Wednesday, October 30

I apologize for the putzy comments system. I will probably be shifting over to another system - not today, but tomorrow. So get busy and save your greatest hits, if you like. If you can access them.
Results of Vatican-US work on Charter to be revealed and discussed at Bishop's meeting in November

Pope John Paul's spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement that the special eight-member commission met Monday and Tuesday and would present suggestions at the U.S. Episcopal conference in Washington on Nov. 11-14.The proposals, once passed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, would have to return to the Vatican for final approval, he said.

Some have asked me where I stand in the great Shea-Dreher What's the Pope Up To debate.

Didn't we do this before? A couple of times?

Briefly, because I have columns to write and a daughter to haul to the orthodontist.

First, I don't know. I could theorize all day, but the fact is, I don't know what the Pope is up to,and neither does anyone else.

But this brings another thought to mind. Isn't it too bad that we can't just ask him? I don't mean me or you, but isn't it too bad, in this age of communication, accessibility and ..uh...transparency, that an intrepid reporter or wily young seminarian from the North American College can't find access to the Holy Father and...just...ask? To me, that is a question that holds as much importance as the former. Why must the highest levels of Church governance still be swathed in such medieval, monarchist mystery? This is a pressing question that is driving some people quietly mad and others not so quietly to the edges of faith. We're not looking for Question Time here, nor an American-style press conference. But, if you think about this rationally, it sort of boggles the mind that we have to sit around and tease apart the mystery of this basic aspect of the governance of our Church in this way in this day and age.

And although I don't know what the Pope is up to, I don't find any of the explanations inconceivable. It could be that Mark's right - that he's letting the sinners suffer.

But other people could be right, too. The Pope could be being told that everything's being taken care of, and he trusts that information. It could be that the extent of the problem is being kept from him. It could be that other matters have a priority to him in these last days of his papacy. Who knows?

The next natural question then, is what should he do? Another fun, but irrelevant question, because we're not the Pope. Yes, it impacts our sense of what Church is all about, and specifically the immediate and long-term goals of church governance, and that's good to discuss. But these are not decisions we're making.

What are those decisions? It depends on where you live. Some of us have to decide whether or not to support our predator-protecting diocese financially. I don't think I live in a diocese like that, but if I did, there's no doubt I would direct my contributions elsewhere. We have to decide how to live in our parishes, most of which are desperately short of priests and in great need of laity to step up and embrace the works of mercy. If I lived in a parish staffed by a predator priest, I'd have to make a decision about that - and Nap-followers know what that would be. We have to make decisions about how we are going to approach the truth of the situation. Are we going to turn from the endless stories of protection of abusers, or are we going to read them, understand them, and let them inform our decisions about how to deal with our priests and bishops who might be implicated?

I'm not advocating quietism on this issue. Far from it - but I do wonder if this discussion about what the Pope has/should/will do hasn't run its course.

I mean, our bishops are meeting in a couple of weeks. What's on their agenda? Do we need to be making our feelings known about those matters with the hope, however faint, of bringing more light into the Church in our country?

Quick thoughts, gotta go.

Someone asked where one could sample my books online. Good question. In the next week, I'm hoping to redo my main page, including doing a big page dedicated to my books, with information, background and maybe links to a couple of brief sample chapters. Hold me to it.
Madonna offends another religion

In her new video for the Bond theme song “Die Another Day,” Madonna appears with Hebrew words written on her and wearing a sacred Jewish prayer item, says a source.The singer has become deeply involved in Kaballah, a Jewish form of mysticism, but the use of the sacred images is said to be “offending” and “outraging” Jewish leaders, according to various reports. What’s more, women aren’t supposed to use the Jewish prayer she recites, one source told The Scoop. “The Hebrew tattoo she has means fight your pridefulness, your ego,” one source said. “But she also uses a prayer that is intended to be said only by men.”

Cardinal Law meets with victims; begs forgiveness

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, in an emotional encounter with men and women whose lives were shattered by a priest accused of being a serial child molester, last night begged forgiveness from about 75 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters.

Some of the victims cried as they told Law how their lives had been affected by the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham, who is alleged to have molested at least 50 boys over a 29-year career as a priest in the Boston archdiocese. Others expressed anger that the church had failed to oust Birmingham even after parents complained about his behavior.

At one point, when organizers of the session sought to honor people who had lost family members to suicide as a result of abuse by Birmingham, six people stood up.

''This is the first time I ever heard him say publicly he was at fault, and ask forgiveness,'' said Thomas Blanchette, an alleged victim of Birmingham who said afterward that he told a dramatic story about confronting Birmingham at the priest's deathbed about his abusive behavior.

Law, wearing a simple black cassock and sitting at a table in a church basement, appeared contrite and repentant. He spoke for about 10 minutes, and then spent another two hours listening to the stories of abuse victims and their families and answering questions.

''Apology is a weak thing, but I don't know how else to begin,'' he said. ''I beg your forgiveness and I understand that can be a very difficult thing to give because the hurt is so deep, the memory so raw, and the wound so searing.''

Watch who you hire down in Palm Beach.

The former chief financial officer for the Jewish Community Center of the Greater Palm Beaches pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing from the organization and agreed to make nearly $65,000 in restitution over the five years he will be on probation....

Schattie went to work for the JCC in the mid-1990s after allegedly embezzling nearly $400,000 from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach when he worked there as chief financial officer, according to church officials. The diocese didn't seek criminal charges against Schattie in that case, and Schattie agreed to make restitution but has only paid about a one quarter of the money, church officials have said.

The Washington Post looks at Irish-American Catholics and the Archdiocese of Boston:

Connors is not alone in his anger. The Boston archdiocese, with 2 million Catholics, has been torn apart by the scandal. But the quarter of the Boston church that, like Connors, is of Irish descent has been especially affected. This is their crisis, for the most part, and not just because most of the accused priests possess Irish surnames.

With some exceptions, other ethnic Catholics -- including those of Italian descent and newer Haitian, Latino and Asian immigrants -- appear less mobilized around the scandal. Many remain loyal to Law, who is known for his advocacy for immigrants and the poor. Irish American Catholics, in contrast, are leading the charge against their church in the places it can hurt most -- the courts, the legislature, the press and the collection plate....

Sen. Marian Walsh, an abortion rights and anti-death penalty Democrat who used to meet regularly with Law at the chancery and State House, became the first state lawmaker to call for his resignation. She also filed legislation making it a crime to recklessly create -- or fail to alleviate -- a substantial risk of sexual abuse to a child. Observers speculated that the bill, enacted last month, could be used against church supervisors, including the cardinal."We're the stakeholders," said Walsh, who attends Mass daily. "We want the church to have integrity, and we want our children to be safe."

Correction: the last person quoted, Marian Walsh, is not pro-choice. A reader writes with this link and quote:

"Ironically, Walsh had been Law's most steadfast legislative ally on Beacon Hill, siding with him against abortion and the death penalty, and on a host of social justice issues. But Walsh fell out
with the cardinal over his handling of the crisis and was the first state lawmaker to call for his resignation. "

Geez. Get it right, boys and girls of the press....


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