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2005-03-31

STALWART

Southern strategy for Feingold

Southern strategy? Cue That Old Time Religion for the Senator.

If it's good enough for Nixon
It's good enough for me.
It's early in the 2008 presidential campaign, so there's bound to be a few bugs in the bandwagon.
Feingold, a hunting-state senator who voted against renewal of the assault weapons ban, singled out guns as a hot-button cultural issue that Democrats could neutralize by convincing pro-gun voters that Democrats respect their right to bear arms.

"If we can change the perception about guns, I believe that would be the most useful thing we can do, not only in the state of Alabama, but also in Wisconsin," he said in an interview Tuesday.

I have the perception that Wisconsin's Democratic governor vetoed the concealed carry bill. Sen. Feingold's plan to explain that in states that have such laws remains unclear.
At times, Feingold could be heard tossing out themes and ideas, inviting Democrats he met with to weigh in on their potential appeal for red states.

"I feel they're abusing their power," Feingold told a group of activists in Birmingham, arguing that Republicans in Washington were overreaching in their exercise of federal authority. "Is that something people in Alabama care about? If it doesn't work, it doesn't work."

The response to that line of argument was mixed.

The Alabamans might have been looking for something Sen. Feingold cares about, beyond Feingold for President, that is. He might have found it.
Feingold suggested that abortion and gay rights represented more fundamental differences, less easily bridged. But he argued that some voters can live with such differences "if we present ourselves as pragmatic, honest and willing to listen."
But can he convince the Democratic base that a campaign theme of "Reasonable minds can differ about dead babies and sodomy" is not caving in to the extremists of the Religious Right?

BROWNSON

Frail Pope Stresses Dignity for Ill

Since our Pope now has to use a feeding tube, it's an occasion to review Church teaching on the subject.

A 1980 Vatican document makes the distinction between "proportionate" and "disproportionate" means of prolonging life. While it gives room for refusal of some forms of aggressive medical intervention for terminally ill patients, it insists that "normal care" must not be interrupted.

John Paul set down exactly what that meant in a speech last year to an international conference on treatments for patients in a so-called persistent vegetative state.

"I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory."

Somebody with PVS might also be in a special facility, yet we wouldn't consider providing them with shelter in that circumstance extraordinary, even though the burden of providing shelter is greater than providing food and water. To take the Terri Schiavo case, I assume her condition wouldn't justify moving her to some remote hillside to die of exposure.

2005-03-31


2005-03-29

STALWART

Feingold in Dixie on mission of diplomacy

Our junior senator's presidential campaign returns to Greenville, Alabama.

"It has a kind of 'Alice in Wonderland' quality to it. Imagine George Bush campaigning in gay bars," observed University of Wisconsin political scientist Byron Shafer, who has a book coming out on the partisan transformation of the American South.
We're not in What's Wrong with Kansas anymore.

This particular dialogue was sparked by a short article Feingold wrote last December for the liberal Web site Salon.com, after his post-election pilgrimage to Alabama's prized public golf courses.

Suggesting that working people in the South had backed George W. Bush "against their own families' basic interests," Feingold depicted the city of Greenville as "hurting economically," with "check-cashing stores and abject trailer parks."

I believe the Salon article was titled "My Foursome: Vanguard Party of the Proletariat."
Greenville officials used it [Feingold's return trip] as a promotional opportunity, showing off their ... two new Korean-owned automotive factories ...
There's a question for the 2008 campaign: how many cities in Wisconsin have two auto plants?

Preserve gun lawsuits

So editorializes today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel against legislation against

... a tool citizens have to encourage responsible practices within the gun industry: lawsuits.
If immunity from lawsuits leads to increased risk of irresponsible behavior, then it's true for a newspaper's own constitutional immunity.

2005-03-29

2005-03-28

RECONSIDERATIONS

The Many Layers of the Terry Schiavo Controversy by Ralph Nader

Terri Schiavo: A Cause for the Left? by Mark Polit

(via Common Dreams)

2005-03-28

2005-03-27

PARISHABLE

Winner's Circle Raffle

There was a bulletin insert today for the high rollers raffle at the upcoming auction fundraiser. Ticket price is $100 to be paid

with a check made out to: St. Alphonsus Congregation
and if not enough tickets are sold, this raffle
becomes a 50/50 cash split with St. Alphonsus Parish.
Congregation; parish; anything to avoid saying "church."

BROWNSON

Schiavo's Hydration Level Raises Questions

Without a national euthanasia policy, physicians said nutrition is the only medical intervention over which Schiavo's surrogate decision-makers can exercise any individual choice.
I thought there was just such a policy: euthanasia is illegal. The question this raises, not just for me but apparently for Congress as well, is whether this policy is being systematically violated by mischaracterizing cases as turning on the "right to die."

2005-03-27


2005-03-26

INBOX

By the way, the "virtual" sacraments question is related to the "electronic organ" question of days of yore.

As you know, the Church has consistently proclaimed that the pipe organ is the instrument of choice for churches. During the 1950's/1960's in the USA, however, the pace of building parishes was frenetic, and the money was scarce. Thus, many parishes used electronic substitutes for the pipe organ, with permission, "until we can get a pipe organ."

The electronic instrument, like its far more sophisticated digital successors, is still "virtual." The fact is that the pipe organ uses wind, or breath, to play--a natural function. There are no "natural" parallels in electronic/digital instruments.

The theology here has to do with the necessity of "pneumos" or wind (think Holy Spirit and Pentecost) and the pipe organ's allegorical function as a mnemonic of "all of nature" singing its praise of God. That's why the pipe organ was played during the conventual High Mass' Pater Noster--all of creation worships the Father...

Similarly, the piano is not suitable for worship--again, it cannot represent "all of creation."

My reader is going further than Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Decree on the Sacred Liturgy, 120, which says
In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.

But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.

For example, Stille Nacht, written for guitar accompaniment.

Update: my reader responds.

You quote Sacrosanctum correctly, but to what argument? All I did was outline the theological background on pipe organs. The Church's position is clear on the issue: the pipe organ is to be held in "high esteem," and is "traditional." Seems to me that even in civil law or rhetoric, the first-listed is the most important...

Of course, SC was a recognition of Pius XII's December/1955 encyclical which authorized orchestral instrumentation for use at Mass (and had some other interesting legal ramifications, such as 'altar girls' (!!!)) And my commentary did not, as you would imply, derogate from either SC or Pius XII's legislation. My commentary merely outlined the parallel in the Church's thinking regarding 'real' vs. 'virtual.'

And as you well know, living in an area in which two of Fr. Gruber's relatives were active, the guitar accompaniment was de necessitatibus, not de voluntatis. We could also get into the question of style, here--the classical and simple guitar accompaniment for Stille is a far cry from most of the claptrap which guitar players foist on unsuspecting congregations these days.

Summarily: explications are not the same as legislations. Arguments based on extreme cases produce bad results.

I don't read your first email to derogate Sacrosanctum Concilium, or the earlier Musicae Sacrae Disciplina, as such, but your theological argument seemed to me to tend toward laying down criteria that only the pipe organ could meet.

You allude to the explanation that Stille Nacht was written for guitar because the organ was "on the fritz" (to use the technical term). In hindsight, maybe that makes it more providential than de necessitatibus.

I'd put the problem with much liturgical guitar music a bit differently; it fails even by its own criteria. The folk and show/pop forms did not and do not connect with young people generally.

HAPLESS BENCHMARK

admirable!

AT CWN's Off the Record, Diogenes is more than a bit skeptical of the criteria by which the U.S. Bishops' Office for Film & Broadcasting judges films, as in the review of Miss Congeniality 2.

How might the Holy Week classic Monty Python's Life of Brian be judged? Alas, while What Have the Romans Done for Us might be the funniest ever film scene, it violates the spirit of the Bishops' Criteria for Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion [5 MB PDF]

The presence of Roman soldiers should likewise be shown on the stage throughout the play, to represent to oppressive and pervasive nature of the Roman occupation.
--p. 10

OUCH DIOCESE

Word due on new Catholic school

Like the number of little children at Mass, the need or lack of need for schools is a barometer of hope.

The archdiocese, which has 13 high schools, last built a high school - St. Joseph in Kenosha - in 1957.

Enrollment at the high schools, now at 6,917, has declined 9% since the 2000-'01 school year, according to the archdiocese.

But there might be enough demand in Washington County for a new high school, and our Archdiocese was unexpectedly put in a position to take a survey to try to find out.
The archdiocese decided to send the surveys after it was told by an anonymous landowner that he might donate land for a high school near Highways 45 and 60 in Washington County. The surveys included a letter from Archbishop Timothy Dolan saying that, if the new high school were built, it would offer a "college preparatory curriculum, excellent academics" and "a strong focus on Catholic faith formation."
Which goes to show how little and how much can go without saying these days. I seem to recall when we'd assume a Catholic high school would have a least a relatively rigorous curriculum and teach and reinforce the faith. On the other hand, back then someone might have been asked to consider donating the land to make a new Catholic high school possible.
David Prothero, the archdiocese's superintendent of schools, also described the high school study as a major undertaking.

"It is an incredibly aggressive and an ambitious endeavor, which needs a broad and deep base of support," he said.

In a way, sounds like a test. But free land should help the curve.

2005-03-26


2005-03-25

INBOX

A reader notes this Zenit item on the surprising need of the Peruvian bishops to explain why "Virtual" Sacraments Ruled Out

"Virtual reality is no substitute for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacramental reality of the other sacraments, and shared worship in a flesh-and-blood human community," affirmed the statement.
They cite the Vatican statement on The Church and the Internet.

I mentioned Interfaith the other day and I note my reader got this Zenit item via the mailing list of Madison, Wisconsin's International Society of Interfaith Ambassadors. It's training workbook distinguishes "Apostolic Christianity" (Ch. 5) from "Traditional Protestants" (Ch. 6), which seems an unpromising start to this outside observer. In Madison, maybe all the members are Unitarians, and it's never been an issue.

Update: my reader responds,

The explanation is that it is led by an Orthodox priest.
Seems a little unorthodox to me. "Traditional Protestants" might have gone along with adding the filioque to the Nicene Creed but I haven't seen that they've taken "apostolic" out.

BROWNSON

It’s Not About Terri Schiavo

Accidentally in uttering the words "she’s my life," in her conversation with the media Terri Schiavo’s mother revealed what’s at the very heart of this whole dismal story. None of this is about poor brain-destroyed Terri Schiavo. It’s all about someone else’s life, or various someone-elses.

Michael Schiavo Fights to Fulfill Wishes

When asked how he felt about being married to Terri in her current state, he [Michael Schiavo] said: "I feel wonderful. She's my life, and I wouldn't trade her for the world. ..."

2005-03-25


2005-03-24

BROWNSON

'No Moral Sense’

Mickey Kaus was looking for a form to say leave his tube in and to list the bioethicists to be kept away. My form would list Father John J. Paris S.J., now of Boston College, here interviewed by Brian Braiker of Newsweek.

[Q] The church has said that providing food and water does not constitute an extraordinary way of sustaining life.

[A] What you’re quoting is a statement that was issued by the pope at a meeting of [an] international association of doctors last year in Rome. This was really a meeting of very right-to-life-oriented physicians. It was an occasion speech. The pope meets 150 groups a week—a group comes in and the pope gives a speech. If the pope tells the Italian Bicycle Riders Association that bicycle riding is the greatest sport that we have, that doesn’t mean that’s the church’s teaching, that the skiers and tennis players and golfers are out. It wasn’t a doctrinal speech. ...

[Q] How does the stance of Schiavo supporters in the church reflect religious teaching about death?

[A] Here’s the question I ask of these right-to-lifers, including Vatican bishops: as we enter into Holy Week and we proclaim that death is not triumphant and that with the power of resurrection and the glory of Easter we have the triumph of Christ over death, what are they talking about by presenting death as an unmitigated evil? It doesn’t fit Christian context. Richard McCormick, who was the great Catholic moral theologian of the last 25 years, wrote a brilliant article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1974 called "To Save or Let Die." He said there are two great heresies in our age (and heresy is a strong word in theology—these are false doctrines). One is that life is an absolute good and the other is that death is an absolute evil.

So, as Fr. Paris tells it, the Pope will make heretical statements just to humor an audience.

2005-03-24


2005-03-23

BROWNSON

Debate rages in religious realm

The article quotes

The Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the left-leaning Interfaith Alliance ...
which one might interpret as inadvertently confirming that Interfaith is a left-wing front group.

HAPLESS BENCHMARK

Had Terri Been a Convicted Murderer

Pete Vere's diagnosis is a persistent vegetative state.

Had Terri been a convicted murderer on her way to the execution chamber, Bishop [Robert] Lynch [of St. Petersburg] would have readily, publically, and unambiguously condemned the taking of her life. But Terri is no convicted criminal, and Bishop Lynch is no St. Francis de Sales. Rather he acts as timidly towards Terri as the Apostles towards Our Lord during the Passion.
Fear not, the NCCBUSCC is on the case.

INBOX

Looks like Bad Writing's Back

2005-03-23


2005-03-21

BROWNSON

NPR in a Coma

In a post from 3:08 a.m. today, Mickey Kaus says,

This 2003 item [linked above] summarizes what I think about the Schiavo case. ...
Opposition to the Florida court's ruling seems like a legitimate protest against what appears to be a disingenuous machinery of euthanasia lawyers are busy establishing under the guise of a "right to die" (a right Terry Schiavo can only be said to be exercising by an extremely suspect chain of reasoning). ... Our society is going to have to have this out at some point--why not now? And why isn't it a perfectly reasonable issue for the national legislature to address?
In his 2003 post, he notes,
The miraculous consensus of "decades of legal and ethical decisionmaking" sometimes seems like a conspiracy of convenience.
I've heard medical ethicists discuss many real and hypothetical cases on the radio and at seminars. So far it's an unbroken streak of "pulling the plug."

Update 1: What Mark Steyn calls the protocols of the elders of science.

Update 2:

Mr. Schiavo has allowed only tube-feeding and has refused repeatedly to allow doctors to administer "swallow tests" to determine whether Ms. Schiavo can eat and drink. The circular sound of that -- Mr. Schiavo's confining of his wife to a feeding tube, but contending that she wouldn't want to live that way -- mirrors the circular rut in which the case has crawled through the Florida courts.
--Douglas LeBlanc, Bulletin: Fundies don't cotton to euthanasia

Update 3:

In what I see as a clash between the culture of life and the rule of law, I have reluctantly concluded that Congress erred in intervening in the Terry Schiavo case.

--Professor Bainbridge explains in Terry Schiavo, Congress, and First Principles

2005-03-21


2005-03-20

PARISHABLE

Welcome To Our Church!

New this week, our parish is pushing the envelope. Specifically, the envelope now available at the entrance, printed with the title above. Before asking you to indicate how much you've enclosed, it provides four options for you to describe why you're using this envelope.

_ I Am Visiting
While one might be tempted to say that if we made Him feel more at home, He wouldn't be just visiting, actually what you see is the result of capitalizing almost everything on the envelope.
_ I Forgot My Envelope Today
And it's not like we expect parishioners to be back every week. Who knows how long we'd have to wait for that regular envelope.
_ I Do Not Have Envelopes But Would Like Some
No problem. At some later date you might want to consider joining the parish, or possibly the Catholic Church. Both have many fine features in addition to these envelopes.
_ Special for: __________
... A plenary indulgence. Just kidding. Probably for indicating you forgot one of the special envelopes ... like the envelope for defraying the cost of providing envelopes.

P.S. This is one of those Sundays when there's kneeling in one of the readings and kneeling in one of the hymns, which makes it seem that much more strange that we don't kneel at Mass.

SIC TRANSIT MAJOREM GLORIA

Marquette University 'Warriors' Reaching big time

A local college team is in the NCAA basketball tournament.

Nothing new.

Except it's the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Congratulations to them.

2005-03-20


2005-03-19

BROWNSON

Woman's feeding tube removed

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to cliches.

"It was an emotional occasion. Prayers were said," attorney George Felos said. He delivered a blistering assault on the congressional intervention, saying conservative Republicans trampled Schiavo's right to die with dignity. Their actions, he said, were more befitting "members of Stalin's politburo."
An apt analogy if one confuses life and death.

At least the association with Stalin is pejorative. As recently as 2000 it was George Bush's choice of Jesus as his favorite political philosopher that was controversial, while Al Gore's favorite, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, was not. This despite Merleau-Ponty's book-length apologia for the Moscow show trials.

READING NOTEBOOK

Just as changing one or two lines of a complex computer program can completely alter the image that appears on your screen, so changing two central assumptions is enough to bring about a complete transformation of the old ethic. The first of these assumptions is that we are responsible for what we intentionally do in a way that we are not responsible for what we deliberately fail to prevent. ...

... Can doctors who remove the feeding tubes from patients in a persistent vegetative state really believe that there is a huge gulf between this, and giving the same patients a injection that will stop their hearts beating? Doctors may be trained in such a way that it is psychologically easier for them to do the one and not the other, but both are equally certain ways of bringing about the death of the patient.

--Peter Singer, Rethinking Life & Death: The Collapse of Our Traditional Ethics (1994) pp. 220-221

2005-03-19


2005-03-18

AUDIENCE

Forward National Disco Memorial

While at the Milwaukee County Courthouse today I took this photo of the sculpture "Forward."

SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD

Superior Diocese denies bishop aided coverup

The Diocese of Superior issued a press release denying allegations in a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit that then Father, now Bishop, Raphael Fliss was involved in the transfer of Fr. Siegfried Widera in the 1970s. Peter Isely of SNAP issued a press release in response, which included this.

"Even if he did not know of or condemn the transfer of Father Widera and the conspiracy by the Milwaukee Archdiocese, he can do so now," Isely said. "He can demand that any bishop or cleric involved in the Widera conspiracy be removed from his post and face church discipline and possible expulsion from the clerical state."
So assuming the allegation in the lawsuit is unfounded, his response is to make other demands on the falsely accused bishop?

RHETORICAL QUESTION BOX

Papabili at an 'agenda-setting moment

"Does not today's terrorism," [Cardinal Claudio] Hummes [of Sao Paulo, Brazil] asked, "have as one of its ingredients a revolt against an imposed poverty, experienced as practically irreversible in the short and medium term?"

The Terrorism to Come

It is not too difficult to examine whether there is such a correlation between poverty and terrorism, and all the investigations have shown that this is not the case.

2005-03-18


2005-03-17

READING NOTEBOOK

On St. Patrick's Day I give thanks to my ancestors for coming here where I can enjoy the difference between a house divided and a house divided against itself.

HARK! THE HERALD

Laying a foundation for future generations

Today's issue of our Archdiocesan newspaper reports on newly dedicated church buildings, including that of St. Martin of Tours parish here in Franklin.

As director of administration Mark Mitchell tells it, the 1998 consolidation of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Franklin and Holy Assumption in St. Martin "created a community too large" for either of those parish churches. The archdiocese "mandated a planning process with the eventual goal of building a larger worship space."
Yet according to this October 2, 2003 article, there were 1,300 parishioners at Sacred Hearts before the merger, and after absorbing Holy Assumption, there ultimately were still 1,300 families in the merged parish.

Update: The St. Martin of Tours website has this on its Reconciliation page.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan has just informed us that he is enforcing the recommendation from Rome that 1st Reconciliation take place before 1st Communion.
Perhaps the word "recommendation," like the words "too large," has a different meaning when you're on a parish staff. A May 24, 1973 Vatican decree said experiments with the practice of first communion before first confession were to end with the 1972-1973 school year. Somehow the message didn't get through, and a March 31, 1977 letter from the Vatican reiterated it.

2005-03-17


2005-03-16

INBOX

A reader once asked about the Fr. Shawn O'Neal quote in the testimonials section of the right sidebar. Well, I shouldn't let another St. Patrick's Day go by without answering.

It all started with this May 2002 exchange on liturgy, which Fr. O'Neal and I continued by email. Later that year I blogged on a post by Karen Marie Knapp, and Fr. O'Neal mentioned our earlier correspondence in his own comment at her site. That's the source of the sidebar quote.

Not quite a year ago, I unexpectedly received an email apology from Fr. O'Neal. He went on to answer my question as he thought he should have answered it in the first place.

To answer your question as it should have been answered the first time, I grafted directly from Eucharistic Prayers for Various Occasions.
To which point I replied.
With your further explanation, my question is whether or not there is explicit authorization for the grafting you are doing.
He supplemented his earlier explanation.
I must note that I have amended the delivery of the Eucharistic Prayer as I listed on my blog.

I correct what I described to you because rather than using the Eucharistic Prayers for Various Occasions, what I use is a literate translation of Eucharistic Prayer III as is presented within the Sacramentary (in Spanish) published in Mexico and approved by the U.S. Bishops for liturgical use.

The prayers goes as follows:

"Confirma en la fe y en la caridad a tu Iglesia, peregrina en la tierra: a tu servidor, el Papa N., a nuestro Obispo N., al orden episcopal, a los presbíteros y diáconos, y a todo el pueblo redimido por ti. Confirma en la fe y en la caridad a tu Iglesia, peregrina en la tierra: a tu servidor, el Papa N., a nuestro Obispo N., al orden episcopal, a los presbíteros y diáconos, y a todo el pueblo redimido por ti."

Since about the time I posted what I did (and since our discussions), the only other words I include aside from this Spanish Eucharistic Prayer III are "los religiosos". Perhaps I should have clarified the changes I made.

I also include from the Eucharistic Prayer III of the German Sacramentary:

"Beschütze deine Kirche auf ihrem Weg durch die Zeit und stärke sie im Glauben und in der Liebe, deinen Diener, unseren Papst N..., unseren Bischof N... und die Gemeinschaft der Bischöfe, unsere Priester und Diakone, alle, die zum Dienst in der Kirche bestellt sind, und das ganze Volk deiner Erlösten."

I did what I have done in consultation with trusted priests who can be trusted with safeguarding the transcendent sanctity of the Mass with respect for Church tradition. They don't do feelgood stuff and they don't put on their own show. Many of these priests understand that even with the Tridentine Rite, and even with nothing changed, priests only had to say slowly and clearly the words of Institution. The rest could be mumbled because the rubrics stated that only the words of Institution had to be said slowly and clearly. They told me that since my inclusion of "all religious" is done for no reason other than asking for asking for the continued sanctification of consecrated religious, then there is little issue.

Where we disagree is on the interpretation within Sacrosanctum Concilium 22. That will not change.

And then further,
I should have informed you in my earlier reply that I have not even used in some time the form of the Eucharistic Prayer as presented on my old blog.

I should have clarified my present way of praying the Eucharistic Prayer in my earlier letter to you.

Yes, I consulted priests whose advice I trust, but I have chosen to go along with the new General Instructions. Besides, it would not surprise me if the forthcoming prayers in English look a bit more like the ones I presented in Spanish and German anyway.

I can't say I had felt owed an apology, but I can't knock a priest for an "excess" of charity. On the substance, he hasn't explained why S.C. 22 means the opposite of what it says. If, as I read it, no priest has the authority to make the kinds of changes Fr. O'Neal makes, then consulting another priest or a whole bunch of priests doesn't provide that authority, either.

2005-03-16


2005-03-15

INBOX

A fellow parishioner writes.

I found your 3/13 entry interesting reading.

As it turns out I attended the Parish Council meeting a couple of months ago when the parish profile was discussed. At that meeting an initial rough draft was presented for discussion - it wasn't made clear but it sounded like the rough draft was initially prepared by Fr Dick [our pastor] and parish staff. Many of us were struck by the fairly poor grammar and generally rough quality of the draft.

More than that though, it was pointed out that the final version had to be ready by the next morning. As far as I know, this was the only discussion amongst parishioners that occurred in the preparation of the document. I inquired as to how it is that we are preparing our parish resume in a fashion akin to a Chinese fire drill - it was implied essentially that this was the "typical" process of the Archdiocese. The format for the profile was apparently delivered to the Parish about 2 weeks prior to this meeting.

To make things even more interesting, Fr Dick was ill and was unable to attend the Council meeting that evening.

I guess you can imagine how well the "poorly informed" comment went over with the crowd.

Maybe we can paraphrase Will Rogers and say we don't belong to an organized religion, we're Catholics. If we can dish it out to the Chinese, we ought to be able to take it.


Also in the Inbox, prominent Catholic apolologist and pioneer internet troll Karl Keating's e-letter for this week includes his tale of woes flying Northwest Airlines. There are people who claim they never heard cigarettes called "coffin nails" and Mr. Keating apparently never heard the term "Northworst Airlines."

To be fair, in my experience the airlines are all about the same, except for what's left of Midwest Airlines "signature service." If I were to pick Northwest it would be for intangibles, like the tale of that last flight out of China as the Commies were taking over, North by Northwest, and the memory of the solid red tail. With airlines now offering a commodity, the only way to differentiate is by image, and Northwest seems determined to waste the image it might have from its history and instead pursue industry fads. For example, I still remember its in-flight magazine was called Passages. What a perfect name! Last time I flew Northwest, the name had been changed to something forgettable (and forgetten) that could have been any airline's.

AUDIENCE

Talk of 'Jesus Nut' not what you think

WTMJ Radio explains something heard on its extended report from the scene of Saturday's shooting at the local Living Church of God service.

During the coverage, an attempt was made to talk to the news crew in the helicopter above the scene of the carnage. Unaware they were on the air, somebody on the chopper uttered what sounded like a religious slur. ...

What listeners heard was a snippet of a conversation from inside the helicopter featuring a common aviation term for the crucial piece that keeps the main rotor blades attached to the top of the helicopter, the Jesus Nut.

What religious slur would apply here? I thought maybe Jesus Freak, but that refers to
A member of a movement among young Christians adapting traditional evangelicalism to pop culture.
That sure doesn't sound like the LCG.

2005-03-15


2005-03-14

INBOX

I've been forwarded a copy of Voice Of The Faithful's open letter to the U.S. Bishops, which is being published as a full-page ad in America.

I WILL GO IN TO THE ALTER OF GOD

Oh.

Amy Welborn has been posting weekly soliciting descriptions of Sunday liturgies attended by her readers. One from Raleigh, North Carolina, left her speechless.

... the Gospel was proclaimed by the presiding priest as well as two lectors. The priest read the opening and closing sentences, and the lectors then took turns reading most of the Gospel. A tinkling piano accompanied most of the Gospel reading, and, at various points, one of the lectors would stop reading, the piano would pound and the whole congregation would chant, "Take away the stone! Come out! Come out!" Then one of the lectors would resume reading.
At our parish there was at least one person not chanting.

2005-03-14


2005-03-13

PARISHABLE

Our pastor's homily today referred to yesterday's shootings at a meeting of a congregation of the Living Church of God at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield. Our pastor's homily raised questions about what firearms are needed, and the availability of help to the mentally ill, and not knowing our neighbors.

He noted our congregation is about 100 times larger than that of the LCG. He didn't go on to specifically say the impact on them would be like 100 times as many of our parishioners being killed. (The only thing that comes to my mind that has killed close to that many would-have-been parishioners is you-know-what, and I suppose he regarded that as too remote to make a connection.)

Or maybe he didn't want to give anyone ideas. The killer at the LCG meeting was said to have been upset by this sermon. No one will be driven to a murderous rage by a homily forgotten by the end of Mass.


St. Alphonsus Pastoral Change

This item was in last week's bulletin.

Most of you know by now that after 14 years Fr. Dick Aiken, our pastor, will be transferring from our parish to another assignment in the Archdiocese.
Though if you do, it's not because the parish leadership has gone out of it's way to tell you.
In preparation for this move, a Parish Profile was written by the Pastoral Staff and Parish Council. On February 15, the diocese held a consultation here with parish council, committee leaders and pastoral staff to assess the needs of our parish community.
The effort to get parishioner input in this should have been about the size of the recent emergency fund drive. It wasn't. Seems like it never is unless it's about money.
A copy of the Parish Profile and Parish Consultation are available by calling and requesting it from our Parish Office.
I emailed for them. Each is two pages, each printed using both sides of a single sheet. They could have been mailed to every parish household. They could have been bulletin inserts. They could have been scanned and posted on the parish web site. If there was a desire to inform the parishioners.


Parish Profile, February 8, 2005

This starts with the Parish Mission Statement. Each part starts with the words "We strive..." I was on our Parish Council when we were drafting this, and objected to this phrase. If our mission is to strive, we can say trying is succeeding. Which the parish often does.

Next is the Parish Vision Statement. Our pastor thoughtfully held the drafting meeting in what was then the rectory so we were not within the parish rule against serving alcoholic beverages. Still, it would have taken an imprudent consumption of beer to anesthetize against the results. For example, we envisioned,

Communication: Improved exchange of information.
Maybe this is the first time parishioners could get the Parish Profile at all. If so, that would, strictly speaking, be an improved exchange of information.

Next are some self characterizations of the parish.

1. Mood/Hopeful with a mixed mood of concern, optimism, friendliness, poorly informed, anticipatory waiting with some apathy and dissatisfaction with the parish and the larger Church.
If by some dissatisfaction you mean half the parish hangs up when it calls.
2. Recent Changes/ ... good liturgical participation ...
The only recent change in liturgical participation I've heard about is that even fewer parishioners are showing up for Mass.
3. Needs/Challenge parish to total stewardship of time, talent and treasure. Emphasize central parish funding of all Ministries. ...
That would require communicating and even evangelizing about those ministries, so parishioners get a satisfaction in giving like they tend to when giving for something tangible.
4. Long Range/ ... parish life coming from our Mission Statement ...
Strive, strive, strive!
... a Parish Development Director.
Staff, staff, staff!
5. Proud/Good participation with many lay spiritual ministers and a true sense of friendliness and dedication.
Did I mention that half the parish hangs up when it calls.

Here they suggested divisions of the new pastor's time:
Prayer and Worship 50%
Education 20%
Human Concerns 10%
Administrative Services 15%
Evangelization 3%
Ecumenism 2%
I'd suggest reversing the percentages of Evangelization and that of Prayer and Worship.

10. Final edition [of the Parish Profile] will have been written and reviewed and approved by attached list of persons.
Not attached.


Parish Consultation, February 15, 2005

In its several sections the participants were asked to reach a consensus on a smaller number of items selected from longer lists.

1. ... What three things do you want to brag about your parish that makes your parish so good at doing the ministry of Jesus? ...
Outreach is about the only thing on the list that I can see bragging about (now that bragging has apparently become virtuous). And I'm not saying that just because it includes the parish Guatemala mission. Our "Ministry of teaching and faith development of youth" was also listed, and my volunteering in that also doesn't make it bragworthy.
2. If you could enhance of transform this parish in any way you wished, what ... would you do to heighten its vitality and over-all health?
Easy, if redundant.
_ Evangelization--more engaged and active parishioners.
_ Contact parishioners and give a personal invitation. Less than 1/3 are active.
For the next question
What are you most afraid of in this time of pastoral transition? ...
I wouldn't really pick any of the responses. I don't fear that we'll lose sight of our Mission Statement. Some of us were sick of looking at it before the ink was dry. And I don't fear people leaving because they don't like the new pastor or that we'll have unrealistic expectations of him. All I fear is continued complacency and paralysis in the face of decline. Which maybe answers a later question.
5. Name ... important qualities you wish to see in your next pastor ...
What might make a difference?
_ More direct speaking to issues relating to the gospel
Short of getting anyone shooting-mad, of course.
_ Spiritual shepherd
If that means that he won't wave aside even losing one out of a hundred, let alone that "Less than 1/3 are active."
6. What ... things do you expect your next pastor ... to do well?
Expect? I expect a variation on the status quo. What do we need and so should hope for from the list?
_ A good preacher [as part of being]
_ Good at evangelization [which means he would]
_ Delegate, but be visible to the people [but still]
_ Pastoral [if that means he can serve people in their times of greatest spiritual need]
That last point, by the way, is our current pastor's strong point, from what I've seen and heard.

2005-03-13


2005-03-10

BROWNSON

Welcome to Doomsday

We print subscribers to the New York Review were treated to a cover blurb for this article as

BILL MOYERS:
THE EVANGELIST
MENACE
His thesis is that some Christians' beliefs that the end times might be near lead them to oppose any environmental regulation.

The article is a reworking of a speech Moyers previously gave, only without the made-up "quote" from James Watt as Secretary of the Interior.

Moyers now does not purport to quote anyone who holds such a belief.

Also on-line is a preview of an article from the next issue on The Flawed Report on Dan Rather. I thought the controversy arose because 60 Minutes presented as substantiation of its report on President Bush's service in the National Guard memos purporting to be from the early 1970s that appeared to have been produced using Microsoft Word. Somehow this specific problem with the memos is omitted from the NYRB piece.

INBOX

SNAP’s whine is a snap to figure out—it’s the pockets, stupid.

Or in worldly wisdom: "Follow the money."

It might indicate it would have been better if our Archdiocese and not insisted on setting up its own mediation system. Maybe what was needed would be more like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
As to Doyle’s "Internet tax" proposals--it pales in comparison to his other fee increases—for auto registration, additional taxes on gasoline, (beyond the automatic hike of April Fools’ Day) and increased fees for hunting, fishing, and camping.
I suppose the income tax could be raised if it was instead called an economy-participation fee.
The real action on Internet purchase tax revenues is in the cigarette business, and that seems to be at a deadlock. Indian tribes claim sovereign immunity, and refuse to release purchaser-records to the States. To my knowledge, the Feds have yet to get into the fray. Those tax revenues are very substantial, and not collected, nor collectable until someone decides that there is no "immunity" in this particular case.
Why, it's almost as if there are some advantages to being conquered by the United States. The film trilogy could be finally completed with The Mouse on the Reservation.

2005-03-10


2005-03-08

INBOX

The local chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) has written its members, and copied me, to urge them to attend the Wisconsin Supreme Court's April 12, 2005 hearing in Fond du Lac. The court will hear arguments in appeals which ask it to overrule holdings in clergy sexual abuse cases in the 1990s. The court then held, on "First Amendment" grounds, that the courts had no jurisdiction over claims based on alleged failures by a church to properly supervise its clergy. SNAP's Peter Isely characterizes the holding thus,

... bringing a pedophile cleric and his or her supervisor to court would entangle the state in the exercise of religion--even when the supervisor, most likely the bishop, knew the cleric was a sex offender and the reassignment led to further assaults.
It does not appear, however, that these cases prevent lawsuits against the pedophile clerics.
As long as these laws remain in place, the principle [sic?] tools that victims need to seek justice and protect children will be denied them: to publicly identify and name clergy sex offenders, to compel the church to hand over documents and answer questions under oath, and to allow juries or judges to determine proper civil restitution and punishment.
This mixes policy issues on preventing future abuse with issues of justice for past abuse. Presumably victims of sexual abuse know the names of priests who abused them. If they sued those priests, they could compel testimony and production of documents by archdiocesan officials, even if the Church itself cannot be held liable.

Victims are not urged to attend as mere observers.

Let us make sure the justices see a roomful of victims in attendance during these arguments. Supreme Court Justices are, after all, elected in Wisconsin. These laws have had an enormous impact and have created dangerous public policy in Wisconsin. And let the archdiocese make its so-called constitutional argument for the protection of religious freedom in the living presence of those raped and sodomized as children by their employees and covered up by their supervisors.
Actually it will be the lawyers for the Archdiocese making the argument. One could likewise say the victims will make an argument that they should get lots and lots of money, some of which is money I and others gave to the Church for other purposes. They might instead have sought an argument for personal liability of those supervisors, rather than liability of the institutional Church. Then we could have real confidence that there's no element here of plaintiffs' lawyers working on commission looking for a "deep pocket."

STALWART

Doyle proposes sales tax on Internet downloads

You'd be taxed on downloads of music, books, or art under our Governor's budget proposal.

There would be no Internet sales tax police, however, because compliance would be on the honor system.
Unless someday the state government thinks it needs more revenue.

At least we might see people trying to avoid the tax by arguing pornography isn't art.

Pro-Syria Demonstrators Gather in Lebanon

Politics makes strange bedfellows who extoll the advantages of sleeping alone.

Large cranes hoisted two giant white and red flags bearing Lebanon's cedar tree. On one, the words "Thank you Syria" were written in English; on the other, "No to foreign interference."

2005-03-08


2005-03-07

INBOX

A reader notes Leo Strauss Stiftung,

Hide in Open Sight

Learn the Secret World (geheime Welt).

...

Since 1936 our clients have benefited from our exoteric commitment to the Athenian ideal. ...

Perhaps one begins by distinguishing the typical from atypical addressees of such a web site, see "How To Begin To Study The Guide of the Perplexed" by Leo Strauss (1963).

Update: Giving credit where it's due:

... in 1948... chairman of the [University of Chicago political science] department Leonard White requested the appointment of Leo Strauss to fill a chair in political theory ... [Robert] Hutchins advised Ernest C. Colwell, who had become president when Hutchins became chancellor in 1946, to solicit the opinions of three people as to Strauss' suitability: Mortimer Adler, Edward Levi, and Richard McKeon. Levi knew nothing of Strauss, but McKeon and Adler returned strong recommendations for appointment.
--Mary Ann Dzuback, Robert M. Hutchins: Portrait of an Educator (1991) p. 174

Update 2:

My reader responds:

I'm not aware of McKeon mentioning Strauss anywhere (though he might have). Adler later criticized Strauss strongly on the grounds that Strauss thought the ancients could do no wrong. Case in point: natural slavery, on the subject of which Adler thought (correctly) that Aristotle was mistaken, whereas Strauss sought to defend Aristotle. But there can be no doubt - whatever one may think of Strauss's baleful political influence - that Strauss was a great scholar, and that the recommendation to hire him was a no-brainer.
Based on his reading, Harry Jaffe here seems to be drawing the opposite conclusion about Strauss on slavery.

Update 3:

My reader again responds.

"[the American regime] was endangered from the outset (notably in the slavery controversy)"

If this is "the opposite conclusion" to the one I drew about Strauss on slavery, it's awfully subtle.

But not esoterically subtle. It seems clearer to me if you continue the quote. "However, this regime was endangered from the outset (notably in the slavery controversy), and continues to be endangered, by the moral relativism, culminating in nihilism, of modern philosophy." I don't think he means Strauss was down on abolitionism.

For anyone else still following along, see What was Leo Strauss up to? by Steven Lenzner & William Kristol

AUDIENCE

Time Warner's DVR is on your side!

Media critic Tim Cuprisin shows a great deal of insight, i.e., has the same reaction we do.

The snazzy digital video recorder offered by Time Warner Cable has acquired a neat new use in the past few months: fast-forwarding past Time Warner's endless repetition of the obnoxious Vanessa Carlton commercials.
How obnoxious are they, Tim?
It's using the high-tech device as a weapon to thwart the cable giant's dastardly attempt to inflict on a captive audience the whining vocals and tinny piano on the second-tier pop singer's version of the Rolling Stones' "Time Is on My Side." ...
An ironic selection, we can only hope.
If self-inflicted pain is one of your favorite things, you can see and hear her perform the entire song, including a silly spoken interlude, at www.rr.com, the Web site of Time Warner's Roadrunner high-speed Internet service.
You look.
For the record, it's the national suits at Time Warner that signed Carlton to be the center of a campaign to sell their services, not the Milwaukee office.
As a newspaper columnist, Mr. Cuprisin may have empathy for recipients of misdirected hate mail.

2005-03-07


2005-03-06

PARISHABLE

Gathering In, Reaching Out, 2001 Capital Fund Appeal

There's a common feeling in our parish that the Parish Leadership did not adequately inform, or warn, us that it was assumed the recent building project would require follow-up pledges after the initial three year commitment. Apparently thinking it supports the P.L. on this point, someone put a photocopy of the initial brochure on display in the church foyer.

The total estimated cost of the Gathering In and Reaching Out project is $5,000,000.

...

What happens at the end of the three year commitment period?

In three years we will reevaluate our parish's finances. Depending on the cost of the expansion, renovation and repair projects, the amount of money borrowed, and our parish membership and budget, we may need to consider renewing our capital fund commitments. If our current fund appeal is successful and financial commitments are fulfilled, we will be in the strongest possible position three years from now.

...

How is the "Hoped for" gift determined?

To begin, we ask you to consider a gift to match your current giving in regular offerings ...

It's hard to reconcile this "Hoped for" gift suggestion with leadership now saying that they expected amounts given to the capital fund to cause an equal reduction in regular giving, based on prior experience. Taken literally, the "hoped for" gift would have dropped regular contributions to zero.

As for the need for another round of capital fund pledges, "we may need to consider" them sounds pretty weak, at least in hindsight.

I WILL GO IN TO THE ALTER OF GOD

Our parish breaks up the long Gospel readings in Lent among the priest and two lectors. They are not given particular parts, for example, the priest reading the words of Jesus. Instead, first one reads several verses, then another does, then the third, and so on.

Today's reading on the cure of the man born blind includes this at verses 26-27.

So they [the Pharisees] said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

He answered them, "I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? ...

Maybe the Pharisees didn't hear him the first time due to background piano music, such as we had during the reading. I once raised the issue that it's hard to hear the reading with music being played. It was suggested that I sit somewhere else. Others must also have received this suggestion, judging by the empty spaces in the pews. I have to wonder about this "enhancing" the Gospel. It always makes me think of Woody Allen's joke about playing gin rummy with the Devil for his soul, at a penny a point just to make it interesting.

The already long reading is made even longer by the choir leading us in singing topical verses at various points. Usually during these longer Gospel readings, we're instructed to sit, rather than stand. Today we stood; maybe someone figured out that if the parishioners sit for the Gospel, we shouldn't be surprised if it sometimes seems hard to get them off their duffs otherwise.

Update: A reader from outside our parish reacts, really reacts.

Based on your description of the Sunday Gospel reading foofaddle at your Parish, we now have a whole new meaning of the term "liturgical abuse." Your pastor and musician do not only abuse the liturgy--they abuse the parishioners, as well.
I don't know about you, but if we were packin' 'em in at our liturgies, and if other trends in our parish were favorable, I could shrug off almost anything on pragmatic grounds. Almost.

Of course, there is no liturgical regulation which prohibits "enhancing" the Gospel with piano music(?!?!?)--but then, there is also no liturgical regulation which prohibits the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist from being naked.
I believe our extraordinary ministers would join me in saying they definitely were not chosen with that in mind.

Some things are simply too bizarre to foresee.
Only one letter separates Christ and Christo, so it shouldn't have been hard to foresee that the interior of our church has, for Lent, been wrapped in a swath of burlap. This either represents penitential sackcloth or comments on our parish's financial situation.

BROWNSON

Lawmakers push for 'conscience clauses'

The possible expansion of the state "conscience clause" law to pharmacists is controversial.

Although he would carefully consider such legislation if it is sent to him, [Governor James] Doyle said, he's not likely to sign any bill that could prevent patients from receiving full care or access to medications simply because of a doctor or pharmacist's "personal, political or social" views.

"Medical treatment shouldn't depend on the opinions that your doctor has when you walk into the doctor's office," Doyle said.

By that standard, if Wisconsin legalizes assisted suicide, doctors and pharmacists would be compelled to prescribe and provide the drugs.

2005-03-06


2005-03-05

READING NOTEBOOK

In 1952 Adlai Stevenson became the victim of the accumulated grievances against intellectuals and brain trusters which had festered in the American right wing since 1933.
--Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life (1963), p. 221
You might recall how right wingers thought they detected in liberal intellectuals an affinity for what would turn out to be the nation's enemies.
Stevenson had been a character witness for Alger Hiss ...
--Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life (1963), p. 225

Update: which gives context to the Stevenson quote at the conclusion of this Daily Kos post.

2005-03-05


2005-03-04

HAPLESS BENCHMARK

a bishop who knows how to bishop

Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria provides some insight into how Church politics is practiced, and not only in the Anglican Church.

Akinola ... went on to show he wasn't fooled by the apparatchiks' plan to sideline the Africans at the meeting by packing the agenda with intentionally meaningless committee work.

...

Anyone who ever watched Joseph Bernardin and shills in action at the NCCB will recognize this maneuver: you rig the schedule so your allies can burn up the time with peripheral matters -- bureaucratic styrofoam -- thus crowding the hot button issues off prime-time into the very few minutes remaining at the end of the meeting.

Another favorite of mine is not being provided the packets or stacks of pertinent documents until the start or even during the meeting, so there is no time to review them thoroughly, and no opportunity to independently check any doubtful assertions.

SEX AND THE CITY OF GOD

Abuse victims sue Milwaukee archdiocese for fraud

A reader notes this new litigation filed in Milwaukee.

The new suit also accuses Bishop Raphael Fliss of the Diocese of Superior of ignoring the abuse while he was vice chancellor and secretary to the Archbishop of Milwaukee from 1970 to 1978.

It cites church documents showing that a man called "Ralph F. for the Archbishop" was told that church officials would try to convince a victim's mother from going to police.

The article leaves one wondering what the alleged fraud was. Here's a radio news report.

Superior Diocese Bishop accused of covering up pedophile

... the late Father Siegfried Widera was transferred in 1973 from a Port Washington parish to one in Delavan, without disclosing that Widera was convicted of sexually assaulting a boy in Ozaukee County. The lawsuit contends Widera then molested two boys at the Delevan parish. Milwaukee SNAP Director Mary Guentner [said] church documents indicate then-Father Raphael Fliss allowed the transfer to take place. "He [Widera] was presented by the Archdiocese as being a competent, appropriate man to have access to children in parishes. Particularly with someone who was a convicted pedophile on probation."
Wouldn't probation mean that it looked appropriate to give him another chance?

Another Fraud Lawsuit Filed Against Milwaukee Archdiocese
New case will name Bishop Fliss of Superior Diocese as part of Cover-up
Victims want action, answers from Fliss
March 3, 2005 SNAP press release

SNAP tries to clarify.

Both plaintiffs were abused by Fr. Widera at St. Andrew's parish in Delevan, Wisconsin.

The new lawsuits names Rev. Raphael Fliss, the current bishop of the Superior, Wisconsin Diocese, as having knowledge of Fr. Widera's criminal conduct and deliberately failing to report Fr. Widera to the police. Widera was on probation at the time for sexually assaulting a minor in Ozaukee County.

While this might make Bishop Fliss look bad in hindsight, it doesn't say how the Delevan victims have a fraud claim.

The press release goes on,

Number 24 of the complaint states:

The fact that Widera made a "slip," that the Archdiocese was going to "try to keep the lid on the thing, so no police record would be made," that the mother of the boy abused by Widera "feared reprisals from Church if she would go to police," and that Bob Short would "contact [the mother] and convince her not to act with police," was all told to "Ralph F. for the Archbishop."

My reaction remains What legal wrong by Fliss or the Archdiocese caused damage to the Delevan victims? Everything alleged appears to have taken place after the abuse.

AUDIENCE St. Thomas More Society of Wisconsin

The State of the Judiciary
Hon. Michael Sullivan
Chief Judge
First Judicial District

Wisconsin's Circuit Courts, its courts of general jurisdiction, sit in each county, but are divided into ten districts for some admininstrative purposes. District 1 includes only Milwaukee County, the state's largest, with almost one-fifth of the state's Circuit Judges (47 out of 240).

The courts are under much budget pressure due to the financial difficulties of both the county and the state, each of which contribute to funding the Circuit Court. Fees charged for court services have increased substantially, but this has been offset by decreases in tax revenue spent on the courts. (I can remember when the filing fee for a civil action was $19; now its several hundred dollars, with additional fees some subsequent pleadings, for a jury, and for docketing any eventual judgment.)

In the Civil Division, where I practice, the judges some year's ago changed their approach to case management. Judges used to schedule several trials for the same day. This overbooking, called "stacking," anticipated that most of the cases would settle. Lawyers complained that stacking caused wasted time and expense when a case was prepared, witnesses scheduled, etc., and then was postponed for another of the scheduled trials.

Under the current system, the case is supposed to be fully prepared, and settlement possiblities exhausted, by the time of a final Pretrial Conference, at which the court gives a trial date only for that case. Some of those cases, though, still settle "on the courthouse steps," leaving the judge without a case to try. The judge cannot then take on a criminal trial because there are enough bailiffs for the necessary security.

It looks like some there will be some changes in procedure ahead.

INBOX

A reader notes this breaking news.

Church sources told NCR that [visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza] Rice was asked by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's Secretary of State, whether the United States government could stop a class-action lawsuit currently before a United States District Court in Louisville, Ky., that seeks to hold the Vatican financially responsible for the sexual abuse of minors.

Sources told NCR that Rice explained that under American law, foreign states are required to assert claims of sovereign immunity themselves before U.S. courts.

You might think that an easy leqal question; given that a foreign state is sovereign, and that sovereign states are immune from suit.
Most experts say that lawsuits against the Vatican in American courts, such as the Kentucky case that prompted Sodano's request, are a long shot. At least two dozen previous attempts have gone nowhere, not only because the Vatican is a sovereign state, but also because American courts are generally reluctant to deal with religious matters on First Amendment grounds.
The Vatican is taking into account the susceptability of American courts to the Green Eggs and Ham approach.
Yet Sodano's decision to raise the matter with Rice suggests concern in Rome that sooner or later its immunity may give way, exposing the Vatican to potentially crippling verdicts.
What's the state of the law now?
A 1976 law known as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act makes it possible to sue sovereign entities in American courts under certain conditions, especially when that entity engages in commercial activity in the United States. The act has also been used to sue foreign governments for mistreatment of citizens if some aspect of that mistreatment took place in the United States. In 1996, for example, Jose Siderman, an Argentinian Jew, forced the Argentinian government to settle a lawsuit for torture he suffered in Argentina. American courts agreed to hear the action because Argentina once attempted to extradite Siderman by filing papers in the United States.
That sounds like it would permit suit for sexual abuse by clergy only if it were done to advance Church policy in the first place, not because of some subsequent cover-up. If things change, you might have to see the exhibit described below at Jeff Anderson's law office in St. Paul rather than at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

2005-03-04


2005-03-03

HARK! THE HERALD

Vatican exhibit coming in 2006

The exhibit, St. Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes, at Vatican, will be at the Milwaukee Public Museum from February 4th through May 7th 2006.

The exhibit includes more than 300 items related to more than 2,000 years of church leadership. Among them are letters, paintings, sculptures, vestments, and liturgical essentials.

READING NOTEBOOK

One remembers for example, with some pain and difficulty, that in August 1939, on the eve of the Nazi-Soviet pact, some four hundred liberal intellectuals appended their signatures to a manifesto denouncing the "fantastic falsehood that the U.S.S.R. and the totalitarian states are basically alike" and describing the Soviet Union as a "bulwark" of peace. This document was reproduced in the Nation the week that the Hitler-Stalin pact was signed. [footnote 3 Nation, Vol. 149 (August 19, 1939), p. 228] Intellectuals thus caught out were not in the best historical, moral, or psychological position to make a vigorous response to McCarthyism.
--Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life (1963), p. 40

2005-03-03


2005-03-02

STALWART

Churchill defends Sept. 11 essay in speech at UW-Whitewater

Some professor named Ward Churchill spoke last night at the U.W.-Whitewater. From the name, I might have thought he'd be part Ward Cleaver and part Winston Churchill, but it turned out not to be the case.

As for his comparison of the victims in the World Trade Center to Eichmann, Churchill said Eichmann, who oversaw the orderly transportation of Jews to death camps, stood for the bureaucracy of a machinery of carnage. The people he was referring to as "little Eichmanns" in his essay were the same types of "nondescript" bureaucrats or technocrats who, unwittingly or not, keep the American killing machine rolling, he said.
Now, I don't have a Ph.D., but it seems to me you ought to first determine that "unwittingly or not" point before you can start throwing around terms like "little Eichmanns."
At the dais, Churchill restated his claim to be at least one-sixteenth Cherokee. But he also bristled at the question, saying it really was nobody's business but that of himself, his family and his American Indian community.

He said he found it odd that so many white critics could find "nothing worse to call me than a white man," and that he's been the victim of racial taunts.

We can't go around calling people names that might hurt their feelings.
UW-Whitewater Chancellor Jack Miller considered canceling Tuesday's speech but decided to allow it on the basis of free speech rights. Miller, who says he disagrees with Churchill's views, has promised no state tax dollars would go toward the event. Churchill's $4,000 honorarium and about $1,000 in travel and rental costs are being paid through private funds and student fees.
How are mandatory student fees collected by a state agency different from tax dollars?
Brian Mattmiller, a college spokesman, said ... "I really think at the end of the day, people are going to be happy with the event" ...
It's inspired me to wonder if Churchill might be teamed with Noam Chomsky in a Michael Moore remake of The Lone Ranger.

Update: A reader notes the email response to Charlis Sykes by the Dean of UW-Whitewater's College of Letters and Sciences. My reader comments,

Even allowing for the informality of email, his letter is one of the worst examples of composition I have ever seen.
It's a relief to hear that from someone who reads what I write.

2005-03-02


2005-03-01

BROWNSON

Reprimand advised for pharmacist

A pharmacist would not fill a prescription nor refer it to another pharmacy when the customer told him it was for contraceptive purposes.

Wisconsin is one of 47 states with a law that allows health care providers to refuse treatment on moral grounds, but pharmacists aren't included in those protections here, according to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. Wisconsin was, however, among 19 states that considered measures last year to allow health care entities or providers to refuse on religious grounds to provide contraception or other pharmaceuticals.
What we call "birth control pills" have other medical purposes. Was he professionally obligated to ask the customer the purpose? If not, then was it none of his business or was he morally obligated to ask?

Update: A reader responds,

With regard the pharmacist refusal to serve abortifacients to the customer: it is my thought that his refusal should be a protected action under Wisconsin law--but his subsequent refusal to give back her prescription so that she could obtain the stuff at another pharmacy should not be protected.

2005-03-01


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