“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

July 1, 2009

Hundreds of Catholics Bid Emotional Farewell to Newark Pastor

NJ.com carries this story:

NEWARK -- Hundreds of people -- some sobbing and crying out, "Why are they doing this?" -- bid an emotional and largely ceremonial goodbye today to a Newark priest who served the same Italian-American parish for 54 years.

It was Msgr. Joseph Granato's last day at St. Lucy's Church.

Officially. For now.

But this story won't end as easily as all that. Even the much reviled Jim Goodness -- reviled by St. Lucy's parishioners -- the spokesman for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, held out the possibility the 80-year-old but energetic priest might return "some time down the road" as pastor emeritus. Once a new pastor is firmly in control.

And supporters of Granato's desire to remain in the church rectory in retirement vowed to fight on. "It's not over," said Dee Kirk, head of the Friend's of St. Lucy's.

"We're just beginning," said Joseph DiVincenzo, the Essex County executive and the first of a number of political figures to join the fray.

The priest, after all, only moved a few blocks away to the boyhood home on Clifton Avenue he left 60 years ago to enter [the] seminary. He could walk to the church and, according to Goodness, could say Mass there as often as he wishes.

"No," said an emphatic monsignor, finally granting an interview after years of refusing to speak publicly. "I would not feel comfortable saying Mass here."

Granato will, however, preside over funerals at St. Lucy's. "To refuse that would be to punish the families," he said.

What happened today -- starting with a Mass that opened with a choir singing the hymn "Tu Es Sacerdos" ("You are a priest forever") usually reserved for priests' first Masses or jubilee celebrations -- was the inevitable and dramatic climax to a conflict between an archbishop determined to enforce his authority and an arguably unique Catholic parish with a historic claim on a Newark existing almost solely in memory.

Granato was the living symbol of those memories -- the priest who baptized them, gave them First Communion, married them, christened their children, buried their parents -- and their spouses. . . . (continue reading)

Try to Remember (If You Dare) When People Wore Their Hair Like This

My 70s hair was never that extreme (thankfully), but for a span of years it was . . . bad enough.

More On Augustine For Those Who Wonder About His Religous Affiliation

Here's a helpful little collection of representative statements on Catholic doctrines made by the great early Catholic bishop and theologian, Augustine of Hippo.


Staugustine1. On the authority of councils and apostolic traditions:
"But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the apostles themselves or by plenary [ecumenical] councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church" (Letter to Januarius [A.D. 400]).

2. On the canon of Scripture and prayers for the dead:

"The whole canon of the scriptures, however, in which we say that consideration is to be applied, is contained in these books: the five of Moses . . . and one book of Joshua [Son of] Nave, one of Judges; one little book which is called Ruth . . . then the four of Kingdoms, and the two of Paralipomenon . . . . [T]here are also others too, of a different order . . . such as Job and Tobit and Esther and Judith and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Esdras . . . . Then there are the prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David, and three of Solomon. . . . But as to those two books, one of which is entitled Wisdom and the other of which is entitled Ecclesiasticus and which are called ‘of Solomon’ because of a certain similarity to his books, it is held most certainly that they were written by Jesus Sirach. They must, however, be accounted among the prophetic books, because of the authority which is deservedly accredited to them" (
Christian Instruction 2:8:13 [A.D. 397]).

We read in the books of the Maccabees [2 Macc. 12:43] that sacrifice was offered for the dead. But even if it were found nowhere in the Old Testament writings, the authority of the Catholic Church which is clear on this point is of no small weight, where in the prayers of the priest poured forth to the Lord God at his altar the commendation of the dead has its place" (The Care to be Had for the Dead 1:3 [A.D. 421]).

3. On Apostolic Succession and Papacy:
"There are many other things which most properly can keep me in [the Catholic Church’s] bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep [John 21:15–17], up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic,’ when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house" (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

4. On the authority of the Apostolic See (the Roman Pontiff):
"[On this matter of the Pelagians], two councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [the bishop of Rome], and from there rescripts too have come. The matter is at an end; would that the error too might be at an end!" (Sermons 131:10 [A.D. 411]).

"If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’ Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement. ... In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found" (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

5. Intercession of the Saints and masses for the dead:
"At the Lord’s table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps" (Homilies on John 84 [A.D. 416]).

"Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ" (
The City of God 20:9:2 [A.D. 419]).

6. Perpetual Virginity of Mary:
"In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave" (Holy Virginity 4:4 [A.D. 401]).
"Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband" (Heresies 56 [A.D. 428]).

7. Miracles from the Sign of the Cross:
"In the same city of Carthage lived Innocentia, a very devout woman of the highest rank in the state. She had cancer in one of her breasts, a disease which, as physicians say, is incurable. . . . This lady we speak of had been advised by a skillful physician, who was intimate with her family, and she betook herself to God alone in prayer. On the approach of Easter, she was instructed in a dream to wait for the first woman that came out of the baptistery after being baptized and to have her make the sign of Christ upon the sore. She did so, and was immediately cured" (The City of God 22:8 [A.D. 419]).

8. The Real Presence:
"I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ" (Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]).

"What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction" (ibid., 272).

9. Mortal/venial sin, baptismal regeneration, confession:
"When you shall have been baptized, keep to a good life in the commandments of God so that you may preserve your baptism to the very end. I do not tell you that you will live here without sin, but they are venial sins which this life is never without. Baptism was instituted for all sins. For light sins, without which we cannot live, prayer was instituted. . . . But do not commit those sins on account of which you would have to be separated from the body of Christ. Perish the thought! For those whom you see doing penance have committed crimes, either adultery or some other enormities. That is why they are doing penance. If their sins were light, daily prayer would suffice to blot them out. . . . In the Church, therefore, there are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptisms, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance" (Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed 7:15, 8:16 [A.D. 395]).

10. No Divorces.
"A woman begins to be the wife of no later husband unless she has ceased to be the wife of a former one. She will cease to be the wife of a former one, however, if that husband should die, not if he commit fornication. A spouse, therefore, is lawfully dismissed for cause of fornication; but the bond of chastity remains. That is why a man is guilty of adultery if he marries a woman who has been dismissed even for this very reason of fornication" (On Adulterous Marriages, 2:4:4).

11. Male priesthood.
"[The Quintillians are heretics who] give women predominance so that these, too, can be honored with the priesthood among them. They say, namely, that Christ revealed himself . . . to Quintilla and Priscilla [two Montanist prophetesses] in the form of a woman" (Heresies 1:17 [A.D. 428]).

12. The Sacfice of the mass.
"For when he says in another book, which is called Ecclesiastes, ‘There is no good for a man except that he should eat and drink’ [Eccles. 2:24], what can he be more credibly understood to say [prophetically] than what belongs to the participation of this table which the Mediator of the New Testament himself, the priest after the order of Melchizedek, furnishes with his own body and blood? For that sacrifice has succeeded all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were slain as a shadow of what was to come. . . . Because, instead of all these sacrifices and oblations, his body is offered and is served up to the partakers of it" (The City of God 17:20 [A.D. 419]).

13. No salvation outside the Catholic Church.
"We believe also in the holy Church, that is, the Catholic Church. For heretics violate the faith itself by a false opinion about God; schismatics, however, withdraw from fraternal love by hostile separations, although they believe the same things we do. Consequently, neither heretics nor schismatics belong to the Catholic Church; not heretics, because the Church loves God; and not schismatics, because the Church loves neighbor" (Faith and the Creed10:21 [A.D. 393]).
"The apostle Paul said, ‘As for a man that is a heretic, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him’ [Titus 3:10]. But those who maintain their own opinion, however false and perverted, without obstinate ill will, especially those who have not originated the error of bold presumption, but have received it from parents who had been led astray and had lapsed . . . those who seek the truth with careful industry and are ready to be corrected when they have found it, are not to be rated among heretics" (Letters 43:1 [A.D. 412]).

"Whoever is separated from this Catholic Church, by this single sin of being separated from the unity of Christ, no matter how estimable a life he may imagine he is living, shall not have life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (ibid., 141:5).

"There are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptism, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance; yet God does not forgive sins except to the baptized" (Sermons to Catechumens on the Creed 7:15 [A.D. 395]).

14. Purgatory.
"But by the prayers of the holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death" (Sermons, 172:2).

"Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment" (
The City of God 21:13 [A.D. 419]).

"That there should be some fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some more slowly and some more quickly in the greater or lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, through a certain purgatorial fire" (
Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Charity 18:69 [A.D. 421]).

15. Queen Mary's Immaculate Conception and high status.
"That one woman is both mother and virgin, not in spirit only but even in body. In spirit she is mother, not of our head, who is our Savior himself—of whom all, even she herself, are rightly called children of the bridegroom—but plainly she is the mother of us who are his members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that head, might be born in the Church. In body, indeed, she is the Mother of that very head" (Holy Virginity 6:6 [A.D. 401]).

"Having excepted the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, on account of the honor of the Lord, I wish to have absolutely no question when treating of sins—for how do we know what abundance of grace for the total overcoming of sin was conferred upon her, who merited to conceive and bear him in whom there was no sin?—so, I say, with the exception of the Virgin, if we could have gathered together all those holy men and women, when they were living here, and had asked them whether they were without sin, what do we suppose would have been their answer?" (
Nature and Grace 36:42 [A.D. 415]).

16. That "Catholic" means Roman Catholic: not every sect.
We must hold to the Christian religion and to communication in her Church, which is catholic and which is called catholic not only by her own members but even by all her enemies. For when heretics or the adherents of schisms talk about her, not among themselves but with strangers, willy-nilly they call her nothing else but Catholic. For they will not be understood unless they distinguish her by this name which the whole world employs in her regard" (The True Religion 7:12 [A.D. 390]).

"If you should find someone who does not yet believe in the gospel, what would you [Mani] answer him when he says, ‘I do not believe’? Indeed, I would not believe in the gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so" (ibid., 5:6).

"In the Catholic Church . . . a few spiritual men attain [wisdom] in this life, in such a way that . . . they know it without any doubting, while the rest of the multitude finds its greatest safety not in lively understanding but in the simplicity of believing. . . .There are many other things which most properly can keep me in her bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority,
inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep [John 21:15–17], up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic,’ when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house" (
Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

Saint Augustine Was Catholic

Frank Beckwith, the former Evangelical Protestant who with some fanfare converted back to the Catholic Faith of his youth in 2007, has posted a helpful item from another source explaining an obvious fact that, for some strange reason, many Protestants just don't seem to understand (some do understand it but simply refuse to admit it).

What's that obvious fact? Namely that Saint Augustine was a big-C Catholic, not a "proto-Calvinist," as many in the Reformed camp delude themselves into believing.

I know that seems obvious. But there are some Reformed folk, like the prolific R. C. Sproul, who think of St. Augustine as a sort of pre-Calvinist. But, as Tim A. Troutman points out in his Called to Communion piece, "Augustinian Soteriology," nothing could be further from the truth. Here's an excerpt:
The point I want to draw out is that the Reformation’s favorite early saint sharply disagrees with the Reformers on what they called the central issue. The other points where Reformed thought diverges from Augustine are important too; but let’s start here.

If it is true, and Augustine, the supposed proto-Reformer, holds the Catholic view of cooperation, then what does that mean for the case of the Protestant community? After all, notice above that the Catholic Church doesn’t quote Augustine in support of the Catholic view, she simply quotes Augustine as the Catholic view itself.

You can read the whole thing
here. For even more detail on this matter, see Troutman's other piece, "Soli Deo Gloria." (Source)

Deal or No Deal? Turkish TV Show Has Religions Competing to Convert Atheists

ISTANBUL — Just when one thought TVshows could not get more outrageous, Kanal T comes up with the idea to make an imam, a priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk try to convert 10 atheists. While some fear the program could create problems, a sociologist says this just shows the yearning to learn more about religions

A new show set to grace Turkish television screens will see a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Buddhist monk competing to turn 10 unbelievers into devotees of their own faith each week.

The show, "Tövbekarlar Yarışıyor," which can be roughly translated as "Penitents Compete," will appear on Kanal T starting in early September. The imam, priest, rabbi and monk will try to convert at least one person in every show.

Kanal T was launched in January 2008 with mostly female presenters in front of the camera and also has a chairwoman managing the media group.

Seyhan Soylu, a famous transsexual known as "Sisi," is the mastermind behind the new religion-themed program and will be moderated by well-known female newscaster Gülgün Feyman. The show’s producer is model Ayşe Önal.

Kanal T Deputy Director Ahmet Özdemir told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that the program is the first of its kind in the world.

"The project aims to turn disbelievers into [believers in] God," no matter which religion they choose in the end, Özdemir said, adding that he believes the program will also be useful for those who want to learn more about other religions. "When people heard that we were going to air a program called ’Penitents Compete,’ it was hard for them to see what it was all about, but many people are waiting impatiently [for the show]."

The program will only take place in the studio, unlike shows such as "Big Brother," where contestants are isolated together in a house. An eight-person team of theologians and producers, which Özdemir refers to as a commission, will be sifting through the applicants to check their atheist credentials.

Each week, a different group of atheists will appear in front of the religious leaders. The producers of the show are well aware that there is a chance none of the atheists will be convinced by the arguments presented to them. Yet if an ex-atheist is "persuaded" to start following one of the religions, he or she will have the chance to travel to that religion’s center, whether Jerusalem for Christians and Jews or Mecca for Muslims or Tibet for Buddhists.

Show’s commission

"The commission will also follow them after the show. They can’t see this trip as a getaway, but as a religious experience," Özdemir said. "People are free to believe in anything they want. Our program does not have a say."

The yet-to-air program has already drawn reactions from many people, mostly Christians. Hakkı Devrim, a television commentator and columnist for daily Radikal called the idea absurd and said such a show insults religion.

"Religion is not a science, and it is not open to discussion," Devrim said, adding that the program offers atheists a chance to voice their own thoughts.

"If I had to describe it with a word, it would be ’unsuitable,’" said the columnist, who advised Kanal T not to take the risk of airing such a show in Turkey.

"It’s not worth the risk," he said.

Prof. Mustafa Çağrıcı, an
Istanbul mufti and the provincial head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, partially agreed with Devrim, saying religions could be discussed, but not on such a television program. He said such an extreme program could create complications in peoples’ minds. "I don’t know about the legal or media process of it, but as an academic, I don’t find it right to discuss religion in such environments," Çağrıcı said. . . . (continue reading)

Here's the Video of My Talk at the SQPN New Media Conference Last Weekend

My talk was on the theme of the "Dos and Don'ts of Apologetics and Evangelization," and I wove into it some thoughts about how new media can play a role (and a couple of aspects of new media we should be on guard against).

This was a truly remarkable group of Catholics, and I am grateful to have been invited by Father Roderick (what a dynamo he is) to address them at this conference in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday, June 27th.

Be sure to check out the website for SQPN, the Catholic media collossus directed by Father Roderick which hosted this event.

I had the good pleasure of meeting in person many key players in the Catholic world of new media (i.e., podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, i-phones, etc.), including the lovely ladies Danielle Bean and Lisa Hendey, and priest friends Fathers Jay Finelli (the renowned i-Padre) and Seraphim Beshoner, and many others. It was a great weekend. Thanks, Father Roderick and everyone. God bless you in your important work for Christ and the Church.

P.S. If any of you tech gurus out there can show me how to convert this video to YouTube format, so I can post it on my YouTube channel, I'd be very much obliged. Thanks.