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Friday, April 25, 2003


Eugenie Grandet, by Honore de Balzac

There is that in the French character which is readily excited to fury or to passionate enthusiasm by any meteor that appears above the horizon, that is captivated by the bravery of a blatant fact. Can it be that collectively men have no memories?


Our Archdiocesan newspaper carries in the April 17, 2003 print edition, but not the on-line edition, numerous letters regarding the controversy over a prayer service for women's ordination and the published apology of the pastor who permitted it at his church. (see my earlier posts on the service and on the apology.) The majority of the writers support Fr. Cooper's original decision to permit the service.

While the editorial is not on-line, it gives the URL for On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone, which is http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_22051994_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html, and for On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, which is http://www.cin.org/jp2ency/digvocat.html. The former URL is certainly one which readers would wish they could copy and paste, rather than type, into their browsers.

The Herald also printed a couple of letters asking that it publish more letters, one suggesting not running Fr. Richard McBrien's and George Weigel's columns one week to make room for more letters. I wouldn't mind more letters, but I'd like to see more columns in the Herald. Also more news. I've heard poeple bemoan that news of religion gets relegated to a page in the Saturday edition of the daily paper. There isn't all that much news to read each week in the Archdiocesan newspaper, either.

When the Herald doesn't have a second section, it can be folded up and sealed in a business-size envelope. So the publisher and editors might want to either figure out a way to present more content or start calling it a newsletter rather than a newspaper.


Wednesday, April 23, 2003


The Poetry of Delmore Schwartz (2003), by Robert H. Deutsch. (Received as a member of The Wallace Stevens Society. Maybe I'll have to reconsider letting my membership lapse. I appreciated Stevens' life - insurance company lawyer and executive and one of America's most highly-regarded 20th Century poets - more than his poetry. The articles in The Wallace Stevens Journal are generally writted for Stevens scholars rather than poetry readers.)


Friday, April 18, 2003


The April 10, 2003 issue of our Archdiocesan newspaper runs an apology from Fr. David E. Cooper for the prayer service for women's ordination. His apology is on page 6 of the print edition and is described as a "Guest Opinion." It is not in the on-line edition.

Likewise on page 6 in the print edition but not on-line is the Herald's editorial. Like Fr. Cooper, it affirms as the Church's consistent teaching that it has not and does not have the authority to ordain women as priests.

I linked to the Herald's original on-line article in an earlier post. The editorial and Fr. Cooper's piece were run to clear up any confusion in the minds of readers over where he and the paper really stood. The editor's might have made an exception to their usual practice and run both on-line for the benefit of on-line readers.


Wednesday, April 16, 2003


True Believer

That's the title of this profile of Jeff Anderson, who's become well-known for bringing clergy sexual abuse cases against the Church.


Sunday, April 13, 2003



Geovany, 14 September 1982 - 11 April 2003 Longtime readers of this log might recall that for the past two years my wife and I have gone on my parish's annual one week mission to an orphanage in Guatemala. We're in the middle of the meetings and fundraising in preparation for this year's trip.

At mass this morning I ran into several members of this year's group, and they told me of the death of Geovany, who lived at the orphanage. Long before we first met him on the 2001 mission, he had been confined to a wheelchair because of his illness. Usually the orphans are expected to leave to make their way in the world when they finish school. Because of his condition, Geovany stayed on. He had not been expected to see his eighteenth birthday, so perhaps it was a gift from God that he lived the two and a half years longer that made it possible for us to spend some time with him on both our visits.

Working around the orphanage, we'd run into him many times each day. He would always greet me with a smile and extended hand and (I can hear it now) "A-mi-go."


Friday, April 11, 2003


Ipse Dick's It

The April 3, 2003 issue of our archdiocesan newspaper has this article on a March 25th prayer service for women's ordination at St. Matthias Church.

The presider [sic], Ginny Kiernan Dahlberg, led the gathering in a prayer service on the World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination, as designated by the national Women's Ordination Conference.

Dahlberg began the evening by noting about a dozen similar services were being held in the United States and one in Europe on this, the seventh annual Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination, "but we are the only service taking place in a Roman Catholic church."

This might be jumping to a conclusion. Fr. David Cooper, pastor of St. Matthias, explains.
"The parish has no official or unofficial position on the question of the ordination of women."
For all we can tell, the parish has no official or unofficial position on the question of whether or not it is a Roman Catholic church.
After being approached by Dahlberg to host the service, Cooper admitted he made a difficult decision.

"I felt it was a decision not to be made by one person," said Cooper who explained he consulted with pastoral staff, parish council members, parish trustees and members at large, before granting permission for the service to be held.

He felt it was not a decision to be made by one person, and you know who that one person will turn out to be.
Cooper's consultation process did not include archdiocesan officials or Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, who according to his spokesman, Jerry Topczewski, did not learn of the service until hours before it occurred when his office received a number of calls after it was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A belated welcome to your new assignment, Archbishop Dolan.
"He was surprised an organization that was in direct opposition to defined teachings of the church would be welcome at one of our parishes," said Topczewski of Dolan, adding the archbishop was especially disappointed by what he heard occurred.
A charitable euphemism, surprise. There was, of course, no reason that he would literally be surprised. Recall this from Archbishop Weakland.
"Take the appointment of Bishop Sklba. The Wisconsin province had recommended Father Richard Sklba as an auxilary bishop for the Milwaukee archdiocese, and in 1979 the word came down that he was about to be named. ... Then, between the time of the announcement and the date of his consecration, I got a phone call: The Vatican was going to cancel the appointment.

"Not long before, Sklba had chaired a Catholic Biblical Association committee that was charged with examining whether Holy Scripture precluded the ordination of women. In his rather lengthy report was a line or two stating that Scripture in fact did not preclude women priests, and pointing out that the fact that the Apostles were all men couldn't in itself be used to defend an all-male clergy. ...

"I couldn't let that [cancelation] happen. ... Cardinal Casaroli, [Pope John Paul II's] secretary of state ... asked us to draft some sort of statement, acceptable to the Pope, that would in essence have Sklba back down from his position. We drafted something -- not a backing down but an attempt to put Sklba's statement in the context of church teaching -- and the word came back that the Pope said no. We drafted another statement and waited. Dick was to be consecrated on a Wednesday. ... Finally, late Saturday night, we got word that the Pope had approved, but with the stipulation that the statement appear in the Milwaukee papers on Tuesday, the day before Sklba's consecration. Well, the papers not only didn't play the statement as Sklba backing down but gave it the angle that he stood behind what he had originally written. We sent the articles on to Rome, but, fortunately, it being the pre-fax era, they didn't arrive in time for Rome to respond. So, while Sklba's career was certainly stalemated right off the bat, he was consecrated a bishop."

--Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, quoted in The Education of an Archbishop (1992), by Paul Wilkes, pp. 58-59

In other words, the consecration of Bishop Sklba was procured by misrepresenting to the Vatican the public's perception of his view on women's ordination.

Another reason to think Archbishop Dolan was not literally surprised can be found in this pastoral letter to the people of the Archdiocese, which indicates that Bishop Sklba had not, in fact, changed his view, and that Archbishop Weakland shared it. Regarding the current shortage of priests, they wrote,

We know we must accept the Pope's decision against a married clergy and the ordination of women as possible immediate solutions.

--Eucharist Without Walls (2000), by Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., Archbishop of Milwaukee, and Richard J. Sklba, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee, p. 10

They characterize the question of the ordination of women as resting only on a decision by our current Pope, rather than on a defined teaching of the church. So one could hardly be really surprised that some priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee publicly take this same position.

Back at St. Matthias, the pastor had more to say in explanation.

"Some worried about fragmentation or causing a division within the parish and some people said I should be worried about my own career," said Cooper, "but the general consensus seemed to be that a prayer service is a prayer service and as such, there are not bad prayers."
I tend to a contrary view, for example, that it would be a bad prayer to ask God to smite Fr. Cooper for precipitating this controversy.

Fr. Cooper not only believes there are no bad prayers, he goes on to indicate he believes there are no bad motives for prayer.

While [Fr. Cooper] was clear the parish has no official stand on the issue of women's ordination, he said he personally does.

"I do have a personal opinion. I am grateful to Mr. George Weigel and the clarification he offered in his column on March 20 in the Catholic Herald. He said that the Holy Father's teaching about the current war with Iraq is not to be considered binding: 'such statements do not constitute, and cannot constitute, an exercise of the papal magisterium. They are to be carefully and respectfully considered as the prudential judgments of experienced churchmen,'" said Cooper.

"Therefore one can conclude that the United States war with Iraq is moral and justifiable. By that same standard, the question of whether or not women and married men should be allowed into Holy Orders may be handled on the same basis. It has nothing to do with morality. It has nothing to do with our doctrinal faith .... It is a tradition of the Catholic Church. But traditions have and do change."

In this case, one of Fr. Cooper's motives was apparently to spite the Catholic Herald and Archbishop Dolan for Mr. Weigel's column.

A closer look at what Ginny Kiernan Dahlberg had to say reveals that the issue might not really be women's ordination at all.

"I'm not ordained, but I consider myself to be a priest," she said, noting she's served as a lay presider, conducted Communion services in a rehabilitation center, and presided at home liturgies.
While put in terms of ordaining women, what's actually being asserted is that there is no need for ordination; you are a priest if you think you are.

The April 3rd issue also has this profile of Helen Mikes, a member of my parish.


Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Our Greater Milwaukee Chapter of the Chartered Property Casualty (CPCU) Society has an annual Blues Fest as a charity fundraiser. This year's featured performer was Nora Jean Bruso, with proceeds benefiting Variety Club Children's Charities.

Koko Taylor says "Nora Jean is the next queen of the blues."


Tuesday, April 8, 2003


At tonight's Wisconsin Forum, Ian Vasquez of the Cato Institute spoke on the "Influence and Effects of the International Monetary Fund." The IMF could be a dry topic, but Mr. Vasquez's presentation was followed by as vigorous a question and answer session as I can ever recall hearing.

One questioner wondered what Mr. Vasquez regarded as the most important step in aiding post-war Iraq. He replied that it would be establishing secure title to property under law. Countries which did this, he cited South Korea and Taiwan, have a basis for eventually developing into free and democratic states. States which have largely informal title to property lack this foundation, even if they attempt to hold elections. He cited Haiti as an example, but some troubled African states also come to mind.


Sunday, April 6, 2003


Cursed by good luck

This morning's newspaper has this article on the effect on its neighborhood and on the city of the Northwestern Mutual Life's satellite headquarters. It also has this summary of the state of local politics.

Part of the problem, some say, is that Franklin has not articulated a vision for the next 20 years. It hired consultants over the last four years to help shape that vision but has not implemented their findings. And in the absence of a long-range plan, the arrival of new commercial development often sparks battles that pit developers against environmentalists, residents against their new neighbors, even elected officials against their own economic development committees.

This shift in attitude away from long-range planning - and the political tumult it has created - can be attributed in part to the arrival of NML, which proved to some elected officials that Franklin could lure a top-notch employer and thousands of jobs without trying, said Mayor Fred Klimetz.

Today's New York Times has this review by G. W. Bowersock of The Spirit of Early Christian Thought by Robert Louis Wilken.

Patristic literature is to Christianity what Talmud is to Judaism and Hadith to Islam -- the written record of learned debate and commentary on sacred texts.


Saturday, April 5, 2003


Dis' Courage to be Catholic

The March 27, 2003 issue has this this article.

Priests in the Milwaukee Archdiocese are getting an unexpected gift in the mail from a local Catholic businessman. John Stollenwerk, president and CEO of Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corp., of Port Washington, began mailing copies of George Weigel's book, "The Courage to be Catholic," to all diocesan and religious order priests last week.
Mr. Stollenwerk had earlier been quoted in the Herald calling for greater accountability of archdiocesan staff, a call that was not favorably received by at least one priest. Likewise, his gift of the book was not favorably received by another.
At least one priest who received the book objected to its content and criticism of priests and plans to return the book to Stollenwerk.

"It's such a controversial book," said Salvatorian Fr. Joe Jagodensky, who received his copy last Thursday. "I think it's demeaning and insulting because it's not respectful of where (some priests') belief system rests and needlessly churns the waters of the church."

While the book criticizes the training of priests in the past, he said it seeks to put priests on a pedestal and would like to take away liturgical roles of the laity.

Fr. Jagodensky is surprisingly unimpressed by this ability to demean and insult priests while putting them on a pedestal.
While Weigel rightly holds bishops accountable for the sexual abuse crisis, said Jagodensky, "he turns it around and says the church is in crisis because it has all this bureaucracy. He's implying, 'Get rid of parish councils.'"
Maybe the bureaucracy is a hinderance rather than a help in accountability. And while I doubt that Mr. Weigel called parish councils bureaucratic, I will. (Someone who had been on the parish council of another parish said she found that the issue of how to get the parish janitor to empty the wastebaskets at the "far corner" of the parish facilities had been the council agenda fairly regularly for thirty years. Having been on a parish council, that doesn't surprise me.)
According to Jagodensky, he's returning the book to Stollenwerk with a note that reads: "Dear Mr. Stollenwerk: Thank you for the gesture, but please do not presume that I have an interest or concern with what Mr. Weigel writes."
Fr. Jagodensky's had made it sound like he read the book before commenting. Now he seems to be saying he didn't. I hope he didn't read it and then return it.
"It's difficult enough to read his Catholic Herald article each week."
Maybe he'd prefer they run two columns by Fr. Richard McBrien instead.


Thursday, April 4, 2003

Also in Tuesday's election, Jefferson Davis defeated incumbant Menomonee Falls Mayor Joe Greco.

While representing a largely Republican-leaning village, Greco often appeared at news conferences with Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist, a Democrat, and with former Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala, a Madison Democrat.

That visible role in regional and state politics may have hurt Greco at the polls.

"When I knocked on doors and talked to people, I heard over and over and over again, 'We don't want to be associated with Milwaukee,' " said Davis. ...

Greco does not believe his high-profile activities on the state and regional levels hurt him at the polls.

"I don't believe the community really knew what I was doing outside of Menomonee Falls," he said.

One more defeated incumbent saying the constituents were ignorant and we've got a trend.


Thursday, April 3, 2003


Shore leave

Lyle Sohns defeated incumbant Marge Shore 663 to 294 in Tuesday's election for alderman of my district.

The 5th District race gained citywide attention in the last few weeks of the campaign as the Franklin Citizens for Responsible Leadership rallied behind Sohns as their favored candidate. The group is promoting a change in attitude from Common Council members, whom they say are treating residents, staff and city volunteers with a lack of respect. ...

Shore has low expectations for the results of the change Sohns and people in Franklin Citizens for Responsible Leadership seem to want.

"I'm disappointed people aren't knowledgeable about things and don't attend meetings, like my opponent," she said. "In time I guarantee it will become apparent what I'm talking about."

I thought that's what the campaign was for.


Wednesday, April 2, 2003


The Soul's Journey into God, by Bonaventure

Buying used books, from time to time I find a previous owner left something inside. In this case, it was a 1977 article by Fr. Andrew M. Greeley. In it, he praises the Paulist Press for launching its Classics of Western Spirituality series, which later included the collection by Bonaventure of which this book is a part.

The Paulists have bet, correctly I think, that the major religious breakthroughs for the rest of this century are going to be made in the area of spirituality.
I wouldn't say that there have been breakthroughs, but the Paulists certainly saw where the market was going to be.

Bonaventure concluded the work with this.

Blessed by the Lord forever
and all the people will say:
Let it be; let it be.


Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Put down your weapons...

This morning's newspaper has this article on Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.

In Iraq, he thinks U.N. inspections were never going to achieve their stated purpose unless Hussein volunteered to give up his weapons. His criticisms of inspections there date to the early '90s.

"It doesn't get you to disarmament," says Milhollin, who maintains a Web site on the Iraqi weapons program, iraqwatch.org. He says inspections really involve a different kind of bet: that containment and deterrence - without disarmament - will keep you safe.

"The real choice is either containment or war," he says.

This morning's newspaper also has this article on weblogs from the front.


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