The Provincial Emails
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SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD
Our archdiocese's insurers have denied coverage for claims now in suit in California and Wisconsin.
Nine alleged victims of deceased, former priest Siegfried Widera have filed lawsuits in California that name the Milwaukee Archdiocese as a defendant. The door was opened in January for such cases when the California Supreme Court ruled in one of them that the archdiocese could be sued for sending Widera to that state years ago without revealing his prior conviction for molesting a minor.I'll hazard a guess that the insurers are saying that concealing information is not covered. The coverage suit is Milwaukee County case number 04-CV-3573.
The ten Wisconsin cases are those recently filed by Jeffery Anderson on behalf of alleged victims of Fr. George Nuedling. These were dismissed by the Circuit Court and now on appeal.
A reader points out in today's Los Angeles Times the article He Sends the Devil Packing on exorcism, especially in Italy.
Doctors have proved an important asset in assessing the state of mind of potential patients, [Cardinal Tarcisio[ Bertone [the archbishop of Genoa] said. Surprisingly (or not), the practice of exorcism gets some endorsement from Italy's medical establishment.
HARK! THE HERALD
The April 22, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.
Whatever percentage Woody Allen assigned to it, our Archbishop notes that step one is showing up.
Our studies show that, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, about 280,000 Catholics worship at Mass every Sunday. Alleluia! Our research also shows that this means that, since we have 700,000 Catholics in the archdiocese, each Sunday 420,000 do not celebrate Sunday Eucharist. ...The primary concern of our local priests' union is overwork, not, say, evangelization, see the Alliance's Letter of February 8, 2004 to the Archdiocesan Planning Commission. So perhaps many of our priests really don't want more people to show up.
ICH BIN EIN FRANKLINER
Franklin's Wal-Mart supercenter controversy was a front page story in today's Franklin Hub.
[Kevin] Pomeroy [a planner with the group 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin] said Wal-Mart gets rid of competition by taking over so much of a community's retail money that other, smaller stores cannot survive.That's not just because Wal-Mart's prices are lower.
Supercenters offer such a wide range of merchandise--including car parts and service, prescription drugs, clothing, toys, furniture, small appliances, health and beauty products and full service grocery stores--that no one else can compete.The objection is not just to lower prices, it is also to a wider selection of products.
Studies researching Wal-Mart's effects on communities in Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa showed that when Wal-Mart came in, other businesses lost millions of dollars ...These local vested interests must be protected from a competitor which would offer a wider selection of products at lower prices.
... and there was a net loss of jobs almost equal to the new jobs Wal-Mart brought into a community.Which appears to mean there was a net gain in jobs, from which we also must be protected.
Opponents are circulating a petition for an ordinace that would limit combination department-grocery stores to 100,000 square feet except in the zoning area along 27th Street, Franklin's east boundary. They appear to want this in effect when the current moratorium blocking the Wal-Mart development expires. The developer and landowners have sued over the moratorium because the Wal-Mart supercenter would comply with existing zoning at the proposed location.
MAPA Discussion Board, cont.
The priests' discussion of Redemptionis Sacramentum continues with this from "ajurkus" [perhaps Fr. Alan Jurkus of St. Monica Church in Whitefish Bay],
this is a decree which reminds me of Johnxxiii instruction in 1958 or 59 demanding that LATIN be used in all seminary instruction..I remember it as the last gasp of the era before vatican ii. i hope this is the last gasp of the era before vatican IIISome believe that the outcome of the next ecumenical council can be read like a blueprint. This is an example of claiming to set an agenda while actually writing the minutes in advance of the meeting.
A reader points out in today's Washington Post Catholics Question Abortion Focus.
The weekly National Catholic Reporter, a leading voice of liberal Catholics, took issue in an editorial last week with "those among the Catholic laity and hierarchy . . . who argue that abortion trumps all other issues in the upcoming election."That appears to be an argument against focus itself. Under NCR's analysis, everything is a right-to-life issue except abortion.
An insert in our parish bulletin says,
Our Pacesetter Visitors have been recruited for the upcoming "Debt Reduction Fund Appeal" ...Perhaps they'll be visiting soon.
The bulletin also has an ad for a replacement for the principal of our parish grade school.
Must be a practicing Catholic ...At this point I still might have to ask a Pacesetter Visitor if we are practicing Catholics if we are providing a forum or other support for MAPA, if one of its missions is to be a voice for "pro-choice" Catholics.
The bulletin also blurbs some "Upcoming Archdiocesan Programs," including,
Let Us Proclaim The Mystery of Faith: Archbishop Emeritus Weakland will revisit Eucharist Without Walls. This final presentation of the series will be held on Thursday, May 6, 7-9:00PM, at Three Holy Women Parish, 2011 N. Oakland Avenue, Milwaukee. $5.00 donation. ...He's back on tour. With a cover charge.
R.I.P. Andrew Lammers
An ambulance, paramedics, and police pulled up in front of neighbor's house this afternoon. He had just returned from his daily run, had a heart attack and collapsed. They couldn't revive him.
We hadn't known but learned that he had heart bypass surgery a few years ago, which had motivated his staying in shape.
Update: here is his death notice.
ICH BIN EIN FRANKLINER
MAPA Discussion Board
The Priests' Alliance web site has a chat forum. Only one topic, so far.
I am angered by the latest document on the liturg[y]. Once again we are being told from on high to do something without consultation. Let me know what you think.Perhaps in response, though not threaded,
I attended the John Allen (Vatican correspondant for NCR) lecture at Marquette (reported in this weeks Catholic Herald) last week. One of the Vatican myths that he exposed is that it is monolithic in it opinions, that all offices and dicasteries march to the same tune. Example he used was how the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments makes its rules and statements and then the office that arranges the Papal liturgies when he travels include "verbotten" rituals reflecting the indiginous culture (litugical tribal dance etc.) Isn't what's good for the Goose, good for the gander...Which gets a reply.
I can live with your misspelling [of Redemtionis for Redemptionis]. What I can't live with is people on high telling us what to do without our imput. These are men who have never worked in parishes interpreting the beauty of liturgy from a legalistic vantage point.They must be mystified that their Masses aren't drawing standing room only crowds.
HARK! THE HERALD
The April 15, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.
The Archdiocese's prescribed sexual abuse awareness training gets an unexpected reaction from an unexpected source, the local Jesuit boys' high school.
Some of the teachers at Marquette University High School, during a recent training session there, expressed concern that they may not be able now to comfort children in instinctual ways, such as giving a crying child a hug.At one time, alternate after school punishments at MUHS were either spending 45 minutes memorizing pages from the Bible or getting swatted on the behind with a golf club shaft. And that was after Vatican II. When did all this sensitivity break out?
St. Alphonsus Happenings, Spring 2004
Today's mail brings the Spring 2004 issue of Happenings, our parish newsletter.
The spirit of the Alliance is to foster the core values of honesty, openness and fraternal care. The immediate goals are to:You might recall, the Alliance's chairman, Fr. David Cooper, spoke at a Voice Of The Faithful meeting at our parish, and described what the Alliance considers the voiceless in the Church as including the pro-choice. At the Alliance's web site, the "Convening Board" link brought up a link to minutes of the Alliance's February 5, 2004 meeting, which says the same thing. I raised this issue at the March 29, 2004 meeting of our parish council, and my pastor was going to get back to me with a clarification. I haven't heard from him yet, and his newsletter piece doesn't provide any.
He goes on,
He [Archbishop Dolan] has been apprised of each step we have taken. ... He has asked that we keep him informed as we move ahead in solidarity with one another.The minutes of the Alliance's February 5, 2004 meeting say,
3. Morale of priests:So it might depend on what is considered "contrary." One test might be whether a priest would consider a parishioner to be acting contrary to him by doing something analogous.
MAPA February 25, 2004 Convening Board Meeting
As long as we're at the Alliance's web site, let's review the minutes of this Convening Board meeting.
They selected officers, Fr. Dave Cooper as Chair, Fr. Bill Burkert as Co-Chair, and Fr. Brian Mason as Secretary/Treasurer.
The professional Facilitator for the February 5, 2004 meeting usually charges $100 per hour but agreed to accept $300 total for his work.
Some priests, particularly some in "irregular situations," objected to the Archdiocesan Vicar for Clergy being an Alliance member.
Bill Burkert responded that it is not Joe who is blocking the rights of priests, but the bigger Church structures that are currently in place. We should be fighting the structures and not an individual.Among themselves, they advocate "Fighting the structures," and in communications with their parishioners they will say the Alliance "in no way is meant to run contrary to our bishop." They do conclude that the Vicar for Clergy has as much right to belong as any other priest. Hard to see why his presence was controversial if the Alliance wants the Archbishop to know what it is doing, as our pastor implies. But, on close reading, I note he does not quite literally say that.
It appears that the Archdiocese had been using an outside consulting firm in determining annual raises in priests' salaries. The minutes seem to say that, for the first time, the consultant's recommendation was not followed. Raises will be 2.5%, rather than the 5% it recommended, and the consultant has been terminated. The Archbishop decided on smaller raises so they would be more in line with raises being given to lay staff.
[Fr.] Ken Mich said this was not an issue about the Archbishop’s authority, but rather concern over the system that was put in place to bring us up to parity with people with comparable responsibilities and positions.Our parish policy goal was to pay lay staff 80% of comparable public sector positions. Our parish never met that goal, and the percentage actually paid has been dropping. Our pastor has said he is paid considerably less than some of his Protestant counterparts. Which is the relevant correlation?
There's more on compensation.
The pension has been frozen for this year. The retired priests receive $1250.00 per month in pension. In the past, the priest, the parish and the Archdiocese made equal contributions to the pension fund. The Archdiocese is withdrawing its portion of the contribution. The pension board has not made a decision yet as to whether or not the priests will pay a higher amount. There is also a consideration before the pension board to require 30 years of service in priesthood to collect full pension. [Vicar] Joe Hornacek said that all of this information has been in the Chancery newsletter and the Cincture.These are easier to call legitimate gripes. Why aren't we reading about priests' pay and benefits in the Catholic Herald, if the information is published elsewhere? I suspect Fr. Thomas "Spike" Brundage, its Executive Editor, has already explained.
MAPA March 24, 2004 Convening Board Meeting
The Alliance's Convening Board met again on March 24th.
Still no one to chair the committee on vocations.
There was a report on the meeting with VOTF.
The members of Voice of the Faithful seemed to have come to the conclusion that the Alliance came into existence as a result of their actions. Dave clarified that he had been in communication with other priests about the formation of the Alliance for quite some time.This refers to a letter from from Marni Geissler to the Catholic Herald. You might recall I was at that VOTF meeting and heard what Fr. Cooper said; I'd say he confirmed that VOTF got the Alliance going.
The Alliance lists its top priority as concern for overworked priests.
[Fr.] Bill [Burkert] and [Fr.] Brian [Mason] felt they were giving real life proof that priests are overworked in that they have not as yet been able to call this group together.Don't complain to your pastor about the bureaucracy at your parish; he'll probably ask you to chair a new committee to address it.
The committee on rights of priests had several issues, first being,
They want to send a letter to Joe Hornacek or Bishop Sklba to ask about the process the archdiocese uses to ascertain the guilt of a priest when a civil process does not find him guilty.It was handy to have the Vicar for Priests right there, after all.
[Fr.] Joe Hornacek responded that all of this has already been published in the Chancery Newsletter and the Cincture and that there is nothing secret about it. It is a matter of priests reading what has already been sent to them.Maybe they should publish the Chancery Newsletter and the Cincture on-line. The priests might not read them but at least someone might.
SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD
The new law makes clergy mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse. It excepts abuse they hear of in private conversations. Advocates of that exception said it was intended to protect confession and similar communications with pastors. Victim rights advocates say this is too broad an exception.
The article has Archdiocesan spokesman Jerry Topczewski calling confession a "core tenant" of the Church. I assume he said tenet, but maybe he should use a different term for the benefit of the reporters.
The issue of declining Mass attendance came up at our parish when I was discerned for Parish Council in the late 1990's and during planning during my three-year term. At discernment, our pastor was opposed because church attendance was then still higher among Catholics than Protestants. Our Director of Adult Christian Formation (the only nun on staff) was also opposed. During planning, the Liturgy Committee was opposed to stating a goal because it might be regarded as their job to meet it.
With the continuing decline, p. 9, there's a District goal, p. 5., no. 2.
Our parish, large as it is, might soon have only one priest, p. 12, Cluster C, no. 4. There is a continuing goal for new seminarians, no. 7., p. 6.
"Orphan wood" is how reporter Dennis McCann describes wood reclaimed from the demolition of the former St. Joseph Orphanage on the south side of Milwaukee. Furniture craftsman Kurt Kinnunen of Ironwood, Michigan, has been using it in his work.
The story says the building was used aa a day care center after it closed as an orphange. My kids went there for day care when I lived not too far away. My younger son, at three months of age, was called in as understudy to play the Baby Jesus in the Christmas Pageant, when the star fell ill.
The story quotes Sr. Samuel at some length. I remember her from when my kids were there. She's one of those little dynamo sisters, once so common, and seemed to have aged maybe five years in the twenty since I last saw her. We bumped into each other when I went to one of the listening sessions on sexual abuse a couple of years ago. She still works at the day care center, now operating in what had been the grade school for a nearby closed parish.
Our parish bulletin announces that our grade school principal of many years is resigning.
The preliminary plans for parish reorganization do not include many mergers. If so, we'll have to add that to the ways Fr. Joe Aufdermauer didn't know what he was talking about.
The Archdiocese now gives us reason to wonder if we will face a priest shortage, after all.
Addressing needs beyond the priest shortage, the plan directs for the first time that:Parkinson's Law appears to be at work, as more staff is added while the number of people served drops. If most parishes already have a director of liturgy and music, and Mass attendance has dropped from 60% to 36% in fourteen years, then it seems likely that with more directors of liturgy and music, Mass attendance will drop even more. If we were to compare the ratio of priests to Catholics who show up for Mass, rather than total Catholics, there's not such a shortage of priests. Extend the trend, and Mass attendance will be 0% in 2023, while there might still be one or more priests.
Parishes were given seven models for collaboration, including creating their own.That would mean four parish councils and all their committees. Who will go to all these meetings?
Most parishes got a green light for their plans, Welte and Gallagher said.And, last we heard, "... a leader in the local chapters of two Catholic reform groups, Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful." There's our meeting-junkie.
With eight former priests, maybe they should call the parish CORPUS delicti.
Here's the closest thing to good news.
In south-central Milwaukee County--where the continuing influx of Hispanics has caused parish membership to surge 51%, from 16,440 in 1988 to 24,801 in 2003--the plan cites a preferential option for the poor and calls for no reduction in priests for the district's 16 parishes ...Mr. Heinen has been on this beat so long that he's forgotten that "preferential option for the poor" is jargon, and using "preferential" and "option" in senses pretty much opposite to their ordinary meanings. But at least keeping priests at these parishes ameliorates a bit the scandal that parishes in poor black neighborhoods were the first ones closed when this process began in the 1990's.
HARK! THE HERALD
The April 8, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links.
Bishop Sklba reviews Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. He first judges its artistic merit. Then,
At the second level of judgment, every artistic rendition of the Gospel, especially the Passion, should be judged according to its fidelity to the Scriptures and their message of salvation.One of his criticisms was that some scenes in the movie indicate various wrongful actions by the Jewish authorities which are without basis in the Gospels.
More specifically, in the Gospels themselves there is no hint of brutality by temple guards in the garden at the time of the arrest.Is that instance, at least, a substantially misleading portrayal? Luke 22: 54, 63 says,
After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. ... The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him.Bishop Sklba also says that,
In my judgment that level of brutality was even erroneously imposed by the film on the biblical text at times, as for example the film’s portrayal of the crown of thorns. In fact the imposition of the crown was intended to mock, not cause pain. To prove the point, I would note that the Greek word was acanthus, a thistle, the very leafy plant which decorates the top of Corinthian columns. Our traditional Catholic piety, however, would never have noticed that reality.The New American Bible nowhere says thistles, and does say thorns in Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17, and John 19:2. The NAB footnote to Matthew 27:29 says that the crown of thorns was
probably of long thorns that stood upright so that it resembled the "radiant" crown, a diadem with spikes worn by Hellenistic kings.That is stated only as a probability, and not a certainty, and it does not appear to mean thistles. It is Bishop Sklba who here appears to be imposing on the biblical text, unless we are to regard as the biblical text the current opinions of contemporary biblical scholars.
Further, its an odd criticism to make, given that the recent renovation of our Cathedral included an enormous crown of thorns, traditional in form at least, suspended over the altar. Karen Marie Knapp had posted a photo of our Cathedral's corona and we discussed it briefly in her blog's comments. It seems to me to be special pleading by Bishop Sklba to criticize a traditional rendition of the crown of thorns in Gibson's film given one was installed in our Cathedral in a renovation only two years ago, and during his tenure as auxiliary. One might make the case that the crown of thorns as traditionally portrayed would be an instrument of torture, and the Gospels actually indicate it was meant to mock Jesus. But if this is an issue for portrayals in a movie, it seems it would be even more of an issue for a portrayal in a cathedral.
Finally, any judgment of this film must include an assessment of its conformity with the church’s 1988 guidelines for dramatic representations of the Passion.These are not exactly "the church's ... guidelines." He's referring to a pamphlet produced by a committee of the USCCB.
It's available on-line [pdf]. The USCCB did not go to much trouble to do this. Someone scanned the pamphlet as-is. The first page of the scan is the cover, flattened on the scanner, so you can even see the staples. At the end of his column, Bishop Sklba gives information on how to order a USCCB publication, which includes these guidelines, for $11.95. If the bishops want people to actually refer to documents, they should have decent on-line versions available free.
FRIJOLE DAYS OF OBLIGATION
Our guest prayer leader related how a member of another parish's Human Concerns Committee was skeptical of donating to the Volunteer Missionary Movement. VMM is an international ecumemical lay mission organization headquartered at our parish. The skepticism was based on VMM's founder's close involvement with Call to Action. I hadn't heard that before.
Our concluding prayer was the Esquivel's "The Lord's Prayer from Guatemala." All the usual solidarity as choosing sides is there: campesinos, "order", "anticommunism", Pinochet, Transnational Corporations, marginalization, exploitation, yokes that oppress humanity, etc.
Then one of our little band mentions that he has to leave because he has Michael Cullen as a house guest. He was probably hurrying to be a good host, but in my mind's eye he had to hurry so Mr. Cullen wouldn't get into a fight with Daniel Berrigan over who gets the top bunk.
The American Scholar (1837), address to Phi Beta Kappa by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The scholar is educated by nature, by books, and by action. The scholar's duty is self-trust. The signs of the times are the celebration of the common man and the individual. In the United States, he concludes,
A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.
Angel City (1938), by Rev. Gerald T. Brennan
There was a copy of this book in the classroom library when I was in third or fourth grade. While I remembered few specifics, I never forgot the book. So when I finally saw it at a used book sale last year, I bought it. Perhaps I should have stuck with that vague childhoold memory; now I cannot see in it whatever it was that made the impression on me.
The Gay Science, by Friedrich Nietzsche (translated by Josefine Nauckhoff 2001)
Also translated as Joyful Wisdom, the title comes from the 12th century Provencal troubadors term for the art of poetry. The book opens with chapter of poetry, and ends with an appendix of songs. In between are aphorisms, some as long as essays, some a single sentence.
To find all things deep--that is an uncomfortable trait: it makes one constantly strain one's eyes and in the end always to find more than one had wished.
The Pogo Papers (1953), by Walt Kelly
I quote from the Christmas pageant rehearsal; no, not "Deck us all with Boston, Charlie."
Chorus: Good King Sauerkraut looked out
Fr. Marvin Knighton had been acquited of sexual abuse charges in a jury trial last summer. Our Archdiocese's review board has now found the charges substantiated.
From the article it appears the difference is the burden of proof. In the criminal case, the jury had to be convinced of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The review board needed only to be convinced by a preponderence of evidence, essentially that the allegations were more likely than not true.
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan has accepted the review board's conclusion and, in accordance with Vatican and U.S. bishops procedures, has forwarded it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Italy.The charges arose from incidents in the late 1980's when Fr. Knighton served at St. Pius XI High School.
He had also served at other area high schools here and in Arizona, as a consultant to the archdiocesan office of youth and child ministry, and is the adoptive father of three boys.
HARK! THE HERALD
The April 1, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links. This week, Catholic-bashing McBrien takes on pugnacious defender of the status quo Dolan.
Today's mail brings and oversized postcard informing me that our parish
is beginning its Debt Reduction Appeal to raise money to fund the recently completed capital improvements with designated contributions. ...Maybe. Depends.
Men will find new and extensive advantages in the fact that they are allowed to participate in government. In this situation, those who administer the government come into frequent contact with the citizens, and it is thus easier for them to learn what is really needed for the common good. The fact too that ministers of government hold office only for a limited time keeps them from growing stale and allows for their replacement in accordance with the demands of social progress.
HARK! THE HERALD
The March 25, 2004 Catholic Herald is now on-line with its permanent links. You'll notice the Herald has recently been putting more of its content on-line when it transfers an issue to "Past Issues."
Judy Urban, a consultant with Shared Ministry Systems of Eagan, Minnesota, spoke at the Cousins Center on "Calling Forth Your Gifts: Understanding Gifts-Based Ministry."
Moreover, ministers must realize that rather than "owning their time and talents," which they "loan" to the church, they "are stewards of their gifts and use discernment to cooperate with God’s plan for their use," Urban said.You could call this talent on loan from God.
She emphasized that such understanding requires "a change, which doesn’t happen quickly, in the way (parishioners) view the church."Here's a pet peeve from our parish ...
Almost nothing looks worse to a potential volunteer than a parish’s failure to respond to his or offer to serve, she added. "Make sure you’ve got everything in place to receive what they’re willing to give you" in ministerial service.I almost wonder how things might have been different if they'd gotten back to me about helping on their web site.
Urban advised against "combining the raising of financial resources with people resources" in a stewardship drive. "We say that stewardship" involves more than fund donations, she explained, "but when we put a drive in place in a parish, all the letters, all the calls, center on money. So people get kind of cynical. They think it’s all about money."Let's take it a step farther. How about personal letters or calls or visits asking not what you can do for the parish, but what the parish can do for you.