Monday, June 24

I meant to blog on this article from our local newspaper about Amish seeking medical care in Mexico, but Nancy Nall did it for me. Her take on the Amish is just right, IMHO - except for one thing - add "cultish" to her description.
There. Done for now. Lots of changes yet to be made - I want to find a server host for images so I can replace a couple up above with some far cuter ones. I have links to repost and archives to figure out. I am still playing with font, too. Dark enough for ya yet? Geez. It's been a fairly content-free day, because I'm tired, and I had to write a CNS column, which I did. So sayonara for now, and terms of get what you pay for, right?
As you can see, I'm playing with the template. Stay tuned. It will be purty real soon.
In case you haven't seen it elsewhere, The rector of the American College at Louvain has responded to Goodbye, Good Men.

The response echoes my own general critique of the book - in that I was astonished by the evident lack of interest in substantiating any of the stories Rose was told. Rose has many good points to make, but his case is weakened by his rejection of the basic rules of research. It's very interesting to me that many who constantly rail on the press for being one-sided in its coverage of some issues, for not calling people who maintain certain positions on their assumptions, for accepting the word of certain sources without question, and so on...are eating up this book that is guilty of exactly the same sins.

From Commonweal, Margaret Steinfels Apologia pro Rembert Weakland

On May 31, Archbishop Weakland candidly described his past conduct as "sinfulness" and admitted a "lack of courage" in making an out-of-court settlement rather than face scandal and embarrassment. He begged the forgiveness of the church of Milwaukee, as he had long ago, he said, begged it of God. In the hands of a Mauriac or Bernanos, the glimpses found in Weakland's 1980 letter and recent apology might open into a memorable depiction of spiritual crisis, emotional weakness, temporary blindness, renewed grace, and now remorse, shame, and a life stripped of everything but whatever God, in loving embrace, should will. In the current crisis, these glimpses are inevitably reduced to something less. Archbishop Weakland's heartfelt and poignant apology resonates in the thoughts of all of us who consider him a shepherd our times require.

So. "These times" require the shepherding of a Weakland? Why? To increase diocesan efficiency in paying out monetary settlements for bishops' misbehavior using the hard-earned funds of ordinary Catholics?

Thanks to a reader for passing along this piece from Toledo about a priest who abused boys in the early 60's.

Forty one years ago, two boys stepped forward to tell their tale of Father Welch’s cottage - and the secret sessions tearing at their lives.

The case was reviewed by an attorney who was both the city prosecutor and a lawyer for a victim, but he never forwarded the case to police, according to interviews and records.

Instead the Toledo diocese quickly removed Father Welch from the Bellevue parish and secretly ordered him to undergo psychiatric evaluations at a monastery near Louisville, he said.

"They wanted me out of there," recalls Mr. Welch. Several months later he was brought back into the fold and sent to another parish, Christ the King in Toledo, before he abruptly left the priesthood three years later, records show.

Yeah, yeah - it was a long time ago, but it's still quite instructive. Read it and pray that we've learned some lessons:

Maybe we should be less than delighted when priests - or any other adults - revel in taking kids off for weekends at lakeside cottages.

If something happens - go to the police. And if they don't respond, or seem to be in the pocket of the diocese (as was the case here, but probably isn't much the case any more) - go to the press, lawyers - anyone else until the story gets told and the Church responds.

Although a couple of these boys revealed what was going on at the time, most victims take years. For that reason, we can't, in this present moment, stop being vigilant in our supervision and attention to our own children. I hope and pray that what's been going on in the past months and the bishops' policy, as ultimately toothless as it is, has given potential abusers a healthy scare - perhaps has even scared them right out of the priesthood or other church ministries in which they're hiding.

In looking over the stories posted at the Poynter Clergy Abuse Tracker over the past few days, I see more of the same: priests removed, bishops apologizing, but just as quickly bishops having to explain new outrages. A couple that strike me as particularly interesting:

Well, the first isn't mentioned in Poynter, but it's definitely worth your time - Mark Shea blogged on it here, and it relates to the selective enforcement of the Diocese of Dallas' insistence on full background checks for all volunteers and employees. Two pastors have been moved for failing to fully implement it - one was also guilty of the same sin, but didn't get removed. Go read what Mark reports and wonder why.

In Sarasota, which is in the Diocese of Venice (Florida, not Italy, natch), a priest has been accused of protecting his abusing priest-brother. The Sarasota paper's editorial on the matter is here.

And then, of course there's the usual raft of totally schizophrenic articles asserting, on the one hand that Catholics Are Outraged that the bishops didn't go far enough in their policies, and that 80 percent of American Catholics think that priest-shuffling bishops should resign

and then, on the other hand, that Catholics Want Their Priests to Stay - no matter what, and harbor, it seems, a great deal of resentment against bishops who do move priests: Witness the heartwarming rally supportive of Monsignor Kavanaugh in New York and read the comments from parishioners in this article from the Chicago Tribune (LRR) about their priest removal process.

The media coverage of this needs to seriously get its act together. Some analysis is in order, rather than simple, mindless reporting of polls indicating that "American Catholics" think one thing and the endless stories reporting on parishioners' determination that their priests with abusive pasts stay in place. What is this all about? I'd venture that it's about the ease with which we affirm propositions in the abstract and then run like mad from their practical application when it personally impacts us.

We're all for higher educational standards - unless it's our kid that gets the bad grade. Then we're in the teacher's or principal's office within an hour, trying to negotiate, whining about our kids' future and maybe even threatening a lawsuit.

We're all (a lot of us, at least) quick to say we're "against" abortion - until its us, our daughter or our girlfriend with the unexpected pregnancy.

And we're all for getting the nasty molesting priests out of ministry - unless the priest in question confounds our stereotypes, and turns out not to be the outwardly slimey obvious creep we expected, and is, instead, our very own gregarious, lively Father Love-My-Parish.

So what's it to be then? Can we make up our minds?

47 comments on the death penalty entry below?

Quite a debate going on there...

So, where'd we go?

Up to Ann Arbor and Detroit, that's where. Why? Well, we'd never been to Ann Arbor, it's fairly close (an important consideration for parents of a 14-month old - and Joseph cooperated by sleeping most of the way up and back) and we wanted to go to the Detroit Institute of the Arts.

By way of introduction - we know someone who moved from Ann Arbor to Fort Wayne, stayed a short time, and then moved back. Couldn't take it. We never understood why - until we actually went to Ann Arbor. Not that it's Shangri-La or anything. We were there during the summer, and even then, the Michigan campus struck me as cramped and traffic a challenge. I can't imagine what it must be like when the regular school year's in session. And it has more than its fair share of student ghetto area - far more extensive than the comparable area in Knoxville, for example. But...

The cultural activities are broad, wide and seemingly unending. And (somehow this turned into a major focus), there are some really excellent restaurants. We had us some good meals. Sitting outside, in the downtown on summer evenings - a civilized, rather wonderful way to eat, which you just don't find here. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out why Fort Wayne's downtown is such a dud and why the restaurant scene here is so (relatively) bad. We didn't come up with any answers.

I'm a little too distracted today to give a thorough account of the weekend - it's not that interesting, anyway. But a few notes:

Best meals: (for me) a pretty perfect Orange Cajun Chicken at a place called Zydeco and a wonderful Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce here.

Wandered around Domino's Farm - the headquarters of, naturally enough, Domino's Pizza and much of Tom Monaghan's Catholic activities. (Monaghan sold most of his interest in Domino's several years ago) It was interesting to see the place and think about Monaghan's recent flap with the Ann Arbor city government about a 25-story cross he wanted to construct on the property. They wouldn't let him. Religious discrimination? Probably not. It's clear that Ann Arbor has a very strict sign ordinance - it seems as if signs can't be higher than about a foot off the ground. I exaggerate, but what's true is that the signs in Ann Arbor are so low as to be invisible and a real pain if you're trying to look for something. A 25-story cross wouldn't exactly mesh into the general look of the place.

Went to the Solanus Casey center in Detroit, saw that his coffin is still basically sitting in the open air - in a plexiglass box, but largely open to the elements, nonetheless. Very strange. They're supposed to finish the center in October. The Detroit Institute of the Arts is vast, and has much interesting art. Unfortunately, several wings - including American art were closed, as they're doing an expansion. They're hosting a big Degas exhibition starting in October, so maybe we'll try to go back and take Katie to that. Michael will undoubtedly provide more details once he gets settled this morning, but I'll end by telling you about my Outrage of the Weekend:

On Sunday, we attended Mass at this parish, which was your typical super-busy Catholic mega-parish, all construction, expansion and "ministries." Fine. It made me tired to even go to Mass there, but fine for those that are nourished by that.

The back wall of the vestibule(narthex, whatever), were the individual pamphlets describing the parish's dozens of ministries, including the post-abortion support ministry, which is really not specific to the parish, but referred, instead, to the ministry provided by the Lansing Diocese. The flyer began:

If you have chosen to give up a child to abortion.....

Can you believe it? The euphemisms boggle the mind. The attempt - by means of grammar - to make abortion the equivalent of adoption - is outrageous. Sensitivity to women in painful situations is one thing. But real healing doesn't happen unless the true nature of the painful act is brought into the light.

Update: I knew you'd say that. (See comments). No, I don't think that the only alternative is something harsh and brutal, either. But there is a way of communicating compassion while being faithful to the truth. Saying that there isn't, that we must rest behind euphemism is to take the approach that so many in the Church have in the past decades, much to the detriment of women's mental and spiritual health. How about simply, "If you've had an abortion..." Why not? Gets the message across, doesn't it? Why even feel that it's necessary to insert this misleading, dishonest and ultimately nonsensical statement - that abortion is about "giving a child to " a procedure? The only reason I can think of for putting it that way is to deliberately minimize the true nature of the act and make it somehow morally equivalent to placing a child for adoption.

And before you comment further, take a look at some of the pieces I've posted on the issue here, especially this one.


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