Sunday, June 30

Thanks to a reader for passing on this link to a good piece by George Weigel on Archbishop Dolan

Archbishop-elect Tim Dolan is a happy man because he is a happy Christian disciple and a happy Catholic priest. Among his favorite quotes: "Joy in the infallible sign of God's presence," which he takes from a letter of the French novelist Leon Bloy to philosopher Jacques Maritain. Moreover, his happiness, which is a function of his profound Christian faith, is irresistibly infectious. For the past 35 years (and not just during the current scandal-time), Catholicism in the U.S. has too often been a grouchy, unhappy place. That is about to change, dramatically, in Milwaukee.That the new archbishop will get off more side-splitting one-liners in an afternoon than many prelates do in a decade should not obscure an equally important aspect of his personality, however. Timothy Dolan is a very intelligent, deeply read man, well-versed in contemporary Catholic thought..

All eyes are on Milwaukee, aren't they? As the first new prelate appointed post-Dallas in one of the most liberal sees in the nation, Dolan has hard row to hoe...this will be fascinating to watch. In a good way, we hope!

A couple of unpleasant stories, but offered to you as evidence for It's not just Catholic clergy (although if you're a longtime reader of this blog you know that I categorially reject such an appeal in defense of abusive Catholic clergy. We shouldn't be happy that the percentage of molesters among clergy seems to be commensurate with what it is in the general population or in other professions. Zero percent is what we're after, I believe.)

But, in an article sent on by Rose (thanks, Rose! I guess...), we read about a Protestant Sunday School teacher (male, married) who told a 16-year old student to write "What Would Jesus Do" on his....well, I'll be you can guess.

And then in our local paper today, our very own Mary Kay Letourneau, a 40-year old guidance counselor who went mad for a fifteen year old boy.

Lots and lots of stuff at Poynter today.
From the NYTimes (LRR), Laurie Goodstein points out that in many states, the obstacles to vouchers are anti-religious school laws dating from the nativist, Know-Nothing, anti-immigrant 19th century.

The state amendments barring aid to religious schools are often called "Blaine amendments." The first state to pass one was Massachusetts, where in 1854, the Know-Nothing party swept to power pledging to "Americanize America." It proposed legislation that would have prevented Roman Catholics from holding public office, dismissed Irish workers from state jobs and added an amendment to the state Constitution that tax money "shall never be appropriated to any religious sect for the maintenance exclusively of its own schools." Other states took up similar amendments, and about 20 years later, a House speaker, James G. Blaine, tried to bolster his presidential candidacy by urging Congress to pass a copycat amendment to the United States Constitution. It failed, but within 15 years, Blaine amendments had been adopted in more states. Many Western states adopted them as a condition of their admission to the Union, and in the Pacific Northwest, the laws were pushed by the Ku Klux Klan, according to Kevin J. Hasson, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a legal advocacy group that often represents religious groups. "Blaine amendments are a dirty little secret from the anti-immigrant past," Mr. Hasson said. "They not only get in the way of vouchers and prohibit other sorts of useful aid, but they enshrine bigotry in many state constitutions. "

Here's one of the results of being the daughter of a political science professor. You learn things like this nugget from history when you're a child, and somehow they stick with you:

Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine - Continental Liar from the State of Maine!

That was, I believe, a slogan used against Blaine when he ran for president. (Against Grover Cleveland in 1884.)

From the NY Times (LRR): 7 women "ordained" in Germany", and frankly, I wouldn't worry too much about it:

The ceremony was performed by Romulo Braschi, an Argentine former Catholic priest who calls himself a bishop and a specialist in karma. His 13,000-member Jesus Rey Church is not recognized by the Vatican. He said today, "The Vatican is used to treating as sects anyone who differs with its dogma."

Haircut photos here. I don't have a good "after" photo yet, but I'll get one today sometime.

Saturday, June 29

In case you're wondering (and thanks to those of you who are and have offered prayers!), Joseph seems to be better - although I am, I admit, sitting here with him on my lap, snoozing away. Him, not me. He is just not sleeping well lying flat, so I'll just hold him all night. Again. Anyway, the doctor claims it's naught but a throat infection, and I guess I'll believe him and just shove the magic pink elixir so familiar to all parents into the baby's system. He had his first real haircut today - at the barber's. He looks like such a big boy now - I'll post pictures tomorrow.
Writers of the NY Regents' Exam strangely make their presence felt in British theater world:

To avoid offense, theater company changes name of Hunchback of Notre Dame

Oddsocks Productions has renamed its touring production "The Bellringer of Notre Dame" after discussions with a disability adviser raised the possibility of offending people with spina bifida or the disfiguring scoliosis of the spine.

Friday, June 28

Rather shocking news to many, I'm sure:

Fr. John Bertolucci, nationally known priest associated with the Catholic charismatic movement, is one of several priests removed from ministry in Albany.

More from the Albany paper and MSNBC

None of the articles detail the circumstances, although I'm sure more will be known in the next few days.

What's the truth about Fr. Mychal Judge?

Was he sort-of openly gay, (and, I hasten to add - apparently celibate) - as this article from New York magazine and this page from the website set up in his honor both attest?

Or was he not-gay (and, I hasten to add again - apparently celibate), as this article from Culture and Family forcefully claims? (last link thanks to Relapsed Catholic)

Crucial to the answer to the question, it seems, is a fellow named Brendan Fay whom the first two pieces both characterize as a "close friend" of Judge and the last excoriates as a single-issue (gay rights) opportunist.

So what's the truth? Is it this:

Father Mychal was a longtime member of Dignity, the gay Catholic group. When his close friend, gay activist Brendan Fay, started a St. Patrick's parade in Queens that included gay groups, Father Judge helped him fund it and showed up in his brown friar's robe to put the church on the side of the oppressed, even as Catholic officialdom was urging a boycott. In recent years, he "came out" to many of those he loved, including Fire Commissioner Tom Von Essen, who warmly accepted him.

Or this?

Prior to Father Mike's death, everyone who knew him for any length of time would never describe him as a homosexual. In fact, never has even one homosexual activist ever provided evidence that Father Mike was "gay." Yet, in newspapers immediately after the funeral mass, Brendan Fay was quoted saying that Father Mike was a homosexual. Fay arranged a media event where many people spoke of Father Mike's concern for the homosexual community and claimed Father Mike was "gay." This was news to me, and I knew Father Mike for nearly a decade.

What's your view? And more importantly, in light of the man's heroism, do you think it matters?

From, a report of a time machine built by a Benedictine and used to film Christ's crucifixion. Yeah.

Well, here's a review of a book on the subject from a new age magazine and a collection of short reviews of the same book, called FATHER ERNETTI'S CHRONOVISOR
The Creation and Disappearance of the World's First Time Machine
. The priest was real, but who knows how much of this story is true or false - if he really did claim to build a time machine or not...a little corner of Church mythology that was totally new to me.

For all your voucher/pledge commentary links and needs, check out Christianity Today's Weblog
George Neumayr asks: Should the people who believe the least define the most about America's public life?

Americans like Newdow -- with the help of a judicial system that specializes in breeding its own destroyers -- are creating a nation of nihilism from which the American founders would have fled. Had they known the First Amendment would result in the suppression, not the spread, of religion in public, they wouldn't have written it. And the states wouldn't have signed it. The First Amendment was written, after all, to protect their state religions against any federal religion that could swoop down and crush them. The First Amendment is now used not to protect the religious, but to persecute them.

Peggy Noonan applies Michael Novak's insights on capitalism to the current rash of Big Corporation Scandals.
Mormons return to Nauvoo, Illinois, with a newly-dedicated temple in the town where Joseph Smith was murdered.
Andrew Greeley, who had a hissy fit a few months back about the media, recants, saying the media isn't to blame:

Are the national media permeated by anti-Catholicism? Of this there can be no doubt. Many of the people who work for them are pure secularists. Some of them believe in nothing at all. Some believe religion is silly. Some believe that Catholicism is particularly silly. Like half of all Americans, some believe that Catholics are superstitious and cannot think for themselves. Some know very little about Catholicism and are in fact tone-deaf about it. Some hate us. Some will take advantage of every possible situation that might make us look bad. Serves us right for giving them the opportunity. Serves us right for having clueless cardinals.
Yet, in truth many of the media folk are thoughtful, responsible professionals and as such deserve our respect. The media, for all their faults and imperfections, are essential in a free society and they have done American Catholicism a tremendous favor.

You remember the middle school in California that forced kids to pretend they were Muslims as part of a study unit?

Well, now the district is being sued by parents, appropriately enough. This is just absurd:

According to the lawsuit, students were encouraged to dress as Muslims and to use such phrases in their speech as 'Allah Akbar,' which is Arabic for 'God is great.' Students were required to memorize Muslim prayers, fulfill the Five Pillars of Faith and fast during lunch period to simulate fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. "Public schools would never tolerate teaching Christianity in this way," said Thompson. "Just imagine the ACLU's outcry if students were told that they had to pray the Lords Prayer, memorize the Ten Commandments, use such phrases as 'Jesus is the Messiah,' and fast during Lent."

Not just Catholics, cont'd...

Terry Mattingly on the Baptists' sex scandal:...and the consequences of the Baptist congregational structure on the ability of the church to deal with it.

Rough night. Around 5, Joseph awoke with an intense fever and a strange - well, croup-y sound in his breathing. So is the croup? I don't know yet. I'll be taking him to the doctor in a bit. He's better now - sleeping, fever BabyMotrined-away, not coughing, but it scared me for a bit. I woke Michael up, insisting that we needed to go to the hospital, but he demurred, and I guess he was right. Is it, indeed, the croup? The hay in the barn yesterday? The air at the Wizards' baseball game last night? Don't know yet.

Thursday, June 27

Well, not everyone's avoiding talking about Hell....

Street preacher, asked to sing at a funeral, gets beaten up by mourners when he says the deceased is in Hell...

Molden said that when Bethel began his harangue at the church, mourners froze in shock. "After he sings, he grabs the mike and yells that Lish is burning in hell. He just screamed it out." Molden said that when someone cut off the microphone, Bethel gestured to a young man to bring a bag down front. It was then, Molden said, that people began leaving, fearing there were weapons in the bag. "He pulls out a megaphone," Molden said. "We tried to get him out of the church. I asked him, 'Orlando, why are you doing this?'" Molden said. Molden said that later the Bethels drove up to his home. Orlando Bethel began screaming about hell, and Glynis Bethel, while "speaking in tongues," sprinkled olive oil on Molden. "I thought it was gasoline," Molden said.

A reader poses a pressing question:

Before a meal, is it "Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts . . ." or is it "Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts . . . " ??? My family used the former (the logically consistent statement, in my view), but my wife grew up with the latter, and although this is not the sort of weighty issue from whence a schism could spring, it needs to be resolved. So we need a poll of your informed readers!

Enter your exegesis in the comments form!

Nice new Catholic blog on Life with Francis de Sales.
Interesting debate going on in the comments section on my links to the various comments on Goodbye Good Men. (And mind you, I just link 'em, don't necessarily agree with them, including Hand's scorn of NRO, which is rather strange and off the mark.) But what interested me is one commenter's statement that Jason Berry is working on a book about the accusations against the founder of the Legionaires of Christ. Is this true? Any confirmation of this?
We just got back from a nice visit with Michael over in OSV Land. I saw Michael's new, more spacious cubicle, the space of which the big GATOR banner doesn't quite dominate the way it did in the old one. I saw the new Groeschel book From Scandal to Hope, hot off the presses. Saw the illustrations to my two new Prove It books, saw the letter from (gulp) the diocesan censor who pointed out, if not an error, a deeply flawed analogy in one of my books that will lead millions to heresy unless I fix it, which I will this afternoon.

Then we went out for a short visit to a co-workers farm and saw: a little black lamb, three big huge black sheep, nasty obnoxious geese (are there any other kind?), the family's Thanksgiving turkey, which is at this point small enough to hold in our hands, a cow, a mess of kittens peering down from a loft in the barn, three rabbits and a dog. We thought Joseph would be enchanted with the petting zoo - do you know what entranced him the most? The dog. The little "woof-woof" as he calls them. Loved the dog. Looked with half interest at everything else.

Then the three of us went to lunch at a pizza place called, appropriately enough, Pizza Junction, because it sits about a foot from a railroad track on which trains thundered past twice during our meal, much to Joseph's puzzled interest.

Roundup of opinion on school vouchers:

First, the official responses, with some surprising words from the NEA. Ha. Fooled ya.

Next, secondly, from some parents in Cleveland.

I'm still not sold on vouchers, although the most powerful argument I've heard - that the government gives "vouchers" in the form of Pell Grants and so on to college students, who may use them anywhere they please, from UC Berkley to Christendom College - went pretty far to do so. But...

First, the Cleveland and Milwaukee programs are both, as far as I understand it, needs-based, which does not address the basic injustice of parents (of any income) of children in private schools having to pay taxes to support schools they don't use (although a public school system, in theory, benefits all of us as it forms an educated citizenry....oh never mind.).

What of the risks of voucher money going to schools that, as described in this Washington Post article, preach anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism?

Eleventh-graders at the elite Islamic Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia study energy and matter in physics, write out differential equations in precalculus and read stories about slavery and the Puritans in English.Then they file into their Islamic studies class, where the textbooks tell them the Day of Judgment can't come until Jesus Christ returns to Earth, breaks the cross and converts everyone to Islam, and until Muslims start attacking Jews.At the Al-Qalam All-Girls School in Springfield, seventh-graders learn about the American Revolution and about respecting other people's beliefs. But students in class also talk about the taunts they face outside the school gates -- being called "terrorist" and "bomber" -- and ask whether Osama bin Laden is simply the victim of such prejudice. Maps of the Middle East hang on classroom walls, but Israel is missing.

Well, then, you say, put requirements on which schools can receive voucher money. Well then, where does that stop? I doubt it would stop with extreme Islamist anti-Semitism. It might extend to schools that teach traditional moral views on homosexuality or don't provide a "balanced" sex education program, or it might even extend to schools sponsored by institutions that "discriminate" against women by not ordaining them priests.

No one's ever explained to me how that works.

Another question: whatever happened to tuition tax credits? When I was in Catholic high school in the 70's they were all the rage. We were constantly being told to go home and make our parents write to Congress to get them to pass tuition tax credits into law. Whatever happened to that idea? What was wrong with it?

Update:Be sure to read the comments on this one, particular Paul's about tuition tax credits in Arizona. This reminded my of my husband wondering, just last week, what's to stop a parish that runs a school from simply dispensing with tuition and asking parents to contribute, say $1600 a year (tuition at our Catholic school) extra to the parish? There must be a problem with it, or else everyone would do it. There are, however tuition-free schools out there, in tithing parishes. I'd be interested in a discussion of this.

Zefferelli thinking about doing a new St. Francis flick.
Interesting dissents on Michael Rose from the National Catholic Register and Stephen Hand.
From the Washington Post: Good news for school voucher programs from the Supreme Court today. And bad news for students' privacy as the Court also approves public school random drug testing programs.
From the Chicago Tribune (LRR)Daughters of Abby and Ann Landers feuding, echoing their mothers' bad relationship

And these women are advice columnists?

A Boston Globe column on the nun who was fired for helping to baptize babies. Of course, it paints her as a martyr to all kinds of things, but raises the interesting question, no matter how you feel about her actions, one that merits pondering:

For some Catholics, it is most difficult to reconcile the church's unbending doctrine on various matters with its tolerance for crimes committed by sexually abusive priests. Why, for example, is Normandin swiftly fired for pouring holy oil on a baby's head when priests who prey on children are protected?

Forget the misuse of the term "doctrine" in that sentence, and the probability that there's a lot more to the story than one baptism (there usually is...just as there's usually more to the story that "a single incident twenty years ago") does make you wonder a bit, especially when you have any sense at all of how lay employees are treated in many dioceses - that is, lay employees who aren't, except for ordination, part of the hierarchy themselves. Most lay employees, no matter how devoted and loyal they are, work at the whim of their pastor or bishop. They can be fired for anything or nothing. And they are. Frequently. And no, they haven't taken a vow as a priest has, but they have usually made enormous sacrifices - working, if they're a teacher, for often as much as $10,000 less than their public school counterparts, making next-to-nothing as DRE's, youth ministers and music ministers. They could be doing something else. But they're not, because they love the Church. But believe me, if they "make a mistake" - they're out the door, no questions asked, no coddling, no severance. I knew a Catholic school teacher (not Catholic) who got pregnant outside of marriage. She willingly left her position, but requested that her health insurance be continued through the birth of her child. No dice, said the diocese. They were quite willing to cut her off (it was a nun who was in charge of the decision, by the way. Don't listen well people tell you that things would automatically be more humane if women and/or nuns were involved.) A group of very orthodox representatives of the local Catholic pro-life group went to this nun and implored on the teacher's behalf. Still no dice. Finally, a local pastor stepped in and provided the means for her health coverage to continue, somehow.

Sure, the Boston nun probably should have been fired, but pardon our cynicism while we contemplate the double standards of treatment accorded to the ordained and the not-ordained.

A Boston Globe article on a study comparing ethnic segregation in public and private schools shows that private schools tend to be more segregated that public ones (duh) but...

Janine Bempechat, a researcher at Tufts University who has studied achievement in Boston Catholic schools since 1990, said focusing on the racial makeup misses the larger point: that poor and minority students in Catholic schools far outperform their public school peers.In fact, Boston's Catholic schools have drawn increasing numbers of minority students. During the past two decades, the number of nonwhite students in Boston attending private and parochial schools more than tripled, from 3,243 to 11,381, according to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. Catholic schools in Boston are now 42 percent minority and private schools are 38 percent minority. Researchers have said that black, Latino, and Asian middle-class families turning to private schools for the same reasons as whites: concern about the quality of education and the lack of discipline at public schools.''We should be equally, if not more, focused on the outcome,'' said Bempechat. ''The public schools may be more integrated than the Catholic schools, but the outcomes for the poor and minority students are deplorable.''

From the NYTimes (LRR): No one will take responsibility for foreign priests traveling in the US
Scuttlebutt from Palm Beach, non sex-related.

There's a big embezzlement case down there. They've pegged part of the responsibility on one guy, the Director of Finance for the diocese, who embezzled $400,000 between 1988 and 1994 Then Bishop Symons (who resigned because he was a past sexual abuser, replaced by sexual abuser O'Connor. What a wretched situation!) ordered him to pay it back - at a rate of $200 a month. Even that was too much. He's paid back 22 percent of the money.

Now, his ex-wife says that the reason he was treated so gently by the diocese is that someone else was embezzling diocesan funds as well - old Bishop Symons, that's who. In this article, the ex-wife says that:

"His comment to me was that he knew he would not be prosecuted due to the fact that Bishop Symons had also been taking money too for a nephew in Miami who had a drug problem there," she told Eyewitness News 25. "From them not pursuing his obligation all these years, I tend to believe that that might be true," Kott said.

Re: All the snarking at me in the comments on Maggie Gallagher's Giuliani post.

As I said, Rudolph Giuliani rescued New York City. A great mayor for that reason. But, you must remember that pre-cancer, Giuliani was often cited as a potential national candidate (uh...remember he was kind of running for the SENATE at the time), as one of the Great White Hopes of the GOP, and so on. For that reason, his views on abortion and gay rights were important, because, as you might have noticed, the GOP has been undergoing intense struggle over the past twenty years between those who would like it to scuttle the social conservatives (who are, by the way, the ones who've done most of the footwork for the party over the past two decades) and those who see the pro-life plank, for example, as vital to the party's identity. So yes, in the broader context of that struggle on that national level, his position as a prominent member of the party and a potential member of the United States Senate, Giuliani's views on social issues were rather important.

Wow. What a night. A huge storm came through, but before it left, it stayed here and played around for a while. Everything but the hail, I believe. Around 9:45, Michael turned all the lights off downstairs and we all lay on our respective couches (me being Joseph's couch), watched the lightning through our picture window, and eventually dozed off. It made me think that living in the mountains, away from civilized sounds, might not be such a bad thing. We think of the pervasive instant communication we have through television, radio and the internet as a good because it gives us access to information, but it seems, just as often, to be a distraction. Information distracting us from knowledge.

Wednesday, June 26

The Penguin Lives series is dead.

No - not as in an anti-Batman comic book series, but as in the short little hardcover bios coupling interesting subjects with allegedly interesting authors - Mary Gordon with Joan of Arc, Karen Armstrong with Buddha, Roy Blount with Robert E. Lee, and so on. The NY Observer article indicates it was a rather arcane business decision, and also says that the remaining 12 volumes of the series that were under contract will, indeed, be published.

Anthony Hopkins might play Pio Nono in a movie based on the Edgardo Mortrara case in which....

In 1858 the 6-year-old Jewish boy was taken from his parents' home in Bologna, Italy, by agents of the Papal inquisition. The year before, seriously ill, Edgardo had been secretly baptized, by the Mortaras' Catholic servant (or so she claimed); it was against the law for baptized Christians to be raised by Jews, and so, in the eyes of the Church, the kidnapping was only just. Secular Italians did not agree, and thus was set in motion a series of reforms that ended the Church's temporal power in Italy and forged the creation of a liberal, near-democratic state. For his part, young Edgardo became a priest and lived in a Belgian abbey until 1940--just before the invading Germans began to deport and execute all those tainted with Jewish blood.

A fascinating look at Dallas from the other side of the pond, in The Tablet You might not agree with every word, but it's well worth your time.
A personal view of Archbishop Dolan from one of his former seminarians.
Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for pointing me to the blog debate about theologian Stanley Hauerwas' statements in this NCR article. Hauerwas has been taken roundly to task by many bloggers, but a good response has been offered here.

It's apt that this is brought to my attention today, on a day we're talking about Dorothy Day. Day, of course, was uncompromising in her pacifism. From an article about Day:

"Day's uncompromising pacifism was hard listening for a nation angered by the excesses of totalitarianism; the burgeoning war economy diminished the need for hospitality to the unemployed, and many Catholic Worker houses closed.

Early in the war, Day and Worker Joseph Zarrella testified against conscription and argued for the classification of conscientious objectors before a US Senate Committee. She spoke eloquently of the duty of Christians to disobey laws which they in conscience considered unjust. When the Selective Service Act of 1940 was passed, however, conscientious objectors who were not members of the traditional peace churches found it difficult to gain CO status. Nevertheless, a small band were successful-and the Catholic Worker supported a short-lived camp for them while a New York Worker coordinated the Association of Catholic COs.

When war was declared, Day's Catholic Worker headline read, "We Continue Our Pacifist Stance." Instead of warfare, Dorothy urged prayer, fasting, almsgiving and non-participation in the business of war. She quoted the New Testament as well as the early fathers of the church in support of her stance.

The issue of pacifism caused deep conflict within the movement, and by the end of the war only ten houses of hospitality remained. Day was saddened and shocked at the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and wrote forcefully against the jubilation of the secular press. She urged instead that the US should "destroy the two billion dollars worth of equipment,...destroy all the formulas, put on sackcloth and ashes, weep and repent."

Eileen Egan tells us how Day suffered on learning of the Holocaust and wondered aloud, "If I had known all this, known it while it was happening, would I have been able to maintain my pacifism?" Then she added, "But all the violence didn't save the Jews." "

I hope you are reading the comments on the post below, in which the cultus of St. Rigatoni is explained.
I swear, if I read one more story like this one - I. Am. Going. To. Scream.

Parishioners at St. Rigatoni’s Catholic Church expressed shock and dismay at the removal of their beloved pastor, Father Frank Friendly.

A diocesan spokesperson said that Father Friendly was removed because paperwork had been only recently discovered in his personnel file, indicating that he had been jailed on sexual abuse charge to which he had plead guilty, for several months of 1998.

Late Monday evening, parishioners crowded into the church meeting hall, and took turns at the microphone, tearfully recounting the impact Father Friendly had on their lives.

“We all make mistakes,” declared one parishioner.

“He’s a good man,” said another, to the approving shouts of many.

Several parishioners clustered in a corner of the hall, planning a move for Father Friendly’s canonization, surprised by undeterred by the news that one must be dead in order to be considered for sainthood.

When asked about their stance on the victim of Father Friendly’s abuse, one parishioner questioned whether the six-year old might have gone public with the charges only for “the money and the fame.”

Only one parishioner dissented from the general feelings of support for Father Friendly, remembering the months of the priest’s absence back in 1998.

“You know, we wondered where he’d gone. It did seem kind of strange at the time.”

When you visit this page, I hope you take time to read the comments. Most of them are very good and helpful in bringing out various aspects of stories. Gerard Serafin has this to say about Dorothy Day:

I think it safe to say that Dorothy Day, in todays' Situation, would have increased her regimen of prayer and fasting. She knew wither to go and from whence cometh help (she liked the older translations of the Bible). I suspect, too, that if she were interviewed her reply would be identical to her words in a Life Magazine for the US Bicentennial. Many well-known personages had their photo and under it their words to Americans on this grand occasion. Many were quite long. Dorothy's wasn't. Under her photo was the single word: Repent. Prayer, fasting, repentance - and, I add here, an increased love of the Church as well.

A welcome break in the Rudy-worship , offered by Maggie Gallagher

Apparently the guy's being a shmuck in the divorce preceedings, giving a laughably small percentage of his income for child support. (Question: doesn't New York have an income-based formula in calculating child support? Is it left totally up to the good will of the parties involved?)

Giuliani acted with greatness and superb leadership in the wake of 9/11, and there's no argument that he turned New York City around, but I've never understood supposed conservatives' unquestioning love affair with the guy, particularly given totally liberal stance on social issues. In my opinion, his "outrage" at the dung-splattered Mary at the Brooklyn Museum of Art was mostly a ruse to position himself sympathetically, at least in one issue, with social conservatives. I remember hearing Dr. Laura gush about him at the time over his "strong stand" on that issue, which involved, of course, his outrage at the offense the exhibit caused to his "faith." Oh - but it's okay to support abortion - even late term abortion. It's okay to completely ignore the Church's stand on homosexuality. Apart from the government funding issue , It seems to me that an outsider's use of religious iconography, no matter how distasteful, is far less an offense to faith than a supposed adherent of same religious tradition flagrantly flouting its precepts, especially in matters that involve life and death.

Dissing the absolutely lovely LA Cathedral. If you could imagine.
Via Holy Weblog

WWDDD?...or...What Would Dorthy Day Do and say about our current crisis? The column writer offers a quote to explain:

"I loved the church for Christ made visible,” she said. “Not for itself,
because it was so often a scandal to me.... The church is the cross on which Christ was crucified; one could not separate Christ from his cross, and one must live in a state of permanent dissatisfaction with the church."

The Church isn't the only one that protects (some of) its own.

Here's a startling piece from the NY Daily News about criminals remaining as employees in New York school systems thanks, of course to unions and sympathetic arbitrators.

Pastor hires convicted child sexual abuser as music minister. Is found out. Is removed as pastor.

Predictably, parishioners go beserk, rend garments, insist on immediate canonization of pastor, use word "mistake" 573 times in 30 minutes.

You will find one voice of reason in this article, however:

"We're Catholic," said longtime parishioner Mary Simon, 54. "We know it's not a democracy."I feel sorry for Tom, I feel sorry for Mr. Gee. But they broke the rules. How many people would have been here screaming [in support] had [Gee] molested a child? They're directing their anger at the wrong people."

By the way, do read this article. Read between the lines - pastor hires old seminary friend who's been convicted of child sexual abuse. Then read a parishioner's statement of how what happened was obviously the result of the pastor's "passion for his vocation" and marvel at people's gullibility and other people's talent for exploiting that gullibility.

African priest, member of the Holy Ghost Fathers in NY to raise money, allegedly molested a boy, is arrested. Here's the story from the NY Daily News.
Many thanks to a reader for pointing us to more information on the liturgical texts item below:

The site is Liturgy Help Online, and it is, in fact, a subscription service. Here's the reader's analysis:

"Now, if I understand things aright, had to get the US bishops' permission to publish English texts on which they hold the copyrights. ICEL owns some, and the USCCB owns some. Down in Australia, their Bishops' Conference owns some.

But lest anybody get too sanguine about how helpful the bishops were or how convenient it will be to have authoritative English texts in one handy place, please note that the subscription fees start at $365 a year, some of which goes back in the form of royalties to ICEL and the Bishops' Conference.

I guess that explains in part the USCCB's willingness.

Do remember to destroy the printed copies you make after you terminate your subscription to the service: that's in the terms-and-conditions agreement.

I guess you can't buy the sacred liturgical texts through you can only rent them."

Tuesday, June 25

Good bishop? Bad bishop? Let Beliefnet be your guide. They left off Daily, though.
Well, here's an article that's interesting, and would be even more so if I knew what it was talking about:

Tasmanian-based website to publish sacred texts despite opposition of US Bishops.

The site has gained the blessing of the Vatican, signifying once more the Pope's vision of utilising the internet to spread the gospel.

US bishops had originally opposed the publishing of sacred texts, but werewon over by heavy lobbying by an Australian minister, Father Michael Tate, a former senator and federal minister.

"The whole idea excited some of the key figures, which enabled us to foresee the possibilities," Father Tate told The Australian newspaper.

"Now the Vatican has given us permission to publish the Latin texts of the mass, which is the core edition from which all translations are made."

Until now, these fixed sacred texts have been available only in print in many separate editions. But Father Tate said that the website would provide a central pool of resources for worshippers.

Actually, this is pretty fascinating. I wonder why the US Bishops disapprove - because they don't want people to be able to get out their Latin dictionaries, figure out what the Latin says and actually see for themselves what a wreck the English translations have made of the original? Or is money the issue? The US Bishops are pretty stingy about availability of their documents (for the few that might want them) - hardly anything is online, they charge for everything, and you can only quote so much of either the Catechism or the New American translation of the Bible in a published work without paying a fairly hefty fee.

Any more information on this out there?

From Publisher's Weekly Religion Newsline:

Heather Mercer's publisher not thrilled about her PR

Is, as the old saw would have it, any publicity good publicity? That might be a question coming up these days at Doubleday and its sister
imprint WaterBrook Press. A June 11 "Dateline" segment focused on Heather Mercer, one of the authors of "Prisoners of Hope," the story
of the two American aid workers imprisoned by the Taliban and freed by U.S. forces. (Doubleday and WaterBrook jointly published the June
hardcover.) The segment criticized Mercer and coauthor Dayna Curry for going into Afghanistan under false pretenses--as aid workers--when
their primary role was as missionaries. It also pointed out that their evangelistic activities there placed others at risk, particularly the
Afghans they proselytized, who faced severe penalties from the Taliban simply for hearing the two proclaim the Christian message. Central to
the piece was interview material with Mercer's mother, who expressed regret for not having done more to stop her daughter from going to
Afghanistan the first time and anxiety about her planned return.

Michelle Rapkin, who came on board as publisher at Doubleday Religious just over a week before the segment aired, told BookLine she had not
expected the negative tone of the piece. "Initially I was surprised, but if I was her mother I don't know how I would have reacted. But I
have to say we weren't thrilled."

Thanks to a reader who sent this story along about pseudo-Catholic political candidates in Texas

The Roman Catholic diocese where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez was raised has banned him from speaking at its churches because of his support for abortion rights.

The Corpus Christi Diocese ban also applies to John Sharp, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

Both Sanchez and Sharp are Catholics who say they personally oppose abortion but support a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy.

"That's being schizophrenic about it," Bishop Carmody said Monday. "That's saying, 'In my own home, I respect life, but when I'm in public office, I'm going to go with the pack.' "

Here's a more in-depth piece from another news service in which you can hear political candidates tell unborn children, "Hey,'re on your own!"

Hey! Go look at this photo of my husband! He has a light on his head!
Here's a wonderful passage on repentance from a letter by Cyprian of Carthage

Considering His love and mercy, we ought not to be so bitter, nor cruel, nor inhuman in cherishing the brethren, but to mourn with those that mourn, and to weep with them that weep, and to raise them up as much as we can by the help and comfort of our love; neither being too ungentle and pertinacious in repelling their repentance; nor, again, being too lax and easy in rashly yielding communion. Lo! a wounded brother lies stricken by the enemy in the field of battle. There the devil is striving to slay him whom he has wounded; here Christ is exhorting that he whom He has redeemed may not wholly perish. Whether of the two do we assist? On whose side do we stand? Whether do we favour the devil, that he may destroy, and pass by our prostrate lifeless brother, as in the Gospel did the priest and Levite; or rather, as priests of God and Christ, do we imitate what Christ both taught and did, and snatch the wounded man from the jaws of the enemy, that we may preserve him cured for God the judge?

Still in progress - I'm thinking of switching the colors of these two columns, and I still need to do some font work, and I'm still going to put better pics up there. But right now, I'm working on my parables book, so there.

By the way, would you like to hear my conclusion about the central "theme" or point of Jesus' parables?

No? Yes? Well, here 'tis:

God can do whatever He wants to do.

Most of the time, we tend to think Jesus' parables are all about US, because, well, that's the way we think about everything. But when we shine the spotlight on whoever we think represents US in the parables, we usually end up with a "message" that's indistinguishable from the finest ethics secularism has to offer: help others, be nice, be humble, be sorry for bad stuff...

I have to wonder, though, if that was really what Jesus was after most of the time. Read a parable today - any one of them. And instead of thinking, "What does this tell me about ME?", consider.."What does this tell me about GOD?" ...and see if you agree with me.

God can do whatever the heck He wants to do. And does. No matter how it shocks or confounds us, God is still God.

Well, it's husband has posted the news that Dolan has, indeed been named the new Archbishop of Milwaukee.
Did you think that lists of bestselling books are...what they say they are?

Think again.

Here's a good piece from Salon than lays out some of the tricks of various lists and the threat that BookScan, a new, more accurate system based on....actual sales...poses.

Speaking of bestseller's lists, there's one for "Catholic books" sold, I believe through specifically Catholic bookstores. Here it is. I'm holding my own down there on the kids' list.

The New Republic's Michael Sean Winters evaluates Dallas.

The problem in Dallas was not the bishops' treatment of priests; it was their treatment of themselves. It is obvious to the average Catholic why a priest who is psychosexually ill can never be permitted to serve as a priest again. But by the same logic, why should the bishops who protected the pedophiles be permitted to continue in their offices? We can forgive Bernard Cardinal Law, as we can forgive John Geoghan; this was never a crisis about God's mercy. But just as we do not want John Geoghan near children, we are not sure we want Cardinal Law near power.

Remember the St. Sebastian's Angels website? Here's an article describing how a priest and a bishop involved are trying to explain their involvement.
What happens on Tuesdays?

New CD's and DVD's are released.

And? And?

Oh yes - the Vatican generally names new bishops on Tuesdays, as well. And, as you know, we few openings in this country.

The Milwaukee papers are reporting that they might get theirs today - and it might be Auxiliary Bishop Dolan from St. Louis, former rector of the North American College of the Gregorian seminary in Rome, who surprised my husband last time they met by asking about both me and Joseph,even knowing how many months old Joseph was.

I don't think we'll hear about "missing paperwork" and "we didn't know" with this guy, eh?

Repeat after me....

It's only a's only a blog.

Monday, June 24

I meant to blog on this article from our local newspaper about Amish seeking medical care in Mexico, but Nancy Nall did it for me. Her take on the Amish is just right, IMHO - except for one thing - add "cultish" to her description.
There. Done for now. Lots of changes yet to be made - I want to find a server host for images so I can replace a couple up above with some far cuter ones. I have links to repost and archives to figure out. I am still playing with font, too. Dark enough for ya yet? Geez. It's been a fairly content-free day, because I'm tired, and I had to write a CNS column, which I did. So sayonara for now, and terms of get what you pay for, right?
As you can see, I'm playing with the template. Stay tuned. It will be purty real soon.
In case you haven't seen it elsewhere, The rector of the American College at Louvain has responded to Goodbye, Good Men.

The response echoes my own general critique of the book - in that I was astonished by the evident lack of interest in substantiating any of the stories Rose was told. Rose has many good points to make, but his case is weakened by his rejection of the basic rules of research. It's very interesting to me that many who constantly rail on the press for being one-sided in its coverage of some issues, for not calling people who maintain certain positions on their assumptions, for accepting the word of certain sources without question, and so on...are eating up this book that is guilty of exactly the same sins.

From Commonweal, Margaret Steinfels Apologia pro Rembert Weakland

On May 31, Archbishop Weakland candidly described his past conduct as "sinfulness" and admitted a "lack of courage" in making an out-of-court settlement rather than face scandal and embarrassment. He begged the forgiveness of the church of Milwaukee, as he had long ago, he said, begged it of God. In the hands of a Mauriac or Bernanos, the glimpses found in Weakland's 1980 letter and recent apology might open into a memorable depiction of spiritual crisis, emotional weakness, temporary blindness, renewed grace, and now remorse, shame, and a life stripped of everything but whatever God, in loving embrace, should will. In the current crisis, these glimpses are inevitably reduced to something less. Archbishop Weakland's heartfelt and poignant apology resonates in the thoughts of all of us who consider him a shepherd our times require.

So. "These times" require the shepherding of a Weakland? Why? To increase diocesan efficiency in paying out monetary settlements for bishops' misbehavior using the hard-earned funds of ordinary Catholics?

Thanks to a reader for passing along this piece from Toledo about a priest who abused boys in the early 60's.

Forty one years ago, two boys stepped forward to tell their tale of Father Welch’s cottage - and the secret sessions tearing at their lives.

The case was reviewed by an attorney who was both the city prosecutor and a lawyer for a victim, but he never forwarded the case to police, according to interviews and records.

Instead the Toledo diocese quickly removed Father Welch from the Bellevue parish and secretly ordered him to undergo psychiatric evaluations at a monastery near Louisville, he said.

"They wanted me out of there," recalls Mr. Welch. Several months later he was brought back into the fold and sent to another parish, Christ the King in Toledo, before he abruptly left the priesthood three years later, records show.

Yeah, yeah - it was a long time ago, but it's still quite instructive. Read it and pray that we've learned some lessons:

Maybe we should be less than delighted when priests - or any other adults - revel in taking kids off for weekends at lakeside cottages.

If something happens - go to the police. And if they don't respond, or seem to be in the pocket of the diocese (as was the case here, but probably isn't much the case any more) - go to the press, lawyers - anyone else until the story gets told and the Church responds.

Although a couple of these boys revealed what was going on at the time, most victims take years. For that reason, we can't, in this present moment, stop being vigilant in our supervision and attention to our own children. I hope and pray that what's been going on in the past months and the bishops' policy, as ultimately toothless as it is, has given potential abusers a healthy scare - perhaps has even scared them right out of the priesthood or other church ministries in which they're hiding.

In looking over the stories posted at the Poynter Clergy Abuse Tracker over the past few days, I see more of the same: priests removed, bishops apologizing, but just as quickly bishops having to explain new outrages. A couple that strike me as particularly interesting:

Well, the first isn't mentioned in Poynter, but it's definitely worth your time - Mark Shea blogged on it here, and it relates to the selective enforcement of the Diocese of Dallas' insistence on full background checks for all volunteers and employees. Two pastors have been moved for failing to fully implement it - one was also guilty of the same sin, but didn't get removed. Go read what Mark reports and wonder why.

In Sarasota, which is in the Diocese of Venice (Florida, not Italy, natch), a priest has been accused of protecting his abusing priest-brother. The Sarasota paper's editorial on the matter is here.

And then, of course there's the usual raft of totally schizophrenic articles asserting, on the one hand that Catholics Are Outraged that the bishops didn't go far enough in their policies, and that 80 percent of American Catholics think that priest-shuffling bishops should resign

and then, on the other hand, that Catholics Want Their Priests to Stay - no matter what, and harbor, it seems, a great deal of resentment against bishops who do move priests: Witness the heartwarming rally supportive of Monsignor Kavanaugh in New York and read the comments from parishioners in this article from the Chicago Tribune (LRR) about their priest removal process.

The media coverage of this needs to seriously get its act together. Some analysis is in order, rather than simple, mindless reporting of polls indicating that "American Catholics" think one thing and the endless stories reporting on parishioners' determination that their priests with abusive pasts stay in place. What is this all about? I'd venture that it's about the ease with which we affirm propositions in the abstract and then run like mad from their practical application when it personally impacts us.

We're all for higher educational standards - unless it's our kid that gets the bad grade. Then we're in the teacher's or principal's office within an hour, trying to negotiate, whining about our kids' future and maybe even threatening a lawsuit.

We're all (a lot of us, at least) quick to say we're "against" abortion - until its us, our daughter or our girlfriend with the unexpected pregnancy.

And we're all for getting the nasty molesting priests out of ministry - unless the priest in question confounds our stereotypes, and turns out not to be the outwardly slimey obvious creep we expected, and is, instead, our very own gregarious, lively Father Love-My-Parish.

So what's it to be then? Can we make up our minds?

47 comments on the death penalty entry below?

Quite a debate going on there...

So, where'd we go?

Up to Ann Arbor and Detroit, that's where. Why? Well, we'd never been to Ann Arbor, it's fairly close (an important consideration for parents of a 14-month old - and Joseph cooperated by sleeping most of the way up and back) and we wanted to go to the Detroit Institute of the Arts.

By way of introduction - we know someone who moved from Ann Arbor to Fort Wayne, stayed a short time, and then moved back. Couldn't take it. We never understood why - until we actually went to Ann Arbor. Not that it's Shangri-La or anything. We were there during the summer, and even then, the Michigan campus struck me as cramped and traffic a challenge. I can't imagine what it must be like when the regular school year's in session. And it has more than its fair share of student ghetto area - far more extensive than the comparable area in Knoxville, for example. But...

The cultural activities are broad, wide and seemingly unending. And (somehow this turned into a major focus), there are some really excellent restaurants. We had us some good meals. Sitting outside, in the downtown on summer evenings - a civilized, rather wonderful way to eat, which you just don't find here. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out why Fort Wayne's downtown is such a dud and why the restaurant scene here is so (relatively) bad. We didn't come up with any answers.

I'm a little too distracted today to give a thorough account of the weekend - it's not that interesting, anyway. But a few notes:

Best meals: (for me) a pretty perfect Orange Cajun Chicken at a place called Zydeco and a wonderful Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce here.

Wandered around Domino's Farm - the headquarters of, naturally enough, Domino's Pizza and much of Tom Monaghan's Catholic activities. (Monaghan sold most of his interest in Domino's several years ago) It was interesting to see the place and think about Monaghan's recent flap with the Ann Arbor city government about a 25-story cross he wanted to construct on the property. They wouldn't let him. Religious discrimination? Probably not. It's clear that Ann Arbor has a very strict sign ordinance - it seems as if signs can't be higher than about a foot off the ground. I exaggerate, but what's true is that the signs in Ann Arbor are so low as to be invisible and a real pain if you're trying to look for something. A 25-story cross wouldn't exactly mesh into the general look of the place.

Went to the Solanus Casey center in Detroit, saw that his coffin is still basically sitting in the open air - in a plexiglass box, but largely open to the elements, nonetheless. Very strange. They're supposed to finish the center in October. The Detroit Institute of the Arts is vast, and has much interesting art. Unfortunately, several wings - including American art were closed, as they're doing an expansion. They're hosting a big Degas exhibition starting in October, so maybe we'll try to go back and take Katie to that. Michael will undoubtedly provide more details once he gets settled this morning, but I'll end by telling you about my Outrage of the Weekend:

On Sunday, we attended Mass at this parish, which was your typical super-busy Catholic mega-parish, all construction, expansion and "ministries." Fine. It made me tired to even go to Mass there, but fine for those that are nourished by that.

The back wall of the vestibule(narthex, whatever), were the individual pamphlets describing the parish's dozens of ministries, including the post-abortion support ministry, which is really not specific to the parish, but referred, instead, to the ministry provided by the Lansing Diocese. The flyer began:

If you have chosen to give up a child to abortion.....

Can you believe it? The euphemisms boggle the mind. The attempt - by means of grammar - to make abortion the equivalent of adoption - is outrageous. Sensitivity to women in painful situations is one thing. But real healing doesn't happen unless the true nature of the painful act is brought into the light.

Update: I knew you'd say that. (See comments). No, I don't think that the only alternative is something harsh and brutal, either. But there is a way of communicating compassion while being faithful to the truth. Saying that there isn't, that we must rest behind euphemism is to take the approach that so many in the Church have in the past decades, much to the detriment of women's mental and spiritual health. How about simply, "If you've had an abortion..." Why not? Gets the message across, doesn't it? Why even feel that it's necessary to insert this misleading, dishonest and ultimately nonsensical statement - that abortion is about "giving a child to " a procedure? The only reason I can think of for putting it that way is to deliberately minimize the true nature of the act and make it somehow morally equivalent to placing a child for adoption.

And before you comment further, take a look at some of the pieces I've posted on the issue here, especially this one.

Sunday, June 23

We went off for a long weekend. We're back. Blogging to commence either later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Thursday, June 20

A story:

Many years ago, I started teaching high school theology in a Catholic school in Florida. That first year, as was the case every year, I had the usual collection of students. A few stood out for good or bad reasons. One of those (for the good reasons) was a girl named Nancy Murphy. She sat in the front row, in the middle, was good natured and popular, but was also clearly cut from a different cloth from most of her classmates. She behaved impeccably, for one, was unfailingly attentive and would, at intervals, turn ever so slightly in her perch to give a mild evil eye to misbehaving classmates. A gem.

The next year, another Murphy appeared in my class. Erin - Nancy's younger sister. A little taller, a little looser, but also cut from the same, obviously wonderful cloth. Who had produced these girls? (And their brother, not one of my students, but evidently just as marvelous).

The answer came on my end of story. My son David, a student in elementary school, got a teacher. Mrs. Murphy was her name, and she was a wonder. I could never say enough of her as a teacher, and neither can David ("Mrs Murphy was awesome" he will still say today, years later). She also helped me out when I was in an incredibly tight spot - I had to be at my school far earlier than David's school began, and sooner even that before-school care started. Molly (that's her name) got to school at the crack of dawn and volunteered to let him hang out in her classroom. It was one of the nicest things anyone ever did for me - and when Katie came along, she did the same for her. For a couple of years, I returned the favor by taking her son Patrick to school with me, but I still can't help but feel that she did me the bigger favor, and I'm still grateful.

Fast forward through the next few years, and this is what you see: Molly and I becoming friends. Molly being diagnosed with cancer, first of the breast then bone. Both daughters getting married. Me moving away. And then, some terrible news - Nancy's young husband Michael, had been killed in a car accident, on his way back fto South Florida from taking Nancy and their very new baby to stay with Molly, recuperating from brain surgery.

Pain heaped upon pain. Who could endure it? I can't imagine.

Of course, the Murphy's have endured. They are, from a distance, the same wonderful, intensely supportive family they always have been, amazing witnesses to love and faith to all who know them. Really.

And now Nancy and Erin have started a business.

Nancy moved up to Lakeland and lives a block from her sister and a few blocks from her mom and dad. She wants to stay home with Emma (born just a few days after Joseph. Nothing like procreating at the same pace as your former students), so has started this business that sells homecrafted soaps, bath salts and bubbles, lotions, as well as baby slings and personalized stationary products. I received my first order from them today, and I can attest that it is, as their name says A Finer Thing. Please stop by their website and check out their products. I'm sure you'll find something wonderful for yourself or to give as a gift. And say hi to Nancy and Erin for me!

Reader Don contributes the following regarding a Supreme Court decision handed down today:

Today's US Supreme Court decision in Atkins v. Va. (by Justice Stevens)holds that it is an 8th Amendment violation to execute the mentally retarded. This is based on evolving societal standards. Link here.

Justice Scalia (along with Rehnquist and Thomas) dissented. Link: here.

In quibbling with the majority's reliance on allegedly evolving standards, Scalia could not resist a shot at the USCCB:

The Court cites, for example, the views of the United States Catholic Conference, whose members are the active Catholic Bishops of the United States. See ante, at 12, n. 21 (citing Brief for United States Catholic Conference et al. as Amici Curiae in McCarver v. North Carolina, O. T. 2001,
No. 00—8727, p. 2). The attitudes of that body regarding crime and punishment are so far from being representative, even of the views of Catholics, that they are currently the object of intense national (and entirely ecumenical) criticism. Scalia, J., dissenting, n.6.

Whether or not you agree with the majority on the 8th Amendment issue, it is interesting that Justice Stevens is willing to rely on the USCCB to save
murderers from the gas chamber. I don't recall that he has been swayed by the USCCB's views on the deaths of 1.5 million completely innocent
unborn babies every year.

Apples and oranges, I know -- the unborn babies haven't been "punished," so
the 8th Amendment doesn't apply. The law is a ass, said Mr. Bumble.

Well..maybe source #1 was wrong:

Domenico Bettinelli reports that the Vatican is expected to give quick approval to the Charter and Norms


I don't believe that "the crisis" is "only about one thing." By no means. I agree with you on that score. I just feel duty-bound to harp on the issue of clericalism because so many people resolutely ignore it!

Interested in matters philosophical? There's a big discussion of God's alleged omnipotence going on in That End of Blogdom, linked by Disputations, here.

Oh, and by the way John, re your post on celibate priests and the joy of books, we have a copy of Jungmann in this house, and I believe I was the one who brought it into the family, and no celibate priest am I....

More from Brooklyn, the Fun Place to Be a Catholic:

It's an old story (from April), but worth reading, from Newsday:

Bishop Thomas Daily repeatedly ignored warnings about a priest's late-night parties with teenage boys in a Queens rectory, years before the priest was arrested on sodomy charges, according to the fellow priest who complained.

The colleague, the Rev. John McVernon, said recently that he told Daily of his misgivings about the priest in four separate meetings but nothing was done.

"I told Daily, 'There are things that are going on in the rectory that give me pause.' He listened attentively," McVernon recalled. "Nothing changed after that first visit."

McVernon said Capellupo hosted late-night dinners of steaks and chops for young male parishioners, paid for by the parish, and that vulgar and angry language emanated from his room.

"Have you ever read 'Pinocchio'? It was like Donkey Island. That's all I can say. It was weird. Why was the weirdness allowed to go on?" McVernon asked.

Deal Hudson is upbeat about the future, and encourages us to be, revealed in an interesting entry at HMS Blog
George Will on the uses of the Holocaust - in this case, to enhance one's career:

the June 14 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, William F.S. Miles, professor of Jewish historical and cultural studies at Northeastern University, reflects uneasily on his experience at a two-week course for college teachers conducted by the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. There he heard colleagues say how the explosive growth of Holocaust studies has turned that genocide into a ``wonderful, creative teaching opportunity.''

Participants in the course said ``a gendered approach to the Holocaust is truly exciting'' and ``we can examine victims in terms of their class, too, or their national origins'' and ``you can tie (the Holocaust) in to dance, art, architecture. Even Web-page making.''

Republicans plan to introduce legislation banning partial-birth abortion
Last week in Dallas, Bishop Doran of Rockford (a place that lives in my memory because it's where I used to go to the allergist when we lived in DeKalb), ILL, expressed a great deal of caution about "zero tolerance" mainly because he said he couldn't face his priests with such a policy. The impression he gave was of primary loyalty to priests, rather than victims or the truth.

A reader writes to correct that impression by sending along the bishop's most recent column from the diocesan paper. And I must say, it's a very impressive piece, one of the more thorough and honest ones I've read from a bishop. Read it here. I also have to say I'm gratified by what he says about the issue of priests who leave active ministry for valid reasons:

The term “laicization” occurs in the draft document we’re considering in Dallas. This is complicated and if you want to skip this paragraph, I understand. “Laicization” is a favor granted by the pope to a priest who asks for it and, in rare cases even if he doesn’t ask for it, whereby the priest is absolved of all of the obligations of the priesthood including celibacy. I have reservations about using that mechanism of church law in these cases because it is not per se a punishment.

There are priests who, for example, may have been forced into the priesthood by internal or external compulsion in the past, or those who were ordained even though they were demonstrably unfit for priesthood. After a period of time they ask the Holy Father to be relieved, and in charity he accedes their request. In many cases, those who have been laicized are honorable people and I would not want to lump them together with priests who have abused children and who are, therefore, criminals in Canon Law and in civil law. That is something that we bishops will have to address.

From the LA Times (LRR): Preachers don't talk about hell anymore:

The tendency to downplay damnation has grown in recent years as nondenominational ministries, with their focus on everyday issues such as child-rearing and career success, have proliferated and loyalty to churches has deteriorated.

"It's just too negative," said Bruce Shelley, a senior professor of church history at the Denver Theological Seminary. "Churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer-oriented. Churches today feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding."

...."Once pop evangelism went into market analysis, hell was just dropped," said Martin Marty, professor emeritus of religion and culture at the University of Chicago Divinity School. "When churches go door to door and conduct a market analysis ... they hear, 'I want better parking spaces. I want guitars at services. I want to have my car greased while I'm in church.' "

The sexual exploitation of minors is a society-wide problem, and you're going to find perps whereever you find kids. Churches, youth ministries..and schools. As I've commented before, it seems as if every week,we're treated to a new story of a 43-year old female teacher stealing away with a 14-year old male student.

Andrea Neal of the Indianapolis Star documents some local cases, most of which revolve around a single high school in that area:

• Jeffrey Hess, a former Carmel music teacher, was charged last year with public indecency and indecent exposure for an incident that occurred at Skiles Test Nature Park. The charges were dropped last week when a police detective failed to show in court.

• In January, former Franklin Community Schools teacher Denis Loveless pleaded guilty to a public indecency charge, which occurred in the same park.

• Last August, former Carmel High School math teacher Richard Daniel Rice committed suicide, a few hours after being charged with five felony counts of child seduction.

• Last year, two former coaches from Carmel High School, Richard Doucette and Donald Renihan, were charged with crimes for sexual contact with children. Renihan served a brief prison term, then married his victim upon release. Doucette last week signed off on a plea agreement that will be heard in Hamilton County Superior Court this summer.

Education Week ran a special series on the problem a few years ago

Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO writes of a recent case, which was tried under a very accepting judge:

On May 22, Pamela Diehl-Moore, a 43-year-old former public-middle-school teacher, was let off on five years' probation for the "lapse in judgment" (her words) that led her to carry on a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old (male) student.

Their affair occurred during the summer of 1999, just after the boy completed the seventh grade.

"I really don't see the harm that was done here and certainly society doesn't need to be worried," New Jersey Superior Court Judge Bruce A. Gaeta said in handing down Diehl-Moore's sentence. "I do not believe she is a sexual predator. It's just something between two people that clicked beyond the teacher-student relationship."

Archdiocese of Boston, lawyers, call 30-day truce.
Today is the feast of St. Alban,the first Christian martyr in Britain:

.... Converted by a persecuted priest whom he sheltered. He then changed clothes with the priest, allowing him to escape. Caught, he was ordered to renounce his new faith. He refused and became the first Christian martyr in Britain. The second was the executioner who was to kill him, heard his testimony, converted on the spot, and refused to kill Alban. The third was the priest, who when he learned that Alban had been arrested in his place, hurried to the court in the hope of saving Alban by turning himself in. The place of their deaths is near the site of Saint Alban's Cathedral today.

Wednesday, June 19

From the NYTimes (LRR):

That brave principal in Queens, Barbara Samide, is suing the Brooklyn Diocese for sexual harrassment:

The complaint, filed yesterday morning in State Supreme Court in Queens, alleges that the pastor, the Rev. John Thompson of St. Elizabeth's parish, continually boasted of his homosexual relationships, describing in detail his activities with an 18-year-old man who lived in the parish rectory in 2001.

The principal, Barbara Samide, also alleges that Father Thompson tried several times to take her to bars frequented by gay men, and threatened to fire her if she did not make thousands of dollars in questionable payments from school funds.

Here's the NYPost's take on the case in which you will find hints of what I've been telling you is the answer to the question we've been asking, "How could these things be allowed to continue?"

Blackmail, blackmail, blackmail.

From the NYTimes (LRR): Research clinic in Ohio specifically for Amish and Mennonite children:

The Amish are 12 percent of the local population, but their children represent close to half of the area's most severe cases of mental and physical retardation. The nonprofit Deutsch center will specialize in deciphering and treating dozens of obscure genetic and biochemical disorders the children suffer. Many of these are still unnamed but are considered the result of the "founder effect" — a reference to genetic disorders that become unusually common in an insular population descended, like the Amish, from a small group of progenitors.

As you read, please note how the father featured in this story refers to his four severely handicapped children: as "the blessings."

On of the flying Schultz brothers has an excellent idea:

It seems there are a lot of Church reform retool restore replace revive rebuild rehab groups popping up these days. Has anyone thought of writing up and profiling these start-ups and up-starts and posting the list online? I mean in a non-biased way - just stating the facts and letting readers decide for themselves if they are nuttier than something that is chock full o' nuts. That would be a good project for someone with a bit time on their hands. Actually if you are reading this and in one of those groups please email me some info and I'll try to pull this together. Contact info and URL would be ideal. If you know of any other groups please email me.

Be sure to check out his rating scale, too.

There have been worse times in the Church, yes.

Think globally, through centuries. Christians have been subject to seizure, torture and execution. And still are. Christianity has been split a hundred ways in a hundred heresies. There have been terrible popes, questionable popes, and three popes at a time. Bishops, for much of Catholic history, have been far more concerned about the income from their lands and other holdings than about the Faith. Good, holy people, from Francis of Assisi to Joan of Arc to John of the Cross to Teresa of Avila to Bernadette to Padre Pio have been viewed with suspicion and worse by church authorities. Catholics have been led in prayer by priests of all types since the beginning. And still we are here. Because, of course, Jesus promised that we would be.

(Thanks to Mark Sullivan for the apt Belloc quote on his blog: An institute run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight. The Church, as described by Hilaire Belloc An institution run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight...)

But even given the flawed, chaff-filled history and future of the Church, don't you think we still have a right to be angry, mourn and seek change? Don't you think we have an obligation to see the particular harm this Situation has wrought in these particular times?

In a time when the Church's teaching on sexual morality is held up for general ridicule as an impossible standard that is ill-suited to the realities of human nature we have the sight of church leaders, responsible for conveying that teaching, indicating that maybe it's not so important at all. Maybe they really don't believe in its value. Some bishops evidently don't even care if their priests live that standard.

In a time in which the culture discourages trust in we have authorities demonstrating that indeed, they aren't trustworthy.

In a time in which shallow commentators and many of the general public like to spout off the line that Catholics may be anti-abortion, but they only care about kids until they're born, we have bishops, including some who write pro-life editorials and all of whom fund Respect Life Offices, evincing a shocking disregard for the welfare of kids already born.

Let's go even further.

In a time in which the world desperately needs to hear the Gospel, is starving for the truth Jesus speaks of love, healing, reconciliation and compassion, is drowning in relativism and we have the Rock, the Body of Christ, torn, divided, rocked and distracted by internal affairs and totally discredited by its leaders.

No, this is not about the Church everywhere and every time. This is, admittedly, about the Church in the West. Already weakened, already laboring mightily to make its voice heard in the din of the quick cheap pleasures of modern life, already compromised in so many ways, the behavior of our leaders only confirms the worst that the world thinks of us: that the Church is about hypocritical repression, secret profligacy, opportunism and power.

So is despair the only answer? Of course not. Despair is not an answer at all. In fact, despair is a serious sin.

One answer - not the answer, because this problem defies simple solutions, no matter what some say - is for the laity to really see that what Vatican II said was right. We are the light of the world. It is our Church, we are called to be Christ in the world.

The bishops (most of them) don't particularly care about that, do they? They care about PR and "pleasing" the public - whatever public that might be referring to, I'm not sure. But do you know what?

There are more of us than there are of them. Lots more.

And do you know what else?

Naming and claiming this truth requires no commissions. It calls for no mission statements. It needs no councils, committees or workshops.

In this modern age, with technology at our fingerprints and most of us literate, there is no mystery as to what it means to be Catholic and what following Christ is all about. So many of our bishops have shown, time and time again, that bringing Christ to a needy, hungry world is not at the top of their agenda. Does that mean we can't put it at the top of ours?

Sure, there are things for which we're depend on the bishops - who are priests are and the shape of the liturgical life in our dioceses, as well as the shape of Catholic education in our dioceses. And that's a lot. And those areas are, indeed, a big mess in many dioceses. But think hard about this. You can still pray during a liturgy filled with what you call "abuses." No - it's not that you can pray. You must. Try to make changes, yes. Sure, head to another parish if it gets too bad, but whereever you are, stop being a critic, stop passing that attitude on to your children and your friends, and throw yourself into praying during Mass. Jesus is still there.

If Catholic schools are doing nothing or worse for your children, then put your money where your mouth is, pull them out, start new schools or homeschool them. Stop complaining about the spirituality programs that the diocese or parish offers and find some sympathetic local group - another parish, a monastery, an apostolate - to sponsor some that are more in line with the richness and breadth of authentic Catholic spirituality. Form your domestic Church.

And most importantly, don't let the actions of these bishops define what it means to be Catholic in America in 2002. Throw yourself into following Christ more closely, and treat others accordingly. Rededicate yourself and your family to the works of mercy, join others in your community who are doing so. Despite the pain and the doubt, commit yourself to joy. Because Jesus still lives. Jesus still loves, redeems and binds wounds. Jesus has not gone anywhere. Despite what the fellows in mitres would have you think.

Don't let them discourage you from finding, embracing and sharing the love of Christ.

Or else someone else...not the terrorists, this time, but somebody else...will have won.

This just in from a source:

Someone who has a....
Vatican source within the Curia, says that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will order the American bishops to halt its policy of removing abusive priests until Rome can rule on the measures. That means the Vatican is going to order an immediate halt to the removal from ministry of priests with a history of sexual abuse of minors on their records. The man who gave this information to me was unclear as to whether this had already been communicated to Bp. Wilton Gregory, or was soon going to be told to him.

Personally, I'm not sure Rome has the right to do this, but of course I'm no expert. Whatever the case, if it's true, it's going to look very bad indeed in the papers.

Well, that's an interesting development. Peter Vere? Any comments?

Grand Jury contemplating charges against Law and others

The grand jury convened by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly has been investigating for weeks whether Law and other leaders broke the law in allowing priests accused of molesting children to remain in positions where they could continue to abuse youngsters.

A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the chances that charges would be filed against Law or other top officials are small because of the statute of limitations and the difficult standards for prosecuting someone as an accessory

Does Stephen Carter's novel The Emperor of Ocean Park shine or stink? Was it worth the 4.2 million advance?

The American Prowler looks at the wildly varied reviews:

Newsweek first; its review, gratuitously nasty, took up a full page, and pointed out that Carter, a Yale Law School professor, was "a black public intellectual who dissents from leftist orthodoxy -- though he hates to be called a conservative." David Gates, the Newsweek critic, wrote that Carter, "a Christian, opposes abortion, supports school vouchers, [and] has a near-unconditional belief in the sanctity of marriage."

Was Gates annoyed by all that? In enlightened circles, after all, black public intellectuals have no business dissenting from leftist orthodoxy. Liberals punish them when they do. It may be mean-spirited to ask, but is that why Newsweek was so nasty?

Obviously, I'm busy. I'm doing research for the parables book - not direct parabolic research, but looking for supplementary material from church history, spiritual writers, and so on. Hence the St. Therese quote below.

I also ran across a passage from a Flannery O'Connor letter for which I've been looking for months. I don't know how I missed it - I opened my copy of The Habit of Being, and it fell open right to the page, which I had previously marked. It has nothing to do with parables, but it's a good passage to contemplate if you're annoyed about the way Mass is celebrated in your parish and wondering what the point is:

My cousin's husband who also teaches at Auburn came into the Church last week. He had been going to Mass with them but never showed any interest. We asked how he got interested and his answer was that the sermons wer so horrible, he knew there must be something else there to make the people come....

To "A", August 22, 1959.

While you're here, don't forget to check out the comments sections, especially the posts that have lots of comments. There's a debate going on about the NeoCatechumenate Way and one about the Knights of Columbus and their chaplain....Bishop Dailey of Brooklyn, home of Fr. John "Catholic School Parents Should Support My Gay Lover" Thompson.

St. Therese of Liseux on prayer:

“I heard talk of a great criminal just condemned to death for some horrible crimes; everything pointed to the fact that he would die impenitent….Feeling that of myself I could do nothing, I offered to God all the infinite merits of Our Lord, the treasures of the Church, and finally I begged Celine to have a Mass offered for my intentions. I didn’t dare ask this myself for fear of being obliged to say it was for Pranzini, the great criminal. I didn't even want to tell Celilne, but she asked me such tender and pressing questions, I confided my secret to her. Far from laughing at me, she asked if she could help convert my sinner. I accepted gratefully, for I would have wished all creatures would unite with me to beg grace for the guilty man.

I felt in the depths of my heart certain that our desires would be granted, but to obtain courage to pray for sinners I told God I was sure He would pardon the poor, unfortunate Pranzini; that I'd believe this even if he went to his death without any signs of repentance or without having gone to confession. I was absolutely confident in the mercy of Jesus. But I was begging Him for a "sign" of repentance only for my own simple consolation.

My prayer was answered to the letter! In spite of Papa's prohibition that we
read no papers, I didn't think I was disobeying when reading passages pertaining to Pranzini. The day after the execution I found the newspaper "La Croix." I opened it quickly and what did I see? Ah! my tears betrayed my emotion and I was obliged to hide. Pranzini had not gone to confession. He had mounted the scaffold and was preparing to place his head in the formidable opening, when suddenly, seized by an inspiration, he turned, took hold of the crucifix the priest was holding out to him and kissed the sacred wounds three times! Then his soul went to receive the merciful sentence of Him who declares that in heaven there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance.

I had obtained the "sign" I requested, and this sign was a perfect replica of the grace Jesus had given me when He attracted me to pray for sinners.

From The Story of a Soul, ICS Publications pp. 99-100

From Zenit, the Pope's itinerary in the Americas:

The Pope´s 97th international trip, which will take him to Canada, Guatemala and Mexico between July 23 and Aug. 2, will begin when he lands in Toronto´s Lester B. Pearson international airport. He will travel to Strawberry Island, located on Lake Simcoe, for three days of rest.

On Thursday afternoon, July 25, John Paul II will travel to Toronto, where he will be welcomed by the youth in the city´s Palace of Exhibitions. During his stay in Toronto, the Holy Father will reside at Morrow Park, the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

One of the most anticipated moments of the Pope´s third trip to Canada will be the vigil with youth in Downsview Park on Saturday night, July 27. This event will follow earlier meetings of the Holy Father with the country´s civil authorities and bishops.

John Paul II will preside over the Mass on Sunday morning, July 28, in Downsview Park, where the young people will have spent the night.

The Pontiff will leave from Toronto´s international airport on Monday morning, July 29, and fly to Guatemala, where he will stay for 26 hours. The highlight of this visit will be the canonization of Blessed Brother Pedro de San José de Betancurt, apostle of the poor and needy in Guatemala.

The Pope will then fly to Mexico where he will stay until the morning of Aug. 2. While in Mexico, on July 31 he will canonize Juan Diego, the Indian who witnessed the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The next day, the Holy Father will beatify two Indian lay martyrs: Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Angeles. Both ceremonies will be held in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

An interesting column from Editor and Publisher about the coverage of the Kelly case

(In case you've forgotten or don't know - 21-month old Frances Kelly was forgotten in her family's van in the driveway for 7 hours. She was only discovered by a neighbor passing by. She had died, of course. The Kellys are a large, Catholic family and many in their parish have rallied around in "support" of the father, who is being indicted by a principled prosecutor in Manassas.)

It seems that papers are more willing to find voices to question how religion can be hurtful when it's nontraditional. We rip Jehovah's Witnesses who deny modern medicine to their children. We quote moderate imams to disparage oppressive and murderous fundamental Muslim practices. The press had a field day with the parents of John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban." We hashed over their "California lifestyle," their "New Age" dabbling. And it took a while for us to begin asking whether some self-anointed "Christian" counselor led Andrea Yates' husband to force babies on his unstable wife.

I have no easy answers on how to cover tragedies where mainstream religion is part of the background noise. But I think that if the "deeply religious" shield had not been thrown up by Kelly's fellow parishioners, the Post stories of Frances Kelly's death (particularly on June 10) would have focused more on the dilapidated home and police reports on the forgotten kid -- and writers would have asked more demanding questions of their priest. That's what I've seen in other stories on children's deaths.

Thanks to Nancy Nall for the link.

ks Disgusting

This is the rot that "the Policy" doesn't cover:

Something bad was going on at St. Elizabeth's parish in Ozone Park, Queens, and Barbara Samide said recently that she had tried to get the Diocese of Brooklyn to do something about it since shortly after she was hired as principal of the parish's elementary school nearly two years ago.

The problems, she said, could hardly have been more serious, and at least two dozen times she sought out senior officials with the diocese to lay out what she insisted was a shocking situation: the Rev. John Thompson, the parish's pastor, had an 18-year-old gay lover living in the rectory and was lavishing gifts on him that were paid for with school funds; the school's budget was nearly $300,000 in the red, and Father Thompson had disbanded the parish committee charged with overseeing tuition collection; many parishioners had already sent a letter to the diocese expressing concerns, and were in near revolt.

The diocese's response, she said, never varied for more than a year and a half: keep quiet, its officials told her. The church, one of the diocese's vicars said to her, will handle its own priests and problems.

Bishop Dailey.....Governor Keating's on the phone...

A reader adds:

Notice that no minors appear to have been abused, but the parish itself was financially and spiritually raped by its pastor, largely to service his gay-sex habit. He invited the principal of the parish school to visit a West Village leather bar with him. He forced the principal to hire his gay lover, who lived with him at the rectory. He raided the school's funds to buy things for his lover, and when he started being questioned, fired those running the schools finances. Eventually, the principal had trouble paying her staff because of Father's corruption.

And the principal went to the diocese on numerous occasions, telling them what was going on. They did nothing. Finally she threatened to go to civil authorities, and they threatened her job. When authorities opened an investigation, the diocese told her not to cooperate. They transferred the priest, whose internet nom de gay-chat is "Papi Chulo" (something obscene in Spanish, they say), to another parish.

"To hell with that," said this brave woman. And now the Church's shameful dereliction is all over the New York Times. Thanks be to God.

If you ask me, this sordid story is a perfect example of why the laity must not trust the diocese to handle these things. Despite all the talk of "getting it" in Dallas, these habits are too entrenched to change overnight, and certainly not with the current episcopal leadership. Catholics ought to take an example from this principal: document everything, and go to the civil authorities and the news media with what you've found out. That's the only way to exorcise these demons. It's a miserable day when The New York Times and its ilk is a greater friend to truth, justice and the Church than the hierarchy, but that's the sorry state to which our bishops have reduced us.


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