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Out of the Mouths of Unbelievers

The other evening my husband and I had dinner with a few friends, all of them involved in music in one way or another.  Three of us were Catholic; two were not.  The talk turned to the bad and banal and often irreverent  music in some Catholic churches.  (My husband sings traditional hymns and classical music at Mass at our parish.)  One of the non-Catholics commented that she had played the piano once at a Catholic wedding and been surprised to find that she was asked to play syncopated music.  Her husband, the other non-Catholic at the table, made an interesting comment.

The Catholic Church, he pointed out, is known for its tradition and formality, including the  music.  That is what outsiders expect, he said.  If you convert to Catholicism, that is what you expect.  He clearly saw the value of the lovely, reverent music from our Church’s heritage which all too few churches use these days.

Interesting isn’t it, that after years of awful music in many churches, the old-fashioned sacred music is still what outsiders perceive as being the Church’s music?   And what they respect?

Maureen Williamson

IMPORTANT: Write Your Senators

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, which works closely with the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is asking us to write our two United States senators urging them to vote against a bill called the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act (S. 2578).  The NCHLA reports that:

“The bill states that an employer has no right to opt out of a federal mandate for any specific benefit, for any employees or their ‘covered dependents’.  In the future this could include RU-486 or elective surgical abortions.  Employees themselves, and women and men buying individual coverage, also have no right to object. The Act overrides RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] and ‘any other provision of Federal law’ that gets in the way.  Crippling penalties could be imposed on sponsors and issuers of insurance who provide generous coverage, but object in conscience to a specific ‘item or service’.”

I also urge you to contact your senators.

Maureen Williamson

Another Assault on the Church

Yet another assault on the Catholic Church and religious freedom  This time the issue is the Seal of Confession.

The Diocese of Baton Rouge accuses the Supreme Court of Louisiana of having “run afoul of the constitutional rights of both the Church and [Fr. Jeff Bahyi],” and says the Court “has violated the Establishment Clause and the separation of Church and State under the first amendment.”

The issue at hand is a ruling that, according to the, “demands  that a hearing be held…to determine whether or not a confession was made.”  The case is one of child abuse involving a girl who was 12 at the time of the alleged abuse and an adult male who was a member of her parish.  The man who is accused died some time ago. The girl in question has testified in court to what she says Fr. Bahyi told her in confession.  Fr. Bahyi has been ordered to testify about the confessions. reports that the “Louisiana Supreme Court said in its ruling that the priest’s confidentiality can only be claimed ‘on behalf of’ the confessor, so the priest can’t claim confidentiality to protect himself since the girl waived her privilege.”  The Diocese of Baton Rouge reacted swiftly to the ruling stating unequivocally that the issue, “assaults the heart of a fundamental doctrine of the Catholic faith as relating to the absolute seal of sacred communications (Confession/Sacrament of Reconciliation)”.

“A foundational doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church for thousands of years mandates that the seal of confession is absolute and inviolable.  Pursuant to his oath to the Church, a priest is compelled never to break that seal.  Neither is a priest allowed to admit that someone went to confession to him,” said the Archdiocese in its July 7 statement.

As we know, Fr. Bahyi is compelled by Church law to go to jail rather than testify.  What the courts will do remains to be seen.  But, little by little, our religious freedom is being challenged and will continue to be challenged.

Maureen Williamson


This Little Black Dog Is One of the Most Endearing Characters in Children’s Literature

Angus and the Ducks

A couple of weeks ago I saw a boy walking a black Scottish terrier and thought, “That looks like Angus!”

Angus, for those who have never read the books, was an enchanting dog featured in three lovely children’s books by Marjorie Flack, who also wrote The Story about Ping.   I mentioned the books to a couple of others and in both cases got the same reaction:  “I love Angus.”

Written in the early 1930s, Angus is one of the most endearing characters in children’s literature.  The first book in the series,  Angus and the Ducks, introduces us to a puppy “whose name was Angus, because his mother and his father came from Scotland.”  Angus is curious about everything; but most especially the strange noise that comes from the other side of the hedge.  A noise that sounds like “Quack! Quack! Quackety! Quack!”  One day Angus gets out of his yard and his adventure ensues.

As he grows up Angus learns many things – just like children who find out what they should and should not do as they get older.

The other two books in the series are Angus and the Catand Angus Lost, both as charming as the first book.

Anyone who has pets knows that animals have facial expressions that are most expressive and the illustrations in all three books, by Miss Flack herself, capture Angus’s expressions perfectly and thus bring him to life in a way that makes him real and lovable.  It is my favorite aspect of the books.

The Angus books are still available from Farrar Straus Giroux.  I recommend them.

Maureen Williamson

This Fourth of July Is a Little Different

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz (from the Archdiocese of Lexington website)

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz (from the Archdiocese of Lexington website)

“Freedom of religion, like freedom of speech, must stand for all Americans, for all time.”

These are the words of a coalition of U.S. religious leaders from different faiths including United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, in a letter to Congressional leaders affirming their “staunch support for maintaining all of the existing provisions and protections of the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.”

It is frightening that on the eve of the Fourth of July we should be addressing this issue.

In light of the Supreme Court decision affirming Hobby Lobby’s right to choose not to provide abortifacients as part of its medical insurance coverage, there is now talk of repealing the FRRA.  In fact, today’s New York Times includes a full page ad by the Freedom from Religion Foundation promoting this.  If you get a chance to look at the ad, you’ll also note that it complains about the Court’s “All-Male, All-Roman Catholic Majority” denying women their “rights.”  And, that’s not the only place where I’ve seen this complaint about a court where six out of nine justices are Catholic, five of whom are men.  Replace “Roman Catholic” majority with almost any other group and you can imagine what would happen – think the resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich.

Tomorrow we’ll watch fireworks, go to barbecues, visit with friends and family; but somehow this year, as we have to continue to fight for the basic freedom to act according to our religious principles, it seems a little hollow.

Maureen Williamson

“Justice Has Prevailed’

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz (from the Archdiocese of Lexington website)

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz (from the Archdiocese of Lexington website)

“Justice has prevailed.”

Soproclaimed Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, after the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the right of family owned for-profit corporations not to provide contraception coverage to their employees as required by the government’s HHS Mandate.

This decision bodes well for those religious entities like the Little Sisters of the Poor and many other charities, schools, and hospitals who are also going to court to preserve their freedom of religion and not provide contraceptive or sterilization services to their employees as part of their medical insurance coverage.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia released the following statement on the decision:

“The outcome of the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products cases is heartening. The decision appears to reaffirm the founding fathers’ vision of a country where religious believers may live out their convictions in everyday life without undue government interference or coercion.

On behalf of the charitable entities affiliated with our Archdiocese and the Archdiocese itself, we hope that today’s decision will have a positive impact on our own pending litigation related to the HHS mandate.”

“Much work remains to be done to protect the religious freedom of all citizens from the ill-conceived HHS mandate, but this decision in favor of the owners of Hobby Lobby is certainly progress,” said Father Sean O. Sheridan, president of Franciscan University.

As Archbishops Kurtz and Lori said in their statement:  “Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom.”

Maureen Williamson

Two Bishops on Mass and the Blessed Sacrament

Bishop Thomas Paprocki (from the Diocese of Springfield website)

Bishop Thomas Paprocki (from the Diocese of Springfield website)

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, IL has directed the churches in his diocese to place the tabernacle in a prominent place in the sanctuary, preferably in the center, and told them that they may no longer place it in what he refers to as “obscure and remote rooms that in some cases were previously supply closets.”

The idea of putting the tabernacle which houses the Blessed Sacrament off in a room out of sight has always appalled me.  After all, what distinguishes a Catholic church from any other church is the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.   So, bravo to Bishop Paprocki.

On the other side of the world Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines has criticized priests who greet parishioners during Mass with “Good morning.”  In an article posted on the website of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, the Cardinal is quoted as saying:

“With all due respect, my brother-priests, but I do not see the need for saying ‘good morning’ and similar greetings when God’s presence in the Holy Eucharist alone suffices….Is not the expression ‘The Lord be with you’ more than enough?”

I heartily agree.  I have gotten so used to priests saying “Good morning”, that I had forgotten how it annoyed me when it first started.  Good morning is fine before and after Mass; but during the Mass a certain formality should be maintained and as, the Cardinal pointed out, the Eucharist is what is all-important.

Maureen Williamson

When a Catholic Country Isn’t

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (from

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (from

It’s bad enough when a secular country like the United States tries to force Catholics to act against their beliefs as our government is trying to do with the HHS Mandate; but when it happens in what used to be a Catholic country it is particularly unsettling.  Poland has long been one of the most Catholic countries in Europe.   Yet, a brouhaha has arisen there over a Catholic doctor, Bogdan Chazan, who refused to provide an abortion to a woman whose fetus had serious defects.  According to a Zenit story the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk said:

“Regardless of what his conscience is telling him, [a doctor] must carry out the law.”

“Every patient must be sure that…the doctor will perform all procedures in accordance with the law and in accordance with his duties.”

Lifesite News reports:

“Dr. Chazan is one of 3,000 Roman Catholic doctors, nurses, midwives, and medical students who have signed a Doctors’ Declaration of Faith saying that they will conduct their professional duties according to their religious beliefs.”

The Polish Catholic bishops, of course, support this Declaration of Faith as does Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reported Lifesite News, quoting the Cardinal as saying:

“Developing theories today that the law of the state is above ethics and morals, or that it is a source of proper ethics, regardless of its wording, and that, for example, the state can compel a doctor – contrary to his conscience – to kill an unborn child, and to be threatened to be thrown out of work, are criminal and monstrous.”

As I noted above, Poland is certainly one of the most Catholic country in Europe.  The fact that they have a law that allows abortions at all – albeit, a more narrow one than most countries – is distressing.  To threaten prosecution of a Catholic doctor who refuses to perform one, adds to the distress.

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide in the Public Square

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (from the Archdiocese of San Francisco website)

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (from the Archdiocese of San Francisco website)

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone spoke at the March for Marriage on June 19 and I recommend you read his excellent speech, “Building a Civilization of Truth and Love”.

Here are a smattering of quotes from the Archbishop:

“[W]e now in our own time need to proclaim and live the truth with charity and compassion as it applies to us today: the truth of a united family based on the union of the children’s father and mother in marriage as the foundational good of society.  Every child comes from a man and a woman, and has a right, a natural right, to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their own mother and father.”

“[I]t is easy to become resentful when you are relentlessly and unfairly painted as a bigot and are punished for publicly standing by the basic truth of marriage as foundational societal good; it is tempting to respond in kind.  Don’t.”

“[W]e must not give up: the truth will not go away, and we will not go away.  Let us take heart from the legacy we have received, let us place our trust in God, and let us go forth to build a civilization of truth and love.”


 Sam Kutsea of Uganda was elected president of the United Nations General Assembly last week.  Normally this would not be news.  The post is largely ceremonial.  This election represented more, however.  Mr. Kutesa is  a defender of Uganda’s laws against homosexual acts which the Obama administration has condemned.  According to C-Fam:  “Western pressure on African countries to liberalize policies on homosexuality has had a boomerang effect, uniting Africans against it and resulting in what some see as a new non-aligned movement of countries.”


Gallup’s recent poll on American institutions and the public’s confidence in each shows that the group with the lowest approval rating is Congress: Just 7% of those polled say that they have a “Great deal” or “Quite a lot” of confidence in Congress.  Only 18% have a “Great deal” or “Quite a lot” of confidence in the television news media; 19% in News on the Internet and 21% in Big business.  The highest ranking group in the survey is the military with 74% approval rating.  See CNSNews story.

Maureen Williamson

Catholic Groups That Undermine Church Teaching

Anne Hendershott (from the Franciscan University of Steubenville website)

Anne Hendershott (from the Franciscan University of Steubenville website)

Interesting piece in Crisis by Steubenville professor Anne Hendershott about Archbishop Cordileone, the March for Marriage and so-called Catholic political groups which work against Church teaching and the bishops implementing these teachings.



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