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Feature Essay

"Marriage," defined.

—Dr. Michael T. Napierkowski, MD

The Exsultet (that long thing sung at the Easter Vigil)

Catholic Trivia Game

JPII on anti-Semitism:
At a Roman synagogue in 1986, he cited Vatican II on the Jews and emphatically denounced "the hatred, the persecutions, and all... anti-Semitism of any time by whomever." He paused in silence, eyed the audience intently, and said, "I repeat, by whomever."

Does Heaven Exist? Time magazine article. Though the title and prologue indicate that its appeal is waning, the survey data in the article clearly indicate it is as alive as ever. Irresponsible journalism?

Catholic $ Investors Do you or your organization invest? Here's a mutual find aligned with Catholic values!
A friend with no web access? See this, or call 1-888-874-4486.
* This is NOT an ad. Dr NAD neither invests, endorses the program, nor is competent to advise.

Controversial, but needlessly so. Learn of the scandalous myths here, and the true beauty of indulgences as the magisterium proclaims it.

It is not..
- permission to sin
- pardon of future sin
- forgiveness of guilt
- purchase of a pardon
- guarantee of salvation
- release from Purgatory
      It supposes that the sin has already been forgiven.

# U.S. Catholic schools:
(elem & HS)
1967 - 13,268
1997 - 6,677
Visit Nat'l Cath. Edu. Assoc. (NCEA)

Kneel or stand during the 2nd half of Mass?
Today, many note that at some churches, the congregation stands throughout the 2nd half of Mass, in contrast to how they grew up kneeling at those times.
      But, ever noticed that centuries old churches outside the US don't even have kneelers? At some times past, kneeling was forbidden, and standing was required at Sunday and Easter season masses.
      Many countries still follow the tradition. In fact, general church law is to stand from the Prayer over the Gifts until the end of mass, except for kneeling at the consecration (unless there is a preventing reason) and sitting for meditation after Communion (Gen. Instr. of the Rom. Missal, 21).
      In 1969, U.S. bishops altered this rule, so that people now kneel from the Sanctus the Amen of the Euch. Prayer (App. to the Gen. Instr., 21). For other countries, the prior regulations for the universal church apply unless their bishops adopt similar changes.

Dr. NAD's Knights' 'Net Niche
Dr. NAD was the Program Director (1996-1997) for a K of C Council (#2134) in the Greenville, Mississippi delta, where he also served 4th D. Assembly (#555) as Faithful Captain (the "vice" chief officer) for 1996-1997. On Dr. NAD's former Council and Assembly pages you will find some success stories and details on planning and executing events such as Easter Egg Hunts, Free Throw Championships, and Cash Raffle/Lottery to benefit the Priests' Education Fund of the diocese.
Dr. NAD is an officer of the Frederick, Maryland Council and member of that Assembly of the Knights of Columbus. The Order of the K of C consists of local Councils, which hold three "Degrees" of membership: 1st=Charity, 2nd=Unity, 3rd=Fraternity. One attains full Knighthood upon completion of the 3rd D. The Fourth Degree, devoted to Patriotism (e.g. here), is an honorary degree reserved for exceptional Knights by invitation, and is organized into "Assemblies" whose domain extends usually to include multiple Councils. Such Knights wear the regalia–cape, hat, sword– at funerals, visits from the bishop, etc.
     Pages on this site are a source of K of C info not provided elsewhere (e.g., at the official site of the Supreme Council), and a place where other interested parties may post similar info or other visitors may make inquiries regarding who the Knights are in general.
     The site includes much miscellaneous material of interest not only to Knights, but also to Catholics and other Christians, as well as all of good will.
N     e     w     s

US Catholic Bishops' Leader on the Clinton Scandal Apology (September 17, 1998)

Failed Congressional override of veto of partial birth abortion ban—Knights' efforts

U.S. Bishops' Statement on Iraq (January 20, 1998)

New dogma on Mary to be pronounced soon?
(see related Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, "The Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix")

Dr. NAD's collection of TIME mag's coverage on Timothy McVeigh 's conviction.
(includes Church and other perspectives)


O R D E R - W I D E
N i f t y  K n i g h t  N o t e s  &  N u g g e t s

(Of, sponsored, or done by the K of C:)

Medical moral issues workshop: More than 175 bishops attended in '96.

  • Again in 1996, highest possible ratings from Standard & Poor (5th consecutive year), and A.M. Best Co. (21st consecutive year).
  • In 1996 alone, $4 billion in insurance, 88,455 certificates issued.
  • As of 1997 $31.3 billion of insurance in force ($1.5 billion in 1965).
  • For Knights and their families who participate in the insurance program, the following benefits are added without cost:
    • Orphan Fraternal Benefit: For each orphan $80/mo., plus up to $7000 college scholarship.
    • Family Fraternal Benefit:
      • Infant who dies before 61 days old: $1500
      • Stillborn baby at least 20 weeks after conception: $70
      • Guaranteed-issue for otherwise uninsurable child under 18: $5000
(More specific insurance info)

Vatican broadcasting: Vatican's Easter & Christmas telecasts to more than 60 countries in 1996. Almost 70 countries received the Christmas message. The Order funds satellite uplinks. It also funds all downlinks in mission countries. More than 50 countries received the 1996 midnight Mass from St. Peter's. Since 1975, the Order has spent > $2 million in these efforts. In 1996, the Order donated the production vehicle for these telecasts. Holy week telecasts are also covered.

You may have seen the "Keep Christ in Christmas" and "Peace be to you" billboards that the Order distributes worldwide.

More than 1.6 million members as of 1996

>$105 million and ~50 million hrs to charity/service; 1996, highest ever.

$2 million check to Pope JPII from their Vicarius Christi Fund ($24 million since 1981), for use in his personal charities (Jan 9, 1997)

UNICEF: Since the Holy See withdrew support for this United Nations charity in 1996 because of their promoting artificial contraception and abortion, so has the K of C

Free Throw contests: In 1996, participants ages 10-14, 90000 girls, 125000 boys

Fourth Degree Knights: At the end of 1996, there were 243,437 Fourth Degree Knights in 2119 assemblies in 117 districts and 20 provinces.

Anti-Catholicism tidbits: NY Gov. Al Smith (D), Catholic, ran for president in 1928. Rumors spread that the K of C take an oath to "hang, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and burn alive infamous [Protestant] heretics." A Christian magazine: Protestants "cannot look with unconcern upon the seating of a representative of an alien culture, of a medieval Latin mentality, of an undemocratic hierarchy, and of a foreign potentate in the great office of the President."

Abortion & Artificial Contraception (AC)
The Pope (~Mar '97) defended natural family planning (NFP) because it liberates women from "unjust" programs of birth control, "a sad parade of various forms of contraception, abortion, and sterilization. NFP promotes spousal cooperation and sensitivity and a sort of "human ecology" whereby both nature and human behavior are appreciated.

"Frequent relapse into sins of contraception does not in itself constitute a motive for denying absolution."


"To presume to make one's own weakness the criterion of moral truth is unacceptable."

Confessors should "avoid demonstrating a lack of trust in either the grace of God or in the dispositions of the penitent."

Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life, released by the Vatican ~Mar 1997, addressed how to deal with AC and more.
  • The documents origins are in the pope's pastoral sensitivity for "concrete human situations."
  • Confessors ought assume the good will of penitents if they truly want absolution, including from other sexual matters. Human weakness and divine mercy compel pastors to devote themselves to these intricate efforts.
  • AC is "intrinsically evil" because it makes conjugal love intentionally unfruitful and harms mutual self-giving; this teaching is "definitive and irreformable." Though always morally wrong, it should be forgiven even if penitents habitually return to the practice.
  • People need mercy and the sacraments to grow toward the Church's norms. Priests ought be prudently reserved in inquiring of penitents about these sins.
  • To Catholics convinced AC is not immoral: There is error but no sin, as they act out of "invincible" ignorance. Let penitents remain in good faith rather than create a situation in which they would begin formally to sin.
  • It may not always be sinful for a spouse to "cooperate" in AC use. If the AC method has any risk of being abortifacient, however, both are automatically excommunicated, and absolution must be sought under special circumstances.
  • The Church's moral norms are not "unattainable" ideals adaptable to human shortcomings.

Welfare reform Family Cap promotes abortions (TIME mag 6/22/98). Catholic pro-life winds have always been, and remain, different from other pro-lifers, even other conservative Christians. Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council were urged by other pro-life groups (including, esp. the Catholic Conference) not to push the Family Cap, which makes cash assistance unavailable to mothers on welfare who have another child, effective in 23 states. In NJ, a Rutgers University study found that the cap probably promoted abortions (paid for by Medicaid!). Even the ACLU has sued to repeal the cap. NJ State health offices claim the reports methods were inadequate. NJ Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a loud pro-abortion politician, pledged she would reconsider the law if it led to more abortions, but now, not so surprisingly, she identifies the study as "only a draft." The Catholic Church has a strong tradition (even doctrine) of defending welfare (as well as labor unions et al.) as Christ lifted the poor and called us all to do the same.

Urge Congressional override of veto of partial birth abortion ban—all you need to do it via the Internet

Partial Truth Abortion. Promising Time article by Margaret Carlson.

The liar (director of the Nat'l Coalition of Abortion Providers) elsewhere:
On Nightline:
- "It [lying] made me physically ill – I told my wife the next day, 'I can't do this again.'"
In an interview with the AMA News:
- "Actually, in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus who is 20 weeks or more along. The abortion-rights folks know it...and so probably does everyone else."

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 1994 figures:

  • For women 15-44, 21/1000 had abortions–the smallest number since 1976.
  • 1.2 million abortions–4th annual decline in a row; 1.3 million in 1993; peak was 1.4 million in 1990.
  • Most women were white, single, < 25 years old.

All over, Councils are erecting memorials to the unborn (e.g. here).

3/17/97 Mississippi outlaws partial-birth abortions (except to save the life of the mother, but 400 U.S. OB/GYNs signed a statement declaring that the procedure is never necessary to save a mother's life).

American Medical Assoc. (AMA) opposes partial birth abortion
Its board chairwoman Dr. Nancy Dickey:
Partial birth "is a procedure which is never the only appropriate procedure and has no history in peer reviewed medical literature or in accepted medical practice." (~5/19/97)

A chronology of key abortion rights decisions since 1973

Assisted Suicide: The Order has filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing assisted suicide with the Supreme Court.
More on physician-assisted suicide here

R E L I G I O N   B E A T
What's going on in religion.
Some sources:

TIME mag., 6/16/97 - cover feature Timothy McVeigh; 'Should He Die?'

(TIME/CNN poll just before McVeigh received the death sentence)

Wanted McVeigh to receive the death penalty:

82% of men

75% of women

78% of both

Favor death penalty in serious crimes.

74%  20%

Deters people from committing crimes.

45%  52%

Loved one's feelings of vengeance = legitimate reason for putting murderer to death.

34%  60%

Favor death penalty for someone convicted of:

police officer

ordinary citizen
Molesting a child
Drug sales to youth

Dr. NAD's collection of TIME (June 16, 1997) coverage in an issue featuring the Timothy McVeigh conviction.

(Copyright (c) 1997 Time Inc. Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.)

"The American Bar Association called for a moratorium on executions because 'the administration of the death penalty, far from being fair and consistent, is instead a haphazard maze of unfair practices with no internal consistency.'" [In February, 1997]

"...67% of police chiefs said they did not think the death penalty deters homicide." [1995 poll]

"Like the President, most Americans just aren't sweating the fine points of the capital punishment debate. While executions are being abolished in most parts of the planet – exceptions include Iran, Iraq, China, Yemen and some former Soviet states – Americans seem to want more of them, with fewer appeals and delays. Thanks to Congress and the courts, they're getting their wish—especially in the 'Death Belt' states of Texas, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama, which together account for 78% of the executions America has seen since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976."

"While states in New England and the Northern Midwest and Pacific Northwest either forbid capital punishment or rarely use the laws on their books, in the South putting people to death has become a part of life. That is especially true in Texas, which has had 127 executions since 1976, almost a third of the national total. Today 448 people wait on death row in Texas. 'If they keep going at the rate they're going,' says Stephen Bright, 'it won't be long before Texas will have executed more people than all the rest of the states put together. They execute so many people that nobody pays any attention at all."

"Every year about 300 people receive the death sentence in this country and about 35 leave death row--usually with the aid of electricity or an intravenous drip. Most of the arrivals and all the departures since 1976 have been state cases."

"How many on death row are innocent? All or none, depending on whom you ask. Since 1976, however, 65 have escaped the death house when their convictions were overturned." [Look at these complicated cases.]

Dead Man Walking was not a fantasy. Remember the award-winning movie about Sister Helen Prejean's ministry on death row? Here is a story of—and by—a father who lost his daughter in the bombing, but he is against executing McVeigh. "There's been enough bloodshed where this fence now stands. We don't need to have any more. To me the death penalty is vengeance, and vengeance doesn't really help anyone in the healing process... Since I've started expressing my views, I've been surprised by the number of people who tell me they feel the same way but were afraid to say anything for fear of offending those, like myself, who were most affected by the bombing... There are some other basic reasons why I'm opposed to executing him. First, it doesn't make any difference. The bottom line is that my little kid's not coming back. I'll have to deal with this till the day I die. Killing McVeigh will not change that. The second reason is that dead men don't talk. If he's in prison long enough, McVeigh may tell us what his thought processes were, why he did what he did, and who else was involved. I want to hear that information, even if comes out in the form of bragging." And he's Catholic; he stops by the site after Sunday Mass.

(See the actual printed article for graphics that plot murder rates vs. the number of executions by states...more evidence against any deterrent effect.)

The US Church on the issue (EWTNews coverage)
US Bishops Oppose McVeigh Death Penalty (09-Jun-97)
Excerpts: The US National Conference of Catholic Bishops: According to Catholic teaching clarified by Pope John Paul in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae "The Gospel of Life", the death penalty should not be imposed except when there is no other way to protect public order. "The question turns on what does capital punishment do to us as a society, rather than what does it do to the perpetrator of the crime," Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston said on ABC's "This Week." Bishop Skylstad acknowledged that most Americans, including most Catholics, support the death penalty, but said the bishops felt they must speak out.
Denver Archbishop Hopes For Life Sentence For McVeigh (11-Jun-97)
Excerpts: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said he understood the difficult decision that faces the jury, but he hoped that they would decide on life imprisonment; the Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is only permissible when it is the only way for society to defend itself. McVeigh needs to be punished severely, but executing "doesn't do anything for anyone except bring more violence into the world." He added that he was concerned by the vengeful spirit he saw growing among Americans.

School Choice/Vouchers
John Stuart Mill, 1859: "A general State education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body."
      Nearly a half century ago, the UN, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children ... the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State."

1000 Catholic American adults (1997), Roper Center, for Catholic World Report
Agree     Disagree

Abortion is never justified.


Women cannot be ordained to the priesthood.


Artificial birth control morally wrong.


  Bread/wine actually transformed into body/blood.



How often respondents attend mass    more than weekly     weekly     less than weekly


A fair shake from TIME magazine: SHOULD ANNULMENTS BE SO EASY?
- Commonness of divorce and annulments in the US vs. the world, + Rome's sentiments on that.
- Myths:   childrens' legitimacy,   $costs,   commonness.
- Church's view on why annulments, not divorce. Reasons/criteria for granting annulments.
Time magazine, US surveys (appeared within a related article, Does heaven exist?, also the cover feature March 24, 1997):
- Believe in Hell, where punished forever after death?     63% do     30% don't
- Believe in heaven where live forever with God after death?     81% do     13% don't
Of the 81% of believers:
Get there mostly on:
good things done - 6%
faith in God - 34%
both - 57%
Meet friends and family?
88% yes
5% no
Live in heaven
Soul only - 66%
both body and soul - 25%

Perfect vision of present life - 11%
Totally different - 85%

Which are in heaven?
angels 93%
St Peter 79%
harps 43%
halos 36%
Immediately after death, will happen to you?
Direct to heaven 61%
purgatory 15%
hell 1%
reincarnated 5%
end of existence 4%

(Insight, March 31, 1997) According to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches:
~.65 million Disciples of Christ
~1.5 million American Baptists
~1.5 million United Church of Christ
~1.6 million Episcopal
~2.7 million Presbyterian
~3.8 million Evangelical Lutheran
~8.5 million United Methodist
These are down 20-33% from the 1960's.
Methodists alone may have lost 1000 members/week over the decades. The greatest declines have been in the 1990's. The following grew much in that period:
~4.1 million Mormons
~15.6 million Southern Baptist
~60 million Catholic
Liberal vs. conservative?
Since 1965, ~20,000 men left the priesthood. Now, only 50,000 priests minister to 60 million Catholics. A Notre Dame study indicates that a large majority of Catholic leadership positions are women.
A quote for prophets of doom:
(Fr. James Gould, vocations director for the diocese of Arlington, VA)
"...the Church has lived through crises before. In the 5th century there was bubonic plague. During the French revolution, clergy in droves went to the guillotine. But the moment after the Roman empire fell, there was a priest in Rome saying Mass."
Of course, it doesn't happen by magic. We, esp. Knights, are called to be the instruments through which the Provider's grace operates.

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©1996 Neil A Durso, III

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