Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

Steven A. Holmes reported in The New York Times, September 30, 1999
"Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements," said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. "Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market."

...

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

"From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us," said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry."

(via InstaPundit)

More Changes On The Way

This item in St. Al's September 21, 2008 bulletin gives one view of coming changes in the Mass translations.
The requirement from Rome is that all translations must be a literal translation from the Latin.

This might be a less than literal interpretation of Liturgiam authenticam.
The bishop in charge of the liturgy for the US Conference of Bishops recently wrote an article raising serious concerns about the appropriateness of a literal translation.

See U.S. Catholic Bishops' Liturgy Chair Raises Concerns Over New Worship Texts.
For example, instead of the congregation responding to "The Lord be with you" with "and also with you," it will now be "and with your spirit."

How spiritu ever became "also" remains unexplained.
This demand of the literal can often result in a stilted version.

Though it's not as if we're packing 'em in with the current approach.
Apparently his concerns were not approved by the US Bishops and confirmed by Rome.

Here are the changes.
In the end, it is the Power of the Holy Sprit [sic] that works through the liturgy. It is important not to get overly concerned about the details and miss the main power of our worship.

I'm convinced they're not overly concerned about the details.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Is it a sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate for president?

From the "Ask a Priest" Q&A in Living Our Faith September 28, 2008, page 2, Father Paul Hartmann answers,
I would offer two insights. First, sadly the abortion mentality is so pervasive in American culture; a devout, pro-life Catholic may not have a bona fide pro-life choice in elections. Second, moral theology teaches us that there is a difference between direct consequences (i.e. a Catholic cannot vote for someone with the intent of expanding or perpetuating abortion) and indirect consequences (this would be choosing the politician who, when no truly pro-life option is available, is the best on the gamut of issues encompassed by Catholic social teaching).

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's "Living Our Faith" website has a Faithful Citizenship page with links to essays commissioned by the U.S. Bishops on a number of topics.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Catholic book raises furor

Julia Duin in her Stairway to Heaven column in yesterday's Washington Times on a late entry on the Index of Prohibited Books, Philip F. Lawler's The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture.
Mr. Lawler said other Catholic bookstores across the country have either taken his book off their shelves or are refusing to carry it. The first printing of 7,500, he added, has sold out.

I notice the local library system has three copies.

Update: In the Comments, "Aquinas" provides a brief review of the book.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Show us the Messiah! Torquay lifts its ban on Monty Python's Life of Brian

The Times of London reports
Organisers of a comedy film festival in the seaside resort next week have been obliged to get special dispensation after discovering that the film was still on the local authority's blacklist, 28 years after its release.

Specifically, it had assigned the film an "X certificate", meaning only persons over 18 could view it in theaters, and distributors wouldn't show it under that rating.

It remains banned in Aberystwyth, though Mayor wants Python film ban ended .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

First Thing We Do, Let's Retain All the Lawyers

Jake Tapper and Matt Jaffe at Political Punch on Democratic Vice-presidential nominee Senator Joseph Biden's address to the American Association for Justice
Biden said that he's "done more than any other senator combined" for trial lawyers.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel at Trinity Academy October 16, 2008

Father Groeschel, founder of the Capuchin Friars of the Renewal, is the featured speaker at his year's Fall Dinner for Trinity, one of the independent Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

EthicsPoint

At its website
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is committed to accountability to members of the Catholic community on a wide variety of issues.

But some are more accountable than others.
Because we take our responsibility for sound stewardship so seriously, we have partnered with EthicsPoint to provide a confidential tool for the reporting of possible financial misconduct within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The program includes a toll-free telephone number and a link on the ArchMil home page.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Q&A on MPS board vote

Alan J. Borsuk in the September 20, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That's the Milwaukee Public Schools board and the vote was that MPS to explore dissolving district. Among the Q&A
Q.Is MPS really in such bad shape?

A. Yes and no. On the no side, you can walk into any of the 200-plus schools operating as part of MPS and find a generally smooth operation, with teachers and students doing what they're supposed to do.

Leaving aside, among other things, that Half of MPS students regularly skip school, report shows.
Life goes on in the schools, and many of those schools are a lot better than many in the public realize.

Custer High School had a 98% truancy rate, so there must have been schools with a much lower rate for the district to have a 46% average.

So much for the good news.
On the yes side, the system is under enormous pressure to improve achievement overall for students and to cope with a financial picture that MPS leaders portray as grim. The squeeze on the district in terms of taxes, costs and services is growing every year, with no relief in sight.

Chalice as disease vector

From St. Al's August 31, 2008 bulletin, "Preparing The Communion Cups".
Several years ago a directive was issued by the Vatican instructing all parishes to conform to a modified way of preparing the communion cups. Many liturgists and pastors were not convinced that the rationale for the change was adequate and thus a good number of parishes suspended the implementation.

That's been a contagious attitude. There has also been a continuing trend of parishioners suspending implentation of giving to the parish or attending Sunday Mass. More recently I've seen indications more Catholics have suspended implementation of having their children baptized.
As the months passed it became more and more clear that our local diocesan leadership was expecting this modification to be implemented.

No more ad experimentum? First the cafeteria, now they're trying to close the lab.
Consequently, more and more parishes are doing so.

Including St. Al's. Who knows, someday the parish Mass would be the same as described in the order of worship in the hymnals in the pews and the texts used in Christian Formation, and pastors will again preach on Luke 7:8.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The railroad not taken

Jim Rowen summarizes the case against rail transit in last Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In the late 1990s, a transit package was proposed that included,
- Highways: Marquette Interchange and east-west corridor reconstruction with special carpool and bus lanes from downtown Milwaukee to Highway J in Waukesha County: $1.32 billion.

- Light rail: The starter line in Milwaukee County: $330 million.

- Buses: Greatly expanded bus service connecting Waukesha and Milwaukee counties: $90 million.

Just a "starter line" would have cost a fourth as much as the freeway reconstruction, and about three and one-half times as much as the bus service improvements. The accompanying graphic on "What could have been" shows what is essentially a re-creation of the Wauwatosa branch of the Number 10 streetcar line.

When streetcars were replaced with buses on that line in 1958, the Wauwatosa branch was eliminated. Buses instead continued straight west on Wisconsin Avenue and Blue Mound Road. Interstate 94 now parallels that route across town, as well as the route of the rail rapid transit line abandoned in 1951. (See Why the light rail hysteria?.) As I recall, building a light rail line in that corridor was controversial because of cost and the need to acquire right of way. As a result, the proposal was a route that attempted to meander around controversy at an additional cost in running time, and still at a cost of a third of a billion dollars.

The Dueling express bus plans of Milwaukee County Executive Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett instead propose bus rapid transit on a straight east-west cross-town alignment. Assuming bus rapid transit draws fewer riders than rail, it would seem possible to set a bus ridership level on the line which, if achieved, would make building a rail line attractive.

That would still leave the right of way problem. Perhaps the City should have suggested giving up a lane each way for rail transit in the freeway median.

Font of wisdom

The St. Al's building project of a few years back included a baptismal pool just inside the entrance to the "worship space". Such pools for baptism by immersion were all the rage way back then. (At St. Al's, I've been told, there was a miscalculation and a tall adult climbing in risks a concussion on the low ceiling. Perhaps that can be corrected after the project mortgage is paid off circa 2028.)

With our pastor declining to deal with an associate pastor from the current crop, see Time of Change, even more baptisms are done during Sunday Mass. Since the pool is near the entrance, it's behind us when we're seated at Mass. The attempted fix has been to set up a video camera and projector so we can watch the baptisms on the big screen.

The font location thus virtually defeats (or defeats virtually) any non-workload purpose of having baptisms at Mass, so our pastor, in the August 24, 2008 bulletin, tells of possible Baptismal Procedure changes ahead.
each family having a child baptized would take some water from the font and carry it in a pitcher into church during the entrance procession and pour the water into a suitable container in the front of church. This water from the font would be used for the baptisms. By doing this we would incorporate the font into the baptisms while still enabling family and congregation to view the baptisms directly.

Watch for the next generation of liturgical consultants to tell us it's essential to build a Baptistry.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Paulson plan could cost $1 trillion

Mike Allen reports at Politico.
Congressional leaders said after meeting Thursday evening with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that as much as $1 trillion could be needed to avoid an imminent meltdown of the U.S. financial system.

Reacting to the news, the ghost of Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL) was quoted as saying "A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."

2008 Archdiocese of Milwaukee Accountability Statement

At the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, an introduction to the 2008 Annual Update to the Faithful of Southeastern Wisconsin Regarding the Archdiocesan Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy. In the Update, page 1, Archbishop Dolan says.
I remain grateful to those who continually challenge us to do "more" and "better" as a Church.

On page 2 it summarizes the Safeguarding All of God's Family program. There's more on it at the Archdiocesan web site.

On page 3, our Archdiocese continues to insist on calling the mediation system it set up as "Independent". There's also a mention of the Restricted Diocesan Priests due to Substantiated Reports of Sexual Abuse of a Minor, though without indicating where the priests had been assigned and when.

On page 5 there's a breakdown of the Financial Impact of Clergy Sexual Abuse in the last fiscal year. The total of $1,643,759
includes $876,156 for therapy-related and victims/survivors assistance costs, including mediation agreements; $17,324 for mediator fees for mediation; $12,576 for expenses related to the audit for compliance with the Dallas Charter; and $737,703 for general attorney fees and other expenses.

What's the cumulative financial impact?
Through June 30, 2008, the overall financial impact to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee of the clergy sexual abuse issue involving a diocesan priest and a minor was $26,571.821.

That does not include the financial impact on religious orders from sexual abuse involving their members and minors in the Archdiocese.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Other people’s ideas

Lydialyle Gibson in the University of Chicago magazine, July/August 2008, on Tanya Menon,
A behavioral scientist who studies organizational culture and decision-making patterns, Menon has spent more than a decade analyzing how businesses and businesspeople assess new ideas and why they often fail to grasp the value of innovations developed within their own ranks.

The article reviews several examples in support of an explanation.
“Organizations have a difficult task in finding out what’s a good idea or a bad idea, and they use all kinds of shortcuts,” Menon says. “But outsiders’ opinions are the shortcuts you use to identify what’s a good idea, you lose your ability to internally generate innovation. ..."

Diamond and Kashyap on the Recent Financial Upheavals

Steven D. Levitt at Freakonomics in The New York Times
In what follows, they discuss what has happened in the financial sector in the last few days, why it happened, and what it means for everyday people.

(via Althouse)

Faithful Citizenship

With an election upcoming, the September 7, 2008 bulletin at St. Al's included the Catholic Update version of this insert. The pastor also discussed it in his homily, concluding with a mention of life issues, including abortion. While there have been rose sales for right to life causes, and life issues have sometimes been included in the Prayer of the Faithful, I don't recall a previous mention of the word "abortion" in a homily in almost two decades of attending Mass at St. Al's.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fannie Mae and the Vast Bipartisan Conspiracy

Jack Shafer at Slate
The blowup and bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by taxpayers was foretold so many times in the last three decades by critics of the two federally chartered and subsidized mortgage giants that not even the data-searching powers of Nexis, Factiva, and Google combined can total them. ...

P.S. New Agency Proposed to Oversee Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, The New York Times, September 11, 2003

(via Just One Minute)

Contemporary Christian Music Label Offers Free Downloads of Five Songs

A reader points us to this September 9, 2008 press release.
PORTLAND, Ore.--Spiritandsong.com, the contemporary music division of OCP, today announced a unique promotion called "5 For 5 For Free." For a five-hour window, fans are being invited to download five songs from an exciting new musician for free.

You might think that acronym OCP seemed to have some Catholic association, though that's not what you might think when this division is pitched as a "Contemporary Christian Music Label". At the moment, that word "Catholic" isn't on Spirit and Song's home page. For that matter, the OCP home page doesn't contain the word "Catholic", either. Nor does the About OCP page. The word does turn up in the OCP History, where OCP turns out to be Oregon Catholic Press. If you happen to check the Spirit and Song web site's About Us page it does say it
is THE place for contemporary Catholic music

I assume OCP and S&S are marketing to a broader Christian market, but they might strike some as a bit reticent about their Catholic connection. Reticent, at least, compared to "when its time to sell liturgical resources", as the referring reader put it.

Flight’s First Fatal Trip

One hundred years ago today, as reported by Matthew L. Wald in The New York Times, July 27, 2008.
Orville Wright was showing off a new “aeroplane” at Fort Myer, Va., for about 2,000 people, including Army brass. He took up a 26-year-old lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps, Thomas E. Selfridge, “an aeroplanist himself,” according to the report in this newspaper.

Earlier that year, Lt. Selfridge had been the first military officer to pilot an airplane.
Contemporary accounts vary, but the pair apparently made three and a half successful circuits at an altitude of about 75 feet, before a propeller split and hit other parts of the plane, causing it to crash.

Selfridge was killed, Wright badly injured. With his brother Wilbur, he continued work on improving airplane design.
“My brothers will pursue these tests until the machines are as near perfect as it is possible to make them,” Lorin Wright told reporters right after the crash, “if they are not killed in the meantime.”

Monday, September 15, 2008

Parish, shrine examples of vibrant Catholic faith

In this "Herald of Hope" column in the August 11, 2008 issue of the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, the parish Archbishop Dolan is referring to is Sacred Heart Croatian. The Herald had previously reported that the parish "exceeded their Faith In Our Future goal of $160,000 by more than $45,000." Our Archbishop writes,
they designated some of their own parish portion (not the 40 percent already going for the needs of the archdiocesan church) for our seminary, for our inner-city Catholic schools, for the Franciscan missions, and for the church in Croatia!

Now this, folks, is stewardship!

It's part of stewardship, but isn't the other part that the money is well-spent?
This success story at Sacred Heart is a great antidote for a few other parishes who report that "we have no trouble raising money for our own parish needs, but we do not want a penny to go to the diocese or other causes!" These parishes might be raising money; they're sure not practicing stewardship.

They are if they don't have confidence in the people who spend the money at the diocese or those other causes.

Men becoming priests at mid-life

Bob Holliday reported in the Bloomington Daily Pantagraph on the priesthood as second career.
Paul Sullins, a professor at the Catholic University of America, said the average age at ordination has risen by 10 to 15 years since the 1970s — part of a national trend toward increased education and later-life commitments.

Sacred Hearts Seminary here in Franklin specializes in such late vocations.

(via Drudge Report)

If good means rhetorical

The news that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to get its first married priest, a married former Lutheran minister since ordained, gets a paragraph in the "From the Pastor's Desk" column in the August 10, 2008 bulletin at St. Al's.
In any case, today we have these married men willing to serve our church as priests. Some Catholics have asked about the logic of welcoming these married men to serve as priests and not allowing the same for married lifelong Catholics. It is a good question.

The page count of the bulletin has been down, so space constraints might have precluded answering it or referring to the Q & A: How married clergy become priests. It's a question I cover as a catechist, but that's only one tenth grade class at the parish, see bulletin page 3

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Biden Releases 10 Years of Tax Returns

At TaxProf Blog, reassurance that Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) is in the Catholic mainstream.
Despite income ranging from $210,432 - $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given only $120 - $995 per year to charity, which amounts to 0.06% - 0.31% of their income...

(via Althouse)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Creation Myth

John B. Judis on What Barack Obama won't tell you about his community organizing past, The New Republic, September 10, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kumbaya?

Delece Smith-Barrow at The Root on why she chose a PWI [Predominantly White Institution] over an HBCU [Historically Black College or University].

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Respect for Unborn Human Life: The Church’s Constant Teaching

The U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued this Fact Sheet,
In response to those who say this teaching has changed or is of recent origin...

This refers to remarks by U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Meet the Press August 24, 2008. Among other things, she asserted that Catholic Church teaching that human life begins at conception dates back "like maybe 50 years or something like that." It was that late 1950s crackdown, with Pope John XXIII opening the windows because the Inquisition was switching to defenestration.

(via Archdiocese of Milwaukee)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wichita line men

Back in July, the St. Al's bulletin and Franklin's suburban weekly ran ads from our Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Catholic schools. Both referenced the Catholic Schools Strategic Education Plan. More interesting than what the Plan proposes is what it does not (p. 19).
The Wichita model

The Catholic school system in the Diocese of Wichita offers the children of active Catholic parishioners a tuition-free grade school and high school education. “In the stewardship way of life, Catholic schools are parochial; they are funded by the entire parish,” the diocese declared. “They are not private schools that are owned and operated by those who use them. Therefore, every parish family is encouraged to contribute eight percent of their income to the parish.” This model, and similar funding models used in Lutheran schools, merit further exploration.

We likewise hear of smaller dioceses that are ordaining many more men to the priesthood. What we do not hear is why the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is not already at work to adopt or adapt what these other dioceses are doing.

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