Thursday, November 21

Nun Week continues:

A profile of Sister Margherita Marchione, 82-year old Italian scholar, and defender of Pius XII

She has several titles in print on the subject of Pope Pius XII, including a biography "Pope Pius XII, Architect for Peace." Two books tackle head-on the history of the Holocaust in Roman Catholic Italy and the Pope's role. "Consensus and Controversy: Defending Pope Pius XII" and "Yours is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy" make a strong case for the pro-active role the Vatican and Italians took to save the Jews. Even in her autobiography, "The Fighting Nun: My Story," she devotes more than two chapters to setting the record straight.

She holds an unabashed reverence and respect for Pope Pius XII. In her long career in religion and academics, Sister Margherita has made many trips to Rome and met several popes. But Pius XII is the pope of her youth and the spiritual leader to whom she feels the closest affinity. She knows his sister and has close associations with his family.

She is open about her bias. However, when Pope Pius XII's relationship with Hitler and the Nazis was questioned, Sister Margherita marshaled her formidable skills as a researcher and writer to provide evidence to counter what she saw as slander. She is more balanced in her response than those who revile him.

The British historian John Cornwell, in his book, "Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII," claims that the pope's silence during the Holocaust condemned thousands of Jews to death by the Nazis. He further argues that the pope cut deals with Hitler in order to save German Catholics from persecution by the Nazis. Ultimately, Mr. Cornwell condemns Pope Pius XII as an anti-Semite who was a willing agent to Hitler's master plan.

"Absolutely untrue!" bellows the tiny sister. In person and in her writing, she builds a dramatic counter argument based on extensive research, most of it primary documents, diaries and interviews of firsthand accounts from Italian lay people, religious and Jews. She has faced off with Mr. Cornwell on several occasions on radio and television programs and has successfully faced him down.

Sister was in Birmingham at EWTN the same day I was, getting ready to tape a show with Johnette Benkovic after mine. She is tiny and she is formidable.

As we know, Bishop Robert Banks, now of Green Bay, suggested that Fr. Paul Shanley mediate in a sexual abuse case.

On Thursday, the bishop denied he knew of the abuse.

Bishop Robert J. Banks challenged assertions Thursday that he overlooked sexual abuse allegations against Father Paul Shanley while serving as a top official in the Boston Archdiocese.Banks, who has led the Green Bay Diocese since 1990, said he had no information about Shanley's alleged abusive history when he supported the defrocked priest's role as a mediator in a separate sexual abuse complaint involving Father Daniel Graham in May 1988.Similarly, Banks said he was unaware of Shanley's alleged pedophilia in 1990, when he sent a letter supporting Shanley to church officials in San Bernardino, Calif."The headline in (Thursday's) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about my overlooking the pedophilia of Father Shanley is simply not true," Banks said."The first time that I ever heard of Father Shanley's alleged pedophilia was this year," he said. "To accuse me of overlooking pedophilia is pretty serious."

Okay, but....At the time Banks authorized Shanley's role as a mediator, he was aware of complaints about statements Shanley had made regarding sex between men and boys during his time as a minister to the gay community and street people in Boston.In a letter to the archdiocese, sent in 1985, a woman in Rochester, N.Y., complained about Shanley's preaching. The letter, quoted in a deposition by Cardinal Bernard F. Law, alleges that Shanley said: "When adults have sex with children, the children seduce them. Children may later regret having caused someone to go to prison, knowing that they are the guilty ones."Banks said Thursday that he had not seen that letter, which was investigated by another church official.He also said he did not review Shanley's file in the archdiocese offices before acting on the request that he be allowed to mediate, or before sending the letter endorsing him to San Bernardino church officials."What I knew about Father Shanley back in the 1980s is that he had earlier been assigned to minister to the gay community and the street people in Boston," Banks said in Green Bay on Thursday morning. "During that time, two incidents of inappropriate sexual talk by Father Shanley were brought to my attention. They were checked out."I did not know anything about allegations of pedophilia."

Here's what I don't get (maybe it's in the deposition, I don't know.) - From where did this "request" that Shanley mediate come from? Who in God's name would request that? Unless it was the perpetrator, of course...

But the painfully Clintonesque parsing remains. He says the headline's wrong. He didn't "overlook" the pedophilia because he didn't know about the pedophilia. Oh, he knew about the "inappropriate sexual talk," but he didn't know about the pedophilia. Yet approved him as a mediator in a sexual abuse case - but it's okay because he didn't know about the pedophilia.

Yeah. That makes it all good.

Mike Piazza meets the Pope, presents him with Mets jersey.

And don't miss the AP's snarky ending to the caption:

His team finished last in their division this past season.

Now, what's that supposed to mean?

Besides the AP having a shaky hold on noun-pronoun agreement, that is.

High school kids raise $13,000 to help out struggling Catholic elementary school in San Antonio

Kevin Miller blogs about problems at his alma mater, Marquette, including the funny-in-an-appalling-way case of the Marquette English major who complained about the presence of a "white colonist" on the school seal, only to be told, of course that the "white colonist" is...well, go find out, if you've not already guessed.

I guess they don't use the word "transparency" there

Philadelphia Archdiocese concludes synod

But they won't release the results

More than 240 Roman Catholics concluded discussions at the Philadelphia Archdiocese's first synod since 1934 and the first to involve lay participants.The archdiocese is not releasing the recommendations that came out of the meeting. The three sessions were closed to parishioners, the public and the news media.

Also in the same collection of news notes from the AP, you'll find word of the bishops' decision to meet about a meeting to plan a meeting of a plenary council.

Dying Reformed church saved by Hispanic presence

Why did Catholics vote for Gray Davis?

Although overseeing the most anti-Catholic administration in California history, Davis ran well among Catholics — 25 percent of the electorate — beating Simon 53 to 39 percent. In contrast, non-Catholic Christians favored Simon, 55 to 35 percent. One could argue Davis was re-elected based on the Catholic vote.

How is this possible? Consider the following: In September, Davis signed four bills, all of them “in your face” affronts to Catholics. One enshrined abortion as a “fundamental human right.” Another required all state ob-gyn students to learn abortion procedures with no exclusion for personal conscience. Yet another requires all hospitals — even Catholic ones — to provide “emergency contraception” to rape victims. And Davis’s budget included $40 million to abort 120,000 unborn children.

All told, Davis — nominally a Catholic, by the way — bragged, “California is, hands down, the most pro-choice state in America.” Did anyone hear a peep during the gubernatorial campaign from California’s Catholic bishops about any of this? If so, I never saw it. As far as I could tell, the bishops maintained deathly silence on the issue of life.

Archdiocese of Baltimore determines visions to be false

Dr. Gianna Talone Sullivan has been seeing visions of the Virgin Mary for years. In her native Arizona, Sullivan's visions were examined by the archdiocese in 1989 and were considered benign. Now the Archdiocese of Baltimore has determined after a two-year investigation that the Emmitsburg-area woman's visions are false. She reportedly began receiving the visions about five years before she came to Emmitsburg. Once moving here in 1993, she shared the messages she received with her Thursday night prayer group at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Emmitsburg. The meetings mostly included reciting the rosary and celebrating the Eucharist, or taking communion. The prayer meetings at St. Joseph's started on Sept. 11, 1991, about two years before Sullivan came to the area and exactly 10 years to the day before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Over time, the number of people attending the meetings grew substantially, fluctuating between 600 and 1,000 people.

At the same time, however, church officials began to have concerns about the validity of the messages.

Sean Gallagher blogs on the case of the Maine parish that sued to stop anti-abortion protesters from infringing on its space.

A wonderful piece by the mother of nine

"Complimenti, signor,’ the Italian customs officer breathed as he grasped my husband’s hand and practically stood to attention. My spouse of 27 years gave a deprecating little wave to the group of officers who had come over to gawk after the word had gone around that he was ‘il padre di nove figli’ — the father of nine children.....

...For me, concentrating on getting a life as distinct from a career has been a liberating experience, and in my case enabled me to start a career. When I turned 40 after my last baby was born, I started to write. As the mother of nine children, I’ve had a huge amount of life-experience. The children themselves, who range in age from 25 to seven, and their various friends gave me a ready-made young focus group. I tackled family issues at first but gradually I began to branch out into politics, religion and culture, all the while drawing on the experience of this family community which, unlike so many communities, really is a community.

I now have five children at home, all either at school or at university. Work is not the most important thing in my life and if it interfered with my children I’d drop it immediately. Not everyone wants so many, but having children early and close together not only means that one can concentrate one’s youth and energy during the time when one needs youth and energy, but also that one is left with a long span of life still to fill. It can be done, but not if you set out on the rigid, traditional career path. Above all, it requires support, and the most important support doesn’t come from family-friendly policies or more childcare. Women want families, and for that we need good men. IVF or frozen eggs are no substitute We need husbands for ourselves, to complement and fulfil us, and we need fathers for our children. So actually the real secret of keeping my very large show on the road is the modest man who should realise after 27 years that Italian bureaucrats are not the only ones who appreciate him.

Prolifers react to Kopp

Joan Andrews Bell, regarded by many in the pro-life movement as a spiritual leader who is against violence, offered a statement in which she said she could not support the shooting, if Kopp is guilty of it. But like Roach, the New Jersey woman took an analytical view in trying to understand what has happened. "I also believe that if Jim did this act, he is a victim of what (Mohandas K.) Gandhi said of a corrupt and evil society, and President John F. Kennedy later reiterated: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.' "

Susan Andrews Brindle, her sister, called Kopp a liar. "Either he's really evil and insane, or people have gotten to him and he's covering for someone," said Brindle, a Tennessee resident who traveled to France three times to visit Kopp after his 2001 capture. Closer to home, Stasia Zoladz Vogel, president of the Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee, offered a grim assessment of the nation. "This country has devolved into such a pathetic state that no life is secure, born or unborn," she said. "The whole country is desperately in need of prayers, repentance and penance."

St. Therese relics travel to Iraq

The relics of Saint Therese arrived by plane from Lebanon on Wednesday, after touring that Arab nation for 77 days. The arrival coincided with a call by Iraqi Christians for the country's churches to hold a special prayer for peace Friday. Dozens of people, many with their children, arrived at St. Joseph's Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad before the mass to see the relics inside a brown box placed in front of the altar.

Here's a photo.

Kentucky priest sues webmaster

The creator of an Internet site that accuses the Lexington Catholic diocese of promoting a "homosexual agenda" is being sued for defamation by a local priest.In a suit filed this week in Fayette Circuit Court, Father James Sichko, 35, says webmaster Efrain Cortes falsely accused him of being "actively involved in the homosexual culture that exists in Lexington" and of "cruising the Schools in the diocese."Sichko, a campus minister at Eastern Kentucky University and Georgetown College, says the allegations caused him "great injury" and forced him to endure "public hatred, contempt and ridicule. ... " But Cortes -- a maintenance worker whose Web alias is "Abe Lincoln" -- says he is an Internet journalist who is telling the truth about Sichko and other priests. He vows the 13-month-old Internet site, which also criticizes liberal Catholics, feminists and dissenters, won't be shut down.

You know, British television is so tasteful.


And did you hear about the new cartoon that the BBC3 is doing called Popetown?

The 10-part sitcom is set in an office and focuses on its politics and the infuriatingly childish pontiff.Father Nicholas, voiced by comic Kevin Eldon, tries to make Popetown successful despite the sinister cardinals and Vatican bureaucracy.It will be shown next year on new youth channel BBC3. A Catholic church spokesman said: "The church is big enough to have fun poked at itself."

Orthodox monks in rebellion

The 100-odd monks living in the 1,000-year-old Esphigmenou Monastery were summoned to provide explanations for their three-decade-long refusal to behave as loyal dependants of the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate and mention the patriarch in their prayers. Furthermore, leaders of the 20-monastery Mt Athos community called on Esphigmenou to explain why it insists on abstaining from the community’s administrative and religious bodies, which are made up of representatives from all monasteries.

But the rebellious monks, who regard Patriarchate officials as renegades for having established contact with the Roman Catholic Church, refused to take receipt of the official summons.

“It is a spiritual matter, and we will not back down,” Esphigmenou’s abbot, Methodios, told Kathimerini. “We have to protect Orthodoxy from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate and its approaches toward other Christians.” The monastery’s leaders broke with the Patriarchate, and the Mt Athos authorities, after Patriarch Athinagoras’s “act of treachery” in meeting Pope Paul VI in Istanbul in 1964. The monks have draped their ancient walls with a huge banner reading “Orthodoxy or death.”


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