Sunday, December 22

Via Relapsed Catholic:

How one Canadian school has succeeded in secularizing Christmas

After Law:

Who's next?

Among the prelates under rising financial and legal pressure is Los Angeles' Cardinal Roger Mahony, who faces an onslaught of civil lawsuits in 2003 because the California legislature has lifted the statute of limitations for one year.Having spent nearly $200 million on a new cathedral, Mahony's archdiocese now faces budget cuts. A grand jury has subpoenaed its records on 17 priests, and Mahony has been personally implicated in the case of the Rev. Michael Baker, who says he admitted to the archbishop in 1986 that he had molested several boys. Baker was sent for psychological treatment and then transferred to nine different parishes before leaving the priesthood two years ago.Cardinal Edward Egan of New York also is under intense scrutiny for his past handling of abuse allegations. When he was bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., for example, Egan allegedly gave an accused priest $17,000 to settle bank debts and hire an attorney, the Hartford Courant has reported.Prelates in smaller dioceses who are under pressure to step down include Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien of Phoenix. He faces a grand jury investigation by a prosecutor who has suggested that the bishop's resignation might help to avert criminal charges against church leaders.And in the diocese of Toledo, two priests have called for Bishop James R. Hoffman to step down, particularly in light of eight lawsuits accusing the Rev. Dennis Gray of molesting numerous boys before leaving the priesthood in 1987. Although victims say they told church officials about the abuse before 1987, Gray left the priesthood with a clean record and went on to work in the Toledo public schools until this year.One of the priests urging Hoffman to retire, the Rev. Patrick Rohen, said he is "breaking the code of silence.""I will tell you, I fear retaliation," Rohen said. "But somebody's got to speak out on this. The whole problem is the world of secrecy and shame. In order to get beyond this denial, in places where cover-ups and incompetence have been demonstrated, those bishops should retire."



Fun article from the NYDaily News on textbook errors and misrepresentations

If by "fun" you mean "depressing," "infuriating," and "one more reason to homeschool."

From the Plain Dealer:

A nice article about the wonderful little "cross-tipped" Catholic churches that dot the landscape of Western Ohio.

All is not flat in the vast field that is west-central Ohio. There are spires - dozens of them - that compete with the corn in the landscape. n the two counties of Mercer and Auglaize, 25 Catholic church buildings grace the horizon - one, it seems, at every crossroad. The area has been dubbed the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches for the many towers that rise above the trees and reach toward the heavens. The church buildings, most of which are 100 or more years old, were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979; the routes that pass in front and behind are considered an Ohio Scenic Byway, one of 14 designated by the state. Take a tour of these roads, and it's impossible not to feel inspired. "When I was growing up here, I thought the whole world was like this," said Sister Barbara Ann Hoying, director of the Maria Stein Center, the former motherhouse of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. In fact, there is no other place quite like it.....

Perhaps not, but a close second would be the Painted Churches of Texas, built, like the Ohio churches, by Germans, but also by Czech immigrants, as well.

By the way, there's a description of one building, not a parish church, in Ohio:

From Maria Stein, you can travel either east to Minster, to the towering St. Augustine Church, or west to Carthagena, to the majestic St. Charles Seminary. Both are major stops on any tour of the area. St. Charles, a sprawling facility on 900 acres, was closed as a seminary in 1969, and it now serves as the retirement center for members of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in America. Church officials are hoping to turn the largely empty building into an independent-living facility open to the public, and are working on securing financing. Inside the building’s Chapel of the Assumption is a stunning mosaic of Christ ascending from Jerusalem, created by a German artist and reconstructed behind the altar in the early 1960s.

We've been there. It's huge. It's got a nice Gaspar del Bufalo relic (his forearm bone). But I've got another good idea for the use of this huge, mostly empty building. Let the USCCB buy it and use it for their meetings (as well as keeping the retired priests and brothers there). It's literally in the middle of fields, away from the distractions of the city. It's a religious house. It is eminently more suitable for bishops' meetings than hotels in Dallas or DC.

Not that there aren't other enormous empty former seminaries and motherhouses available for the same purpose. But that's another issue, isn't it?





Churches being built and refurbished in Manhattan

George Weigel remembers a moment in Cardinal Law's episcopal career.

Money Talk:

From Boston, the Archdiocese is re-approaching donors now that Law is gone

and in Long Island, tales of donation challenges

In the New York metropolitan area, Brooklyn is the only diocese that publishes an audited financial statement in its diocesan newspaper, The Tablet."We have not released financial statements and I do not know of any plans to do so,” said Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for Cardinal Edward Egan of the Archdiocese of New York.Rockville Centre stopped publishing financial statements a few years ago, but the bishop's finance council planned to discuss possible changes to the practice, according to Novarro.Asked who the finance council members are and when they would decide, she replied: "We're not releasing the names. They're five people who have volunteered their time. We don't want them to be hounded by the media. We will release the information we should release when we're ready to release it and not before.”


Philadelphia Catholic museum on hold

The project had been underway for nearly two years. In March 2001, church officials announced the purchase of a six-story office building to house the museum, and said they hoped to open in June 2003, to coincide with the opening of the nearby National Constitution Center and Liberty Bell Pavilion.


Christmas in Saudi Arabia

In Lebanon and Syria, with substantial Christian populations, Christmas is celebrated openly in all its religious and commercial glory - and even some Muslims go Christian shopping just to see the holiday fanfare.But in Riyadh, the mere mention of Christmas leads many expatriates to lower their voices and fidget, fearful of unwanted attention or risking their jobs. Just buying a Christmas card requires a whispered journey into a greeting card underworld.At the Riyadh gift shop where a few festive decorations were tucked in among other goods, a Filipino employee shakes his head when asked about Christmas cards. But he gives directions to another shop, advising an inquirer to look for the Filipino manager."He'll give you one in secret ... secret because it's 'haram' here, you know," he says, using the Arabic word for "forbidden" known to anyone who has run afoul of conservative Islamic social norms.



From the NYTimes (LRR):

The story of a boy - now a 66-year old man - who says he saw the Virgin in the Bronx in 1945

Every evening at 7, Joseph Vitolo walks out the backdoor of his boyhood home in the Bronx and ascends a long stairway to a shrine that overlooks the northern tip of the Grand Concourse. He then leads the few people who have gathered in the recitation of the rosary. On some nights, no one shows up and he performs the service alone. Other nights, Mr. Vitolo is himself absent, having fallen asleep in front of the television set or lost track of the time. Mr. Vitolo, a slow-moving 66-year-old with a gravelly voice and sandy hair flecked with gray, has sought to carry out this nightly act of devotion since Oct. 29, 1945. That is when, at 9, he said he witnessed the Virgin Mary hovering over the spot where the shrine is now. The sighting catapulted Mr. Vitolo, a child of Italian immigrants, to news media celebrity. Spurred by extensive newspaper coverage, more than 30,000 people eventually crowded the spot, just south of Van Cortlandt Park, hoping to be touched by the heavenly presence that, it was said, had been communicated to the child.



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