Tuesday, July 23

Well....it's only money after all.

Boston Catholic Charities says, sure thing, we'll take the dough.

Need a snappy retort to all those snide comments about Juan Diego's supposed non-existence?

Well, here ya go - an article offering three pieces of evidence attesting to the truth of his story. Good stuff, but maybe not so snappy, since you'll have to be explaining how one of the pieces of evidence was discovered in the great state of Georgia.

Put yourself in the place of the parents of a young man you know was seduced by a priest at the age of 16.

Now imagine that twenty-five years later, this priest's parish gives the bishop a standing ovation shortly after learning that his actions would not keep him from his pastorate with them.

Yeah, that would warm the heart of any parent. Any victim. Anyone with a conscience, I'd think. Warm their hearts in rage, that is.

But no, the good people of St. Celestine's parish in Evansville are at it again, spending their summer days writing letters and organizing support of their priest who committed the act described above.

Listen. I can think of better things to do. Surely there are sick to be visited, poor to be tended to, children to be cared for, unborn children to speak for and uh...victims to listen to. Weeping tears of regret for the admitted perpetrator who is a grown man and should be able to take care of himself would, you'd think, be low on the list for the People of God in Evansville. But apparently not.

The deeply ironic thing about this case, which has popped up on the radar now for months, is that the patron of this parish, St. Peter Celestine V is best known as a man who was elected to the papacy and then, finding himself entirely unsuited to the job (as he knew he was before his election), resigned. He got out and went back to try to live the life of a hermit to which he was called in the first place.

Can we paint a more ironic picture than a parish named for a resigned pope fighting against the departure of their admitted pederast pastor? I think not.

Hey, did you all catch the Pope rapping his cane in apparent anger at the bottom of the airplane steps in Toronto yesterday? Scared me, and I'm five hundred miles away.
Americans brought candy bars to European kids after WWII....

Turks bring...

circumcision to Afghan boys:

"These boys have missed being circumcised because perhaps there was trouble in their homes or their parents were too poor to afford it," the Turkish officer said. "Wherever we travel, we like to help the community by doing these sort of things -- even at the rural areas at home." The boys being circumcised on Tuesday -- aged between two and 11 -- were a mixture of ashen-faced fear and confused apprehension as they awaited their turn with the team of eight surgeons and their assistants.

An odd story from New Hampshire and not just because it involves a priest named MacCormack suing a bishop named McCormack. Really.

More strangeness than similar names abounds, though. Priest MacCormack claims he's been silenced and harrassed by the diocese because of his knowledge of a cover-up involving a dead priest, a leather undergarment and lots of videotapes, not of the EWTN variety. It's hard to tell what the real deal is here, but we can at least add it to the Great Priest Stories of 2002, right up there with the Ecstasy-selling fellow from Pensacola and the Padre from Peoria who manufactured the date-rape drug.

I think a lot about faith. Why people believe, why they don't.

And I have to say that after years of pondering these questions and observing the world and the Church, I sympathize with the unbelievers.

Why? I simply think that the Church today doesn't even try to answer the questions people are asking, either in words or actions. It's not grappling with the issues intellectually, and it's not answering them with compelling witness. For the most part. Of course, there are pockets here and there, and there are many saints walking among us. But as a Body, the Church isn't quite getting it these days.

Let's look at the questions first. As I see it, the fundamental questions don't change, but the context in which they're asked does. It's the context that the Church is way behind in admitting, much less understanding, and that's part of what prompted me, incidentally, to start writing those Prove It books. I felt that catechetical materials for adolescents were, for the most part, treating kids like they were eternally six years old without a serious question in their heads, living in a world of sentimental, unquestioning conviction of God's existence and love. Not at all. So I wrote.

But the situation is no different for the rest of us out here in the world. Everyone is still asking about meaning and purpose and life after death, but the context of that questioning is completely different than it was half a century ago. How is it different?

First of all, most people don't believe that explicit, conscious faith in Christ is essential for salvation, and for good reason: it's not, and there's ample Scriptural (yes - try Romans 2:12-16 for a start) evidence as well as Church teaching to support that conviction. Further, most people believe that eternal life more or less just happens after you die and has little if anything to do with the quality of your life beyond a vague "good intention" or "fundamental option" towards goodness and doing the right thing.

Secondly, most of us have no problem with the immanence of God. God is everywhere, accessible anywhere, so what is the point of church buildings and rituals? Is God any more present there than He is with me right now at my computer?

So, the unbeliever, either serious or casual, quite reasonably asks ( within that context) - why bother? If a reasonably good life and high intentions is good enough to get me saved, why bother to do anything more? If God is everywhere, why bother with church and its structures?

Please note that I'm not saying this hypothetical unbeliever is correct in her conclusions. All I'm saying is that this is the context of the contemporary disinterest in organized, traditional religion. And it's a context that the Church absolutely fails to acknowledge. Check that - it does acknowledge it in a backhanded kind of way by appealing to all sorts of reasons to be a part of church except the content of the message and the presence of God - community, social benefits, programs for the kids and the hoped-for resultant social control of same kids, feelings of belonging, and so on. And sometimes people come, and sometimes they go on to a place with better community, music and more clean-cut looking kids.

And meanwhile, the questions go unadressed, partly out of a fear of offense, partly because we're afraid of the answers most of us - even church people - would provide.

It all comes down to this, in my mind: Why Jesus, why here and why this way? What difference does it make? And don't tell me about your healed lives and your warm hearts. If I, the casual unbeliever, can go out on the street and find people who have equally healed lives and warm hearts for reasons that have nothing to do with your church, why, again, should I bother with your church or any of them?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

(And yes, I have my own answers to these questions. But I'd like to hear what you think first, and shape my response in that context)

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom!

Monsignor Earl Boyea, president of the Josephinium seminary in Columbus, named an auxiliary bishop of Detroit.

Here's what his mom had to say about it:

"At first, it was beyond me, but I do think he has the spirituality and the God-given knowledge for this. And he understands obedience -- something that parents teach. That's important."

Chaim Potok has died. That's too bad (he was only 73 - I would have thought he was older, for some reason.) I loved his books - I think I read My Name is Asher Lev two or three times when I was a teenager. Whatever little I knew about Judaism then, I learned from Potok's novels.
Great guy or protector of clerics who abuse?

This article from Cleveland asks that question of their Auxiliary Bishop Quinn.

From the Nashville Tennessean:A story about a psychologist who studies the stigmata
From a month ago, but still worth a look: Baby born weighing 12 ounces (the same size as your soft drink can) survives, does well, goes home.

What a great country - a place where all babies in and out of the womb are valued and cared for and nurtured, no matter how small....

Never mind.

Instapundit has more links to discussions of the Steve Earle song
Scary stuff

Those two drunk American West pilots had been drinking for almost 6 hours before they flew, and had a $122 bar tab.

Two good feastdays today:

Bridget of Sweden

and

John Cassian

From the LATimes (LRR): There are people out there praying for Hollywood. Are you?

Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Bruckheimer don't know me, but I've been praying for them and their staff. I belong to a group called Hollywood Prayer Watch. For five years, we've been bombarding Hollywood with intercessory prayers. We pray for its children and families. We pray for its drug addicts and dealers and prostitutes and homeless. We pray for people in the entertainment industry. We pray for law enforcement officers who patrol Hollywood and politicians who represent it. We do this in the belief that prayer can transform Hollywood's worldwide influence. On the first and second Saturday of each month, 150 of us from the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood arrange our schedules so that someone is praying every minute of those days, in half-hour segments.

Boston archdiocese says "No, thanks" to VOTF's money.

So much for cooperation on that end of things. Writer Sandra Miesel made the very good point that she had to wonder about the intellectual capabilities of these folks who evidently can't figure out how to just write a check to an charitable institution or two without having to go through another organization. Heh.

They're seeing the Virgin in trees in Chicago.

Very nice. Nice that she's in Brazilian windows, as well.

How about this. How about, instead of looking for Mary in trees, windows and in the sky, we all concentrate on seeing Christ in each other instead? I'm for that.

Now, I'm a Steve Earle fan. He's made created some great music that you can find on albums like El Corazon and I Feel Alright.

But this is just dumb, even for an iconoclast and self-conscious Bad Boy:

Earle's new album features a pro-John Walker Lindh song.

A new country-rock song, 'John Walker's Blues,' recorded by maverick Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Steve Earle, is drawing both raves and condemnation. The song is a stately ballad punctuated by the sound of Arabic prayers and refers to Lindh's interest inn music videos, boy bands and religious fanaticism....But Martha Bayles, author of "Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music" and a literature professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, said Earle's apparent identification with Lindh reflected "a psychological need to repeat the good old days of the radical 60s, just like Mom and Dad."..."Never mind whether the cause makes any sense -- the point is to march in the streets and get on TV. It sounds as if Earle is singing to this crowd," Bayles said.

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