Home > Log > August 2004

The Provincial Emails 

< Following Month



President Bush continues his blog, after all.

Have to speak to a bunch of Catholics today about meeting the Pope and some such. Did you know about a quarter of the voters are Catholic? I might need to call Jeb up more and ask him if they're as lukewarm on the whole "feed the poor" thing as they probably are about abortion if Mr. Heinz (hehe) is any indication. Glad Karl remembered to print up the address for them to send their church (cathedral?) directories to on the back of the programs.

(Via The Rounds)




Another reader writes on Bishop Sklba's recent column.

FWIW, I think his "Heretic!" ... is echoed in Internet posting conventions—-you know, the first poster to accuse the other of being Hitler loses the argument ipso facto.

Same here.




In today's New York Times Book Review, Richard Posner "dissents" from the 9-ll Commission Report.




Today's mail included a fund-raising letter from Catholic Charities. It lists many kinds of people helped through its many ministries.

Fees are charged on a sliding scale based on income.
If they have to charge any fees, how can they spare money for Wisconsin Public Radio?



North suburban leaders say state sewer suit unfair

Unfair? What is alleged against the suburbs served by the sewerage district?

For years, MMSD [Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District] and the DNR [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources] have been saying that the inflow - water that gushes into the system through downspouts or illegally connected sump pumps - and infiltration - the water that leaks in through cracks in sewer pipes - is the cause of most of the dumping.
That's dumping of untreated sewage when the system overflows after heavy rains. The other possible cause is the combined storm and sanitary sewers in older parts of Milwaukee and the suburb of Shorewood. The suburban leaders claim the allegation is unfair when they have make substantial efforts to eliminate leaks and improper connections.
It's too costly for MMSD to provide a breakdown by community of how much rain is getting into the sewers, said Mike Martin, the district's technical services director.

Glendale Administrator Richard Maslowski said it's ironic that the district used a community-by-community breakdown to show how much work was needed but that it can't provide data to show if the work was effective.

Such a breakdown would have potentially provided evidence disadvantageous to the City of Milwaukee, whose Mayor appoints a majority of the MMSD board.

Besides, the lawsuit isn't about justice anyway.

"With the the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, we picked the low-hanging fruit," Leavitt [Mike Leavitt, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] said in an interview Thursday with editors and reporters of the Journal Sentinel. "We're now trying to reach for the higher-hanging fruit."

In the case of MMSD's overflow troubles, "that's going to require coordination between the suburbs and the city, and that is really hard. The next iteration of environmental progress will be learning to work together better," Leavitt said.

That is, to use a lawsuit to pay for the remedy even if you didn't actually do the wrong alleged. And aren't these overflows the same "low-hanging fruit" that the $3 billion "deep tunnel" was supposed to pick?
River Hills Village President Bob Brunner, one of four suburban representatives on the 11-member board that oversees the sewerage district, said little work has been done to reduce the amount of rain that gets into the sewers in the sections of Shorewood and Milwaukee in which a single sewer carries rain and waste. More could be done to encourage disconnecting from downspouts, he said.
Of course it hasn't been done. Deep tunnel was built so Milwaukee could avoid telling its property owners to pay for separating their sewers and eliminating improper connections.

One suburb will not be sued.

Brunner also noted that the DNR made a sloppy error that resulted in its inability to name Wauwatosa in any suit.

Bill Koppel, Wauwatosa's director of public works, acknowledged that the DNR had made a mistake when it issued his community's permit to operate its sewage system. The permit protects the community from a dumping lawsuit.

P.S. Are "low-hanging fruit" and "iteration" replacing "proactive" and "paradigm"?

Excuse me, but "proactive" and "paradigm"? Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?




The August 26, 2004 issue is on-line, temporarily at the above URL.

Committee studies future of Cousins Center
[temporary URL]

What is now the Cousins Center opened in 1963 as the DeSales Preparatory Seminary. Twenty years later, since it was no longer being used for its original purpose, it was converted into office space for consolidation of our Archdiocese's operations. The Cousins Center and Saint Francis Seminary are on a large tract of land across the street from a lake shore park a few miles south of downtown Milwaukee.

Jerry Topczewski, administrative assistant to the archbishop, said one of the concerns raised about the Cousins Center is its location. "The facility we are in is not very central when you look at the geographic layout of the diocese," he said.

When the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist was undergoing renovation, one suggestion offered was to relocate the central offices to the cathedral center, Topczewski added.

A west suburban location near Interstate 94 might be even more central geographically, but would mean buying or leasing office space. You might recall that the Marcoux settelment money came from the proceeds of the sale of an office building donated to our Archdiocese, so it might be hard to get someone to donate another. I assume it's most convenient for our Archbishop if the offices are near the Cathedral.
Both the Cousins Center and seminary studies are part of a larger strategic planning process requested by the archbishop shortly after his arrival in August 2002. However, with the archdiocese now facing a budget deficit of $1 million, the studies take on more urgency.
A new highway makes the Cousins Center grounds more accessible. There has been recent development in the area, so the land might be marketable. Whether there's buyer with a use for the existing buildings might be another matter.


Officials fear Sewer Wars II

Sewer Wars I was the fight over financing the multi-blllion dollar cost of the "deep tunnel" system. The suburbs which were members or contracted with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District [MMSD] generally wanted the cost paid based on sewage volume. The City of Milwaukee wanted it based on property values. The city prevailed.

Deep tunnel is not universally regarded as a great success.

Earlier this month, the DNR [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources] asked the state Department of Justice to prosecute the MMSD and the 28 communities it serves after a rainy May resulted in the dumping of some 4.6 million gallons of sewage into Lake Michigan.
This got a rise from New Berlin Mayor Ted Wysocki at a legislative hearing.
Wysocki, whose voice seemed to tremble with anger as he testified, said New Berlin got serious about keeping rain out of its sanitary sewers in 1990. The community spent millions of dollars repairing its sewers and even had been recognized for its efforts by the sewerage district.

Wysocki noted that New Berlin had not dumped any sewage during the May storms.

If a suburb didn't dump sewage, why is it being sued?
DNR Secretary Scott Hassett told lawmakers he asked the Justice Department to take the civil action against all 28 of the communities served by MMSD as well as the district because they are all part of the problem.

"The tributary communities, as well as MMSD contribute, to the problem - excess flow in the system - and, more importantly, they are critical to finding a solution," said Hassett, who left the committee meeting before Wysocki made his comments.

Wysocki complained that the DNR served him with notice that the city would be sued, but offered no specifics on how New Berlin contributed to the problem. ...

Why, you might wonder, can something be more important than whether or not the suburb being sued contributed to the problem? The answer lies in what is meant by a defendant "being critical to finding a solution."
Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) said the motive for the action is clear: The DNR wants the suburbs to bring "their checkbook to the table."




Among faithful, mum isn't the word

A thousand of the leaders from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men are meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.

They told one another not to be cowed into silence by the Vatican on issues such as the role of women in the church and priests who wanted the celibacy rule lifted. It was daring talk that appealed to attendees and stirred many to their feet in rousing applause.
Reminds me of Leslie Fiedler's comment on denunciations of McCarthyism.
From one end of the country to the other rings the cry, 'I am cowed! I am afraid to speak out!' and the even louder response, 'Look, he is cowed! He is afraid to speak out!'
Among the uncowed crowd was one of our own.
"Security in our church has come to be identified with the controlling power of the clergy to the detriment of the people in the pews," said the Rev. Michael Crosby, a priest from Milwaukee. "We are perishing numerically because we have not been public enough in our protest of patriarchy."
It's surely not from a lack of alliteration.
The leaders came to Fort Worth to reflect on what they could do about violence in almost all forms. But there was virtually no mention of sexual violence or the abuse scandals within religious orders, which victims protested earlier in the week.
What violence would get their attention?
Many of the religious leaders said the church hierarchy was fostering theological violence by imposing narrow interpretations of doctrine. As an example, they pointed to the movement by some bishops to bar people from Holy Communion because of their political beliefs.

"I am speaking of the sinful, structural and systemic violence that has come to be canonized in a certain understanding of holiness," Father Crosby said.

Have you noticed no one looks in a mirror to speak truth to power?

(via Domenico Bettinelli, Jr.)

Update: For our Fr. Crosby, the above is a variation on a theme.




Women's health coverage

This morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorializes on Wisconsin Attorney General Peggy Lautenschlager opinion issued Monday saying that health care plans must cover contraceptives, including the "morning-after pill."

Even if the employers disagree with the idea of contraceptives
or RU-486
on philosophical grounds, they still cannot legally deny access to those drugs to their female employees, Lautenschlager said. And that, the attorney general added, includes the controversial morning-after pill,
or RU-486,
which sharply reduces a woman's chance of becoming pregnant after unprotected sex. Her office, however, pointed out that the opinion does not pertain to the much more controversial drug RU-486, which chemically induces an abortion.
The question is, what does the opinion say to indicate its logic wouldn't lead to that result.
As Lautenschlager noted, "In certain cases, a woman's health could be seriously harmed from becoming pregnant." She also legitimately pointed out that physicians sometimes prescribe contraceptives to treat medical conditions.
Yet these facts to not result in her limiting the scope of her opinion (or the editorial board limiting theirs) to such situations.




My recent correspondent reminded me that it's time to check in on our local priests' union. Good timing; they've just gotten caught up posting their minutes.

Convening Board Minutes 5/19/04

After some business items, the minutes report on the Spring Assembly of the priests of our Archdiocese. "If you're with the Priests' Alliance, where are your badges?" "Badges? We don't need no stinkin' ... oh, wait, we do."

All were pleased with the number of priests who stopped by on Tuesday afternoon and we all felt the name badges were a big benefit (thank you Ken Mich!). Nineteen priests registered at the assembly. We also heard that there are a number of priests who have a fear of joining the Alliance. There also seems to be an inaccurate perception of the Alliance among the seminarians.
We'll address fears and perceptions as we go along.

Next the minutes deal with "Focus/Issue Groups," starting with "Rights of Priests."

This is turning out to be a very difficult focus group as there are so many different issues that fall under this heading. He [Fr. Mike Erwin] is finding it difficult to focus the group around one or two issues.
Expecting focus from a focus group? Might this be "rubricism"?
The Board’s advice was that the members of this focus group need to prioritize their issues and come to a consensus about which issues they would address.
Go and unfocus no more.
It was suggested they follow through on their proposed pamphlet on what to do and not do when one is accused of sexual misconduct.
Now, me, I would have suggested saying "if" rather than "when."

Speaking of focus and lack thereof.

It was also suggested that Mike contact the Archbishop and ask if a member of this group could be on his review committee. Other Board members, on the other hand, felt it would be best if the Alliance worked outside of official channels.

Next up, the "Overworked Priests" group. No one wants to work on this.

... members of the Convening Board asked if it was possible for this group to strategize how we support priests who turn down more work in an assignment.
If there are "priests who have a fear of joining the Alliance" thinking it might make them scrupulous about their vows of obedience, they can now rest easy.

The "Ecclesiology" group was scheduled to meet June 3rd.

The "Vocations" group might now be lead by Fr. Joe Aufdermauer. What's its focus?

There is confusion about what this focus group is meant for: who may be ordained or recruiting more men for the priesthood. As the issue was originally formulated, it was intended to address the issue of who may be ordained.
Perhaps this was the "inaccurate perception of the Alliance among the seminarians." The "Vocations" group is considering a name change.

What gets them focused? Money! We come now to the "Salary Issue" group. It has volunteers aplenty who are working away,

... to see the 2.5% that was cut from our salary increase this year reinstated next year.
Note that's not a 2.5% cut in pay, it's a 2.5% cut from an annual increase.

Convening Board Minutes 6/04/04

After the business items comes the "Issue of Withholding the Eucharist from Politicians."

Steve proposed that we put together a letter or document in which we respectfully lay out what we believe about the Eucharist as well as a statement on a consistent teaching regarding the sanctity of all human life.
"We" meaning who, exactly?
This is an issue that could affect all priests as we are the ones who will either have to enforce it or dissent from it – both actions would have ramifications.
Quite the dilemma. They plan a draft document to discuss at the annual meeting of all members in September.

Next issue is "Incardination of Priests into the Archdiocese."

[Fr.] Alan Jurkus brought up the issue of priests who are in the process of being incardinated into the archdiocese or who will seek to do so in the future.
How could that be a problem?
At the District 11 meeting, one person spoke of the "Lincolnization" or "Peoriazation" of our archdiocese. ... Incardinations could impact the future direction of the archdiocese. There are also religious communities who are more theologically conservative who would like to send priests here.
That would undercut the priests' union's ability to appeal to percentages to show that their left-wing views are really mainstream.
... Can we ask the diocese to demonstrate a need for bringing these priests in?
How's this: When MAPA representatives spoke at a meeting of our parish VOTF chapter, one of the priests, in his remarks, joked that on current trends he would wind up as pastor for Milwaukee County and one of his colleagues would be pastor of Waukesha County.

On to the "Focus/Issue Groups."

The "Rights of Priests" group reported,

... They are working on a document on priests’ rights and the do’s and don’ts when a priest is accused of sexual misconduct or abuse of a minor. ...
Still "when" not "if" eh? Well, they would know better than I.

The "Morale of Priests" group did not meet. Too bummed?

The "Overworked Priests" group couldn't get any workers, and was disbanded.

The "Ecclesiology" group met.

The principal concern that was voiced was over the operative theology of the Church – how does the bishop view it and how do we as priests view it?
Maybe they should help out on the priests' union's position statement on denial of the Eucharist.

The "Voice for the Voiceless" group did not meet. Their abortion advocacy might effectively also be worked into the position statement on denial of the Eucharist.

The "Vocations" group, or whatever it really is, did not meet.

Who has been getting things done? Why, the "Salary Issue" group, of course.

This group has been meeting through emails and phone calls. They have completed a draft of a proposal that needs to be sent out by [Fr.] Dave Cooper to the membership. This will be sent out by August.

Convening Board Minutes 7/09/04

Work continues on a document,

... regarding the withholding of Eucharist from politicians who do not vote in accord with the Church’s teaching on abortion.
On the issue of priests' salaries,
A full 5% must be the base for next year’s salary computation. Future criteria must be determined and ratified.
On to the question of incardination of priests.
10% of the priests currently in active ministry in Archdiocese are foreign-born.
Not that there's anything simple wrong with that.
There are many different facets to this issue.
Wait, it is simple.
We are most concerned about the ideological implications because they impact the ecclesiology issue.
Ideology. At least it's not all about that 5% raise.
There must also be a real need demonstrated before outside priests are brought in. ... This issue needs a lot of clarification and careful consideration.
Otherwise "real need" seems to mean how can they argue that there's no way to have enough priests except change who can be ordained if there are other ways to have enough priests. See "Vocations" group in the May 19th minutes, above.

There was next reference to their "Statement to commission studying the future of St. Francis Seminary." No details were provided. There recently was a newspaper report that our Archdiocese is considering raising funds by selling the "headquarters" property including the Cousins Center, and perhaps also St. Francis Seminary. Seminarians would be trained elsewhere. Chicago was mentioned (not Peoria or Lincoln).

Next item was their "Statement on Communion/Reconciliation sequence."

There are multiple issues here that impact on other concerns and trends.
Focus, please.
We are concerned about any issue that is appropriate for the Alliance.
The immediate concern here is that there has not been any opportunity for the presbyterate to dialogue about this.
Meaning, apparently, that it's news to them that First Confession is to precede First Communion. I could have sworn Archbishop Weakland unsuccessfully advocated the reverse order all the way to Rome years ago.
Even before the Archbishop’s [Archbishop Dolan's] letter texts had been ordered and catechists have been prepared; and there is the impact on lay professional staff.
And, apparently, there are no countervailing spiritual concerns.

What about the "Focus/Issue Groups"?

We did not discuss focus groups. We know that Priests’ Rights Group met. We know that Priests’ Morale and Voices for the Voiceless did not meet. We need to put Focus Groups back on the agenda for next meeting.
That next meeting was scheduled for August 5th, and the one after for August 27th. There can be a long delay before minutes are posted on their web site.


The August 19, 2004 issue is on-line, temporarily at the above URL.


Eamon Duffy reviews The Reformation of the Image by Joseph Leo Koerner for the London Review of Books in Brush for Hire.

The medieval Church's insistence that the sacraments worked ex opere operato was a claim about the dependable availability of God's grace, but emphatically not a guarantee that grace would be effective for the recipient regardless of interior disposition. Essentially, the doctrine guaranteed the spiritual lives of ordinary people against wicked or inadequate priests. Mass might be celebrated by a saint, or by a clerical philanderer still reeking from his mistress's or his boyfriend's bed: but provided both had been duly ordained, and used the correct prayers, Christ would be just as truly present at the sinner's Mass as at the saint's. However, that presence, stupendous mystery as it was, was in itself no guarantee of benefit, either to celebrant or congregation. Medieval Catholics, just like 16th-century Protestants, thought that an unworthy or inattentive communicant not only received no blessing from the eucharist, but on the contrary ate and drank damnation. Christ was objectively present even to the wicked; but the inner spiritual power and healing of the sacrament was available only to devout penitence and faith.




Archdiocese reviews birth control opinion

Unlike Attorney General Lautenschlager's opinion, our Archdiocese's response (or the report of it) is confused only in its choice of vocabulary.

The archdiocese's insurance plan does not cover contraception if it is used to prevent pregnancy, though it will cover it to treat symptoms of menopause, Hohl [Kathleen Hohl, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese] said.
If a drug is used to prevent conception, it's a contraceptive. If it's used for something else, it's not.
Susan Armacost, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life, said abortion opponents believe the opinion is a first step toward requiring employers to provide not just contraceptives, but RU-486, which chemically induces an abortion.

"We're concerned about the slippery slope," she said. "Mandating abortion - that's what we're afraid of."

If, as the A.G. opines, it is discrimination to not cover prescription drugs to prevent fertility, wouldn't it be discrimination to also not cover drugs to induce abortions?
Lautenschlager's office denied that, saying the matter of RU-486, or mifepristone, fell outside the scope of the attorney general's opinion.
You might get the impression the A.G.'s office is going to avoid dealing with this issue.
"That's just a scare tactic," said Lautenschlager aide Deirdre Morgan.
And Lautenschlager does seem scared of it.




Birth control coverage mandated

Wisconsin Attorney General Peggy Lautenschlager issued a formal opinion Monday saying that health care plans must cover contraceptives, including the "morning-after pill."

It represents a long-sought victory for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which had failed in recent years to persuade the Legislature to pass a measure requiring employers' insurance to cover prescribed forms of contraception.


The attorney general had issued an informal opinion on the issue late last year after a request from state Sen. Gwendolynne Moore (D-Milwaukee), who had sponsored legislation on the matter.

Bills which did not pass, it appears.

Here's the opinion, which is about as long a read as the article.

Prescription contraceptives are not used exclusively to prevent pregnancy. They are also used as a medication to treat various conditions that may be life-threatening. In certain cases, a woman’s health could be seriously harmed from becoming pregnant.
Drugs which can be used for routine contraceptive purposes can sometimes be used where the primary purpose is not contraception, as such. From this it would seem to follow that these drugs must be covered in those cases. Instead our A.G. concludes that these drugs must be covered without regard to their purpose.


A reader writes on a number of recent topics.

First I want to say how sorry I am that you recently lost your former sister in law. Eternal rest grant to her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her.
I appreciate that very much.

(She then goes on to ask why Bishop Sklba wrote as he did in the item below, and speculates on the reason.)

I suppose I can answer that myself, if you can believe the "gossip," the Chancery is now officially against Archbishop Dolan and his priests are gaining momentum against him.
I cannot say about the Chancery. On our priests, I'll have to take a look at their union's web site.
Also, I still laugh thinking about what you wrote about parish festivals/dunk tanks/Weakland/$20 for three tries.
The important thing would have been if he laughed about it. If someone thinks a more serious alternative appropriate, he could "found a religious order to live in the central city".
What do you think about the movement to lower the confirmation age to age of reason, or around 8th grade (which is what is being asked for). ...
First I've heard of it. We old-timers were confirmed around age 12. Perhaps this means that all those folks who said it was essential that confirmation be postponed until high school are dead or senile, so now we can have another round of essential changes.
Is the pastor at St Alphonsus following the rubrics now or at least saying the Creed like he is supposed to? ...
Beats me. I've been going to Mass elsewhere for a couple months.

He and I have been discussing this since we both came to the parish around 1990. Last year I had raised some questions that caused him to have our parish's full-time Director of Liturgy send me a copy of the Order of Worship prepared for the upcoming Sunday. The Creed was there, yet my pastor skipped it. I asked him after Mass why he didn't say the Creed. He said it wasn't mandatory and wasn't in that week's Order of Worship. Since the Order of Worship was sitting open right there, I pointed out the Creed.

Maybe as a result, he started saying a Creed for a while. Often, he would substitute the Apostles Creed, on the spur of the moment to all appearances.

Shortly after the "priests as voices of the voiceless pro-choice" incident, he skipped the Creed again. So I decided it would be best to attend elsewhere for a while.

A few weeks after I started attending elsewhere, it was sailing season, and now I usually attend Mass at St. Clare in Wind Lake on the way to my boat. Turned out to be less of a sacrifice than I thought.




The ‘heresy’ of rubricism
[temporary URL]

You might recall what Bishop Sklba said in the December 11, 2003 Herald of Hope column.

What is our problem, however, at least in my experience, is the wide diversity in current practice from one parish to another. Those priests and communion distributors who only know the rhythm of their own parish seldom sense the difficulty. Those of us who travel from one parish to another have a different vantage point. I remember visiting five different parishes in a single week, and becoming totally befuddled by the diversity. Even when I sought instruction in the sacristy beforehand, the approach of the moment of communion found me so confused that I simply stepped back, begging 'someone to do something!' The one moment in the Eucharist when I did not preside was the Communion!

Many of our retired priests report the same confusion as they help out at different parishes.

There is value, I contend, to a basic uniformity in liturgical practice throughout the archdiocese. We need to pray together.

You might recall this, but apparently he doesn't. If you bring such problems in your parish to his attention, he'll call you a "heretic".

How does he manage this? By confusing necessary and sufficient.

While rubrics are important, they can also become obstacles to God’s grace if taken out of context or given exclusive attention. For that reason the Council also included a solemn warning: "Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, more is required than the mere observance of the laws governing valid and licit celebration. It is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part knowingly, actively and fruitfully" (§ 11). [quoting the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy]
The Council here says that observance of the laws is necessary, but not sufficient. Bishop Sklba, in his current column, effectively says that observance of the laws is not necessary.
When I use the word 'rubricism,' however, I mean such an obsessive and driven preoccupation with the directives in red print as to risk losing sight of the Eucharist’s main purpose.
In his column of only eight months ago, he said his actual experience was that it was failure to follow the rubrics which was causing this very problem. Yet in his current column, he encourages the means by which parish priests, liturgists, and liturgy committees dismiss questions and discredit those who ask them.

Catholic Weddings
[temporary URL]

This special supplement highlights a cultural difference. The bride's dress wouldn't meet the posted dress code of some churches we've visited in Europe.




This morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on Sen. Kerry on the campaign trail, where he's using a line from this press release.

"Twenty years ago, middle-class families with one parent working used to be able to buy a home and pay for college," Kerry said.
Now, I miss the Reagan years at least as much as Sen. Kerry, but he's exaggerating a bit here.


Task force rips into MMSD for dumping

Back in the 1980's, I received a letter from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) that it was doing smoke testing to find downspouts and sump pumps connected to sewers. It appears that one reason MMSD went with Deep Tunnel was to avoid dealing with homeowners upset about the cost of eliminating these improper connections,

Task Force Chairman Don Theiler said he was surprised to learn that MMSD has had the authority to order fixes in local sewers but never even put in place the administrative rules to exercise the power.

"Any way you cut it, it sounds like somebody wasn't paying attention to the amount of 'I and I' coming into the system," said Theiler, who runs Seattle's sewer utility.

He was referring to "infiltration and inflow" - technical jargon for storm water that gets into sewers that shouldn't - through leaky pipes and illegal connections.

Such flow has grown by some 30% since the deep tunnel system was completed a decade ago, according to MMSD. The extra volume has had a significant impact on dumping, and it accounted for a major chunk of the 13 billion gallons of sewage that was treated or dumped during May's big rains, task force members were told.

It was bad enough that there seems to be no limit to the time and money MMSD will spend to avoid having Milwaukee and Shorewood eliminate combined sanitary and storm sewers. There also seems to be no limit to the time and money MMSD will spend to avoid seeing that the sewer systems are in good working order.

Berres persisted in life journey (R.I.P. Carol Berres)

My former sister-in-law died this morning. She had continued to treat us as part of her family, and my wife will miss her as a good friend.

Update: Saturday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran the linked article about her. Her daughter Cassandra is my goddaughter, so remember Cassie in your prayers.




Review board finds abuse allegation unsubstantiated

Fr. John P. Schreiter returned to St. Bruno's Church in Dousman after the archdiocesan review board found the allegations of sexual abuse unsubstantiated. It was alleged he had sexually abused and adult (not a chid as originally reported) in Sauk County about 25 years ago. The allegations were first reported last March and Fr. Schreiter went on a leave of absence April 22nd for the duration of the investigation.

Peter Isely, a regional representative of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said his group did not know any details of the case against Schreiter but he hoped the decision would not discourage victims in other cases from coming forward.

"We've always maintained that there's a small number of false reports ..." Isely said. "It should allay fears that priests have, and some laypeople seem to have, that this is a system in which no priest can have a fair shake."

Is it fair? Depends how it's done.
[Archdiocesan spokeswoman Kathleen] Hohl said the review board can make only two possible determinations - substantiated or not substantiated. She was not able to describe the general standards and criteria the board uses.

Isely said a group of victims in mediation with the archdiocese has been unsuccessful in its requests to meet with the review board to learn the board's process, criteria and definitions.

It that's the case, there's no way to judge its fairness.


The Federalist Society reports from the American Bar Association convention, where the ABA House of Delegates was meeting.

A member of the Association proposed that the following be included in the "Purposes" section of the ABA Constitution: "to defend the right to life of all innocent human beings, including all those conceived but not yet born." The Chairman of the Association's Committee on the Constitution and Rules recommended that the amendment not be adopted on the grounds that such an inclusion would be "inconsistent with a purpose of the Association- defending the Constitution and maintaining representative government."
This repeats Mr. Neas's confusion of yesterday.
The proposal was tabled.
On the other hand,
Amidst fierce criticism from outside Catholic groups, including the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Individual Rights Section withdrew its resolution that would have called for changes in law requiring Catholic hospitals, despite conscience objections, to discuss treatment options such as abortion, sterilization, and human embryo stem cell treatment.




The Federalist Society reports from the American Bar Association convention.

At the International Human Rights Award session, Washington Post writer Bob Woodward discussed his lengthy interview with President Bush. ...

Woodward pointed out that George Tenet claimed that the evidence of weapons of mass destruction was a slam dunk. President Bush had some reservations and thought that the evidence wasn't strong enough. Woodward said that "the President's instincts were right." Tenet reiterated his belief that the evidence was a slam dunk. Woodward said that the President should have stayed with his instinct.

Meanwhile, at the second of three Criminal Justice Section panel discussions for the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, there was this from Ralph Neas of People for the American Way.
Mr. Neas then attacked the Federalist Society for trying to hijack the courts to achieve policy results. "In the 1980s, the Federalist Society knew they couldn't win in the legislature so they went to the judiciary." Neas suggested that, in a world of judges similar to Justices Thomas and Scalia, Roe vs. Wade is in jeopardy.
While the Federalist Society does not, in fact, take positions on issues, it seems to me that overruling Roe v. Wade in the 1980's would have permitted a test of who could win in the legislature.




The Federalist Society reports from the American Bar Association convention, including a Friday panel discussion on same-sex marriage Friday afternoon, titled "Marriage Redefined: Separate, Equal, or Somewhere in Between?"

Panelist Rabbi Joshua Lesser-who is openly gay and active in Jewish gay/lesbian causes including Atlanta's Rainbow Center ... He cited the Bible a couple of times, of times, referencing "Jonathan and King David kissed and embraced. Now I am not saying that there's proof that this was a gay relationship, but I am not saying that there's proof that it was not."
In case you were wondering what it's like to get your theology at a lawyers' convention.

And not just from clergy.

Family lawyer Sondra Harris used history as well citing the Bible, Greek, and Asian cultures where there were more than two spouses involved in a marriage. She said, "Marriage is not about love. That is a Western idea born out of Medieval times. Marriage is about property." She brought up the Council of Trent, stating that the Catholic Church didn't treat marriage as a sacrament until this time.
Which is, of course, bunk. The first clue to Ms. Harris should have been what Trent said.
Since therefore matrimony in the evangelical law surpasses in grace through Christ the ancient marriages, our holy Fathers, the councils, and the tradition of the universal Church, have with good reason always taught that it is to be numbered among the sacraments of the New Law ...
To take one example, centuries before Trent, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote on the seven sacraments, including matrimony.




Obey won't let archbishop 'coerce' him on abortion votes

This morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on an article in America by Congressman Obey (D-WI) on his dispute with former LaCrosse Bishop Raymond Burke.

... Obey discusses his mixed voting record on abortion: "That is why, while I detest abortion and agree with Catholic teaching that in most instances it is morally wrong, I decline to force my views into laws that, if adopted, would be unenforceable and would tear this society apart.
Examples, please.
Describing his private correspondence with the bishop over about a year, Obey says Burke was concerned about Obey's votes on five or six abortion-related issues, but that two issues "seemed especially to trouble" him: Obey's support of stem cell research and unwillingness to limit access to military hospitals.
The former, at least, is presumably enforceable; the Constitution does not compel Congress to appropriate money for fetal stem cell research. And not doing so would hardly tear the country apart, although it would be controversial.




Religious unlikely to release names, says spokesperson
[temporary URL]

You might recall that our Archdiocese released the names of diocesan priests against whom there were substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of children. This disclosure did not extend to such allegations against priests in religious orders, even if the abuse occurred while they were in the service of our Archdiocese. Archbishop Dolan takes the position that he does not have the authority under Church law to disclose the names but he urged the religious orders to do so. It appears they will not. This isn't surprising given the outlook of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men as expressed by its executive director, Fr. Ted Keating.

The bishops he regards as callous.

"The biggest difference between the bishops and major superiors in the summer of 2002 (the year the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was approved) was over whether to keep (offenders) or (discard) the men. The bishops by and large were going to (discard) the men," he said, explaining religious orders preferred to keep the men within the community to prevent the possibility of their reoffending.
Of course, it does not necessarily follow that disclosing a priest-offender's name means he is to be "discarded." One real reason the orders don't disclose names is they regard the laity as ignorant and inconvenient.
Fr. Keating also said the CMSM reject the release of names of offenders because, "the experience of religious institutes is once names are released, picketing and harassment begins of the local community, making it impossible to do this supervised monitoring. The only alternative is dismissing the man back into society where no one will supervise him."
How this makes monitoring impossible is unclear, unless all this purported concern for such priests is outweighed by the orders' desire to avoid any hassles, like picketing.

Recall that in our Archbishop's email to staff announcing the disclosure, he said,

Protecting children is our primary concern and obligation.

By releasing this information, the Church of southeastern Wisconsin reaffirms its commitment to seeking, reaching out to, and encouraging any victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse of minors who have yet to come forward to do so, knowing that they will be believed.

If protecting children is the primary concern and obligation, and the release of names is essential to it, then how would it not a breach of that obligation to have members of religious orders who will not release names in the service of our Archdiocese? Appeals to canon law or the need for priests do not answer this question.




Bush and Catholics

A reader notes this Daily KOS post; or is it kos; or Kos?

Kos is beyond cafeteria Catholic, having, it appears, made a religion of progressive politics.

I am a recovering Catholic, and have many problems with the church. But in all fairness, the Catholic Church is one of the most heavily vested in social justice and charity work. ...

So it is with some interest that I have followed [Karl] Rove's efforts to split Catholics from their natural allegiance to the Democratic Party.

Natural allegiance? Sounds almost Thomist. Has this nothing to do with Democratic Party positions?
It's the one place were Bush and the Republican Party platform lines up with the Catholic Church, and it's an issue in which the church has become increasingly aggressive.
Perhaps they regard abortions as more aggressive than talking about them.

As for issues, is abortion it?

Update: Ack. I forgot to add gay rights to the list, an issue in which the church and Bush have much in agreement -- the second prong of Rove's efforts to split not just Catholics, but also black church goers from the Democratic Party.
Looking back over his post he also says that "... most [non-Catholic] church goers have defected to the Republican Party." Maybe many church goers regard themselves as recovering Democrats.

Here's the first comment of many Kos drew in response, this one from another self-described ex-Catholic.

I can't help but agree. But it's time to seize back the issue.

To call a zygote a person is to disparage human life that we, as born, conscious people experience.

A common enough argument. Mary Gordon was more blunt in her essay "Abortion: How do we really choose?"
If a woman took the bloody matter--indistinguishable from a heavy period--of an early miscarriage and insisted upon putting it in a tiny coffin and marking its grave, we would have serious concerns about her mental health.
--Good Boys and Dead Girls and other essays (1992) p. 140
Along this line, I have often seen it pointed out that the Church would not baptize a miscarried zygote or have a funeral for such a miscarriage.

Even so, it is common to hear people mourn for the child who might have been but who was lost in just such a circumstance, mourning apparently not based on religious doctrine.

The dividing line lies elsewhere, as Ms. Gordon discloses in her essay.

We on the pro-choice side must accept that there are indeed anti-choice activists who take their position in good faith. I believe they are people, however, for whom childbirth is an emotionally laden topic, people who are susceptible to unclear thinking because of their unrealistic hopes and fears.
--Good Boys and Dead Girls and other essays (1992) p. 147
Here's what they really think of you, as Mr. Rove might say.

Update: a reader comments.

... The key point of Kos (nickname of Markos Moulitsas Zuniga)'s post was to explain why Rove's strategy vis-a-vis the Catholics was failing - because the Democrats are closer to Catholicism on more issues, not to mention in overall cultural ethos, than the GOP is. Harping on abortion - which we can stipulate is the issue on which the Church and the Republicans are closest - doesn't address this issue.
On the contrary, Kos, for the most part, said why he thinks the strategy ought to fail, not that it is failing. He, and now you, say it's as simple as counting issues, rather like Sen. Durbin's (D-IL) accounting, in which a vote on mercury exposure reduction counts the same as a vote on partial birth abortion. Kos concedes that church-goers of other denominations have been trending Republican. He doesn't point to any difference in teachings that would lead one to expect a different trend for church-going Catholics.

Kos's analysis might be more pertinent to a long-ago America of SRO Masses and ethnic neighborhoods. Today a potential problem for Mr. Rove's strategy is the continuing decline in church-going by Catholics. But that indicates we might expect any party platform's agreement with Church teaching will have declining significance for Catholics as a whole, whatever the issue.

The current Democratic Party presidential nominee's position is "life begins at conception, so what?" If that's a response to "harping" on abortion, then chalk one up for harping.

Just Hate theory?

Karen Marie Knapp responds to a post at the Ut Unum Sint weblog. Somehow she omitted a link to it and didn't mention it was based on a post of mine.

I read today at Ut Unum Sint about a supposed "just hate theory" that has been parsed from sound bites of various bishops.
You might think "parsed from sound bites" means "misleadingly taken out of context" and Ms. Knapp will now go on to put my quotations from Bishop Gumbleton, Fr. Greeley, and Archbishop Weakland in context to show this. If so, you would be wrong. Ms. Knapp uses the phrase to attempt to discredit my post and avoid that pesky burden of dealing with facts.
There is no Just Hate Theory.
Unless she deals with the facts, this is begging the question.
Comprehensible hate, yes. Instigated or provoked hate, possibly. But no just hate, not for "them" and especially not for us.
To take the example closest to home, compare what Archbishop Weakland actually said.
Moreover, we must distinguish acts of aggression against us from attitudes of dislike or even hatred. For various reasons we are hated by many on this globe. Not all are terrorists. In fact, most are not. Some have valid reasons for such hatred, others do not. Some have been hurt by us; some are just jealous. All these motives for hate and dislike have to be calmly sorted out in a rational fashion, without threats and aggression.
He is not saying that some hatred is comprehensible. He is not saying only that some kinds of hatred are instigated or provoked. He is saying that something we did, by which he might mean things which constitute instigation or provocation, provides a valid reason for them to hate us. In context, the validity he means is moral validity, which I characterized as a Just Hate Theory.

Here's another link to Fr. Greeley's column. A link to Bishop Gumbleton's homily is immediately below.

Update: for further reading,

Hate is the new love
review by Malcolm Bull of
The Fragile Absolute: - or, why is the Christian legacy worth fighting for? by Slavoj Zizek
London Review of Books, January 25, 2001




Via Bill Cork, this homily by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton for July 25, 2004. As I commented, it's another step in the development of Just Hate theory.

Look at what is happening in our political system. The 9/11 Commission just released its report last week, and they are talking about how we have to defend ourselves; that to ward off terrorist attacks, we have to build up our military strength.

Is anybody suggesting that maybe we ought to look for the root causes of why people hate us? Is it because we don't love our enemies? Is it because we continue to do things to cause them to hate us?

Is anybody suggesting such things? Sure, Fr. Andrew Greeley and Archbishop Rembert Weakland, to give two examples.


Winning Catholic voters not so simple anymore

Meaning "Democrats can no longer count on the Catholic vote." This Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article cites various polls showing President Bush or Senator Kerry narrowly ahead. The poll that I remember actually calling recent elections right is Zogby's.

"We're down to 5 percent of voters who are undecided at this point (nationwide)," said John Zogby of Zogby International, a polling and public opinion research firm. "It's an amazing election. It's generally around 20 percent at this time in my polling, and it's generally 10 percent to 12 percent undecided going into the last week of an election.

"That vast center in American politics is gone this time around. Three percent of Bush voters in battleground states told us it's likely they could change their minds. Three percent of Kerry voters told us the same thing. That's usually 17 percent or 18 percent at this point. You really have very little elasticity in the electorate this year."

In this climate, the campaign is really about getting your supporters - your base - to actually go to the polls and vote, Zogby said.

In whose base would Catholics be?
A Badger Poll the center conducted in June with 504 voting-age people, including 162 self-described Catholics, suggests that a shift may have taken place. Catholics favored Bush over Kerry, 55% to 41%, with a margin of error of plus or minus 7%, Ferree said. Badger Polls in March and April showed a similar tilt.


There is a large divide between people who regularly attend church services and those who rarely attend, said Andrew Barrett, a Marquette University assistant professor of political science and a presidential scholar. Regular attendees voted for Bush by a large margin. Infrequent attendees voted for Gore by a wide margin.

Zogby said this generally applies to Catholics, with regular attendees tending to vote Republican, oppose abortion and support the death penalty more than other Catholics.

Republicans have embraced issues that tend to appeal to devout Catholics in the nation's ongoing cultural war - such as opposition to abortion, support of traditional marriage and school choice, Barrett said.

Then Catholics who consider other issues more important than life issues could advance their cause by discouraging Catholics from showing up. Now there's moral hazard.
Father Andrew Greeley, a Chicago sociologist, argues that Catholics are still more likely to vote Democratic than white Protestants. And, even though Zogby strongly supports it, Greeley disputes the voting split between frequent and infrequent Mass attenders.

There is a media-perpetuated myth that Catholics do what they are told to do, Greeley added, but they think for themselves and don't listen to their bishops on matters of politics or human sexuality.

If Fr. Greeley has a factual basis for disputing Zogby's findings, it's not in this article. If the article accurately summarizes what Father had to say, he's making an odd connection between thinking for oneself and not listening to one's own religion's leaders. I don't consider defying authority or refusing to listen to others evidence of thinking for oneself. Maybe its from all my year's showing up at Catholic school.

Elected officials feel the heat from constituents' Web sites

The American pamphleteer has a new medium. How are elected officials reacting?

"Politicians don't want to have shots taken at them from people whose criteria for taking the shots is that they know how to set up a Web site," Elliott [William Elliott, dean of Marquette University's College of Communication.] said.
One such site is Geoff Davidian's on politics in the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood, where he criticizes Village Trustee Ellen Eckman. Her reaction?
Eckman, who said she asked Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann to monitor the site, said she doesn't read Davidian's commentary. Yet she called it "certainly not a fair and equitable presentation."
Evidence for Dean Elliot's thesis?




Raisin’ Cain
On Kenny Leon’s revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Sondheim and Weidman’s Asassins, by Mark Steyn, The New Criterion, June 2004

Rogier van der Weyden (1400-1464)

Flag-Draped Memories
The strange history of war death imagery, by Charles Paul Freund, Reason, July 2004

Not enough police; but who wants the army back in charge again?
How violent crime threatens to blow away a struggling new democracy in Guatemala, The Economist, July 29th 2004

The Devil’s Chaplain Confounded
review by Stephen M. Barr of A Devil's Chaplain by Richard Dawkins, First Things, August/September 2004

The Evolution of Ernst: Interview with Ernst Mayr
The preeminent biologist, who just turned 100, reflects on his prolific career and the history, philosophy and future of his field, Scientific American, July 6, 2004

Alvin Gouldner on the New Class and the Culture of Critical Discourse:
The New Class as a Speech Community; from The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class: A Frame of Reference, Theses, Conjectures, Arguments, and an Historical Perspective on the Role of Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in the International Class Contest of the Modern Era (1979), at The Autodidact Project, by Ralph Dumain

The Unraveling of Christianity in America
by Clifford Orwin, The Public Interest, Spring 2004

Solesmes Abbey

Fact and Fiction in The DaVinci Code
Two audio lectures by Professor Bart D. Ehrman, from The Teaching Company


Previous Month >