Monday, September 30

From Time: Opus Dei and the selection of the next Pope

I need ideas for saints (besides St. Francis and St. Isaac Jogues who came immediately to mind) who are particularly good examples of obedience to Jesus' command to "love your enemies." Any help out there? Thanks in advance!

All of you who don't turn up your nose at rumor-mongering, go see what Domenico's got going today. Hmmmm.....
Musical based on the life of Antoni Gaudi to open
A profile of a New York woman who's journeyed from Catholic nun (two years in a convent with Mel Gibson's sister?), to inactive Catholic public defender to now, Episcopal seminarian.
Four sisters who are all religious sisters...and anti-war activists.
A profile of Project Rachel in St. Petersburg with the usual time given to Planned Parenthood drones to insist that any guilt a woman feels from an abortion is created by institutions that say she should feel guilty.
Another review of St. Francois, this one from the Washington Post.

From the New York Times

The Gideons are blanketing NYC, handing out Bibles.
Three Lexington priests receive threatening letters regarding their stance on homosexuality

Three conservative Catholic priests from the Diocese of Lexington have received threatening letters warning them to "immediately cease and desist from your persecution and outing of gay priests in the diocese."The Nicholasville Police Department is investigating the matter as a case of "terroristic threatening," and Catholic officials are looking into the matter.The letters purport to be from the "Gay Priests Association," although no such organization is known to exist in the Lexington diocese."The diocese is taking this seriously," said church spokes-man Thomas Shaughnessy. "We're looking into it as best we can on our end."
The unsigned letters accuse the Rev. William Bush of St. Luke parish in Nicholasville, the Rev. Tom Imfeld of Corbin, and the Rev. John Dane of wounding and slandering the diocese, its gay priests, and its former Lexington bishop, J. Ken-drick Williams.The letters also accuse Dane -- who has developed Web sites for many parishes and worked as an information technician at the diocesan office -- of running a Web site that is highly critical of liberals, feminists and gay priests in the Lexington diocese.Dane said he has no ties to the site.

What web site is that, I wonder?

In Toledo, two priests have called for the resignation of the bishop and some parishioners have, as well. I'd be interested in more background on all of this.
Today is the feast of St. Jerome.

In his honor, you could read some Scriptures.

Or you could utter some misogynist (sad, but true, from a man who had many female associates and worked closely with them) and anti-Semitic remarks, but let's hope you just do the former and forget the latter.

Priest says guy he had a relationship with for five years wasn't a minor's okay. However, some sources dispute this claim.

Sunday, September 29

A review of the San Francisco Opera's production of Messiaen's Saint Francis

Elsewhere, though, "Saint Francois" achieves a kind of divine grace. The third tableau, titled the Kissing of the Leper, is an eminently theatrical episode. The encounters with the Angel are beautiful and mysterious. And the seventh tableau -- The Stigmata -- is as riveting a coup de theatre as any you'll ever see onstage.

There have, as you've noticed, been lots of attacks on Christians in Pakistan recently. The press says it's about "the West," not religion.

Not quite, says this piece from the WSJ

This approach is typical. After the massacres at a Pakistani Christian school and hospital in August, Reuters headlined its story "Pakistan attack seen aimed at West, not Christians," while the BBC said: "The attack appears aimed at Western interests, rather than Pakistan's Christian minority." The Associated Press argued that the assaults were "directed against western interests."The people believed to be behind the attacks, though, have made their motives plain. Members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the terrorist group claiming responsibility for an October 2001 massacre in a Christian church, said that "they planned to kill Christians" in revenge for Muslim deaths in Afghanistan. The men who claimed responsibility for attacking the school in August announced that they "killed the nonbelievers." Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped in Pakistan in January, was killed not only because he was a Westerner but also because he was Jewish, as his murderers made explicit.

In covering the arrest of the Lackawanna Six in Buffalo, the Toronto Sun published a photo of what they said was the Yemeni mosque in Buffalo. It was Our Lady of Victory Basilica

From the Globe, an interview with Governor Keating
LA Archdiocese eliminating some campus ministries in their budget-cutting

Saturday, September 28

Cheerleaders suspended for one game for singing song

Three cheerleaders from Trinity Christian Academy have been suspended from cheering for one game as a result of appearing on First Coast News Sideline 2002. Elena Mattison and two other girls were singing the song "Heaven," as part of the Sideline 2002 American Idol Night and were videotaped having fun. However, when the head pastor at Trinity saw the tape he told the girls that it was inappropriate and as Christians they should not have been singing a "worldly song....according to Head Pastor Tom Messer, "I just don't think it is appropriate for teenage girls to be thinking of relationships in that way."

Blind Adventurer meets Pope
Archbishop Dolan interviewed in Sunday's Milwaukee paper.
Seaweed harvesters on Scottish island horrified to learn the destination of their crop:

Abortion clinics. (Kelp is used to dilate the cervix):

At first, Macphee, a former scallop fisherman, said he was willing to discuss to what uses the seaweed was put as long as "specifics" were avoided. "The kelp dilators we offer are painless and make the patient feel more comfortable because they open the cervix slowly, minimising stress to the patient," he said. But he was evasive when asked if the Laminaria (seaweed) dilators were used in abortions. Later he confirmed they were. "Yes. It would be difficult to find any other way their use could be interpreted." He said he was not willing to discuss it because of the potential repercussions. "That whole area (abortions) has become so radicalised and it could cause quite considerable problems," he said. Asked if his staff knew, he replied: "Put it this way, most people you ask to go and do a job of work, they do it. Two or three have asked what they are used for but the lack of knowledge to the end use is such that even my own wife is unaware of what they are used for. "

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has several stories in Sunday's paper bringing together four decades of bad news about St. John's Abbey.
I have to say, I think this is pretty funny. A gimmick, but funny nonetheless:

Eastminster Presbyterian Church is doing its best to eliminate all excuses for people to stay home from tomorrow's 10:45 a.m. service as part of its second annual “Fill-a-Pew Sunday.”Cots are being provided for those who complain that Sunday is their only day to sleep in and special lounge chairs will be set up for those who think the pews are too hard. There also will be scorecards for those who want to tally the number of hypocrites in attendance and a potluck after the service for members who say they can't go to church and fix dinner, too.Other special accommodations will include hearing aids for those who say they can't hear the sermon, blankets for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who think it's too hot. The sanctuary also will be decorated with poinsettias and lilies to make those who only come to church on Christmas and Easter feel at home.

San Antonio physician is also an Orthodox priest
SIster teaches unusual online course on spirituality that involves role-playing

Before you laugh, let me tell you that this is actually a useful teaching method,even for adults. When I was at Vanderbilt, I took a course on American religion in the 18th and 19th centuries. Part of the course involved picking an important figure from the period and doing certain assignments in that persona, and reaction to each other in seminar from the persona. We had WIlliam Henry Channing, Mother Ann Lee, Isaac Hecker (me) and others. It was actually a helpful way to really get inside the head of the figure in question and work through his or her thought. It was fun, too./

Artist defends mosaic

A Catholic artist who pieced together 1,500 classical images of Jesus Christ to form a mosaic portrait of President Bush is defending the artwork against charges that it is "blasphemous." Frank Bear, owner of, used a computer program to take "hundreds and hundreds" of sacred images from Renaissance artists to form the colorful mosaic of Bush. The $15 image, he says, "honors both President Bush and Jesus Christ."

Lexington Diocese defends actions
Bush administration rule to have unborn children covered under insurance

Starting in November, "unborn children" will qualify for government health benefits under a new rule that the Bush administration announced Friday. The change, designed to promote prenatal care, represents the first time any federal policy has defined childhood as beginning at conception. Although states will not be compelled to cover developing fetuses, any state that chooses to may pay for such care through a health insurance program for low-income children that is a shared responsibility of the federal government and states.

Friday, September 27

Boston gets $38 million dollar loan from Knights of Columbus.
Killing of priests no longer seen as news in Columbia

The killing of priests in Colombia no longer makes big news in that country, says Mondo e Missione, the publication of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. The latest killing was last Friday. Father José Luis Arroyave Restrepo, a mediator in the slum areas of Medellin, was shot while sitting in a van. Archbishop Isaías Duarte of Cali was murdered on March 16. On April 6, Father Juan Ramón Nuñez Palacios was murdered while distributing Communion in a church in La Argentina. Members of the Teofilo Forero sector of the rebel Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) were linked to that killing. The same day, guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) kidnapped Father Saulo Carreño and Father Luis Teodore Gonzáles, parish priests of Saravena and Arauquita, while they tried to obtain the release of some kidnapped politicians.

Document on deaconnesses nears final vote
Schismatic group in Cincinnati plans on building a rather striking church building.
Today is the feastday of St. Vincent de Paul who is, I think, Exhibit A in what contemporary catechesis is missing by selling out to secular styles of education - i.e. away from the story as the primary mode of communicating ideas to children:

In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to effect his escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Goigny, and General of the galleys of France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Prioryof St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.

Of course, there's a lot more to his story, all of which makes great, memorable reading for children (and the rest of us).

A rather astonishing tale at Catholic Light today.
Well, this is a strange feeling.

The strangeness begins with last night. You may recall that on Monday night, Baby Joseph slept for a record six hours in a row, giving his mother all sorts of hope, hopes that were immediately dashed the next two nights by the same old routine of restlessness.

Last night - 7 hours. Almost 8, actually - from 8:30 to 4 am, at which point he woke up, needed some cuddling, then went back to sleep until 7:30. Dare I resurrect my hope?

And now, the strangeness continues as Michael, Joseph and Michael's friend Tony have headed off to Huntington for the morning. They're going to the might OSV offices, then to a couple of religious order houses - one sold to a Protestant church, the other a retirement home for sisters of the order (Victory Noll), and then to an orchard to pick some apples. They'll come back here in the early afternoon then Michael and Tony will head over Ohio way to meet up with friend Brian, who's coming in from Florida, and then the three of them will spend the week doing sports-related things, culminating in the Bengals-Bucs game on Sunday.

So - I had a good night's sleep. I'm alone. I'm astonished.

Pierre Toussaint and Rose Hawthorne Lathrop await, and I'll get to them soon enough. For now...quiet.

The NYTimes looks at Fr. Mychal Judge

Thursday, September 26

In case you're interested, Gerard has been adding clarifications to his situation over in the comments section at Mark Shea's blog
Peter Vere has blogged a letter from Archbishop Dolan in relation to parishes that want their dismissed priests back.
Forget your satire. This new NBC sitcom features a tv weathercaster who's a nun.
New blog!
Kairos guy, Peter Nixon and HMS Blog have all weighed in on HV/NFP.

Anyone read that last chapter of David Lodge yet?

Millions are starving in Africa because their leaders have been convinced by activists that donated grain - which happens to be the fruit of biotechnologies - is unsafe.

Wednesday, September 25

House passes bill protecting hospitals' rights not to perform abortions

The House passed a bill yesterday that would let hospitals and insurance companies refuse to perform or pay for abortions without forfeiting Medicare and other federal funding.Antiabortion activists hailed the 229 to 189 vote as a key action that would shield Roman Catholic hospitals and other health care providers that oppose abortion....It is unlikely the measure will pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Supporters maintained that the bill is necessary to clarify which entities are covered by the conscience clause in current law.

Remember Cardinal Keeler's list?

His priests aren't happy about it.

There was a sense of mourning as the priests read the names of men who were classmates, friends or mentors who are now disgraced."It was an emotional shock for all the priests there. There were people who you knew had been in trouble, but there were also people you never thought were in trouble at all," said the Rev. Michael Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Manchester. "There were so many of our men who had done great work. It was tragic, tragic, tragic, especially for their families who survive."

Cardinal Keeler's intention, as he stated it, was to make sure that Catholics and the general public have complete confidence in the priests who are actively ministering now, knowing that the names of all the accused are out there for all to see.

"So often a pall is cast, a sort of suspicion is directed toward all of our clergy," Keeler said. "By taking this step we are affirming that those who are on the front lines are not only worthy of respect, but in my judgment, they're doing a good job."

There are links to the Cardinal's letter and the list of names at the link above.

This link should work. Sorry about that.

There's a little note here at the CNS site (scroll down) about the high ratings that the Nickleodeon program The Brothers Garcia is getting. As it happens, I happened to see this show for the first time the other night, and was startled by the matter-of-fact Catholic content - the episode I saw involved a minor conflict within the family about attending a particular Mass at which mom might be receiving an award - it would conflict with a football game. It was inoffensive family entertainment, rather broadly played, mildly cute.

Okay. This is good. Pop culture has determined that it's okay for African-Americans and Latinos to be overtly Christian, and it's okay for anyone to embrace an Eastern religion. When will the Euro-rooted among us get permission?

Argentine Archbishop offers resignation after allegations.
EWTN shows are coming in fast and furious (see comments) - I especiallly like Greg the Obscure's.

Now...can someone with much programning skills do a faux website? That would be too much.
Here's something to think over...

If you were put in charge of EWTN, with all of its resources and global would you program it? For those of you not familiar with the network, go here to check it out.

Both serious and Onion-like satire accepted.

My husband's frequently said that they should have a show like Cops...only which obviously, a camera follows a priest around his daily duties, respecting the limits of confidentiality, of course.

Waddya think?

More on the Pakistani situation at CT's Weblog including the following good news:

Pakistani officials still say Christians are fine in the country. "For God's sake, stop twisting trivial and internal matters of the country into a propaganda campaign," information minister Nisar Menom told a Pakistani-American Christian during a visit to New York. Pakistan, he said, was a "paradise" for religious minorities.


Ultrasound imagery at the mall?

Fetal Fotos at your service!

Some thoughts on my trip last week:

(Yeah, I know it was, indeed, a week ago, but things move slowly around between naps.)

(BTW - the 6-hour sleeping stint from two nights ago was evidently a grievous error in judgment. He made up for it to the Baby Sleeping Gods last night.)

I took a quick trip down to the EWTN studios in Birmingham last Thursday to tape an episode of Johnette Benkovic's Abundant Life program. I was there to talk up my Prove It! series of books.

It was, of course, a very long day, with me leaving from Fort Wayne at 6 am and arriving in lovely Birmingham - hey - at least they have hills - around 10 am. I remember nothing of the Fort Wayne - Atlanta leg, except that there was a young woman who was taking her first airplane trip and was a bit nervous. On the way from Atlanta to Birmingham, I was seated in the way back of the plane, in the midst of a group of men who were obviously together and obviously from the same part of the country - Philly, I think I concluded. I spent the whole trip trying to figure out what in the world they were doing. They were all about the same age, white, fit, and pretty loud, with no carryon luggage. At first I thought they were going to a football game, but then as the conversation progressed, I decided they were going on some kind of hunting or fishing outing - they talked a lot about their other jaunts - golf and fishing mostly - about how drunk they got and so on. They were all owners of small-to-medium businesses. It made me wonder, as listening to conversations of frequent travelers always does - how people do it. How do they find the time to do all this traveling? And the money? Who knows - these guys might even be able to use this jaunt as a business expense, right?

Anyway, a nice elderly fellow picked me up at the airport in the mighty EWTN mini-van, and took me the ten-minute distance to the studio. I was amazed - for some reason, I thought this place was out in the country, but it's not (the new monastery and church are) - it's smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood - quite cramped, actually.

I wandered around, found Steve Motyl, the show's producer, then wandered around a bit more. The gift shop was a bit of a bust - hardly any books (and none of Michael's or mine - harrumph) and the usual Catholic gift stuff, with the extra bonus of an entire table of renditions of Mother Angelica's favorite "El Nino" representation of Christ, which I think is just as hideous, in its own cherubic Anglo-Saxon way, as the Infant of Prague.

Went to noon Mass, presided over by Fr. Mitch Pacwa - it was, as you would expect and hope at a Catholic insitution - crowded. Went over to the dining room afterwards and ate a sandwich with an unknown priest, Fr. Pacwa and Dave Durand, author of a new book called "Time Management for Catholics," soon to be published by Sophia, and who'd been the guest for the morning taping of Johnette's show, and whom I ended up spending a lot of time talking to later, since we were on the same flight out of Birmingham.

I was glad to be able to speak with Fr. Pacwa - I'd met him once before at the Vanderbilt Divinity School library, where he was having his usual spirited discussion with a mutual friend of ours (a Southern Baptist) about infant baptism.

And on with the show. It went all right, I guess. Johnette is a wonderful host, but I was so self-conscious - not nervous about what I was going to say, but self-conscious about the way I was going to look (radio is MUCH better), that I wasn't as lively as I usually am in settings like that, I fear. I was also frozen in place because the first time I moved, before taping, the microphone fell off of me, and I was terrified it would happen again. I was on the show with Stephen Wood of St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers.

The set is, of course, in EWTN's one studio - so we were on one end, with the set for The World Over across from us and the set for Mother Angelica's show down on the other end. It's always amazing to me how cheap television sets look in reality - does that mean we look cheap, too?

The most startling thing about the EWTN studios is this: From the front, it's just a normal-looking grouping of buildings - really a small mass of buildings all huddled there together. Walk down the hill behind the buildings though and BAM - you're face to face with five or six HUGE satellite dishes. It's a fascinating juxtaposition - BTW is there in the back that I saw Raymond Arroyo, racing by me at the wheel of a minivan.

Then it was off to the airport and a long evening until I got home at 10:30

EWTN is an interesting phenomenon. Some may gripe about its focus and take on Catholicism, but let's face it - like Catholic Answers, it's providing an apostolate that the "official" Church in this country has been completely unable to provide. The NCCB's attempts at a broacast ministry have been predictably milquetoast and talking-head, earnestly dull. But even though most of the people I saw working at EWTN were fairly young, the network still has an old feel about it - careful to the point of paralyzation (word?) and overarchingly defensive. With the reach and the hardware the place has now, some very interesting things could happen - but who knows how it will all pan out in the next few years.

Ah. From the letters page of the LA Times

Cardinal Roger Mahony's assertion that funds used to build his personal "Rog Mahal" were raised separately and have no bearing on the recent budget shortfall of the archdiocese is patently absurd. The archdiocese sent out a memo during the fund-raising period listing the major cathedral donors and informing other Catholic charities not to contact those donors.

Today is the memorial of (among others) Blessed Herman Contractus, known in less sensitive eras as Herman the Cripple

Born with a cleft palate, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida to a farm family. His parents were unable to care for the child, and in 1020 gave him to the abbey of Reichenau at age seven; he spent the rest of his life there. Benedictine monk at age twenty. A genius, he studied and wrote on astronomy, theology, math, history, poetry, Arabic, Greek, and Latin. Built musical instruments, and astronomical equipment. Eventually went blind, and had to give up his academic writing. The most famous religious poet of his day, and is the author of Salve Regina and Alma Redemptoris Mater.

Now - knowing what you do about its author, read (or pray) the Salve Regina. Resonates a little deeper now, doesn't it?

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us,and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Gunmen kill six at Christian charity in Kurachi, Pakistan
Meadow Soprano is really Jewish! An interview with actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, whose mom is a Sephardic Jew originally from Cuba - via Holy Weblog
Columbia president apologizes to Fordham, but the creator of the skit doesn't:

The Columbia student who wrote the script, Andy Hao, said he would not apologize. "You should blame the priests that molest kids and degrade the name of the church rather than blaming some college kid who wrote a football script," Hao told The New York Times.

Tuesday, September 24

Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore to release names of the 80+ priests accused of sexual abuse over the past seventy years.

Keeler will release details about the accused priests during a meeting Wednesday with clergy, and then will release the information, including the names of the priests, to the public. The information will be posted on the archdiocesan Web site Wednesday afternoon at the letter, Keeler offered his most detailed and personal apology for his failings in the sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the American Catholic Church for most of the past year."My fellow bishops and I must respond to the violence already visited on our children by saying we are sorry," Keeler wrote. "At times, we have let our fears of scandal override the need for the kind of openness that helps prevent abuse. In the past, we sometimes have responded to victims and their families as ad versaries, not as suffering members of the Church. I am deeply sorry for the harm done to children entrusted to our care." In the letter, Keeler spoke more personally: "I humbly ask forgiveness for my mistakes. Please pray for me so that I may better serve."

Peter Nixon weighs in on our HV/NFP discussion
In France, immigrants have been planting themselves in churches for sanctuary.

French bishops would like them to stop, now, s'il vous plait.

A little late on this one, too (and it was only yesterday!), but very good reading:

The attack of the megachurches with their ...

Prestonwood Baptist Church, in Plano, Texas, near Dallas, has 15 ball fields, a '50s-style diner and a fitness center. It soon will add a coffee shop and a food court.Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston has a McDonald's. The church commissioned demographic research to see how it could serve its 10,000 members and reach out to more. It found a shortage of restaurants in the neighborhood of the 111-acre church campus. So Brentwood five months ago became the first to have a McDonald's franchise on church grounds -- drive-through window and golden arches included. The restaurant is open to the public during regular church hours. Because proceeds go to the church's youth programs, customers pay no sales tax.

At issue are legal questions - because these are churches, their growth is limited only by their resources and desire, no matter what the neighbors think or want.

Thanks to Woodeene at HMS Blog for pointing us to this site dedicated to that amazing photograph of a couple of years back of a tiny baby reaching out of the womb during surgery.
Over the past few days, I've read Jean Cash's new biography of Flannery O'Connor

It's a book that was necessary - the first full-length biography of O'Connor that sets it all out for us, and makes the connections clear, particularly in her relationships. You get a sense of that in reading the letters, of course, but here, Cash lays it out so that we can understand, for example, who exactly Cecil Dawkins was and how O'Connor met her and what was the particular focus of their correspondence. Cash gives a good idea of what life at Andalusia was like. It's a very competent treatment, and quite helpful in that regard.

However, there's a soul and spirit missing. Granted, it's a tough subject, and Cash was particularly hampered, as all researchers are, by the continuing issues of permissions to quote from unpublished materials still held by the O'Connor estate. Sally Fitzgerald had a difficult enough time getting permission from O'Connor's mother to reprint what letters she did in The Habit of Being. Although Regina's been dead for several years now, the family is still very cautious with permissions - you can really see it in Cash's book when she must talk around the content of certain letters, giving us only tantalizing hints as to their content.

But part of what's lacking lies in the workmanlike focus of the book. O'Connor's death, for example, is dealt with in about two sentences. We're left wondering - was anyone with her when she died? Was she suffering? What was the reaction of family and close friends to her death? We get nothing...

In the beginning of the book, too, are several bizarre misstatements of, if not Catholic theology, then Catholic sensibility. In reporting on O'Connor's parochial school education in Savannah, for example, we're told that two other girls who went to the same school, recall a good basic elementary education, but did not recall "reading any treatises by Catholic scholars." Oh. I'm sure the 2nd grade Catholic school students in, say, Philadelphia, were fortunate to be reading their Maritain while the little Savannah kids suffered.

As I said, this is a necessary first step, but only a first step. If you're interested in O'Connor, you'll definitely find it worthwhile.

And you might also find it worthwhile to learn that Conan O'Brien did his senior thesis at Harvard on Flannery O'Connor.

In the NFP thread below, someone asked about my views. Well, I'm a Catholic, so there.

Honestly - my understanding of the Catholic tradition on this matter would take several thousand words to thoroughly vet, and I just don't have that time - after October 15 or so I will, but not now. Let me just say this:

There is, of course, no question that the Church's moral tradition has always stood in opposition to artificial contraception. What is problematic are these points:

What was the relationship of this stance to a)scientific understandings that are now proven to be false and b)notions of marriage and marital sexuality that the Church has slowly abandoned over the past two centuries?

So, while the Church's moral tradition (as articulated in the works of theologians and in the penitentials, for the most part rather than in Rome-generated documents) has stood against artificial contraception, would it have, up to the modern era, ever embraced an NFP-type approach to married sexuality as legitimate?

On the other hand, I have to puzzle you even further by saying that >Humane Vitae was not a mistake, either in content or timing.. Although I have problems with some of the logic as well as some of the specific conclusions, I shudder to think of the alternative to the issuance of this encyclical. Although the voices against the contraceptive culture are not terribly strong inside the Church, just imagine the scenario if a stand had not been publicly taken when it was. Certainly, the Church's teaching had been opposed to artificial contraception before this, and would not have changed, but the silence would have been defeaning, and a de facto unthinking absorption of new contraceptive technologies, most of which function as abortifaciants at least some of the time, into the Catholic moral universe.

Most people I know, even those who use artificial contraception, live with an intution that HV is correct. Let's put it this way: everyone "wishes" that their sexual relationship with their spouse could be as natural as possible. Most people wish they didn't "have to worry" about conceiving. For some, that means that's rooted in an absolute desire not to have any more children, but in more than you know, it's rooted in a wish that they had it in themselves or could find it in themselves to indeed, welcome more children into their lives. I put that all together, and what I sense is a yearning for an ideal - just as so many of us wish we could live more simply, be happier with less, be more direct and forthright in our relationships, and so on. It is a yearning and a nudge in the conscience that really does look at the pills and all the other equipment - and, dare we say, even the thermometer? - and sense that "this is not the way it's supposed to be."

And finally, if you want to know how I feel - as opposed to what I think - read the last chapter of The British Museum is Falling Down by David Lodge. That just about captures it, I'd say.

You probably saw this blogged somewhere yesterday, but this Globe article on the slow pace of the Archdiocesan investigations into abuse accusations is an outraged for victims, accused, and Truth in general.

This is why new leadership is needed in that Archdiocese.

Fordham students angered over Columbia band's halftime hijinks.

As Rod Dreher points out in The Corner, the Columbia band apparently always specializes in tasteless jabs at the opposition.

Would you like access to the Roman Breviary in traditional language? Then Go here!
Six hours. Six hours in a row. Sleeping. Comfortably.

Do you know how long it's been since I've experienced that?

TWO YEARS - since the middle of my last pregnancy.

I'd forgotten what it feels like.

Bishop McCormack says donations are down in his diocese.
David Klinghoffer reflects on religion in Seattle and the nation:

I came out to Seattle from New York three years ago and was immediately struck by the religiosity of my new metro area. The sprawling eastside suburbs are suffused with evangelical Christianity.I saw the difference the first morning I was here: In a Starbucks, a young white guy reading a Bible. You would never see that in Manhattan. The pattern has persisted. I'm at a Wells Fargo bank, asking an investment adviser about mutual funds, and the guy starts telling me what his pastor was talking about in church the other week. A dapper older black guy sells me a used Volvo and starts telling me about his church. At a Jewish Sabbath lunch of all places, another guest who happens not to be Jewish gets into a conversation with me and very sweetly starts witnessing to me right there.

An outreach of Feminists for Life: Women Deserve Better
Which circle of hell for this one?

In Japan, a doctor's daughter dies while he is performing abortion on her.

Monday, September 23

Bishops release sexual abuse survey results
John Hearn writes to say that a site called Church Crisis is the place to go for posters to the now-discontinued VOTF discussion board.
Well, Amy Grant draws closer to her already ticked-off evangelical audience

Guilty pleasure: A hot bath with a glass of champagne and a good book. Or just staying up late and reading a good book.

I'd say it was the champagne, not the good book, that's alienating, just in case you thought I was being obnoxiousl

Western Canadian Ukrainian Catholics waiting for one more miracle so they can have a saint

Winnipeg's Ukrainian Catholics are waiting for a miracle to make the first western Canadian saint official. Bishop and martyr Vasyl Velychkovsky is one step away from sainthood, said David Gnutel, president of St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church council. To be declared a saint, Velychkovsky still must perform a miracle, or have one attributed to him, from beyond the grave. "Now we're just waiting for that miracle," Gnutel said at a ceremony in Winnipeg honouring Velychkovsky yesterday. Velychkovsky was beatified by Pope John Paul after enduring torture in Soviet labour camps in Ukraine. He refused to renounce his faith. "He was unrelenting. He wouldn't sell out," Gnutel said. "He was tortured for what he believed in by the Soviet regime but he wouldn't dissent." Velychkovsky came to Canada in 1972. He died in 1973. His remains were disinterred from his grave outside Winnipeg last Monday and sealed in a stainless steel casket.

Gay ministry group holds convention in Cincinnati; protests ensue.
A look at Eucharistic adoration in the Corpus Christi area

"In the last 10 years, doing weekly hour of adoration has become very popular for many Catholics throughout the country," said the Rev. Jim Kelleher, president of Our Lady of Corpus Christi. "A good example of its popularity is St. Louis. They have over 20 perpetual adoration chapels in that diocese." Our Lady of Corpus Christi is in the process of building a 250-seat perpetual adoration chapel on the liberal arts campus off Lantana Street. For the past year, motorists traveling along Interstate 37 have watched as construction crews piece together the structure that includes an 85-foot dome center. The chapel, which will be used by the public and students on campus, is expected to be complete and consecrated by December. "Our hope is that the entire chapel will be filled with people adoring the Lord," Kelleher said. "The vision of this adoration chapel is to have entire families sign up for adoration and strengthen relationships with God and one another."

Big news: Richard John Neuhaus, Thomas Reese, and Tom Fox all agree:

Bishops are bungling

Priests feel they are being punished while the bishops are getting off," said Reese, the Jesuit editor of America magazine and author of several books on the U.S. bishops. Neuhaus, a leading light in conservative Catholic circles, said the current crisis was caused by bishops who have failed to enforce their priests' celibacy vows for decades and have looked the other way as a "culture of homosexuality" took over the priesthood. "In Dallas, the bishops followed the advice of their PR experts and tried to get this off the front page," he said. "But business as usual has not been shaken. This is not a pedophile crisis. It's a crisis of sexual infidelity. Now the priests are being thrown to the wolves as scapegoats." Fox, publisher of the independent liberal weekly National Catholic Reporter,
was the third speaker on a weekend panel at the annual meeting of the Religion Newswriters Association, a group of journalists who cover spiritual news for the secular press. ...By failing to police their own house, Fox said the bishops have ignited a "massive implosion of trust and betrayal." "It's like Watergate without the Nixon resignation," he said. "There is no structure in the church to extricate the bishops from this crisis."

NJ parishioners support their accused priests

The frustrating thing about this story is that the diocese has not revealed what the accusations against these priests are - to anyone - so it is impossible to accurately assess the sitution.

Because only several people at each church agreed to be interviewed, the level of support for the priests among individual parishioners is difficult to gauge. But at St. Luke, more than 600 people signed a letter in support of Dowd. And at the two Morris County parishes, 70 to 100 people turned out for meetings last spring to support their priests.

Sunday, September 22

In wake of genocide, Rwandans are flocking to Islam

Since the genocide, Rwandans have converted to Islam in huge numbers. Muslims now make up 14 percent of the 8.2 million people here in Africa's most Catholic nation, twice as many as before the killings began.Many converts say they chose Islam because of the role that some Catholic and Protestant leaders played in the genocide. Human rights groups have documented several incidents in which Christian clerics allowed Tutsis to seek refuge in churches, then surrendered them to Hutu death squads, as well as instances of Hutu priests and ministers encouraging their congregations to kill Tutsis. Today some churches serve as memorials to the many people slaughtered among their pews....That fact worries the Catholic church. Priests here said they have asked for advice from church leaders in Rome about how to react to the number of converts to Islam."The Catholic church has a problem after genocide," said the Rev. Jean Bosco Ntagugire, who works at Kigali churches. "The trust has been broken. We can't say, 'Christians come back.' We have to hope that happens when faith builds again."To help make that happen, the Catholic church has started to offer youth sports programs and camping trips, Ntagugire said. But Muslims are also reaching out, even forming women's groups that provide classes on child care and being a mother.

California governor Gray Davis signs legislation permitting embryonic stem cell research.
Another cardinal passes on:

Cardinal John Baptist Wu, who as head of Hong Kong's Roman Catholic Diocese led the church through the sensitive transition from British to Chinese rule, died Monday. He was 77....While Wu was cardinal, he led a thanksgiving service attended by more than 1,000 people to mark the Vatican's canonization of 120 missionaries killed in China. Mainland officials said the canonization was ``an open insult.'' Wu is to be succeeded by Bishop Joseph Zen, an outspoken cleric who has been barred from visiting the mainland since 1998, two years after he was made a bishop. His outspokenness has raised concerns whether the Catholic Church's relationship with the government might deteriorate after he takes over from Wu. In an interview with the South China Morning Post published Sunday, Zen blasted the Hong Kong leadership for its ``toadying'' political culture, referring to government officials acting to please Beijing. Vowing to safeguard religious freedom and human rights, Zen told the Post: ``We do not want to see Hong Kong becoming like any other city in the mainland...So we have to speak out at once if we see any freedom being jeopardized.

What is that...three in the course of about ten days?

Something to think about from Fr. Pavone of Priests for Life:

Just ask yourself for a moment where the pro-life message is being proclaimed to people who don’t want to hear it. If someone in your community does not go to Church and would never go to a public pro-life talk, how and where will they hear the message that abortion is violent and must be stopped?

Good news from the NY Archdiocese, via a reader:

Cardinal Egan has NOT closed the Respect Life Office. What has happened is that the Sisters of Life are taking over the administration and programs of the Office, effective October first. This (hopefully) will be a big improvement - the activities of the office have been zilch for the last several years.

First US production of Olivier Messiaen's Saint Francois d'Assise to be produced in San Francisco

Composed in eight tableaux, Saint Francois depicts key episodes in the life of the saint. Messiaen spent nearly a decade writing and orchestrating his only opera, which focuses, in the composer's words, "on the progress of grace in St. Francis' soul." Rosenberg notes that Messiaen, who was a devout Catholic, wanted to explore the fundamental issue of what it means to be human. "It's his offering on the really big questions of life and death," she says. "I don't share his faith, but I think the kind of spiritual connecting that happens if you open yourself up to this piece is something that can really help us deal with those questions." ...In addition to being a composer and a church organist, Messiaen was also an ornithologist who spent many hours tracking and recording bird songs, and the opera contains dozens of bird motifs based on his studies. The bird songs serve a dual purpose in the opera, according to Runnicles. "They are the voices of nature, but for Messiaen, they were also the voices of his God," he says. "This culminates in the sixth tableau, where Francois actually communicates with and understands the birds. It's an extraordinary moment. His re-creation of the bird songs is stylized, not literal, but he created some remarkable woodwind and percussion writing because of it."

New phase of protest begins at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross: No shouting, just placards. Worth noting: 65 protesters; 50 Mass-goers.
How nice! Steve Riddle has posted a lovely review of my Loyola Kids' Book of Saints. Thanks so much!
From Time: The legacy of Abraham for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

From Fr. Thomas Doyle, canon lawyer and advocate for victims:

I have been a priest for 32 years. When I was ordained I never dreamed that I would see what I have seen in the official Catholic church and in the priesthood. Like thousands of priests the world over, I have been shocked, angered, scandalized, saddened and depressed by the never-ending saga of sexual abuse by deacons, priests and bishops. I first became involved nearly 18 years ago. I still vividly recall the sickening feeling of disbelief as I saw the cover-ups and deception happen before my very eyes. I recall my acutely painful reaction when I saw a photo of an admitted serial abuser in a jail cell...a photo printed in a major weekly news magazine. That day it really hit home just how serious this problem was.....and still is.

As the years have unfolded my involvement evolved. By the late eighties I was being asked to serve as an expert witness in civil court cases but also asked to provide canon law assistance to priests accused and often abandoned by their bishops. But the most important step in this saga was the fact that I not only met but got to know the victims and their families. Since then I have become closely allied with many of the victims and victims-turned-survivors. I believe that I know them as no other priest knows them. I have learned to have a deep respect and admiration for their courage, their tenacity and their commitment to help each other survive and find spiritual peace. The church community and the clergy have generally marginalized them, much as society often holds alcoholics at a distance. The victims and survivors are not different or peculiar in any way. They are our brothers and sisters, our nieces and nephews, our classmates and students and in some cases, they are our brother priests.

I have learned that the victims and survivors do not trust the institutional church or anyone associated with it, especially bishops and priests. Why? Because they once trusted totally and even blindly and this trust was not only betrayed but repaid by sexual abuse which leaves a shattering wound so deep that it never heals, and continues to bring pain for the rest of their lives.

I have learned that they are angry, and rightly so. They are angry at the clerics who abused them because of the humiliation, the pain, the isolation and the depressing robbery of self esteem that are integral to sexual abuse. But that anger is eclipsed by a much deeper anger towards the bishops and other institutional leaders. To these the victims looked for belief, for compassion, for support, for assurance that they were not abandoned for speaking out. To their amazement and shock were met with intimidation, disbelief, threats, rejection and even brutalization through the nightmarish legal process. None turned to the civil courts to get even or get money. They turned to the civil courts as a last resort to find justice because they could not find it in their church. Would that this were true only of the past but it is not. In spite of the public expressions of sympathy and concern, the rejection, mistrust and brutalization still goes on.

I have watched as the victims are re-victimized and made to suffer even more for having had the courage to come forward, denounce their abusers and demand justice from their bishops. They are re-victimized by demeaning and demoralizing court processes replete with every road block, stumbling block and body block that the church lawyers can dream up. They have been re-victimized by their fellow "good and faithful" Catholics who have rejected them, ridiculed them, accused them, shunned them. Why? Because they had the audacity to cause a crack to happen in the righteous' vision of the "ideal" church. This too is not just past history. It continues!

They are being re-victimized by Catholic writers and so-called scholars who trivialize them by trying to avoid the harsh reality of their abuse through blame shifting and denial. This group tries to attribute the scandal to everything from the imaginary spirit of dissent that sprung forth from Vatican II, to the free love movement of the seventies, to the alleged homosexual influence in the church, to present day "dissenters"who simply don't think as they do. The more outrageous pundits lay the blame at the feet of the secular press as if the messengers of corruption made the corruption. The secular press has, in fact, done the Catholic church an invaluable service by forcing the terrible cancer of clergy sex abuse and cover-up to the surface. The press continues to probe and expose because the problem and its causes continue.

By far the most disgusting form of re-victimization is the implication, direct or subtle, that the victims brought it all on themselves or actively seduced these otherwise "innocent and naive" abuser-clerics. Those who make such incredible assertions either have no understanding at all of the dynamics of sexual abuse or, they bring a new depth to the meaning of "callous."

The victims are re-victimized by those who refuse to believe just how devastating clergy sexual abuse is to the mind, body and soul. When people complain that many of the suits are about events that happened years ago, they totally fail to comprehend two things: that the destruction and pain is still present and has negatively impacted the victims' lives and, that many victims simply could not disclose their abuse until recently. Why? Because they were convinced (and rightly so) that no one would believe them, that they would suffer grievous spiritual punishment for accusing a priest and that the institutional church would support the accused rather than the accuser. The Catholic culture itself created a high level of emotional duress for victims. Many have suffered for decades, believing that nothing could or would be done to help them. They continue to wait in vain for recognition, belief and a sincere apology. Even today when victims come forward they are often treated as suspects by the clergy rather than victims.

They are upset by the various expressions of support for the "faithful" priests. Yet when victims and survivors see websites and newspaper ads boldly supporting this majority they are angry. These priests have not had their innocence violently robbed. They have not had their spirituality ripped apart nor have they been shunned because they had the courage to step forward and disclose the incredible harm done to them. Many rightly ask where were all these priests over the past years as the evidence of widespread abuse came out. Where were the letters of complain to the Vatican? Where was the organized support of lay people? Where were the Knights of Columbus and other Catholic organizations? Rarely if ever did anyone come forward to cry out for compassionate pastoral care or true justice for the real casualties of this whole despicable scandal.

Cardinals and bishops have publicly admitted the discomfort and worry they have experienced in the past years and months. The pope has commiserated with his brother bishops over their pain. None have come close to experiencing the devastation and loss that the victims have lived through. True, all have made the obligatory gestures of shock, outrage and apology to the victims but these are hollow because the re-victimization continues on a widespread scale and until it completely stops the victims and survivors will remain angry, devoid of trust and increasingly alienated from the institutional church. The bishops cannot claim to be caring and compassionate for the "east of my brethren" while at the same time the church lawyers continue to brutalize victims. They cannot claim to extend all possible help while behind the scenes they scramble to find ways to shelter and hide diocesan assets to avoid payment of damages.

The priests cannot moan about their collective embarrassment while they continue to shun those few of their brothers who have had the courage to speak up and call for justice for the victims. They have expressed concern that the accused do not receive due process. Yet they do not demand the same due process for the abuse victims who have been systematically denied it for decades. They...we...cannot expect our vocation to be looked on with universal respect for it is the clergy and not the laity or the victims who caused this bottomless wound in the souls of thousands of victims and in the church itself. The surest way to restore some semblance of respect is to have the courage as individuals and as a group to cease being defensive and commence being truly compassionate to the victims. Equally important, to cease being timid and fearful and demand that institutional leaders set aside their worries about preserving the financial resources, safe-guarding orthodoxy, restoring their own vanished respect and authority and reach out and try to heal the most important people in today's church, those whom it has victimized.

Saturday, September 21

Okay, this is weird and fascinating:

At the Pope's request, Gerard Depardieu to recite passages from St. Augstine at locations around the world.

The readings of Augustine's texts -- his classic "Confessions" narrates his undisciplined youth and conversion -- will begin Nov. 23 in Tagaste of Numidia, today's Algeria, where the saint was born on Nov. 13, 354. Depardieu will also go to Hippo, ancient capital of Numidia, where Augustine was bishop and where he is buried. "I will read in the squares and in sacred places, in churches and synagogues, carrying with me only four candles," the actor said.

Friday, September 20

Mel Gibson's Jesus film will detail the last 12 hours of His life and will Latin and Aramaic. With no subtitles.
Here is a question for our NFP experts out there. It's an honest one, and not intended to be obnoxious.

If NFP is the only moral means of postponing pregnancy and it's a highly recommended thing to do for those interested in postponing pregnancy, why didn't God give humanity the means to figure it out before fifty years ago? Do you see what I'm saying? Writers on NFP speak of the cycles of fertility and infertility as a gift which God gives to couples, enabling them to work with Him to "plan" their families. (hate the word "plan" in relation to such things). It is written of in such a way that communicates that it's part of "God's plan" for couples and families and sexuality. Well, if that's so, why did Christians have to go hundreds of years before they gained the knowledge to figure out the plan?

Some of you are getting personal - not towards me - I hate to tell you, but I don't care what you say about me - but towards each other. This is not a newsgroup or AOL board. This is my blog, the existence of which I evaluate about once a week. As I have said, I value your comments, especially those that point us towards other articles or websites related to the topic at hand, or offer personal insight. That's why I added the comments section, as your may recall - I was getting so much good email, and posting so much of it, that it was taking just too much time - a comments section struck me as an effortless way to accomplish the same end. And for the most part it does, and it's valuable. What I don't value is people referring to others in personally disparaging ways. I have deleted some comments. I have banned some people (One, I noticed, who was posting here under two names, but turned out to be from the same ISP. Imagine that.).
Notes on the LA Cathedral blog below:

The juxtaposition of the issues is symbolic, of course. We all know, because we've been told many times, that the Cathedral, like all building projects, was financed by special fundraising, by a combination of big donors and small change.

Readers of this blog also know my general disdain for most chancery offices. However, consider the following:

Catholic parishes and dioceses quite often devote great amounts of energy and time to raising money for buildings and operational expenses. Years were given over to this project, and much attention and energy was lavished on it. And since it is the cathedral of a major diocese, such attention and energy was necessary, although one wishes one had more of a sense that the cathedral came out of the community rather than was presented to it. But back to the energy and attention.

Almost every parish and diocese you know of probably has engaged in such efforts to raise money and build, and, more consistently, to encourage stewardship - financial mostly, although they give lip service to the time and talent too, but believe me, they'll settle for the treasure.

How many dioceses are you aware of have had major fundraising campaigns to raise gobs of money to assist pregnant women in need, to make sure that every woman or girl who needs pre and postnatal care gets it?

Los Angeles is the home of many, many poor people, especially African-Americans and Latinos. Everyone who knows anything about the abortion industry knows that this population is a particular target of abortionists. Los Angeles also happens to be located in the state of California which, in case you don't know, is a hotbed of liberal abortion policies and entrenched pro-abortion attitudes and a "Catholic" pro-abortion governor (for now).

Now. Now will you consider the symbolism? The Cathedral opens to great acclaim, and two weeks later, and two weeks before Respect Life Sunday, the Respect Life Office is given the news it will be shut down, with, I might add, funding to the archdiocese's Project Rachel (for women recovering from abortion) ELIMINATED. Not shifted to parishes, as would be the case with some of the other ministries, but ELIMINATED. (An annual retreat will continue to be funded, but that's it.)

Who says that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles didn't need a new cathedral? Of course it did. But even though the funds were especially raised and targeted, what galls is the extraordinary effort dedicated to the construction of a building and the absence of any equivalent effort to be a firm and unequivocal witness for life in a local environment that is deeply hostile to it and then the elimination of the one office in the archdiocese responsible for what witness there is.

So here's your answer to some questions raised below:

It will be a good day when those religious institutions devote as much energy to protecting human life, both spiritually and physically, as it does to creating buildings. Not instead of, notice - as much.

(And in regard to a thread below) It will also be a good day when parishioners concerned about the feelings of their priests who cruised the internet for fifteen-year old boys to have sex with match their compassion for the priest with one - even one - act of loving outreach to the youth the priest has participated in corrupting.

The first little girl has arrived. Her name is Mercedes. She has a little brother named Jaguar and a sister named Porsche.

"My dad just really likes cars."

Provocative article from Frederica Mathewes-Green:Let's have more teen pregnancy

Teen pregnancy is not the problem. Unwed teen pregnancy is the problem. It's childbearing outside marriage that causes all the trouble. Restore an environment that supports younger marriage, and you won't have to fight biology for a decade or more.

I'll try to comment later. Try is the word.

Look at our pretty new cathedral! Look at our eviscerated ministry offices!

The eight departments being closed are: the Office of Ministry with Persons with Disabilities; the Detention Ministry, which works with those in jail; the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women; Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs; the Ethnic Groups Ministry; the Office of Respect Life, which supports anti-abortion programs; Campus Ministry; and the Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Catholics.

As you might expect, this NYTimes article focuses on the closing of the last office. It's not that these ministries - for example, prison ministry - will cease to happen in the Archdiocese. It's just that the central Archdiocesan office coordinating efforts and dissemination information will shut down with, as the article states, in many cases, the responsibilities shifted to other offices. This might work for some areas, but one is especially saddened (but not surprised?) to see the Respect Life office closed down....just in time for Respect Life Sunday (October 6) btw.

I had heard that one of Cardinal Egan's first budget-tightening acts was to close their Archdiocedsan Respect Life office and Natural Family Planning that true? Any confirmation?

Archbishop Dolan says Church can't apologize enough for sexual abuse
An account of our South Florida Beach Priest's appearance in court

Guimaraes sat with other defendants in the jury box Thursday, looking glum in a faded blue jail jumpsuit. For the most part he kept his face covered with his hands to shield himself from news cameras. Nearly a dozen parishioners at Our Lady Queen of Peace were in the courtroom to offer support.“A priest is a man. A man can be wrong sometimes,” said Aurora Moreira of West Palm Beach. “We’re just here to help him, to support him.”

DOESN'T IT MAKE YOU WANT TO SCREAM?????????????????????????????????

Okay, let's do it.


An account of Kenneth Woodward's BC speech

Catholic schools too often fall short in this mission, he said. "I am old-fashioned enough to think that Catholic universities exist to train students to be critics of the world they are about to enter, that criticism being rooted in a Catholic vision not only of social justice but of the hope that Christ brings to the world…"But I wonder: would Boston College, or any other Catholic university, be willing to withhold a diploma from any Catholic student who did not pass a sophisticated, mandatory test designed to measure a student's grasp of the forms and content of the faith? And if you did, how many of your students do you think would pass?In short, I see no point in talking about the laity's role in the Church if the graduates of our best Catholic universities are uninterested or unable to enter into that loving, critical conversation with the past, which is why we have tradition."

That last comment is worth an article....

Read the whole piece, written, incidentally by St. Blog's own Mark Sullivan

Monk retires from running San Jose soup kitchen after greatly expanding its outreach.
Another priest joins the race for this year's Darwin award:

Patricio Pintado, 39, was arrested Wednesday on charges of third-degree sex abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors, said the spokeswoman, Barbara Thompson. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted. Pintado, who lives in Queens and works at the Good Shepherd Church in Washington Heights, was accused of inappropriately touching the 16-year-old from June through September, Thompson said.

Lexington priests who with surprising arrest records suspended from public ministry for a year.
Accused Bridgeport priest Brett flees island; whereabouts unknown
In the Boston Archdiocese a struggle over another church closing.
America magazine to publish article arguing that homosexuals shouldn't be ordained. The author is a monsignor who is on the staff of the Congregation of Bishops

Baker is a priest of the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., and is one of about 20 staffers at the Congregation of Bishops. He argued that even celibate gays may not be good candidates for the priesthood. He worried that homosexuals would have difficulty remaining celibate in the all-male seminary environment and would struggle with or deny church teachings on homosexuality. He also said gays "may be more familiar with certain patterns and techniques of deception and repression" as they learned to survive in a predominantly heterosexual world, hurting their spiritual development.
"It may be that a man could be healed of such a disorder and then could be considered for admission to the seminary and possibly to holy orders," Baker wrote. "But not while being afflicted with the disorder."

The most shocking thing about this article is that America is publishing it.

I'm back. The best thing about my return was that through some miracle, Michael's excellent care, or just simple exhaustion, Joseph slept for a record number of consecutive hours last night: from when Michael put him down at 8:30 pm to about 4:15am or so - We hope and pray it's the start of a new day (or night) around here...

I will be blogging today, but more of the "linking" than "thinking" type - I have a column to write and a little girl's sleepover for which to prepare, not to speak of a Tennessee fan to get to the airport for a trip down south to some game that's happening tomorrow ....I forget which one.

Thursday, September 19

Hey there.

Where've I been?

4:15 am - hauling self out of bed. 5:00 am, leaving house and crying baby. 6:10 am on airplane to Atlanta 10:15 am on airplane to Birmingham, AL. 11am at EWTN studios doing Johnette Benkovic's show. Also saw Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Doug Keck, and Raymond Arroyo driving by in a minivan. (I mean just Arroyo - not all three in one get the picture). 5pm Back at the Birmingham airport 7:30 at the Atlanta airport. Where I'm typing this. Tired. Will be home at 11 pm. This better sell some books is all I can say.

Wednesday, September 18

Christopher Reeves has apparently apologized.

The Catholic League comments, but I can't find the statement from Reeves anywhere yet.

A review of a book called Catholics: Britain's Largest Minority
Congrats to fellow-Fort Wayner Nancy Nall for the mega linking she received yesterday on her Bob Greene-roasting from Lucianne, Slate and Romensko. 18,000 hits! Huzzah!
Big debate over at HMS Blog between Popcak, Charles Collins and me about, among other things, the "standards" for baptizing children.

My husband has weighed in here

If I do say so myself, I like the way I've summarized the issue:

Should the pastor baptize the prostitute's baby?

A reader who is a member of the parish in the Arlington Diocese with the porn-harboring priest would like your input:

The Bishop found out about the porn situation with our pastor last fall.Media delusions aside, our pastor did have to leave and was shipped off somewhere to be de-programmed or re-programmed --receive "treatment" for I know it was over a week - more like 2 or 3(I remember this happening b/c last fall was such a busy time I wondered why anyone would choose a 'vacation' then) Apparently he got out of treatment and "made use of the sacraments" as stated in the bishops letter etc. I think my concern as a parishioner is this: Should we have been made aware of this priest's "struggle"?? I have confidence that our Bishop did what was right and followed his little guidelines etc, but I think I'd like to know if some guidelines need to be changed. If a priest is collecting gay porn, toys and whatnot, should that get a whole new set of guidelines, bells and red flags?? It seems to me that we know the real effects pornography has on individuals, corrupting the soul, arent there studies showing how pedophiles and murders all start on porn and slowly intensify with harder orn until they have to "act out" in a physical way? Maybe I watch too much court tv. Is this "just porn" or something serious that we should be made aware of? It seems to me that yes, a priest as a public figure, and as the groom
our Church should have to let us in on a struggle like this. As a sin against the community and something that could be an indicator -- should we have known? I know and I don't doubt for a second that God can heal and with grace they can overcome these types of sins, but maybe part of reparations and atonement is that in such a serious matter such a priest would have to
come out of the closet so to speak! If you are struggling with celibacy like this, maybe active ministry isn't where you should be?
Anyway!! I'd appreciate any thoughts you all have

Any comments?

By the way, Here's Bishop Loverde's letter on the situation

Andrew Sullivan weighs in on another article sitting by my bedside waiting for my attention - The Atlantic Monthly piece by Phillip Jenkins on the future of Christianity. Andrew says:

I just read the new Atlantic's essay on the rise of fundamentalist, Pentecostalist and arch-conservative Christianity across the developing world. It's not online, but there's an interview with its author, Philip Jenkins here. His book might make interesting reading. What to make of it? It's not exactly news, but its implications are clear. People like me who are devoted to post-Vatican II Catholicism will probably in our lifetimes see the Western (or Northern) Church either go into real schism or collapse altogether into an orthodox and severe rump, from which we will be effectively excluded. The future of Christianity - where its energy is, where the passion is, where the new flocks are - is clearly in Africa and Asia and South America, where pentecostalist movements or highly traditional forms of Catholicism are making huge gains. The next pope, it seems likely to me, will make this one look like a liberal. Immigrants to the United States will also bring this kind of religion more forcefully home, as the new religion census is showing.

(Religion census blogged below)

Well, it's not primarily immigrants that are bringing more "conservative" religions to the fore in the US, and I wouldn't be surprised if the next pope was, like this one, an interesting mix of so-called "liberal" and "conservative" who ticks everyone off. But as for the rest of the piece...I'll let you comment while I read the article.

Enrollment at Cincinnati Catholic high schools is up despite, the article says, the sexual abuse scandal. Well, this is no big deal - we've said since this began that this scandal isn't a challenge to the relationship between individual Catholics and the local church institutions that serve them. It's a challenge to the relationship between a Catholic and his or diocese that is perceived to be less than concerned for victims of clerical sexual abuse.
Happy Birthday to my dad, David Welborn, today!
Bishops say a war with Iraq hard to justify at this point
An interview with Father Donald Cozzens about his forthcoming book

Tuesday, September 17

Just because I feel like it:

Feminists for Life.

As if we didn't know: The World Council of Churches is struggling with finances as well as with evangelicals and the Orthodox.
Thanks to a commentor for digging up the website for the Northern Kentucky St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy
A research study of growth trends in religion reveals that Mormons and Pentecostals are growing the fastest

with Catholics trying to keep up:

The Roman Catholic Church also posted strong growth, although its geographic areas shifted. It remained the largest denomination in the country, growing 16 percent to 62 million.. A larger proportion of Catholics now live in the West than in the Midwest; the Catholic population grew faster in the South than it did in the Northeast."That has a lot to do with the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States," said researcher Clifford Grammich, who collected the figures for the study. In recent years some states in the West and South have had large increases in Hispanic populations, among whom Catholicism is by far the dominant religion.

The study was conducted using self-reporting by the denominations.

The Atlanta paper breaks apart the results for their area, with the interesting point that:

The area's Catholic population surged in the suburbs. Catholics now outnumber Methodists -- Atlanta's second largest religious group -- in Cobb, Gwinnett, Fayette, DeKalb, Rockdale and Clayton counties.Nationally, the Catholic Church gained 16.2 percent during the 1990s, outpacing the 13.2 percent increase in the nation's population. But the church hardly grew in traditional Catholic areas of the Northeast and Midwest, while exploding in the South and West, with 30 percent and 42 percent increases respectively."It doesn't come as a surprise to me," said Monsignor R. Donald Kiernan, pastor of All Saints Church in Dunwoody. "There's a lot of immigration coming here from the North and a lot of industry has moved down here, too."Hispanic immigrants also play a role, but perhaps not as significant as one might think because they often don't register with local parishes, church officials said.

Pataki signs contraceptive-coverage act.
One of the articles I've been intending to blog all week, but have delayed until I had time to blog some thoughts along with it - it appears as if that moment is not going to come, as all my thinking must be directed towards other writing matters - so, instead of thinking, we'll just link this one: Peter Steinfels and the media and The Situation from The Tablet.
Good discussion of grace and forgiveness at The Corner

The Queens pastor whom school principal Barbara Samide accused of embezzlement and sexual harrassment has turned himself in.

The Rev. John Thompson surrendered today and is expected to plead guilty in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens to a charge of grand larceny for stealing $95,000 from St. Elizabeth’s parish in Ozone Park.Thompson will receive 5 years probation and not serve any jail time.Thompson, who presided at St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church for four years, left on Palm Sunday amid accusations by former parish school principal Barbara Samide that he siphoned church dollars to his gay lover.The reverend told parishioners he was leaving because of health problems.

Lileks on church architecture: reminds you how churches completely shook off the past after WW2. They built sleek stripped-down structures that abandoned their specific historical vocabulary. Churches now looked like ski lodges, motel lobbies, golf-course clubhouses. Machines for efficient praying to a Savior in the gray flannel robe. The church we attended in Fargo was modernized in the 50s as well, and to my eyes today it looks like the perfect parish for Paul Drake, Perry Mason’s detective associate. I can see him taking the pulpit, putting out his Pall Mall, shooting a finger at the choir, and giving a sermon, the title of which would be “Is God a Square?”

Thanks, Meggan!

Thousands flock to see Buddha's footprint and the frog guarding it.
Could you do this?

Man severs his own hand with circular saw. Puts hand in freezer. Drives self to hospital.

Prognosis for reattached hand? Very good.

Reeves blames Bush, Church, for lack of progress in research that might help him walk.
From Poynter: Why faith can matter in a story, and how easy it is to miss it.
A bishop in the underground Chinese Catholic Church was reportedly arrested.
Oh my...sometimes it takes a youthful eye with nothing to lose to speak forthrightly...

From the USC student paper a student takes a walk through the LA Cathedral

Where is the cathedral? Downtown, roughly proximate to nothing and a drive from anywhere. Because of to the "competitive parking market" unless you attend Mass (which doesn't even occur on Saturdays), expect to dish out $2.50 for every 20 minutes spent trying to determine which end of the church is the front. But cross that bridge when you get to it, because freeways radiating out from the church's near vicinity include the 110, 101, 10 and 5 freeways. So, depending on which direction you are coming from, you can expect traffic to be either miserable, immobile, or a parking lot by the time the peach-colored wall surrounding the church comes into view. Try to make it to the 8 a.m. Spanish Mass and you'll find the pope could walk faster than you'll be moving.

And then catch his observation of why the crypt area of the church is so much more traditionally designed than the main body:

Here you'll find nothing challenging or cutting edge in the design. As ecclesiastically traditional as incense, the beauty demands the question: how can they make a monstrosity out of one part of the church, but stick to a beautiful tradition on the another? The answer is simple: no one is going to dish out the Gross National Product of a small African country to have his corpse or ashes spend the rest of eternity in a crypt that looks like a work by the artist Wassily Kandinsky.

Make sense of this:

the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office is about to wrap up its investigation of sexual abuse in the Cleveland diocese

They've identified 360 people accused.

The investigators have identified 360 people accused of sex abuse, about 100 of whom are priests, Mason said. The rest are nuns, lay teachers and administrators, custodians and even school-age students and parents.
"I don't think there's another prosecutor's office in the country that has taken a proactive step to go out and find this many victims," said Richard Bell, who headed the prosecutor's diocesan sex-abuse team. Bell and Mason said it will be a few weeks before they know how many cases pass the evidentiary hurdles and statute of limitations restrictions required for presentation to a grand jury. Mason said the time restraints for bringing charges against alleged abusers have been exceeded in almost all the cases, but he expects some indictments will be issued.

"Accused" is one thing and "charged" is another, and "found guilty" is still another. And note the wide sweep - including students and parents accused as well. (One would wonder what a sustained investigation of sexual abuse within the Baptist Church of Atlanta would turn up, especially if you included custodians, parents and students...)

A hundred priests (over fifty years), though...

Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, whose account of imprisonment by the communists in Vietnam made him an inspirational figure for many Catholics in his homeland, died yesterday. He was 74.
A third case of Catholic church vandalism in Brooklyn
Take your pick o' holy ones today:

You can have Hildegard of Bingen,visionary, writer, composer, artist, leader, advisor to bishops and sometimes combatant with them...or you can have Robert Bellarmine, cardinal, theologian, counter-reformer....

Or you can have both the artist-mystic and the Jesuit cardinal, and just embrace your happy Catholic both-and self, as is, of course, best.

Other Hildegard links: here and here is a good article by Charlotte Allen reclaiming Hildegard from the New Agers.

Happy Birthday to my daughter, Catherine Louise, aka Katie Lou! She's eleven years old. Celebration tonight will be dinner and a cake. The sleepover party will happen on Friday. Just keep's only once a's only once a year....

Monday, September 16

Board to name non-compliant bishops
Two articles about the fate of the possibly closing St. Paul's Church here in Fort Wayne:

here and here.

Spanish Church pushing for beatification of journalist

Born at Linares, Garrido worked for religious newspapers, before joining a Spanish news agency. In 1942, he was confined to a wheelchair, after contracting a disease of the spinal cord. He continued working till the end of his life, despite also losing his sight at 40, writing nine books and founding a publication for the sick, Sinai. Speaking last week, Garrido's postulator, Fr Rafael Higueras, said the journalist had 'maintained his faith and spiritual calm' till death, adding that the beatification process was now 'well advanced' after being referred to the Vatican in 1994. Spanish Church officials said they also hope to finish a beatification process in 2003 for avant-garde architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), best known for Barcelona's still-unfinished Sagrada Familia church.

Dreher takes the Johansen/Rose spat to the readers of NRO

Instapundit weighs in.

Good Stuff Catholics Do:

A free pharmacy operated by the St. Vincent De Paul society in northern Kentucky:

Already, the free pharmacy in Northern Kentucky has filled 2,000 prescriptions worth $180,000 for 250 low-income people in the 14-county Diocese of Covington. Next, the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy wants to expand its scope, adding a second day to its Monday-only operations and a second pharmacy, possibly at St. Elizabeth Hospital North in Covington. "We're at a volume where we need to be open another day and at another location," says Rosana Aydt, co-director of the pharmacy. Most of the prescriptions come from samples given to doctors and donations from commercial pharmacies. The pharmacy buys some prescription drugs, mostly generics, and insulin. "So far, we've collected about a half-million dollars worth of medicine," says Aydt, who is a pharmacist. The charity decides who is eligible for free prescriptions on a case-by-case basis, using the basic formula that "if expenses equal or exceed income, then we help them. "The average value of each prescription we fill is $70 and most people we help have between five and 10 prescriptions to be filled," she says. "If not for us, they probably would have to pick and choose which prescriptions they can afford to have filled." The need for the service is tremendous, Aydt said. "Every week, someone cries with happiness here because they're able to get the medicine they need."

They're going to build a new church at Fatima.
Was the Vinland Map, which has been used to prove that the Norse reached Nova Scotia years before Christopher Columbus came to the New World, a hoax created by an Austrian Jesuit with the intention of debunking Nazi claims to global domination?

Phew. It's a long article, but quite interesting:

Fr. Fischer, who died during the Second World War, had an obvious motive to fake the map around 1934, Seaver said. In 1938, Nazi officials forced the sale of the Stella Matutina, where Fischer was living in retirement. As a clergyman and scholar, he would have been appalled by the Nazi persecution of Jesuits.Seaver also believed Fischer would have hated seeing ancient Norse history being used as Nazi propaganda. German officials saw the Vikings as an Aryan people with territorial ambitions similar to their own. The Vinland Map is laden with Catholic imagery. Had the Nazis discovered such a document, they would have faced an impossible dilemma: either admit that the dominion of the Catholic Church, which the Norse represented on their travels, extended to North America, or abandon their cultural affinity with the Norse, and thus their own claims to dominion over the New World.

Amish and Mennonites are moving to Western NY because land out this away is too expensive

Inexpensive land is what led Yoder, his wife and six children, and 17 other Amish families to move from an established community in Holmes County, Ohio, to this part of Western New York - where farms that supported generations have been dormant for years.It's the same reason an Amish community along the Cattaraugus/Chautauqua county line has flourished, and it's also the reason Roy Zimmerman, a believer in the related Mennonite faith, moved to the Lyndonville area two years ago from Port Trevorton, Pa. "It's cheap land," he said. "Where we were, farms were bringing $4,000 to $5,000 an acre. Here, we bought 440 acres for $270 an acre."

This is a puzzling story.

-- Days after being dropped from the city's Sept. 11 memorial events, a reverend led the area Catholic community's first Mass Sunday for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people.

Local leaders and clergy were among more than 400 people at the Mass led by the Rev. Fred Daley, wearing a rainbow stole over white robes.

Daley was uninvited as main speaker of last week's memorials for the victims of the terrorist attacks when the assistant fire chief, Russel Brooks, supported by Mayor Timothy Julian, threatened to pull out if Daley didn't step aside.

Daley's participation would have brought unwanted controversy to the event, they said. ....

Inside, rainbow ribbons flanked the altar draped by a rainbow flag.

"We can walk out of this building and commit ourselves to speak the truth," Daley said. "If we do that there will be some day that our public officials will maybe even hang the rainbow flag."

Too controversial for a secular-sponsored event, yet not for a Church-sponsored one? What diocese is this? Just wondering.

Another article, with a photo, and more quotes:

The Catholic church and others should not be so obsessed with what people do in private, he said. "I didn't tell anyone at the 8 a.m. Mass or the 11 a.m. Mass (what to do in their bedrooms), so I'm certainly not going to tell anyone here at the 3 p.m. Mass," he said, receiving more cheers and applause. "Certainly no one is going to push me to stand at the pulpit and explain what is intimate."

Michael Paulson of the Globe with a piece on how the Archdiocese has responded to voices of dissent and inquiry

Law has appointed his top aide, Bishop Walter J. Edyvean, to mediate his relationship with Voice of the Faithful and the Boston Priests Forum. But over the last eight months Edyvean has met with Voice of the Faithful twice, and the priests' forum once, and the conversations have left both groups dissatisfied - the lay group because it can't get a clear answer about where it stands, and the priests' group because it can't get the cardinal to meet with priests to discuss their concerns about due process.

Today is the feast of St. Cyprian:

Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides of death always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father's mercy.


… And whereas the Lord left the ninety and nine that were whole, and sought after the one wandering and weary, and Himself carried it, when found, upon His shoulders, we not only do not seek the lapsed, but even drive them away when they come to us; and while false prophets are not ceasing to lay waste and tear Christ's flock, we give an opportunity to dogs and wolves, so that those whom a hateful persecution has not destroyed, we ruin by our hardness and inhumanity….

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?


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