Archive for January 2009

Welcome back Bishop Williamson!

January 31, 2009


All over the Catholic world anger has been expressed by the embarrassing contretemps of the Holocaust denying ‘traditionalist’ cleric Richard Williamson. Even the Canadian bishops rushed to assure the faithful that they did not share the bish’s dumb remarks. Nor do they share his rejection of the Vatican Council which the present pope seems to be quietly reversing

THe CCCB posted this on their website:

In response to questions that have been received regarding statements concerning the Holocaust (Shoah) by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the Society of Saint Pius X, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following comments:

1. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops finds abhorrent the notion that somehow the terrible evil of the Holocaust is not a fact of history, and joins the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in calling on all people to recognize that the Holocaust is “an admonition against oblivion, negation and reductionism” (see;

They did not post some of Williamson’s other opinions:
had this to say concerning Gay people:


“God did not wait for the founding of the Catholic Church to instill in men the horror of this sin, but he implanted in the human nature of all of us, unless or until we corrupt it, an instinct of violent repugnance for this particular sin, comparable to our instinctive repugnance for other misuses of our human frame, such as coprophagy.” 


And also, to help show that the basis of much anti-Gay discrimination and hateful rhetoric directed against Gay people largely rests upon misogyny, Bishop Williamson had the following to say about women:winonalg

“Women should not wear trousers” and “almost no girl should go to any university” as it contributes to the “the unwomaning of woman.”

Again, when someone is prejudiced against any one minority group, he/she is very likely to be prejudiced against one or more other minority groups. 

The Secret Life of Bob Carty

January 26, 2009

walkingbob1Many would know Bob Carty from his outstanding documentary work on CBC”s Sunday Morning. For decades this award winning journalist has produced scintillating reports from all over and in particular Latin America where his fluency in Spanish came in handy. But unbeknownst to CBC listeners Carty has long had a secret life which a number of us have been delightfully privy to. Carty is a closet folkie and a a damn good one at that.

Along with the late Dave Graham and Paula Kriwoy, Carty was a regular in the Catholic underground (justice seldom came out full blown as an institutional commitment even in those years) in the 70s . Whenever there was a gathering of progressive Catholics (usually under the auspices of Fr. Tom McKillop) the trio was present offering their justice-oriented songs.

Now because of illness Carty has been forced to take a sabbatical from his radio work but he has been well enough to gather up some of his liturgical music and put it onto a CD. Voila—an outstanding collection has finally appeared.

Desert Eyes, Songs of Justice and Spirit is a very welcome addition to the many splendoured biblically oriented songs which have exploded into the Catholic (and ecumenical) cosmos in the past 30 years. These three decades have really been the halcyon days for liturgical music. Gone are the days of faux piety and extra worldly treacle which predominated up until the early 70s.

As the Catholic Church in the Council years discovered scripture and the reign of God as the prime metaphor of Jesus, liturgical music soon followed. The St Louis Jesuits and the Monks of the Weston Priory come immediately to mind and now Bob Carty has added his own distinctive voice with Desert Eyes.

The title is taken from a legendary gospeller of the American south-west Jim Corbett. Jim would lead retreatants into the desert with just a few goats to supply them with milk. It would take a least three days before they would finally see with “desert eyes.” As Carty says “they begin to understand that even in the most desperate times-even mid great evil and death-there is still life and hope.”
The refrain in the title cut sets the theme of hope in this marvelous collection:”We will walk with desert eyes.” And when we walk with desert eyes,”The Spirit still blows us to Thee.”

There are 21 cuts including brief antiphons,alleluias and hosannas not to mention a rousing Gloria.All of these are beautifully aided by adult and children choirs and the piano stylings of Bill Lamont and the extremely sensitive arrangements of Lamont and James Stephens.This is a beautifully produced work.

Several songs stand out in my judgment.Yes, good enough to reach my crowded ipod, I keep singing the refrain of the second cut:
Keep your heart open and strong
You know every night needs a song
Because the journey’s rugged and long
keep your heart open and strong.

Then there is the haunting Holy Thursday song, You Washed our Feet
If I have washed you, so you the other
If I have knelt before you, so you, one another

in this song Carty expresses his great admiration for Oscar Romero:You spoke the truth in Salvador, You spoke of God to the dogs of war.

Quoting from St Paul,the Quran, Upanishads and Tagore, Carty’s beautiful ballad Love Never Fails is perhaps the highlight of the album or maybe it is Psalm 118, God’s Love is Everlasting. Chacun a son gout.
We are grateful for Bob Carty’s musical contributions here, extremely accessible and biblically inspired. They reflect the author’s long time commitment to the kingdom road he has travelled all his life. Parish and youth groups in all denominations should lap this record up Check it out at and for the US market,

Sportsworld and Brian Burke

January 23, 2009


Bill “Spaceman” Lee

I first ran into Sportsworld big time in England.

Studying overseas in 1971 I had a first row seat on the world of British soccer. The context of course was Dicken’s “nation of shopkeepers.” Here was still a highly stratified society, still class conscious and one of the major escape routes was the second hand life of the English soccer league. Second hand living at its most pathetic.

A “football “ legend there, Jackie Charltoon was running a second division team and he made what to me was an extraordinary comment, It was important he said to the whole town that the team did well at the holy hour 3 PM, when the locals faced off with another rival. If they won everybody felt better and walked a  little taller. Certainly there was at least a scintilla of  truth in what Charlton said.It appeared to me however that this notion was preposterous that somebody would feel better depending on how a sports team did. Surely this trivialized their own lives, forced them into a spectator’s role in the game of life and lifted athletics out of the play pen to national prominence.

Well, the notion is still with us.

Brian Burke the new hockey GM of the Maple Leafs just last week came up with the same idea!

He stated that surely the city of Pittsburgh and its citizens were  walking a little taller because of their beloved Steeler football team had done so well.Now Burke reputedly is an intelligent man with a law degree.To me he is still nicely ensconced in Sportsworld, the parallel universe that too many live in—a world disconnected from the grave issues of history—as apparently Burke is. I recall no pronouncements of his that indicated he is a serious citizen.

Apparently he is dedicated to making our beloved Leafs into a serious contender so we can all feel good about ourselves.

He should have met the old southpaw pitcher of the Red Sox, Bill Lee who snorted when he heard the expression World Series.

“World series? Yeah, well  1 billion Chinese don’t give a f–k.”

So much for Sportsworld.

W rides off an abject failure

January 22, 2009

newsOne almost felt sorry for the hapless Bush at Obama’s inauguration.

As the new president deftly eviscerated W’s catastrophic policies, Bush sat there, thinking what?

The euphoria of the day must have been palpable even to this insensitive man. He must have understood that all of the people were breathing a huger sigh of relief to see him and his band of neocons gone.

Contrast this with the election James Baker helped him steel in 2004.Here you saw people cursing Bush , pelting him with vegetables and all kinds of garbage as he paraded by.

Now people were saying by their euphoria,,,,get out of town. We have have had just about enough of your dumb policies.

The irony is Americans may have elected the pathetic Republican ticket had not it been for the economic meltdown.

The moral of the story: Don’t ever vote for a guy you’d like to have a beer with or a soccer mom.You want the best and the brightest at all times.Go to the pub if you want to have a beer—never to the ballet box.

The election of GW Bush was perhaps the greatest mistake the Republic ever made.It made the USA the laughing stock of the civilized world.

The true physicians

January 20, 2009


Dietrich Bonhoeffer

To all of you who have spoken up and spoken out, who have written letters and marched for peace, for all of you who never gave up, you are the true heroes today. Many of you have suffered great economic losses. Some of you have endured a loved one being shipped overseas to senseless and shameful wars, and thousands of you have seen those loved ones returned home, no longer alive. It has been a heartbreaking time. 

So begins Michael Moore’s letter to his subscribers. Fair enough, particularly the first line.

All the papers are awash with headlines like “Witness to history.” Some folks are traveling long distances to get to the inauguration.

After the eight lean years of the hapless W this is a shaft of sunlight in a long cold winter and an economic freeze. Surely a moment of hope.The whole world wishes Obama well.

However the real “witness to history’ belongs not to the spectators but to those who leaflet, freeze on corners vigiling, march for causes and generally reject the “received wisdom” of the particular culture they are in. They are the witnesses to history.

For Christians who do such things they are called disciples.and the reason Christianity is in trouble is that it has too many admirers of Jesus and not enough disciples. Discipleship costs and it might even make you unpopular but there is no other way than the “narrow gate.” Bonhoeffer was right when he said, “When Jesus calls you, he bids you come and die.” To what? all the bull shit and false honours which society proffers.

The American Hispanic  theologian Virgil Elizondo nailed it when he said,”In this world reformers will be tolerated, conformists will be considered good  people and the successfull will be looked upon as  the sainst of the secular world. But the true physicians of life will be expelled and driven away.”

Ted Schmidt (“Hector”) turns 100

January 15, 2009


sc00031810A special Mozart mass with a Hallelujah chorus was celebrated in heaven today in gratitude for the life of F Hector “Ted” Schmidt. “Hector “ as he was mockingly known by his five sons turned 100 today.

Born on January 15, 1909 to Sarah “Sadie” Downs and Fred Schmidt of 460 Palmerston Blvd, Ted was the eldest of 3 boys, Ted, Goldie and Jack. Goldie succumbed to scarlet fever in 1915 while the other two grew up as great friends to each other.

Hector’s wisest move was his marriage to Eileen Harrison, the belle of OCE as she was known, in 1935.They produced five sons who like their father went to St. Peter’s elementary school and St. Michael’s College  school.

Hector spent 50 years on Bay St as a trader. On his retirement on Dec. 16, 1982 he was presented with a silver tray for his “loyal service.” On this last day on the floor, surrounded by grandchildren, he was asked to sum up his feelings about his illustrious career, he opined, “Nice to be rid of the pimps and whores.”

This bon mot, fairly typical of Hector, aptly summed up his unique take on life, often described as “ahead of his time,” “philosophical” “starkly realistic approaching cynicism”. One wag labeled his worldview “sardonic”.

A university drop out, Hector was an autodidact, widely read and a man with little artifice and less patience for poseurs, ponces, “frauds flacks and phonies”. He exhibited particular scorn for “obsequious prelates” and “professional Catholics”. His greatest gift which he happily bequeathed to his five sons was  his capacity for bull shit detection. In this area he was described as “non pareil”(without equal).

Along with his extraordinary wife, Eileen,  he presided over legendary Sunday  meals where wit and bonhomie were the main servings. Friends and relatives were often present  at these magical meals which resembled in turn intellectual free-for-alls, shouting matches, outrageous jokes and uncontrollable laughter, ripostes, put downs peppered with vulgarisms and lively conversation. In general these evenings were a combination verbal bath and feast. Calling them moments of grace would not be stretching the truth—if one truly understood what incarnation was.

Christmas was always his favourite time. No Yule would pass without a reading of Jonathan Swift’s, On Lawyers:

It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever has been done before, may legally be done again: and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice, and the general reason of mankind. These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities to justify the most iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of directing accordingly.

In pleading, they studiously avoid entering into the merits of the cause; but are loud, violent, and tedious, in dwelling upon all circumstances which are not to the purpose. For instance, in the case already mentioned; they never desire to know what claim or title my adversary has to my cow; but whether the said cow were red or black; her horns long or short; whether the field I graze her in be round or square; whether she was milked at home or abroad; what diseases she is subject to, and the like; after which they consult precedents, adjourn the cause from time to time, and in ten, twenty, or thirty years, come to an issue.

It is likewise to be observed, that this society has a peculiar cant and jargon of their own, that no other mortal can understand, and wherein all their laws are written, which they take special care to multiply; whereby they have wholly confounded the very essence of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong; so that it will take thirty years to decide, whether the field left me by my ancestors for six generations belongs to me, or to a stranger three hundred miles off.”

Only on regaining his breath would he then with the barest encouragement recite his annual hilarious imitation of James C. Cardinal McGuigan’s boiler plate sermon on the birth of Jesus. Holding his nose to approximate the prelate’s high nasal voice, he would begin “2000 years ago in a little stable near Bethlehem…” Then it would be his sons turn to shriek with great delight.

One memorable  evening with wives, friends and needling offspring in attendance, and with a silly party head adorning his florid dome, he wondered aloud why anybody would pay for entertainment when all this family-generated mayhem  came  for free.

Another time he simply looked around the table and coming as close as he could to expressing his bountiful love for his  critical offspring,  he laid out a quote from the Book Of Samuel, “And he gathered unto himself all the malcontents and discontents and repaired to the cave at Adullam.” 1 Sam 22:1

Was he King Saul, the patriarch fearing a royal usurpation by another David a pretender to the throne? Did he see us his children as “malcontents and discontents”? Or as is most probable, was he in fact proffering a benediction on his well-educated sons, all busy tilting at societal windmills?

On his 50th wedding anniversary in 1985, a year before his death, he reveled at being surrounded by his large family and grandchildren. He roared with laughter when his eldest son revealed to all Hector’s favourite poem, a two-liner by Irving Layton.

Give all your days to the study of the Talmud.

By night practice shooting from the hip.”

Hector’s 100th birthday is being celebrated by his children, wives and any grandchilden who can make it.

Truth-the first casualty

January 13, 2009

0113-8Our Orthodox corespondent in Israel, professor Jerry Haber, openly mocks the Israel Defense Force (below) for its continual lies. North Americans may mythologize this crew but Israelis who pay attention deride its trustworthiness.

Canadians who pay attention (when hockey is off the air waves) may recall the blatant murder of  Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener a Canadian  who served with the UN and was murdered  by the IAF in the Lebanon War in July 2006.  Hess-von Kruedener’s wife Cynthia  said her husband told her that the UN site had been fired upon for weeks, despite the fact that their vehicles and buildings were clearly marked. The Israeli forces, ground and air,  have a long track record of murdering innocents. The description below is  from Jerry Haber. 

OK, so you are the commander of the IDF (or its spokesperson), and you learn that an IDF missile has rammed into a UNRWA school building killing innocent civilians, including children.

So what do you do? First you conduct a “preliminary” investigation, and then release a fiction to the press: (You can check it out on the IDF website here.)

Hamas Operatives Killed in UNRWA School

After an investigation that took place over the past hour it has been found that amongst the dead at the Jabalya school were Hamas terror operatives and a mortar battery cell who were firing on IDF forces in the area. Hamas operatives Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar were amongst terrorists that were identified as killed.

“We face a very delicate situation where the Hamas is using the citizens of Gaza as a protective vest,” said IDF Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, following the incident.

To make the story look good, you accompany it with footage of Hamas operatives firing from within the school.

Unfortunately for you, it is revealed that the footage is from 2007, and the story is contradicted by the United Nations representatives on the ground.. Then some weird things start to happen:

First, UN officials say to Haaretz that IDF officers, in conversations with them, have retracted the story. There were no Hamas operatives in the school.

Then, in response to the growing publicity, the IDF conducts another “preliminary” investigation. The terrorists mysteriously disappear from the school and from the story. Now you tell the press that an IDF patrol wanted to take out a team of terrorists that was firing near the school. A “technical malfunction” made the use of a “smart missle” impossible. So the commander used a missile with a GPS system that has a 30 meter margin of error. Regrettably, missles slammed into the school.

To make things appear better, you can add that not that many people died in the school bombing, that Hamas routinely inflates numbers.

Of course, I have absolutely no reason to believe the IDF’s second or third story, as I had absolutely no reason to believe the first story.

Why would any rational person believe an organization like the IDF that routinely lies?

“Moral insanity”

January 12, 2009


Uri Avnery, present as a young Israeli at the creation of the state in 1948 and a former member of the Knesset wrote this today on the lies of the Israeli government and the incessant propganda where human faces have become obliterated.But that’s OK, they are “Palestinian”.

The trouble is that propaganda is most convincing for the propagandist himself. And after you convince yourself that a lie is the truth and falsification reality, you can no longer make rational decisions.

An example of this process surrounds the most shocking atrocity of this war so far: the shelling of the UN Fakhura school in Jabaliya refugee camp.

Immediately after the incident became known throughout the world, the army “revealed” that Hamas fighters had been firing mortars from near the school entrance. As proof they released an aerial photo which indeed showed the school and the mortar. But within a short time the official army liar had to admit that the photo was more than a year old. In brief: a falsification.

Later the official liar claimed that “our soldiers were shot at from inside the school”. Barely a day passed before the army had to admit to UN personnel that that was a lie, too. Nobody had shot from inside the school, no Hamas fighters were inside the school, which was full of terrified refugees.

But the admission made hardly any difference anymore. By that time, the Israeli public was completely convinced that “they shot from inside the school”, and TV announcers stated this as a simple fact.

So it went with the other atrocities. Every baby metamorphosed, in the act of dying, into a Hamas terrorist. Every bombed mosque instantly became a Hamas base, every apartment building an arms cache, every school a terror command post, every civilian government building a “symbol of Hamas rule”. Thus the Israeli army retained its purity as the “most moral army in the world”.

THE TRUTH is that the atrocities are a direct result of the war plan. This reflects the personality of Ehud Barak – a man whose way of thinking and actions are clear evidence of what is called “moral insanity”, a sociopathic disorder.

The Palestinian Jew

January 10, 2009

Here was this Arabic man in freezing cold weather demonstrating in front of the Israeli consulate today.He walked slowly and reverently holding  up a crucifix with a Palestinian flag sprouting from the top. I tried to find him after a while but he disappeared. He said nothing but just walked slowly among the crowd.

Of course there were no priests, bishops or Catholic clergy present rendering support to the besieged in Gaza. We have come to expect that. The rabbinate sworn to defend Torah largely defends every depredation of Israel.Organized religion seems to have descended to warming hands by institutional fires.

Where is the voice of the late Rabbi Heschel?

When faith is replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit, when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past, when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain, when religion speak only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless.

The Arabic man said it all today: The Palestinian Jew on his cross has identified himself with all of history’s victims. Jesus suffers in Gaza. The church has too many friends of Jesus and not enough disciples.


“Standing up for Israel” pt.1

January 9, 2009


For many years now I have been disturbed by signs  outside synagogues which say “Time to stand up for Israel.”

As a longtime friend of Jews and Judaism I understand the place Israel has in the tribal hearts of the Jewish people.

But the world has long ago caught up with the terrible treatment afforded the Palestinian people. The latest shocking overkill in Gaza is merely the latest round in the shocking abuse and disrespect.A proud people with no means of defence, no army, navy, military apparatus, they have been driven mad by this treatment.What sense are suicide bombers? To what extremes do you have to be driven before you have lost all hope and no longer care about human life.

So now you lob these hopeless Qassam rockets as a cry of desperation. In 8 years you killed 30 people, each innocent, a pathetic act of resistance. As ridiculous as those Moltov cocktails tossed by Jews at the Wermacht in the Warsaw Ghetto on April 19, 1943. Still as was said at that time, better to die on your feet then grovel on your belly.

Synagogues must be places of universal holiness where the human face no matter what the ethnicity is held up as a sacred ikon. They should never be places which defend states and wave flags.

Jews against Zionism make this important point:

Obviously, the State of Israel has absolutely no connection with either Jews or Judaism. Furthermore, Torah-true Jews did not participate in the founding of the State, and for decades, we have announced our disapproval and disassociation from the State of Israel at every opportunity. 

The State of Israel has as much to do with Jews and Judaism as does New Zealand or Zimbabwe,” said Rabbi Hersh Lowenthal.

They further state:

May it be clear to every nation, to every person in the entire world: JEWS ARE NOT ZIONISTS! 

The Zionists are neither our representatives nor our spokesmen. They have absolutely no right to speak in the name of world Jewry. It is a terrible mistake to confuse Jews with Zionism, or to blame Jews for Zionist actions. We truly wish to live in peace with every nation in the world. We pray for our Jewish brethren as well as for the non-Jews in the Middle East, that they may be saved from danger and peril. 

A synagogue which conflates Israel and Judaism will in the end deform Judaism.