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2005-02-28

INBOX

A reader calls this "exemplary bishop-ing."

[CTA founder John] Krejci, who said Call to Action members have appealed their excommunication to Rome, said he was first denied Communion by Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, who presided over the Feb. 7 Mass at Sacred Heart.

...

"People here just say, 'What the bishop says goes,'" Krejci said, "but that's not the spirit or the law of Vatican II. It's the age of the laity and the age of participation.

You can't have the age of Aquarius without "us."

2005-02-28


2005-02-26

PARISHABLE

Parish 2004-2005 Budget Review Meeting

Went to the "Open Discussion--Parishioner" concluding portion of this annual event.

At my turn, I commented generally on the need to communicate more financial and other information to our parishioners. For example, parishioners hear in general terms about the financial shortfalls, but not about the proposed or actual cuts. The Parish Council tries to minimize the impact of cuts on services. Perfectly appropriate, but as a result, most parishioners then don't see any change, and might wonder how real the financial problems were or are. More importantly in the long term, parishioners don't hear much about the many good things the parish does. I've been rather involved in the parish for over ten years, and I still don't think I've heard about them all. Maybe more info would get more people seeing a connection between that weekly envelope and real help for real people.

(On a more basic level of communication, the financial statements under discussion were on a table at the entrance. There was no convenient way for an interested parishioner to get them in advance to read through them.)

On the financial situation, it was stated that based on experience from the 1980s building project, it was anticipated that giving to the recent capital campaign would largely come out of regular weekly giving. The Finance Committee chair agreed that regular weekly giving had not changed much since the Financial Crisis of the late 1990s. Our pastor said the recent construction was of things that the parish thought needed in the 1980s project, but could not then afford. Except for the Liturgy Committees obsession with a larger "gathering space" I never heard this in three years on the Parish Council in the late 1990s. The focus then was rehabilitation of the former Convent. At any rate, the recent building project makes no financial sense if it was anticipated that it would cut into already inadequate operating income.

The parish has a long-standing practice of "Outreach," contributing a fixed percentage of parishioner contributions to organizations outside the parish. The percentage has declined from 5% to 2.5% due to the deteriorating parish finances, and the remaining amount is controversial under present circumstances. Part of the controversy is that much is given in response to mail solicitations; there's no parishioner involvement in the activities, and no real oversight over how the money is spent. This and other controversies led to a few threats by Council members and attending parishioners to leave the parish if a particular course were or were not taken. Let's hope none of these folks get their hands on WMD.

Our pastor had some interesting comments. The Outreach issue got him onto how there are parishioners who'd want him to preach on abortion every Sunday but if he preached on the death penalty, which he characterized as exactly equivalent in Catholic Social Teaching, these folks call him a Communist. That got me thinking. Let's assume arguendo the doctrinal equivalence. There are about half as many abortions as live births. The abortion rate for Catholics is about the same as for the population generally. So we can estimate that for every two children we see at Mass, or in our school or Sunday school, there was at least one abortion by, and one abortion of, a parishioner. On the other hand, Wisconsin hasn't had capital punishment since the mid-nineteenth century. So calling our pastor a Communist might be inaccurate, but is it really unreasonable?

Hypothetically, take a reverse situation. Assume one-third of the children in the parish are being executed, and none aborted. Our pastor complains that there are people in the parish who would like him to preach against the executions every Sunday. He believes he must also bring up abortion. When he does, parishioners call him a Fascist. Again, they might be inaccurate, but are they being unreasonable?

On the decline in school enrollment, he noted that while enrollment dropped a couple hundred in recent years, it has dropped about 700 since 1970. Further, he noted news reports that the Archdiocese of Chicago was closing and consolidating schools. Therefore we ought not attribute our parish school's declining enrollment to our particular tuition increases or anything done or not done by the previous principal. (Translate "We're no worse than anyone else" into Latin and you'd have our parish motto.)

In raising the issue of communication, I noted that the website might be an inexpensive means of reaching some people. Perhaps in response, our pastor noted that the person who had been given responsibility for the parish website had numerous other responsibilities which had priority. So, apparently, nothing can be done. (While we're at it, what's Latin for "wet blanket"?)

2005-02-26


2005-02-24

OUCH DIOCESE

"$17 million verdict has many concerned

That's this verdict, from a car accident involving a parish member of the Legion of Mary.

"The purpose of the organization, and no one really disputed this, was that it was to assist the clergy in the work of the clergy," said Don Prachthauser, [Plaintiff] Heikkinen's attorney.
I'll dispute that characterization. The clergy's supposed to be assisting us.

HARK! THE HERALD

Executive Summary of 2004 Independent Audit of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Link found in an article in the print edition of our Archdiocesan newspaper, but not the online edition.

2005-02-24


2005-02-23

PUN'D IT

U.W. Law professor Ann Althouse wonders

(What is the blog equivalent of "pen name"? I say it's keyboard name.)
How about com de plume?

OUCH DIOCESE

The local chapter of Voice of the Faithful is considering a book discussion group, starting with Faith that Dares to Speak by Donald Cozzens (2004). Here's are reviews by David Gibson in America, Fr. Louis J. Trivison in Focus on FutureChurch, Mary Jo Dangel in Saint Anthony Messenger, and in VOTF's own In the Vineyard.

2005-02-23


2005-02-22

INBOX

A reader notes Blogs for Terri supporting Terri's Fight. Another notes Voice for Terri.

2005-02-22


2005-02-21 Dublin, Ireland, to Chicago, Illinois

THE OTHER BRITISH ISLE

The snow came in big floating flakes, wetting the streets but not accumulating, at least not by the time we got to Dublin Airport. We're early, as usual, and use up some Euro coins at the Bewley's Tea Room in the terminal.

Except for taking two tries to get the safety video the play, the flight home is uneventful.

Back at O'Hare Field, our parking lot is so empty the exit is left unmanned, so we can't pay for parking.

2005-02-21


2005-02-20 Newcastle, Northern Ireland, to Dublin, Ireland

THE OTHER BRITISH ISLE

We had originally planned on an early start and 11:00 a.m. Mass at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, the Mass with the Palestrina Choir. But the hotel is too comfortable, and we sleep late. After a morning jog along the seashore, we indulge in the breakfast buffet. It's a very good Irish Breakfast; I like that strong coffee, and our complimentary copy of Sunday Life. If you want pancakes, waffles, french toast, or a broadsheet, no got.

St. Mary's Church, Newcastle, Northern Ireland About the only modern-style building in town is St. Mary's Catholic Church. The 11:30 a.m. Mass is full. There's one altar server, a very intense and meticulous little girl wearing a robe and kerchief. Father's Homily theme is Lenten silence, and he starts that ball rolling by skipping the Creed, rather than the Homily. Local practice seems to be to kneel from that point on.

Then it's back to the byways and highways, and the roundabouts on each. Along the way we've been listening to RTE Lyric fm, perhaps the world's most irritatingly chatty classical music station.

Back in Dublin, we return to the Bewley's Hotel in Ballsbridge. Ballsbridge, by the way, has many of the embassies. The British embassy, a concrete fortress in Georgian style, is next door. Which somehow reminds me that recent developments in the investigation of the Northern Bank robbery of last year and a murder in a Belfast pub a few days back have lead a large number of additional allegations that Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army are really a single organization, and a Marxist terrorist criminal organization at that.

After the news, comes the weather. As in the U.S., television weather is about sowing panic, in tonight's case, about light snow coming in on northeast winds.

SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD

Audit of diocese omits indictment

But aside from that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

The resignation of the former bishop a year ago amid allegations of sexual abuse was conspicuously absent from the second straight positive annual audit of the Springfield [Massachusetts] Diocese's implementation of the U.S. bishops policy to prevent clergy sexual abuse.

A three-page report on the audit of the Springfield Diocese released yesterday made no mention of the Most Rev. Thomas L. Dupre, who 15 months earlier held a press conference to announce the positive results of the first audit.

...

Joan M. Smola, a spokeswoman for the Springfield/Northampton affiliate of the Voice of the Faithful, questioned the reliability of the audit because of its failure to address Dupre's indictment in September on two counts of rape and the fact that the charter was being implemented for more than a year by an alleged sexual abuser.

2005-02-20


2005-02-19 Londonderry to Newcastle, Northern Ireland

THE OTHER BRITISH ISLE

Walls of Derry We take our morning jog on the Walls of Derry. These walls withstood a siege by James II and were until recently the site of some of the large Protestant parades that irritated local Catholics. The city later built around the walls, often incorporating the walls into new building. For University of Wisconsin grads, here's a picture taken from the wall's New Castle Bastion, in which, if you look closely, you can see Badgers Pub.

We stop to shop in a local bookstore, and I check out the upstairs Academic Section. The title The Fate of Eloquence in the Age of Humor seemed promising, then I realize it's "Hume" not "Humor." At the TESCO supermarket, my wife looks for foods she's read about in British novels, and buys some treacle tarts.

As we drive east, we stop for lunch at a little shop in Walworth. It has delicious cross buns, the cross made of something like candied orange peel. To drink, I have a Cadbury's Hot Chocolate.

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland That hot chocolate helped in facing some stiff on-shore winds when we stop at the ruins of Dunluce Castle. Per the Eyewitness Travel Guide,

... a storm once blew its kitchen into the sea.
If you drive this coast, I suggest planning so you drive westbound. Eastbound your lane is the one closer to the edge of all the cliffs.

Giant's Causeway, Nothern Ireland, looking North Finally, we reach our main sightseeing goal, Giant's Causeway. The Giant is Finn McCool, Ireland's Paul Bunyan (or, more likely, vice versa).
Giant's Causeway, Nothern Ireland, looking South About 61 million years ago, there was a lava flow with a particular chemical composition that resulted, when it cooled, in these mostly hexagonal basalt columns. Around 25,000 years ago, Ice Age glaciers scraped away the overlay, forming the Causeways.

From the Causeways, we drive southeast, to the west of the Antrim Mountains, and then through Belfast. Belfast has a stretch of motorway with four lanes in each direction; it was almost like home. Early evening we arrive at the seaside resort town of Newcastle, and our hotel, the Slieve Donard. I'd say it's in the old luxury resort hotel category, lots of dark carved wood, etc.

Most of the room lights work only with a room card key inserted in a wall slot. I couldn't figure out the television at all. I could figure out the water heating pot, and made myself some tea.

The hotel has an elaborate dinner buffet, with four kinds of meat carved to order plus other entrees, and a dessert selection including "home-made" ice cream. It was not only a very good buffet, it was a good meal my any standard.

The wine list had only wines by the bottle. To order a glass of wine, the waitress had to call in the barman. This, I assume, is due to the quirks in the local alcoholic beverage laws.

OUCH DIOCESE

Church told to pay $17 million

Margaret Morse was a volunteer for the Legion of Mary at Christ King Church and caused a traffic accident while taking a religious statue to an ill parishioner's home. The other driver was left a quadriplegic. The article somewhat conflates the issues of 1) the liability of the Archdiocese for negligence of parish volunteers and 2) coverage under the Archdiocese's insurance policy for liablities of parish volunteers. Depending on what the policy says, it could provide coverage to a volunteer even if the Archdiocese is not itself also liable for the volunteer's negligence.

If you want the excitement of reading the online docket yourself, it's Milwaukee County case number 03CV1267 in Circuit Court.

2005-02-19


2005-02-18 Dublin, Ireland, to Londonderry, Northern Ireland

THE OTHER BRITISH ISLE

Our hotel offers two breakfast buffets, Continental or Irish. Last trip to Ireland, a waitress explained Irish Breakfast.

You've had an English Breakfast?

Yes.

Same thing.

That is, eggs cooked to order, bangers (sausage links), bacon (Canadian bacon), potato bread (somewhere between hash browns and bread), black and white puddings (coarse sausage), and grilled tomato.

Passage Tomb entrance, Newgrange, Ireland We take the M1 motorway (freeway) north, then cut over to visit the Newgrange Passage Tomb. This requires buying a ticket at the visitor's center, crossing the Boyne River on a pedestrian bridge, and a shuttle bus ride to the site. There a guide meets you, takes you up to the mound, explains its history and theories about it, and then leads us inside. Here's a cross-section diagram of the mound and passage. While some cremated human remains were found inside, and the structure is called a Passage Tomb or Passage Grave, it is not really certain that it was intended as a burial place. It might have been the place for funeral and other religious ceremonies, and burial of remains elsewhere following.

In the photo, the white rock is a reconstruction of the entrance. The black rock is used to distiguish the areas which were changed to ease access for visitors. The large rock is one of the kerbstones which form the base around the mound. The spiral carvings are original, and their meaning unknown. The tourist is me.

The passage is narrow, very narrow in spots. We were cautioned to carry cameras, purses, etc. low and in front of us to avoid getting stuck.The mound passage is aligned so that for a few days around the winter solstice, the light of the sunrise passes through a lightbox above the passage entrance, through the passage, and illuminates the central chamber for several minutes. For the tour, this was simulated by first turning off the lights in chamber, then turning on lights at the entrance.

Driving on, we knew we entered Northern Ireland only because of a sign warning that speed limits were now in miles per hour, rather than kilometers. Late afternoon, were reached Londonderry, originally and today generally referred to as Derry. To emphasis this, along the way the London part of the name had been spray-painted over on most road signs.

SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD

Priest abuse case has 'hero'

In our absence, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel picks up the Fr. Paul Esser story at his Racine parish, St. Paul the Apostle.

Among the letters about Esser that SNAP [Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests] has received, one particularly stands out, [Peter] Isely said. It's from a person who was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest.

"He told me that hearing about Father Esser makes him want to go back to church," Isely said. "I'm sure that for Father Esser that would be the whole point - his actions have touched people."

Esser was asked by the Archdiocese not to comment for this story because it involves a case in litigation. Kathleen Hohl, communications director for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, said Thursday it is the policy of the Archdiocese not to comment on pending litigation.

Parish Council President Pam Klemm unknowingly explains this policy.
"They have a wonderful opportunity here to further the healing process. ... They have a wonderful opportunity to put this in a positive light, to show they have priests who have stood up against this kind of transfer. Granted, he was the only one and the Bishop did what he did anyway ...

INBOX

A reader notes this L.A. Times article on a Rome exorcise class.

Nowhere is the shortage of exorcists considered more serious than in the U.S., where skepticism about the practice abounds. There are fewer than a dozen official exorcists at U.S. dioceses, and it is a topic most American priests seem to avoid.
For various reasons. Here is an account of the local case of the "Little Lamb."
"She claims that she's possessed and that only I can exorcise her. She's having visions, revelations. She's a saint, doing penance for others. Problem is, she has a few priests believing her. I've got to get a panel of three or four psychologists together and have them interview her. It's turning into a cult. This has to stop."
Archbishop Rembert Weakland, quoted in The Education of an Archbishop by Paul Wilkes (1992) p. 5
It's a neverending struggle to discourage priests seeing things in terms of good and evil.

Update: R.I.P. Fr. Edward H. Halloran, S.J., who participated in the rite of exorcism upon which The Exorcist was based.

2005-02-18


2005-02-17 Dublin, Ireland

THE OTHER BRITISH ISLE

We land in Dublin and get our rental car, an Opel Corso five-door. There's a windshield sticker reminder to drive on the left; it's on the passenger's side. Leaving the airport, there are signs reminding us to drive on left, in several languages, including Gaelic, presumably as a subtle dig at the Gaelic language rules.

Ireland has become quite prosperous in recent years, and there's a lot of new construction. The highway into the city is torn up due to the Dublin Port Tunnel project, the local counterpart to Boston's Big Dig. Along the way are billboards for the local radio Morning Teams.

We are not ready for our debut as a Rally Team; it takes us a couple hours to find our way to the Bewley's Hotel in Ballsbridge, including about 20 minutes finding our way from the curb to the parking lot entrance. Misunderstanding the directions, we try to go around the block and go several miles before finding our way back to the hotel. Turns out the entrance was the driveway next to which we had been parked.

T.K. Maxx, Stephens Green Shopping Center, Dublin The best way around a city is the local bus, so you're sightseeing along the way. As usual, we wind up on the train, because it's simpler to figure out.

At the Stephens Green Shopping Center there's a store called "T.K. Maxx." From the name, you might expect it sells knock-offs of close-out merchandise. You'd be about right. (My camera was apparently confused by the time change, and some date-stamps show yesterday.)

At lunch, my wife orders a Kerry Style Ham and Cheese sandwich. Kerry Style means it's made with mayonnaise; we were unable to determine if that was a variation on the John French Kerry jokes or on the claim that mayonnaise is really Irish. With my lunch, I have a Coca-Cola. Coke outside the U.S. is generally made with sugar rather than corn-based sweeteners. While I'm not going to vouch for the trade and agricultural policies that cause this, I can't tell the difference.

The street bins at a used book store had a copy of Dubliners, Penguin Popular Classics paperback, for 2 Euro. My wife had packed a copy, or we might have bought it.

The Widow Scallans Pub, Dublin Ireland has a complex liquor licensing law, apparently to make it hard to get a beer anywhere but a pub. Ireland has a complex history, which figured much in the news while we were there and which surfaces from time to time as we walk around Dublin. Here at The Widow Scallans it looks like one can hold both a pint of Guinness and a grudge.

Back at the hotel, we "enjoy" Irish television. Fascinating commercial for Oxo; don't make Shepherd's Pie without it.

The hotel had ice machines "for your convenience," but no ice buckets, for our inconvenience. There was one particularly unhelpful young lady at the front desk who found my questioning this close to incomprehensible. Another guest noticed I was carrying a couple glasses of ice on the elevator and said he put a plastic bag in a wastebasket and used that.

INBOX

In my absence, a reader sends a copy of Archbishop Dolan's letter on the fate of Milwaukee's Saint Francis Seminary.

The need to provide unique and intense formation for men preparing for priesthood in today’s Church is paramount. This does not minimize the need to maintain a collaborative formational model, which is, and will continue to be, an attractive component of our system, but emphasizes the distinct needs of a priestly formation program.
One might get the impression that some calls to preserve the collaborative model hid an agenda of blurring the distinction of lay and clerical roles.

A reader notes this post-election wrap-up.

A February 11 EWTN broadcast of the news program, World Over Live, with host Raymond Arroyo, featured an interview with [Cardinal Francis] Arinze, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. ...

Arroyo questioned the Vatican Cardinal saying: "Last year, you were asked at a press conference whether a politician, a Catholic politician who supports abortion publicly should be permitted to the Communion rail, should be permitted to receive Communion publicly. What is your response to that?"

Cardinal Arinze responded, "The answer is clear. If a person says I am in favour of killing unborn babies whether they be four thousand or five thousand, I have been in favour of killing them. I will be in favour of killing them tomorrow and next week and next year. So, unborn babies, too bad for you. I am in favour that you should be killed, then the person turn around and say I want to receive Holy Communion. Do you need any Cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?

Laughing, Arroyo responded, "It should be pretty transparent." To which the Cardinal concluded, "Simple, ask the children for First Communion, they'll give you the answer."

Don't liturgists object to these metaphorical communion rails?

HARK! THE HERALD

Archdiocese accused of fraud in civil lawsuit

If you want to read some of the documents referred to in the article, they're linked below.

2005-02-17


2005-02-16 Chicago, Illinois to Dublin, Ireland

THE OTHER BRITISH ISLE

The off-season air fares to Europe have caught us again, this time those of Aer Lingus. Arriving early afternoon at O'Hare Field, we park in what the shuttle train's automated announcements call "re'-mote parking." We're very early, check-in goes fast, and we have plenty of time at the gate. The waiting area is shared with passengers for a flight to Amann, Jordan via Detroit, an example of the melting pot or diversity, take your pick. The long wait until our flight is of no consequence to us; we're readers.

Early evening, we depart. There's a brief announcement in Gaelic, then everything is in English. As usual, the AirBus rattles away on take-off. My wife says it sounds like a combine. Something else must provide its competitive advantage over Boeing.

We brought our new noise-canceling headphones for the flight. Unfortunately for me, the classical music channel splits its time with some pop channel. I skip the movies; Vanity Fair was playing.

No restaurants advertise "airline quality" food for a reason. Wine and beer were available for purchase. You had a choice between two beers, Heineken or Budweiser.

A short and fitful night's sleep, and it's time for breakfast. The person across the aisle turns out to be someone I've met before, a Circuit Court Judge in Milwaukee.

INBOX

A reader notes this column.

You might have read that the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests wants to honor the Rev. Paul Esser for objecting to the transfer of a sexually abusive clergyman in the 1970s. Sunday, they met Esser and passed out fliers encouraging locals to call the archbishop in support of the idea.

This is a new tactic for SNAP, at least in our area. I don't mean the fliers. Sadly, victims of priest abuse passing out fliers has become nearly as commonplace as stained glass at parishes.

--Mike Moore, Priest's stand lights the road to healing

There's still stained glass at some parishes?

2005-02-16


2005-02-13

INBOX

A reader notes this report of the Ayn Rand Institute's statement against government assistance to tsunami victims.

After widespread ridicule, the Institute removed the statement from its website, offering the clarification that it was opposed to all government-sponsored charitable giving (since the money isn't the government's to give), and that singling out this instance, just now, was "inappropriate."
--Christopher Shea, Ayn Rand's campus radicals
Which reminds me, why was it the world owed that architect a living in The Fountainhead?

Update: The Abridged Atlas Shrugged.

Update 2: A reader responds,

Still too long.

Another reader writes,

Another blogsite reports that the USCC[B] will spend "millions" on a study which will determine exactly what, perchance, may have caused priests to assault little boys.

In a perverse irony (one chooses one’s words carefully,) it’s clear that the USCC[B] is now careful NOT to mention the Name of the Sin which Dares Not Mention Its Name.

And Mike McGee, Jr.’s recent statement (and attendant confused hesitation about condemning same by most) is another interesting facet of the same problem.

Mention it? Some people can't even spell it.

Update: Someone who reads the paper must know someone on the editorial board, which now says McGee owes an apology.

Another reader has a suggestion for the annals of Who Spoke Up.

[Fr. Siegfried] Widera was a Wisconsin priest who was convicted of sexual misconduct with a teenage boy in Wisconsin in 1973 and charged with 42 counts of child molestation in Wisconsin and California when he died in May 2003 after leaping from a hotel balcony in Mexico.

When the archdiocese was considering transferring Widera to a parish in California following his conviction, [Fr. Paul] Esser, who was serving on the Milwaukee Archdiocese's Priests Personnel Board at the time, spoke out in objection to the transfer.

Esser's comments appear to be the only objection noted during a meeting of the Priest's Personnel Board that took place in 1976 ...

--Lee Roberts, A priest who refused to look the other way

God grant me serenity when it's time to keep my mouth shut, courage when it's time to speak out, and the wisdom to know the difference.

PARISHABLE

2005-06 Budget Review-Public Meeting

Today's bulletin says

On Saturday, February 26, 2005 in the LLLC-Jerusalem Room a discussion of the 2005-06 parish budgets will take place with the Parish Council and Finance Committee, Pastoral Staff, and Standing Committees for review, revision and recommendations for submission of a balanced budget for approval at the Parish Council Meeting on April 4, 2005.
What's the LLLC? It's the Life Long Learning Center, some meeting rooms in one wing of the school building. I wouldn't bet that most parishioners know that.

Perhaps the time of the meeting will be in next week's bulletin.

Is there any way to know in advance what's being considered? If you went to every meeting of the Council, Standing Committees and Pastoral Staff, you might. I'd say you could read the meeting minutes, except these are not really available, and at least back in my Parish Council days, there were no minutes of the weekly Staff meetings.

As long as I'm on reminiscing, when I was on Parish Council, we wondered why parishioners didn't show up for this budget meeting. Now I wonder why they would.

2005-02-13


2005-02-12

STALWART

Listening to the despicable

It's all about which side you're cheering for.

[Ward] Churchill, in a paper written after the Sept. 11 attacks, compared the victims to Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. ...

Of course, academic freedom is not absolute. We thought Marquette University acted properly when it shut down a student booth with a slogan that cheered killing in an "Adopt a Sniper" effort.

But, so that a university can fulfill its mission of education through a vigorous exchange of ideas, the freedom to speak on campus should be broad enough to permit Churchill's appearance [at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater].

2005-02-12


2005-02-11

SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD

Archdiocese faces new type of lawsuit: Fraud

Documents from our Archdiocese produced in California cases involving Fr. Siegfried Widera are the basis for a newly filed fraud suit. Despite the fact the our Archdiocese had months, or maybe years, to prepare,

No one at the archdiocese would discuss the suit ...
Not that they had nothing to say, just nothing relevant.
... but a written statement said that "all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor received by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are immediately reported to the appropriate civil authorities." The statement also says the archdiocese "continues to work proactively toward resolution of any issues brought to us by victims/survivors of sexual abuse as a minor by diocesan clergy."
To which written statement the most appropriate response is "So what?"

Speaking of amatuer public relations, here's plaintiffs' attorney Jeffrey Anderson.

Fraud is the most serious civil allegation that can be made or brought.
I might put, say, a civil allegation of wrongful death a bit higher on that scale.

From what I can tell, the actions of our Archdiocese involved occured under Archbishop Cousins, so if the Cousins Center has to be sold to pay resulting damages, there'd be a kind of justice in that.

Update:

A reader writes with a clarification,

... By the way, the Delevan to California transfer of Widera, where the "keep a lid on it so there is no police report" statement comes from and the "will convince (the mother) not to go to the police" happened under Archbishop Weakland; he called Orange diocese and facilitated Widera's transfer and incardination into the Orange Diocese...
Then there might be a kind of justice if he had to move from his retirement residence in the Cousins Center. Perhaps he could then found that religious order to minister to Milwaukee's central city.

R.I.P. James J. Malinske, continued

James J. Malinske, February 17, 1951 - January 16, 2005 Postponed due to the snowstorm of a few weeks ago, Jim's Wisconsin funeral was this morning. Several other lawyer alumni of Marquette High were there. One was next to me during the Mass, and as, in my experience, is customary with MUHS alums, we refrained from holding hands during the Lord's Prayer. All boys school, you see.

Jim was a member of the 3M Club, Marquette High, Marquette U., Marquette Law. A Marquette Law classmate emailed, with the bitterness I have come to expect from its alumni,

Jim's death has been a real psychic punch in the gut for me. In memory he will always be a fellow law student, one of the few who could give the profs as good as they dished it out to the students. And made us laugh more often than not.
At the funeral, Jim's mother said that the month before he died, she visited him and Arizona and made a point of going to court to see a case Jim was trying. Jim, she said, always enjoyed being a lawyer.

2005-02-11


2005-02-10

HARK! THE HERALD

Former minister shares his path to Catholicism

After 25 years as a Pentecostal minister, Alex Jones became a Catholic, along with his wife, three sons, and some of his congregation.

Happy with his life as a Pentecostal preacher, Jones said he wasn’t searching for anything different. As a way to learn more about Christianity, he and his congregation began studying the origins of the faith by reading works by the fathers of the church such as St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Clement of Rome, the third successor of St. Peter.

The more he learned, the more he realized the Catholic Church was the closest to the teachings of Jesus.

A co-worker who belongs to a local evangelical megachurch tells me the most common reason Catholics come there is that their own church seems content to leave them ignorant. As I've said, the Catholic Church can have the fulness of truth but many people won't stay with it if they conclude they have to pry that truth out of their bishop, priests and teachers. The response I often see to this is that people should take responsibility for learning the faith or instructing their children in the faith. I reply if we can expect people to do it on their own, then what's the Church for? People who think they don't need help wind up in no church and people who think they do in churches that offer it.

P.S. Looks like the Herald might have changed to permanent links for articles. If so, hooray!

INBOX

SNAP sends a press release.

What: At a sidewalk news conference, 24 pages of incriminating, previously unpublished internal church documents will be released as part of a lawsuit being filed which charges local Catholic officials with fraud and covering up for a serial predator priest. Documents are posted on SNAPnetwork.org

When: Thursday, Feb 10, 11:00 A.M.

Where: In front of the Cousins Center, headquarters of Milwaukee’s Catholic Archdiocese, 3501 S. Lake Drive

Who: Several victims of clergy sexual abuse and a Minnesota attorney who is handling hundreds of such lawsuits across the country

Details:

Different than other cases filed by Wisconsin clergy abuse victims, for the first time, secret church records will be revealed that clearly show the Archbishop of Milwaukee and top archdiocesan officials intentionally defrauded Catholics as to the true nature of pedophile priests being assigned to parishes and schools.

This case centers on Fr. Siegfried Widera and his abuse of a boy from a devout family that attended St. Andrew’s parish in Delavan in the mid 1970’s. Widera, now deceased, was convicted and on probation for child sexual abuse before his transfer to St. Andrew’s. Still, Milwaukee church leaders moved Widera to this remote parish, failing to warn anyone of his criminal conduct. Widera assaulted another child while at St. Andrew’s and a top church official wrote of trying “to keep the lid on the thing, so no police record would be made” and “convince [the victim’s mother] not to go to the police…” Widera was then transferred to a parish in California where he continued to assault children.

Last year, the California Appeals Court, in a unanimous decision in favor of California plaintiffs abused as children by Widera, wrote that church leaders in Milwaukee were operating what amounted to a pedophile “lend-lease” program by intentionally placing a dangerous sex offender in their state.

Today’s lawsuit is being filed in Milwaukee County on behalf of a man now in his 30s. He will not be present at the event but other Widera victims will speak on his behalf.

If you find the documents at the SNAP website, send a link.

Update: SNAP has provided them for me to post:
Archdiocesan logs 3/2/72-12/16/81;
Sexual Perversion prosecution 1973;
Fr. Paul Esser's memo 9/3/73;
St. Andrew's parishioners' letters 1974;
Archdiocesan logs 6/29/76-1/11/77.

2005-02-10


2005-02-09

AUDIENCE

A Discussion of Contingent Commissions
by Ellen Vinck
First Vice President and President-Elect RIMS
Risk and Insurance Management Society
presented jointly with the Milwaukee CPCU Society

This topic was prompted by recent investigations into the insurance industry and a plea bargain between the Attorney General of New York and one of the large national insurance brokerages. The issue is sometimes mistakenly seen as contingent commissions, additional compensation paid by insurance carriers to brokers if a broker places sufficient business with that carrier. These were no secret as a practice, but explicit disclosure of specifics would solve take care of any such issue between the policy purchaser and broker. Ms. Vinck suggested any skeptics review the actual New York complaint.

If the large national brokers abandon contingent commissions, however, Vinck could not see how they could be continued for smaller brokers. This most likely would mean this compensation to brokers would be paid as higher regular commissions, unrelated to volume.

2005-02-09


2005-02-08

SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD

Priest facing charges of indecent behavior with a child

The statute of limitations doesn't run while the potential defendant is outside the state.

The Rev. Donald J. McGuire, Chicago, ...

... allegedly had sexual contact with two juvenile males almost 40 years ago at a private residence in Fontana that was being used as a church retreat...

The victims, now in their early 50s, reported the alleged abuse to Fontana police in late 2003.

Fr. McGuire is a member of the Society of Jesus. There were several past allegations of sexual abuse against him from his time with Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois.

2005-02-08


2005-02-06

PARISHABLE

Dear Generous Parishioner

Council and Committee Minutes rack, St. Alphonsus Church, Greendale, Wisconsin, February 6, 2005 Back on January 17th, our pastor sent a letter saying the $81,000 collected in the emergency appeal at Christmas reduced the operating budget deficit to $37,000. Today's bulletin reports the deficit is now up to $71,992.87. Our pastor's letter said,

Remember how that great film, It's a Wonderful Life ends?
With George Bailey raising only half the money he needed to stay out of prison?

Perhaps it would help if the parish told us parishioners more detailed information about what's accomplished with the money we donate each week. The parish does have a rack for Parish Council and committee minutes. Checking today it contained: financial statements through December 31, 2004; Parish Council minutes of September 13, 2004; Finance Committee minutes of November 16, 2004; and Personnel Committee minutes of October 19, 2004. There was nothing from any subsequent meetings and all the slots for other committees were empty.

Of course, financial statements and council and committee minutes could be posted on the parish web site. For that matter, news of parish activities, with photos, could be posted there. Using the Wayback Machine we can compare the parish web site as of December 12, 1998 and February 2, 2004. You can check its content as of now using the link in the title of this post. Seems to me we're underutilizing its communications potential just a bit.

Update: on a table on the way out were some materials to take home, including the March 1993 Catholic Update on Vatican II: The Vision Lives On. Some excerpts.

Liturgy. Many parishes have experienced a thrilling renewal of liturgical life, with increased participation on the part of the whole parish community.
Actually we've experienced a discouraging decline in attendance at Mass.
Religious life. Religious orders and congregations, especially among women, have undergone profound changes in numerous places
Much as the Titanic underwent profound changes after striking an iceberg.
Collegiality. ... Some see this spirit of collegiality at work, for example, in the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States. It is especially reflected in their style of producing important pastoral letters such as those on the economy and on war and peace.
The Church is where the photocopy machines are, as the saying goes.

2005-02-06


2005-02-05

INBOX

A reader notes this report from last year

RICO suit filed against Tucson diocese, Lavender Mafia
and says
This may become significant.
From this article of a few months later
Abuse suits against Tucson diocese now total 20
it looks to me like the RICO suit was dismissed and refiled. I assume it is now one of the claims in the bankruptcy case of the Diocese of Tucson. If so, that leaves the question if it will be necessary for the Bankruptcy Court to examine the RICO "lavender mafia" claim.

2005-02-05


2005-02-04

READING NOTEBOOK

Restoring the Lost Constitution: The presumption of liberty
by Randy E. Barnett
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 2004; 0691115850

AUDIENCE

"Medical Marijuana, the Commerce Clause, and arguing Ashcroft v. Raich in the Supreme Court"
by Randy E. Barnett
at the Federalist Society, Milwaukee Lawyers Chapter

His speech was off the record so that nothing he might say would inadvertently prejudice his clients' interests in the pending "medical marijuana" appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. With a book out, his views are no secret.

He recounts how various provisions of the Constitution have been found by the Court to have no "justiciable" meaning. That is, the Court will not find legislation unconstitional based on the Necessary and Proper Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Ninth Amendment, and others. On the Ninth Amendment, Judge Bork testified in his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court that there appeared to him to be insufficient historical evidence of its specific meaning for a court to use it to invalidate legislation. Mr. Barnett says that even to the extent that might have been true then, it is not so now.

Historical evidence is more available on other constitutional issues, including the scope of Congress's power over commerce. For example, one can now do a word search of a Constitution-era newspaper to help establish that the meaning of "commerce" at that time did not include manufacturing or agriculture.

Even if he conclusively shows with such evidence that the Supreme Court has also unjustifiably expanded federal jurisdiction to include commerce within states, when he concedes this would invalidate much federal environmental law, the likely result is that the courts will continue in their error. He correctly asserts that any such problem with the correct interpretation could be corrected by amending the Constitution to grant Congress broader power over commerce. That was as true in the New Deal era, but using the amendment process was deemed impractical while the need for expanded federal power was deemed essential.

A return to the ideal of a Constitution of fixed and determinable meaning might be an even longer journey than Mr. Barnett estimates when he takes this book-length step.

INBOX

In the office mail comes a brochure for a three hour seminar on How to Be the Best Receptionist. Cost $149. I wonder if there are advanced courses on how to become a receptiologist and then recepthamologist.

Update: Not to be outdone, here's a six hour seminar on How to Excel at The Front Desk.

2005-02-04


2005-02-03

HARK! THE HERALD

I haven't been posting on each week's Herald because it hasn't been updating its archive of back issues. Without that, each week's issue's links go dead when the next is published, and there's no way to get the article from the archive.

2005-02-03


2005-02-02

INBOX

A reader must have used the Common Dreams link on my blogroll and found this article by Daniel C. Maguire, "a Catholic Theologian and Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University." Prof. Maguire starts off quoting Archbishop Tutu.

"Some 2 million children have died in dozens of wars during the past decade. This is more than three times the number of battlefield deaths of American soldiers in all their wars since 1776."
Prof. Maguire then includes a brief description of the horrors of war and includes in his argument children in the womb.
Pregnant women and their fetuses suffer from these same lethal deprivations and pregnant women and their fetuses are being bombed in their homes.
So if we should be concerned about war because it kills hundreds of thousands of children, including unborn children, each year throughout the world, it would seem to follow that we should be even more concerned with 1.5 million unborn children killed by abortion each year just in this country.
If you who sanctimoniously wear the 'pro-life' banner were really pro-life-and pro-fetus, that would bother you and we would be hearing your voices raised powerfully in peace protests around the world. We don't. Therefore we must conclude that you are not 'pro-life' and that if you say you are, you are liars.
Seems it would work the other way if one is giving consideration to each unborn child.

Prof. Maguire finds a red state/blue state angle.

They [the pro-life] voted en masse for George W. Bush, the slaughter-master of Iraq, the killer of civilian men, women and children, including pregnant women and their fetuses...
If the deaths of unborn children are to be considered in choosing a candidate, pro-life voters might have been considering that Sen. Kerry advocated tax subsidized abortions.

I'll give Prof. Maguire the last word as he reports what he sees when he sets his Soul-O-Scope on "High ... perbole."

Indifference to this and to all those war crimes like it, on the part of anyone is criminal and sinful in the extreme. Indifference to it by those who canonize themselves with the 'pro-life' insignia shown by their recent vote for more of it, is even worse. Such hypocrisy should be called by its name. Its name is fraud. Its name is lying, lying under the very banner of 'life.'

Update:

Somehow Common Dreams omitted from Prof. Maguire's brief bio that he is President of the The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics. The article above was his January 31, 2005 President's Corner column.

2005-02-02


2005-02-01

INBOX

This copy of a "mass mailing" on the age for Confirmation was passed on to me.

Dear OVERTYMERS,

Many of you are either in the process of getting confirmed or have been confirmed. This was done, probably and roughly, in your junior year of high school. There have been numerous discussions within the Catholic Church about when the proper time to be confirmed should happen. Some religious scholars say that people should be confirmed prior to receiving their First Eucharist, which means confirmation would most likely happen in first grade. Others say it should happen in eighth grade, prior to entering high school. And the minority say that it belongs where it is now.

One of the leading voices in the minority is a woman by the name of Sister Kieran Sawyer, founder and director of the TYME OUT Youth Center. Sister Sawyer goes head-to-head with archbishops, bishops, etc. in her constant "quest" to see that confirmation stay at the age it presently exists.

We would like to know what you think. Do you think confirmation should occur in first grade prior to First Eucharist? Do you think Confirmation should occur in eighth grade prior to graduation? Do you think Confirmation is best as a high school upperclassman? And, why? We were hoping that one, some, many, or even all of you have an opinion that you would like to share. The opinion might be a few sentences, a paragraph or two, or even a page or two long.

If you are willing to help us, the staff of the TYME OUT Youth Center and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, please write/type and mail a copy of your opinion or email your opinion to me at the TYME OUT Youth Center. The address and my email address appear at the bottom of the page. Please include your name and any other important information that would help us understand where your view is based on. For example, family life, school, work, friends, etc. and how these areas have impacted your faith life and your decisions.

This topic is very important to many people in our Archdiocese, and we hope that it is to you too. Thank you for your participation in this "project!"

Sincerely yours,

Nicholas M. Maske
Retreat Director
TYME OUT Youth Center

RECONSIDERATIONS

The Fauves by Henri Matisse

"Obsessive—Generous": Toward a Diagram of Mark Lombardi, by Frances Richard

An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall

Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism by Larry Sanger
and
Max Weismann...does he deserve an article? by Daniel Mayer et al.

Reviving Advanced Hypertext by Jakob Nielsen

2005-02-01


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