Thursday, April 1, 2010

Erie-dishin' erudition

In Father Ron Rolheiser's column on The Imperative for Ecumenism:

Paradox: all religions aren't equal, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Literary reference: T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Hafiz.

Readability level: the selected test passage
Perhaps what this suggests most of all is that we must be open to a deeper understanding of the ineffability of God and the humility that asks of us.
scores as beyond the comprehension of John and Mary Catholic of the Diocese of Erie.

(via Milwaukee Catholic Herald)


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Without really trying

Archbishop Dolan posts
But it is fair to say that, just as the Catholic Church may have been a bleak example of how not to respond to this tragedy in the past, the Church is now a model of what to do.
Surely, then, it is fair for even someone not from Missouri to say show me the organizations that acknowledge they have modeled their response on that of the Catholic Church.

He goes on,
... Paul McHugh, an international scholar on this subject at Johns Hopkins University, remarked, “Nobody is doing more to address the tragedy of sexual abuse of minors than the Catholic Church.”

That, of course, is another headline you’ll never see.
Actually, just in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, you'll find Dr. McHugh's words quoted or referred to in articles with these headlines.
State bishops oppose legislation to repeal statute of limitations

Archbishop offers encouragement, despite challenging times

Church cannot let up in fight against sexual abuse of young

The church responds and endures
Assuming bishops keep repeating the McHugh talking point to reassure us, rather than themselves, it's not working. It leaves the impression they have nothing else to back up what they say.

(via Whispers in the Loggia)

P.S. There's more on Dr. McHugh at the Office of Media Relations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Gibbons Equality

A lot of blog posts about the USCCB emphasize the limited competence of bishops when dealing with practical political matters.

At the same time, a lot of other blog posts emphasize the doctrinal authority of bishops when they teach about the application of morality to political matters.

And I mean "at the same time" literally. Which kind of post shows up on which blog on any given day depends on which political party's interests are in any way being met with uncooperative behavior by the bishops. But if you find one kind of post on one kind of blog, you will find the other kind of post on another kind of blog.

Hence, the Gibbons Equality:
On any given day, the likelihood of a "limited competence" post on a conservative Catholic's blog equals the likelihood of a "doctrinal authority" post on a liberal Catholic's blog.

On any given day, the likelihood of a "limited competence" post on a liberal Catholic's blog equals the likelihood of a "doctrinal authority" post on a conservative Catholic's blog.

--"John da Fiesole"

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Participation trophy

... There won’t be a bronze plaque in the Hall of Fame for Mark McGwire anytime soon.

But there is a bronze bas-relief of Rembert Weakland in the Milwaukee cathedral right now.

Baseball has standards. ... --"Diogenes"

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Friday, January 15, 2010

When did we see you hungry, thirsty, or in need for your general purposes...

At Catholic Relief Services
Donate Now

Massive Earthquake in Haiti

Please help the people of Haiti with your support of CRS as we respond in the aftermath of a massive earthquake that struck near the capital of Port-au-Prince. ...

Contributions will be used for the purpose(s), if any, specified by the donor. However, if in the judgment of CRS, such purpose(s) become unnecessary, undesirable, impractical or impossible to fill, CRS may use such contributions for its general purposes.
Wasn't there a time when the fact that Church leaders and organizations have discretion wouldn't cause one to hesitate.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Growing Latino Catholic population said to challenge, energize church

Beth Griffin of Catholic News Service reported on "Becoming Latino: The Transformation of U.S. Catholicism", a December 9th forum sponsored by the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University.
The U.S. bishops support integration as a way to receive people of different cultures into the church, rather than assimilation, which is dehumanizing and racist, the speakers said.

Wouldn't most Catholics in the U.S. be the product of assimilation? Yet our bishops don't say we, and they, are dehumanized.
"Ours is truly an immigrant church," Lugo [Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life] said. "If there’s a group that knows how to integrate immigrants through long practice, it’s the Roman Catholic Church."

If there's evidence that the Catholic Church in the U.S. was significantly less assimilationist than other institutions, it's not in this account.
Jesuit Father Claudio Burgaleta, coordinator of the Latin studies program at Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, said Latinos “are at the same time traditional and orthodox and also charismatic. These are characteristics that often don’t go together in the popular imagination."

"Popular" referring to what, real people?
"Catholics believe in the Eucharist. They believe that the bread and wine is more than bread and wine and that the Eucharist is more than simply a religious ritual," he said.

Sounds more like what Lutherans believe.
Msgr. Arturo Banuelas, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in El Paso, Texas, said comparisons of Latinos to groups who emigrated from other continents are misleading.

"Unlike other ethnic groups who lost many of their cultural traditions and language, we have not lost touch with our roots," he said, as evidenced by the "dominant use of Spanish in our homes."

Meaning bi-lingualism? If that's what the bishops mean by integration, then they ought to be very clear about it. Of course, that supposedly vital distinction between integration and assimilation seems to be not so clear.
Father Banuelas said, "Pastoral practice has to go beyond assimilationist attempts to integrate Latinos into mainstream USA or efforts to stop the wave of Catholics from becoming Protestant."

Hard to believe Latinos don't want to assimilate into mainstream USA but do want to become Protestant.
He also said Latinos want Catholic Church leaders to speak Spanish and address issues such as the needs of the rising Latino middle class...

Perhaps discussing in Spanish the social advancement benefit of English.

(via Milwaukee Catholic Herald)


Monday, November 30, 2009

Dews and don'ts

Sweet the rain's new fall
Sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall
On the first grass.
--Morning Has Broken

Christ is still suffering and blood is still flowing from his face and his hands in many parts of our world. One of our tasks as Christians, and simply as human beings, is to, metaphorically, notice that blood, gather it up, and properly honour it. The Christian task, always, is to stand at the foot of the cross and gather up its dew so that this preciousness is not lost. --Father Ron Rolheiser (via Milwaukee Catholic Herald)

Will the priest and people understand the words of Eucharistic Prayer II: “Make holy these gifts, we pray, by the dew of your Spirit?” --Bishop Donald Trautman


Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting what you paid for

Karen Terry was lead researcher for the $1.8 million New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice which just reported the results of their study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Some Catholic leaders have contended that because 80 percent of the abuse victims were male, the crisis must have been caused by gay priests acting out. But Dr. Terry said she found that abusers ... had no clear pattern of homosexual behavior.

Via Diogenes, See what you get for $1.8 million?

P.S. He previewed the study's findings in this June 24, 2005 post.

P.P.S. One thing you don't get for only $1.8 million is proof-reading. Section 4.2 Summary: Characteristics of the Incidents of Alleged Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests (page 68) says,
Unlike in the general population, more males than females were allegedly.

Either that or it still dare not speak its name. That same page of the summary also says, by the way, that "the abuse is less likely to occur if there are fewer opportunities for the abuse to happen."


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stamping it out

Catholic News Service reports,
The U.S. Catholic bishops have told the pastors of all the Catholic churches in America to insert a flyer in their church bulletin and read a statement at every Mass, informing their congregations that the health care bills now before Congress allow abortion-funding and must be opposed unless amended to specifically prohibit such funding.

Even if it was preached and in bulletins, it wouldn't reach most Catholics. Now, if it was about a fund drive, the information would be mailed to every parishioner's home.

(via Dad29)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Renewal of the reform

Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, said to be among those being considered for appointment as Archbishop of Milwaukee, spoke at a September 30, 2009 meeting of the priests of our Archdiocese on the new translation of the liturgy currently in progress. As reported in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald,
“We need a coordinated, massive, comprehensive introduction to the Roman Missal within the church in this country, and presented in a way that allows Catholics throughout the country to understand what is happening and to use it as an opportunity to renew the liturgy,” he said.

We've needed that since the Second Vatican Council, so it's unclear why we should expect it now.
Bishop Cupich cautioned, “This is not ‘reform of the reform’ – all that language we’re hearing from people who have an axe to grind or who are trying to cause trouble for the church;

At least he managed to avoid using the word "divisive". If raising issues that a bishop would rather not deal with is going to be equated with causing trouble for the Church, I caution that they might as well just bring Archbishop Weakland out of retirement.

Whether Pope Benedict XVI is one of Bishop Cupich's axe-grinding trouble-makers appears to turn on what the meaning of "reform of the reform" is. Here's the Oriens Journal report on a paper delivered by Cardinal Ratzinger at a conference at Fontgombault in July 2001,
As to the "Reform of the Reform", Cardinal Ratzinger himself raised it during some concluding remarks which he addressed to the conference guests about their discussions. Responding to themes in the [Dom Cassian] Folsom and [Professor Robert] Spaemann papers, Cardinal Ratzinger emphasized that a "Reform of the Reform" means a reform of the new Missal.

In other words, the starting point for a "Reform of the Reform" is the new liturgy as it actually stands in the Church today. The Cardinal seems to have ruled out, by implication, the view advocated by some conservative liturgists that a "Reform of Reform" means going back to the 1962 Missal and starting all over again in the light of what Vatican II, supposedly, was really all about.

The objectives of a "Reform of the Reform", the Cardinal proposed, were to effect a liturgical reconciliation within the Church. To achieve this would require an end to a certain kind of liturgical creativity; better translations; a restoration of at least some Latin to the liturgy as a link to the tradition of the universal Church, and a renewed focus on the altar, representing Our Lord, as the physical point of reference of the liturgy.

Later in Bishop Cupich's remarks,
He told the priests not to “be pulled between the NCR (National Catholic Reporter) and the Wanderer (newspapers),” but to learn as much as they could about the changes, to “defuse hot wires by engaging in intelligent discussion” and helping people answer the question, “What is this translation offering us in the renewal of liturgy?”

Sounds like he's calling for a renewal of the renewal. In the absence of any indication that proposed changes are being tested in the field to see if they produce the desired results, this latest round of changes will likely join the rest of the post-conciliar liturgical reforms on the "it should have worked" pile.
“Just think in your imagination what we could create in this country if the bishops together decided that the catechesis for this new Roman Missal would be done within the same period of time at every parish in the country,” Bishop Cupich said.

Didn't the bishops long ago decide together that catechesis on every aspect of Church teaching would be done at every parish in the country? Whatever might be in the imagination, in reality former Catholics now make up a tenth of the nation and only a minority of the remaining Catholics are at Sunday Mass.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Pray for Rosemary's baby

Once again, the adult's self-interest is being used to rationalize treating proven child sex abuse as though it is trivial, as though it leaves no lasting mark on a child's psyche or soul. Hollywood's defense of Polanski is no different than the Catholic Bishops' shifting of child predators from parish to parish. --Marci A. Hamilton
(via Althouse)

See Weakland says he didn't know priests' abuse was crime

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009


You're only as good as your last envelope.
--Silvio Dante with advice to the laity

The U.S. Bishops work drafting a pastoral letter on the U.S. economy in the 1980s lead to the formation of "The Lay Commission" to write from a different perspective. Archbishop Rembert Weakland now recalls in his just-published memoirs,
In mid-July [1984] a few members, including [William] Simon and [Michael] Novak, flew into Milwaukee to meet personally with me to assure me that their document was to be seen as a contribution to our [Bishops'] committee's work. I could not object to this initiative since it represented the kind of dialogue we bishops had hoped for. (A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, p. 281)

He didn't describe it as the kind of meeting most people hope for in Paul Wilkes' 1992 book profiling him.
"I looked out the window," the Archbishop said, remembering the day that the group of neo-conservative Catholics was scheduled to arrive, "and up pulled these limousines with smoked windows, having whisked the occupants from their private planes, which had landed minutes before at the Milwaukee Airport. All I could think of was it looked very much like a meeting of high level Mafia leaders." (The Education of an Archbishop, p. 39)

In the ensuing "dialogue" he "listened patiently" to his visitors; his response included that "Vatican II clearly restated that the free-market economy is not the be-all and end-all." Somehow I doubt his visitors were making such a claim.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Poe at 200

Nick Mamatas in The Smart Set, January 6, 2009 [Warning: The following is reportedly beyond the reading comprehension standard of John and Mary Catholic, Erie, Pennsylvania.]
We get to read Poe in school not because school defangs Poe; school defangs us so that we can't sink our fangs into his stories the way he wanted us to. Poe is torn to shreds by dopey assignments forcing us to compare and contrast the cat in "The Black Cat" to the bird in "The Raven," term papers about Roderick Usher's inability to tell fantasy from reality, and endless other demands that we take the ineffable in Poe's stories and try to make them effable.


Monday, January 19, 2009

For Catholic Schools, Crisis and Catharsis

Paul Vitello and Winnie Hu reported in The New York Times, January 17, 2009. Over the last 40 years U.S. Catholic school enrollment has dropped by more than half from a peak of five million students.
recently, after years of what frustrated parents describe as inertia in the church hierarchy, a sense of urgency seems to be gripping many Catholics who suddenly see in the shrinking enrollment a once unimaginable prospect: a country without Catholic schools.

I would call it complacency, not inertia, and there's been plenty of it among parish priests and non-school staff.

The article descrives innovative programs in several dioceses.
The Wichita Diocese has mounted a campaign since 1985, asking its 120,000 Catholics to tithe as much as 8 percent of household income to its ministries, which include 39 schools.

The money was not earmarked solely for the schools, but it has allowed all of them to eliminate tuition starting in 2002, with enrollment approaching a 40-year high of 11,000.

(See Wichita line men)

That five million student figure was 50% of school age Catholics, the closest approach to the 100% goal of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884. (See Every parish should have a Catholic grade school). The current figure is 15% overall, 3% for Latino Catholics.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Plowing Through the Door

David Carr in The New York Times, December 26, 2008, reviews The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch, by Michael Wolff. Not a book for "John and Mary Catholic".
Instead, we get Wolff’s own ineffable takes on how Murdoch became Murdoch...


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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


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.


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


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)


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Diachronic apostolicity

Adoremus Bulletin, July-August 2008, reports Bishops Debate and Vote on Missal Texts at the USCCB meeting last month. The debate was on the English translation of the Proper of the Seasons, the second of twelve segments of the latest revision of the Roman Missal. From Friday Morning, June 13,
Bishop Richard Sklba ... I understand the need for faithful translations. It’s obviously an expression of diachronic apostolicity in the Church. We need to be in contact with the Tradition. And I understand the value of translations that are shared through the various subgroups of a linguistic family, because that’s an expression of our Catholicity. But this is also, as others have said, a case of oral communication and proclamation. And if I have difficulty understanding the text when I read it, I’m just wondering how it’s possible to pray it in the context of worship.

In case John and Mary Catholic are reading, "Diachronic ... is a technical term for something happening over time. ...". Of the several meanings of "Apostolicity," the intended meaning here appears to be "Of, relating to, or derived from the teaching or practice of the 12 Apostles."


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

U.S. bishops give new translation thumbs-down

David Gibson at dotCommonweal reported the U.S. Bishops announcement that the proposed new translation of the Proper of the Seasons for the revised Missal fell short of the votes required for approval.
No word (at least in the official communique) of the vote tally.

Perhaps the exact totals are ineffable ["the ineff word" for readers in the Diocese of Erie].

Update: Fun with Dick and Jane Catholic, by Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester

(via Dad29)


Monday, June 16, 2008

Anne Hathaway is a cool number in 'Get Smart'

Patrick Huguenin in the New York Daily News interviewed Anne Hathaway about her movie role as Agent 99, played by Barbara Feldon in the original television series.
As far as "Get Smart" is concerned, she knows the fate of the remake is in the hands of its longtime fans.

"One of the things about Barbara Feldon is she has a certain ineffable quality," says Hathaway. "You either have that or you don't, and I leave it up to the audience to decide whether I do."

Would you believe Bishop Trautman was to play the Cone of Silence? Missed it by that much.

(via Charlotte was Both)


Monday, February 4, 2008

Falls consciousness

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

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

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

More at Marquette Warrior.

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Portraits of Clergy Sex Abuse

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

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


Saturday, March 3, 2007

Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses

Bishop Richard J. Sklba writes in the "Herald of Hope" column in our Catholic Herald on the episcopal bureaucracy and the parish fantasy.
When the newspaper reports, therefore, that the bishops voted one way or another, it might be helpful to know that every action comes from a committee and each committee has its own circle of experts and consultants. Obviously the challenge is to make sure that any group of advisors contains adequate representation from each of the legitimate diverse viewpoints. It might be smoother if all are always of one mind or represent a single school of thought, but such single-minded advice may not always be the most helpful in the long run. That is certainly true of local parish councils, too.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Effective ministry requires people filled with hope

Sam Lucero reported in our Catholic Herald on Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas's keynote address at the Tending the Lord’s Vineyard conference of about 300 church leaders held October 21 at the Cousins Center.
"You are the rainbows that give us hope."

Not sunshine, lollipops and rainbows?
Citing a study by Dean Hoge, a sociology professor at The Catholic University of America, Bishop Kicanas said that ministers face a church in the third millennium where more of its members turn to their conscience, rather than church doctrine, to make moral decisions.

Back in eighth grade catechesis we taught that conscience included both the ability to judge and the criteria by which we judge. Church doctrine is such a set of criteria. It makes no sense to oppose conscience to doctrine; any opposition would be between doctrine and some other criteria for moral judgment.
"In the next few years, there will be one-third fewer Catholics who are deeply committed to their faith," he said. "Catholics will continue to give less credence to church teaching and more to their own personal judgment. And even though they identify themselves as Catholics, will go to church less often."

Thereby reinforcing our leaders' complacent disconnect from reality. Catholics are not just less involved within the Church, they are leaving the Church in enormous numbers in many countries. The November 2006 Milwaukee magazine article on Catholics In Crisis said
Even with the Hispanic and exurban growth, the total number of registered Catholics in the archdiocese last year fell by 20,000 ...

Continued at that rate, there'll be no one left by 2040. Continuing in the Herald,
In order to carry out the mission of Christ with hope, Bishop Kicanas said that priests, deacons, religious and laity must work in communion.

You might assume he means in communion with the bishops, but it's only an assumption from what's in the article.
The second challenge for ministers in the new millennium is to build a just society and to pass on the faith.

When they can become effective on the latter, they might have a shot at developing some credibility on the former.

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