Wednesday, November 09, 2011


USA Today says there are parallels between Penn State sex scandal and the Catholic Priest sex scandals. In one sense, they are right. In another, they are dead wrong.

On the one hand, ANY and EVERY act of sex abuse of a child (pedophilia) or teenager (ephebophilia) is a heinous crime and most grave moral sin. EVERY sex abuser, regardless of their gender, religion, occupation should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Yet, we also live in a democratic republic where the rule of law states that EVERYONE IS PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. Even Roman Law (the basis for ecclesiastical canon law) guarantees DUE PROCESS for anyone accused. The burden of proof rests with the accuser not the accused.

However, when it comes to clergy, because a handful of bishops botched the situation by ignoring complaints or clandestinely transferring known or accused sex abusers, due process is sometimes denied. When a priest is accused of sexually abusing a minor, he must (by Dallas Charter) immediately be removed from public office and then an investigation ensues. When a bishop is accused, however, he does not step down.

LIkewise, when a civilian (layman) is accused, he retains his civil liberties and constitutional rights. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty..

Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with allegedly sexually abusing eight boys (pre-pubescent) over a period of 15 years. He was an assistant coach to the famous Head Coach Joe Paterno.  While immediate superiors were alerted no one made sure that a follow up full disclosure be made to the local police.

While it is horrible that any acts of child sex abuse ever take place, we must admit the disgusting reality that perversion knows no boundaries.

Catholic Priests, Protestant Ministers, Jewish Rabbis, single celibate men and maried men alike, black and white, poor and rich alike; parents, siblings, relatives and neighbors, coaches and scout masters, teachers and others have committed vile acts against children. If you crunch the numbers and do the math, you'll see that Catholic Clergy are NOT the most populous offenders.

CNN did a special the other day on defrocked Catholic priests who were accused of pedophilia but never convicted for their crimes they committed on innocent victims. Problem is that MANY if not MOST perverts can legally buy or rent homes in local neighborhoods near innocent CHILDREN. But the report made it seem as if ONLY ex-Catholic Clergy were the villans and no one else. POPPYCOCK. !!!  Most child abuse is done by parents, siblings and close relatives. Yet, one case is one too many. Pedophilia is not a Catholic nor a celibate issue.  It is a perversion and an immoral evil which do not discriminate victims or perpetrators.   

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Fools for Christ / Catholic Dummies

Saint Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:10 that "we are fools for Christ."

The original Greek word used in the sacred text was μωροὶ (moroi), the root word for the English word MORON.

No one takes offense at this literary device which obviously does not convey a literal interpretation. It is a figure of speech. It is a METAPHOR. Saint Paul did not intend to offend his brother Christians. He was using a biblical theme, however, that in the eyes of the world, the man of faith appears foolish. The secular world does not believe in God nor in the immortal soul nor in life after death. Certainly, the secularist does not believe in the resurrection (of Christ or of the dead in general). For believers, death is merely going to sleep. The secularists consider Christian doctrine of soul and the hereafter as foolish nonsense since it cannot be proved empirically. Earlier in his epistle to the church in Corinth, Saint Paul says "we preach Christ crucified, a scandal to Jews and a folly (
μωρίαν = morian
) to Greeks."

Hence, the interpretation of ANY word depends on the CONTEXT. 
Fr. Levis said a million times on WEB OF FAITH that whenever you take a TEXT out of CONTEXT you get a PRETEXT.

Therefore, the use of the word DUMMIES in the titles of our books is meant to be METAPHORICAL and not literal. It is a figure of speech in the same line and tradition of Saint Paul when he says we are FOOLS FOR CHRIST. He neither insults Jesus nor His followers.

The title, by the way, is copyrighted and owned by the Wiley Publishing Co.  They hired (contracted) me and Father Ken Brighenti to write CATHOLICISM FOR DUMMIES (and four other titles: Women in the Bible for Dummies; John Paul II for Dummies; Saints for Dummies: and Catholic Mass for Dummies)

The SECOND EDITION of CATHOLICISM FOR DUMMIES has just been printed and is now available on line ( and Barnes & Noble), at your local Catholic bookstore and at EWTN Religious Catalog

The Dummies series has over 800+ titles, from Cats for Dummies and Dogs for Dummies to Quantum Physics for Dummies and Differential Calculus for Dummies. The premise is that the book is about a serious topic but written in such a way that the reader does NOT have to be an expert to understand the book. Yet, every now and then we get emails from devout and good people who take exception to the title and feel offended. Our purpose and intent was NOT to insult any more than Saint Paul meant to offend the Corinthians. In fact, most college and high school students have read several different varieties of Dummies (and Complete Idiot's Guide) to many, many subjects, including the Bible for Dummies and Latin for Dummies, just to mention two off hand. Knowing that, we secured IMPRIMATURS for CATHOLICISM FOR DUMMIES (1st and 2nd editions) as well as CATHOLIC MASS FOR DUMMIES. This allows the books to be used in RCIA, CCD, adult education, et al.  Fallen away Catholics, adult children and alumni of Catholic grade schools have found the books helpful in reintroducing them to the Catholic faith.

Catholicism for Dummies conforms to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (hence, the granting of the imprimatur). Not all books in this genre have that authentic seal of orthodoxy. We used the structure of the FOUR PILLARS OF FAITH (the Creed, the Seven Sacraments, the Ten Commandments and the Our Father or Lord's Prayer) as the CCC uses to organize the material and thus covering Catholic doctrine, worship, morality and spirituality.

Father Brighenti and I hope you will enjoy and find the 2nd Edition of CFD an easy read but also an edifying one in that it wets your whistle to read more about the faith.
The recently released (a few months ago) CATHOLIC MASS FOR DUMMIES has a history of Mass, explains the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, the Byzantine and Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy, the use of Latin and the Vernacular, vestments and vessels, Holy days, liturgical year and liturgical calendars, etc.

The upcoming changes in the English translation of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal are also explained just in time for the implementation in North America November 27.

Now they call us the "Dummies' Priests" and I say, "but we are ALL fools for Christ." I URGE Catholic parents (whether your son or daughter is in high school or college) especially if they are grown up and living on their own but no longer practice the faith, PLEASE, get our book and strategically leave it in your son or daughter's home nice time you visit.  Don't give it to them outright.  Don't leave it on the kitchen table (or dining room table or living room table for that matter).  Leave it in the bathroom or mix it in with their other periodicals, newspapers and printed reading materials. That way, they MIGHT glance at it when NO ONE IS LOOKING or when no one is around. 9 times out of 10, they read more than a page or two. Many read more than one chapter. I have been told by lots of Catholic parents that their adult children who WERE lukewarm or who defected to other religions, have now been reconsidering their position and a good number actually approach their local parish priest or campus Catholic chaplain.

I know some may think this a shameful self-promotion but that is not true. I meet, speak, email, with many Catholic parents who wonder where did they go wrong and why are their adult children no longer practicing Catholics. Some of the blame goes to horrible inadequate catechesis. CCD and religion books in the days before the Catechism (pre-1992) had sociology and psychology replacing theology. Butterflies and pet rocks replaced the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Some of the blame goes to whacky priests and nuns who live in a time warp and refuse to admit that the '60's are OVER. Woodstock is long gone. Some blame goes to lax parents who presumed their local parish and parochial school would teach the unadulterated faith to their kids and never checked it out by ASKING Johnny or Susie what they learned in CCD or religion class. Some blame goes to so-called Catholic colleges who hired dissidents and gave them tenure so students could be brainwashed to accept heterodoxy while mommy and daddy paid outrageous tuition fees. Some blame goes to bishops who did not investigate seminaries and colleges in their dioceses to make sure EX CORDE ECCLESIAE was implemented and that the Catechism would be taught and known by teacher and student alike in all levels of Catholic education. Some blame goes to pastors who did not review catechetical material and just gave carte blanche to DRE's who never took theology classes but did attend workshops and seminars given by ex-priests, femme-nazi nuns (incognito, of course) and unorthodox liturgists who have monosyllabic names. Enough blame to go around for everyone, I guess. But now, with the revised English translation and the implementation of Summorum Pontificum allowing universal celebration of the Extraordinary Form, there is GREAT HOPE a Catholic Renaissance will unfold. REVERENCE for the HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS and RESPECT for the Magisterium will have a reciprocal effect. LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI. Our Holy rituals and rites are organically and integrally connected to the holy truths of our holy religion. Previous eras attempted to desecrate our church by removing sacred language, sacred art, and sacred science. Secular and pedestrian language (prayers and hymns), secular (a.k.a. modern) art, and secular humanism crept in over the past half century but God gave us JP2 and B16 to steer the barque of Peter back on course. More young people know their faith, love their faith and practice their faith than the secular media portrays. WYD attracts myriads and unlike the occupy Wallstreet gang, there are no incidents of violence, disrespect, or misbehavior. There are two or three middle generations who need prayers and guidance. There is no such thing as a 'lost' generation, just an uncatechized (or often, a poorly or improperly catechized) one.


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