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

April 29, 2010

San Francisco-based Craigslist making millions on "adult" ads

I know plenty of decent people who use Craigslist, innocently looking for a job, or to sell a car, or for a good deal on used books, furniture, and the like. There are some great buys available there, from what they tell me. But there is also a dark underworld to Craigslist, seething beneath the bland surface of ads for housing, stuff for sale, jobs, and services. Beneath that mundane patina lies the dank and dangerous basement of sex for sale.

California Catholic Daily has just posted a revealing article about what actually happens at Craigslist that you probably never knew about. Caveat emptor!

“Biggest online hub for selling women against their will”

San Francisco-based Craigslist, the international online classified advertising network, earned millions last year from selling “adult advertising,” ads that have prompted law-enforcement probes in at least 40 states.

“The ads, many of which blatantly advertise prostitution, are expected to bring $36 million this year, according to a new projection of Craigslist’s income,” the New York Times reported April 25. “That is three times the revenue in last year’s projection.”

“Law-enforcement officials have been fighting a mostly losing battle to get Craigslist to rein in the sex ads,” said the Times. “At the same time, officials of organizations that oppose human trafficking say the site remains the biggest online hub for selling women against their will.”

“Last week, in the latest example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 14 members of the Gambino crime family on charges of, among other things, selling the sexual services of girls ages 15 to 19 on Craigslist,” the Times reported.

“Sex Trade Big Business for Craig,” reported KNBC-TV, Channel 11 in the Bay Area, referring to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. The television station said in a headline on its website, “Money charged for formerly free ads estimated to bring in $36 million.”

“Craigslist revenue grew 22 percent last year, to $122 million, largely on the strength of increasing fees for ‘adult’ advertising and no longer sending that money to charity,” said NBC Bay Area.

The revenue estimates for Craigslist come from the Advanced Interactive Media Group, which, said NBC Bay Area, “regularly calculates revenue estimates for the private company by tracking the number and nature of ads posted to the site.”

Craigslist originally promised to donate revenues from ‘adult’ ads to charity, but “announced that it would no longer disclose its plans with that money last year, suggesting it's now going to the bottom line,” said the NBC Bay Area report.

According to the Times, Craigslist “had seemed to put the conflict over its sex ads to rest” last May when it agreed to monitor ‘adult’ postings for illegal activity. “Attorneys general in 40 states, including New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut, investigated the company for facilitating criminal activity, after a wave of publicity about prostitution and violent crimes linked to the site,” the Times reported. . . . (Continue reading)

Say hello to my little friend

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Habemus novum nepōtem!
Eminentissimum ac pulchrum puerum
Qui sibi nomen imposuit PAULUS IOSEPH.

I announce to you a great joy:
We have a new grandson!
The most eminent and most beautiful boy
Who takes to himself the name of PAUL JOSEPH (MADRID).

Nancy and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our 8th grandchild, Paul. The little lad is the fifth child of our oldest son, Jonathon, and his lovely wife Kelly.

He was born yesterday, Wednesday, April 28, in the year of Our Lord 2010, weighing in at 6 lbs., 15 oz., and measuring 20". He is healthy in every respect and everyone in the family is delighted to finally meet him in person. My thanks to all of you who have been praying for Kelly and baby during her pregnancy.

P.S. For those who are interested in such things, our grandsons now outnumber our granddaughters, 6 to 2.

April 27, 2010

My view from the pew on aspects of the sex-scandal crisis

I was interviewed recently by Greg & Jennifer Willits of "The Catholics Next Door" radio show fame (heard on Sirius Radio's Catholic Channel). We discussed a variety of issues surrounding the ongoing sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, including the wisdom of priestly celibacy, how Catholics should respond to those who raise the scandals as a challenge, how the scandals are more like a tsunami than a tidal wave, what we can practically do to facilitate genuine healing, whether bishops who are implicated in these scandals should be prosecuted by the law, and more. To listen, click the mitre above or click here.

April 26, 2010

So, you want to go to heaven, do you?

Then heed this wise advice from St. John Vianney, as explained and amplified by Father Roger J. Landry of New Bedford, Massachusetts. It might startle you. The message is simple to understand, if not easy to put into practice. St. John Vianney, pray for us!
For a Christian who wants to be saved, charity is not optional. “All of our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions, and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God,” he declared emphatically, “unless we have universal charity for everyone, for the good and for the bad, for the poor people as well as for the rich, for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good” . . . .
The obligation we have to love our neighbor is so important that Jesus Christ put it into a commandment that he placed immediately after that by which he commands us to love him with all our hearts. He tells us that all the law and the prophets are included in this commandment to love our neighbor. Yes, my dear brethren, we must regard this obligation as the most universal, the most necessary and the most essential to religion and to our salvation. In fulfilling this commandment, we are fulfilling all the others”
“Dear Lord, how many Christians are damned through lack of charity! No, no, my dear brethren, even if you could perform miracles, you will never be saved if you do not have love. Not to have charity is not to know your religion. It is to have a religion of whim, mood and inclination. … Without charity, you will never see God. You will never go to heaven!” . . . . (continue reading)

One lawyer behind many allegations of Catholic Church abuse

Here's an angle of the ongoing priest-&-bishop scandals that, I must say, I am surprised to see the mainstream media covering.

On one hand, I'm glad that there are assiduous lawyers like this one who pursue the cause of justice for the victims. Some would never find justice, or even just a semblance of it, if not for the efforts of a relentless lawyer.

But on the other hand, something doesn't sit quite right when it is revealed that a single lawyer is personally responsible for generating such a massive wave of lawsuits against the Catholic Church. Maybe he's just a dedicated lawyer who, through skill and hard work, has gained such a wide and well-deserved reputation in this area that victims flock to him (and how very, very sad that there are flocks of victims to begin with!). Or maybe he's an ambulance chaser. Or maybe he's both.
The last month has seen a blizzard of new sex abuse accusations against the Catholic Church from across the United States. Almost all of them -- and the intense media attention they've garnered -- can be trace d to one man: a Minnesota lawyer named Jeff Anderson.
Last week, an alleged victim of priest abuse in Wisconsin announced a lawsuit against the Vatican itself. Anderson is representing the alleged victim.
A couple of days earlier, a Mexican man who alleged abuse by a priest years ago filed suit against Mexico's top Catholic cleric in a U.S. court. The plaintiff is another Anderson client.
And throughout April, new documents have come to light suggesting that the current pope may have played down warnings about abusive priests in the United States. Those documents came from Anderson's St. Paul, Minnesota, office.
For decades, Anderson has won settlements from Catholic archdioceses across the country for abuse victims and, more than any other attorney in the country, has driven American media coverage of the church abuse scandal.
Now, with the church abuse crisis embroiling Europe for the first time and raising questions about whether the pope himself did enough to respond to church abuse, Anderson is employing novel legal tactics in an attempt to take his campaign all the way to the Vatican.
"I'm getting far more aggressive because all roads are leading to Rome," Anderson, 62, said last Thursday, after filing suit against the Vatican on behalf of the alleged Wisconsin abuse victim.
"I'm pessimistic that the Vatican is capable of changing itself but I'm optimistic that external pressure will," Anderson said. "We're at a tipping point."
Anderson's last sex abuse suit against the Vatican, filed in 2002, has wound its way through the courts, with the U.S. Supreme Court now considering whether to hear the case.
But Anderson's critics say that last week's suit against the Vatican, along with much of his other work, is aimed more at attracting publicity than getting justice.
"Anderson has sued the Vatican many times, and has never won," said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. "He knows he will lose again this time, but that means nothing to him. What this is all about is grandstanding: getting more PR for himself and throwing more mud at the Catholic Church."
Anderson's firm -- Jeff Anderson & Associates, which employs four other lawyers -- has filed hundreds of sex abuse suits against the church. Though he won't disclose how much he has won in settlements, Anderson is thought to be responsible for a good chunk of the roughly $2.5 billion that, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Catholic Church has paid to sex abuse victims to date.
He was among the lawyers representing abuse victims in the $600 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2007, the church's largest payout ever. . . . (continue reading)

April 23, 2010

Antony Flew, a former atheist who discovered God, RIP

World Pays Tribute on Death of Atheist Turned Believer

Leading academics, philosophers and members of the Christian faith across the world continue to pay tribute to Antony Flew, the famed British atheist and thinker who discovered God at the end of his life.

The renowned rationalist philosopher died earlier this month at age 87 and continues to be remembered in obituaries and tributes world-wide.

Those paying tribute to him include Catholic Theology professors from the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, well known American rabbis such as Rabbi Brad Hirshfield from New York and leading philosphers from academia such as Dr Gary Habermas.

Describing Flew as one of the great intellectuals of his time, Rabbi Hirschfield lauded the Englishman's "intellectual generosity."

The son of a Methodist minister, Antony Flew spent most of his life denying the existence of God until just six years before his death when he dramatically changed his mind after studying research into genetics and DNA.

"The almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, show that intelligence must have been involved," he announced in 2004 and went on to make a video of his conversion called : "Has Science Discovered God."

Ironically, although modern day atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens claim in the rational world of science there is no proof of God exists, it is from the world of science that Antony Flew in his final years discovered "empirical evidence" that God exists, which overturned beliefs he had held for more than 60 years.

Like Einstein before him, Flew found that God was the only possible answer when it came to increasingly complex discoveries from sub atomic particles to the human genome to the very origins of the Cosmos.

"How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self replication capabilities and ‘coded chemistry'?" he asked, giving this as the main reason for his discovery of God in his final decade.

Flew's conclusion that there was in fact a God in his 81st year came as a shock to his fellow atheists, particularly Dawkins and Hitchens two of the world's most outspoken proponents of atheism.

But Flew refused to back down even when some of his former followers decided his volte-face on God was the result of old age dementia and confusion rather than scholarly research and intellectual rigour.

Flew's late life change of mind about God's existence was remarkable because of the huge volume of his writings which until then had embraced the atheist cause. Throughout most of his academic life he was adamant that one should presuppose atheism until there was empirical evidence to the contrary. Then in his final decade through as DNA and the human genome began to be understood along with the complexities of life, Flew found evidence which proved to him God exists and is the Creator of life. And from being a rationalist philosopher and non-believer for most of his life, one of the world's leading thinkers suddenly became a staunch believer.

"The most impressive arguments for God's existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries," he said. . . . (continue reading)

Bishop Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium, resigns

Another episcopal domino topples as public awareness of and outrage at the clergy sexual abuse problem increases in Europe. I wish this problem would evaporate quickly, like waking up from a nightmare, but my guess is that the more likely scenario will be a protracted agony of more dominoes falling for some time to come.

"When I was still just a priest, and for a certain period at the beginning of my episcopate, I sexually abused a minor from my immediate environment. The victim is still marked by what happened. Over the course of these decades I have repeatedly recognised my guilt towards him and his family, and I have asked forgiveness; but this did not pacify him, as it did not pacify me. The media storm of recent weeks has increased the trauma, and the situation is no longer tenable. I profoundly regret what I did and offer my most sincere apologies to the victim, to his family, to all the Catholic community and to society in general. I have presented my resignation as bishop of Bruges to Pope Benedict XVI. It was accepted on Friday and so I retire". . . . (continue reading -- more coverage here)

April 22, 2010

How the Nazis engineered a pedophile-priest scare in the 1930s

Italian Catholic intellectual Massimo Introvigne (whom I met on a couple of occasions when in Rome for speaking engagements), has contributed an important and eye-opening article about the phenomenon of priest scandals, as seen through the lens of history. Fairly recent history, to be more specific.

Introvigne provides an historical overview and analysis of a precursor to the current priest scandal — one that was concocted by minions of the Third Reich in the late 1930s as a gambit against the Catholic Church. They sought to incite a "moral panic" that would sway public opinion against the Church, which the Nazis rightly understood to be a formidable obstacle to their hegemonic designs.

As the present crop of Catholic moral scandals is relentlessly sifted and sieved by a media in search of even the most minute gleanings of priestly prurience, take note that this has happened before, as Introvigne points out, in Hitler-era Germany. The New York Times and like-minded organs of modern-day antipathy toward the Catholic Church have learned to exploit Marie Bashkirtseff's maxim, "The weak brood over the past; the strong take their revenge on it."
“There are cases of sexual abuse that come to light every day against a large number of members of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately it’s not a matter of individual cases, but a collective moral crisis that perhaps the cultural history of humanity has never before known with such a frightening and disconcerting dimension. Numerous priests and religious have confessed. There’s no doubt that the thousands of cases which have come to the attention of the justice system represent only a small fraction of the true total, given that many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

An editorial from a great secular newspaper in 2010? No: It’s a speech of May 28, 1937, by Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich. This speech, which had a large international echo, was the apex of a campaign launched by the Nazi regime to discredit the Catholic Church by involving it in a scandal of pedophile priests.

Two hundred and seventy-six religious and forty-nine diocesan priests were arrested in 1937. The arrests took place in all the German dioceses, in order to keep the scandals on the front pages of the newspapers. . . . (continue reading)

April 21, 2010

My dear friend was sexually molested by her father ...

I want her to read this powerful meditation — I am not really sure what else to call it — written by the very popular blogger Elizabeth Scalia, a brilliant writer known to First Things readers as "The Anchoress." She wrote this piece three and a half years ago, and somehow I never noticed it, until today, until just now.

If you suffered sexual abuse at the hands of your father or mother, please read this. If you know someone who else who suffered it, please encourage them to read this. And everyone else, read it. Read it and weep.
. . . There is a strange displacement that occurs within a child who has endured sexual abuse by a parent. There is the dissociative element, of course. A child overwhelmed by what is happening to him or her tends to find a safe spot somewhere inside herself, from which she can almost “watch” the abuse, as though it is happening to someone else.

And there are recurring images that become meaningful to such a child in ways that others would never consider. When I think back on that time in my life, I see images of doorways. The doorway through which I would interiorly pray someone – anyone – would enter, to stop the terrible chaos surrounding me…the doorway I watched while cringing beneath my sheets and blankets, hoping no shadows would be moving within the dim light and heading my way.

The corner moulding of a doorway means little to most people. To me, it holds out hope of rescue, or fear of ruin. . . . (continue reading)

MADE (sterile) IN CHINA

This is outrageous even by Communist Chinese standards of outrageous crimes against humanity.

Doctors in southern China are working around the clock to fulfil a government goal to sterilise — by force if necessary — almost 10,000 men and women who have violated birth control policies. Family planning authorities are so determined to stop couples from producing more children than the regulations allow that they are detaining the relatives of those who resist.

About 1,300 people are being held in cramped conditions in towns across Puning county, in Guangdong Province, as officials try to put pressure on couples who have illegal children to come forward for sterilisation.

The 20-day campaign, which was launched on April 7, aims to complete 9,559 sterilisations in Puning, which, with a population of 2.24 million, is the most populous county in the province.

A doctor in Daba village said that his team was working flat out, beginning sterilisations every day at 8am and working straight through until 4am the following day.

Zhang Lizhao, 38, the father of two sons, aged 6 and 4, said that he rushed home late last night from buying loquats for his wholesale fruit business to undergo sterilisation after his elder brother was detained. His wife had already returned so that the brother would be freed.

Mr Zhang said: “This morning my wife called me and said they were forcing her to be sterilised today. She pleaded with the clinic to wait because she has her period. But they would not wait a single day. I called and begged them but they said no. So I have rushed back. I am satisfied because I have two sons.”

Thousands of others have refused to submit and officials are continuing to detain relatives, including elderly parents, to force them to submit to surgery. Those in detention are required to listen to lectures on the rules limiting the size of families. (continue reading)

Courtesy of New Advent.

April 16, 2010

Fr. Neil Buchlein and I discuss Medjugorje pros and cons on the Al Kresta Show

SSPX Bishop Williamson Convicted for Denying Holocaust

The news is just coming in about a ridiculous though widely anticipated judgment from the German court against an outspoken leader in the SSPX movement. I know that denying the Holocaust is illegal in that country, but it shouldn't be.

Of course I believe the Holocaust happened, but for the state to outlaw personal opinions, however odd we might think they are, is simply stupid. True, Bishop Williamson has caused plenty of headaches for his fellow members of the SSPX, not to mention for the Holy Father, but even though he may have been highly impolitic in some of his statements, he has a right to his opinion on a matter like this.

Personally, I would disagree with Bishop Williamson's opinions on a number of issues (the Holocaust being one of them), but that doesn't prevent me from recognizing that what's happening to him here is wrong, plain and simple. He is being victimized by an unjust law.

A German court convicted ultraconservative British Bishop Richard Williamson on Friday of denying the Holocaust in a television interview.

A court in the Bavarian city of Regensburg found Williamson guilty of incitement for saying in a 2008 interview with Swedish television that he did not believe Jews were killed in gas chambers during World War II.

The court ordered Williamson to pay a fine of euro10,000 ($13,544).

The Roman Catholic bishop was barred by his order from attending Friday's proceedings or making statements to the media.

His lawyer, Matthias Lossmann, told The Associated Press after the court ruling that Williamson has yet to decide whether he would appeal.

Denying the Holocaust is a criminal offense in Germany.

The court ordered a fine of euro12,000 for Williamson last year, without a trial. But the bishop appealed, forcing his case to be tried publicly.

Lossmann said that Williamson had explicitly asked the Swedish television crew conducting the interview not to broadcast it in Germany.

In issuing her ruling, Judge Karin Frahm said the bishop could not have expected that the clip would show up on YouTube and be seen directly in Germany, and that led her to reduce the fine, court spokesman Bernhard Schneider told the AP.

The journalists who conducted the interview ignored a court order to attend the trial, Lossmann said, leaving the judge to rely on written statements as testimony.

"That does not do a case like this justice," Lossmann said. . . (continue reading)

April 15, 2010

A death in the family

In your kindness, please pray for the repose of the soul of my sister-in-law, Tammy (married to my brother Andrew). I just learned that she died in her sleep last night of what appear to be natural causes. Tammy was only 30, and though she had had some illnesses in recent years, this was completely unexpected. As you can imagine, our family, especially Andrew, is in a state of shock. Thank you for your prayers .

The new atrocity: three-parent embryos

As I read this bizarre and disturbing news item regarding how
mad scientists have successfully performed a "3-person in vitro fertilization" ("eighty embryos were created but destroyed after eight days"), a warning from the Lord Jesus Christ came to my mind:
"Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town" (Matt. 10:15).
Now, instead of a "town" in which evil and immorality is practiced on a wide scale, this blight has overcome an entire civilization. Woe to us if we don't turn away from this kind of nightmarish meddling with God's creation — and soon. And, to be candid, at times like this, I am inclined to think that it may already be too late.

April 13, 2010

A dark cloud with a silver lining

Last week on my "Open Line" radio show (Thursdays from 3-5 pm ET), I took a call from Mike, an Evangelical Protestant who wanted me to know that he had successfully convinced his Catholic wife to abandon her Faith and leave the Catholic Church to become Protestant. There's more to the story, and if you click here or on the image above, you can listen to what happened next.

Then, immediately after that exchange, I took a call from another Protestant named David. He told me something I think you will find interesting . . .

And that picture above? It's an apt visual description of the first caller, who led his poor wife directly into a dangerous storm, not away from one.

For info on that Catholic/Protestant debate on sola fide and sola scriptura, please click the image below:

April 10, 2010

The end of the world according to the ATARI Prophecy

April 8, 2010

Ecclesiastical Humor: Not everyone is happy about Archbishop Gomez's Appointment to LA

You know this would come out, sooner or later. It seems to be an axiomatic law of the universe that a Hitler diatribe video must be made as a comedic subtext for any significant event. Whoever put this one together has a razor-sharp sense of humor. It's an example of Steve Martin's dictum that "Comedy is not pretty." No, it surely isn't, especially when it comes to Church politics.

April 6, 2010

The coolest math teacher ever

Medjugorje and "The Maciel Effect"

Many adherents of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje to whom I have spoken personally have invoked the (also alleged) fondness and support of Pope John Paul II for it. "The Pope was in favor of Medjugorje," they reason, "and given what a good and holy pontiff he was, it's highly unlikely that Medjugorje could be anything other than an authentic Marian apparition. And, conversely, it's an even stronger reason for believing in Medjugorje."

This is a form of what's known as an a fortiori argument. For example, one might say, "If I think that Medjugorje is true, that's all well and good. But if even the pope thinks it's true, then the possibility that it is true is much stronger, much more likely."

Variations of this type of argument can be seen on sundry pro-Medjugorje websites, in which such-and-such a bishop or cardinal is touted as believing that the alleged apparitions are authentic, or such-and-such a theologian is extolled because he has declared that Medjugorje "has the ring of truth," etc., etc.

Strictly speaking, there is nothing wrong at all with arguing for something along these lines. We make use of valid arguments like this all the time ("Grandma always said that eating apples would keep you healthy, but if even expert scientists confirm that belief, how much more so should we take Grandma's advice seriously," etc.). The problem, though, at least for those who follow Medjugorje, is that their commonly employed argument, based on the widely held belief that Pope John Paul II strongly favored Medjugorje, skates dangerously close to the edge of the logical fallacy of weak induction. I'll explain what I mean.

As those who follow this blog know, I am an open-minded skeptic when it comes to Medjugorje. I see too many problematic aspects of the alleged apparitions — some, seriously problematic, such as the incitements to disobedience from whoever or whatever is dispensing the messages (for more on that, read my comments beneath this post) — to be convinced that it is an authentic Marian apparition. I realize, of course, and freely admit, that I may in fact be wrong in my skepticism. I simply may not have properly understood or interpreted the data.

As I have said before, if I am wrong about this, and if the Medjugorje phenomena are truly the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then I will rejoice to have my error corrected. I mean that sincerely. But that's beside the point for the purpose of this post.

What I am driving at, as the title of this article suggests, is that those who attempt to bolster their own faith in Medjugorje, and that of others, by using the argument about Pope John Paul II accepting its authenticity (take note that many now seek to press Pope Benedict XVI into service using this same tactic, as well) are setting themselves up for a serious difficulty.

It is a well known fact that Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, was a stalwart supporter of Fr. Marcial Maciel, the disgraced, recently deceased founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order and its lay arm, Regnum Christi. I can only assume that John Paul was truly ignorant of the many frauds Fr. Maciel had perpetrated for decades. How it is that the pope did not know the truth about that dastardly man is beyond me, but I'm not focusing on that question here. It's sufficient to remind ourselves that the charism of papal infallibility does not extend to the pope's private, personal opinions about people and things.

As we now know, Pope John Paul II was utterly wrong about Fr. Maciel. He had completely misjudged him. Like a whole lot of other people, including a few popes who came before him, John Paul was conned by a consummate con-man. His approval of the vaunted Mexican priest was in complete error. The gestures of honor and confidence with which he generously betokened Fr. Maciel over many years were completely undeserved. His famous comment that Maciel was "an efficacious guide to youth" could not have been more hideously incorrect.

We know that now. We know now the sordid details of many bad things which Fr. Maciel perpetrated over his lifetime. Since his demise, they have continued to belch forth from the grave like a sulfurous semi-dormant volcano that will emit its noxious fumes for a long time to come.
Please note: I am not equating Medjugorje with Fr. Maciel. I am not suggesting any kind of similarity whatsoever between the two. Nor am I in any way impugning or disrespecting or trying to besmirch the memory of Pope John Paul II. I believe he was a good and holy man who was deceived by a duplicitous, wicked man.

And that's what I hope all Medjugorje supporters who tout the alleged approval of Pope John Paul II will see and understand.

All the stories I have heard from Medjugorje supporters about how Pope John Paul II favored or even personally believed in its authenticity have all been apocryphal. I am not aware of the Holy Father ever publicly commenting, one way or the other, whether verbally or in writing, on Medjugorje.

Sure, there are numerous instances of private comments alleged to have been made by JPII about Medjugorje, but none that I am aware of which have been verified with documentation, such as video or audio recordings. Peruse these comments, and you'll see they are all third-hand. He said he said he said, etc.

But even that is not the main point here. Let's say for the sake of discussion that every single last one of those alleged remarks made by John Paul II really did come from his lips. Let's assume that not only did he say those things, but that he was also convinced that Medjugorje is authentic. And, a fortiori, if even Pope John Paul II himself was a fervent believer in Medjugorje, how much more should we regard it to be true. Right?

Wrong. That's a bad argument to be using in this case. Why? Because even saintly popes can be seriously wrong in their personal opinions.

We might think of this as the "Maciel Effect," which applies to Medjugorje and can be expressed in the form of the following argument:

"If even a good and holy pope can be deceived and be utterly wrong in his sincere personal opinion about the character of Fr. Maciel, then how much more so is it possible that you could be sincerely wrong in your personal opinions about Medjugorje?"

Remember: Pope John Paul II was convinced that Fr. Maciel was a holy priest, an exemplary and faithful Catholic, and "an efficacious guide to youth."

He could not have been more wrong about that.