Saturday, November 1, 2003

November 2003

This is a placeholder post linking to the page with this month's entries in the pre-Blogger format.

Topics: Vacation in Florence. Decline in charitable giving affects parishes. Stewardship not a quick-fix to financial woes, says archdiocesan official. South side schools in planning process. Soeka confident in dispute resolution systems. The Campaign Against The Voice Of The Faithful. Liturgy--How we will celebrate at St. Alphonsus. The world of Guatemala. Archdiocese works out details of dispute resolution system. SNAP spokesman cautiously optimistic about outreach to victims. Acting chair of National Review Board addresses Call to Action conference. Call to Action traces roots to U.S. bishops. Latest from the Vatican. 'Open the pool of fisherfolk’ to address priest shortage, says Franciscan. Questions about the Pope - II. Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003. Celibacy on unofficial agenda. Nader calls Democrats whiners. Church sex abuse audits advancing. Dolan's affirmative actions. La Traviata. A push for priestly changes. Dolan setting up $4 million victims fund. Deacon’s ministry involves balancing pastoral, familiar concerns. Changes seen in sexual abuse mediation. Views On Celibacy. Liturgy--The reason for the changes. Group to launch celibacy petition. Lucky Jim

Sunday, November 30, 2003, Florence


Today's 8:30 a.m. culture stop was the Uffizi Gallery. The biggest attraction (besides its being open Sundays and past mid-afternoon, unusual for museums and galleries in Florence) is probably works by Botticelli, particularly The Birth of Venus.

I disliked what seemed to me the vacant stare of Botticelli's figures. The painting that most caught my eye was Michelangelo's Holy Family with the young Saint John. The on-line image doesn't convey the eye-popping colors. Our sentimental favorite, as cat-owners, was the "Madonna del Gatto," by Federico Barocchio. Here's an engraving from it by William Holl.

We passed the Dante House, which was closed for renovation. Over the entrance is a quote from The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto XXIII, lines 94-95,

I' fui nato e cresciuto

sovra 'l bel fiume d'Arno a la gran villa ...

which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow translated as

Born was I, and grew up

In the great town on the fair river of Arno ...

We attended Mass, in Italian, at the Duomo. There was not a complete consensus on liturgical postures among those in attendance.

We had lunch at a pizzaria. We'd been to Italy once before and, since then, the Italians seem to have gotten the hang of pizza. None of this "rustica" business, it's cheese and peperoni on a crisp crust, washed down with a bottle of Italy's overpriced Coca-Cola.

Then it was off to the Academy Gallery to see sculpture by Michelangelo. To get to his David, you walk through a gallery with a series of huge unfinished sculptures intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II. The David is undergoing restoration, and there was scafolding behind its left leg, but that didn't obscure the figure much. The David, like some of the sculpture in the Bargello, has visible damage in a couple of places, some of which occurred when it was toppled in a riot during one of Florence's periods of political unrest.

Back in our room that evening there was, on one of the German television channels, a Christmas music concert to benefit Stiftung Frauenkirche, the
Dresden Frauenkirche reconstruction. The concert was in the church, most of the interior of which is covered with scaffolding. The male soloist was Thomas Quasthoff.

Update. John Witte, Jr., builds this essay on the ruins of the Frauenkirche.


Saturday, November 29, 2003, Florence


On our morning jog, we south to the Arno River and east to the Ponte Vecchio. On the way back to the hotel, I bought an International Herald Tribune.

The hotel offers a free Continental Breakfast buffet, with fresh fruit, canned fruit, strong coffee, pastry, breads, sliced ham or mortadella, yogurt, and cereal. The dining room also had a coffee bar, so we could order an espresso and they'd bring it to the table. I sipped a capuccino while reading that the Packers lost on Thanksgiving.

To avoid possible lines for tickets, we had ordered on-line, and had booked an 8:30 a.m. entry. If I'd known about the coffee bar, I might have lobbied for staying in the dining room until breakfast ended at 10:30 a.m. and booked a museum for later.

Today's museum was the Bargello. The Bargello's collection is mostly sculpture. While Michelangelo's isn't among them, it had several other Davids. My wife said these looked like "Irish boys."

We had lunch in a "Caffeteria." The entres were on plates inside a display counter. You make your selection and, if it's to be a hot entree, it's microwaved before your very eyes.

With Christmas coming, this was also a shopping trip, and we did some at the San Lorenzo Market. Block after block of the streets were closed to traffic and lined with stalls, most selling leather goods and clothing. I needed to replace my hat and so started to look over the stock of one vendor. In accented English he asked where we were from and when we told him Wisconsin, he said, "Ah, cheese-a-heads!" He had lived in Madison for several years while his wife attended the University of Wisconsin. So I bought a new hat, metric size 59.


Friday, November 28, 2003, via Frankfurt to Florence


The Stones of Florence (1963), by Mary McCarthy

The Florentines, in fact, invented the Renaissance,
which is the same as saying that they invented the modern
world -- not, of course, an unmixed good. Florence was a
turning-point, and that is what often troubles the reflective
sort of visitor today -- the feeling that a terrible mistake
was committed here, at some point between Giotto and
Michelangelo, a mistake that had to do with power and
megalomania, or gigantism of the human ego. You can
see, if you wish, the handwriting on the walls of Palazzo
Pitti, or Palazzo Strozzi, those formidable creations in
bristling prepotent stone, or in the cold, vain stare of
Michelangelo's "David," in love with his own strength
and beauty. This feeling that Florence was the scene of
the original crime or error is hard to avoid just after
the last World War, when power and technology had
reduced so much to rubble. "You were responsible for
this," chided a Florentine sadly, looking around the
Michelangelo room of the Bargello after it was finally
reopened. In contrast, Giotto's bell tower appeared an
innocent party.

--pp. 121-122


View to the west from the Hotel Paris, Florence, Italy
We change planes at Frankfurt, land at Florence, and arrive at our hotel mid-day. Our room with a view isn't ready, so we check our bags and start to explore.

We walk a few blocks east past the baptistry to the
cathedral. The full name of the cathedral is Saint Mary of the Flowers (Catedrale di Santa Maria de Fiore) but it is generally known as the Duomo.

Some people find the interior of the cathedral a bit more plain than they expected; much of the artwork is kept in the Opera del Duomo, the cathedral's museum. I wouldn't call it at all plain except compared to other major churches in Florence. There were vigil lamp stands, tree-like with branches for each tea light. If all were lit, someone on the cathedral staff would come by and sweep them into a wastebasket and replace them.

Next to the Duomo is its campanile. We decided to walk up the 414 steps to the top. From the top, we were at the level of the cupola of the dome of the cathedral and, as you'd expect, had a view of Florence and the valley of the Arno River. There were small openings in each of the several floors of the campanile, some with pulleys, through which the bell ropes presumably once ran. We heard the sound of bells coming from the campanile, and the absence of ropes lead us to suspect this was electronic.

We stopped for gelato in a cafe on the Piazza della Repubblica. The guidebooks and other visitors to Italy raved about gelato, but I still prefer Milwaukee frozen custard.

Back at our hotel, we were guided to our room. We take an elevator from the ground floor the the second floor, then walk up a short glass stairway to the third floor, then up stairs to our room on the fifth floor. The hotel is in part of two buildings, and the glass stairway crosses the gap of several feet between them. The roof, sides, and steps were glass so as not to block the view to the street to the north from a window the south.

The room was small, but with steps up to a tiny loft, and a hall to a large bath. The photo is the view from the window in the loft looking west toward Santa Maria Novella church, with the facade to the far left and bell tower just to the left of the center.


Thursday, November 27, 2003, O'Hare Airport, Chicago


This is the second time we've booked a vacation trip to start on Thanksgiving Day. For lunch I have a turkey sandwich in an airport terminal food court. The Packers have taken the lead over the Lions as we board our flight to Frankfurt, there to connect with a flight to Florence.

It's hard to doze with a couple of cranky infants and, worse, a few adults who are in a mood for all night conversation. Next time we'll pack ear plugs.


Decline in charitable giving affects parishes

That's the headline of an article in the November 13, 2003 Catholic Herald, now on-line with its permanent links. Various of our priests were quoted speculating on the reasons for the decline, but the article does include some factual research.

The Barna Research Group of Ventura, Calif., which specializes in religious research, issued a report last May indicating that the number of Americans who give a full tenth of their income to their church dropped 62 percent, from 8 percent in 2001 to just 3 percent of adults in 2002.

The percentage of tithing Catholics might be unchanged.

Of Catholic respondents, none reported giving 10 percent of last year’s income to his or her church.

Stewardship not a quick-fix to financial woes, says archdiocesan official

The relationship of accounting and accountability reappears in this Herald article.

Julie Pach, assistant director of the Office of Parish Stewardship and School Development, believes parishes need to make financial news a regular discussion. "I think we need to report more than just the dollar amount we get (from weekly collections)," she said. "What is that money being used for? It’s not bad to ask for money because it helps fund the ministries of our parishes."

So maybe there should be some substance to news about what the ministries are accomplishing. Are we shown, for example, that the the Christian Formation programs are forming Christians?

South side schools in planning process

The Herald reports on yet another planning process. Southeast side Catholic schools are looking at consolidation.

Parishes represented on the Bay View/Cudahy/St. Francis school planning task force are Immaculate Conception, Milwaukee; Nativity of the Lord, Cudahy; Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Francis; St. Augustine, Milwaukee; St. Paul, Milwaukee; and St. Veronica, Milwaukee.

How things change. When I attended St. Veronica School it had about 1,000 students. Of course, that was "easier" with over 50 kids in each classroom. One of my classmates was Robert Reifenberg, whose older brother Phil went on to the seminary.

According to Fr. Phil Reifenberg, pastor of Nativity of the Lord Parish for the past 18 months, he inherited a $250,000 deficit upon his arrival and "married clergy and whether we stand for Communion or not kind of paled in comparison as to whether I could pay the gas bill month to month."

I have the impression my pastor would not concur. He found time this year to push for a priests union local and lobby for women's ordination even after a January 20, 2003 letter to parishioners from our parish's Finance Committee Chair said "... St. Al's is on the brink of a financial crisis. ..."


Soeka confident in dispute resolution systems

The Soeka in this Herald headline is Marquette University law professor Eva Soeka, and the dispute resolution system is the one Archbishop Dolan has asked her to design for mediation of the remaining claims of sexual abuse by priests.

In reaction to the archdiocese’s announcement about Soeka designing a dispute resolution system, representatives of Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) voiced concerns about Soeka’s ties to a Catholic institution.

I've wondered why a "system" had to be designed, and if it does, why the Archdiocese gets to unilaterally pick a designer. SNAP's concern seems to be narrower.

Soeka, responding to these concerns, stated no conflict of interest exists. "Marquette is owned and operated by the Jesuit order, which is completely distinct from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee," she said.

If "owned and operated by the Jesuit order" means it's not a Catholic institution, then she's answered SNAP's concern.

The Campaign Against The Voice Of The Faithful

Also in the Herald is this week's column by Fr. McBrien, who claims some bishops have unfairly prohibited meetings of Voice of the Faithful on Church property.

VOTF’s threefold agenda is to support the victims and survivors of sexual abuse by priests, to support priests of integrity (including, presumably, their respective bishops), and to offer its services to assist in the internal governance of the Church. ...

Certain bishops and their allies refuse to take the organization at its word regarding its threefold purpose and assume instead that its real agenda is the undermining of the Church’s official teachings and regulations regarding human sexuality and reproduction, the ordination of women, obligatory celibacy for priests, and the selection of bishops.

Where could those bishops get such an idea? Fr. McBrien doesn't ask them or quote anything they've said. One minute on Google and I turned up this.

"It is remarkable that this new group, using volunteers, could draw 4,000 people," CTA [Call to Action] co-director Dan Daley told the press. "It is a wonderful coming of age of another strong lay voice in the reform movement."

He had just attended the July 20 inaugural convention in Boston of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) ...

Daley and other CTA board and staff have met with VOTF leaders about future collaboration. "CTA and VOTF are united in working for strong lay participation in church decision-making, especially on local levels," Daley said. "But we each have distinct agendas which in the long run can benefit the overall reform movement." He gave some examples: "VOTF has chosen not to speak out on related issues that are contrary to Vatican positions, such as married priests, women priests, and birth control for married couples. CTA has a long history and current programs on such matters. And since over three-fourths of Catholics agree with us on these topics, they will be central to the overall lay emergence that is dawning."

That doesn't necessarily make VOTF a CTA front, but it also isn't obviously unreasonable for a bishop to think that it probably is.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003


Augsburg and Constantinople (1982), by George Mastrantonis

This is a translation of the correspondence between Lutheran theologians of Tubingen and Jeremiah II, the Orhodox Church's Patriarch of Constantinople, between 1575 and 1578. The Lutherans sent a Greek translation of the Augsburg Confession for comment. This lead to three exchanges of theological views.

Neither side found any argument by the other persuasive on any issue. I found the arguments on the filioque and justification particularly interesting.

The filioque is usually thought of as an issue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Yet it was argued at greater length than any other point between the Lutherans and the Patriarch. The Lutherans said they agreed with the Catholic position.

The Patriarch explained the Orthodox belief on the relationship of works to justification in what sounds to me to be the same as the Catholic position.

Which raises the question in my mind why there are ecumenical dialogues on these issues if there are more than just two interested parties to each. It appears that an accord on the filioque between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches might further divide that Catholic Church from some Protestants. Likewise, an accord on justification between the Catholic Church and Lutherans might further divide the Catholic Church from the Orthodox Church.


Sunday, November 23, 2003


Since the Second Vatican Council, referring to a building as a "church" often gets the response "The Church isn't the building, it's the people." Perhaps lacking confidence in enforcing this rule, the same folks who make this distinction tend to avoid using "Church" in the sense they prescribe, and instead say "Faith Community."

This week's bulletin at our parish has an item about the recent volunteer clean-up of the grounds of the parish buildings. The item begins,

Have you noticed the grounds around our Faith Community?

Yes, decades of language policing have brought us to this; "Faith Community" now means real estate.

Liturgy--How we will celebrate at St. Alphonsus

This is another in a series of bulletin inserts on the upcoming changes in the Mass. Here's a point not from GIRM but which might be happening at other parishes.

As we enter the Church from the many entrances, we approach the life-giving waters of our baptismal font, and we bless ourselves as a reminder of our entry into the body of Christ.

Our Church, I mean church, I mean worship space is a 1980's artifact of the auditorium style, with seating in a semi-circle around the altar. Baptisms are usually performed during the Mass. Part of our recent building campaign added the large font at the rear of the Church. Baptisms are now done there, but still during Mass, so we can no longer see them; we can only hear them over the PA. It's like a radio Mass.

The world of Guatemala

Karen Samelson describes her week in Guatemala in the Travel Section of this morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Saturday, November 22, 2003

C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley died 40 years ago today.

I remember reading twenty years ago that the Kennedy family hoped commemorations of President Kennedy would from then on be on his birthday, rather than on the anniversary of his death. It was not to be.

...the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forefathers fought are
still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come
not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

--President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961


Friday, November 21, 2003

The November 2003 issue of The Jibsheet, the Sailing Center newsletter, tells of plans by the Miss Wisconsin team to break the speed record for a wind-powered vehicle, 143 m.p.h. set in 1938.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ (\_ ~ (\_ ~ (\_~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thursday, November 20, 2003


Archdiocese works out details of dispute resolution system

That's the headline of an article in the November 13, 2003 Catholic Herald, now on-line with its permanent links. The dispute is the claims of persons sexually abused by priests. The article gives priority to the Archdiocese's plans to sell properties to create a $4,000,000 settlement fund.

[Director of the Office for Finance and Administration Wayne] Schneider listed a total of nine properties that are being considered for sale. "They were considered to be future parish sites purchased (by the archdiocese) back in the ’60s and maybe the ’70s," he said. Due to demographic changes, they were later determined not to be good sites.

The properties, none of which has buildings on site, are located in the following communities: Franklin (two sites), Caledonia, Delafield, Germantown, Milwaukee, Mount Pleasant, New Berlin and Oak Creek.

By the way, the biggest demographic change here in Franklin since the '70's is that it has been the fastest growing municipality in Milwaukee County. I have to wonder what demographics showed that it was not an appropriate place for even one new parish. Other denominations have been building churhces here. Of course, churches of other denominations mail invitations to attend, and no Catholic parish ever does. Maybe the relevant demographic is that the Catholic parishes serving Franklin are not growing with Franklin.

We eventually read that there's more involved than money.

In addition to establishing the settlement fund, Archbishop Dolan announced that Eva Soeka, director of the Center for Dispute Resolution Education at Marquette University, would design a dispute resolution system to handle cases involving clergy sexual abuse of minors.

The article leaves unclear why a system needs to be designed. If neither side insists on a trial, and if there's reason to think that direct negotiations won't succeed, then the parties agree on a mediator to help the negotiations. Clergy sexual abuse of minors might present special problems, but why can't the Archdiocese draw on the experience of other dioceses and discuss with victims' lawyers how to proceed with mediation?

SNAP spokesman cautiously optimistic about outreach to victims

While generally supportive of this revised attempt by the Archdiocese to resolve the pending claims, SNAP's Peter Isely questioned the choice of Soeka.

"Selecting someone from Marquette — and I don’t know this person so I can’t speak about her — without consulting victims automatically puts that person in a more difficult situation than that person needs to be in right now," Isely told the Catholic Herald. "The plan is kind of in the making right now so it’s almost impossible to comment on until it’s actually there."

I'd go further and ask why, if the disputes are to be resolved in a neutral forum, the Archdiocese gets to design the process.

Isely said many victims-survivors and their families "desperately desire to feel a part of the church." But because they have criticized the church’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis, they believe some Catholics feel "that they are somehow the enemy of the church."

Who says no one is told to "offer it up" anymore?

Acting chair of National Review Board addresses Call to Action conference

As reported earlier, Judge Burke reported on the NRB's work to the CTA convention in Milwaukee. Here's an angle not covered in our local daily's article.

Burke reported that in 23 dioceses, financial settlements, excluding attorney fees, have reached in excess of $292.8 million. "These just reflect settlements to date. Added to this will be those still pending or contested," she noted.

So for the hundreds of dioceses, it has likely been billions of dollars, and the attorney fees and litigation expenses billions of dollars more.

Lest we forget the real cost, Judge Burke goes on,

"As a defense lawyer, I’ve heard a lot of bad stuff over the years, but I must say, this has been a bit much all together," she said of the extensive revelations of abuse by priests.

She was asked why it was appropriate for her to speak to Call to Action, given that it has been openly critical of some Church teaching.

"I think it’s important to tell as many people as possible what is being done, the work of the board, the fact that the bishops have instituted a lay board," she said.

She's one thing to all men, because that's the job the bishops gave her.

Call to Action traces roots to U.S. bishops

And Mr. Lucero's story can be traced to CTA's web site. The organization took its name from the bishops 1976 Call to Action conference in Detroit.

According to the Call to Action’s Web site, the 1976 meeting concluded with a pledge to "stand up to the chronic racism, sexism, militarism and poverty in modern society. And to do so in a credible way the church must reevaluate its positions on issues like celibacy for priests, the male-only clergy, homosexuality, birth control, and the involvement of every level of the church in important decisions."

Its 1990 Call to Reform is much the same. Again, CTA diagnoses a number of pressing issues in the world at large, and then prescribes internal reform of the Church.

Latest from the Vatican

Also in this issue of the Herald, Fr. Richard McBrien comments on the leaked draft of a Vatican document on liturgical abuses. While he calls the column "Essays in Theology" and the Herald calls it "Essays in Dialogue," this week's contains neither. Fr. McBrien is a bit sensitive to anything he perceives as reverting to the days before Vatican II, and this inspires a few zingers.

Regarding the threatened prohibition of altar girls, many Catholics have expressed the fear that the Vatican seems intent on turning back the clock on a change that has been generally popular, especially with parents of young daughters, and at a time when the Roman Catholic Church is still reeling from one of the greatest scandals in its history.

Given the tragic sexual-abuse crisis, one wonders how prudent it is to seek to enforce a boys-only policy for altar servers.

So the problem was homosexual priests?


Monday, November 17, 2003

Last night, I dreamed about my late brother, Michael.

Last night, my late brother, Michael, appeared to me in a dream.

It sure makes a difference how that's said.

The local chapter of Voice of the Faithful meets tonight, again at St. Matthias Church. Rev. Andre Papineau, will speak on the topic "Can Disillusionment Lead to Creative Transition in the Church?" As an example, I note that some people were disillusioned with the liturgy, and now the GIRM has been revised. He might have others.

A homily by Fr. Papineau on pedophilia got a warm reception at St. Eugene Church, according to this article.
He gave a weekend retreat for widowed men and women though the Archdiocese.
And he finds some spiritual benefit to divorce in this Catholic News Service item.

He can be booked through The Abraham Group. His brief biography notes that he is a "co-founder of the C. G. Jung Center in Milwaukee."


Friday, November 14, 2003


Architecture for Worship (1973), by E. A. Sovik

And if we are to carry the logic of the "servant
church" to its undeniable end, we must proceed even
further. Jesus was the "Man for others"; Christians are
called to be the "men for others." Their structures
should not be built unless they are directed to the
service of the community of people around them and
become a means for the Christian community to provide
as effectively as possible not only for its own
needs, but for the needs of the community.

What this ultimately means is that there can be no
more church building in the sense that is meant when
we talk about "houses of God," shrines, temples,
naves, chancels, or sacred edifices. We need to return
to the non-church.



Thursday, November 13, 2003


‘Open the pool of fisherfolk’ to address priest shortage, says Franciscan

That's the headline of an article in the November 6, 2003 Catholic Herald, now on-line with its permanent links. It's another in the Herald's "Looking at Celibacy" series. Franciscan Fr. Michael Crosby, author of the book Rethinking Celibacy, says the Holy Spirit is at work in the current round of demands for optional clerical celibacy. But perhaps it's just a great wind, e.g.,

"People are just afraid to challenge it because of powers that are in Rome and in the Curia," he said.

Which implies he regards himself as quite courageous. He certainly has no fear of metaphor.

"I don’t see how any bishop who watches parishes have to close or merge does so with joy and can only be saying ‘isn’t there another way to address this issue?’ and the most common way is to open the pool of the fisherfolk and the celibate waters."

Fr. Crosby predicts that the next pope will call a synod of bishops and then celibacy will be made optional for Latin Rite clergy. Or maybe his presentation is really "An Evening with Martin Luther."

"When they talk about the evangelical counsels (of poverty, chastity, and obedience), I’m saying that if this is a counsel, you have to find it in the Gospels.... We submit to the authority of human beings who hopefully are acting on behalf of God, but it isn’t the direct link that Jesus had. He was obedient only to the Father."

He recalls a retreat he presented to the bishop and priests of another diocese where he chastised them for not giving our Pope an ultimatum.

"...Not one of you are saying ‘enough is enough’ and you will contact Rome and say ‘We will give you six months to change this situation, or we are going to move forward and for the good of the local churches and local communities, we are going to move forward with reasonable principles to bring forward married men.’ Not one of them challenged me."

Having not been paying attention to what he's been saying, he asks,

"How can they say, how can the leaders say that people like me, who talk for the optional celibacy ... are scandalizing the people?"

Not surprisingly,

Fr. Crosby was one of the 163 signers of the letter sent in August to Bishop Wilton Gregory, head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking to open a discussion of optional celibacy.

Somehow I suspect that these 163 would each be upset with a parishioner who didn't first address a concern to them but instead wrote directly to the Archbishop. Yet they see no problem in their doing what they seem to regard as the equivalent, writing not to our Archbishop but instead to the chairman of the USCCB. But what are such trifles when Fr. Crosby is sure the Holy Spirit is working within the petitioners, while the bishops only "hopefully are acting on behalf of God ..."

I had the impression that our 163 insprired petitioners claimed only that a change to optional celibacy would likely be some help in increasing the number of priests. Fr. Crosby, however, says it a sure-fire solution to the problem.

"For people to say that by expanding the diocesan priesthood to noncelibate options will not solve the shortage of priests problem is not based on common sense, much less the data that comes from Dean Hoge himself, who’s the bishops’ own sociologist."

Hoge is a professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America and director of the university’s Life Cycle Institute. In 29 years at Catholic University, Hoge has headed numerous church-related major studies, including major studies of clergy.

So it appears if you're skeptical that the change would be a panacea, you're ignorant, lack common sense, and might be blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

I can't claim to have read Mr. Hoge's work, but in the meantime, I did find this 1988 review by Fr. Andrew M. Greeley of one of Hoge's books.

Hoge divides the options available to Catholic leaders under four categories: (1) "Type A Options" (reduce the need for priests); (2) "Type B Options" (get more priests with existing eligibility criteria); (3) "Type C Options" (get more priests with broadened eligibility criteria); (4) "Type D Options" (expand the diaconate and the lay ministries). ...

As far as I am aware, there is not a single diocese in the country that has devoted major resources of money and personnel to a crash program of vocation recruiting. Such a program (under Hoge's "B" options) has not been tried and found wanting, but found difficult and not tried.

Since then, there apparently are a few dioceses that have found ways to ordain enough priests, with the existing rule on celibacy. Perhaps the Herald's "Looking at Celibacy" series could interview their bishops, seminary rectors, seminarians and new priests.


Questions about the Pope - II

The November 6, 2003 Catholic Herald included this column by Fr. Richard McBrien. Fr. McBrien calls his column "Essays in Theology." The Herald, for reasons unknown, instead calls it "Essays in Dialogue." This second part of a two part pre-emptive obituary of Pope John Paul II includes this observation.

The pope tends to be more popular with those who do not have to live under his rules and regulations, and whose employment does not depend on their observing those rules and regulations. American Catholics who have been more critical of the pope are those whose livelihood and ministries depend upon their remaining in line with papal rules and regulations, and those of the bishops he has appointed.

Maybe I'm misreading this but he seems to be saying that people employed by the Church who want to do things their own way and be paid for it are unhappy.

P.S. The link is to the recent columns section of Fr. McBrien's on-line archive and might change in a couple months.


Dear Dr. Humor (1995), by Dr. Stuart Robertshaw

Dr. Robertshaw is CEO of the National Association for the Humor Impaired.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003

For possible future reference, this is

A bill to halt Syrian support for terrorism, end its occupation of Lebanon, stop its development of weapons of mass destruction, cease its illegal importation of Iraqi oil and illegal shipments of weapons and other military items to Iraq, and by so doing hold Syria accountable for the serious international security problems it has caused in the Middle East, and for other purposes.

It was today approved by the Senate
89 to 4. Among those voting Yea were Sen. Kohl (D-Wis.), Feingold (D-Wis.), and Edwards (D-N.C.). Among those not voting were Sen. Leiberman (D-Conn.) and Kerry (D-Mass.).

The bill had previously passed the House
398 to 4. Among those voting Yea was Rep. Ryan (R-Wis.). Among those not voting were Rep. Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Rep. Kucinich (D-Oh.).


Celibacy on unofficial agenda

That's the title of an article by Tom Heinen reporting from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in this morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

After 169 Milwaukee-area priests who want the priesthood opened to married men sent a letter to the bishops over the summer, [USCCB Chairman Bishop Wilton] Gregory said he did not plan to open discussions.

On the official agenda. But then there's more than one agenda.

"There are all different venues that might be possible," said [Chicago's Archbishop, Cardinal Francis] George, adding that he had promised to raise the issue after being urged by about 115 Chicago-area priests who wanted optional celibacy and about 175 others who thought it should at least be discussed. "I think it has to be discussed, I'm not sure this is the venue.

"I have no problem with bishops discussing it, but it has to be understood, a conference (the U.S. Conference of Bishops) is to deal with the business of the church that we can decide something about. . . . But bishops maybe outside of the conference could ask for some kind of a meeting to discuss it."

If they discuss it and decide it's best to leave things as they are, won't there then be another round of demands to discuss it? How about a discussion of why and how a few dioceses manage to not have a shortage of priests? That's not on the agenda, either.

The bishops began reviewing a wide range of reports and proposed pastoral statements on topics that included: reacting more strongly to Catholic politicians who vote against church teachings on issues such as abortion, assessing the impact of Catholic teachings on world peace, supporting family farmers here and abroad, approving new guidelines for socially responsible investing, putting out correct information about old devotional practices that are gaining new popularity, and responding to doctrinal shortcomings and errors in a significant number of high school religion books.

Most of this could be wrapped up in a document on why hardly anyone has been paying attention to their documents.

"In our recent history, nothing has damaged the communio of our local churches and indeed of the whole church in the United States more than the crisis of the sexual abuse of minors," Gregory said [in his opening address].

I doubt that. Most Catholics had already stopped showing up even for weekly Mass. The lack of communio is demonstrated by how little this bothers the Church's leaders. Compare a good shepherd's reaction to one percent attrition.


Monday, November 10, 2003


Josiah Neeley, who I had the pleasure of virtually knowing when he was a frequent contributor to the Great Books Cafe, now participates in the group weblog Christus Victor, along with what appear to be fellow Domers.


A reader follows up on some recent posts about my parish

It's none of my business, but why do you go to a parish that seems so disobedient? I have to admire you, they would have driven me out ages ago.

I post it, so I can't complain that you ask.

If my portrayal makes the parish seem disobedient, maybe that's just a mote in the parish's eye. And if it isn't, I can offer it up.

We had moved within Franklin in 1990 and I took the opportunity to change parishes. Having changed once, I'm reluctant to change again.

And I do owe more to the parish than just the balance on my building fund pledge. Tonight is the parish's annual meeting. If I belonged to some other parish, I might be at the meeting, thinking there was some point to attending. As I've said before, after being on the Parish Council, Dilbert is funnier than ever.

After all this time, I see people at Mass who I know from when I was a catechist, or on parish council, or on the Guatemala mission. And there are times when a feeling of community arises unexpectedly. For example, one Sunday when we clasped hands for the Lord's Prayer, someone a few rows back said "I hate doing this." Or when I talk with a pew-mate about where she got the rosary that she prays during Mass. Or I meet someone who had been on the council or a committee at another parish and we laugh about "discernment" and "consensus" and how the pastor asks people to get involved but doesn't want anyone "with an agenda."

As far as things that you or I might think are wrong, well, they might change. In the meantime, I'll recall that my pastor took the time to attend my father's wake, and our refrigerator art is by Guatemalan orphans from our parish mission trip.


Sunday, November 9, 2003


Liturgy--The Changes We Will Make

This was an item in our parish bulletin today.

One change we have already inaugerated. As a sign of our entrance into the body of Christ through Baptism, our ministers enter the Church by the aisle nearest the baptismal font. We designed the font to be a focal point of our community and the place where the community joins together to remember individual and communal entrances to the Body of Christ.

This new font is at the back of church, with the back of a pew to one side, a wall to the next, and aisles on the other two, so I cannot see how it's a focal point or how we join together there.


Ralph Nader calls Democrats whiners

A reader sent a link to this from Madison's Wisconsin State Journal. As I understand it, Ralph Nader was opening for Al Franken at an extended comedy festival. Nader's routine, in the mold of the late Pat Paulsen, is a mock run for president.

Nader also called Democrats "chronic whiners" for continuing to blame him for the election of Republican President George Bush in 2000.

This shtick always attracts hecklers.

Near the end of Nader's speech to several hundred people in the Humanities building on campus, [Jay] Gold [of Madison] stood to make a request.

Stop using Dennis Miller's material? No.

Gold said he agrees with many of Nader's positions and supported his past campaigns with money and votes. But, "Please don't run again next year," Gold implored Nader. "There's too much at stake."

Nader squelched this by announcing he's already running.

Nader responded: "Please, never tell any candidate not to speak."


Our parish gives awards annually in several categories. This year our Guatemalan mission group, Friendship Without Borders, received the award for "Service to the Church in the World."


Church sex abuse audits advancing

That's the title of an article in this morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reporting on Judge Anne Burke's address to the Call to Action conference on the work of the National Review Board.

At the request of the [USCCB's] Office for Child and Youth Protection, former FBI agents have been auditing every diocese and archdiocese in the country, Burke said. Among other things, they are are checking to make sure coordinators are put in place to work with victims of abuse.

It appears this will cover every American diocese. bishop has refused to participate, saying he wouldn't take part in the audit unless the pope asked him to, she said.

The bishop, whom Burke wouldn't identify, finally agreed to participate last week, but only after a church authority (not the pope) ordered him to, Burke said

I'm less interested in his name than in why he objected, but Burke apparently doesn't disclose that either.

While her address received a warm reception, some Call To Action members thought Burke spoke too positively about Pope John Paul II, who they feel has not taken responsibility for the abuse within the church.

The article doesn't specify what they thought he should have done. Call to Action's press release marking our Pope's 25th anniversary calls him "authoritarian," which seems to indicate they do not favor popes exercising closer oversight of bishops.

Dolan's affirmative actions

This editorial says pretty much the on the one hand, on the other hand, that you'd expect after reading the paper's news reports on the Archbishop's deciding to a new approach to mediation and setting up a compensation fund.


Saturday, November 8, 2003


La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi, to a libretto by Francesco Maria Plave, after La dame aux camelias by Alexandre Dumas Fil, performed by the Florentine Opera Company.

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, girl dies of consumption.

Here's a
review and a profile of
Jan Grissom who sings the role of Violetta Valery.


A push for priestly changes

That's the title of an article in this morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Call to Action conference, in progress in Milwaukee. The attendees gave a standing ovation to few of the local priests who signed the letter/petition to Bishop Gregory on optional celibacy.

At least three of the priests who signed the letter were seated at the front of the ballroom - Father Richard Aiken, pastor of St. Alphonsus Church in Greendale; Father Carl Diederichs, associate pastor of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist; and Father Kenneth Mich, pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Menomonee Falls.

You might recall that St. Alphonsus is our parish, and so Fr. Aiken is my pastor. And, this is a first, I scooped the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on this item.

Last weekend, a sample letter in support of optional celibacy was inserted into the bulletins at Aiken's church, one of the archdiocese's largest congregations. It included instructions for mailing the letter or any other comments about the issue to Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It does not solicit "any other views." It says "If you feel you are supportive of such a change in our Catholic Church, please forward your letter to Bishop Gregory ..."

Had I been so inclined, I could have scooped them on Fr. Aiken's views as well.

"I think that we just have to open ordained ministry up to everyone, both men and women, married and single," Aiken said in an interview at the convention center. "I think it's time we start looking at it now, probably a little late."

He's said the same thing in more than one homily. We had an exchange of emails after his most recent, which was after Fr. David E. Cooper, at Archbishop Dolan's request, publicly apologized for permitting a prayer service for women's ordination at St. Matthias Church.

Who are the petition organizers?

The campaign is building on the work of three Milwaukee-area women who earlier this year started a grass-roots campaign with a post office box and the name People in Support of Optional Celibacy - Terry Ryan of New Berlin; Roberta Manley of Greenfield; and Nancy Pritchard of Milwaukee.

Ryan wrote a rough draft of a petition and letter supporting the Milwaukee priests and shared it with David Gawlik, editor of Corpus Reports, a newsletter for married priests. Gawlik surprised Ryan by posting the letter on the Corpus Web site without further consultation with her, and the effort was quickly endorsed by Call to Action Wisconsin as the electronics documents began circulating around the country and abroad.

Terry Ryan also holds leadership positions with the local chapters of Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful. She sends the letter and petition form to the editor of Corpus Reports and is surprised when he publishes it? This CORPUS connection was previously reported here, and in an email I sent to Fr. Aiken. Perhaps I should consider Ms. Ryan's statement as his reply.

(Other articles have previously quoted Roberta Manley and Nancy Pritchard on Church issues.)

At least we can finally lay to rest the claim that the issue hasn't been discussed.

The celibacy issue is not new for groups such as Call to Action, which called for optional celibacy when it was founded in the 1970s.


Friday, November 7, 2003


Dolan setting up $4 million victims fund

That's the title of an article in this morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Along with agreeing to mediation more independent of the Church, the Archdiocese will create a fund to pay the anticipated settlements.

The settlement money will come from the sale of buildings and land that was given to, or was purchased by, the archdiocese over the years. ...

That will not involve property from closed parishes, he added.

If that amount is even nearly enough, the material damage to the Archdiocese looks manageable.

The initial response was positive, in principle.

Peter Isely, a local network leader, said in an interview that at least 25 victims wanted to go through the revised mediation process together as soon as possible. If the system is set up quickly, network leaders hoped a group settlement could be achieved by Christmas.

The problems to date have been in practice.

One recent part of that was what Dolan termed a pastoral mediation process that addressed emotional, psychological and spiritual needs, along with financial restitution. But, apparently because those sessions were held on church property and were seen as being controlled by the church, only 10 victims have entered the process since it began in January.

Attemting a pastoral approach with people who were sexually abused by pastors might make it harder to address victims' emotional and psychological needs. Likewise holding the sessions on Church property when the abuse sometimes occurred on Church property. While pastoral concern is appropriate, addressing spiritual needs might need to wait until victims and the Church are no longer adversaries. (Ordinarily, adverse parties who agree to mediate will agree on a neutral mediator and meet at a neutral site, such as the mediator's office. In a case involving an individual against an organization, it seems to me that it's in everyone's interest for the mediation to take place where the individual can be most at ease, even if that's not a neutral site.)


Thursday, November 6, 2003


Utilitarianism (1863), by John Stuart Mill

According to the Greatest Happiness Principle,
as above explained, the ultimate end,
with reference to and for the sake of which
all other things are desirable (whether we are
considering our own good or that of other
people), is an existence exempt as far as possible
from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyments,
both in point of quantity and quality:
the test of quality, and the rule for measuring
it against quantity, being the preference
felt by those who in their opportunities of experience,
to which must be added their habits
of self-consciousness and self-observation, are
best furnished with the means of comparison.
This, being, according to the utilitarian opinion,
the end of human action, is necessarily
also the standard of morality; which may accordingly
be defined, the rules and precepts
for human conduct, by the observance of
which an existence such as has been described
might be, to the greatest extent possible, secured
to all mankind; and not to them only,
but, so far as the nature of things admits, to
the whole sentient creation.

--Chapter 2

[Great Books of the Western World (1952), Vol. 43, p. 450]


Deacon’s ministry involves balancing pastoral, familiar concerns

That's the headline of an article in the October 30, 2003 Catholic Herald, now on-line with its permanent links. The subject of the article is a married deacon, Willis J. Heideman, and is part of the Herald's series "Looking at celibacy." (nudge, nudge, wink, wink ...)

So how does the deacon balance pastoral and familial obligations?

"It’s like everything else," he said. "My wife makes sure I balance it."

A cleric's woman's work is never done.

Changes seen in sexual abuse mediation

That's the title of an article in this morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Our Archbishop had tried to have clergy sexual abuse victimes mediate their claims within the Church and without lawyers. This has not appealled to that many victims and a more conventional approach to mediation is in the works.

Officials from the church, the state and a major victims' advocacy group declined to provide specifics Wednesday, but various sources indicated that the changes most likely will include less church control over mediations, more freedom for victims to choose outside mediators and a more formal method of determining how much to pay when monetary restitution is needed.

The article states as a fact,

Bishops are autonomous locally and report only to Rome.

Reminds me of the rhyme about the Lodges and the Cabots.

What was fact soon shades into assertion.

The changes should not be linked to legislative pressure resulting from the tearful testimonies of victims at a daylong hearing in September on the state's proposed clergy sexual abuse bill, he [Archdiocesan spokesman Jerry Topczewski] said.

That's not a quote. If he said "should not be linked" does that mean "are not linked"?

Rising to that challenge, the writer looks where a link would be and see what he can find.

The pending bill on sexual abuse of minors by clergy would require churches and clergy to report known and suspected abuse, clarify that victims can sue churches for the actions of their clergy, and extend the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits and criminal complaints in future cases.

Concerned that it might not be constitutional, legislators did not include a grace period or "window" in which victims of past sexual abuse could file civil suits even if the statute of limitation had expired.

Despite this concern, the California legislature recently passed just such an extension. Did any Wisconsin legislators see a link between the threat or possibility of such a law and the changes in the Archdiocese's approach to mediation?

Asked whether pressure from legislators played any role in the changes, Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin), co-chairman of the joint Assembly-Senate committee that is considering the bill, said, "I've no doubt that there were representatives from the archdiocese who were at the hearing, and I suspect they felt a renewed sense of commitment to try to help in whatever way they can to heal some of these wounds that continue to exist . . . (and) to try to help more victims with the terrible tragedy that has occurred to them."

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), who wrote the bill with Rep. Peggy Krusick (D-Milwaukee), was more direct when asked what would have happened if the archdiocese had not taken action.

"I think it would have been harder to pass a bill without a window" in which to press charges, Darling said. "I think this restitution issue is extremely important to all of us, and so it's appropriate that the archdiocese is going to take responsibility and address the issue without it having to be mandated by law."

It appears that if Mr. Topczewski said they should not be linked, he was expressing a wish, not a fact.


Sunday, November 2, 2003


Views On Celibacy

That's the title of an item in today's bulletin at our parish. It doesn't ask parishioners for their particular views. It asks parishioners whose view favors a change from mandated to optional celibacy for priests to submit a form letter to Bishop Gregory as president of the USCCB, and mail it to a post office box. Here's the letter and the address at the web site of CORPUS, although there's no mention of that organization in the bulletin item.


Liturgy--The reason for the changes.

This bulletin insert continues the series on the implementation of the revised GIRM. This issue deals particularly with changes to increase reverence at Mass. One particular point is a sign of reverence for the Eucharist.

Beginning the First Sunday of Advent, as a community, we will bow to the Blessed Sacrament as we respond, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you."

This is in lieu of individual bowing on receiving the Eucharist. It makes a certain amount of sense in isolation, but I didn't see it as an option in GIRM. I find the most common unauthorized liturgical variation to be the individual variation of not showing up. In a confirmation class at another parish, I heard a priest stress that it wasn't enough to pray by yourself, you need to be at Mass. In response to a parishioners question, he then went on to say he was not going to have the Creed at Mass even though the Archdiosan Office of Worship said he should, and concluded "What are they going to do, fire me?" I see a conflict between his views, but it seems to me that a substantial part of our priests would not.

The insert goes on

The GIRM states that the posture we are to use during the Eucharistic Prayer is kneeling. At St. Al's, not everyone is able to kneel because of age, physical condition, space and the slope of our floor. For a number of reasons, it is prohibitive to install kneelers, and so after much discussion here, we will continue our tradition of standing during the Eucharistic Prayer.

Based on prior discussions of the issue of kneeling, I don't believe the reason our parish is not changing to conform to GIRM is that "it is prohibitive to install kneelers." But it's not an issue I'm going to push at the parish under present conditions. From time to time a Bible reading at Mass mentions kneeling, as do some hymns, so for now it's just another item we preach but don't practice.

Update. Here's a relevant excerpt from the American Bishops' November 14, 2001 debate on the U.S. adaptations of GIRM.

Bishop David Foley (Birmingham): I am surprised at what I am hearing. I would like to speak against this amendment. I think that we need unanimity throughout the United States as the reverence that we've always had. When we had the Appendix, we had it as one of the signs in our country, a respect at this moment, this sacred moment, of the Eucharistic Prayer and the Consecration of the Mass. And it's always understood that maybe for some reason a bishop could make some decision otherwise, but I think we should stand together in saying in our country we've had this honor, time-honored reverence shown. And I think we should stay with that and as bishops say this is the usual way, to kneel after the Sanctus through the acclamation including the acclamation.


Archbishop Weakland: I was very surprised by Bishop Foley's intervention, because that's not at all in fact it's the opposite of what I intended here. I think that the norm is the norm, and that's that we kneel, whether I like it or not that's what we're deciding. And that is the norm. So if the bishop decides an exception, it's an exception to the norm. Only the bishop can decide that exception. I don't think the bishop could decide that exception for his whole diocese. No, I don't think that's possible. The norm is the norm. If there is a given situation, it would be the bishop and not the local pastor to make that decision. I think that's what's involved here. Any exception would be made by the bishop.


What's Wrong With the World (1910), by Gilbert K. Chesterton

Destruction is finite; obstruction is
infinite; so long as rebellion takes the form of
mere disorder (instead of an attempt to enforce
a new order) there is no logical end to it;
it can feed on itself and renew itself forever.
War is a dreadful
thing; but it does prove two points sharply
and unanswerably--numbers, and an unnatural
valor. One does discover the two urgent matters;
how many rebels there are alive, and
how many are ready to be dead. But a tiny
minority, even an interested minority, may
maintain mere disorder forever.

--pp. 143-144


Saturday, November 1, 2003


Group to launch celibacy petition

That's the headline of an article in this morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The group is Call to Action, it's actually more of an anti-celibacy petition, and they have some help.

Conducted jointly with the FutureChurch reform group,

The name "FutureChurch" always makes me think of The Jetsons.

the 18-month campaign will build on the debate that was sparked this year

And who were those rhetorical arsonists?

when 169 priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee took the unusual step of sending letters advocating optional celibacy as a solution to the priest shortage

That overstates how much effect the letter-writers claim to expect from a change to permitting married priests.

to Bishop Wilton Gregory, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president.

What was particularly unusual was bypassing their own archbishop.

That's just one of the hot topics

Burn, baby, burn?

that will be up for discussion as nearly 3,000 members of the group gather at the Midwest Airlines Center from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9.

For example.

Illinois Appeals Court Justice Anne Burke, acting chairwoman of the National Review Board that the U.S. bishops established to oversee the cleanup of clergy sexual abuse, will speak on those efforts.

This is controversial, and not only because it's surprising she can spare the time.

Burke reportedly has taken criticism from some church leaders for agreeing to speak to a group that has advocated things such as ordination of married men and women, lay participation in selecting bishops and a rethinking of the church's ban on birth control for married couples.

That's not criticizing the bishops, so I'll guess her job is secure.

Although the group praises former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland as one of its inspiring prophets, Weakland staked out more neutral ground. He praised some of its activities but declined an invitation to address the conference in 1998, telling a reporter, "It seems to me they give a platform for anyone who disagrees with anything in the church."

That wasn't criticism of him, so he didn't put out the unwelcome mat for CTA, unlike for the Wanderer Forum.

Unlike Weakland, who questioned the theological arguments for a male-only priesthood, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan is a staunch Vatican advocate.

Reporter Tom Heinen had earlier in the article described CTA and FutureChurch as "reform" groups. So there's the match-up: Vatican versus Reform.

Lucky Jim

Ralph McInerny on the death of James Shannon, who I once
heard speak to The Peter Favre Forum.



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