The Provincial Emails
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At Mass this morning, I noted that our parish gave up the entrance procession for Lent.
Tristan und Isolde, by Richard Wagner
The Florentine Opera Company performed at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts which was about half-full. Or was it half-empty? This has been called the most important single composition in Western music. Roger Scruton recently wrote a book-length study of it, Death-devoted Heart.
The Florentine used an almost bare stage and modern costumes. Thus Isolde is walking around some chairs from Ikea in a business suit singing about magic potions and dynastic wars fought by sword-wielding knights. The characters, their dialogue, and the music meander about, until after four hours some of the characters kill each other. We envy the dead, or at least the performers who can lie down for a few minutes.
They convinced me this work has, in fact, had a profound influence on subsequent developments in theater and music.
Here's the Milwuakee Journal Sentinel review.
SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD
John Jay College issued its report. I note in the more detailed description of victims that 81% were boys and most were from age 12 to 15. This seems more like homosexuality than pedophilia. Yet in the materials used in the abuse awareness training now mandated by our Archdiocese, you'll find the following.
Myth: Most sexual abusers are homosexual.While there might be a context in which this is a true statement, it's misleading in the context of abuse awareness training which results from what appears to have been abuse of teenage boys by homosexual priests.
Philosophical Investigations (1953), by Ludwig Wittgenstein, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe (3rd ed. 1958)
"But you will surely admit that there is a difference between pain-behavior accompanied by pain and pain-behavior without any pain?--Admit it? What greater difference could there be?--"And yet you again and again reach the conclusion that the sensation itself is a nothing."--Not at all. It is not a something, but not a nothing either! The conclusion was only that nothing would serve just as well as a something about which nothing could be said. We have only rejected the grammar which tries to force itself on us here.Fans of Seinfeld and Philosophy or anyone, like Jerry, whose knowledge of high culture comes from Bugs Bunny cartoons, can consult II, xi, on Duck Season versus Rabbit Season, including a double-cross.
A reader writes,
So - what did you think of it?I defer to this opinion
HARK! THE HERALD
The February 19, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.
You might recall that parents were incorrectly desiring two grade schools, rather than one grade school and a middle school. Guess what.
The school will consist of two campuses: a K3 through grade three school located at the present St. Paul School site, and a grade four through eight site located at St. Veronica School.So how did they convince the parents? Or did they? Fr. Mark Payne, pastor of St. Veronica Parish, said,
"To accommodate the number (of students) we were looking at, we couldn’t use just one site. If we were to have two K-8 schools, how would you select certain students to go to one and others to another?" he asked. "The thinking behind it was to unify all of us and not have a divisive situation."And yet, somehow, the Catholic schools in West Allis and West Milwaukee consolidated into two locations with grades K-8 at each.
"Well planned chats" led to Priest Alliance
Not on-line is a letter from Marni Geissler of Greenfield.
After reading the closing quote by Fr. Ken Mich in your article on the Priest Alliance, I would like to offer some history.
That's the title of Fr. McBrien's column on his web site. In the Herald, a different title, "Suspicions abound over moral integrity of film project," is taken from his concluding sentence.
Interesting choice of phrasing. Is Fr. McBrien saying he suspects the moral integrity of Mel Gibson? He titles his column "Essays in Theology" so we might wonder about the theology of suspicion of others' moral integrity. The Herald goes a step further in its choice of headline for this week's column and its choice of the title "Essays in Dialogue" for the column. Expressing suspicions about another's moral integrity seems an odd basis for dialogue.
Commenting on Kevin Phillips book on the Bush family, Paul Krugman wonders.
What Phillips doesn't explain, or at least not to my satisfaction, is why crony capitalists have been able to make an effective alliance with the religious right, while other groups—say, Democrats tied to the labor movement—have not. After all, fundamentalists in America are, on average, relatively poor, and tend to be hurt by right-wing economic policies. It's true that, as Phillips points out, modern fundamentalist doctrine encourages a belief in self-reliance, with a corresponding benign attitude toward wealth and hostility to policies that redistribute income. But the Bush family does not, to say the least, consist of self-made men, and its policies actually do involve redistribution—from the have-nots to the haves. What makes religious leaders see an elite dynasty as their friend?So why is there a religious right? Mr. Krugman appears even less interested in finding out than Mr. Wills.
To Live Is Christ is a newsletter bringing Archbishop Timothy Dolan's spiritual insights to all registered Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.Couldn't it be published as an "Extra" of the Catholic Herald? Even if that would not eliminate any duplication of effort, it would be an opportunity to plug the Herald by putting a copy in every Catholic household.
I am often asked, "Archbishop, what are your priorities?" In reply, I observe that they just are not my priorities, but a discernment, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, of God's priorities, revealed to us in His Word, in the teachings of the Church, and especially in the Second Vatican Council.Especially in the Second Vatican Council, and secondarily in God's Word and the teachings of the Church?
This review of planning starts with "Phase One" which began in 1988.
In the 1990s, flowing from the planning that took place in the late 1980s, many parishes began to share programs and develop collaborative ministry efforts. At the same time, the pastors of the Milwaukee Central City parishes approached the Archbishop and asked for help in planning. Archbishop Weakland appointed Fr. John Schreiter as Vicar for Planning for the Central City. Fr. Schreiter worked with the archdiocesan parish consultants for Central and Northern Milwaukee County and began a three-year planning process which involved a great deal of consultation with parish leadership. The end product was the merging of nine parishes into two new parishes, All Saints and St. Martin de Porres.Our local priests union expresses much concern about ministry to the poor. This seems inconsistent with the closing of most of the inner city parishes on the initiative of their pastors. If the pastors did not actually favor the closings then, what did they do then to dissuade Archbishop Weakland?
Phase Two began in 1996, and merger mania set in.
Over 70 parishes were involved in mergers.Now we are in Phase Three, which began in 2003 with the appointment of another commission.
The commission noted in its studies that while the number of Catholics was increasing in many areas, the number attending Mass was decreasing.Catholics continue to become nominally Catholic. Outside the Church, this is called "hollowing out."
Lake Drive came under the scrutiny of a Strategic Planning Task Force.
The task force was also asked to examine the issues related to seven priorities the Archbishop had established as the broad mandate for its work.Or did he?
With the mandate of "Seek first the Kingdom of God" (MT 6:33), the task force analyzed the six specific priority areas established by Archbishop Dolan. The six areas are: Spiritual Life, Parishes, Catholic Education and Life-long Faith Formation, Social Ministry, Stewardship and Ministerial Formation.So the Archbishop set six priorities, not seven?
The task force added a seventh area, Leadership and Governance.Maybe six priorities was too easy for them, and they're going to rewrite the Archbishop's job while they're at it. After all, they cannot fail.
Focusing on how best to deliver these services and support to our parishes and schools will only increase their effectiveness for the faithful Catholics who benefit from them.
Here are the preliminary numbers.
From 1950 through 2002, the archdiocesan records indicate that there have been 131 victims of sexual abuse of a minor by diocesan clergy. This number includes individuals who have come forward and those who have not come forward, but were identified by a perpetrator during a confrontation and subsequent investigation.
Also from the "Cannot Fail" file, this on the Archdiocese's "Safeguarding All of God's Family" FAQ.
2. Will this program make a difference?That explains why our Archdiocese thinks, or hopes, it will make a difference. I would interpret the question as asking how it will evaluate whether or not the program is, in fact, making a difference.
Regarding the results of the USCCB audit of comliance with the Charter, under the heading "To Protect the Faithful in the Future,"
The Archdiocese has adopted a series of safe environment seminars through VIRTUS for presentation to employees and volunteers; ... A Recommendation was written for the Archdiocese to ensure that the training includes parents and children.Every parent and child will also have to go through the VIRTUS training. If we added it all up, there might be a million hours of people's time going into this program just in our Archdiocese. There's pressure to do something, and the program surely looks appealling to many, but how will it be determined whether or not it actually turns out to be beneficial in practice?
SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD
When I asked about our parish's need for another catechist for 10th grade, I was assured that the time commitment was to teach four sessions of two hours each. Having served at the parish before, I knew that after I committed to teach, I would at some point be told there was something more I had to do that added significantly to the time commitment.
In this case, the something turned out to be participating in a program for child abuse awareness and prevention. This morning I attended a three hour "Protecting God's Children" session. The program is part of the larger Virtus program and prepared by The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. The Group is a captive excess insurer owned primarily by dioceses.
The program consisted of a video and an eight page workbook for discussion. Part I of the video was "A Time to Protect God's Children." The video was mostly several victims of child abuse, who looked to still be in their teens, and a couple of abusers, each telling their stories. The rest was commentary from bishops and professionals and parents, and some "myths versus facts."
You cannot have such a meeting in our Church without the words "Now we'll break into smaller groups for discussion," and the discussion is of questions provided, here in the workbook. Like Church committees this was not worthwhile, when you consider the ratio of worth to while. Five minutes of Q&A in the large group could have accomplished as much and cut the total time commitment in half. (Of course, many of the attendees and all the facilitators in charge were full-time employees at parishes and schools and weren't taking vacation time to be at this meeting.)
The second part of the video was "A Plan to Protect God's Children." This covered such things as spotting warning signs, controlling access to kids, and so on. Again, this was followed by small group discussion. That discussion showed most of us could not watch a video and take complete notes. If we were going to be given eight pages, it would have made more sense to give eight pages of what we need to remember.
The Computer and the Brain (1958), by John von Neumann
Based on his Silliman Lecture for Yale University, von Neumann explains some of the basic principles of digital computers and compares their measurable performance in such areas as speed and capacity with that of the human brain. Some of the computer terminology has stayed the same to today, such as "bits," short for binary digits. Terms like "program" and "instruction" must not yet have come into use. Von Neumann instead talks about "orders."
HARK, THE HERALD
The February 12, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.
Five months after their founding meeting, the Rebel Alliance reunites.
According to group spokesman Fr. Kenneth Mich, pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Menomonee Falls, "the purpose of (the meeting) was to get us back in touch with the issues raised in September (2003), but also it was an opportunity to surface and raise new issues. ..."The goal appears to be to have as long an agenda as possible; a less than exhaustive list of issues from the earlier meeting included these six.
...due process for priests; changes in vision and ecclesiology for the archdiocese; optional celibacy; management-driven ministry and the disregard of priestly service in the church; parish planning issues; the future of ministry to the poor and marginalized; and support for schools but perceived lack of support for religious education programs.While "management-driven ministry" is a concern, the meeting proceeded
Using the same "open space" technology introduced by Missionary Servant of the Most Holy Trinity Br. Paul Michalenko at the September meeting ...Here's some background on Open Space Technology. As if our priests were not already overflowing with jargon, OST claims to be a participatory collaborative multi-stakeholder self-referenced learning process.
Note that while OTS is "participatory" in form, it is top-down in substance. "Any Open Space event is predefined by a question which is to be discussed during a one to three days meeting. The question has to be selected carefully by the management, supported by the facilitator." What comes out of the meetings of the Priests Alliance, then, will be a function of the what was put in by those priests who have the role of management in the OTS process.
Finally, note the time recommended for effective use of OTS. The explanation indicates that "... a good exchange of ideas, elaboration of recommendations and the priorization of actions," requires a three day meeting. The priests meetings have been a fraction of that. Perhaps partly as a result, their meetings lack focus and priorities.
The group of priests who had served as the steering committee also put forward a group of nine priests for approval by the larger body as the leadership group for the next year.I say "partly" because I have detected in our priests a fondness for interminable discussion. For example, the United States Consitution was prepared in a summer, yet our priests union needs a year to "refine" theirs. And over that same year the priests plan to address leadership succession, presumably using the word "address" so that they can't be held to a commitment to actually decide the issue by then.
This column by Fr. Richard McBrien was published in the February 5, 2004 Herald and is now on-line in his "Recent Columns" archive. He gigs Cardinal George for a false dichotomy.
In a well-balanced profile of the current cardinal-archbishop of Chicago, Francis George, the author, Peter Feuerherd, reports that one of the cardinal’s "favorite themes is that the church has spent enough time focusing on itself and now must spend more time on the work of conversion. He sees evangelization as the solution to perennial problems such as the looming priest shortage" ('Chicago Catholic: A profile of Cardinal Francis George,' Commonweal, 1/16/04).And yet, Fr. McBrien goes on to prove Cardinal George's point. While Fr. McBrien claims to be saying we need not choose between evangelizing and settling issues of Church structure, he goes on to indicate that, before evangelizing, we need to address seventeen stuctural questions. Seventeen not counting sub-parts.
Who in the Church is to direct this complex evangelization process? From which ecclesiastical ranks are those who direct the evangelization process to draw their co-workers? To whom should these co-workers be sent? And to do what, exactly?Perhaps Fr. McBrien should be an honorary member of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Priests Alliance committee on constitution and bylaws.
A reader points out that a celebrity connection brought Catholic Traditionalism to the attention of the Los Angeles Times:
HARK, THE HERALD
The February 5, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.
Representatives of parishes met for district "listening sessions."
"People are becoming educated" about the deficiency in the number of priests and now are asking, "How can we assure that the Eucharist is available" to all who want to partake of it? emphasized Gail Kraig, parish consultant for districts 7, 8 and 9.Of course, that depends on the definition of Eucharist.
Ms. Craig continued.
"They’re saying, ‘How can we lighten the burden of priests who have to attend tons and tons of meetings’ and pastors who have to be involved in all aspects of the church so they can concentrate on pastoral issues? ..."Some of our priests own answer was to form a union which appears to involve tons and tons of additional meetings on involving themselves more in every aspect of the Church.
Noreen Welte, director of the Office for Parish Councils and Planning, added "the people see that we’re all partners in ensuring the mission of the church. It’s not just the priests’ responsibility, it’s our responsibility. People in the pews have to embrace their fullest participation in parish life. That may mean giving up more time to participate in committee work ...Based on past experience, I do not believe you are likely to find worthwhile committee work in the Church.
"... or studying something about faith to hand on to the next generation, being more active than we’ve been. We can’t say, ‘Someone else will do it. It’s up to us.’"It is possible that the instruction materials at your parish will actually conform to Church teaching. Those I'm using for my 10th grade class at our parish do not. I've brought this to a DRE's attention. We'll see how satisfactory this experience is compared to committee work.
The article goes on to discuss various parish combinations and collaborations. These are portrayed as cutting edge, although they hardly are by secular standards. The process is essentially no different than a business consolidating branches and services with the slogan "to serve you better."
The common suggestions include: ...We're eliminating Masses to spread the Gospels more.
This article includes more of the Archdiocese's defense to the claim it delayed removing Fr. Benham.
According to [Racine County Deputy District Attorney Mike] Nieskes, he received a letter from the archdiocese Nov. 4  regarding the allegations. After contacting the victim and determining the case was beyond the statue of limitations, Nieskes said he remembers forwarding the information to the archdiocese.Must everything be by letter, rather than by telephone with follow-up letter? Couldn't Fr. Benham have been removed without explanation in November?
[Kathleen] Hohl [interim director of communications for the archdiocese] said archdiocesan policies, which are consistent with those established by the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, dictate that allegations must first be reviewed by legal authorities before taking further action.Here's the Charter and the implementing Norms. There does not appear to be provision for suspending a priest pending the results of the investigation.
In this week's column, our Archbishop describes bringing the news to Fr. Benham's parish.
I had been tempted to send a letter to be read at the Masses, or to send another priest to represent me. But, I knew I had to be there. I wanted to be there.He gave them the news.
And then there was a miracle. Those good people stood back up, and entered into the greatest prayer we have, the Eucharist. Within five minutes of hearing from me devastating, shocking news, they were singing "alleluia!" at the top of their voices before the Gospel. They were nodding their heads in agreement as I attempted to preach God’s Word, assuring them that our faith would see us through, that our faith was not in a priest, a bishop, nor even a church, but in Jesus and the assurances he gave his church.Preach it, bishop.
Finished my series of three snowboarding lessons at nearby Crystal Ridge Ski Area. It's more work than skiing, at least the way I ski. If and when I next snowboard, I'll have a helmet.
One evening the wolves next door started howling. How many other places can you snowboard and hear timber wolves howling and see a downtown skyline all at the same time?
SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD
Safeguarding All Of God's Family
An item in today's bulletin at our parish.
This is one part of our Archdiocesan and Parish's positive response to the sexual abuse crisis within the Church and society. This extremely comprehensive program offers all of us an opportunity to increase our awareness and knowledge of this pervasive sickness within our society. Over the next several months, all paid staff and volunteers who have regular contact with minors will be required to take part in several awareness sessions, and our mandatory criminal background checks will, of course, continue for all paid staff and volunteers. We as church are serious about being ever vigilant as we can be. If you have questions or comments, please get in touch with Fr. Dick.Presumably this does not mean that once you reach the age of majority, you're fair game. Still, if awareness training is in order, it might include a unit to dispel this notion.
Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader, sends an eight page letter. The font is selected to look like it was typewritten, but with lots of underlining and bold, and some bold italic. Anyone else tired of this style? Maybe I am because the mailing lists I'm on result in sometimes being called to both sides of the same barricade.
The letter, p. 2, quotes Paul Krugman in The New York Times on
... the belief of the Republican leadership that if it wraps itself in the flag ...and Ms. Pelosi herself, p. 4, says
I've been told that Republican spin-doctors and political operatives are cynically planning to use the war in Iraq and the cover of the American flag to obscure the real issues in 2004.You might recall that an earlier fundraising appeal from Ms. Pelosi enclosed an American flag decal, and obviously you cannot wrap yourself in or cover yourself with a flag decal. Unless those are metaphors.
Based on what Ms. Pelosi says, if you think Iraq to be an issue, you'll need to find another party to raise it.
For a donation of $25 or more you get a Fighting Donkey Lapel Pin. The illustration indicates this is a donkey that fights with its front legs.
HARK! THE HERALD
The January 29, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.
The new system will be publicized in newspaper ads, press releases, and flyers at Catholic schools and churches. If you were worried there would be a TV spot during a showing of Boys Town or that Bob Dolan would pitch it on radio, you can relax. Information will also be posted on the Archdiocese's web site. In a step forward, the Herald included the actual link in the on-line story. Next they might start incorporatating links into the text.
While I understood that Eva Soeka had been hired by our Archdiocese to design the mediation system, I did not pick up that she would be designing a job for herself into it.
The mediation system designed by Soeka includes an intake coordinator, three independent investigators and three mediators. As system administrator, Soeka reviews all of the callers who wish to use the mediation system.I expected that this process was set up to soon bring the remaining claims to conclusion. It's instead sounds a bit like a start-up in a growth industry.
"We are beginning this process with a panel of three investigators and three mediators," said Soeka. "Depending on how the process goes, we may add more."Apparently no matter how the process goes, they aren't contemplating fewer.
So, what is the system?
According to an outline of the mediation system, victims/survivors who contact the intake coordinator and participate in the intake process will choose one of the three independent investigators or they may nominate another investigator who is mutually acceptable.Which raises the question of why have the panels at all. If there are other area investigators or mediators acceptable to the Archdiocese, why not just have lists of all of them?
Mediation sessions will be held in neutral locations convenient to both parties.Mediation 101.
With the consent of both parties, any person may be invited to attend the session as support for the victim/survivor, and there is no limit to the number of people present.This seems to say the Archdiocese might veto a victim/survivor's choice of a supporting person. If the victim/survivor has a veto over who the Archdiocese has present, it's not mentioned.
Update. Here's the ad soliciting victims, from today's Franklin Hub
So that's why they might add staff, to take care of the rush to beat the April 30, 2004 deadline. I wonder what happens if any victims surface after April 30, 2004.
Our Archbishop takes Catholic Schools Week as an opportunity to review the state of our schools. If you want to make a point, looks like snail mail is the way to go.
And finally, some parents question the Catholic identity of our schools. A year or so ago, I got a letter from some out of town friends who wanted to send their eighth grade daughter to a local Catholic high school. So, they visited the school. "The kids we met were unfriendly and disheveled, the teacher we met was unshaven and wore a baseball hat in the classroom; we saw no crucifix anywhere; the 'chapel' was unidentifiable and a mess, and the classes we sat-in-on did not even begin with a prayer. We have to think long-and-hard if we want to scrape-up $6,000 a year to send Amy to a school not all that different from the brand-new public one down the street."Watch the hyphens, though.
SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD
Our Archbishop delivered the news to the parish in person. Their pastor had admitted repeated sexual contact with a boy between 1976 and 1980. The victim, now 37 years old, reported this to the Archdiocese late last year.
[Archdiocesan spokeswoman Kathleen] Hohl said the victim's report was received Nov. 3 and was forwarded to the Racine County district attorney the next day. In mid-January, the district attorney's office told the archdiocese the case was too old for them to prosecute.And the pastor was removed January 23rd.
Both the victim and Peter Isely, regional director of for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, believe the diocese dragged its feet. According to them, it wasn't until an influential friend of the victim contacted the Racine County district attorney in January that the diocese moved forward. ...Maybe this means the Archdiocese could not disclose the allegations to the priest while the prosecutor was investigating. Does that mean the pastor could not be temporarily removed without explanation while the charging decision was pending? Our Archbishop is from Missouri, so perhaps he'll sympathize when I say I'd like to hear that from the District Attorney's office.