The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


“Hate speech”? Really?

posted by jmcgee

This item moved over the wire late Friday. The mind boggles:

The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church’s teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.

kennethhowell.jpgThe professor, Ken Howell of Champaign, said his firing violates his academic freedom. He also lost his job at an on-campus Catholic center.

Howell, who taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, says he was fired at the end of the spring semester after sending an e-mail explaining some Catholic beliefs to his students preparing for an exam.

“Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY,” he wrote in the e-mail. “In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.”

An unidentified student sent an e-mail to religion department head Robert McKim on May 13, calling Howell’s e-mail “hate speech.” The student claimed to be a friend of the offended student. The writer said in the e-mail that his friend wanted to remain anonymous.

“Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing,” the student wrote. “Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another.”

Howell said he was teaching his students about the Catholic understanding of natural moral law.

“My responsibility on teaching a class on Catholicism is to teach what the Catholic Church teaches,” Howell said in an interview with The News-Gazette in Champaign. “I have always made it very, very clear to my students they are never required to believe what I’m teaching and they’ll never be judged on that.”

Howell also said he makes clear to his students that he’s Catholic and that he believes the church views that he teaches.

McKim referred questions to university spokeswoman Robin Kaler, who said she couldn’t comment on Howell or his firing because it’s a personnel issue.

Read on for the rest. There are additional details here.

UPDATE: Comments are now closed.  
 



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Gabriel McAuliffe

posted July 12, 2010 at 8:13 am


Professor Howell is a kind and good man, as well a first rate instructor. I can see how this has happened to him and it is just plain silly.



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Panthera

posted July 12, 2010 at 9:31 am


There simply has to be a space for us to discuss and learn from each other or there is no hope for our culture, at all.
As much as as I disagree with the position of the Catholic church on this matter, firing the man for teaching the subject is wrong.
Anonymous and hearsay reports are forbidden as grounds for dismissal in the US, except in the 37 states which permit such attacks on homosexuals. Rather ironic, no?



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Catherine

posted July 12, 2010 at 10:11 am


The trouble with this teaching and the teaching on the ordination of women is that both presuppose a fundamental duality (male/female) that does not exist in nature. There are more genetic possibilities than XX and XY. Perhaps as many as 10% of people are neither. That’s a lot of people.
Beware building a theology on a natural law that isn’t.



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Blah

posted July 12, 2010 at 10:17 am


There is clearly a line between teaching *about* a subject and advocating *for* a subject. As an educated, thinking man, the professor had to have known the rules of the game. He crossed that line and paid the price.
Is it unjust? I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. There is injustice all over the world. We may cry, and stamp our feet, at the sheer *unfairness* of it all, but even Jesus never promised life would be fair – only that it would be brief and that eternity was much, much longer.



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Conservative

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:35 am


Perhaps the good professor could get a position at an authentically Catholic university and not have to worry about being PC.



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Mike L

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:35 am


My first thought was that Catholic schools fire people for speaking against the Catholic faith, why shouldn’t secular schools fire people for talking against their beliefs. The old sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander saying.
My second thought goes with Panthera, it seems to me that all too many of us are afraid to even listen to someones belief if it disagrees with ours, and I wonder if that is because we are so unsure of our own.
Catherine, few people pick their faith on science, and I notice that the general public has no idea of this problem and don’t really want to hear of it, it upsets their old beliefs.



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Jim

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:42 am


This is Stalin style censorship.
The Christian faith clearly states that Homosexuality is an abomination unto the Lord. Teaching anything else is essentially being a “false prophet”. The school has violated his Constitutional Rights to freedom of religion by telling him what his religion can entail.
Unfortunately it has become vogue to attack christians and incrementally tear down our faith in the same manner they have incrementally destroyed the moral fabric of society.



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Ignatius

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:52 am


This happens everyday to gays in 37 states where gays have no civil rights protections. Therefore, who would be better qualified to understand the position than Dr. Howe is put in than gays, themselves?
By supporting Catholic teaching which legally enables discrimination against even celibate gays, Dr. Howe is arguing that such firings are legally justified for gays, practicing or not. Even within the framework of Catholic morality, this is an ends justifies the means argument.



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romancrusader

posted July 12, 2010 at 1:39 pm


I’m not surprised this is happening. So they hired him to teach a course on Catholicism. He taught them what the Church teaches (very thoroughly too apparently.) And then they fired him because a homosexual student was offended? It’s not a big secret that the Catholic Church doesn’t approve of homosexual behaviour. What were these people expecting?
Soon the United States will be just like Canada, where you can actually go to jail for criticizing homosexuality.
Mark my words ladies and gentlemen, the pressure will slowly tighten, and tighten and tighten and tighten until the faith is pushed underground again.
Another thing, one day soon we will be facing catastrophe, and then we will be crying to God, “Save us, save us!” and He will be silent because we had already turned Him away. . .
And in turning Him away, we will have in His place erected a ‘false’ god as so many have today. THAT is the god we will call upon to ‘save’ us. . .and since he is a false god he will not be able to do so, while the True God whom we have rejected would have come to our aid. But though we have ears we will refuse to hear the True God, and though we have eyes we will not be able to see the True God. . .not because HE denies us but because WE have denied Him.
This will not be a punishment but simply a ‘result’ of our own freely chosen decision to reject the True God. . .
The liberal Marxists have gained control over the government and the educational system. They will stop at nothing to get rid of anyone who doesn’t goose step to the politically correct lies that they need to take over the world. It’s only a matter of time before we are persecuted like the Jews in Nazi Germany. We will become martyrs for the faith, which will never be defeated. The blood of the martyrs has always strengthened the Church.



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Klaire

posted July 12, 2010 at 3:17 pm


Well said Romancrusader! I would only add that the last friend of the gays in this country WILL be the Catholic Church, even if underground.
For any gay folks reading, mark my words that once they (the radical family destroying political left), has “used you up”, you will be tossed aside along with the blacks and immigrants who were also used, (to name only a few).
When that happens, it will be the remnant, most likely underground, Catholics who will be there to protect you, just as they are now, regardless of your inability to recognize real love.
And when your days here are finished on earth, all of you, when in the light of Truth, will come to understand how many of us, knowing the weight of your cross, have prayed our hearts out for you, wanting nothing less for you than we want for our ownselves, eternal salvation in the Glory of God.
Every God loving American should be at the defense of this man, as he is simply a protype of what’s to come. It will be our “silence” that allows it to continue, but we all know how the story ends: One day they will come for us!



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Ignatius

posted July 12, 2010 at 3:44 pm


Klaire,
With friends like the Church, who needs enemies?
You as a Catholic and a female are protected from discrimination in housing, employment, education, etc by civil rights laws. yet you and your Church say that gays, even celibate ones, deserve none of these protections.



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Conservative

posted July 12, 2010 at 4:21 pm


“yet you and your Church say that gays, even celibate ones, deserve none of these protections.”
Could you elaborate on where it is written that homosexuals are discriminated upon in housing, employment and education by the Church? Please provide quotes from official church documents.



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Ignatius

posted July 12, 2010 at 4:38 pm


Below is a statement written by the CDF. It states Church opposition to all civil rights laws that recognize sexual orientation. This position has lead to Church denunciations of everything from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to anti-bullying laws to UN resolutions against civil penalties for homosexuality.
ENDA is intended to approximate some the protections that you as a Catholic enjoy under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include equal protection in housing, employment, education, union and membership. USCCB’s opposition to ENDA is documented here:
( http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=6458 ). ENDA specifically exempts religious organizations from non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
SOME CONSIDERATIONS CONCERNING THE RESPONSE TO LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS ON THE NON-DISCRIMINATION OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS
The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
Revised statement issued on July 22, 1992.
There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.
13. Including “homosexual orientation” among the considerations on the basis of which it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights, for example, in respect to so-called affirmative action or preferential treatment in hiring practices. This is all the more deleterious since there is no right to homosexuality (cf. No. 10) which therefore should not form the basis for judicial claims. The passage from the recognition of homosexuality as a factor on which basis it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality. A person’s homosexuality would be invoked in opposition to alleged discrimination, and thus the exercise of rights would be defended precisely via the affirmation of the homosexual condition instead of in terms of a violation of basic human rights.
14. The “sexual orientation” of a person is not comparable to race, sex, age, etc. also for another reason than that given above which warrants attention. An individual’s sexual orientation is generally not known to others unless he publicly identifies himself as having this orientation or unless some overt behavior manifests it. As a rule, the majority of homosexually oriented persons who seek to lead chaste lives do not publicize their sexual orientation. Hence the problem of discrimination in terms of employment, housing, etc., does not usually arise.



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Klaire

posted July 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm


With all respect Ignatius, you are simply wrong in your assumptions of Catholic Teaching on homosexuality. I have no right, according to the CC teaching, to “marry” a women than you do to marry a man. However, BOTH of us are free, with all rights provided, civil and by the CC, to marry a person of the other sex.
Both of us are called to celibacy, if single, and holiness married or not married. By the grace of the sacraments provided by the CC, there is sufficient grace for both of us to live out what the CC teaches.
Gay or straight, we are ALL called to holiness. The CC embraces the celibate gay person as much as the celibate non-gay person. Any single person outside of marriage, according to the teachings of the CC, cannot without sin have sex. It is just as sinful for a married person to have sex outside of the marriage.
That said, even as “sinners” we always have hope in the CC, but none the less, if any catholic, for whatever reasons, is in grave sin, we are not permitted to receive the Eucharist until we repent.
Even more, “my” sexual sins are no greater than “your” sexual sins, both are equally sinfully, as the CC clearly teaches that is sinful to have sex outside of a sacramental valid marriage.
To say that the CC is against gay housing, employment, and educational rights is simply not true. Why don’t you go the Catehcsim on line (free on the Vatican web site) and read what the CC actually DOES teach?
Lastly, I have several gay family members, one of them even a Godfather, as a “gay” man, proving to you once again that the church doesn’t discriminate, albeit does protect the teaching of Jesus Christ when it comes to the definition of marriage, and all things related for the greater good of society, family, and children.
Taking religion completely out of it, it is naturally impossible for two people of the same sex to procreate, consequently, family being the basic unit of society, it’s not a stretch to argue or understand why the CC is protective of such a necessary “CIVIL” necessity, “marriage between one man and one women.”
God Bless Ignatius.



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Ignatius

posted July 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm


BTW, paragraph 14 implicitly endorses the notion that gays should be coerced into silence.
Given all this, I find it hard to understand what Catholics as Catholics have to legitimately complain about in this case. The status quo says you have the right to treat gays as Dr. Howell was treated in 37 states. In my experience, you do exactly that even at non-Catholic universities when you’re allowed to.
On the offhanded assumption that being American means anything to any Catholic on the other side of the discussion, I will confess that my objection to Howell’s firing is that turnabout doesn’t make good law.
Dr. Howell should have been warned that by advocating the Catholic solution to the homosexual question, he would be perceived as arguing for the civil inferiority of some of his students relative to his own rights.



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Ignatius

posted July 12, 2010 at 4:55 pm


Klaire, I’m more informed than you are on this subject. I read the source documents of the Catechism when they came out. I understand that the Church says that gays shouldn’t be subject to ___UNJUST___ discrimination, but the source document I cited above is a position paper on justifying every form of anti-gay discrimination under discussion at the time. Since then, the Church has opposed every civil protection for gays I’ve seen. Even protections to stop them from being murdered by religious fanatics, both Muslim and Christian, in the Middle East and Africa.



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Your Name

posted July 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm


BTW, paragraph 14 implicitly endorses the notion that gays should be coerced into silence.
Hasn’t really worked though has it?



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted July 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm


One of the worst aspects of this case is the school acting on an anonymous complaint. And many sites (not just Catholic) find this the most disgusting part of the whole situation.



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Elle

posted July 12, 2010 at 7:02 pm


Although I find his position on gays and lesbians reprehensible and incompatible with Christ’s intentions, I think the greater issue is that Howell was teaching his personal beliefs to the students instead of Roman Catholic thought, which is what the students signed up for. When the person in charge of classroom discussion vocally supports the “correct” opinion, productive multi-sided discussion is effectively squashed and quality of education suffers. The best religion professor I ever had was the one who refused to tell us what religion he practiced because he didn’t want to bias anyone for/against a religion when learning about it.



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Conservative

posted July 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm


The professor was teaching a course in Catholicism. He stated the Catholic position. What did the student expect? It sounds fishy if you read the complainer’s email. He wrote it for a friend. Sounds like hearsay to begin with. I hope the professor sues and wins but I doubt he would want to go back there.
Interesting Elle finds his position reprehensible and knows what Christ’s intentions were. Must have a special pipeline to the Lord.



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Elle

posted July 12, 2010 at 7:22 pm


Conservative, please let me know where your special pipeline is since you seem to know so much better than me.



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Conservative

posted July 12, 2010 at 7:53 pm


Well my special pipeline is the Word of God and the constant teaching of the Church for 2000 years. I don’t need to probe into the mind of Jesus as others presume to do. He taught us to love our neighbor and hate sin not the sinner. Simple.



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Elle

posted July 12, 2010 at 8:01 pm


Funny, that’s where I get my information too. Special emphasis on the love our neighbors part and the lack of qualification on who isn’t our neighbor.



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Panthera

posted July 12, 2010 at 8:27 pm


Klaire,
I appreciate that you are acting out of love and not out of hate.
When I was attacked and nearly murdered by three big men, my husband threw all 5’7″ and 145 pounds of himself over me, lying on the ground.
They broke his ribs. They punctured his lungs. He nearly died, protecting me.
That was love. Please, don’t ever again say gays don’t know love.



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Klaire

posted July 12, 2010 at 8:40 pm


I suggest for the sake of clarity we take a “time out” to actually understand where and why we disagree.
It appears to all boil down to “love”, the word of copious meanings.
Elle,from a Catholic perspective, “Love” is wanting the best of those whom we love, which can only be, “eternal salvation.” Confirming a ‘loved one’ in their sin greatly decreases the chances of eternal salvation, subsequently, it couldn’t possibly be authentic love. Catholics don’t confirm friends and loved ones in their sin anymore than a parent of a 3 year old would let the kid run into the street to play ball, regardless of how much the the kid wanted to regardless of the consequences.
Jesus told us he came with a sword that will divide, even families, and that sword is none other than Truth, as Truth almost always divides.
Ignatius your hang up with my arugment appears to be “just or unjust” discrimination. Just as there are “just wars”, there is also “just teachings” and “just discrimination.”
FYI, the CC couldn’t changed dogmatic teachings if they wanted to, as the church is merely the keeper and enforcer of the fullness of the teachings of Jesus Christ. At least be honest and admit that it’s the teachings of Christ you have a problem with, not the Catholic Church and its members. Again, it’s based on authentic love, even if you don’t agree.



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Mike

posted July 12, 2010 at 10:08 pm


One point obscured in the news: Dr. Howell was not employed by the University: he was employed by the Newman Center, and allowed to teach at the university.



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TomKumar

posted July 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm


University of Illinois: Obviously, you can’t handle the truth!
So much for academic freedom!
Deacon Greg: the comments here are starting to read like ol’ times . . . hot! hot! hot!



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Gerard Nadal

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:07 pm


Bravo Panthera!! Your intellectual honesty and decency are laudable. Such an endorsement from you ought to settle the matter.
God Bless



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romancrusader

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm


“We have gone from a Church which supported the Nazis in murdering us in the 1930’s and 40’s (no way to wish that away, we all have access to the documents) to a Church which now recognizes that homosexuality is an immutable characteristic”
You care to back up that statement that the Church supported the Nazis?
Mit Brenennder Sorge contradicts your silly claim.



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romancrusader

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm


Panthera,
Your attempt to align the Church with the Third Reich is laughable. Books like that of Rabbi Dalin’s totally contradicts your claim.



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romancrusader

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:14 pm


Deacon,
Panthera’s comment that the Church supported killing gays is VERY OFFENSIVE AND SHOULD BE DELETED!!!
[Agreed, Roman…just saw it. Thanks. It’s gone. Dcn. G.]



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Mike L

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:34 pm


Exactly what Pius XII did or did not do in relation to the Third Rich is still under discussion. I believe that in any case there is clear evidence that high officials in the Church aided Nazis in getting passports so that they get escape to South America. While I would not exactly claim that this is the “Church” collaborating with the Nazis, it would seem that the Vatican did not work to stop the practice.
While I have not seen a case where the Church overtly support the killing of gays, it has opposed the UN’s, as well as others, efforts to stop discrimination and even physical reprisals aimed toward gays.



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romancrusader

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:35 pm


“Exactly what Pius XII did or did not do in relation to the Third Rich is still under discussion. I believe that in any case there is clear evidence that high officials in the Church aided Nazis in getting passports so that they get escape to South America. While I would not exactly claim that this is the “Church” collaborating with the Nazis, it would seem that the Vatican did not work to stop the practice.”
Proof please?



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Gerard Nadal

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:05 am


Panthera,
Sorry I only saw your first comment when I responded so positively.



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Klaire

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:07 am


Panthera I”m sorry to hear of the horrible attacks on both of you. Of course what you describe is most certainly an act of love, and without question homosexuals can indeed love. To think otherwise is absurd. I would like to think anyone of us reading would have done the same thing for you.
That said, what you describe is a non-sequitur to my comment, as I was specific with the fact that “confirming a sin” of those we love, be it an irregular marriage, contraception, homosexual sex, premarital sex, etc., is anything BUT love, as it puts at risk eternal salvation. In those specific cases, “real” love is having the courage to speak the truth, despite the cost, even if that cost is division.
No one is forcing anyone to accept Catholic Teaching on homosexuality, but at least give credit to the CC for doing it’s job: holding fast to the teachings of Jesus Christ, offering counsel and redemption.
For the sake of making a point, let’s just say with certitude that the CC is 100% correct on it’s teaching. Do you not think it would be terribly unfair, if knowing this teaching, the CC failed to enforce it? Just as the main job of our government is security, the main job of the Magesterium is also to protect us, and lead us to eternal salvation.
In a country where everyone is quick to point fingers and blame, at least give the CC credit for the “teaching and warning”, and always, the choice to accept or decline.



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Klaire

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:11 am


Fact sheet from EWTN on Pope Pius the XII, who saved ALMOST A MILLION JEWISH LIVES
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/FACTSP12.HTM
EXCERPT
_______
In Hungary, an estimated 80,000 baptismal certificates were issued by Church authorities to Jews. In other areas of Eastern Europe the Vatican escape network (organised via Bulgaria by the Nuncio Roncalli – later John XXIII) has impressed those writers who have studied the subject, with the effectiveness of the Church’s rescue operation. David Herstig concludes his book on the subject thus:
“Those rescued by Pius are today living all over the world. There went to Israel alone from Romania 360,000 to the year 1965.”
The vindication of Pius XII has been established principally by Jewish writers and from Israeli archives. It is now established that the Pope supervised a rescue network which saved 860,000 Jewish lives—more than all the international agencies put together.
After the war the Chief Rabbi of Israel thanked Pius XII for what he had done. The Chief Rabbi of Rome went one step further. He became a Catholic. He took the name Eugenio.



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Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:12 am


While I am an advocate for human rights for all people, LGBT people included, I don’t think I saw any intention on the prefessor’s part as evidenced by this article to pick on any one student.
I do agree with the student that teaching that homosexuality is agains the laws of nature crossed out of the theological focus. It is also incorrect as science has shown again and again that many mammals have an increase in homsexuality when overpopulation is an issue. That would scertianlly quality the homo sapien sapien wouldn’t it? LOL!
I’m saddened that this wasn’t used more as a chance to enlighten the teacher about having greater sensitivity to his student’s demographics, and to teach the student about how to engage in a controled and meaningful dialogue.
The real traged to me here is that it seems like a missed opportunity to educate BOTH the teacher and students about hwo they can address the bigotry often fueled by religious reasoning. Yet, a teacher calmly instructing is a far different tone that the Westboro Church crowd we just had to deal with here in Dallas!



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Mike L

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:24 am


romancrusader,
I think that the controversy over Pius XII’s is self evident. The very fact that people are working so hard to defend him implies this. Notice I did not say he supported the Nazi’s only that there is still controversy, and I hate to see either side silenced by fiat.
As for the support for escaping Nazi’s, I would suggest that you do a quick google search for “Catholic help in getting passports for Nazis” turned up quite a list. Check on Monsignor Maglione and Bishop Hudal to start with. Again, I have no idea of whether Pius XII approved of these actions or not.
Deacon, there are a lot of statement made in this blog that I find offensive, and perhaps you will find this also offensive. But isn’t removing Panthera’s statement of her belief because it offended someone the same as removing the professor because someone found his beliefs offensive? It seems to me that romancrusader’s position is much like the dissatisfied student.



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Panthera

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:55 am


Mike L., thank you.
Deacon Kandra has my real name and origens, a quick search of my family would leave little doubt as to why I am no fan of the Nazis nor of their supporters.
That said, this is his blog and I know him to be capable of distinguishing between moderating and the knee-jerk censorship of some who participate here.
Many devout Catholics stood up to the Nazis. Catholic is not equal to Vatican. All I’ll say on that.
Klaire, the Church is not teaching the words of Jesus on this subject. Actually, if Christ ever spoke to the matter at all, then only within the context of Eunuchs, the language at the time for homosexuals…and his wording was very clear. Look it up. If you won’t allow that he meant us, then there is simply not one single word against us which Jesus spoke. Not one.
This is a position of the Church, not of Christ. I know that for most conservative Christians, only those ‘sins’ which they, themselves can’t commit are worth persecuting, it is, our love is simply not a sin.
Roman Crusader, you just presented the very best argument possible for my position that the professor should not have been disciplined. Thank you.



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Panthera

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:09 am


Oh, it’s a minor note, really, but since it comes up here so very often, “Panthera” is a masculine name, it has been in my family for hundreds of years and I’m a man.
Latin, as do the Celtic tongues, doesn’t really assign masculinity and femininity to proper names and nouns with ending vowels. Demanding that “Agricola” be moved to another declension because farmers are ‘boys’ is a common response by first semester native English language learners.



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