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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Vote for your Favourite Cardinal

By: SCCB Staff         December 31, 2014



Berlin, Germany - To streamline matters at the Synod of Bishops next Fall, Pope Francis announced that simple voting rules shall be followed - but this will not be the voting to which these gathering are accustomed.

Vatican Spokesman, Msgr. Fred Lombard, told an excited room of journalists that "this year things will have more of an 'American Idol feel,' as the positions that the various cardinals and bishops present at the Synod will be voted on by you, the viewer, at home!"

"This move just seemed to make sense," said Archbishop Krull of Utopianova, "and is in keeping with our drive for more input from families begun about two years ago with the surveys."

"Many people felt as if their views were not represented in the 'Preliminary Round' - which is what we are now calling the preparatory meeting that was held in October, 2014," said Lombard, "This new procedure is meant to assure that that does not happen again. Why should a bishop or a theologian tell you what to believe? Let your voice be heard by texting your vote in."

Cardinal Kasper was elated, remarking "Thank God that internet coverage in Africa is spotty at best."

Visionary theologian, Hans Kung, was perhaps even more excited, stating, "This is the kind of participation that the Council Fathers had in mind in the 1960s, and which I have been advocating for years. Ratzinger must be rolling around in his grave!"

Team Germany is a heavy favorite to win in the 2015 tournament, despite being shut out by Team Africa and Team USA in 2014.

Fr. Robert Barron will host the show, which will air Sunday nights at 9 on EWTN.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Altered Report on the Nuns

BY: Carlo Guidowendo, SCCB Italy      December 30, 2014



Vatican City - In a sit-down interview with a Vatican representative, SCCB has learned the reason for the change in tune in the Vatican's investigation of American nuns.

The recently released report on the nuns surprised many as being "nice to the point of irrelevant." It was initially assumed that it was the change in pontificate that was the reason for the change in tune. The investigation had been initiated during Benedict's papacy. This theory proved to be mistaken.

"The reason for the change is rather simple," said Msgr. Alberto De Monti, spokesman for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

In a statement that has shocked many, the monsignor said, "The American nuns were willing to play hardball. They threatened to adopt FEMEN tactics - if you know what I mean! - if we did not relent with our investigation!"

"In retrospect, this should have been expected," De Monti now admits. "After all, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has been on both the American and the European terror watch-lists for quite some time."

"We just had no idea what we were up against. We even received a letter of caution from President Putin, who observed rather sagely: 'imagine what the attack on the Vatican's manger scene on Christmas day would have been like had it been the American nuns!'"

A cardinal who wished to remain anonymous offered this perspective: "There simply are not enough wheelchair ramps in the Vatican City State to accommodate that kind of protest. And, besides, the Swiss Guards said they would walk off the job in such an eventuality."


Monday, December 29, 2014

Pope Francis Still Tops

BY: Carlo Guidowendo, SCCB Italy      December 29, 2014

File Picture, courtesy Vatican Archives.

Rome, Italy - Despite new evidence unearthed about the kind of life Pope Benedict had been living in the Vatican since the early 80's, Pope Francis continues to dazzle with Easter and Christmas Catholics.

Documents have recently come to light revealing how eccentric a life Benedict had been living even before he became pope.

Church historian Jaroslav Smith, stated in an interview with SCCB, "First we had the forty-day fast of Our Lord, then we had the inexplicably abstemious lives of St. Anthony of Egypt and the other Desert Fathers, some of whom were said to live off of perhaps one fig a day or even a week."

"But" Prof. Smith said, "this takes sanctity to a whole new level."

The extraordinary documents in question are the journals of Pope Benedict's confessor, Fr. Pio von Berlin, who kept detailed accounts of the Pope Emeritus' spiritual practices. Prof. Smith who has read all of the documents stated, "In fact, it seems that Pope Benedict only ate once during his time as Prefect of the Doctrinal Congregation, and that was when he saw a dried out raisin on the floor when they were moving the Vatican refrigerator. He always strongly believed that it is a sin to waste food."

The documents also record the time when Fr. Pio had to put Benedict under strict obedience not to levitate around the Sistine Chapel at night while holding conversations with various angels and saints.

And yet despite these new revelations people still prefer Pope Francis. In surveys conducted by CNN, Gallop and Bloomberg, Francis is consistently receiving favorable ratings of around 99% compared to around 8% for the Pope Emeritus.

"Who am I to judge! That's the Pope for me!" Tweeted twice a year mass-goer Crystal Dawson.

"No more rules - that rules. That's why Francis is the pope for me!" Tweeted every-other Christmas attendee, Chuck Tyler.

Pope Francis' approach also resonates with mainstream journalists, like those at the New York Times, whose lead story this Christmas was "Pope Francis 'High-Fives' Recently Divorced Young People Gathered at Vatican, Ushering in a New Era of Tolerance."

When asked about the new revelations about Pope Benedict's extraordinary holiness, many of the people interviewed seemed to feel that holiness is not as important as other things, like not judging.

Pope Francis' greater popularity has also been reflected in sales this Christmas. At the top of Amazon.com's best-seller list was "Pictures of Holiness: Photos of the Pope at the Beach with Celebrities," which has already sold close to 35 million copies since its release on December 24th. Much slower were sales of the first volume of Pope Benedict's complete works, which has so far sold just 29 copies, most of these having been purchased by relatives of the great pope-theologian.

SCCB has also learned that far from not having been invited to the October Synod on the Family, as was originally assumed, the Pope Emeritus had to decline the invitation after the shine of his hallow proved to be too bright for anyone within a 100 feet not to go blind, thus reinforcing the feeling that Benedict is much less approachable than his Latino successor.



Sunday, December 28, 2014

Conflicted Seminarian not Sure What to do Now

By: C. Kerr     December 28, 2014


Toronto, Ontario - In light of Pope Francis' scathing denunciation of the sins of the curia, seminarian Rob Bertrand doesn't know what to do with the Italian Rosetta Stone software he keeps carefully hidden in his closet in the seminary.

"It's too late to re-gift it."

Bertrand had been disciplining himself to spend an hour every Saturday morning learning the Church's sacred language. Although only in his first year of priestly formation, he imagined that by the time of his ordination he would be fluent enough "to be useful to Holy Mother Church in whatever way she deemed necessary," he said.

"I got the idea for this after seeing priest after priest with one of these bright yellow boxes on their rectory bookshelves, and some of the older cassock-wearing seminarians with them too. Mind you, they never liked to talk about why they decided to learn Italian, though. I guess they were being humble: they didn't want anyone to know about the extra service they were willing to provide for the Church."

Now Bertrand doesn't know what he is going to do Saturday mornings.

"The Holy Father has made it clear that he doesn't want us there, and so there's no reason now to continue on with this. So far I have learned eight different Italian phrases. I suppose they will come in handy at some point."

When asked by SCCB about what this means for the future of priestly ministry in his home diocese, he said, "I might pick up a book on annulments since I think we will be seeing a lot more of them."

But Bertrand still wonders how things will continue to function in Rome now with all those suddenly-empty rooms in the Vatican. "Will they turn them into hostels for pilgrims or more showers for homeless Italians?"

When he asked one of his seminary professors about all of this, the priest, Fr. Gerald Blanc, said, "I think you will find that the Church will not lack new priests from around the world who still inexplicably somehow know Italian."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Parish Discovers Papal Document Predating 1965

By: SCCB Staff     Dec. 27, 2014

Picture of an unknown pope from the olden days,
possibly even Leo XIII himself.

Thomas, Alberta - A team of archivists and other officials the Diocese of Rockville were called in to investigate an inexplicable find earlier this week, in the most unlikely of places. A little known papal document, from a time long-ago, by Leo XIII was discovered in a local Catholic church. This pope from the Middle Ages was said hold the papacy now held by the Argentine, Francis I, who is known for instituting "the Francis effect."

St. John XXIII pastor, Paul O'Reilly, stated that "While the liturgy committee was searching for the black wise man, one of the members said he just came across this little booklet sitting on the dusty concrete floor under the stage in the church basement. He pulled it out and showed us and we all just kind of stood around, not believing what he had just found."

"We were all just shocked. And then Barb Little, head of the liturgy committee, tugged on my arm and said, 'Father, you had better call someone at the bishop's office.' And that just snapped me out of my shock. I didn't know where this mystery would lead - perhaps all the way to Rome, I wondered. We had our very own Da Vinci Code-like mystery on our hands!"

"One thing we knew," Ms. Little added, "Was that this wouldn't be a secret for long. We are a parish that believes that everyone has a ministry and so there were a lot of people in the hall that morning - the ladies from the yoga class, and the kids from the daycare. People are bound to talk."

To head off the gossip, Fr. O'Reilly decided to call a meeting for all interested parishioners. About fifty people showed up that evening to hear the findings of the diocesan commission.

The document turned out to be called 'Aeterni Patris,' which is from the Latin language and means 'Of the Eternal Father.' It was written long ago in the 1800s by Pope Leo and was about the Church teaching philosophy.

"In the time of Leo XIII," the speaker, Jill Andrews, Head of the Diocesan Catechetical Office, said, "the Church realized that we should not only believe what is taught in the Bible, but we can also use our minds to study the world. It must have been a real turning point for the Church - to realize that it doesn't have all the answers. A real step out of the Middle Ages. No doubt this ushered the way toward Vatican II, when the Church finally accepted that all religions are equal in God's eyes."

One of the evening's attendees, Jim Anderson, a computer programmer with a local high-tech firm, enjoyed the evening. "It really makes you wonder if other things had been written by those early Christians," he said.

Friday, December 26, 2014

SCCB 'News': Dancing Around the Issue: Academic Freedom at Jesuit School in Question


Carthage, IL: December 26, 2014
Filed: Catholic Information Service of Nunavut

Hot on the heels of an incident where a student at the Jesuit-run Marquette College was told that in an ethics class he could not question the rights of homosexuals to marriage and to adopt, another incident has left many wondering what still remains of academic freedom among the followers of Ignatius of Loyola.

“I will not permit the central role of liturgical dance in the First Century Church to be questioned in this class,” said Professor Janet Freewheeler, Ignatius Hill-Top College’s, ‘Cardinal Bernadin Chair of Theoretical History.’

The controversy began when theology student, Jim Ngoya, a Rhodes Scholar with a 4.0 GPA, and member of the Southern Baptist Convention of Nigeria, asked Freewheeler about her position.

“I was so excited to come to Ignatius Hill-Top to learn all about the Catholic Faith. I did not question professor’s statement. I only asked for Biblical references and for her to comment on the fact that no such assertion is made in the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity or any other source that I have so far come across – and I am fluent in eight languages, both ancient and modern.”

Ngoya added, “The first time I asked Prof. Freewheeler about the matter, she said, ‘Yes, dance was central in the ‘white church,’ just as it is in your church.’ I told her that I have never danced in my church. I admit, I did not understand what she meant by the ‘white church.’”

The young man took his concern to the Chair of the Theology Department, Fr. Gerry White, S.J., as he wanted to write a paper on what Ngoya refers to as “Professor’s exciting thesis - and perhaps he had some ideas for leads.”

When asked about the incident, Fr. White told SCCB (in German) that “students should not tell us too much what we have to do.”

The Department Chair added that he was proud of Prof. Freewheeler’s commitment to academic freedom in courageously pursuing this original line of research. “We have to have the courage to look beyond the sources and have the courage to re-imagine history, if we are ever going to reach new horizons. And this is what she has done. She is an inspiration.”

Ngoya was surprised to have been put on academic probation and fully intends to exercise much less curiosity in the future.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

SCCB 'News': Orangutan Decision has Perpetually Optimistic Pro-Lifer All Smiles




Orangeville, Ontario: December 24, 2014

Filed: SCCB Staff

Despite the cold December weather, pro-life activist, Fran Violetta, was all smiles.

Orangeville fixture, Mrs. Violetta, whose handwritten sign and rosary have become fixtures in the downtown Orangeville scene over the last twenty years, sees in the Argentinian court’s decision to recognize twenty-nine year-old Sandra the orangutan as a non-human person hope that “one day babies in the womb will be recognized as human persons.”

“I am sure that all my friends who work over at the People of Orangeville for the Planet (POOP) will be delighted,” she said in an interview with SCCB.

When reached for comment, her friends at the POOP had been delighted to hear about the orangutan, but confessed that the connection that Mrs. Violetta was drawing from the court decision eluded them. Although it took them a few minutes to remember their friend, Violetta, whom they seemed to lovingly refer to as “that lady,” POOP representatives were more than happy to speak at length about other animals whose personhood they expect to see declared soon.

While POOP membership was divided over certain candidates, like earwigs, they were unanimous in their hope that horses, dolphins, monkeys and “certain furry dogs” would soon join Sandra with full legal recognition as non-human persons.

Star Cooper, POOP Chairperson, told SCCB reporter, Colin Kerr, that she was “channelling all the positive energy she could to Sandra and her family during this lovely Winter Solstice.”

Ms. Cooper even considered that “Perhaps one day Sandra will take my place as chairperson of the organization, since she is now a person.”

As for Mrs. Violetta, she expected Ms. Cooper and her friends over at POOP to join her for Christmas brunch to celebrate this “great victory for life.”

“They haven’t been able to make it yet, but I am sure they will come over this year. We are all on the same side, fighting the good fight. Although, they told me that they were going to leave ‘the human side of things’ to me.”

“They are always calling me a speciesist. I think it’s pronounced ‘specialist.’ Of course, I am no better than anyone, but it’s certainly nice of them to say that.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

SCCB 'News': Parish Priests has Clueless Adults Leave during Homily



Chevette, Ontario: Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fr. James McSweeny CC, fresh from the seminary, has some pretty radical ideas when it comes to Sunday worship. After the readings, he invites adult members of the congregation whom his ushers have specially elected, to go downstairs for a ‘special’ homily given by Sr. Janet and her ‘saintly sock puppets.’

“We have found that they come back ten minutes later much more engaged,” said Fran Duplesse, chairperson of St. Martin’s liturgy committee.

When asked which adults are selected for this special homily, Fr. McSweeny said it was those who fidget, those who clear their throats a lot, and those who keep looking at the girl with the low top and the tight jeans out of the corners of their eyes.

“It’s just a new take on catechesis.”

Fr. McSweeny said the idea came to him one Sunday out of frustration with those who just can’t to remember the ‘and with your spirit.’

“I mean it’s been a few years now! But then I thought, you can get angry or you can think proactively,” he wrote in an email interview with SCCB.

Parishioner Craig Wingel said he often has the opportunity to attend the “fun downstairs,” and said that the highlight for him is getting to show the crafts he makes to his own children whom, he says, “have to stay upstairs,” over Sunday brunch.

Ms. Duplesse said they expect to have several hundred in the basement over Christmas. “I hope Santa brings enough macaroni and glitter!” she chuckled.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Catholic School Board in Ottawa

I was just alerted to a new site that sounds good: dedicated to tracking the activities of the Ottawa Catholic School Board, called Catholic Intelligence Blog.

I've often thought that we need a Canadian version of the Newman site for Catholic universities. Not just to point out the abuses, but the good things too.

Good luck, Ottawa Catholics!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

SCCB 'News': Moses Threatens Movie Company


Hollywood, CA - Dec. 20, 2014

In a series of emails to 20th Century Fox, the company behind the movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, the great patriarch, Moses, threatened plagues “of biblical proportions,” if the Ridley Scott-directed film is not withdrawn.

“They know nothing of my work,” said the angry Egyptian-born Hebrew.

Perhaps emboldened by the recent and unprecedented withdrawal of “The Interview” by Sony Pictures in response to threats, Moses has taken a tough line with Scott. Movie insiders suspect that there is more to the controversy than creative differences.

Moses, sometime political leader in the Middle East, had been involved in the early phase of the movie’s production, conferring with Scott and his production company, Scott Free Productions, over a biopic that concentrates on his political life in the days before the so-called Arab Spring of 2010.

“It’s not about money,” he told Canadian Catholic Blogger, Colin Kerr, in a recent interview. “There were creative differences right from the beginning. For instance, I called for a Charleton Heston cameo. But Scott was unwilling to meet me half way on this, since, he said, Heston had died six years ago.”

“But that’s a lot of bologna,” he said. “They keep bringing Schwarzenegger back in those Terminator movies, and he has been dead for much longer than six years. You can barely tell that it’s actually a corpse in those movies!”

Although Moses did not give any particulars about what direction his retaliation would take, he said he “wouldn't rule anything out at this point.”

“I mean there are several things we can do. For instance, start a letter-writing campaign, urge church leaders and sponsors to boycott the movie, frogs, pestilence, darkness and so on…”

When asked about another controversy associated with Exodus: Gods and Kings, that of casting Caucasians in all the lead roles, Moses simply said, “I wanted Morgan Freeman to play God.”


* My tribute to Eye of the Tiber. If you think this is funny, I might do more. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sponsor an Evangelist

Jasbir, who blogs at One Man's Hope for a Better World, brings up a very important topic, that of generosity, especially in support of the Church. He says that Americans are more generous than Canadians. And he examines a little more closely the relationship between socialism, lack of generosity and the decline of the Church in Quebec and Ontario. What he says is much more intelligent than the muddled version I have put here.

He points out that for the Diocese of London, for instance, it is projected that by 2025 there will have been a 59% decrease in the number of priests from the number there were in 1991. It's as I've been saying, or thinking, anyway: let's take evangelization more seriously.

Sponsor lay evangelists, man! Hey, I'm one, and all too happy and eager to spread the word. And, this guy at Mission of the Redeemer Ministries.

There aren't enough priests left to get people interested in the priesthood and religious life. Sponsor guys who can and who want to.

"We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn't dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn't cry!" (Mt. 11:17)