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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

When I tell Someone...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Synod = Pentecost

Guest Editorial: Hans Gruber, Jerusalem Archaeological Task Force

Jerusalem, Outremer -  Now that the Holy Father has returned to Rome, the thoughts of the faithful turn to the next big thing on the agenda, of course, I mean the Synod on the Family.

Certainly a lot of conjecture has arisen as to what this event might bring about in the life of the Church. Will it undermine age-old Catholic teaching about the inviolability of the sacrament of marriage? Will it help to get people back into the Church? What will it say about contraception, homosexuality?

Life in the Church is never boring, and nothing illustrates this better than a jaunt through the pages of history. Whether we are talking about the drama of Henry VIII's divorce to Catherine of Aragon, the Nazi and communist threats to the Church, Vikings, Huns or the persecution of Roman Emperors, Church history has been a two-thousand year tale of crisis after crisis.

This was all anticipated in the Gospel, of course. The Gospel of John especially reinforces the fact that Christ bid His disciples to have His peace within themselves, because the world would not give them peace. Indeed, the Book of Acts illustrates in summary the kinds of crises that would beset the Church throughout the centuries. It is therefore a mine of inspiration for how to deal with difficulties. And yet, archaeology has itself also unearthed some golden spiritual nuggets for us.

A few years ago I oversaw the excavation of the Upper Room: yes, the place where the Last Supper was held that first Holy Thursday. One of the most fascinating finds consisted in some notes that were exchanged between the Apostles Thomas and James the Lesser. Evidently, they had been seated next to each other during the meal and were doing what millions of students have done over the years: passed notes back and forth to each other while Jesus was talking.

I have translated a part of it here:

James: I am totally dreading the part where Jesus gives us His blood to drink. I mean, ew!

Thomas: Show some respect! It's a metaphor - I assume.

James: So many cups.

Thomas: And it's Judas' turn to wash the dishes. But look: guess who has to suddenly go somewhere - Judas! Surprise, surprise.

James: He takes that money sack everywhere.

Thomas: I know, right? Does he also sleep with it?

James: lol.

Thomas: But Jesus does seem to be playing fast-and-loose with the Passover, doesn't He? I mean, where's the lamb even? I was totally looking forward to bitter herbs tonight.

James: Also a metaphor?

Thomas: No offence, but does He have the authority to make these changes? 

James: It's all these liberal apostles He appointed from the Decapolis. But even still we do have to have faith that God is in charge, right?

Thomas: He writes straight with crooked lines, they say.

James: Word.

Thomas: Oh man, Jesus is totally looking at us! I forgot He can read our thoughts. Remember when Nathaniel was under the fig tree? Total burn.*

(* Copyright 2015, Jerusalem Archaeological Task Force)


So you see, even back then believers worried about innovations. This is a great lesson for us to think about this October. We have to have faith that no matter what, God is in charge, even when it doesn't look like it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pope Hugs a Priest

By: SCCB Staff

Philadelphia, United States - Pope Francis' historic visit to the US has ended, leaving behind a lot of memories and consolation for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. But none has been considered more remarkable than when he got out of his car to hug a priest.

"It was right out of the Bible," said self-described Bible-believing Christian, Todd Petersen. "Was he getting out to go kiss a baby dressed up like the pope? No. Was he going to hug a homeless man, a severely crippled person? No. A priest! I was like, should he even do that?"

Judging from the video recording of the event, when the pope had his car stop and got out, people assumed that he was going for the baby all dressed in the mitre and other baby-sized papal regalia. Indeed, the priest in question, Fr. Antony Refuse, moved away from the baby to give the pope room. After acknowledging the baby, the Holy Father called the priest over. Fr. Antony looked around for a moment, apparently convinced that the pope was speaking to someone else.

"It was then that the Holy Father gave me a big bear hug," he said, beaming. "The people around me were astonished, and you can see that in the video. I even heard a few people say things like 'unclean' and 'a friend of sinners'"

Richard Elmsworth, a close friend of Fr. Refuse, told SCCB that the encounter with the pope could not have come at a better time for the priest. "Father was clearly at a low-ebb in his ministry," he said. "No one in the parish goes to confession, attendance at the parish mission was very low, he had been in trouble with parents and the bishop for preaching too much about sin and especially about his rules about baptism, marriage and confirmation. I'm not sure, but I even think he was considering leaving the parish to join the Companions of the Cross or Madonna House. He was like a man totally without support."

But not everyone shares Elmworth's view of the extraordinary event. A representative of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Howard Yapper, said that the event shows how hollow were the pope's signs of sympathy for victims of priestly abuse.

"We all know that one-hundred percent of priests are abusers one-hundred percent of the time," Yapper said. "I bet he even abused the pope during that hug. In fact, yes, he did. I saw it."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

CCCB Policies Prompt Massive Conversions

By: SCCB Staff

Ottawa, Canada - With the close of last week's plenary meeting of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops an unprecedented upsurge of interest in the Catholic Church has begun to be felt across the world.

"Phones have been ringing off the hook in every rectory in the world," said Special Undersecretary in Charge of Insurance Policies for the CCCB, Fr. Mark Jurring. "It's driving pastors crazy."

Eighty-year-old, Fr. Rick Drango, who oversees St. Mark's Mission about three hundred kilometers north of Saskatoon said, "It's near impossible to get a good twelve hours sleep anymore since that darn council ended."

The CCCB passed measures on a whole host of matters from the mundane, like what kind of printers to buy for the Ottawa head office - they went with HPs - to the sublime, like how many letters they should write against fracking and whether they first draft a letter to the UN about the rights of all people to clean drinking water or to education. They went with the water one.

Most of the September 14-18 meeting was devoted to spirited bilingual speeches on issues like inclusion and on non-exclusion, "But there was lots of time," said Bishop Pringo of Halifax-Dartmouth-Bedford-Sackville-East Chezzetcook in Nova Scotia, "For coming together and sharing our stories, our stories of learning faith from the priestly people."

"And there was lots of time for tweeting encouraging messages to the faithful on our Blackberries and iPhones," said CCCB General Secretary, Dwayne Trudeau, who says he himself has close to eight million followers on Twitter.

Canadian celebrity, Chad Heartcrusher, said
he attended every single meeting of the
Plenary in his Numby t-shirt 
Former arch-Calvinist, George Landy of Waterloo, has just this Monday enrolled himself in the RCIA program. "I had grown up believing that the Catholic Church was the anti-Christ, but when I heard about the details of their 2015-16 fiscal plan I was blown-away. Truly, this is the Body of Christ, I realized!"

When asked about the news from up north, Pope Francis said with a distinctly wistful tone, "If I had known about the CCCB Plenary, I would not have bothered with my trip."

Indeed, the number-one seller on Amazon is now the Salt and Light special edition t-shirts called 'The Heroes of Plenary 2015.' Because of his breathtaking speech on enviro-friendly sanctuary lighting, Bishop Gerry Numby's t-shirt is said to be especially sought-after.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rosica's Notes

SCCB Staff, Special Pope Francis Comes to the US Report

Rosica's Notebook

Washington, United States - Pope Francis' visit to the US might still be a week away, but Salt and Light CEO, Fr. Tom Rosica, is way ahead of the game.

A copy of Rosica's notes on the pope's speeches (which he is yet to give and copies of which have not yet been released) has been obtained by SCCB, which we are happy to release in full, for what it reveals about how the mind of a great modern Catholic journalist works.

The underlined portions on the left are, evidently, comments made by the pope. To the right appear to be Rosica's comments.

"We are very lucky to have this notebook, as it is truly a piece of history to pass down," said Salt and Light intern, Jenna Esterbrook, who discovered the notebook.

"There was another page that had been ripped out and balled-up in the garbage can. It had a bunch of heavy pencil lines crossing out what appeared to be phrases like 'abortion,' and 'traditional family,' but I couldn't really make them out," Esterbrook added.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pope Benedict on Pope Francis

By: SCCB Staff

Vancouver, Canada - A conference was hosted last weekend at St. Mark's College at the University of British Columbia with the title, "Two Popes, One Spirit," highlighting the role of Benedict XVI and Francis in the Third Millennium Church.

Talks were given by a number of experts from a cross section of disciplines, but the clear highlight was a Skype talk given by His Holiness, the Pope Emeritus. The talk was streamed in from Benedict's home in Rome to the more than three hundred conference attendees.

Prof. George Riley, an economics professor at Cambridge, who was presenting a talk entitled, 'The Popes and Global Migrations,' said that it was especially moving to hear Pope Benedict say, 'I really like Pope Francis and everything he is doing. Sure, it is the exact opposite of everything I did, but you know.'"

Dr. Janet Smith, well-known professor of moral theology from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, largely said the same, "There is no question that these popes are very different - for instance, Pope Benedict loved the Catholic intellectual tradition and used it as a resource in his spiritual ministry while Pope Francis completely ignores it - but in every other way, they are so much alike."

Mark Shea, possibly.
Mark Shea, official apologist for Pope Francis at the National Catholic Register, was also present at the conference. And had this to say, "I think the conference was aptly named. Clearly they have one spirit, the Holy Spirit. Of course, Pope Benedict was trying to make annulments harder and Pope Francis is trying to make them easier, but they were popes in very different times, so it all makes sense."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pope's Reforms Target Confirmation

By: Carlo Guidowendo, SCCB Italy

Emilia fills out her form the day after her confirmation,
dreaming of the first man she will merely presume she is married to.
Vatican City - In keeping with his desire to streamline annulments, Pope Francis has now decided that annulment forms be handed out to all the newly confirmed by the bishop immediately after the rite has been performed. 

"The forms will already be partially filled out and they really just have to add their signature and that of the person they mistakenly marry that one time," said Vatican Undersecretary in Charge of Pastoral Initiatives, Msgr. Inigo Bonaforte.

"And not only that, the forms are going to be much more user-friendly. The important parts will have boxes to check off, or other visual aids, making it so simple that a child could fill them out, which is something that is actually going to be happening," added Bonaforte, "especially when it comes to the Eastern Rites."

Sample question from new form.
Bishops across the world have been a little surprised over the changes, but some, like Bishop Hall of Georgetown, OH, welcomed the changes, stating that "it appeals to all sorts of learning styles."

"Besides," the bishop added, "We have to face up to the reality that most people need to actually be married for a while before they can really decide if it's their calling."

Chad Buckford, a sixth-grader from Georgetown who will be confirmed in a few years said, "I think the one-free policy is a good one, because this girl in my class, Jane, was my girlfriend at the start of the last school year and then I realized that she likes Twilight and I was like, no way, so I broke up with her and so now her best friend, Sally, who likes hockey, just like me, is my girlfriend."

Msgr. Bonaforte said there are many other exciting aspects of the new form. "For instance, if you agree to take in a refugee family, your annulment application will be moved to the top of the pile."

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Picture of Nun Playing Softball Sign of Vitality

Buffalo, New York - A picture of a nun has captured the imagination of young people and has set the internet ablaze, according to Sr. Helena Found, vocation director for the Nuns of St. John Paul of the Holy Eucharist and Divine Mercy (JPHEDM).

"People are beginning to see that nuns are just like you and I," said Sr. Helena.

"Wow, who could believe that one day we would see nuns playing. And I thought all they did was hit kids with rulers - at least that's what I was always told," said People magazine journalist, Janet Redmond.

"The picture of the nun playing softball will be one of those pictures that captures the imagination of a whole generation. That's why we featured it on our cover," Redmond added.

It was widely reported that a bidding war had erupted between several publishers for the rights to the picture, with National Geographic just losing out to People.

"It's a clear sign that the Church is changing. Sociologists would say it's the 'Francis Effect' in action. Nuns have never done this kind of thing before. It's truly revolutionary," said NYU Sociologist, Martis Norman.

Although the JPHEDM Sisters haven't gained any new postulants yet as a result of the media attention, the phone in their house has been ringing non-stop, it seems. "We have had three calls," said the superioress, Mother Jude, "All from women who want to come visit the order with the 'sporty nun' in it. Two of them asked what her BFI is - body fat index, evidently; another asked what kind of cardio she does."

"At first I didn't quite know what they meant by 'sporty nun' - most of our sisters exercise - and then I saw the news and I realized, oh, the world is at it again."

"If there is one thing the world likes it's nuns doing things that are not specifically nun things," the superioresss said. "Isn't it just hilarious when nuns do regular-people things? Because what we need is more regular people, clearly."

Jo Piazza, author of If Nuns Ruled the World, took that picture as a "wonderful sign," stating that, "This is a clear sign that nuns are beginning to grow up and realize that the world is where it's at. You can't run away from responsibility. What a great world it will be when nuns remember their true calling is to serve the world, that is to say, when nuns realize that they should be liberal activists and not nuns at all."

Monday, September 7, 2015

CCO: Huh, We're Protestant After All?

SCCB Ottawa Correspondent, Deborah Japingpong

Ottawa, Canada - Catholic Christian Outreach, the university apostolate cult that has a presence on several Canadian campuses was forced into a startling realization after accusations led to some soul-searching at the organization's latest board meeting.

"If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck, or, possibly, it's Mel Blanc," said curmudgeonly Canadian blogger, Calvin Coor. "If they sing like Protestants, you know 'I just want to praise you...', 'I just want to this and that...,' 'I... I...I...' If they operate from a Protestant play-book... I mean, what kind of conclusion can you draw?"

"Do you know, the word 'I' has not appeared in any Catholic hymn for over eighteen hundred years?" Coor added, "but everyone of their songs has it as the first word?"

CCO critic blogger, Calvin Coor
Coor has been blogging at thetheologyofdude, since 2010 and has become known to the Canadian Catholic establishment as a pretty benign source of self-pity masquerading as theological insight.

When SCCB asked about the hymn discrepancy, Coor answered, "Catholics believed in that the essential focal point of salvation - the thing saved - is the Church. Protestants believe it is the individual."

"While Coor may be technically correct, said long-time supporter of CCO, Ottawa Archbishop, Teddy Gast, "The kids are really groovin' in the spirit. That was always good enough for me."

Nevertheless, CCO has come to a few realizations. "We should have realized something when we started telling everyone that it was more important to be called 'Christian' than 'Catholic.' We should have realized something when we started asking everyone if they were saved and if they had a personal relationship with Jesus. We should have realized something when our presenters all started talking like they were from Tennessee. And, surely, we should have realized something when we all started to get our teeth polished," said CCO President Martin Haggee.

"But it was not all that obvious," said Billy-Jean Graham, who used to be a CCO member at Carlton University in Ottawa. "For instance, we had eucharistic adoration all the time. Of course, it was in the midst of ear-crushingly loud praise and worship music, and eye-blinding flashing lights, where there was a lot of swaying and hand-holding."

"And we had confession. Sure, it was confession of the individual directly to God, with the help of the team leader," Graham added, "but still it was confession - of a sorts."
CCO-hosted late-night adoration at the University of Ottawa

"No, we never talked about things like contraception, and our CCO alumni have on average 1.5 kids, but many of them are still active in their parishes, you know, as music leaders," added Haggee, who now attends the First Calvary Adventist Christian Second Reformed Church of Discipleship.

When SCCB News asked Calvin Coor what he thought should be put in place of CCO, he said, "Lots of Gregorian chant and some shame-inducing talks on sin."

When asked what he thought the future of youth ministry looked like in light of this new realization, Archbishop Gast said, "I think we need a more serious, old-fashioned approach. That is why I am reaching out to NET and to the Companions of the Cross."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Editorial: EOTT Exposed

Special Editorial: Gregoirev Sanctus 
Editor-in-Chief, SCCB


By now millions of Catholics have woken up to the news that popular news source, Eye of the Tiber, is not what it has pretended to be. In an interview with the Catholic News Agency, EOTT Founder, S. C. Naoum, has confessed to "making stuff up," and that it is actually satirical and not a news site at all.

The deep shock of these millions of trusting Catholics was treated with a kind of cavalier dismissal, evocative of the kind of apathy one might associate with history's greatest sociopaths, people like Hitler, Stalin, Caligula and Jerry Lewis. To journalist, Mary Rezac's, question, "How often do people think EOTT is a real news source?" he replied coldly, "Very often. [Awkward silence]. Is there a follow up to the question?"

While authorities were not certain whether charges would be laid against Naoum - or what kind - when SCCB contacted Baltimore's state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, she said she would not "Rule out that possibility just yet."

Meanwhile Catholic parents are reeling from the news, trying to figure out how to undue the damage EOTT has caused in their own families. "Now I have to tell the kids that Lord Sauron is not, in fact, the head of the LCWR," said distraught parent of four, Andrea Arnagon, referring to a story carried by EOTT in September 2013.

Catholic school teachers have found themselves in a similar position. One teacher, Mr. John Acorn, grade nine history teacher in the West Clysdale District of the city said that, "I will have a heck of a job trying to get kids to take me seriously - to take history seriously - seeing that I used the EOTT piece on Adam's midlife crisis in class. "What am I supposed to do with all those macaroni-art sad Adam faces now?"

As editor of SCCB, I have said many times that Catholics have to be more discerning when they go online. When you want real Catholic news go to reputable sites like SCCB and Fox News. If you want satire, you can't do better than LifeSiteNews.

I am just sorry that so many had to be hurt for this lesson to be learned.

What you Heard Was... What I Meant Was...

Ohh, so when I said that I am Catholic,

what you heard was, I think all religions are the same, but I just happened to be born to an Italian, Polish or Irish family, I like getting drunk on St. Patrick's Day and I think JFK was a great president. But I really think that it's what's in the heart that counts and that everyone can be a perfectly good person without God and without the teaching of the Church...

But what you failed to realize is that I was not born into a Catholic family. I converted after a long, diligent, thoughtful search...

So when I say I am Catholic, what I really mean is I became Catholic because I think it is the best religion; I think it is better than your religion. Because if I did not think this I would not have become Catholic and would not go around saying I am Catholic. Rather,  I would say other things like, "I am of the same religion as you," or "I have no religion." You see?

So hate me if you must - and there is a lot to hate - but just don't misunderstand me, k?

But, you have to admit, don't you, that it's kind of stupid to expect people not to actually believe in the things they say they believe in, right?

Of course, maybe I'm wrong and Catholicism isn't the best religion. But please don't expect me not to be true to my beliefs!