Sunday, June 2

LifeTeen Founder Monsignor Dale Fushek's lawyer explains the settlement:

In 1995, the diocese settled a sexual-harassment claim against Fushek, paying $45,000 to a former employee of St. Timothy's church in Mesa, where Fushek is pastor. No guilt was admitted in the settlement, which church officials say was made only to avoid the cost of a lawsuit.

A few years back, Manning had a different view about such things.

In 1999, a settlement was announced in a lawsuit against Arpaio's office involving the death of a jail inmate named Scott Norberg.

Norberg died in a struggle with detention officers. His family sued for $20 million. Manning was their attorney.

The case eventually was settled for $8.25 million, but carried with it no admission of guilt by the Sheriff's Office. Arpaio declared victory.

"I am relieved that this tentative agreement contains no admissions of fault or liability on behalf of our officers," he said.

Back then, Manning told me that money spoke louder than words. He described a cash settlement as an admission of guilt. With Fushek, he says just the opposite. I asked him why.

"If I were his (Fushek's) lawyer in 1995, I probably would not have been able to foresee the atmosphere in 2002. And I probably would have advised him, that if you can settle this for less than the cost of defending it, do it," he said. "Today I would not give him that advice. Today I would say to him, 'Father Dale, in 2002 no priest who feels this is an improper claim can do anything but try the case.' "

Manning called the Norberg settlement "eight and a quarter million statements of wrong." He doesn't call Fushek's settlement 45,000 statements of wrong.

"I concede that even in 1995, sexual misconduct by clerics was important," he said. "But, inescapably, part of being a diocese is a business. And it was a business decision made in 1995 that wouldn't be made today. I would have made that same decision for him in '95 and regretted it in 2002. And apologized to him for it."

From Time: The Man Behind the Pope

Shooing away rumors that he might soon step down from the lifetime charge, Vatican officials insist that the Pope is still sharp mentally. But even his staunchest defenders now concede that Parkinson's disease and an accumulation of other physical trials have left the Pontiff, 82, in an increasingly deteriorating condition. Adding long breaks and naps in what were once 17-hour workdays, the Pope has been forced to yield control of much of the Vatican's daily operations. But to whom?

The first place to look would be among Rome's heavyweight Cardinals — conservative stalwarts like Germany's Joseph Ratzinger and savvy bureaucrats like Congregation of Bishops chief Giovanni Battista Re, who now have a chance to advance their own agendas without papal scrutiny. But many insiders say the real power behind the papal throne lies with a humble Polish clergyman they call Don Stanislaw.

In 1978, when he became the first non-Italian Pope in more than four centuries, John Paul II made sure to bring along from Cracow his trusted personal secretary, Monsignor Stanislaw Dziwisz (pronounced Geevish), who started working for him in 1966. When the Pope was shot in 1981, it was Dziwisz who caught the fallen Pontiff in his arms — and he has been by the Pope's side ever since. Dziwisz sleeps next door to the Pope's bedroom, stands just over the Pope's shoulder during Mass and, apart from certain one-on-one meetings, is with the Pope virtually every waking moment of the day.

Such constant proximity has given Dziwisz, 63, a degree of power only dreamed of by even the most ambitious prelates. "Dziwisz isn't just the gatekeeper. He's calling major shots and major appointments," says a Vatican official, who, like his colleagues, requested anonymity. "He seems to be a quiet, faithful secretary. And I think he is. But even with his quiet demeanor, he has incredible power — and uses it." He reportedly blocked one bishop's appointment to a key post because he considered that priest more vital to the Pope's personal needs.

My heavens, I love JPII, but this situation is one that is careening towards near-disaster. Not the secretary (more on him below), but on the reality of what happens when a power vacuum develops - everyone and his brother-priest sweeps in, perceiving the chance to push his own agenda. It is all very well and good and impressively spiritual to speak of the Holy Father's suffering as a witness, or even as an offering, joined with the redemptive suffering of Christ. But the other reality is that the church is a political institution, and the Curia is a particularly political hotspot. The Holy Father's weakened condition gives factions an opportunity to thrive.

And of Dziwisz? Well, he said something nice about my husband once. But you'll have to wait until morning when he has a chance to blog about it himself in order to hear what it was.

What's going on in Congress regarding churches, political activity, and tax-exempt status.

And more on the same topic from the Weekly Standard

Maybe you've seen the new GE commercial for its 4D ultrasound? If not, you can see it here. The images are astounding and beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful babies floating in warmth and safety. I hope lots of people see the commercial and lots of consciences are jostled and perhaps more than a few babies' lives will be saved as their mothers see the images and recognize what is within them for who, not what, it is.
New Blog! New Blog! from our Notre Dame grad student. Indiana bloggers, unite!
Many Catholics fret about the number of annulments granted by the Church these days. It's long been my sense that the problem and the naturally related problem of prevalent divorce is not primarily a problem that can best be dealt with in the endgame - making divorces and annulments harder to obtain, for example. The problem is at the beginning - lots of people are getting married who shouldn't be, but who are anyway because of the deceptive impact of premarital sex and cohabitation on the dynamics of their relationships, not to speak of drug and alcohol use and the huge money-devouring train that weddings have become, making it difficult for spouses-to-be with doubts to step off, kept aboard, as they are, by concerns that "everyone's invested so much in this...I don't want to disappoint them..."

Well glory be, I finally found someone who agrees with me. A traditionalist-minded canon lawyer, no less...our blogging canon lawyer who notes in part...

what scares me the most is that most of the marriages I saw come before the Tribunal were indeed invalid, because of the pervasiveness of the Culture of Death, and poor catechesis over the last thirty years.

You want a progress report on Harmful to Minors? Okay, here's your progress report:

The author refers to Bryant Gumbel as "right wing."

From the Indianapolis Star today - on the Archdiocese's new priests. There will be eight in all, which is a fairly healthy number, and one of them has a particularly interesting background:

Johnson, the son of a former Catholic priest and a former Catholic nun, knew something of celibacy's challenges from his parents.

Still, seminary life, and a yearlong internship in parish ministry at St. Joan of Arc Church in Indianapolis, helped him understand celibacy's practical and spiritual dimensions.

"I still think I would enjoy being a husband and a father, and I think God would be happy if I had chosen that life," he said. "But I think what I discovered in my time at St. Meinrad is that I am my best self as a celibate person. I am my authentic self."

He said he feels most true to himself when he is serving others, praying with them. To maintain that commitment to serve, he knows he will need to follow the advice Buechlein regularly gives seminarians:

• Have a consistent prayer life.

• Join a priest support group.

• Get a spiritual director or confessor.

• Have good friends outside the priesthood -- "They will keep you honest."

• Rest, exercise and replenish so you can serve others.

The advice recalls for Johnson the most important lesson learned in seminary: Becoming a good priest is a lifelong journey -- living each day what God is calling him to be.

At its essence, that call is to walk with other Christians as they seek the face of God, he said.

"That is the best part of being a priest, being with people in the joyful times of their lives and in the sorrowful times and seeing the presence of God unfold in our midst," Johnson said.

"As a church, how is it that we are to be Christ to one another? As Christians, we're all called to answer that question."

Read this and hold onto your coffee. Don't throw it at the dog. He didn't do it.

In this NYTimes article (LRR), a resourceful and wonderful Brooklyn mother and weaver (not that it has anything to do with it, but) discovered that many, many literary passages in the New York State Regents' Exam given to high school seniors have been bowdlerized:

In a feat of literary sleuth work, Ms. Heifetz, the mother of a high school senior and a weaver from Brooklyn, inspected 10 high school English exams from the past three years and discovered that the vast majority of the passages — drawn from the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Anton Chekhov and William Maxwell, among others — had been sanitized of virtually any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, nudity, alcohol, even the mildest profanity and just about anything that might offend someone for some reason. Students had to write essays and answer questions based on these doctored versions — versions that were clearly marked as the work of the widely known authors.

In an excerpt from the work of Mr. Singer, for instance, all mention of Judaism is eliminated, even though it is so much the essence of his writing. His reference to "Most Jewish women" becomes "Most women" on the Regents, and "even the Polish schools were closed" becomes "even the schools were closed." Out entirely goes the line "Jews are Jews and Gentiles are Gentiles." In a passage from Annie Dillard's memoir, "An American Childhood," racial references are edited out of a description of her childhood trips to a library in the black section of town where she is almost the only white visitor, even though the point of the passage is to emphasize race and the insights she learned about blacks.

....Roseanne DeFabio, the Education Department's assistant commissioner for curriculum, instruction and assessment, said on Friday, "We do shorten the passages and alter the passages to make them suitable for testing situations." The changes are made to satisfy the sensitivity guidelines the department uses, so no student will be "uncomfortable in a testing situation," she said. "Even the most wonderful writers don't write literature for children to take on a test."

Lots of good comments on the Weakland apology below, including this one, with which I mostly agree. I knew there was something missing from my assessment, and this is it:

The value and validity of an apology of this sort is defined by his willingness to make restitution. He owes the diocese $450K and he owes a certain family $4,000. Until then, his apology is genuinely worthless.

Excellent editorial from the Chicago Tribune, calling on Cardinal George to take the lead in Dallas:

Initial anger over so-called pedophile priests now is shifting to the bishops. Catholics understand that most current disclosures of abuse concern incidents that occurred decades ago; there is no question that future abuse will be dealt with severely. Nor do most Catholics harbor grudges toward their faith, their parish, or the overwhelming majority of American priests who follow their vows and typically work themselves far too hard in service to others.

But opinions on the bishops have been punishing. In mid-May, a CBS News poll found that 79 percent of Catholics thought the church was doing a poor job of dealing with the scandal--up sharply from 62 percent in late April. Also in May, a Gallup poll for USA Today and CNN asked a sampling of Catholics whether the pope should "remove any diocese leader who transferred a priest rather than reporting to police that the priest had abused young people." Eighty-six percent said yes. And a New York Times-CBS poll found that Catholics view the handling of the scandal by leaders of the U.S. church as far inferior to the way parish priests have responded.

It will not be easy for the hierarchy to reverse this profound loss of confidence. A Dallas conference which dwells only on priestly sins that appear to be diminishing in frequency, rather than on the church's painfully evident crisis of failed management, could make matters worse.

The bishop best equipped to fill this vacuum of leadership is Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. He leads an archdiocese whose protocols for dealing with accusations of misconduct are, if not perfect, much better than most. Yet whatever reforms he proposes are not crystal-clear to the faithful. It has been difficult for Chicago-area Catholics to formulate the end of this sentence: "My cardinal gets the loss of confidence in the hierarchy, and he says we really have to . . . "

George has been in a listening mode, which is fine. But his unique role in the U.S. church as a new and uncompromised cardinal positions him to impress on his fellow bishops that some of them, not just errant priests, must leave their posts now if the church is to regain what it has lost. The injuries enabled by some bishops are too numerous, the admitted sins of omission too calculated, to permit the future holding of power.

It's quite possible the cardinal understands this. In an interview Friday he did not disclose his own agenda for Dallas, but did volunteer the verity that Americans have little tolerance for failures of authority. "We are at a turning point," he said. "This will not be the same church."

For many skeptical Catholics, the question will be what, exactly, that sentence means. Following their brief meeting with Pope John Paul II in Rome during April, the U.S. cardinals issued a weak-kneed and ambiguous statement that suggested no consequences for failed leaders. It doesn't help that, in intervening weeks, various Vatican officials have suggested that bishops need not turn over charges or evidence of sexual abuse by clerics to civil authorities. Which sounds suspiciously to American ears like a veiled Vatican warning that the bishops shouldn't kowtow to public pressure.

To a point, that's fair. The church is not a public trust. It is, though, the most vital private educator, health-care provider and voice for social justice in America. It wants, and historically has deserved, to be taken seriously on many issues.

Restoring that stature, and mending the broken hearts of countless Catholics, demand the kind of bold candor that endangers careers. That is much to ask of Cardinal George, who did not get where he is by rocking boats.

That is also what his church desperately needs from him. If he carries but one message to Dallas, let it be that reforms--and consequences--within the U.S. church need to begin at the top.

Varying opinions of Bishop Myers, former bishop of Peoria, particularly in light of the swift actions of his successor, Bishop Jenky, to remove accused priests. (Bishop Jenky was one of our bishops here in Fort Wayne until his ascension to mighty Peoria) (Chicago Tribune, LRR)
On this feast of Corpus Christi:

Perhaps you will say, 'I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ?' And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed...The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: 'This is My Body.' Before the blessing of the heavenly words another nature is spoken of, after the consecration the Body is signified. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the consecration it has another name, after it is called Blood. And you say, Amen, that is, It is true. Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters, let the soul feel what the voice speaks."
Ambrose,On the Mysteries,9:50(A.D. 390-391),in NPNF2,X:324-325

For more patristic quotes on Eucharist go here.

Or you could just think of Our Woman Flannery O'Connor, having endured the cool, jaded (dare we say) Collapsed Catholic ramblings of Mary McCarthy for an evening, responding to McCarthy's blow-off of the Eucharist by saying, in a self-described "shaky voice", "'Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.'.....That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest is expendable.''


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