Wednesday, March 13

I was just thinking. Just thinking about all the situations I know about in which lay employees of Catholic institutions were fired for things like getting married outside the Church and so on. Just thinking about the non-Catholic lay employee of a Catholic school who got pregnant out of wedlock, was fired and then had to threaten to go to court to prevent her health insurance from being cut off five months into her pregnancy. No matter what your opinion of the firing, you could probably see the injustice of cutting off a pregnant woman's health insurance.

Yeah. I was just thinking about all of those kinds of situations, in which lay people are cut off from the possibility of employment with the Church and comparing those situations know. Keeping ordained child predators on the payroll indefinitely. That sort of thing.

The baby hates getting dressed.

No, nudism is not the issue. And neither is it fashion. The issue is the apparent agony of lying there and getting your sleeper snapped.

Most of the time, he sends up the most awful howling while we struggle with those impossible, always wrongly-aligned snaps. Even worse are the shirts - not as many snaps, but that particular agony is preceded by the torment of having a shirt pulled over your head.

He screams. He cries. He writhes, wiggles, and generally tries to escape. Not realizing, of course, that he's only making things worse. By fighting against the inevitable, he's only prolonging his own suffering. It would be far better just to submit patiently, and the pain would only last half the time.

Worth thinking about in general, eh? How much of our own suffering is prolonged by our fighting against the inevitable and necessary?

Excellent response to Sullivan from Dreher.

No serious Catholic could object to a homosexually oriented priest who is both chaste and openly supportive of the Church's teaching. We're not talking about these brave and faithful men. Does Andrew Sullivan believe gay priests should have a special dispensation giving them the right to be sexually active (as he apparently believes about himself as a Catholic)? Does he believe they don't have an obligation to live by authoritative Church teaching? Does he believe that good works and heroism in other aspects of their priesthood exempts them from fidelity and integrity in others (e.g., does Fr. Judge's bravery at Ground Zero earn him a pass on the fact that he was unfaithful to the Church on sexuality?)

Or is it more important to Andrew Sullivan to be sexually active gay man than a faithful Catholic? You cannot have it both ways. Hence Andrew Sullivan's gay problem. Hence my own. Hence this painful discussion, which will soon occupy center stage in the public square as the scandal unfolds, and American Catholics are forced to deal with the homosexualization of the Catholic priesthood in America.

Good news! Good churchy news, that is - and we could use some of that, right?

Here's a lovely article about a Candian Benedictine monk who is also a gifted artist:

Now 77, the monk-artist -- known to most as "Father Dunstan" -- believes he is the only painter of large religious frescoes in Canada, and perhaps the U.S. (there are one or two in Mexico). Dozens of his vibrant frescoes, stone sculptures and paintings pepper the soaring church, stately rooms and long hallways of Westminster Abbey, situated on 50 idyllic hectares of rolling lawn and forest overlooking the farms of the Fraser Valley.

Church historian Owen Chadwick's interesting review of the latest Pope/Judaism book in the NY Review of Books. The book is The Pope Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism by David Kertzer. The review is a helpful sorting out of the legitimate charges made in the books (there was a lot of Catholic-inspired anti-Semitism in 19th century Europe, largely fueled by the ..ahem...Catholic press) from the shakier claims - that the Popes were directly responsible.

Although you, like I, might be disturbed by the following:

Pius IX, who was pope between 1846 and 1878, started by being friendly to the Rome Jews. However, after experiencing the revolution of 1848 and the Piedmont's invasion of the Papal States in 1860, he became obsessed with the idea that the Catholic Church was under threat from the modern world; the attackers were what he called "the sects," which included Freemasons, Jews, liberals, socialists, and Protestants. For liberal and Protestant opinion he therefore cared nothing. In his later years he made clear his conviction that the old prejudices of the Church against the Jews were justified by canonizing two saints, both from the fifteenth century. One, Lorenzino, was a boy of Vicenza found crucified on Good Friday. People in Vicenza believed the Jews must have done it and that miracles took place at his grave. A mob then drove the Jews out of town. The other canonization is not mentioned by Kertzer but it had a much bigger effect on public opinion at the time. Pedro d'ArbĂșes was a Spanish inquisitor who was alleged to have killed six thousand Jews and was then murdered in his cathedral by a handful of Jews. Their motive was not ritual but revenge. Devout, tolerant Catholics like the German theologist Johann Döllinger and Lord Acton never forgave Pope Pius IX for this canonization.

By the way, I'd highly recommend Kertzer's earlier study, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, about a young Jewish boy's Vatican-supported kidnapping. He'd been secretly baptized on his sickbed by a Catholic servant a year before, and since it was illegal for Christian children to be raised by Jewish parents, it was okey-dokey to rip him from his parents' arms. BTW Edgardo Mortara eventually became an RC priest.

Terry Mattingly on Scandal-o-Rama focusing on the homosexual issue.
Andrew Sullivan comes out swinging against The National Review's Rod Dreher, paying Rod all kinds of nice compliments at first, and then plunging into a furious diatribe against Dreher's reporting on the scandals, and his focus on homosexuality.

Not that AS cares, but I just wrote him a note reminding him that Dreher's a reporter, and instead of wasting his wrath on the reporter, why not analyze the information he's reporting? He skews Dreher for using the term "lavendar mafia" in reference to homosexual cliques in seminaries and religious orders, but you know, that phrase was used in a recent review of a book on the Jesuits by not-a-conservative Gary Wills in the equally not-conservative New York Review of Books.

I'm not interested in Andrew Sullivan's opinion of a writer doing his job of reporting. I'm interested in Andrew Sullivan's opinions about what's being reported. Has he read Donald Cozzens The Changing Face of the Priesthood? What does he think? Is he going to read Michael Rose's Goodbye, Good Men and comment on it? Stop being so defensive, Andrew, and stop shooting the messengers, too.

Spare me.

Spare me the Church of lawyers, the church of craven bureaucrats who study financial reports all day, but never pray. Spare me the church of obfuscation and denial. Spare me the church that harbors corruptions and rots from within, then turns and preaches to the rest of society about its sins.

But spare me, too, from the church of angry women who want rights but know not Christ and are indifferent or even hostile to the rights of unborn children. Spare me the egotistical innovators whose primary article of faith is their own superiority over 2,000 years of tradition. Spare me the professors at Catholic universities who believe in nothing except lucrative book contracts and their self-satisfied voices whining heresy.

So where does that leave me? It may not be as hard as it sounds. It leaves me with Christ. But where is Jesus in our Church, we may sometimes be moved to wonder, even cry in despair?

Here is the place to start. He is where he's always been. In the quiet chapel down the street where an old woman kneels before she goes down to the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to sort or where the old man sits in prayer before he heads out to the soup kitchen to help serve lunch.

Give back my Church. Take it back from the egoists, the politicians, the professors and the experts. Give it back to Christ.

Read this, but with a trash can nearby in case you get sick:

It's an account of the Cleveland Diocese's hardball tactics in clerical abuse accusations.

Their primary lawyer basically terrorizes claimaints during depositions to the point where they drop their claims or settle for very little. Another tactic is to lull the claimants along with a ploy of compassion until it's a few weeks before the statute of limitations runs out and they say - Oh, sorry! Too late!

Oh - and did I mention that this particular Grand Inquisitor was a Knights of Columbus Man of the Year?

Whoops. Archdiocese of Boston says insurance won't cover costs of settling abuse cases. (This is a NYTimes article, and remember, those require you to be registered. Oh, just go ahead and do it, okay?)


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