Saturday, April 6

I haven't quite made sense of the mysteriously-released email correspondence among the LA Archdiocese's Big Dogs, but one that struck me was, if you're scrolling, about the 18th one down from the top, dated 3/27 and titled "Our Big Mistake" from the Cardinal to various others, including a Sister Judy, who seems to be in charge of something related to the sex-abuse cases.

What struck me was this:

As the drum beats continue from every side for us to release the "names," I must still point to what I consider our greatest tactical mistake of the past few weeks.


If I recall, of the 8 priests involved, 5 had already been reported to local law enforcement agencies. That leaves 3.


Recall also that I pressed for you to meet with Det Barraclough and "consult" him about the other 3 so that we could state without
hesitation that all priests no longer in service had been reported to various law enforcement agencies. You resisted quite strongly that suggestion.


I hope you have changed your mind by now! By doing it back then, we would not appear to be crumbling under public pressure. It was a huge mistake on our part.


If we don't, today, "consult" with the Det. about those 3 names, I can guarantee you that I will get hauled into a Grand Jury proceeding and I will be forced to give all the names, etc.


I must now insist that this matter is no longer open for discussion. You must consult with the Det. about those 3 cases.


In my response to Parks, I want to state that every single case of the few priests was reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency over the years.


I must be able to state that--even publicly. And soon. I'm not sure you grasp the gravity of the situation and where this is
heading--not only with the media, but with the law enforcement and legal folks.

There is much in these emails that seems...okay. The Archbishop meeting with some victims, etc. But this....this is CYA in big bold pixels, ain't it?

The Archbishop is frantic that he be able to be honest in saying that law enforcement had heard about all the cases - even if it was yesterday about cases that occurred God knows when.

The oddest thing about this email is the placement of the word consult in quotes. Doesn't that seem to be a clear indication that this is all pro forma, meet some obscure letter of the law kind of last-minute action? "Consult?" As I read this, I created another letter from an imaginary prelate in my mind:

My dear brother "priests:"

During this "Easter" season, I am moved to write all of you to express my great pleasure in your "ministries."

Your "preaching" has prompted many to draw closer to "Christ." The "educational" ministries in your parishes have "taught" countless of our children and our young people the "truth" about the "faith."

Your "liturgies" are deeply expressive of the presence of "God" among us, and there's no doubt that all of the people of the diocese have benefited greatly from the "worship" they experience in your "churches."

Yours in "Christ,"

"Bishop" Baloney.

A little calm.

I just got off the telephone with Mary-Louise Kurey, Miss Wisconsin 1999, Our Sunday Visitor author and abstinence speaker. I interviewed her for an upcoming article in Catholic Parent magazine. She was in Atlantic City at the NCEA, as well, taking her place at the book-signing table after I was finished, but we were both so busy (well...she more than I) that I decided it would be better to wait until I was home. Plus, I've become so distressingly dependent on my computer, especially for taking notes during interviews.

She talked to me about what parents can do to help their kids remain abstinent, and the dumb stuff they do that almost insures that they won't. Prime among the latter are providing alcohol (which is a huge problem, particularly among the affluent), low expectations, a conviction that they (the parents) don't have any influence anyway, and poor communication. My experience teaching high school moves me to agree with her wholeheartedly, and to add the insight that most high school teachers share in this regard: Parents are Dumb as Stumps. Shockingly. (Does that include me? Probably. Although I hope not.)

What I read on my Easter Vacation: I didn't get as much reading done as I'd hoped in the car, but you know, entertaining a baby and feeding him Cheese Nips at regular intervals cuts into book time, especially if you don't want orange-stained pages. I did, however, read Good-bye! Good Men, which my husband has discussed at length on his blog. I don't have the insider's perspective that he does, but here's my measly two cents: Any Catholic who's interested in the state of the priesthood should read this...and if you're wondering, for example, why you've heard nothing but pap from the pulpit in twenty years, this book provides an answer. But my critique is this: The books is essentially the story of how the people Rose describes were treated in the seminaries he describes. Do you see? It's not a description of the general state of seminaries in the US. His argument - that the RC clergy crisis has essentially been manufactured because of the exclusion and alienation of orthodox men from seminaries - would have much more power if he had some sort of figures to back it up, either a complete survey or a sample that's representative of American Catholicism across geographic lines, as well as diocesan and religious orders. How many men have applied? How many have been rejected outright? How many have been kicked out midway and for what stated reasons?

Of course, such stats undoubtedly don't exist, or would take a long time to cull from seminary, diocesan and religous order records. But in the end, such work would provide us with a more accurate sense of what's really gone on. As I said, I don't doubt that Rose is accurate in what he describes. But is does what he describes represent any bigger picture than...what he describes?

I also read a book sent to me for review by Yale University Press written by the most recent winner of the Templeton Prize, John Polkinghorne:The God of Hope and the End of the World. The book is a short, but rich examination of what meaning Christian eschatology has in the light of contemporary science. That is - what is the soul and what does immortality mean when it seems clear that human identity isn't a separate entity trapped in the body in some dualistic arrangement, but is intimately tied to physiological factors. Further, how do we speak of our eschatological hope for God's creation when science tells us with some confidence that the way of the future for the Universe is contraction and decline? Too often, we Christians simply blow off those kinds of questions, taking shelter in what might rightly be called "blind faith." Interesting reading.

A belated congratulations to my father and Hilary, who were married in Knoxville on Thursday, Joseph's birthday. My oldest son Christopher represented the rest of us, and, from all accounts, did it quite ably, even if he had to stay up until 3:30 am the night before laundering his one and only dress shirt.

Interesting reading for a Saturday: LA Archdiocesan emails related to clergy sex abuse cases.
I was going to take all kinds of pictures on our trip. Joseph in front of the Atlantic Ocean, Joseph at the Liberty Bell, Joseph at Independence Hall, Joseph at a gambling emporium. But it didn't happen. I took exactly one picture. Here it is. For more information on the other person mentioned, go here.
The sound of weeping novelists resounds throughout the land this morning:Oprah's shutting down her book club.

The reason? She says

``It has become harder and harder to find books on a monthly basis that I feel absolutely compelled to share.''

but...

``I don't buy that at all,'' said John Leonard, a literary and television critic and the former editor of the New York Times Book Review. ``You have 55,000 to 60,000 new books being published each year. If 10 percent of that is worth paying attention to, and I think it is, then it shouldn't be hard to come up with something once a month.''

Several publishers regretfully noted that, despite Winfrey's phenomenal popularity, the appeal of her book club might have been diminishing. Endorsements usually meant a boost of more than 1 million extra copies; lately, Winfrey's imprimatur more often increased sales by slightly more than 600,000 copies.

Such numbers still induce authors and publishers to pray for Winfrey's calls, but the decline also suggests that viewers may be losing interest.

In a recent issue of Fortune, one of the show's producers acknowledged that ratings for the ``book club'' episodes often lagged her other broadcasts, and such shows had become less frequent in the last three years. At the start of ``Oprah's Book Club,'' Winfrey chose a new book each month but she picked nine in 2000 and six in 2001. A production company official said Winfrey never did the book clubs for ratings.

Oh well. I guess I'll never get my chance now. Of course, I'd have to finish at least one of four uncompleted novels in various drawers to get a shot...

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