Promoting Transgenderism is child abuse

Dr. Cretella on Transgenderism: A Mental Illness Is Not a Civil Right

John Ritchie (TFP): Could you please give us a little background on your professional training and your position in the American College of Pediatricians?

Dr. Michelle Cretella, MD:  Yes, certainly.  I received my medical degree from the University of Connecticut and completed my internship and residency in pediatrics at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.  I did some additional training in adolescence at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, and had the privilege to practice general pediatrics for fifteen years before going on full-time with the American College of Pediatricians in advocacy for children. I am entering my second term as president with that organization.

John Ritchie:  You’ve stated that the transgender ideology is responsible for large-scale child abuse. Could you please explain why you call it child abuse?

Dr. Cretella:  Essentially, transgender ideology holds that people can be born into the wrong body: It’s simply not true.  We can demonstrate this by looking at twin studies. No one is born in the wrong body. So to take that lie and essentially indoctrinate all of our children from preschool forward with that lie, we are destroying their ability for reality testing.

This is cognitive and psychological abuse.  I want to say just a little more about that.  The reason it destroys reality testing is because most children at age three (pre-school age) can correctly identify themselves by saying “I am a boy” or “I am a girl” and most children will not understand that a boy grows into a man and stays a man and that a girl grows into a woman and stays a woman. So when many seven-year-olds see a man get into a dress and put on makeup, they may believe that he just became a woman. The other side is not being honest and not acknowledging that.

This happened most recently in Rocklin, California.  It was the end of the kindergarten school year and the teacher called the whole class together, at the behest of the boy’s parents, and had the children sit down and she read them two stories. I will call them “gender bending stories.” One was The Red Crayon in which you have a crayon that’s actually blue wrapped in red paper. That primes the kids to think, “Oh, what’s on the outside doesn’t have to match the inside.”

The next story the teacher read was I Am Jazz, which is about a boy whose parents helped him impersonate a girl from the age of three.  He’s 17 now, has his own television program and looks like a girl from the waist up.  After these two stories were finished, a boy (I’ll call him Joey) left the classroom, presumably to use the bathroom and came back in a dress. The teacher said: “Boys and girls, Joey is actually a girl just like Jazz.  From now on we need to call her Josephine” (again I’m making the names up). This was very confusing to the other children in kindergarten and it terrified one girl in particular, which was clear from something that happened when she was home with her mother. Her mom had wrapped her up after she had go out of the tub and she was going by the mirror when she saw her hair slicked back. Then, she burst into tears, saying, “Mommy, am I turning into a boy? I don’t wanna turn into a boy! Joey turned into a girl, am I gonna turn into a boy?”

Now, I know this because the mother called me. As the president of the College of Pediatricians I’ve been outspoken and parents reach out to me. This mother is being told that she is the one who’s crazy and that her daughter is the one who’s having a problematic reaction.

So transgender ideology — yes, it’s child abuse because we are gaslighting our children. And now that they’re thoroughly confused they will think that they really are the opposite sex and will be sent down a medical pathway.  As they approach puberty, they will be put on puberty blockers and then on cross-sex hormones.  That combination will permanently sterilize most, if not all, of those children and also puts them at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers. If girls have been on testosterone, which is their sex change hormone, for a full-year, by age 16 they can get a double mastectomy.
So, gaslighting, pubertal castration and surgical mutilation: It’s institutionalized child abuse.

To make matters worse you must realize that prior to transgender ideology, these children were treated with watchful waiting, because for many kids it may be a passing phase. Sometimes the girls may just be tomboys.  So with either watchful waiting or family and individual therapy the vast majority, 75-95% of kids, would accept their biological sex by young adulthood. This is child abuse!

If the parents find that their child is questioning their sex, if things on your own at home are not going well, I encourage all parents to seek out a local therapist who will work with them to find underlying family dynamics or conflicts. If the only therapist you find locally says, “You must accept them as transgender,” you can reach out to us at bestforchildren.org, that’s our website. We can recommend some therapists who will work with families. If they’re not in the local area, they can even do it by Skype.

John Ritchie: College students are pressured more and more to let go of reality, accept the transgender narrative and even use transgender pronouns. If you were in medical school today, how would you respond to that pressure?

Dr. Cretella:  (Laughs.) That’s a good question. I would hope that I would cling to reality and sound reason. Words matter… biology is reality, not bigotry.

We’re at a point now in which we have documented at least 6,500 genetic differences between men and women. Men and women cannot be treated the same in medicine. Because of these genetic differences women are more prone to autoimmune diseases than men are. We must approach our patients in accordance with their biology, not in accordance with their perceptions which are delusional.

I hope I would be able to respond in that fashion, but it would be very difficult because just as we are seeing this tyrannical enforcement of newspeak on our college campuses, it is the same within the highest levels of medicine. At our office at the American College of Pediatricians, I receive e-mails and phone calls even from physicians and therapist, psychologists on the left who are clearly against us because we’re pro-life, and they’re even LGB[T] affirming, but they will thank me for speaking out because they say, “We wish we could, but we can’t because we’ll lose our jobs. We’ll get death threats.”

I receive emails from concerned parents throughout the nation asking me to review health curricula because it has now become “transphobic” to teach middle school students that women have ovaries and men have testes. That’s transphobic!

I have not received any death threats.  I have been accused of being the “leader of the skinheads of pediatricians” and a lot of other things that you wouldn’t repeat in polite company. One of my greatest fans who goes by the name of “Slowly Boiled Frog” has decided that I’m not even licensed to be a doctor. He or she writes to imply that I’m some sort of charlatan, or maybe that I did something illegal. So for the record:  Yes, I still am licensed.  I’ve chosen not to do clinical practice because I believe advocacy requires a full-time commitment.

John Ritchie: Can a person ever be “trapped in the wrong body”?  What does science tell us about this?

Dr. Cretella:  The argument, if you can even call it that — I’ll just call it a claim — the claim by the activist physicians on the other side is that when a child persistently and consistently insists that he (I’ll use he for ease of example) is really a girl, well then that’s it — that’s how you diagnose transgender.  That is proof that they have the brain of the opposite sex in their body. They say, “We have proof, we have studies that prove changes or differences between adult transgender brains and the brains of their biological peers who are not transgender.”

Okay, so let’s unpack that:

#1. The definition of a delusion is a fixed false belief. So if I persistently and consistently insist that I am Margaret Thatcher, or persistently consistently insist that I am a cat, or that I am an amputee trapped in a normal body — I am delusional.  In fact, there are people who believe they’re amputees trapped in a normal body and they are appropriately diagnosed as having Body Identity Integrity Disorder, a mouthful, but you get my drift. So if you want to cut off an arm or a leg you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts and genitals then you are transgender and you don’t have a mental illness. That’s completely unscientific. That’s no diagnosis.

#2.  Let’s talk about the brain studies.  There have been several.  Many have found no brain differences, but “we don’t talk about those.” There are a few that have found some differences on what’s called functional MRIs and they prove nothing. The reason they prove nothing is because the brain changes due to behavior. We have documented in numerous studies that behavior changes the appearance, the physiology and function of the brain.  So to have a few studies that are very small, have never been replicated, say, “Hey, there are brain differences.”  More than likely, the fact that the person has lived transgender is what caused those differences, if they’re even real.

You may ask, “So how do we know, Dr. Cretella, that what you said, that no one’s ever born this way, is true?  How do we know that?” If a brain were somehow the wrong sex, due to factors before birth, every single identical twin would have the same gender identity all the time, but they don’t.

Why? Identical twins have identical DNA.  So if it were in the genes and solely in the genetic DNA, then 100% of the time they would both be transgender or both be non-transgender. The best twin study we have shows that the vast majority do not match. If you have one identical twin who’s [considered] transgender, 72% of the time the other twin is normal. That tells us that it’s post-birth effects that primarily impact your identity — post-birth effects, not pre-birth.

John Ritchie:  If I told you that my Ford was really a Ferrari, you’d question my mental sanity. So why do some medical doctors validate the idea that a man can become a woman.

Dr. Cretella:  Ideology. Really, it comes down to an ideology and worldview. I mean, it’s been that way since the beginning.

Gender as a term, prior to the 1950s:

#1. Did not refer to people;
#2. Was not in the medical literature.

Sexologists were PhDs and MDs in the 50s who were taking people who believed they were transsexuals (the term was transsexual at the time), mostly men who wanted to be women, and basically invented the so-called “sex reassignment surgery.” Amongst themselves in the 50s, they said, “What are we treating? How are we going to justify this?” because they knew full well even then that sex is in the DNA and that mutilating the body does not change a person’s sex. They basically looked at the word gender, which meant male and female referring to grammar.

So in the 1950s, one of the sexologists at the time was Dr. John Money. And they said, “We’re gonna take gender and say that for people it means “the social expression of an internal sex identity.” That’s what we’re treating. They pulled it out of the air to justify lining their pockets to do mutilating surgeries. And this is the very same definition that the activists are using.  It has no basis in reality.

John Ritchie: So what you’re saying is that even radical surgery cannot change a man into a woman?

Dr. Cretella:  Right, radical surgery… no. NO surgery will change the DNA which is imprinted in every single cell of the body. Again, this is a combination of reason and science.  They meld.  They go together.

Human sexuality is binary, okay.  We know this because in nature, reproduction is the rule and human beings engage in sexual reproduction. You need a man and a woman to do that.

Chromosomes: women are XX, those are the sex chromosomes.  Women have two Xs and men have an X and a Y. Those are genetic markers, they are genetic markers for female and male respectively — binary.  That’s the rule and it’s self-evident.  Biological exceptions to the rule do not invalidate the rule, and by that I am referring to intersex conditions. We live in an imperfect world.  We live in a world with disease and disorder.

There are a variety of very rare biological genetic disorders that result in disorders of sex development.  These individuals have a true physiological, genetic, biological problem,  so it may be appropriate within those cases to give them surgery or they may need hormones.  But that’s a case-by-case basis and they are the exception, not the rule. Why do we refer to them colloquially as intersex? Because they are between the norms.

Many people with intersex conditions can lead very happy and healthy lives, but their treatment is very personalized. Someone who identifies as transgender, however — that’s not a problem in their body. Gender identity… all identities are in our thoughts and feelings. Those are not hardwired, they develop and they may be factually wrong or factually correct.  Individuals with disorders of sex development are being used as pawns in the fight for basically a civil right to a mental illness.  There’s no such thing as a civil right to a mental illness, but that is in fact what we are dealing with in the transgender rights movement.

John Ritchie:  Now a lot of liberal professors claim that the male-female binary is only a social construct, that you grow up learning that men and women are different, but it’s really something that’s entirely fluid.  How would you refute that?

Dr. Cretella:  Well, we started to in the last question. Again, to believe that, you have to be completely ignorant of genetics.  There are 6,500 genetic differences between men and women.  Now the fact that it’s a binary as I said, comes down to the fact that the reality is we have sexual reproduction in the human species and reproduction is the rule in biology. Okay, number one: We have a binary. To rationalize outside of that, you have to rationalize away the entirety of medicine, because with 6,500 genetic differences between the two, it impacts how we treat disease.

Women are not small men! That is how women used to be treated. Science used to do research predominately on men and then look at women and say, “Oh, you’re just a smaller body mass, so we’re gonna treat your heart attack the same way and your high blood pressure the same way.”  And now we’re realizing, “Wow! No wonder we had different results with women, look at this. Now we can prove and understand why!” And there’s a big push to get more women into pharmaceutical studies than ever before because we are different.

Transgenderism is a social construct.  The “fluidity” of sexuality: That’s a social construct.  They have it exactly backwards. And the word gender, as I said earlier, is nothing more than a linguistic engineering term and should have no place in medicine.

We have biological sex, we have sex differences, some of which are purely biological and others that develop as a result of nature and nurture. Women have loads more oxytocin and oxytocin receptors than men do. That is the hormone that is associated with nurturing. It is released during labor, breast-feeding and is so key and important in the first three years of the mother and infant bonding.  It’s the bonding hormone.  Although men have oxytocin as well, they have far fewer receptors in their brains. Every organ of the body is “sexed,” if you will, genetically speaking and it’s utterly ridiculous to make that assertion.

John Ritchie:  So it seems to me that you’re saying that at a very deep level, the transgender movement is attacking the order that exists in human nature. Would you go that far and say that human nature is under attack?

Dr. Cretella: Oh, certainly!  If my feelings alone determine who I am, then there really is no such thing as a man or a woman.

We’re essentially promoting doping. Men are doping on estrogen to become handicapped men.  Women are doping on testosterone to become handicapped men in a sense.

This whole “Oh, what do we do in sports?” I mean, really… doping is illegal, period. The end! That’s it.  Giving a woman testosterone does not make her a man, giving a man estrogen does not make him a woman, the estrogen makes a man a handicapped man. And the testosterone makes the women the equivalent of a handicapped man. Well, I shouldn’t even say a handicapped man because you can’t change sex.

And in fact, in the Olympics, if a woman were extremely excelling, they [officials] would be concerned about doping and they would be looking in her system for testosterone, high levels of it. So this is utterly ludicrous.

In the past, a man puts on a dress, he’s wearing drag. Well now, the drag is no longer made out of cotton and silk. Now the drag is hormones and surgery: It’s still drag!

John Ritchie: It seems to me like it’s a refinement of the radical idea of total equality.

Dr. Cretella: The error is to equate equality with sameness… they’re not. Same does not mean equal.  Because we’re equal in human dignity, but being male or female, that is the ultimate diversity we should be celebrating. There is no greater diversity than female and male. That is our innate identity and it’s written on every cell of our body at the level of our DNA.

I would agree, we’re making the mistake of equality meaning same. If that’s what you believe, then ultimately we’re eliminating:  There’s no such thing as a woman, there’s no such thing as a man.

John Ritchie: Finally, could you say something to encourage more Americans to stand up for the sacred institution of the family?

Dr. Cretella:  Absolutely.  I would say, the natural family, meaning a loving marriage between a man and a woman, is the most pro-child institution we have. So if you love children, nurture your marriage first of all.  It’s the greatest gift you can give a child. We must stand up for that, because our children are hurting. Decades, decades of social science demonstrates that this is the most important thing we can do in terms of children’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. It’s the family… it’s the family.

“College campuses are not free speech zones.”

1510342366129We have known for some time that many college campuses have ceased to be centers of learning and open debate and have instead become indoctrinating grounds for liberal beliefs that show no toleration for any opposing opinion – “either accept my liberal position or shut up” – and this story is proof positive. A teacher in California told students that “college campuses are not free speech zones” as he proceeded to erase their pro-life chalkwork and encouraged his students to do the same. Even if you are pro-abortion, you have to admit that what this teacher did was wrong. It violated the students’ First Amendment right to free speech. The courts agreed; they sided with the students and ordered the teacher to undergo training sessions on the First Amendment. Please view the full story and the video of the encounter between the teacher and the pro-life student here.

Disagree, but do so respectfully!

A common criticism of the Internet and public media forums is that they remove accountability from individuals posting their comments on a website or blog. Because people are able to leave comments anonymously, they often resort to saying things they would never say face to face or when their name would be attached to it. The result is that discussions frequently deteriorate into mudslinging matches with little or no constructive discourse.

I always teach my students that they are free to disagree with me, but respond with constructive arguments that will lead to dialogue and not simply fling insults. Sadly, constructive debate has been all but lost in our society and has spread into the public arena as well. The story in the Journal news on October 26 see story here of the man who put a tombstone on his front yard with Donald Trump’s name on it with the epitaph “Burn in Hell” is evidence of that. There are two levels of problems here. Not only do I find the tombstone offensive – regardless of whom he was depicting – and an inappropriate lesson for him to be teaching his children, but also people who offered criticisms even said that, while they may disagree with it, this is a free country and the gentleman has his right to free speech.

Whether or not publicly insulting someone is protected by free speech is a matter for courts. But I would like to appeal to a higher authority: human decency. Whatever happened to the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” What has become of “Do not judge, and you will not be judged?” I think it is high time that we begin remembering our basic human decency and learn once again how to respectfully disagree with someone and debate an issue without resorting to insults, name-calling, questioning someone’s upbringing, or any of the plethora of other attacks that are frequently thrown at people when they state their opinion. The media are especially responsible in this area to set standards which other people can follow. When personalities on TV can get away with mean-spirited attacks of an individual simply because they disagree with them, what incentive does that give the common individual to treat others with respect?

Dave-Willis-respect-quote

I appeal to all people certainly to remain firm in their convictions, but be respectful of others who disagree with them. Offering constructive criticism leads to healthy dialogue and perhaps a resolution of differences. Insults and flinging mud only leads to mayhem.

 

Setting the Record Straight about Columbus

Every year around Columbus Day, the politically-biased historical revisionists spread a legion of lies and distortions about Christopher Columbus in an attempt to vilify him and paint him as a monster who ruined the lives of the indigenous peoples. All of these myths and falsifications implode at even a cursive reading of the facts of history. Columbus’ critics offer no concrete evidence, just brushstrokes of fabricated condemnation. I found the article below very insightful and have chosen to copy it to my blog, as I couldn’t do the topic the justice the author here does.  

In addition, I find it important to point out that, even if Columbus were in fact the villain some people defame him as being, we are not celebrating the canonization of a saint on Columbus Day; rather, we are celebrating the origin of our New World, which Columbus’ accidental discovery revealed, which gave rise to a land of hope and promise for millions seeking religious freedom, economic opportunity, and human rights denied them in their homelands. Thus, any attempt to remove Columbus Day and paint it as a dark day in history is an outright condemnation of the United States and everything we hold dear as Americans. I also must point out that the people who are touting these absurd condemnations of Columbus did not give their houses to a Native American and move back to Europe, nor have they even the slightest intention of doing so. They have done very well by the American standard of living, so they should be grateful to Columbus for his discovery and the rise of the freedom to criticize the government that they enjoy. In other countries they would be shot as traitors!

The Catholic Spirit of Christopher Columbus
By Ben Broussard

As the sun set, the Salve Regina hymn rang out across the Atlantic. Ninety men stood on the decks of three boats, led in prayer by Christopher Columbus, the foreign captain they had come to trust. They had kept the same ritual of evening prayers since they left Spain months ago, but tonight was different. Tomorrow would be the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, Spain’s great patroness. Columbus had promised his men that had they not spotted land by her feast day, he would order the ships to turn back, a promise he intended to keep. He knew Our Lady would not abandon the enterprise he had worked so hard to bring about. The signs that they were near land were increasing by the day.

Columbus

As Columbus climbed the steps to his cabin, his gaze fell instinctively to the western horizon. Off in the distance, he caught sight of a light, like a candle rising and falling on the waves. Quickly, he called another man, who confirmed the sighting. The crews on all three ships were alerted, each man was on deck, peering out for signs of land nearby. At 2 a.m., the cry came out, “Tierra!” Land! The excitement of the crew was such that they hardly noticed the many hours it took to navigate the treacherous reef that surrounded their new destination. As Columbus knelt on the beach to give thanks, the following prayer rose from his lips:
“O Lord, eternal and omnipotent God, Thou hast, by Thy holy word, created the heavens, the earth, and the sea; blessed and glorified be Thy name; praised be Thy majesty, who hast deigned that, by means of Thy unworthy servant, Thy sacred name should be acknowledged and made known in this new quarter of the world.”1

San Salvador
The above prayer, recited in Latin and the first spoken in the Americas, was followed by the chanting of the Credo, the Te Deum, and many other prayers in thanksgiving. As the banners were unfurled, the admiral solemnly proclaimed, “In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ…” He proceeded to claim the new land for his sovereigns, but not before first claiming it for his Divine Master, giving it the name San Salvador (Holy Savior).

The details in the above account of the first landfall of Europeans in the Americas are rather unknown in modern times. Historians have typically shied away from the Catholic aspects of Columbus’ journeys, either making passing mention or ignoring them entirely. Yet a reading of the writings of Columbus himself, along with the testimonies of his contemporaries, shows that the Catholic spirit permeated all aspects of life and was central to the mission of exploration.

While a detailed retelling of the events of 1492 and afterward is far beyond the scope of this article, we will examine the Catholic inspirations for the discovery, which are essential to understanding Columbus himself. Contrary to the opinion of many modern historians, and far from being a minor aberration, Columbus’ militant Catholic faith was the source of his greatness and influenced his every action.

Catholic Piety
All evidence shows Columbus was a man of deep devotion who took his faith extremely seriously. One of his contemporaries, Bartolome de las Casas, described him as a man of righteousness and deep piety:
“He observed the fasts of the church most faithfully, confessed and made communion often, read the Divine Office like a churchman, hated blasphemy and profane swearing, and was most devoted to Our Lady and to the seraphic father St. Francis. . .”2
These two devotions had many manifestations. The full name of Columbus’ flagship on the first voyage was Santa Maria de la Inmaculada Concepción (Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception). During the return of the first voyage, when the ships were in danger of sinking, Columbus and his men vowed a pilgrimage to the first Marian church they came to, which they fulfilled in the Azores two weeks later. Upon his return to Spain, Columbus made a pilgrimage to the monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Extremadura as a solemn act of thanksgiving.

As a Third Order Franciscan, Columbus was often seen wearing the Franciscan habit, particularly when in the presence of clergy or nobility. His close personal association with the Franciscans was instrumental in securing contacts in the royal court, and provided much needed encouragement when it seemed the enterprise would never get the support it required. His son Diego remained in the care of the Franciscans at the monastery of La Rabida near Palos during the first voyage, where the friars took charge of his education. Upon his return to Spain, Columbus spent the summer of 1493 at La Rabida, preparing spiritually for the second voyage later that year.

After Columbus’ death, his second son Fernando would write of his father’s piety:
“In matters of religion he was so strict that for fasting and saying all the canonical offices he might have been taken for a member of a religious order. And when he had to write anything, he would not try the pen without first writing these words, ‘Jesus cum Maria sit nobis in via.’”3
This inscription is found in the majority of Columbus’ letters still extant. The literal meaning, “May Jesus with Mary be with us on the way” is a fitting prayer for an explorer, and could rightly be considered his motto.

Missionary Zeal
Scholars have been quick to point to the influence of Marco Polo’s Book of the Marvels of the World upon Columbus and his contemporaries, and rightly so. Yet the chapter which most influenced Columbus himself was the introduction. In it, we read of Polo’s father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo Polo, travelling to the Orient while Marco was still an infant. Their extensive travels eventually put them into contact with Kublai Khan, referred to in the book as the Great Khan. The Great Khan questioned them about life in Western Europe and the Catholic Faith, in which he took an interest. Upon their departure, he entrusted them with a letter to the Pope requesting 100 missionaries to instruct his kingdom in the Catholic faith, along with oil from the lamp at the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. On the return of the Polos to the West in 1268, they discovered Pope Clement IV had died, and the long interregnum which followed prevented the Khan’s requests from being fulfilled.4

In his petitions to Ferdinand and Isabella over a period of 7 years, it was Columbus’ desire to fulfill the Great Khan’s request which finally persuaded the sovereigns to approve the journey. Aboard his flagship was a letter to the Great Khan from the king and queen, and Columbus went to great lengths in order to deliver it. In the prologue to the report on the first voyage, Columbus directly addresses this evangelistic mission:
“I had given [a report] to Your Highnesses about the lands of India and about a prince who is called ‘Grand Khan,’. . .how he had sent to Rome to ask for men learned in our Holy Faith in order that they might instruct him in it, yet the Holy Father had never granted his request, and thus so many people were lost, falling into idolatry and accepting false and harmful religions; and Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians and Princes, lovers and promoters of the Holy Christian Faith. . . thought of sending me, Cristobal Colon. . . to see how their conversion to our Holy Faith might be undertaken.”5

Columbus at Mass                            “He was extremely zealous for the honor and glory of God; he deeply yearned for
the evangelization of these peoples and for the planting and flourishing everywhere
of people’s faith in Jesus Christ.”

Yet the mission to complete the Khan’s request for missionaries was but one aspect of Columbus’ desire to spread the Gospel. As Bartolome de las Casas wrote, “He was extremely zealous for the honor and glory of God; he deeply yearned for the evangelization of these peoples and for the planting and flourishing everywhere of people’s faith in Jesus Christ.”6 Upon his first encounter with the natives on San Salvador, Columbus concludes, “I recognized that they were people who would be better freed [from error] and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force.”7

On six separate occasions, Columbus wrote to the Holy Father requesting missionaries be sent to the recently discovered islands, a request which was fulfilled. On January 6, 1494, the Feast of the Epiphany, the first Mass in the Americas was offered by a Benedictine who had accompanied the second voyage.

Five centuries after the fact, American Jesuit Fr. John Hardon would remark, “It is one thing to say that Columbus discovered America. It is something else to realize that he opened the door to the most phenomenal spread of Christianity since the time of St. Paul.”8

Crusader Spirit
A question arises from the modern reader: “What about the quest for gold?” As Columbus makes clear in his log, the finding of gold, spices, and other valuables is central to his mission, but not for the reason most are taught.

On December 26, 1492, Columbus had established a makeshift settlement named La Navidad on the north end of the island of Hispaniola from the wreckage of the Santa Maria, run aground on a reef. Seeing the hand of Divine Providence, he then proceeded to write of his desired result:
“I hope to God that when I come back here from Castile. . . I will find a barrel of gold, for which these people have traded, and that they will have found the gold mine, and the spices, and in such quantities that within three years the Sovereigns will prepare for and undertake the reconquest of the Holy Land. I have already petitioned Your Highnesses to see that all the profits of my enterprise should be spent on the conquest of Jerusalem, and Your Highnesses smiled and said that. . . even without the expedition they had the inclination to do it.”9

Now that Spain was finally free from Muslim domination (Jan. 2, 1492), the great desire to take the fight to the enemy and complete the liberation of the Holy Land could finally be completed. By sailing west, Columbus was aiming to outflank Islam, gaining access to the riches of the East so as to finance the retaking of Jerusalem. Since the fall of Constantinople in 1453, while Columbus was still a child, calls had come from all corners of Europe to renew the Crusade. Columbus saw himself as the instrument to fulfill the longed-for end.

In a letter to Pope Alexander VI, Columbus reiterates the seriousness of his intentions:
“The enterprise must be undertaken in order to spend any profits therein for the redemption of the Sepulcher and the Temple Mount unto Holy Church.”10
Historian George Grant succinctly concludes, “Clearly, the motivations of Columbus were shaped by the eons long conflict between Christendom and Islam. The evidence is inescapable. He sailed, not to discover a new world, but to find a way to recover the old one.”11

Our Great Debt to Columbus
The events of 1492 and afterward could have transpired far differently. The richest nation in the world at the time was China, followed by the Islamic caliphates which stretched from Morocco to the edges of the Far East. Why didn’t the Chinese expand their empire to the east across the Pacific? Why was it not a Muslim who established lasting contact between the continents? For that matter, why was it not an Indian who discovered Europe?

Modern historians are at a loss to answer these questions, and conclude that it was simply by chance that events unfolded as they did. This hardly explains the fact that Spain was the poorest nation in Western Europe at the time, bankrupt from its completion of the Reconquista. Yet not only did Spain successfully go about colonizing and evangelizing the Americas, it also kept the Muslims out of the Americas. Had Islam spread to the Americas in place of Christianity, what we know today as the United States could very well have been the United Emirates.

Columbus believed he was specially chosen by God to bring the Gospel to a people who were living in darkness and the shadow of death. He believed his given name, Christopher, signified the mission he was destined to carry out, as his son Fernando would later explain: “Just as Saint Christopher bore Christ over the waters, so too was he to bear the light of the Gospel over the vast oceans.”12

In conclusion, spreading the Catholic faith and acquiring riches so as to finance the retaking of Jerusalem from the Muslims were at the heart of Columbus’ mission. Any hopes of personal rewards or honors were secondary. In writing the royal treasurer of Spain at the completion of the first journey, he gives the reason all people, present and future, should celebrate what would come to be known as Columbus Day:
“And now ought the King, Queen, Princes, and all their dominions, as well as the whole of Christians, to give thanks to our Savior Jesus Christ who has granted us such a victory and great success. Let processions be ordered, let solemn festivals be celebrated, let the temples be filled with boughs and flowers. Let Christ rejoice upon earth as he does in heaven, to witness the coming salvation of so many people, heretofore given over to perdition. Let us rejoice for the exaltation of our faith, as well as for the augmentation of our temporal prosperity, in which not only Spain but all Christendom shall participate.”13

Five Myths About Christopher Columbus

1. MYTH: Columbus was sailing to prove the world was round.

FACT: Every educated person at the end of the fifteenth century knew the earth was a sphere, a fact known since antiquity. What was in dispute was the earth’s circumference, which Columbus underestimated by one-fourth.

2. MYTH: Queen Isabella sold her crown jewels to finance the first journey.

FACT: The royal treasury of Spain was depleted after the completion of the conquest of Granada early in 1492. However, Luis de Santangel, the royal treasurer, was able to secure funding by reaching out to the Crusading societies throughout the Mediterranean, as well as other financial backers from Spain and elsewhere. The crown put up very little to finance the journey.

3. MYTH: There was a priest on board the Santa Maria in 1492.

FACT: Because of the dangers involved, there were no priests or friars on the first voyage, despite the deep piety of Columbus. Many of the paintings of the first landfall in the new world on San Salvador show a priest with Columbus—contrary to the facts. There were five priests on the second voyage: Benedictine Father Buil; the Jeronymite Father Ramon Pane; and three Franciscans.

4. MYTH: Columbus introduced slavery to the New World.

FACT: Slavery was already widespread among the native Indians when Columbus arrived. Columbus was insistent on the fair treatment of the Indians, a policy which gained him many enemies as governor of Hispaniola. Bartolome de las Casas, a Spanish friar who worked for the protection of the Indians, is quick to excoriate his fellow Spaniards in their grave abuses, but is filled with nothing but respect and admiration for Columbus. The mass subjugation and importation of Africans to the Americas did not begin until a generation after Columbus’ death.

5. MYTH: Columbus died a pauper, in chains, in a Spanish prison.

FACT: Despite the fact that the Spanish crown retracted some of the privileges promised to Columbus, he was relatively wealthy at the time of his death. Although he returned to Spain in chains in 1500 after his third voyage, the King and Queen apologized for the misunderstanding and had them removed.

On May 20, 1506, the Vigil of the Ascension, Christopher Columbus lay on his deathbed in his apartment at Valladolid, surrounded by his fellow Franciscans and his sons. As the friars chanted Compline, his last words echoed those of Christ on the cross: In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum. (Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.)

Columbus on deathbed

Notes:
1. Irving, Washington. A history of the life and voyages of Christopher Columbus. Paris: A. and W. Galignani, 1828. 237.
2. Grant, George. The Last Crusader. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1992. 85.
3. Columbus, Ferdinand. The life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand. 1. Madrid: 1892. 14-15.
4. Polo, Marco. The Travels of Marco Polo. Project Gutenberg, 2004. 11-14. http://www. gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10636/pg10636.html.
5. Marckham, Clements Robert, ed. The Journal of Christopher Columbus. London: Chas. J. Clark, 1843. 16-17.
6. Miller, Kevin A. “Why Did Columbus Sail?” Christian History. Oct 1992: 6.
7. Marckham, Clements Robert, ed. The Journal of Christopher Columbus. London: Chas. J. Clark, 1843. 37.
8. Hardon, SJ, John. “Christopher Columbus, the Catholic.” Fr. Hardon Archives. Inter Mirifica, 2003. Web. 27 Jun 2012.
9. Markham, Clements Robert, ed. The Journal of Christopher Columbus. London: Chas. J. Clark, 1843. 139.
10. Grant, George. The Last Crusader. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1992. 67.
11. Grant, George. The Last Crusader. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1992. 69-70.
12. Columbus, Ferdinand. The life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand. Vol. 1. Madrid: 1892. 6.
13. Columbus, Christopher. The first letter of Christopher Columbus to the noble lord Raphael Sanchez announcing the discovery of America. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1891. 16.

Do you want to be happy or be transfigured?

When I was in college I became friends with a young man who was what I describe as a natural Christian, meaning that all the virtues that you and I sometimes work so hard to try to cultivate, to him came naturally. For that reason, it seemed to me such a great incongruity in his personality that, although he was Catholic, he didn’t go to church on Sunday. One day I got the opportunity to talk to him about it and he was very straightforward with me. He told me exactly why he didn’t go to church. He said he used to go when he was younger, but then one day he was sitting in church and he looked around all the people sitting there and he said to himself, “Look at all these people! They have no clue as to why they are here and what’s going on. It’s all such a waste of time!” And so he became very disillusioned by going to Mass and stopped attending. I remember I said several different things to him. First I asked him, “How do you know what’s going on in the minds of the other people who were sitting there in church? Is it possible that what you claimed they were feeling was really what you were feeling and that you were projecting your lack of understanding upon them? There are some people that go to church that have a fairly good idea of what’s taking place and truly listen to the Scriptures and are praying and feel like they have encountered the Lord every time they go to Mass. And even if there are people who are not all that sure about why they’re there, why would you let that prevent you from having a good relationship with Christ at Mass?” Then I said to him finally, “Alright, I will agree with you that there probably are some people who come to church that don’t really have any clue as to why they’re there and what it’s all about. But at least they’re there! Nobody has put a gun to their head and forced them to come to church. They may not understand everything that’s happening, but they know there’s something good is going on and that there is a reason they should be attending. They’re looking for God and maybe in time they will find him.”

I reminded him of the story of the transfiguration. I said, “Look what happened when Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain with him. He was transfigured before them: his clothes became white and his face glowed with a radiance they had never seen before. Basically, Jesus showed them a hint of the glory that would be his when he was risen from the dead. It’s as if he took off the veil of his mortal image and let them see his true divinity; he let them see him for whom he was. Then Moses and Elijah appeared talking with him. Moses, the great lawgiver to whom God gave the Ten Commandments and who promised ‘A prophet like me will the Lord raise up from among your kinsman’ and Elijah, the great prophet who was taken to heaven in a whirlwind whom it was believed would precede the coming of the Messiah, and both of them were standing talking with Jesus about what he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Any good Jew would recognize the expression, ‘The law and the prophets’. That summarized the entire promise of Israel, everything written in the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Old Testament as we call it. It’s as if all of the promise that God had given from Abraham to that time was now standing there bearing witness to Jesus, saying ‘this is the one! The promise is fulfilled! This is the person you been waiting for!’ Peter sees all this and says, ‘Master, how good it is for us to be here!’ Good, Peter! Great response! But then he says something silly, ‘Let us build three booths here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!’ Open mouth, insert foot, close, enjoy your meal Peter, because you just put your foot in your mouth big-time! Mark and Luke even apologize for Peter. They say he really didn’t know what to say because he was so awestruck by what had taken place. When they came down the mountain, Jesus didn’t say to Peter, ‘How could you be so stupid/! Didn’t you see what was going on there?’ Of course not! He knew Peter wasn’t a theologian; he was just a fisherman. He knew it was beyond Peter’s ability to grasp, and he didn’t expect it of him. Peter knew something good was happening there, and even though the significance of it passed him by and he didn’t realize the full ramification of everything he’d seen, he realized he’d seen something good, and that’s all Jesus wanted from him. I explained to my friend that Mass is the same thing. Yes, sometimes people are there and maybe don’t understand the fullness of the mystery, but they’re trying. So don’t sell them short. Give them the opportunity to grow in their understanding.”

transfiguration-of-christ-01

Thankfully my friend eventually did return to regular worship. But this story gives us an opportunity to look at our understanding of the Mass. Do we comprehend what’s taking place every time we come to Mass on Sunday? Perhaps sometimes we feel we do or maybe we’d honestly say “I haven’t got a clue!” That’s okay! As long as we’re there and trying to grow, leave your mind open to learning more about the Mass. Don’t be discouraged or disillusioned if it doesn’t make sense to you. After all, can any of us honestly say we truly understand everything that takes place in Mass? St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, once said that if any priest realized what was actually taking place at his hands while he celebrated Mass he would die of fright for fear of what he was handling! It’s a mystery beyond our ability to fathom! We can’t even begin to comprehend the fullness of what’s taking place at Mass. We can have a basic idea, sure, but if we ever think we’ve gotten to the point that we understand everything perfectly well, were only deluding ourselves.

I like to think of it as when you go to an art museum. If you were to go to the Louvre in Paris or the Uffizi in Florence, even the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York, if you go in and don’t know much about art it can be overwhelming! There are thousands of paintings there, and you look around and can be lost. Maybe we look at a picture or two here or there and that helps a little bit, but if you take try to take in the whole thing it can be an absolutely daunting proposition. I don’t think anyone expects anyone to go into a museum and in one day take a look at every single picture and take in everything that each picture has to offer. You just couldn’t do it in one day! So if we have just a few hours to go through museum, we’ll look at the few things that seem to strike us the most, even if it’s only the highlights. In the Louvre everybody goes and looks at Mona Lisa and maybe there are a few others that might strike people’s interest. In the Uffizi gallery, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is the most famous one. Real devotees of art will go back to the museum over and over again and each time to try to take in another picture and get a little bit more out of each painting than they could at just one glance. Maybe they might go back one day and say “I’m only going into this one room here and only take in the pictures in this room or of this style.” Another day they take in another, and they would quickly discover that the museum is an inexhaustible resource. They could spend their entire lives going into the museum and never take it all in, but I think any curator of a museum would be thrilled if somebody came and even sat and looked at just one painting and took that in to the best of his ability: they’d say he’s gotten something out of his visit to the museum that day. Well, coming to Mass is in many ways just like that. We come Sunday after Sunday to hear a Gospel reading that we probably heard before; in fact, many of them we hear over and over again to the point that we might feel that we’ve got it memorized. But we never exhaust the meaning of that Gospel. We are fed on it, we are nourished by the word, and we discover that we can come back time and time again and be nourished and grow more in the mystery. And of course, most importantly, we come and receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion. We take his actual body and blood as our food and that strengthens us and brings us into full union with him. And that’s when we discover what Jesus really want to do for us and the full importance of the Mass, why we come Sunday after Sunday, many people day after day: to receive the Eucharist.

A lot of times I’ll hear people talking about what God wants to do for them and they say, “Well, God just wants me to be happy!” I just shake my head in despair when I hear that. Yes, God wants us to be happy but he wants so much more than that!  He has things planned for us that are far greater than anything we could even begin to comprehend, and our happiness is not going to come through the things that we think are going to make us happy, but by what God reveals to us as the true way to happiness. Sometimes people will discover the next step of that and realize that true happiness comes from living an upright moral life, which is a lot more meaningful than simply having the little pleasant things in our lives. Indeed, God wants even more for us than merely being ethical people or being kind to one another, being nice guys and helping us get along better. I’m not for a moment trying to make light of ethical living and of following the moral teachings of the Church and of the Lord. Don’t get me wrong! They are important. But they are only steps along the way to what God really wants to do for us. What does God want to do for us? He wants to deify us! The greatest thing that we can experience is deification – actually becoming part of God himself! The ancient Christians used to say that God became man so that man could become as God. He took on our nature so that we could take on his. He wants to draw us into all beauty, all essence, all goodness, all truth, total joy, total perfection. He wants us to be transfigured just as he was transfigured. Everything that Jesus inherited by his death and resurrection you and I will also inherit! All the glory that he now has in heaven he wants to share with us, and he has far more in store for us than when we often think about when we come to church and pray. Sometimes we pray for things that maybe are a little silly, maybe more serious. but God’s plan for us is always greater them what we have in mind. Maybe all we’re worried about is losing ten pounds to look better in that dress, so that when I go to so-and-so’s wedding, nobody will laugh at me and at how much weight I put on. Well, I have news for you! God is probably laughing at that, because if you think that the most important thing in life is losing ten pounds because otherwise everybody’s going to be staring at you at the wedding, no they’re not! Everybody will be looking at the bride! Probably few people if anybody are actually going to look at you and notice you put on ten pounds since the last time they saw you! Usually that’s one of our own vanities! Sometimes we pray about little more important things. If somebody is ill and we pray for their healing, that’s a good thing to pray for! Certainly, if somebody is out of a job, we pray for them to get work. Maybe sometimes it is a little frivolous: we just want a little more money so we can book a nicer room on our upcoming vacation, and maybe that’s not the most important thing that we should be praying about. It’s not to say that it is wrong to pray for the things we need here and now; but first we have to ask if they really are important – if they really are the things we should be worrying about, and sometimes we have to honestly admit that they’re not – Jesus does say to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” But God wants so much more for us than merely worrying about the things of this life. If we’re only worried about the here and now and not heaven, then were missing what God wants to do for us! He is not saying, “I want you to be comfortable! I want you to have an easy life! I want you to fit in and enjoy yourself!” No, he is saying, “I want to raise you up, I want to elevate you and lift you up to heights you can’t even begin to imagine, so far more important than anything this brief visit on earth has to offer! I have dreams for you that have never even entered into your consciousness!”

If we’re only concerned about the needs in our lives here on earth then were missing everything God wants to do for us. We will never find the joy that we can know when we know the heights of glory to which we are being called by God. And maybe that’s why we don’t follow our faith as strongly as we should and don’t evangelize others, because maybe if we honestly ask ourselves, “Do I really want to worry about heaven?” the answer is, “No! I’m only really worried about here and now. I’m not looking for God to save my soul. I’m not looking for him to make me the best I can be. I’m not looking for God to bring me to great heights. All I want God to do is make my life comfortable here and now. I want him to be Santa Claus and give me all the things I want.” Sometimes people even go so far as wanting God to allow them to believe in and practice things that contradict that call to holiness, that are completely opposed to it, and they want the church to teach that those are good simply because it will make them feel good now, it will make their life easier and help them feel good about themselves, and they end up sacrificing the very call to holiness simply to fit in here on earth. They flee from any talk about challenge, about changing our hearts, about carrying our crosses, about realizing that it takes much prayer and sacrifice in order to reach those heights that God has in store, and instead demand only to be left where they are and told that their lives are perfect, when they know very well they are not.

My brothers and sisters, yes, the Lord does care about our everyday needs, and it’s okay to pray for them, but let’s make sure that’s not the only thing we ever pray for, that were not caught up only in the here and now. Do we ever pray for holiness? Do we ever pray, “Lord, help me to overcome sin! Help me to be righteous!” Do we ever pray, “Lord, change me! lift me up, Lord! Beam me up! Help me to be what you want me to be! Lord, let me worry not about what I want for myself but what you want from me! Transfigure me! give me the holiness and the joy that only you can give!” When we do that, then we will know true happiness, true peace.

Who knew????

I received this email from one of my parishioners today that was too hysterical and wonderful not to share. The scene was our parish’s sixth session of ChristLife last night. I always come in at the end to greet everyone. As I entered, someone cheered my presence and I “dabbed”. (If you don’t know what that is, ask a teenager!) The writer is Kevin Magee, one of the leaders of ChristLife and a stand-up comedian:

Hello,

It has come to my attention that Father Carrozza has been dabbing! When he walked in last night I thought I saw him dab, but I ignored it the way you pretend to not see people stumble when they are walking on the sidewalk, except my intention to push this from my memory was immediately brought to reality when Lisa at my table asked me, “Did Father just dab?”  I turned to her shaking my head to say “yes, I am sorry that I have to confirm this!”

       This morning I noticed there was a new student as indicated on our census.  When I went to rounds with the doctors and unit staff, it was brought to my attention that this student, who has a number of issues, is being bullied at his school. The same crowd that is bullying this student is the same one that he is trying to break free from.  I will call this student “Phil.”
        So in class, one of my students, whom I will call “Jeff” is always dabbing.  He has been doing this for a few weeks now.  So I mentioned to Jeff that my parish priest dabbed last night. Jeff thought it was great.  Phil also chimed in asking me if that was a Catholic Church.  I affirmed that it was and so he mentioned that he wanted to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism.  I was stunned, as the student then asked me how I could go about doing it.  I redirected him that I could help but at a different and more appropriate time.  (You can get in trouble with things like this). I am very careful not to be Bible thumping my way through a hospital.
      So there it is, Freddy teaches Father Carrozza to dab and now I have students that want to be Catholic.  Who knew?!?!?
LET’s dab for Christ and bring people home!
flat,800x800,075,f.u1