Saturday, February 1

From the WaPost: A rabbi and abuse

Peggy Noonan on the Columbia

Well, it's February, which means it's almost Valentine's Day, which also means it's almost "V-Day" which sort of doesn't mean Valentine's Day.

Which means it's time to take stock of the Catholic colleges that are joining in what has become a yearly event, the presentation of a certain play with the initials "TVM"

(You know, I get enough hits to my blog from people entering weird, scary combinations of words in search engines. I'm trying to minimize that.)

Now, I've actually seen much of this play - as it was presented on HBO last year, I think. If you can get past being offended by it, you'll find that it's really just....stupid. And the part that isn't stupid is almost criminal, and the celebration of this scene - which is really an approving account of statutory rape - reeks of hypocricy.

Anyway, here's the list of 43 Catholic colleges that are sponsoring presentations of this play this year - that's up from 28 last year. Un - believable. The page, courtesy of the Cardinal Newman Society, includes contact information for college presidents, for your hellraising pleasure, especially if you're an alumn or a parent...or a student.

I continue to wonder why local news even bothers to exist. Or – if it does, why it doesn’t actually report news, which must be happening in a city of 150,000, surely. As the local newscasters finished the top story tonight, summarizing the details of the Columbia tragedy, I said to Michael, “Now it’s time for them to go to the mall and get local reaction.” I was wrong. It was an electronics store – not the mall. An electronics store so the intrepid journalists could get video of customers watching the news on the store televisions, return to their studios with the footage and put “Witnessing Tragedy” under the interviewees’ names.

What followed was – I’m serious about this – a report that there were no Purdue graduates on this flight. In case you were wondering.

When I lived in Florida, there was a patch of road between Bushnell and Wildwood that I used to drive regularly. Every twist and turn of that road became numbingly familiar, and every permanent roadside rummage sale a landmark.

One of the businesses along that road was a body repair operation, and for some reason, for their signage, they had the burned-out shell of a van posted high on a pillar. Every time I would drive by, I would contemplate this, wondering why the business thought this was a good advertisement, wondering how they got it up there.

Until one day, the obvious hit me. People had been in this miserable wreckage once. They were hurt and perhaps even died, judging from the condition of the vehicle. I couldn't imagine that someone would hoist the site of a death up on a pillar and use it for advertising, but you never know. But the possibility burrowed into my head and would not leave, and re-emerged every time I drove past: Someone died in there.

Which is why the constant replaying of the breakup of the Columbia is so particularly horrible and macabre. The anchors use their pens to circle the parts breaking off, saying triumphantly, "See - there's a puff of smoke," when perhaps, all they should be saying, or better, all they should be letting us think as they fall silent is Some people died in there.

I am also reminded of the term that used to be used in aviation in such circumstances, I believe. I first heard it when golfer Payne Stewart's plane went haywire.. Five souls on board... I remember hearing.

Seven Souls On Board...all lost.

But of course, we pray that lost is not, in God's time, what they are.

Requiescat in pace

Last night, I finished Catherwood,, a brief, thickly written, intense novel about the deceptively simple event of a 17th century woman lost in the woods of New York with her 15-month old daughter. The prose is lush – a bit too lush at times for my simplistic frame of mind – but it is as powerful a presentation of mother love as you will ever find. Recommended!

Here's something we can all agree on:

Too damn many standing ovations

The author of this WSJ piece takes on big-time Broadway, opera and symphony productions, but I don't think I've been to a community theater production - or a school Christmas program, for that matter - that didn't end in a standing ovation.

The Toledo Blade profiles Pat Madrid

From NCR: What the bishops' Review Board is going to do:


a profile of its members.

Andrew Sullivan defends the DC judge

We've found in recent years that when the Church hierarchy covers up abuse, it is sometimes necessary for the laity to peacefully protest. And when the Church propagates doctrines that are cruel and discriminatory - such as the denial of communion to gay Catholics merely because they are openly gay - then it is also permissible for lay Catholics to express their sympathy for the victims of the Church's actions. This is not bigotry. According to the Church itself, openly gay people are not to be denied communion. They are part of the body of Christ. And no-one is questioning the right of the Catholic hierarchy to enforce whatever doctrines they want. What the judge said merely amounted to bearing witness to what many perceive to be injustice. You may disagree and support the exclusion of openly gay Catholics from the sacraments, but it's an over-reach to describe this conscientious objection as a form of bigotry.

Peter Steinfels on Pacem In Terris

The 40th anniversary of Pope John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in Terris" ("Peace on Earth") is not until April, but the commemoration has already begun — understandably enough.

Pope John Paul II made it the subject of his World Day of Peace Message on Jan. 1 and of a message to journalists on Jan. 24.

"Pacem in Terris" reflected another moment of great international tension. John XXIII conceived of writing it in October 1962 — in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis — during the late-night hours when he passed back and forth from his writing desk to his private chapel, composing a message sent to Kennedy and Khrushchev in hopes of bringing them into agreement and preventing a war that might incinerate millions in its opening salvos.

When the encyclical emerged just before Easter in 1963, it was addressed not only to the Catholic bishops, clergy and faithful, as was customary, but also "to all men of good will." And "Pacem in Terris" was embraced by non-Catholic readers like no previous encyclical.....

But are there not "situations in which nothing short of war can defend or establish" such rights? That was one objection raised in 1965 by the theologian Paul Tillich at a major conference where a score of world leaders addressed the themes of "Pacem in Terris."

A refugee from Nazism, Tillich welcomed the encyclical but countered its optimism with a more tragic perspective. Other theologians, like Reinhold Niebuhr and even John Courtney Murray, a Catholic, also questioned the pope's optimism. Couldn't the ingredients in his recipe for peace — human rights, disarmament, equal respect for all nations, economic development, the peaceful resolution of differences by dialogue and negotiation — come into conflict with one another? Wouldn't hard choices be unavoidable?

Group pushes for Baltimore Archdioces to reconsider its rejection of the validity of Gianna Talone-Sullivan's reported visions

"I have a good impression of her messages. While it is difficult to say if they are authentic, there is nothing objectionable in them," said the Rev. Edward D. O'Connor, a retired theologian at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton in Ohio. "The mere fact that there is an apocalyptic tone should not exclude the messages."

O'Connor has written to Cardinal William H. Keeler to criticize the findings of an archdiocesan commission that found "no evidence of supernatural intervention" in Talone-Sullivan's messages. A petition with hundreds of signatures - including those of a half-dozen Marian scholars - was delivered early last month to archdiocese offices in Baltimore.

And although an archdiocese spokesman said there are no plans to reopen the investigation into the case, Talone-Sullivan's supporters say they will continue to collect signatures and push for more study.

Polish priest enters innocent plea.

Catholic high school students make 1,000 rosaries for servicepeople


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