Monday, August 12

Irish horrors:

A terrible tale of abuse and cover-up from Ireland.

The priest, please note, was not universally loved in his town or parish, but he was a whirlwind of activity:

He formed 34 church organizations, including women's groups and four levels of youth groups. He had the basement of his house renovated into a youth club, complete with pool table, soccer table and video machine. Another part was turned into a place of refuge for troubled boys.The Irish Sunday Press dubbed him "Father Goldfinger," and reported that he had managed to extract 4 million Irish pounds per year -- close to $6 million -- for projects ranging from a day-care center for the elderly to a nursery school and a 24-hour counseling service. The monthly parish newsletter was crammed with events.He also launched a community employment project using government funds. Locals say he had up to 30 unemployed people at a time on its rolls, sweeping streets, painting houses and operating a nightly bicycle patrol of the houses of the elderly. Each participant got 60 to 70 Irish pounds per week, and Fortune skimmed 5 to 10 pounds from each -- for "administrative expenses," he told them.

I wish I'd said that:

The issue isn't punishment. The issue is whether someone who used to sexually abuse 15-year-olds, and now suppresses his urges to abuse 15-year-olds, can possibly be qualified to counsel the faithful.

(From a NapBlogReader, of course.)

Fr. Rob Johansen has some very interesting thoughts on priests like the previously-blogged Fr. DeVita inspired by a conversation with some other priests:

But the thing that surprised me was that, to a man, they all thought that priests like Fr. DeVita should be out, period. There was no question about repentance or forgiveness: all agreed that a priest-abuser who repented and amended his life was forgiven. But they thought it was too damaging to trust within the Church, and too damaging to the priesthood, to allow these priests to continue in any form of active ministry.

By the way, I'm in Knoxville right now.

The kids and I drove down today - Michael stayed home because he wants to save his remaining vacation days for later in the year, plus our absence give him a chance to do some patching and painting that needs to be done without a 16-month old scurrying around savoring the taste of paint chips.

It was a decent drive - we define the trip, of course, by how much Joseph slept. The answer: just enough. From the beginning of 75 south of Lima all the way down to Cincinatti, then from Corbin, KY to Knoxville, with little squawking in between.

We're here visiting my dad, his wife Hilary and, once in a while, my oldest son Christopher. Tomorrow Christopher is taking David with him to the early UT football practice, at which they're doing something tomorrow that's apparently well-known around these parts, something called the "Tennessee Drill" - they were actually talking about it on the sports talk radio as we rumbled into town. Must be special.

Aside from that excitement, we'll probably be having a pleasant, quiet time visiting, going to the pool, with maybe a round of golf for David and a trip to the zoo for the rest of us.

A reader wants to know if anyone's ever heard of an groups/associations of atheists who are also opposed to artificial means of contraception. Anyone? Anyone?
Peter Steinfels on Garry Wills at Commonweal.

If the "I" in Why I Am a Catholic remains obscure, so does the "Catholic." That is not to accuse Wills of being a heretic, merely to point out that he has still left unanswered the obvious question raised by the fact that non-Catholic Christians also affirm the creed.

An excellent review.

A reader writes that in contemplating the conflict between Thomas a Becket and Henry II, particularly in light of the current mess, she finds herself sympathizing with the king...any thoughts?
I've posted some thoughts on the often (IMHO) unjustly-maligned Brother Sun, Sister Moon over at HMS Blog
Good stuff from Jonathon Yardley on the UNC-Islam controversy
From the LATimes (LRR) Story of an agitating sister

Larkin is a Sister of Social Service, a professional social worker and a senior organizer for L.A. Metro Strategy, which teaches concerned members of churches, schools and community centers how to make allies of local leaders who can then help them improve their neighborhoods.Some of her latest students, 100 or so organizers in training from cities around the Southwest, filled the back rows of chairs set up on the center's playground. Larkin, 52, is teaching them to launch community gatherings like the one they have come here to observe.She winced at the suggestion that she deserves any credit. "I show people how to exercise their own power, to organize themselves and confront injustice," she said. "They get the credit. All I do is identify talent and mentor people. It's all about relationships."

From the Chicago Tribune: (LRR) Cardinal George supports orders' rights to make their own policy, but carps.

Cardinal Francis George said Sunday he supported the right of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men to set a different policy on how to deal with priests who sexually abuse children than one U.S. bishops adopted in Dallas.The leaders of orders such as Franciscans and Jesuits, who are not governed by bishops, announced Saturday that they would remove abusive clergy from public ministry, but could keep them in the priesthood and living in their religious communities.During the weekend meeting in Philadelphia, Rev. Canice Connors, president of the conference, criticized the bishops' zero-tolerance policy, which he said made all priests who abuse children seem unredeemable."It would have been nice to know that before Dallas," said George, defending the bishops' policy, which was approved in June.

Uncharitable? A reader accuses me of such in a comment on the San Jose Windows on the Confessional article. Because I'm cynical about the motivations of a bishop? Okay, call me uncharitable. Maybe I am. But anyone who's worked for an organization of any time in this modern age knows how many decisions (no more monkey bars in the playground....etc) are motivated by insurance concerns. You also know how many pro forma decisions are made, putting employees through hoops like sexual harrassment workshops and so on, not because anyone believes any good will come of it, but simply so the organization can point to a piece of paper, if threatened, and say, "See...we have a policy!"
Our least favorite children's writer (along with Judy Blume, of course) makes the decent point that literature should have meaning, but doesn't see that when you preach that God is Dead to kiddies, you're heaping another layer of earth on the possibility of anyone caring about or being able to understand meaning:

Philip Pullman Explains it All

Pullman, 55, won this year's Whitbread book award for the final instalment of the His Dark Materials trilogy, in which he created a parallel universe ruled by a senile, viciously sadistic deity who has to be deposed in battle so the inhabitants can join with angels in creating a "republic of heaven". The Catholic Herald called his books "the stuff of nightmares" and "worthy of the bonfire". Another critic cautioned: "Christian parents beware." Pullman, who writes for children but shuns the category, "children's author", is only outsold by JK Rowling's Harry Potter series and has a vast adult readership. Keen to tackle received ideas on religion, he recently called CS Lewis's highly Christian Narnia books "blatantly racist" and "monumentally disparaging of children". Such is his hatred of domineering, organised religion, he has become something of an evangelical atheist. During a debate on morality in fiction at the Edinburgh international books festival at the weekend, Pullman warned that in the climate of threatened attacks on Iraq and the crisis in the Middle East, we live in a Godless and uncertain age, and unless writers wrestled with the larger questions of moral conduct, they would become useless and irrelevant.

Here's my take on Pullman

Walter Sullivan gives up; admits he's not a detective, asks the law to help investigate an abuse accusation.
Yesterday (August 11) was the memorial of St. Clare of Assisi, founder of the Poor Clares, companion of St. Francis and patron of television.

Yes, she was declared so in 1958 by Pope Pius XII, and here's why:

On Christmas night she saw the Mass in the Basilica of St Francis although she was more than a mile away, too ill to rise from her bed. So clear was the vision that the next day she could name the friars present at the celebration. For this last miracle she has become the patron of Television.

here's an interesting contemporary painting of St. Clare as patron of television

For some reason, Sts. Gabriel and Martin de Porres are also patrons of television, but I don't know why.

George Neumayr on the "Stem Cell Challenge"

Intel Corp. Chairman Andy Grove kicked off the "Stem Cell Challenge" last week. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Grove is offering a $5 million grant to the University of California-San Francisco to conduct research on the stem cells of destroyed embryos and finance "studies that can't be conducted with federal funding."....What does "creating new stem cell lines" mean? It means killing 2-week-old embryos. But so what? says Grove. He dismisses moral objections to this research with the breezy rejoinder that "outlawing research is something you associate with medieval times, not something you associate with the 21st century."

From the LATimes (LRR) LA Archdiocese experiencing financial woes.


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