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Denying Biden Communion

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The Breaking News Story

A lot has been reported about former Vice President Joe Biden being refused Holy Communion at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina on Sunday because of his permissive public stance toward the aborting of unborn children.  Such liturgical matters are preferably left private between a person and his church.  However, the priest fulfilled his moral duty precisely because Biden is a celebrity and such matters are immediately reported by the media.  If he were an ordinary churchgoer in the parish it is likely the priest would not know his stance against human life and he would have received the sacrament; yes, even though it would have convicted him secretly and spiritually before Christ.  Similarly, if his views were only known to his priest confessor, that priest would have been required to give him the Eucharist so as not to violate the seal of confession.  But given this situation, as a politician he not only adds his votes among others but is an active enabler for the murder of human beings (a truth which he supposedly believes in “personally”).  More monstrous than those who deny the humanity of the unborn are those like Biden that straddle the fence.  On one hand he says that he agrees with Church teaching and personally opposes abortion; on the other he refuses to impose his moral views upon others and politically enables what he evidently understands to be the murder of human beings.  Really, many of us have a hard time believing this?  Like the famous video of so-called “Catholic” politicians in New York laughing and applauding legislation to allow nine-month pregnant women to abort their babies— any faith they say they have is feigned, soured, not real— you cannot serve two masters.  You should not make yourself available to receive the bread of life while eagerly helping to feed children to demons.

He does not have to respond to reporters about the incident because his actions and kowtowing to Planned Parenthood speaks volumes. Rev. Robert Morey said afterwards, “Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden. Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching. As a priest, it is my responsibility to minister to those souls entrusted to my care, and I must do so even in the most difficult situations. I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers.”

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The priest denied him the sacrament because he knew that it would bring down God’s judgment upon him.  The priest acted out of love, not enmity.  He also knew that the occasion had been politicized.  Every photo of Biden receiving Holy Communion falsely advertised that he was a good Catholic and that he and his views had the endorsement of the Church.

What Does the Church have to Say?

The following three citations have been heavily informative to my approach to the question of politicians and the reception of Holy Communion.

Canon 915 states: “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 2002:  “Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”

Cardinal Francis Arinze stated in 2004:  “The norm of the church is clear, the church exists in the United States— there are bishops there, let them interpret it.”  When asked if a priest should withhold communion to an “unambiguously pro-abortion” politician, he answered, “Yes.”  “If the person should not receive communion, then he should not be given it.”

Priests under Pressure

Priests who are commanded by their Ordinaries never to withhold the sacrament are being told not to love as they should and to be silent in the face of the “holocaust” of innocents.  Indeed, they are censured for making comparisons or allusions to other forms of mass murder or genocide.  Policies, written and verbal, instruct parish priests that they must NEVER refer to one politician as pro-abortion and another as pro-life in homilies.  They came speak generally about values but not to make matters personal.  The impression is that we do not want to upset people.  We do not want to appear as partisan. We do not want to see an attendance drop or loss in revenue.  The subject is far deeper than what canon law stipulates.  The passivity and silence of bishops on this matter of giving communion to pro-abortion politicians is systemic of the same malaise that condones silence and ineffective action against active homosexuals and pedophiles among the priests and bishops.  When we should be champions of the truth; we hide behind lawyers and employ the verbiage of misdirection.  We have made ourselves hypocrites when we should be sentinels for Christ.  Called to a courageous faith and to take up crosses in following Jesus; too many are afraid and seek to play it safe.  Priests are intimidated and threatened to be quiet and not to act.  There are even rumors that despite the encouragement of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, policies are being assembled that will further restrict the actions of good priests but will also erase their proclamations on social media. Most dioceses stipulate that priests cannot give media interviews and must relay requests to chanceries.  I suspect some of these fearful upper Church authorities were those that looked the other way when it came to the ravaging upheaval of rogue bishops like McCarrick, Bransfield and others.  Claiming to respect the sanctity of life and then shutting down practical initiatives to save babies will not wash with God and will one day be condemned by those who judge the wrongs of history.  There will be no hiding.

What is a True Disciple of Christ?

Biden has stated, “I’m a practicing Catholic. I practice my faith, but I’ve never let my religious beliefs, which I accept based on Church doctrine . . . impose . . .  on other people.”  This is essentially nonsensical.  Although supported in the past, he has now denounced even the Hyde amendment.  Catholic faith must always be lived out in obedience to the law of God and in a love of the Lord that is realized in charity.  Christianity is not tolerant of immorality or sin.  Freedom is not license but fidelity to the truth.  Faithfulness is more than sitting oneself in a pew once a week; it is also taking the Christian kerygma or Good News in mission to the world around us.  Pope John Paul II defined this message as the Gospel of Life.  We are to convert the world, not to allow the world to convert us.  We are to bring Christ’s light to the culture of death where we find ourselves.  A believer is to be a person of strong character.  His faith and values has importance in the lives of others; compromise is a failure to truly believe and definitely to love others. While the sanctity of life is constitutive of the Gospel, the issue of abortion is more than a sectarian issue; it is a human rights concern . . . none of us has the liberty to kill or to enable the termination of innocent human beings. How can we say AMEN to the hidden presence of Jesus in the Eucharist when we deny the hidden presence of the child in the womb made in his image?

Facing Ambiguity and Opposition

Those who possibly think differently on this matter have also been reported in the news.

Pope Francis, has attacked abortion in the harshest terms, equating efforts at abortion to mobs “hiring a hit man.” He is clearly defining it as murder.  However, he has also intimated that communion should not be withheld from practicing Catholics based on what they do and do not believe.  He wrote in 2013, “The Eucharist  . . . is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”  What he gives, he takes away.  The Holy Father’s efforts at ambiguity continue.

Cardinal Wuerl stated years ago in reference to Speaker Pelosi that he disagreed with holding back communion to manifestly pro-abortion politicians which he equated as “Communion wielded as a weapon.”  “We never – the Church just didn’t use Communion this way. It wasn’t a part of the way we do things, and it wasn’t a way we convinced Catholic politicians to appropriate the faith and live it and apply it; the challenge has always been to convince people.  There’s a question about whether this canon [915] was ever intended to be used.”  He stated:  “I stand with the great majority of American bishops and bishops around the world in saying this canon was never intended to be used this way.” Back in 2009, Cardinal Wuerl said that he thought “we’ve been making progress” in conveying the pro-life message to the Democratic Party and that “There was just a setback with the distraction of Communion.” However, today the party’s pro-life representation in national government is now all but extinguished.  This essentially continued the policy of Cardinal McCarrick in Washington.  We may remember the infamous memo presented to the USCCB by Cardinal McCarrick which essentially falsified and reversed the message from Cardinal Ratzinger.

Cardinal Cupich bluntly dismisses the mandate of canon 915 in a rather defeatist manner, “I think it would be counterproductive to impose sanctions, simply because they don’t change anybody’s minds.”

Past USCCB advisor John Carr asserted that “it’s a big loss for our faith and for our church, either way, when the Eucharist becomes a source of division instead of unity. In my view, denying communion to people for their public stances is bad theology, bad pastoral practice and bad politics.”

Faithful America is an organization demanding that Fr. Morey’s bishop force him to apologize to Biden and immediately direct all other priests not to deny communion based on politics. “When hate groups purport to speak for Christianity, we act. We challenge the Catholic hierarchy in the United States to live up to the inspiring words of Pope Francis and we stick up for courageous Christian voices for fairness and freedom in every denomination.”  (But is the killing of children just a political issue or is it a HUMAN RIGHTS issue?)

Fr. Ken Roberts, REST IN PEACE

154549133261636553bFr. Kenneth Roberts died Thursday, December 20, 2018 around 4:50 ET in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Born and raised in England, he later became an American citizen.  He was 89 years of age.  A charismatic and articulate priest, he easily made his early reputation as a stark defender and teacher of Catholic teaching.  (Back in 1989, I got to meet him over a dinner in Birmingham, Alabama.)  At the time he was filming programs locally for Mother Angelica and EWTN.  His book PLAYBOY TO PRIEST was one of the works that influenced many young men to discern a vocation to the priesthood, myself included. Another notable book was NOBODY CALLS IT SIN ANYMORE.  He is well remembered for his books, tapes, television appearances, retreats and support for the Medjugorje apparitions and messages.

His defunct website noted the following:  “Throughout his life, Father Ken has been especially devoted to our Blessed Mother, realizing that the love and graces of her Immaculate Heart are the surest and most expedient way into the saving Sacred Heart of her son Jesus Christ. Father Roberts has dedicated his priesthood to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Although he traveled a great deal, he was a priest (ordained in 1966) from the Diocese of Dallas, Texas.  Given credible charges of misconduct with minors, he was suspended from ministry in 1998 (November 13) by Bishop Charles Grahmann and incurred serious restrictions (such as not being able to wear clerical garb and from presenting himself as a priest in good standing). Although ordered to do so, he was hesitant or slow to terminate his national online ministry.  He was especially popular with young people and his site got as many as 50,000 hits a day.  When the revelations of misconduct were made public, his supporters were in utter disbelief and rallied to his defense.  Unfortunately, accusations of improper behavior dated back to the 1970’s.  Since 1995 he had been directed to avoid ministerial contacts with youth and men thirty years of age or younger.  He disappeared into retirement, stripped of all the trappings of priesthood, even the title, FATHER.  An official monitum or Church warning went out in 2007 that he was allegedly celebrating home Masses and was associating with children and teenagers in violation of his suspension and earlier restrictions.  I recall one vocal critic who complained when she spotted the elderly Roberts praying quietly in the rear corner of a parish church.  It looked to her that he was wearing a clerical shirt, albeit not black and without the tell-tale Roman collar.  If I recall the correspondence correctly, someone may have even called him “father,” although I suspect that he was also called many other things of  a far more offensive nature.  My response was to remind the critic, who had every right to be upset and disappointed in the wayward priest, that we are all sinners and the Church will never close her doors to any soul seeking to make reparation for wrongs and to find healing in Christ.  Given that the charges were true, maybe he was bringing the many victims to prayer?  We leave ultimate judgment to God.

I was a big fan of his YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT program on EWTN. It was a wonderful show which he co-hosted with a Catholic and Protestant teenager.  It spoke to the youth in a non-threatening language that they could understand.  His small booklet in response to the anti-Catholicism of Jimmy Swaggert was also right on the mark.  Of course, the misconduct soured or ruined the positive impact of much of what he did. 

As with the many other scandals facing the Church, it is all so terrible and hard to believe.  How must we respond?  We must pray for victims and their perpetrators.  We must seek transparency in our discipleship and shed any duplicity.  We must seek justice and healing for those harmed.

His family and friends kept his passing quiet so as to avoid sensationalism.  That is as it should be.  The reason I posted this information was to urge all his past fans, friends and critics to pray for the repose of his soul.  He was buried from Holy Cross-Immaculata Parish in Cincinnati on December 27, 2018.  The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Timothy Reid.  He was buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery (11000 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH  45249).

He very much believed in the power of prayer and frequently urged that we remember the poor helpless souls in purgatory.  I suspect that he has now joined their company.


Funeral Mass Program – Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts

Eternal rest, grant unto him/her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.

May his/her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Remembering Father Ken… I hope and trust that he knew the graces that come with repentance.  REST IN PEACE.




Return to Gilligan’s Island


Got to share some time this week with Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island. She may be sweeter than the character she played on television.

Witness in Hollywood: McDonough


The actor Neal McDonough (pictured here on the right from TIN MAN) was fired from the ABC drama Scoundrels, because he refused to do sex scenes with Virginia Madsen. A Catholic and family man, he’s turned down many roles or requested parts be rewritten to accommodate his refusal to do scenes that even hint of sexual intercourse.

LINK:  Acting on moral convictions

Witness in Hollywood: Caviezal


Jim Caviezel (pictured here on the left from PERSON OF INTEREST) is well-known as a practicing Catholic. He asked the director of ANGEL EYES, one of his first big roles, if he could change the sex scene in the movie to simply him kissing Jennifer Lopez, because he felt uncomfortable with it and thought the scene was unnecessary. The director agreed. He would become famous as Jesus in THE PASSION. It was reported recently in the news that he gave up the lead role in CBS’ upcoming Navy SEAL drama pilot over “creative differences.”

LINK:  Acting on moral convictions

Father Joe with Richard Dean Anderson

Father Joe with the actor Richard Dean Anderson, alias MacGyver (series of the same name) and Jack O’Neill in Stargate SG-1:



THE FLYING PADRE: Fred Stadtmueller


I originally posted this entry on August 10, 2008.  Quite a wonderful conversation ensued.

Father Stadtmueller, also a native of Germany, came to the U.S. in 1928, was ordained to the Priesthood in 1940 and came to New Mexico in July of that year. After teaching at Lourdes School and being an assistant in the parishes of Santa Rosa and Sacred Heart (Albuquerque), Fr. Stadtmueller was appointed pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish (Mosquero), by his Excellency, Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne in November 1943.



Two priests served in the San Antonio mission church. Between 1920 and 1944, Mass was offered by the Rev. Courad Lammert, parish priest from the town of Bueyeros. Then from 1944 to 1955, the Rev. Fred Stadtmuller, from the Mosquero parish, served the El Carrizo community. Area resident Doroteo M. Martinez was baptized in San Antonio Church during its early years. “The church was beautiful inside,” he recalls. “Mass was offered once a month. We had a funcion every June 13 and (the statue of) San Antonio was paraded around the church. My parents and other family members are buried in the cemetery.” His nephew Epimenio Martinez remembers Rev. Stadtmuller, the “Flying Padre.”

“Father Fred Stadtmuller used to fly his plane into El Carrizo. He used to give people rides. I rode in his plane once; it was my first time. He landed the plane on the flat.”

When I wrote this post, Monsignor Stadtmuller was retired and purportedly lived in Albuquerque.  He has since passed away.

Here is the conversation after the posting:

August 16, 2008 / Antonia

Dear Father Joe,

Thank you for the interesting post. My folks live in New Mexico and sometimes they like to take a ride and visit the Pueblos and other historical places. I know they will enjoy learning about the church and the Padre. They live in a suburb of Albuquerque. There are some interesting churches at some of the Pueblos.  One in particular is at Laguna Pueblo, the Church of St. Joseph. It was built in the 1600s. The Spanish missionaries had a great devotion to Good St. Joseph and every year had a procession with a beautiful image of him painted on a hide (I think it was buffalo!). You can see it today. The Stations of the Cross were among the most vivid I have ever seen. The wooden altar was adorned with the most beautiful and colorful carved flowers. Unfortunately you cannot take pictures. But it is wonderful to find such beauty and the past history of our Faith in what to some may seem just another lonely little town.

God bless.

 August 26, 2008 / rbbadger

Dear Father,

I knew Monsignor Stadtmueller. I was once a seminarian for the Diocese of Gallup and though Monsignor was not of our diocese, he lived in our diocesan boundaries upon his retirement and filled in often in various parishes throughout the Diocese.

I received notification from a priest friend of mine in the Diocese that Monsignor Stadtmueller has died at the age of 95 yesterday or the day before.

May his soul and souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

August 27, 2008 / Kim Stadtmueller

Dear Father Joe,

 Monsignor Stadtmueller passed away around 3:00 PM on August 22nd after a terribly painful last few days resulting from prostate cancer, which had metastasized to bone cancer. He has lived with my husband (his nephew), Charles, and I in Virginia since March. He requested to live with us because he wanted to be with family “when he died.” For those who wish to know, Mass will be tomorrow (August 28) at Holy Ghost Church in Albuquerque and the funeral will be on Friday. It is with great regret that I could not attend the funeral, however, we could not afford for both my husband and I to fly there. I was blessed to know Monsignor Stadtmueller (Uncle Fred, as we called him), although it was for a very short time.

 God is good! He has delivered the Monsignor from his terrible pain.

 Peace be with you.

August 27, 2008 / Father Joe

I say an extra Mass tomorrow at Coast Guard Headquarters. I will remember him in my intention for the Mass. May he rest in peace. I am so sorry for your loss.

August 27, 2008 / P. Siler

Dear Father Joe,

Indeed, Msgr. Fred Stadtmueller passed away on Sunday, August 24, 2008 in a nursing home in Rocky Mount, VA. The rosary group from our local parish, which my daughter belongs to, visited him last Tuesday evening and recited the rosary at his bedside and then the Divine Mercy Chaplet. My understanding is that he had been in the nursing home a short time and had a nephew living in Roanoke, VA, and that he was taken back to New Mexico for funeral and burial. I watched the movie about him and was very impressed with it. May he rest in peace.

August 28, 2008 / Sharon Karpinski (University of New Mexico)

I was saddened to read Monsignor Stadtmueller’s obit this AM in the Albuquerque Journal. He was a fascinating, wise, and independent-minded gentleman that I was privileged to interview several times in 2004 and 2005 as part of my research for my Master’s thesis re: life on the high plains pre-1950. I am heartened that he died with his family. Although he had many, many friends here in New Mexico, after his long term housekeeper passed a few years ago, I know he was lonely.

His memories of circuit riding his mission churches throughout Harding and Union County, New Mexico in a Piper Cub are unique—and priceless. It was a time and place as remote from us now as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.

October 19, 2008 / Catherine (Stadtmueller) Bolin (Winchester, VA)

Uncle Fred was a legend, and I remember flying in the “Spirit of St. Joseph” with him around 1944-1945. Kim, we have never met, but Charles is my cousin. I wish I had known Uncle Fred had come to Va. Have tried to find your phone # unsuccessfully. GOD BLESS YOU UNCLE FRED, MAY YOU REST IN PEACE!

June 14, 2009 / Maria Theresa Stadtmueller

I am also a niece of Fred Stadtmueller’s (hello, Kim, Charles, and Catherine!), and remember very well how he’d fly his plane back East occasionally to visit the family when we were kids. I got to know him better as an adult, visiting with him several times after he’d retired, and we’d phone each other every few months until he moved and I lost track, which I’m very sorry about. He was a highly intelligent and kind man, a hard worker, and a good friend and neighbor to so many. He was no longer flying when I visited him in NM, but he sure drove fast!

Uncle Fred was at the center of controversy in the early 60s, and was evicted by residents from his pastor position at the Isleta Pueblo. He was accused by some of cultural insensitivity, of demeaning the Indians’ spiritual and cultural practices. What I learned in interviewing him and others, and in reading through archives on the matter, was that, as is often the case, there was a lot more going on than met the eye. Independently of Fred’s attitudes or actions, political strife brewed within the tribal government that produced heated factions on the pueblo; the police chief’s son was a suspect in several crimes, etc. If I remember correctly, the bishop’s refusal to appoint another priest after Fred’s departure ultimately led to a freedom of religion appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Uncle Fred was a stubborn guy, and pretty doctrinaire in his Catholicism—not unusual for someone who trained in a pontifical academy. He certainly did not grant indigenous religion the same credibility as Catholicism, and as such was part of an unfortunate continuum of Catholic influence in other cultures. But I do know Fred considered himself unjustly accused of many actions, as did many of his friends on the Pueblo. He was open-minded enough not to let my own rejection of Catholicism interfere with our visits or our friendship, for which I was grateful. He was a cool guy, and I’m glad he’s now at peace after his suffering.

 July 11, 2009 / Catherine Stadtmueller Bolin

Maria, you have to be Christine & Ludy’s daughter. Since Uncle Al died on Father’s Day this year, all the children of August Stadtmueller, that came here from Germany, are gone. There were a lot of years between us. I think you were about Michael’s age, and I have a picture of the two of you. There were you and Lisa, and I heard later, a brother also. We were all so spread out. There were eight children in our family, all survive but William (Billy) died in 1983. It would be nice to hear from you.  I have lived in Virginia almost 45 years.

September 29, 2010 / Arthur Sedillo (Retired DEA Agent & Current Lago Vista, Tx. Municipal Judge)

In the mid 60′s I had the honor of knowing Monsignor Fred Stodmiller while I served as a New Mexico State Police in Los Padillas, a small community bordering Isleta Pueblo. Monsignor authorized me and community leader Jerry Jarimillo to convert the abandoned church in Los Padillas into a boy’s club.

He became a good friend. When he was expelled from the Isleta Pueblo, my supervisors prohibited me from leaving my house fearing that my intervention in his behalf would have further compounded the situation. May he rest in peace.

April 23, 2011 / Catherine (Stadtmueller) Bolin

When he was expelled from the Isleta Pueblo? I assume we are talking about the same person. Since my Uncle Fred Stadtmueller is no longer here to defend himself, let me say that my family never heard an expulsion had occurred. That would be permanent. He was however, moved from that church to a safe haven. The Pueblo Indian people were not happy that the housekeeper had ordered concrete poured in the courtyard in his absence, and they painted swastikas on the parsonage. The courtyard was a sacred stomping ground. Don’t know why she chose to do this, but it sure caused an uproar.

April 23, 2011 / Father Joe

Priests, as men under authority, are routinely transferred. Churches and schools are opened and closed. There is always an impact on the people left behind. Even today, there are priests who place the needs of people over issues like immigration and finances. We remember this priest as one who made a positive difference in the lives of so many.

April 25, 2011 / Maria Theresa Stadtmueller

Catherine, he was expelled by a faction of the Pueblo Indians, not by the bishop. In fact, it was the bishop’s refusal to acknowledge that expulsion and to appoint a successor that caused some of the Isleta residents to sue, saying they were being denied their religious rights by not having a pastor. It was this suit that made its way to the Supreme Court, although I don’t recall if they agreed to hear the case.

Uncle Fred gave me his book of all the newspaper articles and letters regarding this case. There are also photographs—a famous one in Life Magazine, for example, of Fred with his hands tied, being evicted at gunpoint by the opposing faction of the Pueblo. They wouldn’t even let Fred return to fetch my grandfather, who was elderly and living with Fred at the time. When I returned with Fred to Isleta (around 1998, I think) it was the first time he’d been back to the (empty) rectory since his eviction.

I don’t remember Fred saying that Josephine ordered the dancing ground cemented over, and I doubt she would have done so without Fred’s approval. He told me that he was trying to increase church parking space that wouldn’t be muddy and trying to discourage tribal dancing. The latter was not in the best of judgment, but there you have it.

Forgot to include, Catherine, that August was your grandfather, too. Sorry for the omission.

March 28, 2012 / Sharon Karpinski

When I interviewed Monsignor Stadtmueller in 2004 (these interviews were taped, with the Monsignor’s permission), he discussed his removal from Isleta at some length. As one of the writers above commented, there was far more to the case than came out in print—at least according to Fred, thirty plus years later. One point I can clear up. Josephine did NOT order the paving of the dance ground. The Monsignor did it, because he objected to people “dancing” on graves, or so he said in 2004. There was a clear cultural clash going on—on several levels. As for the disputed, paved space: Isleta’s view of the dance ground, which was sacred to them was different than Monsignor Stadtmueller’s view of the graveyard, which was sacred to him.

July 6, 2013 / Matthew Baca

Growing up during the ’70′s, I attended Mass (including serving as an altar boy) and school at Holy Ghost. My brothers, cousins and I all agree that Monsignor Stadmueller was a truly remarkable priest and man and so I am not surprised by the respect, admiration, and love conveyed in the preceding posts. I am somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned Monsignor’s wonderful sense of humor that I suspect stemmed from the grace and humanity belied by his stern manner. That man was very funny, even when leveling criticism. My family and I still talk about him and miss him.

July 6, 2013 / Maria

Thank you for your wonderful remembrances of my Uncle Fred. Yes, he really was a hoot. After his longtime housekeeper, Josephine, had died, he used to joke that when saying Mass every day in his little chapel at home his most regular parishioner was his dachshund, Fritz.

July 7, 2013 / Sharon Karpinski

Maria— In his last years before he left New Mexico, the Monsignor used to love to go to lunch at the Isleta Casino a couple of miles from his house. We’d get a table at the buffet and then would end up spending two or more hours at lunch because nearly everybody in the place knew Fred and would come over to visit. I always embarrassed him taking him to the Casino (he’d stopped driving) because I drove a battered, ancient Toyota Corolla. Fred liked a handsome vehicle.


Debating the Legacy of Senator Ted Kennedy

As the American bishops have faced the crisis to religious liberty presented by the Obama Administration’s requirement for artificial contraception, sterilization and abortifacients in our health plans; it occurred to me that we were struggling with the ghost of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, no not his actual soul, but of his ideas and dissent.

Although Senator Ted Kennedy has been gone since 2009, critics wrongly still like to enumerate about his many personal scandals and general lack of discretion. Indeed, although they are all dead, the Kennedy boys are still the fodder for sensational tabloid journalism. True or not, I have no desire to enumerate upon such things. I still insist that ours has to be the posture of prayer for a man who was baptized and raised as a Catholic. God will be his judge, even as we continue to repair the damage that he did to the witness of the Church and the moral standing of our nation. Indeed, for all we know, God’s grace might have brought him to repentance and conversion at the last moments of life.

The president and many of his compatriots in the Democrat party (a fair number who are Catholics) have carried on the agenda that he pursued. NARAL had awarded the Massachusetts senator a 100% approval rating. He was the Catholic voice for the culture of death for a quarter of a century, supporting not only abortion but partial birth infanticide, the use of embryonic human beings for research, and same sex unions for homosexuals and lesbians. He also championed repression against free speech and religious liberties (at least for conservative, orthodox or biblical churches) by expanding “hate crimes” legislation to include criticism of gays.

He was also responsible for the increased politicization of the Supreme Court by his pro-abortion litmus test against the nomination of Judge Robert Bork, a strict-constructionist, in 1987. Judge Bork came into the Catholic Church a few years ago. At the time of his death, Senator Kennedy was advocating health care reform that would guarantee federal money for artificial contraception and abortions. His objective has now been met by the Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama.

While many acclaimed Senator Kennedy as a hero for women and the poor. Many pro-lifers regarded him as one of the nation’s chief enemies of motherhood and the poorest of the poor, innocent and voiceless children in the womb. When he died, he was favorably eulogized by representatives of Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered groups. They wept at the loss of one of their great defenders and proponents. Pro-life advocates observed that it was too bad that they neither wept for the murdered children nor about the decomposition of morals and marriage.

Supporters argue that Ted Kennedy was a pivotal figure in the transformation of the Democrat Party and its agenda, making possible the Obama presidency. He certainly made his impact felt upon history. He passed away from his brain cancer in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. First Joseph, then John, next Robert and then Teddy— the last of the Kennedy brothers went to God. But their convictions, both good and bad, are still with us. We applaud the emphasis upon racial justice, equality in opportunity for our citizens, the support and hope given to the poor, the protection of worker’s rights, etc. But we must lament the liberalism that now feeds a liberal secular humanism at war with the Church while seeking to redefine our nature and to strip away the rights of the unborn.

Discussion from 2009

The catalyst for this discussion was the death of Senator Edward Kennedy and his mixed legacy.  Be warned that some comments lack charity and suffer from bigotry.

GODLESS AMERICAN: Ah, more religious fanatics that demand people follow their beliefs when they can’t seem to follow their own. Cast a lot of stones, do we?

FATHER JOE: People of your sort would condemn Jesus and the apostles as fanatics, too. Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees as kin to the murderers of the prophets. It is not my fault that people pledged to promote the public good should violate their basic principles in enabling the murder of children in the womb. It is not my fault that Morality 101 should be dismissed as intolerance toward grievous sexual sin. I have always acknowledged myself as a sinner; however, that does not mean I must be silent against the wrongs committed by others. Even you judge, despite an atheistic attitude, because you condemn me. I can pray for the poor man and I can remember you to God. I cannot pretend that grievous wrongs are okay.

GODLESS AMERICAN: Father Joe, I’m atheist, there are no tenets against judging others. I freely judge whomever I choose. Those are your beliefs that you refuse to follow, not mine. Yes, I would have labeled the disciples as fanatics, and Jesus if I thought he actually existed. There is no hell, and there is no heaven. It’s sad that you’ve decided to dedicate your life to the hatred of other people, instead of spreading love and acceptance which some religious people choose to do. Your actions are no better than the Muslims that attacked America on 9/11.

FATHER JOE: Judgment about sin and judgment (i.e. condemnation) of sinners are two different things. Evidently you do not understand Christianity as much as you claim. Indeed, your dogmatism against Christ and the truths of religion is itself a kind of false religion or anti-religious faith. The most you could honestly embrace is a kind of agnosticism; in other words, that you doubt the existence of God and an afterlife. The denial of Jesus as a historical figure is pure bigotry and ignorance. You might not believe that he is God or that he performed miracles; but, there is sufficient evidence for his existence, even outside the Bible. The fact that you would compare me to the criminals who killed thousands of people on 9-11 shows the depth of your irrationality and depravity. I rarely ban people from my site, but congratulations, you pushed the right buttons. Time restraints and health concerns prevent me from trying to correct the lies and self-deception of people like you. Have a good life, and after your have gone for all the gusto of a dissolute life, look forward to being forgotten and either cremated or devoured by the worms. I suspect you will also be surprised, when you appear before the judgment seat of Christ. However, I will pray for you and if possible offer my poor intercession for your soul, which exists regardless of what you think.

BOB: Godless American, I’m afraid you are neither. Such monumental ignorance is hardly deserving of a response.

BRONX BILL: Hey Godless American, what offends you about Fr. Joe’s initial remarks? Except for the sentence, “It’s too bad they don’t weep for the murdered children…,” this entry could have appeared on Slate. He is summarizing the impact of Ted Kennedy’s work objectively and with minimal commentary. Or is it the lack of fawning praise for this “liberal lion” that has you upset? By the way, how the (he–two sticks) do you prove a universal negative statement – twice: “there is no hell” and “there is no heaven.” Or does this dogmatic proclamation come from a personal revelation you received? One would suspect that you are impressed with such emotional lectures as Senator Kennedy was known to give, untroubled by the rules of logic. When you speak of hatred of others, it’s best to start by looking in the mirror. There’s more intolerance in your words then in those of Father Joe that you are quick to condemn.

HOWARD: Father Joe, I can just say – “Amen.” Thank you for speaking the truth about this man. He was not a great American. He helped lead America down a horrible road – far away from God. God will judge America and Mr. Kennedy.

MARY: Thank you, Father Joe. I, too, hope that Senator Kennedy had the opportunity to reconcile with the Church before his death. If a public announcement is not made that he repudiated all his anti-life stances prior to a public funeral Mass, the scandal of Notre Dame will be child’s play in comparison. I am so grateful for the Catholic clergy (sadly few and far between) that stand up for the teachings of the Church… and I must now place you in the company of Archbishop Raymond Burke. My heart breaks for our Catholic young people and all everyday Catholics in the pews who are being led by the example of so many clergy to believe it is okay to ignore Church teaching on the life issues and not endanger their souls and the souls that are entrusted to them.


There are some words which are foul or mean and I will not use them. I changed this post many times and gave the benefit of a doubt to critics. Maybe I am naïve, but is the word “sodomite” now classified as a “bad” or “unacceptable” word? It was used in Scripture and that is where I first encountered it. Given what it means, how can one clean it up? The word “gay” is hardly descriptive and it destroys an otherwise perfectly good word for happiness. In any case, I have deleted the word from my post. Sorry if some view it as vulgar, but I intended it only as it has been traditionally defined in law and in reference to the Biblical testimony. There is nothing I can do about the pejorative connotation, especially since it refers to sinful acts that fall under the condemnation of God. But, if it is an unnecessary stumbling block for this particular discussion, I am not tied to the biblical term and will substitute a softer nomenclature in the post above… this time around. But, I do have my limits.

Some object to my calling abortion, “the murder of babies.” Again, I am not into the misdirecting semantics of speaking about “CHOICE” and “the selective termination of embryos or fetuses.”

Kennedy was lauded as the senator who cared the most about women. Well, I am all for saving women’s lives; however, some of those women are still in the womb. Human life is incommensurate.

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the world and it makes big bucks on abortion. They own a lot of politicians and manipulate parties. Repression of speech and persecution of the Church is the end result. If they have their way, health plans operated by the Church will have to offer coverage for artificial contraception and abortion. Catholic doctors will have to do referrals for abortion and prescribe the abortifacient pills or face the loss of their licenses to practice. Catholic hospitals will be compelled to close because of such manipulation. Adoption services, as in Boston, will shut down because same-sex couples will insist upon adopting innocent children.

Universal healthcare, as it is currently being orchestrated, will mean more tax dollars into the pockets of Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Almost everyone on Clinton’s staff had past ties to them and many in the Obama administration did legal work for Planned Parenthood. Even good organizations like the NAACP have been infected by the acceptance of abortion as a solution to their problems instead of as a form of black genocide.

Kennedy helped to create this nightmare world. May God have mercy on his soul.

SOJOURNER: “It is impossible for us to refrain from speaking of what we have seen and heard”. (Acts 4:20). It is not for us to condemn; however, we are required to speak the truth and guide those who cannot see to it. This is the direction we receive at the end of every Mass. Jesus also lost many followers for speaking the truth. He lost thousands on the day he told them, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will have no salvation.” To whom should we go? I choose my Lord and my God!

AL: Father Joe, thank you for your words. It helped me to understand and put my thoughts into an ordered manner less vehement than many who covered the Senator’s passing.


Father Joe, concerning the proposed Health Care measures, members of Congress put up a smoke screen when they claimed that abortion was not included. Explicitly it is not, it is already presumed to be a standard benefit. In order that tax payer money not go for abortion, this needs to be made explicit with an amendment. As for Planned Parenthood, Congressman Mike Pence tried to cut off funding for them but was unsuccessful.

Yes, this is part of Big Ted’s liberal legacy: helping a privileged elite profit from the sufferings of the poor and defenseless, particularly the unborn. As with Dr. Tiller, I am not sad to hear of his passing. The dream that Kennedy was so interested in keeping alive was death for millions of infants waiting to be born. Now his dreams are dead and he must face the author of life. Would that he have felt remorse and confessed in his final moments that in due course he may find eternal peace.

NICK: Father Joe, thank you for your thoughts on Ted Kennedy. I agree completely. Also, thank you for this website. Your words are always encouraging and truthful, I just wish more priests were like you. God bless you!

COWARDLY: Father Joe is what’s wrong with the Catholic Church.

FATHER JOE: I take it then that you are pro-abortion and pro-homosexual unions. Sorry, but I cannot change the law of God.

COWARDLY: You are a terrible terrible person, how dare you speak about Sen. Kennedy like that.

FATHER JOE: I did not speak about the particulars of his personal life. However, his dissent against Catholic teaching and the Gospel of Life is part of the public record. You might be proud of it. I am ashamed that a Catholic could so betray the basic principles of our faith and human dignity. Many bishops and priests would have refused him Holy Communion. Some are upset that I would still pray for him; well, that is too bad. I am pledged to pray for souls, even those who are most reprehensible. I will add you to my prayer list.

COWARDLY: Re-read that part of the Bible about loving thy neighbor. You’re not winning anybody over.

FATHER JOE: I do love my neighbor, but love of God is first. We cannot betray Christ for human approval or to appease fickle sentiment. My job is not to make you like me but to preach the truth for the salvation of souls.

COWARDLY: This is the kind of [expletive deleted] that I’d expect to see on WorldNetDaily.com, not on the blog of a Catholic priest.

FATHER JOE: Check around, I am one of the kinder “orthodox” Catholic priests writing upon this subject. Maybe you have fallen into the clutches of those rascals who are silent about abortion, artificial contraception, divorce and adultery and remarriage, homosexual disorientation, etc.? I have not cursed or used vulgar language, as you have. I have urged hope for repentance, conversion and salvation. I can pray for the man but I cannot hail as a hero one who stood for so many things which I think are repulsive to God and degrading to human dignity and the sanctity of life.

A READER: Ted Kennedy cheated on an exam in college and was expelled. He also walked away from a car accident that resulted in another person’s death and didn’t report it until the next day. Now, we are making him out to be some kind of hero? Sorry, but I disagree with those of you who criticize a priest who has the intelligence and courage to speak out and share the actual facts about Ted Kennedy.

FATHER JOE: Young men often do many stupid things. My concern is more what the mature Kennedy did politically to help refashion American society along the lines of a radical liberalism often at odds with Christian morality and natural law. Again, we should all pray for his soul.

CHRIS: By now I’m sure Teddy knows just how well that whole abortion thing worked out for him. Money and family influence only work here on earth.

RICK: My prayer is that there would be a 100,000 Fr. Joe’s in our pulpits. Then for sure we wouldn’t have had the audacity to negate God’s condemnation of contraception. In 1930 the Anglicans were the first to condone birth control, with all Protestant denominations following. This has led inexorably to all the sexual debauchery we’ve been subjected to in the last 80 years. Kennedy was one of the main “Catholics” leading this rush to change God’s laws. If the Catholic Church had enough Fr. Joe’s, Kennedy would have been long ago excommunicated along with Pelosi, Biden, Leahy, Mikulski, Kerry, Durbin and many more “Catholics” in name only. Let us rejoice in the Lord for raising up Fr. Joe and pray that many more would have the courage to stand up and defend the faith.

MARY FRANCES: Rick, I’m praying the same right along with you. Father Joe, God bless you! May you always be the shining example that you are of courageous virtue in speaking the truth. And may your brother priests be likewise. I have placed you among the group of people in my heart for whom I pray daily.

JOHN: Ted Kennedy did more than anyone else in Congress to promote and protect abortion, and he is a Catholic. I would think every Catholic Priest should point this out.

FIN-TASTIC: Judging by the popularity of his blog, it seems Father Joe is winning over a lot of people!

RD: Great words, Father Joe. Something tells me, that like me, you did not have the stomach to endure Obama’s eulogy. Who was brave (or irreverent) enough to take Communion at the funeral Mass?

JOHN: Well said Father Joe! I won’t speak ill of the dead, but…it is about [deleted] time Ted made his exit. I have prayed that the people of Massachusetts vote in a replacement who has the kind of integrity which Ted found wanting and if the new senator is a Catholic, he or she will act like it means something.

PATRICK: Fear of the word ‘sodomite” is just MORE proof those liberals can’t face truth– instead they try to change the language. I wish the news would focus on some important things now.

MARY: I cannot disagree about abortion, etc. I am strongly pro-life; however, I am extremely distressed about the “taking communion if you are pro-choice is a mortal sin” stance. How DARE WE… How dare we decide what Catholic receives communion and what Catholic does not? Are we going to ask everyone in line – “excuse me, are you pro-choice?” This stand is becoming frightening and out of hand. I have talked to my brother-in-law about this, who is a priest as well. If someone has not had an abortion then who do we think we are? We are absolutely no different than the Pharisees with this mindset. We are not Christ-like in our thoughts and actions. Why don’t we just start another crusade while we are at it? The pope makes it quite clear as well that we are to take care of each other – a seamless cloak from the cradle to the grave…as Christ would. Does no one see how UN-Christian it is to argue against paying taxes (Those ridiculous Dems are at it again!)? How unloving to our neighbors.


The Church has the authority to impose interdict and to refuse the sacraments to those who cause public scandal, teach heresy, and who are not disposed for the sacrament because of mortal sin. Usually, we ask people to make this determination for themselves and if they are not prepared, to go to Mass but to excuse themselves from Holy Communion. Priests will tell people in private and in the confessional not to receive. It is doubtful you will see many priests reproach individuals from the pulpit or altar.

Public scandal and outward dissent is a far more serious matter. While the reception of Holy Communion by such people would constitute sacrilege and mortal sin; if kept quiet, they only damn themselves. In contrast, public division with the Church and then the outrage of receiving the sacrament of unity is a serious offense and disconnect with the faith witness that should be exhibited. It can lead others to sin or make them feel that anyone can receive regardless of faith and morals. Would we readily give Holy Communion to those who supported racial cleansing as in Hitler’s Germany, Eastern Europe and parts of Africa? Would we be comfortable in giving Holy Communion to those who supported a politics of hate and segregation which resulted in lynching and other racist acts? The problem is that we do not regard the unborn and the issue of abortion as on the same level. The Holy Father has written, even back when he was known as Cardinal Ratzinger, that sometimes the sacrament must be withheld. The seamless garment argument, much misunderstood and abused, was that of the late Cardinal Bernardin.

It is a false love that would readily give the sacrament to those who are not disposed. As the Scriptures relate and St. Augustine made clear, they receive their own judgment or condemnation. Every priest as Confessor is a judge of souls. He can withhold or give absolution. He can ask people not to receive, when they are not in good standing with the Church. Canonically, the Church permits all this. You cannot strip the bishops and their priests of this authority given by Christ in his keys. It is an essential element of Catholicism.

The issue is increasingly one of jurisdiction. What do I mean? For instance, can the archbishop of Baltimore order that a politician from the Wilmington diocese, also part of Maryland, not receive Holy Communion when he enters his archdiocese?

Further, one can be guilty of the sin of abortion without ever having an abortion herself. One can also be guilty through proximate and/or remote collaboration. The person who pays for an abortion is guilty of murder. The person who drives a girl to the abortion clinic is guilty of murder. (We even had a stupid priest do this a few years ago, thinking he was helping the poor girl.) The priest was excommunicated and had his faculties stripped. He could not say Mass or hear Confessions. Indeed, collaboration with abortion can sometimes bring most of the weight of the sin upon the secondary party. An instance of this is a parent who “forces” the daughter to have an abortion. A minor may have little or no culpability in such cases. The mother and father sin grievously and are automatically excommunicated. Nurses, doctors, and other support personnel in abortions are also morally culpable. Politicians who support abortion and infanticide are remote agents but agents all the same in the holocaust against children. While the degree of remoteness with its consequences is argued, it must be said that those who vote for the enablers and supporters of abortion and infanticide also have blood on their hands.

MARY: Father Joe, I am very much aware of what constitutes mortal sin and that one can be indirectly involved without actually committing mortal sin. I am pro-life all the way. I am abhorred by abortion as well as I am of the murder of my fellow neighbor. What is frightening to me is the fact that we take abortion and (very rightfully) discuss the evils and the “blood on our hands,” but to our convenience, we disregard any other murder that perhaps the conservative ticket is not against.

FATHER JOE: I am not speaking as a FOX News “conservative” commentator but as a Catholic priest. I would not negate the need to help the poor and to struggle for social justice in many areas. However, as the late Mother Teresa told us, the issue of abortion and the unborn is most fundamental and at the heart of the Gospel of Life. The Church gives a special gravity to the rights of the unborn, not only because of natural law, but because of Christianity’s stress upon the INCARNATION. There are many issues, but they are not regarded as equal. They are interconnected and the right to life of the unborn is foundational to many other rights. Destroy a human being in the womb, and at least for that person, there are no more issues. If the most vulnerable among us are not safe, no one is safe. Pope Benedict XVI has also spoken about this. My pro-life Catholicism and beliefs as an American citizen are not subject to review, approbation or rebuttal by the state or any political party. While the matter of something like capital punishment does not have the same moral weight in conscience as abortion and infanticide, certainly I lament that Catholics are sometimes not on the same page with the Pope and bishops. However, while there are legitimate arguments about capital punishment and just war, there are no reservations about the evil of abortion. It is never right to directly intend and to actualize the destruction of “innocent” life in the womb.

MARY: If those that voted for the democratic ticket have blood on their hands, then those that voted for the conservative party should look at the blood on their hands. Murder is murder is murder. Abortion is used as a gold ticket in politics, and I believe Roe vs. Wade still exists? None of us are exempt from our votes.

FATHER JOE: We all have blood on our hands. That is the doctrine which has come down to us from the Council of Trent. All men and women in every place and throughout all human history are responsible for the passion and death of Christ on the Cross. All sin makes us party to deicide. The particular sin of murder, in whatever form, is intimately tied up with Calvary. Abortion and infanticide have a singular place because their innocence resonates with Christ who is the “innocent” Victim, the unblemished Lamb, who suffers a redemptive death against the sins of the world.

MARY: Father Joe, I am saying this with all respect for you and your vocation, but I am noticing that we are all too quick to use our political beliefs and wrap it in morality. This is very frightening to me. I believe it is wrong to speak of one party being “evil,” and the other party as “the right way to vote.”


There is right and wrong in all parties. But, parties can become corrupted. The Nazis were a political party which won elections and then sought to retain power by force. Pope Pius XI condemned it. Along with the Communist party, members of these associations were told that they could not belong both to such parties and to the Church. WIKIPEDIA states: “He vehemently protested against both Communism and National Socialism as demeaning to human dignity and a violation of basic human rights, but found no echo or support in the democracies of the West, which he labeled a Conspiracy of Silence.” The parties might change, but the silence still threatens us. Passivity to evil is to cooperate with evil.

Worse yet, what happens when so-called Catholics actually become advocates and enablers for the enemies of life? Remember evil men are rarely or never totally evil. They care for pets. They might love their children. They might have an affinity toward the needs of women. There can be a real regard for the poor. Hit-men and abortionists can still come home to their families and even go to church. But, if one should fall into mortal sin, without repentance, conversion, and amendment of life… no good work or act of charity would have any merit whatsoever. As I said before, I do not pretend to read souls or to know how God will judge particular people. I condemn no one. But, there is a Tribunal before which we will all stand. No one will escape the judgment of God. Yes, there is forgiveness in Christ, but not so abundant that it would destroy or make a farce out of divine justice.

Returning to the matter of parties, would we not condemn today much about which the Nazis and Communists advocated and sought to execute? History will judge us as well. What can we say about any party which makes the murder of children part of its platform and the litmus test for appointments? We can scapegoat neither Jews nor children. Rome used to have a vigorous Christian party which was closely associated with the Church. There is nothing wrong with that and I would applaud a recovery of lay Catholic Action groups in our own nation. I am not advocating an end to the separation of Church and state. However, there should not be civil enmity to genuine faith and the moral values which best promote human dignity, the sanctity of life, and human liberty. Good Catholics in political life should promote what they truly believe and not compromise on fundamental truths just to get re-elected.

MARY: I respect your opinions Father Joe, and I enjoy this blog, but we all need to look at ourselves and the responsibility we have for any party we voted for. Neither is exempt.

FATHER JOE: Yes, I agree.

SCOOTER: Yeah I agree with Father Joe. Ted Kennedy supported abortion and all that [deleted] and that’s not good at all. To the person under “Cowardly” that said “You are a terrible terrible person, how dare you speak about Senator Kennedy like that.” That’s so dumb. I’m guessing you worship Teddy Kennedy.

CABBAGEJUICE: Re: Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick: Capital Punishment for the rich and powerful– “If you have Capital, you don’t get Punishment.” (That is, the in world governed by Satan, NOT the Kingdom of God…)

RD: I’ve read in the New York Times article that Senator Kennedy went to this church where the funeral is being held on his own a few times, it doesn’t say at Mass, it says alone and with his wife last year when his daughter was in hospital, to reflect and pray. Ted Kennedy is quoted: “Separation of church and state cannot mean an absolute separation between moral principles and political power.” He also said: “The separation of church and state can sometimes be frustrating for women and men of religious faith. They may be tempted to misuse government in order to impose a value which they cannot persuade others to accept. But once we succumb to that temptation, we step onto a slippery slope where everyone’s freedom is at risk.” He also stated: “The real transgression occurs when religion wants government to tell citizens how to live uniquely personal parts of their lives. The failure of Prohibition proves the futility of such an attempt when a majority or even a substantial minority happens to disagree. Some questions may be inherently individual ones, or people may be sharply divided about whether they are. In such cases, like Prohibition and abortion, the proper role of religion is to appeal to the conscience of the individual, not the coercive power of the state. ” I see irreconcilability between the first statement and the other two. It is my belief that Mr. Kennedy will now learn what the word “transgression” really means.

KEN: Blessings and prayers for the courage to speak the truth, Father Joe. Christ lost followers, even some of His first disciples when he spoke the truth, without modifying it when he gave us his own Body and Blood. When asked, what must I do to be saved, did He say, “oh, try to do some good, be popular and it will be ok”? His command was pretty harsh to the guy who didn’t want to give up his earthly possessions. Until he repented, I doubt St. Augustine was a bad fellow by today’s standards– he just wanted to hang onto his sins of the flesh.


RD, I would hope and pray that Ted Kennedy made a good confession before his death, and far be it from me to speculate on what was in his heart, BUT…BUT…

If I understand the Sacrament correctly, courtesy of the habit wearing Holy Cross Sisters who taught at the parochial school I went to, God’s forgiveness is not a one way street. Kennedy had plenty of opportunity to publicly correct his legacy of abortion advocacy during his protracted illness. He didn’t (unless he was denied so by the political powers that be). His Holiness Benedict XVI comments on this in his book Jesus of Nazareth. Part of the deal is making amends to those who were hurt by one’s sins. In Kennedy’s case that would include the Democratic Party, several generations of Americans, the Holy Church, the medical profession and the Holy Innocents…the list goes on and on.

JOE: Father Joe, like sickly moths drawn to a robust fire do these atheists swarm to your blog. Not many other Catholic blogs and websites I frequent have such a high concentration, so I believe you must be doing something right. Keep up the good fight, and me and mine shall pray for your continued success. God bless.


Human Life International’s Statement on the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy

August 27, 2009

We must, as a matter of precept, pray for the salvation of heretical Catholics like Senator Edward Kennedy, but we do not have to praise him let alone extol him with the full honors of a public Catholic funeral and all the adulation that attends such an event. There was very little about Ted Kennedy’s life that deserves admiration from a spiritual or moral point of view. He was probably the worst example of a Catholic statesman that one can think of. When all is said and done, he has distorted the concept of what it means to be a Catholic in public life more than anyone else in leadership today.

Obviously we don’t know the state of Senator Edward Kennedy’s soul upon death. We don’t pretend to. We are told by the family that he had the opportunity to confess his sins before a priest, and his priest has said publicly he was “at peace” when he died. For that we are grateful. But it is one thing to confess one’s sins and for these matters to be kept, rightfully, private. It is another thing entirely for one who so consistently and publicly advocated for the destruction of unborn human beings to depart the stage without a public repudiation of these views, a public confession, as it were.

It is up to God to judge Senator Kennedy’s soul. We, as rational persons, must judge his actions, and his actions were not at all in line with one who values and carefully applies Church teaching on weighty matters. Ted Kennedy’s positions on a variety of issues have been a grave scandal for decades, and to honor this “catholic” champion of the culture of death with a Catholic funeral is unjust to those who have actually paid the price of fidelity. We now find out that President Obama will eulogize the Senator at his funeral, an indignity which, following on the heels of the Notre Dame fiasco, leaves faithful Catholics feeling sullied, desecrated and dehumanized by men who seem to look for opportunities to slap the Church in the face and do so with impunity simply because they have positions of power.

It is not enough for Kennedy to have been a “great guy behind the scenes” as we have seen him referred to even by his political opponents. It is also not praiseworthy to put a Catholic rhetorical veneer on his leftist politics that did nothing to advance true justice as the Church sees it or to advance the peace of Christ in this world. Every indication of Senator Kennedy’s career, every public appearance, every sound bite showed an acerbic, divisive and partisan political hack for whom party politics were much more infallible than Church doctrines. Whatever one’s political affiliation, if one is only “Catholic” to the extent that his faith rhymes with his party line, then his Catholicism is a fraud.

As the Scriptures remind us, there is a time for everything under the sun. This, now, is the time for honesty about our Faith and about those who are called to express it in the public forum. If we do not remind ourselves of the necessity of public confession for public sins such as Senator Kennedy was guilty of, then we are negligent in our embrace of the Faith and we are part of the problem. As Pope Benedict has reminded us recently, charity without truth can easily become mere sentimentality, and we must not fall into that error. A Catholic show of charity for the family must not eclipse the truth that is required of all with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Senator Kennedy needs to be sent to the afterlife with a private, family-only funeral and the prayers of the Church for the salvation of his immortal soul. He will not be missed by the unborn who he betrayed time and time again, nor by the rest of us who are laboring to undo the scandalous example of Catholicism that he gave to three generations of Americans.

ENZO: Reverend Father, THANK YOU for speaking the truth on our auto-excommunicated Senator. I appreciate that you have been very Roman about your critique — not impugning his personal life, but being clear about his public record. Nothing could be more FAIR, JUST, and Righteous! If only his Bishop had the testicular fortitude to say the same things! Instead, the Diocesan Paper out in Boston, essentially praises him, and tries to minimize the fact that Kennedy actively worked for the destruction of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, directly, and mostly, indirectly. Intellectually, I join you in your prayers for the rest of his soul. Physically, it’s very hard for me (and many others, I think) to distinguish where our personal concern for him as a brother in Christ ends, and where the hurt for his apostasy, and bitterness for all the evil he wrought, begins… Perhaps you can pray for us too. Christus Vincit!

RD: Personal eulogies at Mass? Father Joe, I’ve never seen that before. Comments? The video feed wouldn’t show the Holy Communion line. Not surprised, and I do recognize that as private, although I must say I am disappointed.

FATHER JOE: Eulogies often come at the end of a funeral Mass before the prayers of final commendation. My main concern was that the prayer of the faithful or general intercessions not be politicized.

DAVID: I am sure that by now, Ted Kennedy has seen all the aborted children that he helped to an early grave. How sad. Mr. Kennedy, you have moved on to your reward. I do not want any part of your reward. You are surely [deleted], and if not it would only be for the grace of God. Wake up!


Edward Kennedy’s Final Letter to Pope

At Arlington Cemetery, Cardinal McCarrick read portions of Kennedy’s letter to the Pope:

“I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines.”

“I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago and although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life.”

“The gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provides solace to me in the darkest hours.”

“I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path.”

He stressed his belief “in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field,” and said that he would “continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.”

“I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith.”

“I continue to pray for God’s blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me.”

The Pope prayed that the senator would be “sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father.”

JOHN: The letter Cardinal McCarrick refers to appears to be only more smoke and mirrors from someone (perhaps with a red hat?) wishing to carry on the Kennedy legacy of confusion among Catholics: http://www.ewtn.com/news/blog.asp?blog_ID=2

FATHER JOE: Cardinal McCarrick was my Ordinary and I pray for him daily. He was often very kind and gracious to me, despite possible differences of opinion. I am still intensely bothered in conscience as to whether I always gave him the proper respect and obedience. He walked a very precarious tight-rope, as does any archbishop of the nation’s capitol. Despite the conflict about pro-abortion politicians and holy communion, he spoke about the right to life frequently and did much in the cause for life: Pregnancy Centers, Gabriel Project, Project Rachel, the Right to Life Office of the Archdiocese, Pro-Life Month, Respect Life in the African-American Community Month, the Right to Life March and the Youth Rally, etc. He felt that if we reacted too strongly we would drive certain politicians further away from the Church and forfeit their support in other crucial areas. He hoped that we might win them back gradually through dialogue and compassion for their struggles in conscience. I have no doubt that he is solidly pro-life in his convictions. But he is a gentle man; he would heal where my impulse is to clobber. We would probably all do better to borrow pages from his book. By contrast, I am much more brash in my arguments and unsympathetic toward those who dissent. I believe that the pro-abortion position is not only a moral evil but a heresy against the Incarnation itself. I would have asked them to attend Mass but not to receive communion until a public recantation and private confession. But, I am only a lowly priest. That is undoubtedly for the best. Maybe he asked them something similar, but they did not listen to him and he opted to keep the business to himself? In any case, priests should love their bishops and I will not speak ill of him. He is a good man, far better than I am, and I still count him my spiritual father.

RD: What a perfect response/prayer by the Holy Father. The Pope prayed that the senator would be “sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father.”


Yes, you are right about that much; you are an angry man who shows no compassion and gentleness to others.

Senator Kennedy did more for the working man and woman, as well as for the poor and minorities, than many presidents. He made a positive difference in our lives that neither you nor other hate-mongers in the church could ever match.

He cared about women who died in back-alley abortions and swore that this would never happen again.

He cared about gays and lesbians who were treated as criminals for just loving each other.

He cared about minorities when so many whites still regarded them as second-class citizens and turned a blind eye toward segregation and prejudice.

He cared about the poor, something a millionaire did not have to do, but which his sense of justice demanded of him.

He cared about the immigrants and their needs for education and just treatment, remembering the roots of his own Irish forebears who suffered bigotry and hardship but accomplished much.

Shame on you! You malign the dead and a good man, a hero for the ages!

You are nothing by comparison; maybe that is the point? Your own ego seeks to make yourself more by tearing down a real man of faith and compassion.

Those who praise you are no better. The whole lot of you is hard-headed and insensitive to the REAL needs of people.

BOB: Flagman, Fr. Joe hasn’t an ounce of “hate” in him, except for sin; but that’s for the behavior, not the sinner. It is tragic that women died from “back-alley” abortions, but you don’t condone something that’s morally wrong – like the murder of an innocent unborn – because one of the victims died. That’s as ridiculous and outrageous and wrong as a court awarding a burglar damages for injuries he sustained while robbing someone’s home. Except for some archaic and not enforced laws still on the books in some states, gays and lesbians haven’t been treated as “criminals” for a long time, and Fr. Joe has always viewed those with a homosexual orientation with nothing but compassion; however, a psychological or physiological disorder of epidemic proportions is nonetheless a disorder. Yes, Ted Kennedy did a lot of good. He also disqualified himself as a Catholic by his voting record on Life issues. The right to LIFE is the most basic and the foundation of all other human rights, and if that is denied, the rest of the entire edifice is most assuredly a “house built on sand.”

JOHN: My sincere apology to you, Father Joe, for bringing up Mr. Arroyo’s post about His Holiness’ letter. I am sure the Cardinal is a kind man as are most of the priests I have had the pleasure to know personally.

FATHER JOE: No offense taken, John.

RD: Flagman, if a woman is going to have a back-alley abortion, I say she only injures herself, deservedly. This country was fine with abortions illegal for 197 years. As far as Ted Kennedy helping the working people, he never knew an honest day’s work in his entire life. He never had to worry about the demands this country has placed on working families and individuals in a personal way. Why do so many working people oppose his actions? Do not confuse being generous with taxpayer dollars as generosity. The Catholic Church does more for the poor and persecuted in this world than all the Democrats ever will. And, they do it through donations to Catholic charities, not forcibly stealing from hard-working Americans.

DAN: Flagman, your post sounded angry and without compassion…. I think that you might miss the point which is that Senator Kennedy was a Catholic who did NOT use his influence to promote Catholic values. Did he have his reasons? I am sure that he did, including wanting to remain in a powerful and influential position. This is a CATHOLIC blog – so why the surprise that it tends to judge things through a Catholic frame of reference?

PAT: I believe The Lord Jesus and the Holy Father are not in need of “judges,” juries, or pointing fingers. Speaking the truth must be with charity, not with a club, and certainly not focusing on an individual, by name, and proceeding to enumerate all his sins. Gee………

FATHER JOE: Christ established a Church and gave Peter the keys to the kingdom. Every priest is a judge and confessor of souls. We keep to ourselves that which comes through the sacrament of reconciliation. We are prudent about our parishioners and the counsel we give. However, neither the Church nor her priests should be afraid to respond to evil and dissent in the public forum. I make no judgment upon anyone’s soul. I would not even presume that Stalin or Hitler is in Hell, despite the fact that their “politics” resulted in the murder of millions. For all we know there was mental illness and/or diabolic possession. Many regard it highly likely that they share the lot of the damned, but I would never claim to know for sure. I have not spoken about anyone’s personal life. Kennedy supported same-sex unions, abortion, and partial birth infanticide. He made no secret about it and we should not be dismissive about his record now that he is dead. Indeed, many are celebrating his record and want abortion coverage in the new health care initiatives as a tribute to him. Abortion and infanticide are known by another word, MURDER. You might claim to be pro-life, but you would silence our efforts against the enablers and promoters of such perversity. That is wrong.

PAT: I wonder what Father would have said if he had encountered Paul on the road to Damascus? Read him the “riot act”?


Speaking to the Pharisee Saul (Paul) who approved of the stoning of Stephen, I would have quoted Christ:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.”

“Woe to you, blind guides!”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity.”

“Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?”

“Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Amen, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned, desolate.”

Of course, our Lord struck him blind, charged him with his participation in murder, and sent him to a member of the Church for healing and the full truth.

PAT: We are called to be witnesses of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, to the saints AND the sinners, speaking out the truth, not with sarcasm and “vinegar”, but as Christ would have us do. The sinner has a choice, and the judgment is none of our business.

FATHER JOE: Our Lord was not wimpish and neither should his Church and ministers be so against evil, both from outside and within the Church. The Church preaches the Gospel both in and out of season. The Church imposes sanctions against those who commit evil. Abortion brings excommunication. Heresy can bring censure and interdiction. The Code of Canon Law itself makes provisions against groups and individuals that probably you would not allow. I have never said that the late Senator should be denied a funeral Mass and prayers. I did object to that Mass being televised. Objecting to scandal, false witness and collaboration with abortion is very much the business of a priest, indeed, of any true Christian.

EWTN: EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo:

The prayer intercessions at the funeral mass, the endless eulogies, the image of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston reading prayers, and finally Cardinal McCarrick interring the remains sent an uncontested message: One may defy Church teaching, publicly lead others astray, deprive innocent lives of their rights, and still be seen a good Catholic, even an exemplary one.

ALL: American Life League President Judie Brown:

The entire travesty, from the television cameras to spectacle itself, goes beyond anything I have witnessed in my more than 65 years of life. In fact, while we all thought the appearance of President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame was a scandal, the very idea that he offered a eulogy in a basilica, while the real presence of Christ was in the tabernacle, is perhaps the most dastardly thing I have ever seen.

CARDINAL O’MALLEY: Cardinal Sean O’Malley:

Senator Kennedy was often a champion for the poor, the less fortunate and those seeking a better life. Across Massachusetts and the nation, his legacy will be carried on through the lives of those he served.

CATHOLICS UNITED: Senator Kennedy’s legendary advocacy for justice and the common good – on issues such as health care, immigration, community service, and poverty – spanned more than four decades and touched millions.

CATHOLICS BETRAYED: Catholics United is a pro-abortion front-group for Obama. They support current healthcare efforts which include artificial contraception and abortion. They have publicly attacked Donohue from the Catholic League and Brown from the American Life League. They talk about a preposterous “abortion neutral” stance which is really just more passivity to the murder of millions. They distribute voter guides which equate matters as having the same gravity like clean water with infanticide. Their purpose is clear, to minimize the crucial moral evils against human life and marriage under a large list of issues that better fit their liberal agenda. Back in October, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput accused Catholics in Alliance and Catholics United as doing a “disservice” to the Catholic Church. If you read A NATION FOR ALL by the founders of Catholic United, you will see just how progressive and non-Catholic both Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley actually are. Since they delivered the Catholic vote, Alexia Kelly was rewarded by Obama by being made the Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the HHS. Bill Donohue, Catholic League president, claims pro-abortion multibillionaire George Soros funds Catholic United (a dissenting so-called Catholic organization) in order to confuse Catholics about abortion and funnel votes for pro-abortion Democrats and Obama. Donohue writes: “Catholics in Alliance [for the Common Good] willfully misrepresents Church teachings on abortion, and George Soros funds them through the Open Society Institute. Is it illegal? No. Is it immoral? Yes!”

ANNIE: Once God has His hand on a man, we should take ours off. Shout out about the issues, but let the dead bury the dead.


Both the living and the dead are always in God’s hands.

Where does the man end and the issues begin?

We might leave this world for eternity, but the effects (good and bad) continue to be felt.

Dissenters in faith and morals can cause immeasurable harm both in life and death. Those who pay tribute to Kennedy are also seeking to use him and his legacy to inspire and to promote abortion and perversity. Only God knows his heart and mind. Only God is his judge. I am sure that he, along with all the dead, knows the truth. The unborn are human persons. Unfortunately, what he knows now is not something that his earthly disciples believe or promote. Given the presumption that he was a good man, I suspect this causes him great remorse. I suppose such is what many will experience in purgatory.

JOHN: Cardinal O’Malley, Kennedy’s legacy will be carried on through the lives of those he served as you’ve said, but what sort of legacy has he left us? A controlling political party which has made abortion a cornerstone in its platform and made it a “right?” A so-called “health care reform” so ambiguous that it terrifies the elderly and working classes alike? His campaigning for President Obama, whose dealings with the Catholic Church have been one continuous string of insults (anti-Catholic political appointments, as well as the mockery at Notre Dame) His leadership by example which inspired a generation of Americans that power equals immunity from criminal prosecution. Some people have been helped by Kennedy’s legislation but I feel his agenda was never to help, only to build a power base which in gratitude tolerates hostility to the Church. Respectfully, I beg to disagree.

ANNIE: Father, cConsider that you are preaching to the choir. You have a forum for teaching us how to protect the unborn with positive actions. What do bringing dead flowers to Kennedy’s grave accomplish? I’m genuinely upset by this kind of rhetoric.

FATHER JOE: Not everyone who comes here is the choir, and some of the choir members may even be singing off key if not the wrong tune. I take it that you also disagree with Human Life International and the American Life League? I am not alone in my reservations. This was a teaching moment and the Church allowed a contradictory message to be taught. In any case, I said we should pray for the poor man. I suspect some are upset because I refuse to praise him.

NICK: Cardinal O’Malley, iIs that ALL you have to say? My response to your comment will be just as brief: Would you like some bread to go along with that baloney? All due respect – Your Eminence.


Except for affection for certain prayers and piety, was Kennedy really a Catholic? Kennedy had no reservations about abortion and contraception. The funeral Mass should have used his votes for the litany of petitions:

Voted NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP

Voted NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion

Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines

Voted NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions

Voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives

Voted NO on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime

Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life

Voted NO on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions

Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions

Voted NO on banning human cloning

Voted to ensure access to and funding for contraception

JOHN: Blabber Mouth, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Some very important clergy (the ones at the funeral, for starters) don’t (or refuse) to see Kennedy’s hand in the causality of genocidal sin which cries to heaven for justice. Why this is, I can only guess, but that I fear would be a waste of time and only open me to attacks of “passing judgment.” I will say that whatever or whomever has their “hooks” in these men, be they spiritual or corporeal, has them sunk in deep. We all have our failings. The more famous get to have their failings made more public. Sadly, these priests were caught doing the unthinkable on national television, furthering the scandals from which the Church in the US suffers. They need our prayers.

MINDY: Honestly, the whole Ted Kennedy Funeral Parade with the full participation of members of the clergy, some of whom at very high levels, made me question a lot of things. We don’t know if the senator made a confession and was remorseful for his wrong doings during his personal life and very public career. The choices he made in the public arena did great harm to women, and while I can give praise for his aide in the civil rights movement- I can’t forget he discarded the weakest among us. I guess I do not understand what a proper confession and atonement should be. Words of praise from monsignors, cardinals, archbishops and a letter from the Holy Father made no sense to me. If he were to be truly sorry for his sins against the right to life, why would not a man in his position be asked to say something to that fact? His words WERE read from the grave, but, to the best of my recollection, they said nothing about the sanctity of the life of an unborn child. I didn’t understand the Clergy’s support of him and the high praise for his family, so many whom support abortion.

PAT: There is no argument here, amongst Catholic Christians regarding abortion and homosexuality etc and the teachings of the Church.

FATHER JOE: I disagree; I think there is an argument. Abortion is the murder of human beings. You would have me praise those who support such actions. Because I refuse to do this, you condemn me.

PAT: What there is here is disagreement on Father’s tone toward those who sin and violate the teachings of Christ and the Church.

FATHER JOE: My tone toward sin is the same as that announced by John the Baptist, Christ and later his apostles: REPENT AND BELIEVE! Forgiveness is possible, but we also need contrition and a firm purpose of amendment.

PAT: …except, Father, and friends…that happens to be each and every one of us, not one of us is deserving of the love and mercy of God. “All have sinned….” And let’s not get into the mortal and venial sermon…as if you can size up your transgressions as small, medium and large.

FATHER JOE: The distinctions between mortal and venial sin are straight out of the Catholic catechism. They are not matters easily dismissed. Abortion and homosexual acts constitute grave matter. If a person knows such acts are wrong and gives full consent, or enables and/or leads others into such sins, he or she sins mortally. Mortal sin destroys the life of the soul.

PAT: …although Father I am sure you will quote something for me on that… that is not the point… and the reply you wrote about what you would say to Saul on that road, although you quoted Jesus’ words to the Pharisees, was Not what words Saul heard.

FATHER JOE: I am not Jesus; you asked what I would say? Saul was a Pharisee. He admits later on that he was guilty of innocent blood. He repents and is changed. But without repentance, can there be any real transformation?

PAT: Saul heard, “Why do you persecute me?”

FATHER JOE: And I suspect that many pro-abortion politicians will hear these words from Jesus. But remember, Saul was still alive and could change. Had he heard these words after death, they would have constituted a definitive judgment. Why did you persecute me in the womb? Why did you seek out my life again and again? Why was it you could love others, but not me as the embryo, the fetus, and the infant ready to be born?

PAT: You are not a reader of hearts, or souls, but the Lord is, and knows our deepest motivations.

FATHER JOE: I am a confessor of souls with the same power that Christ had to forgive or to retain sins. Jesus gave this power to his priests. Even the late senator purportedly received the Last Rites from a priest. About this and his funeral Mass I fully concur. He had a right to the sacraments at the end of his life. He was entitled to a funeral Mass, although the public display sent mixed messages. I make no claim of knowledge about his place in the hereafter. Indeed, I suggest we pray for him. But that is not enough for you and some others. Your bitterness and hatred toward me is very evident. But you also attack the Catholic priesthood.

PAT: I also disagree that you say a priest is a “judge” and confessor. A priest is no judge; withholding absolution, does not a Judge make.


You would reject here another doctrine of the Church. The priest as confessor is judge, spiritual physician, father and teacher. He judges whether one might be given absolution and restored to the sacraments and good standing of the Church. He has the power to lift the censure of excommunication from those who have involved themselves with abortion. He makes a determination as to a person’s disposition. If it is clearly a bad confession, he urges the person to make further reflection and to return when he or she is serious about seeking God’s mercy. He gives penance and can also require reparation and restitution.

I have deleted the last part of Pat’s comment because such a “personal” attack against a priest by a believer is itself a sin. I would not parade your disgrace further upon this matter.

I will add you to my prayers and hope that you will one day wake up to the full import of the Gospel of Life and the important mission of priests to preach the truth both in and out of season… even to our own.

PAUL: Father Joe: I thought your comments on Senator Kennedy were entirely appropriate. There is a fine line between being righteous and self-righteous. We are not judge and jury. Just like the older brother in the “Prodigal” story, we must not give in to our feeling about a particular person. God will judge the Senator by his own standards not Man’s.

Concerns About the e5 Movement


fullofhimself.jpgBefore I begin, I have to acknowledge that the tragedy of the Macfarlane breakup and Habisohn’s involvement (he is the founder of e5) has colored my remarks about the e5 movement. I am a hardliner against divorce and have an immediate knee-jerk reaction to anyone or anything that seems to compromise the indissolubility of marriage.

Here is an email that has become part of the record (which elicited a response from Cardinal George and his theological advisor, Rev. Lodge):

I have a friend whose husband regularly corresponds with Habisohn and has signed up for his e5 group. My friend is having serious marital problems and in a personal message from Habisohn to my friend, he wrote, “Stop with the selfish pursuits of your own desires. Your desires might just be the worst thing for you. And ultimately its his [your husband’s] duty under God to discern such things. He has to answer to God for you.” (7/3/03)

The “e5” fasting program is taken from Ephesians 5: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.” Here is how this regimen from Steve Habisohn is explained by Bud MacFarlane, Jr.: “Jesus gave up his body for his bride, the Church, and we give up our bodies for our brides through fasting. It’s a perfectly chivalrous act, and it will make the woman in your life feel like a princess.”

It is not clear how such a penance “directly” builds up or supports a marriage. While certainly there are benefits to fasting as part of our mortification and penance as Catholics, many of us are left scratching our heads as to how it can cause a drastic transformation or how it signifies “a man taking on suffering to help a woman.” The middle term in all of this seems to be missing. The sacrifices to which the Letter to the Ephesians alludes come with ordinary fidelity and human mortality– these are connected with the cross of Jesus. The husband is told that he should be as willing to lay down his life for his wife as Christ did for his Church. However, this does NOT deny reciprocity on the wife’s behalf. St. Paul’s understanding of the wife’s subjection or submission is a reminder that she must also be willing to sacrifice everything for her beloved. The teaching about the husband’s headship does not deny the wife’s complementary sacrifices for her husband. It is an important point where I find the purported e5 perspective to be somewhat shallow and one-sided. In any case, if we are only talking about once-a-month fasting, then it seems to be a harmless business; but, is it more than this?

Macfarlane cites a series of themes in the e5 movement:

NO TALK – He contrasts this step with being a man of action.

I would submit that men should both talk and act. Action can be misconstrued without clear communication, first. Men err in removing themselves from their wives and in trying to solve their problems unilaterally. This almost never works. While we certainly need quiet time for prayer, do not underestimate constructive talking (dialogue) with the spouse. Many times marriages fail because of poor communication skills.

We should avoid the “passive-aggressive” route in dealing with our shared problems. An example of this is when one spouse is silent because of rage or disappointment. One can also “punish” the spouse in indirect ways. Imagine a response like this: “Having a wife like you forces me to do extra penance and fasting just to stay with you!” Dialogue that does not tear down the other, sometimes orchestrated by a third party counselor, can be quite helpful in opening the lines of communication for healing and growth. It is okay to be a man of action, but the action must be appropriate. The man of action is also one who communicates clearly and appropriately– with the beloved and with God.

I am a big fan of married couples praying together, offering up petitions of love and caring for one another. Why not?

When I went to the e5 Website, I read this:

“Do I tell my wife? There are two answers No and Yes. It really depends on your situation. By telling one’s wife one might risk spiritual pride or she may even discourage you. However, in other situations by telling one’s wife you are allowing her to participate in the e5 Women part of e5 Men. She can actively pray to receive God’s graces merited for her. Often wives are greatly encouraged and gain new hope by knowing that their husband is laying down his body for her. I’m sure there are infinite reasons for both approaches depending on the situation. These are just examples to help you start thinking of the specifics of your situation. It’s ultimately your call.”

Isn’t this a bit crazy? What about the family supper table, the meal that in a Christian home is a “figure” pointing to the Eucharist? What about the wife’s concern over the details of that meal and her concern for her family?

CALLING ALL MEN – I would acknowledge that most of us have hurt the women in our lives but is the e5 strategy really a comprehensive curative? As I said before, fasting as part of our prayer life is fine, but it is not in itself sufficient to heal marital problems and there is no direct or immediate tie-in with Ephesians 5.

threedandies.jpgBANDS OF BROTHERS – Maybe I am misconstruing this movement, but as I read Macfarlane’s article I am increasingly anxious with the rationalization that fuels it. Is it merely an all boys’ club of men fasting for their wives, future wives, and girlfriends? Fasting may sometimes be the easy road out and not a true scaling of the cross at all. You can fast all you want and still let your women down.

TENS OF THOUSANDS – Macfarlane becomes a virtual cheerleader for the e5 Men. He writes, “Imagine the power of having such a vast army suffering for your bride.” It may be an exageration on my part, but he speaks as if a marriage can be saved by supernatural intervention alone.

Marriages are saved neither by committee nor by warfare. They are saved by love, mutual respect, and genuine interpersonal sacrifice. Suffering means loving your spouse even when he or she does not seem all that lovable. It means working long hard hours to keep a roof over your heads, clothes on your bodies, and food in the stomachs of your children. For the husband, his joy is his wife’s happiness and the wellbeing of his children. You do not need an army of men suffering and fasting for your wife. You need one man, husband and father, to sit at the table with her for dinner and thank the good Lord for all that he has done for you.

FORTRESS OF FLESH – Fasting can mean a degree of suffering, but so can dieting. What changes their meaning is the intention.

The devil hates true mortification and prayer. We sacrifice in the flesh to live more in the spirit. But, it is not magic. Further, the devil can take advantage of this mentality and reverse matters if we are not careful—urging us to hate our flesh or to substitute fasting for other obligations in our faith and family life.

Macfarlane writes: “When you fast, you and Christ form a fortress that protects the woman you love.” It is a sweet sentiment, but theologically how does it work? I still do not see it. How does it protect her? If anything, the way this e5 business is explained in the article, it seems to cut her out of the equation.

SUPERNATURAL FIREPOWER – Yes, adopting the military analogy in vogue here, we do need spiritual ammo. As Catholics this armory is replenished by God from many sources: fruitful prayer, the depository of grace merited by the saints, the sacramental life, and ultimately the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. We are alerted to the dangers posed by the devil, the flesh and the world. As with his books, Macfarlane sees things in sweeping apocalyptic terms. This is okay as one element, however, the personal battles we face are rooted in the practical here-and-now.

We must be careful not to focus our attention so deeply into the metaphysical and eternal that we lose sight of the physical and temporal. Practically speaking, too often, lacking what one needs in him- or herself, we look elsewhere.

Yes, we trust in God’s protection and we cooperate with it. But look at what he says in his article:

“Our Lord did not merely suggest that some demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. Guys, listen up. As a man you will find it extremely satisfying to pull back that bolt, calmly load a Wednesday of bread and water into the chamber, then start pumping round after round into the soft white underbelly of the Dragon of Death. This is war, and you and I were made for war. It never gets easy, but that soft thud you are going to hear is the sweet sound of the dragon, which has been hurting your wife, hitting the ground.”

Cough…swallow…say, what? He concludes by saying that this dragon might be either your anger or the devil; however, until he makes this qualification, one might wonder if he is talking about his wife?

I have done a lot of counseling over the years and can attest that not all dragons are demonic, many of them are human, male and female. Admittedly, I am perplexed how Macfarlane’s own public actions toward his wife and family can be reconciled with what he says here. But enough has been said about that, if not too much.

As a seminarian, my friends and I used to fast on Monday nights. However, we never saw it in such violent and militant terms. We called our efforts a FASTING FOR PEACE. We remembered all those who were suffering injustice and we prayed for the right to life of the unborn. We fasted for holiness, praying that God might wean us away from his gifts so that we might better focus upon the giver.

Macfarlane sees everything in Apocalyptic terms—even his marriage—and the enemy are “the forces of evil”. Many Catholics, including dear friends, were caught up in this but assuredly relieved when the “three days of darkness” hailed for the millennium failed to materialize, a peculiar fascination that reminded me of the faulty timetable espoused by the Jehovah Witness cult.

Imagery and symbolic language has great value but can sometimes be used for avoidance and misdirection. Many disappointed fans, for instance, are quick to suggest that Macfarlane is under demonic oppression and may need exorcism. His own personal family tragedy seems utterly unbelievable to them. While we can never totally discount the work of Satan, I find that concupiscence and selfishness are the essential culprits in our lives. I can offer no real explanation to soothe their concern for a man so admired and for whom we all care about. What we can do is pray, that at least, is one intrusion that our Lord does allow us into the personal lives of others.

Conversely, I shudder to think that being critical of e5 might get me charged with demonic entanglement. Other than the struggle with my own venial sins, I can assure the reader that I am not involved with the conspiracy of cosmic powers and evil men who seek to keep men of faith “impotent”.

Forget the dragon for a moment. Forget the loaded gun. Marriages are not principally about powers and principalities, they are about dirty diapers, crying babies, doctors’ bills, making beds, fixing the car, going to church as a family, sleeping as husband and wife naked together under the covers, and so much more. There, I have said it.

missterese.jpgSPECIAL FORCES – Other than the first Wednesday of the month, he argues that men can fast for other women on subsequent Wednesdays.

The connection to Scripture is still sketchy and the benefits inconclusive. I am surprised that this article remains on his site given his own witness. Again, notice the military view– fasting men are compared to military special forces, as if a SWAT team is the answer to marriage problems.

It might sound silly, but some wives might just prefer to have their husband at the family dinner table. I have found that wives and mothers are acutely concerned about the bodies of their charges, the husband and children. A wife might readily become concerned, if her husband’s fasting practices expanded and he risked his health. It seems to me that the e5 regimen is something about which a husband and wife must agree and should not be adopted by men unilaterally. Would not a weekly family fast be better, even if not as severe as that proposed by e5?

RECEIVING THE BODY – Notice once more how the spouse is discussed as someone who up to now has been excluded from this regimen of fasting and supposedly prayer, although the article does not mention it so far. He writes: “Your wife will soon discover that a major change is taking place and will want to know how she can be a part of e5 Men.”

This is very presumptuous to say the least. He says that their contribution is profound and complimentary, but what is it? He writes: “Many e5 Women therefore attend Mass on the first Wednesday to mystically receive the sacrifice of our body [e5 Men] by receiving Christ in the Eucharist.”

As a priest, I offer the Mass every day and yet this is an odd twist I have never encountered before. I would suggest that men and women alike would do better to more frequently attend Mass and receive Holy Communion. Both can fast when they would like and do so for each other, while safeguarding their health. The strange business here is that Macfarlane says that the women are receiving the body of these e5 fasting men when they receive our Lord in Holy Communion. I would not say that. They receive Jesus, body, soul, humanity and divinity. The sacramental presence is real. Any kind of “mystical” reception of others, even the husband, clouds the issue and does not have Church sanction as Catholic teaching. The closest thing to it is from St. Augustine when he says that in holy communion we receive our own mystery. But, he is talking about our membership in the the mystical body of Christ.

The sacrifice of the flesh in marriage is in the toil that family life entails. Ideally, any spiritual donation of the body should come along with the physical union of the spouses. Sexual union of husband and wife signifies the true self-donation. They are saying to each other, “I belong to you. I am yours. These arms and hands, these legs and feet, these locks of hair, these eyes that adore you, these lips that hunger to kiss you– everything that I am– is yours.” Our Lord identifies himself with the beloved so that the love of husband and wife finds true sacramental expression. It is raised to the level of prayer.

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES – MacFarlane says something that critics might judge as sexist, but such is a charge that has been leveled at me, too: “The truth is women are the most beautiful creatures in God’s universe. We men know it. Women need our strength and protection.”

This is all fine and dandy, but would not a mother of a son say that her baby boy is the most beautiful creature in the universe? Assuredly so and thus it is best to avoid this kind of general license. Scholastic philosophers judged males as better reflecting an ideal humanity. Such claims do not fare well when examined objectively. They depend upon subjective aesthetics and changeable worldviews. Further, I have known some strong women who defended their husbands and nurtured and protected their children against great odds. Women may be even more capable and thus beautiful beyond the measure of skin and figure, than readily appreciated.


Yes, it is true that men and women are not the same, and as much as society tries to lie about it, everything from clothing to books to perfume to movies to home-decorating makes it preeminently true that we are not. However, there is a common humanity and God-given dignity. We know equality in grace and are all called to holiness. Yes, the Scriptures speak of the man as the head of the home, but as Dr. Scott Hahn reminds us, the wife and mother is its heart.

YOU ARE A KING – Macfarlane writes: “The fact is, through baptism you were adopted into a royal family.” This is true, but not just men, but women, too.

We are anointed, “priest, prophet and king.” All of us are called to offer sacrifice, to witness and proclaim the truth, and to recognize the sanctity of life and our dignity as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, brothers and sisters to Christ the King.

A man may be appointed lord of his home, but his wife is the Queen. All families should be modeled upon the Holy Family. Husbands should show the same respect and offer the same support that Joseph gave Mary. Joseph was going to divorce Mary quietly until the meaning of the child of promise was explained to him by an angel in a dream. Mary and Joseph raised their Son in their home, together.

The Macfarlane divorce is a teaching moment. But it is important that we take from this public tragedy the right message.

  • Can you imagine Joseph trying to take Jesus away from Mary?
  • Would he forbid Mary to witness to her Son the lessons she knew as a daughter of Israel?
  • Would he abandon her and then strip her of dignity with a divorce that faulted her for “extreme cruelty” and “gross neglect of duty”?

Definitely not, and neither are these grounds for an annulment.

Couples who marry in the Church make a promise before God to remain faithful, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, until death do they part.

  • A real EPHESIANS 5 MAN does not follow a cult interpretation of inspired Scripture.
  • A real EPHESIANS 5 MAN knows that life is sometimes messy and that true love can bring joy and take us to the cross.
  • A real EPHESIANS 5 MAN lets his wife know every minute of every day that she belongs to him and he belongs to her.
  • A real EPHESIANS 5 MAN does not simply fight “for” his wife but “WITH” HIS WIFE—to make their marriage last and to help their children grow healthy, holy and wise.
  • A real EPHESIANS 5 MAN does not commit physical or verbal adultery with women or spiritual adultery with a ban of brothers.
  • A real EPHESIANS 5 Man does not seek to divorce his wife and the mother of his children– particularly against her will.

Men do not need an army of Kings, as the e5 men call themselves. Rather, they need to know that they share their crowns with their wives, one as king and the other as queen. There may be many thorns in those crowns, but if a marriage is real, none may take them off while there is still life. Even the crown of thorns worn by Jesus was not removed until he had breathed his last. And yet, the kingdom of Jesus is everlasting. We find some glimpse of it in every Christian home because the family is the little Church.

Macfarlane speaks of “men crucified with Christ for the women we love.” But men and women can also play the wrong part in the Greatest Story Ever Told.

Jesus was betrayed with a kiss and abandoned by those he loved. How many marriages have a spouse abandoned, even after public acclamations of affection?

Our Lord was cursed and called all sorts of names. Are not cruel and defaming charges part of the ordeal when marriages fail?

Jesus is stripped of his clothes and is virtually naked upon the cross. How many spouses have been reduced to poverty by divorce and large settlements?

Has not even Bai Macfarlane, for whatever reason, suffered the loss of her children? It is because of her situation that there is a tentative appraisal of e5 from the Church, albeit the Archdiocese of Chicago. Here are those documents as well as a few remarks from a brief interview.

Archdiocese of Chicago / Office of the Archbishop (Selection)

January 16, 2004

“Anyone can post information on the Internet – without any license or check for accuracy. This applies to interpretations of Scripture and to information about Church teaching as much as it applies to products that are advertised for sale. I am glad that you are asking about Mr. Habisohn’s ideas, since the fact that they are being communicated over the Internet give’s them no special credibility. Your letter was referred to me by Mrs. Else Radtke of our Family Ministries office, who has also spoken with the wife of the friend to whom you refer in this letter. I am very sorry to hear that a Catholic who claims to follow Mr. Habisohn’s way of living is now in the process of seeking a divorce from his spouse. I believe that the Holy Father’s commentary on Ephesians 5 makes it very clear that St. Paul’s intention was to draw husbands and wives closer to one another and to Christ in his Church, not to drive them apart. In this case, the harm done to spouse and children by divorce is far greater than any damage that could be done by a disagreement over a passage of Sacred Scripture.”

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago

REV. JOHN G. LODGE Responds at Cardinal George’s Request

Should a wife orient her will to her husband’s will?

Most exegetes of Ephesians 5 — including Pope John Paul II — would not speak of an orientation of wills that was one way. The Pope is careful to discern the difference between the Church’s relationship to Christ and the wife’s relationship to her husband (Mulleris Dignitatem, 24):

This is especially true because the husband is called the “head” of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church; he is so in order to give “himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), and giving himself up for her means giving up even his own life. However, whereas in the relationship between Christ and the Church the subjection is only on the part of the Church, in the relationship between husband and wife the “subjection” is not one-sided but mutual.

A bit further on in the same section the Pope continues:

The apostolic letters are addressed to people living in an evironment marked by that same traditional way of thinking and acting. The ‘innovation’ of Christ is a fact: it constitutes the unambiguous content of the evangelical message and is the result of the Redemption. However, the awareness that in marriage there is mutual “subjection of the spouses out of reverence for Christ”, and not just that of the wife to the husband, must gradually establish itself in hearts, consciences, behavior and customs. This is a call which from that time onwards, does not cease to challenge succeeding generations; it is a call which people have to accept ever anew.

The Pope, then, is very careful to show how Eph 5:21 teaches an innovation in the relationship between men and women, a new way of reciprocity which has yet to fully take hold in many of today’s cultures. Any ‘orienting of wills’ should be reciprocal and mutual.

Is Steve Habisohn correct in that it is a husband’s duty to discern if his wife’s desires are good for her?

No. The gist of the argument in Ephesians 5 and in the thought of the Pope is that husband and wife should have a mutual sense of care for one another. At times that might mean respectfully and lovingly challenging or questioning the other, but neither spouse has a greater responsibility here than the other.

Mr. Habisohn has simply put out his shingle on the Web and asked for money. He has no special training or background other than his personal study of the Pope’s ideas surrounding the theology of the body. On the one hand, I agree with Mrs. Radtke that, when one looks over the material on his sites, there doesn’t seem to be too much with which to argue. He promotes material related to the Pope’s “Theology of the Body” and Natural Family Planning. Still, if (OMITTED) are accurate in their reporting of Habisohn’s letter to their friend, he over stepped his bounds. He should stay out of the marriage counseling business. Furthermore, his language in the letter he wrote their friend is no where supported in either Ephesians 5 or in the writings of John Paul.

ZENIT Interview with Steve Habisohn on the e5 Men’s Movement

In his interpretation of Ephesians 5. Habisohn states “In a complementary response of total self-gift, the wife orients her will to her husband’s to allow for his gift of self to be given freely. She becomes submissive — which literally means ‘under’ his ‘mission’ — to serve her needs.”

There you have it, I gave the founder of e5 the last word.


My remarks about the Macfarlane matter, the issue of divorce, and an article about e5 have caused a flood of comments that I cannot continue to monitor. Some of them have called me irresponsible and in league with Satan. I am going to save a previous comment in the body of the post, but disable the comment feature. You can still send me emails, but I am increasingly uncomfortable with this discussion. It amazes me that people would fault Bai Macfarlane for fighting for her sacramental marriage and against the evil of divorce, particularly the no-fault variety.

As for the e5 business, it may have its merits, but I took “honest” exception to some things I read about it. I would certainly be willing to revisit the matter or even post honest and sympathetic material that would show how it is usually effective and in agreement with Catholic teaching. But, frankly, there is little information to be found and much of it dating back to 2003.

forrealfamily.jpgI will share with you one exceptional article about it that I discovered on the web. Published in a small area newsletter, it is the best that I have read on e3 so far.

PLEASE KNOW, that while I may come across as overly critical of e5, it is mostly because I am unhappy with how it is explained in the few sources nationally available. However, there is a beautiful essay by Dennis Murphy in LIFE CYCLES that presents a picture of e5 with which I could whole-heartedly accept and make my own.

He writes:

“We join our small suffering with the sufferings of Christ on the cross not only for the intention of being chaste for our wives but for being chaste for other good reasons. I, for example, also offer my fasting for the intentions of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I try to follow the example of Saint Louis De Montfort by giving all to Mary, especially being chaste. I thought it was good to do something simple, and I knew that something like the fasting was coming for me…I wanted to participate in something meaningful especially regarding the sacredness of intimacy, which so much in our culture wants to trivialize. I struggle some Wednesdays more than others, but I don’t find it difficult to do especially when I think of Jesus suffering and crucified. My fasting is such a drop of water in His infinite ocean of love, but it is still my drop of love. It’s amazing that the Son of God and His Mother would even notice it, and they do.”

This is not only beautiful but spiritually meaty. Here is the substance and the middle term that I could not find clearly enunciated either by its founder or by Macfarlane. It also reflects something of simplicity and humility, which makes theology and a true appreciation of faith possible.

He goes on to say:

“As I have offered up my simple 24 hours of fasting on bread and water, I think of those not only in e5, but anyone who has fasted because the Lord said that some healings need prayer and fasting. The Lord also said that when He was gone, there would be time for fasting. Certainly the assault against chastity in our own wounded culture demands the response of prayer and fasting in order to beg healing from our most chaste Lord and His most chaste Mother. I believe that the e5 men and women who quietly offer up their little suffering join in God’s plan to counter the scandal of evil against chastity.”

This perspective upon e5 is one upon which I can whole-heartedy concur. He convinces me of its utility, at least in the manner that he understands and pursues it:

“Certainly the focus and motivation for any acts are rooted in the gifts of the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist and confession. I go to Confession weekly and Mass or Adoration of the Blessed Eucharist daily as does my wife, Mary Grace. I don’t know what I would do without the blessedness of the Eucharist and the forgiveness of Confession.”

I am tearing as I read this. This is the stuff that should be posted on the e5 website. There is nothing here of men imaged as SWAT teams, but as sinners who seek to be holy men and beter helpmates to their wives as fellow pilgrims. He gives a short but convincing explanation about how the mortification dynamic works with prayer, the sacraments, and in the larger context of a community of faith. There is nothing here of an eletist group or a boy’s club. Whatever he read, this man filled in the gaps for himself, and now he does it for us.

He closes by saying:

“It was so great to read about e5 and the direct defense against all these atrocities against women [attacks on our virtue of chastity] through fasting especially to foster respect for the wife that I love, even though in my weak humanity I fail, the children whom we conceived, who have taught me to understand the depth of the need for maturity and holiness in all areas of life and the Church, without whom I would be lost and overcome in the struggle against sin, and the people of God, whom I am called to humbly serve one person at a time.”

If you want to read the whole article, here is the link:

Those wanting to read more about e5 men can follow these links:

e5 Men Website

Habisohn: How Real Men Sacrifice for Their Brides

Macfarlane: Husbands Crucified

OSV: A Fast way for Husbands to Pray for Their Wives

Belief Net: The Fasting Masters of the 21st Century

New Oxford Review: Sensitivity for Sensitive Guys


Eric Scheidler | squarezero.org |

To lay this [Macfarlane] debacle at the feet of Steve Habisohn and the e5men is shockingly unfair. Thousands of men (BTW, I am not one of them) have been participating for several years in the e5 program of fasting and prayer. The marital woes of one of these men hardly constitute a case against the entire program.

Steve Habisohn has never suggested that fasting alone is enough to secure a strong marriage. He has never suggested to men that they not communicate with their wives or share a family dinner. And is one day of fasting per month really destructive of the family meal?

There may be criticisms to be made about the e5 approach, but you offer nothing but a caricature. If you had contacted Habisohn yourself, you might have gotten a more nuanced perspective on what his group is about, including the many men — and women — who have benefited from the once-a-month fast.

Instead you re-hash the attacks against Habisohn and e5 that Bai Macfarlane has already offered far and wide, including the response of a diocesan official to a series of leading questions.

Eric Scheidler | squarezero.org |

Father, I want to make a further comment about your criticism of the e5 Men program. First, I should disclose that I am good friends with Steve Habisohn. He would be the first to agree that he and I do not see eye to eye on all matters, including the headship issue. Indeed, I am disappointed to see a critique of Habisohn’s approach so flawed by bias and sloppy documentation.

The evidence you present here is, in my view, deeply flawed. First, the e-mail quoted at the top or your article. We have NO CONTEXT for this e-mail message whatsoever. We do not know who the “friend” is, or what that person’s relationship may have been to Steve Habisohn — what he may know or believe about the situation which informs his words.

Absent any context, his words look like irresponsible, even misogynistic counsel. They are given the color of grand generalizations about the authority of a husband. But he may very well have intended those words to a particular women about whose situation he knew something WE do not.

Which again points to the singular character of this whole business: what the public knows about the Macfarlanes it knows from only one of them. How, for example, did this e-mail fall into the hands of Bai Macfarlane or her associates? Was permission granted by Habisohn for what clearly is a private communication to be broadcast far and wide on the Internet? Could it be that the “friend” is none other than Bai herself?

Likewise, the critique from Cardinal George’s assistant Fr. John Lodge: How was the e5 Men organization presented to Fr. Lodge? Were, as it appears, statements made to one particular person construed as general laws advocated by Habisohn? Who is the “wife of the friend” involved in this communication? Why were these letters made public, and again, was permission given to do so?

A final remark on the question of demons and marital strife. There is the legitimate problem of a certain kind of pious Catholic seeing a demon behind every challenge or squabble. It’s particularly unsettling to have one’s own role in a dispute attributed to demonic influence!

You say that “Marriages are not principally about powers and principalities, they are about dirty diapers, crying babies, doctors’ bills, making beds, fixing the car, going to church as a family, sleeping as husband and wife naked together under the covers, and so much more.”

I put it to you that you are presenting here a FALSE DILEMMA. These simply aspects of marital life are the very plain upon which the battle between good and evil takes place, where one’s guardian angel and those devils whose special task it is to seek the ruin of one’s soul struggle for decisive influence.

Satan hates marriage, just like he hates each one of us, and he’s going to try to break through every chink and crack he can. Changing diapers! How easy it is for a man to leave this to his wife — selfishly. And how easy for a wife to resent him for it — bitterly. Even this seemingly mundane thing can be matter of real spiritual battle.

To say that a paritcular issue doesn’t involve the “cosmic battle” is, in fact, to say that it doesn’t involve grace. If the battle between good and evil doesn’t involve diapers, then there’s no GRACE involved in diapers, and any mother or father could tell you — and I speak here as the father of seven — that it’s ONLY through grace that you survive the diaper years.

Fixing the car! I know all too well how Satan tempts me when I’m working on a mechanical repair. He would love nothing more for me to lose my temper, swear, rudely rebuke the son who’s too slow getting me the wrench I need. Doctor bills! A man is a fool not to pray for patience before discussing doctor bills with his wife; and no, not because she tries his patience, but because he is a hot-headed fool whose real worry for his families financial state is perverted all too easily into angy words.

And is it necessary to say that the spiritual battle is waged in the midst of that nakedness between the sheets. Pope John Paul II of happy memory said just that — “Becoming one as husband and wife, they find themselves in the situation in which the powers of good and evil fight and compete against each other” (Wed. Audience, 6/27/84).

He connects this fight directly to the marital embrace itself, noting the prayer of Tobiah before lying together with Sarah as her husband.

John Paul II knew that Satan wants nothing more than to undermine the harmony of husband and wife in the marital bed. Tobiah knew it. You ought to know it too.

Mr. Sean Hannity vs. Fr. Thomas Euteneuer

I wrote this commentary back in April of 2007. Given that we are coming up to the March for Life in a week’s time, I thought I would repost it.

Mr. Sean Hannity: “I have no problem with birth control. It’s a good thing.”

It was this statement and attitude that was to result in a sad spectacle of dissent on Church teaching and disrespect to a Catholic priest. It should be noted that Mr. Hannity claims to be pro-life, although he makes exceptions for abortions in cases or rape, incest, or for the life of the mother. A rule is only as strong as its exceptions, and thus this really reflects a moderated pro-abortion stance. A child conceived through rape is still innocent and cannot be understood as an unjust aggressor. A child of incest or sexual abuse is still a human being entitled to the right to life. A child’s life and that of the mother cannot be measured on a scale as to which one is more deserving to survive. All human life is incommensurate.

Mr. Sean Hannity invited Fr. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International to the television show, supposedly to discuss the matter of dissent on contraception by high profile Catholics, particularly in the media. It turned out to be a setup forum for Hannity to enact revenge against the priest for questioning his Catholicism and judging his dissent.

Regarding the recent public clash between Mr. Sean Hannity of FOX News and Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, I must come down on the side of the good priest. Compounding the matter, the “sometimes” FOX News analyst Fr. Jonathan Morris scolded Fr. Euteneuer and inadvertently aided dissenters on birth control. He said that Fr. Euteneuer “exercised, on this occasion, shockingly poor judgment,” and was mistakenly “brandishing law without palpable love.” However, the truth be said, Fr. Euteneuer hardly got a word in edgewise. I do not think undermining Church teaching was Fr. Morris’ intent, but it has been the result. As one purported Regnum Christi member said, “If a Legionary of Christ supports Hannity, then he must be in the right!” Personally, I think a general clarification from the Legionaries is required and Fr. Morris should be directed to terminate his formal association with FOX News. He was ordained to be a priest for Christ and the Catholic Church, not for Murdock’s neoconservative news propaganda machine. He has compromised himself.

Fr. Euteneuer reveals that he sought a private meeting about the subject with Hannity back in 2004. Nothing came of it.

Even a number of people who disagree about artificial contraception admitted to me that the priest was treated pretty shabbily after being invited upon the television show. There was no real discussion of the matter at hand. The priest was kept on the defensive and given no opportunity for a proper response. Mr. Hannity contended that the priest had no right to judge him and that he should worry about the outrageous cover-up of pedophile priests before coming after him. Of course, Mr. Hannity makes such judgments on his television and radio shows regularly. This was not the real problem, just that he disliked being under the gun, himself. Further, a priest is not any Christian. He is appointed by Christ as a minister of reconciliation. This role requires that he be a judge of souls and that he speak clearly about what is right and wrong.

Mr. Hannity argued falsely that Fr. Euteneuer had not spoken out forcibly about sexual abuse and the scandal of bishops who did not take it seriously. What Mr. Hannity did was to take the attention off him and to move it elsewhere, insinuating that Fr. Euteneuer was being hypocritical. Mr. Hannity also quickly appealed to the fact that not everyone is Catholic, as if that is an excuse for a Catholic in the public forum to renounce an important element of our moral teaching. Such an appeal to relativism is tragic from a figure who purports to be a political conservative. He had apologized for eating meat on a Friday of Lent. Fr. Euteneuer rightly observed that there is a big difference between the inadvertent violation of a Church discipline and the repudiation of a doctrinal or moral teaching, as here touching upon the Theology of the Body and the openness to human life that must be present in every instance of the marital act.

Mr. Hannity asked again and again, more in a rhetorical fashion than in actuality, “Do you know me?” He said he had been in seminary and had studied Latin. When I heard this I began to scratch my head, so what? The news anchor was becoming incoherent in his tirade against the priest. Were we suppose to give him a gold star for being an altar boy? Fr. Charles Curran, the great dissenter on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, etc. also went to seminary and studied Latin…such things did not make him right or insure that he had the mind of the Church about all matters.

NOTE: When challenged by Fr. Euteneuer, Hannity made a big deal out of being a former altar boy and “seminarian” who studied Latin. Actually, his “seminary” training consisted of attending a boys’ Catholic High School called St. Pius the X Preparatory Seminary in Uniondale, NY. Most of its graduates, like Hannity, were not headed for the priesthood. He was a college drop-out and his “theology” courses were nothing more than high-school and grammar school catechism.

Let us cut to the quick, Mr. Hannity is a neo-conservative in the political arena who leans toward liberalism in the area of Catholicism. It is fine and good that he has urged his children to be chaste and celibate until marriage. He might be anti-abortion, and about this we should all be pleased, but he is not consistent given his stance in favor of certain exceptions and artificial contraception. He even went so far as to mock the priest with what he saw as an inconsistency on Catholicism’s part, a so-called Church-approved birth control, i.e. contraception, Natural Family Planning. But, of course, NFP is not true contraception, it is simply periodic abstinence based upon a knowledge of the body and how it works. It is a way to regulate or space births. Further, unlike the pill or condom, NFP can be used to help couples get pregnant, since they know the times of maximum fertility. If one were to use NFP in a selfish way then it could also be turned into a sinful practice. One may space births but not turn against the meaning of the marital act.

The priest was able to squeeze in the truth, under the mantra of Hannity’s unending assault, that a majority of those who have abortions do so because of contraceptive failure. Artificial contraception is indeed the handmaid to abortion. This is what the priest knows and what Mr. Hannity refuses to admit. It creates a contraceptive mentality which fuels the holocaust of abortion. Nothing was said about the fact that certain forms of contraception are also abortifacient. But, as I said, the interview was not a civil exchange of ideas, but an opportunity to malign a priest who wanted to help Mr. Hannity to be consistent and to insure that Catholics know that contraception is a grievous matter not to be flippantly handled.

In writing to Fr. Jonathan Morris, who chastised a fellow priest and gave solace to Hannity, Fr. Euteneuer writes:

The question that comes to mind is an obvious one: if you are a Fox analyst on Catholic matters, wouldn’t you have been the one to have had those “private conversations” on birth control with Mr. Hannity? How about discussions on his abortion exceptions? When you told Sean “in person” that you “disagreed with him,” was it on the issue of birth control? If you had done that, I applaud you, but your powers of persuasion may need a little honing—Sean has only gotten more vocal on this issue over time. If you did not speak to him about his public dissent, then I ask you, “Why?” While we are on the subject, have you also analyzed and disagreed with Bill O’Reilly’s perfectly horrible disdain for the Holy Father and the Church that you represent?

The church sex abuse scandal was not just about homosexual and predatory priests. It was about clerical negligence and silence on issues that not only affect people’s souls but also ruin people’s lives. It is highly unusual that you or anyone else would want a priest to be silent on issues that affect the salvation of souls. We used to recognize “admonishing the sinner” as one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, and I consider my admonishment of Mr. Hannity to have been done in that spirit. I might also add that in doing so I have fulfilled my duty as a priest which is a requirement for my salvation.

Further evidence that Mr. Hannity suffers from a poor faith formation as a Catholic is the following notation at the HLI site:

Mr. Hannity is not backing down, saying on Monday’s radio program that if he were excommunicated he would call the Rev. Jerry Falwell and ask to join his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.

No one, of course, is talking about excommunication; that is just his continuing hysterics about this matter. But note that he would join a Baptist Church, no doubt because of their “political” conservatism, but one that is silent on a weighty moral matter like artificial contraception. Doctrinal differences between them and Catholics are enormous. He would reject the Pope, much of the deposit of faith, and the sacramental life, particularly the Eucharist, to maintain his dissent. He would embrace a Protestant sect and forever turn his back on the sacrifice of the Mass and the real presence of Jesus’ body and blood in the Blessed Sacrament in exchange for grape juice and loaf bread. Even a knowledgeable Catholic excommunicant, if his faith be real, would want to come home to the sacraments and to the true Church established by Jesus Christ.


Fr. Jonathan Morris


As I watched a fellow Catholic priest spar with you on the March 9 edition of Hannity and Colmes, I hung my head in shame and sadness. My colleague in religion (whom I’ve never met) used the public airways and Internet to call you a heretic and hypocrite. Because he chose to do this in a public forum, I want you and your viewers to know, publicly, that as an analyst of this television network, I believe this good priest, who does great work, exercised, on this occasion, shockingly poor judgment. I consider his willingness to give his personal opinion about your status within the Church inappropriate and ill-considered, to say the least.


While Fr. Thomas Euteneuer and I may disagree on how best to attain this lofty goal in certain venues, like on a secular television network, we are of one heart and mind on substance.