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Gay men to be allowed to donate blood again? July 27, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, disaster, foolishness, General Catholic, scandals, sickness, Society.
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A few years after the AIDS virus came widely on the scene (in certain communities) in the early 80’s, people who depended on blood transfusions began contracting the disease.  It was found that gay men with undetectable HIV were giving blood, and that blood was infecting hemophiliacs, automobile accident victims, and those who had major surgery.  Dozens, possibly hundreds were infected, and all died.  As soon as the cause was determined, the federal government put in rules banning gay men from giving blood.  This seems to have been a very sensical thing to do.  Now, under pressure from the very well funded gay lobby, the government is apparently considering allowing gay men to donate blood, again:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an HHS agency, has banned blood donation by any man who has had homosexual sex because of the risk of the AIDS virus…Men who have sex with other men, including gay and bisexual men, have an HIV infection rate 60 times higher than that of the general population, the FDA says.  They have an infection rate 800 times higher than first-time blood donors and 8,000 times higher than the rate of repeat blood donors. Tests cannot pick up a new HIV infection in the blood with 100 percent accuracy; because blood is often pooled, many people may be at risk from a single infected donor.

But the Red Cross, always struggling with blood shortages, and other groups such as gay-rights organizations oppose the blanket policy. They say that there are other ways to screen out donors at high risk of HIV infection. Sen. John Kerry, D–Mass., has also been pushing for a change in policy. “We’ve been working on this a long time in a serious way, and I’m glad Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius responded with concrete steps to finally remove this policy from the books,” Kerry said in a statement. “HHS is doing their due diligence, and we plan to stay focused on the endgame – a safe blood supply and an end to this discriminatory ban.”

This is asinine.  There are many groups banned from giving blood, including heroin addicts, those who have traveled overseas, and others with high risk of blood born diseases.  HIV is undetectable in its earliest stages. The simple fact of the matter is that, in spite of its popularity among certain self-appointed elites, the gay lifestyle is very detrimental to one’s health, and has a higher risk of spreading contagions to others through blood donations.  And, we’re talking about blocking blood donation from a very small segment of the population – the net increase in blood donations will be small should this ban be lifted.

Obviously, there is much pandering going on here with certain politicians, seeking to curry favor with a small but well funded segment of the population.  The statement that the ban is discriminatory immediately poisons discussion and makes looking at the issue dispassionately, from a strict basis of safety, much more difficult, if not impossible.  It is cases like this that make me wish the blanket immunity from prosecution for bonehead decisions by politicians could be waived.  If there is some way to insure that HIV can be reliably screened for, then perhaps this ban can be lifted, but until then, I think the risk outweighs the reward.

Increasing societal hostility towards kids July 27, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, sickness, Society.
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I don’t think I’m the only noticing – this culture of ours is becoming increasingly less family- and kid-friendly.  Certainly, there are problems with some parents not disciplining their children, and sometimes kids just won’t be controlled, but what we are seeing more and more of is childless adults demanding their environs – even in public – be just that: childless:

What’s the matter with kids today and why doesn’t anyone want them around? In June, Malaysia Airlines banned babies from many of their first class cabins, prompting other major airlines to consider similar policies.

Lately, complaints about screaming kids are being taken seriously, not only by airlines, but by hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, and even grocery stores. 

Read more about restaurants around the country banning kids.

Earlier this month, McDain’s, a Pittsburgh area restaurant that banned kids under 6 became a mascot for the no-kids-zone movement. 

According to a Pittsburgh local news poll, more than half of area residents were in favor of the ban. And now big business is paying attention. 

“Brat bans could well be the next frontier in destination and leisure-product marketing,” writes Robert Klara in an article on the child-free trend in AdWeek.

Klara points to Leavethembehind.com, a travel website for kid-free vacations, with a massive list of yoga retreats, luxury resorts and bargain hotels around the world that ban children. 

“Call me a grinch, a misanthrope, a DINK (dual-income-no-kids), or the anti-cute-police, but I hate (hate a thousand times over) ill-behaved children/infants/screaming banshees in upscale restaurants (ok, anywhere, really, but I don’t want any death threats),” writes Charlotte Savino on Travel and Leisure’s blog. She lists a slew of a popular destination restaurants with kid-free areas and policies for travelers looking for quiet vacation dining. 

Traveling is one thing, but what about in kids’ own hometowns? Should kids been banned from local movie theaters, like they were at a recent adults-only Harry Potter screening? In Texas, one cinema chain has even flipped the model, banning kids under six altogether, except on specified “baby days”.

Even running errands with toddlers may be changing.  This summer Whole Foods stores in Missouri are offering child-free shopping hours (kids are allowed inside but childcare service is available for parents who want to shop kid-free.) Meanwhile in Florida, a controversy brews over whether kids can be banned from a condominium’s outdoor area. That’s right, some people don’t even want kids outdoors. 

What can be said about a culture that can’t make children?  Alot of the above – and I’ve seen more in many websites – isn’t just a slight aversion towards children – it’s I don’t want to ever see them around. There are whole websites dedicated to trumpeting the kid-free lifestyle.  There is even a woman who wrote a book about how wonderful it is to be married and childless by choice.  Who do they think is going to pay for their Social Security and Medicare, because I can assure you folks with this degree of self-interest definitely feel they deserve to be coddled in retirement, as well. 

In fact, I wonder if this isn’t a complicated psychological response to having rejected having children, or having put it off for so long that when the couple tried to have them, they couldn’t.  We’ve experienced this in our lives – we knew a couple where the wife was all about her career, and then determined in her early 40s to have a child.  It didn’t happen.  It really bothered her, and she couldn’t be around our large family anymore.  It made her feel hostile.  She had to justify her lifestyle.

And……we’ve heard comments in a bookstore: “you shouldn’t have kids in here!”  Excuse me – a bookstore?  So, we should just keep them locked up all day, or stuffed in daycare except when they’re at home a few hours a day to sleep? 

If you read the comments, you’ll get a flavor of the special pleading and “I should never be annoyed, for even the slightest reason, ever” mentality.  The only right that matters to many in this culture, anymore, is the right never to be hassled/disturbed.  We’re a peachy group, ain’t we?

Priest beaten for celebrating TLM July 27, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, Basics, disaster, Eucharist, General Catholic, horror, Latin Mass, sickness, Society.
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Many may have seen this on Fr. Z and elsewhere, but I thought I would post this, anyway. A priest has been repeatedly threatened and now beaten for celebrating the Mass in a traditional, reverent way.  But what many sites have not picked up on, that apparently truly angered those opposing him, was the reverential receipt of Communion kneeling, and on the tongue:

“You have been tough, but we will smash your head. Signed, Your friend Satan“. That was one of several threatening messages sent to Father Hernán García Pardo, parish priest of San Michele, in Ronta [Mugello region of the Province of Florence, Tuscany]. His fault [was] that of celebrating the Latin Mass, liberalized by Benedict XVI in September 2007.
The warnings, which had been recurrent for some time, had not made the priest, who despite everything has continued to say Mass according to the ancient rite, give up. The last chapter [took place] last Wednesday, when he was beaten up by a ‘faithful’ in the town’s rectory in the presence of his aged mother. The beating led to bruising on his back; having been sent to the emergency room of Borgo San Lorenzo, he was medicated.
The news item was published today in the Giornale della Toscana; the accusations made against Father Hernán are those of scattering the flock; above all, he is not forgiven for distributing communion in the mouth [to the] kneeling [faithful], instead of on the hand, in the same manner as Benedict XVI. For others, the Italian-Argentine priest has only brought back some sacred austerity to the parish, excluding guitars from the functions and bringing back to within the walls of the church the ancient Gregorian chant.
The means of receiving Communion certainly seems to elicit strong emotions!  I, for one, feel very strongly about receiving the Lord kneeling and on the tongue, just as I feel strongly that EMHCs should not be used except in truly rare circumstances. 
One related note, and perhaps this should be a stand alone post – I was told by a member of the local Gregorian Chant schola that a recent National Association of Pastoral Musicians convention there was no chant at any of the Divine Liturgies held in conjunction with that convention.  There were many lecture/practice sessions focused on Chant that attracted great interest, but the actual services themselves did not include Chant.  I understand many in attendance made clear their belief that Chant should be a part of the services in the future.

‘Catholic’ university professor issues nasty-gram about Chaput July 27, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, sickness, silliness.
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I found this on CatholicVote, which said that this letter represents the exact antithesis of the author of the post at CatholicVote, and my own thinking.  In fact, the professor’s column is a stunning example of the condemned heresy of ‘Americanism.’  And this, from a professor at a nominally Catholic university (Dayton). I will add some comments in red:

It was announced last week that his [Cardinal Rigali’s] successor will be Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, one of America’s most outspoken Catholic conservatives. [I disagree with this assessment – I would argue that Chaput is one of the bishops most faithful to a traditional view of Church Doctrine]. The appointment shows that the Vatican accepts the strange idea that the church’s problems in this country have come about because Catholics are too American – too tainted by America’s “culture of death” – and because U.S. bishops and priests are too sensitive to what lay people and non-Catholics think. [That is, in essence, the condemned heresy of Americanism, which this author evidently fully embraces.  In fact, Americanism, which contains many dispirate beliefs but essentially puts the individual in the position of primacy, against the rights of God and His Church, was rampant in the Church in the US by the 1890s and is still very widespread today. In fact, many of the ideas that today are seen as ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive,’ are actually very old ideas categorized as ‘Americanism’ by Pope Leo XIII].

What is needed, the Vatican seems to believe, are leaders who “put the church first,” [wow, imagine that – Church leaders who put the Church first!] assert the authority of bishops and priests, and make no pastoral or political concessions on supposedly nonnegotiable Catholic teachings about abortion, homosexuality, and female priests. [What the author means is, these bishops and priests actually puts into practice the beliefs of the Church, instead of ignoring them in favor of ‘pastoral’ considerations, which often means, failing to enforce the Doctrine of the Faith.  In fact, these are not ‘supposedly non-negotiable’ beliefs – they are non-negotiable!  The heresy of Americanism asserts that the Church does not have a right to demand obedience to the Doctrine of the Faith]

This winter will see the introduction of a revised liturgy produced by the Holy See, whose handpicked committee made some 10,000 changes to the version approved by the vast majority of bishops in the English-speaking world. Locally, bishops and priests can make use of lay ministers and advisers, but they are required to make the difference between laity and priests very clear – as if this were somehow in doubt. Restoration of hierarchical and clerical power in the church, under the guise of “real Catholicism,” appears to be the order of the day. [As opposed to the collapse of Authority and liturgical and theological anarchy?  Is that what the author prefers?  Is this entire piece just a swipe at the new translations of the Sacred Liturgy?]

Chaput fits this pattern. His promotion most likely came about because of the support of Americans with influence at the Vatican. The most powerful of these is Raymond Burke, now head of the Vatican’s highest court, who regularly makes the restorationist agenda clear. [I, for one, believe the Church can always use ‘restoration.’]  Chaput is cut from the same cloth as Burke, who launched the church’s continuing campaign to humiliate Catholic Democratic politicians when he denied Communion to a respected Catholic congressman, David Obey of Wisconsin, in 2003. [Was that the point of the campaign – to humiliate them?  From a dogmatically partisan political perspective, perhaps, but from a Catholic perspective, the efforts to deny Communion were profoundly compassionate.  Rather than allowing politicians who had committed serial mortal sin in public from compounding their sin by committing sacrilege (receiving Communion unworthily), these prelates both tried to shield them from further sin and imposed a canonical penalty designed to shake them from their sin and return them to the life of Grace.  If they felt humiliated, perhaps that was God’s Word speaking softly in their soul, trying to return them to the narrow path].

Chaput thought that was a great idea, and he made it clear that then-presidential candidate John Kerry should not appear at the Communion rail in his jurisdiction. He wrote a book arguing that real Catholics would reject John Kennedy’s famous distinction between his religion and his public service, and would always support legislative efforts to enforce Catholic moral teaching. [As  indeed they should.  I fully support Chaput’s plain explanation of Catholic belief in this area, as well as his efforts to enforce that belief.  What Kennedy did was a disastrous example of pragmatic, self-serving Americanism]

Like Burke, Chaput makes no secret of his disdain for outspoken Catholic reformers, especially women, [they are not reformers, they are apostates and almost constantly hostile to the Church] and he played a leading role in reducing the influence and resources of the national bishops’ conference. [The USCCB has no authority, except in narrow areas given it by the bishops themselves, which can be undone at anytime.  Personally, I do not think national or most other conferences like this are helpful.  They tend to become their own, self-serving entities] Chaput is, in short, a company man – a churchman.

Like the Americans who serve at the Vatican, Chaput puts the institutional church first, and he seems to think everyone else should, too. [You know who else thought that way?  Jesus Christ!] According to this view, the church is not the “people of God” – a biblical idea restored by Vatican II that conservatives think has done much damage. For them, the church is the hierarchy, and especially the pope. [This is completely wrong.  The Church is both the Pope and the bishops in union with him AND the people who are faithful to the Truth Christ has revealed through His Church.  Or honestly trying to be faithful.  This professor is trying to set up a false dichotomy, pitting the laity against the hierarchy, asserting that power accrued to one is power denied to the other (and, remember, for liberals, it is always about power).  In fact, the most basic tenets of the Faith dictate obedience.  The Church is not a fuzzy body of people who sort of kind of feel the same way about some topics, and who think Jesus Christ may or may not have been Divine, but anyways was a really cool guy who said some really cool things.  We’ve tried that approach in this country for decades and the result is a Church near prostrate and incalculable damage to millions of souls.  From the earliest days of the Church, it has viewed itself as consisting those people who believe what the Church teaches, and the arbiters and enforcers of that belief are the Pope and the bishops in union with him.  The very term ‘orthodoxy,’ which the Greeks maintain as the name of their Church, comes from ‘right prayer/right belief.’  If you pray and believe rightly, you are a faithful member of the Church.  Many of us stumble, that is understood, but it is the orientation to obey that is paramount.  Conscious, intentional dissent from Church Doctrine is, and always has been, heresy, and puts one outside the bounds of the Church. 

OK – so I wrote more than a little bit! 

USCCB wants Catholics to fast for progressive solidarity – UPDATED July 27, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, Interior Life, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, sickness.
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There are many, many good reasons to fast.  And First Fridays certainly have a special place in Catholic spirituality – there are the Graces and indulgences given for participating in Adoration and assisting at Mass on First Fridays.  Catholics, historically, would not only abstain from meat on Fridays, but also fast.  It is only in the last several decades that these practices have fallen by the wayside.

Having said that, the USCCB is recommending Catholics fast in solidarity with what I take they mean are migrant farm workers.  I know many, many farm workers up in Kansas and here in Texas, and I don’t think that’s who the USCCB is referring to.  They are referring largely to an immigrant population that is engaged in high human labor farming activities like picking fruits and vegetables:

The Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is inviting Catholics to fast on August 5 to show their solidarity with farm workers. Those who participate in the fast are asked to limit their spending on food to the level used by the federal government in determining food stamp allocations–just over $20 per day for a family of four.

Apparently, a family of 8 ain’t on the federal government’s radar.  As I said, there are many good reasons to fast, and to make special devotions on First Fridays, but I think this ‘solidarity’ issue, while valid, is one of the weakest and poorest.  This recommendation by the USCCB is part of their “justice for immigrants’ campaign (with, of course, a special interest in a certain kind of immigrant), under the aforementioned Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development – historically, one of the most problematic departments of the USCCB.

We have had a profound tendency in the Church over the past several decades to trumpet the Church’s earthly works at the expense of her spiritual works.  Earthly works are popular with many at the USCCB because they bring funding (especially this), they can be categorized and measured, and they align well with the function of  bureaucracies, whereas spiritual works are more difficult to assess and impossible for a bureaucracy to grasp.  It’s easy for the USCCB to say “we helped feed 1 million people.”  It’s alot harder to say “we saved 1 million souls.”  But, as important as the former is, the latter is much, much more so.

I find these solidarity campaigns, which often occur at Lent and during other times when Catholics should be especially focused on spiritual development, well meaning but wrong headed.  Absolutely Catholics should fast, especially on First Fridays, but they should do primarily out of a spirit of offering up temporal sacrifices to our Lord, with the aim of overcoming attachment to the world and its pleasures and becoming more in tune with the only thing that really matters – the Truth and Grace that flow from Jesus Christ and sustain His Church.  Solidarity can be OK, but as a secondary or tertiary part of this process of mortification – dying to self – that all Catholics are called to practice regularly, and with growing intensity, as they grow in faith.  Politicizing this very holy process is, to me, pretty distasteful.  And, I believe, it continues to maintain the wrong message that has been conveyed in thousands of ways to the vast majority of Catholics – that the Church is primarily an institution of “good works” intended for earthly benefit, a human aid society with its foremost focus on perfecting the imperfectable – this fallen world.  It just places the emphasis in the wrong place.   

I am all for helping the downtrodden. I highly encourage greater private giving by all with the means to do so, even to the point that it hurts.  But this means, this methodology, I think is badly misplaced.  I think it too overtly political, and political of a certain stripe.  I think it has the potential to turn more people off from a good and holy practice than it does encouraging it.

UPDATE:  There is a great deal more that’s wrong with this.  First of all, it’s not a fast – it’s a ‘reduce how much you spend on food for one day of the week.’  And the limit is $21 for a family of 4 – you wouldn’t even have to skimp much for that.  Secondly – how many other fake-fasts are being proclaimed by the USCCB this year?  Are there any to end abortion?  To strengthen marriage?  To support belief in the Real Presence?  How about any to support our priests, or the Church, or the Pope?  I would argue that all of the above are much higher priority than a fake-fast to support migrant farm workers.  So the USCCB calls for a very few “fasts” a year – and this is what they choose to recommend Catholics fast over?  And little mention of the great spiritual benefits, or the fact that all Catholics should mortify themselves regularly? 

Very weak tea.  The watering down continues unabated at the USCCB.