Monday, April 29

Watched the EWTN "round table" on The Situation tonight, off and on, in between making cookies that got eaten as soon as I finished a batch. I was unimpressed.

Good people on there, especially Fr. Groeschel, of course, but of the group, no one either sees or wants to admit the fundamental, potentially faith-altering reality here. It's not directly about homosexuality, celibacy, lay people, women, a sexualized culture or whatever other root problem - mold in the rectory air conditioning system, maybe? - we choose to explore today.

It's the bishops, stupid.

The bad priests are one thing. The bishops who know about the bad priests and keep foisting them on parishes and supporting them are another. And do you know what? (broken record commences) - This particular racket knows no ideology. It does not speak the language of either orthodoxy or progressivism. It speaks the language of clericalism, period, the language in which there are only two pronouns: "us" and "them", "us" being the guys in black suits and white collars who say "yes, bishop" and raise the right amounts of money and are left to do whatever on their days off, and "them" being the laity who are gathered in commissions and committees and councils to make them feel important, and whose money is gladly pocketed, but whose views are, if you could hear behind rectory doors, completely irrelevant and usually a subject of mirth and scorn.

[Except for the lawyers who intimidate abuse victims]

One of the most frightening things about this moment is that in every other time of crisis in the Church's history, there's one force that has rescued it, and it hasn't been the hierarchy, not even, for the most part, popes. It's been religious orders: groups of men and women totally open to the Spirit, absolutely dedicated to bringing the Gospel they lived by into the world they knew. It was religious orders that, throughout the medieval period, continually brought the Church's attention back to Christ and prevented it from simply devolving into a political force and cultural museum. In the post-Reformation period, it was religious orders that provided the means to implement the spirit and reality of the Council of Trent.

What's the modern equivalent? Perhaps it's simply not emerged. Perhaps our St. Francis is out there right now, rebuilding a little ruined church in a valley, being readied by God to work with living stones.

Step into my aura, if you dare. But be very, very careful so you don't burn because I'm so damn hot.

Why? Got an Instapundit mention today.

Thanks, Glenn!

Pretty song, but a little off-key

I just can't buy H.W. Crocker's contention in Catholic Exchange today that this isn't a Big Crisis we're seeing. He does the usual routine about there aren't that many perps, the problem is too much "liberalism" not a lack of it and so on. What he either doesn't understand or doesn't care to tackle because it doesn't fit his agenda, is that the greatest crisis the Catholic faithful are facing now is not in regard to individual priests' actions, but in regard to their bishops. They're seeing how this stuff has been covered up and ignored and how victims have been mistreated, sometimes by quite "orthodox" bishops. That's where the crisis of faith is looming. Catholics are wondering, as they have a right to, what else are they lying to us about? What else are they squandering our money on? What are we to say to ourselves and to outsiders about the moral authority of these fellows when they've broken trust so egregiously?

I'm losing my mind.

I'm serious.It's going.

Two days ago, Joseph was wandering around, as is his habit these days. He stopped, stood still, and liquid started dripping down through his overall pants leg, down his leg onto the carpet. Oh, my, I thought. Loose diaper. That happens. No.

No diaper.Where was it? I know I put one on him. I just knew it. He's been trying to get his diapers off lately, so I figured that's what he must have done. Fiddled with the tape until the thing came off and just slipped down his legs. But where? I sitll haven't found it. Maybe...

And then today. I had a package of vegetable eggrolls from the store. I put two in the microwave for lunch. Ate them. Came back to put the package awawy. There were supposed to be five in all. There should have been three left...but there were two. I know I only ate two. I remember seeing them sitting on the paper towel in the radiation machine. But maybe.....

Rod Dreher has the scoop on what Cardinal Egan told his priests this afternoon.
Nancy Nall writes for one of our local papers. She also has a web site, on which she posts a daily column. Today (scroll down to the italics), she's got a great letter from a reader about Catholic nuns. It's worth reading - and do it today, because I haven't quite figured out how and when she archives. An excerpt from the letter:

Always take crazy nun stories with a grain or two of salt. I had eight nuns for teachers during grade school, and only one of them was crazy. I know from my friends who went to public school that 1 out of 8 crazy teachers is a pretty good ratio....

Of course there are crazy nuns. But when somebody tells a crazy nun story they aren't telling you anything much about the Catholic church or about nuns. They're just telling you about something that happened to them. Most things that nuns say get shrugged off in the way that most things adults, especially teachers, get shrugged off. So when someone tells you a horror story about a nun, they're telling you something they couldn't shrug off, which reveals more about them than it does about nuns.

Five months from now, if you remember anything about nuns I just wrote, I'll bet you that it's that my first grade nun told stories about kids running around with sticks in their hearts. Crazy nun stories have staying power. Stories about progressive nuns with Ph.D.'s don't.

Thanks to Relapsed Catholic for finding this one:

A priest's Holy Week diary

The reactions to Newsweek are starting to come in, and I thank you all in advance for doing my work for me.

The first pithy evaluation:

The kindest review I can give it is that it is long and thoughtful -- i.e., lots of words and full of thoughts.

And then:

Weigel’s quotes were the high points but the overwhelming sentiment I get is that we just have to get busy with the new sexuality, get used to consenting relationships of any sort, and remember that orgasm and feelings trump right and wrong, at least if the majority says so. He seems so . . . Episcopalian.

And then, from another reader, a longer analysis, taking particular points:

And in the Catholic Church, women are asked for time and treasure but cannot be priests.

-Seems a harsh statement. When this argument is raised I think of Mother Teresa, Mother Angelica, St Catherine, women like Mary Hallan FioRito (Vice chancellor for the Chicago Archdiocese), or the many other women who head Catholic schools and hospitals. I would think that most of these women joyfully gave of their "time and treasure" with no complaints of not being allowed to become priests.

The best guess is that between 35 and 50 percent of Roman Catholic priests are homosexual.

-Wow! Where is he getting his numbers? Do you really believe this? I tend to believe someone like Father John McCloskey on this and a lower percentage like 2-3%. Again, where does Jon get his numbers?

Though bishops ordain people they may know to be homosexual, the prevailing sense, as the cardinals made clear in Rome, is that the orientation is “unnatural.”

-Where is the evidence that our bishops were only allowing gay men to be ordained so as to fill the pulpits? I have heard this many times yet where is the evidence? It seems more of an assumption that more and more people are picking up as undeniable fact. Just look at the American hierarchy at the Rome meeting. If they are facing a vocations crisis why would they be talking about not allowing gay men to be ordained?

The evidence is that homosexuals are no more likely to abuse children than heterosexuals.

-Okay, what study shows this. Likewise what study show homosexuals are more likely to abuse children?
50 percent of priests—no matter what their orientation—are sexually active in some way.
-Again, where is the evidence? I believe it is so irresponsible to write and submit a statement like this which will be taken as "fact" by many without evidence.

.says Rabbi Steven M. Dworken, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America. “Therefore, someone who is not married—I’m not saying they’re missing something, that’s too strong—but he is lacking in a completeness. Even from a sociological or psychological point of view, one would feel more comfortable discussing marital problems or familial issues with someone you assume has shared some of those same experiences.”

-I for one would not necessarily be more comfortable with someone who has shared these same experiences. I would be more comfortable with someone thoroughly educated in the faith and Church doctrine as well has counseling. Why not focus on improving the formation process so has to better train our priests and religious (ie deacons) in these areas?

Some Vatican insiders think there is already a quasi-married clergy in some parts of the world—they mention Africa, Latin America and Italy—where priests conduct long-term affairs.
-Really? Would these be the same Vatican insiders who state the Holy Father is no longer technically functioning as the head of our Holy Roman Catholic Church? Seems hard to believe.

Donald Cozzens quotes this gloomy prognosis from a retired vicar-general: “The shortage of priests is not going to be solved by praying for more vocations. Women are the ones who identify and nurture vocations, and they are not doing it anymore, and they are not going to do it, and all the preaching in the world is not going to change their minds. If you don’t believe me, talk to them. I’ve interviewed them. They say, ‘A church that won’t accept my daughters isn’t going to get my son’.”
-Have women really given up on nurturing vocations because they "won't accept (their) daughters"? Tell that to my mother, my sister, my sister-in-law, and my wife.

Good stuff from Jeremy Lott in two places:

First, in the American Prowler, he gives a brief summary of the past week's events, mentioning Blogdom's Catholic Matriarch, Kathy Shaidle again.

Then in Christianity Today he's got a review of two recent books about Jesus, pointing out

In the study of the historical Jesus, the tendency is all too often to sever the links between Jesus and the early church (the Jesus of history vs. the Christ of Faith). This same church, however, preserved the Gospels and handed them down to us. And it is precisely this church that so many are railing against by reaching for other, dubious gospels.

I'm pointing out a long cover piece from the latest Newsweek. I haven't yet read and digested the piece, which, incidentally, was written by the nephew of one my good friends from college and whom I last saw as a tow-headed eleven year old visiting a dorm room at the University of Tennessee. I invite you to read the piece and send me your comments. Call me lazy. No really - I'll comment later, but it's pretty long, and I really need to go to the store.
Excellent piece, first in a series, concerning the values of the West and why they're worth defending.
Cardinal Spinmeister in action:

When his e-mails were released in the press, Mahony refused to comment. Instead, his lawyers went to court to try to prevent The Times from publishing them. That effort failed. Friends and associates say he then consulted them, appearing to take advice from different sources on how to proceed. Two weeks ago he went to a major public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, to craft the message that would serve him in the weeks ahead.

All in all, the article's a whitewash, with no input from critics of Mahony, no alternative voices, and no accounting of the Cardinal's role in the Stockton abuse coverup. (Scroll down for details. It's somewhere down there)

Thanks to a reader for this link to a contemporary translation of the prayers of St. Catherine of Siena. This prayer he sent is particularly apt:

[In Prayer 7, St. Catherine was praying to the Eternal Godhead for the newly-appointed cardinals ("the new plants") of the ill-fated Pope Urban VI:]

"You are a fire always burning. Yet, though you always consume all that the soul possesss apart from you, you never consume the things that are pleasing to you. With the fire of your Spirit burn and consume, root out from the bottom up, every fleshly love and affection from the hearts of the new plants you have kindly seen fit to set into the mystic body of Holy Church. Transplant them away from worldly affections into the garden of your own affection, and give them a new heart with true knowledge of your will. Make them despise the world and themselves and selfish love. Fill them with your love's true fervor and make them zealous for faith and virtue. And so, once they have left behind the false desires and pretenses of this passing world, let them follow you alone in purest purity and glowing charity."

The Canadian approach

Even one act of abuse is too much," said Monsignor Peter Schonenbach, general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "No one will say to a priest who has abused that it is fine to continue. If a priest abuses, his whole life changes with that. If a priest has abused and a complaint comes in and the bishop knows about the abuse . . . from that day on, the priest's whole life will be different. He may remain a priest but will never do ministry again."

Same template. I know. I looked, couldn't find anything I liked. I'll keep looking, though.
My husband, last night, as he watched Joseph spend several minutes absorbed in the task of carrying a red-and-white-checked cloth napkin around to various spots in the house, spread it out on the ground, pick it up and transport it to another place.

"Why do they even make toys?"

If you have children, you've observed this yourself. My children have always had relatively little use for toys. Right now, Joseph's favorite objects are: CD's, grown-up books, cloth napkins and placemats, plastic food storage containers and (when he can get his hands on them) pens and playing cards.

Zero Tolerance for six-year old victims!

Court documents filed by Cardinal Law say negligence by boy, parents contributed to alleged sexual abuse

Astute observation from Stanley Kurtz this morning on how liberals and conservatives in the Church are subtely agreeing on one source of The Problem.
Today is the feastday of St. Catherine of Siena.

An extraordinary woman. Her sole focus was God and His will, and to this end, she lived a life that was surprising, to say the least, and even shocking to most of her time.

The first thing to remember about St. Catherine is that she was a single laywoman

Catherine’s family, horrified at her refusal to do the conventional thing, forced her to endure months of mistreatment before she won the right to join the Dominican Third Order and live a devout life at home. For three years, Catherine lived a life of prayer, silence, and austerity in her tiny 9-by-12-foot room. During the Carnival of 1366, she experienced a mystical betrothal to Christ. A few days later, she realized that God was asking her to leave her contemplative isolation and re-enter the world. Catherine of Siena was only 19 when her public ministry began.

The "conventional thing," of course, would have been to either marry or enter the cloister. In the fourteenth century, religious women were all cloistered. There was no such thing as religious women who had an apostolate of teaching or hospital work. That came a couple of centuries later.

It's fascinating that St. Catherine was so determined to absolutely defy the convention of her time. It's a determination that could only come from the strength of her own character, strengthened even more by the grace of God. Just think about it for a moment.

And what did she accomplish? Although we commonly associate her with the dispute over the Avignon Papacy more than anything else, her most notable accomplishment was the spiritual movement associated with her:

After three years of seclusion and intense prayer:

She now rejoined her family, began to tend the sick, especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases, to serve the poor, and to labour for the conversion of sinners. Though always suffering terrible physical pain, living for long intervals on practically no food save the Blessed Sacrament, she was ever radiantly happy and full of practical wisdom no less than the highest spiritual insight. All her contemporaries bear witness to her extraordinary personal charm, which prevailed over the continual persecution to which she was subjected even by the friars of her own order and by her sisters in religion. She began to gather disciples round her, both men and women, who formed a wonderful spiritual fellowship, united to her by the bonds of mystical love. (From the Catholic Encylopedia article on Catherine)

What is striking about Catherine is her utter fearlessness. The roots of this courage are, of course, not in any determination to adhere to human principles, or in false notions of "self-esteem" or self-confidence. The roots of Catherine's strength, courage and, indeed, her entire being, were in her total - may I use the term? - transparency to the will of God.

There's much to ponder in the life of St. Catherine, especially in terms of the current crisis in the Church which, if we're honest, is not a current crisis. The concealment of child abusers and the exploiters of youth in the ranks of the clergy is a tragic, yet apt summation of the worst expressions of the institutional church which we've been enduring for a while, secrecy, prioritizing clerical privilege, and a lack of concern for the Gospel, in favor of an obssessive concern with PR and financial matters.

But what I'm more interested in this morning is what St. Catherine says to each of us as individuals, as we're setting out each morning, making choices about who will rule in our lives today:

Will it be God, His will and His truth?

Or will it be fear of the world's disapproval?

Will it be God's love?

Or will it be the world's determination of what appropriate behavior for someone like us would be?

Will God be in charge of my life today, working through me to love and serve, or will I insist on wresting control from him for yet one more day, only to close my eyes tonight, wondering once again, why my life feels not quite right?

Lots of links on St. Catherine:

From the Catholic Community Forum

From the Open Directory

From the Dominicans

And finally, please stop by the site of the Catherine of Siena Institute, a marvelous lay renewal program inspired by the charism of St. Catherine (as opposed to the charism of Barely Christian Groupthink which is the inspiration for some parish renewal programs).

And really finally, a prayer:

God of Wisdom you made our sister Catherine burn with divine love in contemplating the Lord's passion and in serving your Church. With the help of her prayers may your people, united in the mystery of Christ, rejoice forever in the revelation of his glory, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen

Now for today's really big news

Steve goes to college and Joe takes over!


I guess you don't have a preschooler in your house:Blue's Clues has a new host today.


Blog Archive