Friday, August 9

Sean Gallagher makes some very good points about the nature of religious orders:

I suspect that other bloggers have already made this observation. But it is one that I feel fairly confident about, having experienced life in a Benedictine monastery. Benedictines, above all, are quite independent. Even their own congregations can have little effect from one monastery to the next.
This is not to say that necessary reforms cannot be made, and even made at the local level and not mandated from Rome. However, I suspect that the discussions going on in the Conference will have little direct legislative effect in the orders. It may foster a changes within the orders themselves, but it would seem to me that there is no force of law here.


Discovery Health Channel has a new series called "Confessions of a Germ"

For those of you interested in the intersection of disease,death, religion and social collapse, the episode on the Black Plaguepremieres on Monday.

Rememer when Bob Dylan became a Christian? What happened to that phase?

According to a new book, it wasn't just a phase:

Off stage singer Bob Dylan may have gone quiet on his Christian conversion that shocked the music world 20-plus years ago, but the answer to those questioning his current spiritual state is clear to those with good ears, according to "Restless Pilgrim."
Subtitled "The Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan," the 176-page book examines the music legend's career and public pronouncements, and concludes that if Dylan's thoughts and beliefs are "all right there in the music," as he says, then he is "without a doubt a man who continues to express faith in Jesus while holding on to his Jewish heritage."


Rev. Canice Connors, OFM, president of the Major Superiors of Men, past president of the St. Luke's Institute, and one who said of John Geoghan: there are no particular recommendations concerning his spiritual life since he is involved in spiritual direction and seems to have a good prayer life" has declared whose side he's on, it appears. Says that in the current climate, molestors are being made scapegoats

For what? Global warming? The West Nile Virus? George Bush's skin lesions?

Oh- you mean they're being blamed for molesting children and youth.

Since when is assigning blame for a sin to the sinner who perpetrated the sin ...."scapegoating?"

I concur that the current climate is leading to some hasty decisions and panicked thinking, and that the bishops are not being motivated by care for children and devotion to Christ as much as they are by fear of bankruptcy and public opinion, but to say this:

"In paying this purchase price for their moral credibility, the bishops in effect could be perceived to have become one with the voices of the media, unreconciled victims and a partially informed Catholic public in scapegoating abusers," said Connors, a Conventual Franciscan.

Now here's what's true: Our bishops have, indeed, failed to accept responsibility for what they have done in any kind of meaningful way. We have had no resignations, no honest statements, justs lots of "mistakes were made" and "the psychologists told us...". All true. But it does not follow, then that molesters are being "scapegoated." Somehow, that doesn't seem like the right word, and I can't image what Rev. Connors means.

Controversial state-funded Mexican movie satirizes the Church:

A new film about love and corruption among Catholic priests has scandalized some Mexican churchgoers, even though the plot is adapted from a novel written in 1875.Adding to the odd set of circumstances, Mexico's Catholic Council of Bishops says it doesn't object to the movie, "The Crime of Father Amaro," which it sees as a "wake up call" for the church.Some church-allied groups, however, have threatened to sue the government for funding the film, known in Spanish as "El Crimen del Padre Amaro."
Set to open in Mexican theaters Aug. 16, the film rankled Catholics here because it depicts priests having sex, while others mingle with drug traffickers and leftist guerrillas.


The Miracle of Sharing is preached throughout the land without a peep from a bishop, while interesting, orthodox priests are..uh...silenced. (What is this, 1427?)

My two cents, added before my in-laws arrive is that what bishops, many pastors and countless administrators in all fields fear most of all is intelligence. It terrifies them beyond belief. Gotta go.

Update: When I penned (uh...typed) the comments above, I had no idea what the issue was. Then I read it involved what he said about Louvain. But I don't know what he said about Louvain. But then I read the comments and if he did say that....no, you're right. That's not intelligent. (But it is true that many administrators fear intelligence. Have you ever worked for a dumb boss? Does being smart help you in that environment? No.) And it's uncharitable. And, according to some, it's wrong on several levels. So, yeah, if so, Fr. Sibley was intemperate. And someone needs to have a chat with him.

But I guess my problem is this: Once again, as with the Case of The Diocese Disclaiming Catholic Answers (below, somewhere.), we have church folk who speak from a "right of center" perspective being silenced while those who preach and teach at the very least meaningless, Hallmark Angelouian pablum and at worst, heresy, are tolerated, promoted and spend every spare minute flying around the country giving workshops to Catholic educators and parish ministers.

Here's my idea:

Everyone just shut the hell up for a year. EVERYONE be silenced. And then EVERYONE sit in church during Mass and LISTEN - to the prayers we are praying, to the Scriptures we are hearing. Laity in the pews, laity buzzing around the sanctuary, ordained ministers - SHUT UP and stop trying to find some contemporary savior who satisfies your ideology and your interpretation of The Problem. I hereby SILENCE all of us.

Until my next blog, of course.

Dahlia Lithwick looks at the options regarding paternal rights in abortion

But the woman's monopoly on abortion persists because the law just can't overcome our gender-bound bodies. As a result, few very satisfying resolutions to what is, ultimately, a zero-sum problem have emerged.

Uh...maybe there's no solution to this particular problem because the basic issue lends itself to naught but wrong on every side. In other words...is there a "right" way to go about committing evil?

When I read pieces like this, I get depressed for all the usual reasons, but among them, the abstractness of it all. The conversation is just so many levels removed from the reality of the act. It would be a much different conversation (maybe) if we were all forced to use very precise language to describe what happens:

So...who has the right to determine whether the child within the womb will be crushed and sucked out of the womb? It's a conundrum, to be sure, balancing the interests of the grown adults who hold the absolute power of life and death over the helpless, voiceless human being minding its own business while they decide its fate and protect their rights...

Thanks to blogger Bill Cork for drawing the connections between Michael Bland, the abuse victim who's a member of the bishops' board, his abuser Rev. John Huels, a respected canonist, and Pete Vere's disappointed allusion to a incident involving a friend of his. It's all very sad, and just one more lesson that we can know another person completely. They can always surprise us, for good or..for ill.
I'm beginning to think this is a media plot. Really.

Priest convicted for false carjacking report to cover up the fact that he'd been with a male prostitute.

His sentencing hearing was attending by a few supportive former parishioners, one of whom said,

"He's been missed terribly at the church," said Sharon Ellis, a parishioner and a community supervisor for the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks. Ellis credited Girard with helping the homeless, battered women and unwed mothers and setting up a network of community and business leaders to address the social ills that trouble the blue-collar community where the church is based. "He never asked for anything for himself. He was always thinking of others," Ellis said.

The plot? To make Catholics look a lot dumber than they really are, maybe? I'm sure there were many more parishioners who were appalled by this guy's actions and glad to see him go, no matter what else he did that benefited the parish. I'm sure there are many parishioners who understand the a guy who frequents prostitutes, male or female, doesn't belong in the priesthood. They, of course, wouldn't have taken time to come to the hearing, but I'm sure an intrepid reporter could have dug up one or two alternative voice. These "He's really a good man" angles simply enraged me at first, but now they're just sounding like elements of a tired template for lazy reporters.

Ah...Mel agrees with you guys. He doesn't see himself as Jesus, either. He wants Jim Caviezel, the Count of Monte Cristo guy and fellow Catholic. (Here's an article on Catholic Exchange about him). He might direct. No word as to whether the's taking the rest of your advice and casting himself as Peter.
Come to my house, Jeremy. I've got company coming later and I could use a hand.
If this was a plotline on Six Feet Under, we'd say it was unrealistic:

Themed settings gaining popularity for funerals.

Or, if the situation warrants, you can have Dad laid out near a La-Z-Boy lounger, television, remote control, and faux cigar in the ashtray. The movie buff gets popcorn. For the outdoors type, there is the option of a barbecue pit and grill, complete with special effects."We actually put dry ice in the bottom of the barbecue pit so it would be smoking when you lifted the cover," said Debora Kellom, director of operations of Perpetua Inc., which owns three funeral homes in St. Louis, Chicago and New York and has pioneered the themed vignettes.The funeral staff brought along barbecue fare. "We kept nuking it so we'd have the aroma," Kellom said.

Nice choice of words, there.

Can't anyone in Boston do their job? Bishops? Priests?Doctors?

The patient was on his stomach, anesthetized, with an open incision in his back. Six hours into spinal surgery, according to the state medical board, the surgeon told the operating staff at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge that he needed to ''step out.'' Then, the board said, Dr. David C. Arndt went to Harvard Square to deposit a paycheck. Arndt hitched a ride with a sales representative from a medical device company, the board alleges, leaving nurses and anesthesiologists wondering where he was and when he would be back. He returned around 35 minutes later and completed the surgery, the board alleges.

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