Friday, February 29, 2008

That Was the Year that Was (1965)

Tom Lehrer:
Another big news story of the year concerned the ecumenical council in Rome, known as Vatican II. Among the things they did, in an attempt to make the church more... commercial, was to introduce the vernacular into portions of the Mass to replace Latin, and to widen somewhat the range of music permissible in the liturgy. But I feel that if they really want to sell the product in this secular age, what they ought to do is to redo some of the liturgical music in popular song forms. I have a modest example here; it's called The Vatican Rag!

(via Charlotte was Both on "the wafer")


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mater sí, Magistra no

The most famous piece William F. Buckley, Jr. never wrote.

In the May 2000 issue of Eutopia is a letter to the editor from Father Raymond F. Collins on an earlier article, The Splendor of Truth: Terminator of Proportionalism? by James C. Kruggel. Father Collins asserted,
Kruggel has failed to note the emergence of a distinctly American form of proportionalism that might appropriately be described as capitalist proportionalism. William F. Buckley's seminal essay, "Mater si; magister, non," [sic] has apparently provided the manifesto for this new kind of proportionalism.

Mr. Kruggel's reply included this.
Fr. Collins suggests that journalist William F. Buckley's discussions of Mater et Magistra in National Review shortly after the encyclical's 1961 publication are "the manifesto of capitalist proportionalism." Was Buckley guilty of the bald rejection of Church economic teaching that Collins suggests? An examination of the related National Review articles indicates not. Because of the seriousness of Collins' charge, and because of the fame of the exchange which Buckley and the more politically liberal Jesuit editors of America magazine had over the encyclical, it is worth taking some space to set the record straight.

On July 29, 1961, a short notice in an NR weekly events column observed: "whatever the final effect (of the encyclical), it must strike many as a venture in triviality coming at this time in history" when communism was rising with its dehumanizing usurpation of the economy, and free market economies in the US, Japan, and Europe were booming. Two weeks later, a single line in NR's gossip column quipped: "Going the rounds in Catholic conservative circles: Mater sí, Magistra, no." (Contrary to Fr. Collins'assertion, Buckley wrote no essay with this title, seminal or otherwise). America subsequently condemned NR for these remarks, on grounds that it was presumptuous and disrespectful to even appear to criticize an encyclical. However, as Buckley noted in the August 26 NR, "National Review has made no substantive criticism of Mater et Magistra. It merely pointed out that "coming at this particular time in history, parts of it may be considered as trivial." He also noted correctly that the encyclical, like other social encyclicals, lays out broad principles and does not prescribe specific votes on US federal entitlement or welfare programs. "There is room for disagreement as to whether a particular social measure is dehumanizing in its tendency; Catholics can disagree on this matter."

On September 23, Buckley published in NR a letter he had written to America editor Fr. Thurston Davis, SJ, which Davis had refused to publish. The Mater si quote, Buckley explained, spoken "by a Catholic scholar in Virginia, was flippancy pure and simple. I take no objection to your denouncing the flippancy as having been in imperfect taste: I am quite prepared to subject myself to the criticism of my elders on such matters."

Buckley continued, "Do (the editors of America) sincerely believe that I have decided to reject the depositum fidei because along came an encyclical whose rhetorical emphases disappointed me? Proceed, if you like, publicly to despair over our insouciance or frivolity but to edge us into infidelity is more than uncharitable; it is irrational, and in the true sense, scandalous." He further notes a 1958 America judgment that NR promotes a society "in which individuals of every rank would be equally and absolutely free to rummage in garbage pails for their dinner and to use park benches for their bedding."

Buckley's writings throughout the exchange do not support this harsh caricature; indeed, they suggest that the caricature might even be a libelous one. Buckley evinces poise, charity, sincere concern for the orthodoxy of the faith, and a strong grasp of, and belief in, the Church's social teachings. Whatever one's political or economic leanings, America's criticisms of Buckley in the matter were misinformed and caricaturish.

May he rest in peace.

P.S. Five Minutes With the Pope by William F. Buckley, Jr., America, September 19, 1987

(via Jim Keane, S.J. at In All Things)

Reading Rat February 2008

I've updated the posts on St. Augustine, The Koran, Adolf Hiter, and Karl Marx.

'Little school that could'

Marketing effort, lower tuition help Providence Catholic grow

Karen Mahoney reported, Special to "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald from Kansasville in western Kenosha County. The school was formed in a 1996 merger. Enrollment is up 50% in five years, to 104.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just a bit more on Pew

The recently released Pew study, that is, though there's a no wrong church, right pew angle.

Q. "So what I’m wondering is - is Protestant denominationalism essentially dead?"

A. 'When I'm not near the church I love,
I love the church I'm near.'

The Old Revolutionaries of Vietnam

Tom Hayden, in The Nation, March 10, 2008, recounts his not unauthorized visit to Vietnam late last year.
Those who still believe Vietnam was a "necessary" war must take pleasure at seeing that country in the camp of corporate neoliberalism.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Serial delusion

Diogenes at Off the Record .
Remember that Serial Dilution technique you learned in high school chemistry? You mix one part base with nine parts solvent, and then use that solution as the base to which you add nine parts solvent, and so continue as long as you wish. Each step results in a ten-fold reduction in the concentration. You start out with, say, raw battery acid, and after five or six steps you could drink the solution on the rocks with no ill effects.

What brought serial dilution to mind was a number of recent articles in which Catholics are invited to embrace "a diversity of religious perspectives" about teachings that belong to the deposit of faith.

Here's what's going on: doctrinal differences are reductively treated as theological differences, which are in turn reductively treated as methodological differences, which are reductively treated as aesthetic preferences, i.e., matters of taste.

And before you know it, it's Church on the rocks.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Americans Change Faiths at Rising Rate, Report Finds

Neela Banerjee reported in The New York Times, February 25, 2008, on the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's report, "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey".

In Chapter 2 of the report, on page 25, we find,
Overall, 2.6% of the U.S. adult population has switched their affiliation to Catholic after being raised in another faith or in no faith at all. But nearly four times as many people (10.1% of the adult population overall) were raised in the Catholic Church but have since left for another faith or for no faith at all.

Update: At Charlotte was Both, Everybody’s talking.

The church responds and endures

In a spin, loving the spin I'm in
--Johnny Mercer

Our new auxiliary Bishop William P. Callahan takes a turn in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald. He tackles the priest child molestation scandal no more maladroitly than Archbishop Dolan. (Credit where it's due; I don't see the Chancery putting Bishop Sklba on this issue very often.) Bishop Callahan puts on the plus side,
A new way of reaching resolution - through an independent system designed by people outside the church structure - was put into place.

This is a system established by our Archdiocese. Constantly repeating the word "independent" won't change that.
In the midst of so much personal turmoil in the lives of so many human beings, much of it caused, God forbid, by her priests, the church responded humbly and apologetically, yet directly and strongly to do what was right and just for those most vulnerable and victimized.

If our bishops do say so themselves, and rather often.
This is a great archdiocese. We have wonderful and dedicated priests and prayerful and generous people. Our parishes are thriving.

That's news to me.
Sure, we are experiencing a little "belt-tightening" these days and some reconfiguration of our central offices.

The way Archbishop Dolan described it at the Black Catholic Summit, our Archdiocese has already had to sell the belt to pay clerical sexual abuse settlements.
I have hope that these things will be resolved with some promising ideas and some wonderfully inventive thinking.

What is the reason for that hope?
My hope is that people of good will remember that it is the church who works on behalf of victims.

Here he gives reasons.

Who, besides the church, has gone through such elaborate measures to protect children - not just minors, but the unborn?

First, bringing in the unborn is equivocating on the issue at hand. Second, who else needed to do more to protect children? Third, they're protecting, but who? Fourth, on the unborn, sometimes we wonder [but see Update, below].
Who else but the church preaches, teaches, and promotes on all levels, a consistent life ethic?

Consistency can work both ways, such as when rather than take parishioner flak for preaching on the death penalty, a pastor won't preach on life issues at all.
Who looks after the elderly - the most systematically abused group of people in our society - more consistently than the Roman Catholic Church?

Seems to be changing the subject again. Back on topic, how about a a follow-up report in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald on whether Bishop Sklba eventually did complete his promised calls to victims?
Who has hospitals that struggle to keep their doors open in some of the poorest areas of society?

Is there an Archdiocesan charity hospital in Milwaukee's inner city?
Even experts like Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University tells us that, today no one does more to prevent sexual abuse of minors than the Catholic Church.

Today? Better late than never. Somehow reminds me of The Onion's world atlas, "Germany: Genocide-Free Since April 11, 1946".
Much has been rightly and justly paid to victims. Still, we face a barrage of legal maneuvers that target the church; fail to acknowledge what has been accomplished; seem to serve some trial attorneys more than victims; and whose motives seem to be to undo the good work of the church in our community.

And, after all, it's not as if when the positions were reversed, our Archdiocese fought hard in court.

Then it seems like the public relations intern went home for the day with two paragraphs to go.
Nonetheless, we must remain focused. The church has been humbled. We do now only what we should be doing and should have done a long time ago. We don't ask for sympathy; in this horrible mess, we don't deserve any.

Bishop Callahan ends, perhaps where he should have begun.
In all things, however, as a new bishop, I ask for your prayers. I am hopeful for the church. I share the enthusiasm I've gained from working with young people and for the good things that will be accomplished in the future. I am basically an optimistic man with strong faith and reliance on the promise and hope of Jesus Christ to be with his church. The Gospel doesn't change. Hope does not disappoint. The church endures.

Update: Wisconsin Catholic Conference: Letter to Wisconsin Legislature re: AB 377 February 25, 2008
(via WisPolitics)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Richard Wright

Recommended reading:
by Richard Wright at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): Wright's final work offers new point of view by Eugene Kane, review of A Father's Law by Richard Wright, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 24, 2008

A call for Catholics: Men asked to challenge status quo

Tom Heinen reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on yesterday's Men of Christ Conference in West Allis.

Organizers had hoped Event's attendance could double from last year's 2,200. It did reportedly increase to about 3,000.

Maryangela Layman Roman reported in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald's "People of Faith" series on Kevin O’Brien, 'Men of Christ' is former NFL player's team.

Nader announces new bid for White House

Hope Yen of the Associated Press reports in the online edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

How to Part With an Old Computer

Shelly Banjo in The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2008

Also, Where Computers Go When They Die: As More People Upgrade, Recycling Becomes a Concern; Shredding Your Hard Drive, "The Mossberg Solution" column, by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2007

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

For the love of God, get it on!

Speaking of pastors and vision and compatibility, the Associated Press reports at MSNBC from the Relevant Church in Ybor City, Florida. Viewer discretion is advised.

(via Ryan T. Anderson at First Things)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Time Of Change

The February 10, 2008 bulletin at my parish included this letter from our pastor. He informs us that our current associate pastor will not be replaced when he retires shortly. (He became an associate here after retiring from service as a pastor elsewhere.) Our pastor will instead be reorganizing the pastoral staff and lining up a small group of regular assisting priests.

As a result he tells us to expect,
first choice times for funerals or other appointments might not be available; the response time for pas-toral visits will be longer; it will be necessary to call for an appointment to see me (expecting a priest to be available when just dropping in at the office will no longer be real-istic); there will usually be one wedding with Mass on a weekend so early notice will be necessary; Anointing of the Sick should be requested as early as possible, so it can be done in a timely manner; a priest's presence at the many parish events might not always be possible; some of our Christian Formation and Day School students may not see and visit with a priest as often as in the past;

He calls this a challenge. "By rising to the new challenge, I mean that our staff and myself will be asking YOU to help with some new opportunities." Odd he didn't present these as tentative plans and ask US our opinion before making his decisions.

Ours is a very large parish, so why no second priest? Our pastor cites many reasons, but this one stood out.
A parish and priest must have a certain “compatibility” and share a common vision. This did not seem to be the case for those few priests who might have been available.

Would any of these "few priests" have taken on Father Jurkus as an associate, despite issues of "vision" or "compatibility", if the positions were reversed? If one would have, he should be our associate pastor. (If two would have, they should be our pastor and associate.)

Another reason he gave was financial. Something had to be cut, so he cut the associate pastor position. It's like a municipal financial crunch when the cuts in police, fire and sanitation staffing are announced by the mayor's spokesman whose position is safe.
Factually, our giving has not increased sufficiently. (I am edified that our neighboring parishes have reported significant increases in their giving. I am happy for them. I wonder why we are lagging behind.)

How about a persistent lack of leadership, direction, and real vision in the parish? For example, why does he wonder rather than find out?

Last year I emailed the president of our parish council suggesting that, in light of parish trends, it would be prudent to "put contingency planning for closing the parish on the Council agenda". I haven't seen any reason since to withdraw the suggestion.

Update: I should say there might be one reason for hope, the return of the fish fry, even if the beer is in cans.

Update 2: More on the fish fry

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hillary Clinton moved by woman's housing woes

Rick Pearson of The Washington Post's The Swamp weblog reports from Kenosha in the Baltimore Sun,
Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton’s voice filled with emotion today as she listened to the story of a mother and young daughter who said they were being forced from their home due to a skyrocketing adjustable mortgage.

Appearing at a rally and question and answer session inside the Brat Shop [sic], a restaurant located off Interstate 94, the main north-south route between Chicago and Milwaukee, Clinton asked local officials if they could provide any help to the woman.

Back in the days of the limited county-option for 18 year olds, help for the troubled at the Brat Stop was a pitcher of malt liquor.

Star delivers a 'Salome' for the ages

Tom Strini, in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reviews last night's performance by Milwaukee's Florentine Opera Company. Richard Strauss based his opera on a play by Oscar Wilde.

Corliss Phillabaum's Program Notes, "Salome: A Moral Tale?", included this.
Depicting Biblical characters involved in a tangle of sex, incest, necrophilia and general decadence was certainly a way to wave a flaming red flag in the Victorian era, as the frequent battles with censorship both works faced can attest. Even today, when explicit sex and violence in primetime TV and blockbuster films far exceed anything Wilde or Strauss could have imagined, the subject matter is strong medicine...

That is, it's noted in passing that our popular culture is decadent beyond Oscar Wilde's imagining of Imperial Rome.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

34°N 118°W 72°F

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning. ... It smells like...vacation.

First thing this morning we're in the gate area in Milwaukee watching our plane being de-iced. First thing this afternoon we're in Los Angeles where it's sunny and unseasonably warm, in the 70s.

Los Angeles, is, of course, full of the objects of music and movie references, which somehow came to mind as we crossed Colorado Boulevard on the way to Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. I thought we were going to see a killer whale but it turned out to be a jewelry store. It'll be a while until dining al fresco in Wisconsin, so we took advantage of the weather to have a late lunch at Cafe Monsieur Marcel.

Next we took the Pacific Coast Highway. It's California Highway 1, but the mountainside geography reminds us of Central America Highway 1, the Pan American Highway in Guatemala. The beach houses at Malibu aren't what we pictured. Most are flat-roofed one story frame buildings crammed together and crammed between the highway and the shore. On the way back, we take Topanga Cyn Rd.; it's not Welsh, it's short for Canyon. Our route takes us across Mulholland Drive, then on Highway 101, and finally Interstate 405. Yes, the freeways here are sometimes a dozen lanes, and can be filled with stop-and-go traffic even on a Saturday afternoon. If you're ever in Los Angeles traffic, there's classical music on (non-commercial) KUSC 91.5FM. Coming back toward the airport, the signage has been changed to say LAX Airport. It's not only redundant, but "lax" isn't something I'd want associated with an airport. It's night when we finally arrive at our hotel in Orange County, and watch the crescent moon set into the Pacific.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We arrive the Basilica at Mission San Juan Capistrano on time for Mass according to the information we have but late in reality. (They hold hands for the Our Father there, too.) Outside there was a "knot a square prayer quilt" for Marsha Brumfield, who's ill.

On the way out I pick up a copy of the Orange County Catholic, the diocesan newspaper. Providentially, perhaps. Compared to what I read in Attorney Explains Recent Settlement Action and Rationale, I'd put the current state of our Archdiocese of Milwaukee in "count your blessings".

Back on the coast, we hiked at El Moro Canyon, part of Crystal Cove State Park. It's whale migration season, but none were to be seen. There were coyote and quail, and rabbits (Musta taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque?).

Monday, February 11, 2008

It was zero in Milwaukee, so it seemed like a good day to visit Huntington State Beach. Huntington Beach natives Jan and Dean popularized it as Surf City USA. And darned if there weren't a few surfers. I noticed that if I looked in the opposite direction, I could see snow-capped mountains on the far side of Los Angeles. Might we part of the reason so many people live here. On the way back we ate at a Joe's Crab Shack in Newport Beach. It overlooked the water and we watched people learning to sail.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's even warmer today, in the 80s, so we go the Main Beach in Laguna Beach. For the first time in my life, I dropped an ice cream cone. Since it was butter pecan, I had no choice but to scrape off the sand and eat what remained. On leaving, the Pacific Coast Highway was jammed, so we tried one of the canyon roads. Metropolitan Los Angeles is still growing. Along the way was a large area just cleared and graded for development. The guide book says that ten years ago the area where we stayed was lima bean fields. Today it's shopping malls and office parks.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Back to "LAX Airport" for the trip home. Our gate's in Terminal C, some of which hasn't been upgraded from bus station esthetics. Back home, it's warmed up into the 20s and there's about six inches of snow to be cleared from the driveway before I can put the car in the garage.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lincoln and the Will of God

Andrew Ferguson in First Things, March 2008, begins with how many
...considered it vitally important to enlist Lincoln in [their] cause, even if only posthumously. In other contexts, the Lincoln biographer David Donald has called this ambition “getting right with Lincoln,” and since April 1865 it has been pursued by Americans of every imaginable persuasion...

Here, for example, is the Wisconsin Bishops' lobbyist John Huebscher in the cause of campaign finance reform.
Lincoln, after all, did not stir the nation on the issue of slavery by spending more money but by affirming his conviction that "right makes might."

The implication that the Confederacy was defeated despite outspending the Union is contrary to fact. Mr. Lincoln's accounting was a bit different in his Second Inaugural Address.
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Europeans Are From Venus

by Geoffrey Wheatcroft, review of Where Have All the Soldiers Gone? The Transformation of Modern Europe by James J. Sheehan, The New York Times, February 10, 2008
It isn’t necessary to agree with Evelyn Waugh writing to his friend Graham Greene — “Of course the Americans are cowards. They are almost all the descendants of wretches who deserted their legitimate monarchs for fear of military service” — to see clearly that the United States isn’t a warlike country at all. In many ways it has always been more deeply peaceable in its instincts than ever Europe was.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The view from his window

A fellow catechist at St. Al's has also read The Education of an Archbishop by Paul Wilkes. My counterpart characterized the book as showing Archbishop Weakland as controversial merely because he was willing to listen to all views. That sent me back to pages 38-39 of the book. We find the Archbishop recalling receiving "vistors--including industrialist J. Peter Grace, former Treasury Secretary William Simon, and Michael Novak, a senior analyst with a conservative think tank" in June 1984. They came to discuss the draft of the U.S. Bishops' document Economic Justice for All.
"I looked out the window," the Archbishop said, remembering the day that the group of neo-conservative Catholics was scheduled to arrive, " and up pulled these limousines with smoked windows, having whisked the occupants from their private planes, which had landed minutes before at the Milwaukee Airport. All I could think of was it looked very much like a meeting of high level Mafia leaders."

That doesn't sound very open-minded, unless our then-Archbishop's intended meaning anticipated the opinion of Governor Frank Keating.

If only you could be everywhere

That's the theme of the 2008 Catholic Stewardship Appeal in our Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It continues the theme by asking "How far can you reach?" in a number of areas by giving. (Or is it giving? See this earlier post.)

One area is "Prayer, Worship and Liturgy". It cites Blessed Savior Catholic Church, formed by the merger of four Milwaukee parishes, as "A pioneer for the future." The statistics for the four constituent parishes were:
2005: 3,273 members, 1,266 Sunday Mass attendance
2006: 2,676 members, 1,144 Sunday Mass attendance
We'll have to wait for the next year's numbers to see what's being pioneered the rest of our parishes. The impression I've gotten from other parish consolidations is they generally mask decline rather than reverse it.

A donation of $1,000 or more makes one a member of the Campanile Society, symbolized by the campanile that stood at the Cousins Center. The campanile was dismantled in preparation for the sale of the Cousins Center forced by settlement of priest child molestation cases. So far, the Cousins Center remains unsold, and the campanile turned out to be too deteriorated to be rebuilt elsewhere (see Bells to toll in Eden, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, December 13, 2007). Still an apt symbol, but in a new way.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cast out into the deep...fryer

Sure you could be angry. Really angry. Deal Hudson fund-raising letter angry.

On the other hand, the St. Alphonsus Fish Fry is Back!
Join us on Friday, February 8, 4:30-7:00 p.m., in the school gym. Enjoy both delicious fried and baked fish with all the fixin’s!

That would be french fries, cole slaw, rye bread and butter. Dare we hope for draft beer?

P.S. - M. L. Johnson reports from Milwaukee for the Associated Press in The Ledger that You Don't Have to Be Catholic to Eat Fried Fish on Friday.

(via Leila at Off the Record)

Seeking a return to moral authority

Mark Belling, in his February 6, 2008 column says such a return for our Archdiocese of Milwaukee means,
[Archbishop] Dolan needs to publicly disassociate the Milwaukee church from [Archbishop] Weakland.

With Karen Marie Knapp unavailable, I'll say that literally can't be done. Some alternative suggestions are in this earlier post.

(via Right On)

Budget has impact on planning process

"Our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald reported January 31, 2008. The planning process referred to is the Vision: 21st Century Planning initiative headed by Father James Connell, Vicar for Planning. He will make his recommendations to Archbishop Dolan by March 31st.
Fr. Connell has received feedback during the planning process via "Thoughts and Ponderings," a series of reflection papers that he distributed to 4,000 people involved in ministry in the archdiocese and from whom he has received more than 150 responses, and through consultations he has held in the archdiocese.

Even sending T&P to "people involved in ministry", less than 4% responded. Having participated in some of the prior rounds of Archdiocesan planning, I can understand that.
Fr. Connell has assembled the Vision 21 Committee with which "the responsibility to prepare the recommendations now rests," he wrote in a Jan. 9 e-mail to church leaders in southeastern Wisconsin.

That email doesn't seem to be posted on the Vision: 21st Century Planning page.
One of the ideas Fr. Connell proposed for consideration when he became vicar for planning was fewer, but bigger parishes.

You might have reorg boots, but you'll need reorg waders.
During the interview with your Catholic Herald, he noted that Archbishop Dolan "has stressed that we need to distinguish between the location of the places where worship takes place separate from how we organize ourselves to live the mission of the church."

The priest added that the archbishop is not trying to close parishes.

"Maybe we need to organize the people according to the living of the faith, to how they study the Scriptures, where faith formation takes place, how they live their social ministry activities, how they minister to themselves in the community," he said. "That may be bigger organizations, more clusters, but not changing parish buildings or parish structures."

It will be interesting to see how this can be unequivocally consistent with the Faith In Our Future fund drive's goal of raising $63,000,000 for "Strengthening 211 parishes".

Summary of Franklyn Becker documents

This information was also in the print edition of "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald. Of particular interest,
In early 1980, parishioners report an incident with a boy and Becker, himself, writes a letter that acknowledges his homosexual orientation to teenage boys.

Of course, Father Becker lacked the benefit of the now Archdiocese-mandated Safeguarding All of God's Family program, in which we were told it was a myth that "Most sexual abusers are homosexual". In the context of the recent difficulties in our Archdiocese and in the Church around the country, one goal of this program is to dispel an impression that these difficulties result largely from priests who molested boys.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

January 2008 Information - Questions and Answers

These were part of the recent Archdiocesan document dump on Clergy Sexual Abuse cases (see this earlier post). I have selected some for translation.
Q: Why share this information?
A: The information will be part of a lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and will be released to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. ...

Q: So, are you sharing this now only because of these lawsuits?
A: No. ...

Translation: Yes, see answer to first question.
Q: Is this the worst of the news?
A: ... We do not make judgments on what is “better” or “worse.”

Translation: No!

Q: What is the financial impact of these lawsuits?
A: ...It is too early to tell what, if any, financial impact these lawsuits will have. ...

Translation: Unspeakably bad. That "if any" is just our little joke to ease the tension.
Q: What about Legislation to open the statute of limitations?
A: ...Removing the statute of limitations would simply make it more attractive to sue the Catholic Church, and would do nothing to punish the offenders themselves.

Translation: Why do they keep beating us with these clubs we hand out?
Q: Why aren’t priests who have sexually abused children in jail?
A: The archdiocese would fully cooperate with law enforcement officials if they moved to put a know [sic] abuser in jail. ...

Translation: Our Hands Are Tied.
Q: Recently you announced a capital campaign – how does this affect that campaign?
A: The Faith in Our Future Trust has been legally established to ensure that the intent and conditions of donors are followed and respected. ...

Translation: Remember when Archbishop Weakland wrote to Paul Marcoux in 1980 and said ""I consider all that church money as a sacred trust; it represents the offerings of faithful and I must be accountable to them for how it is all spent." Remember how our Archdiocese later paid Mr. Marcoux $450,000? Remember how Bishop Sklba and the then financial officer okayed that payment? Well, forget all that, this time everything is completely different.
Q: If you suspect that priests are guilty, why are you defending lawsuits? Why don’t you just settle with the victims?
A: Resolution has been reached with 170 individuals – the majority through the independent mediation system. ...

Translation: We set up the "independent" mediation system. If it was up to us, we could only be sued in "independent" courts that we set up.
Q: That’s great, but why defend lawsuits?
A: For people who have chosen to sue, that is a decision they have made. ...

Translation: Our Hands Are Tied.
Q: I thought victims/survivors could not sue the Church in Wisconsin.
A: ... Victims/survivors have always had the right to sue the Church. However, just like with any civil action, the window for suing the Church has been governed by a statute of limitations. ...

Translation: We misunderstood our own made-up question about immunity under Pritzlaff v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee, 194 Wis. 2d 302, 533 N.W.2d 780 (1995).
Q: What about Becker?
A: ...Because Becker is laicized, the archdiocese has no influence over where Becker lives as an independent citizen. ...

Translation: For some unknown reasons, we don't seem to have the influence over lay Catholics we once did.

Thoughts and Ponderings - No. 3

This is the the last in a of a four-part series by the Vicar of Planning of our Archdiocese of Milwaukee. His final topic is the mission of the Church, which sounds like a good place to start, not end. We quickly go from mission to mission creep.
the thoughts that I now present are only a beginning for what I hope will trigger many additional ideas, from all who read this document, about our mission. Thus, I hope that you will help to develop the list of the “mission items” that Archbishop Dolan should keep in mind as he prepares his archdiocesan pastoral plan. Please, let me know your thoughts.

This sounds susceptible to producing what our Archdiocese doesnt't need, a longer agenda with less focus.

As always "no order of priority is intended." He starts with "Pray and Worship" and starts that with the sacraments and Mass which "will always hold the central position in the mission of the Church and not be an option." So he intends some priority after denying it or nothing is an option, but in either case manages to make it sound unlike planning.

Next is "Proclaim the Word" on formation and education, which he suggests should be done and done well.

Third is "Build Community" which also should be done.

Fourth is "Serve Those in Need", ditto.

At our Archdiocese of Milwaukee's website there recently was reposted a sidebar link to Archbishop Dolan's Six Pastoral Priorities for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from Fall 2004. This links to his detailed explanation, The Catholic Church Of Southeastern Wisconsin: A Light To The World. It would have made more sense to have had Father Connell explicitly build on that. Archbishop Dolan, for one thing, not only intended but stated an order of priorities.

Archdiocesan budget deficit of $3.2 million projected

Maryangela Layman Roman reports in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, January 31, 2008. You might have had the impression that the Cousins Center needs to be sold to pay the California priest child molestation settlements. And it does, indirectly.
Several factors contributed to the deficit budget, according to Marek [John Marek, chief financial officer], including the substantial sex abuse related expenses, the fact that a buyer has not been found for the Cousins Center, the lease of office space at the St. Joseph Center in addition to maintaining the Cousins Center, and the interest on the money borrowed to pay the August 2006 California settlements to 10 victims of clergy sexual abuse amounts to more than $1,000 per day.

The article also reports that since 2003 Archdiocesan central office staff has been reduced 25%. Not long ago Archbishop Dolan asked,
Can we continue the mushrooming of central office services that began 15 years ago after the archdiocesan synod?

Obviously not, but has the mushrooming been undone?

Archbishop Dolan's 2008 Ash Wednesday/Lent Radio Messages

Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan has prepared a series of audio messages that are airing on radio stations throughout southeastern Wisconsin this Lent.

Also available for download [mp3]

Lent starts early this year, and felt like it came even earlier.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Jill Maria's Liturgical Delights

That's Jill Maria Murdy, "Liturgist, Musician, Author, Speaker, Web Designer", said by Richmond Catholic to have ties to our Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Thoughts and Ponderings - No.2 (Part – II)

This is the the third in a of a four-part series by the Vicar of Planning of our Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He continues, from No. 2 Part I (see my earlier post). He resumes discussing stewardship with point 8 (though "with no intended order of priority"), Justice.
...our budgets must reflect truly just wages and benefits, along with appropriate working expectations and conditions. But, what if paying less than just wages provides funding for additional ministry? I believe that we should do justice and only engage in that which we can afford.

(See my earlier post) This leads into the possibility of doing more with volunteers. (At one St. Al's parish council retreat, the guest speaker took issue with talking about parish "volunteers". Yes, we're not spiritually grown from "self-sown seed" Sister, now please go away. Which the controversy over the word apparently has.)
Speaking of volunteers, the use of much of this talent frequently seems to be restricted to the volunteer’s own parish. We need to expand the use of volunteers to a larger geographic area...

I suppose I could check if some neighboring parish has a liturgy that matches what's in its Christian Formation textbooks.

In number 9 he suggests budgets include building reserves. I might suggest a case study of how St. Al's burned through much of its reserves some years back.

He also goes on to say that some parishes might meet a pastoral need while not being financially self-supporting. Rather than having some better-off parishes assist them, he suggests increasing Archdiocesan assessment on all parishes as a source of subsidies. Unless our Archdiocese first goes bankrupt, how would these assessments be shielded from its creditors?

In number 10 he suggests caution about demolishing buildings; they might turn out to be needed later. Maybe someday [old] St. Anne's will reopen. I suggest similar caution on building; isn't it just as well Archbishop Weakland didn't have the money to replace St. John's?

In number 12 he suggests building ahead of demographics, so that when people move into new areas, parishes are already there for them. That seems as strange as suggesting closing parishes ahead of projected membership declines.

In number 11 he suggests consolidating some parish administration. In number 14, he suggests same for information and communication technology. If it means parish websites would become worth regular visits, he's got a point.

In number 15, we get one of those rare acknowledgements that the Church is larger than the Archdiocese. Is it just around here or have parishes and dioceses gotten more parochial everywhere since the Second Vatican Council?

A priest's rant

at The Deacon's Bench (viewer discretion is advised)

(via Dad29)

Confronting 'nauseating news'

Someone's dropped a bomb somewhere,
Contaminating atmosphere
And blackening the sky,
It's good news week...
--Hedghoppers Anonymous

Archbishop Timothy Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, January 31, 2008.
Since my arrival as your archbishop, I have promised to try my best to be open and candid with you, the faithful Catholics of the church in southeastern Wisconsin. Part of that openness has been my commitment to share news with you - even when it's bad.

For example, you'll remember in summer of 2006, I told you about lawsuits facing the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for sexual abuse cases involving former priests Siegfried Widera and Franklyn Becker, and the pending financial consequences of those lawsuits.

Didn't those cases result from a 2002 change in California law? And weren't they filed in 2003? And wasn't it 2003 when a California appellate court Ruling lets victim sue archdiocese here? Maybe he believes he told us as much as he could as soon as he could. Maybe he's right about that. Maybe he needs to say more about why the openness comes right before the "nauseating news" so it's less likely to come across as spin.
In July 2007, the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed down a decision directing that cases alleging fraud by the archdiocese about sexual abuse by two accused priests of the archdiocese could proceed, even though the events were 20-to-40-years old.

It almost makes one start to question our Archdiocese's approach to litigation management.
In addition, since July 2007, two other cases have been brought against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., alleging sexual abuse in Wisconsin by a different priest, Bruce MacArthur.

Lawsuits involve discovery, that is, requiring the other side, here our Archdiocese, to provide information and documents.
During the next weeks, the records of these three accused priests will be part of court proceedings, and we can expect they will be given to the media. Thus, I am using my column to let you know of the sordid information that will be forthcoming.

He seems to mean that he thinks it would be better if this information wasn't disclosed, but if he can't prevent disclosure, he'll tell us first. Again, this might be justifiable but won't be everyone's idea of openness.
In the past, people could point and say the Catholic Church is a sad example of what NOT to do, as some of this data will embarrassingly show. Now, however, even outside, objective observers say the Catholic Church is an example of what TO do.

Because child-molesting priests were shuffled from parish to parish then, we Sunday School teachers undergo background checks and "safe environment" training now. (So when I say I'm an untrained catechist, I'm not counting this.)
It is also why I directed an independent mediation system established in 2004 to come to resolution with victims/survivors.

Wouldn't "independent mediation" not be something "I directed ... established"?

I yield the last word.
May I also ask that you pray for our church, especially our church in southeastern Wisconsin, that the Holy Spirit continue to guide us and give us strength to get through this, and that his church be cleansed, purified and renewed by the agony of this scandal, sin and suffering.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Thoughts and Ponderings - No.2 (Part – I)

Continuing from my post on No. 1, this is the second of a four-part series by the Vicar of Planning of our Archdiocese of Milwaukee. (There are four parts with No. 2 is in two parts, like St. Thomas's Summa Theologiae.) Number 2 is on stewardship. He begins with a selection of pertinent Bible passages about a good steward. My late suggestion is Luke 14:28-30.

We get to specifics at point 6. Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee is divided into sixteen districts (see this earlier post). The districts supposedly were created to facilitate communication.
But nowadays communication by means of district meetings is less a need because of the increased use of emails, cell phones and websites on the internet.

That isn't such a big change from what could be done using a regular telephone and a fax machine.
Today, our growing need in the archdiocese is for a more coordinated approach to ministry that pools the talents of the clergy and laity alike, especially as fewer priests are available for fulltime active ministry.

In Number 1, he estimated the decline in priests will level off at 100 to 120. In light of that, it seems impractical that, when he suggests consolidating districts, he as a result suggests priest Deans would then devote most of their time to this administrative position rather than their parish work. That would take most of the time of almost one-tenth of the then-available priests away from their parishes.

Falls consciousness

Patrick McIlheran's column Odd way to treat a customer about Milwaukee's holding up renewing its contract to sell water to the suburb of Menomonee Falls drew a response. In his post Thirst, you bigots, he reprints an email from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee sociology professor Professor William Washabaugh.
...Studies of such submerged forces are numerous and helpful (see works by Pierre Bourdieu). They provide the ground for supposing that much suburban “dissatisfaction” has been shaped by longstanding social practices and institutional constraints, and especially by racism (see Paul Gilroy) and classism (see Walter Benn Michaels). ...

The way I see it, racism and classism lurk behind and beneath the issue of selling water. And so, [Milwaukee Alderman] Michael Murphy’s questions about this sale challenge us all to dig deeper into the roots of suburban residential preferences.

All from "grounds for supposing"; he gives no reason to suppose academia is immune from "submerged forces", "longstanding social practices", or "institutional constraints".

More at Marquette Warrior.

Which brings me to news that Catholic Charities USA Policy Paper on Race and Poverty Authored by Milwaukee Priest. The priest is Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, and the paper is Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good. What does Father Massingale mean by racism?
Racism describes the reality of unearned advantage, conferred dominance, and invisible privilege enjoyed by white Americans, to the detriment, burden, and disadvantage of people of color. This network of racially conferred advantages and benefits has been termed “white privilege.” (page 7)

...Regardless of an individual’s desires, an “invisible package of unearned assets” is enjoyed by white people because of the racial consciousness which is subtly pervasive in our social customs and institutions. (page 8)

So when Catholic Charities asks some of us to "donate" or "give", it really means cough up part of the ill-gotten gains resulting from an “invisible package of unearned assets”. It's consistent with their being close-mouthed about where some of the money might be going.

P.S. And when Father G. Simon Harak bewails that
the government keeps increasing the taxes on the poor and middle class

I'm skeptical he's advocating a middle-class tax cut.

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'Death' Photo of Ernie Pyle Finally Surfaces

Richard Pyle (no relation) reports for the Associated Press in Editor & Publisher, February 3, 2008, on the first known publication of a photo taken shortly after war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed on Le Shima, a small island off Okinawa, on the 18th of April, 1945.

Seeing this in today's paper sent me to my bookshelf, to Home Country. It collects some of what Ernie Pyle wrote in the mid-1930s "as a roving reporter with no destination and no assignment other than 'a piece a day'" for the Washington Daily News. His roving included stops in his native Indiana; here is the conclusion of "Hoosiers".
"When are you going to leave?" my mother asked.

"I've got to leave right after breakfast.," I told her. "I'm way behind in my work."

And she said, "Aw, you're always in such a rush."

"Yes, but I've got to go," I told her.

And she said, "Do you know what?"

And I said, "No, what?"

And then she laughed a while before she could speak, and finally she stopped and reached out for my hand, and said, seriously, "Some of these days you're going to die. And when you do the world will get along just fine without you. Do you know that?"

And I said, sort of on the defensive, "Yes, I know it plenty. But as long as I'm in the world I've got to keep rushing around and trying, haven't I? A fellows got to. You always did yourself. You wouldn't want me to just stop and go on relief, would you?"

And then she said, no, she wouldn't want me to go on relief. And that's all we ever said about it.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Paved with the Skulls of Bishops

Richard John Neuhaus at First Things uses St. John Chrysostom's metaphor for his review of The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture by Philip F. Lawler.
“The first aspect of the scandal, the sexual abuse of children, has been acknowledged and addressed,” Lawler writes. “The second aspect, the rampant homosexuality among Catholic priests, has been acknowledged but not addressed, and later even denied. . . . The third aspect of the scandal has never even been acknowledged by American church leaders.” The third aspect, the malfeasance of bishops, “is today the most serious of all.”

More at Dad29, Off the Record, and Right On

Church facing wave of trouble

Tom Heinen scrapes past a titanic cliche in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
With Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan at the helm, the Catholic Church here is navigating turbulent times with a growing storm of financial pressures, embarrassing documentation of old sexual-abuse coverups, and the opening of long-closed routes for childhood victims of clergy molestation to file lawsuits in Wisconsin. ...

The larger question is whether the archdiocese or any individual parishes could be capsized by a wave of red ink from new lawsuits. ...


Catholic conference seeks to reignite the spirit

Tom Heinen reported in the January 26, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Awakening the Spirit, "A Catholic Evangelization Conference", February 8-9, 2008 in Kohler.
About two years ago, Lacke [John Lacke, the layman who sparked the project'] was sitting in a parish council meeting in Sheboygan as the pastor detailed how membership was down, giving was down, expenses were up and people were becoming disenchanted.


..."And I knew that people had this big hunger inside of them to ask the big questions of life: 'Is there a God? Does he love me? What does he want me to be doing?' Those kinds of questions can be answered in a Catholic community."

This goes against the conventional wisdom that the big hunger is for a fund drive. If your parish has had a major building project, compare the effort put into that compared to the effort put into evangelization.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Opera, "The Coronation of Poppea."

We also attended the performance which Gregory G. H. Rihn reviews.
The UWM production seemed it was not quite sure what direction to take. There were attempts to "naughty" it up a bit, with Poppea slinking around in her nightgown for most of the show, and some gratuitious bathing-suit scenes for Octavia's servants. Arnaulta has a "bathtub" scene, attended on by two more men in swimming trunks. Nero receives the news of Seneca's death reclining in bed in shirt and boxer shorts, accompanied by his "intimate friend" the poet Lucan (Kerry Kuplic); the two of them appear to be sharing a "joint". The set was an attractive Roman villa front that acted as the street in front of Poppea's house, Seneca's garden, or the Palace as needed. However, costumes for the mortals were rather a hodgepodge of modern dress (soldiers wearing some of the same desert-camo fatigues we saw in "L'Ormindo") with the gods in classical draperies.

... The crossdressed roles of Nero and Arnaulta were provided with very convincing makeup, hairstyle and costume, but could have benefited from a bit more movement coaching.
Charlie Sykes posted on Juno, A Remarkable Movie. Among the remarks,
Some "pro-choice" advocates are quite upset about its portrayal...
Based on some conversation heard during intermission at The Coronation of Poppea, someone sitting near us had similar objections.

Catholic Knights presents Living Our Faith with Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Episode #10

Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba visits the Living Our Faith set to talk about the importance of ecumencial and interfaith activities in the archdiocese.

The program is available for download.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sifting and sorting: Welcoming elements of culture into our liturgical life

This "Herald of Hope" column by Bishop Richard J. Sklba appeared in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
If, as I pointed out last month, we have an obligation to critique the American culture within which we live...
His critique included that "There also seems to be a rampant militarism in our attitude toward life." such as how we "... make khaki-colored clothing so trendy for adults ...". (see this earlier post)
...[then] we also are invited to incorporate that culture wisely into our life of faith.

Which introduces his subject.
Shortly before Christmas I presided over the annual celebration of the Winter Solstice at our Native American Catholic Congregation of the Great Spirit.

His 2006 celebration lead to an exchange of emails with David Anthony Domet of Vox Cantor, in which the Bishop concluded,
I would encourage you to come directly to me for any explanation you might find helpful, and certainly to do so in the spirit of charity and truth which we owe each other.

I must admit I haven't asked him to elaborate on his denunciation of some of my pants.

Nun sentenced for sex crimes in 1960s

Georgia Pabst reports in the NewsWatch Weblog of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the conviction of Sister Norma Giannini, 79, on two counts of two felony counts of indecent behavior with a child. The charges arose out of activities in the 1960s involving two boys who were students at a Catholic school at which she was principal.
It's unclear when anyone first alerted authorites in the church or law enforcement about the activity, but in 1996, when the Milwaukee Archdiocese Response to Sexual Abuse panel questioned her, she said, "I thought I was in love with both of them," according to court records.

She was charged as a result of court proceedings in 2006.

(via Dad29)