Friday, November 30, 2007

Reading Rat November 2007

On authors and works in my recommended reading:

Job Wears Prada by Eve Tushnet, review of The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt, National Review, November 30, 2007

The Victorian Conspiracy of Cant by Kenneth Rexroth, review of The Victorian Temper by Jerome Buckley, The New Republic, December 3, 1951, at Bureau of Public Secrets

Also of interest:

Finding Old Web Pages, Search Engine Showdown
(via WisBlawg)

To Read or Not to Read by Garin K. Hovannisian, review of How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard, National Review, November 9, 2007

Carrying the Cross in a Litigious Culture

In the difficulties for the Church resulting from the sexual abuse of children by priests, who was Satan's tool, the priests and their bishops, or the victims' lawyers?

Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, in this Homily for the Red Mass [pdf] in Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 15, 2007, says it's the lawyers.

P.S. Notice how he attempts this shift of blame.
There have been roughly three phases in our culture’s handling of allegations of sexual misconduct with minors over the past half-century or so.

To make his point his reference to "our culture" would have to refer to American culture generally. It does not.
Prior to 1960, sexual misconduct with minors was viewed primarily as a moral failure, for which penance, absolution and a firm purpose of amendment not to sin again were the prescribed remedies.

If irate parents took a complaint about a child molesting priest to the cops, the priest would have been prosecuted. It's when they took their complaint to the bishop that they encountered this culture. Notice how the "prescribed remedies" don't include any steps to monitor the priest's firm purpose of amendment.
From 1960 to roughly 1990, the approach was primarily therapeutic, for which treatment was the apparent solution, after which offenders were often deemed rehabilitated and recommended for return to ministry.

Once again, it's in whatever culture the bishops and priests inhabited where this occurred, not the culture that abused children and their parents knew. And once again, there's not ongoing responsibility on the bishop. The only difference is the offending priests now receive absolution from the shrinks.
Since 1990, the approach has been primarily litigious, seeking monetary settlements and damages for alleged wrongs.

Could it be this resulted from bishops not taking on the responsibility to keep their priests from reoffending? Not in Bishop Paprocki's culture.

Former minister speaks on free thought

Last Saturday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Religion Briefing reported that tomorrow
Dan Barker, co-president of the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, will speak at a meeting of the Southeast Wisconsin Free Thinkers (SWiFT)...

In case you thought apostasy would save you from bad acronyms. And that's not all.
...Barker, a former minister and composer of religious music who became an atheist, also will perform some of his contemporary free-thought songs.

It won't save you from bad religion-themed music, either.

Update: The December 1st Religion briefs reported,
The Freedom From Religion Foundation's meeting at 1 p.m. today has been canceled because foul weather is forecast.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

From the bones of a mid-century dud, a gleaming gem arises

The retiring Whitney Gould's cube-of-the-month is a repeat winner,
the railroad depot, now the "Milwaukee Intermodal Station," [jpg] has had a $16.9 million makeover [slideshow]

Update: Impenetrable Architecture: New atrium for Amtrak, by Aisha Motlani, Shepherd Express, December 27, 2007

Be thankful for supernatural blessings

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our Milwaukee Catholic Herald" for November 22, 2007, Thanksgiving Day.
The week before last I had a very rewarding experience: I preached a five-day retreat for 30 priests of the archdiocese.

Taken out of his book?
I propose one of the reasons priests stumble and fall, or why they shrivel up into careless, crabby, comfortable, lazy bachelors, has little to do with vocation but everything to do with faith! (p. 19)

...cultivate friendships with salt-of-the-earth laypeople who help you keep your feet on the ground. ... every Sunday they take from what they need, not from the extra but from the essential, and put that money in the envelope to support the Church they love so we priests can live high on the hog and complain about the tough life we have. (p. 196)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Church Documents: Milwaukee

See Church Documents and Church Documents: U.S.

"I am with you all days...": Archbishop Dolan’s Response to Vision 21: the 2009 Plan for the Future, January 27, 2009

2007-2008 Archdiocese of Milwaukee Financial Statement, November 14, 2008

Annual Update to the Faithful of Southeastern Wisconsin Regarding the Archdiocesan Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy, September 2008

2008 Vision 21 Final Recommendations to the Archbishop, June 2008

Catholic Schools Strategic Education Plan, May 2008

2006-2007 Archdiocese of Milwaukee Financial Statements, January 30, 2008

Planning Commission Reports 2006-07 [parishes by district]
District 1 Kenosha County east of I-94
District 2 Racine County east of I-94
District 3 Walworth County and Kenosha & Racine Counties west of I-94
District 4 Waukesha County East
District 5 Waukesha County West
District 6 Washington County
District 7 Dodge County
District 8 Fond du Lac County
District 9 Sheboygan County
District 10 Ozaukee County
District 11 Milwaukee County-Far North
District 12 Milwaukee County-Central Northwest
District 13 Milwaukee County – Near north and lower eastside
District 14 Milwaukee County, near south side
District 15 Milwaukee County, far southeast side
District 16 Milwaukee County, southwest

Thoughts and Ponderings - No. 3 by Fr. Jim Connell, Vicar for Planning, December 19, 2007, Posted 01/02/08

Thoughts and Ponderings - No.2 (Part – II) by Fr. Jim Connell, Vicar for Planning, December 12, 2007, Posted 01/02/08

Thoughts and Ponderings - No.2 (Part – I) by Fr. Jim Connell, Vicar for Planning, December 3, 2007, Posted 01/02/08

Thoughts and Ponderings - No.1 by Fr. Jim Connell, Vicar for Planning, November 16, 2007, Posted 01/02/08

Principles and Guidelines to Organize People and Activities in Service to the Mission of the Church Posted 01/02/08

2008 Vision 21 Committee Updated 01/02/08

Discussion Questions for Town Hall Meetings, Vision: 21st Century Planning

Discussion Questions for District Meetings, Vision: 21st Century Planning

Vicar for Planning, Prepared by Reverend James Connell on August 10, 2007, Revised by Very Reverend James Connell on August 25, 2007, Revised by Very Reverend James Connell on September 10, 2007, Vision: 21st Century Planning

The Annual Update to the Faithful of Southeastern Wisconsin Regarding the Archdiocesan Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy, September 2007

Energizing Our Vibrancy By Father Jim Connell, Discussion Draft July 16, 2007, Vision: 21st Century Planning

Catholic Education Plan, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, November 2006 (draft)

The Annual Update to the Faithful of Southeastern Wisconsin Regarding the Archdiocesan Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy, September 2006

2006 Implementation Commission Responses [by district], Archdiocese of Milwaukee Planning

2005 Implementation Commission Responses [by district], Archdiocese of Milwaukee Planning

2004 District Directives [by District], Archdiocese of Milwaukee Planning

Ad Limina Review by Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of Milwaukee, To Live Is Christ February 2004

Are the Children Our Enemy? Background for the Catholic Response to the Crisis in Iraq [15 pp. pdf] (posted November 30, 2001)

Eucharist Without Walls, Part II: A Pastoral Letter by Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., Archbishop of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, First Sunday of Advent, November 28, 1999

Eucharist Without Walls: A Vision of the Church for the Year 2000. A Pastoral Letter by Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., Archbishop of Milwaukee, and Richard J. Sklba, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 30, First Sunday of Advent, 1997

History by Rev. Steven M. Avella
"The growing number of Catholics in the Wisconsin territory led the bishops of the Fifth Provincial Council of Baltimore to petition the Holy See in May, 1843 for the erection of a new diocese in Wisconsin. On November 28, 1843, Pope Gregory XVI issued the decree In Suprema Militantis, officially erecting the new diocese and designating Milwaukee (not Prairie du Chien or Green Bay) as its headquarters. John Martin Henni, a Swiss-born priest of the Diocese of Cincinnati was chosen its first bishop."

Black Catholic Summit celebrates history, sets goals

Karen Mahoney, special to "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 15, 2007, reported participants had a number of ideas, many of which would, of course, cost some money.
Listening and responding to the aspirations of the group, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan was encouraging, but candid when asked about resources to fund lectures, ministerial development programs and additional education.

"I serve you best if I am blunt with you," said a somber Archbishop Dolan. "Your questions seemed predicated by the assumption that the archdiocese has a lot of money. I have to tell you that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is decimated. We have no money; we have a small staff and we aren't all in the best of shape either. I would be fibbing if I told you I'd give you funds, but I promised you I would be honest."

Decimated might understate the damage.

Dad29 has said the upcoming Capital Campaign is actually a recapitalization. Our Archbishop makes this explicit.
The archbishop assured the participants that once funds from the Faith in Our Future capital campaign begins to replenish the diocese, money would be set aside for various black ministries.

How about like this: 1. "more evangelization in black communities".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tri-county Baptist Church

This local church hung a Christmas Card on my door. It's not a religious card, but attached is an invitation to their December 9th music program and December 15th outdoor live nativity, citation of Romans 3:10, Romans 6:23a, John 3:16, and Romans 10:13 in answer to "Do you know for sure if you died today you would go to Heaven?" and finally an invitation to their (worship) services.

I assume I shouldn't interpret their "outdoor live nativity" and "depicting Jesus birth" literally.


Sunday Mass should be summit of week

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, chose the Mass as his theme in light of the then-upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
The very word Eucharist means, as you probably know, thanksgiving. Simply put, the Mass, the Eucharist, is the most sacred, effective, powerful way we creatures can praise our astoundingly gracious Lord, our Father who lavishes countless gifts upon us.

Perhaps resulting in our associating Thanksgiving Day with the hymn We Gather Together, even if we gather, not at church, but at a relative's house. I've heard it suggested that Thanksgiving Day be made a holy day of obligation, but it might better serve as a day for a return to some customary religious observance in the home.

While leading a pilgrimage to Ireland, Archbishop Dolan struck up a conversation with an innkeeper over drinks. (Surely there must be some evangelization potential in "The Religion with a Cocktail Hour".) The Irish in Ireland have become somewhat estranged from the Church. Ireland's booming economy has drawn many recent migrants from Poland. Apparently Poles work in many of the same jobs in Ireland that we often see Mexicans working at here, like hotel housekeeping. The innkeeper contrasted the Poles more fervent faith with that of the native Irish.
"Their example got me back to church. I owe them not only my earthly prosperity, but, now, the health of my soul."

I have to wonder, though, if some of the Poles aren't drawn away from the Church by their lapsed Catholic surroundings.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wissman rushes in where even fools fear to tread

The print edition, but not the online edition, of the St. Joseph Foundation's November 9, 2007 Christifidelis newsletter includes the regular "Straws in the Wind" feature.

The worst...straw...ever is by Father Patrick Wissman of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Bolivar, Missouri. In the parish's September 23, 2007 bulletin, Father offered one of his "observations", this on Pope Benedict's expanded permission to use the older Latin Mass.
...I fault the use [of] Latin as partly responsible for the rise and success of Hitler and his neo-pagan mythology which was obviously the religion he was supporting and actually managed to capture the German imagination. I say the people, because of Latin never [were] confronted by the gospel. The Mass and the sacraments never really reached deep into the soul. ...

It's a veritable Godwin's Instruction for the Roman Missal.

The Other Health Crisis

In Commonweal, November 23, 2007, Father Paul Stanosz, pastor of St. James Church, Franklin [stats D15 14th/18 30%], starts with the financial state of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, then goes on to the state of its presbyterate.
Among priests, meanwhile, there is much talk of high stress, poor health, and low morale.

He could have stopped after saying "Among priests, meanwhile, there is much talk". For example,
At the archdiocese’s spring assembly of priests last May, I heard a lot of talk about how the limitations of canon law and parish structures add to the administrative burden and stress experienced by priests.

Continuing our priests' unbroken streak of extrospection.
There was a keen sense of the many pitfalls and the growing personnel crisis within the priesthood, and of the polarization that exists between recently ordained and long-time priests-what some call JPII priests and Vatican II priests, respectively.

After some meetings of the local priests union, he approached Archbishop Dolan with these issues, and was appointed to the Wellness Committee.
The committee meetings made clear that while there are no easy solutions to the malaise afflicting priests today-as a group we struggled even to name the problem and its causes-certain facts must be acknowledged if progress is to be made.

A diagnosis of wallowing in self-pity comes to mind. He says, first, that bishops should acknowledge the problem.
At a recent Milwaukee Council of Priests meeting, the vicar for clergy announced that "the wheels are falling off the wagons," and that he was overwhelmed with the problems of priests under fifty years of age.

Instead of Vicar for Clergy, why not title him the MetaMope?
Many people are afraid that speaking about the problem will affect vocational recruitment.

You too can have a career in hand-wringing!
In any case, simply ordaining more priests will not resolve the malaise.

Apparently we'd have to also eliminate the "Vatican II priests", who Father Stanosz is unwittingly describing as a disease vector.
Bishops in recent years have been too quick to fill seminaries with fervent men who may or may not have genuine vocations. As a result, our seminaries now house a new breed of unsuitable candidates, men with poor relational and leadership skills.

Wouldn't the new priests need only keep their wheels on to be an improvement? Running down the MAPA roster, I don't see anyone who I've heard produced measurably improved results from superior relational and leadership skills.
Ordained into a U.S. church that is losing its vitality, these men often seek to turn back the clock by embracing disciplines and devotional practices that flourished in the middle of the last century.

Back then, they knew how to tighten the lug nuts. I recall SRO crowds at Sunday Mass and a thousand kids in the parish school. Fr. Stanosz goes on to tell us more about his inferiors coming out of the seminary these days.
All too frequently these men are filled with a sense of their own sacred status, and are prone to conflict with the laity and fellow priests.

I'm inclined to give them a try after decades of being jerked around by "Vatican II priests" on liturgical and other issues.
Such men, my research suggests, are more likely to become unhappy and disgruntled when their sense of chosenness and elevated status no longer sustains them through the more prosaic ups and downs of the priesthood.

How much worse can they be after he's described "Vatican II priests" like candidates for a suicide watch?
Worse still, their unhappiness often leads priests to break their vows of celibacy or fall into addictive behaviors.

Didn't some of our "Vatican II priests" engage in some activities that were a factor in our Archdiocese's straitened circumstances?

He sees another problem in priests becoming pastors after only a few years as associates (though that's a problem "simply ordaining more priests" would help alleviate).
They have little opportunity to learn about administration.

If more formal training in parish administration can't be fit into pre-ordination training, it could be done post-ordination in connection with the on-the-job training as associate pastors. Some "Vatican II priests" are stressed because they don't have administrative skills, like delegating, so associates won't learn it from them. It can't be left to even an increased continuing education program.

Father Stanosz then goes on to analyze the decline of the Church in the U.S. over the last forty years in terms of trends and forces beyond control.
In Milwaukee, archdiocesan officials often mandate well-intentioned programs to slow the drift away from the church. Parish priests, pushed by diocesan officials to implement these new programs, feel frustrated when the end result is the same: the people aren’t filling up the pews or supporting the church financially.

Could a problem in implementing such programs be that people in the pews can tell Father's heart isn't in it?
And while I doubt that a return to preconciliar practices would reenergize the church and halt its decline, neither am I convinced that the progressives’ agenda-women’s ordination, married clergy, same-sex unions, the easing of divorce restrictions, and the acceptance of abortion under certain circumstances-would revive moribund parishes and bring a return to Sunday Mass. One widely shared perception is that it is precisely those mainline Protestant denominations that have embraced such positions that face the steepest declines in membership, while strict groups such as Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and Mormons continue to grow rapidly.

Fr. Stanosz draws no lesson for the Catholic Church from the preceding two sentences. His immediate prescription is lowered expectations, starting with guess who.
I’ll learn to say “no” when diocesan officials ask me to take a third, fourth, or fifth parish.

How about if they ask him to serve the people of those parishes? If he still says no, can he be asked retroactively about the second and first?
I’m not advocating apathy in the face of decline; I’m merely recognizing that the decline began before me and will continue after me.

Or, as Homer Simpson would say, it was like that when I got here.
And so I anticipate ministering to a shrinking Catholic flock as I grow old.

That is, he anticipates collecting his pay for an ever-decreasing work load. And he says it in an article for publication. At least anyone on the payroll at my parish who shares this sentiment isn't publishing it in Commonweal. Further, he anticipates decline even though he's pastor of a parish in one of Wisconsin's fastest-growing areas. In contrast, his Parish History at its website says,
2004 our present Pastor Fr. Paul Stanosz was assigned to St. James. Today we celebrate unity, growth, and disipleship [sic] as we move forward to celebrate our 150th Anniversary.

Growth? Must have been his Pastor Jekyll rather than his Commonweal Hyde at that meeting.
Embracing this reality decreases my anxiety, sharpens my vision, makes my expectations more realistic, and makes my spirit less likely to burn out; it leads me to care for my health, so that I will be able to care for those entrusted to me.

As long as they are declining in number.

There are no official Archdiocese of Milwaukee standings for published presbyteral mopery. There are regular contenders in the MAPA minutes. Rev. Bryan N. Massingale probably holds the record for his See, I Am Doing Something New! Prophetic Ministry for a Church in Transition, presented a the 20th Annual Spring Assembly of Priests. In it, he proposed the image of Church in hospice. Fr. Stanosz later used "Church in Hospice" as the title of his weblog. Alas, he deleted his blog after a few weeks of posting, perhaps when he had a fuller understanding of what "Comment" entailed. With this Commonweal piece, though, he may be back in contention.

P.S. Cathleen Kaveny post and comments at dotCommonweal.

Update: The Cautionary End of the Spirit of Vatican II by Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, January 17, 2008
(via Dad29)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weekly TV program anchors evangelization effort

Cheri Mantz reported in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald November 15, 2007. Catholic Knights Insurance was looking to sponsor a television show. Mike Stivoric, senior vice president, was discussing this with local radio veteran and television personality Bob Dolan. They came up with a television show featuring Bob's brother Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
The show is part of the larger Living Our Faith evangelization campaign, which, according to its coordinators, encourages people to "meet Christ, know Christ and live Christ." The archdiocese was not planning to incorporate a television show into its campaign, but those involved with the project agree that everything fell into place. The show, with that same title, premieres December 1st.

My experience has been that the planning processes in our Archdiocesan usually crush innovation and initiative, so it might be a good sign that even something as conventional as a television show survived or avoided this.
Each episode of "Living Our Faith" will feature four segments. It will begin with a guest interviewed by Bob and the archbishop, a feature story that usually involves some field reporting, an "Ask the Archbishop" segment where Archbishop Dolan answers questions submitted via e-mail, and closes with reflections by the archbishop.

Everyone's very, very complimentary of our Archbishop's suitability for television. He's comes across well before a congregation or audience, and was enjoyable as a guest on his brother's radio show. I expect he'll have to be careful not to come on too strong for TV. (He does have the benefit of working up a presentation [audio] on Archbishop Fulton Sheen.)

Even with production crew cutting their pay, the show will cost $1,500 per half-hour episode, more when there is any location work.

Archdiocesan communications director Kathleen Hohl says "it's going to knock your socks off".
I want people to be proud to be Catholic. If I can ignite something in people who say, 'I know I was missing something, I need to get back to Mass, I need to get back to my roots,' then we've done our job. If it triggers someone that already is a regular Mass attendee and it helps them to live their faith more fully and richly, then we've done our job.

I'd say if viewership goes up over time, then they've done their job. As a hedge against expectations, Ms. Hohl went on,
"If Mass attendance increases, that's great," Hohl continued. "But if even one person's faith life is enriched, we've done our job. How do we measure that? ..."

I'd measure it against what else might have been done with $1,500 plus per week.

The show airs Saturday's at 11 a.m. from December 1st through 29th, 2007, then switches to noon January 5th through March 22nd, 2008 on WISN-TV Channel 12.

At our Archdiocese's website, Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #1
Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan welcomes Ann and Jeanna Giese to this week's program. Jeanna is the first person in the world known to survive rabies without a vaccination. She and her mother, Ann, share the role their faith has played in her remarkable recovery.

In addition to WISN 12,
The program also is available on Time Warner Cable's Wisconsin on Demand, Channel 1111.

The blurb concludes,
Visit for more information.

but there's no more information there as of now. Stay tuned?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving from the Pastor's Desk

His column from St. Al's November 18, 2007 bulletin [5 pp. pdf (p. 4)] looked forward to Thanksgiving Day, and went on,
I am thankful for the 2000 of us who come to worship each Sunday. I am hopeful that each will invite a family member or friend to come with them to Mass, so next year we can be thankful for the 4000 who have come to worship.

The most recent published statistics had St. Al's with 27% (2,365/8,817) of parishioners at Mass, worst in our district. Regular readers might recall my recounting that when I went through discernment for our Parish Council in May of 1996, improving mass attendance the very issue I raised. That suggestion landed with a thud that probably still echoes through our rather empty "worship space". I learned that the Pastoral Staff was then, overall, afraid more people would mean more work and I see nothing to indicate there's been a change of heart since.

The problem with inviting people to Mass at St. Al's is the possibility of questions from visitors for which we have no good answers. At the new pastor's "town hall" meeting on liturgy, a couple of parishioners asked for more reverence at Mass, specifically asking the pastor to genuflect at the Consecration. He conceded that's what the rubrics required, but said he would not. He went on to give a brief course of gentle ridicule of kneeling, which included him shuffling around on his knees.

His theme was that St. Al's is "a shining light" for liturgy, and, if he means like the one warning of a reef, I agree.

Holy rollers, and other news

News first, then upcoming events

Vocation Teams Workshop 2007
slideshow includes the God Squad VW Beetle

Religion Briefing
From the Nov. 24, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Faith-based music reflects artist's faith-based life
Gary Clausing lives what he sings, by Maryangela Layman Roman, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 22, 2007

Students learn at the foot of Packer kicker
[Mason] Crosby speaks of dreams, goals at Plymouth school, by Cheri Mantz, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 22, 2007

Coach puts faith at heart of football program
For Bob Hyland, it's not winning at all costs, by Maryangela Layman Roman, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 22, 2007

Marking an Anniversary
Father Ron Rolheiser's 25th year as a columnist, with "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald (November 22, 2007) among the "60 papers in a dozen countries" to carry it.

On Heaven, Celibacy, and Chocolate Sundaes [5 pp. pdf]
Homily, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 11th, 2007, by Father Nathan Reesman, St. Mary’s Visitation Parish [stats D4 11th/16 33%]

Prayer Service for Peace
Thursday, November 29, 7pm at St. Stephen's Parish [stats D15 2nd/18 48%]

Milwaukee CUF Newsletter Oct.-Nov. 2007 [4 pp. pdf]
"the recipient of the Twentieth Annual Msgr. Alphonse S. Popek Award will be Father John Corapi, SOLT."


Friday, November 23, 2007

Franklin Historical Society

Now on-line, including a brief history and photos of some preserved historic buildings.


Portraits of Clergy Sex Abuse

A photo essay by Nina Berman at AlterNet, November 1, 2007, with her accompanying interview of David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). I don't agree with all his policy prescriptions, extending statutes of limitations for example, but he has pegged a symptom.
No bishop takes fewer vacations, eats fewer restaurant meals, does his own laundry, or risks losing his prestigious job because of the ongoing clergy sex abuse and cover-up scandal.

That alone would constitute moral hazard. It's a step beyond when the U.S. Bishops regard diocesan bankruptcy as a plus.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

New Banners from OCP

Fr. Tim at the Spirit of Vatican 2 Catholic Faith Community with the latest from Oregon Catholic Press, just in time for a Thanksgiving Day Mass.

But seriously, OCP publishes the Breaking Bread annual missal which St. Al's subscribes to at a cost of several thousand dollars a year. It includes an Order of Worship that serves as a handy guide to what our parish Masses would be like if they followed the GIRM.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The first Christmas Card of 2007

You might recall that my inquiry to Catholic Charities of Milwaukee about where the money might be going got a prompt who wants to know reply. Today's mail brought a (pre-Advent!) Christmas card from them, with an enclosed fund solicitation. They take several major credit cards, monthly EFT from checking or savings accounts, or will bill on periodic pledges. Once again, I could give without stating an affilation or reason, even though they demanded that information before they would answer my question.

P.S. The Christmas Card includes a long list of ministries. Toward the bottom are
Just Faith Formational Workshops ... Catholic Campaign for Human Development ... Parish Social Ministry Support, Consultation and Coordination

I sometimes hear and read people who claim to be advocating Church teaching on social justice strictly distinguish justice and charity, but they don't appear to be distinguished by Catholic Charities.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Priesthood, the true pursuit of happiness

Or the pursuit of true happiness, according to Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the Herald of Hope column in the August 23, 2007 issue of our Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
St. Thomas [Aquinas] was quick to point out, of course, that happiness is not the same as pleasure. In fact, the Angelic Doctor observed that one of the ways we humans get into big trouble is by confusing the two.

As another philosopher explained.
There is, on the one hand, the purely psychological meaning of "happiness" when that word is used to refer to the satisfaction or contentment an individual feels in getting what is wanted. ...

In its ethical or moral meaning, the word "happiness" refers to a life well lived, a whole life that is morally good because it is the product of virtue (or the habit of right desire) accompanied by the blessings of good fortune. ...

--Mortimer J. Adler, Adler's Philosophical Dictionary (1995) pp. 103-104

Archbishop Dolan goes on
God made us for happiness, now, and in eternity.

That would be the moral, not the psychological meaning. He then goes on to cite studies of job satisfaction.
the happiest and most satisfied of all American workers? Buckle your seatbelts: Clergy!

Happy in which sense?
A couple of years ago, the Los Angeles Times reported the same finding: 92 percent of priests are happy, and would do it all over if they were asked to choose a vocation again.

Which appears, at least, to mean happy in the moral sense.
Everybody talks about the few that leave; nobody talks about the big majority who happily stay.

This article had 10-15% leaving within five years; still a minority, but more than a few. Might be interesting to see what seminarians have been taught over the years about the nature of happiness.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Paten medicine

In an aside in a comment at Sprawled Out, John Michlig reminisces.
(I speak from experiencing 12 years of Catholic schooling as well as a seven-year stint as alter boy for the prestigious 10am Sunday Mass at St. Mike’s. I’m also recognized as the only St. Mike’s alter boy to record TWO successful sacramental host "catches" on my platen during a single Eucharistic distribution.)

That's more orthodox bragging than the altar boys who, when friends were on the other side of the communion rail, would "accidentally" give them a paten chop to the Adam's apple.

P.S. If that was this St. Mike's, it succinctly illustrates trends in church archtecture.

Singing the Mass

Susan Benofy in Adoremus Bulletin explores how we wound up with Elvis Movie liturgies (dialog, dialog, dialog, Number! dialog, dialog, dialog, Number!)
Given the overwhelming influence of liturgical experts who believed that they were to be "shapers" of a new liturgy, it is hardly surprising, that now — four decades later — most people believe, incorrectly, that singing vernacular hymns at Mass was a "reform" expressly intended by the Council.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Florentine's 'Widow' is ripe for fun

Pretty. Long.

Tom Strini in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews the Florentine Opera Company's production of Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Peace calls wager, and other news

News first, then upcoming events

Religion Briefing
From the Nov. 17, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Capitol Update, November 16, 2007 [2 pp. pdf]
Wisconsin Catholic Conference
1. WCC Supports Criminalizing Human Trafficking
2. New Bills of Interest:
SB-309 and AB-569 Bans local ordinances, resolutions and policies that prohibit immigration status inquiries and reports to the federal government about the presence of illegal aliens; authorizes a private right of action.
SB-310 Changes affecting anatomical gifts.
SB-321 and AB-576 Criteria for determining indigency for purposes of representation by the State Public Defender.
AB-574 Regulates payday loans.

Vigil and Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)
- November 16-18, 2007

Raffle for Resistance
The War Resisters League 19th Annual, deadline November 22, 2007


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Reflection on the Chicago Rally

It's tempting to frame this as Frank Pauc at your home for the hits of the sixties, Catholics for Peace and Justice.
During the march to the Federal Plaza, somebody started playing the song "For What it's Worth" from Buffalo Springfield. The song is nearly forty years old, but it kind of set the tone for my thoughts and feelings during the demonstration.

Then, along the way,

...A thousand people in the street,
Singing songs and carrying signs,
Mostly say "Hurray for our side"

"Hurray for our side...": that bothers me. ...

Favre calls a time out

The Peter Favre Forum is named not for a relative of Brett but for a member of the company of St. Ignatius Loyola.
Directed by local business executives and co-sponsored by the Marquette University College of Business Administration and Saint Francis Seminary, the forum unites business leaders and offers presentations by well-known authors, catechists and speakers for monthly morning meetings.

Or did, as explained in the posted letter.
Over the past five years, attendance has decreased from an average of 80 to below 50. Each year, the Executive Committee of the Forum discusses how to increase attendance by attracting quality speakers, especially for younger working adults.

So many memories. The speaker who called the closing of most of Milwaukee's inner city parishes a "scandal". Laicized bishop James "Lucky Jim" Shannon. Another attendee's quiet invitation to visit the local Opus Dei group. Sister Joan Chittister. And Archbishop Weakland asking rhetorically who wouldn't favor abrogating doctrines like the Immaculate Conception or Assumption in the interest of Christian unity.
Given the realities of the situation, we have jointly agreed to take a “time out” for this academic year.

Bishop urges no military action in Iran until other options exhausted

Catholic News Service reported that
Although "the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons is unacceptable," the U.S. government must exhaust every option before considering military action to resolve the situation, the chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops' Committee on International Policy told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Be Heard!

Reacting to the recent defeat of a school capital spending referendum, the Franklin Public Schools have scheduled three community meetings, December 3rd at Robinwood Elementary School, December 4th at Forest Park Middle School, and December 6th at Franklin High School.

(While the mailed notice lists all three dates in a sidebar, as of this writing the district's website sidebar calendar did not list the December 6th event.)

The meetings will be conducted in a variation of the pseudo-participatory listening session format.
Community members are encouraged to attend the Be Heard! meeting ... to share their feedback on the past referendum. Small groups will be formed to share ideas and thoughts on what needs to be done differently and/or what needs improvement. Once the groups have shared their ideas, a larger group discussion will take place. We look forward to seeing you.

It's a great system for filtering out pointed questions and minority views.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Funeral prompts firing of priest

Liz F. Kay and Kelly Brewington reported in the Baltimore Sun, November 9, 2007, on Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien ordering the removal of Father Ray Martin as pastor of three parishes. The last straws were at a funeral Mass at which Fr. Martin had an Episcopal priest read the Gospel and invited her to receive communion.

We had something similar happen in the "pulpit exchange" on the Sunday of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January. A Lutheran minister preached at St. Al's and later received Communion from our then-pastor. Not a last straw for him, he only received instructions from "higher up" not to do this again.

I had earlier talked with our pastor about how his using General Absolution for the religious education students' penance service contradicted what the parish had me teaching some of the same students about Church practice. Had I heard at the time of the intercommunion issue, I could have pointed out in the text a discussion beginning,
You may have wondered, for example, why you can't receive communion at your friend's Lutheran service, nor she at our Catholic Mass.
--Michael Amodei, Send Out Your Spirit: A Confirmation Candidate's Handbook for Faith (2003) p. 92.

Since the earlier conversation about confession made no difference, I assume a later conversation about communion wouldn't either. I've raised similar issues with pastors before and after him, so far without effect.

P.S. The Sun followed up on November 10, 2007, Priest's resigning angers residents, illustrated with a photo of Joyce Bauerle, 65, Colleen Rosenbach, 69, and Helen Kazmarek, 81.

(via Terry Mattingly at Get Religion)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Give Garry Wills that old-time religion

Gregory Popcak responds in the Los Angeles Times to Garry Wills op-ed "Abortion isn't a religious issue".

(via Charlotte was Both)

Some rest for the not-so-wicked

Tom Heinen reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on retreats to rekindle burned out pastors and their spouses.
"Since we've been in active ministry, these have been the best years of our lives," said [Pastor] Keith Kincaid, 54, who left an unsatisfying career as a lawyer 11 years ago. "But it has also been the most demanding experience - spiritually, psychologically, emotionally and physically."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bishops 2007 Fall General Assembly

The U.S. Bishops Office of Media Relations has provided this page of topical links "for the latest news on the assembly".

Breaking It To Them Slowly:

KausFiles notes a headline
"Congressional Democrats Grow Wary of Spitzer License Plan"

and comments
"French Crowd Grows Wary of Bastille,," "Romans Wary of Carthage," "Montagues, Capulets, Locked in Cycle of Wariness," etc. ... The news will unfold at the New York Times' orderly pace!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Less human trafficing, more bishops traveling, and other news

News first, then upcoming events.

Religion Briefing
From the Nov. 10, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Testimony in Support of SB292 - Combatting Human Trafficking [pdf]
before the Senate Judiciary and Corrections Commitee, by Barbara Sella, Associate Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, November 7, 2007

Church-based group 'officially' opens new site
Not its web site. Erin Richards reported the November 4, 2007 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the new offices, at 502 N. East Ave., of Cooperating Congregations of Waukesha County, which assists the poor and homeless.

Anti Trafficing Law Deserves Support [2 pp. pdf]
says John Huebsher, Executive Director, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, about AB544, in 'Eye on the Capitol' November 2, 2007

The Prophets: Muslim and Catholic Perspectives
November 10th at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. "Dr. Deirdre Dempsey, Associate Professor of Theology at Marquette University and Janan Najeeb, Director of the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition present Catholic and Muslim perspectives on Prophets. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions, engage in dialogue over lunch, and observe Muslim Prayer."

Bishops To Meet November 12-15 In Baltimore
The USCCB Office of Media Relations reported "At the assembly the bishops will elect USCCB president, vice-president and committee chairs, and vote on Faithful Citizenship, a statement which the USCCB issues every four years; and Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, a revision of the guidelines for music at Mass." The music we hear now has guidelines?


Friday, November 9, 2007

Firms show interest in buying Cousins Center property

Tom Daykin reports in the business section of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on discussions with Stark Investments and General Capital Group.
[City of St. Francis Mayor Al] Richards said any redevelopment of the property could include demolishing the aging, underused Cousins Center building, which houses the archdiocese's central offices.

Motivated seller!
The archdiocese wants to sell the Cousins Center to help pay for a multimillion-dollar settlement of clergy abuse lawsuits, and so it can move to smaller offices that are less costly to operate.

When the Cousins Center was built in the early 1960s, it housed the Archdiocese's minor seminary. "Our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald noted the Archdiocese contained as many as five minor seminaries at one time.

Update: Everything must go!

In the following Sunday's homily, our pastor said that parishes are being allowed to remove items from the Cousins Center for re-use. The bell tower, he said, is being re-located. He has his eye on some stained glass windows for possible future use at St. Al's. This should put to rest the stereotypes that the threat of stained glass windows at a self-styled progressive parish would have the members of the Liturgy Committee spinning in their graves.

I wonder if the rummage sale includes the life-size bronze bust of Archbishop Weakland. As far as I know, our Archdiocese did not take up my earlier suggestion that it be beaten into ploughshares. That might now be a good fundraiser for the Capital Campaign at, say, $100 a hammer blow, but there could be some concern that not everyone would partake in the spirit of light-hearted fun. As an alternative, the bust could be sliced in half and used as bookends for a parish library's collection of the works of Fr. Bernard Lonergan, S.J..

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Spirit of Timidity...

Father Richard John Neuhaus at On the Square mentioned in passing that
The average priest in the Archdiocese of New York gets about $15,000 per year, plus room and board and Mass stipends.

'Human Rights: Know them, demand them, defend them.'

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The 'bots are back

Best Brains, Inc. announced that,
Beginning November 5th, BBI will be launching its very own website at The site will feature brand-new animated adventures of Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy. We're told the goal is to have one new adventure each week (though "some settling may occur with shipping," they added). The Web site will also feature work from the original series (which BBI is now calling "the legacy series"), behind-the-scenes footage and other material culled from the BBI vault.

Update: Episodes with both Joel Hodgson, as "Joel Robinson", and Frank Conniff, as "TV's Frank", are 201 "Rocketship X-M" (September 22, 1990) through 512 "Mitchell" (October 23, 1993).

Any rumors that the space which Robinson was shot into was not outer space, or even inner space, but the third space, are unfounded.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sister calls church to action on racism

Tom Heinen in the November 3, 2007 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, interviewed Sister Jamie T. Phelps, keynote speaker at the recent Call to Action national conference.

Karen Marie Knapp might be claiming this as the miracle needed for her beatification, but I tend to agree with some of what Sister has to say.
Q: How does this play out in the church today?

A: I'm getting very concerned as I look at the national landscape and watch the patterns of the past 20 years, the closings of churches and schools in many central cities. We talk about evangelizing and social justice as linchpins and goals of church ministry. We talk about a fundamental option for the poor as an essential part of Jesus' ministry. ...

Our former Archbishop Rembert Weakland explained why this inconsistency exists while Reminiscing.
The concern for the poor, especially on a global level, remains a strong motivational factor in my thinking. But also it is a frustrating one. There are no signs of a groundswell in that regard among our people.

That is, our leaders will act on this issue when doing so doesn't require leadership.

Update: Meanwhile, in Memphis,
In the late 1990s, Bishop J. Terry Steib, S.V.D. had a vision. Urban Catholic schools that had previously been closed due to low enrollment numbers and a lack of funding would be reopened to serve those with the greatest need—the children of inner-city Memphis neighborhoods.

Resulting in Jubilee Catholic Schools. If that could be a "cause", why not reopening some inner city parishes?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Alexander Hamilton

Inventing Alexander Hamilton by William Hogeland, Boston Review, November/December 2007

Hamilton, Our Founder, by Richard Brookhiser, City Journal, Summer 2004

The Perils of Partisan History, review by Barry Shain of Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth, by Stephen F. Knott, First Things, January 2003

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cinematic Titanic

Joel Hodgson got work, and writes,
It’s going to be powered by the original cast of MST3K! Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein and yours truly, along with some friends who came along later to make the show great: the beloved Frank Conniff and the scathingly brilliant Mary Jo Pehl.

(Catholic and Enjoying It!)

Infierno, y otras noticias

News first, then upcoming events

Religion briefs
From the Nov. 3, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On the Rich Man and Lazarus [4 pp. pdf]
by Father Nathan Reesman, Homily, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 30th, 2007, St. Mary’s Visitation Parish, Elm Grove
"If there is no such thing as Hell, then I don’t know what Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel."

Vive Tu Fe: Católica
7 Novembre a Centro Parroquial Strenski, de la Parroquia San Marcos [stats décimo/10 27%], en Kenosha
'¿En qué se diferencia la Iglesia Católica de otras Iglesias, denominaciones o religiones?
'¿Es lo mismo asistir a esta Iglesia que aquella otra?'
Buenas preguntas.

A Theology of Judaism in 7th Century Byzantium: Maximus the Confessor
November 8th, Fall 2007 Wade Chair Lecture, by Fr. Philipp Renczes, S.J., Ph.D., at Marquette University


Friday, November 2, 2007

Determinants of Ideological Change

A trip down memory nave.
Since bishops and priests also believed that non-Catholics were eternally damned, they were eager to lend their support to new groups that offered prospects of rescuing them. ... the disappearance of this belief after the mid-twentieth century removed a key motivation for the hierarchy to support religious life.
--Patricia Wittberg, The Rise and Fall of Catholic Religious Orders: A Social Movement Perspective (1994) p. 155


Paul Tibbets, pilot who bombed Hiroshima, dies at 92

Anything recalling the bombing of Hiroshima is an occasion for "what might have been". Studs Terkel interviewed Tibbets for the August 6, 2002 issue of The Guardian: 'One hell of a big bang'.
PT: ... General Ent looked at me and said, "The other day, General Arnold [commander general of the army air corps] offered me three names." Both of the others were full colonels; I was lieutenant-colonel. He said that when General Arnold asked which of them could do this atomic weapons deal, he replied without hesitation, "Paul Tibbets is the man to do it." I said, "Well, thank you, sir." Then he laid out what was going on and it was up to me now to put together an organisation and train them to drop atomic weapons on both Europe and the Pacific - Tokyo.

ST: Interesting that they would have dropped it on Europe as well. We didn't know that.

PT: My edict was as clear as could be. Drop simultaneously in Europe and the Pacific because of the secrecy problem - you couldn't drop it in one part of the world without dropping it in the other. ...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

New superintendent wants 'best education for every child'

As opposed to...?

Brian T. Olszewski interviews David Lodes in the October 25, 2007 issue of our Milwaukee Catholic Herald. Mr. Lodes became superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on October 19th.


Arlington Catholic Herald

Someone has been putting issues of the newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia in the reading rack at St. Al's.

I noticed that their Catholic Herald both averages many more pages in its print edition and posts more content in its online edition than "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald.