Tuesday, May 28

There's a move to beatify Antoni Gaudi, the fascinating architect of Barcelona's still unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral
Thanks to a reader to pointing me to this article from the January issue of Crisis. It's called The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music. Can you guess what that "hidden hand" might be? OCP - Oregon Catholic Press. A little history, first:

It wasn't always like this. Before 1980, the OCP was called the Oregon Catholic Truth Society. It was founded in 1922 in response to a compulsory school-education law that forced Catholics to attend public schools. Archbishop Alexander Christie got together with his priests to found the society. Its aim: to fight bigotry and stand up for truth and Catholic rights.

In 1934, the Oregon Catholic Truth Society released a missal called My Sunday Missal. It was good-looking, inexpensive, and easy to use. It became the most popular missal ever (you can still run across it in used bookstores).

But the rest of the story is as familiar as it is troubling. Sometime in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Oregon Catholic Truth Society began to lose its moorings. Catholic truth had to make room for the Age of Aquarius. Thus, in the course of a single decade, a once-reliable representative of Catholic teaching became reliably unreliable. Money given to the organization to promote truth was now being used to advance a revolutionary approach to Catholic life, one that repudiated traditional forms of the faith. The only thing that did not change was the breadth of its influence: Under the new dispensation, it was still a powerhouse of Catholic publishing.

It's kind of far down on the page, so you might not notice it, but read this comment offered in response to the Miami Mega-Rectory story.


Make it Stop.

The Smoking Gun alerts us to priest hijinks of a different sort: a Byzantine Catholic priest who runs a verrrry strange wrestling website.

As if the Catholic Church doesn't have enough problems, a Pennsylvania priest has created a wrestling web site that would even embarrass Vince McMahon. Featuring hundreds of photos of young men (some of whom are minors) in nothing but clingy Speedos, the so-called Junior Professional Wrestling Association is the brainchild of Rev. Glenn Michael Davidowich, the 38-year-old pastor of St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic Church. Davidowich's web site offers 50 separate videotapes--at $20 a pop--of matches between young men using names like HardKore Kid, David Goliath, Sven, Latin Heat, and Bad Brad (you could be excused for mistaking those monikers for porno star handles).

Another priest is mentioned in association with this mess: a "James Curran" of Georgia. I'm in the middle of getting ready for our little trip, so I don't have time to do a search and see if there really is such a creature in Georgia, but perhaps one of you will. If you're really, really bored.

Cranky Prof has an account of an interesting procedure for a parish council election. It strikes me as very smart and a vast improvement over anything else I've witnessed.
Comments, comments lotsa comments. I'm so glad! Be sure when you check back to the blog, you check the comments, as well.

In a comment on my hypocrisy blog, a readers wonders if I've gone soft. No way. I think in the blog in question I don't back off from my constant call for us to question our leaders, withhold our financial support if necessary and do whatever we can in our power to do something about the terrible situation they have perpetuated.

But....That said, I'm hearing a lot of folks hope that this tragedy will mark a sort of springtime for the Church. A renewal. A reform. I can certainly hope for that too. But reform and renewal doesn't come from the top down. It hardly ever does. We want the whole church renewed, and that means us. What are we going to do if the bishops do nothing or what amounts to it? Give up? Say that the moment for renewal has passed? Or are we going to continue the renewal at our own grassroots level, beginning with our hearts, moving on to our own parishes and schools and neighborhoods and cities, letting Christ live more fully in us...even if the bishops don't seem to be interested?

A View From the Core: Blogstyle.
Are we hypocrites?

It’s worth considering. We spend our days raging against the episcopacy and calling them to task for violating their charge – as Christians, as Catholics, as those called to serve and lead.

And we’re right to do so.

But, I wonder if we should stop every once in a while and ask ourselves, Who are we?.

Jesus’ words about judging are often misunderstood and taken out of context. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus does indeed say, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” But a few verses later, in using the imagery of the splinter and the beam, he says, “You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” We can’t help but conclude that what Jesus is saying here is to look carefully at our own character and flaws before we turn to help others see their own faults. We’re not to be arrogant, thinking that we are somehow more virtuous than anyone else. We’re to be keenly aware of the lapses in our own lives, the size of the gap between our ideals and reality.

It’s not that we’re to be paralyzed, either, waiting for our own perfection to take shape before we can help others. That day will never come, obviously. It’s that this whole business of discerning and growing spiritually is to take place with an acceptance and awareness of our common lot.

So. American Catholics. You rightly want your bishops to lead as Christ calls them to lead, and to be mindful of the spiritual care of souls above all, and to not even consider the cost.

What about you? What about us? What about me?

Someone wrote me over the weekend and mentioned that perhaps we have the leaders we deserve as Catholics. I don’t know about that, but I can’t help but consider the reality that as a whole, American Catholics mirror the culture. They are no less prone to have abortions, view pornography or be obsessed with getting money and stuff than anyone else. We want our pews padded , our homilies affirming and amusing, and everyone to dress nicely and smell good in church. We listen to Jesus’ words and decide he really didn’t mean any of it, and if he did, he’ll understand if we ignore him, because you know, he accepts us just the way we are.

So sure, the bishops need to listen to Christ and the bishops need a revolution of sorts to awaken them to their purpose and what it means to live under the Sign of the Cross.

As do the rest of us.

So here’s what I’m doing. I’m going to keep praying for the bishops. I’m going to keep writing and pointing out splinters. But I’m also going turn my own words to the only place, in the end, I’m ultimately responsible for: my own soul. I criticize the bishops for being safe and not striking out to take the risks of deep discipleship. Maybe it’s time to bring my own beam to Christ and take the risk of allowing him him whittle it down as he wills. No matter how much it hurts.

Regular, devoted, obssessed or otherwise disturbed readers might have notice a slight change in my posting patterns over the past week. You're right. No need to get the medication adjusted.

Last week, I started taking Joseph to a baby-sitter three mornings a week. I had planned to do this in the fall, but looming deadlines and barely-touched manuscripts made it a necessity right here and right now.

And it's worked. I've written more on this book that's due June 1 (hah) in a week than I had in the previous two months. It now looks that I might miss the deadline by a mere week or so, instead of the couple of months I was envisioning.

And Joseph? He's fine. I've been through this before, so I know the pattern: First day is great. Second day, baby recognizes this as the place where He Was Abandoned and raises bloody hell.

Actually, it wasn't too bad until this morning - day 4. He trotted willingly up the walk, greeted the cat with delight and grinned when he saw the babysitter. Then you could almost see his little wheels start turning: There are other kids here. There's new toys. There's snack. There's a nice lady. There's a cat.... then it all comes together...No Mommy! And tears and wailing commences. She assures me that he only cried for about ten minutes, and when I arrived he was happy as a clam, eating some lunch, but let's just say my productivity the first half hour wasn't too efficient.

Oh, yes - so I'm not paying someone to take care of my baby so I can blog, as much as I enjoy it. I'm firm with myself. After I cleanse myself of guilt, I get to work. And it works - finished an OSV column and wrote an entire chapter of the book this morning. So on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, look for light morning blogging and the regular "schedule" after that.

Thought for the day:

(About all I can manage these days)

I don't really care if the bishops listen to me, you or any other human being with an opinion when they meet in Dallas.

It would just be a hugely welcome change if they simply listened to Christ.

And, as a reader comments, what He said was:

"Whoever becomes humble like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whover welcomes one such child welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Matt 18:4-6

New Catholic blogs: here and here.
Fr. Jim Tucker has an excellent de Lubac quote for your consideration today. Put in on a postcard and send it to your favorite local bishop.
My husband has added the comment function to his blog, too.
Please read this distressing summary of news reports about the Burnhams, American missionaries held captive by rebels in the Philippines for a year now. Their condition is unknown, and the American government has announced plans to pull out troops that were committed to fighting terrorism (and, it was hoped, free the Burnhams) by July 31 whether the missionaries have been released or not.

A Jesuit analyzes the present and predicts the future:

A propos of Dallas, I don't suppose any one of us believes the action taken, whatever it be, will not make things worse. When roughly a third of the participants have Paul Marcouxes and Bill Urbanskis ticking away in their past, with Wilton Gregory in the chair and Comrade Pilarczyk playing Lavrenzy Beria on the high table, the best we can hope for is that they do nothing whatever, and issue a stern statement of concern for water quality in the Olympia valley.

My fear is that we'll get several "tough-minded reform-oriented task forces" stacked in the best Bernardin manner by the worst imaginable characters: a token tame conservative for the OSV crowd, a pack of drones, and a cufflinked chairman of the Wuerl/Sheehan/Brunet stripe who can be trusted to make the right noises in front of the cameras while leading the hounds off into a cul-de-sac. The NYT will run a few complimentary "Bishops Get Serious" articles and then shift our attention once more to the ongoing drama of Law's death-of-a-thousand-cuts (Law must be the only Samurai in history to commit hara-kiri with an olive fork).

Anybody remember the brief piece Ralph McInerny had in Crisis about ten years ago in which he remarked how disedifying it was to see our bishops gathered in a hotel, having Mass in a conference room with stackable chairs, &c? He suggested a return to the pre-Bernardin practice of meeting at a monastery. Now the fact is that you can probably get more in-room porn channels at a typical monastery than the Omni Shoreham these days, but his idea is on the right track. Part of the problem is that these guys are really deluded into thinking that they are CEOs of Kodak or General Dynamics. They will probably bring in Dr. Joyce Brothers as a facilitator, and Dr. Joyce will probably have a better ability to articulate the religious dimension of the crisis than all but a handful of our shepherds. "Somehow the answer is on my PalmPilot, if I could only find it."

I absolutely agree that the bishops should be meeting in monasteries or religious houses, rather than hotels. Most of them have plenty of room, a few pretty close to these parts. There's St. Meinrad down in S. Indiana, and just a few miles east of here, in Ohio, there's a huge former Precious Blood seminary that's now empty but for the retired priests and brothers who rattle around in its quiet hallways. It's in the middle of fields, with nothing else around but little farming communities with their little Catholic churches, steeples rising high into the sky, reminders of a time when the Church was in full growth mode, rather than perplexed survival mode - perplexed because it doesn't know why it's drowning.

Hey! It works!

The comments have started, and they're good ones too - some interesting stuff related to the post below on the mandatum. To see, just click on the comments link below each post. Thank you!

Before you get your hopes up about Dallas, recall how the bishops have dealt with the mandatum, which is:

Acting on instructions from the Vatican, U.S. bishops have ordered Catholics who teach their faith's doctrine, morality, Scripture, law or history at Catholic schools to obtain a "mandatum" (mandate, in English) from the bishop of the diocese where the college is located.

The document, which the bishops agreed should be obtained by June 1 -- this Saturday -- attests the theologian teaches only authentic Catholicism.

Despite opposition from many professors and academic groups, the U.S. bishops' conference agreed to require the mandatum and put procedures in place last year. But the bishops gave themselves latitude.

Each bishop can word the mandatum as he likes. He can let theologians seek one, or issue them unasked. Even this week's deadline is not absolute.

....Many U.S. bishops opposed the mandatum until the Vatican insisted on it, he said. He also noted the risk of lawsuits if a job is lost or tenure is denied for lack of a mandatum. Phan expects most bishops to say "to hell with it."

Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale, a Boston College theologian, agreed, noting the clergy sex-abuse scandal now rocking the church is absorbing the bishops' attention. "I don't think they're thinking about the mandatum," she said.

Hinsdale said Boston Cardinal Bernard Law told her faculty he wouldn't ask them to seek mandatums.

An archdiocesan spokesman said Law has yet to reply even to those who did request one. Said the Rev. Christopher Coyne: "It's still an open question."

American Catholic bishops. Men who obviously never had to sign a mandatum for courage.

ABC's Brian Ross talks about his Weakland story

Ross and producer Jill Rackmill picked up the scent of the Weakland story after working on a piece on Chris Dixon, who claimed he'd been abused by Anthony O'Connell, the former bishop of West Palm Beach, Fla.

"We picked up some other leads and heard that this was not the only bishop, that other bishops had paid out such settlements."

Notice the plural in that last sentence.

Pope took a piece of J23 to Bulgaria

Probably the most popular pope of modern times, he is revered in Bulgaria because he served there as a priest from 1929 to 1934 and fell in love with the people and country.

Sofia's new cathedral was built to replace one destroyed by bombing in 1944. According to the Rome daily, La Repubblica, the relic, wrapped in a medieval cloth, will be kept in the cathedral as an object of veneration.

The cathedral authorities were expecting a relic in order to make a shrine, but had no inkling they would receive such a spectacular present from the Vatican.

It has now emerged that the Pope chose to give them a relic.

A whole lotta plaintiffs in Kentucky.

In the beginning, there was only Mike Turner, a prosperous construction company owner, who allowed his name to be made public along with his embarrassing memories of having been sexually violated as a boy by his parish priest.

Then, Mr. Turner began getting phone calls, and 10 men came forward with similar tales, then 20 more, one after another in a cascading effect.

In the month since Mr. Turner went public with a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Louisville, this heavily Catholic area has been shocked to see more than 90 men bring shame-steeped complaints against 14 priests, a deacon and a lay parochial school teacher. The complaints cover a 25-year period that crested in the mid-1980's.

NY Times: Link requires registration.


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