Monday, November 18

As a former classroom educator who retains a keen interest in education and schools, I'm very accustomed to hearing stories like this one end with successful parental lawsuits, cowed administrators and eternally frustrated teachers and coaches.

But not in this case - a football coach who suspend 16 of his players (including his own son) for underage drinking

Mike Slaughter wonders what it says about society when a football coach does the right thing and it gets treated like a big deal. Congratulatory letters, faxes, and cards are pouring into his office at Marquette Catholic in Alton, Ill. Radio stations and newspapers are calling from New York to Los Angeles. He's been coaching high school football in obscurity for 25 years and suddenly he's a hero because he had the guts to suspend 16 starters arrested for underage drinking at a house party. It would be nice, though perhaps naive, to believe that every coach in the country would act the same way Slaughter did, especially in his circumstances - the team 10-0 and poised to challenge for the school's first state championship. This was his "once-in-a-lifetime" team, but the way Slaughter saw it, the way any coach should, is that he had no choice except to suspend the players, one of them his own son. "It boils down to accountability," Slaughter says. "It doesn't matter if they drank half a beer or a six-pack, they still broke the rules. I always told my boys that you get in trouble with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, I will suspend you from the team."



Miscellaneous responses:

Re/the blog below about letting the civil authorities do their work.

A commentor wisely points out the inadequacies of our civil "justice" system. I don't think he mentioned, in his litany, the rash of false abuse accusations in the 1980's and 90's often fueled by obsessed prosecutors, but he could have.

No, the civil system is not our "salvation" - the Church must act to root out the possibility of abuse by weeding out potential abusers in formation and seminary, by keeping clergy accountable, punishing offenders and encouraging priests and other church employees to keep each other honest and virtuous. Further, the courts can be used by anyone to harm the Church or personally profit. But as far as the task of defining abuse in a particular case, let's remember that abuse is a crime and even as the Church acts in its own sphere to punish and protect children, it really needs to show that it will cooperate with the civil authorities to see that justice is done, and not close in on itself and try to handle matters beyond its competence.

On the Adrian Dominicans:

Experts and teachers of Catholic spirituality who have no interest in Catholic spirituality are a particular bone of contention with me - I suppose its my awareness of and interest in history - I see such a wealth of treasures ignored, treasures that are thoroughly accessible to moderns, from Francis DeSales to Therese of Lisieux and beyond.

That said, I believe there's plenty of room in a Catholic's spiritual practice for wisely and selectively integrated non-Christian techniques. The problem is, of course, that too many of these techniques have been indiscriminately and thoughtlessly applied, and just as many of them are simple modern spiritual quackery.

And you know, in origins, if not necessarily in application, the labyrinth, is not one of those examples of modern spiritual quackery. Here's an article from the online Catholic Encyclopedia - which is from 1913, of course - to get you started It is questionable whether the labyrinths in ancient cathedrals were actually used for the purposes modern proponents claim for them, but I wouldn't immediately throw the labyrinth in the same category as something like the Enneagram. It can be Christ-centered, although I wouldn't be surprised if, in the world of most modern practitioners, it's not.

A new film version of Graham Greene's The Quiet American will soon be released. Here's the Catholic News Service review.

Go to Christianity Today's Weblog for the sad, sad story (at least from my perspective) of a Colorado family which has been praying for the resuscitation/resurrection of their 2-year old son killed by a falling file cabinet two weeks ago.

It's bad all over

No matter where you look:

Indiana man receives license to practice medicine - after serving time for kidnapping.

Three decades ago, Krist was sentenced to life in prison for the 1968 kidnapping of Barbara Jane Mackle, a college student from a wealthy family. Authorities said Krist, then 23, and a female accomplice abducted Mackle, a student at Emory University in Atlanta, at gunpoint from a motel and drugged her with chloroform. They put Mackle in a wooden box with food and other provisions, and buried her in a remote area in Georgia. Police rescued Mackle 3½ days later, after her father paid a $500,000 ransom. Krist was captured off the Florida coast in a speedboat he had purchased with the ransom money. ....

After serving 10 years in prison, Krist was released and went on to study at medical schools in Grenada and Dominica, eventually earning medical degree. The state of Alabama rejected his attempt to get a license, but the Indiana Medical Licensing Board approved him in December 2001. Indiana law does not prevent convicted felons from obtaining a medical license, and the state medical board put a number of restrictions on his ability to practice medicine. He remains on indefinite probation, and he must appear before the board every six months. He was required to submit to psychiatric evaluation, and he is not allowed to prescribe certain drugs.





Prolife strategy discussions:

From the Weekly Standard

and

the National Review

Hint:Both writers suggest that the GOP has nothing to lose in going for a partial-birth abortion ban.

From Corpus Christi, how the Situation is changing the nature of priestly ministry.

The Rev. Roger Smith of St. Patrick's Catholic Church said since allegations began surfacing in the media last summer, he has begun scrutinizing his actions and how people might perceive them. "I am not trying to be paranoid but sometimes I have kids that come running up and want to give me a hug. Before I would have responded very naturally and hugged them back, but now I have that question in the back of my mind 'how do I deal with this?' " Smith said. Smith said he has not made any major changes to the way he deals with various members of his congregation but he admits he is reluctant to make any physical contact. "Should I just sit there in plain view, or go back to my office?" he said. "Those are thoughts I wouldn't have had before. Now when the situation arises, I think twice." Monsignor Michael Heras at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church said when he finishes celebrating Mass on Sundays he is amping - electrifyingly charged with spiritual joy, his hands vibrating with energy. "It's the music and the environment, the ritual, the music, the mystery . . . it feels good," he said. "And I think it is natural to want to hug people after that and I am still going to do it even though I know someday someone may want to take issue with me for it."

A difficult problem, to be sure, but may I share a radical thought?

Maybe this is a good thing. Sexual abuse by clergy is not a modern phenomenon, nor is it a product, as some one suggest, of a more relaxed, informal post 60's culture. The infamous Porter did much of his work in the 1950's and 60's, and anyone who works with victims can tell you of elderly people who report abuse at the hands of clerics from more restrained, formal, times.

But if we have, indeed, entered a time in which spiritual direction and pastoral care has come to be defined by how much a priest hugs...maybe some steps back from that are in order.

(Cultural differences duly noted!)



An account of the Boston Archdiocese's Red Mass featuring a luncheon speech by Mary Ann Glendon<

Following the Mass, Mary Ann Glendon, who is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, addressed guild members at their annual luncheon at the Park Plaza Hotel.Retracing a history of anti-Catholic bias in America dating back to the arrival of the Pilgrims, she called upon the guild's Catholics to stand up to bigotry in their professional lives.'If not us, who? If not now, when?'' she asked.She also called upon guild Catholics not to question church practices just because others have done so since the sexual abuse scandal erupted last January.'At a time when I believe the church is under siege, Catholics are doing a great disservice when they say the church has ... a history of patriarchy ... and exclusion of ideas,'' she said. ''Can you name another institution that over the centuries has done more to advance human dignity?''Glendon rapped as anti-Catholic several authors and political leaders dating back to the 19th century, and included the late Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black and Eleanor Roosevelt in that group. Without being specific, she also criticized as bigots today's ''secular militants'' who attack all religions.

With all due respect to Mary Ann Glendon, whose work on abortion law in Europe and the US I greatly admire, I can't help but wonder about this defensive tone, not only of her speech, but of a growing number of Catholics reacting to this stage 47 of the Situation. Now is not, I don't think, the moment to be fussing about anti-Catholicism, but a time to redouble efforts to bring Christ into the world - even through the work of lawyers.

It's the first anniversary of the ordination of Mary Ramermann to the priesthood of the breakaway Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester

More inspiring generosity

Man bequeaths millions to Catholic school scholarship fund

Stan Kuhar of St. Vitus Catholic Church in inner-city Cleveland first got the unbelievable news in a letter last month from an accountant: The estate of Edward Mihevic, a former parishioner and self-made millionaire, was bequeathing $6.6 million to the church's scholarship fund. "Pinch me," Kuhar recalls saying to himself. "This isn't happening." The gift was kept secret until a special brunch yesterday after Mass, when Mihevic's daughter, Donna Boekley, stunned wide-eyed parishioners with the news.


My people..

There's a new documentary film looking at the experience of French-speaking Quebecois in New England

This takes me back, once again, to the immigration thread below. Learning English is certainly important, and immigrants know this, but may first-generation immigrants, historically speaking, have not had learning English as much a priority for themselves as for their children. I had some Quebec relations who lived in Lewiston, Maine for, I believe, fourteen years during the late 1950's and 60's, and none of them ever learned or had to speak a word of English, the town was that heavily French. When my mother was growing up in southern Maine, her elementary school had half the day's classes in English and half in French.

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