Tuesday, May 21

I asked you about Lifeteen. Why? Because I was curious. I’d received a question about the program from a reader, and had answered it the best I could, but it left me feeling like I needed to know more. I had my impressions, based on what I’d heard, but since I’d never witnessed Lifeteen up close, I thought I’d better get some input from those who had.

A discussion about Lifeteen isn’t just a conversation about a particular youth ministry model. It’s about the nature of liturgy, parish life and catechesis in general.

What should we do with the kids? Is the basic question here. In the past, the answer was fairly simple: CYO and religious education of some sort or another, maybe. Fifty or a hundred years ago there simply wasn’t the concern about “youth” that there is today for many reasons. Adult Catholics weren’t terribly concerned about the need to minister to youth beyond CYO because people weren’t as religiously mobile as they are now. In other words, adults could be fairly sure that Once a Catholic, Always a Catholic.

That’s not the case anymore. The American religious scene looks more and more like a big mall with all kinds of different shops competing for our kids’ attention and spiritual dollar. The culture encourages questioning rather than submission to authority as the mark of adulthood. So our questioning, shopping youth no longer take their Catholicism for granted, especially when competitors are beckoning.

Lifeteen is one way the Church is trying to say it won’t take youth for granted, either. I won’t go into great detail about the program. You can read about it here.

The central concern about Lifeteen seems to be the Lifeteen liturgies. You can read all about that below.

My issue, though, is separation. Although I understand what people say about the value of Lifeteen liturgies for young people they know, I just don’t see how a separate liturgy for a designated group within a parish fits into our sense of what Eucharist is. I know, I know, we do it all the time for other groups, and most parishes have more than one Sunday liturgy that usually end up being divided along some kind of lines anyway – music style, generational, and so on. But a designated “youth mass” is different, and I don’t think it’s a spiritually sound practice. It cuts to the heart of the “unity” that “communion” is all about and it immediately, from the start, puts the focus on the nature of the congregation, rather than on God.

One more point about youth ministry. I think one of the mindsets youth ministers really need to divest themselves all is this conviction too many of them have that all teens are alike, and that one program will appeal to all teens. We don’t do that with adults. We don’t expect all adults to be in attendance at all designated ‘adult” events in a parish. Sure, the very passionate, emotional style of Lifeteen and similar ministries appeals to many teens. It scares the dickens out of some of them, too. It bores some and makes still others uncomfortable.

I’m not going to say anymore, except that I agree with what our first reader, a youth minister, says about the goals of working with youth

The Holy Father (should be the patron saint of YM someday IMHO!) challenged the church to become the traveling companion of young people (a paraphrase) -- not to create a sideshow experience in which they can wallow in adolescence and not move forward.

The setup of only young adults can minister (over 40 need not apply, with a few exceptions), parents are banned from youth ministry activities (except donating and kitchen help -- don't let yourself be seen!), no young children at masses due to content of the homilies, does not sound like travelling companions to me. In practice, it tends to denigrate very quickly to guru, cliquish ministry led by those more in line with the psychosocial maturity of those in their charge.

All instances I am aware of here have been divisive that have alienated youth from the larger faith community and worse yet, their families (don't trust anyone over 40!)

My philosophy on YM is this -- we are part of church and are charged with companioning, mentoring and challenging youth to grow in their faith to a more adult relationship with God. They need the wisdom of the over the hills, the presence of children and the experience of being apart of something bigger than themselves to get there -- we all do.

A similar view, this one offered specifically in response to Mary Beth Bonnacci's positive assessment of LifeTeen on HMS Blog:

Most of the work done in LifeTeen is put into the "LifeNight” which I found silly, filled with heresy (based upon the misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of the Cores and youth ministers) and superficial. The very structure of the 30 minutes prior to the Mass, the "Jay Leno show", precludes them from access to the Sacrament. [of Reconciliation] "Father" is too busy entertaining the crowd. It is all about the "personality" of the priest. In fact, you will hear over and over..this or that priest doesn’t have the "personality". ????

I don’t know about you folks, but when I go to Holy Sacrifice, I don’t want to see the priest’s personality and I think we are setting our kids up for a lifetime of seeking Liturgy based on the entertainment factor.

I will agree that Fr. Dale has 600 teens in the Sanctuary. We only had 30 or 40 kids in the Sanctuary and I can personally attest they told me over and over they felt self-conscious up there like everyone is watching them. They were right. Everyone is watching them and thinking isn’t that "nice". Problem is, the Sacrifice gets lost to everyone. Even in Mary Beth;s description, she offered that she witnessed what the teens were doing during Consecration. She was watching them. You just can;t help it. It is a distraction.

My interpretation of a program that is converting, is assessed in the changes taking place in the lives of those to whom we are ministering. The percentage of teens and Cores who changed their lives were relatively small. I want to see them making steady progress cleaning up their lives in surrender. It just isn’t happening. Let me just say this in closing - I know that some good things are coming out of this program. But the bad things outweigh the good by too far a margin to place this in any category of healthy ministry even on the most basic scales.

A liturgical objection:

My wife and I did once stumble upon an official LifeTeen Mass in North Carolina and were shocked. The worst part of the whole thing was that after Communion, the LifeTeens sat down on a rug in front of the altar, some leaning on the altar, some sprawled out, stretched out their legs, etc. I don't know what the point of this was, a post-communion meditation on these youth and how nice it was that they were going to Mass? It was far from reverent.


My wife & I attended a Lifeteen Mass a few years ago at another parish and were appalled: Teens are treated as a separate, better class of person. They have reserved seating in front, and sit there flirting, yakking, looking around & making sure they're noticed. Psalm was some glib hooey pop thing, not the scheduled Psalm from, you know, the Psalms? Sermon was kindergarten-level from vine & branches, priest walking up & down aisle with a potted plant.

Liturgy of Eucharist had all the Precious Ones standing with the priest behind the altar with arms around each other! All the songs were dreadful, I saw no reverence, and the focus of the Mass was The Darlings, not Christ. I wonder how these kids will make the transition to going to a Mass with us peons when they're too old to be special. My crabby guess is they won't.

Hey, I've been driving Mustangs, Camaros & Firebirds for years now, and Mass seems so bland, the same thing every week....maybe I should ask my bishop for a Musclecar Mass? I wanna be special, too.

More liturgical objections can be found here and here.

A more..uh..measured response than the last:

I have attended several such Masses and will try to share my thoughts. First, I think it can be dangerous to generalize. My sense is that Lifeteen is like Kleenex or Coke -- often mistakenly used as a generic term for all teen or youth oriented liturgies, when, on the contrary, I think it is actually a "branded" liturgical approach. But even within the brand, my impression is that there is considerable variation in the liturgy.

Second, it is true that some aspects of some Lifeteen Masses seem to run afoul of liturgical norms. For example, several years ago Atlanta's Archbishop Donoghue had to remind, in writing, all pastors that teens are not to be invited from the Nave to the Sanctuary for the Eucharistic prayer, which had been a sadly common feature of these Masses. Needless to say, in these cases the teens were not asked to kneel (though I bet they would have been happy to had they simply been so instructed).

Generally speaking, I do not prefer these Masses. Being the consummate traditionalist, some of the music and lighting effects (lights are turned on or off for effect) seem tasteless or even hokey. Yet the kids seem to prefer it, including my two teens. So where does that leave us? I think that we traditionalists should hold fast to our liturgical norms. As Catholics, we are not freelancers. Even so, we should be careful to not conflate those norms with our aesthetic preferences. There is nothing wrong with various types of Masses as long as they are in keeping with the Church's standards. Frankly, I love a traditional Mass with beautiful classical music. For me, a transcendental event becomes emotionally moving. Most of our youth do not (yet) share my taste for a traditional liturgy. I do not see why they should be deprived of an emotionally moving experience as long as we honor all our norms in good faith. That said, I have read with considerable amusement the recollections of the horrible and embarrassing song selections (for Masses) that have been shared on your blogspot over the last couple weeks. The risk of these occurrences presumably is greater in youth or teen Masses. Accordingly, a pastor must not only police the fairly clear-cut questions involving liturgical standards, but also exercise reasonable good judgment about music selection and other aesthetic matters as well.

To borrow a pan-denominational maxim (often wrongly attributed to Augustine) repeated by John XXIII in Ad Petri cathedram (his first encyclical, in 1959), "in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty and in all things, charity." I submit that outside of genuine liturgical norms, issues raised by Lifeteen Masses are something less than essential.

Moving to more positive end of the spectrum, slowly but surely:

My older girls were somewhat involved in Lifeteen in Saint Louis… The masses I saw were up-beat rock and roll affairs, some touchy-feely things, but the theology was orthodox. I think the thumb rule here would be-it depends on who’s in charge from place to place. The kids in the local Lifeteen were also affiliated with a Group called “God’s Gang,” a charismatic youth group that has sent seven young men to the seminary in the last ten years (my girls claim to be Charismaniacs; when Karen, my wife was confronted by this reality, she responded, “I think that’s great; go clean your rooms.”).

From Nick Alexander:

I have nothing but positive things to say about LifeTeen. I've seen only tremendous fruits from participants, from the students to the leaders. Every other ministry, Catholic-or-Interdenominational has focussed upon ways to communicate God's unconditional love and purpose using the language of the youth, but does this outside of Mass. The problem with this is it makes the Mass seem superfluous and unneccessary to one's relationship with God. There is no other ministry that I know of that has attempted to reconcile the needs of teenagers and the MASS.

Lifeteen was smart to integrate the mass with the language of today's teens. The Eucharist is still God, the homilies are God centered, and Reverence is still displayed.

Where does Lifeteen fail? I've seen a Lifeteen mass presided by a priest who *hates* to work with youth ministry. The kids take it personally, and thus they respond in kind. For Lifeteen to work, the priest has to be completely willing to relate to teenagers, even tho being a teen today is different from being a teen a generation or two (or three) ago.

Some people don't like the music at a Lifeteen parish. But really, isn't this the issue? I've been to Lifeteen masses at different parishes and have found that it varies from congregation to congregation. Some masses heavily prefer the rocking (and singable) praise and worship choruses that are prevalent today. Some masses use the missallette, using the same music the parish is familiar with. If this is the issue, it's a pastoral one. Some don't like it when the youth stand around the altar. This too, is a pastoral issue. I have witnessed Lifeteen masses where the Code of Canon Law was observed, and those which kids stand around the altar. If this is the crux where one disregards Lifeteen, then it's foolish--the priest can very well preside a Lifeteen mass while keeping the laws of Code of Canon Law intact. But even with the straying of this, the fruit of the Law is kept intact--community joined together, with Jesus on the Altar in the center. Even if they err, they err in _grace_. You should know them by their fruits.

Lifeteen has caused more vocations to the priesthood than any ministry out there. It has done this without watering down the Catholic faith. It has done this by re-establishing the *joy* of being a true follower of Jesus Christ.

And finally:

A very brief note on LifeTeen: we have had it at our parish for five or six years now and although I am by nature a High Liturgy type of guy I prefer the LT Mass to any other at our parish or in most parishes in the vicinity, mainly because it conveys a sense of passion and devotion. Yes, it definitely leans toward the circusy, and in theory I shouldn't like it any better than the horrid limp folk mass stuff. But it seems genuine, which is the last word I would use about any HLFM, and that counts for a lot in these grim liturgical times. Don't know if it's a healthy trend in the long run. My appraisal of the people involved with it locally is that they are on the charismatic/evangelical wing of the Church, theologically quite orthodox but maybe more at home in the contemporary world than is quite healthy.

Now this was a bad scene. Thank goodness it seems to be resolved - a rift in the Church in San Jose involving the Vietnamese community.

The rift dates back to 1984, when DuMaine established a Vietnamese Pastoral Center at the Singleton Road site. He said at the time that the Vietnamese community was spread throughout the city, and that its needs could be met at a number of different churches.

In 1985 he elevated the center to a mission. Although one step down from a parish in the church hierarchy, the mission would still offer Masses and other sacraments.

The designation did not satisfy some Vietnamese. A year later, their resentment boiled over when DuMaine replaced the beloved pastor of the mission, who had supported the desire for a personal parish, with the Rev. Paul Luu Dinh Duong, then associate pastor of a church in Los Altos.

About 1,000 screaming protesters disrupted Luu's 1986 installation, surrounding the church and drowning out the hymns of about 250 who came to celebrate the appointment. San Jose police sent 70 officers, some with dogs, to keep order.

Police let about 300 dissidents inside after checking them for weapons. They continued their shouts, at one point clapping and chanting ``No Father Duong'' to the tune of ``Farmer in the Dell.''

Lifeteen thoughts coming later. Just when I thought the mail on it was finished, more came in.
From a reader Part 263 of Why Catholic Education Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be or Think Twice Before You Write That Big Fat Tuition Check:

The school's second-semester senior "Christian Relationships" course is
now winding down with mandatory oral presentations by each student on his or her most painful or personally relevant experience of the past few years. My twin daughters are in separate classes, but the course of study is the same, and both classes are taught by the same teacher.

So far in the two classes, three, count 'em, three girls have spoken about being raped; one boy has revealed that he's gay or bisexual -- he's not sure which -- and that his mother doesn't understand him; other students have spoken on how their parents abuse alcohol, and (in a state with mandatory reporting laws) about being beaten by a parent or a parent's boyfriend.
One boy wove a complex narrative about his wild and abusive father whose first wife died under mysterious circumstances (!). Others have limited their presentations to their own drug abuse, alcoholism, humiliation in middle school, problems with friends, and personal therapy.

My girls have both put off their presentations as long as possible. Both are determined NOT to talk about the kinds of "relevant" personal experiences the teacher and their fellow students so clearly want to hear. One is thinking she may discuss the time she got E.coli infection from eating a fast-food hamburger. This is not the kind of pain guaranteed to elicit hugs from other students and kudos for "courage" from the teacher, of course, but we've decided she'll have to admit the experience is "relevant"....in a public-health kind of way.;-)

In hearing about these presentations, some people have suggested the class assignment is an invasion of privacy, and possibly worthy of a lawsuit.

I doubt it. For one thing, the assignment didn't specify that the experience related *had* to be about any specific incident or type of incident in the student's life; nobody was *required* to talk about a rape or a parent's alcoholism. But, being teenagers and having spilled their guts before at Search retreats, a few students simply let go with what they considered their "best shot," and others responded by talking about similarly painful and way-too-personal moments in their lives. It's a dynamic with which any TV
talk show viewer should be familiar.

In explaining the project, the teacher said it was partly to bring students closer together and partly to help them become more "introspective." As a mother of teenagers, I have to wonder at an adult who 1. would allow young people to share these kinds of stories in a classroom, and 2. actually believes introspection is what this is really about.

I'd also wonder about an adult who not only allowed the students to share these stories, but encouraged it. There are a lot of things at work here. First, there's the modern educational penchant for presentations and group work and reports, which has the end effect of dramatically cutting the time the teacher must actually teach. It's also easier to grade emotion-laden speeches than it is to plough through paper, essays and tests.

Secondly, there's the startling news that "bringing students closer together" is an acceptable educational goal. I'm sure parents would be startled, as well.

Third, there is an abysmal lack of understanding of teens. Teens are naturally introspective (although not always honestly so, but the same can be said for most of us) and are intensely social. I doubt that a bunch of kids nearing the end of their senior year (I presume) need encouragement to draw closer or be more introspective.

What junk.

It's a good thing for parents to know though - even if a teacher doesn't encourage it, many teens feel little restraint in spilling almost any kind of family secret in the classroom. One of my principals once began the first parent meeting of the school year by saying, "If you agree to believe only half of what the kids tell you happens at school, we'll agree to believe only half of what they tell us happens at home."

From the same reader who submitted the Pirates of the Caribbean story below:

You said, "I will bet you money that somewhere, some time, in some church in this great land, "It's a Small World" has been sung in a worship service."

I must say you won your bet. Someone at the same church I mentioned before took the melody from "It's a Small World After All" and changed the lyrics to something very close to the following:

He's the Lord of the Sky./ He's the Lord of the Sea./ He's the Lord of you./ He's the Lord of me./ And He died for my sins,/ And He gives me liberty./He's the Lord of All.

Jesus is Lord, hallelujah./ Jesus is Lord, hallelujah./ Jesus is Lord, hallelujah. /He's the Lord of All.

I can't quite make it fit when I sing it, but I guess.....

A nice piece from the Post on George Coyne, S.J., the Vatican's chief astronomer.
Interesting letter in answer to my question below:

I don't know of any clearinghouse, but one place to start looking for information is Education Week magazine, which in 1998 ran a three-part series on sexual abuse in public schools, titled "A Trust Betrayed." There are some statistics in there.

There was an article in the New York Post last July that claimed that one child is abused every day in the New York City school system. In the article, public school administrators are depicted as acting much like the hierarchy: moving abusers from school to school (called "passing the garbage"), occasional lack of reporting to authorities, knee-jerk defense of the alleged abusers, multiple abusers moved to administrative positions within schools, etc. I also remember reading that abuse is more frequent among educators who have a lot of unstructured time with students: band leaders, coaches, tutors, etc., (makes sense).

Catholics who claim that the crisis in the Church would not have happened if women were included in the hierarchy should read up on the public school situation: 79% (I believe) of classroom educators and a significant percentage of administrators are women, and yet the problem in the schools is every bit as bad, if not worse, than the problem in the Church (e.g., there is not one child abused every day in New York City parishes). The presence of women in the school system appears to challenge the "women would not have allowed this to happen to our children" argument.

There is also an interesting contrast between the sex of the victims in the schools (the average victim is a 15-year-old female) and in the Church (90-95% of the victims are adolescent males). In the school system, most abusers are male, and most victims are female.

I wrote a column for CNS that's appearing this week, I think, telling kids to be wary of adults who would seek them out as peers or substitute parents, etc. To be aware that there is such a thing as appropriate boundaries between adults and teens. A reader wrote to object, and shared the many good things she and her family (three children) have done for teens in the context of their family life - giving kids, especially girls, who have either no mom around or bad relationships with their moms, a safe place to learn, grow and have fun.

I wrote back to this obviously wonderful lady who is clearly a God-send to many young people, that there's a crucial difference between what she's doing and what I was warning against: She's married. She has kids. She's bringing wandering kids into a family fold and helping them within that context. She's got her own family, her own husband, her own life. I was warning kids against being lured into the trap of being "helped" by folks who are not so firmly grounded, and who are seeking to draw teens into their lives as peers, as substitute family members, and so on. That's how predators work. It's a common thread in all these abuse cases, clear for all to see.

Some observers have noted that there seems to be an epidemic of teacher/coach child and youth sexual predators. I'd have to agree. It seems as if every other day I read an article about some 28-year old remedial math teacher running off with a 15-year old or a 36-year old guidance counselor having kids over to drink at his pad. I'm wondering:

Is there any kind of central clearing house for information on this issue?

If anyone knows, drop me a note.

Very funny piece on book reviewing from NRO

Images will always "leap off the page" (usually in an attempt to escape). Families will always be "unconventional."

Expatriates will always be "disillusioned with their homeland."

Tenderness will always be found amid the devastation of war.

"Emotional transactions" will always be "genuine." And the "strange internal logic" of a narrative will always "take on a life of its own."

Collections of short stories, which nobody reads, will always display "a remarkable range." (News alert! All the stories are about different things.) Poetry collections, which have press runs of a thousand copies, will always be "evocative" of something or other. (Yep, they don't call it poetry for nothing, do they?) And collections of correspondence will always reveal "a remarkable mind, grappling with everything from the ephemera of day-to-day life to the mysteries of the universe." (Come on, it's a bunch of letters.)

Where is the book-reviewing school where they learn all this stuff? Wherever it is, I'm sure it's a poignant and wise place, blending fact, memory, and imagination in highly literary ways, so that the intensity of emotion can be revealed in finely crafted prose that resounds with a welter of imagery, affirming that our only true subject — yes! — is the earth itself.

This I gotta see: Also from CNS (same link as below):

In another edition devoted mainly to the clergy sex abuse crisis in the U.S. church, America magazine said when the country's bishops meet in Dallas, they need to address not just a national sex abuse policy, but church structures and their own attitudes toward laity. The May 27 issue also carried an essay by Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony on what he expects from Dallas and articles on the crisis by retired Archbishop John R. Quinn, sociologist Father Andrew Greeley, Jesuit historian Father John W. O'Malley, theologian Father J. Michael Byron and Jesuit moral theologian Father John F. Kavanaugh. America also announced that its next issue would be devoted to analyses of the crisis by leading lay Catholics. Editorializing on the June 13-15 bishops' meeting, where a major item on the agenda will be a binding national policy on handling clergy sexual abuse of minors, America said, "Any successful church reform must take place on at least three levels: policy, structure and attitude."

So when is the Jesuit-run magazine America going to run a special issue on the crisis - the "gaying and graying" - within the Jesuits? Not to speak of some very important Jesuit-related abuse cases? Just askin'

Good bishop: From CNS:

Coadjutor Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Dallas, a member of the bishops' ad hoc committee on sexual abuse, said that the focus of the sex abuse story had shifted from outrage about priests abusing children to "legitimate and very honest complaints" about the handling of cases by bishops. "Frankly, the ball is in our court," he said May 17 of himself and his fellow bishops. The purpose of the bishops' meeting June 13-15 in Dallas is to "deal with this serious problem" and to "deal with our accountability for it," he said. Bishop Galante, who is also chairman of the bishops' communications committee, addressed the sex abuse issue at the annual luncheon given in recognition of World Communications Day by Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn. It was attended by dozens of reporters and other representatives of the media who cover the Brooklyn Diocese.

Interesting. He should know, considering the mess that Dallas has endured with the Rudy Kos case. Interesting that these words were spoken at a luncheon given by Bishop "I'm not a policeman" Daily.

From Commonweal: When in Dallas

Approving a binding national policy is only the essential minimum for a successful Dallas meeting. With the full glare of the media on them, the bishops have a major educational and pastoral responsibility to carry out. Anger, mistrust, loss of confidence swamp the church. Either Bishop Wilton Gregory, as president of the bishops conference, or Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, as chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, must present something resembling a White Paper with a full account of what has and has not been done in handling clerical sexual abuse. One of them is going to have to make a presentation as finely crafted as a State of the Union address. Neither paper nor presentation should claim to be definitive, to have all the facts, or to assign responsibility. Both can freely admit failures and real differences in interpretation, but they cannot substitute lachrymose or legalistic apologies for real information. Millions of Catholics, let alone others, are ignorant or confused about basic facts not only about clergy sex abuse but also about the church's decision making procedures (or rather, the procedures of 195 dioceses). This is the moment to enlighten them.

In case you're a blogger wondering how to republish your site so..uh...everyone can see it, this is how I did it: Bring up the edit page and just choose one of your posts to edit and then republish it. It should be fine. Worked for me.
Here's the Free Republic thread on which speculation, some reasoned, some near-insane and fairly ignorant, abounds as to which U.S. Cardinal is about to be outed as an active homosexual, according to the NY Post and Bill O'Reilly.

Here's my husband's take on it.

Andrew Sullivan has lots to say about (surprise!) gay priests today, mostly in response to Stanley Kurtz's National Review Online article from yesterday. I'll comment later.
Thanks to a reader for this nugget about Alec Guiness and one of his most famous roles, Fr. Brown that she found at the Decent Films site run by Stephen Greydanus

Fr. Brown even helped convert Alec Guinness, who played the fictional priest-sleuth in the 1954 British film Father Brown (known in America as The Detective) years before the actor’s own conversion to Catholicism. A small event while Guinness was shooting on location in a French village, costumed in a cassock and a clerical hat, helped him to see the role of the priest in a new light. Here is Guinness’ own account of the event from his autobiographical 1986 book Blessings in Disguise (currently out of print):

"I hadn’t gone far when I heard scampering footsteps and a piping voice calling, ‘mon pere!’. My hand was seized by a boy of seven or eight, who clutched it tightly, swung it and kept up a non-stop prattle. He was full of excitement, hops, skips and jumps, but never let go of me. I didn’t dare speak in case my excruciating French should scare him. Although I was a total stranger he obviously took me for a priest and so to be trusted. Suddenly with a ‘Bonsoir, mon pere’, and a hurried sideways sort of bow, he disappeared through a hole in a hedge. Continuing my walk I reflected that a church which could inspire such confidence in a child, making its priests, even when unknown, so easily approachable could not be as scheming and creepy as so often made out. I began to shake off my long-taught, long-absorbed prejudices. "

In light of this charming tale, I'd have to agree with the comment of the reader who passed it along: ....it made me want to cry...There must be a special place in hell for priests who sexually molest

A very interesting article in the Washington Post about an abuse case in Oklahoma and how diocesan and religious order leadership works - or doesn't, in this case. It's quite revealing, and at some moments, bizarre:

Oblate officials expressed their first concerns about Rapp in 1959, when they sent the young seminarian for a psychological evaluation. Rapp "has some fairly strong homosexual impulses, which are linked to articles of clothing," a psychologist, Joseph S. Jastak, wrote.

"He becomes sexually aroused at the sight of someone wearing loafers and also strong feelings of hostility and anxiety along with it. He feels like 'picking up a chair and breaking it.'. . . He may benefit from frequent informal conferences with the superior of the novitiate for purpose of . . . obviating homosexual panic reactions

Michael Rose, call your office. We're reading lots of dirt about modern seminaries, but it's important to remember that these older guys who are now being called on abuse are the products of pre-1960's seminaries, when supposedly all was beautiful, pious and psychologically healthy.

Oh yeah? They're ordaining a guy who is turned on by someone wearing loafers whose arousal is accompanied by rage that makes him want to break furniture? They ordained this wack job? Please.

Reaction to Law's Pentecost Paper, here from Not-A-Liberal Phil Lawler:

''It makes me want to cry,'' said Philip F. Lawler, who from 1986 to 1989 was editor of the Pilot, the archdiocesan newspaper in Boston. ''We've been going through this for several months, and I'd like to see some progress, but I don't think he gets it. Like most everything else this year, this will make things worse.''

Lawler, who is now editor of Catholic World News, an Internet site, said Law's letter reinforces a pattern in which the longtime archbishop of Boston has blamed record-keeping or his predecessors, rather than ''recognizing it was the duty of the archbishop, not his subordinates or his predecessors, to make sure pastors against whom serious accusations had been lodged were either proven innocent or removed.''

But then Eugene Kennedy, of all people, comes to Law's defense:

''I've known Cardinal Law for many years, and I've never known him to tell a lie,'' said Eugene Kennedy, a psychologist and former priest who has written widely on church issues.

''He is saying, `This is really all I knew about this; I should have known more, but I didn't, and I followed the accepted practices of the culture,''' Kennedy said. ''I have to agree, lamentable though it is. I don't think he ever knowingly assigned a person he thought would do harm to a parish.''

Saw the last part of another EWTN special on the Situation last night. And since I only saw part of it, I'll admit that my take might be all wrong. So I'll take correction if needed. But what I heard was disappointing, for the stance of the host and the commentators was essentially that the Church is a victim. Not that there hasn't been abuse, they hasten to say, but there's as much in Protestant churches and since the press hates what the Church stands for, they will go after the Church first, long before they even mention a Protestant abuse case in a sidebar in section D.

This is a telling and distressing stance. It would be a pleasant change to see EWTN spend an hour and half discussing issues like: What is the profile of a clergy sexual abuser? How does he operate? What kind of behavior should parents be wary of? Why, honestly, would a bishop not immediately remove such a predator from ministry? What would motivate them to keep them?

Mary Ann Glendon, whose work on abortion and abortion law I greatly admire, faulted the press for its sensationalist tone in covering this story. I don't see it. I read the Boston papers almost every day, and I just don't see it. Sure, there's outrage and strong language in editorials and op-eds, but that's what they're for, isn't it? I think the news coverage has been measured - frustratingly so, in some cases (Cough-cough - MAHONY - cough -cough)

An article from the Chicago Tribune about Cardinal George's idea of selling his mansion (Link requires registration)

Believing that clergy--even archbishops--should live more simply, Cardinal Francis George on Monday said he will ask archdiocesan leaders to consider selling the landmark mansion that has housed Chicago bishops since the 1880s.

For years some Chicago-area Catholics have called on church leaders to sell the Gold Coast property and put the profits into the parishes.

Now the cardinal agrees. The liturgy, he said, is supposed to be splendid; church leaders' residences are not.

"How do you live in a way that appears simpler when living in that house?" he asked before an afternoon meeting at St. Benedict's School.

If he gets approval, he hopes to use the money for a new school fund that would prevent more closings.

But the funds could also be used to pay the costs of settling priest sex-abuse suits. "If the money is needed, that would be a convenient place to look for it," he said.

[ed.- Ah-ha!]

The proposal to sell is still very much a proposal. "I have to ask a whole flock of people if we can sell the residence," he said. They include councils of clergy and laypeople who may or may not share his enthusiasm to part with the "House of 19 Chimneys," a three-story red-brick building with rounded and angular bays.

Given the hurdles involved in letting go of a residence where Pope John Paul II and President Franklin D. Roosevelt once stayed, the significance of the proposal may be in its sentiment. Church observers say that George has long rejected a lavish lifestyle. While he recognizes the historical significance of the building, he said he has trouble "with the symbolism" of the grand building in one of Chicago's toniest neighborhoods.

As I noted a few weeks back, our bishop (D'Arcy of Ft. Wayne/South Bend) lives a few blocks from us in a ranch-style house located next to a Lutheran church, of all things. He's listed in our parish directory.

For those who fret about the bishop a) having guests or b) hosting socials, etc...there are plenty of parishes around with plenty of room to do both. And as far as Cardinal George goes, I've no doubt there are plenty of half-empty houses of religious around Chicago that would have scads of room for him to live.


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