Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

All creation is a blessing and a gift. Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

“This is the Good News!” Courage Movie 'Desire of the Everlasting Hills' at Faith Formation Conference Friday

On Friday, November 21 and Saturday, November 22, the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Dioceses of Monterey, Oakland, San Jose, and Stockton will sponsor the 2014 Faith Formation Conference. This year’s conference, the ninth annual event, will be held at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Over 50 different workshops will be offered.

This year’s conference includes an added ‘special event’ on Friday, November 21: two screenings of the 2014 movie Desire of the Everlasting Hills, produced by Courage International, the church-approved ministry to and by people with same-sex attraction. The screenings will be at 5:30PM and at 7:30 PM in Ballroom H at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Each screening will be followed by a question and answer period with two of the three people profiled in the film, Paul and Rilene. From the Faith Formation Conference website:

“The film Desire of the Everlasting Hills delivers three intimate and candid portraits of Catholics who try to navigate the waters of self-understanding, faith and homosexuality. Dan, a gregarious musician who spent his life hiding a deep sense of isolation from those who loved him; Rilene, a successful businesswoman who realized that twenty-five years with her partner did not provide the fulfillment she had longed for; and Paul, an international model who, after a life of self-indulgence, found grace in the last place he expected….” 

The movie’s website,, includes a welcome from Fr. Paul N. Check, Executive Director of Courage International. Fr. Check writes:

“It… takes humility and courage to face certain questions about our lives. One such question is, ‘How do I know if I am designing my life well? By what standard can I come to a conclusion?’ This question is closely linked with another, ‘What is the purpose of my life? What does it mean to be fulfilled and at peace?’ And these are the central questions around which the film Desire of the Everlasting Hills turns. The film does not claim to answer these questions completely. They have been mulled over, talked over, even fought over, for as long as humanity has found its home in this world. Anyone who has ever thought about whether he or she has “done the right thing,” has started to think about these questions.

I admire the three people whom you will see in this movie—Rilene, Dan and Paul. I admire them because of their humility and courage. I realize—and more important, they realize—that some viewers may be troubled, offended, or even angered by their stories. No one involved in making this film wishes to cause anyone distress. On the contrary. But if we are free to design our lives, then each of us will have a story, and whether or not this story is welcome, it deserves respect. It deserves respect not only for the unique mind and heart the story reveals, but also for what it may contain for others.”

Austin Ruse, reviewing the movie in Crisis Magazine, wrote “It is impossible to watch this important documentary without tears, and not sad tears either, but happy ones, tears that come from a joyful movement of the spirit. These are people who have been deeply wounded by the choices they have made and who have struggled through to a profound peace.”

As Dan, one of those profiled in the film, says “Chastity isn’t a consolation prize. Our lives are better because of the Church’s teachings. The Church shouldn’t be embarrassed. They should shout it from the mountaintops. This is the Good News!”

A trailer for the movie may be seen at the website

The Santa Clara Convention center is located at 5001 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA 95054. Walk-ins to the Conference are welcome.

Note: An email from Rilene Simpson, one of those profiled in the movie, was published in today's California Catholic Daily.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Catastrophic Catholic Fall-Off in Latin America

Yesterday, Pew Research released a new study which documents the catastrophic fall-off among Catholics in Latin America (via Rorate):

Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population – and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Yet identification with Catholicism has declined throughout the region, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey that examines religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic (See History of Religious Change). Today, the Pew Research survey shows, 69% of adults across the region identify as Catholic. Emphasis added.

The worst fall off is in Honduras, where, since 1970, Catholics have fallen from 94% to 46% of the population. Honduras is home to our Salesian Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga. His Eminence has been a bishop in Tegucigalpa, Honduras' capitol, since 1978. If he is not already, he needs to do some reflecting on why this is happening. The author at Rorate opines that the falling away is the result of the Second Vatican Council. I think that is right. He also notes that while the increase in secularism during that time "...would explain the collapse in Western Europe, North America, and Australia. But in Latin America (where the current pope studied to be a priest during the 1960s, being ordained in December 1969), what happened instead during the same period was an intense religious revival."

Except it was not a Catholic revival, but one among the various Protestant denominations. The fall-off is not from religion, but from whatever it is that the Church in Latin America is offering. Reflection and soul-searching are in order--that is, if the Latin American hierarchy considers this to be a problem. If they don't consider this to be a problem, that is a real problem.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Steve Sailer reflects on the 2014 elections

The interesting Steve Sailer analyzes the recent elections, and the direction American society is taking.

Core Vs. Fringe, Cont'd: Media Starts To Catch Up On Sailor Strategy

"I’ve been analyzing elections since 2000, [GOP Future Depends on Winning Larger Share of the White Vote.November 28, 2000] and, ever so slowly, some of my insights are starting to become conventional wisdom.

For example, following the 2014 elections and the sputtering of the Democrats’ 'Republican War on Women' strategy, it’s not quite as much of a secret anymore that the little known Marriage Gap is usually larger than the celebrated Gender Gap. George Hawley, a professor of political science at the U. of Alabama, writes in his informative new book White Voters in 21st Century America:

'Steve Sailer is one of the few journalists who began writing extensively on the marriage gap long before the 2012 presidential election.'[P. 125]

(I find Sailor's novel breakdown of statistics to be fascinating. Example: following the 2004 elections, David Brooks, writing in the New York Times, said "As Steve Sailer pointed out in The American Conservative, George Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rates, and 25 of the top 26. John Kerry won the 16 states with the lowest rates.")

Moreover, it may finally be sinking in that the Hispanic Tidal Wave doesn’t really look like the one in Interstellar.

What other ideas might pop up next? Perhaps the inherent fragility and divisiveness of the Democrats’ Coalition of the Diverse? ...."

Read the whole thing.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Reality of Marriage recognized by Sixth Circuit Court

A refreshing dose of sanity, via Catholic News Agency:

Seismic court ruling affirms link between marriage, kids

Defense of marriage advocates lauded a major 2-1 decision by a federal appeals court that noted the importance of children and sexual complementarity in upholding state laws defining marriage.

“We are particularly heartened by the Court’s acknowledgment of the reasonable arguments for preserving the true definition of marriage and by the Court’s respect for the self-determination of states on this issue,” said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

(You can read His Excellency's statement here.)

On Nov. 6, the Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals upheld state laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee that defined marriage as the unique relationship of a man and a woman.

The ruling is the first big victory for marriage defenders at the federal circuit court level. It comes after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear cases involving marriage laws in five states early in October.

The ACLU, representing the plaintiffs, has said it will ask the Supreme Court to review the case, and the National Organization for Marriage has also called on the Court to hear the case and uphold the marriage laws.

“We have been awaiting this decision for some time and welcome it not only as a tremendous victory, but as a common sense recognition that it is not for the federal courts to substitute their judgment about whether same-sex 'marriage' is a good idea or not, but to leave it to the people to make the decision about this fundamental institution,” the organization’s president Brian Brown stated.

The circuit court judges ruled that they did not have the constitutional authority to overturn a legal definition of marriage as determined by the citizens of a state.

The majority opinion, authored by Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton and joined by Judge Deborah Cook, ruled that the state has the valid authority to regulate or define marriage, and that a fundamental right to marriage for every person does not exist in the Constitution.

“Of all the ways to resolve this question, one option is not available: a poll of the three judges on this panel, or for that matter all federal judges, about whether gay marriage is a good idea,” they stated. Such a determination would make a “vital policy call for the thirty-two million citizens” of the circuit.

“Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way,” the opinion concluded.

Archbishop Cordileone’s statement, issued through the U.S. Bishops Conference, singled out one passage from the decision as worthy of particular praise, grounding the state’s authority to define marriage as between a man and a woman in the natural law.

That passage stated, “It is not society’s laws or for that matter any one religion’s laws, but nature’s laws (that men and women complement each other biologically), that created the policy imperative.”

In addition, the ruling noted the role of government in encouraging people “to create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”

“By creating a status (marriage) and by subsidizing it (e.g., with tax-filing privileges and deductions), the States created an incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring. That does not convict the States of irrationality, only of awareness of the biological reality that couples of the same sex do not have children in the same way as couples of opposite sexes and that couples of the same sex do not run the risk of unintended offspring. That explanation, still relevant today, suffices to allow the States to retain authority over an issue they have regulated from the beginning.”

The states taking their time to consider the redefinition of marriage is not a violation of 14th Amendment rights of same-sex couples wishing to marry, the judges added.  

“A Burkean sense of caution does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment, least of all when measured by a timeline less than a dozen years long and when assessed by a system of government designed to foster step-by-step, not sudden winner-take-all, innovations to policy problems.”

Not everyone has the fundamental right to marry, they stated.

“But the right to marry in general, and the right to gay marriage in particular, nowhere appear in the Constitution. That route for recognizing a fundamental right to same-sex marriage does not exist.”

Another organization praising the decision was the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief alongside state legislators or pro-marriage groups upholding the state marriage laws in Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky.

“The people of every state should remain free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws. As the 6th Circuit rightly concluded, the Constitution does not demand that one irreversible view of marriage be judicially imposed on everyone,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Brian Babione responded to the decision.