Tuesday, July 16

A good piece on the dramatically misnamed Catholics for Free Choice

CFFC has been fortunate enough to find a handful of sugar daddies to underwrite most of its activities. The largess of five funders accounted for more than $10 million in donations between 1996 and 2000. Famed Wall Street financier Warren Buffett's shingle, the Buffett Foundation, has contributed $375,000. The MacArthur Foundation, which critics say earmarks most of its $180 million in annual grants for lefty-liberal causes that protect the environment and "reproductive rights," as well as those that advance "peace," has provided $1.6 million. Charitable institutions established by the estates of the Hewlett and Packard families, founders of computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard, have been extremely generous to CFFC, with the Hewlett Foundation providing $600,000 and the Packard Foundation an eye-popping $3.8 million.But the largest benefactor has been the consistently left-wing Ford Foundation, with grants totaling $4.4 million during the five-year span.

Frank Keating responds to priests appealing their dismissals to Rome:

In an interview during the national governors' meeting in Idaho, Keating said he "took issue" with some priests appealing their cases to the Vatican. While Keating said he supported traditional canon law that allowed priests to appeal administration decisions of their dioceses, he said he objected to widespread appeals that could ultimately weaken the zero-tolerance policy he believes is critical to stopping a scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church."Here you have some of these guys, as a result of their own unbridled passions, their own evil, their own selfishness, they have jeopardized the integrity of Catholic institutions," Keating said, his voice shaking with contempt. "People ought to chase them out of town with a stick."......."If the reason they are appealing is because they didn't do it and they are unrighteously accused, then they are absolutely right to appeal," Keating said. "But on the other hand, if they are appealing simply because they want to delay it, they want a technicality to get their collar back, I think that's shameful."

I just recommended The Habit of Being, the collected letters of Flannery O'Connor, to a reader. Here's why I think O'Connor's letters are essential spiritual reading.

She was terminally ill with lupus for her adult
life, and her grace in that suffering is inspiring and humbling.

She was a brilliant woman with an open and curious
mind who found no paralyzing obstacle between that fact and submitting to God in faith. Whenever I get pissy and think that since it can't be figured out it can't be believed, I read O'Connor.

She had a very healthy understanding of Church.

She is herself in her letters: funny, observant, strong, compassionate and, as I said before, valiant and self-effacing in her suffering. Saintly, dare I say?

Very good thoughts from Mark Butterworth on Human sacrifice and Magical Thinking Redux
Some discussion over at HMS Blog about suffering and crosses. Does God ever send them? Does he ever give us suffering on purpose?

My quick answer, sidestepping the vexing questions of God's involvement and activity in life in general, is no, and this is why.

When I read the Gospels, I do not see Jesus ever giving people suffering. I see the opposite. I see healing and forgiveness and wholeness. Jesus took up the cross and died so we don't have to.

In the act of answering "Follow Me" with the gift of our lives, however, and simply in living life fully, we will encounter suffering. Jesus told us as much. As someone (my husband, I think) once said, Jesus never promised his followers anything except persecution. But is that something God gives? I don't think so. I think its' something the world gives as a result of sin. Jesus was describing the consequences of being faithful in the midst of a sinful world, not saying he was going to give the suffering.

We can sit around all day and muse about God's ways, but it seems to me that we've been given all the answers we need in Christ. This is not an abstract question. Watch Jesus. Listen to him. There's your answer.

A few religions, I just don't get. LDS, Mormonism, whatever is one. I just don't get how people can seriously believe that Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother have been up there on a planet, merrily procreating billions of souls. The Unification Church is another. Here's a reason why.

In a stunning display of triumphalism, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, is taking out ads in major newspapers proclaiming that Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha - even God - have told him he is now "the Savior, Messiah and King of Kings of all of humanity!"The ad, which appeared in yesterday's Inquirer, is part of a $720,000 effort to place the treatise in papers in all 50 states, a church official said. Forty-seven papers, including the Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle, have accepted thus far, he said.Mr. Moon, 82, has long regarded himself as the messiah, saying Jesus "called him" in 1935. Adherents of the Washington-based sect consider Mr. Moon and his wife the world's "True Parents."The 7,000-word ad, titled "A Cloud of Witnesses: The Saints' Testimonies to the True Parents," purports to reveal the results of "a seminar in the spirit world for leaders of five of the great religions." In it, 40 leaders of the five faiths, as well as Karl Marx and three other Communist greats, express their obeisance to Mr. Moon.At the celestial event, Muhammad is said to have led three cheers, while God submitted a letter stating, "I believe in the True Parents."

Another category in the "my sky god versus your sky god" wars, according to some, I guess, but you know, there really is a difference between that kind of ranting and those kinds of claims and the core claims of Christianity. Claims which, of course, regularly get embellished by the imaginations and power claims of fallible human beings, but still, when examined at their core are, I think, pretty hard to dismiss, based on the evidence.

Kathleen Norris speaks some truth in an interview in Christianity Today

What have we miscommunicated about the Christian tradition that where 86 percent of people in this country say their official religion is Christianity, and yet most of them feel very disconnected from it?

Three things are so badly taught it’s a miracle that anyone survives: the Christian faith, poetry, and mathematics. Those three things are always taught so any natural aptitude you have is going to be squelched out of you by the time you’re in 8th grade. Why we worship, what prayer really is and what it isn’t, all of those things are really not taught well to children. They have these little cute word puzzles and they might memorize the names of the books of the Bible, but that’s not going to help them when they’re 14 and wondering about the real issues of life. I think people just need a better grounding in whatever faith tradition that they’re in. We’ve short-changed a great religious tradition.

Great stuff over at Domenico Bettinelli today, especially on the church-state dangers our bishops' sins have wrought.
For all of you Hauerwas-haters out there, in the latest issue of First Things (Just came in the mail, not online yet, won't be for a good long while), Neuhaus writes that Hauerwas is no longer on their editorial board, but - before you start hooting -

"He believes that his well-known commitment to pacifism is incompatible with the position of the journal as expressed in our December editorial "In a Time of War," and makes it necessary for him to discontinue his formal association. We agree on the incompatibility of positions regarding the war against terror, but disagree on the desirability of continuing our association. The decision to resign from the Editorial Board is entirely his; the disagreement is amiable; we are grateful for the assurance of his continuing friendship; and we will persist in holding many of his contributions to Christian moral thought in high regard. He may not appear on the masthead, but do not be surprised if his contributions continue to appear in these pages."

Carl Olson of Envoy Magazine helpfully writes in response to my question about Wills' interpretation of Augustine's eucharistic theology:

An excellent book that deals at length with Augustine's understanding of the Eucharist and his supposedly "symbolic" take on it is Fr. James O'Connor's The Hidden Manna (Ignatius Press). Superb stuff. One of the finest single volume works of Eucharistic theology written. The finest two volume work is Fr. Donald J. Keefe's Covenantal Theology: the Eucharistic Ordering of History. "Brilliant" would be an understatement.

FYI, in case you're looking to do further research. I'll be reading them and reporting...eventually...but don't wait on me. Go on if you want. I'm moving kind of slowly these days.

A priest who had been convicted of rape worked as a supervisor at the Servants of the Paraclete center for sexually abusive clerics in New Mexico

John B. Feit arrived at a New Mexico center for troubled priests in the early 1960s, after his criminal problems in South Texas prompted his bosses to remove him from parish work. Within a few years, he had joined the religious order that ran the facility in Jemez Springs and become a top administrator supervising priests sent there for counseling.Among the men Feit helped keep in ministry: child molester James Porter of Massachusetts, who assaulted more than 100 victims before he was ultimately defrocked and sent to prison.Leading voices in the renewed debate over the church's handling of sexual abuse expressed surprise at the Feit situation Friday.''That's really shocking, very much so,'' said Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante, the US bishops' spokesman on sexual abuse issues.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
A group of foundations is withdrawing millions in aid to the Pittsburgh school system because of a lack of accountability, infighting, disorganization, and so on.


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