Tuesday, September 10

A field in Pennsylvania becomes hallowed ground

"Something happened, and in Shanksville, they can touch it in a special way," said the Rev. Alphonse T. Mascherino, a Catholic priest who bought a nearby 100-year-old parish church in disrepair and rechristened it the UAL Flight 93 Memorial Chapel. "I mean, look at it, it's idyllic here, but this is not just a quiet drive on a Sunday afternoon for these people. They deliberately seek this out, they're not just tourists anymore. Something in their hearts draws them."

Peggy Noonan:

What we are doing is taking a last hard and heartbreaking look at what happened last year. In time we will put the memories away, pack them away in a box with a pair of old gloves, and a citation and a badge, and some clippings and pictures. This is what Emily Dickinson called "the sweeping up the heart." She said it was "the solemnest of industries enacted upon earth."
But before we put it all away, there is a story to remember. There was a glittering city, the greatest in the history of man, a place of wild creativity, of getting, grabbing and selling, of bustle and yearning and greed. It was brutally attacked by a band of primitives. The city reeled. We knew what to expect: The selfish, heartless city-dwellers would trample children in their path as they raced for safety, they'd fight for the lifeboats like the wealthy on the Titanic. It didn't happen. It wasn't that way at all. They were better than they knew! They saved each other--they ran to each other's aid, they died comforting strangers.

Federal Appeals Court rules in favor of Bible Club

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a school district violated a Bible club leader's rights by refusing to give her club the same status and benefits granted to other school groups. The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's dismissal of a complaint filed four years ago by Tausha Prince, then a sophomore at Spanaway Lake High School, about 35 miles south of Seattle.

The Michigan Catholic Conference issues an "election view."

It's a good statement, highlighting the abortion as the "pre-eminent threat to human dignity" that it is. Ms. Granholm? Comments?

BTW, it's a pdf document, requiring Adobe Reader.

A story about a widowed retiree who will be joining the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Some people approaching retirement might consider going back to school or embarking on a new career path. Raymond Noble, a noted attorney and Princeton Borough resident, will heed a different call — he joined the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal on Sunday.He will trade business suits for a simple gray robe, and use a sleeping bag on the floor. Instead of legal policy meetings consuming his day, Mr. Noble will devote six hours a day to prayer."Despite sounding like an austere group, with the sleeping on the floor, which is true, it's quite a joyful group and a very solid group with a variety of backgrounds," Mr. Noble said during a telephone interview from New Mexico, where he was visiting family members.....Begun with only with eight men, the Franciscans Friars, with 100 members now, has just launched a group in Honduras. The order, which honors Saint Francis of Assisi, is devoted to helping the poor. The friary, based in Harlem, offers a food pantry, a youth center and medical and dental clinics, he said. Mr. Noble would like to start a legal clinic for the poor. "Any way I can provide service to the poor using the talents I have, I would be delighted," he said. Mr. Noble will spend the first six months at St. Joseph's friary in Harlem, after which he will take his first vows and assume another name. After four years, Mr. Noble will take his final vows as a monk, formally committing himself to a religious life.... Before entering the friary, Mr. Noble's last task was to move his youngest daughter to college for her freshman year.

Remember...for good news about the many good priests who work with, for and among us, go here.
Two articles on Orthodox-Roman Catholic tensions in Russia:

In the NYTimes (LRR), the focus is the stalled construction of a Catholic church:

On a gentle bend in the Pskova River, near the center of this city steeped in religious history, the skeletal brick walls of a new cathedral rise unfinished, shrouded in wooden scaffolding and mired in the deepening tensions between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches.Pskov's small group of Roman Catholics began building the church two years ago, but the regional government unexpectedly halted construction in April, citing discrepancies in its blueprints and other documents. Although officials have described the problem as purely a technical one, their decision came a month after Pskov's Orthodox leader, Archbishop Yevsevy, wrote to local leaders and President Vladimir V. Putin protesting the Catholic Church's "aggression" and "expansionist goals" in Russia."Taking advantage of the fruits of our current democracy, the enemies of our state are preparing a new expansion of Catholicism, which on the territory of Russia always resulted in war," the archbishop wrote......The Rev. Ioann Mukhanov, the Orthodox priest at Holy Trinity Cathedral here and the secretary of the diocese council, denied that there were tensions with the Catholics but acknowledged that church officials had registered protests with the local authorities to halt construction.He then listed a series of grievances against the new church — from its size to its name, which is also to be Holy Trinity — and against the Catholic presence in Russia generally. Echoing complaints from Orthodox officials across Russia, he accused the Catholic Church of proselytizing, seeking converts among orphans, among others. "It's obvious," he said, "that they are planning to interfere with children of our Orthodox families." Not all among the Orthodox clerics are so adamant. The Rev. Andrei Davydov, the priest at the Cathedral of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist and a renowned iconographer, has offered to paint the altar of the new Catholic Church. "All these frictions are mixed with politics," Father Andrei said as he interrupted work on a new fresco in his church, built in the 12th century. "On both sides, it's not as simple as it seems. It's very old, and it cannot be settled overnight."

And from MSNBC, a look at Russia's new habit of expelling foreign Catholic priests which might mean, some fear, eventually almost all of them:

“It’s very sad because we could be left soon with no priests,” said Viktor Khrull, press secretary of Russia’s leading Catholic, Archbishop Taduesz Kondrusiewicz, who is currently out of the country. “All of our priests are foreign for the moment, since there are no Catholic seminaries in Russia yet. If someone is trying to impinge on the rights of Catholics, then he has chosen the best tactic, because we can’t do anything about it. Everything is done legitimately because any government can refuse to grant a visa or not extend a visa to a foreigner, without an explanation.”

Declining membership in urban churches? Not just a Catholic problem.

If you look at the membership curves of 150-year-old churches in urban neighborhoods, they're all pretty much identical," said Erwin Goedicke, pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Northside. Membership peaked in the 1950s at urban churches before industry and whites fled the inner cities and moved to suburban locations, Goedicke said.
That was what happened at Madison Avenue Baptist. At its peak in 1958, the church had 1,165 members and was a regional leader in number of baptisms and new members. Attendance started falling sharply in the mid-1980s, Bishop said, as members moved to the suburbs. The 145-year-old church now is in the worst shape it has ever been in, Bishop said, without enough money to even pay a pastor.

Do not shoot the messenger

She's armed.

Look, I take no pleasure on reporting this stuff, but I do think it's important to be informed. In no way are these reports intended to shape our sense of what the contemporary priesthood is like today, except to suggest that it's troubled and needs help, prayers and support.

Delray priest arrested for soliciting a supposed minor over the internet

A 43-year-old Catholic priest was arrested after he arrived at the beach for a sexual rendezvous with a 14-year-old boy, police said Tuesday.The Rev. Elias Francisco Guimaraes, parochial vicar of Our Lady Queen of Peace Mission on Atlantic Avenue in west Delray, was charged with computer pornography and resisting arrest. He’d worked at the church less than two years.Police said the arrest followed a sting operation set up by a Delray Beach juvenile cop over the Internet. The police officer posed as a 14-year-old and said he was solicited for sexual favors – oral sex – by a man using e-mail. The two arranged a meeting at the beach, police said. Both described to each other what they would be wearing.The priest was arrested when he showed up at the rendezvous site in black shorts, white T-shirt and no underwear. He struggled with officers, police said, until he was warned an electric Taser gun would be used to subdue him if he didn’t stop.

Good God. Put some pants on, man.

I don't know anything about this guy - whether he was trained in the States, is a recent immigrant...it doesn't matter, does it? He's a priest. He's a priest ministering in a country in which priests are under a microscope for sexual misconduct. Not only is he morally challenged, he is apparently stupid as well.

Don't shoot the messenger:

And yes, since it's a television news report, it's sketchy, (and doubtless 50% breathless localnewshypespeak) but I'm sure there will be more to come:

The latest from the Arlington "We're more Orthodox than you" diocese.

Update Oh, commenters, relax. I'm writing this from my comfortable seat in the Fort Wayne-South Bend "Hola! May we close your church?" Diocese, having recently moved from the Orlando "We build churches from Target" Diocese, which is just northwest of the Palm Beach "I hope you did a background check on this one" Diocese, and just east of the St. Petersburg "Uh...not another triathlete?" Diocese. Equal opportunity cheap shots all round, free of charge. As Nancy Nall said once in response to an accusation "What is this, take potshots at the Amish week?" ....Why, yes...I believe it is.

And the other news is - I'd go to Mass in any of those diocese, gripe to my husband about whatever irks me, recognize that I'm more the problem than anything else, and work harder at focusing on Christ. Further, if I were sitting between Joseph Sobran and Andrew Sullivan at any of those Masses, I'd be grateful and amused and wouldn't feel the urge to excommunicate any of us. Can you say the same?

Although if Jennifer Granholm were there...I dunno...I really don't.

PMS outburst complete. Why yes...I believe it is...

A Washington Times article about prayer and medicine

For several local doctors who have contributed to the literature, the part that faith and prayer play in healing is unquestioned. Both Dr. Christina Puchalski at George Washington University and Dr. Dale Matthews, formerly of Georgetown University, have written extensively on the subject, and will on occasion pray with patients as part of the healing process."As a doctor, I attempt to enter into each patient's way of looking at the world," Dr. Matthews writes in a 1999 paperback, "The Faith Factor," published by Penquin Books. "If I want a good relationship with my patient, I must understand his or her worldview and incorporate his or her vocabulary and viewpoints into our discussions."Prayer can be part of such discussions, he says.The two doctors are part of an expanding movement in the medical field, helped along by the existence of several key research institutes and foundations. Among them are the George Washington Institute For Spirituality and Health (GWish), led by Dr. Puchalski; Duke University's Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health, under the direction of Dr. Harold Koenig; and Boston's Mind/Body Medical Institute, whose founder and president is Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard University Medical School.

A very, very interesting column on VOTF which features the unusual: people speaking forthrightly. The columnist wishes to see VOTF move more to the left, and isn't coy about it, which is helpful.

We begin with Marquette's own pro-abortion Daniel McGuire saying this about Deborah Haffner:

McGuire said he was amazed that after its smash-hit July convention, VOTF tried to distance itself from an invited convention speaker: Debra Haffner, sex educator, author, seminarian and co-director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing in Norwalk www.religiousinstitute.org). "The fact that they would [disavow] a great Christian like Debra Haffner indicates that they don't have the right spirit for serious reform," McGuire said.

Then VOTF president Jim Post clarifies his clarification:

In an interview Monday, Post said he has since clarified his remarks in a telephone conversation with Haffner. The clarification? "The clarification is that Debra Haffner did nothing wrong. What we did was wrong. We shouldn't have put her in the position of being attacked by people who really wanted to take a whack at us," Post said. "We were not as cognizant as we should have been about the political context. We didn't have the kind of guidelines we needed to have in place in terms of designing the program."

Political context. Not - truth of Catholic teaching. Not fidelity to Christ. Political context.

Then the lady herself (a Unitarian minister) offers an interesting observation:

The conference inspired a recent sermon she gave, asking, "What is the hold of this cradle religion upon its members, and what if anything do we have to offer our own members that would be as compelling?" It also inspired her to take out her checkbook and write out a rather sizable donation to Voice of the Faithful - sizable for a seminarian who paid her own way to Boston and is earning only a part-time salary.

News about Fulton Sheen from the source - his hometown of Peoria:

Bishop Jenky reflects on the importance of Archbishop Sheen

The decision on what to watch on TV Tuesday nights in the 1950s was easy to make in the Jenky household. Forget Milton Berle. Turn on Fulton J. Sheen.Now Bishop Daniel Jenky will be able to personally encourage and promote the cause of Sheen's sainthood. Jenky, head of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, announced Monday that the diocese officially has asked the Vatican for permission to oversee the cause for sainthoodf or Sheen. Monsignor Richard Soseman of the diocese delivered the papers in Rome on Monday. ....Jenky said Sheen's extensive achievements and works also could prolong the process of investigation into his life and teachings. The Vatican's Cause for Congregation of Saints looks at all known writings of a person while considering them for sainthood. In Sheen's case, that job will be enormous. It will include not only his books and other writings, but also probably transcripts of his radio and television programs. "If you want to be a saint, don't write a lot," Jenky said to laughter at the news conference. "Get martyred or live a short, heroic life."

Suit against ex-bishop O'Connell dismissed

A judge has dismissed the suit of a man who claimed that he was sexually abused by former Palm Beach, Fla., Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell and that church officials in Kansas City, Jefferson City and Knoxville, Tenn., covered it up for decades.On Monday, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Mark D. Seigel said the clock had run out on the civil conspiracy, racketeering and sexual abuse suit by the former seminarian at St. Thomas Seminary in Hannibal, Mo. Attorneys Patrick Noaker and Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul, Minn., say they now will take the case to the Missouri Court of Appeals. Still pending in Marion County Circuit Court in Hannibal are suits by two other seminarians, who also say they were abused by O'Connell.

Good words for Christian film critics from the Lexington Herald-Leader


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