Monday, September 2

George Neumayr writes a paean to Cardinal Mahony and the new Cathedral..

Oh wait. That was another George Neumayr. This one continues to open veins:

San Francisco has an equally confusing cathedral. It looks like a modern appliance. But at least people find it accessible. Not so with Mahony's new cathedral. "It is hard to get to," says Architect Frank Gehry.But Mahony hopes to correct this little problem by asking taxpayers to build a new highway ramp. That should cost around $25 million.The cathedral does, however, offer validation at its paid parking garage for mass goers. For others, parking will cost $2.50 for the first 25 minutes.

The Poncer Blog has good thoughts on saints, faith and mental health.
Carl Olsen has written a good essay on the recent and controversial statement on the Catholic stance towards Judaism and evangelization
An AP story about the LA Cathedral dedication:

The cathedral is Spanish architect Rafael Moneo's postmodern interpretation of California's original Spanish missions, including sloping floors, high ceilings and muted tapestries that depict saints and worshipers.Bill Scott, a county employee who has watched the cathedral rise on a hill overlooking the traffic-choked Hollywood Freeway, said he doesn't know what to make of it. "It doesn't look like a church," he said. "It looks more like a fortress . . . or a prison." Max DeMoss, a Riverside artist who created a number of pieces for the cathedral, agreed with the fortress description but said he also gets "a sense of exhilaration as I approach it."

For scads of photos, click here.

Man involved in Opie and Andy stunt may face jail time in VA, as well: he was on probation.
Pope wants halt to all wars during 2004 Olympics in Athens.

He also asked the Greek government to accord legal status to the RC Church:

The Roman Catholic Church is similarly not recognized as a legal entity in Greece and doesn't have the right to buy and sell property or be represented in the court system. The Orthodox Church of Greece, on the other hand, is recognized as a legal entity. The European Court of Human Rights in December 1997 found Greece at fault for not according legal status to the Roman Catholic Church in Greece. The pope referred to the legal issue in his comments to the new ambassador. "I seize this occasion to draw attention to your government of the necessity to give — thanks to a constructive dialogue among those concerned — a legal status to the Catholic Church."

More on the Jennifer Granholm problem from the Detroit Free Press

Granholm, the state's attorney general, belongs to Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Plymouth. For months, abortion opponents have greeted parishioners with graphic signs condemning her. In campaign appearances, Granholm describes herself as "100-percent pro-choice." While she has said she is personally opposed to abortion, she also doesn't believe in imposing those views on others. .....As for the protesters, Richard Laskos, another spokesman for the archdiocese, said they should channel their energy toward working for a candidate they agree with rather than waging a negative campaign against one they don't.

Bridgeport Bishop punishes two priests who kept silent about fugitive priest's whereabouts.

The Rev. David W. Howell, of St. Joseph Parish in South Norwalk, and the Rev. Gerald T. Devore, of St. Maurice Parish in Stamford, were temporarily stripped of their duties and ordered confined to religious houses outside the diocese. There, for a period yet to be determined, they are to follow strict regimens of reflection, prayer and penance - a punishment considered the harshest possible under church law, a diocesan spokesman said.I am gravely disappointed," said Lori, who has publicly claimed several times that he hoped the missing priest, the Rev. Laurence F.X. Brett, would be found and brought to justice. "The pastors' actions violated diocese policy, he said, and threatened to undermine "the trust of the faithful in their pastors and in the church itself."The sanctions followed a Courant report last week that Brett, accused of molesting more than two dozen children and young men in four states, has been living on St. Maarten. While in hiding, Brett maintained contact with a handful of friends from his days as a clergyman - including Howell and, though he was not named in the story, Devore. In an interview last week, Howell denied knowing Brett's whereabouts. Devore was not available for comment.But during subsequent interviews with diocesan officials, Howell and Devore admitted that they knew Brett's whereabouts and expressed remorse. Under church law, failing to divulge that information constitutes disloyalty to the bishop and is considered a "moral failing," diocesan spokesman Joseph McAleer said.

From the LATimes (LRR) a critique (and a real one, this time) of the artwork in the new cathedral

The path begins with the mundane beauties of the street outside and arrives at a dynamic, radiant space within the cathedral. At journey's end, an enormous concrete cross thrusts into the church interior, visually projected through a translucent membrane of glowing alabaster. The cross is at once symbolic and structural.The three art commissions denote this voyage. A plaza fountain and waterfall by painter and installation artist Lita Albuquerque (in collaboration with architect Robert Kramer) indicate a spiritual presence outside the church. Sculptor Robert Graham's enormous bronze doors mark the dramatic start of the pilgrimage. Painter John Nava's gathering of tapestry saints in the nave shows what happens at its completion.But the difference between Moneo's design and the artists' is the difference between the physical embodiment of abstract ideas and a textual representation of them. The art reflects the stylistic pluralism of international art. But it also clings to a failed idea in 1980s multiculturalism--one that reduces art's subject to a simplistic description of audience diversity.

Good words for the figure of Mary, though..

High above, standing on a golden plinth before a curved golden wall, a figurative sculpture represents Our Lady of the Angels--the newest New World Mary. Larger than life, she's dressed in a Japanese-style robe, arms open in a gesture of welcome. The style is a graceful blend of focused realism and idealization. Mary's a forceful Everywoman, which emphasizes her humanity, but she's monumental too.The design's most compelling feature is a cone-shaped cut made through the curved wall behind her. Looking up, you see the lower portion of the cone as a projection that becomes the crescent moon beneath Mary's feet--a common symbol of her divinity. The cone's angle continues in diagonal lines cut into the huge bronze doors. This pattern is a graphic signifier of radiance, but it's too flimsy to overcome the austere massiveness of all that dark bronze.The upper portion of the cone cuts through the golden wall behind Mary, forming her halo. The mystical ring of light is created by vivid blue sky. Graham has daringly borrowed this idea from no less than Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper," where Jesus' head is framed with a painted "halo" of sky. But Graham makes the concept real, not an illusion, reinventing a stale spiritual symbol through ephemeral natural beauty. The effect is magical.

And then...

There's something almost Victorian at work in the cathedral's art program--Mary as a fresh-faced girl, who's just stepped off Venice Beach and pulled her hair back into a braid; a procession of saints who range from John the Baptist in lion skins to the kid on your street who's a skateboard fanatic. The art smuggles allegory back into Moneo's modern architecture, from which it had been banished.This is where Vosko's program gets shallow, departing drastically from Moneo's complex lead. Nava's multiethnic processional, Graham's multi-paneled New World doors and Albuquerque's fountain of 37 languages simply aspire to document the Catholic community in all its manifold variety.But art is never great simply because it represents community. Instead, art is great when it creates community--when it acts as a galvanizing force, bringing the infinite diversity of human beings together in a cross-cultural act of astonishment and love. Passage through Moneo's carefully articulated spaces physically embodies spiritual mysteries associated with life, death and transcendence. With the exception of Graham's evocative halo, which works much like Moneo's concrete cross piercing an alabaster membrane, the art is stuck in allegorical representations of them.The result is self-defeating. If you already believe, the art is superficial. If you don't, there isn't much to see.


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