Friday, November 8

My apologies if you've had trouble accessing the real inbetweennaps today. I don't know if some hacking's been going on, but I just changed my password,so I hope there won't be any more trouble.
Salon, naturally enough, has an article fretting about the consequences of Bush's judicial appointments for the holy writ called Roe v. Wade. A reader notes the article, and particularly the photograph accompanying it.

...the photo accompanying this article by Michelle Goldberg seems striking to me -- the left-hand foreground features an unborn child in a posture halfway between reclining against the photo's borders and flailing as if in fear of decisions being made inside the courthouse that looms in the background. This "fetus" is diaphanous, suffused with golden light, and at a stage of development where his/her humanity is, in visual terms, undeniable. I can't help but wonder whether NOW president Kim Gandy, who is quoted in the article as bemoaning the effect that potential Bush appointees might have on "the entire reproductive life" of her 9-year-old daughter, is angered by Salon's choice of such a picture, considering the impact it might have on those whose views on abortion are wavering.

Jeremy Lott has a piece on the ossuary and its implications (if authentic, that is) forCatholic and Orthodox beliefs about Mary's perpetual virginity

In fact, there are actually two orthodox views from antiquity: Jerome's view and the Epiphanian view. The first, held by St. Jerome, translator of the Latin Vulgate, is that listed above. It rests on the belief that, for some reason, every single New Testament writer who mentioned Jesus' "brothers" was unable to make the leap from Aramaic to proper koine ("common") Greek.

The second theory, advanced by Epiphanus of Salamis and believed by most of the Orthodox to this day, is that the "brothers" of Jesus are sons of Joseph by a previous marriage. Prof. McKellar adds that the Epiphanian view, which is found in two early apocryphal works--the Gospel of Peter and the Protoevangelium of James--finds some support today among non-Catholic (and non-Orthodox) scholars, and is well represented by the early Church fathers and in the Greek, Syrian and Coptic liturgies.

"Assuming for the sake of argument the accuracy of the find, this would only prove that Jerome was mistaken. Frankly, it wouldn't be the first time that Jerome got something wrong. The ossuary inscription still matches perfectly with the Epiphanian view that Joseph had children by a previous marriage before his marriage to the Virgin Mary. The 'brothers and sisters' of Jesus witnessed in the Gospels are, in this view, older stepbrothers and stepsisters," explains Prof. McKellar.

And then, referring back to the finders of the ossuary, he adds with a mischievous grin, "I want to know what they did with the bones."

A Mencken quote, sent along by a reader:

"The extortions and oppressions of government will go on so long as such bare fraudulence deceives and disarms the victims so long as they are ready to swallow the immemorial official theory that protesting against the stealings of the archbishop's secretary's nephew's mistress' illegitimate son is a sin against the Holy Ghost."

Lafayette bishop to retire

Bishop Edward O'Donnell of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette said Friday he is retiring immediately and will be replaced in December by Bishop Michael Jarrell, now of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.O'Donnell, 71, told Lafayette television station KLFY that health problems over the last few years contributed to his decision."It all started with a small stroke, then diabetes which I had for five or six years that got worse and I had to take insulin shots daily," O'Donnell said. "Approximately one year ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and my experience with Parkinson's may not be typical."

.."if HBO ever plans a joint episode of "Six Feet Under" and the "The Sopranos," this would be the storyline to follow."

Legion of Christ looking to open four-year college in Sacramento

A conservative Catholic order is moving forward with plans to build a private university in the Sacramento region and has been in serious discussions with city and county officials about where it could locate a campus.As its first step, the Legion of Christ wants to open a downtown graduate school with an eye toward establishing a four-year core campus in another location -- possibly at the former Mather Air Force Base.The group has secured the name "University of Sacramento," said Barry Sugarman, vice president of institutional development for the university project."We're committed to the Sacramento region," Sugarman said. "We're ready to go."...

In July, the Diocese of Sacramento paved the way for the Legion to locate in the region when Bishop William Weigand gave formal permission to develop a campus here."It has always been Bishop Weigand's dream to have a Catholic University in Sacramento," the Rev. Jim Murphy said Thursday. "We're tired of rooting for San Francisco (Catholic) teams. It's time we had our own."

Many thanks to Domenico Bettinelli for information about the simply amazing blind hubris of Planned Parenthood

Requiring kids under 18 to get parental consent before they can participate in a poster contest!!!!


It seems clear that something is needed to restore trust in the hierarchy in relation to clerical sexual abuse and, more importantly than appearances, to ensure that there are no past or present sexual abusers in the Roman Catholic priesthood.

The charter, the norms – what have you are intended to restore this trust and provide this assurance. But it seems to many that there are still too many potential loopholes – one of which none of us can do anything about – the lack of mutual episcopal accountability. That’s too bad, but that’s a fact. Some months ago, commenter Julia cited several canons related to grounds for examining and removing bishops. It would be fascinating, wouldn’t it, if notes reminding the faithful of the existence of those canons were inserted into the charter?

In my dreams, I know.

So anyway, in terms of the stated final goal, the norms do all we can hope for:

they assure us that a priest who has sexually abused a minor will not remain in ministry.

(A diocesan priest, that is. Religious order priests are another matter, and not under the purview of the USCCB)

When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants

That seems clear, doesn’t it?

The new norms still call for a review board, but now, as many have noted, that board exists in an advisory capacity, which means, for the most part, they will be window-dressing, because that’s what advisory boards are. Can anyone give a counter-example?

So what worries some is this: given the advisory function of review boards, and given that the new norms do not mandate reporting unless the local civil law mandates, and given that diocesan lawyers can cook up all kinds of justifications grounded in church-state/confidentiality issues to do things like withhold files, and given the fact that the bishops are not really beholden to anyone, it seems as if there is still a trust gap. There is still too much wiggle room enabling some clerical sexual abusers to roam free, especially if their victims are reluctant to go to the civil authorities – which happens.

So, what I’m working my way around to is this: all through this, I’ve maintained that there are elements of this problem that are really beyond legislation. So much of this is up to us, up to those who are not officially involved in any process or board. It’s up to priests to police each other, and to say something and, more importantly, do something, when it becomes clear that a fellow priest is doing something wrong. It’s up to lay people who witness inappropriate or questionable behavior to, once again, say something or do something.

But we also have to have a process in place that engenders trust, and since for decades – centuries? – the clerical culture has shown itself incapable of doing this, we need a process that involves outsiders in meaningful roles.

That doesn’t mean that lay people should be deciding who remains in ministry or gets laicized. That is, truth be told, a matter between bishops and priests, and, if necessary the Vatican. It doesn’t mean that lay boards will be involved in the business of trying to figure out what was sexual abuse. I don’t think bishops should be doing this either – suspected or accused abusers should be reported to the law and to child and youth welfare authorities, and they should make these decisions.

(I’m rambling, I know – I’ve been distracted this morning by a sick baby, who is now, after emptying his stomach, crashed, snoring loudly, on the couch)

But I think that it’s absolutely necessary that some part of the process, some structure exist that functions as an unobstructed window between the workings of the church administration on this matter and the laity.

In this case, the root of mistrust, aside from the actions themselves, has been dishonesty and secretiveness. Therefore, it seems as if honesty and openness are the place to begin restoring trust. So then the “power” that a lay board should be given in order to assist rebuilding this trust and a safe environment is the power to pass on information.

It’s sort of like when you’re flying, and there’s a delay. What irritates people just as much as the delay is the airline’s dishonesty and secretiveness about the reason for the delay and their actual sense of when the plane’s going to take off, rather than the lies they put on the Departure board.

Same here. Just tell us. Empower - no – mandate that part of these lay boards’ responsibilities will be to compile a yearly report on the dioceses’ actions in regard to sexual abuse allegations. This will be an independent report, compiled and written by the board and widely publicized. Names named, actions taken honestly described, monetary amounts for settlements and status reports on accused clerics provided. Every year, for all to see.

Sure, there’s still room for hiding, but you know, there always will be, and face it, the buck always stops with the bishop and probably always will, especially since this is an issue that involves priests.

But we live in an age which we call the “Information Age” and it seems to me that since knowledge and information are power – if we want power within this process to rebuild trust and ensure safety – emphasizing the free flow of information is the place to start.

A look at the complicated work of the lay board in the diocese of Springfield, MA

Remember the priest arrested for drug involvement earlier this year? No, no, no - not the one down in Pensacola who used his Bourbon Street condo as a base for purchasing Ecstasy for resale back in the Panhandle. No, not that one. The other one - the one from Illinois arrested for helping to manufacture GHB or the "date rape" drug. You remember. Well, he was sentenced yesterday - to 70 months in prison.

Rev. Windy, the former pastor of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Sheffield and of St. Margaret's Catholic Church in Wyanet, had more than 100 letters from his parishioners, friends and family submitted to Judge Vietor on his behalf. Judge Vietor allowed Rev. Windy to address the court before sentencing. He started reading from a prepared statement but broke down crying before he could finish. ``My childhood dreams have now been shattered,'' he read before stopping and sobbing uncontrollably. Some of his supporters in the crowd also started crying. Rev. Windy's attorney, Doug Scovil, read the rest of the prepared statement. In it, Rev. Windy said he didn't know how much impact he had on people's lives until he was in trouble with the law. ``This is truly a nightmare for everyone,'' said Mr. Scovil while reading from the priest's statement. ``The last 10 months have been the darkest of my life. My fate as a priest is still to be determined after this is over.''

Mr. Scovil said Rev. Windy first got addicted to the drug when he was using it as a body-building supplement. He said Rev. Windy was an avid weight lifter who accidentally became addicted to GHB. During a brief statement to Judge Vietor, Mr. O'Brien said the men never used the drug with the intent to commit rape. He said the drug was legal when he first started using it in March 2000, and that he later became addicted.

In his statement, Rev. Windy apologized for his actions but said he didn't agree with the federal court's use of sentencing guidelines instead of the judge's discretion to decide the sentence. He faced 70 to 87 months in prison under those guidelines. Rev. Windy also bashed the media for focusing on his case, claiming they unfairly hold priests to a higher standard. Shortly before that, Rev. Windy admitted he embarrassed his parishioners and other members of the Catholic church with his actions. Many of Rev. Windy's actions were detailed in a 10-page document that was inadvertently filed in court in September. The document, sealed a day after it was filed, was in response to the pre-sentence investigation for the priest. In the document, Mr. Scovil said the priest allowed Mr. O'Brien to make the drug at the church rectory. Records from Barton Solvents in Bettendorf show it sold 25 gallons of GBL, a chemical used to make GHB, to St. Patrick's, according to court documents. Those records specifically refer to Rev. Windy. In the document, Rev. Windy said he attended parties at Mr. O'Brien's home in Davenport in March, September and November 2001. According to a timeline contained in the document, Rev. Windy became addicted to GHB and cocaine supplied by Mr. O'Brien. The timeline said that in December 2000, Mr. O'Brien told Rev. Windy he lost his job at a shoe company that allowed him to acquire a chemical used to make GHB. It said that if the minister did not allow them to make GHB in the church rectory, Mr. O'Brien planned to tell Rev. Windy's superiors in the church about his use of cocaine and GHB. In the documents, Rev. Windy admitted adding chemicals to make GHB on one occasion, but was unsuccessful.

A reader writes:

The idea of input from the laity can be rattling -- but can it be more unsettling than the McBriens, Weaklands, McCormacks, Chittisters of this world? -- aw heck, I gotta stop before I ruin my Friday!

I think you've hit on it -- buried in this morass is a laity wakeup call.Not just a call to add one more meeting to the daytimer or put our $.02 worth in to the bishop on some committee reeking self-importance but to examine our lives for how we respond to the call to discipleship in all things. I believe our assent to grapple with daily holiness will be the source of credibility in dialogue with the hierarchy. With the present
crisis of integrity in our leadership, lay must challenge lay, not just rely on the call from above.One can only hope!

A nice article from the LATimes (LRR) on the difference that a generous couple has made to an inner-city Catholic school.
A bit more detail on Kathleen McChesney

McChesney, 51, has served since December 2001 as the FBI's executive assistant director for law enforcement services. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III created that job to improve cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.McChesney joined the FBI in 1978 after seven years as a police detective in Seattle. She rose through the bureau to head its field offices in Chicago and Portland, Ore., and also served as assistant director of the training division in Quantico, Va.

Could a Religious Freedom Restoration Act be used to protect abusing clergy from the civil law?

This columnist says "yes", but this responder says she's overstating the case.


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