Thoughts in Solitude - Thomas Merton

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” † † †
-Thoughts in Solitude
© Abbey of Gethsemani
"Your way of acting should be different from the world's way"...Rule of St. Benedict.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Liturgy translations fall short of two-thirds; mail balloting needed

BISHOPS-MISSAL (UPDATED) Jun-18-2009 (950 words) With photos posted June 17 and 18. xxxn

Liturgy translations fall short of two-thirds; mail balloting needed

By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops will have to poll members missing from their spring meeting in San Antonio before it's known whether they have approved liturgical prayers, special Masses and key sections of an English translation of the Order of the Mass.

Five texts being prepared for use in English-speaking countries failed to get the necessary two-thirds votes of the Latin-rite U.S. bishops during the June 18 session of the bishops' meeting.

With 244 Latin-rite bishops in the United States eligible to vote on the questions, the required two-thirds would be 163. With 189 eligible bishops attending the meeting, only 134 voted to accept the first section, Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions.

On four subsequent translations, the votes also failed to reach two-thirds, meaning the 55 bishops not present will be polled by mail on all five parts. That process is expected to take several weeks.

The items that failed to pass contain prefaces for the Mass for various occasions; votive Masses and Masses for the dead; solemn blessings for the end of Mass; prayers over the people and eucharistic prayers for particular occasions, such as for evangelization or ordinations.

The section receiving the highest level of approval -- with a 159-19 vote, with three abstentions -- was the Order of the Mass II, with its prefaces, blessings and eucharistic prayers.

The bishops did have enough votes to approve a sixth action item from the Committee on Divine Worship, a Spanish-language Lectionary. After that vote of 181-2, with three abstentions, the bishops' conference president, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, joked: "Ahora, vamos a continuar en espanol," or "Now we will continue in Spanish."

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, warned that delaying approval or failing to send the Vatican guidance by the end of November will risk shutting the U.S. bishops out of the English-language translation approval process.

Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., had several times raised questions about the timetable for submitting the liturgical texts and voiced frustration with their grammar, sentence structure and word choices that he said were not suited to contemporary worship.

"I say yes to more accurate Latin translation ... yes to a more elevated tone," Bishop Trautman said from the floor. "But a resounding no to incomplete sentences, to two and three clauses in sentences, no to 13 lines in one sentence, no to archaic phrases, no to texts that are not proclaimable, not intelligible and not pastorally sensitive to our people."

In an interview with Catholic News Service Bishop Trautman singled out for example a phrase included in the translations for votive Masses and Masses for the dead: "May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Lord, cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful within by the sprinkling of his dew."

"What does that even mean?" he asked, citing frustration also with phrases such as "the sweetness of your grace."

"I don't think the word 'sweetness' relates to people today," at least not in the way the translation intends, he told CNS.

Bishop Serratelli, a member of the International Committee on English in the Liturgy, known as ICEL, told the meeting that ICEL members pray the texts aloud as they draft the English versions. ICEL is made up of representatives of 11 main English-speaking bishops' conferences.

He also emphasized that after an eight-year process to get to this point, the Vatican is waiting on the U.S. bishops to weigh in with their approval.

"We're at the end of the process," Bishop Serratelli said. Of the missal text, he said it's "a very, very good text. ... It's not perfect, but we're at the end of a long, healthy process."

In June 2008 the Vatican granted its "recognitio" or confirmation to the translation of the main parts of the Mass, which the U.S. bishops had voted to approve in June 2006.

Bishop Serratelli told reporters at a news conference that he expects enough votes among the bishops being polled by mail to approve all of the texts. If any fail to get two-thirds support, those pieces will come back to the bishops as a whole at their November meeting.

Typically, attendance is higher at the November meeting, which is where the USCCB conducts most of its conference business.

In November 2008 the U.S. bishops signed off on another section, the Proper of the Seasons, which includes the proper prayers for Sundays and feast days during the liturgical year.

Yet to come for approval by the U.S. bishops are new translations of the Proper of the Saints, propers for the dioceses, antiphons, eucharistic prayers for Masses with children, introductory material and appendices. The propers are expected to be taken up by the U.S. bishops at their regular business meeting in the fall.

When the material was introduced a day earlier, among a handful of questions raised was Bishop Trautman's about the timetable for sending the finished missal changes off to the Vatican and what he found to be too short a time for review.

Noting that the text came to the bishops at a very busy time of year, close to Holy Week and Easter, he said its 812 pages -- 406 each of English and Latin -- meant few bishops had time to do detailed reviews.

Bishop Serratelli disagreed that time was too short, saying the material went to the bishops for review in March.

"The Holy See wants it in November," he said.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Response to immigration a ‘test of our humanity,’

Response to immigration a ‘test of our humanity,’ Archbishop Chaput says at forum
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Archbishop Charles Chaput

Denver, Colo., Jun 13, 2009 / 04:31 pm (CNA).- Saying the immigration crisis is “a test of our humanity,” Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput on Saturday told an open forum on immigration reform that Catholics must not ignore immigrants in need and cannot remain silent about flawed immigration policy.

He also noted that Catholics’ commitment to the immigrant arises from the same source as Catholics’ commitment to the unborn. The archbishop spoke at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in the Denver suburb of Northglenn on Saturday afternoon. He was joined by Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO) and Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL).

Archbishop Chaput opened with a prayer asking God to help man “build a culture of life” and to “live the Gospel.”

“Make us quick to forgive each other, quick to listen to each other, and eager to serve those who are suffering and in need,” he prayed. “And finally Lord, in all things, fill us with the courage to follow St. Paul when he urges us to ‘speak the truth in love.’”

Beginning his remarks, the archbishop said that immigration reform has been “gridlocked” for more than three years. He blamed both Democrats and Republicans for creating “paralysis.”

“We made our immigration crisis in a bipartisan way. Now we need to solve it in a bipartisan way that involves good people from both parties or no party.”

He noted that he and Rep. Polis, who is openly homosexual and a supporter of abortion rights, would disagree “vigorously” on “some very serious social issues.”

However, the archbishop said the agenda for that day concerned the improvement of immigration laws.

“We have a mutual interest in that important work -- and I respect the congressman’s sincerity and energy in trying to do something about it,” he said.

“The Catholic commitment to the dignity of the immigrant comes from exactly the same roots as our commitment to the dignity of the unborn child,” since being pro-life also means making laws and social policies that will care for “those people already born that no one else will defend.”

“In the United States today, we employ a permanent underclass of human beings who build our roads, pick our fruit, clean our hotel rooms, and landscape our lawns,” Archbishop Chaput remarked.

Stating that most immigrants are law-abiding and “simply want a better life for their families,” he noted that many have children who are American citizens or have been in America for most of their lives.

These people live in a “legal limbo,” he stated.

“They’re vital to our economy, but they have few legal protections, and thousands of families have been separated by arrests and deportations,” he reported.

“We need to remember that how we treat the weak, the infirm, the elderly, the unborn child and the foreigner reflects on our own humanity. We become what we do, for good or for evil.”

Archbishop Chaput insisted that the Catholic Church respects the law, including immigration law, and also respects those who enforce it.

“We do not encourage or help anyone to break the law. We believe Americans have a right to solvent public institutions, secure borders and orderly regulation of immigration.”

However, he said Catholics cannot ignore those in need and cannot be silent about laws that “don’t work” and also create “impossible contradictions and suffering.”

Characterizing the present immigration system as one that adequately serves no one, he urged reform that will address economic and security needs while regularizing “the many decent undocumented immigrants.”

“We become what we do, for good or for evil. If we act and speak like bigots, that’s what we become. If we act with justice, intelligence, common sense and mercy, then we become something quite different. We become the people and the nation God intended us to be.”

He said he hoped those present at today's forum will all take part in immigration reform.

“The future of our country depends on it,” he concluded.

The June 13 forum is part of a national outreach tour called “Familias Unidas.” The tour will visit 22 major cities across the United States and is intended to advance a better understanding of the harm caused to individuals and families by the present immigration system.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cash-for-Eggs Scheme

Press Release

June 8, 2009

9:30 AM EST

Ethicist and Women Bioethics Leaders Criticize New York Stem Cell Board for Pursuing Cash-for-Eggs Scheme

"Cash-strapped and college-aged women will be exploited by the state in this scheme."

ALBANY, NY, JUNE 8, 2009 -- New York's Empire Sate Stem Cell Board (ESSCB) is considering a plan that would pay women to provide human eggs for research purposes.

Bucking a national trend seen in states like California and Massachusetts, which prohibit payment for eggs for research, the ESSCB Ethics Committee voted at its May 12 meeting to recommend that state research funds be provided to researchers who pay women for their eggs, making New York the only state in the union to tacitly endorse a cash-for-eggs scheme. At its upcoming meeting on June 11, the ESSCB will consider providing state money for direct payments to women to try to obtain human eggs for research.

"In a desperate quest and unprecedented measure to obtain women's eggs to create embryos for research purposes, New York will waste taxpayers money on unproven science, and women who take the bait will be risking their health and future fertility," said Fr. Thomas Berg, a member of the ESSCB's Ethics Committee, and Executive Director of the Westchester Institute, a Catholic think tank. "I can assure you, it won't be the upper-class set who responds to state inducement and risks potentially life-threatening side-effects of human egg harvesting; it will be the vulnerable classes of cash-strapped and college-aged women who will be exploited by the state in this scheme," said Fr. Berg.

Jennifer Lahl, founder and national director for the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, addressed the risks that are involved in the egg harvesting procedure: "The egg donation process has well documented risks associated with the dangerous drugs taken to produce abnormally large numbers of eggs along with the risks of anesthesia and surgery to remove the eggs. Added to these dangers are the longer term risks associated with cancers and damage to the donors' future fertility.

"In an effort to encourage cures for the sick, the NYESSCB is considering a dangerous campaign to permit them to compensate healthy young women for their eggs. It is a twisted sort of logic that seeks cures for some while ignoring the risks to healthy young women," said Ms. Lahl.

Dorinda Bordlee, Vice President and Senior Counsel for the Bioethics Defense Fund, also criticized the ESSCB plan in light of recent scientific advances in the field of stem cell research. "It is outrageously irresponsible for the New York Stem Cell board to incentivize the exploitive practice of paying cash-strapped young women thousands of dollars to be injected with high doses of hormones to produce eggs for embryonic stem cell research. This unethical move that endangers women's health is completely unnecessary given the breakthrough methods that produce patient-specific stem cells without the need for cloning, embryos or eggs," said Ms. Bordlee.

Fr. Thomas Berg discusses more fully the exploitation and consent issues in a special commentary, "Scrambled Ethics," posted June 2 on National Review Online.

The Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human person was founded in 1998 to renew, deepen, and promote the Western tradition of moral reflection. The institute pursues its objectives in cultural, political, and academic settings. Through seminars, lecture series, and research fellowships, the Westchester Institute seeks to reinvigorate contemporary moral discourse at all levels.

More information: Contact Daniel Kane at or visit

Copyright 2009 The Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gingrich's Film Project; Brothers Helping Others

Former Speaker Highlights John Paul II in Documentary

By Edward Pentin

ROME, JUNE 4, 2009 ( An event which took place 30 years ago this week would change the world forever.

Over just nine days, from June 2-10, 1979, John Paul II made what was probably his most historic apostolic trip, a pilgrimage back to his native Poland.

He landed in communist Warsaw on the eve of Pentecost, and went on to give 37 speeches and homilies that articulated what most Poles had felt for years: that Poland was a Catholic nation, cursed with a communist state. In doing so, he unleashed a spiritual and political revolution that would eventually free Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from the shackles of Marxist rule.

In particular, it led to Poland's communist government agreeing to recognize the legality of "Solidarność" - the "Solidarity" trade union movement. Together with the help of international political leaders and the Church, it would become the leading force in the collapse of the communist regime.

Now, 30 years on, a group of filmmakers led by the American politician Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista, are making a 90-minute documentary on that momentous papal pilgrimage. Called "Nine Days that Changed the World," and set for release in the fall, the film aims to take the viewer through those pivotal events, but also to lay out the context of the visit. The program begins with John Paul's election and goes on to make brief references to Karol Wojtyla's life, first under Nazism, then Stalinism, and his vocation to the priesthood.

Last week, as the filmmakers visited Rome to shoot footage of St. Peter's basilica, I spoke with Kevin Knoblock, the program's writer, producer and director, to find out more. The idea for the documentary, he said, came after he and the Gingriches had made a recent film on Ronald Reagan. "When doing that film, we saw the three key players in the founding of the Solidarity movement," he explained. "Reagan had a huge influence, also Thatcher, but most importantly, John Paul II."

The crew had already filmed in various places on John Paul II's 1979 pilgrimage including Krakow, Auschwitz, Czestochowa and Victory Square in Warsaw -- the location of a huge papal Mass that attracted 250,000 people.

John Paul II's famous motto -- "Be Not Afraid" -- was, Knoblock explained, not just an exhortation to be unafraid of opening one's arms to Christ, "but also to be unafraid of the changes and challenges that will come ahead -- the challenges of the Soviet regime and totalitarianism."

He recalled how nine out of 10 Poles heard or saw the Pope speak during those nine short days, and how every effort the regime made to try to prevent the pilgrimage from taking place almost comically backfired.

In its promotional material, the filmmakers say the program will show how John Paul II "helped the Poles find their courage and reclaim their culture." Moreover, they say the documentary aims to express the Pope's message that contrary to the lies of Nazism and communism, "authentic human freedom is only possible through the truth of Jesus Christ."

Such a momentous time continues to be relevant today, Knoblock said. "There's always a need to remember what can happen under authoritarian regimes, always important to remember freedom and religious freedom, and John Paul II certainly brought that to the people of Poland."

The documentary will eventually be available on DVD in English, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. For more information, visit:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

One of South Carolina's first deacons turns 100


At left, Deacon Joseph Kemper Sr. talks with his son, Joe Kemper Jr., during a birthday celebration held for the permanent deacon, who turned 100 on May 29.
Miscellany Photo/Joe Benton
At left, Deacon Joseph Kemper Sr. talks with his son, Joe Kemper Jr., during a birthday
celebration held for the permanent deacon, who turned 100 on May 29.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Joseph Kemper, one of the Diocese of Charleston’s first permanent deacons, reached another landmark on May 29. He turned 100 years old.

Family members and friends traveled to Sandpiper Village Senior Living Community to celebrate with him.

Deacon Kemper was ordained with two other men in August 1971, by Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler as the first permanent deacons in the state of South Carolina.

After Pope Paul VI issued the Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem in 1967, the U.S. bishops received permission to ordain permanent deacons in 1968. The first group of ordinations took place in May 1971.

Deacon Kemper retired from the diaconate in 1999, but remained active in his ministry for several more years, conducting communion services, visiting the poor and writing.

Today, his small room at Sandpiper Village is a testament to the humble way he has lived in service to God. The only picture hanging in his room is a portrait of St. Peter. Next to that hangs a crucifix and a clock just below.

“The clock represents the world, with Christ ruling over it,” Deacon Kemper told The Miscellany in an interview.

He has worked hard and helped others almost all of his life, according to his family.

“My father started working on the farm at age 8 and was expected to be responsible for his mother, brothers and sisters,” said Claire Kemper Johnson, his daughter from Charlottesville, Va. “I can’t help wishing he had more of a real childhood. Without his intervention, I know his siblings would not have the success stories they did. He has given, given, given.”

Deacon Kemper was a woodworker and cabinet-maker by trade who owned his own business in New Jersey for many years.

After spending time in Florida with his wife Eleanor, who was dying of cancer, he returned to New Jersey to do missionary work with the church. He moved to South Carolina for his ministry of service in 1966.

“I arrived in Charleston, drove to Broad Street, parked my van in the Cathedral school yard and met with Msgr. Bernardin and then the bishop,” he said.

For the next five years, Deacon Kemper served throughout the state, working in construction and driving the bishop around the country. In 1967, Bishop Unterkoefler was the only American bishop summoned to Rome to advise Pope Paul VI on the need for a permanent diaconate.

“The bishop related to the Holy Father my work in South Carolina as an example of why permanent deacons were needed in the church,” Deacon Kemper said.

Later that year, the pope established the order of the permanent diaconate and Deacon Kemper began intensively training and preparing for ordination.

Msgr. John Simonin, retired pastor of St. Mary Church in Charleston, fondly remembered his 27 year association with “Deacon Joe.”

“We started at St. Patrick’s, and he went with me to Nativity, St. Joseph’s and finally St. Mary’s,” Msgr. Simonin said.

Utilizing talents he learned as a young man, Deacon Kemper did much of the construction and repair work around the parishes in which he served. He built portable confessionals, rebuilt rectory porches, rewired electrical circuitry or whatever needed to be done.

“Msgr. Simonin and I did 27 building projects together,” he said. “He was a wonderful man to work with.”

Michael Robinson, a longtime St. Mary parishioner and finance council chair, said Msgr. Simonin and Deacon Kemper were quite a team for 17 years.

“They left our parish in very sound financial and structural condition,” he said.

One side of the man that most people never saw was his willingness to help the poor and those in distress. Regina Alberti, former St. Mary housekeeper, recalled a lady in the community with a severe kidney illness which required numerous medications she could not afford.

“Deacon Kemper befriended her and paid for the medicines out of his own pocket for years, and no one ever knew,” she said.

Alberti said people would knock on the front door of the rectory and the deacon would help them out.

“Under a sometimes gruff, temperamental exterior was a heart of pure gold,” she said.

Now Deacon Kemper spends his days in prayer, reading the Bible, and talking with his many visitors at Sandpiper. On his 99th birthday, his family surprised him by driving him to St. Mary for Sunday Mass followed by a reception.

“He talked about that day for months, and how many old friends he met that were mere children when he first knew them,” his daughter said. “It was a wonderful day.”

Published June 4, 2009, The Catholic Miscellany