‘Browbeating’ pope’s comments on condoms

Is anybody surprised that the secularists poured on the criticism of the pope for his comments about condoms? asks Our Sunday Visitor’s blog.

Under the headline “Can you handle the condom browbeating,” Russ Shaw, a contributing editor for the weekly national Catholic paper, talks about the response to the pope’s remarks on the fight against HIV and AIDS that he delivered during his Africa trip.

“Surprise! Surpise! The pope said something about sex and the secular culture went bonkers,” begins Shaw.

President Obama to address Domer grads

The White House announced this afternoon that President Obama will address the University of Notre Dame’s graduating class May 17.

It will be one of three graduation ceremonies the president will attend, starting with Arizona State University May 13 and rounding out the trio May 22 at the U.S. Naval Academy.

As Notre Dame’s press release notes, Obama will be the sixth U.S. president to address a graduating class there.

UPDATE: It didn’t take long for someone to question the Notre Dame invitation to Obama. The National Catholic Register headlined its blog item on the move “Notre Dame Honors Obama” and quoted from the U.S. bishops’ document which says that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”

Back to exorcism class

The National Catholic Register blog takes notice of a recent Time magazine article on exorcism and praises the piece for covering a Catholic topic in a way that “neither ridicules nor sensationalizes the subject.” The blog includes a picture of Linda Blair from “The Exorcist.”

The Time magazine article is an interview with journalist Matt Baglio, who recently wrote ‘The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist.”

The book  recounts the experiences of an American priest, Father Gary Thomas, who took an exorcism class at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum, run by the Legionaries of Christ.

The three-month class, “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation,” is not something new. It’s been around since 2005. Catholic News Service reported on it when the class was first announced and again when classes began.

Father Paolo Scarafoni, a member of the Legionaries of Christ and rector of the university, told reporters at the time that course was designed to “give priests the information they need for initial discernment and referral.”

He noted that generally 85 percent to 90 percent of people who say they are possessed by the devil simply “need someone to listen. They need a prayer. They need a long walk and a glass of water.”

Baglio, who joined the class when it was initially open to journalists, told Time what he learned from the course material and from talking with Father Thomas and others.

He said most priests don’t like to talk about the rite and what takes place during them is often low-key. Only rarely is it the dramatic stuff of movies.

Taking aim at government corruption

Although many blame drug trafficking and the struggling economy for the recent escalation of violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexico’s bishops say government corruption is an underlying cause of the violence, according to a story in the March 22 issue of Our Sunday Visitor. 

An unidentified source from the Mexican bishops’ conference told OSV that although the names of drug leaders are occasionally revealed, no one ever hears of the high ranking political leaders who control drug trafficking and branches of police and local government.

Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello, of the Archdiocese of Antequera, Oaxaca, said in a public message that the growing violence in Mexico is “not the consequence of chance. It reflects the deep corruption of our political system and its connections with organized crime.”

Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, a practicing Catholic, is committed to putting an end to organized crime, according to  Manuel Diaz Cid,  a specialist on church-state relations in Mexico and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Diaz Cid told OSV that Calderon will succeed if “he is able to expose and break the link between drug cartels and old political leaders.”

 Anything less, he added, could be too little too late.