Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Can This Be?

Shock and Horror at the continued incarceration of Father Gordon MacRae
Unless you or I have been asleep under a rock for the last decade or two, we have heard about how DNA evidence has exonerated a not insignificant number of prisoners on death row, or in the general prison population of murders, rapes, and other crimes where such evidence was able to be gathered in the days of the investigation of the crimes.

But, we all think that justice, though it may be blind, its blindness is meant not as a problem, but that it is not prejudiced against or for a particular victim or accused perpetrator.  So, we conclude that mistakes happen, and isn't it a good thing that those wrongly incarcerated will one day be freed.  It is of course easy for us, since it isn't us, and besides he/she probably got away with something else anyway.

So, someone proclaims his/her innocence for year after year, when he/she could probably have been paroled simply by saying that he/she had committed the crime, and by showing sincere remorse for having done such a heinous thing, whatever it was.  But, because someone did not know how or desire to fake sincerity and remorse, he/she languished in prison wrongfully, until some group or individual pursued their innocence for years to get them freed.

Justice might be blind, but it appears in not just a few incidences that it is deaf, dumb and stupid as well.  We think that in a criminal court of law that a preponderance of evidence will cause the guilty to be found so, and the innocent to be exonerated.  Most times it works that way.  But not always.

How does one exonerate someone if a crime was never committed?  How does a non crime make its way into the criminal justice system, and how does someone get convicted and sent to prison for 67 years for a non-crime?  Well, it's not easy, but it can be done, and there is at least one example of which I am familiar where the perfect storm conspired for it to be so.

The perfect storm of which I speak is the sexual abuse scandal of Catholic priests.  In the US between 1960 and 2004, 10,667 individuals claimed sexual abuse by 4,392 priests, and 90% of these claims were from prior to 1990.  It seems like a lot, but in fact in the totality of sexual abuse in the US during the time period, it is not even statistically a dot on the radar, not 1%, not even .1%, or even .01%.  Yet, the only sexual abuse we have heard about for 20 years is that by Catholic priests.

There are reasons for this, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York said this in a recent post, which is worthy of a read for its own sake:
“For one,” I continued, “we priests deserve the more intense scrutiny, because people trust us more as we dare claim to represent God, so, when one of us do it – even if only a tiny minority of us ever have — it is more disgusting.”
“Two, I’m afraid there are many out there who have no love for the Church, and are itching to ruin us. This is the issue they love to endlessly scourge us with.”
“And, three, I hate to say it,” as I wrapped it up, “there’s a lot of money to be made in suing the Catholic Church, while it’s hardly worth suing any of the other groups I mentioned before.”
The first one is true.  Priests lives should be able to withstand close scrutiny, since they represent Christ to Catholics around the world.  But, lest we get to intense about this, I assure you that my life breaks down under close scrutiny, and I rely on the grace and mercy of God to survive my own sinfulness.

The second one is about the animosity to the Church that goes on daily in our world.  Good on you, Archbishop for saying this, because although it is the truth, most won't believe it.

But, it is the third one that salts the clouds of the perfect storm, and which has led to the incarceration of at least one priest of my electronic acquaintance, Father Gordon MacRae of These Stone Walls.

In the early 90's as the eyes of the US fell on priests and sexual abuse, many of the cases that had occurred and had been buried either by victims who felt ashamed, as victims of sexual abuse often wrongly do, or worse still buried by Church administrators and bishops, who felt shame as well, and sought to protect the Church, came bubbling up to the surface.  As they percolated in our collective consciousness, opportunity surfaced as well.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but greed and opportunity are the parents of copycats.  As reports surfaced of financial payoffs by the Church, new claims of abuse surfaced, and money changed hands with nary a peep, and no evidence beyond a claim that something had happened.

Many priests were correctly caught in their deceptions, but many others were caught in a web of deceit and lies and hidden agendas, not their own, such as Father Gordon.

Father Gordon has been an inmate of the New Hampshire State prison for about 17 years as of now, for a crime or set of crimes that never could have logistically happened, and which earned those claiming that they did handsome settlements from the local diocese.  You can read the case history of the case against Father Gordon here.

One writer, Ryan A MacDonald, who lives in London England, has taken up Father Gordon's cause, and has done considerable research into it.  Though he has had much of his work published, he has taken it on himself to create a blog for this purpose.  It is called very appropriately "A RAM in the Thicket".

Here is his dedication of the blog:
When God stayed Abraham's hand, sparing Isaac, "Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns, and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son." Genesis 22:13. A Ram in the Thicket is a blog by Ryan A. MacDonald (RAM), a writer, Catholic convert, and advocate for the Church as a mirror of justice in the public square. Too often in the current climate the Church's own sons - our priests - are sacrificed to satisfy the demands of contingency lawyers, insurance companies, and a scandal-hungry news media. This blog is dedicated to those priests who are accused falsely, or with wild exaggeration, and who wait with patience and fidelity for their reflection in the mirror of justice that our Church must be.
In his latest post, Ryan opens up a can of worms that is worthy of reading, To Azazel: Father Gordon MacRae and the Gospel of Mercy .

Ryan presented in this posting about the abandonment of Father Gordon by his brother priests, and by his own Bishop.

In a 2001 confidential memo to Bishop McCormack, diocesan attorney Bradford E. Cook wrote: "There were certainly imperfections in the judge's handling of [MacRae's trial]." In regard to the actual claims against Father MacRae he wrote: "Whether it was all trumped up or totally manufactured is impossible to know .... That it was embellished is clear.” The diocesan attorney cited that a number of other priests where Father MacRae served were also accused - some by the same people who accused MacRae: "It is impossible to discount that one or more of them may have been involved with one or more of [MacRae's accusers]."

In another confidential 2001 memo, diocesan Chancellor Rev. Edward Arsenault noted that errors occurred in MacRae's trial, and cited the unfairness of the diocese's refusal to assist him with an appeal forcing him to rely on a public defender for his only remaining hope for justice. Arsenault recommended that the diocese deal with the matter of funding an appellate defense for MacRae by coming up with a remedy for "the lack of base remuneration" from the diocese as required by Church law. On the very verge of these Church officials finally stepping to the plate to help their priest, the 2002 national scandal implicated Bishop McCormack and cast Father Gordon MacRae back into the abyss.

Two persons, a New Hampshire attorney and a former television news producer, have attested under oath that in 2000 Bishop McCormack told them of his belief that Father MacRae is innocent of the claims for which he is in prison, then demanded secrecy, saying, "None of this can ever leave this room."

So, here we have a situation, where Father Gordon's own superiors in the Roman Catholic Church, are pretty sure that he is not guilty of any crimes, and yet no one has lifted a finger to defend him originally, or to assist him today. 

In the name of Our God of Mercy, how can this be?

Sunday, August 21, 2011


About the Erroneous Conviction of Father Gordon MacRae

This should shock you.


Therapists should be held professionally and civilly liable when they promote junk science to help convict...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Feeding Delusions

Disputing Revisionist History from an Anonymous Commenter

Recently, Fr. Tim Moyle, at Where the Rubber Hits the Road, provided a link to an article about Archbishop Chaput, which spoke of his rallying the troops against a piece of legislation that would have opened the civil statute of limitations on sexual abuse in the state of Colorado.  This piece of legislation had no impact whatsoever on criminal culpability of those who abused the young in their charge.  The only logical targets of such a piece of legislation, which was successfully launched in 4 other states have proven to be the local dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church.

An anonymous reader took umbrage at Mr. (Archbishop for those of us who respect the office)Chaput's audacity, and provided vitriolic commentary to same.  The commenter indicated that the purpose of the proposed defeated legislation was to "penalize an institution that is guilty of wrongdoing in both the past and in the present."  If the Catholic Church had been the major contributor to the sexual abuse of young in the past 50 years, this might in fact have been reasonable.  However, statistically that is not the case now, and has never been the case in America or Canada, nor of course anywhere else in the world.

So, I took up the cause, wasting valuable brain cycles in what is probably a fruitless exercise, including yesterdays article here. It seems that Anonymous has his or her mind made up, and facts are irrelevant. Anonymous seems to have been educated by newspaper reports alone, and has no context for this umbrage taking, turning it into a virulent form of anti-Catholic bigotry.

So, how about some context. For that we can turn to the John Jay College study of sexual abuse by priests in America.   This exhaustive study was commissioned as an independent study by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and in its first phase was an analysis of what had happened between 1960, the first time when reasonable data was available, and 2004. The Executive summary is available here.

That study found that there had been 10,667 individuals who had made claims of some form of abuse by 4,392 priests, approximately 4% of all priests active during those years.  Nobody is pretending that this is a total complete list of all instances of abuse.

The incidents reported, based on the dates when the alleged abuse occurred peaked in about 1980 at 775 incidents, and 490 priests accused of abuse.  Between 1992 and 2004, the number of incidents was always below 100, and has dropped to about 30 by 2004.  The number of priests accused has dropped from about 90 in 1995 to less than 30 in 2004.

How does that compare to the totality of sexual abuse.  In Canada, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics used a General Social Survey conducted in 2004 and 2007 to find the prevalence of sexual abuse in Canadian society, and reported on it accordingly.  It can be inferred that with a population approximately 1/10th that of the US, that US incidents of abuse would likely exceed the Canadian numbers by a factor of 10.

That study, which also examined police reporting of abuse, found that in 2004 about 80,000 incidents in Canada were reported to police.  But quoting from this statistical report, the following is noted: "According to the 2004 GSS, there were about 512,000 incidents of sexual assault, representing a rate of 1,977 incidents per 100,000 population aged 15 and older.

In Canada police reported incidents of sexual abuse peaked at about 137,000 in 1991-1993, and have since declined to about 75,000 by 2007.

Assuming that the number of incidents in the US would be about 10 times that in Canada, then in 2004, there would have been about 5,120,000 incidents of sexual abuse in the country, and maybe 800,000 of them were reported.  Priests accounted for about 30 of approximately 80,000, or .00375% of the reported incidents or about .0006% of all incidents.

Extrapolating again, in 1991 when abuse reporting peaked at 137,000 incidents reported to police in Canada, or about 1,370,000 in the US, 130 priests were involved in about 175 allegations of sexual abuse.  As incidents are under reported by a factor of about 7 to 1, there were more likely about 9,600,000 incidents in total in the US, so priests were involved in  .00018% of the total number of incidents, and .0013% of those reported to police.

So, following the logic of our commenter, the "RCC did not just have bad apples in its barrel, but it also had leaders who enabled the rape and sexual abuse of children."  If the RCC did that, I wonder how, and what about the rest of society?  So, why does only the RCC come under scrutiny?

However, there is more to the vitriol found in the phrase "leaders who enabled the rape and sexual abuse of children" that tells the tale of bigotry in this commenter's own agenda.

Let's look at the appropriate words for sexual abuse, particularly in this context. "Rape" is "a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent".

But, is that what happened or what was even reported?  Most reports focused on the term pedophilia to describe what priests did in the way of sexual abuse.  Pedophilia is defined as a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons age 16 or older) typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally age 13 years or younger.  However, that too is a misnomer.  Hebephilia is the interest in those children in the early years of puberty, and per the John Jay Study accounted for about 51% of all reported incidents.  Only about 22% of incidents involved actual pedophilia.  Further, another 27% of the incidents were in fact Ephebophilia, which is the interest in post pubescent young people ages 15-17.  Calling things what they are does not in any way justify the horrors brought to the lives of victims of priests sexual deviance, but a spade is still a spade, and calling it by a term that has a meaner ring to it does not make it be that term.

Most sexual incidents involving priests were as follows from the John Jay report: "The most frequent acts allegedly committed were: touching over the victim’s clothing (52.6%), touching under the victim's clothes (44.9%), cleric performing oral sex (26%), victim disrobed (25.7%), and penile penetration or attempted penile penetration (22.4%)."

Not a lot of rape going on there.

But, our commenter had a further comment yesterday that deserves to be responded to.  He/She said:

MBrandon - I fail to see how posting anonymously impedes your ability to respond to what I am saying. I will remind you that you chose to respond to my anonymous post and not the other way around.

Wrongfully accused people are an unfortunate reality regardless of the crime for which they are accused. I fail to see the relevance of your point.

You still have not answered how an educated and privileged man of great power, and with many resources at his disposal (e.g. Mr. Bernard Law) was incapable of understanding that the recidivism rate for pedophiles was very high, and that there was no effective psychological treatment for a child rapist at the time he recylced those rapists through his parishes. If Mr. Law did not know, he should have known. Mr. Law should have acted accordingly.

While we may all be sinners, I will wager that neither of is a child rapist. I will also wager that neither of us has knowingly enabled a child rapist. That makes us very different from the priests who raped these children, and the hierarchy that enabled them. That you see this "unity among sinners" as some great validation of your church is a matter for your own personal conscience.

There is no excuse for child rape or the enabling of child rape. None. The same laws that apply to the RCC apply to all. No special persecution involved. If there are more convictions against the preists of the RCC, it is probably due to the fact that no other organization has had so many child rapists in its ranks. You are free at any time to show statistical evidence to the contrary.

For Mr. Chaput to twist the truth in order to limit the depletion of the temporal wealth of his church is just one more example of the church putting its own interests above those of the victims. To do so in the name of "innocent Catholics" is shameful.

That you endorse the actions/inactions of Mr. Chaput and Mr. Law is truly sad. The only good news is that Catholics like you are a dwindling minority.

Our commenter stated that recidivism is known to be high and Cardinal Law, then of Boston where one of the parts of the scandal erupted should have know that.  Well, studies in New Zealand and in the state of Vermont disagree with our detractor.  They found that recidivism in those who went for treatment was approximately 5%, and only 30% in those who did not once they were caught.  Of course, these statistics were not actually known to Cardinal Law, the local bishop I referenced in my last post, or other bishops and administrators.

As the commenter said: " If there are more convictions against the priests of the RCC, it is probably due to the fact that no other organization has had so many child rapists in its ranks. You are free at any time to show statistical evidence to the contrary."

Amazing conclusion that can only be reached from reading some main stream media and ignoring the rest of the world to come to the desired conclusion.  Above is my statistical evidence to the contrary, which took me all of about 2 hours to find.  Our commenter has not produced one piece of evidence, even anecdotally to support wild and frivolous claims.

Does the truth matter?  Only the truth will set us free, free of our own prejudices, and of the lies that the devil would plant for us to believe to separate us from each other in the body of Christ.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Happens When a Bishop Actually Stands Up for His Church?

Archbishop Chaput

Recently, Father Tim Moyle (not Mr. Tim Moyle)  linked to an article at, the daily Hampshire Gazette web site about Archbishop Charles Chaput (not Mr. Chaput).  The article carried this title to which I have linked the actual article: "New Philadelphia archbishop says church singled out unfairly on sex abuse".

A number of years ago, some states enacted legislation to open the window of civil statutory limitation for sexually based incidents to allow for lawsuits against plaintiffs for sexual abuse that happened beyond the normal statutory limitations for such lawsuits.  Not surprisingly, in the states that opened up the window, there were many claims made, 850 in California alone, and again not surprisingly most of them were made against the various dioceses of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, the recently appointed, yet to be installed, Archbishop for the Diocese of Philadelphia, while the Archbishop of Denver stood up against the opening of such a window in Colorado, and he and those who supported him were successful.  There is more in the article worth noting.

While in Philadelphia for a news conference about his appointment, he said the following: "The Catholic Church wants to be treated like citizens with equal access to protection of the law. That's all we were asking for in Colorado."

Over the last 60 years of my life, I have generally travelled in Catholic circles, though not exclusively, and though I have met male and female victims of sexual abuse often, I have yet to meet one who was the victim of a Catholic priest.  I know there are many who were victimized by Catholic clergy, but proportionally it is in fact small.  Yet, almost all the financial pressure for redress has been directed at the Catholic Church.

In a 2001 report on Family Violence in Canada, The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics found that family members, including relatives, constituted the vast majority (93%) of alleged perpetrators, including sexual abuse.  Parents were responsible for 46% of sexual assaults against youth, and siblings accounted for 26%.  An additional 28% were perpetrated by members of the extended family. 

Yet, I have never known of any person I know who was abused to have tried to sue their parents for the pain inflicted on them by sexual abuse, and for some that I know it was particularly horrific.  I have heard of hardly any instances where a scout troop leader, a guide leader, a teacher, or anyone but the Catholic Church being targets for financial compensation.

Yet, it was hardly surprising to see a flash of anti-Catholic bigotry in response to Father Tim's posting of the link.  Anonymous engaged the conversation, and I hate it when Anonymous (in one form or another) turns up because there is an agenda and it is a secret, and so if you engage, you do so with one hand tied behind your back.  Be that as it may, I did and here is the commentary that followed.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Chaput is quoted as saying: "I have an obligation - a duty I can't avoid - both to help the victims and to defend innocent Catholics today from being victimized because of earlier sins in which they played no part,"
What a very clever way of reframing the issue. Unfortunately, what Mr. Chaput implies is false. The intent of criminal charges and lawsuits is not to "victimize Catholics today" but to obtain compensatory awards for the victims, and to penalize an institution that is guilty of wrongdoing in both the past and in the present.
Let's never forget that the RCC did not just have bad apples in its barrel, but it also had leaders who enabled the rape and sexual abuse of children. These crimes did not just occur in the distant past - they are also recent. These rapes did not occur just in the US or in Canada, but all around the world.
The men responsible for enabling these child rapists (e.g. Bernard Law) are not former members of the hierarchy, but are current "priests in good standing" who are being sheltered today by the Vatican from criminal prosecution.
How dare Mr. Chaput twist the truth to set up this false framing of the issue? You should be ashamed of what Mr. Chaput did in your good name. You should be calling this man to account for mispresenting the truth. 

MBrandon said...


You should be ashamed of yourself for reframing the truth of sexual abuse that has run rampant in our society and continues in much of our society, making it just an issue about the Catholic Church. The catholic Church is the safest place in the world today for young people, far safer than schools, scout troops, girl guide troops, and other institutions.

Anonymous said...

MBrandon - How do you respond to the fact that the Vatican continues to shelter Bernard Law from further investigation? Do you think this demonstates that your church has really learned anything from its sins?
Are children really safer in the Catholic Church when the church evades financial and legal responsibility for its recent and past abuses?
Even if I accept your assertion that the RCC is the safest institution in the world right now for our children, how is this relevant to the church's culpability and responsibility for recent and past abuses?
People who unquestioningly support Mr. Chaput's shameless distortions are part of the problem and share in his culpability. 

MBrandon said...

I see that carrying on this discussion would be like trying to put a dress on a pig. It only wastes time and irritates the pig.
Clearly you have an agenda. Enjoy your life.

Anonymous said...

MBrandon - thought you had no response of your church's indefensible behavior. Your "flounce" confirms it. As for agendas...we all have them honey. Instead of bemoaning this fact, you should have addressed my points and questions directly. But then again, how does one defend Bernard Law, the great enabled of child rPe, and the popes who protect him? You are in my prayers. God bless.

MBrandon said...

Being in your prayers offers no solace. If your prayers are as misguided as your information about the Catholic Church I am better off without them. Bernard Law sadly did what every other organization did about sexual abuse, not so much covered it up as pretended that it was just a minor issue, and so sent offenders for repair,and returned them to ministry when the professionals said that they were repaired.
As news of the rampant sexualization of the young in Hollywood starts to surface, if the main stream media will allow it, will you condemn them, or give them a pass as you do other organizations?
News flash. The Catholic Church mishandled sexual abuse, just like the rest of society. It should never have happened. It does not change the truth of Jesus Christ and the Church he founded. It proves once again that we are powerless to do good consistently without His guidance.

Anonymous said...

MBrandon – my prayers ought to be as efficacious as anyone else’s – that is unless you think prayers in general are a waste of time.
As for Mr. Bernard Law – you are partially correct. He acted like many other members of the hierarchy by placing the PR image of his church ahead of the well being of the children who were raped by his priests. If only his tender tolerance for child rapists was as keen as that for the innocent children. I will remind you, and other apologists for this heinous scandal, that it was well known then (as it is now), that the recidivism rate for pedophiles is very high, and that there is no effective psychological treatment for a child rapist. Had Mr. Law reported these child rapists to the authorities, he could have prevented the rape and sexual abuse of literally hundreds of children (according to the Attorney General of the Sate of Massachusetts dated July 23, 2003). If the Vatican is so convinced of the innocence of Mr. Law – then send him back to the US to face his accusers. 
It is no moral or legal defense to claim that other organizations behaved as badly as the Roman Catholic Church. It is laughable for you to suggest this, while providing no evidence that any other organization actually did behave as badly or worse.
I have made no claim that this scandal in any way invalidates Christianity or Catholicism. You have placed those words in my mouth. I do, however, wonder how any Catholic can claim divine guidance of the church and her ministers when both have behaved so badly time after time. It takes a special kind of faith to be utterly blind to reality.
Whether or not you welcome my prayers, I pray that truth, clarity, and charity will visit your heart and mind. God bless.

MBrandon said...

Dear Anonymous:
Attempting to communicate with people who Hyde behind anonymity is very disadvantageous.
The efficacy of your prayers is not up to me. However, I suggest that you might more properly pray that truth, clarity and charity visit your own mind as well.
Unless you have been blinded by anti-Catholic bigotry, or have been educated by the Main Stream Media and their particular bias only, it would be nearly impossible for you to not be aware that the statistics of sexual abuse, which is by the way not the rape of young children particularly has been statistically more prevalent through this ugly last 4 or 5 decades many places in our society, which in no way excuses that it occurred in the RCC.
In fact, there are a number of Catholic priests, like Father Gordon MacRae Of the These Stone Walls blog who have been falsely accused of things they could not have logically, geographically done. Still, contingency lawyers have wrung many dollars out of their bishops with no proof whatsoever, merely a threat.
The Church has always had sinners in it, who like Peter, have betrayed the Lord. Count me in that number. I deserve to be there. The Church was founded by Christ for such as us. The failure of it's members, even those popes who have been miserable failures does not take away from the truth of the Church.

Michael Brandon
To imply that sexual abuse did not occur in the Catholic Church is head in the sand thinking.  To imply that it was a significant proportion of all sexual abuse going on is absurd.

I find it equally absurd to think that Anonymous or I have a clue as to why Cardinal Law is in Rome.  Certainly there is no practical evidence online that he was implicated criminally, personally in what happened on his watch in Boston.

I have known 4 bishops in my adult lifetime, and hold each of these men in high regard.  I happened to do a lot of work for one particular diocese in the day, and knew of some of the struggles that that particular bishop was dealing with.  He was and is, even in retirement, a good man, desirous of doing the best he could for those under his care. 

I met a particular priest, who was working in the tribunal office that dealt with annulments, and who had been sent to this particular diocese from his home diocese after allegations were made about hissexual misconduct with young people.  This particular bishop put him away from any contact with young people while his court cases worked themselves out.  He was convicted of several sexual assaults.  He was never allowed back into public ministry, as is appropriate.  Last year, he committed suicide.

This bishop and his confreres tried to deal with the unthinkable to the best of the knowledge they and the professionals they consulted with had at the time.  They took a long time to get it partly right.  Could I have done better, or Anonymous?  I have no idea.

Does the failures of those in the Church hierarchy diminish the truth of the living presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of Our Catholic Faith?  Not one iota.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Embracing Feminity - A Man's Perspective

Becoming Worthy of Our Wives
Recently, a talented female Catholic writer, Mrs. Jennifer Hartline, relayed on her blog, My Chocolate Heart,  and at Catholic Online a conversation between her and her husband about the nature of feminine beauty, which was at once intriguing, and as well, thought provoking.

In it she presented this quote from Bishop Fulton Sheen, long since deceased, but still touching our Catholic faith lives:
"To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women."
As a belatedly devoted husband, having previously failed miserably at marriage, and the father of three young adult women, what Mrs. Hartline wrote challenged me to examine my view of the women in my life, and to ponder what the appropriate response is from me as a man, husband and father.  I take full responsibility for all of my actions that have diminished the women who have touched my life, those which have been sinful, and those which has been merely inappropriate for the circumstance. But, without excusing my ignorance, there have been also societal influences that have helped me and other men to form the wrong impressions of what women require from us as men.

What we now see as traditional feminism, though it is a short but pervasive tradition, flies in the face of all that we men hold deep and dear in our hearts about the nature of a woman.  Feminism was, in essence, a response to generation upon generation of men failing to be the men we were created to be, particulary in our response to those women in our lives, our wives and daughters.  As such, it took on a radical tone and totally lost the complementarity of women and men, in favour of some kind of melding of women into trying to be better men than men are.

Father Benjamin Bradshaw has an interesting perspective on the feminine over at The Theology of the Body Institute in an article he recently wrote about The Unique Nature of the Feminine Soul according to St. Edith Stein and Blessed John Paul II

But, what does all of this mean to men practically, for if anything, we men do attempt to deal with things practically. 

That reminds me of what lives in my mind and that of My Dear Wife as the quintessential argument of our married life together.  One evening we were in the sitting area of our bedroom in a home we lived in many years ago.  My wife was "prattling on" (in my mind at the time) about her feelings about something or other.  As I sat across from her, not really hearing her, I interrupted her to share my wisdom with her and told her the following: "I need to deal in facts, not all this emotional B??? S???."  For emphasis I had turned my left hand over and was slapping the back of my palm into my other hand.  That pretty much brought an end to the discussion, and God has used the constant memory of that low point in my communication with My Dear Wife to heal me of the arrogance and lack of sensitivity to her over the years.

As men, we may participate in discussions with other men about the women in our lives, and how irrational they are.  Somehow we feel better to be able to share in this misery with others who are more like us.  Women, of course, are not immune from this, but this is not about them in that sense, but about us as men.

I have discovered this over many years, and by much grace from a God who loves and me and loves My Dear Wife more than we can possibly imagine, and wants to give us the desires of our hearts, and there is the rub.  The desire of my heart, though not one I could articulate, was to participate in an exclusive loving relationship with another person, in my case as a man, with a woman, to come to a spiritual, mental, emotional oneness, that both united us, and respected our individuality.

My Dear Wife has been challenged by autoimmune diseases for the last decade.  As such, rounds of medications, too many to count, where we are not sure which is worse, the disease or the cure, has left her looks different than they were.  But, in my eyes, she has grown more beautiful over the years, as I have witnessed her courage under fire, as she lives in constant pain, yet continues to love all who come her way.  God has given me immense grace to accept her as she is, to love her where she sits, and yet not to leave her there, but to pray for the best for her, and to encourage her daily in her walk of faith and life.

Somehow God gave me the grace to seek my own healing of those things that prevented me from seeing women, and in particular the one to whom I am married, through his eyes, the eyes of faith, rather than as something or someone less, particularly less than me.

When we men engage in sexual relations, even if only in our mind, with women who we are not married to, we diminish all women, even though the sex may be consensual.  When we allow our daughters to wear clothes that are not respectful of their bodies, as opposed to most current fashions that turn our attention away from eye contact to objectifying them, we perpetuate the degredation of our society that has made sex an end in itself, and has taken away from the sanctity of the marriage bed.  We are equally capable of disrespecting our wives in many ways, too many actually to count.

I have the amazing good fortune, (read that for what it actually is - amazing grace) to be married to my best friend in the whole world, to wake up beside her almost every day, and to share faith, love, and a delight in the simple things of life with her.  She sees most things of life so totally differently from me, that I essentially get to see things twice, through my eyes, and through her eyes.  I see flowers I never noticed before, and feel emotions I did not know even existed 10 years ago.

What is missing from our life that hampered our marriage, is the competition.  She is not trying to be a better man than I am.  I have no reason, and there would be no value in it either, to put down her viewpoints that do not correspond to mine.  As my equal in our journey of life, what she sees is of value, as what I see is of value.

But, this is all only possible, because God has opened my male eyes to see the particular beauty of a woman, in My Dear Wife; to live without relationship stress because we can accept each other as we are.  To reduce the day to day tensions of life with a smile, a tear, a kiss, a prayer, so they take on the perspective that they deserve, is an amazing blessing. 

Yet, it is also only possible if we men choose to love.  Women are by their nature responders.  They respond for example with their emotions to the various stimuli of life more than we do.  We men have been trained to take that for weakness, rather than for the strength that it is, particularly if nurtured and accepted by one who loves them unconditionally.

When I place My Dear Wife as number 1 for me in our relationship, I have found that I am a big winner.  She melts in a sense into the relationship, and all is well.

So, the face of radical feminism is a response to bad behaviour on the part of men for many generations, and though it contains some good, it is a distortion of the truth, as much as our behaviour was and continues to be.  To me, the best way to combat radical feminism is not to fight or rail against it, since that resistance gives it more power, and consumes energy better used for more meaningful purposes.

No, the best way to deal with the feminine is to embrace it as God has intended for us to do, by loving with no conditions, by being patient, kind, forgiving, seeking forgiveness.  Essentially, it is to live the words of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, where in Chapter 13, verses 4-8, he said:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Marriage works when men choose to love radically, not for what is in it for us, but for what it is, an opportunity to see Jesus in the other, and to be Jesus for that other.

We men are called to a radical masculinism, not one that is self serving, but one that is other serving.  So let us men leave our egos at the door of our homes, not to ignore our egos, but to give them their proper due and place in us, and embrace all aspects of the one we have chosen to live out our lives with, and to form a family with.  Our patron in married life, St. Joseph is a wonderful model for us, of quiet fidelity, in the midst of trials, and he is worthy of our emulation.
Let us prove to the woman that we love that we are worthy of her, and that in seeking to be worthy of her and her love, that she is a pearl of great price.  Then we will see the level of women in our society rise so that we can once again be proud of the society in which we live.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Eucharist & Cannibalism

Are Catholic Christians Cannibals for believing that they are eating the Bodyand drinking the Blood of Jesus?

I was disturbed when, in response to some comments on another blog, a fundamentalist Christian, formerly a Catholic came up with the last year. Belatedly, here is the answer and it is a good one.

The Eucharist & Cannibalism: "Michael Foley answers the questions: Are Christians cannibals?"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thoughts on the arrest of Linda Gibbons on Aug. 4, 2011 |

Life Site News

Here is a report well worth reading and viewing abut the most recent arrest of Linda Gibbons, a senior citizen who is a strong, yet often silenced voice of the pro-life movement here in Canada. The temporary injunction that was instituted in 1994 to protect the abortuaries from senior citizens who might silently pray in front of them, or perish the thought might try to present other Choices to the poor young women who are coming there to participate in the death of their unborn child, are an embarrassment to the people of this province.

Linda Gibbons has spent more than 8 years in jail for her very peaceful disobedience of this injunction, not law, as a conscientious objector to it's insanity.

She needs our prayerful support, and LifeSite News needs our financial support to be able to continue to bring to us important news of the trampling of real human rights, such as the right to life for the unborn. Please follow the link below.

Thoughts on the arrest of Linda Gibbons on Aug. 4, 2011 |

Monday, August 1, 2011

Preserving Our Faith

Archishop Timothy Dolan
H/T Fr. Tim Moyle - Where the Rubber Hits the Road
I have immense respect for Archbishop Dolan. I have heard him on Catholic Radio on Sirius XM (channel 129), when he speaks every Thursday for an hour. I have read his blog postings, and have found several things about the man. He is totally committed to Jesus Christ. He is faithful to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. He is a strong voice teaching about the love of Jesus Christ, as found in holy writ, traditions and the teachings of the Catholic Church which come directly from scripture and tradition. If you want to see somone waver to fit the political mood of the day, move along. There is nothing to see here.
Here is his blog posting on the straight line teachings of the Church under a heading Preserving Our Faith. He is so clear, so very crystal clear, that there is no wiggle room in what he says. And no surprise here, it is totally consistent with Church teaching since Jesus left the Church in the hands of Peter and the Apostles.
Read what he has to say over here.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Thoughts on the 2011 Stratford Festival Presentation

As an anniversary present this year, I purchased two tickets for My Dear Wife and I to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the Avon Theater in Stratford, Ontario. Here are thoughts compiled over 40 years of loving the music created by Timothy Rice and Anthony Lloyd Webber.

Webber and Rice put out some fine musicals together, and also separately over the years. Jesus Christ Superstar was actually their third collaboration, the second being Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat after The Likes of Us, which was slow to see the light of day.
When I first heard the music in 1971, I fell in love with it, which was interesting as I had recently begun my self imposed exile from the Catholic Church, in what I refer to as my agnostic period. But, the music struck me and stayed with me. 40 years later, I knew every lyric of every song, and followed every musical nuance. This too is interesting, since 7 1/2 years ago, I incurred a brain injury that makes it difficult for me to recall what I had for lunch yesterday. I had owned the album, and the sheet music, which I had played on the piano for many years. As well, I saw the movie a number of times.

But, this time I saw it with different eyes. The production was fantastic, beautifully done, sung and acted.

However, I noticed the play's focus was on the humanity of Jesus, not His divinity.   This did not matter in the least to me 40 years ago, but provided opportunity this time.  I did not find this disturbing, as Jesus was and is both divine and human.    Some evangelicals had picketed 40 years ago, when the play first hit Broadway, but I think they missed the point.  Clearly the focus was His humanity. Additional focal points were the humanity of Mary Magdalene, and Judas Iscariot.

We see in the play, a Jesus who has some trepidation about his death. We Christians think of Jesus as God, and can easily forget that He was about to be killed in a most brutal way. On the way to "Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing," there is a great deal of anguish, and I think we lose sight of that. The play helped me to rethink the human aspect of Jesus' sacrifice for us, without diminishing His divine work to redeem us.  He did it in human form.

Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a woman, a former prostitute, who is confused by the love she has for Jesus. But then, why should this not be so? When she was loved by Jesus and turned from her life of sexual sin, would all those learned behaviors have just disappeared in a flash? I know that after Jesus touched me, all my learned sin responses and rebellious acts did not suddenly disappear. Yes, I am a new creation, but there is much of the old me yearning to get out, oft times successfully. So, Mary Magdalene seemed very real and human to me, confused about who Jesus really is.

Judas also came off as very human to me. He was afraid that Jesus was getting out of hand. Clearly, he could not get his head around the divinity of Jesus, and so he tried to bring him down to reality to protect his view of how Judaism needed to function in the Roman occupation. Judas was clearly most interested in protecting his own hide, a lot like I am often in my life.  We know historically that Judas was less interested in the poor and their needs, than in setting aside money for a rainy day for himself.

So, I could relate to Mary Magdalene, and Judas, and also to the betrayal by Peter, which is portrayed briefly. I would have been capable of playing any one of those roles in 33 AD, and can even play them today, thank you very much, and for the same reason as they did. Often times, I diminish the divinity of Jesus, and focus on His humanity, excusing my own behavior, when I am called to imitate His divinity.

I still love Jesus Christ Superstar, the musical, but even more so, I love Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.