Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Who Says the Pope Isn't Cool?

Pope Benedict XVI Gets An iPod

Vatican Radio employees gave Pope Benedict XVI a new iPod nano loaded with special Vatican Radio programming and classical music to honor his first visit to broadcasting headquarters.

Vatican Radio offers podcasts in eight languages, so the pope can now plug in and import the broadcasting service’s audio files.

Pope Benedict visited the programming and broadcasting hub on March 3 to mark the station's 75th anniversary.

When the head of the station’s technical and computer support department, Mauro Milita, identified himself and handed the pope the boxed iPod, the pope was said to have replied, "Computer technology is the future,” according to Carol Glatz of the Catholic News Service.

The pope's new 2-gigabyte digital audio player was already loaded with a sampling of the station’s programming in English, Italian and German, and musical compositions by Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.

The iPod also contains an English-language radio drama on the life of St. Thomas a Becket and a 10-minute feature on the creation of Vatican Radio, with original sound clips of the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi, and Vatican Radio's founder, Pope Pius XI.

Bonds is Busted!

I can't believe it! Barry Bonds used steroids? Wow! (sarcasm)

Here's the link to the whole SI story....

The Truth

About Barry Bonds and Steroids

By Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams

Excerpted from Game of Shadows, by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, to be published this month by Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA, Inc.). © 2006 by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.

On May 22, 1998, the San Francisco Giants arrived in St. Louis for a three-game series with the Cardinals. That weekend, Giants All-Star leftfielder Barry Bonds got a firsthand look at the frenzied excitement surrounding Mark McGwire, baseball's emerging Home Run King.

Bonds had recently remarried, but on this trip he was accompanied by his girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, a slender, attractive woman with long brown hair and brown eyes whom he had met four years earlier in the players' parking lot at Candlestick Park. Bell had been looking forward to the trip, and it was pleasant in many ways -- a big hotel room with a view of St. Louis's famous arch; a wonderful seat eight rows behind home plate; and even tornado warnings, which were exotic to a California girl. But Bonds was sulky and brooding. A three-time National League MVP, he was one of the most prideful stars in baseball. All that weekend, though, he was overshadowed by McGwire.

Even by the standards of the modern game, the Cardinals' first baseman was a player of exceptional size and power. That summer the 6'5" McGwire weighed 250 muscular pounds and was hitting balls that traveled in long, soaring arcs. The season was less than two months old, but he already had hit 20 home runs and was ahead of both Babe Ruth's and Roger Maris's record-breaking paces. Players, fans and the media were already eagerly anticipating that McGwire would break baseball's most storied record, but Bonds's mood remained irretrievably foul.

On that trip Bonds began making racial remarks about McGwire to Kimberly Bell. According to Bell he would repeat them throughout the summer, as McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the buff, fan-friendly Chicago Cubs slugger who also was hitting home runs at an amazing rate, became the talk of the nation.

"They're just letting him do it because he's a white boy," Bonds said of McGwire and his chase of Maris's record. The pursuit by Sosa, a Latin player from the Dominican Republic, was entertaining but doomed, Bonds declared. As a matter of policy, "they'll never let him win," he said.

As he sometimes did when he was in a particularly bleak mood, Bonds was channeling racial attitudes picked up from his father, the former Giants star Bobby Bonds, and his godfather, the great Willie Mays, both African-American ballplayers who had experienced virulent racism while starting their professional careers in the Jim Crow South. Barry Bonds himself had never seen anything remotely like that: He had grown up in an affluent white suburb of San Francisco, and his best boyhood friend, his first wife and his present girlfriend all were white. When Bonds railed about McGwire, he didn't articulate who "they" were, or how the supposed conspiracy to rig the home run record was being carried out. But his brooding anger was real enough, and it continued throughout a year in which he batted .303, hit 37 home runs, made the All-Star team for the eighth time and was otherwise almost completely ignored. The home run chase, meanwhile, transfixed even casual fans, in the way that a great pennant race used to do in the old days.

McGwire hit number 62 on Sept. 8 in St. Louis, amidst a wild celebration and before a national TV audience, and then continued hitting bombs: five of them in his final 11 at bats, including two on the last day of the season, to finish with 70, four ahead of Sosa.

On the West Coast, Barry Bonds was astounded and aggrieved by the outpouring of hero worship for McGwire, a hitter whom he regarded as obviously inferior to himself. Bonds was 34 years old, had played in the big leagues for 12 years and was known for an unusual combination of speed and power. Before the 1993 season he had signed what was then the richest contract in the game: $43.75 million for six years, and he knew he was on his way to the Hall of Fame. For as long as he had played baseball, Bonds had regarded himself as better than every other player he encountered, and almost always he was right.

WSJ Article - The Taliban at Yale?

Jihadi Turns Bulldog

The Taliban's former spokesman is now a Yale student. Anyone see a problem with that?

Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday's New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far.

Something is very wrong at our elite universities. Last week Larry Summers resigned as president of Harvard when it became clear he would lose a no-confidence vote held by politically correct faculty members furious at his efforts to allow ROTC on campus, his opposition to a drive to have Harvard divest itself of corporate investments in Israel, and his efforts to make professors work harder. Now Yale is giving a first-class education to an erstwhile high official in one of the most evil regimes of the latter half of the 20th century--the government that harbored the terrorists who attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001.

"In some ways," Mr. Rahmatullah told the New York Times. "I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale." One of the courses he has taken is called Terrorism-Past, Present and Future.

Many foreign readers of the Times will no doubt snicker at the revelation that naive Yale administrators scrambled to admit Mr. Rahmatullah. The Times reported that Yale "had another foreigner of Rahmatullah's caliber apply for special-student status." Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions, told the Times that "we lost him to Harvard," and "I didn't want that to happen again."

In the spring of 2001, I was one of several writers at The Wall Street Journal who interviewed Mr. Rahmatullah at our offices across the street from the World Trade Center. His official title was second foreign secretary; his mission was to explain the regime's decision to rid the country of two 1,000-year-old towering statues of Buddha carved out of rock 90 miles from the Afghan capital, Kabul. The archeological treasures were considered the greatest remaining examples of third- and fifth-century Greco-Indian art in the world. But Taliban leader Mullah Omar had ordered all statues in the country destroyed, calling them idols of infidels and repugnant to Islam.

Even Muslim nations like Pakistan denounced the move. Mr. Rahmatullah, who at the time claimed to be 24 but now says he was lying about his age and was actually two years younger, cut a curious figure in our office. He wore a traditional Afghan turban and white baggy pants and sported a full beard. His English, while sometimes elliptical, was smooth and colloquial. He made himself very clear when he said the West had no business worrying about the statues, because it had cut off trade and foreign aid to the Taliban. "When the world destroys the future of our children with economic sanctions, they have no right to worry about our past," he told us, according to my notes from the meeting.

He smiled as he informed us that the statues had been blown up with explosive charges only after people living nearby had been removed. He had no comment on reports that Mullah Omar had ordered 100 cows be sacrificed as atonement for the Taliban government's failure to destroy the Buddhas earlier.

As for Osama bin Laden, Mr. Rahmatullah called the Saudi fugitive a "guest" of his government and said it hadn't been proved that bin Laden was linked to any terrorist acts, despite his indictment in the U.S. for planning the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He said that if the embassy bombings were terrorist acts, then so was the Clinton administration's firing cruise missiles into his country in an attempt to kill bin Laden. "You killed 19 innocent people," he told us.

After the meeting I walked him out. I vividly recall our stopping at a window as he stared up at the World Trade Center. We stood there for a minute chatting, but I don't recall what he said. He then left. I next thought about him a few months later, on Sept. 11, as I stood outside our office building covered in dust and debris staring at the remains of the towers that had just collapsed. I occasionally wondered what had happened to Mr. Rahmatullah. I assumed he either had died in the collapse of the Taliban regime, had been jailed, or was living quietly in the new, democratic Afghanistan.

From newspaper clips I knew that his visit to the Journal's offices was part of a PR tour. He visited other newspapers and spoke at universities, and the State Department had granted him a meeting with midlevel officials. None of the meetings went particularly well. At the University of Southern California, Mr. Rahmatullah expressed irritation with a question about statues that at that point hadn't yet been blown up. "You know, really, I am asked so much about these statues that I have a headache now," he moaned. "If I go back to Afghanistan, I will blow them."

Carina Chocano, a writer for Salon.com who attended several of his speeches in the U.S., noted the hostility of many of his audiences. "A lesser publicist might have melted down," she wrote. "But the cool, unruffled and media-smart Hashemi instead spun his story into a contemporary parable of ironic iconoclasm," peppering his lectures with "statue jokes."

But sometimes his humor really backfired. At a speech for the Atlantic Council, Mr. Rahmatullah was confronted by a woman in the audience who lifted the burkha she was wearing and chastised him for the Taliban's infamous treatment of women. "You have imprisoned the women--it's a horror, let me tell you," she cried. Mr. Rahmatullah responded with a sneer: "I'm really sorry to your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you."

A videotape of his cutting remark became part of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," and infuriated the likes of Mavis Leno, wife of "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. Mrs. Leno helped found the Feminist Majority's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and devoted countless hours to focusing public attention on the plight of Afghanistan's women and girls. "I will never, ever abandon these women," she often said before the Taliban's overthrow. Here's hoping she has saved some of her outrage for Yale's decision to welcome Mr. Rahmatullah with open arms.

In his interview with the New York Times, Mr. Rahmatullah, said that if he had to do it all over, he would have been less "antagonistic" in his remarks during his U.S. road tour. "I regret the way I spoke sometimes. Now I would try to be softer. A little bit." Just a little?

Today, when he is asked if Afghanistan would be better off if the Taliban were still in charge, Mr. Rahmatullah, has a mixed answer: "Economically, no. In terms of security, yes. In terms of general happiness, no. In the long-term interests of the country? I don't think so. I think the radicals were taking over and doing crazy stuff. I regret when people think of the Taliban and then think of me--that feeling people have after they know I was affiliated with them is painful to me." Note that the government official who represented the Taliban abroad now claims to have been only "affiliated" with them.

Even though he evinces only semiregret for his actions in service to the Taliban, there is evidence that he has become quite a charmer. After the fall of the Taliban, he resumed a friendship he had developed with Mike Hoover, a CBS News cameraman who, according to a 2001 Associated Press story, had visited Afghanistan three times as a guest of the Taliban. Mr. Hoover inspired Mr. Rahmatullah to think about going to the U.S. to finish his studies. "I thought he could do a lot as a student/teacher," said Mr. Hoover. He persuaded Bob Schuster, an attorney friend of his from Wyoming who had gone to Yale, to help out. As the Times reported, "Schuster called the provost's office to ask how an ex-Taliban envoy with a fourth-grade education and a high-school equivalency degree might go about applying to one of the world's top universities."

Intrigued by Mr. Rahmatullah, Dean Shaw arranged for his admission into a nondegree program for special students. He apparently has done well, so far pulling down a 3.33 grade-point average.

There is something to be said for the instinct to reach out to one's former enemies. America's postwar reconciliation with the Japanese and Germans has paid great dividends. But there are limits.

During a trip to Germany I once ran into a relative of Hans Fritsche, the top deputy to Josef Goebbels, whom the Guardian, a British newspaper, once described as "the Nazi Propaganda Minister's leading radio spokesman [whose] commentaries were among the main items of German home and foreign broadcasting." After the war he was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg, but because he had only given hate-filled speeches, he was acquitted of all charges in 1946. In the early 1950s, he applied for a visa to visit the U.S. and explain his regret at having served an evil regime. He was turned down, to the everlasting regret of the relative with whom I spoke. She noted that Albert Speer, Hitler's former architect, was also turned down for a U.S. visa even after he had completed a 20-year prison sentence and had written a best-selling book detailing Hitler's madness.

I don't believe Mr. Rahmatullah had direct knowledge of the 9/11 plot, and I don't think he has ever killed anyone. I can appreciate that he is trying to rebuild his life. But he willingly and cheerfully served an evil regime in a manner that would have made Goebbels proud. That he was 22 at the time is little of an excuse. There are many poor, bright students--American and foreign alike--who would jump at the opportunity to attend Yale. Why should Mr. Rahmatullah go to the line ahead of all of them? That's a question Yale alumni should ask when their alma mater comes looking for contributions.

President Bush, who already has a well-known disdain for Yale elitism from his student days there, may also have some questions. In the wake of his being blindsided by his own administration over the Dubai port deal, he should be interested in finding out exactly who at the State Department approved Mr. Rahmatullah's application for a student visa.

NYT Article on Making Happy Wives

The Happiest Wives

Freud confessed that his "thirty years of research into the feminine soul" left him unable to answer one great question: "What does a woman want?" Modern feminists have been arguing for decades over a variation of it: What should a woman want?

This week two sociologists from the University of Virginia are publishing the answer to a more manageable variation. Drawing on one of the most thorough surveys ever done of married couples, they've crunched the numbers and asked: What makes a woman happy with her marriage?

Their answer doesn't quite jibe with current conventional wisdom. Three decades ago, two-thirds of Americans surveyed said it was better for wives to focus on homemaking and husbands to focus on breadwinning, but by the 1990's, only a third embraced the traditional division of labor. The new ideal — in theory, not in practice — became a partnership of equals who split duties inside and outside the home.

This new egalitarian marriage was hailed by academics and relationship gurus as a recipe for a happier union. As wives went off to work and husbands took on new jobs at home, couples would supposedly have more in common and more to talk about. Husbands would do more "emotion work," as sociologists call it, and wives would be more fulfilled.

That was the theory tested by the Virginia sociologists, Bradford Wilcox and Steven Nock, who analyzed a survey of more than 5,000 couples. Sure enough, they found that husbands' "emotion work" was crucial to wives' happiness. Having an affectionate and understanding husband was by far the most important predictor of a woman's satisfaction with her marriage.

But it turns out that an equal division of labor didn't make husbands more affectionate or wives more fulfilled. The wives working outside the home reported less satisfaction with their husbands and their marriages than did the stay-at-home wives. And among those with outside jobs, the happiest wives, regardless of the family's overall income, were the ones whose husbands brought in at least two-thirds of the money.

These male providers-in-chief were regarded fondly by even the most feminist-minded women — the ones who said they believed in dividing duties equally. In theory these wives were egalitarians, but in their own lives they preferred more traditional arrangements.

"Women today expect more help around the home and more emotional engagement from their husbands," Wilcox says. "But they still want their husbands to be providers who give them financial security and freedom."

These results, of course, are just averages. Plenty of people are happy with different arrangements — including Nock, who makes less than his wife and does the cooking at home. He says that nontraditional marriages may be a strain on many women simply because they've been forced to be social pioneers. "As society adjusts to women's new roles," he says, "women may become happier in egalitarian marriages."

But I'd bet there's a limit to egalitarianism. Consider what's happened with housework, that perpetual sore point. From the 1960's through the 80's, wives cut back on housework as husbands did more. In the 1990's, though, the equalizing trend leveled off, leaving wives still doing nearly twice as much of the work at home.

That seems terribly unfair unless you look at how men and women behave when they're living by themselves: the women do twice as much housework as the men do. Single men do less cooking and cleaning, because those jobs don't seem as important to them. They can live with unmade beds and frozen dinners.

Similarly, there's a gender gap in enthusiasm for some outside jobs. Men are much more willing to take a job that pays a premium in exchange for long hours away from home or the risk of being killed. The extra money doesn't seem as important to women.

In a more egalitarian world, there would be more wives mining coal and driving trucks, and more husbands scrubbing bathtubs and taking children to doctor's appointments. But that wouldn't be a fairer world, as Nock and Wilcox found.

The happiest wives in their study were the ones who said that housework was divided fairly between them and their husbands. But those same happy wives also did more of the work at home while their husbands did more work outside home. Nock doesn't claim to have divined the feminine soul, but he does have one answer to Freud's question.

"A woman wants equity," he says. "That's not necessarily the same as equality."

Monday, March 06, 2006

No time to blog today...but some great stuff lined up for tomorrow!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Santi Giovanni e Paulo


Below the church, there are 2nd and 3rd century Roman houses in which Christian's worshipped, and according to tradition one of these houses belonged to the two martyrs in the 4th century. They were martyred on the night of January 26th/27th 361, and buried in secret in their house. This was not only a transgression against the edicts of Emperor Julian the Apostate, but also a violation of Roman burial laws. To prevent disease, all burials had to take place outside city walls. That they were buried here is a strong reminder of the important place relics have held and still hold in Catholic religious practice.

SS Giovanni e Paolo - facade

The first church here was built in the 4th century shortly after the deaths of the two martyrs, and remains of it can be seen in the present church, which was built in the medieval period. The first church was known as Titulus Bizantiis after Senator Byzantius. His son Pammachius built a basilica on the site, which was known as Titulus Pammachii and was one of the first parish churches in Rome. The synod listing from 499 uses this name. An inscription frome the 5th century names Pammachius as the founder. He was a personal friend of St Jerome, and after several years of public service, as a senator like his father had been, he gave his money to the poor and retired to a life of seclusion and prayer; undoubtedly a result of St Jerome's influence. The synod listing of 595 also mentions the church, but by this time it is known as SS. Johanis e Pauli.

The basilica was restored by Pope Leo I (440-461).

In 1084, it was sacked by Norman raiders. Pope Paschal II (1099-1118) started restoring it, and this project was completed c. 1150 by Giovanni Cardinal Conti de Sutri.

The church was restored and altered 1715-1718 under Fabrizio Cardinal Paolucci, in the late Baroque style.

The remains of the saints' house was revealed in the 19th century.

It is served by Passionist fathers, who were installed here in the late 18th century.

In 1929, Eugenio Pacelli became the titular of this church. He was elected pope in 1939, taking the name Pius XII.

The last major restoration took place in the 20th century, when Francis Cardinal Spellman, titular of the church from 1946 to 1967, got financial support from Joseph Kennedy to restore the façade and to carry out new excavations.

The current titular priest of the church is H.E. Edward Michael Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, USA. He was appointed on February 21, 2001.

If your church does this before a gospel reading... RUN!!!!!!

Seriously, this is a liturgical travesty. But it is dang funny....

I like the candle kid...he is jamming!

Go here.

Life = Life Posters at Princeton

If you remember a few weeks ago, the Pride Alliance put up "Love=Love" posters on campus showing straight and gay couples kssing. Well, the pro-life group has decided to use the buzz from those posters and do their own: "Life = Life". Good for them. Here's the beginning of an article from the Prince:

Pro-Life posters University to spark discussion

Just as members of the Pride Alliance believe that "Love = Love" between any two people, Princeton Pro-Life believes that "Life = Life" from the moment of conception on through adulthood.

And like the "Love = Love" flyer campaign, "Life = Life = Life" has met with opposition.

Only a few hours after the posters — meant to spark debate at Princeton about abortion — were put up, several of them located outside Frist Campus Center were torn down. Tom Haine '08, Princeton Pro-Life's (PPL) president, attributed the posters' removal to students' "unwillingness to confront the issues."

The PPL fliers present facts about abortion and images of human infants and fetuses.

"Many students are apathetic about abortion," Haine said. "They refuse to talk about it or see anything related to it even though it is costing so many lives."

He added that the "Love = Love" campaign started before Valentine's Day "really got lots of students talking and debating about different forms of love between different people. We want to do the same thing with our postering campaign, to spark debate about abortion."

Parishes are leaving the Episcopal Church

Here's the intro to the article from the USA Today:

Episcopal Church torn by gay issue as more parishes leave
More than a dozen congregations have defected from the U.S. Episcopal Church since the first of the year in a growing rebellion triggered by the ordination of an openly gay bishop in 2003.

Overall, more than three dozen congregations from the largely white, affluent Protestant denomination have left the national church and aligned with African and South American branches of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Madonna waiting for the Messiah... it sounds almost biblical

Madonna eyes Israel house to await Messiah
Mar 03 8:08 AM US/Eastern

US pop diva Madonna wants to buy a house in the Israeli town of Rosh Pina, where the ancient Jewish Kabbalah tradition expects the Messiah to appear at the end of the world.

Yediot Aharonot said the owner of a 100-year-old, ramshackle five-bedroom villa overlooking the Sea of the Galilee had been recently contacted several times by representatives of the superstar with a view to selling his property.

According to the same source, Madonna wants to renovate the building into a centre of study of mystical Jewish texts pored over by Kabbalah followers.

The self-proclaimed Material Girl, a keen aficionado of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition, last visited Israel in September 2004.

She turned to Kabbalah in 1997 through the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre which proclaims to offer a path to spiritual enlightenment through an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualisation and positive thinking.

Two years ago, she took the Hebrew name Esther and reportedly observes the Jewish sabbath, although she has not converted to Judaism.

One of her recent dance tracks is called "Isaac", the name of famous Kabbalah Rabbi Isaac Louria who lived and worked in the now northern Israeli town of Safed during the 16th century.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ford Championship at Doral begins today....

Tiger is the defending champion...he'll probably win again (which would be great since he's on my fantasy team). If you remember, he and Mickelson had an amazing showdown which came down to the final hole. It's a great field with those two in the field, along with Vijay and Ernie. 9 of the top 10 players in the world are there. Winners prize: $1 million.

My fantasy team this week:
Zach Johnson
Brad Faxon
Darren Clarke
Daniel Chopra
Jonathan Byrd

"Catholic" Democrats argue they know best...

These politicians are the worst theologians in the world, despite the fact they think they are wiser than the Church and scripture. If my conscience tells me that it's ok to steal, well then my conscience is wrong and I need to change my ways in order to agree with the Church, scripture and natural law. Same thing with abortion, murder, rape, name your sin. You can't be pro-abortion and Catholic at the same time. Period. I hope the bishops come out and slap these politicians around for this (I'm sure they won't though). It's crap like this that makes the Republicans the default party for faithful catholics and evangelicals despite its own weaknesses. If one of your reps in on this list, write them and tell them they are wrong.

Also, here's a good post on the situation from the American Papist.

Catholic Democrats assert "primacy of conscience" over Church teaching

Washington, Mar. 01 (CWNews.com) - A group of Catholic members of the US House of Representatives has issued a "Statement of Principles" in which they claim a "commitment to the basic principles at the heart of Catholic social teaching," but refuse to accept the Church's opposition to legal abortion.

The "Statement of Principles" was released on February 28, and signed by 55 of the 72 Catholic Democrats in the House of Representatives. The group professes its commitment to carrying out Catholic social teaching in many ways: "reducing the rising rates of poverty; increasing access to education for all; pressing for increased access to health care; and taking seriously the decision to go to war."

The Democratic group goes on to acknowledge "the undesirability of abortion-- we do not celebrate its practice." But the statement says that although they recognize the Church's teaching authority the lawmakers "believe also in the primacy of conscience." Acknowledging the "tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas," the legislators leave it clear (if not explicitly stated) that they will not attempt to end legal abortion.

The "Statement of Principle" does not mention other controversial issues on which Democratic lawmakers have often clashed with Church teachings, such as euthanasia, embryonic research, and government recognition of same-sex unions.

The statement was issued from the office of Connecticut's Rep. Rosa DeLauro. The others signing the statement were:

  1. Joe Baca
  2. Xavier Becerra
  3. Robert Brady
  4. Michael Capuano
  5. Dennis A. Cardoza
  6. Wm. Lacy Clay
  7. Jim Costa
  8. Joseph Crowley
  9. Peter A. DeFazio
  10. William Delahunt
  11. Rosa DeLauro
  12. Mike Doyle
  13. Anna Eshoo
  14. Lane Evans
  15. Charles A. Gonzalez
  16. Raul M. Grijalva
  17. Luis V. Gutierrez
  18. Maurice Hinchey
  19. Tim Holden
  20. Patrick J. Kennedy
  21. Dale E. Kildee
  22. James R. Langevin
  23. John B. Larson
  24. Stephen Lynch
  25. Edward J. Markey
  26. Jim Marshall
  27. Carolyn McCarthy
  28. Betty McCollum
  29. James P. McGovern
  30. Cynthia McKinney
  31. Marty Meehan
  32. Michael H. Michaud
  33. George Miller
  34. James P. Moran
  35. Grace Napolitano
  36. Richard E. Neal
  37. James L. Oberstar
  38. David R. Obey
  39. Frank Pallone
  40. Bill Pascrell
  41. Ed Pastor
  42. Nancy Pelosi
  43. Silvestre Reyes
  44. Lucille Roybal-Allard
  45. Tim Ryan
  46. John T. Salazar
  47. Linda T. Sanchez
  48. Loretta Sanchez
  49. Jose Serrano
  50. Hilda L. Solis
  51. Bart Stupak
  52. Gene Taylor
  53. Mike Thompson
  54. Nydia Velazquez
  55. Diane Watson

The three weapons of the Christian...


Benedict XVI Tells of Christian's 3 Weapons

Says the Struggle Against Evil Demands Humility and Patience

ROME, MARCH 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Prayer, fasting and penance are a Christian's weapons against hatred, Benedict XVI explained at a Mass where he celebrated the rite of imposition of ashes.

In an Ash Wednesday homily, the Pope said that Lent reminds us "that Christian life is a constant battle."

"To struggle against evil, against all forms of egoism and hatred, and to die to oneself to live in God, is the ascetic path that every disciple of Christ is called to undertake with humility and patience, with generosity and perseverance," the Holy Father explained.

In keeping with tradition, the afternoon Mass was held in the Basilica of St. Sabina, on Rome's Aventine Hill, with the participation of cardinals, archbishops and bishops, Benedictine monks, Dominican priests and lay faithful.

Shortly before, in the nearby Church of St. Anselm, a moment of prayer took place, which was followed by a penitential procession to St. Sabina.

"The docile following of the divine Teacher makes Christians witnesses and apostles of peace," Benedict XVI said in his homily, before having ashes administered to him. "We can say that this interior attitude helps us also to underline better what the Christian response should be to the violence that threatens peace in the world."

Right response

"It is certainly not vengeance, hatred and even less so refuge in a false spiritualism," continued the Pontiff. "The response of the one who follows Christ is rather to undertake the path that he chose who, in the face of the evils of his time and of all times, embraced the cross with determination, following the longer but more effective path of love.

"Following his footsteps and united to him, we must all be committed to opposing evil with good, lies with truth, hatred with love."

Benedict XVI pointed out that "in the encyclical 'Deus Caritas Est,' I wished to present this love as the secret of our personal and ecclesial conversion."

Love, he said, "must then be translated into concrete gestures toward one's neighbor, especially toward the poor and the needy."

"Concrete love is one of the essential elements of the life of Christians, whom Jesus encourages to be light of the world so that, seeing their 'good works,' men will give glory to God," the Pope concluded.

Cardinal Jozef Tomko, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, administered ashes to Benedict XVI, who then administered them to those present.

The Soviets Tried to Kill the Pope?

Italian Commission: Soviet Union Ordered Pope John Paul II's Shooting

Thursday, March 02, 2006

ROME — An Italian parliamentary commission concluded "beyond any reasonable doubt" that the Soviet Union was behind the 1981 attempt to kill Pope John Paul II — a theory long alleged but never proved, according to a draft report made available Thursday.

The commission held that the pope was a danger to the Soviet bloc because of his support for the Solidarity labor movement in his native Poland. Solidarity was the first free trade union in communist eastern Europe.

"This commission believes, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the leaders of the Soviet Union took the initiative to eliminate the pope Karol Wojtyla," said a draft of the commission's report obtained by The Associated Press. Wojtyla was John Paul's Polish name.

The draft has no bearing on any judicial investigations, which have long been closed. If the commission approves the report in its final form, that would mark the first time an official body had blamed the Soviet Union for shooting John Paul.

The Italian report said Soviet military intelligence — and not the KGB — was responsible. In Russia, Foreign Intelligence Service spokesman Boris Labusov called the accusation "absurd."

"All assertions of any kind of participation in the attempt on the pope's life by Soviet special services, including foreign intelligence, are completely absurd," he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

In 1991, then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev denied KGB complicity in the shooting.

The report also said a photograph shows that a Bulgarian man acquitted of involvement in the May 13, 1981, assassination attempt was in St. Peter's Square when the pontiff was shot by Mehmet Ali Agca.

The Bulgarian secret service allegedly was working for Soviet military intelligence, but the Italian court held that the evidence was insufficient to convict the Bulgarians in the plot.

Agca, a Turk, has changed his story often and investigators said it was never clear who he was working for. He initially blamed the Soviets.

Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for shooting the pope and then 5 1/2 years in Turkey for murdering journalist Abdi Ipekci.

He was released from the Turkish prison Jan. 12 but returned days later when prosecutors said he must serve more of his 10-year term for killing Ipekci. He will be released in 2010.

The Italian commission was originally established to investigate any KGB penetration of Italy during the Cold War.

The commission president, Sen. Paolo Guzzanti, said he decided to investigate the 1981 shooting after John Paul said in his book "Memory and Identity: Conversations Between Millenniums" that "someone else planned it, someone else commissioned it." The book came out shortly before the pope's death last year.

The report said the commission used all the evidence gathered during trials in Italy as well as information given by French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere.

Sergei Antonov, former Rome station manager of Bulgaria's state airline, claimed during his trial that he was in his office when John Paul was shot. Italy had accused him of complicity with Agca.

Antonov's lawyer, Giuseppe Consolo, said it was a case of mistaken identity and the man in the photograph came forward during the investigation as an American tourist of Hungarian origin. Consolo said the photo was not used as evidence in the trial.

Guzzanti said the photo was discarded because the technology of the time could not determine whether it showed Antonov, but recent computer comparisons with other shots of the Bulgarian show "there is a 100 percent compatibility."

"We don't believe it's possible to reopen the case against Antonov," Guzzanti told the AP. "We just want to set the record straight."

The report must be approved by the full commission, which meets March 7.

San Giorgio in Velabro

Today's Station Church is San Giorgio in Velabro. The ancient church already existed in the 5th century. In the 7th century, it was dedicated to Saint Sebastian, the Roman soldier who was martyred by Diocletian (297-305). It was made a Station Church by Pope Gregory II (715-731). Pope Saint Zachary (741-752) brought the head of Saint George here and made him a co-patron of the church. The relic is now under the altar. Saint George, the famed "dragon slayer", like Saint Sebastian, was a soldier martyred during the Diocletian persecution (284-305). He died in Cappadocia (Turkey). The fresco in the apse is of Christ in the center flanked by the Blessed Mother and Saint George on his right and Saints Peter and Sebastian on his left. The Church was once under the patronage of Cardinal Newman. It was bombed in 1993 by the Mafia after the Holy Father spoke out against them. It was then restored.

Credit: Father Bill Swengros

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Station Churches Begin...

Since lent begin today, so does the Station Church rotation in Rome. Everday during lent they have mass in a different ancient church...and you are supposed to walk there while praying (especially the rosary). The tradition dates back to around Pope St. Gregory the Great in the 6th century. I'll do my best to give you a brief summary of the daily church.

Today's church is Santa Sabina all'Aventino (St. Sabina at the Aventine)

The pope traditionally begins lent by celebrating mass at this church.

Church dedicated to St Sabina, 2nd century martyr.


The church was built in the 5th century, presumably at the site of the original Titulus Sabinae, a church in the home of Sabina who had been martyred c. 114. Tradition holds that Santa Sabina was a widow who was converted to Christianity by her servant. She was martyred during the persecutions by Hadrian (117-138). From the apse mosaic, we know that Celestine I was serving as Pope. The tituli were the first parish churches in Rome.

It was restored in the 8th and 9th centuries.

In 1218, the church was given to the Dominicans by Pope Honorius III, who had approved the foundation of the order. They still serve the church, although since 1370 Santa Maria sopra Minerva has been their main church in Rome. The Pope was of the Savelli family, whose palace was next to the church.

St Dominic lived in the adjacent monastery for a period soon before his death in 1221. Among other residents of the monastery is St Thomas Aquinas. It is believed that St. Thomas wrote much of his Summa Theologica here.

During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, some additions were made. In the 20th century, most of these were removed to restore the church back to its original state. The restorations took place 1914-1919 and 1936-1938, and were led by A. Muzo and P. Berthier.

Lenten Message from Pope Benedict

First, it's Ash Wednesday, so go to mass. Second, read the Pope's lenten message to the faithful.
Here's the intro:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him Who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter. Even in the “valley of darkness” of which the Psalmist speaks (Ps 23:4), while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands, God is there to guard us and sustain us. Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail. In fact, in the words of my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a “divine limit imposed upon evil”, namely, mercy (Memory and Identity, pp. 19ff.). It is with these thoughts in mind that I have chosen as my theme for this Message the Gospel text: “Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity” (Mt 9:36).