Wednesday, November 27

We will be on and off the road over the next few days. Down to KY to see some of Michael's family, then to Knoxville to see my dad, his wife Hilary and my son Christopher, then back here on Saturday evening in time for You Know What. Blogging will be diminished, but not totally absent.

Get your HANDS out of my PURSE, Security-boy!


I took my older kids to the airport for their flight to Virginia. The new security routine was in place, which wasn't much different than the old security routine except for an extra check-in point at the beginning. I carried Joseph through the detector gate and we beeped. So we had to step aside and be wanded. First him - which he resisted mightily, and then me - and all of this would be fine but for the fact that just as we were being wanded, the guy at the belt started looking through my purse. Oh, he asked first, but he was behind a plexiglass separating wall, I was trying not to wrench Joseph's arm off as I kept him in place and having a beeping wand waved about my person with a stream of other passengers walking along the belt, blocking my view of what the Security Boy was doing with my purse.

Keep an eye on Your Stuff, friends. I didn't lose anything this time, but I wouldn't take a thing for granted..

Nigerian archbishop urges Christians to defend themselves

A Catholic archbishop said Wednesday that Christians were "tired of turning the other cheek" to Muslim attacks and blamed the government for deadly sectarian riots after a newspaper article about the Miss World (news - web sites) beauty pageant. "No group of people should be allowed to invade the city of Abuja and molest law-abiding citizens," said the Rev. John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. Onaiyekan spoke at a news conference called by the Council of Nigerian Churches and accused President Olusegun Obasanjo's government of failing to protect Christians during the riots. "We blame the government because we rely on the government to protect us," he said. The archbishop said Christians shouldn't hesitate to defend themselves from further attacks. "It is a Christian duty to protect yourselves," he said. Senior clergy from the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and other churches also criticized the government, arguing that Christians had taken the brunt of the violence.

I’m still working through the whole Who needs the religious busybodies conversation.

Sometimes people who are immersed in religion – particularly in a particular religion – forget that the rest of the world doesn’t see things from their perspective. Oh, we may say we know it’s true, but we really don’t. Take us Serious Catholics. We really do assume, unthinkingly, that the internal matters which take up our attention are also issues of interest for non-Catholics. We assume that our interest in what the Pope says or does is shared by the rest of the world.

Well, for the most part, it’s not, is it?

So that’s the first point to consider before taking umbrage at the dismissal of the views of religious leaders on various issues. Do I care what the president of the Southern Baptist Convention thinks about environmental issues? Nah. Do I even bother with the latest pronouncements of the Presbyterian Church USA on sexuality issues? Well, I do read them – or read about them – as a part of my self-education in where the culture is on these matters – but do I take them in as something to consider when forming my own conscience?

Well, no.

So – why should I or any of us be surprised when people who have no truck with religion express such profound indifference to what religious leaders say?

All right, but…let’s look at it from another angle (I didn’t say this was an argument. It’s thoughts offered with the baby snoozing on the couch, and with me killing time until I have to go get the other kids to take them to the airport.)

Ah, yes – the other angle.

Now, I would be concerned about what the president of the Southern Baptist Convention has to say about something like prayer in public schools, especially if he was for it (which, historically speaking, he really shouldn’t be, but you never know these days), and was leading a push in my state to impose prayer in public schools, something to which I am stubbornly opposed.

So why would I be concerned in this case? Because it’s an issue that would affect me and my own. But would the proper response be to tell him to just go away and stick to reciting the books of the Bible? No, because he is a citizen, his group represents citizens, and they have a right to duke it out in the political process as much as anyone else does.

But…what about those SUV’s? And the other issues that don’t seem to have anything to do with religion? We can excuse the SBC president for participating in the discussion and trying to mold policy in our example because it’s about prayer and well, prayer is something religious leaders are supposed to know something about.

But the SUV’s?

Well, see, here’s where the deep Christian vision and the secular society butt heads. The secular society wants to privatize religion, rendering it something akin to selecting ice cream flavors. Trouble is, it’s not like that. Well – it is for some people, who mouth a creed on Sunday and merrily violate it the other 6 23/24 days of the week.

But ideally, faith is not simply one compartment of life. Faith concerns our self-identification: do I belong to God or something else? Naturally enough, then, that self-identification impacts how we spend our lives. Secularists want to bind the hands of faith, but authentic faith shapes everything it touches.

Here’s the thing: You can’t slam Christians for selling out to the culture and for being hypocrites and at the same time insist that they keep their faith to themselves.

You can’t slam Christian churches for not doing enough in regard to whatever human rights issue you pick – including the Holocaust – and then demand that churches today shut up and mind their own business and stop commenting on matters beyond their ken.

I think it’s that last point that irritates me the most. It simply makes no sense to judge Christians in the past guilty for silence or inaction on what might be called political matters and then hold churches’ present-day efforts to do just that up for ridicule, a ridicule based not on the content of the efforts, but on their mere expression.

Finally – I think – one more thought on Catholic bishops, specifically, one that’s been running through my head all week. What some – Catholic and non-Catholic – don’t understand is that when Catholic religious leaders and teachers speak, they shouldn’t be heard as speaking merely from the tops of their heads, out of the present moment, based on the current research. What they are supposed to be doing is interpreting Tradition for the present day, bringing it to bear on new situations. Now, granted, this is a difficult area, and one that is not infallible. Got it?

On one level, it makes little sense: when bishops teach on contemporary issues, they teach authoritatively, but not infallibly. Even – I dare say it – much papal teaching falls in this category. I’m still reading those bios of J23 (yes…) and am currently slogging through accounts of how radical Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris were in the context of previous centuries of papal pronouncements –especially on freedom of conscience and freedom of religious practice. Apologists can try all they want to say “Well, they weren’t really a change..” but they’re just grasping at straws. Yes, they were.

So why should we listen? (We being Catholics now) Because the bishops et al aren’t speaking solely for themselves. They are supposed to be speaking out of the whole of Christian tradition, rooted in God’s revelation through Scripture. So, the point is – when the bishops condemn abortion or call us to care for the poor – I can gripe all I want about their relative inaction on abortion and Bishop Murphy’s Sub-Zero freezer, and I have a right to gripe, and all of us have a right and an obligation to point out dissonance between words and actions to these same bishops. But in the end, I have to responsibly tease out the essence of what they’re saying and take it seriously.

But the hard part is the fact that there is no dearth of misapplications and misstatements of tradition, even by bishops, and even by popes – especially the more specific the issue. Which brings us back to the knotty issue that got me started: Faith extends to all areas of life, including, for example, how I spend my money and how I treat the environment. It really does. It’s called stewardship, and it’s all over the Gospels. My faith in Christ should touch all of my decisions, great and small. But somehow, something goes screwy – something doesn’t seem quite right when religious leaders try to pin down that specificity and make pronouncements on economic policy, for example. Does anyone care about the bishops’ pastoral on the economy issued lo so many years ago? Did anyone care then?

So here’s the question – how can religious leaders and teachers walk the line, balancing the commitment to help the flock understand the totality of the faith commitment, yet avoid making statements on the minutiae of life that make them look at best silly and at worst, like frantic little totalitarians?

Kansas City review board makes a decision

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will allow a priest who admitted a long-ago sexual relationship with another man to return to duty, but in another parish. Archbishop James P. Keleher announced his decision Tuesday, after an archdiocesan review board cleared the Rev. William Haegelin (pictured, left) of allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor. His accuser was the other man, who is now in his 30s and living in another state. The review board found that the relationship, which took place sometime in the 1980s, began after Haegelin's accuser turned 18. Haegelin, 52, had been pastor of St. Ann Church in the Kansas City suburb of Prairie Village. He was placed on paid leave Sept. 10, four after the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas received a letter accusing him of inappropriate sexual relations. "Father Haegelin did confirm to the Archbishop that many years ago he violated his promise of priestly celibacy when the accuser was an adult," the diocese said in its statement announcing the board's finding.

More about Bishop Belo's resignation.

Was it health or politics?

Bishop Belo was earlier reported to be unhappy with Vatican plans to reorganise church structures in East Timor by creating a third diocese."We don't want him to go - it was he who saved East Timor. If he leaves, there will be many problems," said parishioner Sebastio Calado, adding that he would "like to know who's behind this".It was typical of responses from those in the street, who suspect the resignation is politically motivated.

Well, maybe, but considering that he's spent time in Europe for treatment for undisclosed health problems, I'd put my money on the official story this time.

The Diocese of San Bernadino approaches its financial problems openly

On December 4, the Supreme Court will hear the oral arguments in NOW's use of RICO laws against Joseph Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League. Here's an article that looks at some of the issues involved.

Emily's List irritates everyone now - even liberals.

The Senate seat of Democrat Mary Landrieu is hanging by a thread. Unable to win an outright majority on November 5, Louisiana's Southern-fried election laws have forced her into a December 7 runoff with the top Republican vote getter, Suzanne Haik Terrell.It's a close race and nobody's taking it for granted. Right after the election, planeloads of Republican and Democratic activists parachuted into Louisiana to duke it out. But one major left-wing group isn't weighing in: Emily's List.The 17-year-old feminist PAC devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women once supported Landrieu. No longer. Landrieu, you see, once voted to ban partial birth abortions. As far as Emily's List is concerned, that is unforgivable.The fact that Landrieu's record is otherwise pro-choice and Terrell is pro-life doesn't move it. Nor does the fact that Terrell could add one more vote to the new GOP Senate majority."I don't think we are interested in electing anybody who is going to weaken abortion laws," said Janet Harris, the PAC's communications director. They wrote off Landrieu a long time ago, she adds.That's only the latest in a pattern of activity that is driving liberals and Democrats alike up the wall. A growing number are beginning to wonder if the PAC's abortion rights absolutism is undermining the Democratic Party's efforts to control Congress.

We have a two-hour delay for the beginning of the school day, for no reason that I can discern. There's snow on the ground, but none on the roads. My guess is that the assistant superintendent in charge of scheduling rolled over after a night of pre-holiday festivities, looked out the window at 5am, decided he wanted to sleep in, and phoned in the delay.

Alleged victim countersues priest who sued him.

fter the Archdiocese of St. Louis invited people molested by priests to seek healing from the Roman Catholic Church, Arthur Andreas reported earlier this year to archdiocesan officials that he had been sexually abused by the Rev. Alexander R. Anderson in the 1980's.Mr. Andreas kept his accusations strictly confidential, speaking of them only in private with the church authorities, and he did not sue either the archdiocese or Father Anderson. But the priest made the accusations public in April, when he used his pulpit to deny them, and he subsequently sued Mr. Andreas for defamation.Yesterday, Mr. Andreas countersued in a Missouri court, asserting that Father Anderson and the St. Louis Archdiocese had injured his reputation by making the dispute public in the hope of intimidating him into retracting his accusation."I didn't want a cent," Mr. Andreas, a 28-year-old carpet salesman, said yesterday in an interview. "All I wanted to do was to respond to the Catholic Church, which had opened its arms to me. I thought this would be a healing opportunity. But the church invites you to come closer and then they bite you."

This is a weird story

...that might be clearer with just a little better reporting. But here goes: A priest has gone missing from Tyler, Texas, apparently because his bishop wanted his former parish to institute a Spanish Mass, many in the parish protested, and, I guess the priest didn't want it either, so he was transferred to another parish. And then he disappeared.

Anthony left Trinity sometime around Nov. 3, when he had a parishioner read a letter to the congregation."Officially we do not know where he is," said Monsignor James E. Young, chancellor of the Tyler diocese. Young acknowledged Corrada recently received a letter from Anthony, but that the priest did not indicate he was going to Rome."He's still a member of the Tyler diocese but he's left his parish without permission," Young said. "That's all that really could be said that's solid and true."Corrada has been unavailable for comment due to being "tied up in meetings," Young said.

Meanwhile, Robert Smith, a Paris, parishioner who co-founded "Cry for Justice," a group opposed to Anthony's transfer, said Anthony telephoned him from Rome on Saturday."He said that everything had gone well and that he was very pleased," Smith said.Anthony has joined the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, an order of Catholic priests who are out of the reach of diocesan control, Smith said. After concluding meetings with the head of that order, Anthony will leave Wednesday for a sabbatical in India and then return to the United States for assignment several weeks later, Smith said.Anthony was ordained in his home Archdiocese of Hyderabad, India, in 1992 and has twice been voted the best pastor in Lamar County. In August, he told the Tyler Morning Telegraph he accepted the transfer to Holy Trinity parish on June 7 under the bishop's threat of canonical removal as priest of Our Lady of Victory in Paris.Corrada instituted a Spanish mass at Our Lady of Victory in February against the wishes of some who believe it divides the congregation by language, Parish Advisory Council President Gary Nash said in August.

Rod Dreher has an excellent piece on the double standards in perceptions of crimes against Christians, focusing on the murder of Mary Stachowicz in Chicago.

Here's another look at that particular crime.

The Boston Globe reports on the Law/VOTF meeting


Blog Archive