Posts Tagged ‘EWTN’

Dr. King’s Song Not Allowed on Stage at 50th Anniversary March on Washington?

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Dr. Alveda King, daughter of Rev. A.D. King, Sr. and niece of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is an an African American pro-life activist.

Perhaps that is why her song, “Let Freedom Ring,” was according to her tweet below, pulled from the 50th Anniversary March on Washington on 8/28/13.

Alveda King ?@alvedaking 29 Aug

My song “Let Freedom Ring” pulled from 8/28 MLK Rally to play a lot of BB Winan’s singers Broken agreement Beyond our control Stay tuned

8:06 PM – 29 Aug 13 · Details

Here are more details from Dr. Alveda King’s EWTN interview on 8/29/13–

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Atheist Poet Sally Read’s Conversion to Christ

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Sally Read, 41, is a noted, and rising, British poet, now residing in Italy. Trained as a psychiatric nurse, she has drawn attention for her unique and striking perspective. Raised an atheist, to the shock of just about all and to the chagrin of many, she recently converted to Catholicism.

She told her story to the EWTN show Vaticano on minute 18:37 of this video. A print account based upon the same interview is here from the Catholic News Agency.

A longer account, written several months earlier by Read herself, appeared here in the Tablet under the title, “Outfoxed by God.”

As I watched Ms. Read’s focused intensity, and heard her describe her sudden and powerful personal experience of Christ, naturally Simone Weil’s similar experience came to mind. Indeed, Sally Read mentioned Simone Weil in her Tablet article.

Ms. Read and Ms. Weil are definitely kindred spirits! Ms. Read is also very blessed by such a wonderful and rare personal experience of the Divine.

Ms. Read’s realization that God is The Poet may have helped lead her to experience an even more powerful Word of God.

We are not all blessed by such experiences. But we are very truly saved by grace, through faith. . .

Here is a selection from Sally Read’s work at The Poetry Archive.

Here is Ms. Read’s blog, The Far-Near.

Some of her spiritual writing appears at the Hermitage blog.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Why Catholic Nerds Rule, Chapter I

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Despite the stereotypical public image of the rock-jawed politician with the Big Hair, we know that it is the nerds who actually rule not only the universities, but seemingly the universe.

And speaking of both universities and the universe, I would like to introduce you to just about my favorite Catholic nerd (I hope he doesn’t mind the appellation, since it is meant as the highest compliment), Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, PhD.

Fr. Spitzer may look like your friendly neighborhood accountant, but don’t let that fool you. He actually is an accountant. Moreover he is a philosopher, a former university president, and an entrepreneur and founder of organizations.

I could go on and on about Fr. Spitzer, but I can sum it all up by saying, his message is the important thing. Do yourself a favor by reading his books, which are extremely clear, well-reasoned, and organized expositions of the Christian, Catholic viewpoint taking into account the latest in science and philosophy.

So far I’ve read large chunks of the following books by Fr. Spitzer:

Ten Universal Principals: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues (San Francisco; Ignatius Press, 2010)

Healing the Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of Happiness, Freedom, and the Life Issues (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, October 2000).

New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010)

I’ve been meaning to get to:

Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life: A Practical Guide to Prayer for Active People (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008)

I also can’t wait for his forthcoming books on suffering and on ethics.

For more, please visit the Magis Center.

Here’s Fr. Spitzer on Larry King Live in 2010 responding to Prof. Stephen Hawking on the origins of the universe.

For the EWTN television series and appearances of Fr. Spitzer, please look here.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Thousands Answer: Where are the Women? We are Here.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 is a web petition initiated by Helen M. Alvare, JD, and Kim Daniels, JD, that has been signed by thousands of women who answered the question, Where are the women?, by saying, Here we are, “Women who support the competing voice offered by Catholic institutions on matters of sex, marriage and family life. Most of us are Catholic, but some are not.” To sign the petition, click here.

For more about Helen M. Alvare, please see minute 24:18 and forward of her 3/8/12 interview on EWTN, and here, and here, and here.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Two Quigley Preparatory Seminary Alumni Differ on Church Teaching on Abortion and Birth Control

Friday, February 17th, 2012

The north campus of Chicago’s late and historic Quigley Preparatory Seminary of happy memory has recently witnessed colliding public statements by columnist Ken Trainor, Quigley North 1970, and EWTN’s Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, Quigley North 1967, on the history of Catholic teaching on birth control.

My old friend Ken Trainor maintained that the “Catholic hierarchy’s” teaching on birth control dates only to 1930, while my old friend Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ cites numerous examples of early Christian writers condemning both abortion and artificial birth control. Fr. Mitch once again carries the day.

(Ken Trainor’s argument–that the “People of God” reject the Church’s teaching on birth control, and therefore the Church’s real teaching on birth control agrees with the “People of God” and not the hierarchy–doesn’t persuade. Most of the “People of God” don’t go to church on Sunday, but that doesn’t invalidate the Third Commandment. Come to think of it, in the time of Moses, most of the “People of God” worshiped the Golden Calf.)

The Quigley North classes of 1967 and that of 1970 had differing experiences of this wonderful school. The class of 1967 had three years under the original Quigley weekly schedule, in which Thursday was a day off, and Saturday was a school day. The students under this old system immediately entered a more segregated clerical culture, in which students were even expelled if they were caught dating girls. Quigley students would often gather together at a local church gym on Thursdays, and share their days off. Cardinal Mundelein’s original concept for Quigley was that students could have an authentic seminary experience while still living at home with their mom and her home cooking. More history at the Quigley Wikipedia site.

By Fr. Mitch’s senior year, which was Ken Trainor’s freshman or “Bennie” year, Quigley had moved to the standard weekday school schedule, so Ken Trainor’s class never had this “Thursday” experience, and by Ken’s day, Quigley was easing up on the “no dating” rule as well. Fr. Mitch’s cohort attended a Quigley in which students could still opt to study Greek and Polish, while both the 1967 and the 1970 cohorts studied Latin and either French, German, Spanish. For a time, Italian was offered.

My class, 1969, was the last to experience the Thursday schedule. It was in many ways a special experience, although I was grateful to be able to sleep a little more on Saturdays when the change away from Thursdays was made. With three to four hours of homework after extra-curriculars, getting only six hours of sleep on weeknights was a hard adjustment for some of us teenage boys, although this commitment did evoke a special esprit de corps among the Quigley students back in what we called “The Days of the Giants,” in which there was even a club called the Beadsmen, who gathered after school or at break time to pray the rosary in Quigley’s magnificent chapel.

Quigley students were required to attend daily Mass in their home parish prior to going to school on weekdays, and on Saturdays as well as Sundays, but this home parish Mass requirement, as well as the requirement that one’s pastor sign one’s report card, was less strictly enforced and had faded away by Ken Trainor’s senior year. Now a 6AM weekday Mass is rarely even seen in parishes.

There’s something to be said for requiring an heroic commitment of time and effort from teenage boys. For decades, Quigley students rose to the challenge, although each passing year from the late 1960s forward made Quigley less and less of a seminary. But what Quigley accomplished, as noted on its Wikipedia site: awardees of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Medal of Honor, and the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, two Vatican II periti, two members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, numerous bishops, thousands of priests, and thousands more well-educated Catholic men who made manifold contributions to Catholic and American life.

That such a hard-earned institutional stature was extinguished still remains something of a scandal. Believe me, I will write more on this topic.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


U.S. Catholic Bishops Reject 2/10/12 Obama HHS “Compromise” on Conscience and Abortifacients

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

The U.S. Catholic Bishops issued late on 2/10/12 a more comprehensive statement on President Obama’s 2/10/12 HHS “Compromise” on forced funding for sterilization, abortifacients, and birth control, stating that the rescission of the HHS mandate is the only complete solution.

A number of progressive Catholics and related organizations issued statements apparently coordinated with the 2/10/12 announcement of the President differing with the bishops, and backed President Obama’s 2/10/12 announcement.

The President cited in his statement a report by the Institute of Medicine which recommended the HHS mandate. HLI America has posted an analysis showing that the Institute of Medicine has been packed with pro-abortion advocates and supporters.

Rep. Chris Smith (R., NJ 4th district) issued a blunt 2/10/12 statement rejecting the President’s 2/10/12 modification of the HHS mandate. Smith maintains that the President’s goal is “to end Catholic Health Care.”

I wouldn’t doubt that if Catholic health care as an independent cluster of institutions is targeted to be eliminated–a long-term goal of radical Illinois pro-choice forces–that a Quisling Catholic will be chosen to give what remains of Catholic health care verisimilitude.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia issued a statement on 2/12/12 calling the HHS mandate “insulting and dangerous.”

Please see my earlier post on this subject.

Please see a more general economic criticism of the HHS mandate by University of Chicago finance professor John H. Cochrane.

Please see an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of NYC on the HHS mandate broadcast on 2/10/12 on EWTN.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Dorothy Day’s Therese

Monday, October 17th, 2011

In recent years many faiths have educated their clergy and religious to be brilliant, well-educated, entertaining speakers and socially committed individuals. But these qualities do not in and of themselves earn trust.

Nothing inspires, and is so quickly recognized by believers, as is authentic holiness or godliness. Few have won as much trust in the years since her death as has the holy saint, the Little Flower, discussed in the following lines.

During the height of her active maturity in the Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day made time over several years to research and to write a biography of the “Little Flower,” St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, or St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Happily, this book, originally published in 1960, reissued 1979, reprinted 1985, is still in print through Templegate Publishers. This book represents Dorothy Day’s decades-long education in the school of the Little Flower.

Therese is a book about a saint by a likely saint. Despite Dorothy Day’s occasional repetition of phrases due to Day’s busy life, Therese is one of the most thoughtful and inspiring books generated within American Catholic literature. Because its subject is the Little Flower, who has been declared one of the soon-to-be thirty-four Doctors of the Church, it is likely to remain known centuries longer than some of Day’s currently more popular books.

Almost half of Day’s Therese is about family love, whether that of the author, or that of the subject, christened Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin in 1873. But the whole book is about love, divine and human, for love was the means, the end, and the transcendent purpose of Thérèse’s life. Thérèse discovered in her final years that her vocation was to be love.

The arresting first two paragraphs of Therese display Dorothy Day at her spiritual journalist best:

“The first time I heard the name of St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face (to give her whole title), also known as Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, was when I lay in the maternity ward of Bellevue Hospital in New York. Bellevue is the largest hospital in the world, and doctors from all over the world come there. If you are poor you can have free hospital care. At that time, if you could pay anything, there was a flat rate for having a baby–thirty dollars for a ten day’s stay, in a long ward with about sixty beds. I was so fortunate as to have a bed next to the window looking out over the East River so that I could see the sun rise in the morning and light up the turgid water and make gay the little tugs and the long tankers that went by the window. When there was fog it seemed as though the world ended outside my window, and the sound of fog horns haunted the day and the night.

As a matter of fact, my world did end at the window those ten days that I was in the hospital, because I was supremely happy. If I had written the greatest book, composed the greatest symphony, painted the most beautiful painting or carved the most exquisite figure, I could not have felt more the exalted creator than I did when they placed my child in my arms. To think that this thing of beauty, sighing gently in my arms, reaching her little mouth for my breast, clutching at me with her tiny beautiful hands, had come from my flesh, was my own child! Such a great feeling of happiness and joy filled me that I was hungry for Someone to thank, to love, even to worship, for so great a good that had been bestowed upon me. That tiny child was not enough to contain my love, nor could the father, though my heart was warm with love for both.”

(Day, Dorothy. 1985. Therese. Springfield, Ill: Templegate, p. v.)

Thanks to the World Wide Web and the University of Toronto it is now possible to read the same English translation of Thérèse’s autobiographic A Little White Flower that Dorothy Day read in 1928, to retrace Dorothy Day’s steps in her discovery of Thérèse, and also to find the book that eluded Day’s grasp at the time of her writing Therese, The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, by Fr. Charles Arminjon, which was an influence on the young Thérèse prior to entering the Carmel at Lisieux.

Dorothy Day’s initial rebuff and later embrace of Thérèse’s spirituality is a familiar story among Catholic intellectuals and men and women “of the world.” Thérèse inspired several twentieth-century generations to enter religious life, and whether in religious life or not, to adopt her “Little Way.” But as Day matured in her day-in day-out tasks of Christian love and charity seeking justice, she returned to Thérèse definitively. Day concluded:

“It was the ‘worker,’ the common man, who first spread her fame by word of mouth. It was the masses who proclaimed her a saint. It was the ‘people.'”

(Day, Dorothy. 1985. Therese. Springfield, Ill: Templegate, p. 173.)

On first glance, Thérèse appears too pious, too simple. To this I respond, “Simple, all right. Simple like Mozart is simple.” A genius of the first rank makes the difficult appear straightforward and sublimely clear. Thérèse’s spiritual genius was recognized almost immediately after her death in 1897 with an intensity that spread as quickly as did the translations of her autobiography across dozens of languages and countries.

On the last page of her book, Day quotes Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, speaking on the occasion of the blessing of the Basilica of Lisieux in 1937:

“The dazzling genius of Augustine, the luminous wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, have shed forth upon souls the rays of an imperishable splendour: through them, Christ and His doctrine have become better known. The divine poem lived out by Francis of Assisi has given the world an imitation, as yet unequaled, of the life of God made man. Through him legions of men and women learned to love God more perfectly. But a little Carmelite who had hardly reached adult age has conquered in less than half a century innumerable hosts of disciples. Doctors of the law have become children at her school; the Supreme Shepherd has exalted her and prays to her with humble and assiduous supplications; and even at this moment from one end of the earth to the other, there are millions of souls whose interior life has received the beneficent influence of the little book, The Autobiography.”

(Ibid., p. 176.)

Thérèse promised “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.”

Day lists but a bit of the shower of love from Thérèse:

“So shortly after her death the rain of roses began: cures of cancer, tuberculosis, nephritis, and all manner of painful and mortal diseases. Nuns in need of money to pay off the mortgages on their schools, hospitals and orphanages found it appearing, sometimes in the form of gifts, sometimes carefully placed in a desk drawer. When Therese healed a little Irish child, she appeared to her as a little child in her First Communion frock, and shook hands with her as she left, and radiant little patient who had been unconscious and at the brink of death, sat up and told her mother to bring her her clothes, and food because she was starving. Soldiers saw Therese at the battlefield; she walked in Paris; she appeared to the sick. ‘After my death I will let fall a shower of roses,’ she had said, and sometimes the roses appeared literally, and sometimes just the fragrance of them.”

(Ibid., pp. 172-3)

The persistence of Thérèse’s appeal is surprising. In 2009, Thérèse’s relics were brought on a tour throughout Wales and England in the UK. To the surprise of a highly secularized society (and some of the secularized clergy), hundreds of thousands of people visited the relics, with many confessing their sins and returning to faith after decades.

Here are some of the pilgrims’ stories:

Over 100,000 faithful visited Thérèse’s relics in Westminster Cathedral, with ceremonies ending 10/15/09:

The Carmelite Sr. Patricia Mary of Jesus speaks about St. Thérèse of Lisieux:

Finally, a thoughtful homily by Westminster Archbishop Vincent Nichols:

In 1997, in a document called Divini Amoris Scientia, the Science of Divine Love, John Paul II proclaimed Thérèse a Doctor of the Church. I highly recommend close reading of this important document for those seeking for truth in the Spirit.

Although Thérèse, like John Paul II, had read and mastered the foundational Carmelite literature, the complete works of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, Thérèse read primarily the Gospels during her final illness, to listen directly the Word of the Lord Jesus whom she loved so dearly in a very direct, straightforward, and completely committed way. As a Carmelite, Thérèse wore a wedding gown at her “clothing” as a nun, focusing all her possible love on Jesus.

To the post-Christian imagination, this kind of spiritual commitment has a scary, terrifying aspect. But for Thérèse and her Carmelite sisters (among whom were three of her own sisters, and a cousin), nothing could have been more joyful.

Dorothy Day may be best known for her phrase, a “harsh and dreadful love,” but no one searches the life of Thérèse without searching for the source of joy, our Blessed Lord, to whom Thérèse is one of the supreme guides.


As a boy, I was taught at St. Priscilla School in Chicago by several Franciscan Sisters (from Rochester, MN) who were inspired by Thérèse among others to enter religious life. Years later, I visited my music teacher, Sr. Catherine Cecile Dwerlkotte, OSF, who past the age of 100 told me of the joy that was shared among contemporaries as they agreed together in college to enter the Franciscans as a group. Many of these Franciscan Sisters shared with us the tales of the Little Flower, and Sr. Catherine, to the end of her days, cultivated roses in Thérèse’s memory. She was a woman of high intelligence and wit, but joy and simplicity, and I might add, holiness. May she rest in peace!

Here is a 2010 post by blogger Kathy Riordan in thanks of the still-remembered witness of Sr. Catherine Cecile and her Franciscan sisters.


A few very useful resources on St. Thérèse:

As usual, the Houston Catholic Worker can be relied upon for a thoughtful review, this one by James Allaire.

Here’s some information on the National Shrine of St. Therese, in Darien, Illinois.

EWTN put together a number of web pages during St. Thérèse centenary, here, and here.

Also, please see Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway, which mentions the recent visit of the relics of Thérèse to Peru.

Presently, I’m reading St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations. More on this when time permits!

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s 9/11/11 Homily

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

This is an unofficial text of the homily of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, given on the morning of Sunday, 9/11/11, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, NY, transcribed from the EWTN broadcast on 9/11/11:

[The archbishop referenced the Scriptures after the Gospel]

Laus Tibi Christe.

[To the server who received the crozier from the Archbishop] Thanks, slugger.

They say there are no atheists in foxholes.

I’ve heard it said as well that there were no atheists on 9/11 here in New York.

That’s why we decided to gather for this greatest of all prayers, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at these very moments where bells are ringing throughout the United States, where people are united in their parishes, in their churches, in their synagogues, and in their mosques, when people are bowing their head in reverent silence recalling–recalling with somberness, recalling with gratitude, and recalling with prayer–the events of ten years ago today at these very moments when the second of the Twin Towers was attacked.

And that’s why I’m grateful for your presence this Sunday morning.

Cardinal [Edward] Egan thank you for being here. You were on the front lines that day, and we’re glad you’re with us this morning. And you and I are going to be down at St. Peters on Barclay Street–one of our historic Catholic churches that was actually damaged that day by part of the buildings falling–and that served as a place of refuge and care for those who were wounded, and outreach to those who were mourning and searching. And it was a real sanctuary that day.

Mercy, forgiveness, pardon, healing, compassion, redemption, kindness, patience:

Those are all words from God’s Holy Word, in this morning’s Liturgy of the Word.

You all realize, of course–and it’s basic to anybody who considers himself or herself a person of faith–you all realize, of course, that there is an intense battle that is being waged in the human heart. It’s that battle, it’s that war that is going on in the human soul, that gives rise to all the violence and battles and wars that we see outside.

You and I are aware of that tension deep within. It’s a battle between sin and grace, between darkness and light. It’s a war where evil is against good, where death is versus life, lies versus truth, pride against humility. It’s selfishness versus selflessness. It’s revenge versus mercy. It’s hate versus love. It’s Satan versus Almighty God.

Now, a decade ago, at about this very moment throughout the United States, throughout the world, and especially in this our beloved community, it seemed that the side of darkness had conquered as innocent people perished, as valiant rescuers rushed to their aid, as families were fractured and as the nation seemed on the ground.

And yet what I propose at our Mass this Sunday morning, on this tenth anniversary of that day, is that, as a matter of fact, the side of light actually triumphed as temptations to despair, fearful panic, revenge, and dread gave way to such things as rescue and recovery and rebuilding and outreach and resilience. The side of the angels, not the side of demons, conquered.

Good Friday became Easter Sunday, and once again God has the last word.

Perhaps what gives us most consolation would be our young people, our children. Last night the Cardinal and I and Msgr. Ritchie were in this cathedral for the commemoration of the New York Fire Department. It was standing room only.

There we heard two young people, Ashley and Patrick, recall with immense gratitude and pride their fathers–firefighters–who perished that day. There I quoted Commissioner Cassano, who told us that he is amazed at the number of children of those firefighters who perished that dreadful day who now want to be firefighters and rescue workers. And there I met young Anthony Polumbo, whose father Frank was a firefighter who died that day, and who is now preparing for the priesthood.

This morning I’m honored to welcome our servers at Mass, Connor and Aidan and Kieran and Declan, whose father Vincent Halloran was a firefighter who perished that day. Your Eminence, I understand you had his funeral here at St. Patrick’s. They’re here with their mom Marie, and we honor them and their beloved father Vincent. Fellows, stand up, where’s your mom and brothers? Where are they at? What consolation you give us! Where are they at? Ah, there in the front row. At our. . . [Applause from the congregation] Bravo!

They are living examples of the fact that God alone has the last word.

And finally, another consolation is the magnificent story that Msgr. Ritchie our rector tells us. High above, up in the ceiling, if you want to look up, it looks like plaster, doesn’t it? It looks like stone: It’s wood. Shsh. Don’t tell anybody, all right? But our firefighters know. And every couple months from the fire house down the street they come to inspect the place and they go upstairs and they walk through what they call the lumber yard. And there are windows up there, as you might imagine, there are small windows, but they are crusted with soot and grime from the decades past. And the firefighters have a custom of in that window etching their names. And Msgr. Ritchie has seen those. And on there are four names of four firemen who were here just days before 9/11, and who lost their lives in rescue that dreadful day that we recall right now.

We might renew, we might renovate this cathedral, as we plan to do, but we are never going to clean those windows, all right? Because those names are going to remain etched there as those names remain engraved on our heart.

Shall we stand and profess our Catholic faith?

Amen, Alleluia.

At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Dolan read a letter from Benedict XVI.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Saving Father Pfleger

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Fr. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, was suspended on 4/27/11 in a letter from Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago.

Several writers have seen either power, personality, politics, or a simple difference of opinion between Cardinal George and Fr. Pfleger. These writers have followed the beaten path of previous conflicts regarding Fr. Pfleger and his bishop on race, or Left vs. Right, or conservative Catholicism versus a more liberal Catholicism.

But few writers have outlined the predicament of Fr. Pfleger as set down by Cardinal George himself, who presented Fr. Pfleger with a clear choice, and asked for a declaration: Did he either choose to remain a Roman Catholic priest, or did he not? Did he, Michael Pfleger, believe as a Catholic believes?

The first time I saw Michael Pfleger in public action was one Sunday evening early in the 1970s, when he brought the Precious Blood parish choir to our alma mater, Niles College Seminary, then the college seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Clothed in a white turtle-neck, Pfleger accompanied and directed from the piano an enthusiastic and happy group of young people. I recall that one of the songs performed by the choir was “O-o-h Child,” written by Stan Vincent, which had earlier hit the charts in a recording by the Five Stairsteps. If I’m not mistaken, others among the songs may have been the gospel song, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say,” and also the song “Everyday People,” popularized by Sly and the Family Stone.

In 1976, a year after Fr. Pfleger’s ordination, I was providentially asked to direct this same wonderful choir, and did so for the better part of two years. This work took me in and out of the Rockwell Gardens public housing “projects” in Chicago, and into friendship with some beautiful young people and their families. Many of these children maintained a deep admiration for Fr. Pfleger, although in some cases, their parents took a more cautious, wait-and-see approach toward him.

In 1990, with several hundred others I marched with Fr. Pfleger around Cardinal Bernardin’s home over the issue of the closing of Quigley Seminary South. Fr. Pfleger was already then the Chicago media’s favorite priest. He drew attention, he divided opinions, and he was, in the eyes of at least one Chicago op-ed writer, very good looking in his own blue eyes and vestments on a Sunday morning.

Over the years, Fr. Pfleger became something of an institution. Like his mentor Fr. George Clements, he learned to play the press as a foil against the Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago. With St. Sabina’s parishioners and supporters, the parish and school have become a forceful presence in the community. Fr. Pfleger grew close to national civil rights figures, politicians, and figures like Louis Farrakhan Muhammad, whose antisemitic statements have been well-established. But Fr. Pfleger lost much of his political standing after his controversial mockery of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Several times during Francis Cardinal George’s tenure as Archbishop of Chicago, public discussion arose whether Fr. Pfleger should step down as pastor of St. Sabina parish in Chicago, in keeping with the pastoral term limits established and agreed in the 1970s by Chicago’s presbyterate and its Archbishop.

Here is the original text of my earlier letter published on this subject:

February 18, 2002

Chicago Sun-Times

Dear Editor:

It’s understandable that Catholics would like a good pastor to stay a few more years, but it’s not possible, or fair to others not so fortunate.

People who say they can’t go to church or contribute any more if a Rev. Mike Pfleger or Rev. Jack Wall stop being their pastor don’t realize how much they have weakened their pastor’s credibility. After two decades of pastoring, if Frs. Wall and Pfleger have a majority of parishioners who give and pray and do good works because of them personally and not because of Jesus Christ, they have indeed failed as religious leaders, and should not remain in any case.

The Good Lord said, “One man sows, another reaps.” This saying conveys something of the mystery of the Church’s endurance throughout the centuries. By holding on to a pastorate, a Catholic priest risks weakening the meaning of his own ministry, risks encouraging a cult based upon his own personality, and can lessen the sustaining power of the Gospel itself to guide his people.


Albert Schorsch, III

While Fr. Pfleger has differed with the Catholic establishment, he has apparently never, ever, publicly bucked the civil rights establishment, even to the point of refusing to rebuke the Rev. Jeremiah Wright when Wright invoked the malicious lie in 2008 that HIV was invented by the US government to destroy African Americans.

Then Sen. Barack Obama’s unequivocal 2008 rejection of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s HIV-US government conspiracy theory was not joined by Fr. Pfleger, who somehow laboriously reasoned at the time that both the Senator and the Reverend could both be simultaneously right.

While known for his opposition to handguns, Fr. Pfleger did not in 2008 rebuke the more deadly HIV-US government conspiracy theory, shown by scientific research to prevent HIV victims from seeking treatment. No one should be taken seriously who spouts such harmful and nonsensical demagoguery as Wright did about a deadly disease, misinforming some of the public who then avoid medical help. Wright’s HIV conspiracy theory deserves every bit of opprobrium that comes its way. But on this point in 2008, Fr. Pfleger was substantially silent, and refused to be drawn into criticism of Wright’s spreading of this divisive, vicious, and hurtful HIV-US government blood libel.

Neither has the press reported any significant public statement from Fr. Pfleger against abortion in the African American community. Had Pfleger ever spoken such a condemnation, his friends in the media, in government, and in politics would have dropped him completely. If a single, dramatic pro-life, anti-abortion statement ever passed Fr. Pfleger’s lips, there would be no more microphones for Fr. Pfleger (except perhaps on Relevant Radio or EWTN), no more cameras, no more Tavis Smiley interviews.

Robert McClory has likened Fr. Pfleger to Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand. But Hillenbrand publicly defended Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, losing many of his friends in the process. Fr. Pfleger has done no such thing.

To the chagrin of the Right, Cardinal George has taken his time with Fr. Pfleger. But the Cardinal’s long journey toward suspending Fr. Pfleger is best explained in light of the Cardinal’s concern to “save the soul” of Fr. Pfleger.

Our history teacher back in the day at Niles College, Fr. Martin Nathaniel Winters, STL, MA, used to say that it took brains to be a heretic, and that most so-called heretics were actually too dumb to effectively frame an heretical position. It appears that Fr. Pfleger is no heretic.

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the sin of heresy is a sin against faith, but that the sin of schism is a sin against charity. Fr. Pfleger may be in schism.

Cardinal George framed with his typical clarity the question for Fr. Pfleger: Is he willing to be a Catholic priest? —

Now, however, I am asking you to take a few weeks to pray over your priestly commitments in order to come to mutual agreement on how you understand personally the obligations that make you a member of the Chicago presbyterate and of the Catholic Church.

Cardinal George’s question, demanding a clear choice in an age founded on equivocation, is both unheard of, and truly unheard to the point of being completely missed. He asked, in effect: Take your time, but answer me clearly, Are you a Catholic, and a committed Catholic priest willing to live out that commitment in obedience to your bishop?

The word “obey” here has a biblical, theological meaning over and above that of the notion of authority as power. This difference most commentators have likewise missed.

Jesus, the Son, obeyed the Father and carried his cross. As bishop, as “head,” Cardinal George is asking for a similar kind of obedience. This obedience is the key to Catholic Christian identity, and especially to priestly identity. It is this very obedience that leads to salvation. Cardinal George’s intent therefore appears to be the saving of Fr. Pfleger:

Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered; and when He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him, declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 5:8-10)

Without such obedience–the obedience of Christ–despite a thousand laying on of hands, there is no Catholic identity, and no Catholic priesthood.

© Copyright 2002, 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Film: Demographic Bomb

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The widespread belief in the threat of overpopulation is often more firmly held than religious faith, and persists throughout the developed world.

This belief has shifted across several elites in society over recent centuries, from the pious powerful seeking to eliminate the undeserving poor, to the progressives seeking to engineer a better society, to the eugenicists and their negative mirror image (and their sometime friends) the associated fanatics seeking to eliminate the weak and to grow a master race, to environmental idealists wishing to erase the human footprint from the earth, to enlightened and wealthy postmoderns seeking to incrementally reduce the sources of social dissonance as they shape a society to suit their fanciful self-image or their charitable foundation’s flavor of the week.

To all of these, the following film will come as something of a shock.

The 2009 film Demographic Bomb ran on EWTN on the evening of 1/26/11.

Demographic Bomb, written and directed by Rick Stout, who co-produced the film with Barry McLerran, includes top thinkers including Nobel Economics laureate Gary S. Becker of the University of Chicago, USC demographer and planning professor Dowell Myers, Columbia U. historian Matthew James Connelly, as well as partisans on opposing sides of the population debate such as Paul R. Ehrlich, the original author of The Population Bomb, and Nicholas Eberstadt.

The film’s most telling point from the standpoint of economic science was made by Prof. Becker, who cited Adam Smith’s insight that prosperity was associated with growing population, while declines in population were associated with declines in prosperity.

Indeed, the economic organization of our society is based upon the assumption of continued population growth. The outnumbering of the young by the old, which is implied by declining birth rates, places a great burden on the young, and can lead to economic decline. This is one of the basic arguments of the film, which notes a demographic trend underlying declines in real estate markets, where fewer buyers follow to acquire the homes built by the Baby Boom generation. This reduction in demand leads to declines in value, and thus also leads to economic decline.

Those political and social activists who believe that an economy can be legislated or regulated into existence might as well be trying to legislate the weather and the force of gravity. Underlying every economy are its markets. Underlying these markets are demographic forces, and underlying these demographic forces are tangible resources found in the land, the air, and the seas. Without exception, the underlying market, demographic, and physical forces eventually erupt and overcome foolish efforts to shape society that do not effectively acknowledge and harmonize with the powers of these underlying realities.

Demographic Bomb, the second film in a series preceded by Demographic Winter, lets the experts speak in their own words, but firmly draws its own conclusions that population decline, forced by misguided governments and organizations, is hurtful to human society.

Here is the trailer for Demographic Bomb.

Here is the trailer for Demographic Winter.

Please see my earlier post on the work of Prof. Dowell Myers for the importance of the advancement of immigrants to economic development.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved