Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A right to be atheist

Jason Cameron in a letter to the editor published in the Boulder Daily Camera, December 23, 2008
Every time you say, "Merry Christmas" to a non-Christian, you might as well be suicide-bombing them or nailing them to a cross, placing a crown of thorns on their heads and sticking a spear in their sides.

And doesn't "Happy New Year" or even referring to "2008" and "2009" indirectly say the same thing?

(via David Kopel at The Volokh Conspiracy)

Internet sites could be given 'cinema-style age ratings', Culture Secretary says

From Robert Winnett's interview of Britain's Minister of Culture Andy Burnham in the Telegraph
...“If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. ...

"...This isn’t about turning the clock back. ..."

Or ahead to when they're striking thirteen?

(via Mark Steyn at The Corner)

Obama’s Choice of Pastor Creates Furor

Jeff Zeleny and David D. Kirkpatrick reported in The New York Times, December 19, 2008, that the furor included this from Episcopal Bishop V. Eugene Robinson on Rev. Rick Warren.
the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.

See Purpose-Driven Spirituality

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A talk with The Rev. Richard P. McBrien

by Michael Paulson in the Boston Globe, December 28, 2008

Father McBrien gives his explanation of why many diocesan newspapers no longer carry his column.
As the Catholic hierarchy became more conservative under Pope John Paul II, bishops who were open to a diversity of viewpoints in the church either died or retired, and were replaced, in almost every case, by bishops who were more, let's say, attuned to the desires and intentions of the Holy See. I used to kid, I'd say bishops get points if they drop my column. They get noticed, and then they get promoted eventually, and so forth. I can give you so many examples. I mean, let's take Boston. Cushing was a patron of mine. He liked me, and I liked him. He had his foibles, but we all do. I liked Cardinal Cushing very much.

So when bishops let his column run it was not so much because they were "open to a diversity of viewpoints" but because they sympathized with McBrien's.
But [Archbishop] Medeiros was in, and Medeiros once said to me, 'Richard, what would my mother think if she read your column?' and I said, 'Your eminence, I don't write my column for your mother.' So then it got dropped.

There was no follow-up on for whom, if anyone, he does write his column.

To the concluding question, "Why don't you wear a collar?" McBrien replies
I only wear a collar when I go to my home parish in West Hartford to say Mass on a Sunday when I'm home. My Roman collar is my television uniform. You don't see the apostles with Roman collars on. It's a custom. And the custom in the academic world is that most priests who teach in Catholic colleges and universities wear a tie or just have an open sport shirt.

At his website, he's pictured in that academic uniform and calls the column Essays in Theology. When the column ran in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, the accompanying picture was of him in a Roman collar and the paper called the column "Essays in Dialogue".

(via Cathleen Kaveny at dotCommonweal who refers to this as a Boston Globe Interview with Dick McBrien)

India, an Exporter of Priests, May Keep Them

Laurie Goodstein in today's New York Times with the conclusion of a three-part series called "Divine Recruits" on foreign priests coming to serve in American parishes.

See In America for Job, an African Priest Finds a Home

Scientists doubt inventor's global cooling idea — but what if it works?

This report by Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers ran in the December 28, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It stretches the imagination — and perhaps credulity — to suggest that a solitary inventor with no government support could solve global warming, especially a man who never earned a degree despite studying physics for much of a decade at the University of Maryland.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Crisis must force financial changes in U.S.

Tom Saler in his "Historical Perspective" column in the Business section of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
There are important lessons to be learned from the unmitigated disaster that was 2008.

Above all, investors should resolve that they never again will base their spending on rising asset values.

The old rules do still apply? Is there a futures market where I can bet against that lesson being learned?

Update: Boom, Bust, Repeat, by Daniel Gross, The New York Times, December 25, 2008, review of Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity, edited by Michael Lewis
Yuppies’ Last Rites Readied, declared the headline on a New York Times article of Oct. 21, 1987, which documented how the stock market crash was causing materialist, money-soaked urban dwellers to reduce conspicuous consumption and focus more on human relationships.

In America for Job, an African Priest Finds a Home

Laurie Goodstein in today's New York Times with the second in a three-part series called "Divine Recruits" on foreign priests coming to serve in American parishes.

See Serving Short-Handed U.S. Parishes, Fathers Without Borders


Politicians are always calling things historic. Usually all that this means is “something that happened while I was in office”. --The Economist


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Serving Short-Handed U.S. Parishes, Fathers Without Borders

Laurie Goodstein in today's New York Times with the first in a three-part series called "Divine Recruits" on foreign priests coming to serve in American parishes.

See International priests, sisters are a blessing

Reading Rat December 2008

Also of interest:

(on Google Books)
By now the company has digitized at least seven million titles. Many are old enough to be in the public domain — no issue there — and many are new enough to be available in bookstores, but the vast majority, four million to five million, are books that had fallen into a kind of limbo: protected by copyright but out of print. Their publishers had given up on them. They existed at libraries and used booksellers but otherwise had left the playing field. --James Gleick

(on internet used book sellers)
Because of the sophistication of the software, automated pricing doesn’t necessarily lead to a race to the bottom. Still, many popular books can be found on Amazon for a penny ... The trick, according to a recent article in the trade magazine Fine Books & Collections, lies in the shipping allowance ($3.99 at Amazon), which lets an exceptionally efficient seller squeeze about 75 cents out of a transaction. --Mick Sussman

(by Kenneth Rexroth)
Both sides isolate the problem and treat the police as though they were members of a self-contained society — separate from the rest of us, like monks, professional soldiers, or the inmates of prisons and state hospitals. The problem is the functioning of the police as part of society, not as apart from it. Essential to any understanding is the definition of the roles that the police perform in the society in fact and the different roles which they are supposed to perform in theory, their own theories and those of their critics. --"The Heat"

(on reading online)
We must recognize that screen scanning is but one kind of reading, a lesser one, and that it conspires against certain intellectual habits requisite to liberal-arts learning. The inclination to read a huge Victorian novel, the capacity to untangle a metaphor in a line of verse, the desire to study and emulate a distant historical figure, the urge to ponder a concept such as Heidegger's ontic-ontological difference over and over and around and around until it breaks through as a transformative insight — those dispositions melt away with every 100 hours of browsing, blogging, IMing, Twittering, and Facebooking. --Mark Bauerlein
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

(on the book business)
Fifteen years ago, Philip Roth guessed there were at most 120,000 serious American readers—those who read every night—and that the number was dropping by half every decade. --Boris Kachka
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Life Without Bubbles."

It's a Paul Krugman column. I was worried Michael Jackson's chimpanzee had died. --Ann Althouse

Snark launch, photo from 45th Range Squadron, 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base


Friday, December 26, 2008

Pyric victory

"It's like putting out the fire in the kitchen of the Titanic while the ship is going down," said Felicia Herman, the executive director of Natan, a foundation financed by young Jewish philanthropists, speaking about the fallout from the Madoff-linked losses in the midst of a larger global financial crisis.

Jewish Charities Scramble to Cover Losses to Trader: Alleged Madoff Scheme Closes Doors, by Robin Shulman, Washington Post, December 24, 2008


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In a one horse open sleigh

Merry Christmas!

My Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Berres near their farm in Marathon County, Wisconsin, circa 1910.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Marty Haugen replies

The Curt Jester, back on April 2, 2008, quoted Mr. Haugen from the now-deleted Commander Craig's Corner weblog.
My own hesitancy about joining the Church is not about its eucharistic theology, but rather around the unwillingness of the Church to commission, ordain and welcome all humans as Jesus did: male and female, married and unmarried, saints and sinners. I believe that the Church, God's people and all of creation have suffered from this omission.

If someone believed Catholic Eucharistic theology and that the Catholic Church is "the Church", then it would seem to follow one would join and stay despite anything. The reasons people do not join or stay in the Church might indicate the actual level of belief in Catholic Eucharistic theology, among other things. Among those other things, where might Haugen have gotten the idea that Church teaching on ordination involves an "omission", as if a To Do list has been misplaced for two millennia? From what I see and hear, probably from some of the Church's clergy and staff.

P.S. I can't claim he is utterly lacking in perspective.
I do not think of my own music as central or important to Roman Catholic worship, present or future.

Sounds like we'd hear less of his music at St. Al's if he was the Director of Liturgy and Music.

P.P.S. At Catholic Wintertime In Milwaukee, a call for more liturgical diversity in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, such as more Michael Joncas. I understand he once wrote something called "On Eagles Wings".

Monday, December 22, 2008

From sales to sacraments

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Business section has "the latest in a monthly feature on people changing jobs in a dynamic economy." Joel Dresang interviews Father Dennis Wieland who had a career in retail management. He then attended Sacred Heart School of Theology (here in Franklin) and was ordained a priest at age 37. Now about 20 years later he's pastor of St. Anthony Church in Menomonee Falls.
What is your role in the parish?

"My primary responsibility is to shepherd this local community, to lead them in worship, to be like the chief teacher in the parish. Other things that go along with it are like chief financial officer. ..."


How does your retail experience play into what you do?

"I can use a lot of the skills that I learned in retail management in the parish - how to run a parish effectively. They don't teach you in seminary how to deal with finances. ..."

Last I heard, priests lack seminary training not just in parish finance but in parish administration generally. They might need at least enough training to avoid either micro-managing or failing in oversight of subordinates.

A sidebar gives Wisconsin's average clergy compensation at about $45,000 a year. Through 2016 the demand for clergy is projected to grow faster that the average for all occupations. These figures are not broken down by denomination.

Mr. and Mrs. Right

Bob Colacello in Vanity Fair, January 2009, on Mr. and Mrs. William F. Buckley, Jr.
Frederick Eberstadt, a New York friend who was a classmate at Millbrook, says, “It sounds funny, but Bill’s biggest interest was kidding around. He was very Catholic, though. He had a little shrine in his room, a Madonna inside this kind of stone box. [sic] He asked me what I thought of it, and I said it was kitsch. He said, ‘You don’t understand.’ I said, ‘What don’t I understand?’ He said, ‘It’s the mother of God.’ Even at that age, to his thinking, it could not be kitsch, because it was the mother of God.”

Mr. Buckley perhaps thought it was more important that it represented the Mother of God than that it might be regarded as kitsch.

(via Douglas LeBlanc at Get Religion)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Punches only in punch lines

Annysa Johnson reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Azhar Usman, co-founder of the Allah Made Me Funny comedy tour, and Rabbi Bob Alper, who bills himself as "the world's only practicing clergyman doing standup comedy - intentionally," will bring their "Laugh in Peace Tour" to Milwaukee on Wednesday.

That's December 24, 2008 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Shalom, 7630 North Santa Monica Boulevard in Fox Point. Here's some video from CBC News. Might be a bit of a didactic undertone; even so, if we didn't have family coming over, we might have tried to take in the show on the way to Midnight Mass.

See Ever genuflect in a movie theater?

P.S. You can book the pair as motivational speakers for $12,000 plus coach air fare.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bush Approves $17.4 Billion Auto Bailout

David M. Herszenhorn and David E. Sanger reported in The New York Times

Via Robert Farago at The Truth About Cars, Bailout Watch 295
And here’s something odd. “Government officials will examine all financial statements and records of the car companies.” You mean they haven’t already? The Prez wants to fork-out $17.4b without knowing the exact size of the hole into which he’s throwing U.S. taxpayer money?

On Chrysler's reaction, Mr. Farago comments,
Business as usual, then? Yup.

And to GM's,
Once again, GM CEO Rick Wagoner has slipped the hangman’s noose without promising any quantifiable goals or metrics for future success.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Magic costs more than mere rides

Patrick McIlheran's column in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the cost of the proposed Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter train got me to look back at some figures. These might be a bit out of date, but KRM Edition 3, January 2007, projected the "Annually, commuter rail will generate 25.2 million passenger-miles" (p. 4). Transit Now Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee Commuter Rail: Quick Points & Facts (2003) said "Annual operating costs are expected to be $10.9 million." That works out to a cost of over 43 cents per passenger-mile, about $28 for a Kenosha-Milwaukee round trip. The actual cost of a Kenosha to Milwaukee daily commute would be about $7,000 per year. That's the cost, not the fare proposed to be charged to riders.

The occasion for Mr. McIlheran's column was a Reason Foundation study that concluded KRM Commuter Rail Plan's Supposed Economic Benefits Aren't Credible; System Would Require Massive Subsidies. The study arrived at similar operating cost amounts.

P.S. McIlherean quotes Tom Rubin in the study.
"Commuter rail is, to a very high degree, an all-or-nothing option," he writes. It's impossible to erase a mistake, so we'd just keep throwing money in.

That's a virtue, say rail's backers: Such permanence means riders won't worry that the route will change.

If that's what they say, they're ignoring history. Here on the left we see what would be the track used by the KRM. While it's single track now, it had been double not that long ago. To the right, parallel to the high tension lines, is the right of way of the long-ago abandoned MRK electric passenger rail line from Milwaukee to Kenosha.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2009 Lenten Pilgrimage to Sagrada Familia

Not the Sagrada Familia chapel in Guatemala that our parish mission group has helped with. (See a lofty mission) This is the Archdiocesan sister parish Sagrada Familia in the Dominican Republic.
The all-inclusive fee (between $1,800 and $2,000, depending on airfare) covers air and ground transportation, programs, guides, translation service, communal reflection and retreat, and simple meals and accommodations. A unique part of this experience is the opportunity to be hosted for four nights by La Sagrada Familia families who graciously welcome us into their homes.

This is different from the parish mission trips. It does not involve additional fundraising for things like medical supplies or for a project like the Guatemala chapel. Nor does include things like working in a medical clinic or school ... or laying concrete block for a retaining wall behind the swine shed. (See Casa de cerdos) Perhaps as a result, the pilgrimage requires only two orientarion sessions. It might be more what some people are looking for. I've heard some local judges and lawyers who were on prior pilgrimages speak about them very positively.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Evangelizing the Religious Imagination

This column by Father Ronald Rolhieser, OMI, ran in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 6, 2008. In it, he reviews The Shack, by William Young.
The real task of evangelization today is very much that of trying to evangelize the imagination, of trying to put healthy, life-giving images of God into the popular imagination. We have libraries full of scriptural and theological books that are solid and orthodox. These are important because without a solid grounding we soon go astray, but they need to be supplemented.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., RIP

James Martin, S.J., at In All Things, Friday morning.

I heard him speak on "John Paul II and Evangelization" at an October 21, 2008 conference in Mundelein, Illinois. (That topic is his contribution to the book John Paul II And the New Evangelization: How You Can Bring the Good News to Others.) We talked briefly afterwards.

Among his last writings was The Eve of St. Agnes—Green Bay, 2008: John Keats for Today’s Reader, posted January 28, 2008 at First Things.

Ensemble takes wide-ranging Baroque journey

Tom Strini in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews Celebremos al Nino: A Mexican Baroque Christmas performed last night by The Rose Ensemble at the St. Joseph Center Chapel, part of this year's Early Music Now series.

The program notes said the careers of the three featured composers, Juan Gutierrez de Padilla, Juan Garcia de Zespedes, and Antonio de Salazar, and Antonio Salazar, had included serving as maestro at the Cathedral in Puebla, Mexico. Their compositions showed the influence of seventeenth century Mexican dance music. While Church authorities had censured the dances, as such, they did not object to the adaptation of dance music. The notes quote Pedro Cerone, who apparently wrote on music at the time, as saying a Mass with music based on that of the villancicos would fill the churches with people usually seen once a year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

George Bailout

Not So Wonderful Now says Ross Douthat in the Washington Post, October 12, 2008
In a mid-movie peroration, the hero lectures Potter and a gaggle of local entrepreneurs on the virtues of democratizing homeownership: "You're all businessmen here," he presses them, sounding for all the world like a politician defending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac against their critics in 2004 or so. "Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? ... What'd you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? ... Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars?"

Yet 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!' said Gary North at LewRockwell, December 11, 2002
It was not honeymoon cash that solved bank runs in America. It was the government’s extension of an insurance subsidy and its implied promise of a fiat-money bailout by the Federal Reserve System. This solution has guaranteed inflation ever since, in order to keep home owners happy and depositors asleep.

Here George Bailey explains fractional reserve banking.

Mr. North continues.
But the movie isn’t about fractional reserve banking, any more than it’s about angels getting their wings. It’s about the positive, cumulative, but unseen benefits to many people of individual acts of charity and honesty. It’s also about capitalism: home ownership, small businesses, and sacrificial hard work.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ever genuflect in a movie theater?

In his December 8, 2008 "On Religion" column in in USA Today, Mark I. Pinsky's discusses Putting the 'fun' in fundamentalism.
The popular image of fundamentalist faith — whether Jewish, Muslim or evangelical Christian — is humorless, intolerant and angry, unhesitant to cast the first stone, sometimes literally. The words "whimsy" and "orthodoxy" do not often appear in the same sentence.

Yet humor is a way of explaining religion — to its adherents and to others. Increasingly, believing members of orthodox faith traditions are able to joke about their foibles and shortcomings before an audience of their community — if only in the safe, sheltered environs of a mosque social hall, an Israeli comedy club or a sold-out Apostles of Comedy concert at a central Florida megachurch.

(via Terry Mattingly at Get Religion)

11. Bob Dylan advised us never to trust anyone...

A. Over 40
B. Wearing a uniform
C. Carrying a briefcase
D. Over 30
E. You don't know
F. Who says, 'Trust me'
G. Who eats tofu

The correct answer is "Yes", that is, Trust Yourself.

Jack Weinberger most likely coined the phrase Never trust anyone over 30.

(Question and proposed answers from a "Memory Test" making the email rounds)

Sisters mark 125 years of ministry

Marilyn Jozwik reports, Special to "your" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 6, 2008, on this anniversary of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother (SSM). One of the Sisters' local institutions was Madonna High School which closed, after only six years, in 1971.
"We simply didn't have enough sisters to supply Madonna," said Sr. Maria [Vinton]. "After Vatican II came 'The Great Exodus.' The sisters were encouraged to re-examine their vocation and many came to realize they didn't have a call to religious life. Some went into social justice, a lot left to get married."


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Church helps usher people into eternal life

Archbishop Timothy Dolan with a Hell of a "Herald of Hope" column in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 6, 2008
So, Mother Church also challenges her members with their choice: because, although God wants nothing more than to have us with him in heaven for all eternity, he never forces his will, his love, his invitation, upon anybody.

So, tragically, we can reject his offer of eternal life, consciously, or by the way we go through life, meaning we choose to spend eternity apart from him.

See Honor role evolves


Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee's Living Our Faith evangelization initiative has published an eight page supplement to today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It describes itself as a special edition of the Milwaukee Catholic Herald. It also seems to be the December 2008 Living Our Faith newsletter. And it's "Volume 1, Number 1", so perhaps we'll see in in the morning paper again.

In addition to its articles, there are quite a few ads, which presumably covered at least some of the cost.

The articles includes a blurb for Advent podcasts by Bishop Sklba and Bishop Callahan.

There's also mention of Advent Hopes for a New Presidency in which John Huebscher, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, gives his version of "O Come, O Rahm Emanuel".

I find the publication encouraging in a particular way. This year my Sunday School text is Justice: Building God's Reign. If increasing Mass attendance were deemed impossible or impractical because of society's attitudes, it would be hard to believe Church social teaching could affect society's attitudes on, say, war or poverty.

Update: the Archdiocese has posted it as a 39 meg (!) pdf linked here.

The timelessness of Ed Garvey

Advice to the Commissioner of Baseball: "Bud--get out of Vegas; hire some people who like fans; jump into the 20th century."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Themes of Catholic Teaching Relevant as Budget Woes Loom

That's the title of this November 21, 2008 "Eye on the Capitol" press release by John Huebscher, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference on the current state budget deficit.
Like other crises, financial difficulties can be defining. For it is the choices we make when faced with hard decisions that define who we are, and say more about what we value.

He then goes on, though, to cite general principles of Catholic social justice teaching. It would be more instructive to cite choices and hard decisions made by, say, the dioceses of Wisconsin or some of their parishes, that could serve as models. How, for example, are parishes kept open despite financial difficulties in hard times, or despite the inability of parishioners in a poor neighborhood to financially support their parish?

Testing the spirit

Tom Kreitzberg at Disputations
It's a common observation that many aspects of the post-Vatican II emphasis on the laity in the Roman Catholic Church -- the large numbers of layfolk who for various reasons enter the sanctuary during Mass, the professionalization of numerous parish ministries, the certificate and degree programs -- are in effect forms of clericalism. ...

This also shows up in advocacy of women's ordination expressed in terms of clerical status rather than service, see Female clergy answer the same call.
Over-privileging the human activities that occur within the church building, which is what our New & Improved Post-Vatican II Clericalism does, results in under-privileging the human activities that occur outside the church building. ...

The result of clericalism is secularism.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weakland moved priests, testimony shows

Tom Roberts reported in the National Catholic Reporter, December 5, 2008, on the release of deposition testimony by Archbishop-emeritus Rembert Weakland. Among those interviewed was David Clohessy, national director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), including on this controversial point.
Clohessy and others also were highly critical of both Weakland and his successor, Archbishop Timothy Dolan after Weakland testified that the two had never discussed any of the cases when Dolan took over in August 2002.

“It’s just painful to think of any bishop taking over a diocese and not even casually asking his predecessor, ‘Anything about sex abuse I should know? Any predator not publicly acknowledged yet? Any priest I should know about?”

Our Archdiocese responded.
Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for the archdiocese, said even before Dolan’s arrival, the archdiocese had compiled a list of all those who had been accused, credibly or otherwise. When the crisis began to break anew after revelations in Boston in January 2002, he said the Milwaukee Archdiocese “quickly acknowledged that we had six men in active ministry that we had already removed” from ministry. He said the diocese already had convened an independent commission headed by the dean of the Marquette University Law School.

All of the information compiled was available for Dolan from his first day on the job, said Topczewski. He said Dolan also initiated his own investigation of any priests who had any hint of allegations against them and consulted the vicar for clergy, who was most responsible for dealing with charges against priests.

What is meant by "compilations"? Did the compilers' work include editing or summarizing? If so, has anyone suggested to Archbishop Dolan that he read the full record, and, if so, has he? Has Archbishop Dolan read the compilations? Is there nothing Archbishop Weakland could tell Archbishop Dolan beyond what's in the compilations? Have Archbishop Weakland and Archbishop Dolan spoken privately on any other subject?

(via SNAP Network)


Adding decals to bins, Hemet hopes message for mothers of babies will stick

John Asbury reports in The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, California, on some local communities' response to "baby-dumping".
City officials in Hemet, Fontana and Yucaipa have placed decals on trash containers urging mothers who might abandon their newborns to seek medical attention or a local fire station, under California's Safe Surrender Law.

One side of the sticker shows a red slash through a picture of a mother throwing a baby head-first into a trash bin over the word "No," while the other side says "Yes" and has the mother handing the baby to a nurse and firefighter.

(via Britannica)

Numerator and Gomorrah

The number of homosexually inclined priests active in America is not an unknown factor, the Linacre study [After Asceticism: Sex, Prayer and Deviant Priests] noted. If 81 percent of American Catholic priests are homosexually inclined, then the ratio of male-to-male abuse is unremarkable; the statistics would suggest that homosexual and heterosexual men are equally likely to engage in sexual abuse. If the proportion of homosexual priests is very low, on the other hand, then the disproportionate number of male sex-abuse victims is all the more noteworthy. If only 2 percent of priests are homosexual, the Linacre Center concluded, [then] those few homosexuals are more than 120 times as likely as heterosexuals to be guilty of abuse.
--Philip F. Lawler, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture (2008), p. 225

On that 81% figure, see, for example, More than 80 percent of victims since 1950 were male, report says, by Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe, February 28, 2004. A recent Los Angeles Times editorial on the Pope's new edict on the priesthood said of the percentage of homosexual priests that "estimates range from 25% to 50%". This all leaves out of consideration the percentage of abusers among priests compared to that percentage in the general population, and the change in the percentage among priests over time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A state-of-the-art worship facility

Marquette University High School, the local Jesuit prep school, has been sending alumni mailings touting the recent renovations and additions. These are essentially fundraising tools. One is the 2007-2008 Annual Report. It has photos and quotes from selected students which include this (p. 5).
Marquette High's new classrooms and chapel not only provide state-of-the-art facilities for education and worship, but also provide more room to house the Marquette High spirit.

Photos of the new chapel have been noticeably absent from these mailings. From what I've seen of it pictured elsewhere, it is an example of the state of the art. Blame my high school education, perhaps, but I don't hold that there is inevitably only progress in the state of an art, liturgical architecture for example.

The new chapel finally replaces the chapel that was renovated into other uses some decades ago, after the school ended mandatory daily Mass. It's named the Three Holy Companions Chapel after St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and Blessed Peter Favre. The report says (p. 7) that they
became known as the nucleus of the Society of Jesus, just as the chapel will serve as a core to our community.

If it's an analogy, I'd have expected it to say the chapel is the, not a, core of the community. Of course, that would mean the community had been without it's physical core for decades, which might be a bit downbeat for a fundraising letter in the form of an annual report. It's back in some form; that's progress.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Plastic Cthulhu

by J. Bethancourt, three verses each followed by
Plastic Cthulhu, plastic Cthulhu
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Rising from the deepest Ocean
He assists my locomotion
With my plastic Cthulhu I'll go far.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Promises and Perils of "Christian Politics"

by Russell Kirk, Intercollegiate Review, Fall/Winter 1982, includes extensive discussion of his observations while attending the Call to Action conference in Detroit in 1976.

(via Kevin Jones at Philokalia Republic)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What time is Midnight Mass?

Detroit: A Call To Revolution In The Church

by Fr. Vincent P. Miceli, S.J., republished from Homiletic & Pastoral Review, March 1977 (pp. 27-32 and 47-48), on his experience as a delegate to the Call to Action conference in Detroit in 1976.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our Earth, Our Church, Ourselves: Embrace the Beloved Community.

That was the theme of this year's Call to Action national conference in Milwaukee, November 7th and 8th, according to the brochure, which includes some familiar names. CTA started what it calls the JustChurch Project, which lists some familiar controversies.

P.S. The conference theme connected environmentalism and retro-feminism. I might have suggested "Gaia's and Dolls".

Monday, December 1, 2008

Living Our Faith in the 21st Century

That's the name of the latest long-range plan for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It will be the subject of staff meetings the next three evenings before Archbishop Dolan decides whether or not to approve it. (see Regional meeting details finalized ) Since he asked not for alternatives but for a single recommendation, I'm assuming he'll agree to it.

Here are the full Final Observations and General Recommendations. There's a shorter version with the Final Recommendations Only.

If you read them, you might be the second after me, judging by the Recommendation on "Renewing our Archdiocesan Commitment to Protect All God’s Children" (plan page 16, recommendations page 5).
We must never waiver in our commitment to protect children and ensure a safe environment in our parishes, schools, central offices and agencies; and to help victim/survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

That after almost six months no one's read the document closely enough to catch this indicates there's a good chance the plan document will be another credenza-stuffer.

Our Archdiocesan Vicar of Planning has provided an Executive Summary in the form of his June 13, 2008 cover Letter to Archbishop Dolan. It lists the eleven "cornerstone recommendations". I don't see any for which it couldn't be claimed "we're already doing that." Since that full plan doesn't do much in suggesting "best practices" or in setting objective and verifiable goals, it looks like more of the same. Much, much more. For example,
4. Provide for ongoing pastoral planning at the archdiocesan, district and cluster levels. Such planning should integrate the wisdom of priests, deacons, women and men religious, lay ecclesial ministers and other parish personnel (e.g., parish directors, pastoral associates, directors of religious education, Catholic school principals, youth ministers, liturgical ministers, parish nurses, parish business managers), and parish lay leadership (e.g., parish council members, and committee heads). The district deans, the members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, and central offices personnel can facilitate this effort. This planning process should provide opportunities for all of these persons to participate in inter-discipline discussions that lead to establishing short-term goals that, once accomplished, will enrich the faith of the people, especially in light of the declining number of priests in active ministry. Moreover, this planning process should provide worthwhile input to the archdiocesan working ministerial commissions, thus providing necessary linkage to the recently restructured archdiocesan central offices.

P.S. If you decide to read the full plan, Here's an outline. The plan is organized generally under Archbishop Dolan's six priorites, to which I've added the bracketed Roman numerals. The observations are in numbered paragraphs, followed from time to time by recommendations. I've added bracketed references to the observations included under each priority, and page references.
To: Archbishop Dolan June 13, 2008, p. 1
[I] Seek ye first the kingdom of God [1-10] pp. 2-4
[II] Strengthen Our Parishes [11-15] pp. 4-6
[III} Foster a Sense of Vocation in the Church [16-35] pp.7-12
[IV] Strengthen Catholic Education and Faith Formation [36-42] pp. 12-15
[V] Emphasize Our Mission of Justice and Charity [43-49] pp. 15-16
[VI] Cultivate Good Stewardship [50-63] pp. 18-22
Conclusion [64-68] pp. 21-22
Recommendations Regarding Archdiocesan Offices and Services [69-73] pp. 22-23

P.P.S. Aquinas commented on why so much time is spent planning the work rather than working the plan. "Sorry. We just 'vision.' ... We're prophets, not drones." This suggests to me the plan would have been more descriptively titled "The Prophet And Loss Statement".