Wednesday, May 15

NY Archdiocese will now take reports of abuse directly to the law. A very good idea, since, as the article quotes America's editor Thomas Reese as saying,

I" think that what we see happening is that the bishops are deciding that simply because nobody trusts them anymore, they are turning over everything to the prosecutors and then it's up to the prosecutors to decide what is credible,'' he said.

Scroll down the article for more news, including an interesting episode of Tales of the City from New Orleans and the startling news that in the Louisville diocese 60 lawsuits have been filed alleging sexual abuse.

Yesterday, I was in the car listeing to The Diane Rehm Show, trying to figure out the identity of the squeaky-voiced woman she was interviewing. She was talking about how her post-9/11 words had been twisted and taken out of context to make her seem unpatriotic - so I thought it was that Katrina Van Snob Socialist editor of The Nation or Katha Pollitt (who didn't want her daughter to hang an American flag at their pad), but I've seen her on television before, and I didn't remember her sounding like a 12-year old. Like this woman.

Not until the end did I discover that I'd been listening to Barbara Kingsolver, whom I will now forevermore think of as Minnie Mouse. Her most memorable comment? This one. By far:

"We have to remember that mean times don't have to make us into mean people." A regular Willa Cather, that one.

From Tony Blankley in the Washington Times:

With news accounts that the Catholic Church is turning predatory legal tactics loose on the victims of known priest/rapists, it is nakedly obvious that the church hierarchy has lost sense of its reason for existing. These princes of the church should ask themselves what millions of Christians ask every day of their own conduct: In my situation, what would Jesus do?


When Jesus was on the cross he said: "Forgive them Father, they know not what they do." But when Cardinal Bernard Law was in deposition, conveniently forgetting what he saw and did, he effectively said: Forgive me, I know not what I did (while almost certainly breaking his oath to God in so saying).

Okay, so this guy named Bill writes to me and says, without comment,

"Amazing Grace" sung to the tune of "Gilligan's Island"

I wrote him back and said bluntly I didn't believe a word of it. He writes back and says yeah, "Churches in the vicinity of Wheaton, IL. 1989-1993."

Same guy says


A medley of "It Is Well With My Soul" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling."

Unbelievable. But maybe not.


I'm too tired to answer mail today. So I'm just going to post a couple of dissents from our secular music fiesta. Thanks to the correspondents, and consider yourself answered, okay? I have got to save my energy for finishing a chapter of the Parables book tonight.

was going to write a little note about what a beautiful Marian hymn "Let It Be" is, but Catholic Digest beat me to it:

I'd only add that in addition to the obvious reference to the Annunciation, the song evokes the Marian apparitions, and the second verse has always had for me a strong flavor of Fatima prophesy:


And when the broken hearted people /Living in the world agree /There will be an answer /Let it be /For though they may be parted /There is still a chance that they will see /There will be an answer /Let it be.

"Conversion of Russia", anyone?


As far as "Mother Mary" being a reference to pot, as my English teachers used to say, "I don't see anything in the text to justify that interpretation." The universally reported story of the origin of the song is that McCartney's devoutly Catholic mother, Mary, who died of breast cancer when Paul was 14, appeared to him in a dream and, well,said what she says in the song. I don't believe that McCartney had any intention of writing a Marian hymn, or even realized that that's what
he had done, but the Spirit works in mysterious ways.


On a related note, whatever you think of "Turn, Turn, Turn" as a song, I don't see how a song which is nothing more than Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 set
to music can be classified as an "inappropriate secular" song. I'd much rather hear either of these songs performed in my church than the
odious "Awesome God" which is performed at our LifeTeen masses. This song's message can be summed up as "Heh, heh, you sinners are gonna get yours.
Too bad you're not saved like us." Yuck.

And another:

For what it's worth, being somewhat experienced in matters of the
now ancient counterculture, I am surprised at the seemingly cavalier suggestions that these very artistic Led Zeppelin and Beatles songs are "about drugs." I am not aware of any evidence of this whatsoever. This is not to say that people didn't (or for that matter "don't") listen to these
songs while stoned our of their minds (particularly STH), but just that they are not about marijuana or any other type of drug. A careful read of the
lyrics reveals that both songs are about a lady (apparently one, Our Lady). Although we all "know sometimes words have two meanings," nothing in
the lyrics of either song suggests a drug topic. The contrary notion is in my judgment nothing more than an unfounded urban legend best put to rest.
I amcertainly willing to stand corrected upon the production of evidence, but I really don't think one will find any.


All that said these are incredibly silly songs to play at Mass.



From a reader:

On cry rooms: I had my first child and first experience in a cry room when I was a DRE in Ithaca, NY. Couldn't hear, couldn't see, was wallopped with flying toys


...When I poured out my anguish at the next staff meeting (I was of course the only staff member with a small child who attended Mass at this parish), I said that the cry room experience had been like a stint in purgatory. My wonderful co-worker John said he would immediately put up a sign, "Abandon all hope ye that enter here."


He did.

Read Rod Dreher on the cost of clergy sexual abuse.

No we're not diocesan personnel, so we're not talking financial cost. Human cost.

I think that while the bishops deliberate on this in June, victims and their families should be present. Not outside, protesting. Not in another room, listening through a speaker. But right there, in the midst of the bishops, seated in places of honor, every minute of every day. Let the deliberations commence, but in the presence of witnesses to the sin. It is the only way to even begin to keep these guys honest.

Moments in motherhood:

Baby, mouth full of oatmeal, sneezing. In my face.

Idiocy across denominational lines:

Protestant minister defends abortion, Planned Parenthood and other creepy things:

Davis has lent his time and religious experience to numerous organizations that work to protect safe and legal abortions for women.



As the chairman for the Planned Parenthood Federation of American Clergy Advisory Board and the Adirondack Religious Coalition for Choice, Davis has been working to erase the idea that all religions are opposed to abortion for more than 30 years.



''The Bible says God has a special interest in widows, orphans and strangers in our midst. That translates to women, children and immigrants. So churches and synagogues are to take care to see that those people get justice. Planned Parenthood serves those groups, and it seems that we have the same goals in mind,'' Davis said.

How can these people sleep at night?

First, how can they figure out on which end of the bed to put their feet and where to put their head? Tough problems for flamin' fools.

Secondly, how can they seriously cut off pre-born human beings from the rest of the human race merely because those little ones reside in women's wombs? How can they blather on about widows, orphans and strangers, not seeing that the common thread between all of them is dependence on others for livelihood. How can they not see that the most dependent among us are little ones swimming along innocently, quietly in dark waters, growing, breathing and waiting to be welcomed by loving arms?

Oh, this poor little boy. Columnist Mona Charen's son was in a terrible accident - struck by a car while riding a bicycle - and is in a coma. Terrible, terrible.

It puts me in mind of a tragedy that occured at the parish at which I served as a DRE. The son of parishioners - two catechists in my program - was riding his bike to school, crossed where he shouldn't have - and was struck and killed by another parishioner driving to work, observing the speed limit, coming over a hill. An ob-gyn who was strongly pro-life and neither performed abortions or prescribed contraceptives.

It was simply awful, and I think of Ann and Al every year around Katie's birthday, because all of this happened two days before she was born. The funeral was a couple of days after her birth, and I was able to attend - fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective.

Why? Because the priest in charge was both stupid and a little nuts, which is not a good combination. He had this poor, grieving couple haul our two-ton Paschal Candle up the aisle in front of their son's casket. He fully bought into the contemporary ethos of "this funeral is a celebration of life " and was almost jovial at times.

Worst was the homily. The Gospel was the story of the loaves and the fishes (the version in John 6) in which the original basket of food is provided by a little boy. The priest's theme was this: That little boy was probably not supposed to be there with his basket of food. He was probably supposed to be somewhere else. But look what happened. It all turned out for the best. Bernie was in the wrong place at the wrong time, too....

Fill in the blanks. The rest was just too ghastly to recount.

I really don't care if they ordain (chaste)homosexuals or not.

I just wish they would stop ordaining idiots.

Remember the former RC priest, convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, who turned up as a minister with the Metropolitan Community Church in S. Dakota?

Well, he resigned. But, according to his denomination, he really didn't have to:

The Rev. James A. Forsythe stepped down Saturday as minister of Metropolitan Community Church of the Black Hills in Rapid City, a week after The Kansas City Star revealed that he had not registered as a sex offender there, as required by law.



Forsythe, 47, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


Jim Birkitt, national spokesman for the Metropolitan Community Church -- a growing denomination that serves predominantly gay and lesbian worshippers -- said Forsythe was not forced to resign


There's a new, slick, heavily promoted program on the BBC called Spooks. It's a spy drama featuring the efforts of the British M15 to combat terrorists and the like in their midst. And in this age of global terrorism of every stripe, what was the focus of the first program?

Pro-lifers.

This article spells out the outrages:

The plotline of the first episode of Spooks showed a "family planning doctor" (a doctor who performs abortions) being blown up in her car by a network of British "pro-life" activists, equipped with Semtex and led by an American harpy from the deep South. Not only is the doctor murdered, but (just in case viewers don't get the message) her child is fatally injured too.



The real MI5 is, of course, too busy countering real terrorists to bother even with genuinely dangerous political extremists. Animal rights activists, for example, some of whom attack laboratories or scientists in this country, have not yet warranted such surveillance, unless the assassination of Pim Fortuyn has changed things. The notion that MI5 officers spend their time spying on prayer vigils, which is about as sinister as pro-life activities get, is ludicrous.



Nowhere in Spooks was there any attempt to distinguish between the real pro-life movement, which campaigns peacefully on a wide spectrum of issues and is supported by millions of ordinary people, and the BBC's fictional pro-life terrorists. The British terrorists in Spooks are supposed to belong to a group called the "Unborn Alliance".



This fictional name is an amalgam of two real organisations: the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (Spuc), which campaigns against abortion, and the ProLife Alliance, which put up scores of candidates at the last general election. The largest British pro-life organisation, Life, is a registered charity; its name is uncomfortably close to the fictional "New Life Scotland" mentioned in Spooks.



None of these groups has ever advocated, let alone practised, violence against abortionists or anybody else. In fact, pro-lifers in Britain have always adhered to peaceful protest.


Church judged Shanley "beyond repair" but decided, what the heck...let's recommend him for jobs that will place him near youth anyway:

The Archdiocese of Boston let the Rev. Paul R. Shanley help run a Catholic hotel in the mid-1990s despite possessing confidential reports diagnosing him as an ``aberrant'' sexual threat to minors, newly released documents show.




The records also indicate that top Boston church officials were told Shanley was afflicted with a ``pathology beyond repair,'' but alerted no one outside the church - not even the nuns at the Catholic hostel in New York City.



And despite a series of alarming psychiatric testimonials similar to those in the John J. Geoghan serial abuse case, Bernard Cardinal Law and his key subordinates went so far as to recommend Shanley for the post of director of The Leo House in Manhattan in 1997. They also formally lifted all restrictions on his living near children.

I'm moved to ask, as I often have before, why? Why was the care and feeding of Paul Shanley so vital a task to the Archdiocese of Boston? What was it about him that made nothing , not even the innocence of children - too great a price to pay for his protection?

Much news from Boston this morning, and it doesn't paint any more positive brushstrokes on our portrait of the Cardinal:

Cardinal Law recommended a fired dean for a teaching position in another college. The fellow had made advances towards a seminarian. He was fired. Then Law recommended him to Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina without noting the incident that got him fired! Again, one is moved to ask, why, why, why?

By the way, Belmont Abbey is one of the very few Catholic colleges in the South, and one that was a popular choice for some from my alma mater, Knoxville Catholic High School. You may or may not know that the number of Catholic colleges in the South will grow by two in the next few years. Southern Catholic will open outside of Atlanta next year, and Ave Maria College, now in Michigan, will be moving to Naples, Florida in a few years - to be located, I understand, on a golf course that Tom Monaghan purchased down there.

Finally. Blogger was down earlier this morning, and then I had to finish a column. A bit o'blogging before I head to the store.

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