Wednesday, September 1, 2004

September 2004

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

Topics: Project Rachel marks 20 years of helping women. Communion Bread. 70 state churches launch 'Purpose' campaigns. Greendale parishioners help spread faith around world. Sewer monitoring could begin soon, MMSD says. Rolling Thunder draws nearly 4,000. The debates. Churches struggle with dissent. DA seeks probe into claim of altered MMSD reports. MMSD records under scrutiny. The Catholic Church of Southeastern Wisconsin: A Light to the World. Kerry vows more effective presidency. Church settles 37 abuse claims; others in process. Pastor in abuse case decides to retire. Campaign Literature Shows Bush Has Lied Before About His Service. Campaign Attacks Increasingly Angry. Acrimony splits victims, church in mediation process. Bishop's Accountability. R.I.P Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria and companions. Vatican II: Holding high the vision. Christian Stewardship: Financial Perspective Flynn touts endorsements, Democratic connections. The rebirth of Messmer. Moore nears lead in fund raising. Matt Flynn's Problem. Two groups urge support for Panzer over Grothman. U.S. appeals court reinstates suit against sewerage district. Welcome back to school!



The September 30, 2004 issue is on-line, temporarily at the above URL.

Project Rachel marks 20 years of helping women

[temporary URL]

Project Rachel is our Archdiocese's post-abortion ministry. The story personifies the ministry with the story of Yvonne Florczak-Seeman, who had five abortions by age 20.

Fr. [Ralph] Gross has counseled women with Project Rachel since the late 1980s. ...

"The heart of Christ is very big," said Gross. "He would never want someone to continue to be separated from a relationship with him. I know abortion is so very wrong. At the same time, we must look at the life of the individual woman who had an abortion. She must be of concern to us. The church really needs to become more warm, compassionate, and caring to these women."

Project Rachel allowed Florczak-Seeman to find this compassion. Although she had tried other forms of therapy, nothing seemed to free her. Until she came to Project Rachel.

"Project Rachel relies on the forgiveness from up above," said Florczak-Seeman, now the married mother of two young sons and a daughter.

They're pictured on the "front page" of the September 30th issue. Another picture with her husband is inside the print edition.

Diagram of the Packer Sweep at the Packer Hall of Fame, Lambeau Field
While in Green Bay for a business meeting, I visited the Packer Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field. Most of it is in the modern form of historical museum, with curving halls lined with colorful exhibits and occasional video monitors running short presentations.

One exhibit recreates Vince Lombardi's office, with an eight millimeter projector pointing toward what looks like its screen. The screen is actually a video monitor that shows a short piece about Lombardi as a leader.

At the end of a tour through the museum is the literal Hall of Fame, a circular room lined with engraved plaques of every significant member of the Packer teams and front office. In the middle, in thick protective plastic cylinders, and under spot lights, are the three championship trophies, with carpeted benches before them for Packer fans to sit in silent contemplation.




This morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel runs an AP piece on the release of the first three Star Wars films on
DVD. Still has that Darth Vader killed Luke's father, Darth Vader is Luke's father plot hole.

I would have suggested the pre-Dark Side Vader be the Jedi equivalent of godfather to Luke, so that when Luke's father dies, Vader becomes Luke's father under the Code of the Jedi. Even though Dark Side Vader killed Luke's father. That the Jedi never anticipate this possibility would be more believable than the he killed your father/is your father alternative. In my version a) this conflict within Vader is the cause of his eventual rejection of the Dark Side and b) the Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker story would have threaded through the prequels, ending with their climactic battle as young Luke is spirited away to Tatooine.




Communion Bread

This item was in the bulletin at our parish. I was back there at Mass in connection with the orientation for the "Sunday School."

As most of you are now aware we have returned to using
the round manufactured wheat hosts for communion.

Are they any more "manufactured" than bread from a store?

It was for many centuries that we in the Roman
Church have been using unleavened bread for Eucharist.
This is the case even though for the first millennium of the
Church's existence the bread may have been leavened
and included many other ingredients to make the bread
taste, look, bake and smell better.

This appears to mean that the bread we had been using was leavened and with ingredients in addition to wheat and water, contrary to Canon Law. Those facts were not included in the explanation we on the Parish Council received some years ago from the Liturgy Committee when we agreed that the "new bread" could continue.

But that was then.

However for the sake of
unity and uniformity we gone [sic] back to our whole wheat
hosts with the hope that some of the misunderstanding
and hurt that some have felt need no longer be in our midst. ...

The only misunderstanding was from leaving out pertinent facts in advocating the change from hosts. The greatest hurt would be an invalid sacrament. It is good to have that behind us.




70 state churches launch 'Purpose' campaigns

Rick Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life is the basis of new "40 Days of Purpose" campaigns at churches around the country, including 70 in Wisconsin.

"We've never in our 80-some years done an outreach campaign like that," said the Rev. Chris Manke, associate pastor at St. Matthew's. "We've sent mailers out to the community, but we've never encouraged everyone to say, 'Let's get in small groups and invite friends and family.'


People in the "purpose" campaigns usually meet weekly in small groups, read daily chapters of the book, memorize a weekly Scripture passage, view weekly video messages from Warren, attend reinforcing Sunday services, reflect, pray, share, discuss, volunteer and taken other steps to answer the book's central question: "What on Earth am I here for?"

Each week of the campaign focuses on one of the purposes of life from the book: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism. ...

It would be a start if the current planning process in our Archdiocese would reduce the working at cross-purposes in our Church.

Seems simple enough. Our Archdiocesan planners divided the mission into Word, Worship, and Works. I say if we are to live our Faith, we need the support of a community of Faith, which is based on knowing the Faith.

The next step in the purpose-driven program is, not surprisingly to me, "40 Days of Community."


Greendale parishioners help spread faith around world

Good Shepherd Lutheran raised $25,000 toward the operation "The Word Today," a 15 minute daily radio program broadcast in ten languages, including on 150 stations in the United States. The show features Pastor Paul Schoeder, a former pastor of Good Shepherd.

I wonder if our parish, also in Greendale, and about sixteen times larger than Good Shepherd, might do something similar, say for Relevant Radio. Last I checked, our Human Concerns Committed sent the parish tithe in small amounts to many organizations. This made it hard to know much about them beyond what their fund requests said. There was little basis for oversight by the Parish Council when it approved each month's requests. And there was no effective way to follow-up on how effectively and efficiently the money was used. It would have been best, it seems to me, to give to projects in which parisioners were personally involved, and next best to other projects whose work product would be easily reviewed.

And Our Shepherd has set aside $1.5 million to construct a building in the shape of a fish, an ancient Christian symbol. With a radio studio as a focal point, the yet-to-be-designed building will include a prayer chapel, classrooms, a library and study areas to help spread God's word, he said.

Our parish spent more than that on our recently added general purpose facility, what once would have been called a parish hall. It's okay, but not exactly inspiring, and the mortgage is now a millstone on the operating budget. We don't have anything fish-shaped, but maybe we should offer to lease space to Good Shepherd for studios.


Sewer monitoring could begin soon, MMSD says

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources threatened to sue Suburbs served by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, along with the District and City of Milwaukee, for allowing storm water into the sanitary sewer system, contributing to overflows during rainstorms. The suburbs called this unfair because they have taken steps to eliminate inflow and infiltration of storm water but MMSD has said it could not monitor the amount of storm water each suburb contributed to the problem. MMSD's Executive Director Kevin Shafer now emailed them to say monitoring could begin by next year. Or could it?

Shafer didn't return numerous phone calls, but his spokesman said the 2005 budget does not contain funding for the project. However, the budget is not final and adjustments could be made, he said.

But [MMSD] Commissioner Bob Brunner said he thinks it would be "virtually impossible" to adjust next year's budget now.

It gets murkier.

Shafer said the district hasn't "balked" at doing the monitoring, as was reported in the Journal Sentinel on Friday. Flow monitoring done by the district in 1995 and 1999 showed high amounts of rain getting into sewers in many communities. Shafer's spokesman, Bill Graffin, could not explain how the district did that monitoring or how much it cost.

It can't be done. On second thought, it can, if we budget it. Which we can. No, we can't. We aren't refusing to do it. In fact, we used to do it. We can't say how we then did it, or how we could then afford it.


John Kerry writes (all caps, proportional font),


Is that more true in a political campaign than a military campaign?




The September 23, 2004 issue is on-line, temporarily at the above URL.

Heading for the 'campaign' trail

The "campaign" is our Archbishop's upcoming series of public meetings on plans for our Archdiocese.

The temptation is to let the results of those two initiatives sit on my coffee table. ... What I have to do is now absorb all that has been heard, digest all this data, and make it my own, and then articulate a vision to lead us ahead.


So, starting next week, I’ll hit the trail. ... We’ll pray together, I’ll speak, I’ll listen, I’ll visit with you. No more "treading water" — let’s "cast out to the deep." If you would like to submit any questions for us to consider "on the stump," here’s the

Back in my Parish Council days, our Archdiocese urged us to develop a long range plan. I wondered, but didn't ask, why they asked us to do this for our parish without giving us a copy of our Archdiocese's plan. I didn't ask because I was sure they were having us do as they say, not as they do. And it turned out that our Archdiocese didn't have a plan like what they wanted parishes to prepare, with a Vision Statement, Mission Statement, Directional Statements, Action Plans, etc. So I might as our Archbishop how the plans for our Archdiocese will be coordinated with planning at parishes.

Rolling Thunder draws nearly 4,000

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In a very broad ecumenical gesture, the Gamaliel Foundation named its voter registration drive after the three year American bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Their cover story is that

Rolling Thunder takes its name from a grassroots anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

The actual military origin is evidenced by the attendees' fondness for acronyms.

Each Wisconsin organization takes its name from the Bible. Milwaukee was represented by MICAH, Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope, whose membership includes 43 interfaith congregations. ...

The Kenosha coalition, called CUSH — Congregations United to Serve Humanity — the Racine Interfaith Coalition, and Waukesha County group SOPHIA — Stewards of Prophetic, Hopeful, Intentional Action — also represented southeastern Wisconsin.

Immigration and education reform were key themes throughout the day. Tim Brown, a Canadian immigrant on the immigration committee of WISDOM, the state umbrella organization covering the seven regional organizations, spoke of his difficulty in renewing his and his family’s green cards.

... He advocated passage of the DREAM Act, which would allow all state residents, if they meet residency requirements, to pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities across the state. Currently, undocumented aliens or those without permanent residency status who want to go to college in-state must pay the out-of-state tuition rate.

Brown also spoke of the SOLVE Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), which would "expedite the path to citizenship" and reunite families with workers who come to the United States but cannot afford to bring their families.




The debates

Kos tries to raise expectations for President Bush.

Bush has never lost a debate. Not even against Ann Richards (who kicks serious butt). His debate skills are unmatched, his instincts sharp. I look at him and think "idiot". But the multitudes look at him, and think "what a nice, likable fella".

Someone's unconvinced.

Why did it take so long for the Bush and Kerry campaigns to agree on a debate schedule? Sen. John Kerry had the answer for television's Regis Philbin, who has hosted the quiz show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

"The big hang-up was George Bush wanted to get life lines, you know, so he could call somebody," the Democratic candidate for president quipped Tuesday while appearing on "Live With Regis and Kelly."


Salisbury Review Fall 2004

One feels sympathy for the
anonymous writer in a Muslim publication whose "Open
Letter to Michel Houellebecq", pleads with the novelist ot
understand that saying "I don't hate Muslims, but I hate
their religion", is bewildering to Muslims and
non-Muslims alike. How can you hate the essence of a culture,
and not hate the people who carry that culture in their
hearts? A very valid point, difficult to answer honestly.

--Sophie Masson, "The Strange Case of Michel Houllebecq" p. 9

Some of the
most outrageous examples of racial prejudice and scapegoating,
such as the Nazi persecution of the Jews, occurred
in circumstances where open and frank discussion of group
characteristics was not allowed. The Nazi suppression of
free discussion was a precondition for the creation of visceral
hatred of the Jews in German society.

--Malcolm Rees, "Thinking about People in Categories" p. 18

In 1940, Englishmen would have fought
the invader to the last man but now...? If the English are
not English (so to speak) why should they care who rules
England? Our modern patron saint John Lennon's declaration:
"Ever since I heard Elvis Presley I've felt half-American"
rings ever in my ears. As it rings, I realize that
the English would be in the same plight whether immigrants
came or not.

--Roy Kerridge, p. 44

Even those
intellectually convinced by Bishop Berkeley's view that
the chair did not exist when unobserved, continue to sit
down without looking behind them.

--A. W. Purdue, "The Elusive Core" p. 51

review of Oakeshott on History (2003) by Luke O'Sullivan




Churches struggle with dissent

Lutherans, too, sometimes cannot see the line between a house divided and a house divided against itself.

"Conflict is on the rise in churches," said the Rev. Gary Heath, whose organization - Christos Ministries of Elm Grove - provides counseling to congregations in crisis.

Karen Marie Knapp might be suggesting some Catholic candidates for counseling in relationships with pastors and bishops.




DA seeks probe into claim of altered MMSD reports

Milwaukee County District Attorney Michael McCann will be investigating reports sewage test results were altered.

"The actual falsification of records would be a criminal event," if the anonymous tip forwarded late last month to top state and local officials proves accurate, McCann said.

What's the difference between a "criminal event" and a "crime"? A criminal event gets the District Attorney in a front page headline.




MMSD records under scrutiny

In a couple of anonymous letters, the private contractor which operates the sewage treatment plants and deep tunnel system for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District was accused of falsifying sampling reports.

The district had "absolutely no knowledge of falsification of any document," MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer said in a letter, responding to the allegations.


Shafer said he sent his formal reply to the allegations from both letters to Gov. Jim Doyle, Atty. Gen. Peg Lautenschlager and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett but not to the DNR. By state law, the DNR regulates MMSD and is the agency that requires MMSD to file monthly reports listing effluent pollutant levels for fecal coliform, dissolved oxygen levels, suspended solids, phosphorous and others.




Tom Smith seeks an original pun for the current controversy about allegedly forged documents used by Dan Rather of CBS News.

His weblog has a religious slant, and I haven't seen this used elsewhere, so I suggest "Lyin' in Dan's den."


Catholic Answers President Karl Keating writes

I'm pleased to announce that we have begun uploading back issues of "This Rock" magazine to the Catholic Answers web site. Access is free, and I invite you to make use of this invaluable resource.


The September 16, 2004 issue is on-line, temporarily at the above URL.

Not on-line (yet?) in the Herald is an article on the following.

The Catholic Church of Southeastern Wisconsin: A Light to the World

If these sessions with our Archbishop are a light on the plans for our Archdiocese, that would be a start.


Kerry vows more effective presidency

Though Kerry made only passing reference to his Navy tour of Vietnam,
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz took up the issue, as well as Kerry's
later opposition to the war. In a speech earlier in the program, he told
the crowd that young people at the time had the option of staying on the
sidelines, becoming a soldier or joining the protests.

"Two of those choices required courage, and John Kerry made both of
them," Cieslewicz said.


Church settles 37 abuse claims; others in process

From July 1, 2003, to mid-August 2004, the archdiocese has spent more than $2.2 million in therapy-related and victims assistance costs, including mediation agreements directly with victim-survivors, said archdiocesan spokeswoman Kathleen Hohl.


Peter Isely, a regional representative of SNAP, said Wednesday that information he received from a half dozen of the signers shows that they are receiving $30,000 to $75,000. Based on what SNAP knows about group settlements elsewhere, the Milwaukee settlements are the lowest in the nation, he said.




Pastor in abuse case decides to retire

Here's a variation on the Scotch Verdict: not proven but we punish you anyway.

The pastor of a Port Washington Catholic church who was investigated on allegations of sexual abuse has retired and agreed not to return to any parish ministry even though an archdiocesan board concluded that the accusations are not substantiated.

Our Archbishop wrote to the parish to explain we've found a third area where close counts.

After noting the board's conclusion, Dolan's letter says, "However, as a result of the turmoil that has risen in this situation and of concern expressed by the Review Board, Father Haas has decided to retire and not to return to parochial ministry. This is also the recommendation of the Review Board.

You might think the Board would have some standard of certainty and the evidence either met it or it didn't.

Peter Isely, a regional representative for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Monday, "This makes no sense to me. Again, we're back at what are the criteria for substantiation. If they can't answer . . . then we have a process in complete disarray."

[Archdiocesan spokeswoman Kathleen] Hohl said the archdiocese has long publicized that it uses a standard of "preponderance of evidence" to substantiate reports, which is different from whether an allegation has enough credibility to warrant an investigation.

Maybe this time the coin landed on edge.




Campaign Literature Shows Bush Has Lied Before About His Service

His campaign for president? No, back in 1978

Flyers distributed to Texas voters during Bush's failed Congressional race say "he served in the U.S. Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard." But according to Air Force officials, Air National Guardsmen are not counted as members of the active-duty Air Force. [AP, 7/13/99; The Nation, 8/24/04]

Before serving with their home units, Guard members receive their basic and specialized training at U. S. Air Force bases; this is Active Duty for Training. The DNC is distinguishing this kind of active duty from the active duty of members of the "regular" Air Force or active duty of Guard members called into federal service.

Now, way back in my Wisconsin Air National Guard days, I assume we were not counted as members of the active-duty Air Force. On the other hand, we were required to wear Air Force issue uniforms with a patch sewn on that said "U. S. Air Force" and the patch of the the Air Force command to which our unit was assigned (Tactical Air Command in our case) and Guard flying units did have "U. S. Air Force" painted on their aircraft.

So I dug out my discharge (8th day of August, 1978) which says that I

... was Honorably Discharged from the

Air National Guard


and the Reserve of the United States Air Force ...

Darned if I noticed that exact wording before. We did serve in the USAF and the Guard. How about that!


Speaking of campaign literature, James Carville writes,

Today, both John Kerry and George Bush have enough potential
support to win this election.

If turnout is over 100%.

And, I'm willing to bet the same
will be true right up to election day.

I'll bet that on election day, one of them will not have enough potential support to win this election.

While he goes on to list what he considers grievances against President Bush, he does make one concession.

Four years ago, we fell short of victory by only a handful of votes. Just a few
more contributions from just a few more Americans, who meant to act but never did,
could have carried Florida for Al Gore and written a very different chapter in history
of our nation.

At least that's finally behind us.




Campaign Attacks Increasingly Angry

This morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran this column by David Lightman of the Hartford Courant, which sums up,

Both Bush and Kerry loyalists are convinced the other side will overplay its hand and eventually look so ridiculous that no one will take its allegations seriously.

This is a variation on the theory that the election will be decided by a gaffe by one of the candidates.


Acrimony splits victims, church in mediation process

Victim groups complain that, in the ongoing mediations, our Archdiocese has made non-negotiable offers much less than other dioceses, and has not involved religious orders in the negotiations.

There have been no meetings between representatives of a group of about 75 alleged victims and our Archdiocese for several months. Our Archdiocese does not appear to dispute that it made and is sticking with lowball offers. While it says it remains willing to discuss the issue of involvement of religious orders in negotiations, elsewhere it has no authority over them. It appears our Archdiocese is taking this approach to get individual victims who tire of the process to make individual settlements for relatively low amounts.

Peter Isely and Mark Salmon, leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and of the group mediation, contend sexual abuse settlements in the Milwaukee archdiocese averaged around $150,000 before Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions in the mid-1990s protected churches from victims' lawsuits.

Some victims who left the group and went through individual mediation recently got settlements of $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000, depending on the severity of the abuse, Isely said.

Eva Soeka, who designed and oversees the independent mediation process for individuals, said the settlements were not based on categories of abuse, but she would not discuss them. Soeka, a nationally respected mediator and director of the Center for Dispute Resolution Education at Marquette University, said a report would be released within 10 days.

This is our Archdiocese's mediation process, so if it's for real, it's our Archdiocese's obligation to make it work. It looks like it's a few million dollars short of what that would take.




Bishop's Accountability

The local Voice of the Faithful chapter met this morning, featuring Justice Anne Burke, interim chair of the National Review Board of the USCCB speaking on "Bishop's Accountability."

She was asked about the cooperation of the religious orders with the board's work. She noted that women's religious orders were not explicitly covered by the Charter on sexual abuse, but she expected an amendment to the Charter to change this. While religious orders are self-governing, they require a bishop's permission to operate within his diocese. Ultimately, if an order declined to identify members with substantiated allegations of abuse, a bishop could withdraw this permission.

There were people like Fr. Doyle, Fr. Greeley, and Boston Auxiliary Bishop D'Arcy who publicly or privately called attention to clergy sexual abuse of children, but were generally ignored. Within three months of his raising the issue in Boston, Bishop D'Arcy was transered to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

A few bishops, notably Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, publicly objected to the Board's audits and had to be ordered to do so. Justice Burke other bishops were silently opposed to the Board's work.

If someone wanted to, they could check the Board's reports against lists of bishops and determine who was in charge when the problems arose. One could then see if a bishop let sexual abuse go on and was then promoted.

She said that victims were not motivated by money. In her experience, victims sued only because they were otherwise ignored. (Those do not appear to me to be mutually exclusive.)

She agreed that the bishops feared loss of control and did not realize what the implications of setting up an independent Board. Many members of the Board are past the end of their terms but are staying on while their successors are determined. The bishops have nominated clergy and the Board members will not agree to that.

Burke wrote a couple times to the Papal Nuncio without response. She then googled the Vatican for the pertinent Congregations, faxed their presiding Cardinals, and set up meetings of some Board members with them in Rome. These were very productive meetings. The Cardinals were interested to check what the Board members told them against what various bishops had told them. The bishops' reports were often quite incomplete.

The Board advocated "fraternal correction" among the bishops, such as through the metropolitan's oversight of all the bishops in his province. The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, she said, has since written to the U.S. bishops advocating this.

Burke agreed that one factor in the crisis was lay Catholics' excessive and passive confidence in clergy and religious, characterized by a questioner as "simple faith."

From the registration table I picked up various materials, including a Call to Action/FutureChurch brochure, based on one by Corpus Canada, called "A History of Celibacy in the Catholic Church." It's like a Jack Chick tract without the cartoons, with lists of "Popes who were the sons of other popes, other clergy" and "Popes who had illegitimate children after 1139."

VOTF is working on fleshing out its mission statement, especially the goal "To shape structural change within the Church." Based on the chart on the back of its quarterly newsletter, structural change means more lay committees. They suggest Safety Committees for every parish and diocese, and lay councils for every Episcopal Vicar and Vicar who oversees a geographical division of a diocese. Most of those in attendance looked to me to be retirement age, so maybe they have time for all these meetings.

R.I.P. Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria and companions

Update: above from James Kushiner at the Mere Comments weblog at Touchstone.




A reader raises a couple points regarding 4th district congressional candidate Matt Flynn.

... Mr. Flynn’s most significant problem is his advice that the Archbishop could use $450K of Diocesan funds to purchase silence from Paul Marcoux. That transaction was for the benefit of the Archbishop—no one else—and was NOT for the benefit of the Diocese.

You have company. Fr. Thomas Brundage's editorial in the March 11, 2004 Catholic Herald conceded,

... I cannot defend the $450,000 settlement associated with that relationship [between Mr. Paul Marcoux and Archbishop Weakland] ...

There is no reason that it cannot be defended other than it was "hush money" to protect Archbishop Weakland personally, not a settlement of a legitimate abuse claim against our Archdiocese. Yet our Archdiocese provides Archbishop Weakland with a personal website where he republished his article from the August 15, 2003 issue of Commonweal in which he continues to defend the payment.

But it is, of course, no surprise that maintaining this contradiction at our expense is Archdiocesan policy. The contradiction was apparent in comparing Archbishop Weakland's apology,

I understood the settlement agreement in question as compensation for Paul Marcoux because of the claim that I had interfered with his ability to earn income. Rather than spend the money litigating this claim, I agreed to an out-of-court settlement. In hindsight I can see why it has the appearance of "hush-money."

with his 1980 letter to Marcoux,

I know you are pushing me for Church money, for some sort of Church support for the Midwest Institute of Christodrama. I feel you are putting me in an impossible situation here. I consider all that Church money as a sacred trust; it represents the offerings of faithful and I must be accountable to them for how it is all spent.

As part of the settlement, Marcoux was to turn over this and all other letters. So our Archdiocese paid $450,000 to conceal evidence that such a payment was a breach of trust.

But why shift blame to the lawyer, Flynn, from the client? As Fr. Richard McBrien said in his column, published in the July 4, 2002 Catholic Herald,

During the recent prayer service in Milwaukee at which he apologized and asked for forgiveness, the archbishop pointed out that "in hindsight" he could understand why that financial settlement had "the appearance of 'hush money'."

Indeed, it was hush money, and one wonders how anyone involved in that decision could have possibly encouraged the archbishop to go forward with it.

The "anyones" who had to approve the payment were Richard Sklba and Wayne Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop, and Archdiocesan Finance Director and Controller, now two of Archbishop Dolan's four closest official advisors.

My correspondent's second point:

... It’s also long past due that our current Archbishop implement Cdl. Ratzinger’s advice—that priests "must" (not may, should, or eenie-meenie) withhold Communion from Catholics who advocate for abortion. (Although it could be argued that since Flynn is not yet elected, it’s irrelevant. The counter-argument is that he is a VERY public person by virtue of his campaign

As I recall it, Cardinal Ratzinger said "must," the USCCB said "may," and Cardinal Ratzinger then said what they said was sufficiently consistent with what he said. Anyway, Archbishop Dolan is, as I understand it, leaving it up to each individual, including Mr. Flynn.

Another reader asks about our parish.

Is the Eucharistic bread used there valid matter?

My correspondent refers to what I call Euchroutons, cubes of what looks and tastes like Roman Meal Bread. These were introduced by the Liturgy Committee not long before I became a member of the Parish Council back in the 1990s. Some parishioners brought the issue to us. The Liturgy Committee made its case for the change. There was an advisory referendum of the parish, which was essentially evenly divided. Rather than go through a change back, we agreed to leave the new bread in place.

Neither the Liturgy Committee nor our pastor gave any indication of any potential issue of canon law on matter and form. None of the parishioners who questioned the change put it in those terms. No one on the Council thought to ask.

In response to this question, I asked a source at the parish about the recipe and received the reply that the recipes used have not complied with the regulations and the parish will be returning to hosts.

Incidentally, the parish is also returning to First Confession before First Communion, which entails having five grades go through the Reconciliation program this year.

On an earlier related topic, I received a petition from Living Catholic Seminars asking Archbishop Dolan to lower the age for Confirmation from mid-high school to eighth grade. The reason given is so

... the young people of our Church receive the fullness and strength of the Holy Spirit before they reach the challenging high school years.

The cover letter says Archbishop Dolan confirmed at the younger age as an auxiliary in St. Louis. Maybe he will indicate if experience has shown some benefit to the change.

And finally,

The Association of Students at Catholic Colleges is excited to announce Faith Essentials for the Catholic College Student! Faith Essentials is a monthly electronic publication for all college students -- those who are Catholic, curious about Catholicism, or just looking for solid Catholic viewpoints -- and even for those out of college or not yet in college looking to learn about the Church!




The September 9, 2004 issue is on-line, temporarily at the above URL.

Vatican II: Holding high the vision

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During some down time at a bishops' retreat at Mundelein, Illinois, Bishop Sklba reflects on Vatican II and ecumenical councils.

It is, you see, my longstanding theory that it takes at least 70 years to implement any ecumenical Council of the Church.

If my quick listing to the right is correct, the median interval between councils has been is 56 years, so there usually was not enough time between councils for their implementation under his theory. It would lead us to expect Florence to have been more successfully implemented than Ephesus, which doesn't seem to be so.

Most likely his theory is a means to forstall any comparison of actual results with the Second Vatican Council's goals of

- the purification and renewal of the Catholic Church itself,

- a serious sustained outreach toward unity among the various Christian churches and

- a determination to bring the transforming power of the Gospel into the full range of modern life

until 2035.

Nicea I (325)
56 years
Constantinople I (381)
50 years
Ephesus (431)
20 years
Chalcedon (451)
102 years
Constantinople II (553)
127 years
Constantinople III (680-681)
105 years
Nicea II (786-787)
82 years
Constantinople IV (869-870)
253 years
Lateran I (1123)
16 years
Lateran II (1139)
40 years
Lateran III (1179)
36 years
Lateran IV (1215)
30 years
Lyons I (1245)
29 years
Lyons II (1274-1275)
139 years
Constance (1414-1418)
20 years
Florence (1438-1445)
67 years
Lateran V (1512-1517)
28 years
Trent (1545-1563)
206 years
Vatican I (1869-1870)
92 years
Vatican II (1962-1965)




Christian Stewardship: Financial Perspective

The parish sent this along with the priests' letter for the annual fund pledge. The cover letter says the parish now has over 2900 families, a slight increase. The enclosure is more on finances.

There are two major financial needs that currently exist for our parish; first, to pay for the
annual operations of the parish and its many ministries and second, to pay for the next three
years with additional amounts to reduce some of the $3.4 million loan principal.


Each year the budgeting process involves an in-depth cost conscious analysis to balance
revenues and expenses. This "balancing act" has become even more difficult because
revenues have not been sufficient to cover expenses for the past three years.

Three years ago is 2001, when the parish started asking for pledges to the capital fund appeal for the building and renovation project.

Here's the thumbnail budget.

income expenses

Envelope and offertory $1,500,000 Building overhead $500,000
Miscellaneous 100,000 Administrative 250,000
Ministries 280,000
School and Christian Formation 280,000
Christian Formation 1,020,000 School $1,310,000
--------- ---------
$2,620,000 $2,620,000

The cover letter has its own version of a financial statement's explanatory footnote.

Our $1.5 million anticipated weekly envelope and offertory collections
are $84,000 or 6.1% greater than the actual collections received this past fiscal year.

"Anticipated" here is a term of art.

It is our
hope and prayer that each and every parishioner will make an even greater effort to do their
part by considering a major increase in ones [sic] financial stewardship commitment for 2005.

Seems like the usual approach so I don't know why they anticipate a different result.




Flynn touts endorsements, Democratic connections
Matt Flynn has the disadvantage of three unsuccessful runs for office and a controversial client.

Victims of child sexual abuse by priests have raised questions about how aggressively he dealt with them.

Other than taking judgments for costs against losing plaintiffs, no specifics ever appear in these articles.

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests have focused on his role in winning a state Supreme Court decision that limited the rights of adult victims to file lawsuits based on incidents that happened when they were children.

The Supreme Court decided a case in favor of his client. Maybe that shows he was a good lawyer for his client. If there's a problem with the decision, that would be an issue for Supreme Court candidates, not Flynn as a candidate for Congress. Except he's helping to make it one.

Flynn's primary opponents, state Sens. Gwen Moore and Tim Carpenter, voted for state legislation that extends the statute of limitations for future lawsuits and criminal prosecutions. Flynn says he would support extending those time limits nationwide and closing loopholes that let insurance companies avoid paying settlements to abuse victims.

Makes me wonder if he had defended murderers, would he be advocating that Congress impose the death penalty "nationwide"?




The rebirth of Messmer

Messmer High Scholl celebrates its 20th anniversary since our Archdiocese said it would be closed.

The previous December [1983), there was great relief - and great hope - when [Archbishop] Weakland announced a five-year plan of archdiocesan support for the school, a commitment many believed would put an end to persistent rumors of the school's demise. But on Feb. 10, 1984, citing low enrollment for the fall, Weakland said Messmer would be closed.

My experience in such cases leads me to assume our Archdiocese's position was that something in that five year commitment should have been construed as notice to Messmer students and parents that the school was subject to being closed at any time.

The story continues about the efforts of a group of the parents to keep the school open.

Petitions would be made up and circulated outside churches. Money had to be raised - maybe a raffle, a charity basketball game, a benefit concert. Alumni would be contacted, businesses, foundations, anyone who might help.

The goal was simple: Change Weakland's mind.

This Plan A was, in hindsight, hopeless.

On Feb. 22, Weakland met with representatives of the group, and many left with a feeling of hope.

Ah, yes, "dialogue."

However, the Catholic Herald had already been told the decision was final, news that landed in mailboxes the next morning.

Plan B was to purchase the school and run it independent of our Archdiocese. Efforts continued through the end of the school year. After the seniors graduated,

The rest of us had more than a week left. It was a chance to fill yearbooks with messages, to say goodbye to teachers, to take a measure of it all.

Two days later, another announcement came, this one in the middle of the day, this one even more sudden than the last. Messmer was closing. Now. Today. Go home.

Feelings were running very high at this point.

Attempts to meet with Weakland to discuss reopening the school without archdiocesan support were unsuccessful.

The Save Messmer Committee had been considering a full-page newspaper ad laying out the case for keeping the school open. The thrust of the ad changed some.

In the end, 105 people were listed as co-signers, the headline aimed at Weakland: "King in Your Kingdom or Shepherd to Your Flock."

This got a response from Archbishop Weakland.

"I haven't seen anything that shows they are serious," he said. "I ask myself, if they're serious, why do they send me insulting letters?"

In an apparent response to the ad, there were indications our Archdiocese was going to clear furnishings and equipment from the Messmer building. This gave the committee a chance to show they were serious.

The group went to court and got a judge to block the archdiocese from selling off the building or its contents.


Soon, during taping of a TV show that featured [the committee's attorney Peter] Salza and Sister Michelle Olley, a top archdiocesan official, Olley said the archdiocese would talk about a sale of the building if the lawsuit was dropped. Salza had said the group would match the value set by the archdiocese's own appraiser.

The sale went through August 9, 1984.

Twenty years later, Messmer has 550 students and now also operates an elementary school with 450 students.




Moore nears lead in fund raising

In the race for the open seat in the Fourth Congressional District, State Senator Gwen Moore has overtaken lawyer Matt Flynn.

A big part of Moore's advantage is her support from EMILY's List, which backs Democratic women who support abortion rights. The group served as a conduit for $195,513 in contributions from its members across the country, Moore's report showed. It also ran TV "issue" ads touting

Moore's position on abortion? Noo...

Moore's leadership on education, which [contributions] are not reflected on reports filed this week.


Matt Flynn's Problem

WTMJ talk show host Charlie Sykes has posted this on another candidate for the 4th District Congressional seat. This controversy dogging Matt Flynn was not in the article above, or any I've seen posted on our daily paper's web site.

It was, after all, Flynn who negotiated the $450,000 hush money payment to Paul Marcoux, who accused former archbishop Rembert Weakland of molesting him. An attorney for Marcoux says Flynn threatened him with criminal extortion charges if he brought any legal action against the archdiocese.

Brent Tyler says that Flynn had backed up his threat by claiming that District Attorney E. Michael McCann agreed that making charges against the archbishop was extortion.

McCann strongly denies telling Flynn that he would any charges against Marcoux or his lawyers, raising questions about Flynn’s legal ethics in the case.

If Flynn did so, it would be an issue. Missing here are 1) what Flynn says, and 2) any indication anyone actually filed an ethics complaint against Flynn.

Victim advocates say that Flynn pursued hardball tactics against men and women who had been abused by priests, including vindictively trying to collect legal costs from victims who had sued.

On hardball tactics, no specifics are given, and no indication what, if any, specific ethical violation might be alleged.

Flynn also played a crucial role in covering up scandals by moving to have case files sealed from public view.

If his client, our Archdiocese, wanted the files sealed, or if the alleged victim wanted them sealed and our Archdiocese consented, then Flynn did nothing wrong. The parties can ask that the file be sealed, but the judge is the one who decides there is sufficient reason to do so.

In the case of Joe Cerniglia, who had been sexually abused by Father William Effinger, Flynn moved to collect $4,000 in legal costs against the victim, after his suit was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.

One of Cerniglia’s lawyers, David Borowski, who is now a Circuit Court judge, said such moves were extremely rare. "In my opinion, they were trying to stick it to (Cerniglia) and to get in one last shot," he told reporters.

Flynn also went after costs from at least two other accusers.

Above it is said that judgments for costs were taken "vindictively." Cost judgments are provided for by law, although the winning party does have to go through a procedure to have costs added to a judgment. Flynn has elsewhere said that taking cost judgments is his law firm's usual practice when its client prevails. While this is not unethical, it seems to me it would be better practice to ask the client.

In general, Flynn appears to have been zealously representing our Archdiocese, and doing so and quite effectively in legal terms. If victims have grievances from the cases, they do not appear to be legal grievances. Rather, they are applying to Flynn an argument that they should apply to our Archdiocese, that it had an obligation to instruct its attorney on moral grounds not to use some approach, practice, or procedure even though legal.




Two groups urge support for Panzer over Grothman

State Representative Grothman (R-West Bend) is running against State Senator Panzer (R-West Bend) in the upcoming primary. He received some support for his allegation that she is not the conservative she claims to be.

The leadership of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teachers union, has recommended that its members support Panzer, according to a "member preference ballot" provided by Panzer's campaign.

Meanwhile, a leader with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, the political arm of the family planning and abortion-rights group, urged support for Panzer in a letter Thursday to the Journal Sentinel.

Panzer is majority leader in the State Senate.


U.S. appeals court reinstates suit against sewerage district

The Court of Appeals reversed District Judge Charles Clevert's dismissal of a case against MMSD [Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District]. Judge Clevert based the dismissal on the 2002 stipulation between MMSD and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The district has dumped nearly 18 billion gallons of untreated sewage since 1994, when the deep tunnel system was completed. The tunnel was supposed to bring dumping to a virtual halt.

... Clevert is to determine whether the 2002 agreement between the district and the state Department of Natural Resources will end dumping banned under the Clean Water Act.

All indications are it would not.

The [Court of Appeals] decision noted that the district acknowledged in the 2002 settlement that the improvements to the sewer system would reduce but not eliminate illegal overflows. Compliance with the act "means an end to the violations, not merely a reduction in the number or the size of them," the ruling said.

You might be surprised to see what dumping is at issue.

The district dumped 4.6 billion gallons of sewage during intense, successive rainstorms in May. The total for the month exceeded the tally for any year since the tunnel system opened. Of the total, about 475 million gallons were dumped in areas from sewers that are supposed to contain only waste. Federal law bans dumping in these areas.

Then the case deals only with the ten per cent of dumping from all the areas with separate sanitary and storm sewers. The ninety per cent from the combined sewers, all in Milwaukee and Shorewood, are not involved.

Update: here's the court's opinion [PDF}.




The September 2, 2004 issue is on-line, temporarily at the above URL.

Welcome back to school!

Our Archbishop discusses another aspect of the Lord's final mandate to "Go and teach all nations."

In the strategic planning and parish planning processes completed last Spring, you all spoke loud and clear. You cherish the church’s efforts in education and faith formation. Not only do you prize our Catholic schools, wanting them to remain excellent, while being accessible, and affordable, but you appreciate all the initiatives and programs of catechesis, religious education, and faith formation. You want these to be first-rate, led by competent, trained, professional catechists and formatters, faithful to the church, available and attractive from childhood to retirement.

In the meantime, I'll be a catechist for public school tenth graders at our parish.

I had raised the issue with the Youth DRE that our materials were not on Bishops' list. She just asked me to try, with my class, the "Send Out Your Spirit" series by Ave Maria Press which is on the list.


The Democratic National Committee writes for a contribution to

... end George Bush's willful control of the White House ...

Is that inappropriate when you're the President?

The letter solicits

Your swift response ...

so maybe it's the source of a recent controversy.




A reader comments on "Proportionalism Can Be Economic Too," below.

Eutopia---a very interesting letter. E. Michael Jones (Fidelity Magazine) carried on for a few months about the destruction of Philadelphia in favor of the suburbs, and understanding Mike’s other interest in issues "below the belt," it’s entirely likely that either he read the Collins material or at least thinks in the same pattern.

Jones has since changed the name of Fidelity Magazine to Culture Wars. Here's a review of his book John Cardinal Krol and the Cultural Revolution.


"Under Empty Skies Falconers Weep"

A Personal Survey of Modern Verse in Ex-Yugoslavia and Albania

As Reviewed By Stephen Schwartz

Contemporary Poetry Review

Several more Kenneth Rexroth essays have been added to the BPS website:

Baudelaire's Ennobling Revulsion

The Cubist Poetry of Pierre Reverdy

The Influence of French Poetry on American


What Went Wrong in Iraq

by Larry Diamond

Foreign Affairs, September/October 2004

Think Again: Bush’s Foreign Policy

by Melvyn P. Leffler

Foreign Policy, September/October 2004

Newsboy funerals

tales of sorrow and solidarity in urban America

by Vincent DiGirolamo

Journal of Social History, Fall 2002

Proportionalism Can Be Economic Too

letter to the editor by Raymond F. Collins

with reply (Mater si, Magister no?) by James C. Kruggel

Eutopia: A lay journal of Catholic Thought, May 2000

Overdosing on the Medicine of Mercy

by Charles M. Wilson and R. Michael Dunnigan

Christifidelis, June 22, 2004



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