Friday, November 28, 2008

Burke's Conservatism

In an appendix to his book Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered (1967), Russell Kirk notes that "conservative" as a political term was coined in the early Nineteenth Century to refer to a political concept based on Burke's ideas. Kirk summarizes these as a politics of prudence and prescription, disposed to preserve a country's institutions while able to reform them. Kirk says Burke's own best summary is in this passage from Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) [paragraphs 278-297].
Rage and phrensy will pull down more in half an hour, than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years. The errors and defects of old establishments are visible and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them out; and where absolute power is given, it requires but a word wholly to abolish the vice and the establishment together. The same lazy but restless disposition, which loves sloth and hates quiet, directs the politicians, when they come to work for supplying the place of what they have destroyed. To make everything the reverse of what they have seen is quite as easy as to destroy. No difficulties occur in what has never been tried. Criticism is almost baffled in discovering the defects of what has not existed; and eager enthusiasm and cheating hope have all the wide field of imagination, in which they may expatiate with little or no opposition.

At once to preserve and to reform is quite another thing. When the useful parts of an old establishment are kept, and what is superadded is to be fitted to what is retained, a vigorous mind, steady, persevering attention, various powers of comparison and combination, and the resources of an understanding fruitful in expedients, are to be exercised; they are to be exercised in a continued conflict with the combined force of opposite vices, with the obstinacy that rejects all improvement, and the levity that is fatigued and disgusted with everything of which it is in possession. But you may object—“A process of this kind is slow. It is not fit for an assembly, which glories in performing in a few months the work of ages. Such a mode of reforming, possibly, might take up many years.” Without question it might; and it ought. It is one of the excellencies of a method in which time is amongst the assistants, that its operation is slow, and in some cases almost imperceptible. If circumspection and caution are a part of wisdom, when we work only upon inanimate matter, surely they become a part of duty too, when the subject of our demolition and construction is not brick and timber, by sentient beings, by the sudden alteration of whose state, condition, and habits, multitudes may be rendered miserable. But it seems as if it were the prevalent opinion in Paris, that an unfeeling heart, and an undoubting confidence, are the sole qualifications for a perfect legislator. Far different are my ideas of that high office. The true lawgiver ought to have a heart full of sensibility. He ought to love and respect his kind, and to fear himself. It may be allowed to his temperament to catch his ultimate object with an intuitive glance; but his movements towards it ought to be deliberate. Political arrangement, as it is a work for social ends, is to be only wrought by social means. There mind must conspire with mind. Time is required to produce that union of minds which alone can produce all the good we aim at. Our patience will achieve more than our force. If I might venture to appeal to what is so much out of fashion in Paris, I mean to experience, I should tell you, that in my course I have known, and, according to my measure, have co-operated with great men; and I have never yet seen any plan which has not been mended by the observations of those who were much inferior in understanding to the person who took the lead in the business. By a slow but well-sustained progress, the effect of each step is watched; the good or ill success of the first gives light to us in the second; and so, from light to light, we are conducted with safety through the whole series. We see that the parts or the system do not clash. The evils latent in the most promising contrivances are provided for as they arise. One advantage is as little as possible sacrificed to another. We compensate, we reconcile, we balance. We are enabled to unite into a consistent whole the various anomalies and contending principles that are found in the minds and affairs of men. From hence arises, not an excellence in simplicity, but one far superior, an excellence in composition. Where the great interests of mankind are concerned through a long succession of generations, that succession ought to be admitted into some share in the councils, which are so deeply to affect them. If justice requires this, the work itself requires the aid of more minds than one age can furnish. It is from this view of things that the best legislators have been often satisfied with the establishment of some sure, solid, and ruling principle in government; a power like that which some of the philosophers have called a plastic nature; and having fixed the principle, they have left it afterwards to its own operation.

See Conservative [definition]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let go of my hand so I can shake yours

The Associated Press reported Pope pondering change to Mass liturgy. Cardinal Francis Arinze said that Pope Benedict is considering changing the Sign of Peace to earlier in the Mass.

Shaking hands might seem like a more significant gesture if it wasn't with some of the same people whose hands one was just holding during the Lord's Prayer. See My Father? Our Father? and Our Father Who art holding hands

(via James Martin, S.J. at In All Things)

Regional meeting details finalized

In the November 2008 Living Our Faith newsletter (page 3)
Newly appointed Coordinator of Parish Mission Mark Kemmeter ... urges everyone to read the Vision 21 documents ... and to attend one of the meetings.

See Mark Kemmeter Named Archdiocesan Coordinator of Parish Mission and Living Our Faith in the 21st Century. The usual format of these meetings is to have a presentation to all in attendance, then breaking up into small groups. The small groups select someone as reporter, and have several points to discuss, with several minutes alloted to each. The group reporters then line up and give their summary of the discussion.

That invitation to "everyone" turns out to mean
Pastors and parish directors, parish trustees, council members and staff are all invited to join Bishop William Callahan and archdiocesan leaders as we ask the questions:
[1] What encourages you?
[2] What surmountable challenges do you think we face?
[3] What do we need to take back the drawing board?

1. If nothing else, it's encouraging that Archbishop Dolan is outwardly immune to discouragement.

2. Someone told me that a review of a parish council's minutes disclosed that off and on for thirty years one agenda item was that the janitor wasn't emptying a wastebasket at the far corner of the building. That was about ten years ago so I suggest we check back and see if the problem has been solved. If so, then we'll know that the structures and processes in place can surmount a challenge of that size in forty years or less.

3. The drawing board is the problem, that is, the approach to planning that produces ever more administrative overhead, like more committees with more meetings, but few, if any, goals stated in terms of objective and measurable results.

See St. Dilbert's

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

U.S. Court Allows Abuse Case vs. Vatican

Susan Sataline of The Wall Street Journal reports on the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in O'Brien v. Holy See (07-5078).

The court held the Holy See may be sued under the tortious act exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [FSIA] where it is alleged bishops knew of sexual abuse by priests, failed to act on that knowledge, this failure caused the plaintiffs' damages, all while those bishops were employees of the Holy See. That is, if the plaintiffs can prove these allegations, the Holy See would be liable, and so the denial of the Holy See's motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint was affirmed.

Plaintiffs allege sexual abuse in the 1970s, 1960s, and 1920s.

The plaintiffs' complaint includes allegations regarding the Instruction on the Manner of Proceeding in Cases of Solicitation, approved by Pope John XXIII March 16, 1962.

(via SNAP Network)

Generations Betrayed

Only a small minority of American priests--2-3 percent, by most calculations--were ever accused of sexual abuse, whereas the vast majority of bishops were involved in the cover-up effort. Nevertheless all priests were treated like members of a suspect class, while bishops preserved all their dignity and privileges.
--Philip F. Lawler, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture (2008), p. 191

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Archdiocese prepares for return to court

Posted back on October 28, 2008, at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee website, the word "return" if taken literally would mean Circuit Court, not Bankruptcy Court. The current cases against our Archdiocese allege a kind of fraud, and the statute of limitations does not begin to run on a fraud claim until the fraud is discovered. Our Archdiocese's position is the passage of decades makes it unfairly difficult to defend these claims. While one of its lawyers is quoted, it is not clear if this has been asserted as a defense in the pending cases, or is only for public relations.

Also quoted is Barbara Anne Cusack, chancellor of the Archdiocese.
Cusack also said that there are implications about how abuse is viewed by church leaders and mental health professionals today versus when the abuse occurred years ago.

“It’s very easy to take today’s understanding of child abuse and to superimpose it on mentalities of 40 years ago,” she said. “I don’t think anyone 40 years ago thought it was okay, but they did not understand the impact, did not understand the psychology; it was considered a moral failing.”

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki claimed it was 50 years ago, see Carrying the Cross in a Litigious Culture. So up until 40 or 50 years ago bishops thought of priests molesting children as practically a victimless crime?

Suppose 40 or 50 years ago there was a published report that Catholic bishops thought priests molesting children had only limited psychological impact on the children. I say it would have been denounced as an anti-Catholic slander. Chancellor Cusack says it would have been acknowledged as policy.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s TV Show Premieres November 29

That's the season premiere for a second season of Living Our Faith, part of our Archdiocese's evangelization initiative of the same name.
Each program features inspirational guests and informational feature stories from throughout the archdiocese, an “Ask the Archbishop” segment where Archbishop Dolan answers questions submitted to askthearchbishop@archmil.org, as well as a closing reflection from Archbishop Dolan.

Past shows are archived.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Butterfly' doesn't take off

Tom Strini in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews the Florentine Opera Company's production of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly.
well-sung, prettily designed, conventional, competent and not especially engaging.

We can put a finger on a handful of problems, all of them small - quibbles, even. But they add up.

We attended Saturday's performance, and I don't take issue with his review. On the other hand the memory of a well-sung Un bel di vedremo can stick with you when all else is forgotten.

P.S. I got to wondering whatever happened to young Pinkerton and discovered Saegusa's 'Butterfly' sequel---Composer takes opera tale from daggers to A-bombs. Shigeaki Saegusa wrote a sequel, unfortunately titled "Jr. Butterfly", that premiered in Tokyo on April 6, 2004, the centennial of the premiere of Puccini's original. Joi Ito summarizes,
It is set before, during and after WWII. The half-Japanese half-American Jr. Butterfly is an intelligence officer for the Americans and falls in love with a Japanese girl. At the core of the story is the love story between Jr. Butterfly and the girl, but the opera covers a lot of ground such as the identity struggle of Jr. Butterfly's chanpon [mixed] background and the intentions of the US vis a vis war with Japan before the war. Also, with Madam Butterfly originally set in Nagasaki, the role of Nagasaki in the closure of the war ties it all together.

BonGusto reported the 52nd Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, Italy, featured the Sakai City Opera and the first performance outside Japan of Junior Butterfly,
telling the story of Cho cho san and Pinkerton's son, against the background of the second world war and the tragedy of the nuclear bomb. The opera will be performed on the 3rd and 9th August [2006], the latter date celebrating [sic] the 51st anniversary of the Nagasaky [sic] bomb.

The BonGusto report includes more commentary "Upon Jr Butterfly, by Shigeaki Saegusa".

Harmony enriches Trio Mediaeval's austere melodies

Elaine Schmidt in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Presented under the Early Music Now Series, the three vocalists were joined by percussionist Terje Isungset, who served as something of a medieval backup band, playing ram's horn, jaw harp and an intriguing collection of simple percussion instruments.

The "jaw harp" is another name for the Jew's harp, mouth harp, Ozark harp, or marranzano pancake. At Friday's performance at All Saints Cathedral, it's use with Norwegian folk songs had me thinking "My name-ame is Yon-n Yon-n-son-n, I live-ive in-n Wiscon-n-sin-n" but others in attendance were fascinated by how versatile it could be.

Friday, November 21, 2008

'Mistakes were made'

The quote is from a statement by Jerry Topczewski, speaking on behalf of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, when asked to comment about the just-published transcript of a deposition of former Archbishop Rembert Weakland. See Deposition of Archbishop Emeritus Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B. (complete transcript)

Wikipedia explains,
"Mistakes were made" is an expression that is commonly used as a rhetorical device, whereby a speaker acknowledges that a situation was handled poorly or inappropriately but seeks to evade any direct admission or accusation of responsibility by using the passive voice. The acknowledgement of "mistakes" is framed in an abstract sense, with no direct reference to who made the mistakes.

For further reading, see Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (reviewed at Amazon).

Mr. Topczewski's statment is included in Marie Rohde's story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, headlined Weakland spreads the blame.

At WTMJ-TV "NBC 4" More Weakland Deposition Video Released, by Mick Trevey and Katie DeLong

At WITI "Fox 6", Milwaukee Catholic Sexual Assault Scandal Unravels

At WISN-TV "ABC 12" Milwaukee DA Reviewing Clergy Abuse Deposition

At WDJT "CBS 58" Was Weakland following church orders?

(via SNAP Network)

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Liturgists discuss decline in Mass attendance

It's good liturgy that keeps people coming back.
--Rev. Alan Jurkus, September 12, 2007

Amy Guckeen reported in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, October 23, 2008.

It's a startling development not because declining Mass attendance is news. What's startling is liturgists discussing it. My efforts to raise the issue when on the St. Al's parish council in the 1990s went nowhere. I later learned this was because increased Mass attendance would violate parish policy against anything that might involve any significant amount of more work for the staff.

At any rate, the decline apparently has reached the point where even parish liturgists had to consider the possibility that their jobs were connected in some way to parishioners in the pews. [It's just an expression; most liturgists appear to be opposed to pews, as such, see E. A. Sovik, Architecture for Worship (1973) pp. 77-81.] The article cites responses to a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
From the survey of 1,007 self-identified Catholics, 20 percent attend Mass every week, 11 percent attend almost every week, 10 percent attend once or twice a month, and 3 percent attend more than once a week. Thirty two percent attend rarely or never.

That's a survey, not a census. If people shade their responses, I assume it would be toward saying they attend more often than they do. Why don't they attend?
Respondents to the CARA survey placed higher importance on feeling the presence of God at Mass and receiving the Eucharist as opposed to the homily, music and environment.

If you want to hear that such opinions are ridiculous, you might raise them at St. Al's.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Every parish should have a Catholic grade school

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, October 16, 2008, on implementing a decree of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884).
What I do mean is that every parish, even if it does not have its own school, should claim a neighboring one. That parish would then encourage their children to go there, help them pay tuition at the school, and support that school with financial help and volunteers as if it were on their own property.

At St. Al's, I've heard parish staffers say we should close the school because it uses too much of parish resources. My response these days is that based on the relative effectiveness of use of those resources, it would make more sense to keep the school open and close the parish.

Deposition of Archbishop Emeritus Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B. (complete transcript)

at Bishop Accountability, with hyperlinks by topics and to exhibits

(via SNAP Network)

See Lawyer releases deposition by Weakland in fraud case


Update: Church hierarchy stalled priest ousters, Weakland testifies, by Marie Rohde, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Cardinal Stritch envisions 800 students at Cousins site

Chantel Balzell reports in St. Francis Now on Cardinal Stritch University's proposed South Shore Campus development.
Stritch officials have reached a preliminary purchase agreement with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the 44-acre Cousins Center site, 3501 S. Lake Drive. They also want to purchase 80 acres owned by We Energies nearby for athletic fields, parking structures and a field house.

The former purchase has not yet closed and the latter is being negotiated. Both might be contingent on Stritch obtaining its requested changes in the zoning for the properties.

See 'Best, highest use' marks Stritch purchase of Cousins Center

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Introverts and Extroverts and the Spiritual Journey

This column by liturgical satirist Father Ronald Rolhieser, OMI, ran in the November 13, 2008 Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
Conversely, sometimes it is when we are most social, sharing with others, that we sense most deeply the mystery of God's ineffable presence, even as it is sometimes when we are most alone and silent in prayer that we feel most strongly that God is absent.

See U.S. bishops give new translation thumbs-down.

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Handing on the church to the next generation

Bishop Richard J. Sklba in the "Herald of Hope" column in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, September 18, 2008, is concerned about American individualism.
The plethora of partisan factions can destroy ecclesial unity as well as political processes.

Isn't he of the same faction as a self-described "maverick" Archbishop?

And aren't his newspaper column vocabulary choices odd for someone of the faction objecting to big words like "ineffable" in the Mass? See Diachronic apostolicity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two caveats for the dotcommonweal crowd.

From its contributor Cathleen Kaveny on visiting The Happiest Place in the World
1. There is no irony at Disneyland. Moreover, there is no second naivete–there is only first naivete.

Ironically, after this discussion of naivete, she has to warn them
2. It’s extremely expensive.

Parents are divinely appointed teachers

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, September 18, 2008.
a child who hears at school or CCD class that weekly worship at Sunday Mass is a necessary part of Catholic life, but whose parents prefer sleeping-in, Starbucks, and the New York Times on Sunday morning, is confused, to say the least.

Of course, if the family does show up at Mass, the child might be able to point out that the parish liturgy doesn't conform to the description in the textbook.

Monday, November 17, 2008

2007 - 2008 Archdiocese of Milwaukee Financial Statement

On Friday, November 14, 2008 our Archdiocese posted its financial statement for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007 and June 30, 2008.

Note 8 Accrued Mediation and Litigation Settlements (pages 13-14) repeats that
In January 2004, the Archdiocese established an independent mediation system to address reports of diocesan clergy sexual abuse of minors.

As I've said before, usually mediators are selected by agreement of the parties to the dispute. By setting up a mediation system on its own, our Archdiocese made the selection of mediators independent in the sense of being independent of the people claiming abuse. As I read the figures, mediation and litigation settlements, and therapy and other victim assistance expense were:
2007 paid: $5,688,169
2008 paid: $917,486
and
2007 accrued: $1,807,978
2008 accrued: $1,090,092
The Note goes on,
The Archdiocese currently is a defendant in seven Wisconsin lawsuits alleging personal injuries.

This omits that the cases allege fraud on the part of our Archdiocese, see Lawyer releases deposition by Weakland in fraud case.
Management has not accrued any additional expense in connection with these cases as management intends to vigorously defend the claims

Sounds expensive, and how expensive isn't estimated in this report.
and the outcome is uncertain.

Maybe financial statement jargon has changed. It might reassure someone to read that fraud cases against the Archdiocese are considered by it to be "without merit" as opposed to "the outcome is uncertain". From the facts available and what I see in the Wisonsin Civil Jury Instructions, I don't see how the plaintiffs in these cases can prove all the elements of a claim for on misrepresentation. If I'm right on that, then I'd expect to see the defense bring motions for summary judgment. If, however, the Archdiocese can't get the cases dismissed short of trial, then I'd expect the Archdiocese to file for bankruptcy.

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Hola, Luther

The Economist, Nov 6, 2008, reported on a cultural milestone, Chile making October 31st a holiday.
It marks the date in 1517 when Martin Luther pinned his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, starting the Protestant Reformation.

How Protestant is it?
In the latest census in 2002 in a once staunchly Catholic country, 15% of Chileans said they were “evangelicals” (a synonym in Latin America for Protestants).

This is not limited to Chile.
More than 15% of Brazilians and over 20% of Guatemalans are now evangelicals.

More specifically, most are Pentecostals.
the embrace of Protestantism by Latin America’s socially aspirational poor looks like an inexorable trend.

While the Catholic Church advocates a preferential option for the poor, many prefer the option of becoming not poor.

Living Our Faith in the 21st Century

You might have wondered whatever happened to the Vision 21, the latest round of planning for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The October 2008 Living Our Faith newsletter (page 3) reports.
The fruit of his [Very Rev. James L. Connell, Vicar of Planning] 10-month study is Living Our Faith in the 21st Century, a pastoral plan for the future of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The 2008 Vision 21 Final Recommendations to the Archbishop are mercifully summarized.
According to Noreen Welte, coordinator of parish mission, the plan envisions our parishes and clusters of parishes being served by ministerial teams, made up of priests, deacons and lay men and women certified for particular ministries. The teams would be commissioned by the archbishop to share the spiritual, pastoral, educational and administrative leadership of the parishes they serve. This manner of leadership is already happening in Fond du Lac, and in our larger parishes where pastors have taken the initiative to develop their staffs into teams of leaders.

Fr. O'Connell suggested larger consolidated parishes from the start, see 'Energizing Our Vibrancy', and a version of that remains the template. The reference to Fond du Lac is to Holy Family Church, formed from the consolidation of six parishes, see New churches symbolize hope in future. The available statistics, the District 8 Planning Commission Report 2006-07, indicate that between 2005 and 2006 Holy Family's registered members declined from 15,426 to 15,348 and Sunday Mass attendance declined from 5,595 (36%) to 4,875 (31%).

Before signing off on the plan, Archbishop Dolan will have a series of meetings with "pastors, directors, deacons, parish council and staff members" at the beginning of December.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's a gas

This ad for the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette was reportedly pulled out of concern it would be taken too literally by impressionable young minds.



It was the introductory year for the sixth generation, or "C6" Corvette. Lately it's a question which is more likely from General Motors, a C7 Corvette or C7 bankruptcy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Must have been a Yankees fan

In his book Common Ground, J. Anthony Lukas recounts how the archbishop-elect [Humberto Medeiros] reacted to the news of his appointment [to the Archdiocese of Boston in 1970]. After pausing for a few minutes of quiet prayer, he politely asked whether the Pope knew what he was doing. The papal envoy reassured him but Medeiros persisted:
"I mean," said the bishop, "does he realize what it's equivalent to?"
"No," said the puzzled delegate. "What is it equivalent to?"
"Gethsemane," said the Bishop.

--Philip F. Lawler, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture (2008), p. 97

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Double-minded bishops

Julia Duin at Belief Blog in The Washington Times on using USCCB elections to determine how bishops are viewed by their colleagues.
I have noticed, strangely, that the most outspoken bishops on the pro-life issue always lose these elections.

Hardly seems strange, given it's been a plus in winning USCCB elections to be bishop of a diocese bankrupted by clerical sexual abuse claims.

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

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Welcoming the stranger: A biblical approach

Bishop Richard J. Sklba in the "Herald of Hope" column in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, September 11, 2008, put on his "biblical glasses", concluding,
They should each and all be welcomed. The issue is far greater than simply immigration, but it certainly also includes immigration reform.

A haunting observation came at the end of the discussion: It's always the people in power who get to define precisely who the strangers and aliens are at any given moment!

As we saw in an earlier column in which Archbishop Dolan wrote that International priests, sisters are a blessing, but a blessing the acceptance of which is tightly controlled in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fathers and Sons Help Build a Chapel in Belize

The Jesuit Bulletin Fall 2008 reports on the St. Louis University High School service project during the 2008 spring (sic) break.

Restoring Trust in Church Leadership

was the title of Woodstock Forum held on Georgetown University, May 22, 2003, which included this from the "Starting the Conversation: With the Audience" Q&A
Question: Please indicate three top bishops who have earned trust of their people by their servant leadership and their collaborative outlook. Who do you think sets the pace, shows a good example, offers perhaps a model for imitation?

Peggy Steinfels: ... I’ll hazard another name, Archbishop Rembert Weakland. I always felt that he was a man who was in touch with what was going on in his archdiocese...

(via Diogenes at Off the Record Nov. 13, 2003 4:39 AM)

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Mark Kemmeter Named Archdiocesan Coordinator of Parish Mission

Back on October 24, 2008 the Archdiocese of Milwaukee announded that he replaces Doreen Welte.
As Coordinator of Parish Mission, Kemmeter will concentrate on the development of parish leadership through on-going formation as well as encourage pastoral renewal through cluster, district and archdiocesan planning.

Perhaps that's "renewal" meaning Catholic Removal as "urban renewal" tended to be "Negro Removal".
He will also serve as liaison to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.

The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council is primarily made up of a representative selected by the parish councils in each of the Archdiocese's sixteen districts.
For the past seven years, Kemmeter has served as Coordinator of Staff in the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota.

As of July, there's been a New Bishop of New Ulm, MN - Bp. Elect John Levoir. Whether related to that or not, Mr. Kemmeter is coming home.
His resume also includes 22 years in parish work in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in a variety of capacities including director of religious education, business manager and pastoral associate.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Catholic schools work

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, September 4, 2008
What we've known in the gut for decades is now empirically proven: Catholic schools work; they are the most effective agents of catechesis, spiritual, moral, and mental formation, and evangelization that we have.

Sounds like the schools should run the parishes rather than the other way around.

Lawyer releases deposition by Weakland in fraud case

Marie Rohde of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports
A lawyer this morning released portions of a video deposition taken in June of retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland in which Weakland acknowledges that he had returned abusive priests to church ministry without alerting parishioners.

The lawyer is Jeffery Anderson who represents the plaintiffs suing our Archdiocese.
The release of the deposition came in response to a contention last month by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that the deaths of key people involved in the church's coverup of sexual abuse allegations had thrown into question the fairness of a pending trial, and that if the archdiocese lost the pending cases, it could face bankruptcy.

A reference, I believe, to Archdiocese prepares for return to court: Fraud alleged by abuse victims in seven cases, posted October 28, 2008 on the Archdiocese's website.
The former archbishop acknowledged in the deposition that he returned abusers to active ministry without informing parishioners because "no parish would have accepted a priest unless you could say that he has gone through the kind of psychological examination and that he's not a risk to the parish."

Which might be legally relevant because
The cases are going to trial because the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last year that the church could be sued by victims on fraud charges if they could show that the church knew about the misconduct and deliberately attempted to cover it up.

See John Doe v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee, 2007 WI 95
Calls this morning to a spokesman for the archdiocese were not returned.

When I said "Just kidding" in Wolf directs communications, I was just kidding.

(via SNAP Network)


Update: The article has been updated and re-titled for the November 13, 2008 edition of the paper, and now includes the Archdiocesan response.
"Archbishop Weakland is able to comment on what he knew, but many if not all of those involved in these cases are dead," Jerry Topczewski, speaking for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "We'll never know fully what happened or the intent of these people and their actions that date back 20, 30 and 40 years."

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Women do have a role in the Church

And this Marquette Tribune editorial provides some fashion commentary.
We are not church leaders. Nor are we theologians. We will not take a stance on whether the church should ordain women as priests. However, with the rouge ordinations of female priests taking place across the country...

(via comment by John Borst at dotCommonweal)

It's not a birthday cake until it comes out of the oven

From Ed Whelan's This Week in Liberal Judicial Activism at Bench Memos
Nov. 12
1908—In Nashville, Illinois, the human fetus to become known as Harry A. Blackmun emerges safe and sound from his mother’s womb. Some sixty-five years later, Justice Blackmun authors the Supreme Court opinion in Roe v. Wade.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Andrew Sullivan, forensic gynecologist

Still on the Palin case...

On the Shores of Babylon

This column by Ron Rolheiser, OMI, ran in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, October 2, 2008. It's a metawhine.
The laments of Babylon are in the end a euphemism for whining and anger.

But they echo the bitter, whining poetics we hear today in our own church circles: liberals and conservatives, equally unhappy, each blaming the other for somehow stealing away the other's church, for ruining something that was dear to them, and for putting them on an unhappy shore.

If I'm unhappy, it's when the shore is not like what was shown on the brochure before I paid for the trip.

Madison-area Catholics decry Morlino's leadership in open letter

Doug Erickson reported in the Wisconsin State Journal back on October 11, 2008 on the paid publication in the paper that day of an "open letter" to Madison Bishop Robert Morlino criticizing his leadership. Among the statistics cited,
James Green of Madison, one of the organizers of the effort, said the advertisement cost about $3,500 and was paid for by more than 40 people, 36 of whom are listed by name. Seven others are remaining anonymous because they work for the church, Green said.

That is, they want to have their cake and burrow from within it.

In non-news,
Many of the contributors are members of the Madison branch of Call to Action (CTA), a national organization of Catholics whose positions on issues such as women's ordination and priest celibacy are at odds with church hierarchy.

Dog bites man, CTA bites bishop.
Asked for evidence of poor morale among priests, several of the letter signers mentioned the Association of Madison Priests.

Supposedly as a means of raising morale. Odd, since back when the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance published its minutes, they indicated the members spent a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves.
In Milwaukee, a priest alliance formed about seven years ago to give members brotherly support and an independent voice, said the Rev. Dave Cooper, a founder.

Fr. Cooper, you might recall, told a March 22, 2004 Voice Of The Faithful meeting that he pretended to recant his support for women's ordination in order to keep his job.
Another letter signer, Jim Beyers, who attends St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, said he wants Morlino to respect priests in the diocese.

"He treats them like children. He's punitive toward them," Beyers said.

He threatens to cut off their allowance if they won't do their chores?

The article goes on to the issue of what kind of men are being made bishop, soliciting contrasting views from Rev. Richard McBrien and Jimmy Akin. Perhaps before long we'll see Der Spiegel with a point-counterpoint between Fr. Kung and Fr. Corapi.

(via SNAP Network)

The 40% Solution applied

Last year at a meeting at St. Al's, our pastor explained how we could get our Sunday Mass attendance percentage up to around 40% by purging about 40% of the members off the parish rolls. (At least, that's one thing I took away from the meeting, see The 40% solution.) Some months back this process began with an announcement that remaining a member of the parish would require re-registering, see There went out a decree that the whole parish should be re-enrolled.

The (print-only) minutes of the September 4, 2008 parish council meeting announced the success of the program.
4. Pastor's remarks
  b. Re-registration
    i. 1,200 forms not returned

Last we were told, there were 2,915 registered households in the parish, see Reality Check: Some Little Known Parish Facts! A reduction of 1,200 to 1,715 is about a 41% reduction. The 2006-07 District 16 Planning Commission Report showed 8,937 parish members. The percentage reduction would take that down to 5,258. The 2,249 Sunday Mass attendance percentage then goes from 25% to 43%.

The least worrisome explanation of the reduction is that people who left the parish for other parishes were left on the rolls. If our parish's record-keeping is typical of all parishes, then the 700,000 or so members claimed for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee would really be more like 400,000. If so, many Archdiocesan percentages will also be improved considerably.

At our parish, this reduction might involve a bit of an overshoot. The little-known parish facts included that 1,921 parish households contributed money, and it looks like the re-registered parish is about 200 fewer households than that. The Pastor's Remarks continue,
    ii. Persons who have been contributing but have not registered will be contacted via phone tree.

Presumably to be told to either fill out the form or stop sending those checks.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Wolf directs communications

Asked if it had a new director of communications, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee declined comment and said all persons who would have been in a position to comment were unavailable, out of town, and impossible to contact.

Just kidding. The Milwaukee Catholic Herald, September 25, 2008 reports
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan has promoted Julie Wolf, assistant director of communications for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, to director of communications.

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Ready from Day 1

Tim Russert of NBC News interviewed Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) on Meet the Press, January 16, 2005.
MR. RUSSERT: You voted--you said you would have voted for the war if you had been in Congress.

REP. EMANUEL: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: Now, knowing that are no weapons of mass destruction, would you still have cast that vote?

REP. EMANUEL: Yes. ...

Mr. Emanuel is now President-elect Obama's Chief of Staff, which makes sense considering it would be impossible to staff the incoming administration without choosing Democrats who supported the war.

(via Keith Pavlischek at First Things)


P.S. At KausFiles (November 9, 2008 8:57 P.M.) "I admire Rahm Emanuel. Without him welfare reform might not have happened in 1996..."

Presidential Inaugural Brunch caution:

Unless the the sponsoring fertility clinics, abortion providers, and stem cell researchers disclose the "secret ingredient", stay away from the Egg KmiecMuffin.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oxford compiles list of top ten irritating phrases

Charlotte Bailey reports in the Telegraph.

Not on the list, "top ten".

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why the GM/Cerberus/Chrysler Bailout is bad for taxpayers and doomed to fail without the benefits of a Chapter 11 filing for both Chrysler and GM

Robert Farago at The Truth About Cars, November 6, 2008, introduces a guest editorial "by a New York City bankruptcy lawyer who wishes to remain anonymous."
Cerberus Capital, a highly secretive NYC-based vulture investment fund, wants the U.S. government and taxpayers to bailout its failed investment in Chrysler and its failing investment in GMAC. Its partner in this raid on the US Treasury is General Motors, a woefully insolvent automobile manufacturer whose CEO is paid $40k each day. Here’s why a bailout for GM and/or Chrysler is a bad idea.

P.S. Mr. Farago is the author of "General Motors Death Watch", a series of editorials which began April 3, 2005.


Update: Blueprint for a Taxpayer-Funded GM C11, General Motors Death Watch 213

The Morning After

J. Peter Nixon at dotCommonweal provides his post-election reflections, including things which were not edifying to see in the campaign, such as
...the misuse or misunderstanding by many of key concepts from our tradition of moral theology: “intrinsic evil,” “prudential judgment,” “formal and material cooperation,” just to name a few. The catechetical collapse of the last few decades seems to have led to the loss of a language in which we can talk to one another. We are the poorer for it.

At St. Al's this year in tenth grade Christian Formation we're using as a text Justice: Building God's Reign by Karen Emmerich (St. Mary's Press). The publisher describes it as a
Minicourse appropriate for grades 11-12

In Session 1, "What Is Justice" the Preparation section lists Materials Needed which include
several sheets of colored construction paper
several bottles of glue
several scissors

You might have noticed that social justice advocates express frustration when attempting to build parish programs. The likely cause of that frustration is the construction paper foundation the DREs produce for them to build on. The social justice types, though, are effectively constrained from complaining because the DREs tend to be ideological allies. Like financial leverage, solidarity can also work in reverse.

P.S. Speaking of solidarity, construction paper social justice for high school seniors might have something to do with the claim that there's a need for a Dick and Jane liturgy for John and Mary Catholic. See U.S. Catholic Bishops' Liturgy Chair Raises Concerns Over New Worship Texts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stem-cell era reaches age 10

It's been ten years since the journal Science published the report by researchers, including James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Derived from Human Blastocysts.
Despite the advances, embryonic stem cells have yet to be used for human treatments.

Mr. Ayers's Neighborhood

The New Yorker's David Remnick interviews William Ayers.
"They made me into a cartoon character..."

Redundantly.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Honesty is one of the better policies

From a candid interview by Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, January 18, 2008
It doesn't mean that I have no political sense about me, and that I'm above modulating my tones or positions as I go through ... my career. But generally speaking, I tell the truth. --Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)

Generally speaking, congratulations to our President-elect.

(via Tom Maguire at Just One Minute)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The paradox of voting

"John da Fiesole" at Disputations on "Downs Paradox".
I work with computer models for a living. When what I'm modeling doesn't do what my model predicts, it's called an "invalid model."

When what public choice theorists are modeling doesn't do what their model predicts, it's called a "paradox."

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Monday, November 3, 2008

As a Conservative, I Must Say I Do Quite Like the Cut of this Obama Fellow's Jib

Columnist T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII at The National Topsider stands athwart History thumbing a ride.
...I have every confidence that Obama's true conservative butterfly will emerge once in office, coaxed from its Maoist cocoon by conservatives like myself and Frum and Parker and Noonan -- all of whom I am pleased to report are already under consideration for the Obama Administration State Dinner shortlist.

(via Dad29)

Peru Mission Report

As I mentioned in a post at the time, we were on a parish mission trip to Peru in mid-October. (Hence my use of Blogger's "scheduled post" feature.) Sunday's St. Al's bulletin includes a summary.
The mission to Paita is divided into two parts. The first part is helping the students of Santa Clara School, operated by the School Sisters of St. Francis headquartered in Milwaukee and staffed by Peruvian Sisters, learn American English. The students in the school begin learning to speak English when they arrive at the school at four years old. They learn from books, tapes, and Peruvian teachers speaking English who have also learned from books, tapes and English-speaking Peruvian teachers. The goal is to help the students in conversation become accustomed to English the way we speak it.

That was our part. We taught several classes each day. The school had six primary grades and five secondary; students graduate at around age sixteen.

One day there was some event across the road that included an extremely loud public address system. The program included playing all the verses of the Peruvian national anthem, followed by all the verses of what the kids told us was the Canto de Paita, the Song of Paita. The kids then surprised us with a request to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. I've never paid closer attention to the words.
At the farewell party, the third grade class treated the visitors to an English version of the "Three Little Pigs" in English they had learned.

In the back of my mind, it recalled
The second part of the mission is to the people in Marco Jara. Marco Jara is a mixed neighborhood on the outskirts of Paita. There are areas of houses made of straw mats, adobe brick and cement block.

These communities start with people moving in and building houses of straw mats. If they can later afford it, they will upgrade by rebuilding a room or the whole house with sticks. Eventually, they may be able to rebuild with brick or block.
Most areas of Marco Jara have electricity, but some are without, water is limited to just a few water faucets in the area and no homes have running water.

If enough people move to one of these settlements, the municipality will extend elecric service. Eventually the people might even get water piped in to neighborhood spigots, from which they can take their household water in buckets.
The families living in Marco Jara try to earn a living in the fish factories where they are paid 2 1/2 soles per hour, roughly 75 cents.

Working in a fish processing plant is one of the better jobs available. We were shown the Hayduk operation, from the previous night's catch unloaded at the dock to the finished products, including frozen kosher whiting fillets.
Many of the children are under-nourished and lack basic medical care. ... Through donations of medicine and lab equipment the pharmacy is able to help the people of Marco Jara with low cost medicine and some basic lab tests. ...

Others in our group worked at Marco Jara with after school programs for children, which included a meal to meet some of the common dietary deficiencies. The meal program is run by Propanide, a local group.

As often happens, our path crossed that of someone else on a mission, in this case people with the Oshkosh Rotary Club's Project Peru - Soy Cow Program.
Friendship Without Borders was also instrumental in connecting a Rotary Club from Oshkosh with the Mayor of Paita to set up the operation of a soy milk machine. This machine will be able to produce up to 250 liters of soy milk to be distributed to the poor of Paita.

I believe that's per day, subject to the soy bean supply.
Thanks to the generosity of the sending community of St. Alphonsus and other donors,

Including blog readers.
Friendship Without Borders was able to continue its relationship with the people of Paita and to provide a small portion of the needs of the people of Marco Jara. Each site was left with a monetary donation to help with needs that come up during the coming year.

For example, keeping the meal program going.
As much as the missionaries take to those in need,

And if you're inclined to say it was only a duffel bag of supplies each, some money, and a week or so there, I agree.
all feel they are more than blessed by the love and hospitality they receive.

It was like being the opposite of a scapegoat.