Catholic Family News
A Monthly Journal Preserving our Catholic Faith and Heritage
Catholic Family News Conference - April, 2013

Brazil’s Leonardo Boff, the infamous Liberation Theologian
and neo-pagan ecology enthusiast, was tapped by Francis
for input on
Laudato Si. Boff’s spirit pervades the document.

More Saints, Sinners,
Scholars and Scoundrels

CFN Conference: April 5-7, 2013, in Cleveland

We are pleased to announced our “Saints, Sinners, Scholars
and Scoundrels, Part II” conference that will take place on the weekend of April 5-7, 2013, the first weekend after Easter. The conference will be held in Cleveland, Ohio.

Readers will recall that our theme last year was also “Saints, Sinners Scholars and Scoundrels”. Ten speakers each choose a given person in history, whether the person be a saint, sinner, scholar or scoundrel, tell his story, draw the moral, and explain why this person is of interest to Catholics today.

It is a terrific weekend and story-telling. Last year’s conference was received with such enthusiasm by those who attended that we decided to run the same theme this year. We have some of the same speakers from 2012, and a number of new faces as well.

We are happy to welcome to our
CFN conference Father Cyprian, OSB, Prior of Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery, the traditional Benedictine monastery in Silver City, New Mexico.

Father Cyprian will speak on Saint Benedict, Founder of Western Monasticism.”

It was the great Saint Benedict of Nursia who codified monastic life under his magnificent Rule for Monasteries, which has, in one way or another, served as a basis for practically every religious order ever since. Yet the Benedictine life is a special charism of Ora et Labor, prayer and work. The monastic life is the contemplative life. As Father Cyprian wrote elsewhere, “By nature the Church is missionary. Her work is divided into two halves, one active, one contemplative. Action and contemplation, both are missionary. But what about that ‘other half,’ the lesser known, contemplative half, the part reserved to monasteries? The other half without which there is not the ‘whole’ Church? The two halves put together, active and contemplative, comprise that ‘seamless garment’ miraculously not able to be divided.” The contemplative orders have often been called the “backbone of the Church.” Learn more of Saint Benedict and the Holy Monastic life in Father Cyprians’s presentation.

Dr. Andrew Childs , Professor Music, will treat of the unique subject: “Don Juan: Operatic Hero, Cautionary Tale”

This will be an artistic consideration of one of western cultures ultimate libertines, a fascinating study in free-wheeling – and free-will.  A look into the historicity and the myth surrounding the man and the artistic depiction he inspired, from Molière and Byron in literature, to Mozart and Richard Strauss in music.  Sinner, scoundrel, irresistible seducer: did he really exist, or did artists simply recognize the need to create him?

Louie Verrecchio, well-known speaker and columnist who is now voicing objections to the Second Vatican Council will speak on John Courtney Murray: Broker of the Post-Conciliar Apostolic Cease Fire.

According to neo-conservative icon, George Weigel, “It took the Church the better part of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to develop a robust Catholic concept of religious freedom” as enshrined in the Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae, and this thanks in large measure to the “intellectual virtuosity” of the American born Jesuit theologian, John Courtney Murray. Is this so-called “American contribution” to the Council truly an achievement to be applauded, or is it more accurate to recognize it as a debacle to be lamented? An examination of Murray’s writings, both before and after the Council, offers remarkable insight into his motives and his methods for attempting to reconcile the Church's traditional doctrine on religious liberty with the pluralistic U.S. Constitutional approach. Revealed in the process are the fundamental flaws that all but assured that the Church moving forward would labor, as She does to this day, under a self-imposed apostolic cease fire, wherein missionary zeal has effectively been relinquished in exchange for a seat at the table with humanists, heathens and heretics.

Catholic Family News Editor John Vennari will deal with “Joe Breen, Hollywood and the Legion of Decency”.

This is a fascinating period of American Catholic history when concerned Catholics, under strong Catholic leadership, took a united stand against impurity and un-Christian themes in Hollywood movies. From around 1927 to 1934, Hollywood films began to become racy in scenes and subject-matter, and a Hollywood Code was written ensure higher morality in motion pictures. Along with the Code, Catholics formed the Legion of Decency under the directorship of a remarkable Catholic named Joe Breen. The Legion became a force to be reckoned with, so much so that if a theater-owner showed an immoral film, Catholics would not only boycott the movie, but would boycott theater completely until the theater-owner publicly pledged never to show such a film again. Learn the inspiring history of the Legion that was, alas, dissolved due to Vatican II’s “new attitude” toward the world. The Legion also contains lessons on how Catholics, under no-compromise leadership, can be act as a bulwark against evil forces to this day.

Christopher Ferrara, well-known author of numerous books will speak on John Locke in his lecture, “Un-Lockeing America”

According to "conservative" thread of the Liberty narrative, our "conservative" inheritance consists of the supposedly "moderate" political theory and natural rights philosophy of John Locke and the "wisdom" of the Founders and Framers in following a Lockean blueprint when they waged a revolution and devised a Constitution for the new nation they "conceived in Liberty."  But the "moderate" Enlightenment of which Lockean liberalism is the exemplar was objectively a radical break with the Greco-Catholic vision of social order embodied in the Christian commonwealth of fifteen centuries' standing.  The demolition of Christendom---first in theory and then in practice---created the trajectory from Locke to Obama. Today we behold the final consequences of Liberty, the god that failed.

Father Nicholas Gruner, publisher of The Fatima Crusader, will speak on “Blessed Jacinat Marto: Little Giant of Heroic Virtue”.

Sister Lucy of Fatima would say that her cousin Jacinta was the most highly-favored of the three children to whom Our Lady appeared. Prior to Our Lady’s visitations, little Jacinta was a pious little girl with her share of faults. Yet after Our Lady appeared at Fatima, Jacinta became a paragon of heroic virtue, including self-imposed penances at which adults would be too timid to undertake. Learn of this magnificent little girl, and of the revelations given to her by Our Lady during the last years of her short life. Jacinta was consumed with the desire to “make sacrifices for sinners” in order to save souls from hell.

Dr. Peter Chojonowski, Professor of Philosophy, will treat of “Hilaire Belloc: Hammer of Historians”.

  Hilaire Belloc was the apologist in the English-speaking world for the great "enemy" of the Liberal Enlightenment mind, the Catholic Church. This poet, historian, controversalist, parliamentarian, economic theorist, and grand human personality could have been one of lights of British academia and letters if he had done one thing, given up his membership in the Catholic Church. Instead of renouncing what he knew to be the true religious partimony of Britain, he took of the sword of his pen and his words in defense of the Catholic Church and the civilization that She had created both in England and throughout Europe. The robust, assertive, and erudite personality of Belloc serves as a model for all traditional Catholics who confront all the evil ideologies of Belloc's day, but to a degree almost unimaginable to Belloc himself.

Popular author
Cornelia Ferreira’s topic is, “Saint Damien of Molokai: Apostle to the Living Dead”.

The nineteenth-century Belgian priest, Damien de Veuster, prayed to be a missionary like St. Francis Xavier. Totally dedicated to extending the Kingdom of Christ on earth, Damien wangled a posting to the Hawaiian mission of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Shortly thereafter, probably aware he was signing his death sentence, he volunteered to labor amongst the exiled lepers on the remote Hawaiian island of Molokai. Slogging through incredible hardships, like the great Apostle to the Gentiles, St. Damien singlehandedly built a “micro”-Christendom amongst the poorest of physical and spiritual outcasts. Even after contracting the dread disease he continued laboring until his body totally failed. His heroic zeal for the glory of God, and his untiring advocacy on behalf of the people he loved in Christ dispelled prejudices, effected vitally-needed social change, and inspired a worldwide outpouring of charity and philanthropy. Reflecting the finest of Catholic missionary tradition, St. Damien’s life shines in brilliant counterpoint to the insipid anti-evangelism of modern Catholics.

Dr. Brian McCall, Professor Law has as his topic: “St. Thomas Aquinas:  Go to Thomas and Find Our Way out of the Crisis”

St. Thomas Aquinas is a critical transition figure in the history of the Church and Society.  His life and work mark the apex of the Civilization of Christendom.  He accomplished the great synthesis of philosophy, theology and  science of all that preceded him.  Within a century of his death, the great civilization of which he was the apex was firmly on the road which led to the current crisis raging around us in Church and State.  Pope Leo XIII, directed modern man to the exit from the ever-deepening crisis, Ite ad Thomam, Go to Thomas.  By considering the life and work of St. Thomas, we will find the end of our current crisis in its beginning, the departure from St. Thomas, which is a departure from the great synthesis of Christendom.

CFN writer Susan Vennari will speak on “Something Foreign: George Makdisi on the Rise of Conflict Between the Theologians and the Magisterium”.

George Makdisi had not intended to become a scholar; he wanted to be a competitive ballroom dancer. But God led him through the ‘groves of academe’ to become one of the most respected researchers in his field, granted academic honors from institutions worldwide.

From medieval Islamic intellectual history, which was the focus of his early career, Professor Makdisi began to plumb issues of cultural borrowings. His twenty-year detour from his primary topic led him to produce two major works on the problem of the rise of both scholasticism and humanism (i.e. the
studia humanitatis) in the Christian Latin West. Eager to return to his original research after these two volumes were completed, which he was able to do once he retired in 1990, he first paused to comment on a conflict that had been tearing the Church throughout the previous decade: Her magisterial authority versus the theologians.

In somewhat of a memoir, Mrs. Vennari will reflect on the intellectual life and the formation of a Catholic scholar before plunging into an explanation of Professor Makdisi’s tantalizing thesis on the foreign elements that fomented the modern conflict in the magisterium.

Of course, the conference also contains daily Tridentine Mass, daily Rosary, live music on Saturday night, and that magnificent Catholic camaraderie of like-minded Catholics gathering for an entire weekend. Attendees have said, “These are the
best conferences,” and “It was like going on a mini-retreat.”

Sign up now! We hope to see you in April.


See also: Seven top reasons to attend our CFN Conference (update: 2/23/13)

First speech starts on Friday night, 7:30 pm (preceded by Rosary)
Conference ends at 5:00 pm Sunday.
Detailed scheduled will soon be posted.

Any questions? click here to contact us


"The visibility of the Church is too necessary
to its existence for it to be possible that
God would allow that visibility to disappear
for decades. The reasoning of those who deny
that we have a Pope puts the Church in an
inextricable situation." - Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre