Wednesday, December 4

The text of the Boston Archdiocesan Finance Council's statement on their decision.

Why dishing out the dollars for an Ivy League "education" is a waste, Part 376.

Harvard students don't want to fund a Christian Fellowship because the group has decided, oddly enough, that its officers must be Christian. That's discrimination, you see. And that would be wrong.

Via Best of the Web

On the next episode of "This Old House...."

There's a good Supreme Court blog out there - no, not by the Supremes, only about them..

The Wednesday evening post has lots 'o links to various analyses of the Scheidler/NOW arguments today.

From the summary at Law.com

When the Court agreed last April to consider the case of Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, Nos. 01-1118 and 01-1119, it specifically excluded from its review the question of whether using RICO and the Hobbs Act as tools against aggressive clinic protests violated protesters' free speech rights. But at oral arguments Wednesday, the First Amendment came up often as justices and lawyers wondered aloud whether protesters ranging from Carry Nation to Martin Luther King Jr. would be labeled extortionists under the ruling of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case. When Justice Anthony Kennedy said at one point that the case had "serious First Amendment implications," Solicitor General Theodore Olson reminded him that the First Amendment issue was not in the case anymore. "There's always a First Amendment implication in a protest case," Kennedy shot back. Justice Antonin Scalia also lectured Olson that the case could cause the Court to "sail too close to the wind" of First Amendment problems. Justice David Souter also said the Court "should be more concerned" with the free speech issue.


Researchers startled by responses of test subjects to smallpox vaccine

At the University of Rochester Medical Center, researcher John Treanor saw a wide range of reactions, from a small rash to swelling the size of a grapefruit. About 5 percent of the 170 participants had rashes that spread to other parts of the body. It took time and experience, he said, for the team to get comfortable with the natural course of the vaccine. "The reactions we are seeing are totally out of line with today's vaccine experience and absolutely in line with historical experience," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "In the 30 years since we had routine vaccination, the public's tolerance level has gone way down."

I remember nothing about my smallpox vaccine except that big ol' scab.



More than a rumor:

Archdiocesan financial panel approves the possibility of bankruptcy

The Archdiocese of Boston, which faces potentially huge liabilities in a clergy sexual assault scandal, took a step closer to declaring bankruptcy on Wednesday but said it still hoped to reach a settlement with victims instead. The finance panel of the archdiocese voted to allow reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code, but church leaders said they had yet to make a final decision. If Boston Cardinal Bernard Law were to take that path, the archdiocese would first need the Vatican's approval, the church said in a statement.



From UPI:

Tom Stoppard has signed on to adapt Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" for the screen.

The article evaluates the series:

This statement perfectly describes the faith of secular modernity, and it makes understandable the enthusiasm for Pullman's books among intellectuals like Stoppard and Jon Snow, the chairman of the Whitbread Prize committee, who upon giving the prize to Pullman (the first children's author to win it) confessed that "We (the jurors) are more taken, it has to be said, with (his) view of God than Lewis's."

"His Dark Materials" is an attempt to mythologize the Enlightenment, to retell the story of the world using the paradigms of modern atheistic materialism. But the fact that, among other things, its climax -- the salvation of humanity achieved by a teenage kiss, ushering in a life that will entail, as Lyra says, "all those difficult things like cheerful and kind and curious and patient, and we've got to study and think and work hard, all of us, in all our different worlds" -- is so banal shows that much more needs to be done in order to make this myth a strong competitor to the one Lewis and Tolkein drew from in their stories.

So Christians need not fret too much about Pullman. His challenge to the Christian myth is, while fascinating and impressive, ultimately a failure. What's more, he tests his protagonists in courage and loyalty and purity of heart, virtues that all people of faith can applaud. For all his efforts to overthrow the Christian story in fantasy literature, Pullman ironically ends up reaffirming its richness -- in part by virtue of the fact that his alternative, despite its many sparkling moments, cannot find a conclusion that is really compelling.


From Jeffrey Overstreet at Looking Closer:

An excellent review of the "Hell House" documentary. Be sure to also read the letter Overstreet has posted from former participant in the Hell House in question:

"Is Hell House a worthy respone to Christ’s example?"Your question was what I asked myself during my involvement. I had to answer for both myself and my family. I played the doctor in the abortion scene and my 11-13 year old daughter the girl. It was emotionally ravaging. ...

You can say that again...

Not to worry.

Cardinal Ratzinger's got it covered

Q: This past year has been difficult for Catholics, given the space dedicated by the media to scandals attributed to priests. There is talk of a campaign against the Church. What do you think?


Cardinal Ratzinger: In the Church, priests also are sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower.

In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the Church. It is a logical and well-founded conclusion.


I moved the Advent wreath over to the LEFT. Click on it for the daily meditations.

Also, my husband is offering his own daily reflections here.

I will be very interested to see someone, somewhere, bring all of these Boston materials together and lay out some timelines for us, along with salient quotes from supportive hierarchs.

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? And this wasn’t even all of the documents. Thousands more pages have yet to be revealed to us.

As I read through today’s articles, though, some points came to mind, most of which are old points, but that still bear repetition.

Apologists for the bishops’ actions in regard to abusers have often placed blame on the bishops’ reliance on faulty expert opinion. It was thought that these were problems that could be cured it’s said. The bishops were only following the advice of psychologists’ prevailing wisdom and advice.

Incidentally, this apology is often then used to score points against arguments for greater non-clerical involvement in decision-making in these cases. Oh, yeah – see what happens when the laity get involved?

Well, over the past months I have read of cases where abusing priests have been given an okay by psychologists or other professionals, but more and more I am struck by how many warnings were completely ignored. There’s an example in this article about Cardinal Medeiros, for example.

It would be interesting to take say – 50 of these cases and do a good analysis of what counselors told diocesan officials about these offenders and what those officials did with that advice. I would guess that most of the time offenders were given the “all-clear,” they were given it by professionals with ties to the diocese or to some of the more questionable treatment centers. I’m wondering how often truly objective clinicians with no vested interest in Church affairs actually told officials that it was safe to put clerical sexual abusers back into active ministry.

Another point: I don’t know why people are so intent on defending this sick culture in Boston and others like it around the country. If I hear “only a few priests” one more time, I’ll …I don’t know…go shovel snow or something else radical. Everyone knows that most priests are normal guys trying to do their best in a difficult job and a challenging lifestyle. But here’s the point: These “few priests” did not live and act in a vacuum. Their behavior was known – by bishops, by some laity, and yes – by their fellow priests. The majority of “good priests” know a great deal about the sins of their brothers. But for some reason, they seem paralyzed – by what, I can’t say. But the reason some of us are angry with the very real clerical culture, and are not interested in the defensive whining of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils, for example, is that too many of them have tolerated too much, and too many victims have suffered because of the silence of the “good priests.”

Finally, for now: We are told to stop being cynics and to trust the bishops. Here’s the challenge: The Archdiocese of Boston didn’t first encounter the problem of sexual abuse in a public way in 2002. The entire Church in Massachusetts was shocked by the Porter case in the early 90’s, and the entire Church in Massachusetts promised it would clean up its act after that. Policies were put on paper, promises were made and, it was said, the ranks were being pruned. Not to worry.

Now look. Some of the documentation revealed yesterday deals with cover-ups extending back to the 1960’s, but some of the cases involve offenders who were known about, but remained in some sort of ministry up until the 21st century….while the policies were supposedly being enforced and the promises being made.

This is why trust is so hard to come by. We’ve been told everything’s all right before, and it took lawsuits and the press to bring out the truth. Now we’re being told, post-Dallas, post-Washington, once again, that everything’s okay, and the children are safe.

Given the track record of places like Boston, who can blame us for not believing a word of it?

Bishop Loverde explains:

In the case generating the most media interest, that of Father James Haley, some facts need to be clarified. 1) Father Haley has not been made a pastor because of separate issues concerning his own past conduct which came to light before he brought the misdeeds of three other priests to my attention......

Catholic universities educate the whole person, you know:

Jarvis, David Wegrzyn and the Rev. Donald J. Harrington may wish to take a few seconds out of their hectic schedules sometime very soon and cozy up to a copy of the St. John's University Mission Statement, which reads, in part:

"Our community, which comprises members of many faiths, strives for an openness which is ‘wholly directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise.' "

If the university's basketball coach, athletic director and president did that, perhaps they would finally understand how little honesty, purity, decency or virtue have been valued around Utopia Parkway since Nov. 17, when forward Grady Reynolds was arrested and charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment of Rachel Seager, a 20-year-old member of the school's swim team.

Reynolds, released on $500 bail, has yet to miss a game for the 2-0 Red Storm. Jarvis intends to play him again on Saturday, when St. John's plays Fordham at the Garden.

"Why shouldn't he play?" Jarvis asked yesterday in a calm, defiant voice. "It would be inappropriate not to play him. I know what happened. To me, there is no reason to tell the young man he can't play when it hasn't been proven that he's done anything wrong."



Thanks to Mark Sullivan for this this link to images from an exhibit of 19th century nativist Anti-Catholic "art."

Scandal among the Presbyterians

Amid all the dreck and sludge pouring out of Boston today, I'm glad to see, once more, our Bishop D'Arcy of Fort Wayne, formerly of Boston, coming through as the only sane voice in a river called Denial:

(This is from a story about the priest who sexually abused young women, saying he was simply helping them deepen their spiritual lives. Read the article. The guy is unrepetant)

Four years later, Meffan attracted the attention of church officials again. In a Dec. 7, 1984, letter, Bishop Daniel A. Hart informed Cardinal Bernard F. Law that Meffan had said he ''has a `mission' confided to him by God which he is bound to keep secret ... This `mission' makes it impossible for him to accept any regular assignment from you.''Hart's letter prompted Bishop John M. D'Arcy to write to Law on Jan. 24, 1985, declaring that Meffan, who was unassigned at the time, was not ''balanced'' and ''could really harm us.'' Still, Law reassigned Meffan to St. Thecla Parish in Pembroke in December 1985, where he remained until Law placed him on leave in July 1993.

More on D'Arcy's warnings from the Globe

All of the Globe's articles on the files from today's paper.

The Boston Herald's articles.



All in the distant past.....not.

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