Saturday, August 10

A more in-depth look at the meaning of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men discussion and decision from the WaPo

...other members at the convention were concerned that portion of the statement appeared too lenient."It can also be seen as an un-nuanced commitment to maintain rapists and sodomists in our midst," said the Rev. David Ullrich, of the Oblates here in Washington. "When do we make it clear that we have exercised some judgment in removing them from our midst?"The Rev. Ted Keating, executive director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, left open the possibility that orders might establish communal houses for such priests and that they might be able to perform priestly functions there. He did not specify how they might be supervised.This practice is already in place, however, and has caused some controversy. After the scandal broke, Abbott John Klassen of St. John's Abbey in Minnesota acknowledged that the abbey had served as a kind of safe house for 14 abusive priests. At first he was praised for breaking the secrecy, but victims groups objected when they found out Klassen had let some of the restricted monks travel and had let two work in public ministries.

Standard meaningless NYTimes article trolling the country for quotes about The Situation.

Not much of interest except for the Boston Archdiocese's Donna Morrissey doing her usual incompetent turn and some valid points near the end:

In Boston, though there is anger, many laypeople make thoughtful assessments of the archdiocese's handling of the crisis, praising some things while criticizing others.Dr. Post said it was good that the archdiocese had agreed to a zero-tolerance policy, under which about 20 priests accused of abuse have been suspended. But he said, "The bad news is there still is no clarity about what kind of procedure the chancery is using to investigate these cases. "We don't know, if Father X is being pulled out of a parish, whether that's because he molested someone or because he disagreed with the cardinal," he said. "It has this sort of star chamber quality about it that leaves people very untrusting."

Conference of Major Superiors of Men approves their policy

Leaders of Roman Catholic religious orders approved details of their plan Saturday to keep sexually abusive clergy away from children but in the priesthood, creating review boards to monitor how their communities handle offenders.The Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an association of heads of groups such as Bendictines and Jesuits, also acknowledged their members had sometimes failed to sufficiently discipline errant clergy in the past."We are deeply sorry for that and publicly apologize for whenever and however we have failed victims or families," they said in the document, which won overwhelming approval by the leaders. "These religious priests or brothers who have molested children or adolescents have broken the bonds of trust invested in them. We feel this hurt deeply."

From the NYTimes (LRR): Pass the collection plate -- and charge it, an article about the growing number of churches encouraging their members to use electronic fund transfer and credit cards to make their donation:

"The church needs to keep up," said the Rev. Michael T. Kontogiorgis, assistant chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which is based in New York City, and which will test electronic giving at roughly 20 of its 520 parishes around the country in the next few months. "It's the 21st century. We don't pay with chickens and grapes anymore."
Moving donations from wicker baskets and wooden collection plates into cyberspace or onto credit card and banking statements has given rise to a profitable new financial-services industry aimed at churches, one that already has a major player in a Queens company called ParishPay. But it has also fueled a debate about God and money, spirituality and financial reality and whether technology is interfering with the core rituals of worship.The Southern Baptist Convention, which represents 16 million American Baptists and has been otherwise quick to embrace technology — its Web site features the slogan "One people, one purpose, one click" — does not permit electronic giving. "God says you bring the offering as an act of worship," said Jack Wilkerson, vice president for business and finance for the Baptist group. "My concern is, we're trying to approach a spiritual problem in the heart of people mechanically. One of these days we're going to wake up and say, `What happened to our churches?' "

The Archdiocese of New York is in conversation with ParishPay, the Diocese of Brooklyn has made a conscious decision to decline:

"We have made a conscious decision not to actively encourage this," said Francis Galligan, the Brooklyn diocese's chief financial officer. "I don't think it's what we want to do from a spiritual perspective."

Check out this opening paragraph of this article on the diverse ways Catholic colleges deal with sexuality issues.

With sexually active students on their campuses and the Vatican unswervingly opposed to premarital sex, America's Roman Catholic colleges face difficult choices on such sensitive matters as condom use and unwanted pregnancies.

The Vatican is unswervingly opposed to premarital sex. And nothing else about Catholicism isn’t?

It’s sort of the Garry Willsian sense of Church at work here: Church teaching somehow springs, full grown, from old beards at the Vatican. Cultures haven’t put restraints on sexuality, in some way or other, throughout history. Scripture is silent. Everyone other Catholic soul on the planet except THE VATICAN is all for premarital sex, including the parents who are spending $20,000+ a year to entrust their 18-year old daughter to the moral lights at St. Toleration U.

But of course, if you continue reading the piece, you'll see that it's a discussion of a survey commissioned by our Favorite Group, which explains the "Vatican Sez" language.

Catholics For a Free Choice, which supports abortion rights and access to birth control, says in a new report that most Catholic colleges have ''dangerously inadequate'' health services. ''Catholic universities are at a difficult moment ... caught between the desire to be part of the educational mainstream and the Vatican's attempts to tighten its grip,'' the report says. It contends many female students ''feel they have been abandoned by their schools on the issue of reproductive health care.'' Of 133 Catholic colleges responding to a survey about health services, only 16 reported making contraceptives available to students, the group said. When contacted by The Associated Press, three of the 16 denied providing contraceptives.

New toy! New toy!

Checkout the "Guestmap" icon near the bottom of the left-hand column. It's cute gimmick. Let's overpopulate this world!

Good for him!

Victor Lams has already scanned this weekend's Our Lady of Good Counsel (home of Papa Doc) bulletin with the newest declaration of purpose.

He's got it here, along with a promise to swing by the church tomorrow and report later on the protests.

A few more thoughts inpsired by the words of Rev. Canice Connors:

As the news and the comments in the Catholic blogosphere make clear, the disagreement about "what to do" with clerical sexual offenders is deep and heartfelt. Our struggle is to balance the protection of children, justice and openness to conversion and redemption. I'm not going to recap everything I've already said on the matter, but I do want to say this:

1)As has been said many times, allowing the possibility of conversionn and redemption does not necessitate continuing in priestly ministry. What we have come to call "zero tolerance" does not excommunicate a clerical offender. It bars him from ministry, a gift and a privilege that he has betrayed.

2)A second point, which I have not seen much discussed. Sometimes we who lean towards the ZT end of things are, naturally enough, accused of being too enthusiastic about throwing guys out, irregardless of what canon law or the theology of Holy Orders has to say about the matter. Again, that's not the issue I'm raising at the moment.

Here's what I'm raising.

It is the nature of these particular sins. What many of us wonder, me included, concerns the question of whether a person who is either a pedophile or sexually molests a minor is suited for ministry - at all.

I think we can all agree on the issue of pedophilia, but where many of us part ways is in relation to those adults who sexually molest adolescents. Even, dare I say, but once.

Although, I must say, in all honesty, that I have always had a very difficult time believing the "only once" claim. Call me cynical.

There are many sins. Countless sins, all of which reveal something about the sinner. And since all of us are sinners, that means all those engaged in ministry, lay or ordained, will be sinners.

The question is, are there sins that reveal qualities of person that renders them unfit for ministry as a priest?

I'm sure wiser and more compassionate folks than me will weigh in on this, but it just seems to me that an adult man who engages in a sexual encounter with a minor male or female has big, serious problems of maturity, prudence, and again I say maturity. Think about it. Think about what a priest is called to be about. Think of what a 30-year old man who gets interested in a 15-year old male or female is doing and, more than that, what that man is revealing about himself. He is interested in hooking up with a kid. A kid. A teenager, for heaven's sake.

Putting aside, for just a moment, questions of sin, violation of vows, violation of the Commandments and the damage to the young person. Don't you conisder it..uh...abnormal for an adult male to even want to waste a minute seeking to connect at that level with a kid? Even...once? Is what that reveals about that man consistent with what a priest is called to be?

I don't think so. And that - not revenge, not a sense of my own superiority, not "scapegoating" is the reason I think the "even once" guys should get their counseling, get their serious spiritual direction, get their penance, do their jail time....and then get their parole and get a job down at the computer store.

I'm a sinner. The priests who are my spiritual leaders are sinners. But I'm not interested or comfortable in being led by a man who sees 15-year olds as his peers or as objects to exploit. Either seems to me to be incompatible with priestly ministry.

Very nice new blog: My Daily Crumbs from a Catholic musician.
If I were still teaching, I would mandate that students wanting to leave class to take care of their needs would have to publicly request a "Pinkelpause"

Go here, 8th paragraph from the top.

Feast of St. Lawrence today:

We all remember the story of St. Lawrence, slowly roasted on a gridiron, for his comment, "Turn me over, I am done on this side," but the part of the tale that I like the best is this:

The prefect, Cornelius Saecularis, believing that the Church was wealthy, ordered that everything of value be turned over to the emperor for the upkeep of his armies. The prefect said, "I understand that according to your teaching you must render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Your God didn't bring any money into the world with him, all He brought was words. So give us the money, and you can keep the words."Lawrence said he would need three days to gather it together. In those three days he sold the rest of the property that he administered and brought together thousands of lepers, the blind, and the sick, the destitute, widows, orphans, and the aged. These he presented to the prefect, observing, "The church is truly rich, far richer then your emperor."

A suggestive story for meditation as the Boston Archdiocese contemplates the prospect of bankruptcy

A profile of Fr. John McCloskey at Slate.


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