Wednesday, May 1

Thanks to the nice fellow who publishes this very classy-looking blog, my Netscape problem has been isolated. It has to do with my brilliant decision to use the blockquote tag, in concert with CSS. Whatever. I like the blockquote. But I'll go through yesterday's posts and remove it and replace it with the old, hard-to read italic. Or maybe bold. Or maybe I should just figure out this kind of coding and do a whole new template all by myself. Yeah..that would be a good idea. Book manuscript due on June 1, baby sleeps for exactly one hour a day...I need to be spending my time on a blog template.

Anyway, thanks much to Hernan. I wish I understood Spanish, because his blog seems quite the thing. Pass it on!

Great observations from a reader:

I don't agree that the Church has been rescued by religious orders "in every other time of crisis".


This was true in the 4th Century and the 13th Century.But not during the Counter-Reformation!


What? you ask. What about the Jesuits? True, the Jesuits were the great soldiers of Catholic reform. But by the 1590's you did not find zealous Jesuit reformers alongside corrupt parish priests and bishops.The _entire_ priesthood had been renewed.


In my opinion, this wasn't a struggle between religious orders and secular hierarchy -- it was a struggle between generations!


Reform took a long time. Paul III finally called the council (under pressure from Emperor Charles V), and he did believe in reform -- but he was 50 years old when Luther nailed his theses to the door, and he simply was too "old-school" to do what needed to be done. And as soon as Paul III died, it got really bad again. In the 1550's there were two bad Popes -- Julius III (who had a 15-year-old boyfriend) and Paul IV (who was incompetent). Between 1548 and 1562 the council only met for eleven months.

Finally we were blessed with Pius IV, who finished the council, and St Pius V, who implemented the council, and St Ignatius Loyola.


Pius V was a Dominican. Pius IV wasn't in an order at all. What did they have in common? Both of them were teenagers when Luther nailed his theses to the door. Loyola himself was only a few years older (he was 26 in 1517).


Am I saying the every priest and bishop of the previous generation was corrupt? Not at all! But even the good folks in the previous generation had pretty much accepted that the institutional church was generally corrupt with occasional saints brightening up a parish here or a convent there. These people simply were too old to be galvanized
into a giant project of reform.


Like today, the abuses had gone on for far too long, but the key to reform was publicity. Luther's pamphlets let everyone know about all the abuses throughout Europe, not just the ones they had seen in their own town. And the men and women shaped by this era became the greatest firebrands for reform -- both Protestant and Catholic, in
fact.


I think the same thing is likely to happen today. Our scandal basically has two groups of culprits: bishops born in the 1920's and 1930's who suffered from clericalism (or worse), and priests born in the 1940's and 1950's who suffered from hedonism (or worse)


I don't claim my "generations" model explains everything, but I think it's a good approximation to the truth. I think it's the youngest folks -- conservative and liberal, clerical and religious and lay --who are being the most affected by this scandal. Older folks, even when they talk about the scandal, too often use it to push the agendas
they were already advocating anyway.....


By the way, I was born in '64, so I'm not making myself out to be one of the "hero" generation! I'm right on the border. The scandal does upset me deeply.... but when I'm seventy years old I don't believe that, looking back, I will say this scandal was key to shaping my Catholic identity

That's what I like. A thousand hits before dinner. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Note to Netscape users: Can you see this? If you can't see it, obviously I won't hear from you. But if you are using Netscape, please drop me a line and tell me which version of it you have. I've had two reports today of the site crashing Netscape, and I can't figure out why - all I did in changing the blog template was one column setting and one font setting. Thanks.
From a reader:

Your point about religious orders renewing the Church is correct, but we hardly want to wait 30 years as little new ones mature and achieve momentum (unless we must). There is one great example of the LAITY holding things together, when "at one time the Pope, at other times the patriarchal,
metropolitan, and other great sees, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth; while on the other hand, it was the Christian people who,under Providence, were the ecclesiastical strength of Athanasius, Hilary, Eusebius of Vercellae, and other great solitary confessors, who would have failed without them." The Arian controversy. Quote from John Henry Cardinal Newman's "On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine".

True, it was a theological rather than a moral question, and one can argue that our often ill-formed laity are hardly to be compared with the zealous souls of
the fourth century Church. But, it's actually to our advantage that The Situation is not about theology--it's about the lack of CLEAR-EYED MORAL COURAGE. We do have plenty of laity who can insist on that. 9/11 showed there is quite a bit of it still around.

This fellow is a DRE in a parish. Lucky parish, eh?

From the Seattle Weekly: Abuse in non-Catholic Churches:

In this climate, almost all denominations are thought to be consulting with attorneys as a precaution. According to The Boston Globe, some Hare Krishna temples have gone so far as to file for bankruptcy in anticipation of facing sizable abuse claims.


Though rabbis, ministers, and religious gurus have all been charged with molesting congregation members in recent years, the Globe said there's likely no equivalent to the Catholic Church's scandal. After all, an estimated 2,000 U.S. priests have been accused of abuse in the past half-century.


But one of Kosnoff's fellow attorneys, Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul, who has filed more than 400 sexual abuse cases against mostly Catholic clergy in the U.S. since the 1980s, says his targets are increasingly non-Catholic institutions and predicts a tide of Protestant victims is about to sweep in.



Okay. The final word on stewardship and The Situation. No one needs to bother to write anything else.
In the New York Press, Michelangelo Signorile gets to work on Cardinal Spellman.
Finished the column. Off to the library and the store. Ritual self-promotion: Looking for a First Communion gift? Try this.
Seattle's alternative newspaper has an entire issue devoted to The Situation Given the paper's alternative stance, we can imagine what slant these stories will take, but it's probably worth a look. I'll be going through it over the course of the day. Right now I've got to write a CNS column.
I'm Catholic. So I change slowly.

I've decided to keep this template, but tweek it. Thanks to the Goliard Blog for giving me some suggestions. I'm widening the text column, first, and I'm now putting quotes in blockquote form rather than italics - I think the italics were hard to read. Better?

Peter Beinart on the puzzle The Situation presents to pundits in the secular media.

The basic issue? The issues are none of their business:

The punditocracy's premise is that everybody is entitled to an opinion about everything; we take polls seriously even when most of the respondents know virtually nothing about the topic. Overall, that's probably a good thing: Better an uninformed but open debate than an educated but closed one. But there are some topics on which everyone's opinion isn't equally valid because, if they were, communities would lose their autonomy--and, ultimately, some part of their freedom. What is my opinion about how the American Catholic Church should respond to the pedophilia scandal that engulfs it today? My opinion is that my opinion really doesn't matter at all.

He's right, but there's one factor he doesn't include. Besides the inherent gravity of the situation, the reason so many pundits have weighed in on this matter is that so many of the pundits are Catholic! Let's make a partial list: Rod Dreher, William F. Buckley, Peggy Noonan, E.J. Dionne, Robert Novak, Michelle Malkin, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews, Kate O'Beirne, Maureen Dowd, Andrew Sullivan, most of the Boston newspaper columnists, Andrew Greeley (duh), Pat Buchanan, John McLaughlin (former priest, to boot) and Mike Barnicle..the last by the way, really gets my goat every time he opens his mouth on this one. An admitted, punished plagiarist preaching on morality? Please.

There are probably more, but you get the point, and it's an interesting one, isn't it? Why are Catholics so mouthy? Why are they all over the papers and the television spouting their opinions? See, here's the place where all the talk about a "passive Catholic laity" fails. Passive? Maybe in Mass when they're told to sing one more unsingable song celebrating their own existence. But not on the airwaves. No way.

By the way. Look at that list up there...add your own (I'm sure there are others). Imagine going to Mass with all of those folk in the same Church. What a trip. Sounds like a good magazine cover, doesn't it?

Here's an article from the Boston Globe about Voice of the Faithful, the group that's sprung up in Boston in response to the Crisis.

It's an interesting article,but I'm left with a lingering question...what are they trying to do? What are the changes they seek? I've read several articles about this group, and I simply can't discern what practical changes they're calling for.

With today being the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and all (see below) it's an appropriate day to discuss what to do with the fruit of our labor - that is, do we give them to the Bishop's Hush Fund or not?

Just kidding. The issue is not quite that simple. But it's certainly worth discussing, with interesting points benig raised in Dreher's National Review piece as well as by Fr. Shawn O'Neal

I've worked in parishes and Catholic schools, which means I've been dependent on the generosity of others for my salary. The question at hand, though, is not giving to parishes, of course. It's the issue of diocesan giving. The catch-22 for the potential boycotter is that for the most part, diocesan appeals run like a tax. A parish must pay its allotment no matter what, and it will come from general funds if the parishioners don't cough it up.

There's not much you can do about this, and I tend to agree with Fr. Shawn that it's wrong to make your parish suffer for the sins of a bishop or a personnel board.

However, I still think one can make the same point without making the parish suffer: Don't pledge. Most of these diocesan appeals involve a pledge to give. Don't do it. Send in the envelope, but include a note explaining why you're not pledging. Then go ahead and give your regular contribution plus what you would have given to the diocese straight to the parish. That way you'll be sending your message, but the parish won't suffer.

Another idea: Make a special effort to build up Catholic institutions in your area that aren't dependent on the diocese. Give to a convent or monastery that's doing what it's called to do. Give to an independent Catholic school in your area, or one run by a religious order. Give to a shrine. Give to a mission effort that's not tied to the diocese.

But here's what I say. I worked in a parish with a pastor who was, charitably speaking, out of his freakin' mind. He was a nut case, and drove away parishionors in droves. I also taught in a Catholic high school with a principal who was incompetent. Both "leaders" did their best to drive the customers, so to speak, away. And I understood. I did my best to keep up my little corner of dysfunctional institutions, but in the end, I had to sympathize with people who chose to leave the parish and attend another one where they might hear homilies that were more than paens to the Florida Gators chose, in good conscience, that it would be better for their children to attend a school where they might actually get a challenging education. If, in the end, my job suffered, what could I say? Could I be angry that parents weren't choosing to send their children to an inadequate school? Could I blame people for wanting to be part of parish in which the pastor didn't regularly insult their intelligence? I did what I felt I could in both situations - spoke to the bishop twice in the first, tried to build a strong religious education program, taught kick-ass theology and deepened and broadened the school's prayer life in the second, but perhaps I could have done even more. Despite my efforts, I was a part of a problem institution, and if they went down, my suffering would not have been totally unjust. I was a part of it.

I'd say something similar to parish and diocesan personnel. In some cases, parish and diocesan personnel are indirectly complicit in the cover-up of clergy crimes. Priests know things about each other. Diocesan personnel, lay and ordained, know things too. And if they're silent, they're part of the problem, and we should do our best to ignore their tears and stick to our guns. And if institutions start going down because of this, we can put our energy where our mouths have been and start new ones that aren't tainted in anyway by the harm done to the young by some clergy and the bishops who let them work their wicked deeds.

Today is the Feastday of St. Joseph the Worker.

The "regular" feast of St. Joseph is March 19, but this day honoring St Joseph specifically as a laborer was established in 1955 by Pope Pius XII. You can probably guess why. It's an interesting modern example of the Church using an ocassion offered by the world and remaking it in a way that honors God. First, how did May 1 become a day to honor work, anyway?

The transformation into International Workers' Day began in Chicago, of all places, at the Haymarket Square riot in 1886. An offshoot of the Knights of Labor called a general strike for May 1 of that year to push for an eight-hour day. A riot ensued, and four anarchist leaders were eventually hanged for throwing a bomb. The AFL convention called for another strike. Samuel Gompers invited the Marxist International Socialist Congress in Paris to join in. The strike, on May 1, 1890, was a big hit, and the day quickly became an annual event. When the Russian revolution succeeded a generation later, it naturally absorbed the occasion into its annual cycle. Before long, we were seeing Soviet leaders in gray coats and fur hats standing on the reviewing platform watching the tanks and missiles drive by.

Then, in 1955, Pope Pius XII stepped in:

On May 1, 1955, Pope Pius XII granted a public audience to the Catholic Association of Italian Workers, whose members had gathered in Saint Peter’s Square to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their society. They were solemnly renewing, in common, their promise of loyalty to the social doctrine of the Church, and it was on that day that the Pope instituted the liturgical feast of May 1st, in honor of Saint Joseph the Worker. He assured his audience and the working people of the world: “You have beside you a shepherd, a defender and a father” in Saint Joseph, the carpenter whom God in His providence chose to be the virginal father of Jesus and the head of the Holy Family. He is silent but has excellent hearing, and his intercession is very powerful over the Heart of the Saviour.

Here's a prayer:

Glorious Saint Joseph, you are the pattern of all who work. Obtain for me, please, the grace to work conscientiously and to put devotion to duty before my selfish inclinations. Help me to labor in thankfulness and joy, for it is an honor to employ and to develop by my labor the gifts I have received from almighty God. Grant that I may work in orderliness, peace, moderation and patience without shrinking from weariness and difficulties. I offer my fatigue and perplexities as reparation for sin. I shall work, above all, with a pure intention and with detachment from self, having always before my eyes the hour of death and the accounting which I must then render of time ill-spent, of talents unemployed, of good undone, and of empty pride in success, which is so fatal to the work of God. For Jesus through Mary, all in imitation of you, good Saint Joseph. This shall be my motto in life and in death. Amen.




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