Great Sermon

About a great saint, from Rorate Caeli. 

An excerpt.

“From the Epistle:  For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high. (Ephesians 6:12)

“The Church is only as good as her saints, for they make real the truth of the holiness of the Church.  And at the heart of every one of those men and women we call saints is Hans Urs von Balthasar’s statement:  “Love alone is credible.” Love alone is credible.  And yet, is this what Catholics associate with saints, do they believe that the saint is the saint because they make love credible?  The post-Vatican II time of the Church has seen a marked de-emphasis on the saints, at least at the level of the hierarchy or at least those in charge of liturgical matters.  In the years following the imposition of the 1970 Roman Missal  by Pope St. Paul VI the liturgical gurus of that time declared that to have too many statues of saints in a parish church confuses the people, and to have a statue of a saint, even the Blessed Virgin Mary, within the sanctuary, would generate the ultimate confusion, for then the people are distracted from what should be their focus:  the priest-presider as the celebrant of the liturgy.  We will demur from speaking about whether the priest should be the focus of the liturgy or whether the people should be the focus of the liturgy or none of the above.  These liturgical experts obviously were not familiar with the Divine Liturgy in an Orthodox church, where the presence of the saints is so vividly encountered in the presence of the icons. But the provincialism of liturgical experts is beyond this particular sermon.  

“The saints are proofs, obvious proofs, of the reality of sanctifying grace, of transformative grace.  Without St Lucy’s eyes on a plate, we would all be Protestants, singing like at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party: “Grace  yesterday, grace tomorrow, but never grace today.”  

“I was thinking of all of this yesterday when pondering the meaning of the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alocoque.  Her name fascinates me. The sound of Alocoque is amazing.  When one reads the hagiographical account of her life, one encounters those key phrases: born of a noble family, pious as a child, from an early age was drawn to pious exercises of penance, entered the religious life, died, was raised to the honors of the altar by such and such a Pope.  Now these accounts of the lives of saints, especially after the Council of Trent, are not to be discredited.  But we must ask whether, in their good desire to speak of the holiness of the Saint, they neuter the relevance of their sanctity for us today.  

“St Mary Margaret Alacoque lived at a particular time in the history of the world, the world impregnated by the God who became flesh in history two thousand years ago.  And so the meaning of her sanctity is not confined to some sort of Platonic eternal sphere of saintliness.  It must be understood in the context of when she lived and who she was.  St. Margaret Mary Alocoque cannot be made into a generic saint, whose statue embodies that pietistical mediocrity that denies the radical Christocentricity that is the essence of the Saint.  

“To disregard the context of the time and place in which the saint lived is to deny the reality of the holiness of that saint and any relevance to us today.  What would it have been like to live in 17th century France, when Margaret Alocoque lived? It would have been not a good time for a pious and believing Catholic.  For that century in France was a time of irreligion in the political and cultural sphere and a time of real challenges to the Catholic faith within the Church herself.  It was a time when the religious wars and their aftermath infected all levels of society, when the Catholic faith and regal and local politics were so intertwined that the Catholic faith was threatened by an absorption into political strife.  But it was also a time when within the Church, as a part of the Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation, there arose a movement called Jansenism that threatened the very basis of the Catholic teaching about grace and man’s freedom.  Jansenism, as a reaction to the scandals besetting the Church from within, as a reaction to the apparent denial of the holiness of the Church by the behavior of clergy, embraced a terrible and un-Catholic view of grace that denied the freedom of the man or woman to accept or reject grace.  The Jansenists were the Catholic counterparts of the Puritans in Protestantism.  And they caused many problems in the Church not because of their rightful criticism of the laxity of the moral standards of Catholics but because of their deep misunderstanding of freedom and grace. 

“Not a good time to be a Catholic. But is any time a good time to be a Catholic?  No, there is not. That is the point.  So Margaret Mary Alocoque enters the Visitation Convent in Paray-Monial in 1671.  She is deemed by her sisters as awkward and not obviously cut out for the religious life.  She doesn’t fit the image of the 17th century Visitation nun.  And she begins to have visions of our Lord, beginning in 1674, and these vision center on our Lord’s heart, and on this Heart as our Lord’s infinite love for each man and woman in the world. She kept a notebook that contains the words of our Lord in these visions.  Listen to one of them:

“After this, He asked me for my heart, which I begged Him to take. He did so and placed it in His own Adorable Heart, where He showed it to me like a tiny atom which was being consumed in this great furnace, and withdrawing it thence as a burning flame in the form of a heart, He restored it to the place whence He had taken it…”

“Like a tiny atom”…. That is how we know this is real, for St. Margaret Mary completely understands her role not as a great saint whose statues would grace countless churches, but rather as a mere atom, a speck, to point to the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ, a speck that would be consumed by this fire of love.  Of course, she encountered great opposition and misunderstanding from her Order, especially from her Superior.  And that is the Catholic way:  such special revelations by anyone who has any Catholic sense should be resisted and countered, because they are not part of the deposit of Faith.   Credulity is an enemy of the Catholic faith.  But because her revelations were genuine, the doubt and genuine skepticism of those in charge of such things in the Church were overcome, and it is Margaret Mary Alacoque who becomes the impetus for devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Church.

“But once again, this saint cannot and should not be taken out of her historical context and turned into a generic pious saint.  God raised her up at that particular time as an antidote to the two enemies of the Church at that time:  irreligion and Jansenism.  The 17th century in France was a time when the Catholic faith was at the mercy and the manipulation of those in power:  kings, emperors, heads of state. It was the time of the beginning of secularism, when what one believed was linked to who was in charge at that time and when we see the real first beginnings of the doctrine of relativism.  But it was also the time of corruption in the Church. One of the reactions to this corruption within the Church was the appearance of a form of Puritanism that in effect denied the freedom of man to reject grace and thereby to deny the freedom that is from God and which distorted the Catholic faith in such a way that the unity of the triad of truth, beauty and goodness was severed, with disastrous consequences that resonate down to our own time.  

“But this is the point:  that God raised St Margaret Mary in her particular time to say something that had to be said and to be that someone who could say what had to be said:  that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting live.” In the midst of irreligion, of behaving as if God does not exist, and in the midst of a scourge that combines a liturgical puritanism and a romantic accommodation to a faithless generation within the Catholic Church: this woman proclaims the love of God that burns so strongly that that love is not beyond the grasp of even the most grievous sinner. And in this way the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is truly radical and cannot be put into a pious box or evacuated merely by a Litany.  For the offense to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not only the blasphemy and irreverence of a non-believing world.  The offense to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is also committed by those, who in the name of religion and piety, restrict where the love and grace of God can operate, can heal, can transform.”

Retrieved October 18, 2021 from RORATE CÆLI: To be Consumed by the Fire of God: Sermon for Pentecost XXI (rorate-caeli.blogspot.com)

Be well and pray the old school Rosary the old school way, Praying The Fifteen Decades of the Rosary by Fr. Paul Sretenovic (traditioninaction.org)

Theology Matters

Yes it does, as this article from The Everyman reports.

An excerpt.

“I know that theology matters. Really, I do. I know that what you believe shapes your actions and how you see the future. There are consequences to beliefs and there are horrible consequences to beliefs that are in opposition to reality.

“For example, since God exists, atheism is a false belief. And while beleiving something that is false does not always portent horrible and immediate consequences to your averager person, eventually atheism produces disastrous results for whole cultures and societies if left unchallenged.

“Or take the exalted view of what is now called “Scientism” which has and will continue to produce equally dire results as expert scientists leave their own lanes of expertise and enter into the world of morality, philosophy, or policy. As philosopher Tom Sorell wrote in his book Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science, “Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on natural science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture.”

“The Roots of Scientism and What it Has Brought Us

“Scientism really has its roots in Modernism, or the basic belief that scientific knowledge alone can solve the world’s problems and answer all of our most perplexing questions. The aim of Modernism was to bring an end to the world being held hostage to superstition and blind faith as it had been for, well, forever.

“Modernism may have offered some interesting architecture, but it fails as a worldview. As did Naturalism – or the belief that matter is all there is or ever was – which has no legitimate defense because science can only answers questions limited to the natural world using a methodological process. This means that it has nothing to say about the supernatural, which is a part of reality.

“With scientism and atheism (which often go together, of course) serving as two examples of false beliefs that have far-reaching consequences, I want to reaffirm that what we believe theologically really does matter. And because it matters, our world has had its fair share of theological debates, disagreements, excommunications, and even wars that have resulted from theological disagreements.

“And not just on the “big” issues of God’s existence or the Trinity. No, fellowship is cut off over disagreements about baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the nature of the atonement, and more.

“Heck, even as I wrote those words, I am tempted to defend my understanding of all of those issues for I really do think they are important. But it seems like thinking about and discussing those topics really feel like luxuries these days. Perhaps I am just letting the world’s events dictate my thinking too heavily, but it really does feel like we are in the midst of massive paradigm shifts all around: the Afghanistan debacle will have long-term fallout as our enemies will be empowered and our allies must be concerned; Covid and its mutations are not under control and the controversy about how to deal with it is only just beginning; public institutions (the media, schools, and the government) have sunk even lower in our minds, and there already wasn’t much room at the bottom; and the U.S. dollar continues to lose import the world over which could trigger a financial crisis the likes of which we have never seen.

“And all of this is, as I said in a sermon recently, on top of our ongoing fights against the horrors of abortion, the redefinition of marriage and gender, and a racial reckoning that never seems to end (!).

“In the midst of all of that, what is the role of theology? Should we even worry about these historic ideas from scripture that both define us and divide us? Or do we hit the pause button and fight the fights of today because their emergent nature demands our attention? Is it a dereliction of duty to talk theology in seasons of intense change or to avoid theology in those seasons?”

Retrieved October 18, 2021 from Theology May Feel Like a Luxury…But it Isn’t! (everymancommentary.com)

Be well and pray the old school Rosary the old school way, Praying The Fifteen Decades of the Rosary by Fr. Paul Sretenovic (traditioninaction.org)

St. Callistus, Criminal Saint

One of our patron saints, post from Catholic Online.

The post.

“Imagine that your biography was written by an enemy of yours. And that its information was all anyone would have not only for the rest of your life but for centuries to come. You would never be able to refute it — and even if you couldno one would believe you because your accuser was a saint.

“That is the problem we face with Pope Callistus I who died about 222. The only story of his life we have is from someone who hated him and what he stood for, an author identified as Saint Hippolytus, a rival candidate for the chair of Peter. What had made Hippolytus so angry? Hippolytus was very strict and rigid in his adherence to rules and regulations. The early Church had been very rough on those who committed sins of adultery, murder, and fornication. Hippolytus was enraged by the mercy that Callistus showed to these repentant sinners, allowing them back into communion of the Church after they had performed public penance. Callistus’ mercy was also matched by his desire for equality among Church members, manifested by his acceptance of marraiges between free people and slaves. Hippolytus saw all of this as a degradation of the Church, a submission to lust and licentiousness that reflected not mercy and holiness in Callistus but perversion and fraud.

“Trying to weed out the venom to find the facts of Callistus’ life in Hippolytus’ account, we learn that Callistus himself was a slave (something that probably did not endear him to class-conscious Hippolytus). His master, Carporphorus made him manager of a bank in the Publica Piscina sector of Rome where Callistus took in the money of other Christians. The bank failed — according to Hippolytus because Callistus spent the money on his own pleasure-seeking. It seems unlikely that Carporphorus would trust his good name and his fellow Christians’ savings to someone that unreliable.

“Whatever the reason, Callistus fled the city by ship in order to escape punishment. When his master caught up with him, Callistus jumped into the sea (according to Hippolytus, in order to commit suicide). After Callistus was rescued he was brought back to Rome, put on trial, and sentenced to a cruel punishment — forced labor on the treadmill. Carporphorus took pity on his former slave and manager and Callistus won his release by convincing him he could get some of the money back from investors. (This seems to indicate, in spite of Hippolytus’ statements, that the money was not squandered but lent or invested unwisely.) Callistus’ methods had not improved with desperation and when he disrupted a synagogue by shouting for money, he was arrested and sentenced again.

“This time he was sent to the mines. Other Christians who had been sentenced there because of their religion were released by negotiations between the emperor and the Pope (with the help of the emperor’s mistress who was friendly toward Christians). Callistus accidentally wound up on the same list with the persecuted brothers and sisters. (Hippolytus reports that this was through extortion and connniving on Callistus’ part.) Apparently, everyone, including the Pope, realized Callistus did not deserve his new freedom but unwilling to carry the case further the Pope gave Callistus an income and situation — away from Rome. (Once again, this is a point for suspecting Hippolytus’ account. If Callistus was so despicable and untrustworthy why provide him with an income and a situation? Leaving him free out of pity is one thing, but giving money to a convicted criminal and slave is another. There must have been more to the story.)

“About nine or ten years later, the new pope Zephyrinus recalled Callistus to Rome. Zephyrinus was good-hearted and well-meaning but had no understanding of theology. This was disastrous in a time when heretical beliefs were springing up everywhere. One minute Zephyrinus would endorse a belief he thought orthodox and the next he would embrace the opposite statement. Callistus soon made his value known, guiding Zephyrinus through theology to what he saw as orthodoxy. (Needless to say it was not what Hippolytus felt was orthodox enough.) To a certain extent, according to Hippolytus, Callistus was the power behind the Church before he even assumed the bishopric of Rome.

“When Zephyrinus died in 219, Callistus was proclaimed pope over the protests of his rival candidate Hippolytus. He seemed to have as strong a hatred of heresy as Hippolytus, however, because he banished one of the heretics named Sabellius.

“Callistus came to power during a crucial time of the Church. Was it going to hang on to the rigid rules of previous years and limit itself to those who were already saints or was it going to embrace sinners as Christ commanded? Was its mission only to a few holy ones or to the whole world, to the healthy or to the sick? We can understand Hippolytus’ fear — that hypocritical penitents would use the Church and weaken it in the time when they faced persecution. But Callistus chose to trust God’s mercy and love and opened the doors. By choosing Christ’s mission, he chose to spread the Gospel to all.

“Pope Callistus is listed as a martyr but we have no record of how he was martyred or by whom. There were no official persecutions at the time, but he may well have been killed in riots against Christians.

“As sad as it is to realize that the only story we have of his life is by an enemy, it is glorious to see in it the fact that the Church is large enough not only to embrace sinners and saints, but to proclaim two people saints who hold such wildly opposing views and to elect a slave and an alleged ex-convict to guide the whole Church. There’s hope for all of us then!”

Retrieved October 14, 2021 from St. Callistus I – Saints & Angels – Catholic Online

Be well and pray the old school Rosary the old school way, Praying The Fifteen Decades of the Rosary by Fr. Paul Sretenovic (traditioninaction.org)

Day of the Rosary

Here is an excellent article from National Catholic Register, and I would also refer you to the book by the St. of the Rosary, St. Louis De Montfort, God Alone God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie De Montfort: St. Louis Marie De Montfort, Montfort Missionaries: 9780910984553: Amazon.com: Books

An excerpt from the National Catholic Register article.

“We’re heard much about the Miracle of the Sun, thanks be to God, that startled 70,000-plus people at the Cova da Iria 100 years ago on Oct. 13.

“Instead of repeating basic details of the Miracle that Our Lady had promised in July saying, in October I will tell you who I am and what I want. I will then perform a miracle so that all may believe, and in August repeated, In the last month I will perform a miracle so that all may believe, and again in September reminded, In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe, let’s look at what some eyewitnesses to the miracle said, and importantly, some basics of what Lucia described about that day and later emphasized were major instructions from Our Lady for all of us.

 “Our Lady’s Revelations

“That day, when Lucia asked what Our Lady requested, she first answered, I want a chapel built here in my honor.

“Then Our Lady followed with her constant monthly instruction, I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day.

“Next, she told the children, The war will end soon, and the soldiers will return to their homes (referring to World War I)

“Then, she identified herself as she had promised. I am the Lady of the Rosary.

“In just a few words that’s clearly two references to the importance of the Rosary.

“Lucia asked if Our Lady would grant the numerous petitions for her from the people. Our Lady answered, Some I shall grant, and others I must deny.

“Then came more major guidance — People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!

“Remember, in July Our Lady told the children if men do not refrain from offending God, there would be another and more terrible war (World War II).

“As Our Lady left, she directed attention to the sun. Here we want to look first at what just a pinch of eyewitness descriptions. Then we’ll turn to other visions appearing that day to the children, and finally it’s imperative we listen to the urgent, vital message of Our Lady — things so obvious yet so easily ignored.

“Eye Witness Accounts

“Here’s a sample of what eyewitnesses said. More detail is recounted here

“Jacinta and Francisco’s father Ti Marto said it was most extraordinary the sun didn’t hurt their eyes. “Everything was still and quiet, and everyone was looking up. Then at a certain moment, the sun appeared to stop spinning. It then began to move and to dance in the sky until it seemed to detach itself from its place and fall upon us. It was a terrible moment.”

“Maria de Capelinha who later became custodian of the original chapel built there, described how everything turned “different colors — yellow, blue and white.” Then the sun “shook and trembled. It looked like a wheel of fire that was going to fall on the people. They began to cry out, ‘We shall all be killed!’ Others called to Our Lady to save them. They recited acts of contrition. One woman began to confess her sins aloud…When at last the sun stopped leaping and moving, we all breathed our relief. We were still alive, and the miracle which the children had foretold, had been seen by everyone.”

“A professor from Coimbra University described the vision in vivid detail, from the sun looking like “a glazed wheel made of mother-of-pearl,” to noting it “spun round on itself in a mad whirl. Then, suddenly, one heard a clamor, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible.”

“Even the quite anti-clerical major Lisbon newspaper described the event with respect, even awe at times, mentioning how the spectators were shouting: ‘A miracle! A miracle!’ The account recalled the reverence of an elderly man. “With his face turned to the sun, he recited the Credo in a loud voice…I saw him afterwards going up to those around him who still had their hats on, and vehemently imploring them to uncover before such an extraordinary demonstration of the existence of God.”

Retrieved October 13, 2021 from Fatima’s October 13 Apparition: More Than Meets the Eye| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)

Take care and pray the Rosary the old school way, Praying The Fifteen Decades of the Rosary by Fr. Paul Sretenovic (traditioninaction.org)

Praying the Rosary the Old School Way

I first posted this on October 7, 2018; in this month of the Rosary, it is worth posting again.

Here it is.

I’ve been praying the 15 decade rosary exclusively for some time now, once I understood through my studies that it was the rosary presented by our Holy Queen Mother to St. Dominic, so any additions since then are not what was divinely given.

I pray the 15 decade rosary the way St. Louis Montfort taught us, available online at http://www.philomena.org/rosarydemontford.asp and be sure to add the prayer our Holy Mother taught us at Fatima, available online at https://www.thoughtco.com/the-fatima-prayer-542631 .

Today, I timed how long it took to say the full fifteen decades in one sitting, 40 minutes.

Here is one great place (I got mine here) to get 15 decade rosaries, http://www.sistersofcarmel.com/custom-15-decade-rosaries/

This article from Tradition in Action makes the case for the 15 decade rosary superbly.

An excerpt.

“While driving home from the chapel last week, I was praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. My plan was to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries in the afternoon and the Glorious Mysteries in the evening before going to bed. For many years, I had simply prayed the five decades designated for the day in order to fulfill Our Lady’s request at Fatima that her children pray the Rosary every day for the Consecration of Russia and the peace of Christ in the world. At least I thought that was the nature of her request. More on that misunderstanding will be clarified momentarily.

“Then, one evening in December, one of our parishioners in Southern California mentioned to me that he prays the whole Rosary every day because if Our Lady said that Francisco would go to Heaven only after praying many Rosaries, and he died at the tender age of ten, then how many more would we have to pray to get there! That struck a chord with me.

“I now believe that it is good to pray the entire Rosary daily for three reasons.

“Our Lady asked for the full Rosary

“The first reason is that when the Virgin Mary asked us at Fatima to pray the Rosary every day, she was not asking for five decades. She was asking for fifteen. When Our Lady says “Pray the Rosary,” she is speaking of what has been termed her Psalter, a word referring to the Book of Psalms, which contains one hundred and fifty Psalms of David. From the time of St. Dominic, “Mary’s Psalter” was the 150 Hail Marys. In 1569 St. Pope Pius V, himself a Dominican, issued an apostolic letter establishing the fifteen-decades as the official Church-authorized Rosary.

“For some, if not many, it may seem like too much to ask, given so many other daily responsibilities, to pray the whole Rosary. They will say that even one of the Mysteries, that is, a set of five decades, is difficult.

“I would respond that each one of us is awake at least fifteen hours of the day. Some are awake a few hours longer, but for the sake of argument, we will use the figure fifteen hours. Yes, it would be very nice to get nine hours of sleep at night! If each of us prayed one decade of the Rosary each waking hour, which amounts to five minutes out of every sixty of our day, we would pray the entire Rosary every day.

“Oh sure, some days we could get tied up for two to three hours at a time at work and subsequently “fall behind” in this commitment. But then there is always the ride home, which for most people is more than five to ten minutes, so decades can be made up for in the drive. It does take a little bit of planning ahead and at times those unexpected circumstances do arise. Hard working mothers who are home with their children also face varying circumstances. But, as the old saying goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

“A special efficacy in praying the 15 decades

“This leads to the second reason why I believe this is a very important commitment for us as Catholics to make. Our Lady said that she had obtained from God a special efficacy to be attached to the praying of the Rosary so that there was nothing that we could request from her that we could not obtain through the daily Rosary. If we believe our Mother when she speaks to us, then this statement alone should fill us with great confidence and the desire to ask Our Lady’s intercession for our spiritual and temporal welfare by praying the Rosary. It is like what Jesus said to His Apostles on the night before He died, “Whatever you ask for in My Name, it will be given to you.”

“The Virgin Mary at Fatima was God’s last olive branch for peace in the world today. Is it any wonder that there is such an overlap between the generosity of Jesus and His Mother Mary? In fact, Jesus revealed to Sister Lucia in the 1930s that He wanted Mary’s Immaculate Heart to be honored alongside His, and hearts that love the same things share the same dispositions towards others. In fact, His request simply reiterated what Our Lady herself had already revealed on July 13, 1917: that God wants to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart in the world.”

Retrieved August 31, 2018 from https://traditioninaction.org/religious/d013rp15Decades_Stretenovic.html

Sexual Abuse in the Church

Reports of the Horror against the children of the Church continue, as this story from the UK Times reveals.

An excerpt.

“Tens of thousands of people have been criminally abused by at least 3,000 paedophile priests and other clerics in France in recent decades, according to a report that has shocked the Catholic church.

“The church issued a prayer for “all those who have been victims of violence and sexual attacks” as it braced for the publication on Tuesday of the 2,500-page findings of an independent inquiry that was launched 18 months ago into abuses by priests.

“Jean-Marc Sauvé, 72, a retired senior civil servant who chaired the inquiry, said it had evidence of crimes by 3,000 paedophile church officers among a total of 115,000 personnel since 1950 but the real figure was higher. More than 60 per cent of the abuses were committed against boys and two thirds of the criminals were parish priests, he said.

“Until recently the church had protected priests who were the object of complaints and covered up the abuse, said Sauvé, an active church member who retired last year as deputy head of the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court.

“The investigation, which follows similar exercises in the United States, Australia and other countries, was the first to tackle head-on the existence of widespread paedophile crime inside the French church. The conviction in 2019, later overturned on appeal, of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyons, for failing to report sex abuse by a priest was a turning point.

“The Vatican said it would react after the French report is published. In June, Pope Francis said the church’s sexual abuse crisis was a worldwide disaster.

“Members of the French inquiry, which was set up in 2018 by the episcopate in response to a series of scandals, have been traumatised by the shocking testimony of 250 victims among 6,500 people who reported abuse, Sauvé said.

“The worst “was seeing the most absolute evil — the assault on the physical and psychological integrity of children, a work of death perpetrated by people whose mission was to bring life and salvation,” he told French media.

“Sauvé said he and other members of the panel had received psychological counselling after hearing the graphic testimony from former child victims of abusive priests.

“Most of the offences are no longer legally actionable because they took place too long ago, but the panel reported 22 cases to prosecutors and 40 to dioceses where alleged paedophile church officers are still employed. The panel has concluded that abuse in the church was more extensive than in other institutions, such as schools, according to media reports. About 3 per cent of priests are estimated to have abused their charges since 1950, Sauvé said.

“The panel, which included 22 jurists, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians, is to propose 45 actions in response to what the church said yesterday would be “a harsh and serious moment” which calls for “an attitude of truth and compassion”.

“Monsignor Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, chairman of the Conference of Bishops of France, said he feared that the report “will reveal substantial, frightening figures”.

“The French church said in March that it would give financial compensation to those who were victims of abuse. The Conference of Religious of Institutes and Congregations, which co-sponsored the inquiry, said it was “impatient to face this burden, however black it is, so we can at last take the necessary measures”.

“Only a small minority of the French attend church for more than weddings and funerals but nearly 40 per cent of the population identify themselves as Catholics.”

Retrieved October 3, 2021 from Tens of thousands of French children abused by Catholic priests, inquiry finds | World | The Times

Crime Hot Spots

Focusing on these and specific individuals can pay big dividends as this article from City Journal reports.

An excerpt.

“Though academics, the media, and politicians can’t seem to agree on much when it comes to crime in the United States, three stubborn facts generally apply.

“First, crime is heavily concentrated by place. As a general matter, 5 percent of the locations in a given city account for 50 percent of that city’s crime. This finding has been replicated so often that it is sometimes referred to as “the law of crime concentration.” “As David Weisburd and Taryn Zastrow note in a recent Manhattan Institute report, “there is tremendous consistency in the degree to which crime is concentrated at hot spots across cities.” This is not just a matter of neighborhoods: between 3 percent and 5 percent of specific addresses on city blocks generate 50 percent or more of reported crimes. And if the focus is strictly on violent crime, such as shootings, then even fewer locations—perhaps a drug house or a liquor-store check-cashing operation—are magnets for an even greater percentage of violent crime.

“This first rule has important implications for law enforcement. Identifying and concentrating on hot spots can yield big rewards. Merely parking a patrol car outside of these addresses can lessen crime; even better to identify what exactly is going on there. Some crime may be displaced to other locations when the police shut down hot spots, but evidence shows that suppressing crime at these magnet addresses may create a diffusion of benefits that extends beyond the hot spot. After all, setting up another stash house or problematic liquor store is not always so simple.

“Second, violent crime is heavily concentrated in a relatively few individuals. In general, 5 percent of the criminal offenders (not 5 percent of the general population) in a given city commit about 50 percent of that city’s violent crime. One study found that just 1 percent of offenders were responsible for over 60 percent of violent crime.

“The concentration of crime among people reinforces the need for precision policing. If the police and prosecutors are able to focus on this high-offending cohort, they can respond with enhanced investigative efforts and increase the chance that these “violence generators” will face arrest, conviction, and sentencing for their crimes. Identifying the small fraction of the most dangerous criminals and taking them out of circulation reduces the violent crime rate—in a recent paper, Penn criminologist Aaron Chalfin notes that when the NYPD arrested and prosecuted members of violent criminal gangs, gun violence in gang areas fell by approximately one-third in the first year after a gang takedown. Focusing on the worst of the worst also eases the load on the criminal-justice system. In a hypothetical city of 1.5 million people with 100,000 criminal offenders, the police department has an achievable goal of targeting 5,000 violent offenders, rather than the Sisyphean task of proactively monitoring every criminal. Creative diversion programs for low-risk offenders can also preserve space in correctional facilities.

“Third and finally, crime is concentrated in time. It is predictable by hours, days of the week, and season. The small percentage of chronic offenders who generate the majority of serious crime and violence aren’t actively committing crime all day, every day. Instead, the criminal activity in crime hot spots and among chronic offenders tends to occur at night, during the weekends (Thursday night through early Sunday morning), and in the summer. In Philadelphia, for example, robberies and murder peak during the evenings between 10:00 P.M. and 1:00 A.M. The weekends are obvious triggers for violent crime, as there are simply more potential offenders and victims on the streets. “And summer is the most dangerous time of year in most of the United States.

“The concentration of crime by place, people, and time provides three facts that suggest crime control policy should be similarly focused on the “power few”—the small percentage of locations, offenders, and times that generate the majority of serious crime and violence. Staffing and visible police presence should peak during dangerous times. Evidence suggests that crime prevention that focuses on the power few will yield major benefits, all while not creating collateral consequences for the communities and individuals most likely to suffer from criminal victimization.

“Facts are stubborn things, as John Adams reminded us. Crime is highly concentrated in specific locations, among relatively few individuals, and disproportionately during specific times of the day and year. The police know the where, who, and when of violent crime. Targeting those attributes can make law-abiding citizens safer.”

Retrieved October 2, 2021 from Three Facts about Crime | City Journal (city-journal.org)

Women in the Church

America Magazine has a special issue on this, and here is an excerpt from the editor’s column, Of Many Things.

An excerpt.

“In the late winter of 1995 Peter Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Society of Jesus, convened a general congregation—the global governing body of the Jesuits. Usually a general congregation is convened following the death or resignation of the superior general, in order to elect his successor. But Father Kolvenbach was convening the 34th General Congregation not to elect a new superior but to ask the delegates of the global Society to reflect more deeply on their response to the “signs of the times,” especially in light of the Society’s commitment to “a faith that does justice.”

“Among the General Congregation’s formal communiques was Decree 14, “Jesuits and the Situation of Women in Church and Civil Society,” in which the delegates wrote: “We Jesuits first ask God for the grace of conversion. We have been part of a civil and ecclesial tradition that has offended against women.” The delegates then called for a conversion of the whole Society of Jesus, asking every Jesuit “to listen carefully and courageously to the experience of women” and to take specific steps to address the injustices that women experience in nearly every area of human life.

“The general congregation’s call for solidarity and advocacy set off a burst of apostolic action throughout the Society of Jesus that continues to this day. America Media has been no exception. I am pleased to report that America Media has recruited and hired more women in the last decade than it did in the whole previous century—several of them serving in the highest ranks of the organization. Even more, America has made a commitment to sustain an intense editorial focus on questions related to women in the life of the church and larger society. One of our proudest moments as an organization came in October 2013, when America became the first Jesuit publication in history to publish an issue that had been edited and written entirely by women.

“The present issue is our latest step on that journey. It has not been edited and written entirely by women, though Kerry Weber, our talented executive editor, has done the lion’s share of the work of preparing the content for publication. We decided that a crucial next step involved widening the conversation. …”

Retrieved October 1, 2021 from ARI_October2021.pdf.pdf (americamagazine.org)

Employing Ex- Cons

Excellent article from the UK Times.

An excerpt.

“It is good to hear Dominic Raab encouraging bosses to employ ex-prisoners. If this represents a permanent shift in attitude it will significantly reduce the number of prisoners who reoffend and will cut the vast cost of our prosecution and prison service.

“At Timpson we started recruiting ex-offenders 20 years ago after my son James attended a function at Thorn Cross open prison near Warrington. James was so impressed with Matt, the inmate who showed him round, he said, “Get in touch when you get out and we’ll give you a job.” Matt is still with us 19 years later and we now have about 600 other colleagues who experienced time in prison.

“It isn’t easy to get your life back on track, but work is the link that helps put things back together. More than 60 per cent of prison leavers reoffend within two years of release, a figure that falls to under 20 per cent for those with a job.

“Since 2002 we have learnt how to make prison recruitment an all-round success, whether in our shoe repair, locksmith or dry-cleaning shops. We use the same criteria as for all other applicants: we pick them on their personality. We look for busy, keen, helpful, outgoing and kind people who are ambitious. Drug dealers are often successful: they are very commercial! Everyone who joins us from prison has the same pay and opportunities as every other colleague.

“We’ve also learnt how to help our staff give new starters from prison the extra support they need, especially in the weeks after release. The personal mentoring of their area manager and apprentice trainer are vital. What makes the real difference, though, is being trusted to do the job.

“Along the way, inevitably, we have made a few mistakes. Most of the horror stories happened in the early days when we recruited some of the toughest characters who frankly were too naughty to be employees.

“Lots of prisoners serving sentences would make great drivers, butchers, bakers and pastry chefs. But the current lack of skills will not be solved overnight by HR managers tripping around the prison estate. There are some 85,000 people in prison and most won’t be available for work any time soon. We recruit several ex-offenders on day-release but that’s only possible when they are serving the last four months of their sentence.”

Retrieved October 1, 2021 from Hire ex-offenders to help society and the economy | Comment | The Times

Elder Parole

Excellent article in City Journal exploding the myth that paroling elderly criminals is a good idea.

An excerpt.

“The national decarceration and “prison abolition” movements aim to free as many people from confinement as possible, using any available arguments. The crisis on Rikers Island, for instance, prompted rapid passage of the “Less Is More Act,” which reduces the penalties for “technical violations” of parole, such as not checking in with parole officers, doing drugs, or hanging out with felons.

“The general process of parole and clemency—by which convicted criminals can get released before the expiration of their sentence, usually predicated on years of good behavior, the expression of remorse, and faith that the inmate has repented of his wicked ways—has been identified as a soft spot in the nation’s system of punishment. The public has limited appetite for non-carceral alternatives for serious criminals, such as restorative justice or community supervision, but it is easier to sell people on stories of redemption after the partial completion of a sentence.

“The criminal-justice advocacy complex—including leftist officials, major foundations and think tanks, activist groups, and supportive media voices—has embraced this fight. The ACLU, for instance, calls the nation’s parole process “under-utilized, broken, or non-existent.” Following controversial commutations of the sentences of terrorist killers Sirhan Sirhan and David Gilbert, the New York Times ran an item by convicted murderer and jailhouse journalist John J. Lennon taking issue with a system that relies on gubernatorial grace to achieve mercy. “But many of us are perplexed about clemency,” writes Lennon. “Who deserves mercy? Can we earn it? If our victims won’t forgive us, will a governor? And why should mercy fall on the grace of the governor alone?” The implication is that mercy is too important to be left up to an individual and must be codified in order to make early release from prison impartial and relatively automatic.

“Activists argue that older prisoners pose no threat to society and should be let out of prison as a matter of course. A proposal in the New York State legislature called the Elder Parole Bill seeks to end “death by incarceration” by giving inmates over the age of 55 “the opportunity for parole consideration after they have served 15 years of their sentence,” in the words of State Senator Brad Hoylman, the bill’s sponsor. According to Hoylman, “long prison sentences without a meaningful chance for parole don’t keep New Yorkers safer or deter crime. They keep people languishing in jail cells for decades after they’ve been rehabilitated.”

“About 21 percent of the people incarcerated in New York State prisons are over 50. It’s a myth, though, that most people in prison will be there for an extraordinary period of time. The average inmate currently serving time in prison has been there for two years and is looking at an average of 19 months until he is released, though almost two-thirds of all prisoners have been convicted of a violent felony. The percentage of people serving a sentence of life without parole is actually tiny—less than 1 percent of all inmates.

“So it’s useful to consider who would really be served by Hoylman’s bill, which aims to “help bring our elders home” and give them “a chance to reconnect with their families and communities in their golden years.” Anyone over 55 who was sentenced to life without parole, having already served at least 15 years, is likely to have committed some heinous crimes. What types of people would benefit from the Elder Parole Bill?

“Mark David Chapman, who stalked and assassinated former Beatle John Lennon in 1980, is 66, and has spent more than 40 years in prison. Colin Ferguson shot 25 people on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993, citing his hatred of whites. He is now 63. Joel Rifkin murdered at least 17 women between 1989 and 1993, dumping their bodies in creeks and empty lots; Rifkin is now 62. David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam killer, murdered six people and wounded seven others in the course of his 1976 spree. Berkowitz is now 68, has become an evangelical Christian, and writes essays on faith and repentance for Christian websites and periodicals. Richard Angelo, a Long Island nurse who poisoned dozens of his patients, killing at least eight, was sent to prison in 1987; he is 59 now.

“By the longevity standards of 2021, these convicted killers could easily live for another 25 years each, and with good health could certainly enjoy their “golden years” in relative comfort outside the confines of the New York State correctional system. Sounds good for them; the benefits to society, on the other hand, are somewhat dubious.

“It’s not the case that violent crime is strictly a young man’s game. In 2020, nearly 24 percent of new commitments for violent felonies in New York State were people over 40, and 10 percent were older than 50. And there is no reason to assume that sex murderers and poisoners change their attitudes just because they qualify for discounted theater tickets.”

“Indeed, the decarceration movement finds itself in an uncomfortable paradox that it prefers to skirt. The prison system, we’re told, is a vicious hellhole that instructs young people how to become better criminals and dehumanizes its subjects to the point that they become moral monsters. But at the same time, we are asked to believe that innumerable longtime inmates have become valedictorians, AIDS educators, peer counselors, and service-dog trainers, whom society should recruit at once to teach anger management to young people “at risk” of becoming involved in the justice system. How did they turn their lives around in such a nightmarish environment?”

Retrieved October 1, 2021 from The Fallacy of Elder Parole | City Journal (city-journal.org)