Monday, November 25

Judge denies Archdiocese of Boston's request to seal documents.

An astonishing "mistake"

Do you remember the NYTimes article about David Kelley's episode of The Practice framed in terms of Kelley's Catholic background?

Well, the Newspaper of Record issued a minor correction today:

An article in The Arts on Nov. 7 about "The Practice," the ABC television series that has been been addressing the scandal over sexual abuse by priests, misstated the religious background of the writer David E. Kelley. He was brought up Protestant, not Roman Catholic.


First, let's look at the headline to the November 7 article:

A Catholic Writer Brings His Anger to 'The Practice'

Now, let's look at the article itself:

Mr. Kelley's take on the scandal appears in Sunday night's episode of "The Practice" on ABC. And Mr. Kelley, who was himself raised Catholic in Boston, does not pull punches

Now, nowhere else in the article is Kelley's purported Catholicism referred to, and there are no direct quotes cited that say "I'm Catholic" or "I was raised Catholic." But we can presume that this reporter got this information from somewhere - either Kelley himself, or perhaps his own assumptions that a "Kelley" from Boston would be Catholic?

Either way, what we have is incredibly shoddy journalism and possibly some rather sneaky work by a writer-producer attempting to cash in a false identity in order to give his work more notoriety - or perhaps a combination of the two.

Many thanks to James Kabala for pointing this out.

Charismatic ministry expells pastor because....

He's engaged in financial improprieties?

He's violated the Sixth Commandment?

He's been seen in a dress?


He protests at abortion clinics.

Not any abortion clinic, either - the notorious Wichita Tillman 3rd-trimester facility:

A Wichita, Kan., pastor has been expelled from a worldwide charismatic ministry renowned for its message of faith and biblical prosperity because he was active in the pro-life movement. The move has prompted a New Jersey minister who is trying to raise awareness of the pastor's ouster to consider removing his congregation from the organization.Mark Holick had his ordination revoked this summer by the Tulsa, Okla.-based Rhema Ministerial Association International (RMAI), which has more than 23,000 graduates and 13 schools worldwide.For the last two years, Holick, who along with his wife, Monica, pastors 300-member Spirit One Christian Center, has joined other Wichita pastors in protesting the abortion clinic of local Dr. George Tiller, called "the most infamous late-term abortionist in the world" by the Christian pro-life group Operation Save America.....

Rhema's Tulsa-based attorney, Tom Winters, told Charisma News Service that "Rhema is not for abortion." Winters said he advised RMAI leaders to revoke Holick's license because his pro-life activism could cause Rhema to be "potentially sued."

From Buffalo, an interesting story on changing views on abortion

Yesterday, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds expressed his absolute disinterest in anything religious leaders have to say about anything beyond the explicitly religious (we can probably assume he’s not interested in what they have to say about religious matters either, I’ll bet.)

First, those of you who don’t know should understand that Reynolds’ father was a professor of religious studies at the University of Tennessee – I was never in one of his classes, but safe to say, the world of religious discourse and conversation is not one unfamiliar to Reynolds.

And of course, he’s a libertarian.

But what interests me about Reynolds’ statement is the fact that he’s undoubtedly not alone. Of course, his sentiments are common among his fellow academics and always have been, but there’s no doubt that this skepticism towards the pronouncements of religious authorities is prevalent outside the academy as well, the culmination of centuries of individualist and democratic impulses given an especially cynical twist by contemporary events, from Jimmy Swaggert’s confessions to Cardinal Law’s lack of them.

And who can blame anyone for feeling this way? Really. The spectacle is astonishing – bishops who tolerated and protected incredibly destructive sin among their own adopting a prophetic mantle in regard to the moral status of military action in Iraq, and having the nerve to say they’re worried about “innocents.”

As I said, who can blame anyone for laughing instead of listening?

It brings up the whole issue of what religious leaders should and shouldn’t be saying about current events and social issues.

The extreme consequence of Reynolds’ stance is the silencing of religious leaders on every matter but the inner workings of the Trinity. The trouble with that, of course, is that Christians believe they have been called to witness to the Gospel, and the Gospel has real-life consequences. Some of those consequences are personal, but some are undeniably social. I think we are long past the illusion that Jesus was a social reformer or political activist, but what we can’t deny is that Jesus called Christians to a stance of compassion and love to all. The first place we are called to live that out is in our one-on-one dealings with others and the choices we make with the treasure we have been given – our time on this earth. But the call is also broader than that – which is why Christians, throughout history, have refused to mind their own business when it came to educating, tending to the sick, ministering to the poor and helping the helpless. The “social justice” talk which Reynolds derides is an extension of that concern. Sometimes it takes a silly, or even malignant turn as Christians catch the totalitarian bug that those who start out wanting to “help” are so susceptible to. It’s a risk those committed to such action must always be aware of and most of the time aren’t.

This is an exceedingly complex question. So much of what Reynolds is about defending – American values, political life and social arrangements – are rooted, at least in part, in religious sensibilities of one sort or another, and would not exist but for the interest that religiously-minded people had in the real world in which they lived. An interest that can, all to quickly, turn to the desire to remake that world into their own version of the Kingdom. It’s a constant, complicated dynamic, and one of which religious leaders should always be aware.

They should also be aware of the very true fact that we are most tempted to meddle in other people’s business when our houses are crumbling around us. That is, you are most likely to lash out at someone else’s faults when you’re bothered by your own. So for churches such as ours, wracked by internal problems, here’s what’s true: We can’t ignore the suffering of the greater world, and we can’t stay silent regarding ways to alleviate that suffering, whether through means of charity or political or social action. But along with that goes deep soul-searching and the call to holiness among ourselves, and, as a part of that, a deep humility towards that same world about which are so concerned. For we are not apart from the world. We are a part of it, and its sins are our sins, too. Our call is not to judge that world, but to bring the love of Christ to that world. Sometimes religious people get those two things mixed up, but believe me, they are not the same thing. To figure this out, look at the saints, especially those immersed in the suffering of the world. Those men and women are not about control. They are about the task of being as vibrant signs of God’s love as they can be – of diminishing themselves so that Christ can live and love the poor through them.

And here’s what true. Forget the “nonbelievers.” If every person who claimed the title of “Christian” were committed to that - no preaching outside the choir would be necessary. As St. Francis said: “Go out and preach the Gospel – use words if you have to.”

So I find Reynolds’ dismissal of the voices of religious leaders understandable, but somewhat discomfiting. Contemporary religious leaders have certainly earned our scorn and have lost most of their credibility. But what seems to be implicit is a desire that voices speaking out of primarily religious sensibilities be silent and leave the task of helping to guide the course of American political and social life to the law professors who have, you know, done such a superior job.

How some Sisters of Providence coped with being arrested at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning:

"They were on a spiritual high. They prayed and sang and did t'ai chi, and supported each other through the night. We don't get enough chance to do that in a public way."

From the Baltimore Sun, a profile of Phillip Berrigan:

From the LA Times (LRR): A preservation group targets unusual sites for assistance:

It's a sunny Saturday afternoon in San Miguel de Allende as a group of Los Angeles philanthropists boards a chartered bus with a flashy paint job. As the bus heads north on the Dolores Hidalgo Highway and turns west onto a dirt road leading to the tiny village of Atotonilco, the passengers chat about their children, the stock market, last night's margaritas and the best places to buy Mexican jewelry. But when they disembark, stroll down a path lined with stalls of Catholic goods and approach the village's claim to fame, an 18th century church in a walled complex, they snap to attention.

The time has finally come for the group -- which banded together five years ago and calls itself the Friends of Heritage Preservation -- to see the results of its biggest project to date: the restoration of the Calvary Chapel of the Sanctuary of Jesus of Nazareth. An astonishing shrine, it's austere on the outside but so elaborately decorated inside that it's popularly known as the Sistine Chapel of Mexico.

It's also an extraordinary labor of love. Founded in 1740 and built over 36 years by Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro -- who hired an otherwise unknown artist, Miguel Antonio Martinez de Pocasangre, to carry out his imaginative plan for filling the walls and ceilings with religious imagery and text -- the improbable monument might also be likened to Los Angeles' Watts Towers, constructed over 34 years by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia.

The Atotonilco sanctuary originated as a spiritual retreat near thermal hot springs, and it has become a major destination for Mexican pilgrims and penitents. But by 1996 it had fallen into such disrepair that the World Monuments Fund, a New York-based conservation organization, put the church on its worldwide "Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites."

St. John's Seminary in Brighton expells openly gay seminarian, accusations ensue.

According to Meehan, church officials have officially said he was expelled due to differences of opinion over church teachings. But Meehan said he was told by Schmitz that his expulsion was the result of several incidents, including his decision to tell another student he was gay and his public criticism of the seminary's approach to sexuality at two forums sponsored by the rector.

Also, at a church gathering in Hartford, he was critical of the seminary for teaching that homosexuality is a moral choice and for discouraging discussions about ordination of women.

''The way the church addresses the issue of sexuality in the seminary does not foster maturity or honesty,'' Meehan said in an interview in Hartford, where he now lives. ''From day one when you enter the seminary, the mechanisms are there for repression and dishonesty. People who succeed most in moving up the hierarchy are the ones who can be most deceitful about their sexuality if they happen to be gay.''

Meehan said few of the roughly 75 graduate candidates for ordination at St. John's were openly gay, although he said six students told him in private that they were.

As for homophobia, Meehan said he sometimes heard students make cruel jokes and derisive comments about homosexuals, especially after the sex abuse scandal erupted in January and the issue of whether gay priests are partly to blame for the scandal became a matter of public debate.

In his year-end faculty evaluation, Meehan received a positive review. But ultimately, Meehan said, church officials concluded that he was a ''loose cannon'' whose outspokenness made him unfit for the seminary. In July, the Hartford Archdiocese notified Meehan that it was withdrawing its support for him, a move tantamount to expulsion.

Two months later, Meehan sent the letter calling another seminarian a ''closeted practicing homosexual'' who ''has had plenty of practice at the trade while at St. John's.'' In the letter, Meehan said the seminarian had ''fornicated'' with another seminarian in a store dressing room.

Three Mexican nuns working with Hispanics in upper East Tennessee

Sister Santa Basilio was doing church work in her native Mexico a few years ago when she noticed that many of the little villages in the Sierras were becoming ghost towns. That was because most of the young people, she said, had left their country to find work in the United States. Sister Basilio says she is now “very happy” to be helping a few of the men who left those villages. Today, she is one of three Mexican nuns working with Hispanics in Northeast Tennessee. Sister Basilio, Sister Maria Lina Ramos and Sister Leticia Rojos travel to parishes in what officials of the Catholic Church have designated as the “Five Rivers” district to spread the word of God to its Spanish-speaking population. ....Sister Basilio described her mission as one to “help preserve the faith of the Hispanic people” while they are living and working in the United States. Expanding on that point, Sister Ramos said the goal of their order is to “bring the faith of Jesus” to where he is not known, and to help people “maintain their faith in places where they know Christ.”


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