Friday, June 6

In the Word from Rome, John Allen tells us about a weekend discussion of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, Powell's visit to the Vatican, and lunch with scholar Robert Wilken, yet another Tiber-crosser:

When I was in graduate school working on early Christian literature, Robert Wilken’s book “The Christians as the Romans Saw Them” was important in shaping my approach. It was a privilege, then, to be able to take Wilken to lunch in Rome on June 4, as he finished up a guest course at the Gregorian University. Wilken is Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia.

Wilken, who was raised a Missouri Synod Lutheran, traveled a path into the Roman Catholic Church similar to that walked by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, well-known for his journal First Things. In fact, he and Neuhaus were classmates and were ordained together as Lutheran ministers. Both tried to uphold a vision of Lutheranism as a reform of the Catholic Church, hence they supported a “high-church” vision of liturgy, the episcopacy, and other matters.

Eventually, however, Wilken said, they became convinced that they were “living in a dream world,” that the Lutheranism they believed in didn’t really exist.

The argument that finally tipped the scales in terms of his decision to join the Ctaholic Church, Wilken said, was this. The Reformation presupposed that one could have apostolic faith through apostolic doctrine. The Catholic view, which he found persuasive, is that it is the community preserves the faith -- one needs not just doctrine, but a Church in which doctrine takes shape.

From Christianity Today, Almost everything you'd want to know about heaven..

A nice story about Brazil's "Mother Teresa" with one weird quote:

"We have hundreds of statements made about her miracles," Sister Dulce's niece, Maria Rita de Souza Pontes, told BBC World Service's Everywoman programme. "I think her sainthood will depend mainly on people making a case for her. "She was considered a saint during her life, but it is up to the Brazilian people - and of course her lawyer - to make a strong case for her."

Check out my husband's reflections on today's Papal destination, Dubrovnik

It's about freakin' time.

Catholic bishops condemn Left Behind series

The Roman Catholic bishops of Illinois are condemning the best-selling, Christian-themed Left Behind books as "anti-Catholic."They cite story lines they say are offensive--including one that involves an American cardinal who becomes the right-hand man of the Antichrist. The Illinois bishops plan to issue a statement to Catholics next week calling the series of novels by fundamentalist Christian authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins anti-Catholic.
They also plan to urge Catholics not to confuse the apocalyptic stories in the Left Behind books with Catholic teaching about the Second Coming of Christ.
"Our main point . . . is to make sure people who are teaching the Catholic faith are not relying on Left Behind books," said Zach Wichmann, associate director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, which represents all 16 Roman Catholic bishops in the state.

My only problem is the inclusion of the idea of "offensiveness" in the statement. Even the slightest hint of victimhood is not only wimpy, but unnecessary. The books embody a theology that is inauthentic and a skewing of Scripture. The books' implications that Catholics aren't real Christians and LaHaye's rabid anti-Catholicism (despite his protestations) shouldn't be condemned because they're offensive. They should be condemned because they're wrong

Oh, they should just usee my article on the series

Here's a link to Carl Olson's book, Will Catholics Be Left Behind: A Critique of the Rapture and Today's Prophecy Preachers

The Alexian Brothers do a national ad campaign:

The situation called for drastic action: The Alexian Brothers, a Roman Catholic religious order that goes back to the Middle Ages, has only 37 members worldwide, with a median age of 65.

With survival of the order at stake, the congregation vowed to do whatever was necessary to attract recruits to its Elk Grove Village, Ill., headquarters - including watching a Madonna video.

For the brothers, immersion in "Material Girl," as well as clips from "Mad Max," "The Grifters" and other Hollywood fare, is not usually part of the job description. But they felt it was essential to select the right director to be the creative force behind their new national TV campaign, which observers say is the first ever for a religious order.

"It's a different era … and in an electronic age, you have to meet people where they're at," said Brother Danny McCormick, who is featured in one of the commercials, which started airing in May on cable networks ranging from MSNBC to the Golf Channel.

Ultimately, the Alexians settled on an advertising agency known for its Bud Light commercials. They liked the way the creative folks portrayed real people, said Patrick Gaughan, who handles vocations recruitment.

...Already, the blitz has elicited more than 75 responses - the usual yield for three months. Not only has the traffic been heavier, but the caliber of candidates is higher than the usual inquiries, said Gaughan.

The Pope beatified a Croatian nun, Marija "The Crucified" Petkovic today. Here's her miracle:

The Vatican has authenticated a miracle attributed to Petkovic -- the saving of a Peruvian navy submarine struck by a Japanese fishing boat in 1988 just off Peru's seacoast. A junior officer praying to the nun for help managed to prevent the sub from sinking and rescued sailors trapped deep in the hold.

From The Tablet:

Young Catholic evangelists swarm over Vienna

IN the last days of May, Vienna’s cosy, stately streets and cafés were suddenly filled with ardent young “evangelists” from all over the world attesting their Catholic faith and proclaiming the Gospel message. For 10 days, from 23 May to 1 June, the Austrian capital hosted a “city mission”, the first concerted attempt to re-evangelise an old European capital. Under the motto “Open the Doors to Christ”, some 5,500 “missionaries”, 1,500 of them from abroad, gathered in Vienna to take the Gospel message out to those in the city who have forgotten or never known about it, or who have become estranged from it yet yearn to find a deeper meaning to their lives.

The idea of re-evangelising Europe’s ancient metropolises was conceived by the French charismatic renewal movement Emmanuel, founded by the French film critic Pierre Boursat in the mid-Seventies. The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, brought the movement to Austria in 1987. He put the idea of the city mission to the cardinal archbishops of Malines-Brussels, Paris and Lisbon when they met in Vienna two years ago, together with bishops, priests and lay people from other large European cities. After Vienna, Paris is next in 2004, followed by Lisbon in 2005 and Brussels in 2006.

The city mission in Vienna was organised jointly by Emmanuel and the Austrian Catholic Youth Movement, which is a part of Catholic Action. It was certainly a “mega-event”: more than 1,000 conferences, workshops, concerts, lectures, discussions and “encounter sessions” took place not just in St Stephen’s Cathedral in the city centre but in parishes (110 out of Vienna’s 176 joined in), convents and monasteries throughout the city.


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