Sunday, July 31, 2005

10th Planet Discovered

From the July 29, 2005 Media Telecon, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The planet is a typical member of the Kuiper belt, but its sheer size in relation to the nine known planets means that it can only be classified as a planet, [planetary scientist Dr. Mike] Brown said. Currently about 97 times further from the sun than the Earth, the planet is the farthest-known object in the solar system, and the third brightest of the Kuiper belt objects.

A New Scientist report describes the Kuiper belt as "... the group of icy bodies including Pluto which orbit beyond Neptune."


The survey has also detected two more objects only slightly smaller than Pluto, though there's no indication these will be classified as planets.

The discovery is sure to heat up the debate over how to define a planet. Some astronomers claim Pluto is just an overgrown Kuiper-belt object, but Brown thinks it should remain a planet.

As I suspect Clyde Tombaugh would, if he were still alive.

In quest for broader appeal, churches change names, places


Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from what was once Garfield Avenue Baptist Church on Milwaukee's near north side but is now Spring Creek Church in suburban Pewaukee.
Decades of steady growth have gotten an extra boost in recent years from expanded activities and a $4.2 million sanctuary with state-of-the-art sound, video projection and theater-style lighting.


Average attendance on Sundays - including 1,150 people in the two morning worship services and more than 200 young children in Sunday school classes who do not attend the services - hit a new high this month.


It's part of a trend to dropping denominational designations and even the word "Church" from names, to attract people who have negative experiences or impressions. Here's the accompanying positive appeal, according to Senior Pastor Chip Bernhard.
"...We like to say we are a church that anyone can attend that teaches and follows the Bible. We take the Bible seriously here," he said.

Heinen could find people in the congregation without and with denominational backgrounds to provide testimonials.
That [taking the Bible seriously] attracted Rani Hershberger, 43, a mother of three from Brookfield, who began attending a women's Bible study group at the church nearly five years ago. Hershberger, who has a non-denominational background, was new to the area at the time.


Asked why she and her family joined, she said, "The friendly people, and that they really stick to what the Bible says."


Eric Debelack, 46, and his wife, Lisa, 42, of Pewaukee gave a similar response. Then practicing Catholics, they attended a Spring Creek service at the invitation of a friend five years ago and stayed. They and others used terms such as warmth, love, Bible-based truths, Bible-study groups, life-skills classes, and a variety of other faith-based educational, recreational and cultural activities.


"As soon as you came in, you heard the message," Eric Debelack said. "You knew that the pastor was speaking to you directly. His message was powerful. The music was inspirational."


I'm starting to get the impression this has something to do with the Bible. The upcoming Feast of the Assumption seems like a good opportunity for a homily on the Catholic Church and the Bible. More likely we'll hear homilies conflating ex cathedra and ex nihilo.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Appeal aimed at changing law


Several plaintiffs have filed an appeal from the dismissals of their cases against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
At issue are two major questions for people abused by clergy as minors: How soon after the abuse must victims sue? And does the Constitution's separation of church and state prevent such suits?

Not in this report by Tom Heinen in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel but in the Associate Press report is more detailed background.
The appeal, filed with the 1st District Court of Appeals, seeks to overturn decisions by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Michael Guolee this year involving three alleged cases of sexual abuse by the late Rev. Siegfried Widera between 1973 and 1976 and one by the Rev. Franklyn Becker in 1982.


Guolee ruled the statute of limitations had run out in the Widera cases, involving two claims of fraud and one of negligence. The Becker case was consolidated with those cases and dismissed as well.


Heinen's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report goes on to say,
Three plaintiffs said they were abused by Father Siegfried Widera at St. Andrew Parish in Delavan in the 1970s after he had been convicted in 1973 of "sexual perversion" involving a boy in Ozaukee County. The lawsuit alleges civil fraud, saying archdiocesan officials did not tell the parish about Widera's conviction and, after Widera molested boys again, worked to keep that knowledge from police and parishioners before allowing the priest to transfer to California.

The plaintiffs fraud allegation is important because the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the fraud is, or ought to be, discovered.
That claim was strengthened when the archdiocese had to provide old correspondence and other documents to California courts after the California Supreme Court ruled that people who said they were sexually abused by Widera in California could sue the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in courts there.

Allusions to Fr. Widera's problems in correspondence from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to the receiving diocese in California were held to be too vague to constitute sufficient warning to Church authorities in California for the court to rule they relieved Milwaukee of liability. Instead, a jury would have to decide this issue.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Saint Francis Seminary celebrates 150th Anniversary

Brian T. Olszewski reports on the event in the July 21, 2005 Catholic Herald.
Fr. Witczak [Michael Witczak, seminary rector] said that the "repositioning of the seminary as a viable asset for the church in the life of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee," raises questions to which he, Archbishop Dolan and others seek answers ...

For example, how will Archdiocesan leadership restore their credibility with the people if they keep slinging this management jargon?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bishop Finn outlines vision, dreams

From an interview by Kevin Kelly of Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City- St. Joseph, Missouri, in The Catholic Key, the diocesan newspaper.
Bishop Finn said he wants The Catholic Key to be an important component of ongoing diocesan catechesis and evangelization, and an instrument of reconciliation.


For that reason, he said, he directed The Key to discontinue Father Richard McBrien's often controversial syndicated column.


"Father McBrien likes to stir the pot," Bishop Finn said. "He approaches things with a certain skepticism and cynicism. You can get that in a lot of places, so go get it somewhere else.


"We need clear expressions of the meaning of faith, why we believe and how we can inspire each other," he said. "We've got to give people hope and direction, and we don't have a lot of time and space (in the newspaper) to do that. I think we can do a whole lot better."


(via Open Book)

Songs that make a difference

A survey at the National Association of Pastoral Musicians
What liturgical song has really made a difference for you? It might be a song that has helped to form or strengthen your faith; has played a significant part in the life of your parish or community; is associated with a noteworthy event; or is simply your favorite liturgical song.


We are inviting NPM members and other American Catholics to tell us your selection for a liturgical song that makes a difference. We would like to know the texts and tunes that have done the most to help American Catholics to discover, explore, nourish, and deepen their faith.


We will continue to collect choices through September 30, 2005 and then publish a list of the most popular and important songs, according to the survey, later in the fall as well as some of the stories that we receive.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Redefining the Center -- II

The July 21, 2005 Catholic Herald runs this July 11, 2005 column by Fr. Richard McBrien.
There is a familiar Scholastic axiom, "In medio stat virtus," which some Catholics in the middle-aged and senior generations may recall from their college years. It meant literally: "Virtue stands in the middle."

Derived from Aristotle, I believe, this is more a generalization than an axiom; it is not self-evidently always true. But Fr. MrBrien rolls on.
The corollary of that medieval principle is that neither virtue nor truth can be found at the extremes. ...

Of course, he merely asserts this extension of what he asserted was an axiom: if virtue is found between extremes, then so is truth.
Thus, the theological virtue of hope is located somewhere between the extremes of presumption on one side and despair on the other.


Similarly, in seeking the truth of Christ's identity, one must steer clear of Nestorianism on the extreme left (a heresy which exaggerated his humanity) and Monophysitism on the extreme right (which exaggerated Christ's divinity).


Which analogy you already expect Fr. McBrien will use to claim to be the moderate. The reason he has to claim to be a moderate is that terms like "left" and "liberal" are a bit discredited. Rather than engage in some introspection on his part in bringing this about, Fr. McBrien embarks on discrediting the term "moderate" by trying to claim if for himself.
Catholics of an older generation were taught that, in the face of serious conflict over truth or virtue, the center is always the safest place.

This Catholic of an older generation can't recall being taught about martyrs who died for their moderate views.
Indeed, if you happen to find yourself attacked from both sides, you can be reasonably sure that you are doing something right.

I don't believe that, but if Fr. McBrien does, it would be interesting to hear him tell about those attacking him from the left.
But, of course, a crucial question was begged, and no one, at least not in my memory, ever raised it: Who defines the center? The question is crucial because those who define the center also define the extremes. And in defining the extremes, they also marginalize them.

And here's his example of marginalization.
There is much to be learned today from the historic Christological debates of the 4th and 5th centuries and their doctrinal resolution at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.


Most mainline Christians today would place the Chalcedonian teaching in the orthodox center, and would regard Nestorianism and Monophysitism as extreme positions that were rejected as heresies.


That is, Christians hold the Chalcedonian teaching as orthodox, and regard the others as heresies. Fr. McBrien characterizes this as center versus extremes to fit the facts to his argument. Having done so, he presents this hypothetical, again with his own characterizations of left, center and right.
But if Monophysitism were to claim the center of the Christological spectrum, Chalcedonian orthodoxy would be pushed to the left (and Nestorianism still further to the left, if not off the doctrinal chart). On the right-the new right-would be the Julianists (followers of Bishop Julian, an extreme Monophysite), who in effect denied that Christ's earthly body was truly human.


Imagine now if a Catholic with Monophysitic devotional and theological tendencies were elected to the papacy. Imagine, further, that he appointed numerous priests of similar orientation to the hierarchy and to key offices in the Roman Curia. It would not take long before closeted Monophysites, sensing a new atmosphere in the Church, began coming out in the open to bask in the sunlight of a restored "orthodoxy."


We end up where we knew we would, with Fr. McBrien claiming to be in the center, that center of virtue and truth.
For the Chalcedonians it would not be a conflict between the left and the right, but between the center and the right.


And so it is with the Catholic Church today. What we have been witnessing over the past two and a half decades is a concerted (and increasingly successful) effort to redefine the center, and in the process to redefine the extremes.


And so it is with Fr. McBrien. To construct a claim that he is among the true moderates, Fr. McBrien was willing to analogize Pope John Paul II to a hypothetical pope who revived Monophysitism.

Welcome Home Howard, or Whatever Became of the Daring Aviator?

The opening quote from Howard Hughes is quite poignant, particularly if you've seen the recent movie.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Study Questions Whether Short-Term Missions Make a Difference

Abram Huyser Honig says Missionaries don't keep giving after they return; hosts prefer money to guests, Calvin sociologist finds.
Christianity Today June 20, 2005
(via Open Book)


Topics we who participate in such short mission trips think about a lot.


Of course, it's said that the trip to church on Sunday often doesn't seem to have any effect on us the rest of the week. And a church can seem more concerned that your check shows up each week than that you do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Air show noise

The morning paper has begun running "Quick Hits," which it describes as "Daily mini opinions by members of the Journal Sentinel editorial board." Here's a recent one by Richard Foster, editorial writer.
Am I the only person in the Milwaukee area who did not exactly find the Blue Angels' performance at the weekend air show a congenial experience? I know the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels are supposed to be exciting, but unexpected blasts of sonic boom, especially when you are trying, say, to snooze on a hammock or concentrate on a Brewers game can be a distraction, even a pain. Aren't there laws against noise pollution? How come these guys get a pass?

I picture Mr. Foster awakened from his nap and resuming reading the editorial page.

25,000 Civilians Killed Since Iraq Invasion, Says Report

by Simon Jeffery, in The Guardian July 19, 2005
(via Common Dreams)


If we are to judge by lives lost, is the situation now worse? Before the invasion, just children alone were dying at the rate of 60,000 a year from the economic sanctions on Iraq, according to our Archdiocese, see p. 1 [PDF]

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Pagan Involvement in the Interfaith Movement

If you expect this Spring 2005 Cross Currents article to be an expose, Grove Harris thinks you're part of the problem.
Wiccan Priestess and Elder Deborah Ann Light, who has represented the Pagan community in many national and international interfaith gatherings, says that Pagans are now completely integrated in interfaith work on national and international levels. This integration involves full participation and consistent work in interfaith initiatives, not simply attendance at events or presenting informational sessions.

Not every religion in the Interfaith Movement is on board.
For example, in 2001 in Akron, Ohio, the Akron Area Interfaith Council moved an interfaith dinner from the hall of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church rather than exclude the Pagan singing group from the program.

Acceptance must sometimes work within political constraints.
One very effective organizer of interfaith activism in a conservative state told me that in his context, Pagans are a political handicap, particularly when they show up at press conferences. Their tee shirts are often highly visible, and he gives them banners to hold that help block their political shirts. Atheists are also a political handicap, especially the ones that are so vehement he termed them "hyper-evangelical."

I, for one, am looking forward to any follow-up article on Atheist Involvement in the Interfaith Movement, especially the part on the Evangelical Atheists. But with atheists included, shouldn't it just be called the Inter Movement?


P.S. The Los Angeles Times reports this is A Time of Doubt for Atheists.
(via Get Religion)

Monday, July 18, 2005

What do the conservatives want?

Gustav Seibt generalizes from German conservatism, in Suddeutsche Zeitung July 2, 2005, translated in Sign and Sight July 7, 2005.
True conservatism, originally an English invention, is a flexible stance whose purpose is to preserve the status quo through unceasing reform, a vital traditionalism whose essence lies in the old European liberty of the individual in clear, simple ways of life -- fruit of the anti-absolutist corporatist state. Reaction, on the other hand, thinks ahistorically, simply wishing to turn the wheel of time back, it is as doctrinaire as revolution, in opposition to which it arose in the first place.

Sounds rather complimentary but for the association with the corporatist state. By European I assume he means Continental as opposed to English.
Reaction is rational through and through, sometimes brilliantly, so it is intellectually often a match for the party of progress and its high-flying theories. The current fashion for "Sunday supplement Catholicism" is a literally fascinating recent by-product of that kind of reaction. It finds its most impressive current expression in the attitude of Pope Benedict XVI, who would prefer to take his Church back into the catacombs than to adapt to dubious modern trends.

German Sunday supplements must be a bit different from Parade magazine. I interpret him as saying our Pope will be more inclined to defend the Church and its teachings on its own terms rather than the contemporary world's terms, because the contemporary world's terms are themselves part of the problem.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

By Thy Words ...

Leo Wong suggests a logo.

Double Timpani Concerto, by Philip Glass

At least once each year, we go to Ravinia Park, and picnic on the lawn while listening to a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Friday was that night.


But with some other matters to attend to earlier in the day, we stopped for lunch at Hot Doug's. Doug's provides fast service, even with a line out the door, and reasonable prices. With my Chicago-style Hot Dog, I had a side order of a house specialty, "Duck Fat Fries," french fries made in rendered duck fat (served Fridays and Saturdays only). Tasty and crispy, yes, but not so special that I'd go out of my way for them again.


Ravinia was less crowded than usual, either because we were there on a Friday instead of a Saturday, or because Philip Glass on the program keeps people away. Actually his Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra was stimulating and entertaining. It reminded me of movie soundtracks and while I listened I tried to place them:
First movement North by Northwest
Second movement Lawrence of Arabia
Third movement West Side Story (?)


One of the restaurants on the grounds was serving something called "Chihuahua Pizza." After "Duck Fat Fries" I wasn't ready for that experiment.


P.S. "Duck Fat Fries" as a Friday special. How times have changed.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What The Next Hundred Years Will Bring

The July 7, 2005 Catholic Herald ran this June 26, 2005 column by Ron Rolheiser, OMI. He was, I suppose, added as a columnist to provide contrast with Fr. McBrien.

Fr. Rolheiser has been reading.
In his new book, God's Politics, Jim Wallis predicts 50 things that will happen during this next century. Among these, he foresees the following:
...


2) The secular left will give up its hostility to religion or it will die. Some liberals will get the question of values right, and some conservatives will begin to care about poor people.


If we go on our parish mission to that Guatemalan orphanage for a sixth time, I'm going to make a point of finally taking some time to examine what caring about those kids would involve. With the benefit of that experience, I hope to return to America and discuss with the conservatives I know this "caring" about which Fr. Rolheiser speaks. Perhaps I can thereby contribute to a process by which, in A.D. 2100, some conservatives will begin to care about poor people.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sheboygan Catholics are making parishes come alive

According to the Catholic Herald of July 7, 2005
In 2004, the Archdiocesan Planning Commission issued directives to the Sheboygan parishes, in anticipation of the dwindling number of priests - Sheboygan has three priest/pastors, one parish director and an assisting priest providing sacramental celebrations and pastoral care for their six parishes - telling them "Include in your discussion and planning the possibility that some parish site(s) may have to close." But a citywide pastoral plan had already been in the works since fall of 2000, in response to the lack of priests to pastor all of Sheboygan's parishes. ...

So they were in the middle of one planning process when the next one comes down from Lake Drive? Watch your parish bulletin for Listening Sessions on a new Planning Process Planning Process to deal with this lack of coordination.
The steering committee came up with an original possibility - why couldn't the six parishes jointly hire an executive director who would take responsibility for the physical, financial and personnel resources of the parishes, freeing up the priests to do what only the ordained can do? ...

They might need to also retain psychologists to get the pastors to let go. Speaking of letting go ...
The archdiocese accepted the plan in May 2004. Since then, said Bader [Dick Bader, chair of the steering committee], it has been fine-tuned, including designating the newly created position "parish facilitator" rather than "executive director."

Perhaps the title "executive director" has connotations of authority with the dreaded accountability.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Making of the Counterculture

This essay by Kenneth Rexroth has just been added at the Bureau of Public Secrets.
Although all the literary editors and the academicians were busy telling the world in the early fifties that the age of experiment and revolt was over, a very few critics, myself amongst them, had begun to point out that this slogan alone showed how complete was the breakdown of communications between the generations. Under the very eyes of the pre-war generation a new age of experiment and revolt far more drastic in its departures, far more absolute in its rejections, was already coming into being....

Already at BPS are these related Rexroth essays.
Disengagement: The Art of the Beat Generation;
Beginnings of a New Revolt; and
Subversive Aspects of Popular Songs.

John Doe 67C v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee

The Supreme Court released its opinion in this case today. References are to its numbered paragraphs.
2. Doe alleges that Father George Nuedling, a priest of the Archdiocese, sexually abused him during the years 1960-62, while Nuedling served at St. Rita Parish in West Allis, Wisconsin. ...

Significantly
39. None of these paragraphs [of Doe's complaint] alleges that the Archdiocese knew of Doe's [sic: presumably meaning Nuedling's] proclivities as of 1960-62. ...

The court then reviewed Doe's allegations of negligence, fiduciary fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty in detail. Regarding each, the lack of any allegation that the Archdiocese had relevant knowledge at the time of the abuse meant the Archdiocese could not be held liable. The court affirmed the dismissal of Doe's case.


Update: The July 14, 2005 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on reactions to the decision.


From Archbishop Dolan.

"It's difficult for me to ever use terms like victory, or triumph, or win in any situation that regards this tragedy of sexual abuse of minors by clergy," Dolan said. "This is still an area of extreme tenderness. This is an area of deep pain. . . . I think we're making some progress. I think we're seeing some light. I think we're beginning to experience some renewal and some rising from a time of pain and dying, and I want to keep on that pastoral road.

From the other side.
Brookfield lawyer Jim Smith, one of the plaintiff's attorneys, added: "It sounds like the court is inviting a case where a victim can prove the archdiocese . . . transferred a known sex abuser.

Which might well be proved in California cases involving Fr. Widera, transfered there after incidents of abuse here.


There will be a new push for a temporary lifting of the statute of limitations.

The group's [SNAP's] top priority now is to support legislation that would give adult survivors of childhood clergy abuse a window of opportunity in which to file suit, no matter how long ago the abuse happened, he [Peter Isely] said. ...


State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) said Wednesday that he and Rep. David Cullen (D-Milwaukee) are preparing to introduce a bill that would provide a one-year or two-year window.


That's bad policy and likely unconstitutional, but all the sympathy will favor it.
Carpenter, who said he was moved by 12 hours of "gut-wrenching testimony" by victims of clergy abuse at a hearing last year, wants the victims to be able to have their day in court.

A July 13, 2005 press release from Peter Isely for SNAP says
Now is the best time for a victim in Wisconsin to file suit-the best time in over 10 years.

As I've said, I cannot understand our Archdiocese's approach to these cases. Its position seems to be that it cannot afford more that $4 million for settlements, and there's no limit to what it will spend to try to stick to that number. Hard to see how that's a "pastoral road." In the meantime, pending cases threaten unfavorable changes in the law by the legislature and the courts. To me it looks more likely than not that our Archdiocese will end up filing for bankruptcy. But even if the Archdiocese's strategy succeeds legally, I can't see how it's worth the cost in scandal and demoralization.


Update: Denise G. Callahan's report in the Wisconsin Law Journal

Social Security is not broken, so don't fix it

Or is Fr. John S. Rausch saying "why fix the roof when it ain't rainin'?"
If the economy grows at a more realistic 2.4 percent annual rate, the increase in real output and real incomes will insure the trust fund never going to zero. --Catholic Peace Voice March/April 2005

But what if future growth is less than projected?


For example, the Retirement Fund for Religious Facts and FAQs May 2004 has this in the Q and A.

If religious institutes are independent, why does the church co-sponsor this campaign?
Even though they were established independently, religious institutes gave incalculable service to the church. They educated millions, founded hospitals, and re-invested in their ministries. They expected that aging members would be cared for by new members. However, during the 1960s, membership began to decline ...

I've noticed bishops and priests never explain why the Church's own experience of the effects of less than projected numbers on a kind of social insurance is irrelevant to the social security debate.

Another Sort of Learning

A collection of works by James V. Schall, S. J.
(via Online Books Page)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Redefining the Center -- I

When I post links to Fr. Richard McBrien's column, it tends to draw comments wondering why it's run in the Catholic Herald, our Archdiocese's weekly newspaper.


This July 4, 2005 column by Fr. Richard McBrien ran in the Catholic Herald of July 7th. His subject is how to properly determine who is on the right, center and left in the Church. Summing up, he says

Catholics of the center-left and the center-right differ only on the pace of change and the details of implementation. The center-left, for example, favors a much quicker time-line for a change in the discipline of clerical celibacy and in the Church's official stance on the ordination of women.

When Fr. David Cooper, pastor of St. Matthias Church, allowed a prayer service for women's ordination there, Archbishop Dolan was reportedly upset. His spokesman said,
"The archbishop expressed his surprise and disappointment that an organization in direct opposition to the defined teaching of the church would be welcome at one of our parishes. He (later) noted his disapproval of what was reported to have gone on at the service."

Fr. Cooper was forced to apologize.


As I noted, Fr. Cooper still publicly supports the ordination of women. He says he apologized only to keep his job. So it appears Archbishop Dolan does not demand religious assent to Church teaching of our priests, or even the outward appearance of such assent. All that is required is that their support for dissent be kept out of the papers.


It does seem inconsistent for him to require even that of our priests and yet also publish Fr. McBrien's support for dissent in the Catholic Herald.

Monday, July 11, 2005

No Mass Today

Nothing new for members of our parish, but yesterday our former pastor left Dad29 a bit taken aback by the liturgy of the Aikenite Rite.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Court's ruling looms large on clergy abuse payouts


Tom Heinen begins this article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by contrasting the total of upcoming clergy sexual abuse settlements by the Diocsese of Covington, Kentucky ($120 million), and the adjoining Archdiocese of Cincinnati ($3.2 million). The smaller payment in Ohio is due to more stringent requirements in its law, similar to requirements the Wisconsin Supreme Court may relax in a decision expected shortly. So how did the Archdiocese of Milwaukee get into this position?
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, 55, who arrived in 2002, apologized for the church at group listening sessions and met privately with victims. In late 2003, he announced that he was setting up about a $4 million settlement fund from the planned sale of properties and had commissioned an independent dispute resolution system for individual mediation.


That did not include selling the Cousins Center, which houses archdiocesan offices in St. Francis.


I continue to wonder how the Cousins Center could be more important than settling those claims. And if it is an essential facility (hard as that is to believe after actually being in the place), presumably it could have been mortgaged and the proceeds added to the settlement pool.
Dolan also agreed to group mediation with about 70 victims. Their representatives say they offered to settle for $8 million to $25 million before sessions broke off on March 8, 2004.

Usually that means all the claims could have been settled for between $4 million and $8 million. Presumably the Cousins Center is worth something, maybe enough to have bridged that gap.
The archdiocese has spent more than $4 million, archdiocesan spokeswoman Kathleen Hohl said. Properties sold for more than expected, and some remain to be sold, she added.


As of May 20, the archdiocese had spent $4,890,760 on mediation agreements and therapy through the independent mediation system, she said.


Not included is how much our Archdiocese has spent on legal fees and other litigation costs in the interim.


In what certainly sounds like more hardball by our Archdiocese, Peter Isely of the local chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) sent a press release yesterday, "Dolan wants judge to publicize names, addresses of clergy child sex abuse victims."

This week, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, in an unprecedented legal move, petitioned Judge Guolee of Milwaukee County to make public the names and addresses of victims of notorious pedophile priest Fr. Siegfried Widera in a current fraud lawsuit filed against the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Victims were permitted by the court to file as John Does, which is customary for sexual assault cases.


Court documents show that Fr. Widera, who committed suicide in 2003 in Mexico while fleeing federal authorities for over 40 counts of child sexual abuse in Wisconsin, was known by church officials of the Milwaukee archdiocese to have raped and molested children, even after an earlier conviction in Wisconsin for child abuse. Archbishop Weakland secretly transferred Widera to a California diocese where he continued to assault children.


While I can't say this in every area, in his handling of these cases Archbishop Dolan reminds me of Archbishop Weakland.


Update: FWIW, I'm hearing that it's believed our Archdiocese has so far spent about a half million dollars defending the cases pending in California and about a quarter million dollars defending the pending cases in Wisconsin. In the group mediation, about a third of the cases involved religious order priests. If the orders paid one-third of the victim group's $8 million demand, our Archdiocese would owe a $5 1/3 million balance. And that assumes that was the victim group's bottom line demand, which doesn't appear certain.


An effort by our Archdiocese to force disclosure of alleged victims names would seem particularly egregious given how narrowly it has interpreted its own commitment to release names of perpetrator priests.


I can imagine a basis for our Archdiocese asking for disclosure, in that the claim is for fraud, not sexual abuse. I cannot imagine it actually taking that position, though, because the alleged fraud was failing to disclose a priest's prior sexual abuse and that this lead to the eventual victim unknowingly being subject to abuse by that priest.


Update 2: In a July 11, 2005 press release, Peter Isely for SNAP reports that Judge Guolee denied the motion to disclose the names of the plaintiffs, and that the Supreme Court's decision is expected to be released on Wednesday, July 13th.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Is It Time to Elect Bishops Again?

So asked this May 2005 New Oxford Review article.


I keep hearing talk of married clergy for the Catholic Church, too.


And if fixed, renewable terms are good for priests, there might be an argument that they're good for bishops, too.


This all comes too late for a Rembert Weakland/Tommy Thompson re-election matchup locally.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Dear Mr. Geldof,

An open letter at AdBusters makes me wonder where clichebusters are when we need them.
... kudos ... respond adequately to our collective demands ... And yet we cannot help but be worried ... missed some golden opportunities ... distraction from the real issue ... total economic paradigm shift ... back to the drawing board ... a band-aid solution ... gap between the rich and poor ... raise the stakes ... root causes ... pressing ecological and political problems we face today.

NAPM convention held in Milwaukee


Fr. J. Michael Joncas addressed the National Pastoral Musicians Conference June 29. You might have noticed his name in the hymnal.
"We spend most of our time worrying about the tones we produce, not grappling with the texts we sing," said Fr. Joncas, an associate professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. "People will ask questions about the texts we sing, not about the notes we sing."

Like at our parish, where one of a Sunday's readings from the Bible will talk about kneeling, one of the hymns will be about kneeling, and so I'd ask why we don't have kneeling. Neither I, nor anyone else as far as I could tell, ever got an actual answer to that question. Finally Archbishop Dolan came for a confession service, and apparently decided against trying to have us kneel on the kneeler-less sloping floor of our auditorium-style church, even with kneeling in the printed guide to the service. After that, it hasn't seemed like there was much point taking the issue from the parish to the archdiocese, should I have otherwise been so inclined.
This liking or disliking can vary from person to person, through their own musical tastes and past experiences with music in the Mass. A parish must find out through experience what its parishioners prefer.


"Through experience, we will find out which form actually leads our parish into common prayer," said Fr. Joncas.


I can't recall seeing any indication that lack of results ever caused any liturgical decision to be reconsidered.


Update: Commentator Dad29's more musically informed post, which in turn drew a post at Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director.

And this is why they did it


Amir Taheri, "an Iranian commentator on Middle Eastern affairs," explains.
Moments after yesterday's attacks my telephone was buzzing with requests for interviews with one recurring question: but what do they want? That reminded me of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker, who was shot by an Islamist assassin on his way to work in Amsterdam last November. According to witnesses, Van Gogh begged for mercy and tried to reason with his assailant. "Surely we can discuss this," he kept saying as the shots kept coming. "Let us talk it over."


Van Gogh, who had angered Islamists with his documentary about the mistreatment of women in Islam, was reacting like BBC reporters did yesterday, assuming that the man who was killing him may have some reasonable demands which could be discussed in a calm, democratic atmosphere.


But sorry, old chaps, you are dealing with an enemy that does not want anything specific, and cannot be talked back into reason through anger management or round-table discussions. Or, rather, this enemy does want something specific: to take full control of your lives, dictate every single move you make round the clock and, if you dare resist, he will feel it his divine duty to kill you.


The Times (London) July 8, 2005
(via Get Religion

The Internet Archive at The Internet Archive

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Obession just a substitute for void

Philip Chard writes in his Out of My Mind column
No degree of wealth can satiate the "hunger" that drives this kind of fixation. The deep-seated purpose of money obsession is not to achieve greater financial security, although it may seem so on the surface. Rather, it is to fill a spiritual void.


"What would your mind be occupied with if it wasn't obsessing about sex?" I asked the woman in question.


"I have no idea," she replied.


How aptly put. For her and many others who suffer obsessions, keeping one's mind occupied is the method to their madness.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 5, 2005


I've wondered if this is the modern form of sloth. People avoid taking on the essential task not by idleness but by busyness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

In the American empire, Christians are akin to the Pharisees of Jesus' time

So who's akin to Jesus? Scott Wright's modesty keeps him from quite spelling out it out in the Catholic Peace Voice of March/April 2005.
Last September, I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania . After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. "Now let me get this straight," I said. "Jesus says, 'Blessed are the peacemakers,' which means he does not say, 'Blessed are the warmakers,' which means, the warmakers are not blessed, which means warmakers are cursed, which means, if you want to follow the nonviolent Jesus you have to work for peace, which means, we all have to resist this horrific, evil war on the people of Iraq."


With that, the place exploded, and 500 students stormed out. The rest of them then started chanting, "Bush! Bush! Bush!" So much for my speech. Not to mention the Beatitudes.


Now let me get this straight. If these students were commanded to honor their fathers and mothers, then by Mr. Wright's line of argument, they were not commanded to honor anyone else, which means they were commanded to dishonor him. Which means, if they wanted to obey that commandment, they had to heckle him.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Promessa is made out of people! People!

(via Stanley Kurtz at The Corner)

Monday, July 4, 2005

America's neo-conservative world supremacists will fail

So says the headline, but the once-burned twice-shy Eric Hobsbawm hedges.
It is reasonably certain that the project will fail.

The Guardian June 25, 2005

Friday, July 1, 2005

Rexroth on Religion and Psychology