It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Monday, March 31, 2008

Alan Keyes' Best Hope - Pope Benedict XVI

(Cleveland.com) - Two days after the 2004 presidential election, William Portier ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store.

The man was a strong opponent of the Iraq war and had demonstrated against it, but when it came time to vote, he chose not to.

"He said he couldn't vote for (George) Bush because of the war, and he couldn't vote for (John) Kerry because of his support for abortion," said Portier, a professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

Pope Benedict XVI arrives for his first visit in the United States next month with the country once again in the middle of a heated presidential election.

And while no one believes the pope will speak directly about the November elections during his visit, the tone and focus of his speeches could help influence millions of Catholic voters, many of whom live in key swing states such as Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which holds its primary next month.

If Benedict speaks pointedly about abortion, it could give a lift to Republican Sen. John McCain, even though McCain is at odds with the church on at least one key issue: embryonic stem cell research...

read full story here
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: ....Or it could give a huge bump to Ambassador Alan Keyes, who remains as the ONLY true Pro-Life candidate in the running. John McCain favors abortion in many cases and has voted for fetal stem-cell research. Alan Keyes is a practicing Catholic, so it is reasonable to assume that he will be present at one of the pope's public addresses. If he could manage a private audience with him, (something very hard to do), that would even be better. Regardless, the Keyes campaign should make every effort to connect the former Ambassador's religious faith to this particular papal visit. The connection will gain some play in the media, and that can only help Alan Keyes. The Keyes campaign should also make contact with Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) to arrange for a full interview.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Biofuels May Kill The World's Poor

"A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine" - Revelation 6:6
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The push for ethanol, and other biofuels, may very well cause a depletion of natural resources third-world people depend on for food. The price of beans in Central America has already shot up over $1/pound. The price of rice has doubled. Mexico has already had riots due to the price of tortillas. Similar trends are being seen around the world. Part of this can be explained by the increased cost of oil, but simultaneously, it's the cost of ethanol that's the real culprit. Nearly a third of U.S. produced corn will be devoured by ethanol refineries just this year. That's more than triple the amount of corn that was consumed by refineries just five years ago. The race toward biofuels in the industrialized world may very well be hurting the poor in the third world - malnourishing them and leaving them desperate for proper nutrition at an affordable price.

Pope Benedict XVI warned us about this very sort of thing (read more here). True environmentalism in the Christian sense, does not harm other people for the sake of the cause. The ends never justify the means.

As Catholics in industrialized nations, there are two things we can do to help the poor in third-world nations....

The first is short-term and will probably generate the most immediate relief. It's simple and any Catholic can do it. Just don't buy biofeuls! Don't buy ethanol, or any type of biofuel that is produced from a plant which could have otherwise been used for food. The difference in price from gasoline will not be that much, and by using gasoline, you're not contributing to the starvation of the poor in third-world countries.

The second is long-term and will generate more lasting relief not only to the poor in third-world nations, but will also help produce energy independence for industrialized nations, as well as help to clean the environment. Support the move toward a HYDROGEN ECONOMY! Hydrogen is the perfect fuel. It comes in abundance in the universe. It's inexhaustible. It's perfectly clean. It produces no air pollution. It's bi-product is water. (You can literally drink the exhaust that comes out of the tailpipe of your car.) It can be used in both fuel-cells for electric cars, and as combustible fuel in regular cars. It's even cleaner on you car's engine, producing no carbon buildup, and consequently giving your car a longer engine life.

The problem with producing hydrogen has always been the amount of energy that's needed to separate it from the water molecule H2O. Traditionally, natural gas is used as fuel to generate the electricity needed, and natural gas costs money. It also pollutes the environment, even though it's cleaner than gasoline. However, there are two ways to solve this problem. The first way is to use geothermal energy, as is being done in Greenland. This produces hydrogen at no energy expense, consequently, Greenland may become the next Saudi Arabia of the 21st century in a hydrogen economy. The second way to do it is with a little help from the US government. If two or three nuclear reactors could be built near an ocean, and dedicated specifically for the purpose of generating hydrogen fuel, it could be done with minimal energy cost, and no air pollution.

This is the kind of transition we really need to be talking about in the United States and Canada. At one time I advocated the switch to hydrogen fuel just as a means of producing better air quality. Now in the wake of the biofuel third-world crisis, it looks like its become a matter of social morality.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WANTED! Pro-Life Democrats for Elections

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Attention Pro-Life Democrats; your country is calling you. The United States is in desperate need of Pro-Life political candidates on the federal, state and local level. The Republicans have held a monopoly on the Pro-Life ticket for too long, and as a result, they've been able to use it as a political football to win votes from people who otherwise wouldn't have voted for them. Simultaneously, the exodus of Pro-Life voters from the Democratic Party, has allowed Pro-Abortion extreme zealots to take firm control of the Democratic Party platform, and introduce anti-family elements of all sorts.

All of this can change, if you, will simply run for office on the following platform...
  1. Pro-Life: totally, oppose abortion, cloning and fetal stem-cell research
  2. Pro-Family: oppose same-sex marriage, allow spouses to sue home-wreckers
  3. School-Choice for all
  4. Universal Healthcare of some kind
  5. Secure US borders - no citizenship for illegals, documentation for all
  6. Welfare Reform that doesn't penalize recipients who work
  7. Finish work in Iraq, but no more unjust wars
The first three planks on this kind of election platform will knock any Republican challenger on his heels. He'll no longer be able to take the moral high ground. His political base will be shaken, as traditional Pro-Life voters will now have to evaluate the Democratic and Republican candidates based on more than just the Pro-Life issue. Using the above platform, sincerely, will gain the support of voters on the religious right, as well as conservative Catholics. A platform like the one above is a WINNING TICKET for any Democratic candidate who is sincere about the planks therein. Dear Pro-Life Democrats, your country is calling you. We need you now. Will you rise to the occasion?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Attention Catholic Knights - Our Marching Orders Have Arrived

(CNA).- A new book by the head of the Knights of Columbus explores the themes the Pope is likely to address in his April visit to the United States and provides a practical guide for Catholics to change the culture for the good.

The book “A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World” was written by Carl Anderson, who since 2000 has been the Supreme Knight of the 1.7 million-member Knights of Columbus. Anderson is also a member of three pontifical councils, a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and a trustee of the Catholic University of America. He was also one of the three delegates sent by President Bush to represent the United States at the opening Mass of Pope Benedict’s pontificate in 2005.....

read full story

buy the book

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bin Laden Is Right - The Pope Is On A Crusade

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
- Emperor Manuel Paleologos II, 14th century
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Yes, it's true. Bin Laden has let the cat out of the bag. Pope Benedict XVI is on a crusade, in fact, he's leading it. But it's not a crusade in the military sense like the retaliations to Islamic jihad nearly a thousand years ago. No, this is a crusade in the truly Christian sense, far more powerful than any crude military force, because it incorporates the message of the gospel. It is a crusade of reason. The pope is calling out to the Muslim world; "Come, let us reason together," and in doing so he is demanding reciprocity. In reciprocity, the pope demands that if the Muslim world wants to be taken seriously, then the Muslim world must offer the same freedoms to Christians in Islamic countries, as the West offers to Muslims in Western countries. Without this reciprocity, there can be no dialog, and Islam will never be taken seriously by the Western world. It will forever be regarded as Emperor Paleologos once described: a religion that has offered nothing to the world except excessive violence in the name of religion. It's a bad reputation that the majority of the Islamic world desperately wants to change, and that gives Bin Laden good reason to be afraid.

The fate of Islam now lies squarely in the hands of Muslims. If the pope's demands for reciprocity are not met, and instead Muslims commit more violence in response, then Islam will go down in history as a savage religion, made for savages, who revel in nothing but hatred and violence. The Western world will never take Islam seriously, and Muslims will ALWAYS be suspect of terrorism in the collective Western mind. The damage to Islam will be irreparable.

If on the other hand, the so-called "moderate" Muslims use this opportunity the pope has given them to take back their religion from extremism, and Islamic nations respond with reciprocity for Christians living within their borders, then a new day can dawn for the Muslim world. If moderate Muslims will hunt down the extremists, close extremist schools and stomp out extreme teaching, then the words of Emperor Peleologos II will be proved wrong. Figures like Peleologos will go down in history as the true "bigots" and Islam can be taken as a "religion of peace" in the collective Western mind.

So what will the Muslim answer be to Pope Benedict's crusading ultimatum of reciprocity? Only God knows, and only Muslims can answer. Now we shall wait and see...
(FoxNews) - ...Today you likely will hear most reporters and pundits suggest the reference to Benedict is mere mindless babble from a paranoid cave dweller. After all, Pope Benedict XVI himself criticized the publication of the cartoons as an irresponsible provocation of Muslim sensibilities. The Pope explained at the time that the universal right of freedom of expression does not free us from personal responsibility to express ourselves in a respectful way.

But contrary to the mindless babble theory, I think bin Laden’s cave has a very good antenna and he has become a shrewd decipherer of its signals. In his last two public messages, bin Laden has gone out of his way — way out of his way — to say this pope in particular is an enemy of Islam. Why? Note that in yesterday’s message, bin Laden does not accuse Pope Benedict of involvement in the cartoons. No. He is placing the cartoon flap within the broad context of a “new Crusade” against Islam, in which, according to bin Laden, the pope has played a “large and lengthy role.”

Bin Laden’s papal fixation has something to do with Benedict’s now infamous Regensburg address that caused so much stir among some Muslim youth. But that’s not the whole story. Bin Laden knows Benedict’s crusade neither started nor ended in Regensburg. He also knows and fears this crusade is of a certain type which he and his pales don’t know how to fight, and thus considers it the ultimate threat to his power base, thousands of times more powerful than the backhanded slaps against Mohammed, as were the cartoons.

Bin Laden even knows the crusade is not against Islam.

Benedict’s crusade can be likened to a quiet pilgrimage in the pursuit of rescuing human reason from the clutches of fundamentalism. It aims to restore reason as the great cultural meeting point for people of every race and creed.

While Benedict sees rationality as the only suitable launching pad of all true faith, bin Laden sees it as the great obstacle to his manipulation of the masses. While Benedict sees faith and reason as mutually enriching sources of truth, bin Laden sees the former as incompatible with the later. And while Benedict claims God can never command us to do evil because the first universal moral dictate of reason —“do good and avoid evil”— reflects his loving voice, bin Laden on the other hand claims Allah can do whatever he pleases, evil included.

The good news Benedict is preaching is that truth and goodness are of universal attraction. The more Pope Benedict whispers about universals, the more Muslims will listen. And they already are. Earlier this month the Vatican announced 225 Muslim leaders have asked to enter into official dialogue with Christians to proclaim the need for peace and mutual respect. Last week the Muslim country of Qatar inaugurated its first official Christian church. After the historic and first ever visit of a Saudi King to the Vatican last year, the two states are now in negotiations to allow the construction of Christian churches in the Kingdom, the holy ground of Mecca and Medina.

These are small, but incredibly significant signs that Muslims too are signing up to fight the crusade.

In other words, bin Laden has every reason to be afraid.

read full story here

Vatican Insists New Mass Must Look Like Old Mass

The above photo could be of an old Tridentine mass (extraordinary form) celebrated in Latin, or of a modern Novus Ordo mass (ordinary form) celebrated in the vernacular. It doesn't matter because the two are supposed to look almost identical.
(CNA) - Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Church’s “liturgist-in-chief,” recently made a speech at an African university in which he criticized liturgical abuses and protested Masses where the recklessly innovative priests act as “Reverend Showman”.

The Nigerian-born Cardinal Arinze, who is Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, was in Kenya to conduct a workshop and a retreat on liturgy for the bishops, according to CISA.

While he was at the Catholic University of East Africa, the Cardinal delivered a public lecture in which he discussed the importance of following liturgical rubrics and the proper place of inculturation in the liturgy.

The Cardinal discussed sentiments that cause errors in worship, such as regarding everyone as an expert in liturgy, extolling spontaneity and creativity to the detriment of approved rites and prayers, seeking immediate popular applause or enjoyment, and ignoring approved liturgical texts.

He said that liturgical abuses were often due to an ignorance that rejects elements of worship whose deeper meaning is not understood or whose antiquity is not recognized.

Cardinal Arinze clarified the nature of the reforms of Vatican II, saying they must be seen as continuous with the past rather than as a dramatic break. “The Catholic Church is the same before and after Vatican II. It isn’t another Church,” he said....

read full story here

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Galileo Inquisition Fully Explained

Summary: The Catholic Church never opposed the heliocentric theory invented by Nicolaus Copernicus and held as truth by Galileo Galilei. The inquisition of Galileo was on theological grounds alone, because he blurred the lines between science and religion, by stepping outside his role as a scientist and attempting to reinterpret Scripture. His final condemnation came after writing a book that appeared to insult the pope.
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Since the Galileo inquisition is a topic of so much interest in the area of science and the Catholic Church, I thought I would use this entry to fully expand on it, simply to give my readers the complete and total explanation they deserve.

When one looks back over the history between scientific discovery and the Catholic Church, we find that overwhelmingly, the Church has been a supporter of the sciences, and many of the scientific advances we take for granted today, were in fact discovered by Catholic priests. When one looks back on the span of history, there is but one blip in the curve, and that is the Galileo case, also known as the "Galileo controversy," the "Galileo affair" and the "Galileo inquisition." In fact, when critics of the Catholic Church charge that she is guilty of obstructing scientific advances, they can only sight but one case as "evidence." It is the Galileo inquisition. Even if the sensationalist charges they propose were true, it would still be a pretty good record for the Catholic Church. Think of it, out of thousands upon thousands of scientific discoveries since the Church's founding, and the hundreds upon hundreds of scientists who discovered them, only one (Galileo) was tried for heresy. That's not bad really. Fortunately, for the Catholic Church, those sensationalist charges are not true, and in fact most people are grievously under informed, if not misinformed altogether, about the facts surrounding the Galileo inquisition.

The popular media (movies, television, newspapers, magazines) doesn't help much. Most of the time the same old generalizations and glaring omissions can be found there. This can be attributed either to blatant bias toward the Catholic Church, or else just the intellectual laziness of people not wanting to do their homework. Usually it's the latter. It's just too darn easy to say the Church tried Galileo simply because he believed heliocentrism - the theory that the earth orbits the sun. I can't count the number of times I've heard it told this way. I was amazed listening to a public radio program one day when the reporter stated that Galileo was tried for heresy because he opposed the "Church dogma" that the sun orbits the earth (geocentrism), and claimed that the earth orbits the sun (heliocentrism). My jaw dropped wide open! This was a supposedly reputable news broadcast. Not only did the reporter get it wrong about why Galileo was tried for heresy, but he even made the error of claiming that geocentrism (the theory the sun, moon and planets obit the earth) was "Church dogma." "Unbelievable!" I shouted back to the radio. For the few of you who may not know, a Church "dogma" is a doctrine that is required for belief if one is to be considered a Catholic in good standing. The fact is, the Church has never held geocentrism, heliocentrism, or any other scientific theory as a "dogma" in the entire 2000 years of its existence. Church "dogma" is reserved exclusively for theological matters; dealing with God, the Bible and the Saints. It defies the very mission of the Church to start holding scientific theories as dogma. This reporter's blunder could once again be ascribed to intellectual laziness, born of a journalist more eager to finish a story than to research his "facts."

The fact is that the Catholic Church has never condemned heliocentrism. The theory itself was formulated by a Catholic priest named Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543 AD. Copernicus dedicated his publication on the matter to Pope Paul III, and the theory was well received in the Catholic Church. It was however, viciously attacked by Protestants, who called it heresy, because according to their literal interpretation of certain Scriptures, they claimed it defied the Bible. Not only did the Protestants attack Copernicus over heliocentrism, but they also leveled their attacks against the Catholic Church as well, claiming that the Church didn't take the Bible seriously enough to put down Copernicus' heliocentric "heresy."

As the Catholic Church defended Copernicus' right to construct scientific theory and hypothesis, Protestants attempted to use heliocentrism as a wedge issue, to solidify the anti-papal claims of the Reformation, and perhaps drive more Catholics away from the Church. In short, the charge leveled against the Catholic Church was that she didn't take the Scriptures seriously because she allowed scientists and educators to teach the heliocentric theory at Catholic universities throughout Europe. This charge caused some Catholic clergy to react negatively, seeking to prove to the Protestants that the Catholic Church does take Scripture seriously.

Nearly 70 years later, in this post-Reformation turmoil, a scientist named Galileo Galilei enters the scene. Galileo's main contribution to Copernicus' heliocentric model was his observations made by telescope, which seemed to confirm Copernicus' theory by observational experiment. Still many questions remained, and the geocentrists posed some good ones that Galileo could not answer. Indeed no man would answer them for some time, because not enough had been known about the universe yet. Galileo's telescopic observations effectively elevated the heliocentric theory to scientific law in Galileo's mind, but the scientific community still had more questions. Galileo became a fierce advocate of the heliocentric model. He published his findings in 1610 and then took his telescope to the Jesuit Collegio Romano (Jesuit College in Rome) for demonstration in 1611. His findings were well received, and Galileo was made an official member of the Accademia deiLincei (literally the "Academy of the Lynxes" a.k.a. "Lincean Academy"), a prestigious pontifical school of science. During this visit he wrote to a friend...
"I have been received and shown favor by many illustrious cardinals, prelates, and princes of this city."
- Galileo Galilei, Rome 1611
Galileo was given a long audience with Pope Paul V, and the Jesuits held ceremonies in his honor for a full day, wherein scholars of all types personally verified Galileo's telescopic observations. There is more than ample evidence from the time period to demonstrate even to the most amateur historian that the Catholic Church thought there was no harm in teaching new and novel scientific theories such as heliocentrism.

Galileo's troubles did not come about until 1616, when a religious opponent of heliocentrism, by the name of Father Tommaso Caccini, denounced it as heresy. Keep in mind the political time period here. The Catholic Church was still reeling from the after-effects of the Protestant Reformation, and Protestants had been condemning Copernicus' theory of heliocentrism for nearly 70 years. The charge was that it contradicted the Bible, and Catholics didn't take the Bible seriously enough to do anything about it. Father Caccini would appear to be one of the many Catholic clergy heavily influenced by this argument at the time, and eager to prove to his flock (and to the Protestants) that Catholics do indeed take the Bible seriously, and they were willing to prove it!

Father Caccini was well known for his fanaticism, and some historians have questioned the sincerity of it, since it was usually attached to personal advancement within the Dominican order. His highly controversial sermons, which often vilified anyone whom he disagreed with, eventually resulted in discipline by the Archbishop of Bologna. Caccini was a member of the Pigeon League, whose founder opposed heliocentrism outright. There he may have collaborated with another member of the League by the name of Friar Niccolò Lorini. After Galileo's Letters on Solar Spots in 1613, the friar unleashed a scathing sermon against Galileo based on the Book of Joshua where the Scriptures say the sun and moon stopped in the sky for a whole day (Joshua 10:12-14). His argument against heliocentrism being that it must be heresy since the Scriptures say the sun and moon stopped in the sky, implying that the earth is at the center of the universe, and the heavenly bodies must rotate around it. For some reason Galileo felt the need to respond to this critic, and that was the beginning of his undoing.

Had Galileo just ignored the matter, he would have remained safe under the protection of the Church, just as Copernicus was before him, along with all the Jesuits who were teaching heliocentrism as theory in universities all over Europe. You see at that time, scientists enjoyed the protection of the Church, from radicals like Lorini and Caccini, so long as they maintained a strict separation between science and religion in their public works. As long as scientists kept their place within science, and didn't venture into the area of religion, they were free to theorize and speculate all they wanted. The Church understood the importance of scientific development, and further yet, she understood that sometimes the advance of scientific understanding might shake the conventional wisdom of the day, even to the point of appearing to challenge faith. Mother Church understood that true science can never contradict the teachings of revelation. St. Augustine wrote that our interpretation of Scripture must be reevaluated when observations of nature seem to contradict it. Likewise, Saint Thomas Aquinas, a doctor of the Church, wrote the following:
"First, the truth of Scripture must be held inviolable. Secondly, when there are different ways of explaining Scriptural text, no particular explanation should be held so rigidly that, if convincing arguments show it to be false, anyone dare to insist that it still is the definitive sense of the text. Otherwise, unbelievers will scorn the Sacred Scripture, and the way of faith will be closed to them."
- Saint Thomas Aquinas, 13th Century
The pope understood this, as well as most cardinals, archbishops, and Jesuit priests. Unfortunately, this was not as well understood among the general clergy, and in the post-Reformation turmoil, much of this wisdom was ignored by the general public. Certainly, Protestants would have nothing to do with it either, and insisted on the absolute literal interpretation of Scripture in most cases. (Some of them still do - mostly Evangelicals.) Had Galileo published his works in a Protestant country at that time, he would have most probably been burned at the stake. In Catholic Europe however, Galileo enjoyed the protection of the Vatican and the Jesuits, that is until he stepped out of his role as a scientist, and started preaching his discoveries as a matter of religion.

Galileo responded to Lorini's sermon against him in what has come to be known as the Letter to Castelli. In this letter, Galileo attempted to explain that the heliocentric theory does not contradict Scripture. He did this by proposing alternative ways of reinterpreting the Scriptures in what was a well-reasoned response. Caccini saw the letter as an opportunity to discredit Galileo completely by charging him with heresy. Since Galileo had crossed the science/theology line, he no longer fell under the protection of the Church's academic license. As a matter of legality, Galileo was now preaching on Scripture, and therefore postulating religious theories. Such matters were the business of the clergy alone, and at that time in European history, there was no separation between Church and State. Heresy was more than just grounds for excommunication. After an excommunication was issued, the state would step in and administer civil punishment, mainly because the state viewed heresy on the same level as high treason. This is why heretics were often punished with imprisonment if they were lucky. More extreme cases were met with execution. The princes and lords running the Catholic portions of Europe were trying to protect their regions from Protestant uprisings, and so they believed their actions to be justified. (To be fair, the same sort of thing was going on over on the Protestant side of Europe too.) Galileo, once under the protection of the Church's academic license, now found himself in the middle of a theological war between Catholics and Protestants, all because he decided to take it upon himself to reinterpret Scripture for a few monks and priests of the Dominican order. His opponents wasted no time charging him with heresy, and in 1616 the Office of Inquisition issued a report that the notion of a stationary sun was heretical, and prohibited Galileo from teaching that the earth revolved around a stationary sun as a matter of absolute truth.

Now a couple of things need to be clarified here. First and foremost, statements from the Office of Inquisition are NOT infallible. It is possible for the "Holy Office" (as it was sometimes called) to be in error. However, on the issue of this particular decree, it was actually right, though perhaps in spite of itself. When the Holy Office declared the notion of a stationary sun was heretical, it was most probably throwing a bone to the geocentrists pushing for Galileo's excommunication. However, modern science has since discovered that the sun is not stationary at all. Rather, as the earth obits the sun, so the sun orbits the galaxy, and the galaxy moves through space away from the center of the universe. So the sun is not stationary at all - far from it - but that would not be known for another 300 years. The heliocentric theory of that time asserted that the sun itself was the center of the universe, and did not move at all, but stayed perfectly still as the planets (including the earth) orbited around it. Secondly, the admonition against Galileo WAS NOT an excommunication, but rather a censure, and the Holy Office did this to protect Galileo from radical zealots like Lorini and Caccini. It did not prevent Galileo from discussing heliocentrism hypothetically, and no such admonition was given to the Jesuits, who largely supported Galileo's findings and were free to teach them all they wanted. In effect, this was the Vatican's way of giving Galileo a firm slap on the hand. The Holy Office was effectively telling him never to play the role of theologian again, and to keep his place as a scientist. It appeared that Galileo got the message, and for the next several years he continued to teach the heliocentric model as a scientific THEORY and simultaneously stayed clear of all controversy.

The next chapter in Galileo's inquisition didn't come about until 1632, and this was the result of an unfortunate chain of events. It all began in 1623 when a fellow astronomer, and friend of Galileo (Cardinal Barberini), was elected Pope Urban VIII. Though a geocentrist himself, he opposed the admonition of Galileo in 1616 and personally encouraged Galileo to return to the subject and write a treatise defending his heliocentric findings. Pope Urban VIII hoped to rehabilitate Galileo's reputation in the academic field, and give him the opportunity of scientific vindication. The pontiff personally asked Galileo to give arguments for and against heliocentrism in the book, and to be careful not to advocate heliocentrism as an absolute truth or theological fact. (In other words, he asked Galileo to stick to the realm of scientific theory and not cross the lines again into theology by pushing heliocentricity as absolute truth.) He also requested that his own views of geocentrism be included in Galileo's book.

Unfortunately, only the latter of those requests was fulfilled by Galileo, and the way in which he did it became the central reason behind Galileo's second inquisition. The book, entitled "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" was a literary masterpiece for it's time. It was published in 1632. In it, Galileo structured the text as a debate between a heliocentrist and a geocentrist. The latter he named Simplicius (meaning "simpleton"), and casted him as a fool who frequently trapped himself by his own arguments. Most historians agree that Galileo did not do this out of malice. He was also an entertaining author who dazzled his readers with his literary wit and style. It is quite probable that Galileo was trying to write a book that would keep his readers entertained while he simultaneously educated them. But this method, combined with the fact that he pushed heliocentrism as absolute truth again, became Galileo's undoing. The pope (Galileo's friend) was a geocentrist, and the irreverent writing style of the book made him look like an idiot. This came at a time when the Catholic Church was still reeling from the Protestant Reformation. It is unknown if the pope ever read the book, and in all probability his advisers discouraged it. The pope's defenders immediately went into action, and once Galileo was caught in that political machine, the poor fellow never stood a chance. He was tried on suspicion of heresy. His book was banned, and Galileo was found guilty and ordered to be imprisoned. It is suspected that the pope was the one responsible for having his sentence commuted to house arrest. He remained under house arrest (in his own villa) for the remainder of his life. This may seem harsh to us living in the 21st century, but keep in mind that with a heresy verdict on his head, Galileo's life was in danger. He could have been captured and killed by any number of princes and lords who viewed heresy tantamount to treason. Had he fled to Protestant territories, his fate would have been the same, since Protestants viewed heliocentricity as heresy too. House arrest was by far the most humane and charitable way of protecting a man with a price on his head. As long as he was under the guard of a Church deputy, his safety could be assured, and the Vatican could plausibly claim he was being punished for his "crime."

Contrary to popular urban legend, the Galileo inquisition was a political one, not a scientific one. Galileo was tried and condemned for what was perceived to be an attack on the pope, along with an attempt to preach scientific theory as theological truth. The Catholic Church never officially condemned Copernicus' theory of heliocentricity. It did condemn one of Galileo's statements that the sun is the center of the universe. On that point, the Catholic Church was actually right. Scientific discovery would later prove that the universe is much bigger than the solar system, and that the sun is actually orbiting the galaxy, and our galaxy itself moves away from the center of the universe. The Galileo inquisition should be understood as a tragedy in the realm of politics - not science. For years, both Protestants and Secularists have used the Galileo inquisition to mock the Catholic Church as an opponent of heliocentrism. Such mockers fail to understand the history of the theory itself. Heliocentricity was actually invented by a Catholic priest named Nicolaus Copernicus more than half a century BEFORE the Galileo inquisition. The Catholic Church always allowed the teaching of heliocentricity as a scientific theory before, during and after the Galileo inquisition. Finally, the Galileo inquisition was a political tragedy centered around Galileo himself, mainly because the poor fellow didn't exercise the good sense to distance himself from theology and inadvertently made out the pope to look like a fool in a time when the Catholic Church was highly defensive.

Knights of Columbus Founder on Road to Sainthood

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: This is great news for our order of Catholic Knights...
New Haven, CT - March 16, 2008 - Pope Benedict XVI Saturday approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. The pope's declaration significantly advances the priest's process toward sainthood and gives the parish priest the distinction of "Venerable Servant of God." If canonized, Fr. McGivney would be the first American born priest to be so honored.

"All of us who are members of the Knights of Columbus are profoundly grateful for this recognition of the holiness of our founder," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "The strength of the Knights of Columbus today is a testament to his timeless vision, his holiness and his ideals."

Worried about the religious faith and financial stability of immigrant families, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with the help of several men of St. Mary's Parish in New Haven in 1882 to help strengthen the faith of the men of his parish and to provide financial assistance in the event of their death to the widows and orphans they left behind. He was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners.

Born in Waterbury, Conn., Aug. 12, 1852, Michael Joseph McGivney, was the first of Patrick and Mary (Lynch) McGivney's 13 children, six of whom died in infancy or early childhood. His parents, natives of Ireland, had immigrated to the United States during the 19th century. Patrick was a molder in a Waterbury brass mill, where Michael himself worked for a brief time as a child to help support his family.

From an early age, however, he realized a calling to the Catholic priesthood. After studying in several seminaries, he was ordained in that Baltimore's historic Cathedral by Cardinal James Gibbons Dec. 22, 1877. He took up his first assignment, as curate at St. Mary's Church, New Haven, Conn., Jan. 2, 1878. Father McGivney was named pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Conn. in 1884. He became seriously ill with pneumonia in January 1890, and died Aug. 14, 1890 at age 38.

The cause, or process, for Father McGivney's sainthood, was opened by Hartford Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, in December 1997. The cause was presented to the Vatican in 2000, where it has been under review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. With the pope's recent decree, and the authentication of a miracle at Father McGivney's intercession, the priest could be beatified. A second miracle would be required for canonization.

Still maintaining its headquarters in New Haven, the Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic Fraternal Organization with more than 1.7 million members in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Philippines, Guam and, most recently, Poland.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Christianity & Science - Part 2

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Recently, I stumbled across an Internet article that attempted to connect the political supporters of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign to modern geocentrists - people who still believe the earth is the center of the universe and everything revolves around it. I was amused to find myself featured as one of the alleged geocentrists. I wrote to the author and explained this simply was not the case, and that in fact, as a practicing Roman Catholic I not only subscribe to heliocentrism (the theory that the earth obits the sun), but I am also a believer in the Big Bang theory. The author apologized and promptly removed his article from the Internet.

While I am still uncertain as to why the author came to this conclusion, it did bring my attention to a common misunderstanding that is very prevalent in the modern world. It's the misunderstanding that Christianity, in particular Catholicism, is at odds with science, and has a long history of attempting to suppress scientific advances.

I cannot argue with the fact that some Christians have historically attempted to do just that. The early 20th Century controversy concerning evolutionary theory, showcased in the Scopes Monkey Trial, is one such example. However, to be fair, it should be pointed out that such examples are the exception to the norm. In fact, not only do Christians usually accept scientific discoveries, but more than quite often, they support and defend them. This is especially true of the largest Christian establishment - the Roman Catholic Church. I dealt with this topic in more detail in the entry entitled Christianity & Science - Part 1. It should be pointed out that the biggest opponents of evolutionary theory are not Roman Catholics, but rather Evangelical Protestants, which actually make up only a small minority of Christians worldwide. They're just a tiny fraction of Christianity. Even then, it would be unfair to lump all Evangelicals together on this. There is difference of opinion even among them.

Most Roman Catholics, who have studied a minimal amount of biology, generally accept the basic premise behind the theory of macro-evolution. In 1996, Pope John Paul II even called it "more than just a hypothesis." But at the same time, this doesn't mean Catholics have rejected their theological beliefs that God created all things, and that man was made in the image of God. Rather, Catholics have been forced to reexamine their interpretation of Scriptures, and in doing so, have come to an even deeper and more profound understanding of them. To Catholics anyway, the first few chapters of Genesis are more relevant today than when they were taken literally. Because now, these verses are understood to convey moral and spiritual truths that surpass a literal interpretation, and consequently have more of an impact on a personal level.

It is not my intention here to delve into the debate on biological evolution, and how that relates to the book of Genesis. To me, the topic is irrelevant, because the Bible was not designed to be a scientific textbook, and something else has already proved there was more than enough time for God to use this method of creating the design for human bodies. By this "something else" I mean the truths revealed to us by the heavens. It is the science concerning the heavens that I wish to focus on here, because in doing so I believe a lot of misunderstanding about the Catholic Church, and her relation to scientific discovery, can be corrected.

Our story actually begins a couple thousand years ago with the origin of astronomy which at that time was deeply entangled with astrology. The model of the universe was a lot smaller then. It consisted of the basic components of our solar system; sun, moon, five visible planets and the stars. The model proposed by Aristotle, and later modified by Ptolemy, placed the earth at the center of the universe. It's important to point out that neither Aristotle nor Ptolemy were Christians. They were Greek philosophers of Pagan origin. Their astronomical error of placing earth at the center of the universe was a common one that anyone could make. From the vantage point of earth, using only the naked eye, it is perfectly understandable why people would come up with this point of view. However, it's important to point out that the geocentrist (earth centered universe) model is a remnant of the ancient Pagan world, created long before Christianity became a major religion. While it is true that many Christians initially defended this Pagan model of the universe, it is not true to suppose that Christians invented it.

In 1543 AD, some two-thousand years after the origin of the geocentrist model, a Catholic priest by the name of Nicholaus Copernicus published a book entitled De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). In it he proposed a stunning new idea. Ptolemy accounted for the complex movement of the planets through an elaborate set of mathematical calculations that accurately predicted their motion, but did nothing to explain them in a rational way. Copernicus found that by placing the sun in the center of the model, and putting the earth in the position of the third planet away from the sun, all the strange motions of planets were instantly eliminated. All celestial bodies then moved in perfect circular motion around the sun. The theory of heliocentricity (sun centered universe) was born. The book was dedicated to Pope Paul III, and was received well by the Vatican. The book caused only mild controversy throughout Europe at the time, and provoked no fierce sermons about contradicting Holy Scripture. Naturally there were a few who objected, and this is to be expected in the course of scientific research. Without debate, there can be no development of understanding. The heliocentric model was eventually adopted by the majority of Jesuit scholars, and taught as theory in Catholic universities throughout Europe.

Galileo's main contribution to Copernicus' heliocentric model was his observations made by telescope, which confirmed Copernicus' theory by observational experiment. This effectively elevated the heliocentric theory to scientific law. Galileo became a fierce advocate of the heliocentric model. He published his findings in 1610 and then took his telescope to the Jesuit Collegio Romano (Jesuit College in Rome) for demonstration in 1611. His findings were well received, and Galileo was made an official member of the Accademia deiLincei (literally the "Academy of the Lynxes" a.k.a. "Lincean Academy"), a prestigious pontifical school of science. Galileo's troubles did not come about until 1616 when Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino admonished Galileo not to teach heliocentrism after a religious opponent by the name of Father Tommaso Caccini denounced it as heresy. Now this is where politics enters the Galileo controversy. Heliocentrism was already being taught as theory, by Jesuit priests no less, throughout Catholic universities all over Europe. Galileo's only contribution to the heliocentric model was his supporting evidence based on telescopic observations. This made Galileo a strong proponent of Copernicus' theory, and in the post-Reformation world of Europe, that caused some to worry that Galileo might inadvertently start another Protestant uprising against the Catholic Church. Catholic clergymen, by in large, taught a mostly literal interpretation of the Bible at that time. (Protestant clergymen did too.) It was only the highly educated clergy of that time period, the Jesuits, who embraced novel scientific concepts like heliocentrism. In other words, there was a learning curve in Europe at that time, and Galileo (along with the Jesuits) were way ahead of it. Some Catholic clergy feared anything that seemed to contradict the literal interpretation of the Bible. (Ironically, some Protestant clergy felt the same way.) Because of this, Galileo's strong push of Copernicus' heliocentric theory frightened some clergymen, but ironically it was Galileo's interpretation of Scripture, not his scientific beliefs, that got him into trouble. When his opponents questioned him in writing about the Scripture passages that seem to support the geocentric theory of a fixed earth, Galileo responded (quite correctly I might add) with the Augustinian position that one's interpretation of Scripture should always be reconsidered when observations of nature seem to contradict it. This theological assertion was used against Galileo, and the accusation was made that Galileo was trying to preach religion though he was not an ordained clergyman. In other words, Galileo's opponents set him up for a legal trap. At that time, it was illegal for non-clergy to preach religious doctrine. In 1616 Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino initially tried to calm the brewing storm, acting on directives from the Inquisition, by throwing Galileo's opponents a bone. This was done by admonishing Galileo not to teach the heliocentric theory as scientific fact anymore, but the admonition did not prevent Galileo from discussing heliocentrism hypothetically, and no such admonition was given to the Jesuits, who largely supported Galileo's findings and were free to teach them all they wanted. For the next several years Galileo stayed clear of controversy. But in 1623 a fellow astronomer, and friend of Galileo (Cardinal Barberini), was elected Pope Urban VIII. Though a geocentrist himself, he opposed the admonition of Galileo in 1616 and personally encouraged Galileo to return to the subject and write a treatise defending his heliocentric findings. Pope Urban VIII hoped to rehabilitate Galileo's reputation in the academic field, and give him the opportunity of scientific vindication. Pope Urban VIII personally asked Galileo to give arguments for and against heliocentrism in the book, and to be careful not to advocate heliocentrism as scientific fact. He also requested that his own views of geocentrism be included in Galileo's book. Unfortunately, only the latter of those requests was fulfilled by Galileo, and the way in which he did it became the central reason behind the Galileo controversy. The book, entitled "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" was a literary masterpiece for it's time. It was published in 1632. In it, Galileo structured the text as a debate between a heliocentrist and a geocentrist. The latter was named Simplicius (meaning "simpleton"), and casted as a fool who frequently trapped himself by his own arguments. Most historians agree that Galileo did not do this out of malice. He was also an entertaining author who dazzled his readers with his literary style. It is quite probable that Galileo was trying to write a masterpiece that would keep his readers entertained while he simultaneously educated them. But this method, combined with the fact that he pushed heliocentrism as scientific fact again, became Galileo's undoing. The pope (Galileo's friend) was a geocentrist, and the irreverent writing style of the book made him look like an idiot. This came at a time when the Catholic Church was still reeling from the Protestant Reformation. The pope's defenders immediately went into action, and Galileo was tried on suspicion of heresy. His book was banned, and Galileo was ordered to be imprisoned. It is suspected that Pope Urban VIII was the one responsible for having his sentence commuted to house arrest. He remained under house arrest (in his own home) for the remainder of his life. Contrary to popular urban legend, the Galileo controversy is a political one, not a scientific one. Galileo was tried and condemned for what was perceived to be an attack on the pope, along with an attempt to preach scientific theory as theological truth. The Catholic Church never officially condemned Copernicus' theory of heliocentricity. It did condemn one of Galileo's statements that the sun is the center of the universe. On that point, the Catholic Church was actually right. Scientific discovery would later prove that the universe is much bigger than the solar system, and that the sun is actually orbiting the galaxy, and our galaxy itself is far from the center of the universe. The Galileo controversy should be understood as a tragedy in the realm of politics - not science. It's an example of what happens when people get paranoid and act based on such irrational fears. For years, both Protestants and Secularists have used the Galileo controversy to mock the Catholic Church as an opponent of heliocentrism. Such mockers fail to understand the history of the theory itself. Heliocentricity was actually invented by a Catholic priest named Nicholaus Copernicus more than half a century BEFORE the Galileo controversy. The Catholic Church always allowed the teaching of heliocentricity as a scientific theory before, during and after the Galileo controversy. Finally, the Galileo controversy was a political tragedy centered around Galileo himself, mainly because the poor fellow didn't exercise the good sense to distance himself from theology and inadvertently made out the pope to look like a fool in a time when the Catholic Church was highly defensive.

Three centuries after the Galileo controversy, and exactly 388 years after Copernicus published his book on heliocentricity, another Catholic priest published his own scientific theory about the formation of the universe. His mathematical calculations rocked the scientific community. His name was Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Éduard Lemaître, or just Monsignor Lemaître for short. Lemaître derived what became known as Hubble's Law in his 1927 paper, two years before Hubble, but thanks to the American media machine, Edwin Hubble got the credit. But Lemaître took Hubble's discovery of an expanding universe a step further. He concluded that an initial "creation-like" event must have occurred in the distant past, when all space-time, energy and matter began in a "cosmic egg" as he called it, smaller than the tiniest atom. This is the "Big Bang theory" as we know it today, and this is why Lemaître is credited with its discovery. Albert Einstein first dismissed the theory, telling Lemaître that his mathematics were sound but his physics were an abomination. Later, after Hubble's discovery was published, Einstein endorsed Lemaître's theory, helping both the theory and priest get fast recognition. Einstein's initial skepticism was due to the theory sounding too much like the Christian dogma of creation, and Einstein (like many physicists of the time) preferred to think of the universe as static and eternal - having always existed. Lemaître's "Big Bang theory" was well received by the Vatican, and in fact Pope Pius XII publicly endorsed it, claiming that science had finally proved what the Scriptures have been telling us all along. Lemaître was embarrassed by this, and wrote to the pope asking him to stop. In actuality, the pope was right, but perhaps more than he thought. The theories of the cosmic singularity (first cause) hadn't been fully developed yet, and wouldn't be until physicist Stephen Hawking tackled the phenomenon of black holes in the last decades of the 20th century. The cosmic singularity, otherwise known is the first cause of the universe, and the final state of the universe in the distant future, is defined as the event when all the laws of physics, space-time and matter break down into a single force stretching from eternity to eternity. It is the point at which our understanding of physics meets God. The theories of Big Bang and cosmic singularity are now commonly accepted by the scientific community, and insofar as scientific theories go, they are fully embraced as such by the Catholic Church.

Two of the most important scientific theories of the modern age (heliocentricity and the expanding universe) were discovered by Catholic priests. Both theories were embraced by the Catholic Church. The controversy surrounding Galileo had more to do with post-Reformation politics than Copernicus' heliocentric theory. Not only did the Catholic Church, for the most part, embrace scientific discovery, but in many cases it was the supporting influence behind those discoveries in the first place.

Toward the beginning of this long entry, I stated that "something else" has convinced me that there was more than enough "time" for God to use the evolutionary processes surmised by Charles Darwin to form the bodies of human beings. That "something else" I mentioned was none other than the Big Bang theory, in which we now know the universe is approximately 13.4 to 13.7 billion years old, according to our measurement of time, which according to Einstein is all relative. The final "proof" for me is the speed of light itself, what Einstein regarded as the only cosmological constant. Light travels at about 186,000 miles per second. The nearest galaxy, Andromeda, is approximately 2.5 million light-years away. That means it took 2.5 million years (according to our measure of time) for the light from Andromeda to reach our telescopes. We can see Andromeda, so we know the universe has been around for at least 2.5 million years, the amount of time it took for the light to reach our telescopes. For that matter, however, we can see many more galaxies as well, all of them much further away than Andromeda.

Regarding the seemingly random events of the universe, and the amazingly complex result of the conditions for life on planet earth, Einstein once asked if God played dice. Based on Lemaître's discovery of the Big Bang, it would appear that God does play dice. If you're a Christian however, you know the dice are loaded. God is perfectly content to let random events control the fate of the universe he created, provided of course, that those random events conform to his sovereign will.

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Christianity & Science - Part 1

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: It seems so strange to me that so many Christians get all worked up about this issue. As a young man, indoctrinated by the secular humanism of today's public education system, I embraced the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution to the point of nearly denying the existence of God. Then after graduating from high-school, I got back in touch with my Christian roots, and became a Bible-thumping Fundamentalist. It was at that point I rejected evolution completely and embraced the neo-Morrisian theory of creation. Looking back on it now, I just have to laugh. It's funny how this scientific theory has become such a polarizing wedge in our society, so that many people of science think they have to reject faith, and many people of faith think they have to reject science.

Converting to Catholicism was probably the best thing for my sanity. On this particular issue, it allowed my faith and reason to be integrated once again, where I can now evaluate the theory of evolution with an open mind, and without any threat to my faith as a Christian. In truth, I think both Charles Darwin and Henry Morris added tremendous contributions to the debate, and I think that both of them will go down in history that way. What is needed in the whole creation/evolution debate is a little HUMILITY! And I say that to both sides. Evolution is a scientific THEORY, but then literal creationism is a theological THEORY as well. As the great astrophysicist Stephen Hawking once said: a theory is the best understanding of reality we have -- until a better one comes along. (That's my own paraphrase anyway.) A little humility on the part of both evolutionists and creationists would go a long way toward restoring civility to the debate once again. The simple fact is, none of us where there at the creation of the world. None of us, neither scientist nor theologian, eye-witnessed the biological processes that led to the creation of the first man. The best thing we have to rely on is a guess. Scientists look at the fossil evidence and make educated guesses. Theologians look at the scriptural evidence, and it's peripheral context, and also make educated guesses. It was Charles Darwin (a professing Christian) who guessed about natural selection and the origin of species. It was Henry Morris (also a professing Christian) who guessed about the effects of water dynamics on the fossil record. Both men have given us quite a bit to chew on, and I dare say that both men have given us just a shred of truth about what really happened. Between the two of them, maybe we can start to figure it out.

The following article demonstrates how Catholic Christians need not fear the theory of evolution, so long as certain theological ground-rules are understood. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...

(New Oxford Review) - ...If we look at evolution and how it affects various religious stands, we see how the Church's teachings have such a solid foundation that they are never truly threatened by scientific ideas.

In contrast, fundamentalist Christians base their faith on a so-called literal reading of the Bible. This creates fundamentalism's most embarrassing problem. The fundamentalist must insist that the "days" of Genesis are the days of our week that God created man directly out of the dust, and so forth.

The same problem occurs whenever the Bible -- understood in a way that allows no interpretation, symbolism, or development -- must encounter the world.

The Catholic Church knows that the Bible requires symbolic readings in some places and literal readings in others. The interpretive and teaching authority of the Church gives guidance to the reader of Scripture. The believer is not left alone with what he can understand or imagine. Therefore, the Church does not trap her children in simplistic worldviews. Whatever views science develops about evolution, the Catholic Church will have the resources, in Scripture and tradition, to develop trustworthy understandings that can reconcile science's theories with the truths of revelation.

Liberal Protestantism has made the opposite mistake of fundamentalism. It has been too quick to make accommodations. Liberal Christianity readily accepted Darwinism -- and it also often accepted the pseudo-scientific hypotheses of Marxism and Freudianism and a host of destructive 20th-century "isms." It has become sort of a Vichy regime for modern secularism, doing the bidding of the materialistic mindset while trying desperately to keep alive a sham of independence.

Scientific dogmatism looks at its experiments, assumptions, and hypotheses, and can see nothing else. The Catholic Church is able to look on creation as a whole, and see that there are too many "coincidences" for this all to be random. She can see the handiwork of the Lord in the evolution of man, and in the rest of creation. She can embrace the universe's mystery and paradox. As Augustine wrote in his Confessions, addressing God, "You are the most hidden from us and yet the most present amongst us.... You are ever active, yet always at rest. You gather all things to yourself, though you suffer no need.... You grieve for wrong, but suffer no pain. You can be angry and yet serene.... You welcome all who come to you, although you never lost them."

With such insight, the Church can see that God allows mankind to evolve, yet He still guides that evolution. The same holds true for all other phenomena: They may look random, and many may be random, but the Catholic faith holds that God steps in, in mystery and in hiddenness, to control the ultimate outcomes.

The Catholic mind embraces 2,000 years of history and wisdom -- and many more years, if you include the Church's Old Testament patrimony. Therefore the Catholic worldview, with its long memory, knows that what "enlightened opinion" held to be undeniable truth in A.D. 30 was forgotten by A.D. 500. Thus the Catholic mind is not easily impressed by the latest headline or alleged discovery.

Non-Catholic worldviews are truncated and skewed. For example, to the liberal Protestant, everything before, say, 1965 is a black pit of ignorance and oppression. To the fundamentalist, everything between, say, A.D. 75 and 1500 is a gaping void. To the proud scientist, everything in his field before his latest grant proposal is foolish error.

The dogmatic scientist refuses to believe what he cannot see and measure. The fundamentalist refuses to believe what he cannot find in his King James Bible. The liberal Protestant refuses to believe what he cannot read in The Christian Century or on the editorial page of The New York Times.

Evolution, in asserting the role of random events, is joined by contemporary physics and chaos science in finding that there is randomness in the cosmos. So, to answer to Einstein: Yes, God does play dice.

This seems compatible with the understanding that man is free. Catholicism has always seen that there is a large element of freedom in our lives. God even seems quite willing to let us roll the dice ourselves. However, God is still in control. A controlling agent can allow much randomness, yet still have ultimate control.

God rolls the dice too. Sometimes, however, He slips in a pair of loaded dice. He is willing to play the game; He rigs, however, whenever we play so badly that we jeopardize the ultimate outcome....

read full story here

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Homosexuals Compared To Terrorists - Gays Respond With Death Threats

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Ironic, isn't it. It kind of reminds me of the response the pope got after the comments he made about Islam during his visit to Germany back in 2006. (read details here) People in the media (and sometimes politics) compare conservative Catholics and Evangelicals to Islamic terrorists all the time. Rarely ever do such statements result in death threats. It causes one to question; maybe Rep. Sally Kern is on to something...
(The Christian Post) - An Oklahoma lawmaker has received thousands of hostile e-mails and voice messages that included death threats for speaking out about homosexuality and labeling it a bigger threat to America than terrorism or Islam.

"I'm not anti, I'm not gay bashing but according to God's word, that is not the right kind of lifestyle," said State Rep. Sally Kern at a Republican event in January.

Her comments generated national attention after pro-homosexual group Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund posted the recording on YouTube earlier this week. As of Friday afternoon, the posting had close to 900,000 views.

In response, Kern has received more than 7,000 e-mails and voice messages, most of them hostile with a few death threats....

read full story here

Catholic Vote Must Be Based On Social Doctrine - Not Political Ideologies

(Catholic Online) - We are first, last and always, Catholics. And as such, we should first turn to Catholic Social teaching to inform our consciences, not to political ideology, and then guide our political participation accordingly....

read full story here
In the year when American citizens will elect a new President, the questions surrounding how a faithful Catholic Christian should approach the exercise of his or her civic responsibility and how a good Catholic must also be a faithful citizen, loom large. learn more here

Friday, March 14, 2008

First Catholic Church In Qatar - Nation's Tolerance On Display

The interior of the first church building in Doha, Qatar.

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Now we shall see. The pope has just one word for the Islamic world - "reciprocity." It means that if the Islamic world wants to be taken seriously by the West, and if Muslims want Western powers to pay them the same respect they pay to Christians (which isn't much by the way), then the Muslim world must demonstrate reciprocity toward Christians. In other words, Christians must be given the same freedoms in the Muslim world that Muslims are given in the Western world. Islamic nations must allow Christians to worship in public, and practice their faith freely, with equal protection under the law. If Islamic nations will do this, then we can take them seriously. Christians can enter into a dialog with Muslims in those nations, and the West can acknowledge such nations as "civilized" and "tolerant." Now the tolerance of Qatar is on display. Will Catholic Christians be treated fairly by the government there? We shall see...
(FoxNews) - Qatar's first Christian church has no cross, no bell and no steeple.

And when 5,000 faithful flock to Our Lady of the Rosary to celebrate its historic consecration this weekend, they pray no one will notice.

Father Tom Veneracion, the parish priest, is worried about a backlash.

"The idea is to be discreet because we don't want to inflame any sensitivities," he says. "There isn't even a signboard outside the church. No signs at all."

Qatar's fledgling Catholic community considers its sprawling $15 million saucer-shaped facility a victory. A 15-minute drive into barren desert, it has been built with the blessing of the nation's emir.

But some people in this Muslim country have branded it an offense; one prominent politician has called for a national referendum to determine its fate....

read full story here

ELECTION DEBATE: Alan Keyes v. Barack Obama


Abortion


Homosexuality


Christianity


Race & Civil Rights


Iraq & Homeland Security


Religion and Gay-Marriage


Alan Keyes for President Website

Nicean Blues

Thursday, March 13, 2008

American Archbishop Takes On Extreme Feminism


THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis today excommunicated three women who unlawfully and rebelliously engaged in a ceremony in which they attempted to be ordained as Catholic priestesses...
As Archbishop of St. Louis, it is my responsibility to safeguard the unity of the Catholic Church and protect the souls of the faithful.

I have communicated with Ms. Fresen, Ms. Hudson, and Ms. McGrath, and informed them that if they participated in an attempted female ordination, they would be excommunicating themselves from the Catholic Church. In the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that the Catholic Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women. This teaching is to be held definitively by all the faithful as belonging to the deposit of faith. Because they participated in the attempted ordination, Church law requires me to publicly declare the excommunication.

The situation is sad for the whole Church. It is cause of great concern for me as archbishop. Please join me in praying that both will be reconciled with the Church and that the great harm which has been caused to the Church, with the help of God's grace, will be healed....

read the full declaration of excommunication in PDF format
read Q & A on excommunications from the diocese website

ARCHBISHOP MARTYRED!

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: An Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholics has been martyred in Iraq. Killed for his faith in Christ, and for no other reason, this heinous act marks the formal beginning of a new age for Christianity. It is the third age of the Church, and it begins much like the first age - with the blood of martyrs. In this age, the Islamists play the role of the Pagans. Though their faith is different, their actions are the same, for our Lord once said "by their fruits you shall know them." No political statement can account for the murder of a gentle cleric. Nothing can explain this except pure and undiluted hatred for Christ and his Church. The Islamists are demons, and their father is the devil himself. The God they worship has nothing in common with the God of Abraham. Perhaps once they were Muslims, but now they've been twisted into something else. If they would do this to a Catholic archbishop, they would do it to a cardinal, to the pope, and to every single one of the Catholic faithful throughout the world....
(Catholic Online) - The beloved Archbishop of Mosul, Iraq was found dead, another True Martyr in Iraq. Catholic Online pledges our prayer and solidarity to our Chaldean Catholic brothers and sisters in Iraq, in America and throughout the world...

read full story here

The Holy Father is scheduled to hold high profile talks with Muslim clerics latter this year. Perhaps a moral alliance can be formed with the true representatives of Islam, to combat these new "pagan" Islamists bent on reigning terror upon the world. If the talks should fail, then the religion of Islam itself will be threatened, as the Islamist errors spread across the world and threaten to pervert the entire Islamic faith. Christians don't need these talks, but Muslims do. They mean more to them than they do to us. Ours is a religion of life. Ours is a religion of peace. Islam has been such at times, and could be such again. But right now a cancer infects the religion, threatening to take it over entirely. Such a takeover will only result in its own self-destruction. For the sake of all Muslims who desire peace, these talks had better produce some results. If they don't, the fate of Islam may be sealed forever.

Demise of the American Empire

Proposed Flag of the North American Union (NAU)


THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: We all knew the day would come. Now it is upon us - the beginning of the end. What started as "Yankee Imperialism" in the early part of the 20th century, and evolved into the world's last remaining "superpower," is now beginning to crumble. To maintain the illusion of prosperity, we've sold our nation's sovereignty out to trade agreements and prosperity pacts. What awaits us now is the formal creation of the North American Union (NAU), by means of minting the "Amero" - a new currency to replace the dollar and unite the North American continent. Within a decade, we'll all be regarding ourselves more as "North Americans" than as Americans. You can blame Bush and the Republicans all you like, and in doing so you would be 50% accurate, but the Democrats are also complicit. Were it not for President Bill Clinton, working together with the Republicans, NAFTA might have never been signed....
(Newsmax) - Interest rate cuts, and the prospect of more on the way, have weakened the dollar so much that foreign investors can now buy dollar-based commodities like gold and oil on the cheap - and they are...

read full story here

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Everything You Need For Catholic Home-Schooling

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: In the wake of the recent California Superior Court decision to ban home-schooling in the state of California, now more than ever the pro-homosexual and christophobic agenda of west coast governments is on display. Recently, California passed legislation forcing public school text books and curriculum to promote homosexuality, and made all public school bathrooms co-ed. Public school teachers were instructed to call little boys by girl names if they so requested, and vice versa. (read more here)

For decades, home-schooling has been the option of choice for Christian parents (of all denominations) who could not afford private or parochial schooling. Christian families found themselves reverting to the one-income household, making whatever sacrifices it took, to educate their children under close parental supervision. Home-schooling networks were formed to provide children social contact through organized sports and play dates. Catholic parents soon jumped on board and formed their own home-schooling academies and networks.

Now all of that is threatened, in California at least, due to the pro-homosexual and christophobic agenda of the California state government. Already Christian parents are targeted for discrimination nationwide due to public laws prohibiting state funding of religious schools in what are known as "Blaine Amendments." Now in the state of California (a trendsetter for the rest of the nation), home-schooling is nearly banned outright, leaving lower income families no choice but to send their children to California public schools where they can be fully indoctrinated (brainwashed) by the pro-homosexual and christophobic agenda of the California state government.

A clarion call should be sounded to all Christian parents in California should the state supreme court decide to cement the superior court's home-schooling decision into state law. If that happens, it will be time for California Christians to pull their children out of public schools and leave the state. Refuge can be sought in many other states more friendly to home-schooling and some even offer a more traditional curriculum in public schools.

That being said however, Christian parents (especially Catholic parents) should realize that the battle for non-biased public education is lost. Even in states that offer more traditional curriculum in public schools, that will change eventually. The National Education Association (NEA) has already announced that it will do everything within it's power to promote the pro-homosexual agenda nationwide. (read more here) So it's time for Christian parents (especially Catholic parents) to make whatever sacrifices it takes to send their children to religious schools or else home-school. The alternative is to send you children to a public school where you will have no guarantees that your children will not be indoctrinated with a pro-homosexual and christophobic agenda. (Remember, by the time parents usually find out what their children are being taught, it's already too late. The damage is already done.)

Home-schooling academies and networks for Evangelical and Protestant children are already well established and promoted nationwide. Therefore, The Catholic Knight wishes to provide home-schooling links for Catholic parents who cannot afford parochial schools....


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As Evangelicals Move To Political Center - Social Alliance With Catholics Inevitable

(The Christian Post) – The evangelical center is attracting more people and emerging as an influential voice of faith witness in American politics, says an evangelical scholar in his new book.

Dr. David P. Gushee, author of The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center, along with a panel of prominent evangelical leaders affirmed Tuesday what political pundits and pollsters have for some time observed – the rise of a new breed of evangelicals that is different from the “old guards” of the Christian right.

“I am arguing in this book that over the last two decades an evangelical center, representing at least 30 percent of evangelicals and growing quickly, has been emerging,” Gushee said at a first-of-its-kind panel discussion about the evangelical center.

“I suggest in the book that there is visible movement toward the center from both the right and the left, that many black and Hispanic evangelicals are best classified as centrist, and that there is a marked shift toward the center among younger evangelicals.”

Evangelical Centrists are characterized by their commitment to core theological teachings in the Bible; refusal to be aligned with any political parties; combination of moral and policy concerns of both the right (abortion and marriage) and the left (poverty and war); bridging leaders from both the right and left for practical solutions to problems; and adoption of a more civil tone in relating to both Christians and non-Christians in conversation, according to Gushee....

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Evangelical Is Not Enough

(Catholic Online) - The Washington Post recently ran a story on Evangelicals doing something new – they were adopting historic church practices. Actually, this is not a new thing. For more than thirty years Evangelicals have been on the Roman Road, the Canterbury Trail, and the pathway to Orthodoxy in large numbers. Join us in a three-part exploration on this phenomenon...

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THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Yes, it's true. Evangelical is not enough. As a former Evangelical, I can attest to this personally. Oh sure, it worked for me for a while, but it wasn't until I entered the Catholic Church that I finally had a sense of fulfillment. You've heard the stories about Evangelical converts. In fact, many of today's leading Catholic apologists and lay theologians are former Evangelicals. However, would it surprise you to learn that it isn't just individual Evangelicals who are converting, but a good portion of the Evangelical movement itself. It's been going on for a long time. Various denominations and affiliations have been incorporating aspects of traditional liturgy for decades. A group of Southern Baptists are now observing Ash Wednesday and Lent, finding that it works quite well with the Baptist theme of repentance and call toward holiness. They're even eating fish on Fridays! Some Evangelical groups have begun observe The Lord's Supper (their version of Holy Communion) on a weekly basis, citing the command Christ gave to do this as often as you meet in remembrance of him. Typically, Evangelical churches observe the Lord's Supper just once a month. Some Evangelicals are even introducing aspects of liturgy to their church services. To sum it up, Evangelicalism is a Christian movement in search of itself. It's trying to find an identity that connects with the early Church -- the first Christians.

What's happening right now in the Evangelical world is divergence. Evangelicals are searching for their roots, their identity, and in doing so it's leading them to study the past. The divergence comes in which version of the past they decide to study. There is a strong anti-Catholic thread in some Evangelical churches, and this typically leads them to ignore the writings of the early Church Fathers, as these would be far too "catholic" for their comfort. This group of Evangelicals, those who adhere to their anti-Catholic tendencies, are forced to ignore Christian history in their search for identity, since all Christian history before the year 1000 AD was Catholic. So they turn to Jewish history instead, and as a result, they begin to adopt Jewish customs and liturgical practices. However, that in itself eventually leads them back to Catholicism, because virtually all of Catholic tradition is derived from ancient Jewish sources.

Other Evangelical churches that are able to put aside their anti-Catholic tendencies come to these same conclusions but much sooner, because they are able to read the writings of the early Church Fathers. They're studying the beliefs and liturgical traditions of the early Church, and as they implement them in their own churches, we see the signs of a proto-catholic awakening in the Evangelical world. It's primitive by our 21st century Roman Catholic standards, but it is the first stages of early Catholicism nonetheless.

The move of Evangelicalism back toward Catholicism will be slow. It will probably take more than a lifetime to see it through, and most Evangelicals are far more likely to reunite with the Eastern Orthodox before they would come home to Rome. Whatever path they take though, it will be a significant improvement over what has existed over the last 40 years.

I was browsing through an Evangelical bookstore a few weeks ago, and picked up a title that caught my eye. It was written in 2007, and it was an Evangelical book on liturgy. The author took his time explaining why liturgical traditions are needed in Christian worship, and how Evangelicals would do well to rediscover them. He then went on to outline what he thought would make the best liturgical traditions based on Biblical themes and mandates. His outline looked so much like a Catholic mass that I couldn't help but laugh out loud.