Wednesday, August 21

Tampa's Big Priest on Campus, Monsignor Laurence Higgins, blessed Fidel Castro on a visit to Cuba last month.

Fidel Castro stood with Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and a group of local leaders in the lobby of a government building on Revolutionary Plaza in Havana. Dr. Linda Greco, the wife of Tampa's mayor, turned to Tampa's most prominent clergyman, Monsignor Laurence Higgins. "Monsignor," she said, "bless the president there before we leave." ...After Mrs. Greco's suggestion, Higgins and Castro looked at each other. Castro, who understands English, nodded his head and said: "Yes." Knowing that Castro was raised Catholic and attended Jesuit schools, Higgins told him: "I will bless you in the native language that you were brought up in." Castro bowed his head. Higgins placed both hands on top of Castro's head and began to pray in Latin: "May God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit descend upon you and bless you. Amen." ...So how does a monsignor from Tampa end up blessing a man who confiscated church property and once shipped a bishop and 130 clergymen out of his country? An expert on Cuban history says the answer is simple: Castro is 76 years old. "There's an amount of nostalgia going on in his life at this point," said Ann Louise Bardach, who has interviewed Castro twice and whose second book on Cuba, Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana, comes out in October. "He's now old. He needs all the allies he can get." But Bardach didn't think he would go so far as to bow his head for a blessing. "Who knows what (Castro) was doing or thinking," she said. "Prayer seems to me a decidedly un-Castro activity."

You've probably heard about the Holy Land Experience in Orlando - an attraction based on Bible places and people, natch. They've opened a new section called The Scriptorium , described in this Orlando Sentinel piece.

Modeled on a Byzantine basilica, the Scriptorium from the outside seems plucked from medieval Constantinople, which is no coincidence.The shimmering, two-story, copper-colored building was designed by Itek, a special-effects company that has done work for the larger Central Florida theme parks. From start to finish, the Scriptorium experience will be familiar to anyone who has visited a Disney attraction, starting with guides, called "greeters" -- young men and women dressed in monks' robes. Inside the Scriptorium, 13 "stations" trace the arduous evolution of sacred writings from divine inspiration to mass production. Artifacts run the gamut from Babylonian clay tablets called cuneiform, Egyptian papyrus leaves and ancient biblical scrolls, to fragments of Gutenberg's Bible and John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, displayed in a re-creation of Bunyan's jail cell, with the original key nearby. All are from the collection of the late Robert Van Kampen, who made his fortune on Wall Street.

Do you think there's a diorama of the Council of Laodicea? or Rome? or Hippo? Or any of the church councils at which the content of the canon was determined?

Art dealers suing Thomas Kinkade, claiming market saturation and collapsed businesses.
Suddenly, there's a sense of the sacramental serious music.

But for all its secularism, the West has lately seen an outpouring of musical works that are deeply rooted in the power of traditional religious (and mostly Christian) rituals, symbols, and narratives. Music that finds its inspiration in the divine, and in human ways of relating to it, is becoming increasingly prominent on the musical landscape.Perhaps none of these has garnered so much attention as Osvaldo Golijov's ''La pasion segun San Marcos'' (''The Passion According to St. Mark''). The piece - a brilliant, boundary-shattering work involving music and dance - was given its American premiere by the Boston Symphony Orchestra last year to an ecstatic reception. Thursday the BSO again performs the work, under the direction of Robert Spano, in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood.At the same time that the BSO first played Golijov's ''Pasion,'' the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra was giving the world premiere of ''The Revelation of St. John,'' by the young Swiss composer Daniel Schnyder. And just prior to these came John Adams's successful ''El Nino,'' a fully staged oratorio that tells a kind of modernized version of the Nativity story.The irony behind this sudden surge of sacred music is that music's relation to the institution of the church seems never to have been weaker. None of these works was produced for liturgical use; instead, they go straight into the secular music world.Additionally, relatively little of the great church music of the past or present is heard with any regularity in a church setting. (Boston's Emmanuel Church, which presents a Bach cantata every Sunday, is a notable exception, and other churches make efforts to keep the tradition alive.)

If you're wondering why I myself have not yet personally commented on Rod Dreher's WSJ piece, it's because I've not read it yet. It just arrived in my emailbox, so I will take time to digest and respond later, with nods to what's being said over at Mark Shea's joint as well.

Just a preliminary thought, however - for some reason, in just reading your responses to the piece, Garry Wills keeps popping into my head. Not literally, thank goodness - (pick up a print version of TNR and catch the caricature of Wills that accompanies Woods' review - nice holy card, there.) - but the discussion about the pope, his role, and how we expect him to fulfill it. Wills says the Pope does too much, Dreher says not enough. ...let's sort it out.

Disturbing news about two of the bishops' consultants on sexual abuse: McHugh of the Review Board and Dr. Fred Berlin, an advisor on the issue.

The bishops recently chose Dr. Paul McHugh, former chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, as chief behavioral scientist for their new clergy sex crimes review board. Yet Dr. McHugh once said Johns Hopkins' Sexual Disorders Clinic, which treats molesters, was justified in concealing multiple incidents of child rape and fondling to police, despite a state law requiring staffers to report them

Dr. Berlin co-founded the Hopkins sex clinic with Dr. Money, the Kinsey follower. Yet, it was Dr. Berlin whom the Catholic bishops of the United States chose to be their chief adviser on child sexual abuse. They even had him speak at their annual meeting in Dallas in June and showcased him for the media.

Here's an interview with Dr. Berlin from the USCCB site

VOTF has competition: It's called "Faithful Voice", and here's an article about it from the Boston Herald

Here's a link to their website.

Funny....I don't see the issue of clerical sexual abuse mentioned anywhere on the site.

A nice profile of Catholic radio talk show host Al Kresta
Law's classmates dispute his account.. of his memories of seminary.

In a sworn deposition released a week ago, Bernard Cardinal Law said he was unaware of sexual misconduct by priests until 1973, when he first heard of charges against his former seminary schoolmate and fellow Mississippi priest George Broussard.``It wasn't on my radar screen,'' he said to questions by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who is suing the Archdiocese of Boston on behalf of several families claiming abuse by the Rev. Paul Shanley.But two other men who attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, with Law and Broussard in the late 1950s and early '60s say the school was rocked by a major sex scandal that Law could not possibly have been unaware of - or forgotten.``He certainly would have known. This was a rather huge incident,'' said Tom Reed of Madison, Wisc., a 1964 Josephinum graduate who served as a clergyman with Law in Mississippi until 1969, when he left the priesthood.``It was revealed one of the faculty members, (the Rev.) David Heimann, was discovered to have been running a sex ring with high school boys. Afterward, he just immediately disappeared,'' Reed said.

Blogs of the Stars

None of them sound half as interesting as any one of us at St. Blogs!


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