Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity


The history of Bethlehem goes back to the time of Jacob and Rachel. The town is important to Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Bethlehem is situated eight kilometers (five miles) south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills and is 2361 feet above sea level. Today it is a Palestinian territory with both Muslims and Christians seeing themselves as Palestinians.
Bethlehem means ‘house of bread,’ in Hebrew and ‘house of meat,’ in Arabic. ‘House of Bread’ is meaningful to Christians who believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life. For Catholics and Orthodox Christians, the Eucharist (the bread shared in Communion) after consecration is the real body of Jesus.
'I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh' John 6:51

Not far away is Rachel’s Tomb, revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians. Rachel was Jacob’s most beloved wife and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin.
“So Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrath, at Bethlehem.” Gen 35:19

Ruth, the Moabite Woman
We also read of Bethlehem in Scripture in the Book of Ruth, a story that takes place during the time of the Judges. Ruth, a Moabite woman, was the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Naomi and her husband had fled Bethlehem in the land of Judah during a famine. After her husband and sons died, Naomi returned to Bethlehem and Ruth went with her, accepting her mother-in-law’s country and God as her own. Ruth married again, this time to an important landowner of Bethlehem, Boaz, and they became the ancestors of King David and eventually, Jesus.
“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife ... and she bore a son ... and they named him Obed. This was the father of David’s father, Jesse.” Ruth 4:13 ff
The City of David
Bethlehem was King David’s birthplace and is called ‘The city of David’. David was the second King of Israel in c.1000 BC.
“David was the son of an Ephrathite from Bethlehem of Judah whose name was Jesse.” I Sam 17:12

Years later, the prophet Micah, who lived in the 8th century BC, prophesied that a ruler would be born in the small, and by then, unimportant town of Bethlehem.
“But you Bethlehem, Ephrath, the least of all the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel.” Micah 5:2

Birthplace of Jesus
The Gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, report that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, even though Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth in Galilee, in the north. The Romans had called for a census and everyone was to travel to his ancestral city to be registered.
“So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and traveled up to Judea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” Luke 2:3
Two Church Fathers attest to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, Justin Martyr (c. 100- 165 AD) and Origen (185-c.254).
“Joseph took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth Christ and placed Him in a manger and here the Magi who came from Arabia found Him.” Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho. chapter LXXVIII)
“In Bethlehem the cave is pointed out where He was born, and the manger in the cave where He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. And the rumor is in those places, and among foreigners of the Faith, that indeed Jesus was born in this cave who is worshipped and reverenced by the Christians.” (Origen Contra Celsum. book I, chapter LI)

The Church of the Holy Nativity
St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, travelled to the Holy Land to find places which had been significant in the life of Jesus. She had the grotto, where people said Jesus had been born, made into a chapel and in AD 333 construction was completed on the basilica. This structure was destroyed by fire in AD529 during the Samaritan Revolt and the present Basilica was built in AD565. The entrance to the Basilica is a very low doorway known as the Door of Humility. Some say that the real purpose of the low door was to prevent enemies riding their horses into the sacred place,
The actual place that is believed to be the site of Jesus' birth is marked by a 14-point silver star set in marble on which are written the words Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus est (Here the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ). The Church is now administered by Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic (Franciscans) and Armenian Apostolic authorities and is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year from all over the world.
Bethlehem Today
Today the town of Bethlehem is under the control of The Palestinian Authority and has been since 1995. The present mayor is a Christian woman, Vera Baboun. Both Christians and Muslims count themselves as Palestinian but the majority are Arab Muslims. Many of the Christian Arabs have left in the past few years depleting the population of Christians. The total population of Bethlehem is 27,000.
Citizens of Bethlehem, including Muslims, depend on tourism and Christian pilgrimages for their livelihood.

Sources
The New Jerusalem Bible New York: Doubleday & company, Inc. 1970.
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version.
Website of BBC News Church with a Turbulent History. 4 April 2002. Accessed December 14, 2010.
Website of New Advent – Catholic Encyclopedia. article on Bethlehem accessed December 15, 2010.
Website of Wikipedia – article on Bethlehem. accessed December 15, 2010.
Terra Sancta, Documentary (2009) by the Franciscan Media Centre aired on Salt and Light Television, December 17, 2013.
Photos by L. Shelstad

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Immaculate Conception: what does it mean?


Meeting at the Golden Gate, Giotto.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated on December 8, is often confused with the Virgin Birth. 
Some think that the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit. Jesus being conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary without a human father is known as the Virgin Birth, not the Immaculate Conception.
Neither does the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception mean that Mary was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit or that her own birth was a ‘virgin birth’. In the 4th century there was a popular belief that Mary’s birth was a virgin birth and in the 16th century the belief that she was born of the Holy Spirit circulated. The Church condemned both of these beliefs as error in 1677.
The famous painting, “The Meeting at the Golden Gate”, by Giotto, depicts Joachim kissing his wife, Anna as they celebrate the knowledge that they will be parents. Some interpreted the kiss as the moment of conception. The actual Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception does not say anything about the generative act of Mary’s mother and father. Most theologians, today, believe that Mary was conceived in the usual manner.

In the proclamation, Ineffabilis Deus of December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX defined the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as follows: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was from the first moment of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted of almighty God, and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”

Some object to the doctrine because it seems to contradict St. Paul who says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Did Paul mean that everyone actually commits sins - even infants? Or could he have meant that everyone is subject to original sin, which then does not contradict the fact of Mary’s being preserved from original sin.
Examining the doctrine of the Catholic Church more closely, we see that like all descendants of Adam, Mary by her humanity, was subject to original sin. Because she was to be the mother of the Christ, God intervened in a special way and preserved her soul from the stain of that sin and its consequences. This intervention was ‘in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race”. Mary was then, saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, as are all believers, but in ‘anticipation’ of those events. She said, ‘yes’ to God and accepted His will for her life. Because she was redeemed by Christ, she could declare in her Magnificat, “My spirit rejoices in Christ, my Saviour” (Luke 1:47).

The angel Gabriel's greeting to Mary, "Hail, Mary, full of grace", (Luke 1:26) is said to point to her sinlessness ie fullness of grace.

Others point out that this is a doctrine that sprang up out of nowhere when it was declared in 1854 and was not believed by the early church. An examination of the writings of the Church Fathers in the very early years of the Church will show:
- that the Church Fathers spoke of the Virgin Mary’s “exemption from defilement” (Hippolytus, “Ontt. in illud, Dominus pascit me”) Hippolytus ?-AD236
-that she was “worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate” (Origen, “Homily i, in diversa”) Origen AD185-254
-that she was “immune through grace from every stain of sin (Ambrose, “Sermon xxii in Psalm cxviii). Ambrose c. AD337-397.
The theologian, Duns Scotus, developed the idea: "Decuit, potuit, ergo fecit, it was becoming that the Mother of the Redeemer should have been free from the power of sin and from the first moment of her existence; God could give her this privilege, therefore He gave it to her".
We see from this small sample of early theologians, that the doctrine of Mary’s preservation from sin was believed very early in the Church.
Early writers also referred to Mary as the ‘Second Eve’. Eve was created without original sin but sinned when she disobeyed God. Like Eve, Mary was without original sin, but unlike Eve, Mary agreed to do God’s will. She is the fulfillment of the proto-evangelium in Genesis 3:15 -16 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head while you strike at his heel.”


In the Catholic Church, Dogmas are defined when there is a controversy over them or when emphasis of a belief already in existence will help the faithful. In other words the belief is not new but is ‘defined’. In the case of the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, there was no controversy at the time it was defined, but Pius IX felt it would help the faithful by inspiring devotion to the Virgin.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Brother Andre: The Humble Doorman


St. Joseph's Oratory Montreal, Quebec.

In Montreal's district of Côte-des-Neiges, The Oratory of St. Joseph rises on the north slope of Mount Royal. Its construction began in 1924, but it was not inaugurated until March 19, 1955.
At 124 m., it is higher than both St. Paul's in London (111 m) and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (90 m). In 2005 the Oratory was added to the List of National Historic Sites of Canada on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. But the story of the man behind the Oratory is even more amazing.
Alfred Bessette's Early Life
Alfred Bessette was born August 9, 1845 in Saint-Grégoire d'Iberville, a small town southeast of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was the eighth child in a family of twelve and both his parents died when he was still a child. Little Alfred, now an orphan, found work in villages nearby and later went to work in the mills of New England.
After returning to Canada in 1867 (the year of Canada's Confederation) he joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross. At first, the Congregation, a teaching order, was somewhat reluctant to accept the frail and uneducated Alfred but in the end they did. He took the name of Brother André and was given the job of doorman (or porter) at Notre Dame College. He also rang the school bells and helped in the laundry and the infirmary. Throughout his life he suffered from stomach pains and was unable to eat much of the food served at the school but he never complained.
A Doorman at Notre Dame College
As a doorman he had the opportunity to meet many people and when talking to them they often gave him prayer requests. He would lay these prayers before St. Joseph, the Virgin Mary's husband, and many were cured of their illnesses. Brother André became well-known because of these cures even though he insisted, "It is not me, God is responsible, Saint Joseph is responsible."
The Chapel is Built
In 1904 Brother André and his friends built a small chapel across the street from the College in honour of St. Joseph. For twenty-five years Brother André received visitors in his tiny office connected to the chapel. The chapel and Brother André's room nearby are still there and are visited by over two million people each year.
Construction of the Basilica
Eventually the chapel was too small for the daily stream of sick and needy people coming to see the doorman for prayer. After several expansions of the chapel, work on a crypt was begun and in 1924 workers began to construct the basilica.
When the Depression hit in 1936, many felt the work should be stopped. Brother André, however, declared that, since it was not his work but that of St. Joseph, they should place the statue of St. Joseph in the unfinished shrine. "If he wishes to be covered, he'll take care of it." In two months people had given enough money to continue construction.
Brother Andre's Death
Brother André died two months later on January 6, 1937 and nearly a million people lined up to pay respects to the little doorman of Notre Dame College.
Canonization
In 1978, Brother André was declared venerable and in 1982, Pope John Paul II declared him blessed. On October 17, 2010 the 'humble doorman' was canonized (the final step of sainthood) by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.
Sources
Dubuc, Jean-Guy Brother André and Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal. Strasboug, France: Editions du Signe. 1995.
Turcotte, Jean-Claude Cardinal. Montreal's Porter and Heaven's Gatekeeper. in Lampstand. Toronto: Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation. Fall, 2010.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Woman's Right to Her Own Body

If a woman has a right to her own body, which of the actions below does a woman have a right to do? Is it legal (in your country)? Does it only affect the woman herself or does it harm others?


- use heroin?




- not use a seatbelt when driving?


- wear a hijab?




- abort her baby?





Using heroin is destructive to your body but does it hurt anyone else? It can be harmful to others if you encourage others to use heroin or sell it to others, you steal to support the habit or you drive when you are high and kill someone. But most of all you hurt yourself. However, in most countries, using heroin is illegal and rightly so.

Not wearing a seatbelt when you are driving is also illegal in many countries. It is illegal in Canada to drive a car and not have your seatbelt on. But if you are in an accident and you aren't wearing a seatbelt and you get hurt or are killed - you only did damage to yourself. No one else (except those who love you) was hurt by you not wearing a seatbelt. And yet it is illegal to do so and rightly so.

What about wearing a hijab or scarf? It seems many people get very upset about women wearing a hijab even though it harms no one. If a woman covers her face and cannot be seen it could be argued that this is a security risk - she could not be identified after a crime, for example. The argument that a weapon could be hidden while wearing a hijab does not hold water because you could hide a weapon under a cap or hat more easily than a light scarf. And non-Muslim women wear scarves that are not the hjiab. Covering one's head is something that both women and men do in cold weather and there is no uproar about it. Some argue that women may not want to wear a hijab and are forced to do so by their father or husband. They should be free not to wear a hijab but we would have to admit that there are women who do want to wear it and are not forced to do so. There are also women who are forced to do other culturally based actions by other people that they may not choose to do on their own. If women can wear a hijab it should follow that women, for whom this is not part of their faith, should be free of not having to cover their heads - even in countries where they are a minority.

What about having an abortion? It is true that women should be free to do what they want with their own bodies. However a baby in utero is not part of a woman's body. The baby is dependent on the mother's body but it is not part of the mother's body. The baby may have a different blood type than the mother and the baby has a unique DNA. Having an abortion is, in many countries, legal. Of all these examples it is the only one that does harm to another. And yet it is legal.


Strange, isn't it?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Charles Lwanga and the Ugandan Martyrs




The White Fathers, a congregation of priests from Europe, began to preach the Christian faith in Uganda in 1879. They were received peacefully by King Mutesa, the ruler of Uganda. A number of young men who were pages in the King’s court believed in Jesus and the priests began preparing them for baptism by teaching them the Christian faith.

It was during this time that King Mutesa died and his son, Mwanga, became king. Mwanga was a man of corrupt morals who used the young pages for his sexual pleasure. Joseph Mukasa, the chief page who was a Catholic, tried desperately to protect the young pages in his care from the king. At this time King Mwanga had a visiting Anglican Bishop murdered and Joseph Mukasa denounced the King’s action and was beheaded for his bravery on November 15, 1885.

Charles Lwanga, who was 25 years old, was appointed Chief Page in Mukasa’s place. Lwanga was a dedicated Christian and protected the boys from the King just as Mukasa had done. On the night that Mukasa was killed Lwanga and others went to the White Fathers to ask for baptism as they knew their lives would be in danger. In the following week another 100 boys were baptized.

When King Mwanga learned that fifteen of the pages were studying the Catholic catechism he was furious. He lined them up and asked those who were Christians to step forward and fifteen boys, ages 13 to 25 came forward. When the King asked if they would recant or keep their faith they answered, “Until death.” Their hands were bound and they were taken to Namugongo a two day walk away. One of the boys cried out, “God will rescue me. But you will not see how because he will take my soul and leave only my body.” The men cut him to pieces and left his body on the road.
On the Feast of the Ascension, June 3, 1886 Charles Lwanga was taken and burned at the stake. Just before he died he cried out, “My God!”
King Mwanga continued to persecute Christians and 100 more people, Catholics and Protestants, were tortured and killed.

Charles Lwanga and his companions were beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. Charles Lwanga is the patron saint of African Catholic Youth Action.

Today 41.9% of Ugandans are Roman Catholic, 35.9% are Anglican, 4.6% are Pentecostals and 12.1% are Muslim. The remaining belong to other Protestant denominations or tribal religions. (nationmaster.com)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

St. Thomas More: A Man For All Seasons





Thomas More was born in London, England on February 7, 1477, the only son of Sir John More, barrister and judge and his wife, Agnes. When he was thirteen years old, More went to live in the household of Cardinal Morton, who was then the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop noticed his young protégée's superior intellect and sent him to study at Oxford. In 1494 he began to study law.
More considered entering the priesthood but discerned he was not called to the priesthood when he realized that he desired married life. At the age of 28 he married Jane Colte with whom he had three daughters and one son. In 1511, when the children were still very young, Jane died. Soon after More married a widow, Alice Middleton, who was seven years older than him. It was said that she was 'without beauty or education' but she was devoted to the children and More and the marriage seemed to have been a happy one.
More's fame as a lawyer grew and he was chosen by Cardinal Wolsey to go to Flanders to protect the interests of the English merchants there. It was during this time that he began to write his most famous book, Utopia, which was published in 1516.
In October, 1529, More succeeded Cardinal Wolsey as Chancellor of England, a post never before held by a layman. King Henry VIII considered More his friend and would often visit him at his home in Chelsea. He enjoyed More's conversation and admired his character.
Shortly after his first speech as chancellor in 1529, a royal proclamation ordered the clergy to acknowledge Henry as 'Supreme Head of the Church' in England. More resigned his post and firmly opposed Henry's divorce (which had been prohibited by the Pope) and as well as his usurping the role of the Pope as Head of the Church.
Shortly after Henry's marriage to Ann Boleyn in 1533, the Act of Succession was passed and persons of the court and parliament were required to take an oath that the children of Henry and Anne would be the legitimate heirs to the throne. This ignored Mary, the daughter of Henry and Catherine of Aragon, who had remained a faithful Catholic, as a legitimate heir to the English throne. More refused to take the oath and to acknowledge the King as the head of the Church and was consequently sent to the Tower of London. While there he continued to joke with his family and friends when they were allowed to visit but when he was alone he spent his time in prayer.
On July 1, 1535, More was indicted for high treason and perjury at Westminster Hall. Although he denied the charges, he was found guilty and was beheaded on Tower Hill July 6, 1535.
His last words were, "I die the King's servant, but God's first." He is one of several Patron Saints of lawyers and politicians.
Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, was raised a Protestant and eventually became Queen Elizabeth and head of the Church of England. Although she is remembered as ‘Good Queen Bess’ she had many Catholic priests hunted down and killed for celebrating the forbidden Catholic Mass. Mary for a short time was also Queen and because she had Protestant noblemen killed is known as ‘Bloody Mary’.
The story of Thomas More's life has been excellently told in the movie, A Man for all Seasons (1966), starring Paul Scofield as More. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann. The film won six Academy Awards.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Korean Martyrs: The Seed of the Church

Tertullian wrote in AD197, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Nowhere is this truer than in Korea.

Missions in Asia
When Franciscan and Dominican missionaries went to China in the 13th century, they found that some Chinese were already familiar with the Christian gospel as Nestorian Christians had come in the 7th century. Nestorius taught that there were two separate natures of Christ (human and divine) and Nestorianism was condemned as heresy at the First Council of Ephesus (AD431) and at the Council of Chalcedon in AD451. From then on Nestorius broke with the rest of the Christian Church.
Roman Catholic missionaries, including St. Francis Xavier, went to Japan in 1549 to take the Gospel to the Japanese people. And in Thailand priests who came with Portuguese traders began to teach the Christian religion in the 16th century. In Viet Nam and Cambodia Catholicism was brought by French colonists and priests accompanying them.
Christianity Comes to Korea
It is odd then that by the 16th century no missionaries had entered nearby Korea. At this time some educated Koreans began to study Christian books that had been brought from China. Through their search for truth many of these believed and became Christian. They gathered in house churches without the presence of any priests or other religious teachers. These house churches were led by educated lay people of the Korean aristocratic classes. We can see that the beginning of Christianity in Korea was unusual.
In the middle of the 18th century a Chinese Catholic priest entered Korea secretly and found 4,000 Catholics there! The Christians then sent a party to Beijing to ask the Bishop to send priests to them. Two Chinese priests were sent but were not able to stay long. Almost forty years after, in 1836, missionaries from the Paris Foreign Mission society sent priests to teach and give the sacraments.
Paul Yun Ji-chung (1759-1791)
In 1791 Paul Yun Ji-chung, a member of a noble family, converted to Christianity through the witness of his cousin. Other members of his family became Christians as well. When Paul’s mother died Paul followed her wishes that she be buried according to Catholic rites rather than the traditional Confucian rite. When investigated and arrested by authorities, Paul refused to deny his newfound faith. This brought about the first of persecutions of Christians in Korea. Paul Yun Ji-ching was the first member of an aristocratic class to be martyred for his Christian beliefs. Other members of the nobility were killed along with him. They were the first generation of Korean Christians.
Kim Taegon Andrea (1821-1846)
Saint Kim Taegon Andrea (1821-1846), known in English as St. Andrew Kim, was the first Korean-born Catholic priest. Kim’s parents were converts and Kim was baptized at age 15. Later he went to study at a seminary in Macau and also spent some time in the Philippines. After nine years of study he was ordained in Shanghai, China by the French Bishop there and returned to his homeland to evangelize.
The Josean Dynasty, which was Confucian, was in power and persecuted Christians. Many were martyred during this time. This new learning was said to undermine the teachings of Confucious especially the divisions of class and it was seen as subversive to the state. Official documents give details of trials, sentences and means of torture to the Christians. By 1866 there were only 20,000 Catholics in Korea as 10,000 Christians had been killed in persecutions spanning over one hundred years.
Andrew Kim was tortured and beheaded at the age of 25 in 1846. He was one of several thousand Christians who were executed at that time. Eleven members of his family, including his father, were also martyred. Seventy-nine of the martyrs were beatified (recognized as Blessed) in 1925. Twenty-four martyrs were beatified in 1968 by Pope John Paul II. And on May 6, 1984, Pope John Paul II canonized (recognized as Saints) Andrew Kim and 102 of his companion martyrs. These included men and women and children.
Kim’s last words were recorded as:
"This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning.”
Catholics were not allowed to practise their faith freely in Korea until 1895.
Protestant Missions
The first Protestant missionary to Korea was Robert J. Thomas, a Welshman who was with the London Missionary Society. He arrived from China in 1865. In 1866, when attempting to re-enter Korea on an American ship, he was killed along with the entire crew of the ship.
Korean Catholics Today
The total population of South Korea in 2014 is 50.2 million: 6.6% of the population are Catholics, 19.7% are Protestants (all Protestant denominations), 23% are Buddhist and 47% claim no religion. There are 328 Catholic Schools, 40 Catholic hospitals, 513 homes for the elderly and handicapped, 35 Bishops, 4,261 priests, 516 male religious (Brothers), 9,016 female religious (Sisters) and 14,195 lay catechists.

Visit of Pope Francis
On August 16, 2014 Pope Francis beatified (declared Blessed) Paul Yun Ji-Chung and 123 companions during Asian World Youth Day Celebrations in Seoul, Korea.

20th Century Martyrs
The beatification process has been begun for priests and monks who died between 1940 an 1950 while undertaking evangelization missions. As well, John Song Hae-bung, a lay missionary, was martyred during the Korean War and thrity-six memebers of the Order of St. Benedict died in labour and prison camps between 1949-1952.

Sources

BBC news website accessed August 17, 2014

Salt and Light broadcast of the Mass For Beatification of the 124 Korean Martyrs. August 16, 2014.

Vatican Insider website accessed August 17, 2014
http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/world-news/detail/articolo/corea-del-sud-corea-del-sur-south-korea-martiri-martires-martyrs-31931/

Wikipedia website. Paul Yun Ji-chung. accessed August 17, 2014.
Wikipedia website. Robert J. Thomas. accessed August 17, 2014.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pier Giorgio Frassati: A Modern Saint


What do you think saints are like? Are they rather dour looking? Do they look unhappy? Or even unhealthy? Pier Giorgio Frassati is probably not everyone’s idea of a ‘saint’. In fact he looks more like a model for men’s aftershave or some upscale sportswear or expensive watch ad. He was young, healthy and unbelievingly good-looking. He enjoyed being with his friends and he even 'goofed off' sometimes. Yet, on May 20, 1990, Pier Giorgio was beatified (the step before sainthood) by Pope John Paul II in Rome. As a result of his exemplary life, the Pope called him 'a man of the Beatitudes'. Beatifying or canonizing a person doesn't make them a saint, it is the way the Church recognizes the person as having an exemplary life and one which we can follow in our walk with God.

Early Life of Pier Giorgio Frassati
Pier Giorgio was born in 1901 in Turin, Italy to parents who were wealthy and influential. Frassati's father was Italy's ambassador to Germany in 1921 and was the owner of the liberal newspaper, La Stampa. He claimed to be an agnostic. His mother was an accomplished artist. Her daughter, Luciana, says in her book, "Neither of our parents were devoutly Catholic: our father was an agnostic and our mother was not deeply religious. Our mother and her sister, Elena, would not have missed Mass, but they were never seen by us to go to Communion or to kneel and say a prayer." (Frassati, page 21). Blessed Pier Giorgio's niece, Wanda Gawronska commented (in private communication) that it was the custom of many to take Communion only twice a year which was the minimum required at that time. Ms. Gawronska also relates that for his 18th birthday, his mother gave Pier Giorgio the book, "The Imitation of Christ" with a very meaningful dedication. In any case, his parents sometimes wished their son would not spend so much time attending daily Mass and helping the poor but would devote more time to his studies.

On the way to Sainthood
It seems that Pier Giorgio Frassati had always been drawn to the poor and disadvantaged. Once, a woman with a barefoot child, knocked at the door of the Frassati mansion. Pier Giorgio, then himself a child, immediately took off his shoes and gave them to the barefoot child.
Frassati was known for his kindness and courtesy to all and throughout his brief life he was to give away money, his clothes and his time whenever he met someone who needed them. Once he arrived in Berlin to visit his parents wearing only a light jacket in -12° C weather because he had given his overcoat away. He was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society that provided for the poor but his unselfishness was often more personal. He would give away his books to fellow students or pay for their tuition secretly and in order to have more money to give away he always traveled third class!
Whenever he was able, Frassati went to his beloved mountains in northern Italy. There he would climb, either alone or with his friends, enjoying the challenge of the climb and his time with others. He also loved to ski. He fell in love with a girl in his group of friends but because he knew his parents did not altogether approve of her for their son he did not pursue the relationship.

Life in Pre-War Italy
In October 1922, the Fascists came to power in Italy. Like many Catholics at the time, Frassati opposed Mussolini and his 'black shirts' but could not do much to stop their power. In Turin he took part in a religious procession during a Eucharistic Congress and also a march to Rome with Catholic Youth groups. Taking part in these activities often ended up with some being detained by the police. When Pier Giorgio was detained he would pray the rosary. Once when the authorities discovered that he was the son of the prominent Alfredo Frassati, he was immediately released but he never took advantage of this privilege. Although Frassati believed Jesus' promise that 'the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church', his greatest concern was of the persecution against it by both Marxism and Fascism.
Pier Giorgio was a member of the student group Catholic Action and was also a lay Dominican. Politically he belonged to the Popular Party for, although he believed in charity, he also believed in reform.

Pier Giorgio Frassati's Illness and Death
Frassati knew that to fulfill his dream of becoming a mining engineer he had to study harder. But even with this goal in mind, his studies never prevented him from visiting the sick. Ultimately it was because of his visits to the sick and poor that at the young age of 24 he contracted polio. After a short illness and much suffering, he died on July 4, 1925 at his family home. Years before, he had written to a friend, 'The day of my death will be the happiest day of my life.'
At his funeral hundreds of the poor and sick that he had helped lined the streets of Turin. HIs parents could not believe this outpouring of love to their son.
In 1981, when his remains were transferred from the family tomb in Pollone to Turin's cathedral, his body was found completely incorrupt. Since then many pilgrims, especially young people, have journeyed to his tomb to seek the courage to follow his example.
For those wanting to know the complete story of his life, Pier Giorgio's younger sister, Luciana, has written an excellent biography of her brother, A Man of the Beatitudes (in Italian Pier Giorgio: I giorni della sua vita).
Patron Saint of WYD in Sydney
Pier Giorgio Frassati was chosen to be the Patron Saint of World Youth Day in Australia in 2008. His body was brought to Sydney for that occasion.

References
Frassati, Luciana. A Man of the Beatitudes. (In Italian: Pier Giorgio: I giorni della sua vita) San Francisco:Ignatius Press. 2000.
Personal communication with Wanda Gawronska, Blessed Pier Giorgio's niece.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lead, Kindly Light: the Story of John Henry Newman


John Henry Newman was born in London February 21, 1801; the eldest of six children. His parents were Anglican and as a child Newman studied at Ealing, a private boarding school where he exhibited an unusual interest in theology, despite his young age.

His later studies were at Oxford and at the age of twenty-one he became a professor at Oxford and a minister in the Church of England (Anglican). His first book was The Arians of the Fourth Century (1833) and he had a great love for the Fathers of the Church. He also wrote poetry and one of his poems was set to music, the well-known hymn, Lead Kindly Light.

Newman and the Oxford Movement

Newman is the best-known member of the Oxford Movement – a group of men whose aim was to invigorate the Anglican Church through spiritual renewal and renunciation of liberalism in the 1830s. They also, at first, condemned what they viewed as the corruptions of the Roman Church. This was Newman's undoing, for in the end his studies of the Church Fathers ultimately led him to that very Church. He discovered that as far back as the Church Fathers, the doctrines of the Church were the same as those that the Roman Catholic Church taught. He said, "When one reads history, he ceases to be a Protestant."

Newman's Resignation from Oxford

In 1841, Newman published Tract 90 in which he claimed that the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England (written in 1563 during the reign of Elizabeth I) were essentially Catholic Doctrine as it had been both in the early church and at the Council of Trent.

A great controversy arose and he was eventually forced to resign both his teaching post at Oxford and his position at the University church of St. Mary the Virgin (Church of England).

Reception into the Catholic Church

In October, 1845, after many years of study and intellectual struggle he was received into the Catholic Church. Two years later he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in Rome and then joined the Oratorians in Birmingham, England. At the age of 78, he was made a Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. He died in 1890.

John Henry Newman's Writings

Some of Newman's well-known writings include:

• Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
• The Idea of the University
• Letter to Pusey
• Apologia pro Vita Sua (his autobiography)
In the story of his conversion, told in Apologia pro Vita Sua, he says, "From the time that I became a Catholic...I have been in perfect peace and contentment, I never have had one doubt...and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption."

Sources

Connor, Fr. Charles P. Classic Catholic Converts. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2001

Ker, Ian. John Henry Newman: A Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1988.

John Henry Newman. Apologia pro Vita Sua. New York:WW. Norton and Company, 1968. p. 184.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Book Review: The Catechism of Hockey by Alyssa Bormes

The Catechism of Hockey. Alyssa Bormes. The American Chesterton Society. 2013



Many catechists have asked themselves the questions; I know I did. Why do parents drive miles to take their children to a hockey game at 5:30 am on a Saturday but complain bitterly that they are expected to attend Mass on Sunday? Why do parents spend hundreds of dollars on hockey equipment but don’t like to spend anything on their child’s religious education? And why do children happily obey the rules and the decisions of the hockey ref but complain about the ‘rules’ of the Church? Well somebody who knows hockey much better than I do, wrote a book about it. Her favourite statement? “Ah, Catholicism is so much like hockey!” And you will be surprised at the comparisons she finds.
If you like hockey, if you play hockey or are a hockey Mom or Dad this book is for you. If your child plays any other game - like soccer, baseball or basketball - you should still read this book. It is especially written with passing the faith of Catholicism in mind and makes pretty good sense. We want our children to succeed in hockey and we want our children to succeed in life. So how do we accomplish these expectations?

Some things Bormes asks us to think about:
- If you play hockey you can't pick out the rules you like and will follow and which ones you won't. You have to take to the complete package. If you changed the rules to something you like better, it ain't hockey!
- If you think hockey is fun but the Mass isn't maybe it's because you understand hockey but not the Mass. I don't understand hockey very well and I guess that is why I don't watch it. On the other hand, I love going to Mass.
- Can we get as excited about Catholicism as we do about hockey? I think we can - I am.
- Maybe sometimes we need to say, if you don't like the rules of the game, play a different game.

The author, Alyssa Bormes, who is from Minnesota, claims that Minnesota is the hockey state. She may be right. My only complaint about the book is that although she mentions Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Maurice Richard and the Stanley Cup she never mentions that all of these are Canadian! I know Canada has only 35 billion people and they may not buy as many books as Americans but would it hurt to at least say that what she calls ‘the ultimate prize’ of hockey, the Stanley Cup, originated in Canada and was a gift from Lord Stanley, the Governor-General of Canada in 1893. For more about the history of the Stanley Cup see https://suite.io/lorraine-shelstad/5fap2vp.
I know a Canadian team hasn’t won it lately (since 1993) but many of the players on American teams learned to skate on the quintessential outdoor rinks of their home country, Canada.

Don’t let that stop you from buying the book which has many words of wisdom about passing on our Catholic faith to our children which is especially relevant in this Year of the Family.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Trinity Western University: Discrimination of Christian Groups?

On April 11, 2014 the Law Society of British Columbia granted graduates from Trinity Western University’s Law School the right to practice law in the province of British Columbia.
Trinity Western University is a private university in Langley, BC which is based on Evangelical Protestant values.
Some individuals and groups (including a group of BC lawyers) disagreed with the Society’s decision because of the covenant TWU students have to sign when they study at the school. The covenant includes abstaining from premarital sex, homosexual behaviour, abortion (as well as drunkenness, cheating and stealing). Students are asked to be responsible citizens both locally and globally who respect authorities, submit to the laws of the country and contribute to the welfare of society.
TWU acknowledges that Canadian Human Rights Laws and the Charter and Section 15 of the Charter protect against and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and that “the courses that will be offered at the TWU School of Law will ensure that students understand the full scope of these protections in the public and private spheres of Canadian life.”

In the preamble and section 3.1 of the Civil Marriage Act of Canada there is also protection against discrimination of those whose religious beliefs do not allow for their participation to perform marriages which are not in accordance with those same religious beliefs:

WHEREAS nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs and the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs;
WHEREAS it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage;

3.1 For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.

This could be understood to include allowing those religious groups to be able to have expectations of students, faculty and employees of their institutions to uphold these beliefs.

On the Law Society of BC webpage (http://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/page.cfm?cid=3891&t=Bencher-meeting-consideration-of-TWU,-April-11,-2014) letters showing support and opposition of TWU can be read under ‘public submissions’. One significant supporting letter is from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association which does not give support easily or without due thought. They state that in many cases they “,,, have been involved with or spoken out about, we have maintained a consistent them of protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians and the pluralistic and diverse nature of Canada”. (from an e-mail from BCCLA to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, no date given, on the Law Society of British Columbia website)

Referring to deans of law schools who spoke out saying that TWU should not be accredited they go on to say, “ With regard to our first concern, we note that Canada is a country founded upon diversity and tolerance. It is thus startling for deans of publicly-funded university law schools to use their position to attempt to thwart the entry of another voice into academia, particularly where that voice is a religious one. We not that the Human Rights Code of British Columbia expressly provides for religious-based groups, among others, to be exempt from certain of its provision when they grant preferences to members of those groups. Obviously, in order for such groups to survive they must be able to prescribe the conditions of membership of their group and set out their fundamental beliefs.” (from an e-mail from BCCLA to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, no date given, on the Law Society of British Columbia website)

Now a lawyer in Victoria, BC has collected signatures of lawyers in BC who want to re-open the case and have the Law Society of BC change its decision. I call upon people of good will and those who are in favour of just laws to write in to thank the Law Society for their thoughtful and reasonable ruling in favour of TWU’s Law Students and say that you hope they will not change that decision. It is a matter of importance that discrimination against Christian values upon which Canada was founded is discouraged.
The address is:
Mr. Timothy E. McGee, QC, Chief Executive Office and Executive Director
The Law Society of British Columbia
845 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 4Z9

Monday, April 21, 2014

Is the Resurrection True?



The Resurrection of Jesus is considered the cornerstone of belief of all mainstream orthodox Christians. St. Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, our faith.” (I Corinthians 15:14). In other words without the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Christianity has no valid message. The resurrection is the ‘good news'; Jesus has been victorious over sin and death. The Church defines resurrection as the rising from the dead and resumption of life and has always proclaimed its belief that three days after his death Jesus rose from the dead.
Let us examine, then, the events surrounding the resurrection, the arguments against it and the counter-arguments.
Jesus’ Death
The four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) all give accounts of the death of Jesus by crucifixion, the discovery of his empty tomb and the appearances of a living Jesus after his death. The Catholic Church and other orthodox Christians believe in the historical reliability of this Scriptural account. Although the four accounts relate some different details they are basically the same and do not contradict each other.
While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was arrested and then brought before the Sanhedrin, the council of Jewish leaders. Although there were other charges against him, the main charge against Jesus was that of blasphemy. He had claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God (Luke 22:70,71); a very serious matter in Jewish law. The Jewish leaders brought him before the Roman authorities as they had no authority to execute criminals in the Roman Empire. At first the Romans said it was not their problem. Pilate said he did not find that Jesus had done anything illegal according to Roman Law but in the end, at the insistence of the gathered crowd, he agreed to crucify Jesus, the Roman method of capital punishment at that time.
Reports of the Resurrection
After he was taken down from the cross, Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Jesus, and the tomb was sealed by a huge stone at the entrance. The chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to place guards at the tomb because they were afraid his disciples would come to the grave, steal the body and then claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. Jesus had implied that he would rise from the dead saying, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.’ (see John 2:19-22). He was referring to his body and not the literal temple. The disciples, however, did not understand Jesus’ meaning until after his resurrection.
In the morning, several guards hurried to the chief priests to report that during the night there had been an earthquake and an angel had rolled the stone away . The guards were struck with fear. The chief priests decided that they would pay the guards to say that the disciples had come and stolen the body while they were sleeping and promised them they would not be punished for the disappearance of the body. The guards must have been well-paid for they agreed to tell that version of the story even though it made them look very incompetent!
The disciples did not go to the tomb on Saturday which was the Jewish Sabbath and it was forbidden to travel. On the first day of the week (Sunday) some women followers of Jesus went with spices to embalm the body. When they arrived they found that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. A man in white clothing, actually an angel, asked them why they sought the living among the dead. He told them that Jesus was not there but had risen from the dead. The women hurried back to tell the disciples the news but they thought it was an idle tale - as usual the men thought that the women were imagining something! But Peter and John wanted to check the story out and ran to the tomb confirming that Jesus’ body was no longer there.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
After this Jesus appeared to many of his disciples: Mary Magdalene, the twelve Apostles hiding in a locked room in Jerusalem, two believers on the road to Emmaus, two groups of ‘pious’ women and his disciples again on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius. St. Paul reports that Jesus also appeared to Cephas (Peter) and 500 believers, many of whom were still alive at the time St. Paul wrote the letter to the Church at Corinth (see I Corinthians 15:5-7).
The Church has always believed the accounts of the Gospel writers but there are several alternate theories of what could have happened.
The Stolen Body Theory
This, of course, was the first theory that was circulated by the Jewish authorities of the time: the disciples of Jesus came and stole the body. According to the Gospel accounts the guards were bribed to lie and say that this is what happened. But, if the disciples had come to steal the body, why didn’t the guards prevent the disciples from rolling away the stone? After all, that is the task they had been hired to do, they were armed and probably outnumbered any disciples who would have come. The guards claimed that they had fallen asleep but surely guards would have taken turns sleeping in order to prevent a theft. Would they have slept so soundly as to not have heard a group of men rolling away the stone? If they had fallen asleep and failed to prevent the theft of the body, they very likely would have been punished. In the end, the money, and the promise that they would not get into trouble for their incompetence, was enough compensation for them to tell the lie. If the disciples did indeed steal the body what did they do with it after? Anyone wanting to discredit them would just have to prove that the body of Jesus had been buried elsewhere.
The apostles spent the rest of their lives preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead. Would they do this for what they knew was a lie? What did they gain from it? Wouldn’t it have been better to keep a low profile and go back to what they had been doing before they met Jesus? Instead many of them died for their faith. Would not at least one of them chickened out and confessed rather than lose his life for something that was not true?
The Swoon Theory
This theory claims that Jesus did not die but was just unconscious when he was put in the tomb. When he revived, he came out of the tomb and was seen alive by his disciples.
Since Jesus had been whipped before his crucifixion and then spent agonizing hours hanging on a cross meant to kill him, it is unlikely that he survived. The Romans were very good at making certain a criminal did not live through crucifixion. Before taking Jesus’ body down from the cross a soldier thrust a sword into Jesus’ side and blood and water poured out. His body is placed in a tomb where there was little air and no food or water for three days. If Jesus was not dead and merely revived was he able to move the heavy stone at the entrance or did someone else move it? If this theory were true, Jesus would need a lot of care after leaving the tomb. If he did recover would he not eventually be seen and recognized by others? The Gospel accounts say that after his resurrection, Jesus only appeared to those who believed he was the Messiah. And if this theory is true, when did he die? One day there would be a dead Jesus and if someone discovered the body, the game would be up!
The Hallucination Theory
This theory proposes that the followers of Jesus so much wanted to believe that he was not dead and that he had risen, that they had visions of him after his death and burial. In their stressful mental state and knowing that Jesus said ‘he would return’ they were susceptible to having hallucinations. It is true that people have had this type of vision after the death of a family member or close friend, however, it is unusual for many people to have the same vision. As well, normally visions do not last as long as the appearances of Jesus did. And why did the visions end abruptly? Luke reports that Jesus ascended to heaven and after that no one saw him again.
The disciples had not really understood what Jesus had said about being ‘raised up in three days’ and only understood his meaning after they had seen the resurrected Jesus. The two men on the road to Emmaus had to have it explained to them by Jesus, whom they did not recognize at first.
The story of the disciple Thomas is interesting in the light of this theory. John writes that Thomas was not in the locked room when Jesus first appeared to the Apostles. When hearing what had happened during his absence, Thomas says he will not believe unless he sees the wounds with his own eyes. Jesus later appears to Thomas, shows him his wounds and even allows him to touch them. If the psychological vision theory were true it is unlikely that Thomas would have this kind of vision. And if the resurrection were not true for any other reason, it is unlikely that any gospel writer would include this story of a ‘doubting’ disciple who eventually believed that Jesus had risen from the dead.
The Modernist or Myth Theory
The most recent theory is one which says that Jesus’ body remained in the tomb and decomposed and the resurrection spoken of in Scripture is not a literal but a spiritual or supernatural ‘resurrection’. It is meant to portray Jesus’ spiritual victory over death or his immortality in a spiritual sense. Some would also claim that the resurrection crept into the Gospel accounts from ancient religions. However, the Greeks believed in the resurrection of the soul but not the body. Other religions (Hinduism and Buddhism, for example) believe in re-incarnation - the soul living on in another body but not a bodily resurrection. There was a tradition of resurrection of the body in Judaism amongst the Pharisees whereas the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. St. Paul, a Pharisee, used this disagreement to his advantage when on trial, "For the Sadducees claim that there is neither resurrection, nor angels nor spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all these things." (see Acts 23:8)
The Modernist Theory gives rise to the same problem as those in the other theories. Why didn’t someone produce the body of Jesus? There would have been many who wanted to discredit the claim of the disciples. Why has the so-called myth persisted for 2000 years? Why has it been literally believed world-wide by people of many different cultures, education and backgrounds?
Conclusion
As mentioned, the simplest way to disprove the resurrection would have been to produce the body of Jesus. No one was able to do this, in spite of the fact that many would have wanted to show that the disciples had lied. Those who had bribed the guards would have loved to have found the body of Jesus in order to prove that they were right. For the remainder of their lives, the apostles put themselves in danger by preaching the death and bodily resurrection of Jesus. They were stoned to death (Stephen), put in jail (Peter, Paul), and crucified (Peter)or beheaded (Paul). Many later believers were also killed by the Romans. In fact, there are still people being killed worldwide for their faith in a Jesus they believe rose from the dead.
Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that they, too, will be raised to everlasting life. "But Jesus said to her (Martha), "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live." John 11:25

Sources
Berkhof, L. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans. 1962.
Hahn, Dr. Scott. The Bodily Resurrection of Christ. CD Sycamore, Il: Lighthouse Catholic Media, NFP. 2011
Catholic Encyclopedia- New Advent website. Accessed July 8, 2012.
New American Bible. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co. 1970.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jacques Maritain: Philosopher of the 20th Century

Jacques Maritain helped to draft the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and re-introduced Thomism for the modern world.



Maritain was one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century. He not only helped to draft the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 but influenced the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the preamble to the Constitution of the Fourth French Republic (1946). But perhaps his greatest contribution was to adapt the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas to the modern world.

Early Life, Education and Search for Truth
Jacques Maritain was born in Paris in November, 1882. His father was a lawyer who was neither hostile to religion nor attracted to it. His mother, Genevieve Favré, was brought up to believe that the supernatural had no right in the affairs of state. When Jacques was young his parents separated. He continued to have a great thirst for knowledge and read constantly.
While studying at the Sorbonne, Jacques met Raissa Oumansoff, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. They were both involved in protests against the treatment of Russian socialist students at the Sorbonne. As their friendship grew they found joy in their companionship but were plagued about the absurdity of existence and both had many religious doubts. They married in 1906 and shortly after made a pact to commit suicide if their questions about life were not answered within a year. Then they happened to read a book by Leon Bloy, an intellectual who was a Christian and a Catholic. Jacques and Raissa made an appointment to meet him and eventually they became lifelong friends. The Maritains began to study Catholicism and after much soul-searching they were baptized and received into the Catholic Church in June, 1906. One thing that had bothered them was that some people who called themselves Christian did not live up to the teaching of Jesus. Even with these doubts, after their baptism they both experienced peace and joy that they had never known before.
Not surprisingly, Raissa’s parents viewed her conversion as a betrayal to her heritage and Jacques’ mother was immensely disappointed that he had not followed in his socialist grandfather’s footsteps. The Maritains moved to Heidelberg, Germany where Jacques continued his studies. Although Raissa was unwell she continued to read and study at home.
Introduction to Thomas Aquinas
When they moved back to Paris, a Dominican priest and friend, Father Humbert, recommended St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa theologia to Raissa. She was enthralled by it and passed on her enthusiasm to her husband. They both found answers in Thomism’s rational logic and Jacques said that it was ‘common sense amongst the confusion that reigned in the world’. Both Jacques and Raissa strongly believed, as St. Thomas did, that faith and reason were compatible and not enemies. Scholars have said that Maritain’s most significant contribution in philosophy was to adapt Thomism to modern thought.

Post-War Life and Work
When the Nazis invaded France, Jacques was lecturing at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto. He and Raissa decided not to return to Europe, especially since his wife’s Jewish background was well-known. After the war, Charles de Gaulle asked him to be France’s ambassador to the Holy See (1945-1948). He later taught at Princeton University in New Jersey (1941-1942) and Columbia (1942 -1944) and lectured at The University of Notre Dame and The University of Chicago.

Maritain wrote against anti-Semitism, describing it as a sin against God’s people and, because of these writings, had an influence on those who wrote Vatican II’s statement on the Jews.
Raissa died in 1960 and Jacques returned to France. He lived with a religious community, the Little Brothers of Jesus at Toulouse, until his death in 1973 at the age of ninety-one.

Some of Jacques Maritain’s Books
France, My Country through the Disaster. 1941
Art and Poetry. 1943
Education at the Crossroads. 1943
Christianity and Democracy. 1943
Reflections on America. 1958
Man and the State. 1952
Le paysan de la Garonne. 1967

Sources
Connor, Fr. Charles P. Classic Catholic Converts. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2001.
Myers, Rawley. Faith Experiences of Catholic Converts. Huntingdon, IN: Our Sunday
Visitor, Inc. 1992.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website accessed May 20, 2011.


Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Response: Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church Part II



What was the initial response of bishops to sex abuse by a priest in their Diocese? Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisberger, speaking on behalf of the Canadian conference of Bishops, explained, “There used to be a lack of understanding about sexual abuse. We tended to see it like alcoholism, that it was a moral problem and completely within the power of the individual to change. So normally when people were discovered doing things like this, they were called in and given a royal dressing-down, hoping that they would be scared out of that kind of behavior.” (Weisberger, James Bishop, quoted in Friscolanti, Michael. The Truth About Priests. MacLean’s Magazine. December, 2009). Sadly, it was often the case that the abuser was chastised and, when he promised it would never happen again, was told to undergo counselling and moved to another parish. Today we know that this course of action was naive and bound to failure. Michael Coren writes about this scenario, “... this was typical of the era and was the standard advice given by experts not only to churches but to school boards, sports teams, and any other institutions where such abuse occurred.” (Coren, 2011, p. 17) Teachers, coaches and priests were given counselling and moved on to other schools, parishes or sports teams.

Was this done to protect the institutions rather than the victims? In many cases, this was true. Bishops, school principals and coaches did not want scandal to hit the press and put their parish, school or organization in the centre of the scandal. If we put ourselves in their position at that time we may have acted the same. Bishops, priests, teachers and volunteers knew the abusers; often they were their friends and workmates. Would they believe that they were capable of committing such crimes or if they did wouldn’t they think these friends would change for the better? Would they give them the benefit of the doubt and give them another chance? Now we know this would be foolish but in the 1950’s, 60’ and 70’s it was the thinking of the time.
Since the authorities in many cases were also men, they could imagine that, they too, may someday be falsely accused. Some innocent act of their own could be misinterpreted as being ‘abuse’ - a hand on a child’s shoulder for encouragement, a pat on the back, for example. Although it is claimed that most accusations of abuse were found to be true I personally know of three cases (two involving priests, one involving a teacher in a public school) that turned out to be false accusations. Some who wanted to get back at a teacher or priest who had disciplined them thought this was a good way to do it. Relatively rare it may have been, but it did happen.
Often, in those days, the young victims were not believed. Who could believe that anyone in a position of trust, especially one who claimed to be a person representing Christ Himself, would act in such a terrible way towards young children? It would have been ‘unbelievable’! Most victims would not have wanted their names broadcast in the press either in those days. Recently, two NHL players Sheldon Kennedy and Theo Fleury, have told their stories so that future abuse can be prevented. These men showed great courage in telling the horrific parts of their lives that were deeply embarrassing. Others then came forward knowing that they were not the only ones to have suffered this evil. But in the 1960s and 70s victims felt they were alone and may not be believed or would even be blamed for the acts of their adult abusers.

Is Benedict XVI the Villain?
Christopher Hitchens wrote a scathing criticism of Cardinal Ratzinger who later became Pope Benedict XVI in an article published in the Washington Post. He accused Pope Benedict of reminding bishops that anyone who disclosed rape and torture of children by priests would be excommunicated. Hitchens claimed that Ratzinger imposed a ten year ‘statute of limitations’ on actions against clerical sex offenders and in this way he was guilty of ‘obstruction of justice’. Sean Murphy has said that these allegations are blatantly false. Sean Murphy is a Catholic layman who retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after 35 years of police service. During the course of his police service he was responsible for investigation of sex crimes against children and adults. In one case his investigation led to the conviction of a Catholic priest. Since retirement he has studied the documents of the Second Vatican council and his articles have appeared in Catholic periodicals, journals and on the internet as well as in secular papers such as the Vancouver Sun, The Province , The Ottawa Citizen and Halifax Daily News. He wrote an article answering the claims of Hitchens.
Murphy points out that the instructions mentioned are not those of Cardinal Ratzinger but are “... from Crimen Sollicitationis. a 1962 instruction personally approved by Blessed Pope John XXIII. Contrary to Mr. Hitchens’ assertion, bishops were not reminded by Cardinal Ratzinger of secrecy or excommunication. A passage in the instruction simply noted that Crimen Sollicitatioinis had been under review, and the reference to it was understood to mean that it was not longer in effect.” (Murphy)
Murphy goes on to explain, “In any case, Crimen Sollicitationis did not threaten excommunication of people who revealed ‘rape and torture’ of children by priests. On the contrary: it imposed not only a duty to denounce such crimes (and the lesser offence of solicitation) to the bishop, but the automatic excommunication of anyone who knowingly failed to do so (emphasis mine, ed). The goal was to ensure that clerical misconduct which, by its nature, was likely to occur in private, did not remain secret and unpunished.” (Murphy)

As for the ‘statute of limitations’ mentioned by Hitchens, Murphy says, “... Ratzinger’s directive actually facilitated Church proceedings against clerical sex offenders by extending time limits that had previously hampered prosecutions.” (Murphy) Whereas previously the final date for prosecutions of sexual offenses was before the victim’s 18th birthday, Cardinal Ratzinger extended this time 10 years beyond the 18th birthday of the victim giving more time to those investigating and making justice for the victim more probable.
This misrepresentation of the truth by Hitchens is possibly not that uncommon in the media which often has a wish to castigate Roman Catholic Church authorities. True and real wrongdoing should be made known to the public but the investigation and presentation must be factual and not a result of an agenda against the Church. Particularly, the media has often made Pope Benedict XVI the villain of the sexual abuse crisis when many sources say he has done more than anyone to make certain such things do not happen again.
Mark Miraville writes that “Benedict XVI has clearly stated that any Catholic clergy accused of child sexual abuse must be reported to civil authorities and, if convicted, should receive the full civil punishment for his crime as any person would. This is the official position of the Catholic Church regarding clerical sex offenders”. (Miravelle)

The founder and director of the Iona Institute in Northern Ireland, David Quinn, wrote in the Belfast Telegraph in response to the Cloyne Report that, “... while the Vatican in 1997 was excessively concerned about the rights of accused priests, it did not interfere with civil law in Ireland. The Vatican never forbad priests from reporting abuse cases to authorities.” (Quinn)

In her review of the book, Pope Benedict XVI and the Sex Abuse Crisis by Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson, Elizabeth Lev says the authors “...demonstrate that Pope Benedict should be hailed as a hero in this tragic chapter of the Church, not assailed for ‘crimes against humanity’ (as radical atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have proposed.” (Lev)

Responses of the Vatican and the Bishops
Regarding the sexual abuse of minors, the Archdiocese of Boston was one of the most affected dioceses in the United States. A look at their website today gives us the picture of what the new Archbishop, Sean O’Malley, OFM, has done in that Archdiocese to bring about change. All the names of clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston who have been found guilty by the Church (according to canon law), the State (criminal law) or both have been posted on the site. Also all the names of priests who have been laicized after having been accused of sexually abusing a minor have been included. Since 2002, the Archdiocese has had a vigorous policy to report to law enforcement all allegations of sexual abuse by clergy. These reports are made whether or not the person reporting the abuse is still a minor, whether or not the accused priest is still alive and whether or not the allegations are thought to have ‘even the semblance of truth’. The Archdiocese discloses to the public when a member of the clergy is convicted of sexual abuse of a child as a result of a criminal trial. (O’Malley).
Georgetown University-based Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) reports that in the US $21 million was spent in 2010 for Child protection. Background evaluations were conducted for over 99% of clerics, 99.8% of educators, 98.5% of employees and 99.2% of volunteers. As well, over 5 million children received safe environment training. (CARA).

In the report The Sexual Abuse of Minors: A Multi-faceted Response to the Challenge, William Cardinal Levada of the Pontifical Gregorian University wrote in February, 2012, “In some countries programs have already been developed by local Church authorities, in an effort to create ‘safe environments’ for minors. These efforts include the screening and education of those engaged in pastoral work in the Church, in schools and parishes, in youth outreach and recreational programs, especially offering training to recognize the signs of abuse. The hope of such training programs for the clergy and laity is of course that through increased awareness of the problem, future cases of abuse can be prevented. Many of the programs initiated in the Church for the creation of ‘safe environments’ for children have been lauded ‘as models in the commitment to eliminate cases of sexual abuse of minors in society today”. (Levada) He went on to remind, “... Bishops and Major Superiors of Religious Orders of the need to exercise even greater scrutiny in accepting candidates for the priesthood and religious life, as well as providing formation programs that provide the necessary foundational human formation, including the appropriate formation in human sexuality.” (Levada)

Canadian Bishops, in their plan for prevention of sexual abuse, declared that, “The protocol ... should include, among other elements, a screening mechanism and a mechanism for verifying the legal records of everyone working with children in a diocesan context; a training program in preventing sexual abuse to be given systematically to everyone working with children; an information program on sexual abuse created in consultation with parents to be made available to all children receiving pastoral services; and a risk management program.” (Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops website). Volunteers and staff working with children must undergo a police report before working at the parish and must provide references.

Karen Terry, the principal investigator in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Study said, “...that the number of incidences [of sexual abuse] decreased more rapidly within the Church than within society in general". (Terry)

Scathing Report of UN Human Rights Committee

A United Nations Human Rights Committee report released February, 2014 severely criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not making changes in order to ensure a safe environment for children and for “turning a blind eye to decades of sexual abuse of children by priests.” The Vatican responded that the UN committee had not taken into consideration the many changes that have already been put into place.
One wonders if the UN Committee for Human Rights has denounced:
-failure to stop trafficking of young girls as prostitutes in several Asian countries
-Pakistan for its blasphemy laws which affected a young girl in 2012 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-23112180 ,
-female circumcision practised in many countries in Africa - 90% of women affected in Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan
- child brides allowed by Sharia Law women who are stoned for adultery in Iran and other countries

- the law in India where women must undergo a ‘two-finger test’ to prove rape which implies that only virgins are raped

-forced abortion in China

These are just a few examples of human rights violations that UN Committees should address instead of harping on cases of sexual abuse that have already been dealt with.

The United Nations report also called for the Catholic Church to change its teaching on sexual orientation, reproductive health and gender equality. Ah, there’s the rub! Mark Miraville answered this part of the report by saying, “When editorials encourage the formation of a new Catholic Church founded upon the principles of absolute democracy and no Roman authority, they perhaps fail to realize that: a) Catholics believe that Jesus Christ established his Church on a human authority that is guided in truth by a divine authority (Matthew 16:15-20), which could never be replaced by the uncertainty of human majority rule; b) state-originated churches have had little historical success as their doctrines are oftentimes as passing as the current political views that established them; and c) the call for the removal of the authority of the Catholic Church in the name of total personal freedom and classless society has been used with slight variations by such infamous historical figures as Robespierre, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini and Mao”. (Miraville) Does the UN tell other religions what they can and cannot believe?
If you want more reasons why the Catholic Church cannot change its doctrines to satisfy non-Catholics read Michael Coren’s video about the UNs Cynical Assault on the Church.
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/2933/the_uns_cynical_assault_on_the_church.aspx#.UwwDzRSYZjo

The Commission for the Protection of Minors

In March, 2014 Pope Francis appointed eight members to the newly formed Commission for the Protection of Minors. The members are:
Dr. Catherine Bonnet, a French psychologist who has worked with victims of sexual abuse.

Baroness Sheila Hollins, a British professor of psychiatry and a physician. She has served as the head of the Royal College of Physicians.

Marie Collins, an abuse survivor from Ireland who founded the Marie Collins Foundation which provides support to children who have been sexually abused or exploited online.

Cardinal Sean O.Malley ofm , the present Archbishop of Boston who replaced
Archbishop Bernard Law in 2003 when he resigned because of mishandling the sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese.

Claudio Papale, an Italian lawyer who specializes in both civil and canon law.

Hannah Suchocka, a lawyer who is Poland’s former Prime Minister. She has also served as Poland’s ambassador to the Holy See.

Fr. Humberto Miguel Yanes, SJ, a Jesuit priest and moral theologian from Argentina who was a former student of Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis).

Fr. Hans Zoller, SJ, a German Jesuit priest, psychologist and psychiatrist who is the Chair of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

The Commission will study present programmes for protection of children and formulate suggestions for new initiatives. It will have not judicial or legislative authority but will advise the Holy See from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Sources

Archdiocese of Boston website http://www.bostoncatholic.org/Offices-And-Services/Office-Detail.aspx?id=460) accessed February, 2014

Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops. http://www.cccb.ca/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2555&Itemid=1214
accessed February, 2014

CARA report zenit.org Washington, D.C., April 11, 2011

Coren, Michael. Why Catholics Are Right. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd. 2011

Coren, Micahel. The Pope Can’t Change For You. The National Post. November 12, 2013

Friscolanti, Michael. The Truth About Priests. MacLean’s Magazine. December, 2009

Lev, Elizabeth. Abuse Facts- A Review of ‘Pope Benedict XVI and the Sex Abuse Crisis’ by Erlandson, G and Matthew Bunson. Zenit.org Sept 9, 2010.

Levada, Willlam Cardinal. The Sexual Abuse of Minors: A Multi-faceted Response to the Challenge, Pontifical Gregorian University, February 6, 2012.

Miravalle, Mark. A Call for Truth, Justice, Fairness and Decency. Zenit.org July 21, 2011.
Murphy, Sean. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0329.htm) accessed February 2014.

Nebehay, Stephanie and Philip Pullella. UN Report Slams Vatican on Child Sex Abuse, Demands Action. Toronto Sun, February 5, 2014.

O’Malley, Archbishop Sean. Zenit.org ZE110827, The World Seen From Rome, August 27, 2011

Quinn, David. quoted in Zenit.org. Belfast, Northern Ireland. July 21, 2011.
Terry, Karen. Zenit.org. May 18, 2011.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Facts About the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church Part I



As the sexual abuse scandal in the clergy of the Catholic Church came to light in the late 1980s, both Catholics and non-Catholics were shocked and horrified. How could men who had taken vows of obedience and chastity take advantage of young people who trusted them? How could anyone do such terrible things to innocent children and young teens, things that would haunt them forever and change their lives? The sex abuse scandals have done more damage to the children, their families, the priesthood and the Church than one can ever imagine. Those who abused children or tried to cover it up will have much to answer to God.
Many articles and books have been written about the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Some articles are balanced and informed and yet there are blatantly false and misleading reports which continue to circulate as well. The UN report (February, 2014) damning the Church for inaction and ignoring the positive action that has been taken by the Church seems to have been written with extreme hatred of the Catholic Church. This blog-article will examine some of the official reports and studies that have been done and their findings. Of course, it is impossible to look at all studies but hopefully a wide range of ideas can be presented here and the truth can be investigated fairly.

Was the Abuse Pedophilia?
Pedophilia is defined as ‘a sustained interest in prepubescent children (before the age of puberty)’ but not all pedophiles act on their fantasies and not all child molesters are pedophiles. (The Encyclopedia of Mind Disorders). Most priests who were found guilty of sexual abuse were attracted to post-pubescent boys between the ages of 13 and 17 and so are technically not pedophiles. It is a moot point whether a boy who has been abused is seven or fourteen - he is still a minor and the abuser is still a criminal. (Friscolanti).
The majority of priests who abused children were actually self-declared homosexuals and were in a homosexual relationship at the time. This does not mean that all homosexuals are abusers of minors and there has been no evidence that this is the case. Both gay and straight people are disgusted at the thought of child abuse. (Coren, p. 18,19). One study says that in 3,000 cases of abuse reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 60% involved homosexual activity. (Lifesite news) Coren suggests that priests guilty of abuse “... either used the priesthood as a cover for their sexual desires or gave in to temptations at some point during or after their time at the seminary.” (Coren, p. 19)
Friscolanti writes in a MacLean’s Magazine article that between 30-50% of priests are homosexuals, depending on the study. At that time,the Catholic Church did not stipulate that homosexuals could not be priests. They took a vow of celibacy just as heterosexual priests did and so their sexual orientation was not relevant. In recent years, however, because of the scandals, there has been a change using more caution when accepting known homosexuals for candidates as priests. Because of this change the Church is now criticized and called ‘homophobic’ so it seems no matter what the Church does it cannot win!
Celibacy (i.e. priests must not marry) is often blamed for the sex abuse by Catholic clergy. Is this the source of the problem and should the Church change its ‘ruling’ on married priests? There are some who think so. Others say that since the majority of the offenders in these cases were homosexuals these men would not marry in any case (at the time homosexual marriage was not legal in most countries). It is interesting that The Encyclopedia of Mind Disorders
reports that “about 50% of men arrested for pedophilia are married”.

When and Where Did the Abuse Happen?
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, to study the sexual abuse of minors by their clergy. Karen Terry, John Jay’s principal investigator for this report, said that there was an increase in incidence of sexual abuse until the late 1970s and a sharp decline by 1985. The increased abuse in the 1960s and 1970s is consistent with increased deviance in society in general. An Australian priest, John Denham, was defrocked by Pope Benedict in 2011 but his abuse of boys occurred between 1968 and 1986. In Ireland abuse cases have surfaced that occurred from 1975 to 2004. In Italy a number of deaf men, from the Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Verona, have come forward reporting abuse when they were children during the 1950s and 1980s. In Germany abuse was reported that occurred in the 1970s to as late as 1987 and in Belgium both boys and girls reported abuse which occurred as late as 1983. In Canada there were reports of abuse in the 1960s and at the Mount Cashel Orphanage as early as 1974. A few cases are still coming to light but most of these are from the years before 1990.

Is Abuse More Prevalent in the Catholic Church?
In 1996, Sheldon Kennedy came forward with a complaint that he had suffered sexual abuse from his hockey coach, Graham James, between 1984 and 1995. Later Theo Fleury, retired NHL player, alleged that he, too, had been molested by James while in Junior Hockey. Other victims came forward and eventually (after a pardon!) James was finally sentenced to a mere two years in prison and put on a national (Canadian) sex offender registry with a lifetime ban on volunteering in a position of trust to children.
In 2011, a Penn State football coach for 32 years, Jerry Sandusky, was found guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse of players that he coached. Sandusky was married at the time and had five adopted children.
Carol Shakeshaft, a Hofstra University scholar who prepared a report on abuse cases in the American Educational system, compared priest abuse data collected in a national survey for the American Association of University Women Education Foundation in the year 2000 with data in the public schools. From the figures she estimated that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a school employee from a single decade (1991-2000). The figures led her to say “... the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests”. A draft report by the US Department of Education in 2002, found that between 6% and 10% of public school children in the US have been sexually abused or harassed by school employees and teachers. (Dougherty, Jon, 2004)
Cases of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America and The Boy Scouts of Canada have been uncovered (The Fifth Estate, CBC, October, 2011). Although Richard Turley’s name was on a ‘perversion file’ the information was not passed on by the American group to the Canadian Boy Scouts and Turley was able to volunteer in the Boy Scouts in Canada even though he had been convicted of sexual abuse in California earlier.
In Haiti, Cambodia, West Africa and Kosovo between 2007 and 2010 alone, 75 UN peacekeepers were disciplined for sexual misconduct, but “... it is estimated that the problem is enormous and the action taken trivial.” (Coren, p. 23)
A 1984 a survey done in Protestant churches in the US showed that 38.6% of ministers reported some type of sexual contact with a member of the church (not necessarily with minors and not necessarily without mutual consent). Fuller Seminary, a respected Evangelical seminary in California, conducted a survey and concluded that 20% of ‘conservative’ pastors and 50% of ‘liberal’ church ministers admitted to a sexual relationship outside of marriage with a member of the church. Professor Philip Jenkins, a professor of the History and Religious Studies at Baylor University, estimates that between 2 and 3% of Protestant clergy have abused minors, but he puts the figure for Catholic priests at less than 2%. Jenkins is a former Catholic and now an Anglican and is ‘far from being a Roman Catholic apologist’ (Coren, p. 13). In 2002, the Christian Science Monitor, also not a supporter of the Catholic Church, reported that “...despite headlines focusing on the priest pedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual abuse allegations are Protestant, and most of the alleged abusers are not clergy or staff but church volunteers.” (Clayton, Mark. Christian Science Monitor, April, 2002).
Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson, in their book, Pope Benedict XVI and the Sex Abuse Crisis’ consulted the Insurance Journals of the companies that insure Protestant Churches and discovered that there were more reports of sex abuse per year than there were in the Catholic Church (Lev, E.)
Rabbi Arthur Gross Schafer, professor of law and ethics at Loyola Marymount University, believes that sexual abuse among rabbis in organized Judaism is roughly the same as that within Protestant Churches. (quoted in Coren, p. 14). Cases of abuse by Buddhist priests surfaced in Thailand in early 2000. There is no data for other religions and it seems likely that children who were abused would not report the abuse or, if they did, would not be believed just as women who are rape victims are often not believed. This is much as it was early in the century in the Western world.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice study (commissioned by American bishops) reported that between 1950 and 2002, 4,392 priests and deacons in the US (4%) were accused of child sexual abuse. There were a total of 10,667 victims and the allegations ranged from touching over clothing (52.6%) to penetration (22.4%). Friscolanti concludes that as horrifying as this may be it ‘does offer compelling proof that priests, on average, don’t seem to be any more dangerous than the people sitting in their pews’ (Friscolanti). He continues, “‘according to most reliable figures, 13% of men and 40% of women say they were sexually abused as children. The huge majority of those crimes occur inside the home - and the culprit is usually a relative, not the local priest.” (Friscolanti) Thomas Plante, PhD, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California, says “We don’t know what the prevalence rate is for the general population, but it has to be at least double what it is for priests.” (Thomas G. Plante quoted by Friscolanti).
The Washington Post (not an ally of the Catholic Church) wrote that since 1965 less than 1.5% of the more than 60,000 priests working in the United States have ever been accused of any form of sexual abuse and The New York Times estimates that 1.8% of priests ordained between 1950 and 2001 have faced any abuse charges. (Coren, p.15). Note that this does not say ‘convicted’ and that some clergy have been accused of sexual crimes but were not found guilty. Coren goes on to say that it is undoubtedly true that some abusers have never been discovered and that some abuse has never been reported. (Coren, p. 17). Still one feels that an institution like the Catholic Church that claims to stand for moral integrity should have less abusers amongst its clergy than it does. However, in 2011 Michael Coren could write, “Today the Catholic Church is probably the safest place for a young boy or girl because of what the Church has done to make it so.” (Coren, p. 13).
What was the response of the Church and the bishops? Did the Church apologize? And what changes have been made to protect children? These questions will be examined in the next article to come (Part II).

Sources
Clayton, Mark. Sex Abuse Spans Spectrum of Churches. Christian Science Monitor, April 5, 2002
Coren, Michael. Why Catholics Are Right. Toronto: McLelland and Stewart Ltd. 2011.
Dougherty, Jon. E. Sex Abuse By Teachers Said Worse Than Catholic Church. Newsmax. http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2004/4/5/01552.shtml April 5, 2004.
Friscolanti, Michael. The Truth About Priests. MacLean’s Magazine. December, 2009.
Lev, Elizabeth. Abuse Facts- A Review of ‘Pope Benedict XVI and the Sex Abuse Crisis’ by Erlandson, G and Matthew Bunson. Zenit.org Sept 9, 2010.
Lifesite News Website. http://www.lifsitenews.com/news/archive//1dn/2010/mar/10033011
The Encyclopedia of Mind Disorders. Pedophilia. Mind Disorders website http://www.minddisorders.com
CBC-TV. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/scouts-failed-to-stop-sexual-predator-cbc-investigation-1.1043966