Thursday, October 31

The AP tries to sum up races in which abortion is a factor.
Hell Houses.

You know what those are, right?

They're the attractions - can't think of a better word - constructed, staffed and acted out by evangelical Christian churches in which participants can see the Wages of Sin, right there before their very eyes.

They see all kinds of situations in which sinners get down and do their stuff, followed by the Consequences, followed, at the end, by their chance to choose their own path.

Manipulation, thy name is First Word of Life Temple.

There's a documentary about the phenomenon, focusing on a church in Texas. According to what I've read, the documentary is very fair. Anyone seen it?

(Other articles about hell houses here, here and here.

I've never been to one, but I had many students who did down in Florida, and their reactions ranged from "cheesy" to "freaked me out."

Would it be fair to see them as some sort of heir to the Medieval Mystery Play? Assesments, anyone? Cranky Prof, maybe?

Ave Maria University law school student Matthew Bowman wrote me a while back with a similar idea, from a Catholic standpoint.

I had this idea the other night about an alternative Halloween activity and I didn't know who else to tell. Why not create a "House of Martyrs" instead of a house of horrors, and display the various ways that martyrs have met their worldly demise to pass on to their heavenly homeland. Fun and educational. This could be especially cool for older kids to organize.

Maybe others have thought of this idea, but I haven't heard about it. There are protestant groups who do a Hell House to scare the Hell out of people, but the House of Martyrs wouldn't really be scary (St. Lawrence cracking jokes on a grill, St. Polycarp denouncing the pagans and then the smell of roses as he burns at the stake, St. Maximillian singing in the starvation bunker, St. Lucy holding her eyes, St. Philomena and her various wounds, etc.). Well, not primarily scary.

I like it! But then...I always bucked the opinions of the other religious ed matriarchs because I saw great value in sharing Great Gory Scenes in Catholic History. They're memorable and communicate the value of faith in a rather..vivid...way.

I was going to post thoughts on Halloween. My brain's not there, however.

So, instead, I'll point you , to some wonderful thoughts about Halloween that Michael shared last year Scroll down to - October 31 - past the cute picture of Joseph. Boy. Time flies.

By the way, the comments system seems okay today, and the YACCS homepage indicates that they knew there was a problem (duh!) and worked to fix it. I guess I'll stick with them.

There. Column written, cookie dough made (we'll wait till Katie comes home to roll, cut and bake), and wash started. And, no it wasn't the liquor store I was headed to. Thanks anyway for the suggestion.
I had sort of big plans for Halloween. Sort of, because I'm not into decorating our house with cobwebs and the remains of witches. Much less huge inflated pumpkins with ghosts sticking out the top, waving - I've seen a few of those tasteful items on area lawns.

We did do the pumpkins two days ago, and I had every intention of making cookies and trying to figure out a costume that Joseph would tolerate - he HATES stuff on his head and can be picky about shirts, if he's a pesky mood. He's learned how to roar, so I thought he'd be a cute lion.

But this week - oy. I got sick Friday night, lay on the couch all day Saturday. Joseph threw up all night Sunday night. Michael was sick all day Monday. I thought the other two might escape, since they were out of town last weekend, but no. David was sick much of the night on Tuesday, and that same night, at 2am, Katie showed up in the bathroom, sitting on the floor, weeping about her throat and running a temperature. Tuesday was a night of very little sleep for any of us, and last night was a restless night for the baby (he keeps tricking us with these great nights about every 10 days. But he also spent most of yesterday with his fist stuck in his mouth, so you can figure out the cause of the restlessness.)

So, today, I'm wiped out. Plus, the babysitter called at 7:30 and said she was sick. So Joseph is here with his half-comatose mommy, running around yelling "Pump-pa!" every six seconds ("Pumpkin" for those not literate in Baby) and I have a column to write.

So - I think I'll go to the store. Makes sense, yes?

Good Things Catholics Do:

The Catholic Mobile Medical Clinic in Hillsborough County, Florida, bringing health care to migrant workers.

For the past three years Proctor, a member of the Daughters of Wisdom Catholic religious order, has been driving the mobile medical clinic for the St. Petersburg Diocese of Catholic Charities. Every other Friday evening, Proctor makes this trek to the Jaymar Villas in rural Balm. She visits the San Jose Mission in Dover on Monday night, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Wimauma on Sunday and the Good Samaritan Mission in Balm on Tuesday morning.

Before Catholic Charities acquired the mobile clinic, many of Proctor's clients did not have access to health care because of time and transportation restraints. But even after Catholic Charities got the vehicle, it took a long time to gain the community's trust. Last year, Proctor and Lamas, who is a certified nurse's aide, would sometimes wait for hours and see no one. Today, largely because of word of mouth, people trust the clinic. Within minutes of Proctor's arrival, a young man pulls up on a red bicycle, accompanied by several friends.

"Buenas noches," Proctor greets them. "Que necesitan?"

Truce reached in Cleveland

The lawyers leading the wave of clergy sex-abuse litigation against the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland have struck a truce with the church to avert new suits and big damage awards, one of them said yesterday. In exchange for a moratorium on new suits, diocesan lawyers agreed in principle to begin a mediation process for dealing with victims, and to formally end years of hardball defense tactics against sex-abuse lawsuits, said William Crosby, one of the victims' lawyers who helped forge the settlement. "This is an absolutely momentous agreement, a metamorphosis in the diocese's approach to sex-abuse cases," Crosby said

5 Top LA Archdiocese officials say "See Ya"

The LATimes reports that five top Archdiocesan officials have resigned.

Among those resigning from their posts was Msgr. Terrance Fleming, who as vicar general of the archdiocese serves, in effect, as Mahony's chief of staff.

The others are Sister Cecilia Louise Moore, who as chancellor of the archdiocese oversees its charitable foundations as well as its personnel office; Msgr. Richard Loomis, who heads the secretariat for administrative services; Sister Bernadette Murphy, who oversees the church's educational programs; and Thomas Chabolla, a layman who heads the church offices for pastoral and community services.

Church sources said some of the resignations were influenced by personal factors. Fleming, for example, had long planned to step down as vicar general to take a sabbatical, the sources said. Fleming, who is reportedly in England, was not available for comment.

Moore, who is 74, was nearing the end of her term of office and is undergoing treatment for cancer.

In other cases, the resignations appear to be tied more exclusively to the budget cuts and what some see as a distant and authoritarian style of decision-making by Mahony.

Chabolla, for example, heads the church secretariat that oversees the ministries hardest hit by the budget cuts. Those included outreach to ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, lesbian and gay Catholics, and ecumenical and inter-religious affairs.

One priest who had spoken with Chabolla said he felt he had been left out of the decision-making on the cuts. "They were left in the position of having to make these cuts and layoffs, and I think some of them felt really in a very bad position because they hadn't been part of the decision-making process," the priest said.

"There was very little consultation in a post-Vatican II church where people are consulted broadly," another priest said. "How could there be such an incredible decision of such magnitude and be such a surprise to everybody?"

Well see, here's the thing. Talking Vatican-II-talk and waxing eloquent about collegiality and shared decision-making and such is nice, but it's just talk. In my experience, authoritarians can hide anywhere, and they do.

Wednesday, October 30

I apologize for the putzy comments system. I will probably be shifting over to another system - not today, but tomorrow. So get busy and save your greatest hits, if you like. If you can access them.
Results of Vatican-US work on Charter to be revealed and discussed at Bishop's meeting in November

Pope John Paul's spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement that the special eight-member commission met Monday and Tuesday and would present suggestions at the U.S. Episcopal conference in Washington on Nov. 11-14.The proposals, once passed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, would have to return to the Vatican for final approval, he said.

Some have asked me where I stand in the great Shea-Dreher What's the Pope Up To debate.

Didn't we do this before? A couple of times?

Briefly, because I have columns to write and a daughter to haul to the orthodontist.

First, I don't know. I could theorize all day, but the fact is, I don't know what the Pope is up to,and neither does anyone else.

But this brings another thought to mind. Isn't it too bad that we can't just ask him? I don't mean me or you, but isn't it too bad, in this age of communication, accessibility and ..uh...transparency, that an intrepid reporter or wily young seminarian from the North American College can't find access to the Holy Father and...just...ask? To me, that is a question that holds as much importance as the former. Why must the highest levels of Church governance still be swathed in such medieval, monarchist mystery? This is a pressing question that is driving some people quietly mad and others not so quietly to the edges of faith. We're not looking for Question Time here, nor an American-style press conference. But, if you think about this rationally, it sort of boggles the mind that we have to sit around and tease apart the mystery of this basic aspect of the governance of our Church in this way in this day and age.

And although I don't know what the Pope is up to, I don't find any of the explanations inconceivable. It could be that Mark's right - that he's letting the sinners suffer.

But other people could be right, too. The Pope could be being told that everything's being taken care of, and he trusts that information. It could be that the extent of the problem is being kept from him. It could be that other matters have a priority to him in these last days of his papacy. Who knows?

The next natural question then, is what should he do? Another fun, but irrelevant question, because we're not the Pope. Yes, it impacts our sense of what Church is all about, and specifically the immediate and long-term goals of church governance, and that's good to discuss. But these are not decisions we're making.

What are those decisions? It depends on where you live. Some of us have to decide whether or not to support our predator-protecting diocese financially. I don't think I live in a diocese like that, but if I did, there's no doubt I would direct my contributions elsewhere. We have to decide how to live in our parishes, most of which are desperately short of priests and in great need of laity to step up and embrace the works of mercy. If I lived in a parish staffed by a predator priest, I'd have to make a decision about that - and Nap-followers know what that would be. We have to make decisions about how we are going to approach the truth of the situation. Are we going to turn from the endless stories of protection of abusers, or are we going to read them, understand them, and let them inform our decisions about how to deal with our priests and bishops who might be implicated?

I'm not advocating quietism on this issue. Far from it - but I do wonder if this discussion about what the Pope has/should/will do hasn't run its course.

I mean, our bishops are meeting in a couple of weeks. What's on their agenda? Do we need to be making our feelings known about those matters with the hope, however faint, of bringing more light into the Church in our country?

Quick thoughts, gotta go.

Someone asked where one could sample my books online. Good question. In the next week, I'm hoping to redo my main page, including doing a big page dedicated to my books, with information, background and maybe links to a couple of brief sample chapters. Hold me to it.
Madonna offends another religion

In her new video for the Bond theme song “Die Another Day,” Madonna appears with Hebrew words written on her and wearing a sacred Jewish prayer item, says a source.The singer has become deeply involved in Kaballah, a Jewish form of mysticism, but the use of the sacred images is said to be “offending” and “outraging” Jewish leaders, according to various reports. What’s more, women aren’t supposed to use the Jewish prayer she recites, one source told The Scoop. “The Hebrew tattoo she has means fight your pridefulness, your ego,” one source said. “But she also uses a prayer that is intended to be said only by men.”

Cardinal Law meets with victims; begs forgiveness

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, in an emotional encounter with men and women whose lives were shattered by a priest accused of being a serial child molester, last night begged forgiveness from about 75 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters.

Some of the victims cried as they told Law how their lives had been affected by the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham, who is alleged to have molested at least 50 boys over a 29-year career as a priest in the Boston archdiocese. Others expressed anger that the church had failed to oust Birmingham even after parents complained about his behavior.

At one point, when organizers of the session sought to honor people who had lost family members to suicide as a result of abuse by Birmingham, six people stood up.

''This is the first time I ever heard him say publicly he was at fault, and ask forgiveness,'' said Thomas Blanchette, an alleged victim of Birmingham who said afterward that he told a dramatic story about confronting Birmingham at the priest's deathbed about his abusive behavior.

Law, wearing a simple black cassock and sitting at a table in a church basement, appeared contrite and repentant. He spoke for about 10 minutes, and then spent another two hours listening to the stories of abuse victims and their families and answering questions.

''Apology is a weak thing, but I don't know how else to begin,'' he said. ''I beg your forgiveness and I understand that can be a very difficult thing to give because the hurt is so deep, the memory so raw, and the wound so searing.''

Watch who you hire down in Palm Beach.

The former chief financial officer for the Jewish Community Center of the Greater Palm Beaches pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing from the organization and agreed to make nearly $65,000 in restitution over the five years he will be on probation....

Schattie went to work for the JCC in the mid-1990s after allegedly embezzling nearly $400,000 from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach when he worked there as chief financial officer, according to church officials. The diocese didn't seek criminal charges against Schattie in that case, and Schattie agreed to make restitution but has only paid about a one quarter of the money, church officials have said.

The Washington Post looks at Irish-American Catholics and the Archdiocese of Boston:

Connors is not alone in his anger. The Boston archdiocese, with 2 million Catholics, has been torn apart by the scandal. But the quarter of the Boston church that, like Connors, is of Irish descent has been especially affected. This is their crisis, for the most part, and not just because most of the accused priests possess Irish surnames.

With some exceptions, other ethnic Catholics -- including those of Italian descent and newer Haitian, Latino and Asian immigrants -- appear less mobilized around the scandal. Many remain loyal to Law, who is known for his advocacy for immigrants and the poor. Irish American Catholics, in contrast, are leading the charge against their church in the places it can hurt most -- the courts, the legislature, the press and the collection plate....

Sen. Marian Walsh, an abortion rights and anti-death penalty Democrat who used to meet regularly with Law at the chancery and State House, became the first state lawmaker to call for his resignation. She also filed legislation making it a crime to recklessly create -- or fail to alleviate -- a substantial risk of sexual abuse to a child. Observers speculated that the bill, enacted last month, could be used against church supervisors, including the cardinal."We're the stakeholders," said Walsh, who attends Mass daily. "We want the church to have integrity, and we want our children to be safe."

Correction: the last person quoted, Marian Walsh, is not pro-choice. A reader writes with this link and quote:

"Ironically, Walsh had been Law's most steadfast legislative ally on Beacon Hill, siding with him against abortion and the death penalty, and on a host of social justice issues. But Walsh fell out
with the cardinal over his handling of the crisis and was the first state lawmaker to call for his resignation. "

Geez. Get it right, boys and girls of the press....

Tuesday, October 29

Vatican to open archives related to Pacelli's time as apostolic nuncio in Germany

From the start of 2003, the Vatican will open its secret archives on the activities of the apostolic nuncio in Germany, Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.
Cardinal Jorge María Mejía, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, told a press conference today that the first documents that will be made public are those relating to the nunciature in Germany during Pius XI's pontificate (1922-1939). Gradually, all the documents of that pontificate will be opened. Archbishop Pacelli was appointed nuncio to the new Weimar Republic in 1920, while he continued to be nuncio in Bavaria (an assignment he received in 1917). He left the nunciature in 1929, and the next year was appointed Vatican secretary of state by Pius XI, whom he succeeded in the papacy. Cardinal Mejía also reported that the Vatican Archives has proposed to the State Secretariat the publication of six CD-ROMs, as well as an introductory volume and six books of all the archives of the Office of the State Secretariat. Pius XII established the office in 1940 for the sake of prisoners of war. The office investigated and gave information on requests received by the Vatican State Secretariat from relatives and friends who wished to have information on their loved ones. The office remained in operation until 1946.

Bush administration continues to build up status of human embryos

The Bush administration has revamped the charter of the federal advisory committee that addresses the safety of research volunteers, stating for the first time that embryos in experiments are "human subjects" whose welfare should be considered along with that of fetuses, children and adults.

The addition of human embryos to the committee's charge -- completed at the beginning of October but not yet posted on the federal Web site that lists such committees -- marks the latest effort by the administration to bring the unborn under the umbrella of federal health protections. In September the administration enacted a new policy that extends certain health benefits to fetuses.

The new move does not mandate that embryos used in research be given the same protections as fetuses, children or adults. The committee can only offer recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services, which would then have to initiate rulemaking or encourage legislation if it wanted to put new protections in place.

But the wording marks a political victory for those in favor of increased protections for the unborn, experts inside and outside the government said. And depending on whom the administration selects to sit on the committee, it could be the start of a process that could result in greater restrictions on embryo research at some fertility clinics, universities and research labs, experts said.

Regarding the way this article was written: there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the term "unborn" is used - I suppose because the article refers to both embryos and fetuses and darn it, there's not another dehumanizing word they could use to cover both stages. The bad news is that the experts in opposition to the change are all associated with universities and such - directors of ethics and doctors and so on. Those cited in support are from National Right to Life and the USCC. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and they're doctors and lawyers, too. But the implication is clear: dispassionate researchers (as if) oppose; activists support.

Priest who ran homeless shelter warned FBI about John Muhammed
A reader writes in relation to the Central Catholic incident blogged below:

The Central Catholic incident is topic number one on regular talk and sports talk radio. Central parents are calling the stations to whine about the Diocese decision to pull CC from the WPIAL football playoffs. The complaint is that the whole team is being punished for the actions of two students. The teammates that stonewalled school and diocesan officials were just being loyal to their mates (never mind that the boy hazed was a teammate). Therefore, why should the other 65 players, even though they knew about the incident , be punished?

Students at Central do have an honor code that includes the requirement to report any violations of the honor code. The football team failed to live up to the standards that Central has set for its students. Failure of witnesses (either eyewitnesses or those with second-hand information) to come foward with what they knew (and commit purgery under direct questioning) was dealt with properly by the Diocese of Pittsburgh. At some point, we need to say that wrong and any cover-up of a wrong will be punished. These whiny parents should look in a mirror and recite "I confess to Almighty God . . . all that I have done and all I have failed to do . . ."

An interesting fact coming out about the matter is that Central's administration did not tell parents about what was happening until it hit the newspapers last week. The school interview students without parents present. Of course once the police became involved, parents have to be present when minors are interviewed. If the school involved the parents from day one, the matter would have been resolved by day two.

I heard one parent on the radio claim that the punishment was so severe because of the Church's sex scandal. He claimed that the punishment would not have been as harsh (as if not playing a football game is harsh punishment) if the Church was not facing its own wider sex scandal.

Personally, I think the punishment is appropriate. Secondly, I believe (and it has been rumored on the radio) that the coach should lose his job. I also heard through the diocesan grapevine that the athletic director and principle are under scrutiny from the diocese for attempting to cover up the crime from the diocese.

Lesson to be learned: never attempt a cover up. If this incident was properly addressed in August, Central would be playing in the WPIAL playoffs this weekend.

Fr. Thompson, of Bishop Dailey's diocese, gets five year's probation

A priest who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $95,000 from his Queens parish to pay for vacations, credit card bills and a car lease was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation. The Rev. John Thompson also made an initial payment of $10,000 toward his restitution to St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church under a plea deal that spared him jail time, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. Thompson, 50, pleaded guilty in September to grand larceny charges and admitted stealing $95,940 between August 1998 and April. He acknowledged using the money on personal expenses, including leasing an Infiniti, renting a vacation home in Mexico, paying for trips to Florida and paying off credit card debt.

In case you don't remember, this is the same Fr. Thompson who was accused by his parish school principal of sexual harrassment, for frequent references to gay bars, etc.


Christmas isn't too far off. I sure






There are bone chips in the ossuary

The bone fragments lie in the dirt at the bottom of the box like the dots and dashes of some infuriating code. They were there, says the owner, when he bought it. Whoever sold it to his dealer would have removed anything larger, since Israeli collectors and looters alike know that the rabbinical authorities are sensitive about human remains. What is left is these off-white bits. The largest is half an inch wide and three inches long, its inner surface an intricate honeycomb. A reporter holds it gently — who knows whose DNA it might contain?

Hewlitt-Packard selected to provide more online access to Vatican Library

As part of its philanthropy programme, HP will provide its infrastructure technology to assist the Vatican with adding Apostolic Library access to its existing Web site, as well as building faster access to the Vatican Library site and facilitating navigation of the bibliographic database.The Apostolic Vatican Library, founded by Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455), houses 1.6 million antique and modern printed volumes specialising in the fields of paleography, history, art history, classical literature and philology. The library also contains 8,300 incunabula (books printed before 1501, of which 65 are printed on vellum), 150,000 manuscript and records volumes, 300,000 coins and medals, and more than 100,000 prints.As part of the partnership, HP will also supply high-resolution imaging and printing devices to the library for the purposes of reproducing manuscripts and publications.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, an article on David Lodge
Diocese of Pittsburgh withdraws Pittsburgh Central Catholic HS from postseason play because of assault charges against players.
Phelps to picket Lexington Cathedral.

For what - baptizing the quads because their father and his partner are gay, or baptizing them because they're babies? If he's a consistent Baptist, seems like the latter would be as much a sin as the former.

Some have wondered why I've not commented on this yet. I posted it over at HMS, and I try not to duplicate, but my view is pretty simple, and in conflict with some. Of coure the babies should have been baptized. We fought about this at HMS several weeks ago, and no one has convinced me otherwise. I do believe, however, that the baptism should have been private, not publicized, and the men shouldn't have been blessed. No matter what the priest says, blessing them as a couple implies...blessing their coupledom. I'd be interested in what David has to say about this, but he hasn't posted on his blog in a while. Everything okay, David?

And before you post a comment, remember this - the subject of the baptism is the child. There is, of course, a communal dimension, but in our last discussion on this, I was really struck by something Charles Collins, whose worked in a tribunal and who is now with Vatican Radio said in response to those who wouldn't want the babies baptized - Okay. You want to minister to the kids. You want to bring them closer to Christ. But you can't even start to do that properly until they're in the Church. Baptism does not imply approval of family situations, although in this day and age in which sacraments have become mostly social occasions to celebrate the greatness of the individual and his or her family, one might get that impression. Baptism is the first step in the lifelong journey towards the fullness of life with Christ. But I do think in a situation like this, the baptism should be private, with only the "parents" and godparents, and in the context of a parish that can differentiate between the sins of the fathers and the innocence of the children.

CNN Europe looks at the Conscience of Hong Kong: Bishop Joseph Zen

In the often stale and staid political scene in the former British colony, Bishop Zen well and truly stands out. "This is more than a breath of fresh air," says legislator Martin Lee. "To have somebody speaking out so clearly in defense of human freedom, I think we are very fortunate to have a bishop like him." Hong Kong is in its fifth year as a Special Administrative Region of China and topping Zen's concerns is a government move, supported by Beijing, to introduce a law against subversion known as Article 23. Zen believes it will jeopardize the freedoms, including religious freedom, that China promised to preserve in the territory. "This Article 23 is really terrible, really terrible. I see danger everywhere in that document. I think that's the worst thing that can happen to Hong Kong after the handover," Zen says. "[There is danger] even for the church in general, for the press, for those who dissent from the government, from Beijing." The Chinese government, which does not recognize the Vatican and maintains tight controls over the church on the mainland has branded Zen a "Vatican agent" and barred him from visiting. "They are afraid of everything they cannot control. They are punishing bishops who do not collaborate, punishing seminaries -- very harsh, very harsh," Zen says.

Monday, October 28

In a deposition transcript released today, Bishop Daily of Brooklyn admits that he knew of Paul Shanley's views and promoted him anyway.

Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y., formerly a top-ranking official in the Archdiocese of Boston, knew the Rev. Paul Shanley endorsed sex between men and boys, but promoted him to head a parish in Newton, according to a deposition made public Monday.

Daily, who served as chancellor, vicar general and auxiliary bishop in the Boston archdiocese from 1977 to 1984, promoted Shanley to administrator and acting pastor at St. Jean's parish in Newton in 1984, where he allegedly went on to molest and rape boys.

....Daily gave sworn testimony in August in civil lawsuits filed by three men who claim they were sexually abused by Shanley at St. Jean's. The same men are involved in criminal complaints against Shanley.

In the deposition, Daily acknowledges that he considered Shanley a "troubled priest" who needed help. He said he knew Shanley had attended a meeting of the North American Man-Boy Love Association and had spoken in favor of the group.

But under questioning from civil attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., Daily said he had not received any reports of Shanley engaging in such activities himself.

"The only thing, the only saving feature of it is that we are talking about ideas and opinions in his promotion verbally ... to my knowledge at the time, he wasn't involved in activities," Daily said.

Daily said there was no indication Shanley was promoting sexual relationships between men and boys at St. Jean's parish, but was speaking in favor of the idea in other parts of the country.

"But having said that, I would have very great regrets," Daily said.

One of the Detroit 4 - Fr. Kenneth Kaucheck - has apologized - to his parishioners, if not the Catholics of Michigan he's misled.

The reaction to the article in Saturday's paper signed by myself and other priests made me realize that there were pieces in that article that had been edited. The article was distorted and contained loopholes, which certainly allowed people to come to conclusions that were justified, based on the inconsistencies in the edited article. I do not fault their conclusions. I fault myself for using the media. This is Respect Life month. I preached on this very issue not more than three weekends ago. I knew that it had taken on special significance and meaning because we had just celebrated the month before the first anniversary of the terrorist attack. There are so many examples and forms of violence and abuse to human life. I stated and will re-state again that the gift of life is precious. Yet it is so fragile.

I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm to you my steadfast belief in the full and consistent teaching of the Church on life issues. I begin with a commitment and a renewal of that commitment never to intentionally kill or collude in the killing of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, how unformed, disable or desperate that life may seem. I believe and I teach in accordance with the Catholic Church that abortion, the direct taking of human life prior to birth, is always a moral evil. I believe and hold that the same is true for deliberate destruction of human embryos. I have taught this in classes, preached it in church and theologized on it in Theology on Tap. I have also stated that assisted suicide, or euthanasia, is morally unacceptable. I have stated repeatedly that direct attacks on civilians and acts of terrorism are also morally unjustifiable. This is the "consistent ethic of life" which affirms the dignity of all life and condemns any form of violence that would weaken or destroy life.

If I have, by my signing of the article in the newspaper, given cause of scandal to anyone or have in any way fractured the unity of the Church, I apologize most profusely and will undergo penance for that action.

As I write this to you, please know that I will entering on retreat the week of October 28th to take days of prayer and penance and to make reparation for any harm that I may have done to any individual and to ask the help of the Holy Spirit to strengthen me in the ministry of the Church.

Vatican: Jews are our brothers

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican official in charge of relations with Jews, told a conference of prelates and rabbis that after 2,000 years of antagonism, Catholics and Jews may still disagree — but that they do so as brothers.

"Maybe on some issues they will let us down or we will let them down. But fraternity is precisely this contact, where one listens to the heart of the other as if it were his own heart," Kasper said.

The conference commemorated the 37th anniversary of the document "Nostra Aetate," Latin for "In Our Time," which was drafted during the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meeting that modernized the Church.

German news:

Catholic Archdiocese of Berlin with severe financial problems

The Catholic archdiocese of Berlin is on the brink of financial collapse, and extensive layoffs look certain as it struggles with massive debt, a spokesman said Monday. Plenty of businesses have gone bankrupt in the current German slump, but Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky is one of the most unusual chief executives to be caught in the crunch. His capital-city diocese serves 382,000 Catholics. Spokesman Andreas Herzig said Christmas bonuses would continue to be paid to the church's 2,800 employees in Berlin. However management consultants from McKinsey have been called in to advise on cost cuts and job cuts look imminent if the archdiocese is to avoid insolvency.

The German Embassy in Israel was planning a memorial service to honor war dead - including members of the SS.

The German Embassy in Israel is planning a memorial ceremony next month - and not for the first time, according to the embassy's military attache - for Germans killed while serving in the army of the Third Reich, including those in SS units. On November 17, at the the cemetery for World War I soldiers adjacent to the Holy Family hospital in Nazareth, two German priests will give speeches and lay wreathes.

News today is that they've postponed it.

Accepting the wages of sin?

A Baptist pastor in Louisiana says "no" to a contribution from a lottery winner


The Word of Truth Temple in Michigan says "yes" to the frequent donations from a strip-club owner

This isn't the point, but I must also note the obligatory anti-Catholic slam in the Baptist piece:

Thomas, at the time a recent graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, was enjoying his ministry and seeing people respond to the gospel. In the three years he had served the church, it had grown from about 75 to 200 in Sunday morning worship services. This was true despite the predominate Catholic tradition of many residents.

Even the mayor, who also was Catholic, attended the church often, Thomas said. And although he attended when invited and in an official capacity, Thomas felt the man was developing an interest in Christianity.


From Christianity Today's weblog:

On October 17, dozens of truck drivers from around the country gathered at a rural Kentucky truck stop. There, they prayed that the sniper would be caught. What they didn't know was that one of them would do it.

Ron Lantz, a 61-year-old trucker from Ludlow, Ky., heard the radio description of the car that police were looking last Wednesday and recognized the vehicle when stopping for the night. He called 911.

"I'm no hero. I just want people to think what I did is what I should have done," said Lantz, the men's ministry director at the Central Church of the Nazarene in Fort Wright, Ky. "It could have been any one of us."

Lantz has said he will give any reward money to the families of victims.

George Will pens a column on a sad subject I blogged on last week, with different examples:Life and Death in the Abortion Culture

Antonio Pena and Jaclyn Kurr of Michigan were a turbulent pair. She had sought hospital treatment for injuries he inflicted, and spent time in a domestic violence shelter. Then came their argument about his cocaine use, during which he twice punched her in the stomach.

Kurr did not fear for her life, but warned Pena that she was carrying his babies. She was 16 or 17 weeks pregnant with quadruplets. When Pena seemed about to punch her again, she stabbed him in the chest, fatally. Thus began another awkward episode of living with an abortion culture.

Convicted of voluntary manslaughter, Kurr was sentenced as a habitual offender to five to 20 years' imprisonment. The trial judge denied her request that the jury be instructed that she had a right to use deadly force in ``defense of others,'' namely her babies.

The judge ruled that a fetus under 22 weeks old is not ``viable,'' meaning not capable of surviving outside the mother's womb. (The noun ``mother,'' which seems to postulate the existence of an ``other" of the sort properly denoted by the noun ``baby,'' is routinely used in court rulings about abortion.) Therefore, said the judge, there were no ``others'' to make the ``defense of others'' rule applicable. He said: ``That's my theory.''

....A few weeks after being punched by Pena, Kurr miscarried. Whether the punches caused the miscarriage is unclear. She had a constitutional right--her privacy right of ``choice''--to kill the unborn babies. And in Michigan and many other states she could kill someone who endangered them. That's the law.

Thanks to Mike Petrik for sending along this story about the Good Book Brothers - raised in a bi-religious household, one now a Catholic priest, the other studying to be a Methodist minister.
Diocese of Belleville discusses plans for the future with fewer priests
Green Bay auctioning of three churches
Priest who blessed three-person relationship reassigned.

Archbishop John Vlazny has reassigned a Catholic priest who resigned as pastor of his Forest Grove parish after blessing the relationship between a married couple and a single woman who were later convicted of sex crimes. The Rev. Elwin Schwab will be assistant pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Roseburg, said Bud Bunce, a spokesman for Vlazny and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland. The parish also serves St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Sutherlin. The new assignment is effective Friday. Schwab was out of the country on vacation and unavailable for comment. Schwab said in June that he resigned from St. Anthony Catholic Church to avoid dividing the parish between his backers and opponents. The church's council supported the resignation after Vlazny referred the matter to them. [ed. note: FINALLY!]....Schwab said in June that he shouldn't have used the word "blessing," a term associated with the sacrament of marriage. He did not intend the ceremony as a wedding, but the single woman later told others she was married to the couple. The three adults whose relationship Schwab blessed in January 2001 -- Kimberly Ann Tasa-Ralph, Howell William Marsh and Bonny Marie Marsh -- pleaded guilty in July to sex crimes involving two teenage girls and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 20 years. Schwab said he knew nothing of the abuse by the three.

But...what was he doing? What did he think he was doing? What did he know he was doing? Why is he still a priest? Why doesn't he stay out of the country? I'm sure the Netherlands or somewhere would be glad to have him.

On this date in 1958, the Roman Catholic patriarch of Venice, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, was elected Pope; he took the name John XXIII.
Annie Lamott: Messy Missionary
A snotty AP article about VOTF and Faithful Voice in Boston. I think Russ Shaw, quoted in the article is correct:

Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he believes lay people can be a positive force for change in the church, but he's been discouraged by how lay groups have developed in Boston."It's more confrontation, more divisiveness. ... (Faithful Voice) is cast in the role as the conservative answer to the liberals," he said. "We need a fresh start in Boston, and everywhere else."

The article does present Faithful Voice's specific objections (those speakers...), but lets the VOTF spokespeople off the hook, not pushing for an explanation of that specific problem.

I have to say, once again, that this why I think new leadership is really needed in Boston. New Archbishop, new auxiliaries, from outside. See what impact Dolan is having on Milwaukee - it's partly because of who he is, but partly simply because he's new to the situation and isn't bound by the past in trying to move forward.

From Dallas: an article on what diocese are and aren't doing with the priests who've had to leave since the charter was adopted (LRR)
Bishop Dailey of Brooklyn covered up priest rest stop with minor

The former No. 2 man in the Archdiocese of Boston, now Bishop of Brooklyn, intervened with Nahant Police in 1977 after two patrolmen spotted a priest apparently engaged in a sex act with a teenage boy in a parked car, documents reviewed by the Herald show.Brooklyn Bishop Thomas V. Daily was Boston's vicar general under the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros when, according to a sworn deposition and other documents, he met with Nahant's then-police chief and the two officers and assured them he would deal with the priest, the Rev. Edward T. Kelley, currently of Milton.There is no indication Kelley was disciplined or sent for medical help as a result of the episode - even though Daily reportedly assured Nahant police that the priest would be formally treated. Kelley was never arrested or charged.

Good morning. We'll see how today goes. The sickness that began with me Friday night is working itself around the family. Joseph was sick most of last night (although is recovered nicely at this moment and is racing around the house with his normal energy level) and now Michael's home with it. Luckily, it seems to be a 12-24 hour thing.

Sunday, October 27

Many thanks to a reader for sending this piece from the Detroit News looking at Catholic women as related to the Granholm candidacy and abortion in particular. It's actually pretty fair.
Palm Beach diocese goes easy on embezzling financial officer, goes after housekeeper

When the chief financial officer of the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach allegedly embezzled $400,000 of church money in the early 1990s, the diocese let him repay less than a fourth of it, didn't pursue him when he quit making payments and kept the incident quiet.

But the cathedral parish of the diocese has been diligent in its pursuit of a 54-year-old Hispanic housekeeper, fired by the pastor over a laundry dispute, to make her repay the $275-a-week unemployment benefits granted her by the state.

Rosa Restrepo washed and ironed church linens, cleaned bathrooms and offices, vacuumed and mopped two houses and did laundry for the priests of St. Ignatius Loyola Cathedral in Palm Beach Gardens.

A state hearing officer said she was entitled to unemployment payments, but the church got the decision overruled by the Unemployment Appeals Commission in Tallahassee.

Restrepo will have to pay back $7,150 unless the 4th District Court of Appeal reverses the commission's ruling -- but she still hasn't found a job and says she has no money for a lawyer. Every one she called wanted from $1,500 to $5,000 to take her case, she said.

The Rev. John Kasparek fired Restrepo in October 2001, saying she didn't do his laundry one day after the maintenance supervisor told her to. He cited previous instances in which he said she cleaned one of the priests' houses instead of vacuuming and mopping the church, and took a later-than-usual lunch hour and went to a chapel to pray without getting permission.

Another priest, the Rev. Timothy O'Toole, complained that she failed to clean the glass-topped tables on his patio before guests arrived for a barbecue and that she once changed the comforter on his bed but forgot the sheets.

...While laundry and cleaning problems were the stated reasons for Restrepo's firing, festering disquiet in the parish over a number of other issues may have played a role in what happened afterward, according to documents in the case file.

"The main reason that Father Kasparek wanted me fired was because I knew of his personal relationship with the new musician of the parish, Arthur Nobile," Restrepo wrote in a Feb. 1 statement to the Agency for Workforce Innovation, which oversees unemployment claims.

Read the whole thing. It only gets worse, and Rosa Restrepo isn't the only one who's suffered. It's a hideous story.

Albany Catholics gather.
Pro-life Republican candidate for governor of Oregon actually might have a chance.

Saturday, October 26

Oh yes. 10pm to 6am. Solid sleep. Unfortunately, I was not feeling well during the night, so I couldn't fully appreciate the milestone. We can only hope there will be countless more to come.
The very interesting writer John L'Heureux has a new novel out. It's called The Miracle and it's reviewed in the NYTimes here.

I've always preferred L'Heureux's short fiction to his novels, but perhaps this will even out the score. His story, "The Comedian" is a haunting, funny story about a female comedian pregnant with a child who won't stop singing in utero. It's insidious a pro-life story as you'll ever find.

Speaking of subtly, perhaps even reluctantly prolife fiction, check out the first story in the Best Short Stories of 2002. It's "Along the Frontage Road" by Michael Chabon. Even if you don't want to buy the book, you can sit in the bookstore cafe and read this story. There's a sad truth at the heart of it.

And speaking of writing about abortion in short form, although it's not fiction (sadly) don't forget the chapter on "Abortion" in Richard Selzer's Mortal Lessons. Give it to someone you know who's on the fence, and see if they don't fall right off.

Surprise. Holy Cross president disinvites Francis Kissling from speaking.

When Hobgood informed McFarland about the planned speech this month, McFarland replied in a letter that he found the invitation ''extremely disappointing'' because of what he called Kissling's record of ''determined opposition to the Catholic Church and its leadership.''

Kissling, a frequent commentator in the media, has denounced Pope John Paul II as ''authoritarian'' and referred to some US bishops as ''flawed'' and ''bullies.'' She has questioned the Vatican's permanent observer status at the UN and its positions on a range of sexual and ethical issues.

McFarland said he supported free speech and ''strong feminist positions'' at Holy Cross, but said the women's studies faculty should have been more careful in its choice of speakers.

''Her criticism has been strident, personal, manipulative, and unfair,'' McFarland wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to the Globe. ''Her presence will be deeply offensive to many people here, including me, and will be an embarrassment to the institution.''

Very nice, but how about, Ms. Kissling supports the purposeful killing of unborn human beings. We don't. So we're not going to bother with her.

Wouldn't that be a lot simpler?

The journey of a great organ from a demolished Catholic Church to a new home. In a Catholic church, surprisingly.
Cincinnati Archdiocese criticizes Proctor and Gamble's stem-cell research policy
A bitter clash between Greek Orthodox in...Charlotte NC
A look at Maronite rite Catholics in Seattle
Late bishop Lawrence Welsh of Spokane was accused of trying to strangle a prostitute

On Sept. 24, 1986, Graves and Robert Webb, both detectives, arrived at Welsh's home and described the complaint from Chicago.

Welsh, according to the one-page police report, admitted having been in Chicago on the date in question for a Knights of Columbus convention. Welsh at first told the detectives he picked up a drug addict and took him to his room at the Chicago Hilton for counseling.

"He gave us a song and dance. But we song and danced him into telling us what happened," Graves said. "Sometimes it takes hours to get a confession. This didn't take a long time."

According to both the 1986 report and his own recollection, Graves said Welsh admitted to everything in the Chicago complaint except for the level of violence against the victim.

Here is an excerpt from the report: "Mr. Welsh was reluctant to tell us the whole truth at first but as the interview went along he would reveal a little more of the truth all the time, until his version of what happened came pretty close as to what the victim had said. The only thing Mr. Welsh took exception to was the amount of violence used."

Friday, October 25

iThis should be interesting: Call to Action meets in Milwaukee next week
Rabbi makes documentary on Jewish-Catholic relations.
The end is near.

I'm sitting here watching Fox News and there's an ad for a new album by Rod Stewart on which he sings old pop standards. You know - It Had to Be You, Moonglow,and so on. What's next? Mick Does Gershwin?

From the Tablet , a very interesting look at Yves Congar's recently published diaries of the Second Vatican Council
Assisi website brings out the poet in actor Roberto Benigni

Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for the film "Life Is Beautiful," has written a poem on peace for the official Web site of the Basilica and Sacred Convent of St. Francis of Assisi. Like hundreds of others, the comedian and film director responded to the initiative launched on the Internet site of the Conventual Friars ( here ), by sending "an e-mail message of peace," said Father Enzo Fortunato, director of the convent's press office. When he opened his e-mail messages on Wednesday, Father Fortunato was surprised to find a poem sent by Benigni himself.

Well, that's sad.
Tim Ferguson writes to ask about Fr. Zlatko "I Have a Cross on My Head" Sudac. As long term readers know, I linked to several accounts of his visit to NYC and environs many months ago, and expressed skepticism. Some who have attended the Masses he celebrates speak very highly of the experience. Any more insights that our reader can pass on? A website dedicated to Fr. Sudac.
Many thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet for linking my Philip Pullman piece at his great review and commentary site Looking Closer.
Good news: Arts and Letters Daily is back!
From NRO: Concerns about the State Department's (of course) possible blind eye towards Chinese repression of religion.

Concerns over an apparent Foggy Bottom policy shift were prompted two weeks ago, when John Hanford, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, told a congressional committee that Chinese officials are willing to permit their young to participate in religious Sunday schools and youth camps.

Given the reality of the PRC's official and often-brutal campaign and policies against believers, Hanford's comments (at the House Subcommittee on International Relations and Human Rights' hearing on the department's 2002 International Religious Freedom Report) took aback the regime's critics, who expect the State Department to challenge PRC claims — about Sunday school or anything else — without overwhelming evidence.

With Hanford's testimony coming just two weeks before premier Jiang Zemin's visit to the U.S., the mood among activists was disappointment over a lost opportunity, and confusion as to whether the State Department was glossing over the PRC's ugly record.

Today we remember the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales as a group.

There is a Bendectine Convent now located at the Tyburn Tree, the site of many of these martyrdoms. They have a lovely website here.


You all are cordially invited to the 1st annual St. Blog's Cruise.

Come with us as we enjoy the ocean breezes, warm sun and ports o' call at the famous islands of St. Linkme, St. Paypal and the daily morning stop of Checkmycounter Bay. For a mere $4.57, you will enjoy all of this plus experience Life with Famous Catholic Bloggers. I can't speak for the others, but I know you won't want to miss time watching the proprieters of In Between Naps and Annunciations sitting in a stupor on deck chairs discussing how long the baby slept the night before and scraping off the Cheerios smashed into their shorts. Definitely a fun-filled week!

Thursday, October 24

At Holocaust Museum in DC, two Sudanese bishops tell of the genocide in their own country.
You might be interested in this speech that Archbishop Chaput gave to the Denver Rotary Club

As a citizen, I think one of the worst moments in recent political history was when John F, Kennedy promised a Texas audience that he'd keep his Catholic faith out of his public service. I think all Americans -- not just Catholics -- have been paying for that mistake for 40 years. It's one of the turning points in our community life where this unhealthy fracture between public behavior and personal belief began to grow.

I want my elected officials to inform their actions with their religious and moral beliefs, even if I don't agree with them. I want them to do it prudently and in a spirit of reasonable compromise -- but on the hard issues, I want them to act on their principles, because then I can respect them. I can't respect and I can't trust an elected official, or any other leader, who claims that he or she personally believes one thing, but then publicly does another -- whether the issue involves abortion or the death penalty or prescription medicines for the elderly or affordable housing for the poor.

From the NYTimes: (LRR) Pockets added to friars' tunics; Sky Falls

Since receiving the commission last year to redesign the habit worn by 90 Franciscan friars of the Third Order Regular, Ms. Bianchetti and her design have been praised, debated and excoriated in the Italian press. The state-run television network RAI broadcast a documentary on her innovations, which were termed prete-à-porter, a pun on both the Italian word for priest and the French term for ready-to-wear.

"What Elisabetta Bianchetti did is quite radical," said Adriana Sartogo, who produced the film for RAI-TV. "Italians are very conservative about the clergy, and to restyle their clothes never, ever happens here."

The changes made by Ms. Bianchetti were, in fact, duly modest. Streamlining a heavy folded wool robe, she also adapted its color to accord with records of St. Francis from the 13th century. But it was her replacement of two small slits on the garment with a pair of shirt-style pockets that apparently tickled a bemused Italian press.

Catholics pray at site of killing

Five members of a local Catholic church said a rosary at a Mobil station where the sniper killed one of his first victims on Oct 3.They attributed the latest development to the legendary miraculous powers of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, a fold-up gilt-framed portrait of whom they propped against a gas pump."We've been having novenas and masses every day. We decided to go to all the (shootings) sites and take her with us," said Grace Sese."Evil will never win," she added.

Meanwhile...across the globe...

Look. I'm really glad and hopeful about this morning's arrests, but I have watched the news channels all morning for news of the Moscow theater hostage situation, but in vain. I wish we could take a 3-minute break from the video of buildings, highways and cars, and get an update on that already bad, and potentially horrendous situation.

Robert Trexler, editor of the bulletin for the New York C.S. Lewis Society, sends this link to an excerpt from a new book about the Harry Potter series, along with these comments:

I have read the entire book in manuscript and I feel very strongly about its importance. It is insightful, spiritually illuminating, and fun to
read. The writer is clearly immersed in CS Lewis and the Inklings, and shares with JK Rowling an advanced degree in Classical Languages and Literature (Granger has a degree in classical languages from The University of Chicago.)

The section where Mr Granger explains the hidden meaning of various names and words in the Potter books, often based on latin, is a great piece of detective work. He also has a wonderful section which explains the principles of symbolist literature drawing from his background as an Eastern Orthodox believer. Aside from its relevance to the Potter books, it serves as a primer for any understanding of the sacramental and incarnational nature of good Christian fiction. His explanation of Platonic theories will aid in the understanding of Lewis and Tolkien as much as the JK Rowling books. There are superb plot summaries which document the Christian perspective of JK Rowling as an author. There is a fun section where he speculates on the events forthcoming in future novels, which should be of interest to the die-hard Potter enthusiast (I think kids would actually enjoy reading this section and skip over parts one and two which deal
with major themes, influences and general literary theory.)

Of the many books available on the Potter phenomena, this is the only one which takes it seriously as a modern day inspiration from the Inkling genre. Nothing else has been written which addresses all the questions which Granger is perceptible enough to ask. And few people have the classical and Christian background to provide satifying answers.

Law says he might meet with VOTF

In a further softening of his position, Cardinal Bernard F. Law yesterday told about 400 priests that he hoped to sit down with leaders of Voice of the Faithful, the lay group that has arisen out of the church's sexual abuse crisis and with which he has feuded, said priests who attended a meeting with the cardinal. Law made the remarks at St. Camillus Church in a wide-ranging session that covered topics ranging from his decision not to resign in the midst of the crisis to the rights of priests accused of sexual misconduct. The meeting, which was his second in two days with archdiocesan priests, was closed to the media. But in remarks afterward, the cardinal said the assembled priests who spoke had kind words for the Voice of the Faithful.''I would say the basic thrust of the comments was to encourage on my part a more open and positive approach,'' said Law. At the earlier meeting on Tuesday, most priests spoke positively about the organization, while a few voiced negative comments.

I think he should, and often. Keeping them totally outside only gives them more power in the public relations game.

Wednesday, October 23

""Nine times out of 10, the exhaust smells like french fries," ... "but every once in a while it smells like Chinese food."
From the Weekly Standard, J. Bottum on why Goldhagen's forthcoming Pius XII book will be a boon to other Pius detractors:

That's not because the book is right, of course. It is filled with so many simple errors of fact that it's positively embarrassing to read. These errors of fact combine to create a set of historical theses about the Nazis and the Catholic Church so tendentious that not even Pius XII's most determined belittlers have dared to assert them. And, in Goldhagen's final chapters, the bad historical theses unite to form a complete anti-Catholicism the likes of which we haven't seen since the elderly H.G. Wells decided Catholicism was the root of all evil and wrote a book whose marvelous title shows the true flavor of curmudgeonly nuttiness: "Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (An Author's Frank Convictions about the Meddling Policies of the Church from its First Tie-up with the Emperor Constantine to its Present Alliance with the Nazi-Fascist-Shinto Axis)."

But Goldhagen's "Frank Convictions about the Meddling Policies"--I'm sorry; I mean Goldhagen's "A Moral Reckoning"--will nonetheless prove a useful book, not despite its errors, but because of them. This is a great opportunity for those who've written previous books against Pius XII. The reviews of Susan Zuccotti's "Under His Very Windows," for instance, were quite negative, accusing her of slanting the evidence to support her prejudged anti-Pius thesis. But now Goldhagen offers her a chance to claim middle-of-the-road credentials. "How can you say I'm an extremely prejudiced opponent of Pius?" Zuccotti can ask. "Daniel Goldhagen is the prejudiced extreme; I'm a moderate." For Garry Wills, James Carroll, and John Cornwell--all under considerable attack for their anti-Catholic Catholicism--no gift could be more timely. A prediction for the coming weeks: All these authors will review Goldhagen's book, and all of them will trash it--while using it along precisely the lines I suggest. Poor Danny Goldhagen. He's going to be beat up one side and down the other; his natural opponents attacking him and his natural allies joining in.

From Catholic Goldmine: Jeff Cavins leaving EWTN

According to sources at EWTN, the Oct. 31st show of Life on The Rock will be the last one with Jeff Cavins as host. After that date EWTN's local priest, Fr. Francis Stone will become host of the program aimed at youth.Catholic Goldmine has learned that Jeff Cavins will develop a new radio call-in show in Shakopee-Minneapolis. The radio show will be produced by Twin Hearts Media and will air on radio station KSMM, in which Cavins is a partner. (Cavins joined Twin Media last year.) The program will allow him to continue his speaking tours, teachings, books, tapes, and Catholic cruises.

"Catholic cruises?" Is this yet another new subculture I need to learn about?

Cardinal Law says he considered resigning
From NCR, An account of the troubles in Rockville Center

It was at this point that the bishop decided to invite a Newsday reporter and photographer to the residence that he moved into in early October so that the record could speak for itself. If the public reaction by Catholics is any indication, that decision may have been ill-advised.Complete with photographs of a lavishly decorated living room, a new fireplace with an oak mantel and a kitchen that features top-of-the-line appliances and equipment, the story describes in detail the private wing in the residence. This includes the bishop’s bedroom and marble bath, a bedroom and study for his secretary, Fr. Joseph DeGrocco and a separate suite called “the cardinal’s suite.” A public wing has a fourth bedroom for visiting laity.The ceiling in the dining room has been lowered at additional expense so that a chandelier could be installed. An extra $120,000 was spent on three Oriental rugs and a new table was bought for the dining area along with 12 specially upholstered chairs. The Murphys’ personal art collection adds to the design.Aside from all the most modern appliances, the kitchen has a double Sub-Zero refrigerator with an adjoining pantry that has an under-counter temperature-controlled wine storage cabinet for 50 bottles of wine. The top shelf in the cabinet is set at 45 degrees for champagne and white wine while the lower shelf is set at 55 degrees for red wine. There is a six-burner Viking professional range.

Did I mention that our bishop lives in a ranch house on a quiet street, three blocks over from Kroger's and about five streets away from us?

Last night I read and this morning I wrote about Girl Meets God by CT contributing editor Lauren Winner. It will be the November OSV book column, along with the new Flannery O'Connor biography

Girl Meets God was an engaging spiritual memoir, along the lines, as many have noted, of an Annie Lamott style of spiritual writing: honest, personal, smart, humorous. Winner was raised a Reform Jew, then converted to Orthodox Judaism when she went to Columbia University, then converted to Anglicanism when she went to Cambridge. The title of the book implies a conversion rooted in a framework of relationship, and although Winner is very brainy, that is essentially what it comes down to, as embodied in a dream she had as an Orthodox Jew, a dream in which she was kidnapped by mermaids and rescued by a dark, thirtyish, "Daniel-Day-Lewis-kind of guy." Her boyfriend thought she was dreaming about other men. Her roommate thought it was Elijah. Her 10th grade physics teacher, a Christian, asked her what she thought. She admitted she thought it was Jesus. The teacher said she thought so too, but that an Orthodox Jew didn't have room in her life for Jesus, right?

Well, right, at least for the next two years, during which Winner busied herself with school and life as an Orthodox, until she finally gave in and said yes and was baptized a Christian in the Anglican church.

It's a good book, particularly for a smart young person on a spiritual search, or the parent of one who's wondering what her kid is up to. It's a very honest book, too. Winner's quite open about what ultimately turned her off from Orthodoxy, and open about her own sins and failings as well. There's a lot of nice detail, and some nice vingettes - I think my favorite was the story of her trip back to her mother's home in Charlottesville. As silly as it makes her look to some, Winner admits that one element crucial in her conversion was the novels of Jan Karon - the Mitford novels about the Episcopalians in North Carolina. It doesn't seem right, she admits - it should have been Dosteovsky - but it was Karon, so there.

Anyway, on this trip back, she learns that Karon has moved to the area, to get away from her ever-present fans who visited her in NC. Her exact whereabouts are a mystery, but one day, Winner and her mother set out - on a pilgrimage - to find her. I won't tell you what happens - nothing much, but everything that needs to, really - but it's a wonderful chapter.

I was annoyed by a few things, though. Winner is smart, and knows it - she's only in her twenties, but has vast knowledge about everything from Judaism to American religious history (she is a grad student in the field, after all!). She doesn't exactly wear her intense intelligence on her sleeve, but it's clear she knows she's smart. Now, self-centeredness is hard to avoid in writing a memoir, true, but there are times when Winner’s world seems unbearably small, centered on her awareness of her intense intelligence, her books and her boyfriends, and her spiritual angst only shrinks that world further, rather than expanding it. The reader appreciates Winner’s honesty, for example, at sharing her miserable jealousy of a pregnant friend, and what that teaches her about her spiritual life, but it doesn’t eliminate the reader’s desire to just shake her out her self-centeredness, nonetheless. There's also a bit too much of the implied "I've got tattoos and I drink and I'm such a different kind of Christian" woven through the text, a theme I took up in my twenties, too - in terms of being a "liberal" prolifer in my case, but in the end, I decided it wasn't about me, so I should just get over myself and do the work.

I also felt there's a bit of a gap in her spiritual accounting. I don't think I ever got a clear sense of what she thinks about Jesus and why, except that he's real and he "rescues" her. Maybe that's all we need to know, but you know, I think in terms of apologetics, since I've spent three years writing about it, and as charming as this book is, I don't think that reading it would make the why of Christian faith clear to a non-believer, to the extent that such can be done anyway.

Eve has read the book too, and I'm very interested on what her take might be.

And yes, I really am trying to read all those books on the left, and if anyone's read or knows a lot about the Newman partial biography (which is what it is), which is quite a revision from received wisdom, let me know.

A reader writes in to say that he went to school with the aforementioned Marc Anthony (not the singer - the ex-seminarian mentioned yesterday) and to all appearances, the guy seemed like a "rock solid orthodox prayerful sort of fellow." He continues,

Part of the lesson is that you really never know what lurks behind the human heart. But even more importantly is that the Crisis that we have been experiencing in the American Church is not just with a bunch of 50 or 60 something priests - there are some serious homo and heterosexual deviants out there right now among the younger clergy (and I am not talking about typical struggles with celibacy in a pervasively erotic society) and most of them APPEAR orthodox and not your typical liberal ideologue. This is a bomb waiting to explode - this is more than a crisis of fidelity to the magisterium.

Like I've been sayin' might seem easy to reflexively associate these kinds of problems with various ideological wings of the Church (how sad to even use that terminology!) but when you look at reality, it just doesn't work.

NoVa/MD/DC are you doing?
Atlanta country DJ fired for southern accent
Some local news: Baby's death ruled homicide

Here's the story: A woman was 5 1/2 months pregnant. Her baby's father beat her severely. A day later, she gave birth, and the baby died.

An autopsy performed Friday revealed Nevah died Oct. 17 of blunt force trauma, said Dr. E. Jon Brandenberger, Allen County coroner. His death was ruled Allen County's 24th homicide this year.

Tests showed that the baby sustained the injuries during the beating of his mother Oct. 9, said chief investigator Dick Alfeld of the coroner's office.

Sobering, of course, because of the evil involved. Thought-provoking because, of course, that same baby at that same gestational age - could endure more than blunt trauma at the hands of an abortionist and no one would go to jail, no one would be charged with homicide, the people who did it would make a lot of money, and the whole thing would be called a "choice" worth celebrating.

I should add that this was one of two murdered babies stories in our paper today. Here's the other one.

Victims speak out in Milwaukee

The sharing session, organized by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, is believed to be the first one in the nation that involved victims, mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and the hierarchy in the planning and in giving responses at the event, according to Milwaukeean Peter Isely, one of the panelists and a member of the national board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The panelists included Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan and Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann. McCann told one victim who was abused while on an out-of-state trip with a priest that it still might be possible to prosecute the man because statutes of limitations vary from state to state.

Dolan thanked those who had suffered crimes at the hands of priests for coming and renewed a previous call for victims to come forward.

"The psychological, emotional and physical horror of what was done to you by people who dared to say they represented the Lord is beyond belief," said Dolan, who stressed that he did believe and respect the survivors for their courage in coming forward.

Dolan was visibly moved by the speakers, at times removing his glasses and wiping his eyes with a white handkerchief. After one 47-year-old man sobbingly recalled being abused by a priest decades ago when he was an altar server and a choirboy, Dolan left the stage and embraced him.

Retired Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans filming a documentary about army chaplain Emil Kapaun

Soldiers who served with Kapaun are leading the effort to have him declared a saint by the Catholic Church. The Vatican has given the Diocese of Wichita permission to begin building the case to Kapaun's canonization.

Philip Hannan, a retired archbishop from New Orleans, is filming a documentary on Kapaun that he hopes will educate new generations of Americans and advance the cause for sainthood.

"I have no doubt but that we will all be able to say one day, not simply 'Father Emil Kapaun,' but 'Saint Emil Kapaun,' " said Hannan, who met Kapaun while they were both studying at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., in the late 1940s.

Vatican names abuse panel members

American members of the commission are Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill., and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.

The Vatican will be represented by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who heads the Congregation for Clergy; Monsignor Julian Herranz, who heads the Council for Legislative Texts; Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Monsignor Francesco Monterisi, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops

Tuesday, October 22

Ex-wife of former Ohio governor one of those ordained in Germany

A former Ohio first lady said she is one of the seven women who were ordained as Roman Catholic priests in late June and then excommunicated by the church.Dagmar Braun Celeste said she has not yet celebrated Mass or performed other priestly duties, but would do so if asked.Celeste said she didn't consider the possibility of becoming a priest until after her 1995 divorce.Richard Celeste was Ohio's governor from 1983 to 1991.

Former seminarian charged with soliciting sex with a female minor over the internet.

He graduated from The Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus in 2000 and studied to be a priest at the North American College in Rome until earlier this month when he went on leave, according to the Columbus Catholic Diocese.

Thank goodness he left. Too bad he got as far as he did.

Fr. Daniel Berrigan making the rounds in Kentucky

John Michael Talbot in Syracuse

Both voice opposition to an impending war with Iraq.

California priest apologizes for anti-Islam remarks

At a Sept. 11 memorial service at the Chico church, Fulton spoke out against Islam, reportedly calling it a religion that fosters violence and saying that Muslims in general represent a threat.

One person who heard Fulton's homily on Sept. 11, Bonnie Roy, a student at Chico State University, said she was shocked by the priest's words "in a setting where you expect people to be open-minded and reflective and tolerant."

She complained about the sermon to Bishop William Weigand, who heads the Sacramento Diocese of the Catholic Church.

Fulton said Weigand responded to the complaint by having the diocese's staff theologian talk to him. That discussion convinced him he'd been somewhat ignorant about Islam and Catholic teachings on that religion, he said.

"I acknowledge that Islam 'has a long history of tolerance,' and that among its central tenets are forgiveness and returning good for evil," he wrote to the E-R. "I acknowledge that it was wholly wrong to blame all Muslims and Islam itself for the heinous actions of a few."

After talking to the diocese's theologian and re-reading certain church documents, Fulton said he realized his statements on Sept. 11 were "totally contrary to Catholic teaching and conduct, and to the efforts of both the Holy See and the diocese to promote harmonious relationships between (Christianity and Islam)."

Well. Were the Detroit 4 called in to talk to a "diocesan theologian?" Have they apologized for misrepresenting Church teaching yet?

David saw The Ring last night and came home pretty nerved up. Said it was really scary.
The Diocese of Rochester plans for the future with fewer and fewer priests

While it’s too early to know precise details, the reordering of resources ordered by Bishop Matthew Clark likely will lead to hard decisions on a wider scale than Catholics have known. The planning comes as the diocese struggles to deal with shifting demographics and a steadily falling number of priests.

Decisions will be made on a number of issues: whether to consolidate a number of adjacent parishes and staff, how to trim the number of daily and Sunday Masses, how to spread the wealth of money and talent from bigger suburban parishes to poorer ones, and whether to close some church facilities.

At the same time, the process will catapult an ever-increasing number of lay people -- more highly trained than ever before -- to leadership of parishes.

Along with this rise of the laity, the area’s 360,000 Catholics also will see a major shifting of priests toward a more sacramental role, and away from their traditional role of pastor-administrator and doer-of-all-things.

From the NYTimes (LRR): A piece on Bishop McCormack of New Hampshire. Sketchy to those who've been following this since February, but not helpful to McCormack's cause, nonetheless.
Pope sees art as tool of evangelization
Three receive what's referred to as the "Missionary's Nobel".

Monday, October 21

Todd suggests that only married Anglican and Lutheran ministers who convert may get ordained as Roman Catholic priests. Garbled, but you get it. I don't think so - after all, .014 second Google search came up with this story about a married Methodist minister who made the switch a few years back.

One also wearies of having to constantly explain every small detail of one's opinions on a blog, which is, by its nature, a short form of communication. Of course the diaconate has its own call and dignity. But the fact remains, Alex Jones was a pastor in his church, and is obviously a powerful leader. One hopes that if the call to priesthood is there, all sides are open.

Former hockey player says priest admitted abuse

The highest-ranking Boston Archdiocese official implicated in the sex scandal admitted molesting three boys more than 20 years ago, a former Boston Bruins hockey player said in sworn testimony filed Monday. The athlete, Chris Nilan, is a friend of the priest, Monsignor Frederick J. Ryan, who was vice chancellor under then-Boston Cardinal Humberto Medeiros.

Scholar claims oldest Jesus evidence

An inscription on a burial artifact that was recently discovered in Israel appears to provide the oldest archaeological evidence of Jesus Christ, according to an expert who dates it to three decades after the crucifixion. Writing in Biblical Archaeology Review, Andre Lemaire, a specialist in ancient inscriptions at France's Practical School of High Studies, says it is very probable the find is an authentic reference to Jesus of Nazareth. The archaeology magazine planned to announce the discovery at a news conference Monday. That Jesus existed is not doubted by scholars, but what the world knows about him comes almost entirely from the New Testament. No physical artifact from the first century related to Jesus has been discovered and verified. Lemaire believes that has changed, though questions remain, such as where the piece with the inscription has been for more than 19 centuries. The inscription, in the Aramaic language, appears on an empty ossuary, or limestone burial box for bones. It reads: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Lemaire dates the object to 63 A.D.

Much more detail from the Washington Post

Lemaire said the ossuary currently contains no bones. It is about 20 inches long, made of porous limestone and slightly trapezoidal in shape. It closely resembles a flower box like those mounted in windows.Lemaire told the owner that his ossuary was "interesting," but he knew the box posed immediate and serious questions. How likely was it that the names James, Joseph and Jesus--all popular names in New Testament-era Jersalem -- referred to the family of Christ?Was the Aramaic inscription as old as the box, or had it been etched in later to enhance its value? Did the cursive lettering used in the inscription match characters used in contemporary scripts?Yet even if these questions were answered satisfactorily, scholars understood that the ossuary's mongrel pedigree would ensure that it would never acquire legitmacy among scholars:

Well, yes, we dashed across Ohio on Thursday and went to Pittsburgh. Then we went to sleep, then we got up, I spoke, and we dashed back across Ohio, and were home by 9pm.

I spoke at the Pittsburgh Diocese's "Total Catholic Religious Education Conference" on "Teaching Faith and Values through Literature." I don't think I was too terribly boring, and took the chance, among other things, to offer my anti-Pullman harangue. Had probably around 150 people in the room, I think. Had a chance to see nice people like Mike Aquilina, Mary-Louise Kurey and Johnette Benkovic.

The new, still-being rebuilt convention center in Pittsburgh is a wretched mess, requiring one to walk miles to get from one floor to another, especially if one has a stroller and must use an elevator. But they did the best with what they had, and came up with an excellent conference, with, as far as I could tell, no workshops dedicated to helping students find their Enneagram type by meditating on the mythical paradigms of 13th century MezoAmerica. I guess they don't do that in Pittsburgh.

A good piece about Alex Jones, the Pentecostal pastor who converted to Catholicism

Mr. Jones said he came into the church with no agenda. "I came here to learn and to sit and to discover all the teachings of the church. While I’m here and my eyes are adjusting to the light, I see things I can contribute, too. One thing I can contribute is my passion for Christ, my love for Him, and seek to spread that to those around me."....When he finally became Catholic, Mr. Jones said he felt that all of his wanderings were over. "Just about every convert to the church has that feeling of coming home. This is the big house and we’ve been living out in the yard in tents. So we folded our tent and came into the big house."

The article says Jones is training to be ordained a deacon. Why? Why not a priest? Perhaps it's a personal decision he's made himself, but if no one in the hierarchy is really encouraging this man to be ordained to the priesthood, it's a real shame.

A tragic, horrific story about a husband's control and murder of his wife - and the sons who watched.
From the NYTimes (LRR) one more story about the priest from Holy Angels in Chicago who's standing firm against his dismissal.

For the choir members who wear "Justice for Father John" pins on their robes — and for Father Calicott, who now drives 50 miles every Sunday to sit, in plain clothes, in the back rows at the Mass he used to celebrate — the letter from Rome offers renewed hope. Father Calicott, who was an altar boy at this South Side church and grew up in the Ida B. Wells housing project nearby, is one of five ousted priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and several dozen nationwide, who have filed appeals asking the Vatican to reconsider their suspensions.

At a reception after Mass, the cardinal declined to be photographed with Father Calicott, who had taken Communion from a priest at the back of the church, near his seat, rather than approach the prelate at the altar....

He returns here each Sunday, quietly unzipping his Bible from its leather case, singing along with the choir and raising his hands in prayer as someone else pours the wine, distributes the wafers and preaches the word."What I want is to get back to my ministry," said Father Calicott, who wore a gray sweater that matched his salty goatee. "I think I'm a good minister."Without providing details, Mr. Calicott acknowledged that "there was inappropriate behavior" with the teenagers in 1976, shortly after his ordination, adding, "for that I have apologized." His return to the parish in 1995 was contingent on continued counseling and a promise that he would never be alone with children.Today, Father Calicott emphasized that his situation was distinct from those of serial pedophiles like the defrocked John J. Geoghan in Boston, and said the retroactive zero-tolerance policy was akin to tightening restrictions on drunken driving, then stripping generations of their licenses. "There is intellectual dishonesty in taking today's standards and looking 20, 30, 40 years ago," he said. "Realistically, human beings make mistakes. Just throwing people away doesn't make sense, and doesn't protect children."Outside, on the parish billboard, sandwiched between the Mass schedule and a greeting for the cardinal, was the Holy Angels mantra: "Justice for Fr. John."

Connecticut priests apologize for hiding the whereabouts of an abuser

Howell, in his prepared statement to his congregation, said spending many hours in prayer and reflection in a monastic retreat outside Connecticut was helpful. He apologized for appearing to be insensitive to the victims of sexual abuse. Howell, 60, has been pastor of St. Joseph Parish since 1986.
"What I did or failed to do arose out of mistaken sense of fidelity to a person who had at one time been a brother priest," Howell said. "At no time did I anticipate that my occasional contacts with Laurence Brett would be a cause of harm to anyone. In acting out of a mistaken sense of fidelity, I made a prudential judgment that was wrong. I deeply regret this failure of prudence on my part and any harm it may have caused anyone."He also acknowledged that he had denied to a reporter that he had contact with Brett.

Our sympathies to Kathy Shaidle, who lost her mother yesterday.
23-year old pretends to be a priest for a week; no one notices anything wrong
John Paul II beatifies missionary workers in Uganda, including 2 Ugandan teens

At the end of the celebration in St. Peter's Square, the Pope thanked men and women missionaries for their selfless dedication to proclaiming the Gospel. "I am with you every day!" the Pope said. "'I am with you,' Jesus says to the pilgrim Church in the world. I am with you, young ecclesial communities in mission lands. Do not be afraid to engage in dialogue with all. Take the message of salvation to each one. Be courageous!" The Holy Father said this was precisely the testimony left by Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa, catechists of northern Uganda, who were brutally killed for the faith on Oct. 18, 1918. Historical sources say Daudi was 16 and Jildo was 12.


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