Friday, July 29, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Vatican Cardinal: Divine judgment will fall on priests who do not oppose abortion, homosexuality - "[I]f we have fear of proclaiming the truth of the Gospel, if we are ashamed of denouncing the grave deviations in the area of morality...then the prophetic words of Ezechiel will fall on us as a grave divine reproach.”

Principles for Budget Reform - From the Acton Institute: "Reform of federal spending must properly balance responsibilities to current and future generations." 

Circle of Protection Subordinates Religion to Politics - "Ethical inquiry (and metaphysical before it) must precede and direct political inquiry. To reverse that order is essentially to justify means by ends."

Cooperation: A Free Market Benefits Everyone - "I speak of the division of labor, also known as the law of comparative advantage or the law of comparative cost, and also known as the law of association. Call it what you will, it is probably the single greatest contribution that economics has made to human understanding."

What Our Skylines Tell Us About Ourselves - "I suppose it would be silly to build a 150 story church. At some point a church serves its purpose at 100 feet.  And,  buildings for people to live and work in can serve practical purposes at higher and higher levels.  Still, the poet in me says, love should soar highest."

Card. Canizares: the “entire Church” should receive Communion kneeling - "Receiving Communion in this way, the cardinal continued, 'is the sign of adoration that needs to be recovered. I think the entire Church needs to receive Communion while kneeling.'"
Eucharistic “Danny Boy” Prayer. Fr. Z rants - "Music for Mass is not a mere ornament, external to the liturgical action.   We cannot simply change it arbitrarily.  It is of the essence of the liturgical action, and integrating part of the liturgical action.  Music for Mass must be artistic and sacred."

Hints that next year the Pope may give us an Encyclical on faith.  - "I shall not be surprised if he publishes, in the very near future, something evaluative about the conduct, interpretation and legacy of the Council."

Making Catholic Sex Sexy - "NFP must be re-branded as something empowering, a better option than ingesting hormones, a lifestyle that puts women at the reins of a healthy and fulfilling sexual life, something compatible with being a contemporary woman."
Report Says All Women Should Have Free Contraception - I have little doubt that the Dept. of HHS will try to force this on us. So, in order to educate others as to why this is a bad idea, I offer this list: Top 10 Reasons Free Contraception For All is A Terrible Idea"

Abby Johnson: Abortion Doc Told Patient "I Will Take Your Sin" - "Sometimes memories creep into my mind from my days inside Planned Parenthood. When they do, I try to document them. I don’t always share them…some of them I just won’t ever be able to share with you."

Reasoning with Atheists - "To understand the limits of reason in the conversion process, replace the word 'God' with 'Love.' Instead of asking, 'How can I explain God to my son?' ask, 'How can I explain Love to my son?'"

Atheist group wants to stop World Trade Center cross - "A group of atheists has filed a lawsuit to stop the display of the World Trade Center cross at a memorial of the 9/11 terror attacks."

Priest beaten up in front of his mother for celebrating the Traditional Mass - "...he was beaten up by a 'faithful' in the town's rectory in the presence of his aged mother."

No Flip-Flops in the King's House - "Remember when people actually used to get dressed up to go to church? When people actually showed up early for mass? When the pew wasn't the preferred site for a family picnic?"
Can you prove that space exists? - "It's such a primal question and it begs a million others. It's the opposite question of being asked to prove that God exists. God is everything; God is existence itself. Space is nothing; the lack of anything."

Scientists Create Animal/Human Hybrids - What a messed up world we live in.

Tomb of St. Philip the Apostle discovered in Turkey's Denizli -"...the structure of the tomb and the writings on it proved that it belonged to St. Philip the Apostle, who is recognized as a martyr in the history of Christianity."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When was the Church Established?

This is an old post that has circulated online in various forms for many years now. I've featured it here before, but it is always worth revisiting...

How Old Is Your Church?

If you belong to one of the religious organizations known as 'Church of the Nazarene," "Pentecostal Gospel." "Holiness Church," "Pilgrim Holiness Church," "Jehovah's Witnesses," your religion is one of the hundreds of new sects founded by men within the past century.

If you are a Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year in which your religion was born and to Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy as its founder.

If you worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.

If you are of the Dutch Reformed church, you recognize Michaelis Jones as founder, because he originated your religion in New York in 1628.

If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1605.

If you are a Mormon (Latter Day Saints), Joseph Smith started your religion in Palmyra, N.Y., in 1829.

If you are a Unitarian, Theophilus Lindley founded your church in London in 1774.

If you are a Methodist, your religion was launched by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.

If you are a Congregationalist, your religion was originated by Robert Brown in Holland in 1582.

If you are a Protestant Episcopalian, your religion was an offshoot of the Church of England founded by Samuel Seabury in the American colonies in the 17th century.

If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded by John Knox in Scotland in the year 1560.

If you belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the Pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry.

If you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex- monk of the Catholic Church, in the year 1517.

If you are a member of one of the Orthodox Eastern Churches your church separated from the Catholic Church in 1054 in the Eastern Schism. Although imperfect, the communion between the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist" (Pope Paul VI, quoted in CCC para 838).

If you are Catholic, you know that your religion was founded in the year AD 33 by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the promised Jewish Messiah. Christ gave to Simon Peter the “keys to the kingdom” (Mat 16:18-19) and made Peter shepherd of His flock (John 21:15-17). Jesus entrusted to Peter and the other Apostles the governance of the Church. After the Resurrection, on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles received the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus (Acts 2:1-6) and thus the power of God guides His Church on earth. As the Apostles died, their authority was passed on to chosen men, bishops of the Church, and that authority remains with the pope (the successor to Peter) and the bishops in union with him.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice—even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God" - Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians 4 (A.D. 110)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Musings

Random thoughts to start the week...

I have been happy to see some great liturgical changes being instituted at our parish lately. These changes have been subtle and slow (which I suspect is the result of a well thought-out pastoral decision on the part of our priest – it’s better not to ruffle feathers with too many changes at once). Among other things, he has replaced the cheap-looking wooden bowls and glass cups with proper gold and precious metal objects. On certain occasions he has worn older vestments, very ornate and well constructed, from decades ago, rather than the polyester bland (and sometimes garish) vestments that pass for liturgical garments these days. He has placed a set of kneelers in the sanctuary for the servers to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament during the consecration. And hand-bells are now rung at the consecration – which was not completely uncommon at our parish in years past, but now both servers have a set of bells (which I must say adds not only volume, but also depth of sound – very pretty) and they are rung at every Mass rather than just holy days.

Many of these changes are first introduced by our priest on a specific Feast or Holy Day – for instance the kneelers and bells came out on Corpus Christi – so there is usually a reason behind the change. But once the change is made, it tends to stay. And so, as another holy day comes around you might see some new object or action on the altar pertaining to that Feast or celebration. But then, when the holy day is over, the new practice remains and we have a more beautiful celebration each Sunday.

My hats are off to Father for his well-planned re-ordering of our worship. I hope for more to come. I can’t wait for the new Mass translation, to see if that affects more changes.

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I read recently that the Obama Administration is considering a proposal which, under the new healthcare law, would require all insurance companies to cover birth control as “preventative” medicine with no added cost to the consumer. Basically, they would lump contraception together with cancer screenings and other procedures designed to prevent diseases and then mandate that insurance providers pay for these things with no increase to premiums. This would mean that pregnancy will be treated as though it is a dreaded illness.

This should come as no surprise from an Administration (and political party) that stands solidly on the side of the culture of death. According to them, the formation of new human life is a threat akin to cancer. Meanwhile it is ever more difficult to find good coverage for the expense related to the birth of a child, and the cost to the consumer for such coverage is huge. This healthcare law is codifying the culture of death into federal law and pushing our society beyond any sense of dignity for human life.

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I'm setting as a goal this week to finish writing a piece that I began at the start of the summer. I figure that if I post this comment here it will spur me to achieve that goal... We shall see.

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Pope appoints Archbishop Chaput to Philadelphia archdiocese - "The Pope's appointment comes as the archdiocese struggles to deal effectively with clerical sex abuse allegations."
From the Prairie to the Atlantic Coast. The New Bishops Stateside - "With Chaput in Philadelphia, a see traditionally honored with the cardinal's hat, the upper echelon of the episcopate of the United States is thus more and more solidly occupied by persons in close harmony with pope Joseph Ratzinger, and known and respected by him." [Interview with Chaput included with this article.]

Philadelphia Needs Its New Archbishop - "We should all pray for quick and long sustained success here for Abp. Chaput. Just hearing about this appointment has put a spring in my step."

Want to Know the Secret to a Vibrant Parish? - "I’m convinced this Eucharistic adoration is the key to the vitality, growth, and effectiveness of our parish." 
The Present State of Our Polygamous Future  - "The And why should society deny a man the right to marry all the women he loves? What reasons do those who favor gay marriage have for excluding polygamy? Having rejected all arguments from nature and reason when they were used against their position, what do they have left to justify their discrimination?"

Paul Ryan vs. Stephen Shenk – A Budget Debate between Catholics and a Request for Your Input - "These articles show how very different Catholics can be among each other when it comes to what is often termed the Social doctrine of the Church."

Vatican bank president: Bigger families are solution to economic crisis - "The Vatican bank president explained that because there aren't enough young people in society to support the increasing amount of elderly, population aging 'can be considered the true origin of the current economic crisis.'"
Texas Gov. Rick Perry Signs Bill De-Funding Planned Parenthood - "In other states, Indiana approved a law de-funding Planned Parenthood, and New Hampshire Planned Parenthood centers may close after the state revoked a $1.8 million grant. Montana Planned Parenthood is also grappling with funding cuts and one county in Tennessee de-funded Planned Parenthood."
We Weren’t Always So Secular: Recovering a Sense of the Presence of God - "[W]e need to teach and help our young people get in touch with God’s presence... There ought to be family prayer and observances of the various feasts and seasons of our Church. "

In Praise of Catholic Guilt - "By following the Church’s teachings and learning to develop a relationship with God, my life has become more rich and fulfilling than I ever thought possible…and it all started with a good dose of Catholic guilt."

Altar Rail Returning to Use - "'Little children like to kneel and pray there while their mom and dad receive holy Communion,' said Father Markey. 'There’s almost universal embracing. It’s one of the most popular decisions I’ve made as pastor.'

An American Pope in Our Lifetime? - "Europe is in crisis, demographically and morally...For this and other reasons, it may be time, in the not-too-distant future, for an American Pope."

Rush Limbaugh: They Wouldn’t Care if Casey Anthony Had an Abortion - "How is it that we can obsess over the horror of the Casey Anthony trial and not see the parallels to abortion? There is national lament and outcry over the murder of a two year old, but thousands of unborn children are dismembered and thrown away every day through abortion, and our society turns a blind eye."
Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine - "I'm grateful to gay activists for some things -- making people people more aware of the prevalence of homosexuality, making homophobia less socially acceptable -- but they also make it more difficult for me to be understood, to be accepted for who I am and what I believe. If I want open-mindedness, acceptance, and understanding, I look to Catholics."

Do You Have Candles With You? A Meditation On The Saving Power of Prayer - "On frigid day, if the car broke down, or got stuck in the snow, lighting even one candle and cracking the window just slightly (for ventilation), could mean the difference between life and death. Just one candle, maybe two, could warm the car enough to stave off death. And Catholic votive candles were the perfect choice."
Guess the Date of this Prophecy - "The family is steadily losing its form and its social significance, and the state absorbs more and more of the life of its members..." [Click the link and read the whole quote. Then scroll down to the comments section and find out when it was written."

Ten Cheap, Stupid Ideas For Summer With Kids - [They all look cool, but I really want to try number ten.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quote of the Week

"The Lord said to Peter: ‘I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ ...On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" - (Saint Cyprian of Carthage, The Unity of the Catholic Church 4 (A.D. 251)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Musings

Some random thoughts and disconnected ponderings and observations to start the week…

Just got back from vacation. Visited several pilgrimage sites. I'll be posting more on those later.

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These past two Sundays we went to Mass in two different states. I'm always grateful that the Catholic Faith is truly universal - no matter where on earth you go, the Mass is always the Mass. Of course there were some minor liturgical issues I had here and there, but the reality of the Eucharist and the connectedness of fellow Catholics coming together to worship is a wonder that is not found in any Protestant denomination.

Something else I have noticed over the years while attending Mass in different regions of the country - active church attendance is directly related to the political leanings of that region. Frankly, liberal areas of the country have empty churches. Sadly, this past week I saw more than one Catholic church building for sale as parishes have closed down due to falling membership. Being liberal and being godless seem to go hand-in-hand. This is not always true (I know of many exceptions, personally), but the relationship is too strong to ignore.

+        +        + I didn't post any headlines on Friday. I had planned to do so, but was unable to get online with any regularity. This week I'll be back on schedule.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Musings

I wasn't near a computer on Friday, so I was unable to publish a roundup of headlines. Hopefully, I'll get to it this week, with a few extras thrown in from last week.

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I had an appointment with my eye doctor last week - just a regular exam. While going through the check-in procedure at the front desk, I was asked to look into a camera mounted on the desk so that they could take my picture for their database. (?)  This, along with a few other strange questions and a much longer than usual form I had to fill out, made me wonder what was going on.

Later the doctor and I were chatting about some of these new procedures, and he explained that the new federal healthcare law requires these things. Other odd requirements for eye doctors include recording your weight and height, keeping a growth chart for children, and recording information about the patient's mannerisms - What was their mood? Were they pleasant to talk to?

My doctor admitted that he had no idea why he, as an eye doctor, should be interested in a person's weight or a child's growth rate. And if he did need to know this sort of thing, he doesn't need the federal government regulating the gathering of that information on every single patient. He also told me that his office had been through six different versions of computer software over the past year for gathering and compiling this information. Each time a new regulation was unveiled or a kink in the system was discovered, they had to recalibrate and try again. And all of this fuss was for information that they don't even need to serve their patients. This just goes to show what kind of bureaucratic mess is created when the federal government tries to manage something so personal as healthcare.

That's why the principle of subsidiarity is so important. In Catholic Social Justice the principle of subsidiarity states that a social problem should be solved by the lowest possible group or organization within society. Higher groups or authorities should not intervene in lower-level matters unless absolutely necessary, and even then it should only be in limited ways. The federal government has no business telling my eye doctor what information he should gather about my height or what "mood" I might happen to be in. If my doctor needs such information, he can gather it himself, and that should remain between me and him. The healthcare law is an obvious violation of subsidiarity. The federal government is reaching too far into the private, doctor-patient relationship, and it's only going to get worse as the law comes into full effect next year.

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I recently began reading a book entitled Women Priests and Other Fantasies, which contains a series of essays by Father Vincent Miceli. As the title suggests, at least one of these essays pertains to the issue of female ordination. All of the usual arguments against such a practice are skillfully explained by the author. But for me, one particular point stood out. Briefly, it goes as follows:
Feminists say that forbidding female ordination is an injustice against women. The reason Jesus didn't call women to be priests (according to feminists) is that He was conforming to the standards of His time - women were second-class citizens in His day, and so He simply followed that social norm. If He had lived in our age, then He would have called women to be ordained. Thus feminists argue that we must now ordain women to correct this longstanding injustice.

The author refutes this reasoning soundly by pointing out that Jesus was not a blind conformist...He broke social norms many times, especially regarding the role of women. But perhaps more importantly, if Jesus really was simply conforming to the social norms of His time by excluding women from the priesthood, then we must admit that Jesus instituted an unjust practice. He unjustly excluded women based on the social pressures of His day. This would mean that Jesus, the Son of God, is not the God of Justice. This can simply not be true. If we accept the divinity of Jesus, then the male priesthood makes sense because Jesus is the God of Justice.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." - (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Musings

This is the first installment of what will be a weekly feature.

A few random thoughts and musings to start the week…

I just finished reading a book entitled The Reform of the Reform by Fr. Thomas M. Kocik (Ignatius Press), which assesses the liturgical situation within the Church after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Fr. Kocik presents a fictional debate between a “traditionalist” (who would like to see a return to the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass) and a “reformist” (a tradition-minded Catholic who accepts the changes instituted by the Council but recognizes the need for improvement within a workable framework). Also included are a few essays from various thinkers within the current reform movement who mull over ideas for effective liturgical reform, and a point-by-point comparison between the old and new rite of Mass.

This book was published in 2003 – before Benedict XVI was installed as pope. What is amazing, besides the spot-on analysis of our current liturgical troubles, is the direct correlation between what the reformists suggest (ten years ago) and what has actually happened under the current pontificate of Benedict XVI. For example, the author wrote that he believed more freedom should be given to individual priests to celebrate unhindered the Tridentine Latin Mass (though he doubts this would ever happen)…yet, here we are under Pope Benedict, with full freedom to celebrate the Latin without special permission from the local bishop. Also it is mentioned that a new English translation of the Mass, one that is more faithful to the Latin, would be a tremendous help…and again, here we are preparing for just that.

This makes one wonder what else that is mentioned in this book might be in store for the Church with regard to liturgical renewal. The book also suggests encouraging priests to face in the same direction as the people (to the “liturgical East” – that is, with his back to the people), an increased use of Latin chant, and a renewed emphasis on symbolic gestures. Is Pope Benedict moving the Church toward a more traditional style of liturgical worship? It certainly seems so…and I pray it continues.

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Along with summer comes summer vacations. And as Catholics we are obliged to attend Mass every Sunday, even if we are on the road. Why not turn this religious duty into an integral part of your vacation by treating it as a mini "pilgrimage." Find an important church (maybe a basilica or a shrine) that is near where you plan to spend your vacation, or perhaps along the route to or from your vacation spot. Spend a few hours visiting and praying there and then attend Mass. It takes some planning, but it can be very rewarding and it becomes a highlight of the trip instead of just an afterthought. Such a pilgrimage is part of our plan this summer. I’ll post more about this later.

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Today is the Fourth of July, so I’ll end with a quote from one of the Founding Fathers appropriate for this occasion…

“…We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” - (John Adams, Message to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, October 11, 1798)

Friday, July 1, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Four reasons why the Bread of Life Discourse cannot be a metaphor - "Most, though not all, Protestants wiggle and fidget as they come to the Bread of Life Discourse in the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John; and they have good reason to be disturbed! "
The Most Effective and Radical Remedy Against Idolatry - Pope Benedict XVI: "Adoring the Body of Christ, means believing that there, in that piece of Bread [with a capital-B], Christ is really there, and gives true sense to life, to the immense universe as to the smallest creature, to the whole of human history as to the most brief existence.”

A new Consistory after summer - "Noises are being made in the Vatican about a possible Consistory for the creation of new cardinals in autumn or possibly later, in the first few months of 2012."

In New York, Marriage "Altered Radically and Forever" - "...after weeks of heated debate and charged negotiations, the New York Senate approved a same-sex marriage bill by a 33-29 vote, making the Empire State the sixth -- and, by far, most consequential -- Stateside jurisdiction to enact full legal status for gay unions.

How to Destroy a Culture in five Easy Steps - "...while Americans may profess to worship Allah, Jehovah, or Jesus, we mostly worship an American Idol—ourselves. That is why social libertarianism has become our country’s fastest-growing cult."

‘Gay Marriage,’ Libertarians, and Civil Rights - "'Gay marriage' in fact represents a vast expansion of state power: In this instance, the state of New York is declaring that it has the competence to redefine a basic human institution in order to satisfy the demands of an interest group looking for the kind of social acceptance that putatively comes from legal recognition."

Two Reasons Same-Sex Marriage Is Gaining Ground - "...marriage laws are by definition discriminatory. They discriminate FOR families (not against non-married persons) in order to build up what is good for society."

Two Questions: Do We Need to Use a Different Word for Marriage in the Church? and, Should Catholic Clergy Cease Signing Civil “Marriage” Licenses?

Redefining Marriage - Part I and Part II [In my opinion, Part II is especially good.]

How to Be Immodest About Modesty - "After a certain point, thinking about modesty all the time is just another way of thinking about sex all the time.  No matter how you got there, it’s not a good place to be."

Sixth Circuit’s Obamacare Decision on the Way to the Supreme Court - "By granting Congress such broad powers under the Commerce Clause, the appellate court has created a new kind of power not previously known to the jurisprudence, which effectively grants the federal government state police power, thereby rendering any notion of the constitutionally mandated federalism dead letter law.  This is a dangerous precedent.”
The Church Built on Peter - [Interesting article on the history of Peter's tomb] "When the tropaion of Peter was found underneath the high altar during archaeological excavations in 1941, there was great rejoicing, because it matched what Gaius had written at the end of the second century. Even more exciting was the fact that they found bones in what was clearly Peter’s tomb underneath the victory monument."

Video of Pope Benedict XVI launching new website via iPad