Friday, November 29

Retired priest spends time helping the poor "a dollar at a time."

At the first of three stops Chase will make in a 10-hour day, more than 300 people have formed into three haphazard lines along a wrought-iron fence. Some have waited for two hours. Chase emerges in a red sweater over his clerical collar and a Notre Dame cap pressed onto his gray hair. A cross dangles from his neck. Few in these lines -- divided into women, the disabled, and men -- know his real name. Some call him Father Dollar Bill, but most have shortened it to just the initials -- DB.

"Yo, DB, how you been baby," one man calls from the street. Chase turns and waves, looking like a casting director’s idea of a priest. He is a big man, with large hands and a ready smile. He stands on a throw rug at the head of the lines. As each person approaches, Chase shakes their hand or places his hand on their shoulder or their face. They talk briefly, Chase often asking their name or where they are from. Finally, Chase’s hand emerges from his pants pocket with a dollar, sometimes more. "They like the dollar," Chase says, during a break. "But it’s more than that. Mother Teresa said ‘touch the poor,’ and that’s what I try to do." Chase said he always makes sure to look each person in the eye. "By my looking into their eyes, I’m saying ‘you have dignity, you’re a human being, you are made in the image and likeness of God,’ " Chase said.

Mother Teresa's letters and diaries to be excerpted in a volume published in Italy next year; will reveal her painful doubts.

Well, hey.

I'm blogging to you from beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee. The baby is napping, the men are in the living room watching football, and there's nowhere for me to sit, so I guess I'll just make the sacrifice and sit at the computer.

Wednesday, November 27

We will be on and off the road over the next few days. Down to KY to see some of Michael's family, then to Knoxville to see my dad, his wife Hilary and my son Christopher, then back here on Saturday evening in time for You Know What. Blogging will be diminished, but not totally absent.

Get your HANDS out of my PURSE, Security-boy!


I took my older kids to the airport for their flight to Virginia. The new security routine was in place, which wasn't much different than the old security routine except for an extra check-in point at the beginning. I carried Joseph through the detector gate and we beeped. So we had to step aside and be wanded. First him - which he resisted mightily, and then me - and all of this would be fine but for the fact that just as we were being wanded, the guy at the belt started looking through my purse. Oh, he asked first, but he was behind a plexiglass separating wall, I was trying not to wrench Joseph's arm off as I kept him in place and having a beeping wand waved about my person with a stream of other passengers walking along the belt, blocking my view of what the Security Boy was doing with my purse.

Keep an eye on Your Stuff, friends. I didn't lose anything this time, but I wouldn't take a thing for granted..

Nigerian archbishop urges Christians to defend themselves

A Catholic archbishop said Wednesday that Christians were "tired of turning the other cheek" to Muslim attacks and blamed the government for deadly sectarian riots after a newspaper article about the Miss World (news - web sites) beauty pageant. "No group of people should be allowed to invade the city of Abuja and molest law-abiding citizens," said the Rev. John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. Onaiyekan spoke at a news conference called by the Council of Nigerian Churches and accused President Olusegun Obasanjo's government of failing to protect Christians during the riots. "We blame the government because we rely on the government to protect us," he said. The archbishop said Christians shouldn't hesitate to defend themselves from further attacks. "It is a Christian duty to protect yourselves," he said. Senior clergy from the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and other churches also criticized the government, arguing that Christians had taken the brunt of the violence.

I’m still working through the whole Who needs the religious busybodies conversation.

Sometimes people who are immersed in religion – particularly in a particular religion – forget that the rest of the world doesn’t see things from their perspective. Oh, we may say we know it’s true, but we really don’t. Take us Serious Catholics. We really do assume, unthinkingly, that the internal matters which take up our attention are also issues of interest for non-Catholics. We assume that our interest in what the Pope says or does is shared by the rest of the world.

Well, for the most part, it’s not, is it?

So that’s the first point to consider before taking umbrage at the dismissal of the views of religious leaders on various issues. Do I care what the president of the Southern Baptist Convention thinks about environmental issues? Nah. Do I even bother with the latest pronouncements of the Presbyterian Church USA on sexuality issues? Well, I do read them – or read about them – as a part of my self-education in where the culture is on these matters – but do I take them in as something to consider when forming my own conscience?

Well, no.

So – why should I or any of us be surprised when people who have no truck with religion express such profound indifference to what religious leaders say?

All right, but…let’s look at it from another angle (I didn’t say this was an argument. It’s thoughts offered with the baby snoozing on the couch, and with me killing time until I have to go get the other kids to take them to the airport.)

Ah, yes – the other angle.

Now, I would be concerned about what the president of the Southern Baptist Convention has to say about something like prayer in public schools, especially if he was for it (which, historically speaking, he really shouldn’t be, but you never know these days), and was leading a push in my state to impose prayer in public schools, something to which I am stubbornly opposed.

So why would I be concerned in this case? Because it’s an issue that would affect me and my own. But would the proper response be to tell him to just go away and stick to reciting the books of the Bible? No, because he is a citizen, his group represents citizens, and they have a right to duke it out in the political process as much as anyone else does.

But…what about those SUV’s? And the other issues that don’t seem to have anything to do with religion? We can excuse the SBC president for participating in the discussion and trying to mold policy in our example because it’s about prayer and well, prayer is something religious leaders are supposed to know something about.

But the SUV’s?

Well, see, here’s where the deep Christian vision and the secular society butt heads. The secular society wants to privatize religion, rendering it something akin to selecting ice cream flavors. Trouble is, it’s not like that. Well – it is for some people, who mouth a creed on Sunday and merrily violate it the other 6 23/24 days of the week.

But ideally, faith is not simply one compartment of life. Faith concerns our self-identification: do I belong to God or something else? Naturally enough, then, that self-identification impacts how we spend our lives. Secularists want to bind the hands of faith, but authentic faith shapes everything it touches.

Here’s the thing: You can’t slam Christians for selling out to the culture and for being hypocrites and at the same time insist that they keep their faith to themselves.

You can’t slam Christian churches for not doing enough in regard to whatever human rights issue you pick – including the Holocaust – and then demand that churches today shut up and mind their own business and stop commenting on matters beyond their ken.

I think it’s that last point that irritates me the most. It simply makes no sense to judge Christians in the past guilty for silence or inaction on what might be called political matters and then hold churches’ present-day efforts to do just that up for ridicule, a ridicule based not on the content of the efforts, but on their mere expression.

Finally – I think – one more thought on Catholic bishops, specifically, one that’s been running through my head all week. What some – Catholic and non-Catholic – don’t understand is that when Catholic religious leaders and teachers speak, they shouldn’t be heard as speaking merely from the tops of their heads, out of the present moment, based on the current research. What they are supposed to be doing is interpreting Tradition for the present day, bringing it to bear on new situations. Now, granted, this is a difficult area, and one that is not infallible. Got it?

On one level, it makes little sense: when bishops teach on contemporary issues, they teach authoritatively, but not infallibly. Even – I dare say it – much papal teaching falls in this category. I’m still reading those bios of J23 (yes…) and am currently slogging through accounts of how radical Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris were in the context of previous centuries of papal pronouncements –especially on freedom of conscience and freedom of religious practice. Apologists can try all they want to say “Well, they weren’t really a change..” but they’re just grasping at straws. Yes, they were.

So why should we listen? (We being Catholics now) Because the bishops et al aren’t speaking solely for themselves. They are supposed to be speaking out of the whole of Christian tradition, rooted in God’s revelation through Scripture. So, the point is – when the bishops condemn abortion or call us to care for the poor – I can gripe all I want about their relative inaction on abortion and Bishop Murphy’s Sub-Zero freezer, and I have a right to gripe, and all of us have a right and an obligation to point out dissonance between words and actions to these same bishops. But in the end, I have to responsibly tease out the essence of what they’re saying and take it seriously.

But the hard part is the fact that there is no dearth of misapplications and misstatements of tradition, even by bishops, and even by popes – especially the more specific the issue. Which brings us back to the knotty issue that got me started: Faith extends to all areas of life, including, for example, how I spend my money and how I treat the environment. It really does. It’s called stewardship, and it’s all over the Gospels. My faith in Christ should touch all of my decisions, great and small. But somehow, something goes screwy – something doesn’t seem quite right when religious leaders try to pin down that specificity and make pronouncements on economic policy, for example. Does anyone care about the bishops’ pastoral on the economy issued lo so many years ago? Did anyone care then?

So here’s the question – how can religious leaders and teachers walk the line, balancing the commitment to help the flock understand the totality of the faith commitment, yet avoid making statements on the minutiae of life that make them look at best silly and at worst, like frantic little totalitarians?

Kansas City review board makes a decision

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will allow a priest who admitted a long-ago sexual relationship with another man to return to duty, but in another parish. Archbishop James P. Keleher announced his decision Tuesday, after an archdiocesan review board cleared the Rev. William Haegelin (pictured, left) of allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor. His accuser was the other man, who is now in his 30s and living in another state. The review board found that the relationship, which took place sometime in the 1980s, began after Haegelin's accuser turned 18. Haegelin, 52, had been pastor of St. Ann Church in the Kansas City suburb of Prairie Village. He was placed on paid leave Sept. 10, four after the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas received a letter accusing him of inappropriate sexual relations. "Father Haegelin did confirm to the Archbishop that many years ago he violated his promise of priestly celibacy when the accuser was an adult," the diocese said in its statement announcing the board's finding.

More about Bishop Belo's resignation.

Was it health or politics?

Bishop Belo was earlier reported to be unhappy with Vatican plans to reorganise church structures in East Timor by creating a third diocese."We don't want him to go - it was he who saved East Timor. If he leaves, there will be many problems," said parishioner Sebastio Calado, adding that he would "like to know who's behind this".It was typical of responses from those in the street, who suspect the resignation is politically motivated.

Well, maybe, but considering that he's spent time in Europe for treatment for undisclosed health problems, I'd put my money on the official story this time.

The Diocese of San Bernadino approaches its financial problems openly

On December 4, the Supreme Court will hear the oral arguments in NOW's use of RICO laws against Joseph Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League. Here's an article that looks at some of the issues involved.

Emily's List irritates everyone now - even liberals.

The Senate seat of Democrat Mary Landrieu is hanging by a thread. Unable to win an outright majority on November 5, Louisiana's Southern-fried election laws have forced her into a December 7 runoff with the top Republican vote getter, Suzanne Haik Terrell.It's a close race and nobody's taking it for granted. Right after the election, planeloads of Republican and Democratic activists parachuted into Louisiana to duke it out. But one major left-wing group isn't weighing in: Emily's List.The 17-year-old feminist PAC devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women once supported Landrieu. No longer. Landrieu, you see, once voted to ban partial birth abortions. As far as Emily's List is concerned, that is unforgivable.The fact that Landrieu's record is otherwise pro-choice and Terrell is pro-life doesn't move it. Nor does the fact that Terrell could add one more vote to the new GOP Senate majority."I don't think we are interested in electing anybody who is going to weaken abortion laws," said Janet Harris, the PAC's communications director. They wrote off Landrieu a long time ago, she adds.That's only the latest in a pattern of activity that is driving liberals and Democrats alike up the wall. A growing number are beginning to wonder if the PAC's abortion rights absolutism is undermining the Democratic Party's efforts to control Congress.

We have a two-hour delay for the beginning of the school day, for no reason that I can discern. There's snow on the ground, but none on the roads. My guess is that the assistant superintendent in charge of scheduling rolled over after a night of pre-holiday festivities, looked out the window at 5am, decided he wanted to sleep in, and phoned in the delay.

Alleged victim countersues priest who sued him.

fter the Archdiocese of St. Louis invited people molested by priests to seek healing from the Roman Catholic Church, Arthur Andreas reported earlier this year to archdiocesan officials that he had been sexually abused by the Rev. Alexander R. Anderson in the 1980's.Mr. Andreas kept his accusations strictly confidential, speaking of them only in private with the church authorities, and he did not sue either the archdiocese or Father Anderson. But the priest made the accusations public in April, when he used his pulpit to deny them, and he subsequently sued Mr. Andreas for defamation.Yesterday, Mr. Andreas countersued in a Missouri court, asserting that Father Anderson and the St. Louis Archdiocese had injured his reputation by making the dispute public in the hope of intimidating him into retracting his accusation."I didn't want a cent," Mr. Andreas, a 28-year-old carpet salesman, said yesterday in an interview. "All I wanted to do was to respond to the Catholic Church, which had opened its arms to me. I thought this would be a healing opportunity. But the church invites you to come closer and then they bite you."

This is a weird story

...that might be clearer with just a little better reporting. But here goes: A priest has gone missing from Tyler, Texas, apparently because his bishop wanted his former parish to institute a Spanish Mass, many in the parish protested, and, I guess the priest didn't want it either, so he was transferred to another parish. And then he disappeared.

Anthony left Trinity sometime around Nov. 3, when he had a parishioner read a letter to the congregation."Officially we do not know where he is," said Monsignor James E. Young, chancellor of the Tyler diocese. Young acknowledged Corrada recently received a letter from Anthony, but that the priest did not indicate he was going to Rome."He's still a member of the Tyler diocese but he's left his parish without permission," Young said. "That's all that really could be said that's solid and true."Corrada has been unavailable for comment due to being "tied up in meetings," Young said.

Meanwhile, Robert Smith, a Paris, parishioner who co-founded "Cry for Justice," a group opposed to Anthony's transfer, said Anthony telephoned him from Rome on Saturday."He said that everything had gone well and that he was very pleased," Smith said.Anthony has joined the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, an order of Catholic priests who are out of the reach of diocesan control, Smith said. After concluding meetings with the head of that order, Anthony will leave Wednesday for a sabbatical in India and then return to the United States for assignment several weeks later, Smith said.Anthony was ordained in his home Archdiocese of Hyderabad, India, in 1992 and has twice been voted the best pastor in Lamar County. In August, he told the Tyler Morning Telegraph he accepted the transfer to Holy Trinity parish on June 7 under the bishop's threat of canonical removal as priest of Our Lady of Victory in Paris.Corrada instituted a Spanish mass at Our Lady of Victory in February against the wishes of some who believe it divides the congregation by language, Parish Advisory Council President Gary Nash said in August.

Rod Dreher has an excellent piece on the double standards in perceptions of crimes against Christians, focusing on the murder of Mary Stachowicz in Chicago.

Here's another look at that particular crime.

The Boston Globe reports on the Law/VOTF meeting

Tuesday, November 26

An early report of the Law/VOTF meeting

The cardinal, leader of the Boston Archdiocese, "squarely told us he was concerned about who we are and who we aspire to be," said Jim Post, Voice's president. Four leaders from the group, formed this year by Catholics upset with the church's failure to rid the clergy of sexually abusive priests, met privately with the cardinal at the chancery for more than two hours. Law twice told the Voice representatives that he wished they had consulted with him before forming their organization, said Bill Cadigan, vice president of the group. "We saw that there are areas that we agree on and others that we don't," Cadigan said. "We didn't solve all of our problems in this meeting."

What happens when a church sponsors a Habitat for Humanity home

and the people it's for are an unmarried couple living together?

This site wants your spam

The company hopes to amass at least 10 million spam samples within a year, said Paul Judge, the company's director of research and development. The project is already well on its way there, he said, thanks to dozens of anti-spam activists who have donated junk e-mails from their in-boxes -- from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand. Unsolicited bulk e-mail is at an all-time high, according to firms that track it. Spam now accounts for roughly 40 percent of all e-mail, up from less than 10 percent early last year, according to anti-spam service provider Brightmail. A public spam library could be a huge boon to the anti-spam community, not just to commercial software vendors; most spam-fighting tools are developed by independent programmers who give away their wares. "This should help eliminate one of the big bottlenecks for people who want to make anti-spam tools," said Paul Graham, a computer programmer who has developed open-source mail filtering programs. "You can write all the code you want, but it won't do a whole lot of good unless you have a large amount of spam to test your algorithms on."

I'm all for that. It's getting really, really bad - even with a bulk mail filter, about half of what gets through to my regular mailbox is spam - and that's not even including Shea's emails


The first of many stories over the next month, I'm sure...

Canadian mint company rapped for Christmas ad

The commercial featured "The Twelve Days of Christmas," only the word "Christmas" was replaced with "giving."

On the first day of giv-ing, my true love gave to me....

.... a "Choice on Earth" card, maybe?

Jury to decide whether first-trimester abortion takes the life of a human being.

For the first time ever, a jury will decide whether a first trimester abortion takes the life of a human being after a New Jersey Appellate Court overruled a trial court decision that said the state could not make such a decision.The attorney who won the appeal, Harold Cassidy, considered the ruling a victory for pro-life forces and a "great victory for the rights of pregnant women." Cassidy represented Rosa Acuna in her lawsuit against her gynecologist, Sheldon Turkish. Acuna contended that Turkish never informed her that aborting a baby in the first trimester was ending the life of a human being."This takes back the right of women to litigate their own rights in regard to abortions," Cassidy said. "In the past, that right was taken from women by the American Civil Liberties Union and the abortion industry, such as Planned Parenthood. They contended they represented women in any lawsuit against abortion providers, when in fact, their interest is with the providers."

East Timorese Bishop Belo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, steps down because of health reasons.

Cardinal Law to meet with VOTF today.

Voice of the Faithful plans to send to the meeting its president, Boston University management professor James E. Post, as well as its vice president, Bill Cadigan, who is the president of an investment advising firm and who has served on his parish pastoral council; its executive director, Steve Krueger, who has served on the archdiocesan pastoral council; and its liaison to abuse survivors, Mary Scanlon Calcaterra, a nurse practitioner who serves on her parish pastoral council. Law is expected to be accompanied by his vicar general, Bishop Walter J. Edyvean, his secretary, the Rev. John J. Connolly, and his assistant for canonical affairs, the Rev. Mark O'Connell, Krueger said.

Monday, November 25

Judge denies Archdiocese of Boston's request to seal documents.

An astonishing "mistake"

Do you remember the NYTimes article about David Kelley's episode of The Practice framed in terms of Kelley's Catholic background?

Well, the Newspaper of Record issued a minor correction today:

An article in The Arts on Nov. 7 about "The Practice," the ABC television series that has been been addressing the scandal over sexual abuse by priests, misstated the religious background of the writer David E. Kelley. He was brought up Protestant, not Roman Catholic.


First, let's look at the headline to the November 7 article:

A Catholic Writer Brings His Anger to 'The Practice'

Now, let's look at the article itself:

Mr. Kelley's take on the scandal appears in Sunday night's episode of "The Practice" on ABC. And Mr. Kelley, who was himself raised Catholic in Boston, does not pull punches

Now, nowhere else in the article is Kelley's purported Catholicism referred to, and there are no direct quotes cited that say "I'm Catholic" or "I was raised Catholic." But we can presume that this reporter got this information from somewhere - either Kelley himself, or perhaps his own assumptions that a "Kelley" from Boston would be Catholic?

Either way, what we have is incredibly shoddy journalism and possibly some rather sneaky work by a writer-producer attempting to cash in a false identity in order to give his work more notoriety - or perhaps a combination of the two.

Many thanks to James Kabala for pointing this out.

Charismatic ministry expells pastor because....

He's engaged in financial improprieties?

He's violated the Sixth Commandment?

He's been seen in a dress?


He protests at abortion clinics.

Not any abortion clinic, either - the notorious Wichita Tillman 3rd-trimester facility:

A Wichita, Kan., pastor has been expelled from a worldwide charismatic ministry renowned for its message of faith and biblical prosperity because he was active in the pro-life movement. The move has prompted a New Jersey minister who is trying to raise awareness of the pastor's ouster to consider removing his congregation from the organization.Mark Holick had his ordination revoked this summer by the Tulsa, Okla.-based Rhema Ministerial Association International (RMAI), which has more than 23,000 graduates and 13 schools worldwide.For the last two years, Holick, who along with his wife, Monica, pastors 300-member Spirit One Christian Center, has joined other Wichita pastors in protesting the abortion clinic of local Dr. George Tiller, called "the most infamous late-term abortionist in the world" by the Christian pro-life group Operation Save America.....

Rhema's Tulsa-based attorney, Tom Winters, told Charisma News Service that "Rhema is not for abortion." Winters said he advised RMAI leaders to revoke Holick's license because his pro-life activism could cause Rhema to be "potentially sued."

From Buffalo, an interesting story on changing views on abortion

Yesterday, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds expressed his absolute disinterest in anything religious leaders have to say about anything beyond the explicitly religious (we can probably assume he’s not interested in what they have to say about religious matters either, I’ll bet.)

First, those of you who don’t know should understand that Reynolds’ father was a professor of religious studies at the University of Tennessee – I was never in one of his classes, but safe to say, the world of religious discourse and conversation is not one unfamiliar to Reynolds.

And of course, he’s a libertarian.

But what interests me about Reynolds’ statement is the fact that he’s undoubtedly not alone. Of course, his sentiments are common among his fellow academics and always have been, but there’s no doubt that this skepticism towards the pronouncements of religious authorities is prevalent outside the academy as well, the culmination of centuries of individualist and democratic impulses given an especially cynical twist by contemporary events, from Jimmy Swaggert’s confessions to Cardinal Law’s lack of them.

And who can blame anyone for feeling this way? Really. The spectacle is astonishing – bishops who tolerated and protected incredibly destructive sin among their own adopting a prophetic mantle in regard to the moral status of military action in Iraq, and having the nerve to say they’re worried about “innocents.”

As I said, who can blame anyone for laughing instead of listening?

It brings up the whole issue of what religious leaders should and shouldn’t be saying about current events and social issues.

The extreme consequence of Reynolds’ stance is the silencing of religious leaders on every matter but the inner workings of the Trinity. The trouble with that, of course, is that Christians believe they have been called to witness to the Gospel, and the Gospel has real-life consequences. Some of those consequences are personal, but some are undeniably social. I think we are long past the illusion that Jesus was a social reformer or political activist, but what we can’t deny is that Jesus called Christians to a stance of compassion and love to all. The first place we are called to live that out is in our one-on-one dealings with others and the choices we make with the treasure we have been given – our time on this earth. But the call is also broader than that – which is why Christians, throughout history, have refused to mind their own business when it came to educating, tending to the sick, ministering to the poor and helping the helpless. The “social justice” talk which Reynolds derides is an extension of that concern. Sometimes it takes a silly, or even malignant turn as Christians catch the totalitarian bug that those who start out wanting to “help” are so susceptible to. It’s a risk those committed to such action must always be aware of and most of the time aren’t.

This is an exceedingly complex question. So much of what Reynolds is about defending – American values, political life and social arrangements – are rooted, at least in part, in religious sensibilities of one sort or another, and would not exist but for the interest that religiously-minded people had in the real world in which they lived. An interest that can, all to quickly, turn to the desire to remake that world into their own version of the Kingdom. It’s a constant, complicated dynamic, and one of which religious leaders should always be aware.

They should also be aware of the very true fact that we are most tempted to meddle in other people’s business when our houses are crumbling around us. That is, you are most likely to lash out at someone else’s faults when you’re bothered by your own. So for churches such as ours, wracked by internal problems, here’s what’s true: We can’t ignore the suffering of the greater world, and we can’t stay silent regarding ways to alleviate that suffering, whether through means of charity or political or social action. But along with that goes deep soul-searching and the call to holiness among ourselves, and, as a part of that, a deep humility towards that same world about which are so concerned. For we are not apart from the world. We are a part of it, and its sins are our sins, too. Our call is not to judge that world, but to bring the love of Christ to that world. Sometimes religious people get those two things mixed up, but believe me, they are not the same thing. To figure this out, look at the saints, especially those immersed in the suffering of the world. Those men and women are not about control. They are about the task of being as vibrant signs of God’s love as they can be – of diminishing themselves so that Christ can live and love the poor through them.

And here’s what true. Forget the “nonbelievers.” If every person who claimed the title of “Christian” were committed to that - no preaching outside the choir would be necessary. As St. Francis said: “Go out and preach the Gospel – use words if you have to.”

So I find Reynolds’ dismissal of the voices of religious leaders understandable, but somewhat discomfiting. Contemporary religious leaders have certainly earned our scorn and have lost most of their credibility. But what seems to be implicit is a desire that voices speaking out of primarily religious sensibilities be silent and leave the task of helping to guide the course of American political and social life to the law professors who have, you know, done such a superior job.

How some Sisters of Providence coped with being arrested at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning:

"They were on a spiritual high. They prayed and sang and did t'ai chi, and supported each other through the night. We don't get enough chance to do that in a public way."

From the Baltimore Sun, a profile of Phillip Berrigan:

From the LA Times (LRR): A preservation group targets unusual sites for assistance:

It's a sunny Saturday afternoon in San Miguel de Allende as a group of Los Angeles philanthropists boards a chartered bus with a flashy paint job. As the bus heads north on the Dolores Hidalgo Highway and turns west onto a dirt road leading to the tiny village of Atotonilco, the passengers chat about their children, the stock market, last night's margaritas and the best places to buy Mexican jewelry. But when they disembark, stroll down a path lined with stalls of Catholic goods and approach the village's claim to fame, an 18th century church in a walled complex, they snap to attention.

The time has finally come for the group -- which banded together five years ago and calls itself the Friends of Heritage Preservation -- to see the results of its biggest project to date: the restoration of the Calvary Chapel of the Sanctuary of Jesus of Nazareth. An astonishing shrine, it's austere on the outside but so elaborately decorated inside that it's popularly known as the Sistine Chapel of Mexico.

It's also an extraordinary labor of love. Founded in 1740 and built over 36 years by Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro -- who hired an otherwise unknown artist, Miguel Antonio Martinez de Pocasangre, to carry out his imaginative plan for filling the walls and ceilings with religious imagery and text -- the improbable monument might also be likened to Los Angeles' Watts Towers, constructed over 34 years by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia.

The Atotonilco sanctuary originated as a spiritual retreat near thermal hot springs, and it has become a major destination for Mexican pilgrims and penitents. But by 1996 it had fallen into such disrepair that the World Monuments Fund, a New York-based conservation organization, put the church on its worldwide "Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites."

St. John's Seminary in Brighton expells openly gay seminarian, accusations ensue.

According to Meehan, church officials have officially said he was expelled due to differences of opinion over church teachings. But Meehan said he was told by Schmitz that his expulsion was the result of several incidents, including his decision to tell another student he was gay and his public criticism of the seminary's approach to sexuality at two forums sponsored by the rector.

Also, at a church gathering in Hartford, he was critical of the seminary for teaching that homosexuality is a moral choice and for discouraging discussions about ordination of women.

''The way the church addresses the issue of sexuality in the seminary does not foster maturity or honesty,'' Meehan said in an interview in Hartford, where he now lives. ''From day one when you enter the seminary, the mechanisms are there for repression and dishonesty. People who succeed most in moving up the hierarchy are the ones who can be most deceitful about their sexuality if they happen to be gay.''

Meehan said few of the roughly 75 graduate candidates for ordination at St. John's were openly gay, although he said six students told him in private that they were.

As for homophobia, Meehan said he sometimes heard students make cruel jokes and derisive comments about homosexuals, especially after the sex abuse scandal erupted in January and the issue of whether gay priests are partly to blame for the scandal became a matter of public debate.

In his year-end faculty evaluation, Meehan received a positive review. But ultimately, Meehan said, church officials concluded that he was a ''loose cannon'' whose outspokenness made him unfit for the seminary. In July, the Hartford Archdiocese notified Meehan that it was withdrawing its support for him, a move tantamount to expulsion.

Two months later, Meehan sent the letter calling another seminarian a ''closeted practicing homosexual'' who ''has had plenty of practice at the trade while at St. John's.'' In the letter, Meehan said the seminarian had ''fornicated'' with another seminarian in a store dressing room.

Three Mexican nuns working with Hispanics in upper East Tennessee

Sister Santa Basilio was doing church work in her native Mexico a few years ago when she noticed that many of the little villages in the Sierras were becoming ghost towns. That was because most of the young people, she said, had left their country to find work in the United States. Sister Basilio says she is now “very happy” to be helping a few of the men who left those villages. Today, she is one of three Mexican nuns working with Hispanics in Northeast Tennessee. Sister Basilio, Sister Maria Lina Ramos and Sister Leticia Rojos travel to parishes in what officials of the Catholic Church have designated as the “Five Rivers” district to spread the word of God to its Spanish-speaking population. ....Sister Basilio described her mission as one to “help preserve the faith of the Hispanic people” while they are living and working in the United States. Expanding on that point, Sister Ramos said the goal of their order is to “bring the faith of Jesus” to where he is not known, and to help people “maintain their faith in places where they know Christ.”

Sunday, November 24

A religious sister ministering in Nigeria offers her perspective:

Sister Carrozzo has been living in Nigeria for 16 years. Five years ago, she moved from Lagos to Kaduna, site of high tension and ethnic-religious clashes between Muslims and Christians. "The violence arrived just as a summer storm, at a moment that everybody more or less expected," the religious said. "Over the last few months there were only talks about peace and living together pacifically. Then all of a sudden, pandemonium" broke out. At least 1 million people live in Kaduna, and both religious groups claim to be in the majority. In an interview with Misna, Sister Carrozzo explained the scenario in which the violence broke out. A crowd of Muslim militants in Kaduna triggered violent clashes in protest against the Miss World beauty pageant, to be held in December in Abuja. "We have been living in Kaduna already for some years, where we have set up an educational program, a nursery and primary school in which we house, educate and give a meal to 500 children every day -- Christian and Muslim children," Sister Carrozzo explained. "We have a close relation with the Muslims who attend our school," she added. "It is important that this be understood by those who see the matter from outside and are not aware of this reality. The people, the inhabitants -- Muslim and Christian -- live and work close to one another. "My Muslim friends were among the first to call to ask about how I was doing. However, the fanatics then went into action. They are on both sides and when they come out into the open, everything becomes difficult."

Instapundit throws down the gauntlet

And as for what preening churchmen think we ought to drive, well, my sentiments are unprintable. And I think it's pretty lame that people who would never in a million years let some preacher tell them who to sleep with somehow think it's cool when preachers start telling people not to drive SUVs.

Given the notorious inability -- and unwillingness -- of the religious racket to police its own members' behavior lately, I have zero interest in their opinions on the war, the environment, "social justice," evolution, or any of the subjects on which they desire to opine, and about which they typically know nothing.

Can you say, "squandered moral capital?"

I'll probably offer more thoughts on this later tonight. ( tired. Monday.)

Jimmy Breslin writes on Bishop Murphy's recent letter on behalf of the Campaign for Human Development

Priest blesses Pennsylvania fox hunt

The Coal Valley Hunt opened Saturday in traditional style with the hunt blessing, performed by Fr. Robert McElwee of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Frontenac. McElwee invoked God's blessing on the horses, hounds and humans, and presented each rider with a medal of St. Hubert, the patron saint of foxhunting.

(Incidentally, they hunt coyotes, not foxes at Pennsylvania fox hunts.)

The Peoria paper has a slew of Fulton Sheen stories today:






From the WaPo: The imposition of sharia in Nigeria:

In Nigeria, a nominal democracy of 130 million people, they don't just steal sheep. Some people also drink alcohol, engage in prostitution, commit adultery and go outside after midnight.People dress in short sleeves, too, and ride in taxis that aren't segregated by sex.And double up on motorbikes, even though that may involve a woman sitting with, touching, holding onto, a man who is not her husband.For Nigeria's 50 million Christians, there are no criminal penalties for such behavior. But there are penalties for many of its 65 million Muslims, particularly those who live in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim northern states.

This is because of sharia, which, to Muslims, is a God-given code for how a life ought to be lived. Used in varying degrees, for most Muslims it is a guide to such individual activities as prayer, fasting and donating to the poor. Beyond that, many Muslim countries have adopted sharia as their civil law, governing such things as marriage and inheritance. And then there are the countries that use sharia as their criminal law, applying its judgments and penalties to such offenses as theft and adultery, which are known in sharia as Hadd offenses.

But Nigeria is also home to Christians such as the Rev. Linus Awuhe, a Catholic priest who says, "I, as a Christian, cannot accept sharia" -- and in that divide between Awuhe and Tambuwal is why the introduction of sharia hasn't been without problems.....

..."Sharia is a religious law, an Islamic law, but it is not a Christian law," says Linus Awuhe, explaining one reason he opposes sharia's implementation. In addition to being a priest, Awuhe is the Zamfara chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria. "I am not saying they're not entitled to their beliefs. What I am saying is they should not force their beliefs on me."

"Secondly," he continues, "the manner in which the sharia law is implemented goes against my own fundamental human rights. When you talk of the issue of sin and punishment, you don't amputate a sinner, you don't stone a person to death, you bring a person about by grace."

And third, he says, "Let me tell you that sharia will not achieve justice, not in Nigeria, because the Nigerian is still the Nigerian. Nigeria needs to be renovated from within. In the past, sharia was used in the north to harass political opponents, to oppress them. Today, too, sharia is being used by the elite to oppress the masses. It is the masses who will suffer, not the elite.

"Tell me, how many hands of officials have been amputated?" he goes on. "These people are looting the economy. How many of their hands have been amputated? They are amputating the hands of petty thieves, who do what they do because of social disorder. There are no good roads. The educational system is collapsing. Health care is zero. There is a great poverty in this land. The people are made to live miserable lives. So how can someone bring in a system of justice when that justice doesn't apply to him, who sends his children to school out of country? Who drives the road in a heavy jeep? Who lives in air conditioning? Who doesn't queue up for fuel? Who goes to Germany for health care? And above all uses his pen to rob the country? And who is amputating his hand?"

LA church reopens after 1999 fire

In the long three years of rebuilding, of bureaucratic delays and the seemingly overwhelming task of raising $2 million, unexpected gifts of generosity appeared and reappeared like miracles to keep the congregation's spirits high.

The new church retains its historic twin domed towers topped with crosses. But a wing has been added, doubling the capacity to 950. New windows symbolizing the Holy Trinity and the Latino culture of most of the congregants were designed by Father Donie Keohane, an artist and pastor at St. Martin of Tours in Brentwood.

"In many ways, we're more blessed now than when we started," Cunnane said. "We have a new and bigger church, and a wider circle of friends and supporters. We've certainly realized that church is not a building; it is us, the people."

Contributions came from major donors like Palos Verdes Peninsula resident Mary Centofante, whose still-cherished memories five decades after graduating from St. Thomas Elementary School prompted her to donate $200,000 to build a new Blessed Sacrament chapel inside the church.

Living the faith is not about "how often you go to Mass, but what you do to help people," Centofante said in explaining her gift, which she donated in memory of her husband, Albert.

But half of the needed funds came in myriad small donations, many from parishioners whose average annual income of $14,000 skirts the poverty line, said St. Thomas' director of development, Joe Neeb.

The congregation of 8,000 families comes from most of the countries in Latin America, and also includes a sprinkling of whites, blacks, Filipinos and Koreans.

Victims' groups announce that they'll put their energy into encouraging civil authorities to get tough.

Standing in a parking lot across from St. John the Evangelist Church in Wellesley, the advocates called on Governor-elect Mitt Romney, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, and other state officials to make resolving the church sex abuse turmoil a political priority.

Representing an array of victim support groups, the advocates said they intend to lobby legislators and district attorneys by letters, phone calls, and, if need be, demonstrations outside their offices or at political fund-raisers starting next month.

They demanded prosecutors show ''greater diligence'' in pursuing offenders, and urged lawmakers to repeal statute-of- limitations laws for reporting abuse. They also called for legal reforms that would jail those who do not report sexual abusers. A recently enacted state law calls for a $1,000 fine for those who do not report accusers.

Baier said victim advocacy groups would continue to picket the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, where Law leads Mass on Sundays, but that about ''80 percent'' of the coalition's efforts would be directed toward legal reforms.

About a dozen advocates, including members of Speak Truth to Power, Coalition of Catholics and Survivors, Linkup, and Voice of the Faithful, stood alongside Baier and Gallagher as they spoke to reporters yesterday. Several held signs bearing large photographs of children who had allegedly been abused.

'This is me at my First Communion,'' said Susan Renehan, pointing to the photo she held of a smiling 7-year-old in a white dress. ''It was taken about 100 feet away from where I was sexually abused by a priest in New Jersey.''

In Poland, they're starting work on a shrine that was supposed to be built 200 years ago

The leader of Poland's Roman Catholics broke ground Saturday on what should be one of the country's largest and most important Catholic shrines — two centuries after it was first planned. Cardinal Jozef Glemp broke ground on the Temple of Holy God's Providence in the residential Wilanow section of Warsaw as more than 100 watched through the rain. "We count on God's providence to watch over the construction," Glemp said. Construction was to have started in 1791 to commemorate Poland's adoption of a democratic constitution that year. But plans were scuttled in 1792 after the constitution was abolished, following a military defeat by Russia.

A NH pastor has resigned, admitting that accusations that he had a relationship with a female minor twenty years ago are true.

Now, these articles come across the transom every day, sadly enough, and I don't blog all of them. But this one, I do, because I am struck by the reasonable reaction of the parishionors. They're not weeping to get him back. They're not celebrating his holiness. They're quite logically wondering what else he might have done and doing the calculation that, although the priest in his letter to the parish said he "fell in love" with the girl, that the specter of a 40-something man "falling in love" with a 17-year old indicates that something isn't quite right.

From the Washington Times:

Controversial book about the relationship of the Austrian Church to Nazism

Some Austrians were clearly not ready for Stefan Moritz's book about their country's pro-Nazi priests — bishops who hushed up the Holocaust and a prelate who helped thousands of Hitler's henchmen escape justice. "A woman just screamed 'Heil Hitler,' and hung up," said Mr. Moritz. "Another caller asked me if I were a Jew, because only a Jew could write garbage like this."Mr. Moritz, who isn't Jewish, has shaken up his country with a book claiming Austria's Roman Catholic Church ignored and even abetted Nazi horrors.By publishing "Gruess Gott und Heil Hitler" ("Greet God and Hail Hitler"), Mr. Moritz, 36, is treading on sensitive ground. After all, close to 80 percent of Austrians are Roman Catholics.

Not all Austrian clergy were cowards or collaborators.Mr. Moritz cites the case of the Rev. Franz Reinisch, banned from preaching because of his critical stance toward the Nazis. The church, instead of backing Father Reinisch, expelled him from his Pallotine order, and he was executed in 1942 after refusing to swear loyalty to Hitler and join his army, Mr. Moritz writes. That's only one example in his argument that the Austrian church in general struck a bargain with the devil in order to survive, and that many priests and bishops went beyond silence to actively support the Nazis.

The fight over VOTF in Newark

Myers' only direct contact with members of VOTF came last month when he sent them, in response to their first entreaty, a copy of an anti-VOTF article written by the conservative Catholic editor of CRISIS magazine. Myers' business card was attached to it -- no note.

VOTF reacted adroitly: Members contacted the CRISIS editor, Deal Hudson -- whose article called the group "a wolf in sheep's clothing" -- and persuaded him to speak at their February meeting in New Jersey.

"If they want to meet face to face, I give them credit for that," Hudson said when contacted last week at his Washington offices. "I have been a vocal critic of theirs, and it is only fair that if they invite me that I respond."

Hudson said that if he were a bishop he would do exactly what Myers did and ban the group. He said that when he speaks to VOTF he will stipulate that it not be on church property within the Newark archdiocese in respect of Myers' ban.

Asked whether opening dialogue with the group is violating the spirit of Myers' edict and his own support for Myers' position, Hudson agreed he is engaging in "a balancing act."

"I am definitely going to call Archbishop Myers to see if it is all right with him," Hudson said. "It is always possible that they are using me for cover."

It would be very disapppointing if Myers tells Hudson not to speak to that meeting. This is exactly what VOTF needs - the voices of all the faithful.

An interview with Monsignor Foster of Boston, twice removed for on the basis of false accusations.

No one in authority, not Cardinal Bernard F. Law or any other bishop, has apologized to him for the way he was treated, Foster said in an interview last week. And, he said, it is an apology he deserves.

In an archdiocese still reeling from disclosures about the warm letters Law sent to serial pedophiles like defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, Foster's hopes for a meeting with the cardinal have gone unrealized - even though the two men concelebrated Mass last Sunday.

''Yes, I am angry at the treatment I have received from an institution I have committed my life to,'' Foster said. Without citing Law by name, he said, ''I would wish that someone with institutional authority would sit down with me and talk to me about my experience, and the feelings that I've had, the emotional rollercoaster I've been on, the questions that remain.''

He is puzzled, too, at what his friends believe are insufficient efforts by the church to fulfill its promise to help restore his reputation. ''For the last 11 months, we have put a lot of resources into helping the cardinal with reputational issues. So this is not something new, restoring someone's reputation,'' he said.

Yet despite the focus on his case, Foster says he has no interest in being ''the poster boy for the falsely accused.'' Foster says it is the victims of priests, and not him, who deserve the church's undivided attention.

''What I've been through doesn't compare to what these [victims] have been through. They need to hear how sorry the church is for what's been done. They need the apology. They need healing,'' he said. ''They need to be reached out to. For people in authority, that's their first obligation.''

Post-abortion women to be a presence in DC around January 22

Jerry Hall joins Popetown

Saturday, November 23

From Sunday's NYTimes:

Garry Wills reviews a study of the American priesthood.

Schoenherr's focus is on the priesthood in America, but he refers peripherally to a situation that is regularly misrepresented by conservative Catholics -- the numbers of priests in the developing world. They claim that seminaries are full there, and will even supply a surplus of priests for the declining West. They rely not on absolute numbers but on percentage increases in indigenous seminaries after the withdrawal of missionary priests from colonial countries. To double or triple formerly modest outputs there does nothing to solve the fact that the Southern Hemisphere is where the priest shortage is greatest. In the United States, the number of priests per 10,000 faithful declined from 12.9 in 1965 to 9.8 in 1990. In the same period the priests per 10,000 in Africa declined from 5.4 to 2.3, and in Latin America from 2.3 to 1.4. Any gains made in recent years do not come even remotely close to closing that gap. No wonder Schoenherr can report that bishops in Africa and Latin America have requested Rome's permission to ordain married men in order to fill their imperative need for more priests.

World figures for the priesthood are clear. The Catholic Almanac of 2001 gives the Vatican's own figure of 404,620 priests in 1998. In 1977, the year before John Paul II became pope, the figure was 410,030. Priests have not increased in number, though they have increased dramatically in age, as one would expect where the total was not growing. Meanwhile, 300 million new Catholics came into the world during this pontiff's reign, making the priest-to-faithful disparity ever more serious. The results of this are clear, even in America, which is far better off than Africa or Latin America. Lay Catholic ministers outnumber priests here, and most of these are women, and permanent deacons (male) now number one for every 1.6 parishes. These lay assistants and substitutes are required because of understaffed or nonstaffed parishes. Despite these statistics, some bishops continue to deny that the priest shortage is more than a temporary dip in the demographics. Some dip.

Also, Goldhagen's book is reviewed (not by Wills)

It would be hard to argue with Goldhagen if he had simply recounted this history, or even if he had stopped after claiming that moral restitution by the Catholic Church is still needed. But he goes on, and in the process makes what a lawyer would call a number of bad points....

....Nothing will ever eradicate the horrible stain left on Europe in the middle years of the last century, and Christian churches, together with what passed for Christian tradition, have much to answer for. But an understanding of, or even atoning for, that time is not encouraged by misinterpreting the record, or by invoking it for any polemical or political end.

Boston Archdiocese turns over files; immediately moves to have them sealed.

Y'all should read Conor Dugan's strong defense of Notre Dame's Catholic identity from the comments below.

We watched John Sayles' Sunshine State last night, for two reasons: it's about Florida, and it features Edie (Carmella Soprano) Falco.

I've always liked John Sayles' movies....okay. His leisurely pace gets a bit too leisurely sometimes, but what is inarguable is that his films are always interesting, always different.

This one concerns itself with development in Florida, apparently based to some extent on Amelia Island, which becomes "Planation Island" (one of the big developments on Amelia Island is Amelia Plantation), and at the historically African-American beach area called American Beach, which becomes "Lincoln Beach" in the movie. As exiles, we enjoyed seeing the Florida sites, although it was jarring to see that Weeki-Wachee (home of the mermaid show in which the Falco character had once worked) had been moved across the state from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic, but that's okay.

Typical Sayles: lots of characters, lots of dialogue, some of which was excellent, and some of which was unexpectedly dreadful - stagey, overwrought, artificial.

However, I have to say that Edie Falco was pretty...mediocre. I don't understand the raves her performance got. First - there was her accent, which was dreadful. I guess it was supposed to be southern, but it had an awful lot of Yankee in it. She was supposed to be your typical long-term Florida beach resident, an identification they accomplished by having her hair bleached out and messy, and having her slouch around the whole movie in various spaghetti-strap t-shirts and shorts. Her character was supposed to be bored, yeah, but even bored people change their expressions once in a while.

A task force is studying what to do with St. John's College and Seminary in Camarillo, CA.

A Cuyahoga grand jury is about to wrap up its business:

The full returns from an investigation Mason calls "unprecedented in scope and magnitude" won't be known until Dec. 3. That is the day when nine members of the grand jury will cast their votes on whether to indict any of the 100 priests or 260 others connected with the diocese who have been accused of sexually abusing children. For an indictment to happen, seven grand jurors must vote yes. Mason said he expects several priests will be indicted, but he wouldn't speculate how many. He characterized about half a dozen of the cases as "tough calls" that could go either way, depending on the grand jury's mindset. But most of the cases are either too old or too weak to be prosecuted, Mason said.

Friday, November 22

Here's a long article from Christianity Today about Baylor University's ambitious 10-year plan to become the "Protestant Notre Dame."

They'd much prefer a world where women are shrouded and they can stone them to death if they want.

105 dead in horrendous riots over the Miss World pageant in Nigeria

From the Chicago Sun-Times: A few behind-the-scenes moments from the bishops' confab

Kentucky Supreme Court rules records should be kept sealed

A divided Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that records in a case alleging sexual misconduct by Roman Catholic priests should remain closed.While four of the justices ordered that Fayette County Circuit Judge Mary Noble should hold another hearing to determine the fate of the records, the majority ruling also weighs in favor of keeping the records secret because they might hurt the ability of the Catholic diocese to get a fair trial.In a pointed dissent, three justices said the church offered no evidence to support that claim that the materials would harm the ability of the diocese to get a fair trial.

Here's a fascinating article, believe it or not, about a hospital dispute in New Jersey.

Earlier this fall, Gov. James E. McGreevey waded into a bitter, highly charged dispute between two New Brunswick hospitals by hosting a private meeting with the major players at the governor's mansion in Princeton.

Metuchen Bishop Paul Bootkoski wanted McGreevey to halt a proposed state regulation allowing Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital to establish a regional perinatal center, which would care for high-risk pregnant women and very ill premature infants. Bootkoski argued the move would put a neighboring Roman Catholic institution, St. Peter's University Hospital, out of business.

"Bishop, I am a governor, not a king," McGreevey said, according to Harvey Holzberg, president and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson. Others at the meeting did not recall those exact words, but said the Governor refused to intervene. Ten days later, the state Department of Health and Senior Services adopted the regulation.

The bishop did not go away quietly. Instead, he mounted an extraordinary campaign to pressure McGreevey, at one point declaring, "We are at war with our Governor."

McGreevey's wife Dina suffered pregnancy complications earlier this year and gave birth to their daughter at St. Peter's Hospital. In a homily to 600 parishioners at the Immaculate Conception Church in Clinton, the bishop said St. Peter's had "saved the lives of Gov. James McGreevey's wife and child just a few months ago. Now we are at war with our Governor."

Speaking from the pulpit in churches throughout the diocese, Bootkoski said it was a matter of conscience for Catholics to rally behind St. Peter's Hospital. He charged that "this move by Robert Wood Johnson and Gov. McGreevey is nothing less than trying to get us out of health care."

During another homily at St. Charles Borromeo in Skillman on Oct. 12, Bootkoski said Catholics represent 42 percent of the population in the counties of the diocese, while less than 3 percent of the area is Jewish. In an interview, Bootkoski said he cited those numbers because he feels there is too often a "malaise" among Catholics on issues that affect them and or their faith.

"We as Catholics can take an example from our Jewish brothers and sisters. When they see something wrong, they speak up, they unite, which I respect them for," he said. "Catholic health care is very important to our church."

Former Episcopal priest to be ordained RC in RI

David Lewis Stokes, who caused a stir three years ago when he announced he was resigning as rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church to become a Catholic layman, is to be ordained by Roman Catholic Bishop Robert E. Mulvee in a ceremony tomorrow at 10 a.m. in St. Sebastian Church on the city's East Side.Stokes and his wife, Gail, have four children, two boys and two girls, ranging in age from 21 to 11.

....Stokes has been a professor of theology in Providence College's Western Civilization program for many years. A native of Asheville, N.C., the soon-to-be-ordained Stokes received his education and training at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.; Keble College in Oxford, England; Westcott House in Cambridge, England; and Princeton Theological Seminary.

An Episcopal priest for 25 years, including seven years as rector of St. Stephen, Stokes appeared to follow in the footsteps of another former rector of St. Stephen's, the Rev. van K. Thomson, who also left his post there to become a Catholic, ultimately becoming a vice president at PC.

Married with seven children, Father Thomson was ordained into the priesthood by Bishop Louis E. Gelineau in 1983, and continued to serve in the priesthood until his death in December 1999.

According to the Diocese, Father Stokes will be immediately assigned as an assistant pastor at St. Sebastian parish, while continuing his teaching duties at PC.

Thursday, November 21

Nun Week continues:

A profile of Sister Margherita Marchione, 82-year old Italian scholar, and defender of Pius XII

She has several titles in print on the subject of Pope Pius XII, including a biography "Pope Pius XII, Architect for Peace." Two books tackle head-on the history of the Holocaust in Roman Catholic Italy and the Pope's role. "Consensus and Controversy: Defending Pope Pius XII" and "Yours is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy" make a strong case for the pro-active role the Vatican and Italians took to save the Jews. Even in her autobiography, "The Fighting Nun: My Story," she devotes more than two chapters to setting the record straight.

She holds an unabashed reverence and respect for Pope Pius XII. In her long career in religion and academics, Sister Margherita has made many trips to Rome and met several popes. But Pius XII is the pope of her youth and the spiritual leader to whom she feels the closest affinity. She knows his sister and has close associations with his family.

She is open about her bias. However, when Pope Pius XII's relationship with Hitler and the Nazis was questioned, Sister Margherita marshaled her formidable skills as a researcher and writer to provide evidence to counter what she saw as slander. She is more balanced in her response than those who revile him.

The British historian John Cornwell, in his book, "Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII," claims that the pope's silence during the Holocaust condemned thousands of Jews to death by the Nazis. He further argues that the pope cut deals with Hitler in order to save German Catholics from persecution by the Nazis. Ultimately, Mr. Cornwell condemns Pope Pius XII as an anti-Semite who was a willing agent to Hitler's master plan.

"Absolutely untrue!" bellows the tiny sister. In person and in her writing, she builds a dramatic counter argument based on extensive research, most of it primary documents, diaries and interviews of firsthand accounts from Italian lay people, religious and Jews. She has faced off with Mr. Cornwell on several occasions on radio and television programs and has successfully faced him down.

Sister was in Birmingham at EWTN the same day I was, getting ready to tape a show with Johnette Benkovic after mine. She is tiny and she is formidable.

As we know, Bishop Robert Banks, now of Green Bay, suggested that Fr. Paul Shanley mediate in a sexual abuse case.

On Thursday, the bishop denied he knew of the abuse.

Bishop Robert J. Banks challenged assertions Thursday that he overlooked sexual abuse allegations against Father Paul Shanley while serving as a top official in the Boston Archdiocese.Banks, who has led the Green Bay Diocese since 1990, said he had no information about Shanley's alleged abusive history when he supported the defrocked priest's role as a mediator in a separate sexual abuse complaint involving Father Daniel Graham in May 1988.Similarly, Banks said he was unaware of Shanley's alleged pedophilia in 1990, when he sent a letter supporting Shanley to church officials in San Bernardino, Calif."The headline in (Thursday's) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about my overlooking the pedophilia of Father Shanley is simply not true," Banks said."The first time that I ever heard of Father Shanley's alleged pedophilia was this year," he said. "To accuse me of overlooking pedophilia is pretty serious."

Okay, but....At the time Banks authorized Shanley's role as a mediator, he was aware of complaints about statements Shanley had made regarding sex between men and boys during his time as a minister to the gay community and street people in Boston.In a letter to the archdiocese, sent in 1985, a woman in Rochester, N.Y., complained about Shanley's preaching. The letter, quoted in a deposition by Cardinal Bernard F. Law, alleges that Shanley said: "When adults have sex with children, the children seduce them. Children may later regret having caused someone to go to prison, knowing that they are the guilty ones."Banks said Thursday that he had not seen that letter, which was investigated by another church official.He also said he did not review Shanley's file in the archdiocese offices before acting on the request that he be allowed to mediate, or before sending the letter endorsing him to San Bernardino church officials."What I knew about Father Shanley back in the 1980s is that he had earlier been assigned to minister to the gay community and the street people in Boston," Banks said in Green Bay on Thursday morning. "During that time, two incidents of inappropriate sexual talk by Father Shanley were brought to my attention. They were checked out."I did not know anything about allegations of pedophilia."

Here's what I don't get (maybe it's in the deposition, I don't know.) - From where did this "request" that Shanley mediate come from? Who in God's name would request that? Unless it was the perpetrator, of course...

But the painfully Clintonesque parsing remains. He says the headline's wrong. He didn't "overlook" the pedophilia because he didn't know about the pedophilia. Oh, he knew about the "inappropriate sexual talk," but he didn't know about the pedophilia. Yet approved him as a mediator in a sexual abuse case - but it's okay because he didn't know about the pedophilia.

Yeah. That makes it all good.

Mike Piazza meets the Pope, presents him with Mets jersey.

And don't miss the AP's snarky ending to the caption:

His team finished last in their division this past season.

Now, what's that supposed to mean?

Besides the AP having a shaky hold on noun-pronoun agreement, that is.

High school kids raise $13,000 to help out struggling Catholic elementary school in San Antonio

Kevin Miller blogs about problems at his alma mater, Marquette, including the funny-in-an-appalling-way case of the Marquette English major who complained about the presence of a "white colonist" on the school seal, only to be told, of course that the "white colonist" is...well, go find out, if you've not already guessed.

I guess they don't use the word "transparency" there

Philadelphia Archdiocese concludes synod

But they won't release the results

More than 240 Roman Catholics concluded discussions at the Philadelphia Archdiocese's first synod since 1934 and the first to involve lay participants.The archdiocese is not releasing the recommendations that came out of the meeting. The three sessions were closed to parishioners, the public and the news media.

Also in the same collection of news notes from the AP, you'll find word of the bishops' decision to meet about a meeting to plan a meeting of a plenary council.

Dying Reformed church saved by Hispanic presence

Why did Catholics vote for Gray Davis?

Although overseeing the most anti-Catholic administration in California history, Davis ran well among Catholics — 25 percent of the electorate — beating Simon 53 to 39 percent. In contrast, non-Catholic Christians favored Simon, 55 to 35 percent. One could argue Davis was re-elected based on the Catholic vote.

How is this possible? Consider the following: In September, Davis signed four bills, all of them “in your face” affronts to Catholics. One enshrined abortion as a “fundamental human right.” Another required all state ob-gyn students to learn abortion procedures with no exclusion for personal conscience. Yet another requires all hospitals — even Catholic ones — to provide “emergency contraception” to rape victims. And Davis’s budget included $40 million to abort 120,000 unborn children.

All told, Davis — nominally a Catholic, by the way — bragged, “California is, hands down, the most pro-choice state in America.” Did anyone hear a peep during the gubernatorial campaign from California’s Catholic bishops about any of this? If so, I never saw it. As far as I could tell, the bishops maintained deathly silence on the issue of life.

Archdiocese of Baltimore determines visions to be false

Dr. Gianna Talone Sullivan has been seeing visions of the Virgin Mary for years. In her native Arizona, Sullivan's visions were examined by the archdiocese in 1989 and were considered benign. Now the Archdiocese of Baltimore has determined after a two-year investigation that the Emmitsburg-area woman's visions are false. She reportedly began receiving the visions about five years before she came to Emmitsburg. Once moving here in 1993, she shared the messages she received with her Thursday night prayer group at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Emmitsburg. The meetings mostly included reciting the rosary and celebrating the Eucharist, or taking communion. The prayer meetings at St. Joseph's started on Sept. 11, 1991, about two years before Sullivan came to the area and exactly 10 years to the day before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Over time, the number of people attending the meetings grew substantially, fluctuating between 600 and 1,000 people.

At the same time, however, church officials began to have concerns about the validity of the messages.

Sean Gallagher blogs on the case of the Maine parish that sued to stop anti-abortion protesters from infringing on its space.

A wonderful piece by the mother of nine

"Complimenti, signor,’ the Italian customs officer breathed as he grasped my husband’s hand and practically stood to attention. My spouse of 27 years gave a deprecating little wave to the group of officers who had come over to gawk after the word had gone around that he was ‘il padre di nove figli’ — the father of nine children.....

...For me, concentrating on getting a life as distinct from a career has been a liberating experience, and in my case enabled me to start a career. When I turned 40 after my last baby was born, I started to write. As the mother of nine children, I’ve had a huge amount of life-experience. The children themselves, who range in age from 25 to seven, and their various friends gave me a ready-made young focus group. I tackled family issues at first but gradually I began to branch out into politics, religion and culture, all the while drawing on the experience of this family community which, unlike so many communities, really is a community.

I now have five children at home, all either at school or at university. Work is not the most important thing in my life and if it interfered with my children I’d drop it immediately. Not everyone wants so many, but having children early and close together not only means that one can concentrate one’s youth and energy during the time when one needs youth and energy, but also that one is left with a long span of life still to fill. It can be done, but not if you set out on the rigid, traditional career path. Above all, it requires support, and the most important support doesn’t come from family-friendly policies or more childcare. Women want families, and for that we need good men. IVF or frozen eggs are no substitute We need husbands for ourselves, to complement and fulfil us, and we need fathers for our children. So actually the real secret of keeping my very large show on the road is the modest man who should realise after 27 years that Italian bureaucrats are not the only ones who appreciate him.

Prolifers react to Kopp

Joan Andrews Bell, regarded by many in the pro-life movement as a spiritual leader who is against violence, offered a statement in which she said she could not support the shooting, if Kopp is guilty of it. But like Roach, the New Jersey woman took an analytical view in trying to understand what has happened. "I also believe that if Jim did this act, he is a victim of what (Mohandas K.) Gandhi said of a corrupt and evil society, and President John F. Kennedy later reiterated: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.' "

Susan Andrews Brindle, her sister, called Kopp a liar. "Either he's really evil and insane, or people have gotten to him and he's covering for someone," said Brindle, a Tennessee resident who traveled to France three times to visit Kopp after his 2001 capture. Closer to home, Stasia Zoladz Vogel, president of the Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee, offered a grim assessment of the nation. "This country has devolved into such a pathetic state that no life is secure, born or unborn," she said. "The whole country is desperately in need of prayers, repentance and penance."

St. Therese relics travel to Iraq

The relics of Saint Therese arrived by plane from Lebanon on Wednesday, after touring that Arab nation for 77 days. The arrival coincided with a call by Iraqi Christians for the country's churches to hold a special prayer for peace Friday. Dozens of people, many with their children, arrived at St. Joseph's Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad before the mass to see the relics inside a brown box placed in front of the altar.

Here's a photo.

Kentucky priest sues webmaster

The creator of an Internet site that accuses the Lexington Catholic diocese of promoting a "homosexual agenda" is being sued for defamation by a local priest.In a suit filed this week in Fayette Circuit Court, Father James Sichko, 35, says webmaster Efrain Cortes falsely accused him of being "actively involved in the homosexual culture that exists in Lexington" and of "cruising the Schools in the diocese."Sichko, a campus minister at Eastern Kentucky University and Georgetown College, says the allegations caused him "great injury" and forced him to endure "public hatred, contempt and ridicule. ... " But Cortes -- a maintenance worker whose Web alias is "Abe Lincoln" -- says he is an Internet journalist who is telling the truth about Sichko and other priests. He vows the 13-month-old Internet site, which also criticizes liberal Catholics, feminists and dissenters, won't be shut down.

You know, British television is so tasteful.


And did you hear about the new cartoon that the BBC3 is doing called Popetown?

The 10-part sitcom is set in an office and focuses on its politics and the infuriatingly childish pontiff.Father Nicholas, voiced by comic Kevin Eldon, tries to make Popetown successful despite the sinister cardinals and Vatican bureaucracy.It will be shown next year on new youth channel BBC3. A Catholic church spokesman said: "The church is big enough to have fun poked at itself."

Orthodox monks in rebellion

The 100-odd monks living in the 1,000-year-old Esphigmenou Monastery were summoned to provide explanations for their three-decade-long refusal to behave as loyal dependants of the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate and mention the patriarch in their prayers. Furthermore, leaders of the 20-monastery Mt Athos community called on Esphigmenou to explain why it insists on abstaining from the community’s administrative and religious bodies, which are made up of representatives from all monasteries.

But the rebellious monks, who regard Patriarchate officials as renegades for having established contact with the Roman Catholic Church, refused to take receipt of the official summons.

“It is a spiritual matter, and we will not back down,” Esphigmenou’s abbot, Methodios, told Kathimerini. “We have to protect Orthodoxy from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate and its approaches toward other Christians.” The monastery’s leaders broke with the Patriarchate, and the Mt Athos authorities, after Patriarch Athinagoras’s “act of treachery” in meeting Pope Paul VI in Istanbul in 1964. The monks have draped their ancient walls with a huge banner reading “Orthodoxy or death.”

Wednesday, November 20

Lots of stories about Ave Maria University from the local perspective here.

No one puts this kind of request better than Kathy does, so I will just steal her phrasing:

Will the person who came here searching for "shirtless Ukrainian boys" PLEASE go away?

Later: Oh. I assumed everyone would understand that. See, webpage counters allow you to see the search terms that people use to reach your page. It's quite entertaining. And, in this case..disturbing.

Medjugorje priest Jozo Zovko banned from speaking at the National Shrine in DC

Organizers said they had expected more than 3,000 people to turn out to hear the Rev. Jozo Zovko, a prominent supporter of claims that the Virgin Mary has appeared to six teenagers in the Bosnian village of Medjugorje, where he was once a pastor.

The Rev. Walter Rossi, director of pilgrimages at the National Shrine, said officials there decided to prohibit Zovko from saying Mass and speaking publicly about the Virgin Mary after they received a letter from his bishop describing Zovko as a "disobedient Franciscan" who has been stripped of "every faculty" to serve in public ministry since 1989.

The letter from Ratko Peric, the bishop of Mostar, did not explain the reasons for Zovko's original censure, which was imposed by Peric's predecessor, now deceased. But the letter said that despite the loss of his faculties, Zovko had continued to hear confessions, a violation of church law that resulted in further penalties in 1994.

"Though unaware of what precipitated this action, or of any credible allegations against Father Zovko, the National Shrine must abide by Canon Law," Peter Sonski, a spokesman for the Shrine, said in a written statement. "Since he is under censure and may not exercise his priestly ministry, Father Zovko cannot take part in this event as planned."

...Zovko, who began a speaking tour of the United States on Nov. 5, has not been blocked from appearing anywhere but Washington, which was to be his final stop, according to Petta. He said the prayer service would still take place this evening, but that Zovko's Bosnian translator would speak in his place.

Here's the question: the guy has been stripped of his faculties. What is any Catholic group doing sponsoring his public activities????

Let's catch up on our reading, shall we?

Yes, I'm still working on the three biographies over on the left, but I've had to read some other things for work and felt moved to do some other kinds of pleasure reading besides. First the work:

I just read and wrote about two defenses of the Harry Potter books from a Christian perspective: Connie Neal's The Gospel According to Harry Potter. Neal has taken on a daunting task in this and her previous book - defending Harry Potter to evangelical Christians. She does quite well.

This book is not really a defense, though - that was the job of her first book. This one is more a book-by-book guide to moments which are useful for understanding Christian themes. So each little chapter starts with a scene from the book, continues with her explanation of the scene, and wraps it up with Christian material - So in the section on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Neal looks at the vanity of the poseur wizard-author Gilderoy Lockhart (played by Kenneth Branagh in the film) as an opportunity to reflect on arrogance, humility, and the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. In the same section, the issue of “pure blood” wizards is examined in light of the New Testament proclamation of radical equality and the liberation of Dobby, the house-elf is a chance for Neal to reflect on the liberation from sin and death we are given through Christ.

You get the point. I suppose it's nice for people who like that sort of thing, but really, it's nothing that you or I couldn't do ourselves, given an afternoon and the specter of a youth group with Nothing To Do in our future.

The other was far more interesting, and a book I've mentioned here before - The Hidden Key to Harry Potter by John Granger, published by Zossima Press.

Neal looks at what the interested Christian reader "might" find. Granger goes a step further. He suggests that whatever Christian themes and imagery we find in the Harry Potter books have been put there completely on purpose by Joanne Rowling:

Joanne Rowling is a Christian novelist of the Inkling School [identified with the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others] writing to ‘baptize the imagination’ and prepare our hearts and minds for the conscious pursuit of the greater life in Jesus Christ. Harry Potter is a Christian Hero.

He actually makes a pretty strong case, built on statements Rowling herself has made, as well as the content of the book. Granger brings an infectious enthusiasm to the material, one that made me actually want to go back and read the books again, if only to check out if what he's suggesting is plausible. I do think, quite honestly, that he overstates his case a bit - suggesting that the name "Harry Potter" might well have been chosen to suggest "Heir of the Potter" - the "potter" of course, being God - but then again, we can't get annoyed with Granger because he presents his hypothesis with such a sense of wonder, fun and conviction, and quite cheerfully invites the reader to call him to task when his predictions about the course of the series don't come true.

Over the weekend, I immersed myself in Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which won the Pulitzer in 2000, and which I've never even been remotely tempted to read. But last week at the library, I thought of it for some reason, and decided to check it out. I'm glad I did.

Actually, I found the first 3/4 of it utterly captivating and gorgeously written. In case you don't know, the novel is the story of two young men who are involved in the Golden Age of Comic Books in the late 1930's. You can see what I was never tempted to read it. But what I found was something much different from what I expected - for one of the young men is a Czech refugee interested in magic and escapism, and his escape to America involves a Golem, and the character he and his cousin create is called The Escapist, which becomes a wonderful metaphor for what both of these characters were trying to do with their lives, and not in a bad way, either, as we might think at first.

So yes, I really enjoyed the book (except for the last 1/4, which I didn't hate, but which struck me as predictable and in need of an edit), and spent all day Sunday reading it to the sweet sounds of football. And the baby running laps around the coffee table.

Well, so much for that.

I was going to have a nice quiet evening, reading the First Things and New Republic that came this week. Of course, no deal. Because the Baby Formerly Known as The Baby Who Won't Sleep decided to reclaim the title, not, as was his previous habit, in the middle of the night, but at the beginning of the evening this time.

So, yeah, at a certain point, he threw himself into what we have know come to recognize as his pre-verbal signal of fatigue: he runs laps around the coffee table. So, of course, I cooperated.

Two and a half hours later, he's finally asleep. Not that he spent all of that time crying. Not at all. Much of it was spent lying next to me in my bed, eyes wide open, in uncharacteristic silence. I was starting to get a little annoyed when in went the little finger into the mouth and the gnawing began. Of course, I thought, deeply ashamed. More teeth. And sure enough, those bottom gums are fairly swollen. Give the kid a break. Or at least some baby Motrin.

I did get a bit of the First Things read, lying there with the baby staring at me, clearly wondering just when the hell I was going to do something to help him. Just the easy stuff, though - the letters - good responses to Neuhaus' "Scandal Time" reflections - the book reviews (a review of Terry Teachout's biography of Mencken, with an emphasis much different than Jonathon Yardley's review in...where..TNR, I guess), and the back of the book - hey, Mark - didja know he mentions you in his contribution to commentary on blogs?

Now I really am wondering if they'll be called the Snowbirds"

Monaghan announces plans for the town that pizza built

Monaghan said the university in Florida will also include a strong sports program. He said he hopes to finish its construction by 2006.

And by the way...

There are no plans to close the Michigan campus or move the law school to Florida.

Re/some comments below. I, too, assumed that Monaghan's expansion plans - particularly for that big crucifix- in Ann Arbor were the victims of anti-Catholic liberal Ann Arbor sentiment - until I actually went to Ann Arbor. It became clear to me that among other things, the city has a strong anti-sign ordinance - there's nothing more than about five feet off the ground, it seems - and that huge crucifix would violate such an ordinance.

So much for the conspiracy theories:Kopp confesses

Kopp said his outrage over abortion prompted him to shoot Slepian. He insists, however, that he intended to wound Slepian to prevent the physician from performing more abortions. And he said he hopes that jurors will believe his account and understand his motives when his murder case goes to trial next year in Erie County Court. "The truth is not that I regret shooting Dr. Slepian. I regret that he died," Kopp said. "I aimed at his shoulder. The bullet took a crazy ricochet, and that's what killed him. One of my goals was to keep Dr. Slepian alive, and I failed at that goal."

....Kopp said he decided to make a public confession because he feels badly that his supporters have been misled, and he wants them to know the truth about his actions and the reasons behind them. He said his only regret about the Amherst shooting is that Slepian died. He said he is haunted by feelings of sorrow for Slepian's wife and four sons.

...Kopp said he understands why some people will accuse him of being a hypocrite advocating pro-life positions but shooting to death another human.

He said his attack on Slepian was consistent with his pro-life viewpoint, because it prevented Slepian from performing more abortions.

"I didn't intend to kill Dr. Slepian," Kopp said. "Why do you think I used force against Dr. Slepian when he was within 10 hours of taking the lives of 25 babies? The question answers itself."

Cardinal Law's knowledge of the abusers for whom he was responsible continues to be more evident.

For links to all the Boston stories about the most recent deposition records, go to Poynter.

The Boston Herald has a particularly helpful summary:

The late Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham, who is alleged to have molested 50 or more boys over a 29-year career at parishes in Sudbury, Salem, Lowell, Gloucester, Brighton and Lexington.

Birmingham, a seminary classmate of Bishop John B. McCormack, one of Law's former personnel subordinates and now bishop of Manchester, N.H., died in 1989.

Law reassigned him twice in the 1980s despite multiple allegations.

The Rev. Eugene J. O'Sullivan, who pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a St. Agnes Church, Arlington, altar boy in 1985, yet was allowed by Law to take an assignment with the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., in which O'Sullivan worked with children.

Law admitted he was not aware of any steps by Boston to alert parishioners in New Jersey to O'Sullivan's crimes, saying of the priest ``he worked evidently well'' there.

He was recalled to the Archdiocese of Boston in 1992 and banned from serving as a priest.

The Rev. George J. Rosenkranz, who served at Blessed Sacrament Church in Saugus in the 1970s and was arrested in a public men's room in 1981 and charged with lewd conduct - charges later were dropped after church intervention.

Law said he did not remove Rosenkranz in the 1980s, letting him serve at St. John's Church in Salem until 1990, when the priest, who faces multiple suits, was put on sick leave amid abuse allegations.

The Rev. Anthony J. Rebeiro, who was placed on administrative leave from the Chelsea Soldiers' Home and Quigley Memorial Hospital in August after accusations surfaced that he sexually abused a child 30 years ago.

In March 1984, charges surfaced that Rebeiro had exposed himself and masturbated in front of a parishioner's wife while her husband was at a funeral.

Law testified the charges were ``terribly serious,'' yet wrote to the alleged victim's husband saying ``I find this matter is something that is personal to Father Rebeiro and must be considered such.''

Law claimed to have no recollection of seeing that letter sent over his signature, and stated later in the deposition he signs many ``routine'' letters without reading them.

`Did I on April the 3rd, 1984, three days into the job, read every letter that was put before me?'' he said. ``Probably not.''

The Rev. Daniel M. Graham, whom Law allowed to remain as a parochial vicar on the South Shore until mid-2002, though the priest admitted to molestation in 1988.

MacLeish asked Law why Graham, who was not supposed to ``be involved in ministry that involves minors,'' according to church's own requirements for his readmittance, was given such a post.

``Do you have any explanation?'' for the apparent special treatment of Graham, MacLeish asked.

``No, I really don't,'' Law said.

It is all just too outrageously pathetic. Before you start helping the Cardinal come up with his excuses, put yourself in his place, back then in the 1980's and beyond. A priest credibly accused or even admitted to have abused a minor is brought to your attention.

What is your first instinct?

Yeah. That's what I thought. It's not to reassign to another parish, is it? No, it's not. You may not have degrees in theology and you may not be ordained, but when you're presented with a child molestor in a collar, your own sense of what it means to faithful to Christ tells you what to do.

(Hint: turn the guy into the law would be a good start)

It's quite obvious to me what was going on here. In one sense, Law is telling the truth - he had all of these subordinate bishops, and dealing with these issues really was their job. He is, of course, ultimately responsible, but I have no doubt that these other bishops were almost totally entrusted with the task of figuring out what to do with these cases before they presented them to him.

That said, you would think the Cardinal would get suspicious when, time after time, these bishops were telling him that everything was okay, and, to all appearances, not a single accused abuser was being removed from ministry.

(By the way, that strikes me as another way to state this problem, and one that highlights its seriousness: Up until 2002, most, if not all, priests credibly accused of sexual abuse, continued to be supported in their ministry by the Archdiocese.)

But he didn't, and he keeps telling us that gosh, he doesn't know why.

So what we're left with is this: The Archdiocese of Boston was ministered to by a crew of bishops who protected their classmates and friends accused of child molestation. They seem to have consistently misrepresented the problem to the Cardinal, probably assuring him that their buddies had promised never to do it again, and so on. Add to the mix the fact that the Cardinal seems to have his own terrible blind spot in regard to victims and an indifference to the impact of these cretins, and, oddly enough, no interest - not even, it seems, the mildest curiosity as to the details of these cases, or even the slightest inclination to view them as matters for serious investigation. I mean, if your auxilary bishop came to you and said, "Hey, Fr. Creep exposed himself in a public restroom, but we're taking care of it," wouldn't you, if you were ultimately responsible for the Archdiocese, want to call Fr. Creep in yourself for a talk, put him under evaluation and see if maybe there's another job he could find - like at Home Depot or something?

So yes, what we have here is a culture - a system in which priests were protected, no matter what, until they had all been backed up against the wall either by the law or by plaintiffs' lawyers. It is a culture that came to be because some had evil intent and others were afraid of their own darkness being exposed, quite frankly.

There's no defense here. None. And I don't know why anyone even tries to continue defending Cardinal Law. But believe me, they will.


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