Sunday, August 4

More details on one of the priests arrested in Montreal
Hopes are high for a restoration of Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption, the oldest cathedral in the United States.

When America's newest Roman Catholic cathedral opens in California next month, it will contain religious treasures borrowed from the country's oldest, the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore.To mark the opening of the $200 million Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Sept. 2, a Maryland-based group is preparing an exhibit there to celebrate Baltimore's basilica, known as the mother church of American Catholicism, which is poised to undergo a $25 million restoration. For religious leaders in Los Angeles, the Baltimore exhibit is an opportunity to christen the new cathedral with art and artifacts that convey a sense of history and help trace the growth of Catholicism in America.

Nice thought, but one can't help but wonder if the West Coast had to drag Catholic stuff all the way over from the East Coast to insure that we'd know that what they'd built was...well....Catholic.

A lot to tick you off here, probably. But you know, I just link 'em. A website clearinghouse for alternative weeklies has a page devoted to the Situation/Scandal/Mess with links to articles from various papers. You know the perspective going into it, so don't be surprised. But it's good to read a broad perspective on this, eh? Beyond the usual, however, there are links to some surprising spots - Catholic Answers and our own Bishop D'Arcy's commentaries - for example.
This was our first weekend with our parish's new pastor. He was a total unknown, having spent all 20+ years of his priestly ministry in the South Bend part of the diocese. My initial rash judgment, from one hour of liturgy is: good job.

1)We could hear him through the antiquated sound system without straining. A big plus, no matter what he was saying.

2) He spoke and prayed with energy - the right kind. Not fake energy that is, in the end, nothing but show, but an energy that communicated that this stuff mattered to him and that it should to us as well.

3) His homily did what homilies should do, according to my husband, who has taught seminary courses in that area: he took what people were probably talking about this week (the transition in general and him specifically) and applied the Scriptures to it, making the excellent point that no matter who comes or goes, Jesus remains the Shepherd, feeding us and caring for us.

4) He made a very interesting point, perhaps indirectly referring to our threatened renovation (which needs to happen for various reasons, but not, we pray according to the desires of the Dreaded Liturgical Consultant). In the midst of his homily, he referred to the crucifix and the tabernacle, the latter in the center of the sanctuary under the former, and said that this worthy arrangement reminds us of Jesus' sacrifice for us and his continuing Presence in our lives. Interesting, I thought.

In other words, he addressed the issue at hand (who the heck he was, anyway), without making the whole thing about him.

To tell the truth, once I knew what the Gospel reading was, I started bracing myself. Would he offer the surprisingly common interpretation, offered from a surprising number of Catholic pulpits (I've heard it only once myself - in a university parish) that the real miracle of the loaves and the fishes was that Jesus inspired the crowd to give of what they already had, presumably hidden in their cloaks, and so on? Would he? And if he did, what would I do?

Well, no, he didn't. He was all for the miracle and straightforward about it.

Down Looosiana way, Rod Dreher was not so fortunate. It's strange that on the same day I was thinking about this and dreading the possibility, Rod experienced it:

You know, some people think small towns are free of the kind of heretical preaching you get in big-city and suburban Catholic parishes. Not true. In my hometown parish today....I nearly came out of my seat when Fr. Charlie explained
that the loaves and the fishes miracle might well have been accomplished by the disciples having removed extra food from their cloaks, and distributing it to the multitude. The "real miracle," then, was the generosity of God's followers to God's people (Fr. Charlie seems to be allergic to the masculine personal pronoun when speaking of the Deity). I sat in the pew seething. My wife asked what was wrong. I told her he had just denied the miracle of the loaves and fishes. She told me to calm down, that maybe I'd heard wrong. On the way out of church, I stopped to ask Fr. Charlie if I'd understood him correctly. He started crawfishing, and I put the question bluntly to him: "Are you denying that Christ worked a miracle with the loaves and fishes." "No, not really," he said. "I'm saying that the miracle was the generosity of the people."I started to challenge him further, but he said, "I'll talk to you
later," and shunted me aside. "I don't have anything to say to you," I said, then left. .....we are
in the middle of a war for the survival of the Church. The lack of fidelity is the root cause for all our woes. Souls are at stake. So when I
sit in the pew after all that's happened this year, desperate for some sign of faith and moral courage in the priest, and all I hear is some jolly fellow denying Biblical miracles, I feel like I'm listening to a commanding officer commit treason. It's disgusting, and I cannot abide it.

I suspect that this naturalistic interpretation of the miracle (and all the others) was something taught to countless seminarians who are now priests (or not) between the ages of, let's say, 45 and 60. I don't know the origin of it, though, and if anyone can track down the Scripture "scholar" who's responsible for this interpretation - if it was such a person and not some "storytelling" expert or "spirituality" guru - I'd love to know. So we can stick Blogpins in him/her. And you know how fast those multiply.

From the Baltimore Sun, a lengthy portrait of a priest
David O'Brien of Holy Cross on reforming the Church

Third, the Voice of the Faithful must grow and prosper. This is the political key to the immediate future of the church in Boston and the United States. There will be no serious reform without lay initiatives and, right now, there is no space for lay initiative within existing structures.Will lay Catholics - including those prominent leaders who have so often said that the people must take back their church - have the dedication and intelligence to help change the church? Will they come up with the funds, $1 million to begin with, needed to turn a protest movement into an organization that can give the laity a genuine voice in the decisions that will shape the future of American Catholicism?It is not enough to say the cardinal should resign. That does not take a lot of courage, or time. In the church as everywhere else, the unorganized can make noise but they cannot make change. Concerned Catholics need to join an organization that speaks up for truth and full participation, contribute a portion of their time and talent to that organization, and do so with an intelligent strategy.That means backing the new reforms to protect children, responding when invited to participate in honest efforts at shared responsibility within the existing structures, and pushing hard for a full voice for the laity in all areas of church life. This will require staff, budgets, goals, and meetings, no way around it.

I think this piece is a good place from which to launch our discussion of what can we do and how can we do it?What's worth taking from this piece?


Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear arguments in case limiting employer liability for punitive damage awards for employee crimes - the Catholic Church being the employer in question in the original case, of course.

Though the diocese ultimately paid Hutchison the compensatory damages last October, the question of punitive damages has lingered. In 2000, a three-judge Superior Court panel invalidated those damages.The panel's reasoning was not about church-state separation; it ruled that the foundation of the state's negligence law for employers had no language permitting punitive damages.That ruling would become binding only if affirmed by the state Supreme Court.The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, in urging the high court to affirm, has argued that imposing punitive damages on a diocese could "intrude upon... a Church's constitutionally guaranteed liberty to determine the means best suited to accomplish its divine mission."

Mel Gibson reported to be considering playing Christ in film
A WaPo profile of Ray Mouton, the lawyer called upon years ago by church officials to defend notorious pedophile Gilbert Gauthe. He's also the co-author of the famed 1985 report warning the bishops of the impact of the problem, along with Frs. Michael Petersen and Thomas Doyle:

Doyle called up Mouton in the winter of 1988. He had a copy of a letter that their former ally, Bishop Quinn, [auxiliary bishop of Cleveland]had written to Pio Laghi, the Vatican ambassador.
In the letter, Quinn complains to Laghi that Doyle and Mouton "continue to avail themselves to reporters" who are writing about clergy sex abuse. Their goal, he alleges, is to force the church to pay them as "expensive" troubleshooters."The Church has weathered worse attacks, thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit," Quinn wrote in this letter. "So too will the pedophile annoyance eventually abate."

As you might expect, many troubling moments brought to light, and a consistent theme of lost faith. Not hard to understand why.

Sad and terrible. Terribly sad: British woman sues charity for her son's death at Lourdes

. Instead of a longed-for miracle, the trip ended in tragedy when the 12-year-old was crushed to death beneath the wheels of a bus belonging to the Catholic organisation that was supposed to be looking after him. She claims the directors of the Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust, which organised the trip and whose patron is the Duchess of Kent, broke promises about the level of care her son would receive on the pilgrimage. Christopher suffered from Angelman Syndrome. He had severe learning disabilities from birth, could not speak and had no sense of danger. He could walk slowly but was reliant on a wheelchair. ...Brown claimed the charity didn't inform her for several hours after the accident. By the time she and her husband reached France, Christopher was dead. She was then horrified to find out that the char ity had chartered a four-seat private plane to fly them home - with the coffin allegedly wedged between the seats for a three-hour flight.

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