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The Uproar in San Francisco When the Archbishop Tries to Be Catholic

Once again, Catholics are challenged in their own institutions.  You have probably read about the uproar in San Francisco over the new standards for teachers in the San Francisco diocesan high schools which in Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s words clarify “Catholic issues in our Catholic schools.”  In other words, the Archbishop is making a concerted effort to “present Catholic doctrine in its fullness” to [the archdiocese's] students and to make sure that the schools under his jurisdiction are “truly Catholic.”  To this end Archbishop Cordileone sent a letter to teachers in the archdiocesan high schools and issued a document on “Catholic faith and morals that is becoming part of the faculty handbook.”  Much of the statement covers what the Archbishop calls “hot bottom” issues regarding sexual morality.

Eight California legislators have written to the Archbishop objecting to the standards and to the Archbishop’s designation of teachers in the four high schools as “ministers.”  The Archbishop’s new standards set “a divisive tone, which stands in stark contrast to the values that define the Bay Area and its history” as well as sending “an alarming message of intolerance to youth educated [at the four schools].”

In his excellent letter responding to the legislators, the Archbishop asked them: “Would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general?”

“I respect your right to employ whomever you wish to advance your mission,” he told them.  “I simply ask the same respect from you.”

Now the New York Times is chiming in with a story in the February 27 edition.  Interestingly, they do not quote from the Archbishop’s letter to the legislators.  Instead we get quotes from the mother of a student saying, “this language says some people are not O.K. – and that’s not O.K.”  And from a teacher and union official who says that union members are “worried about teachers who are gay and who are not able to live publicly.”

One of the things which strikes me about this situation is how the Church has lost the moral high ground.  Acceptance of evil behavior is now viewed as the greatest virtue.

To date the Archdiocese has said that the Archbishop won’t use the word “ministers.”  Beyond that it says that he “has not repealed anything.  He is adding explanations, clarifications, and material on Catholic social teaching….Nothing already planned to go in [the handbook] is being removed or retracted or withdrawn….Even if a substitute for ‘ministry’ is found, the substitute must guarantee that the teachers in the Catholic archdiocesan high schools promote the Catholic mission of the institutions.”

Good for Archbishop Crodileone.  Add him to your prayer list and go to to show your support for him.

Maureen Williamson

Looking for GOOD High School English Texts? Try This Series


Coming up with good textbooks is a challenge for homeschoolers and schools alike.  Recently Ian Rutherford of Aquinas and More gave me a copy of one of the high school English texts written by his mother, Fran Rutherford.  The series is called Questions for the Thinker Study Guides.  There are three books in the series, Greek Classics, Ancient Rome and, the one I have, Old World Europe.  Each one has a student’s book and a teacher’s guide.

Fran Rutherford homeschooled her children for 16 years and, unlike many texts written by homeschool moms, this one is literate.  Don’t laugh.  I can’t tell you how many books and articles I read as editor of Homeschooling Today and vice president of the Conservative Book Club which weren’t anywhere near literate.

Old World Europe is recommended for 9th grade and up.  It is certainly also suitable for adults who want to go back and read classics they missed.  This volume covers nine works: The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, Beowulf, The Rule of St. Benedict, The Life of Charlemagne, The Prince, The Song of Roland, selections from The Canterbury Tales, and Don Quixote.

Mrs. Rutherford provides background for each book and author.  Each chapter includes questions for each section of the work; words the student needs to know (the student must look up the words himself), as well as questions for further thought.  Mrs. Rutherford instructs the students to read all this before beginning each section of the work.  The general questions are specific and factual; while the questions for further thought require exactly that: thought and application and broad knowledge.  An added feature is a list of Significant Dates in Old Europe.

All of Mrs. Rutherford’s textbooks are available at  Take a look.

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

radical discipleshipEWTN televises the Public Consistory For The Creation Of New Cardinals on February 14 at 5 am eastern time with a rerun of the ceremony at noon; then on the 15th they televise the Mass which the newly appointed Cardinals will celebrate alongside Pope Francis from St. Peter’s Basilica.  The latter is scheduled for 4 am eastern time and will be rebroadcast at 11:30 am….You can sign up for Father Dwight Longenecker’s Faithworks this Lent for practical advice on the Faith….TAN Books recommends Diane Moczar’s book, Seven Lies about Catholic History: Infamous Myths about the Church’s Past and How to Answer Them to learn the truth about Catholics and the Crusades after President Obama’s inflammatory remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast….The 2015 Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Almanac is now available….Governor Greg Abbott of Texas will be the keynote speaker at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on May 7 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Gov. Abbott succeeded in protecting the right of Texas to display the Ten Commandments in front of its State Capitol…Francis Cardinal Arinze’s new books, Radical Discipleship  shows faithful Catholics how to participate in the consecrated life.

Altar Girls Revisited

Interesting things are happening in the San Francisco diocese.  Things that should help strengthen both the faith and vocations.  Let’s look on one of them.

At Star of the Sea Parish in San Francisco Father Joseph Illo, the pastor, has instituted a policy of only training altar boys – no girls.

“I want to emphasize that we are not discontinuing altar girls because females are somehow incapable or unworthy,” Father Illo said in a statement.  “The news media has portrayed our decision as discrimination.  It is not.  It is simply giving boys a role they can call their own, and more importantly recognizing the priesthood as a specifically fatherly charism rather than a motherly charism.”

Let’s take a look at a whole diocese which does does not allow altar girls:  Lincoln, Nebraska.  Anthony Esolen in an article for Crisis called “How to Kill Vocations in Your Diocese,” noted that Lincoln “serving not quite one hundred thousand Catholics, has forty-eight seminarians.”  The last statistics I read showed that Lincoln had the most vocations per Catholic of any diocese.

According to a report on San Francisco’s KPIX some parishioners at Star of the Sea are not happy.  However, as Father Illo pointed out, “If this altar boy policy bothers us, we must ask ourselves if we have not unconsciously accepted the errors of the current age; specifically that the differences between men and women have no more spiritual significance than ‘plumbing’ arrangements.  Do you think Mary, the Mother of God, would want to serve the Mass or be a priest, and even if so, why did Jesus not include her at the Last Supper?  Is it not because she, as a woman, has a distinct, an even more exalted role than the Apostles?”

Well said, Father.

Maureen Williamson


The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

remade for happinessRemade for Happiness: Achieving Life’s Purpose Through Spiritual Transformation, Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s classic is being reprinted by Ignatius.  Originally titled Preface to Religion, this new edition has a Foreword by Jennifer Fulwiler….Interesting piece by Gerald J. Russello on called “Catholicism Before and After 1963.”  Mr. Russello uses two novels, Evelyn Waugh’s Unconditional Surrender, published in 1961, and Pier Paul Read’s 1969 novel,  Monk Dawson, to show how Catholicism changed during the sixties.  It certainly gives one pause….Nice to see that Providence bishop Thomas J. Tobin rejected an invitation to attend Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s inauguration because she is pro-abortion….Catholic Courses is offering a new lecture series called The New Testament Canon: The Development of the Gospels from Oral Tradition to Sacred Scripture. The 8 thirty-minute lectures are available  as a DVD set, audio CD set, audio or video download.  The lecturer is Monica Migliorino Miller of Madonna University in Michigan….Art and Laraine Bennett have edited Catholic and Married: Leaning into Love, a new book that includes testimonials of married Catholics on topics like parenting, family size, communication, characteristics of a healthy marriage, and contemporary challenges.  Contributors include Simcha Fisher, Dr. Joseph White, Dan and Hallie Lord and Meg McDonnell.

Maureen Williamson

Urge Your House Representative to Vote for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

From the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment comes word that the House is scheduled to vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H. R. 36) tomorrow, January 22.  With limited exceptions, the bill makes it unlawful to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater according to NCHLA.  Please consider contacting your representative and urging him or her to vote to make this law.

Maureen Williamson

Charlie Hebdo, Multiculturalism and the West

This is a strange world in which we live.  The violence against Charlie Hebdo by Muslims has elevated the magazine’s personnel to hero status.  If you have read about the pornographic and insulting cartoons they run about various religions including Catholicism and Judaism, you might easily ask why?  The editors of Charlie Hebdo are anti-religion and use particularly vile ways to express this.  There is a reason why media outlets like the New York Times won’t reprint Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons.  No one denies their right of freedom of speech.  Common sense – as well as freedom of speech – allows for disagreement about religion and respectful criticism of another’s religion.

The editors of Charlie Hebdo are not heroes.  They are provocateurs and they know it.  They risk what any provocateur risks.  As Pope Francis says, “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith” without expecting a reaction.

No one condones killing people who insult you or your religion, even in a vile way.  It isn’t a proper response.  But that’s what radical Islam does.

With every incident like this, I keep hoping that the zeitgeist will realize what multiculturalism is and what it is doing.  Walter Williams wrote on, “The bottom line is that much of the Muslim world is at war with Western civilization.”  And, as Mr. Williams rightly points out, “At the heart of multiculturalism is an attack on Western and Christian values.”

Do France and its European neighbors have any sense of the value of their Christian Western Civilization?  Do they realize it is being attacked?

The proper response to an incident like this one and any other terrorist act by the Muslims is to defend your country and civilization.  Closing the borders is a good first response.  Does the West have the will power to do this and more?  Not so far.  President François Hollande was too busy keeping Marine Le Pen away from his unity march.

Maureen Williamson

Passing the Faith from Generation to Generation

I read a very good Catholic World Report piece the other day about the recently concluded Extraordinary Synod on the family written by Matthew James Christoff, a convert who runs   Mr. Christoff points out that the Synod essentially ignored two groups who deserve and need the Church’s encouragement and resources:  Catholic men and sacramentally married Catholics and their families.

The article hit a nerve with me because one of my pet causes is educating Catholics in their faith.  I am of the opinion that saving souls is the most important thing Catholics can do.  In today’s world it is harder and harder to transfer the faith from generation to generation.  Part of the problem is a liberal church with liberal priests.  Part of it is the world we live in which accepts as normal cohabitation before marriage and artificial contraception.  Where modesty is a thing of the past.  Where pornography is easily available.  Etc, etc.

I like to contribute to charities which help average Catholics and their children keep their faith and impart it to others.  One charity I like is FOCUS ( Fellowship of Catholic Students), founded in 1998 by Curtis and Michaelann Martin as a campus outreach.  The number of young adults who lose their faith during the college years is large, as I am sure you know.  FOCUS provides support for Catholics in a non-Catholic environment at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Mr. Christoff is so right when he says that, “Despite the fact that the New Evangelization is over 40 years old, the hemorrhaging of cradle Catholics has accelerated.  Looking toward the next Synod on the Family and the World Meeting of Families of 2015, it is imperative that the Church realize and correct the Synod’s shocking omissions and realign attention to the evangelization and catechesis of men and those intact families who are in the pews.”

Maureen Williamson


Happy New Year

Memoirs of a Happy Failure“As I near the end of my life, I recall all the graces and gifts God has sent me.  One of the greatest is that I grew up in Belgium when it was a truly Catholic country,” Alice von Hildebrand tells Trent Beattie in a National Catholic Register interview.  As mentioned before in this blog, Dr. von Hildebrand has just published a biography, Memoirs of a Happy Failure.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a “truly Catholic country”?  Unfortunately, we don’t and nor is Belgium one today either.  And, we worry about the Catholic Church itself as much as the secular world around us.  However as we end 2014, I’d like to quote Phillip Trower in the First Things piece about which I recently wrote:

“When I asked Philip about sincere Catholics who constantly worry about the pope and Church,” wrote William Doino Jr., “he replied with a wisdom he has gathered over many years”

I would say pray, trust in God, and if you feel you must, speak your mind, respectfully and conscientiously, never forgetting you are talking about the successor of St. Peter; and if some events still leave you distressed, offer your sufferings up for the Holy Father’s good, and for the good of the whole Church.

I would also recommend praying for the grace to understand what God is trying to tell us through Francis. The three most obvious lessons appear to be: “Live more simply,” “Do as much as you are able for the poor and disadvantaged,” and “Don’t let the way you live and talk about the faith make it seem something grim and unattractive.”

A Happy and Blessed New Year to you and your loved ones.

Maureen Williamson

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”

Tale of Three TreesChristmas time is always a good time for me to reread one of my favorite children’s books, The Tale of Three Trees.  In this book three little trees dream of what will happen when they grew up.

The first tree wants to grow up and “hold treasure.”  Lo and behold this tree is cut down and made into a feed box for animals.  Then one night in a stable in Bethlehem “a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box….And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.”

After all the hustle and bustle preparing for Christmas it is well to think about this simple folktale.

Let us also remember the words of St. John:

“And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory  of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” — John 1:14

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you and yours from everyone at The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide.

Maureen Williamson

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