Wednesday, April 24

A reader gently chides me for what he implies is a lack of humility in relation to my scorn, expressed below, for a Church-wide "Day of Reparation." He's probably right. But you know, if it just didn't seem like such an obvious ploy to deflect responsibility, I wouldn't be so darn cynical tonight.
Unlike some bloggers, I don't have a collection plate (yet). So I consider it entirely appropriate for me to interrupt this blog with a moment of blatant self promotion:

Looking for a good First Communion gift? Try The Loyola Kids' Book of Saiints.

Need something for a confirmation or graduation gift? How about Prove It: God or Prove It: Church?

End of commercial.

Here's a depressing article.

Its focus is the dramatic drop in the Italian birth rate - one child per family is quickly becoming the norm in Italian families.

When asked about the Catholic Church and its teaching on birth control, Mezzi seemed almost joyfully defiant, an attitude typical in a country where opinion surveys show that more than 90 percent of women use birth control and that has one of the highest abortion rates in Europe.

"Oh, please, do not talk to me about the church and the pope," Mezzi said, throwing back her head to laugh. "Who is he to tell me what I can do with my body and how many babies I must have? The pope talks, talks, talks, but believe me, nobody in Italy listens."

And then there's this nugget from our favorite Priest Theologian Who Wears a Tie Except When He's On Television:

The Rev. Richard McBrien, a prominent theologian from Notre Dame University, raised the issue recently in comments about the sex abuse scandal. "One of the good things that will come out of this crisis is that the Catholic Church, at least at the official level, will no longer be able to speak out on sexuality. The church's concern with sexuality has been obsessive," he said.

What a blowhard. If the Church isn't supposed to have a voice on sexuality, who are we supposed to listen to? Sarah Jessica Parker? Bill Maher? Homer Simpson? No..wait...I know..Richard McBrien, maybe?

George Weigel was on television tonight, assuring Alan Keyes that the "silly season" in Catholicism, particulary catechesis, is over..

What? Is he just amazingly, admirably hopeful or does he come out of his office only at night to do TV? Mr. Weigel, for all of his intelligence and his service to the Church, needs to spend some time scanning Catholic religious education materials, attending in-services for Catholic teachers and sitting in on a diocesan DRE gathering or two.

He'll find that the silly season is still in full swing, but still no white shoes 'til after Memorial Day, okay?

Talk about silly.

What fresh hell is this?

US Cardinals want a day of reparation.

No. Not by them, but by all of us:

"It would be fitting for the Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to ask the faithful to join them in observing a national day of prayer and penance, in reparation for the offences perpetrated and in prayer to God for the conversion of sinners and the reconciliation of victims," it said.

My husband told me about this on his cel phone, on his way back from Ohio, and I thought he was going to drive off the road. I'm sure he'll have a lot to say about this and other matters on his blog later tonight and tomorrow, and it should be quite interesting.

All I'll say is this: I'm all for understanding the invisible effects of sin, ripples in a pond and all that. But you know, it wasn't me who let abusive priests continue ministering and humiliated victims in courtrooms and depositions. 'Twasn't me who did all that.

Interesting article with some honest assessment of the confab by Phillip Lawler

"(Law's future) is not being decided at this meeting because it is a matter that is up to Cardinal Law and the pope and no one else. There they are in the same town. They could be meeting. Cardinal Law's statements have been intriguing in that he has no said at any time, 'I am not resigning,'" Lawler said.

As for earlier reports that a number of bishops were pushing for Law's resignation, Lawler points to Cardinal Roger Mahoney who was forced to make a retraction.

"Cardinal Mahoney's fingerprints were all over that story this week. I think very likely when he got to Rome, and all the other Cardinals were sitting around, it was enforced on him that he should do something to maintain the solidarity of the Cardinals in public," Lawler said.

Should homosexual men be Catholic priests?

Whoops. Too late. They already are.

Ever since the Situation began, in late January, the issue of homosexuality and the priesthood has been percolating along side it. I’m not going to do a complete recap here of all of the discussions, but let’s just hone it down to this point:

Since the vast majority of cases coming to light involve the sexual exploitation of adolescent males, some people are starting to ask if homosexuals belong in the priesthood at all. Over the past couple of days, a bishop and a Cardinal or two have been quoted as saying the issue deserves a look. A story I linked yesterday indicated that a seminary in Philadelphia purposefully tries to weed out homosexual candidates for the priesthood. Yesterday and today, we’ve read the inevitable “witch hunt” stories, telling tales of terrified homosexual priests, huddling in their rectories, fearful for their collars.

Everybody’s wrong. Except me, of course.

This scandal, in its present incarnation, has many roots. It’s wrong and just dumb to try to trace it back to a single “root cause” and it’s pointless to try to solve it by sitting around musing about some fantastical, ideal future. What’s the issue now? What’s the solution in the context of the present reality – the established structure and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church? That’s the issue.

And reality right now is that the vast majority of priests in the Roman Catholic Church voluntarily take a vow of celibacy. That’s what they’re called to live. There are many priests who violate that vow of celibacy. Some have done it once. Some habitually violate it. Some are in long-term relationships. Some of them are homosexual. Some of them are heterosexual. That’s the way it is.

To try to weed out homosexual men from the priesthood just because they’re homosexually-inclined would be pointless and senseless and wrong, considering that it would send the message that violating the vows with women is somehow...okay. What’s not senseless is weeding out seminarians, for example, who are emotionally immature. Getting rid, to the extent possible, of seminarians who don’t accept the Catholic teaching on sexual matters. Making sure that you’re not ordaining men who aren’t absolutely committed to celibacy and have been formed in a way that they know how to live that challenging lifestyle.

If you’re doing all of that , then, it seems to me, your priesthood should be okay, within the current parameters.

So, if you’re ordaining men who struggle with same-sex attraction, but are committed to living within what Catholicism teaches about sexuality, what’s the problem? None. The problem is in ordaining men who don’t really buy the Church’s teaching on sexuality and who have been taught in seminaries that the Church’s teaching on sexuality is up for grabs. So to speak.

I truly think it is frankly insane to suggest that homosexually-oriented men are intrinsically destined to be more troublesome priests than heterosexual men. Consider, for example, the nature of parish work. In working with parish staffs and volunteers, with whom is a priest going to come into close contact more frequently, men or women? Women. Right. No question. What’s true is that working in close proximity to women and dealing with intimate, intense matters of the soul can be a tough challenge for a heterosexual man committed to celibacy, and a way of living and working that requires a constant dependence on prayer.

The problem, it seems to me, is not the hypothetical homosexual priest. If there is a problem with homosexual priests, it’s this: it’s with a very specific contemporary situation: the homosexual priests who don’t support the teaching of the Church on sexuality – don’t teach it and don’t live it – and who do, as even “liberal” observers like Richard Sipe have observed, tend to network and protect each other. And if they don't support the Church's teaching on this issue, why were they ordained in the first place? Bishop? Bishop? Seminary faculty? Anyone?

Equally implicated in all of this and other problems are the heterosexual priests who don’t support or live the church’s teaching on sexuality and who also protect each other.

See, here’s the thing. Pedophilia and sexual exploitation of teens is one thing. But we cannot get to the point in which we are trying to “weed out” priests for being human beings with all of the confusion, flaws and mystery that makes us human. I can’t, for the life of me, declare that a priest who struggles with homosexual inclinations, but is committed to living the Truth in Christ no matter what the cost, is any less “worthy” to be a priest than one who struggles with heterosexual yearnings or the urge for power or popularity. As Fr. Neuhaus said today on television, we all possess a disordered sexual nature, to some extent, because we all are burdened with the effects of original sin.

The issue we should be concentrating on is, as other Catholic bloggers have noted lately, an issue of acceptance of Church teaching and the commitment to live it out – not subvert it or use the institution as a cover so you can hide your self-indulgence, whether that self-indulgence be a lust for power or a lust for other human beings.

First, the good news: Mark Shea has a Blog!

Now, the bad news:Mark Shea has a Blog!

What, does this mean I have to be funny and incisive all on my own now?

Okay, okay.

A reader forwards a good post by my sparring partner of a week ago, USS Clueless on the Situation. He has a very simple solution.

Coming Attractions: A long post on the issue that's suddenly reared its head again: priests who are homosexually-inclined. I don't like anything I'm hearing from any side of this. The issue is not what burdens or temptations an individual bears in his emotional and spiritual life. The issue is what he believes and how he lives. More later. After I clean some floors, cook some food and listen to Joseph say, 'Ba-bee" 1, 657 times.
Note to correspondents: Keep writing to me, but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed, and may not sit down and do a massive e-mail response session until the weekend. And massive it will be. Thanks for all the comments!
Cardinals seem to be moving towards a one-strike and you're out policy

A couple of questions.

Will this policy also apply to bishops and cardinals who protect child abusers? Seems only right to me.

Cardinal George tries to soften the situation a bit, saying,

"If a vote was taken now, I'm sure most of the cardinals would be for zero tolerance," Cardinal Francis George of Chicago told The Associated Press.

George said he was not so sure himself. He raised the possibility of a priest who was rehabilitated, repentant and given a ministry "far away from children."

Where might that be? A nun's retirement home in the middle of Death Valley? Maybe, but I don't think there are too many of those.

A DRE and Archdiocesan liason with the Boy Scouts in Milwaukee was arrested in an internet child sex sting. Layman. Doesn't say if he's married or not.
Today, Maureen Dowd riffs off of Karen Hughes' resignation for her "column." It's so mindless that it's not even worth linking to, but be assured that Our Gal Mo finds time to whine about how women won't walk the halls of power freely as long as they have to consider the needs of their families in making their career decisions.

How can I put this delicately?

How about, that's the way it is, Mo - surely you know that. Oh right. You're unmarried and have no children. You evidently have no parents to care for. So you naturally assume that the rest of the world, male and female, should live unencumbered by attachments and responsibility, and should, by all rights, make decisions based solely on self-interest.

Not the way it is. At least for healthy, responsible human beings, that is.

Sure, the career aspirations of adults have to be balanced with the needs of their families, but you know, there's something pretty sad about the career-obssessed man or woman who excuses his 23-hour workday, his insistance that his family constantly uproot themselves for the sake of his career, by preening that in the end, "it's all for you guys." That's a lie. It's not, unless they've specifically stated that their emotional well-being is dependent on Mom or Dad's career status, which is, I'm sure you'll agree, unlikely.

For years, we have been accustomed to seeing sacrifice for family as a price only women pay in relation to work. That's just not fair and it's simply not true. Filter the selfish careerists out of your radar and consider everyone else who works and has a family. Are all of the men leading the ideal lives they'd evnvisioned for themselves when they were young? Or have they compromised with the needs of their families? I'm sure they have, because it's what adults do.

And in the end, what those same healthy adults find is something the careerists go to their deathbeds wondering how they missed: healthy kids, secure family ties and an appreciation of what's really important in life.

An LA Times article describing some of the efforts of laity to organize in support of a greater involvement in Church affairs.

It's a natural reaction, but you know, there's a problem, and that problem is implied in an unintentionally amusing paragraph buried near the end of the story:

Two hours into the meeting, 250 people were still trying to agree about the first sentence of a statement Muller's team had drafted in response to Cardinal Law's refusal to resign from his office.

Yes, greater accountability is needed. Or "transparency in leadership structure" as the lingo today goes. And more lay involvement in priest placement would probably help. But this article just points out the inevitable problem of inventing new organizations to try to help. It just doesn't work.

William Bennett says Law must go.

As I've said before, I agree, but I don't think he should be the only one. In particular, any of the former Boston Archdiocesan minions who had a role in writing sweet letters of affirmation to child molestors, and who are now bishops themselves, should be removed as well.


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