Monday, May 6

Horrors in Phoenix. Stuff like this doesn't make you want to see bishops in handcuffs. It makes you want to see bishops in chains.

Well, that was intemperate of me, considering the following post about a place where saintly bishops really are in chains. But this isn't sanctity we're talking about. It's a maddening, mysterious baffling attachment to evildoers.

Catholicism in China from ABC news:

For almost a third of her life, from young adulthood to the fading glow of middle-age, Hu was a prisoner of the Chinese government. For 26 years, she saw little but prisons and labor camps.
And if her voice belies the hardship she has suffered, the words she uses do not. "I have cancer, I have diabetes. I am a dying person," she told ABCNEWS.

Hu does not regret her time in jail though. Almost a half-century ago, she was arrested by China's communist authorities because she belonged to a group that authorities labeled counterrevolutionary.

That group was the Legion of Mary, a worldwide organization of Roman Catholic lay people.

Law Watch:

Won't be speaking at the Josephinium on Saturday

Will be deposed on Wednesday. (Maybe)

Radio Days

I'll be a guest on Greg Popcak's program Heart, Mind and Strength for the next two Mondays, filling in for Matt Pinto.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, May 7), I'll be a guest on the Al Kresta program at about 5pm Eastern.

Then there's that whole Vatican Radio thing....just pray I don't forget to either be at my house or be off line at the designated time. I can just see myself in the middle of Wal-Mart, slapping my head and exclaiming, "Darn! I was supposed to be talking to the Vatican right now!"

Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up....or not.

Louisiana priest resigns over Mardi Gras picture:

A Roman Catholic priest has resigned as pastor of a church after a coffee table book showed him shirtless in a Mardi Gras crowd next to a drag queen and well-muscled men in biking shorts.

The Rev. Thomas Bouterie, 47, pastor of the St. Louis Church in Bayou Blue, appeared in the book "Masking and Madness."

Just a thought before I go back to parables. (almost done with the Sower and the Seed! That only took about ten days...)

I think that if there's one thing that unites post-Vatican II babies in our view towards Church it's not necessarily a concern for rubrical nitpicking or ideological correctness. It's one thing. It's one thing we want when we go to Mass. Or don't want.

We just don't want it to be lame.

Or stupid. Or insulting. Or goofy.

Or excruciatingly embarrassing to all, including, whether they know it or not, the lady in tights dancing out the story of Cain and Abel or the homilist trying to be with it and failing or the lector being overdramatic or the music ministers forgetting exactly where they are, or the banner-maker who made Jesus' face out of a collage of pictures of bread.

So that's what we ask of those who lead us in liturgy: Don't be lame.

Oh yeah. And pray, while you're at it.

Reader John writes:

Re: the clown Masses. Not an urban legend. At one time I had pictures. On the bright side, this was from the earliest (and probably looniest) days of the new order, the early 70's. Those of the reverend clergy who are inclined to make d**ned fools of themselves seem to have found alternative methods these days.

My weekday parish - St. Peter Chanel in Hawaiian
the best parish in the Los Angeles Archdiocese - generally avoids applause for the choir by never quite having a place for it. At the end of Mass the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and the choir sings the O Salutaris. Then the Rosary is recited, usually led by the celebrant. By the time the Rosary is over, the choir has quietly dispersed.

In addition, the bulletin often has a gentle "no applause" request, which you can read by going to the parish's website.

Reader Mark helps me out by offering some useful analysis of Paul Wilkes' Boston Globe column yesterday

A seeming inconsistency: No. 2, "Honor Not the Snitches," chastises "orthodoxy police who make life difficult for any progressive, innovative priest and parish by reporting real or imagined breeches of Catholic practice. They are Spirit killers;yes, that Spirit." So: "Let them know they no longer have your ear (and let the Vatican do the same), these onlookers so worried that fingers were not together at a particular part of the Eucharist or that the words spoken were notprecise. Strict observance is not the most important element of Catholic life."

Certainly, nobody likes a skulk. But after indicting as "Spirit-killing" the Mrs Grundys who contact the diocese to act as informants against"progressive, innovative" priests, Wilkes proceeds to urge letter-writing campaigns and more letter-writing campaigns to the
diocese by the laity. (Here one guesses he means only the enlightened "progressive" and "innovative" laity.)

"If you are being ''served' by an inadequate man whose only credential is his priesthood, don't put up with it," he writes. And then: "9. Make known your thoughts. Write to your local bishop and tell him you want a voice in your church, on who will be your pastor, on which church laws enhance and which kill the spirit, on how we might be better Catholics, and - hopefully - Christians. Write the cardinals who will elect the next pope and tell them the kind of spiritual leader you want for your church and for your heart. Write to the men in the chancery tribunal offices and tell them of the children who cannot receive Eucharist because they cannot eat wheat; tell them of the retarded whose minds cannot grasp the necessary catechetical distinctions and are therefore considered outside the faith community. Tell them whenever inhuman or insensitive treatment has been meted out."

So just to get this straight: Writing, phoning, calling the chancery is laudable if you're "progressive," "Spirit-killing" if you're a traditionalist in the grass complaining over a priest who, oh, let's say, dons a donkey head at the close of Mass.

Hee-haw, misse est!

Not much I can add to that except to dispute Wilkes' contention that developmentally disabled people are prohibited from receiving the sacraments. The opposite in true. Here's a good article about one program that's focused on religious education for the developmentally disabled. Faith and Light is a broader spiritual movement started by Jean Vanier.

A little perspective, if you please.

From another Catholic writer:

In our current mess, it's worth pointing out that clerical child abuse has been around since the early centuries. It's mentioned in the lives of the Desert Fathers where it's considered less serious than being judgmental (where do we keep hearing that?). [from the editor - I'd like to see quote on that...]Homosexual activities between boys, boys and men, or men and men, are dissected in the Irish penitentials. Monastic rules included safeguards by monitoring sleeping arrangements and so forth. Neverthless, monks had a bad reputation as pederasts, especially when they were taking in child oblates. There's even a naughty joke about St. Bernard of Clairvaux being unusual for not being a pederast. Things looked cleaner after Trent but abusive clericsdefinitely
existed (or were trained) before Vatican II so modern libertinism isn't the whole story.

Bishops in handcuffs?

This article from the Washington Post explores the growing question of church officials' legal culpability for the Predator Priest Shuffle.

In case you didn't know, a big Catholic grammar school was leveled in that tornado in Maryland. Here's the story of how they're recovering and plan to rebuild.
I have a piece on Catholic Exchange today.
Via Rod Dreher at the Corner

One priest's reponse to a mailing sent out by Priests for Life, a mailing which apparently chose to blame the Situation mostly on the media and on the culture. A sample:

No. We have not had ENOUGH of the Mea Culpas. I do not think Janet Patterson has heard all that she needs to from the Bishop who has never been in touch with her, let alone from the Cardinal of Boston who thinks Shanley was an example of "poor record keeping," as though if the Boston chancery improves its secretarial skills there will be no pedophiles left in the archdiocese. As though two cardinals needed help figuring out what Margaret Gallant, a lay woman, knew and told them about John Geoghan: that he did not need to be a Priest.

No. We do not need to blame MTV and sexually explicit media for things we have fostered in our own institutions.

No. We should be embarrassed and ashamed to blame the media for "Church-bashing" when they are just pointing out the sordid facts about how our Bishops go about their business. If society were indifferent to the fact that there are pedophile priests, and Bishops who cover up for them, THEN we would have reason to be outraged. We have NO REASON to be outraged that they take our teachings in this area more seriously than we do. We have NO REASON to be outraged at them because they are outraged that we do not live up to our own teachings.

As a Priest, I find it demoralizing and outrageous that Mr. DeStefano would issue a call to arms to faithful Catholic groups such as the Knights of Malta, the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic League and others, to go into battle against the very people who, as far as I can see, have done us a great service. They have pointed out the real enemies of the Faith.

The real enemies of the Faith are NOT the attorneys, the reporters covering the stories, the pundits weighing in. Indeed, even Jimmy Breslin, much as I personally dislike his punditry, can't be counted as the real enemy. He's bush league, compared to the real enemy -- the enemy within. The enemy whose failure to oversee and govern, to guide and rebuke and foster the good has permitted over two generations that, within the house of God, dissenters could teach under Catholic auspices, preach with faculties and undermine the Catholic Faith and Liturgy; could administer seminaries in which every kind of aberration was tolerated; could bring things to a point where the Catholic father of his family has to fret over whether his son can be an altar boy, whether his children can be entrusted to the diocesan catechetical program.

There's much, much more. It's stirring stuff and deserves your time. Go read it.

From Newsweek: Father Fixit: how parishes cope after their priest disappears into the night.

We're all praying for the Church in general right now - it would be good, perhaps, to also focus those prayers for the many parishes enduring direct hits, and for the priests and other parish ministers trying to help the people of the parish understand, endure, and keep faith.

I have to say, thought, that this paragraph did make me choke a bit on my morning yogurt:

Welsh’s [the accused priest in this parish]whereabouts are unknown. Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz confirms “an ongoing investigation”; a parishioner who’s exchanged e-mail with Welsh says the priest maintains his innocence. Meanwhile, Welsh’s former parishioners are recalibrating memories of the priest they thought they knew. Several who blame the church’s problems on homosexual priests say Welsh’s frequent vacations in Provincetown, a predominantly gay community, should have aroused suspicion.


A strange story from South Africa about a painter-priest, much revered. Of late, many of the paintings sold under his name have been revealed to be copies.

Acclaimed South African artist Father Frans Claerhout is causing a furore in art circles after revealing to a Sunday newspaper that hundreds of his paintings are forgeries.

The 83-year-old Belgian-born artist, of Tweespruit in Bloemfontein, told Rapport newspaper that forgeries were printed and sold as originals by a Bloemfontein art dealer.

Archbishop Pilla of Cleveland apologizes for stuff. I'm glad, but you know, there's one point for which he doesn't apologize (at least according to this article) - the terrible ways his archdiocesan lawyers treated victims in court and in depositions, noted in this blog a couple of months ago.

Here's another scene to contemplate:

In the opening processional, the bishop walked in slowly, a somber, forlorn, repentant figure who did not acknowledge scattered applause. At the end of the service, his demeanor remained the same even as many in the audience clapped, including priests in attendance.

Look. Can we all make a deal here? Can we cease and desist with the applause? First, we don't got to Mass to offer praise to other human beings. We go to Mass to worship. God. It would be a very good thing, and an indication of a very healthy new direction if, when confronted with these fellows who, may indeed by truly repentant, we listened politely, then turned our hearts to God. It might encourage them to do the same, rather than turning them back to themselves, which, in the end, is the impact of applause, whether it be scattered or the dreaded, but usually inevitable standing ovation.

From reader Kathy:

The following is NOT apocryphal! I have witnesses! My whole family! I don't remember the name of the church except that it was in Niagara Falls and we could probably find it again. Anyway a number of years ago we were at Palm
Sunday Mass on Saturday evening and at the end, before the recessional, the priest mentioned that the school kids were putting on a Palm Sunday play the next afternoon and the costumes were really great and here's one of them and to our horror he clapped a realistic-looking donkey's head mask on his own head and headed, with utmost dignity, down the aisle. The whole way. It
could have been worse. He did not bray and did not stop to nibble on the ladies' hats.

You know, over the past months, many have been fretting about seminary education. Are potential priests being taught the Right Stuff about sexuality and living the celibate life, we're wondering.

I'm wondering - are they being taught how to say Mass?

Mark Butterworth of Sunny Days in Heaven writes with his contribution to the Catholic Cult of St. Us:

While you're at it, why not complain about applause for the choir at the end of Mass.
Having been in the choir, I always hated getting the applause or being singled out at the major Feasts Christmas et al) for special applause. Why? Because I wasn't there to be appreciated but to help others and myself pray. And when do we applaud prayers and prayees? It's not a show. We don't need the thanks. God does that for us with many blessings.

I was in a parish once in which the congregation always applauded for the choir. I understand it's very common in some parts of the country, although I haven't seen it in many years. It's a great example. Any others you'd like to share?

I once heard a story about a church that was built with an interior full of mirrors so that the congregation would ...uh...understand how important they were. Or how bad their hair was. But I've always thought that must be apocryphal, some sort of Post-Vatican II Tall Tale, like the one about the priest who drove into Mass on a the one about the priest who celebrated Mass dressed like a nothing's to tall for us Catholics.

Today is the feastday of a fellow named Edbert, who is notable for us today because.....

Even as bishop he would make two 40-day retreats each year to live as a hermit in meditation.

What a marvelous idea. Any bishops up for it? Anyone? Anyone?

Welcome John Leo readers from US News, Town Hall, and Jewish World Review. As long as you're here, check out my regular web page, my husband's wonderful blog, particularly the series he's beginning today on How Not to Lose Your Faith During the Present Crisis and my books for Catholic teens and children (linked on the right).


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