Syte Reitz

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

Browsing Posts tagged Bishop Morlino

Wisconsin State Journal Flunks Journalism Again!
or
What’s Wrong With Gay Marriage?

Two days after getting some praise for their balanced article on Bishop Morlino, the Wisconsin State Journal was back to its old games, misrepresenting the Bishop yet again.
They managed to shoot themselves in the foot quite handsomely this time.

Here’s a cartoon they published, quoting both Pope Francis and Bishop Morlino out of context, in an attempt to make it seem that Bishop Morlino is in disagreement with the Pope:

51faaa1547249.preview-620

How Does This Cartoon Shoot WSJ in the Foot?

How does WSJ shoot itself in the foot with this cartoon?Slide1
Let me count the ways:

  1. It’s unprofessional to nest your references so deep that the original source being quoted can hardly be found.
  2. It’s unprofessional to compare apples and oranges.
  3. It’s unprofessional to quote your sources out of context.
  4. It’s unprofessional to ignore the Bigger Story
  5. It’s unprofessional to contradict yourself.
  6. It’s unprofessional for a journalist to spin the news.  (And it’s triply embarrassing when you spin it badly and get caught.)

This unprofessional behavior would be more suited to the grapevine whispering game, in which messages become unrecognizably altered as they are whispered from person to person in a chain, than to a professional journalist.

 

  •  It’s unprofessional to nest your references so deep that nobody can find the original source being quoted.

So, in his efforts to malign and misrepresent Bishop Morlino, Phil Hands had to dig far and deep, and ended up quoting out of context from a homily given by Bishop Morlino in 2006.
In fact, Phil Hands quoted Doug Erickson’s artilce, who quoted a 2006 Bill Wineke article, who quoted Bishop Morlino’s homily from the 2006 Madison Catholic Herald, out of context.

  • It’s unprofessional to compare apples and oranges.

apple-vs-orangePhil Hands was comparing Pope Francis’ comments about a Catholic homosexual who is following Church teaching on chastity, with Bishop Morlino’s comments on the the legal repercussions of governmental redefinition of marriage.  Those repercussions have already violated the religious freedom rights of Catholics and have already closed Catholic adoption agencies.  More on the legal details in the Appendix below.  But suffice it to say that comparing discussion of chaste Catholic homosexuals with discussion of the legal implications of redefining marriage is not a very professional move on the part of Phil Hands.

  • It’s unprofessional to quote your sources out of context.

Pope Francis’ statement in context:

In these situations, it’s important to distinguish between a gay person and a gay lobby, because having a lobby is never good. If a gay person is a person of good will who seeks God, who am I to judge? The Catechism of the Church explains this very beautifully. It outlines that gays should not be marginalized. The problem is not having this [homosexual] orientation. No, we must be brothers and sisters. The problem is lobbying for this orientation, or lobbies of greed, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for this question. Thank you very much!

Slide1Bishop Morlino’s statment in context:

I’m spending time on this today because we’ve got a battle. We’ve got a battle at the federal level in June and we’ve got a battle at the state level in November. And I’m serious about it, I can’t imagine what happens if marriage goes down the tubes. If marriage goes down the tubes, life will become one big custody suit. And who will decide who raises children and how they get raised? The State, more and more and more. Marriage goes down the tubes, the State will be deciding who gets custody and how the kids get taught. And when the State does that, rather than the natural parents, that’s the end of democracy.

In context, both Pope Francis’ comments and Bishop Morlino’s comments mean something quite different than what Phil Hands tried to imply in his cartoon.

  • It’s unprofessional to ignore the Bigger Story

800px-Madison,_WI,_Masonic_Temple

Madison, WI Masonic Temple

Anybody who reads the Pope’s comment above will notice that the Pope made some pretty newsworthy statements.
The Pope’s claim that his most serious problems come from lobbies of greed, political lobbies and Masonic lobbies should raise a few eyebrows.
Apparently Cybercast News Service (CNS) found the Pope’s Freemasonry comment worth reporting. And exploring the reasons for such a comment.
Madison, with it’s giant Masonic Temple one block from the Wisconsin State Capitol building, might be more interested in hearing why Freemasonry might pose a threat to Pope Francis, than hearing old 2006 quotes from Bishop Morlino being compared out of context with the Popes’ comments.
Misquoting Bishop Morlino’s 2006 homily is not news.

 

  • It’s unprofessional to contradict yourself

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingSloppy reporting has a way of coming back to bite the journalist.
Ironically, the very homily that Phil Hands was  misquoting from, that Bill Wineke misquoted from and Doug ERickson misreported on, that very homily is one in which Bishop Morlino actually does the opposite of what WSJ claims.  In that homily, Bishop Morlino spends two paragraphs emphacising how Catholics must treat the gays with whom we disagree with love and respect, and undescores how Catholics must avoid association with gay-bashing in any shape or form.

  • It’s unprofessional for a journalist to spin the news.  (And it’s triply embarrassing when you do it badly and get caught.)

So there we have it.
Phil Hands’ best effort to spin the comments of Pope Francis and Bishop Morliino, a painful stretch, involving  a 100% reversal of what Bishop Morlino actually said in the homily from which Phil Hands is quoting.
Meager attempt to malign Madison’s Bishop Morlino, and to make him look heartless.

Spin.
Bad spin.
Caught, and (hopefully) embarrassed.
Although with progressives these days, you never know.  Some of them are very proud of their Alinsky (crooked) tactics.

 Slide1

Grading the Wisconsin State Journal on this one:  F-

In fact, WSJ’s journalism license should  be suspended for this one.

 

Appendix– Why Bishop Morlino is Right in His End of Democracy Comment
or
The Legal Repercussions of Government Redefining Marriage

 

What Changing the Definition of Marriage Does

For millennia, marriage has been defined by religion, and government has rarely tried to challenge that definition.
The biggest challenge to date by government was by Henry VIII, who introduced divorce, and how has that worked for our society?
Women and children are no longer guaranteed stability, most women must work, and most children are virtually raised by the State (by the Obama Administration).

The redefinition of marriage  by government to include marriages between persons of the same sex would have, in addition to numerous moral repercussions (on which people disagree), a large number of legal repercussions, which have nothing to do with opinion, but stem from law and from fact, and are inevitable.

Legal Details for Lawyers

For the lawyers among us who want this from the legal “horse’s mouth,” (unlike the WSJ, we make the original sources available), the legal impact of the redefinition of marriage is described at:

 

Layman’s Summary

For the rest of us, I will attempt a layman’s summary of the logic involved:

Legal Definition of Marriage Alters Impacts Many Areas of the Law

The legal definition of marriage does not exist in isolation; changing it alters many areas of the law.
The definition of marriage plays an important role in the laws of :

  • adoption
  • Education
  • Employee benefits
  • Employment discrimination
  • Government contracts and subsidies
  • Taxation
  • Tort law
  • Trusts and estates.

These laws, in turn, impact the ongoing daily operations of religious organizations of all kinds, including:Slide1

  • Parishes
  • Schools
  • Temples
  • Hospitals
  • Orphanages
  • Retreat centers
  • Soup kitchens
  • Universities

Complex Intertwining of State, Federal, and Religious Definitions of Marriage

Current law, particularly law on child custody, provides little room for non-uniform definitions of marriage within a state and across states.

As a result, changes in marriage law impact religious institutions disproportionately because their role is so deeply intertwined with the institution of marriage.
Religious institutions have been regulating marriage since time immemorial, and law has adopted and accommodated religious conventions.

As a result, if the legal definition of marriage is changed to differ dramatically from the religious definition of marriage, all the religious institutions mentioned above will be negatively impacted.

Can Government Compel Religious Institutions to Act Against Their Conscience-  Accomplished

Changing the legal definition of marriage will likely  result in government compulsion of religious institutions to accommodate same-sex couples, something contrary to their beliefs, and public benefits will likely be withdrawn from religious institutions which provide preferential treatment to traditionally married couples.

Already, failure to participate in the HHS “Contraceptive” Mandate, which requires religious employers to provide contraception and abortifacients to employees against the employer’s conscience, is likely to subject all religious individuals to legal penalties for failure to provide HHS Mandated services.

Threats to religious liberty can come both directly and indirectly.  They include court ordered injunctions or fines in retaliation for following one’s religious beliefs, particularly for violating anti-discrimination laws in employment, housing,public accommodations, as well as labeling the statement of religious beliefs as hate speech.

How Christians Become Excluded From Many Professions – Accomplished

It quickly becomes clear how a Christian can no longer become an employer or a pharmacist because they will not dispense abortifacient pills, how a Christian cannot become a doctor because they will not offer abortion services, a Christian cannot rent out half of their duplex because they don’t want the gay lifestyle in close proximity to their family home, a Christian cannot become a public school teacher because they are required to teach acceptance of the gay lifestyle, and so on.

Financial Crippling of Christian Institutions – Accomplished

And the lawsuits, injunctions, penalties and legal bills required to fight these battles are likely to cripple Christians financially, and are likely to bankrupt religious service institutions.  The Catholic Church has already been forced to abandon adoption and foster services in Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Illinois as a result of their policy to make sure children are placed with a mom and a dad who are married.

When You Force Christians Out of Service in an 80% Christian Country, Who Takes Over Providing Services?

When service institutions have traditionally been operated by volunteer religious institutions, and now religious institutions are forced out of these ministries, there is only one option– for government to take over providing these services.
The history of government performance, in the absence of financial pressure and accountability, in providing essential services has had a very bad track record, both in the United States and abroad.  The U.S. Postal Service, Medicare, and UK Medicine are all examples of services that fail abysmally when operated by government.
The control of everything by government is the definition of totalitarianism.Slide1

Totalitariansim: Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.

Bottom Line

  • Religious people (90% of US) can be forced against their conscience
  • Christian (80%) excluded form many professsions
  • Financial crippling of Christian Intitutions
  • Totalitarian control of everything by government

= End of Democracy

And the good Bishop was right.
Wisconsin State Journal, grow up and do your homework!

 

 

Addendum: WSJ Editor Responds to Our Criticism:  Stands His Ground

(For anybody interested in contacting this editor about the Bishop Morlino Cartoon he published:  JSmalley@madison.com)

From: Syte Reitz
Sent: Thursday, August 08, 2013 1:53 PM
To: John Smalley
Subject: Defamatory Cartoon in WSJDear Editor Smalley-Phil Hands’ cartoon published in the WSJ August 1st was a gross misrepresentation of Bishop Morlino.
There was no option provided for discussion or comments, so my comments can be found in a blog article which outlines the reasons why publication of that cartoon was such a poor choice on  your part.

Many Catholics had become hopeful of getting fair treatment in the WSJ following your publication of Doug Erickson’s article on Bishop Morlino’s 10 year anniversary in Madison.
As a Catholic blogger who was first motivated to blog by seeing media misrepresentation of Catholicism, I’m very sorry to see you returning to WSJ misrepresentation of Catholics so soon.

Please share my comments with the cartoonist, Phil Hands.

Syte Reitz
SyteReitz.com

syte

Syte Reitz
Madison Catholic Blogger

From: John Smalley
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2013 14:45:30 -0500
To: Syte Reitz
Subject: RE: Defamatory Cartoon in WSJSyte,

Thanks for your note, and your comments on the recent cartoon by Phil Hands.

We will have to agree to disagree on this topic, in that I don’t think we’ve misrepresented Catholics in the past, or that we’re doing so now. I’m sure you understand that editorial cartoons are meant by their nature to exaggerate to the extreme. We publish many cartoons on the page that I would personally disagree with, but we think it’s important to represent a full spectrum of thoughts and opinions on the page. In fact, we always give preference to letter writers who disagree with our editorials.

It sounds like you thought Doug’s anniversary story on the Bishop was a worthy effort. I certainly felt that way.

Thanks again for your feedback.

Best wishes,

John Smalley
Editor
Wisconsin State Journal

John Smalley

John Smalley
WSJ Editor

From: Syte Reitz
Date: Sat, 10 Aug 2013 13:54:57 -0500
To: John Smalley
Cc: Reitz Rolf
Subject: Re: Defamatory Cartoon in WSJ

John-

You gave me no substance in your response.
If you “agree to disagree” without supporting your position, you come across as a low-information thinker, something I hope the editor of Wisconsin’s second largest newspaper is not.

You are in a unique position to moderate a serious and important cultural debate, and you should not be pandering to pressure from Madison’s progressives.
A newspaper professional should not show bias.
Your newspaper would benefit by hosting lively cultural debates, and your newspaper only suffers when you diss the leaders of Madison’s and Wisconsin’s leading religion without substance.

Honestly, that was a blatant misrepresentation of Bishop Morlino that you published, and you should retract or apologize for it.
You could also consider publishing arguments from the blog critique of the cartoon, which illustrate why the cartoon was such a bad misrepresentation.

The Wisconsin State Journal purports to serve the entire population of Wisconsin, and Madison claims to champion tolerance, so who better to show some respect for Catholicism and it’s leaders than the State Journal?

God bless,
Syte

syte

Syte Reitz
Madison Catholic Blogger

From: Romulus
Date: Friday, August 09, 2013 9:57 AM
To: John Smalley
Subject: Bishop Morlino Cartoon

Dear Mr. Smalley:   The Phil Hands smear of Bishop Morlino is in no sense an exaggeration.  It is a lie.  If you lack the sense or else the integrity to grasp this distinction, you belong in a different line of work.  Since your heart seems to be in the field of dishonest advocacy, public relations for a really sleazy organization might suit your talents.

Or you could man up and apologize.  Your call.

Romulus

Romulus

Romulus

 

 

 

 

 

Grading Wisconsin State Journal Report on Bishop Morlino’s 10 Year Anniversary in Madison

So, the Wisconsin State Journal reported on Bishop Morlino’s 10 Year Anniversary in Madison.
Was the report balanced?

Slide1

Short answer: Yes, it was balanced.  Doug Erickson, who has been criticized frequently by numerous Madison Catholics including this blogger for previous imbalanced reporting, gets an “A” on this one.

Longer answer: On the negative side, Doug spent much effort documenting controversies faced by Bishop Morlino during the last 10 years in the article, while spending much less effort documenting the Bishop’s accomplishments, supporters, and successes. But his excellent documentation of the Bishop’s phenomenal record in the area of attracting and ordaining young men to the priesthood (16 men ordained and 34 seminarians at present), and his accurate portrayal of the Bishop as the very nice person that he is, made up for the deficiency in cataloging the Bishop’s other accomplishments and support.

Live ChatChat

Here is a portion of the “live chat” that took place online with Doug Erickson on Monday:

Doug-
Thank you for the effort you clearly invested in reporting on Bishop Morlino and for the many kind things you mentioned in the article.
I have a question stemming from the reputation the WSJ has had in these 10 years for very negative reporting on Bishop Morlino, a reputation which has inspired many faithful Madison Catholics to jump to the Bishop’s defense.
Is there a reason why you neglected to mention the Support Bishop Morlino efforts in the Diocese, including over 500 signatures of support for the Bishop in the WSJ (which grew to 1060 online after publication) when ~24 dissidents published an open letter opposing the Bishop, the approximately 800 members of a Google group in support of Bishop Morlino, which watches out for media misrepresentation of the Bishop, the 370 Members of the Rosary for the Bishop.com initiative who prayed about 40,000 rosaries for Bishop Morlino, and the growing number of Madison Catholic bloggers who regularly support the good Bishop and have a big following?
by Syte Reitz 12:13 PM
Hi Syte: Absent any legitimate surveys, it has always been difficult for me to get a grasp of the exact level of support or opposition to Bishop Morlino. I admittedly must rely on anecdotal information, and that appears pretty evenly split from where I sit. I agree with you that I could have gone into the information which you present, which is all legitimate. For this article, I was trying to free up space to break new ground in the reporting on Bishop Morlino, so I did not focus on those particular numbers.
by Doug Erickson 12:16 PM
Doug: I saw a lot of particular numbers in the article – especially the entirely separate, bullet-pointed list “reminding” people of all the controversies he’s come up against. Not only that, but the 50 priests you mentioned who oppose him officially.
by Wes 12:20 PM
Wes: Every article is a balancing act of new and old information. The 50 priests who formed the association had never before spoken publicy for attribution, so that was new information that I gave the higher priority to. But you make a good point. There are a lot of numbers out there, on both sides, and I certainly could have included the ones Syte mentioned.
by Doug Erickson 12:23 PM
From our perspective, Doug was extremely fair, while sharing the objective facts, figures, controversies and other points of view. A lot of people dislike Bishop Morlino. He knows that. Doug didn’t take an opinion on the bishop, rather he reported on him. That is much appreciated.
by Diocese of Madison 12:26 PM
@Doug: What has impressed you the most with His Excellencies “tenure”?
by Wes 12:28 PM
@Wes: I’m going to let that question slide, as I try not to give my opinions.
by Doug Erickson 12:30 PM
@Diocese: I would definitely agree, while that list of controversies piece seemed unnecessary.
by Wes 12:30 PM
@Doug: That’s a thin veil you wear then, sir
by Wes 12:33 PM
@Fortes: I’d add that my editor and I made a decision to let Bishop Morlino’s voice come through as often as possible in the story, so that readers could hear directly from him. That necessitated some hard choices, such as downplaying or eliminating other topics that rightly could have been included.
by Doug Erickson 12:36 PM
@Wes: We spent considerable time on the increase in seminarians. It’s an issue I’ve touched on only superficially in past articles, so I really felt it was time to give the bishop his due on that one. Plus, it consistently came up in interviews — people feel it will be a big part of his legacy. All told, I probably spent about two full hours over two sittings interviewing the bishop. I could have used another two, or four, or six.
by Doug Erickson 12:39 PM
@Beth: As with every priest daily mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are a big part of his more-“private” practices. He also has a strong devotion to Mary and many other saints. He spends part of every morning in his small chapel. Thanks Doug for chiming in too…
by Diocese of Madison 12:44 PM
I think you also did a good job of pointing out — through illustration and not commentary — that there is a real, live human being living within the bishop’s robes. Great job.
by Bill Wineke 12:48 PM
Poll: Do you generally support the way Bishop Morlino has led the diocese?
Yes (51%)
No (40%)
A mix of both (7%)
Not sure (1%)
by Teryl Franklin 12:50 PM
@Del: I can’t deny that some of our religion coverage is viewed as controversial and negative toward religion. That’s certainly not my intent. However, I agree with an argument first presented by Randy Cohen, the longtime ethicist for the New York Times: Merely calling something religious does not exempt it from ethical and societal scrutiny. My approach to covering religion is to do it respectfully but aggressively, just as I would approach police reporting or courts reporting or business reporting. To do otherwise would be to treat religion with kid gloves.
by Doug Erickson 12:54 PM
@Del: I don’t think there’s any concerted effort to change up our religion coverage (at least I haven’t been told there is). From my perspective, I just try to get better with every story, and I do that by expanding my source list, taking classes on religion, attending religious events in the community, etc.
by Doug Erickson 12:57 PM
Please feel free to email me directly at derickson@madison.com with any further questions and comments.
by Doug Erickson 12:59 PM
Peace and Love from the Diocese of Madison!
by Diocese of Madison 1:00 PM

 How Do We Know the Report Was Balanced?

How do we know?
Easy.
The radical “progressive contingent” in WSJ forum discussions went nuts with criticism. Thereangry atheist were even a few comments so rude that were deleted by WSJ; likely reported as abusive.

In Madison, we have a handful of angry atheists who often devote their spare time on Sunday to vicious and baseless attacks on the beliefs of others in WSJ discussion forums.
What a sad way to exist, defining oneself by one’s hatred of others!

The vicious comments following this article on Bishop Morlino’s anniversary illustrate the pressure some Madisonians try to exert on WSJ to ridicule religion and Catholicism.
We congratulate Doug Erickson on publishing a fair article which has obviously enraged these hate-mongers.

Why Should the WSJ Report on Catholics Fairly?

25% of Madisonians are Catholics; Catholicism is the largest religious denomination in Madison, in Wisconsin, and in the United States.
reality-marketing-no-spinFair reporting on these good Catholic people and their wonderful devoted leaders is overdue for the WSJ, one of Wisconsin’s biggest newspapers.  The militant angry fringe atheists, who only represent about 1 out of 1,000 atheists, and only 1 out of 30,000 Americans, must be ignored.  There is no room in a democratic republic for minority or bully rule.

Angry intolerant atheists repeating their mantra, insisting that religious people are ignorant, is getting pretty old.
80% of Americans are religious, and there is virtually no correlation between education and religious faith.
Although university liberals sometimes do manage to propagandize some young people into abandoning faith, most of those young people return to faith very quickly upon experiencing a bit more of life after college. If this were not so, we could not have 80% of Americans identifying themselves as Christian and praying regularly, as we have.

Thanks for reporting on reality, Doug Erickson and WSJ. Hope to see more of the same in the future!

Addendum: Well it took just two days after writing the reasonable article described above, for WSJ to post a calumnious cartoon misrepresenting Bishop Morlino.
See Wisconsin State Journal Flunks Journalism Again.

 

Did the Onion Start World War III?

or

Responsible Journalism

 

north-korea-missiles.

.

Supreme Leader Threatening Nuclear Strikes

As the world scrambles to deal with North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-Un’s threats to make pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the US mainland and its Pacific bases in Hawaii and Guam, nobody acknowledges what may have provoked Kim Jong Un’s rage and his threats.
Even Communist China is nervous and disapproves of his posturing.

According to Steve Forbes, the security umbrella provided by the US, which has prevented world wars from developing since the 1940’s, is degenerating. As respect for the U.S. decreases, the boldness of despots and terrorists increases.

What Could Have Sparked This?

What could have sparked North Korea’s Kim Jong Un’s recent rash of seemingly deranged rage and threats towards the United States?  Anybody keeping an eye on the news in November 2012, however, might have a suspicion.

Less than a year after his ascent to power, the youngest head of state in the world, just 29 or 30 years old, faced global humiliation and ridicule.  The young man who loves American Basketball, Michael Jordan, and collects expensive Nikes, was ridiculed over an Onion article.

Slide1The Onion, a news source specializing in parody, named Kim Jong-Un the “Sexiest Man Alive.” Clearly a joke, to those familiar with the Onion’s reputation for tongue- in-cheek humor.   However, China’s biggest newspaper fell for the hoax story, taking it to be complimentary, and reprinted that article in China.

The Chinese newspaper wrote: “With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.”

Global Ridicule

So the new despotic supreme leader of North Korea was subjected to global ridicule, with hardly a news source missing the opportunity to describe the double public humiliation-  the Onion’s ridicule of Kim Jon-Un’s appearance, as well as the gullibility of the Chinese press in taking the parody as a compliment.

Rational Response continue reading…

Making Sense of the Connecticut Shootings

As we all stuggle to comprehend and to cope with the shooting of all the innocents in Connecticut, including not only the innocent children, but also the innocent adults, the best perspective I have seen came from Madison’s Bishop Robert C. Morlino, in his homily on Gaudete Sunday, December 16, 2012.

.

Bishop Morlino’s Homily Audio (click here).

.

Text of Bishop Morlino’s Homily:

………………………………………………………..-transcript by Tom Reitz of Reitz Internet

Homily for Gaudete Sunday (12/16/2012)

-Bishop Robert C. Morlino

Bishop Robert C. Morlino
Madison, WI
Gaudete Sunday, 2012

It seems like forever ago that I saw the movie The Exorcist. And it was forever ago in the sense that it was in the late 70’s, early 80’s – before some of the great young people here were even born.

But there was one line and one scene that stuck with me. And it was not any of the overblown portrayals of the devil’s presence. They did go overboard in that movie in certain instances and attributed to the devil certain things that the devil should not do. Just to make it more sensational. But there was also a lot of wisdom in that movie, I have to say. The scene that I remember so clearly, was when the old man, the saintly old exorcist, Fr. Merrin, arrived at the house where the little girl was possessed by the devil. And the younger priest/psychologist was briefing Fr. Merrin on the situation of the possession. And after much conversation, much study, much reflection, much conversation with the child’s mother, he said to Fr. Merrin: “there are at least three spirits possessing this little girl.” Fr. Merrin hadn’t even laid eyes on this little girl yet, hadn’t talked to anybody, and he said with great serenity: “no, Fr. Damien, there is only one.” There is only one.

It is Gaudete Sunday. The Lord calls us to rejoice. And all morning I’ve been wondering what the priests in Newtown, Connecticut are going to say to the people about “rejoice.” They may even pass over it. But there is no question that on a unique Sunday when we are called to rejoice, a cloud has been cast over these United States. A cloud of tragedy, and sadness, and sorrow – in the extreme. In the extreme. And people are looking for all kinds of solutions or explanations. People are coming forward and asking policemen, they’re asking psychiatrists, they’re asking news commentators, the same question that was asked of St. John the Baptist in this morning’s Gospel: “What should we do?”

And there are all kinds of answers being offered. A lot of legislative solutions. “Let’s make some new laws about guns – that’ll stop it.” “Let’s turn the elementary school into a fortress with armed guards – that’ll stop it.” As if somebody could legislate Satan out of existence. What can we do? There’s only one explanation for this, and the explanation is Satan. And the only one who can expel Satan is Jesus Christ, and the power of Faith. It’s hurtful to see many people now who have pushed and pushed and pushed to expel God from the government schools, now stand around and say “well, how could God allow this?” Maybe if you hadn’t kicked Him out, it wouldn’t have happened.

As Fr. Merrin says, there’s only one – one explanation. Satan himself. Because our country more and more is being delivered over to Satan. It happens in so many ways. But in order to clear the way for Satan, we’ve got to get God out of the way. So out of the government schools, put the nativity scenes out of sight, call the Christmas Tree a holiday bush – do whatever you can. Let’s build a culture that forgets God. And people forget the first sin of all time (after the sin of Adam and Eve): once Adam and Eve pushed God aside and wanted to take his place, the next sin was Cain killing Able. Murder. The moment the human person turns against God, that human person turns against his fellow human beings. It can’t be any other way.

President Obama even said there’s a pattern of this violent killing behavior developing in our country in recent years. That’s true. But the explanation is not a lack of more legislation. It’s not a lack of more psychiatrists and psychologists in the school, to keep an eye on every child because evidently, because of this pattern, the parents fail in this regard. There’s no solution there. The solution is in allowing the true beauty of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in so many beautiful things and in so many
beautiful ways, to calm the spirit of the human being. Beauty: the beauty of the Father, of the Son, of the Spirit.

Why is this happening? Jesus tells us according to St. John that the Holy Spirit wants to convince the world of three things:
1.    The Holy Spirit wants to convince the world about sin, because they refuse to believe in Him.
2.    The Holy Spirit wants to convince the world about justice, because Jesus is returning to the
Father, and the Kingdom of Justice will then be restored.
3.    And the Holy Spirit wants to convince the world about judgment, because the Prince of This
World is condemned.

Who is up to the task of condemning the Prince of This World? Can that be done in legislation? Can we put three thousand psychiatrists on the Prince of This World? The Prince of This World is condemned by the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Prince of This World Tempts Jesus
The Temptation on the Mount
-Duccio di Buoninsegna (1260-1318)

And so, when the question is asked “What should we do?” The answer is “Turn back to God. Turn back to beauty. Turn back to truth. Turn back to what is good.” The problem underlying all of this is relativism. Everybody has his or her own beauty, his or her own goodness, his or her own truth. There is no real beauty, goodness, and truth. That in so many ways is the theme song of our own city here. And God help anybody who gets up and says “There is real beauty, goodness, and truth.” But that’s what we should do, because there’s only one explanation.

Bill Hemmer put it so beautifully at the end of the day on Friday when he said that “these beautiful children were waiting for Santa Claus. They were waiting for Santa’s visit. But instead the devil visited Newtown.” Makes me all the more convinced that his mother, who still thinks that he should be a priest, is right after all.

To say what the answer is, is not to take away the pain. Doesn’t affect that. God will use human love, human understanding, human generosity to heal over many years. Saying that it’s the devil doesn’t necessarily make those who are so deeply grieved feel better. I would never say that. But pointing to the devil as the one cause of this, Satan who is having his way with our World in so many ways, is the answer to the question “What should we do?” We should live out our baptism. We should renounce Satan, and all of his empty show, and all of his phony promises.

Our culture glories in Satan and his empty show, and his phony promises. John the Baptist’s theme during Advent is “repent”. That’s the solution, that’s where it starts. Not with more laws and regulations, not with three thousand new psychiatrists brooding over the public schools. It starts with repentance. And that’s why I’m afraid the solution might not start at all. Because along with God, that approach will be left in the dust, and everything else under heaven will be tried. As though we, by our legislation and our efforts, could cast out the Prince of This World. The Prince of This World is condemned by the Holy Spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we peel back all the layers of suffering, sorrow, and shock, for what has happened, as we peel that back, on Gaudete Sunday we can still rejoice. Because while so many have been deprived by our country and our culture of beauty, we have the beauty of the nativity scene.

Anbetung der Hirten (Adoration of the Shepherds)
Giorgione (1477-1510)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

We have the beauty of the shedding of Christ’s blood out of love. We have the beauty of the glorious resurrection and of Mary’s
glorious assumption into Heaven. We have all of that beauty, and that beauty causes us to celebrate here on Gaudete Sunday and to rejoice way down deep, behind all of those feelings we share with every other decent human being in the United States of America, we peel that back – underneath all of that there is still joy, because we have beauty in which to rejoice, beauty in which to celebrate the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

One concrete note, here at the end: the Holy Father said recently: “What are the symptoms of deep joy and beauty in a person?” What are the symptoms? And he said one of the main symptoms is a sense of humor. Because a deep and abiding joy will express itself that way, humanly. It’s natural. The country and culture in which we live have lost the sense of humor. You joke about certain things, you go to jail – or worse.

Certainly the tragedy of Newtown is no joking matter. But among ourselves, smiles should be common. Laughter should be regular. A sense of humor should be alive and well. We should be happy. Not because we overlook Newtown, or because we’re hardened, so we don’t even allow ourselves to be struck by it. Not because of that, but because when we look to our deepest self, there is nothing other there than the glory and the beauty of the Holy Spirit, who will convince the world that the Spirit of This World has been condemned.

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And if the Holy Spirit doesn’t do that in our lifetime, in the spirit of Advent we wait for something that will be as real as you sitting there this morning. And as we wait for the Prince of This World to be condemned, we do everything we can to give him a bad rap, and to reject his temptations. But even if we don’t see it in our lifetime, we rejoice because the Holy Spirit, not Satan, will have the last word.
And Satan will be condemned by the only final judge of the world – Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Madison’s Media Continues to Diss the Catholic Church- Just in Time for Christmas

 

Background

The past week has produced a barrage of media attacks on the Catholic Church in Madison.
Should not be too surprising; it is common for media to attack the Church immediately before Christmas and immediately before Easter.  Happens every year.  Happens nationally.  Happens globally.
Satan seems particularly resentful of these most important celebrations of Christ’s birth and Resurrection, during which the Christians of the world strengthen their commitment to Christ.  Satan becomes particularly active at these times.

While the rest of us are engaging in sacrifice, prayer and charitable works for Advent, trying to make ourselves more worthy to celebrate the miracle of Christ’s birth, the secular media fills that time with attacks on our beliefs.  Must be some guilt worm eating away at their insides. Or something. 😉

I’ve only addressed the worst one of the Madison media attacks this week, the attack by Madison’s  previous ex-Mayor Dave, but the attacks have been numerous, and Dave’s was not the first one.

Doug Erickson, Dave Ceislewicz and Chris Rickert

The attacks started with Doug Erickson and the Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ), folllowed by Dave Cieslewicz’s copycat article at Isthmus.  Dave’s article was the most obvious and vicious attack on the Church, so I addressed that one first in my last blog post.  Chris Rickert’s WSJ article followed.  The WSJ Doug Erickson and Chris Rickert attacks are typically a bit (though not much) more subtle than that of Dave Cieslewicz, and they use less slightly less direct means in attempting to discredit the Catholic Church in Madison. A complete list of articles and links which followed in the Madison media is included below.

The Nuns

The springboard for these attacks on the Church was the fact that Bishop Morlino of Madison directed Madison Catholic parishes not to enlist the services of two aged nuns who were trying to hold “retreats” in which heretical beliefs, contrary to Catholicism, were promoted.  The nuns were teaching “indifferentism,” the belief that all faiths are equal.

What’s Wrong with Indifferentism?

The rejection of indifferentism is not unique to the Catholic Church; most religions reject indifferentism and by definition, most religions believe that their own religion represents the truth more accurately than others do.  If they did not believe this, they would have no reason to stay in their own church. Duh.

Indifferentism poses a logical impossibility, since religions contradict each other in some areas, so they cannot all be true simultaneously.  Indifferentism attacks all religions, not just Catholicism, by implying the invalidation of all contradictory beliefs, essentially dismantling the veracity of all religions at the same time.
It’s the first domino used by militant atheists who try to discredit all religious belief.

A more correct position would be to acknowledge that all religions hold varying degrees of truth, and that some religions err in some areas.  Religious individuals obviously believe that their own religion is the most accurate one and holds the truth.  If they did not believe that, they would switch to a more accurate religion.  So attempts by anyone, media or nuns, to insist that all religions are equally good would be about at logical as insisting that all schools and universities are equally good.  They are not.

And most religions hold enough of the truth to realize that religions should respect each other and should focus on the important truths they hold in common, rather than infighting over the elements over which they disagree.

Atheists Reject Indifferentism

Even atheists reject indifferentism, insisting that their beliefs are more true and more “rational” than those of religious people.
Some even go to the extreme of wanting to ban public espression of Christain beliefs and ridiculing Christian beliefs publicly themselves.

Madison’s media has written numerous sympathetic and positive articles about Madison atheists, without criticising their rejection of indifferentism.
How can Madison’s media be so biased when they represent the Catholic Church?

So WSJ Leaked the Bishop’s Letter

So the  WSJ leaked the content of the Bishop’s letter, which warned Catholic parishes not to enlist the services of the two nuns who taught indifferentism, as well as teaching other heresies.
The letter was leaked to the Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ) by an unnamed person.
-Violation of confidentiality.
Doug Erickson published the details of the Bishop’s directive.
-Violation of charity.
How would you like it if the WSJ published the private details of your reprimand from your boss?  The Bishop’s correction of the two nuns was meant to be private, and nobody, including nuns, want their mistakes and sins laundered in public.

Spin as Usual; It’s Madison

Doug Erickson’s article gave a very sympathetic spin to the two aged nuns, minimizing the heretical nature of their teaching and emphasizing their wonderful and sweet qualities.
This generated the usual WSJ-anonymous-discussion-forum-free-for-all, in which Madison’s Church haters reliably crawl out of the woodwork, spewing hateful vitriol towards Catholicism and Madison’s Bishop, while simultaneously bringing a landslide of web traffic to WSJ’s website to view the circus.  Revenue is always useful, particularly at the expense of the Catholic Church’s reputation.

Catholics Fight Back

This Catholic-Church-attacking phenomenon has become so predictable in Madison, WI, that numerous real Catholics in Madison (as opposed to the two dissident nuns whom WSJ seems to favor), have even developed an alert system to watch for  WSJ attacks on the Church, and numerous faithful Catholics flock to join the WSJ discussion forums in defense of the Church.

In my case, my indignation at this treatment of Catholics in Madison over the years, particularly by the WSJ, the Capital Times, and the Isthmus, inspired me to establish a website three years ago for the sole purpose of defending my Church, my religious beliefs, and my conservative political beliefs which stem from my faith.

Apparently my voice reflects the views of numerous faithful people, since my humble amateur blog, with sparse and sporadic posting, has already received over half a million hits this month, as of  December 14th.

But of course, the faithful Christians/Conservatives whose views I represent are of no interest to Madison’s media.  They are more interested in two dissident nuns.  Madison’s Progressive media’s only interest is the rampant spread of progressive culture in Madison.

List of Madison Articles on the Two-Nun Issue in Less Than One Week

Not satisfied with their initial attempts to mis-portray and embarrass the Bishop of Madison, Madison’s newspapers  continued to publish a series of articles and letters related to the initial article all week.  Granted, some of the letters printed by WSJ were supportive of the Bishop, but often support was quickly followed by insult, as in Chris Rickert’s article published on December 13th.

 

The Diocese Offered Information

Of course, the Diocese offered accurate information as soon as the the Bishop’s private letter was leaked, but as usual, Madison’s media paid little heed to that.
Here are the links to the Diocese information:

From the Vicar General From the Vicar General
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Statement to Priests from VG Re: Wisdom’s Well
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Synopsis documents from VG re: Wisdom’s Well
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Also: Monsignor James Bartylla: Catholic Church must protect truth of Gospel WSJ, Dec 12

Back to the Media Attacks

Chris Rickert’s WSJ Article; Pretense of Support Cloaks Deceptive Attack

Nobody could keep up with the barrage of old and false accusations listed above, which is cleverly interspersed with just a few supportive letters, to camouflage the thrust of the attack.
Not going to tackle each one, but Chris Rickert, a WSJ reporter, should know better than to write what he wrote in his Dec 13 article which pretends at first to support the Bishop.
Here’s my online forum response to Chris Rickert’s deceptive attack on the Catholic Church:

Chris Rickert-

You claim to defend the Bishop’s decision, yet you end with a doomsday forecast on the future of the Catholic Church, and a personal pronouncement that “official Catholicism is a regressive and controlling throwback in a modern world.”
That’s not even accurate reporting. It also borders on hate speech.

FYI, Catholicism is growing in Madison (30+ seminarians vs. 4 ten years ago), is growing in the United States, and is growing worldwide.
If you want to distinguish Catholicism into orthodox and heterodox, orthodox Catholicism is also growing. And it’s growing in Madison. Madison should look outside the bubble and face reality. And religion reporters should report on that reality.

Incidentally, creating categories of Catholicism is ridiculous; do we have orthodox and heterodox math?
Heterodox math is wrong math, and heterodox Catholicism is wrong Catholicism.
There is only one kind of Catholicism, and then there are different faiths, which are not Catholicism.

Speaking of orthodox Catholicism, I hear that one of the nation’s top Catholic bloggers, Father Z, is celebrating a Latin Mass in the Diocese of Madison this weekend. I’m sure that event will be packed.
It’s historic, it’s new, it’s Catholic, it’s orthodox, and it’s popular.
Is the WSJ planning to cover that story, and to cover it respectfully, or does that not fit your political agenda?
Or perhaps WSJ religion reporters prefer to sleep in on Sundays?
If you are serious journalists and interested in covering that event, information can certainly be obtained from the Bishop’s Office.

You also call Catholicism an uncompromising faith.
Are you advocating that truth should be compromised?
Or do you have no interest in truth?

The WSJ has not been reporting on religion, it has been dissing religion.
That is not the job of religion reporters.
Got to wonder where WSJ finds its religion reporters and what their qualifications are.

Syte Reitz

 

WSJ, Capital Times and Isthmus Tactics

The tactics used by Madison’s left in attacking the Catholic Church are immoral, dishonorable and repugnant.
They violate the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
They resemble deceptive and unChristian standards of behavior like Alinsky Tactics and the  Thirty-Six Strategems, such as:

  • When the enemy is too strong to be attacked directly, then attack something he holds dear.
  • Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west.
  • Create something from nothing.
  • Hide a knife behind a smile.
  • Defeat the enemy by capturing their chief.
  • Sow discord in the enemy’s camp.
  • Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon
  • Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

 

Sadly, in Madison, Wisconsin, this is nothing new.

 

 

 

 

Catholic Belief Now Defined by Media and Sociologists?

Doug Erickson and Michele Dillon

This Sunday, reporter Doug Erickson and Sociology professor Michele Dillon attempted to define Catholic beliefs without consulting the Catholic Church.

The Wisconsin State Journal Progressive, in its usual presumptive manner, has bypassed reality and offered their Wisconsin readership a fantasy, in which Catholic Church doctrine is not longer determined by the teachings of Jesus Christ or by the Magisterium of the Church with the Pope and Bishops, but doctrine is declared up for grabs by the individual, and “Cafeteria Catholicism” is encouraged.

Doug Erickson’s article on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council bypasses  contacting the Catholic Church, the Bishop of Madison, or the Vatican, and relies on the word of one dissident Catholic, a professor of sociology from New Hampshire, to interpret the meaning of Vatican II.  And MIS-interpret she does.

Cafeteria Catholicism as about as valid as cafeteria mathematics, cafeteria medicine, or cafeteria law.  The teachings of mathematics, or of medicine, or of the law are not subject to the whims of individuals, and those who misrepresent a discipline are doing a disservice to all.

The article goes beyond Wisconsin State Journal’s and Doug Erickson’s usual imbalanced reporting and misrepresentation of the Church this time by completely omitting any input at all from religious experts of the Catholic Church.

  • The Catholic Church has actually organized a year’s worth of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.  The commemoration is called the Year of Faith, is listed on the Vatican website, and Doug Erickson missed this; the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides information and videos on the Year of Faith, and Doug Erickson apparently missed these.
  • The Diocese of Madison has a year’s worth of events scheduled around the Year of Faith, listed on the Diocesan web page, and Doug Erickson also missed this.
  • Madison’s Cathedral Parish has a year’s worth of homilies and discussion groups planned on the documents of Vatican II, listed on the website, and Doug Erickson, again, has missed this.
    .
    This hat-trick is remarkable.

Bishop Morlino stands with Pope Benedict

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Listen to Bishop Morlino’s homily today for his reaction to this article and on their misrepresentation of Vatican II.

For additional accurate information on Vatican II, Monsignor Holmes, rector of Madison’s Cathedral Parish, has also scheduled about 20 homilies on the documents of Vatican II.  The first two of this series are available on the parish website at Revelation and Faith and at Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium.

The Wisconsin State Journal and Doug Erickson should stop masquerading as religion reporters who “explore matters of faith, values and ethics in Wisconsin”, and should be truthful about their attempts to misrepresent Catholicism and undermine the wisdom of the Catholic Church, or they should at least do a little research.

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Heckling the Rosary

or

Renaming the Wisconsin State Journal

 

Don’t Diss My Church

One of the prime goals of this cultural values blog is to defend my religion, Catholicism, against the regrettably frequent and unjust attacks we suffer, particularly in Madison, WI.
One of this blog’s first blog categories was “Don’t Diss My Church.”
And in Madison, the Wisconsin State Journal has provided more than it’s fair share of imbalanced reporting on Catholics, frequently fueling my blog.

Why Pray the Rosary at Madison’s Capitol Square?

Catholics praying the rosary at Capitol Rosary Rally

Now that the Obama administration has embarked on restricting the religious freedom of Catholics, Madison Catholics have begun praying the rosary on Thursday evenings on the Madison Capitol steps, to beg God’s help in the restoration of religious freedom to our nation. 

Madison’s Rosary Rally gatherings attract 150-300 quiet, polite people each week.  The crowd includes families with small children, young singles, and many grandparents as well.  The Catholics gather quietly after business hours, do not disrupt Capitol business, leave no litter behind, do no shouting, carry no vuvuzelas, whistles or drums, and don’t even carry signs.  They come, they pray for our nation, and they leave quietly, leaving no damage in their wake.

Who Heckles Children Praying the Rosary?

About 3 to 10 ne’er-do-wells have started showing up at these rosary events, attempting to disrupt them. Their tactics include shouting four letter words from across the street, mocking the rosary, carrying rude signs mentioning private body parts, and all the usual aggressive radical left tactics Wisconsin has witnessed at recent teacher union protests, and at Madison Pro-Life rallies (which radicals have routinely tried to disrupt in recent years, and where they have even been known to get up in pulpits at Library Mall and perform strip-tease dances in front of children with literally only God knows what motivation).
Teacher union protest tactics:

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Is the Wisconsin State Journal Heckling the Rosary?

So, Doug Erickson, the “religion” reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ), instead of covering the story from the perspective of the hundreds of Catholics participating in the Capitol Rosary Rally who represent one quarter of America, covered the story instead from the perspective of the handful of rude hecklers.

Doug chose the headline:

Critics: ‘Rosary rallies’ at Capitol thinly disguised GOP pep fests

Hmmm… GOP “pep-fest?”


Better Headlines not considered by WSJ:

  • Catholics Pray for Restoration of Religious Freedom
  • Families Pray for the Coming Election
  • Family Values Defended in Public Prayer
  • Prayer Brought to Madison’s Downtown Capitol
  • New Peaceful Standard Set for Disagreeing With Government
  • Prayer and Civility Replaces Anger and Rage at Madison’s Capitol
  • Contrasting Teacher Union Protests and Capitol Rosary in Madison

I have participated in many of the Rallies, and I can attest to the fact that Doug Erickson’s implication that Rosary Rallies are “pep-fests” could not be further from the truth.

A More Accurate Headline:


WSJ  Rosary Rally Article- Thinly Disguised Radical Dem Propaganda

 

Thinly Disguised Radical Dem Propaganda Headline

The Wisconsin State Journal’s misleading headline was amplified by a factor of 118,000 through its State-wide circulation, and the whole of Wisconsin was misinformed.  Not to mention online readers, or readers of spin-off articles such as those at the LaCrosse Tribune, Yahoo News or the Orlando Sentinel.

The Wisconsin State Journal gave voice to a handful of hecklers and dissidents rather than to hundreds of serious Catholics, who represent the beliefs of 25% of the American population  and 25% of Madison’s population.

Who are These Hecklers Favored by the Wisconsin State Journal?

Rosary Heckler Number One

One individual quoted in Doug Erickson’s article is Craig Spaulding, who presumed to know the motivations of the Catholics and declared the prayer rally to be partisan and to be GOP.
Doug Erickson failed to mention who Craig Spaulding was —  he did not mention that Craig Spaulding is a fringe radical Madison activist who was arrested (more than once) during the teacher’s union protests, who had to be carried out of the Senate gallery by ten officers for violating rules, and who is a member of the anarchist International Workers of the World, which favors “direct action,”  in place of using democratic channels. Craig Spaulding is also involved with Occupy Wisconsin,  participates regularly in the frequent Capitol lunch sing-a-long protests, and used to own the most troublesome drinking establishment on Capitol Square, which was famous for it’s “underwear parties.” It is not clear whether Craig Spaulding is a paid union protester . Craig is listed as a delinquent taxpayer owing over $33,000 in taxes.

Here’s a You Tube showing the Capitol lunch protesters with whom Craig Spaulding participated frequently and which forced Capitol Tour Guides to wear ear plugs; the group whose perspective the Wisconsin State Journal favors over the perspective of Catholics praying the Rosary at the Capitol:

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Second Rosary Critic

Annie Laurie Gaylor of FFRF at Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally, Madison, W

Second Rosary Critic

Another individual quoted by the WSJ article is one of the co-presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Annie Laurie Gaylor, who personally protested at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally last June 8th, and who made no objections while her husband and co-President of FFRF Dan Barker repeatedly heckled praying children and scandalized them by shouting sexually suggestive remarks addressed to the children.

Dan Barker (FFRF) at Madison’s Freedom From Religion Rally; and what was Dan Barker doing? Shouting rude things at children.

Annie Laurie Gaylor and FFRF are in a minority not only because they are atheists, but particularly because they are a miniscule minority among atheists themselves.  They constitute only 0.1 of 1% of atheists, or one out of a thousand atheists.  That’s right, 999 out of 1,000 atheists, unlike Gaylor and FFRF, are tolerant of 80% Christian America, of 25% Catholic America, and have no problem with our legally established American right to public prayer which President Obama periodically exercises.  Gaylor and her FFRF, whom the Wisconsin State Journal chose to quote in this article, constitute the angry radical fringe, which represents only one out of 33 thousand people, or 0.003 of 1% of the population of America.

Third Rosary Heckler

Another Rosary heckler (not mentioned by the Wisconsin State Journal article) made herself known to me when her braggadocio arrived in my inbox, through an online discussion in which I had participated.  She belatedly joined a discussion which I had previously viewed as a reasonable and constructive conversation with a Madison LGBT activist, and which started when I objected to the activist’s treatment of the first Capitol Rosary Rally and of Bishop Morlino on his blog.

Aside: Since that time, the LGBT activist has begun censoring comments published on his blog, selecting supportive radical comments for publication, and declining to publish further discussion with me.  I guess there are limits to the “Bluebird’s” willingness to discuss truth, after all, particularly when he and his friends start losing the argument.  Turns out, he’s also a regular at the Lunchtime Solidarity Singers at the Capitol, who drive tour guides to wear ear protection.

Back to the third Rosary heckler: her name is Genie Ogden.  Genie bragged in the online discussion that she heckles the Rosary Rally weekly, boos, and sings “Solidarity Forever” at Catholics who are singing hymns.  Genie, like Craig Spaulding, was also a regular member of the Capitol lunchtime “Sing-a-Longs,” the fringe minority who continues to make noise at the Madison Capitol at lunchtime, despite Governor Walker’s re-election by an even larger majority in Wisconsin than he enjoyed in his first election.

Perhaps Genie is looking for new outlets for her anger, now that the recall is over.  The You Tube of “Solidarity” protesters (to which Craig and Genie belonged, the noise of which drove people to wear ear protection) was presented above.

Schoenstatt Sister after the first Capitol Rosary Rally

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Just over a week ago, Genie Ogden was arrested for demonstrating with signs without a permit at the State Capitol.  She routinely protests with her daughter, who publicly approves lawlessness, such as the pouring of beer on conservative legislator’s heads, or throwing rotten fruit at them.

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Do these rosary hecklers/solidarity singers really believe that such actions would be persuasive and would bolster their cause?

.

Genie, like Doug Spaulding and FFRF, tried to claim that the Rosary Rallies are political, and that they constitute a violation of separation of Church and State.  What she does not seem to realize is that neither she, nor other liberals, can divine the thoughts of others, and that the mention of Governor Walker and of Paul Ryan once in the course of thirteen Rosary Rallies, in the context of being answers to prayers, reflects a pro-life, not a Republican position.  Democrat Stupak and his 11 Democrat supporters were an equal blessing and an equal answer to prayer when they stood up for the exclusion of abortion from ObamaCare.
The pro-life beliefs of Catholics are not political; they are ethical.

 

.Rosary Hecklers in General

The Rosary Hecklers and critics above exhibit a bigoted and tyrannical attitude, denying to others the rights that the hecklers enjoy themselves.

Madison Teacher’s Union Protesters

Solidarity union activists like Craig and Genie, and LGBT activists like the Bluebird, reserve the right to use Madison’s Capitol Square for themselves to promote their own (minority) views and social agendas, but they seem to miss the hypocrisy in denying the use of the Capitol Square to praying Christians, who represent many more people than they do- a fact ignored by WSJ reporters.

The right to public prayer has actually been constitutionally upheld numerous times. Yet the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) continues to attack public prayer wherever they think they can win, through legal intimidation of groups with small budgets, like the town of Marshfield, WI.

The feeble attempts made by Craig, Annie and Genie to label Rosary Rallies events as political

Progressives Misjudging Catholics?

also reflects a judgmental attitude; they claim to know the motivation of others.  After misjudging their target’s motivation, many “progressives” continue by attacking and violating the rights of those with whom they disagree. The Constitution does not guarantee a Right to Hateful Harassment.  Moreover, the effectiveness of such tactics in promoting one’s cause are highly dubious.

I am proud to say that I have never gone to any Madison Capitol Square event to boo, heckle, curse, scream, disrupt or to counter-protest.  I don’t engage in hateful behavior towards those with whom I disagree.  Prayer is a much more civilized (and more productive) response.  My sentiments are representative of those of Rosary Rally attendees.

Ignoring Two Thirds of America

Doug Erickson missed the boat completely by covering the Rosary Rally story from the perspective of a few radical protesters, and by omitting the concerns of two thirds of America.

The Rosary Rallies actually represent the majority of Wisconsin and of America.
The Catholics at the Rally represent all religions in America, which were recently galvanized and united by the religious freedom violations of the HHS Mandate. Numerous religions joined Catholics in opposing these violations of the First Amendment, an amendment which all religions value.  Orthodox Christian Bishops, Protestant Theological Seminary chancellors, Presbyterian Bishops, Southern Baptists, Lutherans Evangelical Lutherans and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America have rallied to support the Catholic Church in upholding the Catholic position on the HHS mandate.  This is what Doug Erickson has failed to cover in his reporting.

The Rosary Rallies are large, peaceful, sustained, and they represent the reasonable Judeo-Christian views and the civilized demeanor of at least two thirds of America.

In ignoring the perspective of Catholics at the Rosary Rally in favor of the perspective of a couple fringe radicals, Doug Erickson has ignored 2/3 of America.   He has ignored the majority of America’s opposition to federally funded abortion policy, and he has ignored the social consequences of such abortion policy, which has already resulted in shocking coerced abortion rates of 64% .   Abortion is a much bigger deal than most people think .

Ignoring Religious Leaders:
Evangelical Pastors Join Catholics in the Defense of Religious Liberty

The national Religious Liberty debate has been ignored by WSJ, in favor of reporting speculations by a couple of “progressives” on the motivations of Catholics at prayer.

The Catholic Church is not the only group defending religious liberty in the wake of the HHS Mandate.

“THIS AREA HAS BEEN SET ASIDE FOR NON-PROFIT GROUPS TO EXERCISE THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL 1ST AMENDMENT FREE SPEECH RIGHTS.”

Evangelical Christian pastors have just organized a bold and courageous protest against the muzzling of moral leaders in America, and in support of religious freedom. On October 7, 2012, “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” will be celebrated.  More than 1,000 pastors will preach sermons from the pulpit talking about the candidates running for office and then making a specific recommendation.  The sermons will be recorded and sent to the IRS.  The pastors expect the IRS to try to enforce a 1954 IRS tax code amendment forbidding tax-exempt organizations from participating in discussion of candidates for public office.  When the IRS tries to revoke tax-exempt status and to impose an excise tax on them, the pastors will welcome the court battle.  They claim that the 1954 IRS tax code amendment is blatantly unconstitutional, and they welcome an official evaluation of the amendment in court.
This effort is sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal ministry formed 18 years ago for the defense of religious freedom through strategy, training, funding and litigation.

Not the First Time WSJ Has Slanted the News

Slanted reporting in the Wisconsin State Journal is not new, nor surprising. Their coverage of the 2011 Teacher’s Union Protests was equally misleading and predisposed toward the  “progressive” viewpoint. Lawlessness and misconduct was not reported, both on the part of demonstrators who trashed the Capitol, and on the part of Democrat officials who conspired to block the legal process.  WSJ coverage was so slanted and misleading, that this blogger took to reporting what’s really happening in Wisconsin on my blog.

The WSJ also gives the tiny Freedom From Religion Foundation quite a bit of favorable press.  Again, a fringe radical group (0.003 of 1% of Americans) gets favored coverage over mainstream Wisconsin.

Twisting and Misrepresenting Catholicism

Coverage of Catholicism in the WSJ has frequently been unprofessionally imbalanced.

Just this week, Doug Erickson did a “moral analysis” of the Catholic vote.
He gave equal weight and space to dissident national co-chairman of Catholics for Obama, as he did to Bishop Morlino of Madison, who is a legitimate and accurate representative of the Catholic Church.

Saul Alinsky, author of “Rules for Radicals”

Catholics for Obama is a group established in 2007, with a website hosted at www.barackobama.com .  Membership numbers are not provided, but are probably a few thousand or less, based on petition signatures quoted at Catholic Democrat. According to Breitbart.comCatholics for Obama is dominated by the radical left wing, which promotes Alinsky “social justice” ideology.

So in Doug Erickson’s world, barakobama.com, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and a couple thousand petition signatories carry the same moral authority as a Catholic Bishop and 78 million real American Catholics.  Doug is equating the fringe 0.06 of 1% of Catholics whose theology is steered by Obama, with legitimate Catholic officials and faithful Catholics.  (Bishop Morlino’s education includes a doctorate in Moral Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, with specialization in fundamental moral theology and bioethics.)

WSJ also recently inflamed a parish conflict with imbalanced reporting, favoring dissidents over the Catholic majority.  The dissident minority was portrayed in a favorable light over the faithful majority.

Doug Erickson: Reporting on the 0.06 of 1% of Madison Diocese  Catholics (Holy Wisdom) – and relegating the 99.94%  (real) Catholics to the last paragraph, entitled “detractors.”

Another Doug Erickson report focused on pair of previously Catholic nuns at Holy Wisdom Monastery, who appear to be recruiting Catholics to join their feminist Sunday services in place of attending the Mass.  These nuns retain the name Benedictines, despite having rescinded their Benedictine vows and having separated themselves from the Catholic Church.  Doug Erickson reported on this fringe minority group of two very favorably, but relegated input from real Catholics, including from the Diocese of Madison, to a last paragraph entitled “detractors,” where he quoted Catholics minimally, and out of context.  A minority of two dissidents was portrayed in a favored light, while real Catholics were again downplayed.

The misrepresentation of Catholics in the Wisconsin State Journal could fill numerous blog posts (and has in the past), but the above three examples will suffice here.

For a Truthful Report on the Capitol Rosary Rally: see You Tube

The Capitol Rosary Rally,  which the Wisconsin State Journal did not bother to portray accurately, and which reflects the Christian views and the civilized demeanor of the majority of Christian America can be seen here:

Come join Catholics in the 14th Capitol Rosary Rally tonight, Thursday, Sept 20, 2012, at the State Street steps of the Madison Capitol at 7 PM.  Come watch what real Americans do (they act civilized and pray), stand in solidarity with Christians for religious freedom in America.  All are welcome to watch, to listen, or to pray.

Discussing the Actual Issue

Something else Doug Erickson failed to do in his Capitol Rosary article was to discuss the question that his progressive friends raised; is it legal for Catholics to pray the rosary at Madison’s Capitol Square?

First Congressional Prayer, 1777

Answer:
Public prayer is legal.
The National Day of Prayer was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals  and President Obama supported prayer in a Presidential Proclamation on the National Day of Prayer, 2012
Congress has also just taken steps to ensure that prayer is supported at School Board Meetings.   President Obama prays and states that “We stand for religious freedom.”

So public prayer is legal, and public gatherings at the Wisconsin State Capitol are legal.

Public gatherings at Madison’s Capitol have included Farmer’s Markets, restaurant showcase events (Taste of Madison), and Wisconsin Capitol Pride, an event promoting LGBTQA acceptance and rights.
Why would Catholic gatherings be forbidden?  Why would promoting prayer for religious freedom be forbidden?

Discussing the Double Standard

WSJ failed to address this double standard of progressive Rosary critics in the article.
The progressive Rosary Hecklers quoted by WSJ demand freedom of belief and freedom of speech for themselves, but not for others.  They want the right to scream four-letter words at others across Capitol Square in the presence of children, but to forbid the words “Our Father, who art in heaven.”

Further Important Issues Omitted by the WSJ report:

  • Validity of Christian claims regarding the violation of religious freedom by the HHS mandate
  • Evaluation of the position of America’s moral leaders on the religious freedom issue
  • Reporting the obvious differences in behavior, lawfulness and respect for the rights of others between the rosary participants and the heckling critics.

  • Definition of “separation of Church and State.”
  • Discussion of whether a once-in-14-prayer-rallies mention of two pro-life politicians constitutes a “violation of separation of Church and State.”
  • Discussion of the very pertinent 1954 IRS code amendment, which has been used by the IRS to silence Christian pastors, but has not been subject to an examination of constitutionality by the courts.
  • The effect that restrictions on religious freedom would have on the rights of progressives when in the future conservative Presidents are elected, and the effect on this country’s historical role as the safe haven for the world’s émigrés.

Suggestion: if Doug Erickson is to be the WSJ “religion” reporter, he must examine the serious issues affecting religion, rather than using his status at the WSJ to spread progressive propaganda. He should provide some professional and journalisticly ethical analysis of real religious issues.

Shame on the Wisconsin State Journal for Ethics Violations

Shame on Doug Erickson

The Wisconsin State Journal has violated the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics with this misrepresentation of Madison’s Capitol Rosary Rally.

  • WSJ did not seek the truth and report it.
  • WSJ did not minimize harm.
  • WSJ did not act independently.
  • WSJ was not accountable.

Renaming the Wisconsin State Journal

The Wisconsin State Journal should be renamed:

the Wisconsin State Journal Progressive

 

Invitation: Come and Join Us!

Come tonight, and every Thursday night at 7PM through November 1st.

Join Catholics today in the 14th Capitol Rosary Rally –  Thursday, Sept 20, 2012, on the State Street steps of the Madison Capitol at 7 PM.
Come watch what most Americans do (they act civilized and they pray).
Stand in solidarity with Christians for religious freedom in America.
All are welcome to watch, to listen, or to pray.

Agnostics welcome.
Atheists welcome.
Baptists welcome.
Buddhists welcome.
Catholics welcome.
Evangelicals welcome.
Jews welcome.
Lutherans welcome.
Muslims welcome
Presbyterians welcome.
All welcome, including any not mentioned above.
Invitation limited to well-behaved people who respect the rights of others.

All of us need, and will benefit from, freedom of religion (of belief), which is guaranteed to us by the First Amendment.  This freedom has been violated by President Obama’s HHS Mandate, a mandate which must be reversed.

Why Even Atheists Should Stand Against Presidential Mandates

If Presidents of the future will be permitted to issue mandates like the HHS Mandate, without popular vote, without Senate or House vote, and without Supreme Court evaluation, what mandate will the NEXT President of the United States, who may not belong to your favorite political affiliation, decree?

I may not like President Obama’s mandates.
But others, including atheists, would not like President Romney’s mandates
or President Rick Santorum’s mandates
or President Ron Paul’s mandates
or President Michelle Bachmann’s mandates.

The next President could issue a Mandate that imposes tax penalties not on Catholics, but on  International Workers Union Members,  FFRF Members, Solidarity Singers, and Madison LGBT activists-  severe, crippling penalties.  Then were would Craig, Annie, Genie and Bluebird be?  The Mandate could include penalties for Wisconsin Sate Journal reporters, too, Doug.

We all benefit from supporting freedom and democracy.
We have to coexist, so progressives should realize that in 46 days the shoe might be on the other foot.
This is still a democracy, and Presidential mandates are thinly disguised despotic edicts.

These are some of the religious, ethical and cultural issues that Doug Erickson and the WSJ should be discussing, rather than spreading the speculations of fringe progressives on the motivation of Catholics.

 

 

What Do a Madison LGBT Leader and a Madison Catholic Blogger Have in Common?

or

My Conversation With the Blue Bird

 

God works in mysterious ways.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB’s) recent call to Fortnight for Freedom (prayer and fasting) engendered Madison’s Capitol Rosary Rally, which caught the attention of a Madison LGBT activist, who wrote a blog article critical of the Rosary Rally, which caused me to post on his blog in defense of my Church, which started a conversation between me and the blogger, Callen Harty.

In ensuing discussions, Callen and I both discovered that people who differ in their ideologies can be civilized, can discourse together, can make much progress toward mutual understanding, and can begin to like each other, despite their ideological disagreements.
A very hopeful and inspiring lesson in our bitterly divided nation today.
Who would think that we would find this source of hope in Madison?

Thanks, Callen, for fueling my hope, and for reminding me that we are truly all made in the image of God.  We discovered together that there is much to like about each other, if we can just get past the surface disagreements.  We who disagree DO have to inhabit the world together, so we might as well make some efforts to communicate, to understand, and to like each other better.  I admire Callen for having the courage to approve my arguments on his blog.  His blog is now one illustration of how reasonable people can discuss issues in a civilized manner, whether they agree with each other or not.  It also illustrates that both of us, despite our intelligence and good intentions, were still guilty of some presumptions and misconceptions regarding each other.  Conversation is a valuable tool for dispelling some of the presumptions and misconceptions that often divide us more than is necessary.

Callen’s article, followed by the exchange of seven communications between us, makes for a longer read.  But if you get comfortable and dig in, you are bound to be surprised, edified, and amused.

Related Posts:

Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Heckling the Rosary

 

Callen’s Article- Betrayal of the Fathers (click here or on image for Callen’s original post)

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the original post, the sequence of discussion is out of chronological order.
Here is the discussion in chronological order:

Callens’ Article:

Betrayal of the Fathers

Posted on June 21, 2012

Bishop Morlino of the Madison diocese, Photo by Callen Harty

As a young boy I believed in Jesus.  I believed in Santa Claus.  I believed that my mother knew what was true and what was not.  I believed that priests, nuns, and bishops were holy people who had a special connection to God.

I wanted to be a priest.  I had dreams of becoming a martyr–there would be nothing more glorious than dying for one’s religion.  I wanted to be a witness to the truth of the Catholic Church.

And then somewhere along the line I grew up.  I read the Bible critically and found inconsistencies throughout.  I reasoned and questioned, something the Catholic Church of my youth never appreciated.  I listened to the condemnation of others by the Church and I noted the hypocrisy of the Church’s enormous wealth as contrasted with Jesus’ teachings to cast off one’s belongings and follow him, to give to the poor and feed the hungry.  I have no patience with hypocrisy from powerful men.  And so I left the Church.

My departure from the Catholic Church was not easy.  It was like part of an extended family.  There were brothers and sisters and the holy mother, Mary.  Priests were fathers, the Pope was the Holy Father, and God was the father of all.  For a boy whose own father had died of a heart attack when I was two years old I had many father figures in the Church.  Like a teenager realizing his father is not a perfect hero it was difficult to come to the realization that those father figures were no more holy than me, that their answers were dogmatic and inflexible, and that unlike Jesus who welcomed prostitutes and others without judgment the hierarchy of the Church judged everyone’s worthiness and did not welcome all.

I lost my faith in the Church even before I came out, but coming out made it impossible to go back.  I was not welcome.  At one point in my 30′s I tried.  I found a community of believers in Denver who were part of a nationwide LGBT Catholic group called Dignity that held onto their Catholic beliefs and who had mass said for them and received communion from sympathetic priests.  There was certainly more true faith in that small group of believers than I had ever seen in parishes elsewhere.  After all, they were believing in a faith that wouldn’t believe in them.  But I couldn’t help but notice that we didn’t meet in a Catholic Church, as we weren’t welcome, and that the priests who served us did so in secret.  The realization that while these people were filled with spirit and joy in their beliefs they were unwelcome in the arms of the Church caused me to give up trying to return to my religious upbringing.

It is said that “once a Catholic, always a Catholic” and there is truth to that in several ways.  Many fallen-away Catholics will return to the fold after some time and those of us who don’t are so inculcated with Church doctrine and religious training that our lives are lived as if we are still part of the Church in many ways.

Yet because it is so much a part of my history and shaped who I am in so many ways it feels like a greater betrayal when I hear representatives of the Church do their best to make me feel less than worthy of their acceptance.

Today I happened upon a gathering called Capitol Rosary Rally 2012.  It was called by Madison’s Bishop Morlino, a conservative man whose values contrast sharply with the historical Jesus.  Morlino has pushed the Madison diocese in a very right-wing direction, much to the dismay of many of the churchgoers in the area.  In Platteville there has been an incredible resistance to his placement of ultra-conservative priests there and he has more or less demanded that people stop complaining or they may face punishment, including the taking away of sacraments, the lifeblood of a true believer’s faith.  In parishes around southern Wisconsin congregants walked out of a mass at which he forced priests to play a tape condemning the idea of marriage equality, among other things.  There was a threat of punishment for any priest who did not follow his orders.  He has angered many with his intractable views.  This is also a man who was involved on a Board at the School of the Americas, a U. S. Army training ground for Latin American military leaders, many of whom have been involved in bloodthirsty actions and human rights abuses in their native countries.  Jesus would more likely have been among those arrested protesting the school.

The event today was ostensibly a rosary circle against abortion.  As it started the Bishop stood in front of the crowd at the State Capitol–not a cathedral–with dozens of people waving American flags, and stated that it was not a political rally, but a prayer rally.  One of his toadies then took the microphone and talked about how they would be praying to end abortion and birth control–yes, ending birth control–and praying for the traditional family structure.  Queers are not welcome in the Catholic Church.  So clearly it was not a political rally as these are clearly not political issues, right?

I couldn’t stay.  I wanted to take pictures and document it and any possible counter rally, but to hear representatives of the Church in which I was raised show again how unwelcome I really am in their midst was too much for me to bear.  I had to leave.

I know I will never again be a part of the Church.  I feel like a prodigal son who was not welcomed back home and who, in fact, was kicked out and told never to return.  I have respect for people like my mother who are true believers in the core messages of the Church.  I have respect for the teachings of the historical Jesus.  But I cannot respect leaders like Bishop Morlino and the Pope whose fealty is to their own power and not to the God of their own religion.  If there is any truth to the faith, then they are the moneylenders in the temple, they are the Pharisees, and they are the ones who worship the golden calf, the hypocrites who need to remove the beam from their own eyes before casting the mote out of the eyes of their followers.

Discussion

Syte says
June 24, 2012

You jumped to conclusions, including misunderstanding the purpose of the rosary rally you “happened upon.” You also claim to know the mind of God (of Jesus).
You misrepresent the Catholic Church, as well as her teachings on the HHS Mandate, as well as on homosexuality. For those who are interested in a more accurate portrayal of the Capitol Rosary event, see https://sytereitz.com/2012/06/americans-pray-for-freedom-across-the-nation-or-fortnight-for-freedom-or-come-and-join-us/.
You may disagree with Catholic Church teaching, but don’t blame Bishop Morlino for doing his job well. Don’t single out one faithful Catholic with your attacks, when your disagreement is with the teachings of the entire Church, not with the leadership of one individual.
A number of common modern misrepresentations of Catholic teaching are discussed at my blog, http://SyteReitz.com; including discussion of homosexual issues.
Most Catholics would say that it is you, and not Bishop Morlino, who is the one who has departed from Christ’s teaching.
Do not attack the Church for your own change of heart and change of priorities. One day you may realize that the Church was a far wiser mother than you realized.
May you find the peace you are seeking.

Callen says
June 24, 2012

Thank you for your mostly thoughtful response. I encourage others to explore the links you posted. I would like to clarify a couple of your errors and assumptions, though.

First, I’m not sure why you put “happened upon” in quotes. It’s as if you are making an assumption that I intended to be there when in fact I was at a coffee shop on State Street and noticed people gathering and was curious. I had heard something about it beforehand, but did not realize that’s what it was until I got there. So if you are thinking that I was lying and didnt’ “happen upon” the gathering and that’s why you put it in quotes you are presuming dishonesty and mistrust from the beginning, which isn’t very fair.

Second, I have no clue why you presume I think I know the mind of God. Nobody can, though plenty do say things that make it seem that they do, particularly God’s representatives on earth in the form of Popes and other religious leaders. I have never in my life pretended to even understand God, let alone presume to know what he/she/it may be thinking or desire. There is absolutely nothing in my post that indicates I think I know the mind of God. I have no clue where you got that idea. If you can point it out to me I’d welcome that.

Third, I disagree with the teachings of the church, but I even more strongly disagree with Morlino’s and the Pope’s interpretations of Church doctrine. So I am not singling him out or blaming him for the Church’s teachings. I blame him for his right-wing interpretations of doctrine. I would never have said the same about Bishop Cletus O’Donnell or other previous bishops, Pope Paul VI, or any of the previous Popes.

Fourth, I am at peace. Ask anyone who knows me. Just because I don’t believe what you believe or what I used to believe does not mean I am not at peace.

Syte says
June 25, 2012

Callen-

Thank you for your invitation to dialogue.

You misinterpret. “Happened upon” was in quotes for the simple reason that I was quoting from your text. There was no judgment involved regarding your intention to be at the Rosary rally. Your presumption of my mistrust was incorrect.

You question my presumption that you claim to know the mind of God. I concluded that you claim to know the mind of God because statements in your text indicate that you know what Jesus would think or say. For example, your statement “Bishop Morlino, a conservative man whose values contrast sharply with the historical Jesus” implies that you know the mind of the historical Jesus. The converse presumption could also be made – that Bishop Morlino’s values do not contrast with those of the historical Jesus, but reflect Jesus’ values better than your values do. It could also be presumed that Bishop Morlino would never call you and your friends “toadies.” (Calling the Bishop of Madison’s assistant a “toadie” is something that could generate distrust in a faithful Catholic.)

Your accusations against the Church betray a double standard. You clearly own a computer and a camera, have a website, sit in coffee shops, and appear to have no problem with Madison’s Capitol building. Why, then, do you apply a different standard of judgment to the Catholic Church? How can you accuse the Church of hypocrisy for enormous wealth, when you don’t accuse Madison of hypocrisy for the Capitol building, the Overture Center and Monona Terrace? Would you have the Pope living in and celebrating Mass in a tent while you sit in a coffee shop in beautiful downtown Madison, possibly using a MacBook Pro and an iPhone?

Your accusations are also inconsistent; you say you have no problem with Pope Paul VI and all the previous Popes and Bishops, yet you have a problem with Pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Morlino. Yet the teachings of the Catholic Church have not changed since Pope Paul VI, so how can you have no problem with him, but have a problem with Pope Benedict? What you call the “enormous wealth” of the Catholic Church has also not changed since Pope Paul VI.

In fact, the “wealth” of the Church consists of historically and religiously significant buildings and art treasures, which are an expense to maintain. As someone who is involved in the arts, and is the recipient of awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society, you should appreciate the historical and philosophical value of what the Catholic Church is preserving, and what every human institution and government strive to preserve for future generations.

You state that the Catholic Church does not welcome homosexuals. The Catholic Church does welcome people who are homosexual, under the same terms that she welcomes heterosexuals: she demands chaste behavior from both groups. The “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s has left both homosexuals and heterosexuals wounded and dysfunctional as a result of irresponsible sexual behavior. The rules of sexual behavior taught by the Catholic Church also have not changed since Pope Paul VI, of whom you approve.

Your text includes some very tender and beautiful descriptions of the Catholic Church, as well as some bitter statements about her present leadership. This is why I concluded that you are not at peace.

I would like to suggest that you are misinformed about the Catholic Church, which is routinely misrepresented by the media. As is Bishop Morlino by Madison’s media (understatement of the year)!
You should read your opposition’s arguments in greater depth before condemning them.

Many of these issues are addressed at my website, SyteReitz.com, which was actually established to clarify the logic and the reasoning behind my conservative reasoning. In Madison, with a few exceptions, there is a virtual media blackout on any form of conservative thought. I am not the best Catholic or conservative spokesman (Madison’s Cathedral Parish is a much better source – http://www.isthmuscatholic.org/ ), but many enjoy my casual, user-friendly approach to cultural issues.

Although I do not expect to win you over to a conservative philosophy, I do wish to invite you to presuming good will in the conservatives with whom you disagree. That would include not only me, but also Bishop Morlino and Pope Benedict.

Thank you for presuming good will in me, and inviting me to this dialogue.

 

Callen says
June 26, 2012

I want to say up front that I appreciate individuals with faith. I gather from your writing that you are a faithful Catholic who is doing your best to live life the way your religion teaches you and I admire that. I love how strong my mother is in her faith and I know what comfort it has brought her throughout her life and even now in her old age. It is not for me, but if it gives others fulfillment and meaning that is wonderful.

My blog was created for me to speak my beliefs and my truth to the world. Nobody else has to read it or agree with it. It consists of my opinions (not always facts), usually well-reasoned, but perhaps occasionally misinformed. I try to accept corrections with graciousness, though I don’t necessarily always do that with differences of opinion, particularly political opinion. I try, though, to behave in a respectful manner to all those with whom I interact, though I’ll admit I am not always respectful of those in positions of power with whom I disagree or that I perceive as being hypocritical. I tend to get a little angrier with them, like Jesus with the moneylenders in the temple. Throughout my years I have had countless Christians (mostly born-again, not Roman Catholic) proselytize me and try to convince me that they are the ones who hold truth. I choose not to listen to them most of the time because almost all of them end up repeating the same things and I am honestly tired of recycled theological debates at this point in my life. So I have no intention or desire to go that route with you, but feel I do need to respond to certain aspects of your most recent comment.

First, I apologize if I misinterpreted the quotation marks, but it felt like mistrust to me. I may have been wrong about that, but those are the feelings that were brought up. It seems like an odd thing to quote and emphasize, so I hope you can understand why it made me feel that way.

I must state again with as much emphasis as I can that I have never claimed to act as if I know the mind of God (or Jesus, whom I don’t consider God even though you do). You drew conclusions about that, but once again there is nothing in my essay that makes that point or conveys that idea. The reason I specified the “historical Jesus” is that I was referring to the living historical person of Jesus the man. As I’m sure you know there are actually scant few quotes attributed to Jesus himself in the New Testament. Much of what is there is from the gospel writers. If you read Matthew 19:21 Jesus says that if people want to be perfect (or complete, depending on the Bible version) then they should sell all their possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow him. This is why I said that Bishop Morlino’s point-of-view does not match Jesus’, not because I was acting as if I had some special knowledge. So yes, I think the Pope living in a tent would be appropriate. It’s not realistic, but the point is that in my opinion the riches of the Church do not fit the teachings of the historical Jesus.

Comparing the Church’s wealth to the state owning the Capitol and the city owning the Overture Center is not the same. I was talking about the hypocrisy of a Church which purports to believe in Jesus’ teachings, such as Matthew 19:21 above, but accumulates massive wealth and property over a couple thousand years. First of all, the state does not ask its citizens to give up their wealth and become submissive to the state (though with the amount of taxation and the number of laws it sometimes feels like it, probably even more so from a conservative viewpoint). My problem is not with wealth or people owning computers or cameras or anything else, but hypocrisy. If I were running around lecturing people that they should give up all their belongings and donate the money to the poor but I lived in mansion, then you could make the comparison, but neither of those are true.

In addition the idea that I approve of the buildings you mentioned is another assumption that is wrong. I was against both the Overture Center and Monona Terrace when they were first considered because I saw them both as boondoggles and wastes of taxpayers’ money that could have been better spent in other ways. I love the Capitol building, but I have written about how much it pains me whenever I see the homeless in it or surrounding it and contemplate those people struggling to eat against the backdrop of the opulence of the Capitol. Expecting the state to give it up to feed, clothe, and house those people is as realistic as expecting the Pope to live in a tent. I’m not naïve enough to believe it could happen, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it should.

As a person who is involved in the arts I absolutely appreciate the aesthetic value of the church’s holdings. I just don’t necessarily believe that it is the right repository for such things and I don’t believe—for the reasons mentioned above—that the Church should own so much when there are so many starving people in the world. Please note, I am very well aware of Catholic Charities, missionary work, and other great works being done by the Church and by individual Catholics and I think that is awesome, though Bishop Morlino choosing to close the Catholic Multicultural Center is one of the things that makes me believe he does live contrary to Jesus’ teachings.

You are absolutely correct about the inconsistency of me not having an issue with previous popes and bishops. Perhaps I should have been more critical of them. The reason I wasn’t is because I remember them as people being concerned about the poor and about making the Church more inclusive, particularly Pope Paul VI through Vatican II. The reality that you pointed out to me is that those are merely cosmetic surface changes and that in fact they were ultimately representatives of a hierarchy in which I don’t believe.

I will not get into a debate about the gay issue. Like the tiresome theological debates noted at the beginning I have heard every argument there is against who I am. I understand the Church’s official position on gays and lesbians and disagree with it. I have heard the old “hate the sin and love the sinner” routine way too many times. The reality is that in my initial essay I described a very specific experience of feeling unwelcome in the Catholic Church. You may say the Church is welcoming, but I say I felt unwelcome. The bishop in Denver prohibited the Dignity group from meeting in Catholic churches and forbade priests from saying Mass for the group, even though he could have no way of knowing whether any of the members were or were not sexually active. It would be like presuming that teenagers shouldn’t receive Communion because they are at their sexual peak and so they must be having sex outside of marriage. It so happens that I was in a period of abstinence when this happened.

Finally, again, presuming anything about my state of peace when you don’t know me is just not appropriate. Yes, I have some bitterness toward the Church because its teachings hurt my growth as a human being. I have mostly let it go, but there are some times when something triggers the old resentments. In this case it was the bishop’s assistant at the rosary gathering and the hypocrisy of pretending it was not a political gathering—yes, it may have been primarily religious, but to deny it was political is simply to try to fool others.

Syte says
June 27, 2012

Callen –

The dialogue that we are having is encouraging; two people with considerably different views have been able to talk respectfully, weighing issues together, and respecting each other’s right to disagree. Our nation is in dire need of such civilized and respectful dialogue today.

I have no intention of proselytizing you; your blog came to my attention because of your initial harsh attitude towards leaders of my Church whom I respect, and whom I wished to defend. My goal was to suggest that Catholic Church leaders are as well meaning and devoted to their philosophy as you are to yours. You were gracious enough to admit that your opinions or actions are not always consistent or well reasoned; that is true of all human beings, including me. We are all guilty of some degree of apparent hypocrisy, unintentional as it might be. So when you see something you perceive as an inconsistency in the Catholic Church, in Bishop Morlino or in Pope Benedict, I hope to suggest that you cut them some slack, too, and presume their good will, as you do for me and for others.

Since you seem to be fair-minded, I will correct a few more misconceptions you seem to have about the Capitol Rosary Rally and about Madison’s Catholics.

Your assumption the Fortnight for Freedom rally was anything other than prayer rally is incorrect and unfair. You do not seem to realize that serious Catholics not only believe in prayer, they also RELY on prayer. We are very disturbed by the idea that President Obama feels that he can mandate anything he wants, contrary to the Constitution of the United States, forcing Catholics to do something that is against their religious beliefs. I was as the rally, I was there for the sole purpose of prayer, and so were many of my friends, fellow parishioners, and fellow Diocese of Madison Catholics.

I realize that it is hard for someone who does not pray regularly to understand the value of prayer, particularly the value of the rosary, and the added value of praying the rosary in groups. Catholics believe that battles can and have been won by prayer, and that miracles happen through prayer. That includes highly educated Madisonian Catholics. I know many who attended the rally, and there were numerous doctors, lawyers, UW professors, and my humble self, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and who did my post-doc at Princeton University. My husband, a UW Wisconsin Distinguished Professor who is giving a series of power lectures in engineering at Princeton University this week, and whose research was described in the Wisconsin State Journal yesterday, although not a Catholic, was there at the rally in support. To correct one myth that seems to be popular in Madison, there is little correlation between education and faith and belief in prayer. Some very highly educated people were at the rally to pray very seriously.

If the Capitol Rosary Rally had been for political purposes, the press would have been invited and signs and placards would have been used. You may be unaware that Catholics DO pray and process publicly and regularly, and that just a few weeks ago on the feast of Corpus Christi the downtown Catholic parishes had a Corpus Christi procession (which has been occurring every year for years) during which the Blessed Sacrament was carried to the Capitol building for prayer and blessings for our government. The downtown parishes also hold regular rosary marches during which the rosary is prayed while processing through Madison. Many Madisonians are sleeping on Sunday morning and miss these Sunday morning events. Madison’s press never covers these events. This Capitol Rosary Rally is just one more example of Catholics turning to God for help when they are in a tight spot.

For people who are more secular, who pray less or do not pray publicly, it is easy to assume that you know the motives of others. But, as our discussions here on your blog have revealed, we do NOT know each other’s thoughts and motives, and that is why respectful discussion is so useful to defuse resentment and correct presumptions.

If I can insert some humor here, I will soon have you liking and admiring Bishop Morlino and Pope Benedict!

You have made it clear that you disapprove institutions amassing property and wealth; that is one of your criticisms of the Catholic Church. However, that is a personal standard of yours, and is not a commonly held value. As long as human beings build monuments, paint paintings, and wear formal attire to show respect and high regard to government/education/the arts, it would be hypocrisy of sorts to deny the right of Catholics to show equal respect and regard for our God. If Catholic holdings were to be criticized, then the Taj Mahal, the White House, the Statue of Liberty, the Mall of the Americas, and the Smithsonian Museums should all be under equal attack. Incidentally, the historical Jesus DID worship at the Temple of Jerusalem, the most imposing religious monument of His time. So we cannot be sure that He would favor the Pope celebrating Mass in a tent.

The treasures of the Church are not simply piles of marble adorned with gold; they are holy gathering places, precious historical places, and places which could not be bulldozed and replaced without extravagant expense.
Precious Church art works are not just baubles representing cash; they represent a record of precious history and of ancestors whom we love. If nobody suggests selling Mount Rushmore or my great-grandmother’s portrait to feed the poor, they should not suggest the Church selling her artwork.

Your resentment over the almost-closing of the Multicultural Center again reflects the misinformation supplied to you by Madison’s media, which reports on Catholic matters with a double standard. How can Madison, which does NOT provide the equivalent of a Multicultural Center from Madison’s $500 million annual budget, criticize the Diocese of Madison, which DID maintain the Multicultural Center on a $4 million annual budget to serve all of Madison for many years, but struggled to maintain it after the recession hit? How can Madison, which prioritizes the building of Monona Centers, Overture Centers and public swimming pools over Multicultural Centers, criticize the Diocese of Madison?

Your resentment of the Church over its reluctance to welcome the organization “Dignity” is unrealistic as well. “Dignity” tries to dictate the rules of sexual morality to the Catholic Church. That’s like students dictating some alternate rules of mathematics to the professor. The Catholic Church DOES welcome “Courage International,” an organization for homosexuals which is the Catholic-Church sanctioned counterpart of “Dignity.” The Catholic Church does not welcome anybody, heterosexual or homosexual, who does not respect Catholic teaching. That is true of any human educational organization, secular or spiritual. Try telling our profs at UW what they must teach in their fields!

Another clarification: the Catholic Church does not ask Catholics to be submissive any more than any other human organization with rules. Remember, too, that membership is optional.

Finally, I think you read more into my wishing you peace of mind than was intended. It was meant to signal my good intentions towards you, akin to “shalom.”

So, Callen-
Thanks for your time and for the space on your blog.
I welcome the opportunity to show Madisonians that Catholics are nice. Even their leaders are nice.
If you or anybody else wishes to discuss the faithful Catholic’s perspective on various issues, or to ask about other myths about Catholics, I welcome questions through the contact form on my blog at SyteReitz.com.

Shalom and God bless!
May we continue to strive towards not only respecting, but also liking those with whom we disagree.

Callen says
June 27, 2012

Here were are again. I’m enjoying our communication.

I also believe that those on opposing sides of issues need to be willing to listen and to talk, to accept differences, and to treat each other with respect. I do my best to do that and I appreciate your willingness to engage in a respectul way as well.

With that said, you have probably noticed that I seem to show less respect for power/authority figures. They are public figures and are open to more criticism because their public pronouncements affect so many more people. For a Catholic to disagree with a bishop or the Pope there could be a big moral dillemma. To read my blog post and disagree doesn’t bring the same kind of ethical quandry. This is part of why I hold officials, church or government, to a higher level on my moral compass (and I understand it is my moral compass, not theirs, but I have to live my life by my conscience). I expect that Bishop Morlino is genuine in his beliefs and committed to others believing the same or he wouldn’t be in the position he has been placed, and I would not be surprised to find that he is a genuinely nice and well-meaning person. But that doesn’t excuse him from public scrutiny and it doesn’t shield him from those with differing opinions.

I must admit that I have a difficult time with authority figures in general, and Bishop Morlino seems to me to be more authoritarian than any other bishop in my memory (I’m 55). Threatening to withhold sacraments from parishioners who disagree with his placement of conservative priests in their parish does not seem like the way to win over the opposition. One of the issues I had with the Catholic Church even as a child was the intolerance for differing opinions. Others may be fine with that, but it is one of the reasons I left.

I don’t mean to be disrectful about this, but I must disagree with your assessment of the Rosary Rally as being religious and not political. Whlie the saying of a rosary is, of course, incredibly religious, the event was political. Choosing to hold it on the Capitol steps was a poltiical choice. It makes a statement. Calling it a rally seems to indicate political motivations, though I understand rallies can be any gathering of people. There were buttons and political signs there. I believe you may have said there weren’t but I have photos that I took of at least two. I would be surprised if you didn’t see as many American flags as I did. To me that is a political act, not a religious one. So the rally may have been primarily for prayer (although even you said it was prayer about Obama’s mandates), but it was also political. You cannot convince me otherwise on that given the evidence. I appreciate that you and many of your friends were there for the sole purpose of prayer, but others were not. Bishop Morlino specifically stated that the rally was not political, so there would be no speeches, but speeches are not all that define political action.

Now, there is one comment you made that I have to take exception to, and that is when you said, “I realize that it is hard for someon who does not pray regularly to undestand the value of prayer . . . ” Maybe you meant this generally and not specifically about me, but it felt like it was about me. So I have to tell you that just because I am no longer a Catholic or a Christian does not mean that I don’t pray. In fact, I do, a lot. I am not a religous person but I am a spiritual person who comes from a deep place of spirituality and compassion. If you have read any of my other blog posts you may get a feel for that. I believe in the power of prayer, positive energy, whatever you want to call it, and I believe that we pray to the same God, though we may have different perceptions of what that means. And don’t forget that about half of my life was spent as a Catholic–I am not ignorant of the Church and its teachings. I was an altar boy and as noted in my original post wanted to be a priest, and even thought about it as an adult, not just as a child.

I have to agree with you again about wasteful spending on opulent buildings. As noted before I did not appreciate the building of the Overture Center or Monona Terrace. If the Taj Mahal were proposed here I would oppose it and fight for the government to build an apartment building for homeless people instead of another monument to Madison’s elite. I believe that there is a social compact for us as a community to take care of the least of our brethren, and I believe that it is the duty of both religious institutions (especially ones that preach it) and of government. I would like to see churches and government work together to maintain things like the Multicultural Center. It may be a personal standard of mine but it is one I do believe in strongly and will work toward wherever possible.

Finally, I realize it is unrealistic to expect the Church to welcome Dignity, just as it is unrealistic to expect me or others like me to accept an organization like Courage International which would have me deny the fullness of my being. I’m willing to bet you will not agree with this, but I believe that like all others I was created in God’s image and that includes my sexuality and my expression of it. As a side note, while I had my wild youth (as most young men do) I have been in a committed, monogamous relationship for 21 years now, longer than most sacred marriages last these days.

And I do know that membership is optional–that is why I am no longer a member, as there are too many things with which I disagree.

I look forward to your next missive (I think). It feels like we are coming closer and closer to a good understanding and based on our few exchanges so far I do like you. Peace be with you also.

Syte says
June 30, 2012

Yes, Callen. We’ve had a good chat and I’m beginning to like you too.
The ability to discuss important issues in a civilized and respectful manner is an essential tool for defusing resentments and towards finding fair solutions between those who disagree.

You explain that much of your disagreement with the Catholic Church stems from a dislike of authority figures, and a dislike for the lack of tolerance for differing opinions in the Catholic Church. That’s a common feeling towards authority. Particularly if one disagrees with the authority.

I feel that way towards President Obama and his recent exercise of authority. However, there are some differences between the Catholic Church and President Obama;
• the Church does not pretend to be a democracy
• membership in the Church is optional
• monetary contributions to the Church are voluntary; no incarceration for failure to pay
• the Church’s teachings are unchanging with each change of personnel

Our common frustrations with authority with which we disagree might help you appreciate our Catholic desperation over the “Contraception Mandate,” which is the subject of the Rosary Rally we have been discussing.

President Obama has just decreed (mandated) that Catholics must provide pills that kill unborn infants to their employees. For Catholics, this is a mortal sin. The President is demanding that they commit mortal sins. He is demanding that they do something new, which was never before required in our nation’s history.
• President Obama’s decree was not approved by American voters (in fact, most Americans oppose abortion, particularly federally funded abortion, which involves forcing all citizens to pay for the abortions of others).
• Congress did not vote on this decree; in fact, Stupak and his 11 Democrats practically killed the ObamaCare bill before President Obama promised them that ObamaCare would not include abortion.
• The ObamaCare bill was passed under false pretenses, and after passage, the President broke all of his promises.

Bottom line: Catholics are now ordered to perform what they believe to be murder.
The Amish and Muslims get an exemption from ObamaCare. Some Native Americans get other religious exemptions to federal laws on the killing of Eagles. Many people get religious exemptions – only, however, at President Obama’s discretion. And President Obama decides that Catholics get no exemption. No input from the American people, the legislature, from Catholic leaders, or from any religious leaders whatsoever, including the Jewish and Baptist leaders who jumped to testify before Congress on behalf of Catholics, defending their right to conscience, as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

That is what we are praying about. We are asking God to intervene.
I would like to suggest that Madison’s liberal media focus an equal amount of energy on President Obama’s abuse of authority as they do on the Catholic Church’s abuse of authority, and abandon the double standard.

Regarding whether the Rosary Rally was political, we can agree to disagree, but I will float a few more points: American flags are not political. Presence at the Capitol is not political. Otherwise, farmer’s markets, marathons, bicycle events, Taste of Madison, Wisconsin Capitol Gay Pride, Art on the Square, and Concerts on the Square would be political. Catholic groups have the same rights as any other groups to gather in our public places. We gathered in the evening, after business had been concluded at the Capitol and its doors were closed. We made no speeches, invited no media, and brought no vuvuzelas. To me, that’s not political.

President Obama’s tactics in his Contraception Mandate are wickedly clever. Knowing that Americans oppose federally funded abortion, he has diverted the discussion to something Americans approve of, contraception. Contraception is the Trojan Horse in which President Obama is delivering not only federally funded abortion, but also the right of American Presidents to decree mandates without consulting the American people, the legislature, or moral and ethical experts. So far, few have seen through his tactics, and many support his Contraception Mandate, which is actually a Presidential Power Mandate and a Federally Funded Abortion Mandate.

If President Obama succeeds in getting this mandate through, his power will be established. He can then proceed to any mandate at all. The One-Child Policy Mandate. The Jewish Delis Must Serve Pork Mandate. The President who follows Obama, if a radical conservative, could continue with the Let’s Incarcerate All LGBT People Mandate, and the All Citizens Must Contribute To A Religious Fund Mandate, etc. etc.

It is in the interest of ALL Americans to stop the issuance of mandates by Presidents, because the next President might not be one of your choosing.

What mandates would Romney favor, I wonder?

Callen, any chance you will be joining me in prayer at the next Capitol Rosary Rally, the way Jews and Baptists have recently joined Catholics in Alabama in prayer during the Fortnight for Freedom?

(Sorry I implied you might not pray!)

 

Madison, Wisconsin’s Fortnight for Freedom Begins

 

Rosary over the Wisconsin State Capitol building at conclusion of rally (photos by Syte)

Audio: Bishop Morlino’s introductory remarks and Rosary let by Father Isaac Mary:

Capitol Rosary AUDIO  6-21-12

(60 min audio; small delay) Audio description: Bishop Morlino’s remarks, followed by 15 decades of the rosary led by Father Isaac Mary, Bishop Morlino’s conclusion, singing of God Bless America, and cheering as a giant “LIFE” rosary is released over the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. (Missed the beginning audio, as Bishop Morlino led everyone in singing Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.)

Background (click here)

More Photos:

Gathering at the WI Capitol at 7 PM

 

Father Rick Heilman, organizer at center

Patient Patriotic Folks; "LIFE" baloons in background

Beautiful Capitol, beautiful evening

Children holding the yellow LIFE balloon rosary. After praying 15 decades of the Rosary, children released the yellow rosary over the Capitol; a poignant symbol of our ardent prayers for our nation

 

The rosary rises higher as we all watch

The LIFE rosary drifts over Madison towards Lake Monona

Beautiful conclusion to a prayerful, peaceful rally

Fr. Rick invites everyone back for next Thursday, 7 PM, same place. He invites us to double today's magnificent turnout next week. Hundreds were here today.

Of course, the Schoenstatt Sisters were there to help us pray!

I hope somebody did a count- attendance was impressive.

Apologies, taking photos into the Sun at 7Pm is not trivial…

For More (and Best) Photos: See Tom Reitz’s photos on facebook

More Events to Come

There is nothing more moving than praying the rosary for freedom and for our nation, with hundreds of people on a beautiful day, on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol building.
A remarkable sight for passers-by, and a beautiful witness to our faith and our respect for life.

This scene was repeated yesterday at hundreds of places all over the United States, and similar events will continue for two weeks all over America, until Independence Day.
Madison’s weekly Capitol rosary, thanks to Fr. Rick’s efforts, will continue weekly on Thursdays, past the Fortnight for Freedom prayer effort, all the way up to the election, November 2, 2012.
More events to come at Madison Diocese website.

Media Coverage of Historical Events?

Doubt very much whether this event will be covered by the Wisconsin State Journal or by the mainstream media.
But whether Catholics and the Fortnight for Freedom get treated to a media blackout or not, God is listening.
A concerted national prayer effort of this size is guaranteed to touch His heart.
Get ready for remarkable events.
This prayer effort is historical, and the results will be historical.
What an auspicious June!

May God bless America!

 

Some AUDIO resources for those who are interested in understanding what is in the Mandate and why the Catholic Church is concerned:

 

 

 

 

Americans Pray for Freedom Across the Nation

Or

Fortnight For Freedom

Or

Come and Join Us!

 (Fortnight for Freedom, 7PM July 21st, 2012, at the Wisconsin State Capitol, on the State Street steps.) 

Background

The First Amendment

President Obama’s Contraceptive Mandate has violated the First Amendment, depriving Catholics in the United States of their freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, by forcing Catholics institutions to provide abortifacient pills to employees of Catholic institutions, forcing Catholics by law to do something Catholics believe to be morally wrong.

Women’s Issue?

This is not a “women’s health” issue, because the pills are as affordable as aspirin, tissues, and other medical supplies which have often been considered “over-the-counter,” and which have frequently not been covered by insurance policies in the past.  In fact, women use numerous products that are not, and are not likely ever to be covered by insurance, including cosmetics, lotions and sanitary products.  All of the “services” covered by the “Contraceptive Mandate” are extremely affordable, and any woman who can afford aspirin or a meal at McDonald’s can afford to pay for these items herself.

By choosing to mandate (to require by law) the free provision of abortifacient pills, the Obama administration is not trying to help women.  The administration is trying to place financial strain on the Catholic Church, which is one of the largest and strongest opponents of the Obama administration’s “social” agenda.  If Obama succeeds in pushing through ObamaCare and the Contraceptive Mandate, Catholic institutions will be forced by their conscience, like Saint Thomas More, to break the law.  Cathoilics will be forced into civil disobedience, into not providing abortifacient services, and then into paying $2,000 yearly penalties per employee, which are estimated to bankrupt most Catholic institutions within two years. Goodbye Catholic universities, Catholic High Schools, Catholic Grammar Schools, Catholic hospitals, Catholic soup kitchens, Catholic adoption agencies, etc., etc.  Goodbye the role that Catholics and their institutions have played in our national life since the birth of this nation.

Hello, one more segment of the economy that the Obama administration can take over, in addition to health care and General Motors.  Also, a blow to the Catholic Church, the largest (25% of Americans are Catholic), most organized and strongest institution involved in opposing the Obama administration’s “social” agenda, particularly abortion.  Two birds with one stone.  Isn’t the Obama administration wickedly clever!?

Obama’s strategy

The Obama administration’s biggest agenda, both nationally and worldwide, is abortion.  But they have realized from recent polls that Americans are increasingly opposed to abortion, and now a majority of Americans cannot be relied upon to support Obama’s, Hillary’s and Sebelius’ national and global abortion agenda.  To understand why abortion is so important to these people, see Abortion: a Much Bigger Deal Than You Think.

Since Americans are no longer likely to support the abortion agenda, the abortion agenda must be sneaked in under a less controversial issue, such as contraception. By sneaking in abortifacients under the phrase “Contraceptive Mandate,” the Obama administration hopes to get the support of the American majority against the Catholic Church.  It also hopes to divide the Catholic Church, and thus to reduce the power of the Catholic Church, rendering it less able to oppose Obama’s “social” (translated: moral) issues, such as abortion, gay marriage, and government funding of numerous medical strategies that facilitate promiscuity and discourage or demote traditional family life. Divide and conquer.  Isn’t the Obama administration wickedly clever!?

So Now, What’s Happening?

Americans Are Praying

So what do we do when the wicked set snares for us?

People praying the the Wisconsin State Capitol on Corpus Christi Sunday, June 10, 2012

Good Christians pray for God’s help:

For my eyes are upon you, O Lord,
in you I take refuge; do not take away my soul.
Guard me from the trap they have set before me,
From the snares of evildoers.
Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
While only I pass over them safely.
– Psalm 141:8-10

When and Where?

Starting Tomorrow!

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has organized a national 2-week prayer effort, the Fortnight for Freedom, which starts tomorrow, June 21st, 2012.  It begins on the feasts of St. Thomas More  and St. John Fisher, who gave their lives for religious freedom. The Fortnight for Freedom ends on July 4th, our American Independence Day.

The bishops have called us to focus “all the energies the Catholic community can muster” for religious liberty during this time.
Special prayers, novenas, Masses, rosaries, and concerted ringing of Church bells, are planned.  Friday, June 28th, the Priestly Ordination Mass will be dedicated to Religious Freedom through Fortnight for Freedom:

Diocese of Madison, WI announcements, events and details (click).

USCCB National announcements, events and details (click).

What’s Going On in Madison?

In Madison, this begins with a Capitol Rosary Rally on Thursday, June 21st, 2012, at the Wisconsin State Capitol at 7:00 PM, on the State Street Steps of the Capitol Building.
Madison’s Bishop Morlino will join the first rosary event.

Rosary rallies will be held at the Madison Capitol every Thursday at 7 PM, through November 1st, 2012, until the General election.

Come and Join Us!

Come to help us Catholics pray, or come to watch, or come just to lend Catholics moral support.  You don’t have to pray the rosary to attend; you only have to be in support of religious freedom for all Americans, and be willing to ask God’s help.  Catholics happen to be the largest religious denomination in the United States, and are thus able to organize, but all who support religious freedom are welcome to attend.

Why Pray? Why the Rosary?

Catholics have found the Rosary to be a particularly powerful form of prayer throughout the ages.  The victory of Christian forces which prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was attributed to Pope Pius V’s call for all of Europe to pray the rosary.  The Christian fleet was at a material disadvantage, and the Turkish fleet had superior numbers, yet the Christian fleet won.

At the hour of victory, Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, went over to a window, and exclaimed with supernatural radiance: “The Christian fleet is victorious!” and shed tears of thanksgiving to God.  – EWTN library 

The Battle of Lepanto was first celebrated liturgically as “Our Lady of Victory,” and was later renamed “Our Lady of the Rosary.”

Aside: to address some of the misinformation out there about Catholics, Catholics do not worship or deify Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.  They simply ask her assistance in pleading with her Son Christ, much as a child might ask their mother’s intercession when they ask their father for something.  Catholics presume that Christ has a soft spot in His heart for his Mother.

Isn’t the Rosary a repetitive prayer condemned by the Bible?

Pope John Paul II: “The rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at a heart a Christ-centered prayer. It has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety. "

No, the Rosary is not simply a repetitive prayer.  It is a complex form of meditation, in which many of the events of Christ’s life and passages from the New Testament are contemplated.  The Rosary is a prayer that gives structure to the complex series of meditations that are going on in the hearts and minds of those who are reciting the rosary.

The Bible passage most often quoted by those who object to the rosary is Matthew 6:7, which objects to “empty phrases” and to “vain repetitions.” Neither of these applies to the rosary, which is neither empty nor vain.  Jesus Christ Himself used serious repetitive prayer during the Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:39-44) and Christ instructed people to be persistent in their prayer (Luke 18:1-8).  More information.

Americans Have Been Praying
Before this Most Recent Effort

Americans have been praying for our government for quite some time now.  Many denominations are organizing and praying; please send in prayer programs and references if you want them added to this list.  Most of my references are Catholic, since that is what I know best.

Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rallies across the U.S.

March 23, 2012 Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally, also Madison’s Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally

Madison’s novena prior to the June 8, 2012 Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally

National headcount for June 8, 2012 Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rallies

Interfaith Novena:  – 9 days of interfaith prayer leading up to the June 8, 2012 Stand Up For Religious Freedom rally.

When will the media do their job, report on these national grass roots events, and give poor me a vacation from trying to compensate for their news blackouts?

Hey, Wisconsin State Journal (and all the rest of the media out there): I searched your site for “Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally” and it came up with Your search did not yield any results.
Really. Not surprised.
We’ll include some prayers for conscientious reporting by the U.S. media tomorrow, too.

.

Hat’s off to some media who do have articles on the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rallies or Fortnight For Freedom this week:

.

Catholic Free Press
National Catholic Reporter
Family Institute of Connecticut Blog
Colorado Catholic Herald
AfricanAmreicanConservatives
TheCatholic Commentator……
added : WALL STREET JOURNAL just covered Fortnight for Freedom
added: CNS News covers Forthnight for Freedom

…. mostly religious, small and/or conservative organizations.

.

.

.

.

.

Boo to ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN; 160,000 people have been rallying in 161 cities across the US for religious freedom, and ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN gave us a news blackout.

Expecting a media blackout again for Fortnight for Freedom, but God plans to listen.

 

 Remember: Come to the Fortnight For Freedom, 7PM Thursday, June 21st, 2012, on the State Street steps of Wisconsin’s Capitol Building in Madison!

 

Added after the event: Some AUDIO resources for those who are interested in understanding what is in the Mandate and why the Catholic Church is concerned:

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