Talk Of Town: From 'New Age' Prayer In Diocese To Gibson, A Bit Of Commentary

 We received much intense e-mail (as, apparently, did also the Archdiocese of San Francisco) after we linked to a prayer on the diocesan website, a prayer that was perhaps well-intentioned but also overtly pagan -- invoking the "spirit of the south," the spirit of the north," "the spirit of the earth," and so forth (no mention of God or Jesus) to bring "oneness" in the wake of the abuse scandals.

At any rate, to our relief, the diocesan spokesperson, Maurice Healy, wrote to inform us that the astonishingly confusing prayer has been removed -- actually it has been altered, with the invocations to the various nature "spirits" removed. He further explained to those who wrote that "the text you cite was part of an apology ceremony -- planned largely by local victims of clergy sexual abuse -- in which the Archdiocese of San Francisco was a participant. An apology to clergy abuse victims for the pain and suffering caused to them by ministers of the Church was delivered by the Archbishop. The planners felt that because many of the abuse victims are alienated from the Catholic Church, the text was appropriate. The ceremony was not a liturgy and was not held in a church. I think the website describes the apology ceremony for clergy sexual abuse victims, held in June 2003. As I told another person, the text will be removed from the Archdiocesan website. I suggest you examine the entire Archdiocesan website."

"Finally," he told some writers, "I hope that there are more important things in this life to which you could give your attention and energy -- perhaps following the Holy Father's message to welcome the immigrant; or volunteering at a soup kitchen; or some other good Christian acts of charity."

We appreciate that feedback, and that the prayer was changed.  It was a Native American invocation, and we love our Indian brothers, but we are called to convey Christianity to them, as opposed to adopting their prayers, many of which were pagan. We apologize for the stir, but must report matters as they occur. As for soup kitchens and charity, this is crucial stuff, although Christians are also charged with correcting paganism.

That's one issue. The other is what is going on around us. Massive storms have affected the entire U.S. There were hurricane-force winds again in Europe. Tremors shook land beneath Turkey, Iran, and the mid-Atlantic. The tsunami death toll may be as high as 272,000. There are floods in Russia. There was the California landslide, and the threat of a dam bursting. There were gully-washers in Arizona and twisters in the South.

We take these signs of the times seriously, and will address them in more detail shortly, as well as at the retreats we plan.

Then there is the matter of Mel Gibson. The famous actor-director apparently had a meeting with Fatima seer Lucia dos Santos last July at her convent in Coimbra, Portugal. We first received reports about this before Christmas, and they appear to be credible (including photos). It would be interesting to know if Mel, who is a traditionalist Catholic (attending a church that does not come under the auspices of his local diocese, nor Rome), discussed his views on the Vatican with Lucia.

If he is like others who have visited Sister Lucia in recent times, they may have discussed the hot-button issue of whether the Pope consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as requested during the legendary Fatima apparitions in 1917. The issue is especially prevalent in traditionalist circles. (Let us point out that there are traditionalists who are loyal to Rome, and others who are not; while Gibson's father is not loyal to Rome, and while the chaplain he used to celebrate Mass during the filming of his Passion movie was recently suspended for disobedience, it's not clear, exactly, what Mel's own views are).

At any rate, Sister Lucia has told a number of visitors, including some we know, that a consecration of the world to her Immaculate Heart by Pope John Paul II in 1984, though it did not explicitly mention Russia, was accepted by the Blessed Mother. She has told this to cardinals, bishops, to a former president of the Philippines, to that nation's Vatican ambassador, Howard Dee, to the ambassador's daughter, and also to Dr. Fred Zugibe of New York, a retired coroner who is an expert on the Crucifixion and likewise had a recent audience with her.

If Sister Lucia stated this to Gibson, and he relates it back to fellow traditionalists, it may or may not end what has been a long-running controversy of whether a proper consecration was ever carried forth. When asked by one prelate how she knew the consecration had been accepted, Sister Lucia -- flustered at times that the issue keeps coming up -- indicated that Mary still communicates with her, and that this had been a topic of her communication with the Blessed Mother. We have to take Sister Lucia's word for it.


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