Sunday, June 15

Neumayr sorts out Mahony and Keating

(Written before Keating's resignation)

Tod Tamberg, Mahony's artless spokesman, dismissed Keating's criticism as "extra zeal." Keating, said Tamberg, is "not an authority on California law or the pastoral concerns of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles."

One of those pristine pastoral concerns was to short-circuit Keating's survey seeking a definitive number of American priests accused of abuse. Even as he twirled before the cameras as a "reformer," Mahony was quietly telling his brother bishops not to cooperate with the survey, lest it provide more fodder for the media and the courts.

"In April, Mahony wrote to all U.S. cardinals and major archbishops calling for the review board to terminate its contract with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which the panel had hired to conduct the study," reports the Times. "In May, California's bishops followed Mahony's lead and passed a resolution -- previously unpublicized -- declaring that they would not participate in the survey."

His gambit foiled, Mahony says that he will now cooperate with the survey. Meanwhile, Los Angeles prosecutors are waiting for a judge's ruling on Mahony's refusal to turn over to them 2,000 pages of "church communications that lawyers for Mahony insist must remain secret under the Constitution," reports the Times.

The bishops' memo to the media on what they'll be allowed to cover and when

Friday Morning: Open to news media. Debate and vote on the National Directory for Catechesis and the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States and a brief report by the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse on the implementation of the Charter. The remainder of Friday morning, Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning will be in Executive Session, not open to media.

There are no news conferences or press briefings on Friday or Saturday.

More Mel:

Bishops respond

The U.S. Conference of Bishops has issued a statement refuting press reports that the organization was involved in developing a report that charged Mel Gibson with anti-Semitism in his portrayal of Christ's crucifixion in his film "The Passion." As WorldNetDaily reported, earlier this week the Melbourne Herald Sun reported Gibson, a Catholic, had threatened lawsuits against both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Anti-Defamation League over the issue. The Bishops' organization, however, says the report was created by "an independent group of scholars critiquing" the film's script. Neither the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, nor any other committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, established this group or authorized, reviewed or approved the report written by its members. The Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs knew only that the scholars' group intended to offer comments for the private consideration of the producers," the statement said.

Mel responds

Actor Mel Gibson, breaking his silence on his controversial film depicting the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ, denied on Friday that his movie was anti-Semitic and insisted the film is "meant to inspire, not offend." Gibson's comments were contained in a statement announcing that the Roman Catholic Church has agreed to help his production company, Icon, retrieve copies of an early draft of the movie script that Icon says was obtained without permission by a "deep throat" working for an ad-hoc group of Catholic and Jewish scholars.

A belated happy birthday to my son David, who turned 18 last week, and a happy Father's Day to my dad, Michael's dad and, of course, Michael himself, whom Joseph took to calling "Daddy Dubwee-el" yesterday, since he's mastered his own name, "Jo-jo Dubwee-el."

Archbishop Pell minces no words:

In an exclusive interview with the Herald Sun, Australia's leading Catholic has warned a dying generation of priests needs to be replaced.While declaring the church strong, he warned another two decades could leave many areas bereft of priests, brothers and nuns.Dr Pell believes Catholics must receive communion at Mass each week to ensure the religion is sustainable in Australia.There was no future without priests in parishes, he added, calling for ordinary Catholics to consider taking on greater lay responsibilities."And I say to the young people: it's very simple," he said in his Sydney office. "Unless young men come on board, the Catholic Church will topple over."

A rehash and update on the Padre Pio conflagration

The sun is baking a square full of pilgrims when Pasquale Mangiacotti decides to sfogarsi, which is basically what a volcano does when it lets off steam.

"These vagabonds don't believe in Padre Pio," says Mangiacotti, referring to the group of young Capuchin monks who run the sanctuary of Italy's most popular modern saint. "They don't even believe in heaven."Mangiacotti, who spent more than 20 years at Padre Pio's side before the saint's death in 1968, has pilgrims looking at him curiously as he fumes at the monks, calling them "a gang of half-wits," "delinquents" and, again, "vagabonds."

"They used to call me Padre Pio's little orphan," says Mangiacotti, 67, dressed in his uniform as custodian of the sanctuary's "Way of the Cross" outdoor site, a job he says Padre Pio gave him. "My whole life is in this sanctuary. Now, I'm ashamed to even go near it."....

One of those welcoming the bishop was Mangiacotti, who has a long list of complaints, including the monks' removal of outdoor washrooms for tourists and transforming the sanctuary into "a big store."

But what makes him and other pro-Vatican residents especially livid is the monks' plan to move the saint's body from its tomb in the sanctuary to the new church being built some 300 metres distant.The residents have started a letter-writing campaign to the Vatican, hoping the Pope will nix the reburial plan when, as expected, he forwards new orders to the Capuchins, who still run the sanctuary's daily operations."We will never let them touch Padre Pio," says Mangiacotti, as a member of his group passes out leaflets near the sanctuary, urging the faithful to block any bid to move the body.

Keating's resigning

The head of the Roman Catholic Church's U.S. sexual abuse oversight panel will resign his post, his spokesman said Saturday -- an ouster brought on by controversy that began last week when he publicly compared some Catholic bishops to "La Cosa Nostra."

The resignation of former Oklahoma Gov. Frank A. Keating as head of the church's National Review Board comes after his words were denounced as "off the wall" by Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and after a majority of members of the oversight panel privately called on him to quit.

During the year in which he has headed the board, Keating -- who is a former federal prosecutor -- has been the public face of the church's effort to reassure Catholics that the bishops are serious about confronting the scandal of priests sexually abusing children.

His strong stands made him a favorite of victims' advocates, but his penchant for vivid language rankled many of the bishops he served and some members of his board.

Even before the announcement of his departure, church officials had said his leaving office would threaten to revive questions among many Catholics about whether the bishops were willing to accept independent, outside oversight of their work. That was precisely the issue the bishops had sought to lay to rest when they appointed Keating and the other 12 members of the review board a year ago.

Keating's spokesman, Dan Mahoney, said the departure would come in the next few days, before the bishops convene in St. Louis for their semiannual national conference, at which they are scheduled to review how their year-old policies against sexual abuse are working.

Mahoney said Keating continued to stand behind his remarks. "He uses strong language to make a point. He tells the truth, and apparently some people don't want to hear the truth," Mahoney said.

He conceded that the timing was "awkward" but sought to portray Keating's resignation as a previously scheduled departure after a year on the job.

Thursday was Joseph, Mommy and the City.

Michael needed to spend all day at the show, there was no way I was going to try to manage Joseph there for seven hours and equally no way I was going to a)spend all day at the Residence Inn or b)hassle with driving around Chicago.

So I decided to take the train.

Actually, with just a couple of mishaps, and the continual awkwardness of negotiating subway stairs and turnstiles with stroller, diaper bag and 2-year old, we did fine.

I love riding subways and trains in cities. It is such a civilized way to get around, although I guess if had to grocery shop, get kids to and from school, and so on, I might wish for a car - except for the probable fact that all of that would probably be in my neighborhood, so I wouldn't need to.

But anyway, I like getting on the train in the 'burbs and riding into the city. It is always such a Cheeverian/Rob Petrie kind of moment in my imagination even if I'm a chick hauling a stroller in Chicago rather than the man in the gray flannel suit coming in from Westchester.

Anyway, we decided that Michael would drop us off at O'Hare and we would catch the train there (just a couple of miles from the hotel), which seemed like the perfect idea, until I sat on the train and we made our first stop - at the Rosemont station, almost within walking distance of the trade show. Ah well.

So we made it into Chicago, where our first stop was going to be back at the Shedd to see the whales again, since they were doing free admission this week and all.

Since they were doing free admission this week and all, the line to the front door of the Shedd ran all the way to the Field Museum, so I decided that one whale sighting this year would be fine for Joseph. I was a little worried about convincing him of the wisdom of this plan, until I mentioned "dinosaur bones" which then became the mantra that replaced "big fish." The line at the Field (also doing free admission this week) was negligable (understandable - the Shedd is much flashier, and actually more interesting for kids), so we saw dinosaur bones and elephants and the displays of stuffed mammals, which of course used to be the mainstay of natural history museums, but now seem rather archaic and bizarre. I don't know if it's because there are more zoos than there used to be, or because of television, but it just seemed really odd to me standing there looking at stuffed giraffes (yes, big old stuffed giraffes) than I recall it being when I would see them as a child.

But Joseph absolutely loved it, and we ate lunch at the Museum's branch of the Corner Bakery, where we sat at the same table with three Indian women, who made me, as usual, feel like the most inarticulate person on the planet with their precise, clipped diction and efficient conversations:

And what kind of salad was that, Auntie? Rather good, wasn't it?

One the way back to the subway, we encountered an actual living animal, in the person of a police horsie, who generously allowed himself to be patted by a thrilled Joseph.

Oh, and for those of you following the hagiography of Joseph, we made a point of asking him what he was going to see this time in Ca-go. A deer, he responded.

And yes, the line at the Shedd was too long, so Joseph saw.... stuffed deer at the Field. You may scoff, but...

Then it was my intention to go to the Navy Pier, even though I had no idea what was there except a ferris wheel. It just seemed as if it would be easy to get to from the subway line, and there might be stuff to entertain Joseph there.

Well, it was not easy, and it was partly my fault, but partly not. If had figured out the buses in Chicago, I probably wouldn't have had to walk as much, but you know, I need to walk that much, so it was okay. But the problem is that the map I had made it look as if these subway stations were right at the Museum campus or the Navy Pier, and by God, they're not. They're at least six blocks west, and I was further delayed on the Navy Pier attempt because I missed the right station, got off at the next one, and instead of waiting for another train to take me back to the right one, I decided...oh it didn't seem that far. Couldn't be, right?

Besides, Joseph was asleep in his stroller by then, and I needed to walk, and...

Well, I got that walk in, good for me. Ended up at Northwestern (no, not in Evanston..the Chicago campus), - after a stop in the restroom of the American Girl store, because I knew where it was, knew it was clean, and yes the place was as wretched as it was last time, was even more crowded with little girls hauling huge sacks of loot for their freshly-coiffed dolls, and made me even madder - then walked, walked, walked until I finally got to the Navy Pier, at which time Joseph finally woke up. There's a children's museum , but by that time, I wasn't up to being surrounded by dozens of manic children not related to me, so we instead got snacks, then walked through the quiet of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass that's located there, with Joseph breaking said quiet with his announcements of "May-wee" and "Jee-Jee" when...can you guess? Mary and Jesus appeared in glass before him.

Then, I truly and deeply thanked God when, at the end of the pier, one of those free trolleys that never shows up, and when it does is always crowded to the ceiling, actually showed up at my feet with plenty of room for us and our stroller and our diaper bag, so I could let someone else drive me back to the subway station to get us back to Rosemont, where Michael picked us up.

Returned to hotel. Ate free food. Watched About Schmidt. Watched Joseph run laps around room. Was tired.

The next day we headed back here, with a short stop in Munster. More on that later, but in short, the interesting part of the journey ended with us standing in the parking lot of the Carmelite shrine, eating pirohy (and don't correct me, that's how it was spelled)we'd purchased at the Ukrainian Catholic Church next door, with Michael speaking some of the Polish he'd learned as a child from his mother and maternal relations.

It was fun while it lasted, but now it's time to rest. Until next weekend, when we go down south, where I'll be doing research at the St. Meinrad library and we'll be staying in Louisville for the weekend...

Is summer over? It hasn't started yet? Oh.


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