Saturday, October 22, 2011

It’s Time for Some Real Catholicism

The tributes were glowing, and plentiful. Bouquets of flowers; placard-sized pictures, propped up on easels outside Apple stores worldwide, complete with votive candles; and, of course, shiny red apples, with a carefully-taken bite out of each – and all the rest of the conventional absurdities of the day that pass for “tribute” to this world’s “icons.”  We’re talking, of course, about Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple Computer.  His death on October 5 was a major media event on every continent (with the possible exception of Antarctica), with tributes flowing in from just about every corner of the world, and every major news source imaginable.  In many instances, regularly scheduled programming was interrupted to announce his death.  Heads of state noted his passing.  He even made the front page of L’Osservatore Romano.  From all the media hoopla and the “reverential” tone of the tributes accorded him at his death, one would think that he was Padre Pio and Mother Theresa all rolled into one.

But one would not have to dig very far beneath the surface to find out the Jobs was anything but that.  For instance, I wonder how many of the people who use those iPhones and iPads realize that they were made in most cases by slave labor in Chinese factories?  It is reported that in one of the factories there, “nets” were installed outside the factory’s windows.  The reason?  Too many of the factory’s employees, despondent over working long hours for less than eight bucks a day, were committing suicide by jumping out of those windows – so, “nets” were installed to catch them.  Couldn’t let ‘em jump -- bad for business!  It kind of makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over that they installed those nets, doesn’t it?  I wonder if Stevie boy, who was worth some 8+ billion dollars, considered those nets a “good business decision”?   To say that he was unaware of those nets or of the factory conditions that precipitated their implementation is simply inconceivable.

Then there’s his liver transplant.  Jobs proudly stated in one of his celebrated “product-launch events” that he had received a liver from a 22-year old donor who had “died in a car accident.”  The only problem though, Steve, is that this “donor” didn’t die in that car accident, but afterwards, after his (her?) liver was harvested – because, for an organ to “work,” it must come from a living, breathing personnot a cadaver.  That donor had to have been living when that liver was removed; then the donor left to die.  And for what -- so Jobs could have a couple more years before he too (inevitably) succumbed?

Because some doctor “determined” that the donor was “brain dead,” said donor was judged to be “irretrievable” and then put to death so that Steve Jobs could have his few more years of borrowed time.  I wonder how much more time in purgatory – or somewhere else – that this got him as well?  I wonder if he – wherever he is now -- thinks it was worth it?  The “bottom line” for Steve Jobs is death – dead at 56.  In spite of receiving a liver transplant harvested from a 22-year old “donor,” in spite of his 8-plus billions, he’s in the grave, just as the poorest pauper will be – just as we all will be.  And where will he be when eternity comes knocking at the door?  I have a feeling that -- when the Court of Divine Justice convenes -- he will be “trading places” with many of those factory workers!

How did Jobs come to have such a callous disregard for human life?  From his Buddhist philosophy?  Although that may be part of it, that mindset actually springs from America’s Protestant roots: from the Protestant concept of fides sola, the Calvinist notion that one can do whatever one wants, so long as he “believes in Christ” – that good works are not necessary for salvation.  That kind of thinking is what paved the way for the robber baron capitalism of Andrew Carnegie, the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the rest.  As long as one went to church on Sunday, what he did in the “business world” didn’t matter; since good works aren’t “necessary,” it logically follows that “bad works” are no barrier to one’s salvation, so – what the heck – go ahead, exploit your neighbor!  Take advantage of him, mistreat him, dispossess him -- no problem!  God will smile on you, as long as you “have the faith.”

That is the practical result, the ultimate fruit borne of the fides sola principle that Calvin set into motion.  And although it began as a purely Protestant thing, it has alas crept into everyone’s thinking these days.  We would like to think that traditional Catholicism is immune from it – but it is not.  On the contrary, it has adopted it and made it its own.  So many of today’s traditional Catholics think that if one “says all the right prayers” and “does all the right devotions,” one will get to heaven. Although traditional Catholicism preaches “faith and good works,” in practice some of its adherents all too often mimic the fides sola mindset.  That is why so many of them can follow priests who do the wrong things, so long as they say the “right” things.

And, sometimes, even when they say the wrong things, some people still follow them, as long as they look and sound “traditional” in other respects – especially in rubrics and other “appearances.”  That is why some people follow a Cekada who gets it totally wrong about Schiavo (and who lies and slanders at will, whether it be about a venerable deceased abbot or anyone else), so long as he gives them their “pretty Latin Mass,” with its incense, polyphonic music, and all the rest of the “traditional trappings.”  However, beautiful as these things may be, they are only the “cover” -- not the “book.”  If the substance of Catholicism is not there, they make it only an exercise in nostalgia and a caricature of itself.

Another facet of this “appearances” mentality is the Pharisaic prudishness that has crept into the thinking of so many traditional Catholics.  They can tolerate all manner of duplicity, subterfuge, lying, and injustice from someone, as long as he comports himself with “proper etiquette and decorum” in doing so, and “says things nicely.”  But conversely, God help the poor soul who speaks out against some injustice, but -- in his righteous anger -- slips up and uses a four-letter word; he’ll invariably be condemned by them as “un-Catholic.”  It seems that, for these hypocrites, it doesn’t matter if one engages in parlor-room tricks, as long as he uses parlor-room talk.

Besides the fides sola mentality, the other hallmark of Protestantism is its reliance on individual interpretation of Scripture, which has led inevitably to the disunity that plagues Protestantism to this day.  But, as pointed out in an earlier article, traditional Catholicism is not immune from that either.  In fact, it seems to have embraced it and made it its own; organizationally -- and even doctrinally -- “traddie-land” is “all over the map.”  Instead of unity, we have reverted to a sort of “feudal system” of little fiefdoms where each little potentate holds court over his own particular entourage, being sure to invoke some doctrinal or canonical technicality to set his flock apart from the others – and convince his flock that his cause is the only “valid” one.  By “guilt-tripping” them and/or by out-and-out threats of “excommunicating” them (which no traditional cleric has the power or jurisdictional authority to do), he then keeps them from defecting -- safely “inside the castle walls.”

The fruit that traditional Catholicism has borne has been not only disunity but in-fighting and “turf wars” as well among rival factions. The arch-examples of this sort of thing are, of course, Daniel Dolan and Anthony Cekada.  They have given a new (and unintended) meaning to the term “Church Militant.”  Not only have they used the “guilt-trip” tactic to keep parishioners within the SGG fold, but they have vehemently vilified the many who have defected from there -- being especially vindictive towards Fr. Markus Ramolla.  Because he stood up to the myriad abuses perpetrated by them and their sadistic school principal (all of which are well-documented), he was expelled by them, after which they conducted a systematic smear campaign against him – including an abortive attempt to get him deported (see related article).

Although all of these measures having failed miserably, they have still kept at it.  Their latest ploy, as this website’s last article pointed out, was to make a video (on You Tube, no less) depicting Fr. Ramolla as Adolf Hitler!   It makes one wonder why, instead of going after a fellow Catholic on such a witch-hunt, they don’t direct their ire against the real enemies of Catholicism – especially Moslems.  Why? -- because they’re interested only in protecting their own little pieces of turf.  They’re only interested in giving people the trappings -- not the substance – of Catholicism.  They’re interested only in filling up the church pews -- and the collection basket. They can’t be bothered with taking real Catholic stands on things such as Schiavo, brain death, and organ transplants, or in directing their efforts against our enemies without.  They seem to be interested more in cannibalizing traditional Catholicism than they are in fighting the real enemies without who are knocking at our door.

At St. Albert’s and its new seminary, we will bother to take those stands, and to fight those real enemies.  The Dolans and Cekadas of the world can squabble over their turf and can continue in their vain efforts to slander their fellow Catholics with puerile, tasteless videos; but their scheming will come to naught: persecution has always helped the Church, not hurt it.  That is why, in spite of their best efforts, St. Albert the Great Church will continue to grow and flourish.  It and its seminary will not only look Catholic but will be Catholic as well.  They will take Catholic stands on the issues that require it, and will neither “waffle” on such issues nor be ambiguous about them in order to avoid “controversy.”  At the same time, it will never be St. Albert’s policy to coerce or intimidate its parishioners into taking stands on issues that are not articles of faith, or to require such “stands” as being necessary for membership in the congregation – nor will parishioners be threatened with expulsion on such grounds.

Traditional Catholicism needs to cleanse itself of the Protestant mindset that has infected it, and get back to thinking that is clear and correct – that is truly Catholic.  To repeat, there is more to Catholicism than “appearances”; there is more to it than “getting the rubrics right.”  What good is a “letter-perfect” Mass if one does not stand up for the sanctity of Terri Schiavo’s life, or take a stand against the life-ending evils of our day? – not just against abortion, but the false concept of “brain death” as well, which has given rise to a multi-billion industry in the trafficking of human organs, where people are routinely put to death to have their organs harvested (it is suspected that many people in third-world countries who “disappear” are abducted for just that purpose).  Again, what good are those letter-perfect rubrics if one does not take a real stand against such travesties as these?

It’s time for people to start thinking again, logically and dispassionately, and not to base their beliefs or allegiances on emotions and ”appearances” or on how much “charisma” this or that priest has, but on facts.  We must look beneath the surface of things to find what the real story is, whether it be with a Steve Jobs or a Dolan or a Cekada.  Regardless of how many iPhones, iPods, and iPads the one gave us, or the “pretty Latin Mass” that the other two did, we must look past “appearances” and look at their real track records – not at some cosmetic fantasy based on wishful thinking or feigned unawareness.   If we do not, we will be turning our backs on what is right.  We will be turning our backs on God.  And if we turn our backs on Him, He will turn His back on us. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reptiles Will Be Reptiles

In recent weeks, several videos have surfaced on You Tube, videos which have an actor portraying – of all people -- Adolph Hitler, speaking in German to his “constituents.”  These videos first appeared on You Tube some time back as “political” videos, with English subtitles to get their message across.  Some individual -- or group of individuals -- has recently been re-using these same videos, “retreaded” with new subtitles, to attack Fr. Markus Ramolla, St. Albert the Great and its new seminary, and various individuals who are presumed to be allied with Fr. Ramolla.

The videos are produced and/or are under the auspices of the “Eddie Haskell 999 channel.”  Now it is a known fact that “Eddie Haskell” was a nickname for Anthony Cekada, dating back to his seminary days in Econe, Switzerland.  Whoever the author of these videos is, he is certainly aware of this fact; and, being that Anthony Cekada has in the past tried to slander Fr. Ramolla, it is evident that the video’s author is either an ally of Cekada’s, or – more likely -- Cekada himself (Cekada is certainly aware of the videos -- and if not the author, certainly an ardent supporter).  The use of the number “999” is also significant.  What is visually obvious to the reader is that “999” is an upside-down “666” – the mark of the beast.  Is Cekada trying to tell us something?

To say that Cekada is the “mastermind” behind the videos is certainly not hard to imagine; it is a good fit.  For one thing, Cekada is tech/computer savvy; for him to “retread” the original videos with new subtitles is an easy task.  He is also on record (as is his boss, Daniel Dolan) as being vehemently opposed to just about everything that Fr. Ramolla stands for; and, of course, it’s not hard to picture him in a “666” light, especially considering his remarks about Terri Schiavo and Abbot Giardina.

What is hard to imagine, though, is why he would do such a stupid, adolescent thing as making a tasteless and baseless video like that; but then again, no one would have ever thought that he’d say all that he did about Schiavo and Abbot Giardina, either.  Arrogance and inaccuracy are his hallmarks, so it is predictable and conceivable that he’d be bone-headed enough to make a video long on venom and thoroughly devoid of substance.  After all, when one does not have truth in his arsenal, he must improvise with good old-fashioned name-calling and fiction.

Cekada used these weapons profusely during Schiavo, branding anyone who didn’t share his preposterous views as being “pompous” or as “presuming to pronounce on matters of faith and morals,” etc.  In the video, the people singled out for ridicule include Mr. Craig Toth and Dr. Thomas Droleskey.  Dr. Droleskey is branded as someone ”famous for changing his opinions as he is for changing his residency”; and the only thing they could come up with for Craig Toth – whom they couldn’t brand as being “materially unsuccessful” – was that he was an “education department bureaucrat.”  I guess it didn’t occur to them that Our Lord Jesus Christ was also “materially unsuccessful” and didn’t have a permanent residence either – which puts Dr. Droleskey in Good Company.  And, of course, everyone knows that being an educational bureaucrat is just downright dastardly!  Really, can’t these dummköpfe come up with more imaginative “character flaws” than that??!  But, as I said, when there is no truth to tell, one must improvise.

The fact that the videos portray Fr. Ramolla as – of all people – Adolph Hitler shows the depths to which these sick people go to disparage a fellow human being and priest; I guess they figured that, Fr. Ramolla being German, this was a good “fit.”  To this writer, it is interesting to note that all those hypocrites who were quick to cry “calumny and detraction” against anyone who spoke out against the abuses of the SGG clergy are now silent.  Where are all these people who came out of the woodwork in Pharisaic indignation to deplore such opposition like that as “disrespect to an Alter Christus?  Why have they not come out of the woodwork this time to cry foul, when the same "principle" applies?

Comparing ANYONE with Hitler is despicable; but to do it to a priest is an unimaginably cheap shot – especially when it is all baseless assertion and innuendo, with utterly no facts to back it up.  It is beyond adolescent or childish; it is infantile.  Instead of trying to torpedo someone who is trying his best to run a parish and seminary, why don’t they use their talents to speak about something of substance – such as a recent article on brain death, for example.  Why? -- because they have neither the talent nor the Christian charity to do so.

In this website’s last article, it was pointed out that Bp. Pivarunas cited Dr. Coomaraswamy as an “authority” on “brain death” (although, as also pointed out, he conveniently took no position himself).  A recent article by Life Decisions International puts the notion of “brain death” thoroughly and convincingly to rest, exposing it for both the medical and moral sham that it is.  “Brain death” has, in fact, been recognized for decades as a false notion -- especially among Catholic theologians and medical experts.  Why is not Bp. Pivarunas aware of this?  Why is not Mater Dei Seminary or any of its instructors aware of this?  Why have they not kept abreast of such a critically important issue as this?  It is unimaginable, in light of what is known – and has been known for some time – that anyone can take a “non-position” on such a thing -- or accept the late Dr. Coomaraswamy’s outdated and erroneous opinions on it.

The same thing applied in Anthony Cekada’s case with Schiavo.  A wealth of information was available and known to him – that tube-feeding was NOT “extraordinary means”; that Terri Schiavo was in fact able to swallow; that she was in fact able to communicate; that she was originally found by paramedics face down on the floor, while her husband made no effort to turn her around to breathe or be revived; that subsequent hospital examination confirmed that she had numerous broken bones, obviously the result of foul play; that her husband canceled her rehabilitative regimen, then pressed “the authorities” to end her life – yet Cekada still wrote what he did, justifying her murder, ignoring all this information that was available to him at that time.  Not only that, but he has stuck to his preposterous story – to this day.

Bp. Pivarunas -- like Anthony Cekada, seems also to have ignored information (such as the Life Decisions International article) that has been available to him for quite some time – or he is ignorant of it.  It is perhaps too much to accuse Bp. Pivarunas of having the same malice aforethought that Anthony Cekada had (and continues to have) on Schiavo; but it is NOT a stretch to say that he ought to have known current Catholic thinking on “brain death” (not to mention that he ought to have spoken up publicly about Cekada’s position on Schiavo) and that ignorance of such is inexcusable, especially for someone who purports to be the head of a top-notch traditional Catholic seminary.  This kind of inadequacy is what this website and others are attempting to illustrate – and which St. Athanasius Seminary will not only NOT countenance but will effectively address and remedy.

Much anecdotal evidence from former MDS seminarians has plainly indicated that a climate of inadequacy is pervasive at Mater Dei Seminary; and Bp. Pivarunas’s ignorance of such important issues such as “brain death” tends to corroborate that evidence, not refute it.  The puerile You Tube videos produced by “Eddie Haskell” try to portray these former seminarians (and others) as trouble-making “crackpots” with an axe to grind; and they do so, of course, by cheap name-calling, baseless assertion, and condescending arrogance, with utterly no evidence to back them up – typical Anthony Cekada modus operandi.

It is high time that these folks start employing truth and logic in their thinking; but, of course, they can’tbecause they have none.  In the absence of hard data, they must rely on baseless innuendo and outright lies.  It is also high time that the “calumny and detraction crowd” who support such slander start employing truth and logic in their thinking as well, instead of relying on emotion and “appearances” to form their judgments.  Just because someone wears a bishop’s miter and utters the right “platitudes” does not make him “holy”; his actions -- and what he stands for -- are what does – and what counts.  Just as with the Pharisees of old, “acting holy” is not necessarily being holy.

It will be interesting to see how many of those folks who kept strangely silent when so many people at SGG were victimized -- or who sanctimoniously condemned people as being “un-Catholic” for using “four letter words,” or who used the argument that the SGG clergy are Alteri Christi to condemn those who spoke out against them -- will speak up and condemn the You Tube nonsense for the open and obvious slander that it committed against a fellow Alter Christus.  How many of them will “come out of the woodwork” now?  How many of them will put their preconceived prejudices and emotions aside and instead apply objectivity and logic to arrive at real, fact-based conclusions?  How many will be as eager to condemn this video as they were to condemn and crucify Fr. Ramolla and others?

To those who challenge or deny what people like Dr. Droleskey have to say, let them try to refute him with fact, rather than with musings about how often he changes his opinions or his residency, or by disqualifying him because he’s “not a cleric.”  May they also realize that a person’s clerical “rank” is not a valid measure of his knowledge or credibility, and that a book cannot be judged by its cover; I think that the points made about Schiavo and about “brain death” pretty well prove that.  And clerics who make such blunders and then try to intimidate and silence their opposition by “pulling rank” cannot expect to be respected.  For people of that bent -- both clergy and laity alike -- it’s time to start thinking like rational adults, not like emotional, intolerant children.

Bp. Pivarunas – and all those who think that we are “condemning” him – need to realize that we are talking NOT about evil at Mater Dei Seminary but about inadequacy.  Also, we sincerely hope that the bishop is not party to the shameless You Tube videos about Fr. Ramolla et al, with their shabby, cheap theatrics.  Such a travesty has to be the work of a small-minded ignoramus – or a sick-minded person like Anthony Cekada.  But for Bp. Pivarunas to merely not be a party to it is not enough; he must not repeat his wrongful reticence on Schiavo or his “non-position” on “brain death” and organ transplantation, and must instead come out and openly condemn these videos for the nonsensical trash that they are.

People of any sense and integrity will certainly see them as such.  Indeed, they are actually hurting the cause of those who have produced them, for almost everyone watching them (other than a few brain-dead sycophants) will see them for the nonsense that they are; and, not only that, since the videos draw attention to Fr. Ramolla, they are in effect “free advertising” for him.  People will easily see through the videos' lies and -- in turn -- become new "converts" for Fr. Ramolla.  In fact, many people -- especially those in France and Britain who have heretofore been “hoodwinked” by the SGG clergy’s false “piety” and portrayal of themselves as “victims” -- will get re-awakened to Dolan and Cekada’s duplicity (for the videos have the unmistakable SGG stamp on them) -- and be reminded once again that the SGG duo are – as they have exhibited so many times in the past -- victimizers, not victims.

If Bp. Pivarunas doesn’t condemn these videos, he will be seen as aiding and abetting this nonsense -- because it has become known to too many people in traditional circles.  He would be degrading himself not only in their eyes, but in the eyes of all rational people.  For his own good and that of his reputation, he cannot and must not sink to that level – the level of the Rialto Road reptiles.  If he wants to retain his respectability, he must distance himself from them, and not emulate their shabby tactics.

To repeat, if he wants to rise above the mire and not be part of it – or be seen as part of it -- he must actively detach himself from it and publicly deplore it – because it has become too public to be ignored.   To feign ignorance of it – to pretend not to be aware of it – would be like Mary Todd Lincoln pretending not to be aware that her husband has been shot.  And as for the perpetrators of these videos – well, I'd say it’s about time for them to grow up.