Tuesday, September 3

First new cathedral in 30 years?

Don't tell that to the people in Dodge City:

That claim is rattling some nerves in Dodge City, Kan., where a new Catholic cathedral was dedicated nine months ago. "Most of my priests just shake their heads and wonder where the news services are getting their information," said a befuddled Bishop Ronald Gilmore. The newly built Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe — with its copper roof that seems to rise above the surrounding plains — is the seat of Gilmore's 49-parish Catholic Diocese of Dodge City. Mahony, who was among those attending Our Lady of Guadalupe's Dec. 9, 2001, dedication, said it doesn't fit his definition of a cathedral. "I was there and it was very nice," Mahony recalled Monday after presiding over a three-hour dedication Mass at his modernist downtown Los Angeles cathedral. "It was built primarily to be a parish and they designated it to be a cathedral as well."


Lawsuit against one Boston priest dropped

This one had been unraveling almost since the beginning:

A former altar boy who alleged that a high-ranking church official molested him in the 1980s withdrew his lawsuit today after questions arose about the validity of his claims.Monsignor Michael Smith Foster, the chief canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Boston, said he was eager for the archdiocese to reinstate him and help restore his reputation....Edwards had said that Cummings raped him during an overnight trip to New York City with the Catholic Youth Organization at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish of Newton in 1982.But adults and chaperones who went on the outing said it was a day trip. Also, archdiocesan records indicate Cummings was not assigned to the Our Lady parish until a year later.

On the whole "starkness" thing.

There's "stark" and there's...well..."stark."

Of course, simplicity is at the core of much of what we would find in a Cistercian or Carthusian abbey. The purpose of such a life, of such a community, is to turn from all but God. The very word "monastic" denotes simplicity, plainess, a focus on only what's necessary and what's most important.

But what I see, again, from a distance, in the LA Cathedral, as well in many modern churches is plainness that expresses, not a focus on God alone, but something else: possibly a disdain for traditional modes of Catholic iconography (and yes, Virginia, such disdain exists in the liturgical professional community); a lack of imagination; a process of church-building that is, for all of our surveys and listening sessions, oddly distant from the community building it, eager to use that community's money, but reluctant to ferret out that community's gifts, which surely must be there as surely as they were in medieval communities; and, finally, what I blogged on below, a fundamental dis-ease with announcing the Good News of Who God is - Creator, Lover, Healer, Sustainer, Joyful...Beauty.

Simple and plain can be quite lovely, particularly when light is well-used. And perhaps such is the case with LA. Or not. We'll see.

I'm still up for the Drinking Game, but this is fun, too..from Domenico:

I thought I'd seen it all, but here's a new one: The Feast of San Gennaro presented by Precious Cheese. That's right, it's a Catholic feast day with an official corporate sponsor. Okay, it's not as bad as all that. In fact, it's a traditional New York street festival being transplanted to the West Coast by some cheese company. Of course, it does bring to mind some verse about pearls and swine.But, if this does takes off, just think of all the possibilities: The Feast of St. Anthony presented by Gingko Biloba.....The Feast of St. John the Baptist presented by Orkin and Little Bee Honey

That's the ticket. How about:

The Feast of St. Agatha, sponsored by Maidenform.

The Feast of St. Lawrence, sponsored by Char-Broil.

The Feast of St. Lucy, sponsored by Lenscrafters.

This could get really, really bad.

Our neighbors are re-doing one of their bathrooms, mostly themselves. Their old bathtub sat on the corner for about a week, waiting for the trash. Their new bathtub has been sitting on the lawn for about four days now, waiting for installation. One afternoon, the wife spent some time sitting in it, chatting with a friend. I guess they have another shower or something..somewhere in the house. Haven't seen them under the hose any time recently.

I share the scene, not because I think it's tacky (I don't), but just because it's funny, and they think so too. The only problem....now the tub is covered with a plastic tarp, and it looks uncomfortably like some sort of..crypt. Maybe it will come in handy at Halloween?

A scary little tale

The pastor of a traditionalist parish in Cleveland has been removed.

Viall, 73, was placed on leave July 3 after two families told the diocese and the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services that they had discovered inappropriate photos of minors and that Viall had been providing alcohol to children. Two successful professional men later told prosecutors Viall abused them in the 1950s and '70s. One of them has sued Viall.

Yes, innocent until proven guilty. But here's what's disturbing:

At a weekday Mass in July, the Rev. Sean Donnelly added his own prayer of the faithful that made no mention of abuse victims: "We pray for the speedy return and vindication of Father Viall." At the parish meeting, Sister Rita Mary Harwood, diocesan secretary for parish life and development, and the Rev. Lawrence Jurcak, director of the clergy personnel board, were jeered when they spoke of extending pastoral care to people who have been sexually molested.

I suppose it's time for me to weigh in on the new LA Cathedral. As someone commented below somewhere, it's difficult to assess something like this from a distance, especially such a large space designed to be experienced in a certain way in person, as one walks from the doors to the pews. But....What strikes one from the pictures is the starkness of the place, which is, of course, part and parcel of the modern sensibility. Why? Because we are, even as Church, deeply uncertain about everything and reluctant to hang our hat on the hook called "Truth." This fear ties our hands. We are afraid to impose, afraid to offend, afraid to ascertain anything as true and worth communicating to others, present and future. So we are left with starkness, broken only by artwork that expresses our ethnic and cultural diversity. We don't know who God is, and even if we do, we are afraid to tell the world anything interesting or compelling about Him, so we build a Church that expresses exactly that.

That said...I like the tapestries - the idea of them, and a great part of the execution of them, except for the lack of color. I'm not an architect, so I can't begin to declare how one designs a large Catholic church that is more than a museum, speaks to the real needs of the present and expresses the Truth of faith, but I'm not sure this is it - variety of line and color, for heaven's sake...the place seems cold to me, but perhaps that's just because I'm not there.

It's high time for any LA-area bloggers (do we have any?) or readers to check the place out and report...preferably of a Mass in the Cathedral, and what that's like.

Terrible story from Oregon, where a man raped two nuns and killed one. Note that he had just left a strip club. Harmless pursuit, eh? I am a little confused by the identification of the nuns' order and their affiliation, though. I'm not sure what that means.
From LA: (LRR):

The architect reflects on the cathedral


The Cathedral is dedicated:

A climatic moment came midway through the service, when the building was liturgically transformed into a cathedral. What had, according to tradition, been a mere building, was made holy in the next few minutes as Mahony, wearing a linen apron tied with cardinal red apron strings, liberally poured aromatic chrism—holy oil—on the square, seven-ton, burgundy-colored altar of Turkish marble that he designed. He then spent several minutes spreading the oil over the surface with his bare palm.Minutes later, five Los Angeles auxiliary bishops and the archdiocese's vicar general fanned out through the congregation with bowls of holy oil and stained the cathedral walls, tracing three-foot high crosses beneath 12 bronze and silver angels as a sign of baptism. The stains are expected to be noticeable for months, if not years.In another dramatic moment, thick plumes of incense smoke billowed from a large basin set on the altar and rose almost 10 stories to the cathedral's wood ceiling as a sign of prayers going to heaven. Next, 12 sacred dancers—diminutive Vietnamese nuns in navy blue and white habits—gracefully glided around the altar and through the cathedral with uplifted bowls of burning incense. The dance by the Vietnamese Lovers of the Holy Cross filled the cathedral with the sweet scent of chrism.

Palm Beach finally gets a new bishop

Pope John Paul II named a new bishop for the Palm Beach, Fla., diocese Tuesday, replacing a bishop who resigned in a sex abuse scandal. Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley of Fall River, Mass., will take the Palm Beach post.
He succeeds Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell, who resigned in March after admitting he molested a seminarian more than 25 years ago.
O'Malley, 58, born in Lakewood, Ohio, served as bishop in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, before his transfer to Fall River in 1992.


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