Monthly Archives: December 2008

ReGAIN: Religious Groups Awareness International Network:

ReGAIN’s mission is to outreach, unite and support those touched or adversely affected by the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi Movement. Past and present members and all those who quest for justice and truth, resolution and healing are invited to join in this endeavor.


Book Review : By Joe P. Szimhart (Douglassville, PA USA)

“Our Father” Maciel, who art in Bed: A Naive and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ. By J. Paul Lennon
A Review

“Catholic Friends of Israel”:

The Chabad Rabbi in India was not “Killed” by Shelomo Alfassa []

The Chabad Rabbi in India was not ‘Killed’

Media suppresses word ‘murder’ and overlooks ‘torture’ by Islamic terrorists

By Shelomo Alfassa

(December 1, 2008)

On Thanksgiving Day 2008, gunshots rang out startling the family of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and others inside the Chabad center in Mumbai, India. A maid at the Chabad center thought it was firecrackers–then an Islamic gunman came up the stairs. Explosions and gunshots rattled the building and continued through the night. At the same time the Chabad center is attacked, Islamic terrorists were attacking a police station and a few minutes later they opened fire at a hospital. They also opened fire in restaurants and at hotels, all together, at over 10 locations, the Islamic terrorists murdered over 190 people.

The Chabad center maid told the media that the gunmen destroyed the elevator, dining room and “everything” else. The rabbi ran to the telephone to call the Israeli Consulate. He got them on the line, told them there were men with guns in the house, but in the middle of the conversation, the line went dead after the rabbi said, “something’s wrong.” The rabbi was then grabbed by the Muslim terrorists, held down and had a belt secured around his legs to prevent him from walking. Several other Jews in the center had their hands and feet bound with telephone cords or nylon rope. The Indian Express reported that, Rabbi Holtzberg, his wife Rivka and their three friends died in a “brutal manner” The paper horrifically reported that there was “brutality unleashed on the Holtzberg.” The paper reported that police photos inside the Chabad center spoke, “volumes of the nightmare the family and their friends must have gone through before they died.” The Rabbi’s body was found in a room on the second floor, with his legs under the mezuzah, stretching into the hall where his wife’s body was found. Rivka’s body was found near the legs of Rabbi Holtzberg, the floor was covered red in blood. The rabbi’s 2-year-old son Moshe was found drenched in blood, crying in the silence, beside his parents who lay dead on the floor. The dead bodies of the murdered Jews were then booby-trapped with live hand grenades and other explosives. Indian security forces indicated the Jewish women were murdered first, as the Jewi sh men were first tortured before being murdered.

In the United States, where the news media like to cover up all things which may make Muslims look bad, they never mentioned that the Israelis were mutilated beyond belief. In the Digital Journal news, it was also reported that the victims of the terrorist attacks had been tortured. In the words of one doctor, “It was shocking and disturbing.” A doctor who conducted the post-mortems on the victims added: “Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again.”

When someone is “killed” they may have been hit by a car, drowned at sea or struck by lightning. In contrast, when someone is “murdered,” this speaks of a victim who was targeted with premeditated malice. It is someone who inhumanly had their life taken from them, it is someone who was a victim of severe mutilation, targeted brutality, a person who had their life taken by another person who sought them dead. This begs the question, why did the media avoid using the word “murdered” ?

The Wall Street Journal reported: “The dead also included a young New York rabbi and his wife”.

The Boston Globe reported: “the New York rabbi and his wife were among the foreigners killed”.

The International Herald Tribune reported: “Two of the victims, a rabbi and his wife”

The Sun-Sentinel reported: “killed were Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, and his wife, Rivkah, 28, who died in the attack…”

The Associated Press reported: “The bodies of New York Rab bi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, were found at the Jewish center.

National Public Radio reported: “Among the dead are Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah”.

The New York Times reported: “six of the hostages were killed, including the Brooklyn couple who operated the center.

The Los Angeles Times reported: “the Chabad Lubavitch members who were killed by militants”

The stupidity of the Western media is blatant. What is not being made clear in prominent Western media is that this was a meticulously planned and well-organized attack. What is the motivation of journalists in trying to downplay these heinous atrocities? Do they wish to express some sympathy for these murderers? The main stream media remains a giant bureaucracy with no feeling, soul, or intelligence. They make it too easy for blatant evil to be excused or explained away.

The Muslim murderers had a well coordinated well thought out plan. They had been in the country for months, obtained jobs in the area, stockpiled food for the siege, and stockpiled ammunition enough to kill thousands. Some of the Muslim murderers had even rented rooms in the Chabad center! They utilized BlackBerry email devices to stay in touch with each other and outsiders, to exchange intelligence information in different locations during the attacks. An Indian Marine commando told the media that it was obvious the terrorists were well trained. The Marine said the attackers were “very determined and remorseless.” The Times of India reported that the sole surviving murderer told Indian police that the terrorists were sent with a specific mission of targeting Israelis at Chabad House in order to avenge “atrocities committed against the Palestinians.”

The Chabad rabbi and his wife (as well as the other 190+ victims) were not killed, they were murdered, there is a difference, and one that needs to be differentiated at every opportunity.


The Polish photographer who took these pictures had unprecedented access to life inside the enclosure at Fontgombault.

About every second page contains a photo; the other pages show text in Polish.

January 16, 2008: The Pope and The Sistine Chapel [CNS]

Not exactly ‘ad orientem’

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 13. (CNS/Reuters)Some media are reporting that Pope Benedict celebrated Mass “ad orientem” — facing toward the east — last Sunday when he used the Sistine Chapel’s historic main altar for the first time in decades.

That’s not literally correct. In fact, it’s off by 180 degrees. Because the chapel’s altar is built on the western wall, the change meant the pope was facing west during much of the liturgy.

On the contrary, “ad orientem” was the direction popes faced when they used the free-standing portable altar in the Sistine: the celebrant faced east when he faced the people.

I spoke the other day to Msgr. Enrico Vigano, who has worked many years in the Vatican’s liturgical office, and he agreed that the term “ad orientem” doesn’t make sense in the Sistine Chapel.

Instead, he said, his office made reference to the cross, which stood on the main altar, framed by Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgment. The idea here — and it’s one Pope Benedict has made in the past — is that when the pope and the people face the cross together, it emphasizes that the Mass is a common act of worship.

In early Christian churches, facing the cross coincided with facing east, the direction of the rising sun and, in a figurative sense, of the resurrection and the second coming.

But the Christian tradition of worshipping “ad orientem” faded, and over the last 500 years many churches have been built facing different directions, including one not far from the Sistine Chapel — St. Peter’s Basilica, which also faces west.

Whatever a church’s compass orientation, some have wondered whether the papal Mass last Sunday marked the beginning of a trend. Are we going to see a Vatican effort to turn all the altars back to the pre-Vatican II position?

Probably not. Pope Benedict weighed in on this when he was a cardinal. He said he agreed with theological arguments for the priest and the people facing the same direction, but thought it would leave Catholics more confused than ever if the altars were turned around again.

“Therefore, I’m not aiming at a practical application at this time,” he said.

That was in 1993, however, and one big thing has changed: he’s now pope.

PHOTO: Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 13. (CNS/Reuters)

[Note: Everyone knows that geographical “east” is not liturgical “east”.  Josef Andreas Jungmann was a firm opponent of the altar “versus populum” and in St. Louis, Missouri, in late 2008 Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith strongly defended “liturgical east”. Readers are referred to Uwe Michael Lang’s book ‘Turning Towards The Lord‘ (Italian version, ‘Rivolti al Signore: l’orientamento nella preghiera liturgica’;  Cantagalli, 2006.  Ignatius Press English version, 2004.)  Preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.]

“Liturgical Changes planned for Vatican Christmas” [Catholic World News]

Liturgical changes planned for Vatican Christmas celebration
Pope Benedict XVI will make some changes in the liturgical celebrations of the Christmas season, to emphasize “the centrality of adoration in the life of the Church,” the Vatican’s chief liturgist has revealed. Prior to the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, the Christmas Proclamation will be sung, as indicated in the “Roman Martyrology”. For his midday Urbi et Orbi blessing on Christmas Day the Pontiff will not wear his miter and cope, because the blessing “is not connected to a particular liturgical rite.” There will be Eucharistic Adoration after Vespers on December 31. And on the feast of the Lord’s Baptism the Pope will celebrate Mass “ad orientem” in this Sistine Chapel, as he did last year.

“The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: A Compendium of Texts Referred to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church”

The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

A Compendium of Texts Referred to in the

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • Paperback: 975 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 1994)
  • ISBN-10: 0898704510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898704518

To those who might complain about the cost of this book of over nine hundred pages, it could be answered that it will save the reader thousands of dollars. To collect the original works and translations of all the texts referred to in the Catechism would require a library, so the Companion is first of all a money-saving resource. However, it is also a labor-saving tool which saves the work that it would take to search in libraries for various texts that are out of print or restricted to very specialized collections. The Companion was not assembled for its own sake, and it does not stand alone. It helps the ordinary reader to appreciate the Catechism more by performing this service of placing so much easily at hand. Nor are there alternatives because no other publishing house has attempted this enterprise, and nothing can compete with it.

There are some observations that can be made about the book. We have here a vast array of sources from the Bible, the Church Fathers, the Councils, the Scholastic thinkers, the Popes, and the Code of Canon Law. Not all of them are of equal weight in the Catholic tradition, and they have varying degrees of authority. Therefore the Companion, like the Catechism, must be used by the reader who has some background. Otherwise, the format of organizing everything in sequence could give the impression that Sacred Scripture is on the same plane as an obscure encyclical or a canon from the Code of Canon Law. It is also useful to see who is quoted at length, and who is not. For example, #1898 of the Catechism has a footnote with a reference to Leo XIII’s encyclical “Immortale Dei” and “Diuturnum illud.” In the Companion, these together take up pages 675-694. Quoting integrally takes up space. On the other hand, Pius XII’s important encyclical “Humanae Generis” which is excerpted in the Catechism in #37 and footnoted, does not show up in the Companion which skips from#36 to #38. Again, in #676 of the Catechism there is a reference to Pius XI’s encyclical “Divini Redemptoris” which is footnoted as 577. In the Companion, the full text of “Divini Redemptoris” on atheistic Communism is given between pages 219 and 237, with no editorial explanation of why. Clearly there is an advantage in finding this encyclical integrally, but would there not also be an advantage in finding “Humanae Generis” whole and intact?

Another useful reference in the Companion is the Denzinger-Schönmetzer (DS) number accompanying the decrees of the more recent Councils of the Church. However, at the same time, the correct title of some of the conciliar decrees is omitted. Two good examples are on pages 492 and 493 of the Companion. The Council of Trent is given with a year and the DS number, but no further identification of the citation, whereas the reference to Vatican II on page 493 gives “Sacrosanctum concilium” but not the name of the Council, although we tend to be more familiar with it. Uniformity would suggest the name of the Council, the name of the decree, the year and the DS number be presented in the Companion. At the same time, it is a happy juxtaposition to see Trent alongside Vatican II which illustrates both Catholic continuity and the harmony of the Church’s dogmatic heritage. While the editor had no choice in this matter, the visual effect is achieved in the Companion whereas the footnoting system in the Catechism hides it.

Translations are being produced in every age. Only scholars familiar with the technicalities of biblical, Patristic, philosophical, legal, and pontifical literature can judge their adequacy. The translations used in the Companion are quite common ones and credited in the Acknowledgements at the end of the book on pages 971-975. Happily no intrusive language jars the flow for the reader of the Companion, and current extravagances in the use of American English are not to be found.

The reader has to learn how to use the Companion to the Catechism after learning to use the Catechism. We all need more study, and this is the place to begin. If every pastor preached from these two books regularly, and if every Catholic was nourished from them, the intent of both books would be achieved. These books are meant to be together, but they are not the preserve of teachers or catechists to be consulted only for occasional reference. They belong on every shelf as a point of departure for a deeper reflection on the Faith.

Rev. Brian Van Hove, S.J.
Published in The Catholic Faith, 6/2 (March/April 2000): 49.