letters supporting and opposing Morlino. Philip Keillor, a Madison activist with a history of working with the poor, noted the city’s hard work in providing shelter for the homeless and suggested “moral minimums in our community seem to be developed on issues when there is enough agreement to ‘make it happen’ and those who remain uninvolved either accept or don’t strongly oppose controversial activities.

And the Rev. E. Ellwood Carey, retired pastor of Parkside Presbyterian Church, suggested there is “nothing in Christian scriptures that reveals Jesus’ sexuality, so a word of caution regarding assumptions is appropriate.“

Many Catholic readers, on the other hand, argue that a Bishop’s letter to the people of his diocese should not be read as an allegation of immorality on the part of non-believers.

Mary Weisensel, Sun Prairie, a Catholic laywoman  long active in church causes, noted that “a closer examination of the bishops column in our diocesan newspaper reveals that he cast no stones, he only sought to help us think through a moral issue. That’s what bishops are supposed to do…”

What the flap demonstrates more than anything is that Morlino does not duck controversy. His recurring theme is that there is an “objective public morality, a moral truth.“

In Thursday’s column, for example, he said “our freedom is accountable to the moral truth and, as I have written so many times, the fact that something is done freely does not make it morally right, that should be obvious.“

He use the column to criticize the Super Bowl performance, in which the singer Janet Jackson’s bodice was ripped off to reveal one of her breasts during the nation’s most watched television event. He also commented on reducing love to its “sensual dimensions,“ adding that the “ongoing effort to assert into the civic life of our country and our culture the right to redefine marriage“ is “certainly not among the inalienable rights conferred upon each human person according to the mind of our nation’s architects from the beginning.“

Morlino, 57, who succeeded Bishop William Bullock last August, is the fourth Bishop to serve the 11-county Madison Catholic Diocese.

He is a native of Pennsylvania, the only child of a Scranton couple. His mother died when he was a teenager.

Morlino was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1974. He holds a bachelors degree in philosophy from Fordham University, a masters degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and a doctorate in moral theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.

He is a large enthusiastic man who appears to enjoy company, love sports and doesn’t like being bound by rigid schedules. He doesn’t talk “down“ to people – which means, also, that he expects people to be able to hold their own when they speak with him.

He had a diocese that was formed in 1946 and was led, successively, by bishops William O’Connor, who served from 1946 to 1967, Cletus O’Donnell, who served from 1967 to 1992 and Bullock, who served until 2003.

If their tenures could be described by a single word – none would wish to be so described — O’Connor was a builder; O’Donnell was a national leader, Bullock was an administrator and Morlino is a teacher.

Audio for many of Bishop Morlino’s homilies is available at the Cathedral Parish Media Archive – click above text for link and search “Morlino.”

He seems perfectly willing to challenge a society he thinks is too secular and seems to have no questions about his ability to do so. However Morlino also insists on respect for those who disagree. He says that, in dialogue with the secular world, he is convinced that “the truth wins out by its own gentle power.“

Morlino writes long pastoral letters each Thursday in the Catholic Herald, on subjects ranging from support for the controversial orders of LaCrosse Bishop Raymond Burke (now Archbishop of St. Louis) on giving Communion to legislators who support abortion, to analysis of the best-selling novel “The DaVinci Code,“ to Marian devotions.

Lorraine Endres of Waunakee, a Catholic laywoman who says she hopes to be considered a good Catholic but who is not known as an activist, says most of what she knows about her new Bishop comes from his pastoral letters.

“I haven’t met him personally, but I think he’s going to be good for the diocese,“ she said. “He’s pro-life and he lets people know it. I read his column in the Herald every week and it’s easy to understand where he’s coming from. He’s down to earth and he lets people know what he thinks.“

Morlino confronted his Priests with a tightly reasoned multi-page letter on changes in Catholic worship having to do with confession and First Communion and, when asked by some priests for a simpler version they could share with their parishioners, he replied that cutting it down to five pages was as far as he could justifiably go.

If Morlino expects his priests to bone up on their theology, however, he has also scored points with those same priests by announcing he won’t even read unsigned letters complaining about them.

“I think he brings a great deal of renewed optimism to the diocese,“ said the Rev. Felix Oehrlein, pastor of Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in Wisconsin Dells. “He’s been very affirming. At our recent gathering of priests, he had a town-hall meeting, sat down with us for a couple of hours and just anyone who had something to say to stand up and say it. He wasn’t defensive about anything.”

At the same time, Morlino has spent comparatively little time on administering the diocese, something Bullock prided himself as doing.

During his first six months as Madison‘s bishop, he travel to other states for days and weeks at a time, sometimes to for fill commitments he made before arriving here, sometimes to take a few days off.

In an interview with the state journal, Morlino said it’s all a matter of emphasizing a bishop’s talents.

“There are bishops who hover with their investment officers and develop financial strategies,“ he said. “No one would be more useless at that than me. There are lay people with far more financial skills than I have and I think we ought to let them use those skills for the good of the church.“

Much of the work of actually administering the diocese has fallen to his vicar general, or second in command, Monsignor Paul Swain (Aside from Syte: now Bishop of  Sioux Falls) who, nevertheless, says Morlino has brought a sense of zest to the office.

Morlino may have best explained his concepts of personal strengths in a talk to diocesan young people recently in Wisconsin Dells.

Comparing life to jigsaw puzzle, Morlino said, “I can’t go anywhere I want. Every piece is fitted to occupy a certain spot. I know I have strengths and weaknesses and if I don’t like my strengths and weaknesses, if I don’t accept them, there is no joy.”

Morlino stunned his staff at the Bishop O’Connor Pastoral Center by giving each person two weeks off over the Christmas season. Those who had to work to keep the facility running were told to take extra vacation time later in the year.

Telling his staff to take more time off also has its pastoral side, Morlino suggested.

“Our culture really does need to slow down,“ he said. “What drives it is the materialism of our age. If you’re never satisfied with what you have, there’s only one way to get more and that is to work longer hours and that has its effect on all sorts of other values.“

As for himself, Morlino confessed, “I know I don’t make my best decisions when I’m overtired.“

Morlino raised some eyebrows locally when, shortly after being installed as Bishop, he joined a group of abortion opponents in a march to an abortion clinic, where he recited the rosary.

People weren’t surprised that he opposes abortion – all Catholic bishops do – but his predecessors hadn’t been involved in public marches.

Perhaps more telling than Morlino‘s participation, however, was his admonition to his fellow marchers to love their opponents.

“When someone is promoting error, that error has to be corrected, of course,“ Morlino said then. “But the person promoting the error never loses that dignity and sacredness of the human person.“

Morlino said that’s just basic Catholic teaching.

He applied the same judgment to politicians who may not conform to church teachings.

“I can’t judge the heart of an individual, but, objectively, those who hold public office and are in public positions have to be challenged, not only for the good of their souls and the state of their own faith,“ he said, adding that if politicians “publicly promote things we can’t abide by, that becomes sinful for them and scandalous for the Catholic community.“

The issue, Morlino continued, isn’t that politicians must take orders from the church, but they must live up to their own vocations.

Morlino’s strong stance on social and moral issues seems to be popular with his fellow Catholics, many of whom are writing to the newspapers in support of him.
Within his church, Morlino has been most controversial in Baraboo, where the pastor of Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, the Reverend Gerald Vosen, was accused of sexual improprieties and was removed from office last September.

The man Vosen is accused of abusing denies the allegations (they were made by the man’s sister), but Morlino and the diocesan body charged with investigating sexual abuse charges have neither confirmed the charges nor returned Vosen to his pulpit. Morlino suggested, obliquely, that other allegations may have been made.

At any rate, Saint Joseph parishioners– and even pastors of Protestant congregations in Baraboo – have protested and marched against what they perceive to be Morlino’s inaction.

Morlino scoffs at the one-word descriptions of Bishop’s records cited above.

“I don’t think of myself as coming to leave a mark,“ he said. “I think the bishop should do what the church wants him to do and that is to try to create an environment in which every person, every day, is invited to meet Christ, risen from the dead, in a gentle and kind the way.“ He added: “I am not the Messiah and things may go awry. But, the gifts I have, I will use. If it turns out later that I have left a mark so be it.“

“I am not the Messiah and things may go awry. But, the gifts I have, I will use. If it turns out later that I have left a mark so be it.“ – Bishop Morlino

Bishop Morlino has certainly made a very positive and very remarkable mark in Madison, and his mark includes:

40 new priests
30 seminarians
Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Madison (well know by Faithful Catholics to generate priestly vocations)
New St. Paul’s Campus Catholic Center at UW Madison (preserving the faith of our youth and generating numerous vocations)
Opening discussion of relativism and the importance of moral truth
Courageous defense of life and marriage
Opposition to embryonic stem cell research
Clarification of Church teaching on controversial issues like immigration
Willingness to take strong stands on protecting victims of clerical sexual abuse, both in his own Diocese, and all the way up to supporting Archbishop Vigano’s calls for Papal transparency.

For more of Bishop Morlino’s accomplishments, see Bishop Morlino was Truly a Churchman of His Time 

See also:

Madison Catholic Herald on Bishop Morlino

Madison’s Bishop Celebrates 15 Years!

Rest in Peace, Bishop Morlino

Madison’s Brilliant Bishop

What on Earth is Going on with the Catholic Church? or The Flip Side of Mercy

SOTU Dems

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SOTU Dems

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!

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A Very Different Christmas

Christmas will be very different this year in Madison, with the loss of our very beloved Bishop Morlino on November 24, 2018 , and the emptiness left in our hearts by the departure of our courageous Shepherd and Father.

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Bishop is Enjoying Christmas!

But we rise above the sorrow and the sense of loss with the knowledge that our beloved Bishop, where he now is, is enjoying the love and beauty he taught us about, and is actually in a position to help us all more, both collectively as a Diocese, and individually as members of his flock.

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“Apostle of Purgatory”

And yes,  Bishop Morlino, who has been called by some the “Apostle of Purgatory,” might be the first to correct me and to check his “canonization” on which I have just embarked.  But please allow this member of the Bishop’s  flock to point out that he is sure to be treated with the same love, gentleness and mercy by God that he exhibited himself to all of us while he was here.
Just in case, to cover our bases, we will keep our beloved Bishop in our prayers, but I, for one, believe that our very good and courageous Bishop is already in a very good position to watch over us and intercede for us, close to Christ and His Blessed Mother, whom our Bishop so loved.
May Bishop Morlino be enjoying right now that vision that does not disappoint.

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“Ave Maria” in Honor of Bishop Morlino

In honor of Bishop Morlino, because we miss him this Christmas, and in honor of the Bishop’s birthday (December 31st) on the eve of the feast of Mary, Mother of God, here is a free gift for all to download — Ave Maria played on the guitar by my husband Rolf:

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AVE MARIA mp3,  played by Rolf Reitz:

(right click to “save as”)

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We love you, Bishop, Morlino!

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Rolf, Syte, Tracey and Tom Reitz with Bishop Morlino

Happy Birthday, Bishop Morlino!

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Remembering  Bishop Morlino:

Bishop Morlino Was Truly a Churchman of His Time 

Madison Catholic Herald on Bishop Morlino

Madison’s Bishop Celebrates 15 Years!

Rest in Peace, Bishop Morlino

Madison’s Brilliant Bishop

What on Earth is Going on with the Catholic Church? or The Flip Side of Mercy

 What on Earth is Going on with the Catholic Church?

or

 

The Flip Side of Mercy

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Scandals and Sinners are Not New

Scandals and sinners in the Catholic Church are not new.
Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ was a pretty big deal, and he was chosen personally by Jesus Christ to be among the first 12 Bishops of His Church.
So it is not surprising that members of the Church hierarchy can commit sins.
Nobody denies that.
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The Current Pedophilia and Coverup Scandals

Recent news headlines in 2018 show that there continue to be horrific evil sins and crimes being committed by some clergy in the Catholic Church.
Enemies of the Catholic Church, who resent the Church’s moral authority, who do not want to follow Judeo-Christian commandments, and who have been attacking the Church for 2000 years, are very quick to point out sins committed by members of the Church.
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And the mud really sticks.
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The National Review correctly points out that such depraved sacrilegious acts by even ONE priest damage the moral authority and credibility of the Catholic Church:

“This is why, when sex scandals within the Church come to light, observations that the “vast majority” of clergy did nothing wrong strike many as unmoving. If, as Catholics maintain, the Church’s hierarchy derives its legitimacy from a transmission of spiritual authority passed down from the Apostles, then even isolated instances of malfeasance within that hierarchy can shake people’s faith in this claim.”

This is also why so many good Catholic Clergy, including Archbishop Vigano and Madison’s Bishop Morlino,  are calling for complete transparency and accountability throughout the Church, all the way up to our Pope.

Being Balanced and Fair to the Catholic Clergy

Those of us Catholics who love our Church do not enjoy watching the vast innocent remainder of our beloved  holy priests demonized and attacked publicly by hate-filled progressive media.  The media misrepresent our Catholic clergy in most unfair terms.

We realize that saying “but your Honor, the other guy over there committed many more crimes than I did” is never a good defense.

But we also realize that truth is valuable, honor must be defended, and institutions and principles stand, even when some officials betray them.
The Presidency of the the United States was not abandoned when one man got caught desecrating the Oval Office with his sexual sins and depravity.
And all the members of one race are not condemned when one member of that race commits a crime.
Bigotry and prejudice are bigotry and prejudice, even when they are directed at the Catholic clergy, as opposed to a (temporarily) more politically popular group.

In that spirit, we digress to put the magnitude of the problem into perspective, before we continue to discuss the latest Catholic Church sex abuse problem, it’s shocking implications, and possible solutions.

Magnitude of the Catholic Church Problem

Regarding the current pedophilia accusations, because of the progressive media’s dislike for the conservative Catholic Church, few people find out that Catholic priests are actually the least probable to abuse children, less probable to abuse than any other group of people in the world.   Celibacy has also been shown to be irrelevant — pedophilia occurs most commonly among married men who are not in the clergy.   Sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests is less probable than by other men, 100 times less probable than teachers at school, and at least twenty times less probable than the child’s own parents.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), our nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, reports that of the annual 63,000 sexual abuse cases substantiated by Child Protective Services, the perpetrator was most often the parent (80%).  Other relatives were responsible for 6%, 4% were unmarried partners of a parent, and 5% were “other,” (from siblings to strangers, and this category would include all clergy religious of all denominations).

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Since the first major reports starting in 1985, the church has actually studied, analyzed, worked on, and dramatically reduced the incidence of these problems (see John Jay Report Figure 1.1).  The John Jay Report is well worth reading for anybody who is interested in the scandals.
The findings of the John Jay report are Facts are backed up by independent sources like Psychology Today, Newsweek, National Review and insurance companies who calculate risk (and charge litigation insurance premiums accordingly) for religious and other institutions.  Catholic institutions are not charged any larger insurance premiums than any other group.
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Despite the dramatic reduction in Church scandals shown in the above graph, and despite the fact that the above graph represents only a very small fraction of the total sexual abuse of children in the United States, those in the media who resent the traditional Judeo-Christian teachings which the Catholic Church has maintained for 2000 years, continue to dredge up and attack the church for crimes and sins which occurred between 1950 and 2000.

Magnitude of Our Whole Society’s Problem

The message we should take from the above statistics is not that abuse in the Catholic Church is not too bad, but that there is a SHOCKING level of sexual abuse of children throughout all of our society, including abuse by teachers, and ABUSE BY PARENTS, that has been off the radar all this time.  Most of us don’t know about it, and the media has not told us. The numbers are sometimes sketchy and can vary from study to study, but the general picture that emerges is very worrisome and shocking.  The National Center for Victims of Crime tells us that 28% of US kids are sexually victimized during their formative years.

Yes, 28% of US kids are sexually victimized during their formative years.

Back to the Catholic Church

Despite the fact that the Catholic clergy actually have the lowest frequency of child abuse of any group on earth, despite the fact that Catholic Church abuse has now been dramatically reduced, and despite the fact that the Catholic Church has formulated model abuse prevention programs whose implementation should be considered by all other institutions in our society,  the Catholic Church is still making headlines recently regarding sex abuse scandals.

And this time, we cannot just blame the media, which likes to pick on the Catholic Church.
Most recently, some new facts have emerged which challenge even the most faithful members of the Catholic Church.

The Unexpected and Shocking Developments

The new facts to surface regarding the old Catholic Church scandals do not involve frequency of incidence, which seems to have been dramatically reduced, but they involve two aspects of the old coverups which cannot be ignored:

  • The Church is now being accused of coverup, as high up as Pope Francis.

  • The detailed nature of the sexual abuse has been identified — and it is almost exclusively homosexual.

The picture now emerging is one not of pedophilia, but of homosexual abuse of older male children and seminarians by homosexual priests.
These developments create a clash of values in our modern culture that will have no easy resolution.

Clash of Values
First, the Events of Summer 2018

Pope Francis greets Archbishop McCarrick

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Three major new events have brought us to this point of scandal in the Catholic Church this summer.

  • Cardinal McCarrick, one of Pope Francis’ closest advisors, resigned from the College of Cardinals following allegations of sexual abuse of a teenage boy 40 years ago in New York City, as well as sexual misconduct with seminarians over an extended more recent period of time.
  • Separately, a Pennsylvania Grand Jury issued a report summarizing that from 1950 to 2000, 300 priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused over 1,000 children. 90% of the abuse reported by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury was of older male children by homosexual priests.
  • Then, Archbishop Vigano, former apostolic nuncio to the United States, issued an 11 page letter implicating Pope Francis and several senior prelates in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s alleged sexual abuse of a youth and of seminarians. He claimed that Pope Francis knew about strict canonical sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 but chose to repeal them. He accused Pope Francis of not only ignoring Pope Benedict’s sanctions, but also of promoting Cardinal McCarrick to be the Pope’s trusted counselor.  Archbishop Vigano claimed that he personally spoke with Pope Francis about the gravity of McCarrick’s abuses soon after the Pope’s election in 2013.  These allegations have not yet been verified.

Pope Francis, caught by Archbishop Vigano’s accusations during his trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, told media that he is “not going to say a word” about the McCarrick coverup accusations from Archbishop Vigano.

Two weeks later, the Pope’s advisors have stated that the Holy See is preparing an answer to the current debates, presumably referring to Archbishop Vigano’s accusations.
On September 11, the Council of Cardinals expressed full solidarity with the Pope’s handling of the abuse crisis.  No timeline yet on the promised clarification.
On September 12, Pope Francis called the world’s Bishops to a meeting on sexual abuse of children to occur in February 2019.
On September 13, some US Bishop leaders are meeting with Pope Francis to discuss the McCarrick abuses. Pope Francis is receiving Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. conference of Bishops, along with Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the Vice President; Monsignor Brian Bransfield, the conference’s secretary; and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Is the Catholic Church Abuse Homosexual in Nature?

There is now much debate on whether the abuse occurring in the Catholic Church is homosexual in nature.
And there are many claims on both sides.
This blogger believes that the statistics speak for themselves, but below is some of the evidence pro and con.

The vast majority of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, 80% of past abuse in the Catholic Church and 90% of the abuse reported by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, has been of older male children by homosexual priests.

Although the majority of abuses involve older youth, our society is more shocked by cases involving young children.   This issue is complicated by the fact that in the past the term “pedophilia” was used broadly and included activity with teenagers.
For example, sexual activity with 16 year old children is not actually categorized as pedophilia, but as ephebophilia — which is not categorized as a mental disorder, nor is it illegal in many places such as Washington D.C., where the age of consent for sexual activity is 16.  

 

This information, the fact that the bulk of what has been called child sex abuse in the Church turns out to be homosexual ephebophilia, has implications both on possible solutions to the Church’s “pedophilia” problems, and on the clear fact that there are, albeit against Church regulations, homosexual priests in the Catholic Church.
Not only are there homosexual priests, a fact which was not unknown, but those homosexual priests seem to have an elevated tendency to engage in sexual activity, and to engage in sexual activity with youth.

An NIH (National Institutes of Health) NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) PubMed.gov Resources J. Sex Marital Therapy article finds that the “proportion of true pedophiles among persons with a homosexual erotic development is greater than that in persons who develop heterosexually.”

Santa Cruz University psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante’s argues that homosexuality is NOT associated with pedophilia.  Dr. Plante says that clerical offenders tend to be “generalists” who do not necessarily prefer boys, but who turn to boys because they have trust with and access to boys, which they do not have with girls.  Arguments such as this one are not intuitive to most of us, particularly given the statistics and the observations made by people who live in proximity to the gay culture, like the author of Madison’s Capital Times guest column, Can Madison tolerate Catholics?   Dr.Plante does acknowledge that most abusive priests are not pedophiles, since pedophiles are attracted to young, prepubescent children, generally under the age of 11. He does not discuss specifically whether homosexuals could be inclined toward ephebophilia.

Catholic Bishops, who have been studying and trying to solve the problem since 1985, also know something about this issue. Numerous Bishops have labeled this a homosexual problem in the priesthood, including Pope Benedict’s number two man Cardinal BertoneCardinal Burke, Swiss Bishop Eleganti, and Bishop Morlino of Madison, among others.  It has always been Catholic Church policy not to ordain men with deep seated homosexual tendencies.  

Explosive Implications

This association between homosexuality in the priesthood and forbidden sexual activity with teenagers (previously labeled pedophilia, but more correctly called ephebophilia) is the explosive information the Church has been faced with since the publication of the John Jay report around 2010.  This is information that, in the present global gay rights and gay marriage atmosphere, is not something anybody knows how to present to the world.   The political incorrectness of this information, and the potential for backlash following its acknowledgment, does not need much elaboration.

If these two issues are actually linked, that is, if homosexual priests are more inclined towards pedophilia (or, more accurately, ephobophilia, attraction to post-pubescent young men) than are heterosexual priests, then the solution to the pedophilia problem would have to involve a renewed effort to exclude homosexuals from the priesthood, and involve better enforcement of Church policy not to ordain homosexual men.

Nobody needs this blogger to tell them how politically unpopular trying to eliminate any homosexual sub-culture from the Church would be today in 2018.  Since that action is needed to eliminate the 80-90% of  sexual activity which is frequently called “pedophilia,” but which is actually ephebophilia, we need clergy of great courage to speak the truth and to name the problem.

Our Bishop Does Not Disappoint

True to his previous courageous leadership of the Diocese of Madison, our Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, Robert C. Morlino, was among the first to name this problem and to call for it’s investigation after ex-Nuncio Vigaro sacrificially laid his head on the block and started the process of forced accountability all the way up to our Pope.

Bishop Morlino’s efforts to protect children and seminarians made the national news, and elicited a number of not surprising, naive and misinformed accusations from  liberal Madison’s press, including denial of the facts from Madison’s ex-Mayor- turned-journalist at progressive rag Isthmus Dave Cieslewicz, and a call for apology to the LGBTQ community published in Madison’s Capital Times.

Surprisingly, there was also a thought-provoking and supportive guest column entitiled Can Madison tolerate Catholics? in the Capital Times by non-Christian, non-Catholic Arabist-Islamologist scholar Kevin Barrett, which pointed out his first hand experience observing the association of homosexuality and ephebophilia in California.

Our Bishop Morlino, who has suffered enough at the hands of Madison’s LGBT activists, has yet again very courageously stepped up to defend Truth and to show us the way.

What’s a Liberal to Do?

Liberal Catholics, and our liberal Pope, who are inclined to relax Catholic rules on divorce and remarriage, are faced with a serious inconsistency.

If indeed, homosexuality is linked with ephebophilia, as all the Catholic abuse statistics indicate (science is real) then supporting homosexuals in the priesthood becomes incompatible with elimination of 80-90% of the sexual activity which has been called “pedophilia” in the Church today.

If the Pope was trying to show tolerance, mercy and compassion to the “Lavender Mafia” (gay priests who defy Church teaching on homosexual activity), that has now become unintentionally synonymous with coverup of the old child abuse scandals.

Now liberals in the Church who want to “modernize” the Church have come up against a wall — do you support the homosexual agenda with mercy and compassion, or do you side compassionately with justice for the victims of sexual abuse.

The Flip Side of Mercy

And so we now face the fact that there is a balance between mercy and justice, between compassion for the sinner and compassion for the victim, and there are times when we cannot be on both sides of the fence.

Despite our poor human lack of understanding of why justice must be enforced and sins must be atoned for, that balance does exist, and is as sure as the laws of physics and gravity.

As Catholics, both Catholics in the pews and clergy, many of us have trapped ourselves unwittingly, as we tried so hard to accommodate the cultural values around us, and to understand and excuse the behavior the sexual revolution of the 1960’s has spawned. We have tried to normalize, accept, and sometimes even welcome the homosexual culture into the Catholic Church.  This has been a source of much conflict within the Catholic Church.

Now it turns out that welcoming and tolerating homosexuality, particularly into the priesthhod, brings with it some painful baggage that none of us ever expected– heart-rending injury to our youth.

We cannot rage for justice from our leadership, condemning them for coverups, while we are also the ones who raged for normalization of homosexuality.  Liberal Catholics are now caught between a rock and a hard place.  They cannot be on both sides of the fence.  There is often an unrealized cost to mercy, a cost that nobody knew would have to be paid.

Mercy only allows us to offer ourselves as compensation for wrongs which have been done.  We cannot submit other people to suffering, especially children, in the name of mercy. 

In the most recent scandal, Pope Francis is trapped between his open and welcoming attitude towards gay priests like McCarrick, and the shocking realization that these homosexual priests, often referred to as the “lavender mafia”, live a culture often associated with promiscuity, ephebophilia, and cover up.

The pope and the Church are damned by our society if they don’t welcome and condone homosexual behavior, and they are damned in more ways than one if they do.
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Where Do We Go From Here?

Now that this link between homosexual priests and promiscuous homosexual activity has been established (science is real!), everyone in the church, from each one of us, to our clergy, to our bishops, all the way to the pope, is being forced to choose between the victim and the perpetrator, between justice and mercy, between abused teenage boys and homosexual priests.

So, we better stop pointing fingers, blaming and demanding, and we better remind ourselves that our clergy is 16 times less likely to abuse children than all of the rest of us.  We better start putting our heads together to search for what will likely be uncomfortable and painful solutions. These solutions that will probably involve going back to the age-old church policy, which excludes homosexuals from ordination to the priesthood. Much as we recognize the value of all human beings, we must also recognize that not all of us are suited for every occupation on earth.

American progressives, who include some American Catholics, have pressured the Church to remove any stigma from homosexuality, and even to approve gay marriage.  But when homosexuality becomes associated with sexual abuse of teenagers, or with an increased predilection towards pedophilia, how can we simultaneously pressure the Church to welcome homosexuals, yet eliminate ephebophilia at the same time?

Most people are afraid of even voicing these questions, lest their local ANTIFA throws bricks through their living room windows.
And our Pope, who seems to want to be a nice guy to everyone, is trapped by this dilemma, too.
It takes tremendous courage to step into the middle of this controversy, to take sides with abused children rather than with the hurt feelings of homosexuals, to seek investigation and documentation of the truth, regardless of what unpopular results we might face.

The Most Difficult Question

The last logical, yet very difficult and politically incorrect question to be asked will be the following– if indeed it is demonstrated that the homosexual subculture in the Church is associated with sexual abuse of teenagers, how does this apply to every other institution in our society where adults are in authority over teenagers — the schools, the scouts, sports coaches, and adoption institutions?

The Bigger Picture

One thing so often forgotten in all of these discussions is the bigger picture of sexual sin.
It is always easier to point fingers at another group than to acknowledge our own group’s sins.

Our society demands a certain degree of self restraint in a number of areas.  These include eating, studying, working, refraining from stealing, refraining from “hate speech,” and many more.
Yet our modern society has pretty much abandoned the notion of sexual self restraint.

We are quite capable of such restraint.   In fact, it would really improve our lives and would eliminate much misery, from the pain of divorce, to broken hearts, to STDs, to the culture of abortion, which kills about 1 million children every year in the United States. It would also reduce the shocking 28% of youth being sexually abused today.

When we as a society accept the degree of promiscuity that we now tolerate, how can we blame homosexuals for their lack of self-restraint?
If we followed (Judeo-Christian) Catholic teaching on the responsible use of our sexuality, and we educated and modeled modesty and sexual self control to our youth instead of using Planned Parenthood pamphlets to teach middle schoolers to be “Happy, Healthy and Hot,” the general atmosphere of civilized sexual behavior would reduce all scandals, which surfaced following the 1960’s “sexual revolution.”

Pope Paul VI predicted the misery the sexual revolution would lead to in his 1968 encyclical Humane Vitae (On Human Life).  It’s only 15 pages long.  Read it.

No Witch Hunt, Please!

Homosexuals are not the only ones who need to exercise some self-restraint.
We all do.
We need to remove the log from our own eyes before we criticize the splinter in theirs.

We cannot go after homosexuals in a witch hunt, nor after Catholic priests in a witch hunt.

We should develop a bit more respect for the Catholic Church and her moral teachings, and return to Judeo-Christian values instead.

Next Time You See a Catholic Priest

Next time you see a Catholic priest, say to yourself-
“My children are over 20 times safer with him than they are with me and my spouse.  Maybe I should be grateful to him for devoting his life to preserving the Wisdom passed down to us from Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church.”

Instead of bigoted attacks on the least offenders, remind yourself that anywhere you leave your child– school, daycare, sports, scouts, Olympics — there is always potential for sexual abuse.  MORE potential than in the Catholic Church.

 

The Numbers- Abusers on the Loose

Instead of worrying about the 300 priests in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report (half of whom are dead), worry about the 21,219 registered sex offenders running around free in Pennsylvania today.

There are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the US today, and 747 registered sex offenders in my town of Madison, Wisconsin .

We cannot evaporate these people, we cannot keep them in jail for life, we cannot transport them to a fictional location like on Star Trek, and we have to deal with the existence of these people among us.

The Catholic Church is no different than the City of Madison, the State of Pennsylvania, or the United States.
Moreover, the Catholic Church does not operate any prisons, has no police force, Department of Justice, FBI, army, or any other mechanism to deal with offending priests other than reprimanding them or demoting them.

If we don’t attack the Mayor of Madison, the Governor of Pennsylvania, or the President of the United States for the 28% of our youth who are sexually abused, why is everyone so obsessed with going after the Catholic leadership?
The Church MUST be open and transparent, must prevent future abuse.
But the rest of society has to do the same, because this is a problem that requires action.

 

Most Important of All

Whatever you do, PRAY, and do NOT teach  your child to be “Happy, Healthy and Hot”nor allow the schools to do it.

In the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, join us in fasting and prayer called for by Bishop Morlino:

Masses of reparation are being held throughout the Diocese on September 14, the Feast of the Holy Cross. Bishop Morlino has also invited people to observe the Autumn Ember Days (September 19, 21, 22) “as days of fasting and abstinence in reparation for the sins and outrages committed by members of the clergy and episcopacy.

CLICK HERE for Madison’s Catholic Herald Report on the Mass of Reparation for Sexual Sins

 

 

 

 

Madison’s Bishop Morlino Celebrates 15 Years!

Congratulations, Love and Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! to Bishop Morlino–

–who was installed as Bishop of Madison 15 years ago today, on August 1, 2003.

Madison Catholics are overwhelmed with the blessings this Bishop has brought to our Diocese, and we return with gratitude the love this Bishop so obviously has shown for all of us.

The Madison Catholic Herald has done a wonderful job of summarizing Bishop Morlino’s contributions to our Diocese at:

Bishop Morlino has continued to                                     “badger them lovingly with the truth.”

Bishop Morlino has loved us, taught us, and led us now for 15 years.
He probably has no idea how much he has done for all of us, both as a Diocese, and as individual Catholics, parents, and children!
He has the perfect touch, balancing truth with love while he teaches and shepherds.

May God bless Bishop Morlino very richly both now and forever!
Pray for Bishop daily, as he continues shepherding our Diocese – Rosary for the Bishop.org

 

Some articles this blogger has written in gratitude and support of Bishop Morlino over the years:

Liberal Madison has gone WAY too far…….. – August 1, 2010

Freeedom From Religion… – January 12, 2011

Madison’s Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally – March 23, 2011

Holy Wisdom Monastery – February 28, 2012

“President” Cyrus; No Leader In the World is Powerful Enough to Thwart God’s Purposes or Bishop Morlino: Difficult Week? Rejoice! – March 19, 2012

Bishop Morlino’s Homily- Laetare Sunday 2012 – March 19, 2012

Madison’s Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally – March 24, 2012

Wisconsin State Journal Inflames Parish Conflict with Imbalanced Reporting – April 30, 2012

Gay Marriage and Homosexuality – May 11, 2012

What Happens When You Take Character Out of Politics or The National Disease or Understanding the Role of Religion in Government – June 19, 2012

Americans Pray for Freedom Across the Nation or Fortnight For Freedom or Come and Join Us! – June 20, 2012

Madison, Wisconsin’s Fortnight for Freedom Begins – June 22, 2012

What’s in a Mandate? – June 23, 2012

Auspicious! Awesome. Amazing. ObamaCare Has Been Approved By the Supreme Court. or What, Are You Crazy, Syte? – June 28, 2012

What Do a Madison LGBT Leader and a Madison Cathlolic Blogger Have in Common? or My Conversatiion With the Blue Bird – July 1, 2012

Music and the Mass or Good to Be Back from Vacation! – August 2, 2012

Heckling the Rosary or Renaming the Wisconsin State Journal – September 20, 2012

Catholic Belief Now Defined by Media and Sociologists? – October 28, 2012

Bishops Who Deserve the Purple Heart – November 2, 2012

Madison’s Citizen Dave: Failed Mayor, Now Fails Catholicism – December 13, 2012

Madison’s Media Continues to Diss the Catholic Church- Just in Time for Christmas – December 15, 2012

Instilling Virtue in Future World Leaders… – March 16, 2013

Today’s Catholic Nuns: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly – March 27, 3013

Global Adoration- Say What? – June 7, 2013

Enjoying the Progress? Join the Prayer – June 18, 2013

Wisconsin State Journal Reports on Bishop Morlino’s Ten Year Anniversary in Madison – July 25, 2013

Grading Wisconsin State Journal Report on Bishop Morlino’s 10 Year Anniversary in Madison – July 30, 2013

Wisconsin State Journal Flunks Journalism Again! or What’s Wrong With Gay Marriage? – August 8, 2013

Pope Francis Takes On Obama – September 6, 2013

Diocese of Madison Prohibits Field Trips to Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery – or – Progressive Guide to Attacking Catholics – September 7, 2013

Abortion and Homosexuality- So What Did the Pope Actually Say? or When Two Jesuits Talk – October 4, 2013

Doug Erickson and the Wisconsin State Journal Are Up to Their Old Tricks or Catholic Bashing in Wisconsin – February 6, 2014

The Holy Season of Lent: Time for Bashing Catholics in Madison, Wisconsin or The Wisconsin State Journal Defiles Itself Again – March 22, 2014

Should a Young Man Go for the Priesthood? – April 11, 2014

Praying the Rosary- As Pertinent Today As Ever – May 13, 2014

Gay Marriage: Activist Judge Logic Versus Monsignor Logic – July 17, 2014

Setting The Record Straight – August 27, 2014

rogresive Media Pontificates on Right to Free Speech While Trampling It – November 26, 2014

Platteville Journal Editor Dismayed at Being Lumped with Liberal Media – December 2, 2014

Madison’s Brilliant Bishop – June 6, 2018

 

Madison’s Brilliant Bishop

 

So why am I bragging about Madison’s Brilliant Bishop?

To curry favor with the head of the Diocese?
To become popular in Madison, Wisconsin?
To encourage DoS attacks on my website?

No.

I do love our Bishop Robert C. Morlino (a sentiment widespread among Madison’s Catholics).
And he has done many things during the last 2 decades that so many of us admire.
I have been listening to his homilies now for years.

But he has now encapsulated Catholic teaching in one very spectacular address to young people which brilliantly summarizes the challenges we face in our modern culture, and suggests how we should face them.

In his address to the graduating students of Thomas Aquinas College,  he identifies what is so wrong with our culture, explains why Truth is so important, and demonstrates how Catholic teaching equips us with all the answers we need in confronting today’s cultural challenges.

Anyone who treasures Judeo-Christian values, anyone who is puzzled by them, and anyone who struggles to explain these values to their young people will love what the Bishop has to say.

You are in for a treat if you read his Commencement address:

Link to Bishop Morlino’s address at the Madison Catholic Herald

Full text of Bishop Morlino’s Commencement Address:

Commencement Address

Thomas Aquinas College 2018
Bishop Robert C. Morlino

May 12, 2018

A pre-note: My first trip here, I had the opportunity to audit three classes. They were all wonderful. I’ve had 17 years of formal education but in a very brief time, the space of one class, one of the tutors here made the strongest first impression on me than any other teacher that I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some great ones. And of course, I’m talking about dear Molly Gustin. In college I majored in philosophy and English and minored in math. If I had known her, I would have majored in math. I have never seen anything like it. And we hit it off immediately. I even asked her if I could call her “granny.” And she acceded but she had a look on her face as though, “You want to run around the block? I think I know who will win.” But the depth of integrity of dear Mrs. Gustin and the breadth of knowledge, especially about music and mathematics, able to be shared in the space of one class that I audited…I’ll never forget it and clearly I’ve never forgotten her. And I mention her especially because I gather in these days we remember the seventh anniversary of her passing to the Lord. And I did offer Mass for her yesterday. And so I hope as we gather today that she feels all of our love and prayers.

Dear Dr. McLean, Mrs. McLean, dear tutors, staff, students, families, and friends. It is truly an honor to be here with you today. And to you, my dear graduates, congratulations! What a beautiful occasion this is, as we think about how the beauty of God is reflected in the apostolate of TAC and as we think of how the beauty of God is reflected in each one of your lives. And on top of all of that, we find ourselves in a beautiful setting today, where, in this moment, it does not rain.

  1. On Truth

Most college campuses these days are places of chaos and political correctness and those two feed each other. But look at us here! Instead of chaos, there is order. And instead of political correctness, there is truth and charity.

The prologue of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa contra gentiles is a commentary on Proverbs 8:7, as you know well: “My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate wickedness.” This text speaks of truth and charity, for hatred of wickedness belongs to charity. Now we live in the world of “nice” and sometimes in the Church of “nice.” And yet, we all have within ourselves a certain aggressive energy that spells itself out sometimes in hatred. St. Thomas has the key to channeling that hatred: Hate wickedness and make no bones about it. Because that aggressive energy that we all have is best employed hating wickedness. And I know you know I mean hating wickedness, not the wicked person. There’s too little show of hatred for wickedness in our world. As a matter of fact, as I’ve said previously, your peers in this generation and so many others, are running toward hell with much more enthusiasm and strength than so many mediocre people are running toward heaven. And that’s the problem.

And Aquinas begins his commentary, in the very first lines of the Summa contra gentiles, by quoting the sayings of the Philosopher (Aristotle), “It belongs to the wise man to order things.” And Wisdom orders all things in truth and charity. A college campus disordered by political correctness is a place of chaos. A college campus rightly ordered by truth and charity is a place where wisdom can be sought and cultivated.

I really hope you will always look back on your time here with the deepest gratitude. It is a rare gift to live as you have done in such a rich spiritual and intellectual culture – a truly Catholic culture. Of course, the wider culture in which we live is not a Catholic culture. (And I suspect that you’ve noticed that.)

In your studies here, you have learned how to think; how to reason; how to express your thoughts clearly. You’ve striven for that Eloquentia Perfecta, which St. Ignatius Loyola considered such a high ideal, with zeal for the truth and charity for your opponent. You have prayed with St. Thomas, that God would grant you “a keen understanding, a retentive memory, method and ease in learning, insight in interpretation, and eloquence in speech” (from the Oratio ante studium). Especially as I listen to the various talks given and the enjoyable informal conversations, I trust that God has granted that prayer for each one of you.

These are rare gifts in our time. We live in the age of the eclipse of reason. Quid est veritas? “What is Truth?” (Jn 18:38). That was Pontius Pilate’s question. Ego sum veritas. “I am the truth” (Jn 14:6). That is the answer. Jesus Christ is the Word, the Logos, made flesh, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). He is wisdom incarnate (1 Cor 1:24). He is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who belongs to the truth hears my voice” (Jn 18:37).

What is truth? To quote Thomas Aquinas again, truth lies in the conformity between the mind and reality. If I say to you, “It’s raining outside,” (how great that it isn’t!) how do you know whether what I said is true? You look out the window and you see whether what I said agrees with what is in fact the case. Aristotle defined truth in a marvelously clear way, using words of only one syllable each: “Truth is to say of what is, that it is, and to say of what is not, that it is not” (Metaphysics, ch. 7). That’s what truth is. And believe it or not that offends people. How does our culture describe truth? Truth is the opposite of whatever President Trump says or does. It’s the politicization of the truth. And goodness and beauty have also been politicized. Just about the most offensive thing you can say now is that men are men and women are women. Who would ever think that that’s controversial? If you’re a man, then be a man. Be a great man. If you’re a woman, then be a woman. Be a great woman. That’s speaking truth. And that’s what our world does not want to hear. And so now we don’t know what marriage is and we’re not even sure what it means to be a male or a female. People are even trying to come up with proper names to give gender-neutral children. The one I read was SIGH. Not C-Y, but S-I-G-H. So I guess we’re supposed to say, “Come on over here little [*sigh*].

So a part of your mission is to make the voice of reason heard in our culture. You have been equipped with an outstanding education. And that is a gift you have received and that you must also share with others. You must shine the light of reason on the darkness of our world, and that often means you have to be politically incorrect.

  1. On Humanae vitae

And so now let’s be politically incorrect, like St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of political incorrectness: let’s celebrate the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae; something we should do at such a wonderful institution.

  1. a) What does Humanae vitae tell us? Of course we know that it absolutely condemns artificial methods of birth control: abortion, sterilization, and contraception. But why? Because there is an inseparable link between the procreative and unitive dimensions of human sexuality. That sacred space of sexual union between husband and wife was created by God for His own purpose. And the main purpose of that sexual union is the generation of new life. That’s at the heart of God’s plan for human sexuality: The generation of new life. It’s hardly surprising that almighty God should be interested in those activities through which He brings new life into the world. How would He not be interested in that? People say that the Church should stay out of the bedroom. No. Our culture shouldn’t be focused on the lowest instinctual aspect of the bedroom. God’s plan is to bring to life the highest possibility of sexual union.

And this is not just about biological re-production. It’s about pro-creation, which is a cooperation with God’s own act of creation, where He creates a new human being, a unique and unrepeatable human person with an immortal soul and an eternal destiny. Contraception excludes this procreative dimension of sexual union and by doing that, it exiles God from the very space which He designed for Himself to be the place where He would create new human life, new human beings called to loving union with Him. That’s why contraception is a sin. It debases something beautiful, like graffiti on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

When God drew up His original plan for marriage, He painted himself into the picture (like Raphael painted himself into his painting of the School of Athens). The sexual union between husband and wife is the sacred space where God Himself dwells, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There doesn’t exist a more beautiful picture of marriage than that. It was painted by God Himself.

But what has our culture done with that picture of marriage? Well, as Leon Kass tells us in his work, Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times, our culture sees sexual union as having two side effects. One side effect is children. And the other side effect is disease. And those can both be avoided. Well, if those are side effects, what does our culture say that sexual union is all about? Of course it’s about pleasure. And of course if sexual union is about pleasure, then there can be no lasting marriage. Because what is there, in that goal of pleasure, that’s worth pledging one’s life for? As a matter of fact, most people find out that if one pledges one’s life for pleasure with a single other person, then one is denying oneself all sorts of other options. Our culture has made it all about pleasure, and so there is no marriage. And so it doesn’t matter what it means to be a male or what it means to be a female.

That is a debased picture of the beauty of God’s plan, where the Holy Trinity inhabits the sacred space of sexual union and there sometimes chooses to bring forth new life.

  1. b) Now what else can we say about God’s plan for marriage, God’s plan for sexual union? We can say that in God’s plan sexual union is all about the next generation: providing and caring for the next generation in light of death. It’s not just about pleasure. It’s about providing and caring for the next generation in light of the fact that we will die. Parents know they can’t live forever, but they can hand on a living legacy in this world. We have an innate longing for immortality. And that longing is ultimately satisfied only through eternal life with God in heaven. But there is also a natural desire to leave something of ourselves in this world in which we can’t remain forever. And that kind of love which the Greeks called eros contains in it something of this striving for immortality, this striving to transcend our limitations.

So sexual union is about future generations, according to God’s plan, and it’s also about the reality of death. Those are godly concerns. But our culture is more concerned with pleasure.

In God’s plan for marriage, where the Trinity is there in that sacred space between husband and wife, where future generations are cared about and provided for in light of death, sexual union is about the good of children. And what is for the good of children? To be born from the loving union of a father and mother who are committed to remaining together for life in service of their family. That’s beautiful. And that beauty attracts as it is proclaimed clearly, faithfully, and forcefully. And you have to do that. You have to proclaim the truth about marriage clearly, faithfully, and forcefully.

Many of you will probably get married. It will be part of your mission to proclaim the truth and the beauty of marriage through your living witness as husbands and wives. That’s a beautiful thing. It will be your mission to lay down your lives for each other and for your children. That’s what marriage is about. It’s about sacrifice.

I might suggest to you young men thinking about getting married, that, when you propose, don’t say: “Will you marry me?” Say this instead: “Will you allow me to be the one who lays down his life for you?” That’s what you should ask her, because that’s what marriage is all about. It’s about children and it’s about sacrifice.

Now some of you will probably not get married. Some of you will answer God’s call to give up marriage – and that is also a sacrifice. Some of you will give up marriage in order to devote yourselves to God as consecrated religious or as priests. As Jesus said to the rich young man in the Gospel: “If you would be perfect, go, give away everything, and come, follow me” (Matt 19:21). And that includes giving up marriage. That is probably the greatest sacrifice that a human being can make upfront. And it wouldn’t be a sacrifice if marriage were not something truly good and truly beautiful.

  1. c) What else can we say about Humanae vitae? Marriage is rooted in human nature. And the moral law is rooted in human nature. So we need to recover an understanding of human nature, of what it means to be human and of what it means to be male and female. And this begins with the rediscovery of final causes, of purpose, in nature. The moderns have forgotten that things have purposes and that meaning lies in the fulfillment of purposes. And so moderns are unable to see the objective grounds of natural law morality.

But it should be obvious that the primary purpose of eating, for example, is to nourish and sustain one’s health; that’s what eating is for. That’s an objective fact. And that’s why it is good for us to eat healthy food – because it fulfills the purpose of eating. And that’s why gluttony is wrong – because it frustrates the purpose of eating. (When I speak in this vein my credibility is not at its peak. Live with it. I believe St. Thomas Aquinas had a similar problem.) Or you can think about speech: the primary purpose of speech is communication; that’s what speech is for; and that’s why speaking truth is good and why lying is wrong – because it frustrates the purpose of speaking. This is the basis of natural law reasoning about sexual morality. The primary purpose of sexual union is the procreation of children; that’s what it’s for; and that’s why contraception is wrong – because it frustrates the purpose of sexual union.

But all of this sounds like a foreign language if you are talking to people who have lost sight of the basic fact that there is such a thing as human nature and that natures are ordered toward the fulfillment of certain ends or goals. If you want to have a fruitful conversation, if you want to get somewhere and not just argue endlessly, you have to find some common ground to start with. But the sphere of the common moral ground we share in our culture keeps getting smaller. So we have to be able to go all the way down to first principles. We have to be able to build arguments, step by step, from very basic self-evident truths all the way to their remote and often complex conclusions. And that requires patience.

III. On Natural Law, Democracy, and Civilization

We have to recover an understanding of human nature – of what it means to be human and of what it means to be male and female – if we do not want to see our culture become more and more dehumanized. And that has already been going on for a long time. The end of natural law means the end of democracy and ultimately the end of civilization. You can’t have a civilized society, and you certainly can’t have a just democracy, without a basic respect for human beings and for their intrinsic value and dignity. Respect for the dignity of the individual human being is grounded in natural law.

Everyone today loves to speak about “human rights”. They think they have the right to whatever they feel they need, but we can only speak intelligibly about ‘human rights’ as human rights if we have a common understanding of human nature. Without human nature, there can be no human rights, and without human rights – that is, rights objectively grounded in human nature, in natural law – the only “rights” that remain are those dictated by power. As our culture rejects reason and truth, especially truth about the natural law, it moves toward a dictatorship. That’s where we’re heading, because if right can’t be determined by reason, and the truth of human nature and natural law, then it will be determined by power. And so the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled in our time: “Truth has fallen in the public squares, and righteousness cannot enter” (Isa 59:14).

 

  1. Courage

Which brings me to my last point, which is this: To preach the truth requires courage. To preach the saving truth of Jesus Christ has always required courage. But even to speak basic truths of human reason, or human nature, or human sanity – even that requires courage. People today have been taught to be offended. People live to be offended. That’s why they need a “safe space” and a “cry closet”. And what they mean by that seems to be a space where they can be safe from hearing the voice of reason and truth. If you speak the truth, you might not be safe. Those who speak truth to a culture where everyone is looking to be offended will be persecuted. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10). The world has hated Christ, because he gave testimony that its works are evil (Jn 7:7). The world will also hate you if you speak out against its evil works, if you hate wickedness. But “if the world hates you, know that it hated me before you” (Jn 15:18). “In the world you will have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

So if you’re going to shine the light of reason in a dark world you are going to need courage. To quote St. Thomas again, “Courage denotes a certain firmness of mind in bearing and withstanding those things wherein it is most difficult to be firm.” In other words, courage makes you discouragement-proof. One of the devil’s principal weapons, especially against young women and men is discouragement. You can be discouragement-proof. This is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which has already been given to you in Baptism and Confirmation to make you courageous in witnessing to the truth – the truth of Jesus Christ, which is known by faith; and the truth of the human person and of human nature, which can also be known by reason.

Now, many Catholics forget that they were confirmed and then they’re hit by a barrage of human problems and they feel that they’re about to be overwhelmed. When you were confirmed God the Holy Spirit promised you that you would have every grace you need to survive and overcome any problem. If you forget your Confirmation, you forget that. Problems come, “Oh what am I to do?” Demand that the Holy Spirit fulfill the promise that He made to you at Confirmation! That’s what you do.

Courage is a gift infused by God. And it is also acquired and perfected through practice. If you want to be courageous in speaking the truth, you have to practice doing it precisely in those situations when it is difficult. Don’t be like Peter during the passion, sitting quietly with your head down hoping that no one will notice you. You are called to be like Peter on the day of Pentecost, speaking the truth boldly without waiting to be asked.

You have been sacramentally equipped by your baptism and confirmation and intellectually equipped by your education to be witnesses to the truth of Jesus Christ. That means you must witness to the truth as Christ taught it. And that means at times you offend lots of people. So it’s very hard to be a witness to Jesus Christ. It’s easier to just go with the flow. “Go along to get along.” Lukewarmness must be cast out! There is no place left in the Church for wimps. All those places are filled. It takes courage to speak the truth of Christ. Do not be afraid!

Let me close with the words of the Saint-Ignatius-Loyola-inspired “Fundador Hymn”, which so well describes our present situation and gives me so much inspiration:

Hell’s black legions are teeming, their harsh cry is heard, over the heath see them marching, their swords flashing bared. Soldiers of Christ forward to the fray!

Sure your heart is no stranger to fear ‘neath the gloom. Calvary’s light thru the night brightens your brow like the noon. Now sounds the war trumpet and fearless the holy host fights without respite, though swords clash on swords yet their banner waves high! Faithful omen of the laurel crown and of peace.

Christ has overcome the world. And he alone is the only hope who never disappoints!

God bless you all. Praised be Jesus Christ!

 

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