Friday, September 30, 2005

The Slippery Slope

Thanks to one of my favorite readers for sending along an amazing piece from Slate....

I've gotta say, the longer this pre-Gay Ban period perdures, the more it'll be rued by the Bosses, because every single last story (and the stories could go on forever) about the campy gay clerical culture we've all come to know and love will be blared before the eyes of the world.

Here's a snip
First, banning gay seminarians will only drive the issue underground, precisely the situation before the sexual revolution permitted people—even priests—to be more honest about their sexuality. The most notorious clerical child molesters were all ordained before the sexual revolution and before the changes wrought in the church by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Secrecy and silence encourage immaturity and duplicity, necessary precursors for inappropriate sexual behavior. Second, as my exchange with my friend indicates, many of those priests the right wing considers "their own" are also gay, and only a willful ignorance would fail to see it.

Such a willful ignorance must exist. When I was in the seminary in the mid-1980s, a local bishop came to visit. The bishop dressed for mass in the rectory next door. We seminarians were a bit late in arriving and were met by the bishop's secretary who said, "Come on boys, get into your dresses. Grandma is coming." Grandma was the bishop. The secretary had a feminine nickname, which, I am told, his intimates still use. To complete the screenplay quality of the experience, one of the priests who was in attendance that day left the priesthood shortly thereafter to become a flight steward or, as he called it, "a waitress in the sky." This kind of campiness was common both in the seminary and in my experiences with those already ordained. As for the secretary, he is now a bishop much in favor with conservatives.

The anger about the ban among priests, gay and straight, was more visceral than anything I have ever seen. It is an unwritten rule of gay life that you never, ever "out" a closeted gay person. Everyone has the right to come to terms with their own sexuality in their own way. (I need hardly add that Christians take their name from the master who famously warned against judging others.) Yet, there were threats of outings last week. The hypocrisy of trying to hang the sexual abuse crisis around the neck of gay priests, most of whom are celibate and hardworking, was too much. I know some gay priests who have truly wrestled with their sexuality. As with straight priests, some have fallen from their vows on occasion or on holiday, but most have been largely faithful. Some gay priests are liberal and others are conservative. Some are still conflicted by their sexuality and others are not. What they all share is an almost heroic sense of integrity. To try and blame them for the shiftless careerism that caused bishops to look the other way while children were being abused is beyond the pale.

The last thing the church needs is an anti-gay auto-da-fé.

Reform of the church must always draw upon our tradition, and if Pope Benedict wants to truly address the source of the sexual abuse scandal, he will reinstate the ancient tradition of the church that prevented bishops from being transferred (the technical term is "translated") or promoted from one bishopric to another, more important, diocese. In a stroke, he would remove the careerism that fueled the sweep-it-under-the-rug-at-all-costs syndrome that fostered the crisis. If a man wants to be the bishop of... let him be the bishop of... for the rest of his life. But do not tempt him to fail to face problems in the hopes of becoming the archbishop of New York.


Angry Chatter

So I viewed the online chat with Inquirer columnist John Grogan this morning about sex abuse.... There were about 25 participants, and it was, um, sad. Angry. Searching for hope. And everything else you'd expect from a post-traumatic exchange on a topic deeply felt by many.

Grogan -- who admitted to supporting the ordination of women and married men -- seemed to also support the idea of the faithful withholding money from the plate. He laid primary blame at the feet of the Cardinals and, when asked about his own practice, talked about how each of his siblings have either "Joseph" or "Mary" as their middle names and that he "hasn't given up on the Church." Hmm.

But an idea seemed to germinate which, while serving as an outlet for valid anger, might not be the wisest idea. Some questioner wanted to galvanize support for angry Catholics to march on the Cardinal's Residence.

Um, while I understand where that sentiment comes from, the notion honestly scares me. It's just not a wise idea. If it happened, I'll leave town on the appointed day, because I wouldn't want to be anywhere near it. What nuttiness.

First off, screaming at the gates probably won't be heard at the house itself -- the street which runs along the side fence of the Maison is called "Cardinal Avenue." That's its name.

Second, His Eminence is away for the better part of a month.

Third, and most importantly, and for the millionth time, RIGALI HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. The sitting archbishop inherited this mess from his predecessors, the grand jury began a year and a half before his arrival, and to put the blame on his shoulders is: 1. irrational and 2. unjust. Yes, Justin Rigali spearheaded the response which has been perceived in many quarters as defensive, misdirected, not contrite enough, indefensible, etc. But he hadn't a damn thing to do with the substance of the grand jury investigation and the actions of the archdiocese in the time period which was the focus of the probe.

Point being that a March on Cardinal Avenue would be all symbol, no substance and definitely no help at all -- if you really want to do something constructive, don't scream at a big house from 300ft, and then go home and turn on the football game thinking that the job's done. Support the victims, support the priests who didn't have a clue what was going on and are now getting dumped on and, for the love of God, stay informed and involved in the life and doings of the church. If anything, the scandal is proof positive of the bad things that can happen when there is no information, no curiosity, and little positive interplay between the people in the trenches and the curia whose purpose is to serve them.

Nobody said purification was easy, just as genuine investment isn't easy. But only a redoubling of both will enable us all to chart a way forward.

UPDATE: The transcript of this morning's chat is posted here. A snip:

motheroverbrook: Withholding money will do nothing but hurt the individual parish. The diocese really won't feel the hurt unless it's done on a grand scale (like over a hundred parishes). You'll just make it harder for your pastor to turn the heat on.

John Grogan: Point well taken. Maybe a march on the cardinal's residence? Picture 20,000 Catholics filling the street, praying, chanting, demanding he come out and answer them.

Mike: All this comes at a time of great transition in the church. With dwindling numbers of clergy, some day the church is going to have to reevaluate the future of the laity. They've been fighting against it, but a good long look at how the church can continue to minister with dwindling numbers is going to force them to give the laity a greater role. There has been resistance. If something positive were to come of this whole mess, it would be a redefined role of the laity. I believe that to be the only thing that will truly restore trust.

John Grogan: I've argued the Church needs to ordain women priests and allow married priests, as well. As I said in a column, give me a married priest with a healthy sexual attraction to his wife any day over some of the creeps who have infiltrated the clergy over the years.

joe: As a Catholic I find myself at odds with one of the most basic tenets of the faith: Forgiveness. I do NOT want to forgive, I want to punish. I feel like I'm in a catch-22. Anyone else feel the same?

John Grogan: This is a tough one to forgive. I'm all for forgiveness but only after I hear sincere repentance. So far, I've heard more dodging and defensiveness. I'm in the mood to punish, not forgive.


Episcopal "Spine," Moderated

OK, so Robert "It's Bishop" McManus didn't commandeer a pulpit last weekend to put anyone out of place.... Don't scream at me, this is what his people are saying today.
The Diocese of Worcester's communications director, Raymond Delisle, said the focus of the bishop's homily was not to denounce the pastors for not supporting a Church-backed signature drive to end gay marriage in Massachusetts, but to present the Church's perspective and teachings on marriage.
"What he was trying to do was to make parishioners aware of what the church is presenting and why it is important," said Delisle.
McManus celebrated two Masses after the Rev. George Lange and his associate pastor, the Rev. Stephen Labaire, printed a short item in a recent church bulletin disagreeing with Roman Catholic bishops who support an amendment to the state Constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman only....

Delisle added that parishioners with different viewpoints on the gay marriage issue can often interpret the same message in different ways.
In a letter to parishioners on Sept. 26, McManus wrote: "Earlier this month, I wrote to all pastors and priests in our parishes, asking them to support enthusiastically this pastoral effort to safeguard traditional marriage between one man and one woman by implementing a signature drive in their parishes."
Lange and Labaire, however, did not embrace the drive. In the Sept. 11 church bulletin, they wrote: "The priests of this parish do not feel that they can support this amendment. They do not see any value to it and they see it as an attack upon certain people in our parish, namely those who are gay."
While these comments drew the attention of McManus, Lange's bulletin message also noted the bishops were looking for help in the signature collection drive.
So, what to make of this?


A Cloud Over the Synod

In recent days, there's been a lot of hubbub -- or, as Neuhaus would say, "there has occasioned a brouhaha" -- involving the form and content of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist which opens this Sunday. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie last week excoriated the document in the pages of America magazine, calling its theological insight "poor."

Well, a revelation from Robert Mickens in Rome about the author of the document might just cause more shockwaves. This is Mickens' own reporting -- it has not been published anywhere else.
ROME – The international Synod of Bishops convenes in Rome on Sunday amidst sharp criticism of the meeting’s working document and disclosures that its author was dismissed from a leading pontifical university in the 1990s for plagiarism.

A former high-ranking official at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (PIL) here in Rome confirmed that Fr Nicola Bux – an Italian professor in Bari and the main writer of the “instrumentum laboris” for the 2-23 October synod on the Eucharist – was “not invited back” to teach at the PIL soon after it was discovered that he had published substantial segments of other scholars’ work “verbatum and without direct attribution” in a 1996 book.

“This is hardly a revelation,” said one Rome-based professor, pointing out that the plagiarism charges were made public in 2000 in the PIL’s triennial journal, “Ecclesia Orans”. In a review of Fr Bux’s book – “La Liturgia degli Orientali” (The Liturgy of the Orientals) – Fr Robert Taft SJ said the Italian priest had copied “ad litteram (including, at times, mistakes)… without required permission” of at least three Jesuit authors, including Taft himself. Fr Taft, one of the world’s foremost Eastern Church scholars, wrote that he had “made known what had happened to the (copied) authors and academic authorities in question”.

A senior liturgy professor in Rome said the 1996 incident was widely known by the city’s academic community. He said that, as a result, Fr Bux was “un-esteemed” (disprezzato) among most liturgists here....
Heady, heady stuff.


"The Altar of Arrogance"

The Walter Cuenin Ink-A-Thon continues in Boston.... And I can't say I terribly mind.

A Lector at Our Lady's, Newton, writes in today's Herald
Father Cuenin turns 60 in December. The church is his life, and he has given himself to it unreservedly. He opens the doors of Our Lady's to divorced and remarried Catholics, Protestant and Jewish visitors, gays, estranged and alienated Catholics trying to find their way back, and people searching for faith and inspiration. Doubtless, this – along with his ``disloyalty'' four years ago to the prelates who lied and covered up for abusive priests – were his chief sins, and finding an obscure financial rule he could be accused of violating was the most crass of pretexts.

Father Cuenin's inclusive homilies, his encouragement of the outcast and downtrodden, his invitation to the lay community to participate fully in leadership and pastoral positions rankled the chancery's company men and careerists.
Scathing, but probably true.


In the Good Graces

A lovely tableau from the Wednesday Audience -- apologies for the watermark, the photo's from the superlative Catholic Press Photo....

At the Pope's direct left is Cardinal Ivan Dias of Bombay, a veteran diplomat heavily tipped to be the next prefect of the Propaganda Fide (the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples). And then Georg -- you know him, he always finds a way to get in the frame. And next to the model secretary is the recently reconfirmed Cardinal-Archbishop of Washington, in Rome with the Board of Trustees of CUA, of which he is the Chancellor.

Viva il Ted.


The Mychal Judge Question

I got an e.mail the other day with an old Mother Jones cartoon from 2002. It tied in pretty nicely with a piece from last Sunday's NYTimes I happened to find while sorting out the recycling last night.

Basically, thanks to Andrew Sullivan, the juxtaposition is being revived between Fr. Mychal Judge -- the openly gay Franciscan chaplain to the New York Fire Department who was among the first Ground Zero casualties on 9/11 -- and the coming instruction known as Gay-Ban. Now some are out there trying to say that Judge never disclosed his orientation and it didn't matter a fig and this is all a tool for an Agenda and the press is sacrificing their children to support the gays.... Etc. etc. etc.


That's not what the Times says

Father Judge was also, according to many of his friends of all sexual orientations, a homosexual. A celibate homosexual, he told friends, but a homosexual nonetheless. And reports last week that the Vatican is likely to try to bar gay men, even celibate ones, from the priesthood stirred anger among those who revere his memory.

The former city fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen, a close friend of Father Judge's, said Thursday that excluding men of his caliber from the priesthood would be simply "a shame."

Mr. Von Essen, a married, practicing Catholic who said that Father Judge came out to him years before his death, added, "To sacrifice your life to God and try to do so much good every day and to be prevented from doing that - it's no wonder they can't get anyone to join the church to become a priest or a nun."

But most surprising of all is a quote from the usually rightward-in-line editor of First Things
The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a conservative Catholic who edits the religious journal First Things, said that he doubted that the final document would include celibate gays in the ban. Such a policy, he said, "would raise enormous theological and moral problems in the teaching of the church."
That's Neuhaus, people. Not CMSM, not America, not VOTF. Neuhaus is saying a clear-cut ban "would raise enormous theological and moral problems." And Bill Donahue isn't such a ban fan, either. Are they now serving the heterodox Agenda?

Talk about your surprises....


Chat Alert

John Grogan, a Philly columnist who's been scathing at the archdiocese long before The Report, will be doing an online chat with readers this morning at 10AM Eastern time, 20 minutes from now.... Topic is clergy sex abuse.

I don't always agree with Grogan -- he flipped out at Rigali during the interregnum for attending the Novemdiales Mass celebrated by Cardinal Law. In my mind, that instantly marked him for not being the best when it comes to understanding institutional context, but oh well.

His latest piece this morning is, predictably, angry, filled with honest and pained e.mails from readers, one of whom is leaving the church over all this.

It's still just very tough. All of it.


Still in the Woods

Clout is a weekly column in the Philadelphia Daily News written by a guy named Gar Joseph. It covers the back-beat on the city's political and commerce fronts -- basically gossip for smart people.

The latest edition of the Weekly Gar has an archdiocesan flavor. Very noteworthy....
Public-relations 101

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's response last week to the critical grand jury report on pedophile priests raises a question.

From whom is the archdiocese taking public relations advice?


Can you imagine a response more harmful to the church than the name-calling and evasion issued by the archdiocese and its lawyers?

Two things we've learned from public-relations professionals over the years: When an institution screws up, the best response is the truth, and fast. Followed by an apology and some humility. As Jesus once said, "Blessed are the meek."

We checked with a couple of Catholic PR pros to see what they would've advised Cardinal Justin Rigali.

They didn't want to be identified - that would be bad PR - but here's what they said.

"There was no way to spin that [grand jury] report," said our first pro. "I would've tried to strike a tone of remorse, apology and expressed my concern over the plight of the victims. Then I would have stopped... Because, no matter what else was going on, you're left with 63 priests engaged in unspeakable conduct."

Our PR pro No. 2 thought Rigali stumbled when he suggested that the graphic nature of the grand jury report made it unsuitable reading for families.

"That just reinforces in people's minds the idea that the church is still trying to cover this up," the pro said.

This pro would've advised the cardinal to hold open forums at churches throughout the archdiocese to explain the church's corrective actions.

"As a Catholic," one pro said, "I'm embarrassed by the church's response."

In an interview with a suburban paper the other day, one priest -- who stunningly spoke on-record -- characterized Tuesday's meeting of the clergy thus: "To use Abraham Lincoln’s phrase, there was evidence of a house divided."

I can't emphasize this enough -- we are in uncharted waters.

Not since Archbishop-elect Dennis Dougherty (the First Pharaoh) slighted his inherited auxiliary bishop, John McCort, on the day before Dougherty's installation in 1918 has there been a division in the Philadelphia presbyterate of any public nature. None of us, lay or ordained, are used to this, but we'll just have to feel our way through.

For a couple weeks, we'll have to do it without the Boss. Cardinal Rigali is off to Rome for the Synod on the Eucharist which begins Sunday, and some are wishing he'd stay back to take care of more pressing matters at home.


This is London

The cover of this week's edition of The Tablet features an illustration of Pope Benedict XVI at the piano, and Hans Kung -- wearing a bowtie -- standing alongside and singing cabaret-style. (Thanks to Malcolm for the scan!)

Its lead editorial shines with happiness
WHEN CARDINAL Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope in April, there was much comment on his choice of papal name. Benedict, it was felt, boded well. The previous Pope Benedict was a peacemaker, and St Benedict chose as the first word of his Rule, ‘listen’.

This week, Benedict XVI surprised the world when he announced that he had held talks with Hans Küng, the celebrated theologian who for so long has been cast adrift from the Church, following the removal of his authority to teach. The two men spent four hours together, first talking alone, and then dining with the Pope’s secretary. The comments about the name Benedict seemed to be true that autumn afternoon at Castel Gandolfo: a certain peace was made, and the Pope listened.
Going forward, Robert Mickens interviews Kung, who offers more detail on the evening's festivities in Albano
The communiqué issued from the Vatican – which, Küng later explained, the Pope prepared himself – stressed that the meeting was friendly and that both sides had agreed not to bring up old controversies. “It was a really personal conversation for four hours,” said the Swiss theologian. “Then we had dinner in [the Pope’s] private dining room.” He said the two prayed with one another: “We said an Ave Maria together in the gardens.” Such lengthy visits – and over a meal! – are not everyday events in this papal household.

Professor Küng insisted that he did not ask the Pope to restore his “authority as a Catholic teacher” because “I saw that without such authority one can still engage in theology recognised as being Catholic”. Instead, he engaged Pope Benedict in discussions about faith and science, and world ethics. “I had already sent him my new book – The Beginning of All Things: Science and religion – and he was fascinated by this. Then we talked about a global ethic. He affirmed this, and we talked about non-believers and some common ethical standards and that these could be shared even by non-believers. We then talked about secularisation in European countries like Ireland, Germany and Spain.”
Methinks this is the resumption of a beautiful friendship.


Project Purification Continues

This morning's Inquirer confirms what I've been hearing for a couple days: The church in Philadelphia is, by no means, out of the sex-abuse woods just yet....
Last week's grand jury report on clergy abuse and cover-ups in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has brought a fresh wave of allegations to the District Attorney's Office, the archdiocese, attorneys and victims' advocates.

The report had encouraged abuse victims and others to contact the District Attorney's Office with new complaints or information. The response, by e-mail as well as phone, was immediate.

"The complaints started the day after the report was announced and has continued to increase every day," Charles F. Gallagher, the prosecutor handling the cases, said yesterday. "It's been at least five to 10 a day, and increasing each day."

And the talk's begun as to how many more [priests] we'll be losing over this.... Suffice it to say, the word "bloodbath" is being tossed around.



OK, so a good bit has been made about the recent actions of Robert "It's Bishop" McManus of Worcester. The Metrowest Daily News reported yesterday that McManus commandeered the pulpit of a parish where the pastor and parochial vicar made noises about not soliciting signatures for the gay marriage referendum in Massachusetts, and basically harangued.

A couple days ago, a friend tipped me off to Carol McKinley's blog. McKinley is one of the "Faithful Voice" people -- VOTF's just-as-wacky, just as off-kilter cousin on the right cliff of Planet Catholic. A commentor there seems to indicate that McManus' record on life issues has been more Bob Lynch than anything else.

Maybe Bishop McManus's views have kind of evolved over the years though that sounds sort of modernist to me, since he advised the Bishop of Providence where he used to be a Chancery official that it would be OK to TERMINATE HYDRATION and NUTRITION of a terminally ill patient named Mrs. Marcia Gray.

Right-to-Lifers aren't nearly as aware of this Bishop's background as they should be. You'd have to check out the Providence Journal Bulletin for the story. But some of it has made the rounds with supporters of Terri and her parents who met the Pope and who want legislation to protect people like her.

I got this on a flyer and checked it out on line. Providence Journal Bulletin, Jan. 11, 1988 front page: "Father McManus, who serves as the diocese's vicar for education, repeated yesterday his judgment that withdrawing hydration and nutrition from Mrs. Gray would not be, as some critics have contended, an act of killing, but the withdrawing of a "medical treatment" that has served thus far only to "circumvent" the dying process."

Right-to-Life groups went nuts so the very next day also on the front page the Bishop McManus worked for had to defend the whole thing: "One opinion would be that nutrition and hydration can be considered an extraordinary means under certain circumstances," Bishop Gelineau said. "This opinion would be in accord with the traditional teachings of the Church. At a news conference called to defend and explain the diocese's stand (put together by now Bishop then Father McManus), Bishop Gelineau said the opinion was offered "not as direction to the family, but as guidance,"

The next day people were wondering if the other Bishops were going to just let McManus's opinion go by so the same newspaper still on the first page said: "As a matter of protocol, the aides said, it is highly unlikely that any U.S. cardinal or bishop will take public issue with Providence Bishop Louis E. Gelineau, who said Monday (using McManus's opinion) that the Church's moral teaching permits the withdrawing of food and water from Marcia Gray, the wife of a University of Rhode Island professor, who has been in a coma since suffering a stroke".

Cardinal Ratzinger was in the USA at the time for some kind of meetings and was asked about this obviously wrong teaching (see the Journal Bulletin for January 30, 1988, page 9).

The Providence Bishop was STILL defending Father McManus's opinion as of March 1, 1988 (page 15 of the Journal): "Bishop Louis Gelineau recently endorsed the opinion of the Rev. Robert McManus that removing food and water from comatose Marcia Gray would not be immoral and is in harmony with classical Catholic medical-ethical teachings. Those Catholic bishops who have faced such cases in recent years have unanimously called for feeding and have rejected the opinion espoused by Bishop Gelineau as being morally equivalent to euthanasia."

So that's your idea of a "valiant shepherd"?



'Stralia Buzz

A source from Oz -- and a very good source at that -- has sent word of the imminent appointment of Bishop David Walker of Broken Bay as archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, succeeding Frank Carroll, who submitted his resignation at his 75th birthday a month ago.

Walker, I'm told, had dinner with his "entire" family in Sydney a couple hours ago -- possibly to divulge the news? -- and is off for retreat tomorrow....

I wonder what Pat Power thinks.


The Reverse Visitation

The New York Times reports that CMSM is about to take matters into their own hands -- going to Rome to protest a document they haven't yet seen
Responding to reports that the Vatican may be close to releasing a directive to exclude most gay candidates from entering the priesthood, leaders of Roman Catholic men's religious orders in the United States are planning to travel to Rome to voice their objections in person.

The trip is one of the steps by leaders of Catholic religious orders to try to reassure priests and seminarians who have been rattled by news of a possible Vatican ban on the ordination of gay men.

Word of the trip, which has not been scheduled, was in an internal letter sent on Monday to leaders of religious orders from the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the key American coordinating body for more than 250 leaders of Catholic religious orders, like the Franciscans, the Dominicans and the Jesuits. The letter was provided to The New York Times by a member of a religious order who said he was pleased by the superiors' actions.

In addition, at least two leaders of Jesuit provinces have written to their priests and seminarians reassuring them that their sexual orientation is not an issue as long as they remain celibate and chaste.

"We're not going to push anybody overboard," said the Rev. John Whitney, head of the Oregon province of Jesuits, which includes 254 men in five Northwestern states.
Oh, this is not gonna be pretty at all.

The NFPC's top guys met in Chicago this week with similar concerns. Response to come....


Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Return to Delegation

L'Osservatore announces what we've long known: B16 will not preside at beatifications... From CNS
The communique from the Congregation for Saints' Causes said that while the study of the rites continues Pope Benedict will preside over canonizations, but beatifications, "which are still a pontifical act, will be celebrated by a representative of the Holy Father, who normally will be the prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes," Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins.

"The rite of beatification will take place in the diocese which promoted the cause of the new blessed or in another suitable location," including the Vatican, with the approval of the Secretariat of State, it said.

Normally, it said, the beatification should take place in the context of the Mass or Eastern Catholics' Divine Liturgy.

Explaining the new policy and the concerns of the Vatican's study, Cardinal Saraiva Martins said there appeared to be a pastoral need to re-emphasize the "clear and essential" difference between beatification and canonization.

At a canonization, the pope issues a formal decree recognizing the candidate's holiness and permitting public remembrance of the candidate at liturgies throughout the church, the cardinal wrote in L'Osservatore Romano.

With a beatification, the pope concedes permission for limited public remembrances, usually among members of the candidate's religious order or in the diocese where the candidate lived and worked.

"The recent decision of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, not to preside personally over the rites of beatification, responds to a widely perceived need to underline more strongly in the celebration the substantial difference between beatification and canonization and more visibly involve the particular churches in the beatification rites of their 'servants of God,'" the cardinal wrote.
There goes another piece of the JP school of church. Seems that Dziwisz will perform his beatification? What a moment that'll be.


Support the Troops

The latest Catholic Standard & Times is posted. Here are excerpts from Cardinal Rigali's weekly column:
Over the past week, we Catholics have come face to face with evil. We saw that, in our own Church, troubled priests, to whom we looked as ministers of sacramental grace, as collaborators in ministry and indeed as friends, had committed despicable acts of evil upon our most innocent and precious members, our children.

This knowledge, and the depravity of the acts detailed in the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report, affects me deeply. I grieve for the pain and humiliation victims of clergy sexual abuse have suffered.

To them I say, once again, with a heavy heart: I apologize to you personally. Your suffering is borne by all Catholics. All believers stand with you for support and are united with you in prayer. These words are meant to be first steps of healing, which I pray you will receive through the grace of God....

Many years ago I dedicated my life as a priest of Jesus, the High Priest, to serve Him and His Church, the people of God. Today I acknowledge the betrayal of abusive priests, as do so many dedicated priests here in the Archdiocese. These good and faithful servants of our Lord feel especially hurt. I know they have endured uncharitable comments or perhaps silent stares of condemnation from some members of the community. I extend my fraternal admiration for all the selfless service they render. They strive for personal holiness as they lead the people entrusted to their care to a deeper relationship of love with our Lord Jesus. To them I say with a full heart: thank you for all you do and are.

I express these words with deepest gratitude. But my words are not enough. I invite all the faithful to consider times in your life when a priest celebrated a significant moment in your life with you, or consoled your family at a time of grief, or in some small way accompanied you on your journey toward holiness of life in Jesus.

As you have considered the evil perpetrated by a minority of priests over several decades, I ask you to take the time to thank personally one of the overwhelming majority of priests who have performed generous service to you and the Church over a much longer span of time. If a priest has ever led you closer to the Father’s love, now may be the time to thank him personally with words of your own.
He does get that it's the good, humble and honest ones who will suffer most because of this.... So sad.


More Mount

OK, as I'm trying to not write about the expulsion at Emmitsburg anymore, you can find a continuing feed from Damien Lenshek, a student at AMU and friend of the seminarian involved.

He takes his shots at me, but oh well, I'm used to them.

Damien and John were in formation together at St. Charles here in Philly once upon a time, and I always appreciated the former's feedback on his experience at Overbrook after he left. You can find that at his former blog.


Turmoil on the Mount

This comes from a reader in Emmitsburg re the events of the past days (covered here and here). It is an extremely heartfelt and sad commentary on the state of the seminaries
I know sems here and they are even upset at the lack of basic dignity, Christianity,
compassion and pastoralness, charity displayed to the seminarian in this case. The Rector apparently lost his cool and sternly told him to be out by 12 noon the next day. No concern by the Seminary or his Diocese for the poor sem. who has no family or anyone in this country. In the words of a Seminarian, 'dumped like a piece of bad meat'. Is that the example of fatherhood and christianity to treat him with no regard for a human being. Is that how a seminarian is treated when even a secular company would not while dismissing him. He did not even know where he would stay that night.

Maybe the church and formation priests and rectors are above the Gospel and basic human rights and respect for mans dignity. But John on the other hand displayed nothing but a exemplary goodness and inspired other sems even on his way out, was at peace, composed, prayerful response and consoled and encouraged them not to be angry or hurt and just stand for the truth and holiness and be good, compassionate priests. I do not know the inside details, some seminarians said he would love an nvestigation but only if it is in the open and not behind closed doors, with seminarians and lay witnesses present. That does not sound like he has anything to hide,... but these above are the external observations of the seminarians who have great respect for him and fear for themselves. They said the [new] rector gives them conferences on how to be good christians and future priests on Thursdays, but they see no reason to listen to him or respect him as an example anymore. And the last thing all are saying which I think you should know, ' the greatest injustice to the Mount community was that Rector Kevin Rhoades was taken away from them. [Rhoades was made the bishop of Harrisburg.] The sem has been on a rapid downslide since then and is out of control now with no leadership at all.' You need to make the people of God as you say, aware of this if you care about what we know.
Think about it.


You Call This Formation?

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the griping in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph over Bishop Robert Finn's controversial moves to refocus adult education and lay formation.

A central focus of Finn's changes is his downsizing of the "New Wine" lay ministry program, a favorite of the progressive die-hards. Well, the reading list for New Wine -- or "New Whine" as its critics have called it -- has popped up.

No Ratzi. No Teilhard de Chardin. No Von Balthasar. But two of the six books are Richard McBrien -- tell me you're surprised.
McBrien, Richard P. Ministry. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987. $12.00
Ramey, David A. Empowering Leaders. Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1991. $14.95
Marthaler, Berard. The Creed, revised. Mystic: Twenty-Third Publications, 1993. $24.95
McBrien, Richard P. Catholicism, New Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1994. $36.00
Leckey, Dolores. Seven Essentials for the Spiritual Journey. Crossroads, 1999. $12.95
Hanigan, James P. As I Have Loved You: The Challenge of Christian Ethics. New York: Paulist Press, 1986. $14.95
Um, does this fit some definition of "Catholicism" I don't know about?


I Completely Forgot....

In checking another forum, someone made a statement, the veracity of which had completely eluded me
Black Friday is 2 months away . . .
Oh my God, that's so frightening. I love Christmas and all -- but it's almost here again?

Wow. May the two months go as slowly as possible.... I'm nowhere near ready.


Justice Meiers?

Just floating the latest SCOTUS spec.... We're probably being baited again, but it's still worth noting.
Bush hinted Monday he might choose a woman or minority member, but some outside advisers were intrigued by another part of his comments. The president said he had interviewed and considered people from "all walks of life."

That raised speculation that Bush was actively considering people who were not on the bench -- such as Miers, a Texas lawyer and the president's former personal attorney, and Thompson, who was the federal government's highest ranking black law enforcement official when he was deputy attorney general during Bush's first term.

[Jay] Sekulow [American Center for Law & Justice] said he's heard Miers' name mentioned "fairly significantly" during the past two days. She doesn't have judicial experience, but she's a "well-respected lawyer -- someone the president trusts."

Two other judicial activists, including one with contacts at the White House, said they too had heard Miers' name mentioned, but agreed with Sekulow, who cautioned, "I don't think anybody has that crystal ball but the president."

Miers is leading the White House effort to help Bush choose a nominee to the Supreme Court, so naming her would follow a move Bush made in 2000 when he tapped the man leading his search committee for a running mate -- Dick Cheney.

"Given the Cheney precedent and the president's well-known loyalty to his aides, it's certainly possible the president could turn to Harriet," said Brad Berenson, a lawyer who formerly worked in the counsel's office of the Bush White House.
Hmmmm... Could it be "Roberts, Part Deux"?


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Yep, the Synod is A-Comin'

The fun and festivities for the 11th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, with a focus on "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church" begin Sunday morning with a papal liturgy in St. Peter's. The Synod ends on 23 October, and the Holy See has announced a Saturday morning briefing with Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, who makes his debut in the Aula as secretary-general.

For those who are really interested, the Instrumentum Laboris on the Synod -- the document which dictates the gathering's tone and agenda -- can be found here.

What's everyone looking for from this? Universal indult? Strengthened guidelines against liturgical abuses? A more precise interpretation of the GIRM? Translation guidelines? I know how strongly everyone feels about liturgy here.

And, for a contrast of opinion, the response of Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie from the current edition of America is serialized here and here.


The Court of Higher Appeal

I don't know why John Noronha's friends have decided to pull the ad hominem attack card. Their omnidirectional manifestations of anger are quickly becoming an unjustifiable disservice to the church, the priesthood, and their friend's vocation.

It's not what you do when you want to keep something quiet.

Noronha is the seminarian for the diocese of Birmingham who was dismissed yesterday from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg. Out of respect for his privacy and the delicacy of the situation, I initially withheld the disclosure of his name and other elements.

Admittedly, I promised not to post about the decision early on. But his supporters' reaction of harsh criticism toward the seminary, its administration, and the fact that the seminary's decision has been reported in the external forum have turned the decision into a festival of outrage which has superseded the original act as priestly formation stands at a crucial crossroads. In short, that reaction has made it a story in a way it wasn't earlier yesterday.

If there is no reason to fear, then why all this hubbub? The People of God have a right to transparency and a right to know, right?

The Apostolic Visitation comes to Emmitsburg in two weeks (16-21 October). You'd be a fool to think that Bishop D'Arcy & Co. won't be going over the files with a fine-tooth comb. And if you think there won't be questions and probing into this case, think again.

Ergo, the investigatory and interragatory process which led to yesterday's decision will probably and should be thoroughly reviewed by the Visitation Team (representing the Holy See) for improprities, the lack of due process and/or errors of judgment on the part of the administration. Per the Instrumentum Laboris for the process, the seminarian involved -- and all members of the formation community -- have the right and are encouraged to raise concerns to the Visitors which will be of use to their investigation and the report on the institution to be sent to Rome.

If the Visitors find that the charges against Noronha were trumped up and exploited to silence a smart guy who the administration saw as a "nuisance," as his supporters believe, he could well be cleared, even possibly restored to the seminary. Now that's a vindication.

It would be just what the very angry people in my inbox are looking for, would it not? So what's the use in venting at everyone and everything? Let the process proceed.

Protesting to keep an ecclesiastical act silent serves no one well. Protesting a disciplinary action against a seminarian who appeared to be out of compliance with at least one seminary policy shows a lack of disregard for the rules of the house and the valid authority of those who govern it. (The Mount banned its students from maintaining blogs some months ago -- Noronha's website remains active.) For his supporters to use a sad moment to lash out and accuse the seminary authorities of being "corrupt" and "rid[ding] themselves of... a truly great figure in the Church," well, that speaks for itself. But if they feel so strongly and are convinced that they're in the right, the claims deserve attention and warrant scrutiny into the allegations and the process so that the complete truth can be known. This moment does not call for a cover-up and a mulligan.

Emotions are running high, and the best thing would be for everyone involved to take a step back and to let the thing pan out. I'm honestly tired of writing about it. But for Noronha's friends and supporters to send a message to the Catholic people -- and the press -- that a matter of public relevance should be kept private, and to attack those who wish to be informed, sends no good message at all and reduces faith to a case-by-case application.

As a coda, a longtime friend of mine -- a teacher in his mid-50s -- applied for his home diocese some time ago, and the Admissions Board turned him down, pulling out all kinds of potential objections. It was a moment of anger, of sadness and of doubt for many people. He then applied for another diocese which welcomed him into their formation program with open arms. He'll be better off there, and he's a better Christian and a better seminarian for the experience. What he endured said much more about his strength of faith than it did about the hoops others made him jump through.

Just another way of saying that, on this one, the process will soon be underway. Let it proceed.


Big George Speaks

My favourite cape-wearing Australian football hooligan -- Cardinal Pell to you -- has given an interview to a Catholic web-journal in Oz.
"I do think the pressures on the clergy today are precisely because of the pansexualism of society," he said. “But even the pansexualism of today though would be considerably less than in the time of the Roman Empire and paganism.”
What's Latin for "The spirit of Castrillion is upon me"?
“I don't favour the abandoning of the discipline of compulsory celibacy in the Western Church for the clergy for a number of reasons. It could be changed. The Church could ordain married men. So I tell our seminarians ‘It's never going to work the other way. You'll never be able to be ordained and then go looking for a wife.’ The Church might change its discipline and ordain married men [but] I'm not in favour of that for a number of practical and spiritual reasons.”
I agree -- how curious that he's keeping the door open, however.....

Cardinal Pell said that allowing priests to marry could invite other problems.

“I know that the public notoriety that I have had here and there that my family has found it rather difficult..."
I know his cousin the nun has had a rather tough time of it.

On Benedict, Pell says

“It is not without significance that the Catholic Church was able to choose a German. I am not sure how long ago that would have been impossible. At the end of a press conference in Rome one of the reporters said ‘What does it mean that the Catholic Church has chosen a German as Pope?’ I said I think it means that the Second World War is finally over and that we can turn the page on that appalling section of history.

“A young German woman who works in the Vatican Radio came up to me and said she was very pleased that I said that because even today you can't imagine how difficult it sometimes can be even in other parts of Europe travelling around and saying that you're German.”
Even today, you can't imagine how difficult it sometimes can be to travel around Germany in 15 feet of scarlet moire, either. But these things happen.

Via Papabile.


Eternal Rome

Five years ago today, I saw Rome for the first time.

The purpose of the trip was the pilgrimage for the canonization of Katharine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, this town's second saint. 1,400 strong went over from the Motherland for the event, and I'm still amazed that I got to be one of 'em.

It was such an exciting moment.

The flight -- as a taste of the future, it was Lufthansa -- was more like the Continental Hyatt House at 30,000 feet. Or a chancery in the sky, if you will. I was at the back holding salon at the back with a gaggle of courtiers and hoping that we wouldn't hit a jet pocket.

Hitting the ground was a culture shock... Definitely one of those "Somebody pinch me" moments -- and I don't mean the kind of pinching one gets on the 64 Bus.

Coming around the bend in Fiumicino Airport, I heard a voice screaming in English. It was just our Master Builder from Philadelphia, standing at the baggage claim, making sure all the priests were accounted for and asking for order. In the process, he was fighting with travel agents in two languages as they were speaking into cellphone earpieces.

Hopped a bus to the hotel, and within half an hour we were at the Aurelian Wall -- right down the street from the Capuchin Generalate. There was just enough time -- not much, but enough -- to clean up before heading out for dinner. And, running out of the hotel, the input overload ride of my life began....

My friends who had been there before were pointing out things to look for along Lungotevere as the sun was setting when, out of nowhere, the illuminated dome of St. Peter's appeared against the dusk light.

Surrounded by the priests and mentors of my childhood, I almost passed out at the sight. I did freak out -- I couldn't believe I was actually there. It was just terribly exciting beyond words.

Through the days that followed, I got to explore the countryside, experienced peace in Assisi, an epiphany in a Florentine rose garden, and the weight of mission while passing through the Holy Door and entering S. Pietro for the first time. I was blessed to see John Paul II at close range on two consecutive days, and even more thrilled to get a wink and nod from Dziwisz. And my people excoriated me for throwing four coins in the Trevi fountain -- but, hey, I had an extra wish to make.

Then, as now, as with a jigsaw, the trip helped put together some pieces of something larger. I haven't been back since, but I fell in love with the city during my days there, and I also found a greater love and appreciation for the things I had left behind at home.

Where did the time go? Regardless of the place it disappeared to, it was a cherished, mind-blowing experience. And I know I'll be back there again real soon.

Hey, it's a perk of the job.


Good Churchkeeping 101

Chaput ordains 12 transitional deacons in Denver
Being called by God shouldn’t lead to pride, but to humble dependence on him, the archbishop said in his homily as he spoke on the passage from Matthew’s Gospel about the request of the apostles James and John for places of prominence in Christ’s kingdom.

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you,” the archbishop emphasized as he read from the Scriptures. “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”

The servant nature of the diaconate is the foundational aspect of all three ranks of Holy Orders — deacons, priests and bishops — the archbishop said.

“It’s foundational in that without that transformation into servants and slaves ... the walls of the episcopacy would collapse,” he said. “This is, in some sense, the most important part of the sacrament of Holy Orders.”


The Right to Know?

OK, I've got a lot of people jumping down my throat today. They're pissed.

Here is what is: Last night, I reported after corroboration from several sources that Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg had dismissed a student yesterday after an investigation which, supporters say, was based on "false allegations."

The Mount's Visitation begins two weeks from Saturday.

The anger from supporters immediately poured into my inbox. I was accused of "harming the Church," damaging the career of a potential priest, and "not showing concern for the little people in the Church."

Um, so something of this kind should be kept quiet? That got us into a lot of mess before, didn't it? That's not concern for the little ones, that's protecting one at the expense of the many. (See, there's a good example of "pro multis," snowflakes.)

As I will profess to the end, this isn't the first time a journeyman seminarian has had a setback on his quest for priesthood. It won't be the last time. And as always, if he's in the right, time and another house will vindicate him, and there's nothing to be feared from the spotlight.

However, repeating what I've already said, the nature of this work is not p.r. -- I'm no one's flack, in case you need reminding. This is a work of journalism -- and especially in this case, as the People of God have a right to know what happens in the formation of their potential pastoral leaders, their future priests. A decision to dismiss is never taken lightly by formators, and when a man is shown to be less than compliant with and less than submissive to the valid authority of those charged with his formation, that raises a flag. The seminary is, after all, the proving ground of priestly obedience. And, now more than ever, if we err, it must be on the side of openness and transparency.

Emotions are running high over this, and everyone involved has a place in my thoughts and prayers. I ask everyone to echo these.

But, with all the focus on issues of formation and seminary life these days, should this story have been "kept on the down-low"? What about the truth setting us free?

People of God, tell me what you think.


Non Datur Tertium?

As reported here, Cardinal Rigali met yesterday with his priests. And in an unprecedented moment in the modern history of the church in Philadelphia, the Pharaoh got an earful from his presbyterate
One pastor took to the microphone to say he was "greatly disappointed in the archdiocese's weak and deplorable" defense of Cardinals John Krol and Anthony J. Bevilacqua.

The criticism was greeted with scattered applause, sources said.

Another priest - trained in moral theology - reportedly lectured the cardinal yesterday for defending Krol and Bevilacqua on grounds that they had never intended to hurt children.

"You seem to stress intention. You try to claim there was never a wrong intention," the priest reportedly told Rigali.

But from a Catholic moral perspective, he said, the "horrific" outcomes of Krol's and Bevilacqua's cover-up vastly outweigh their efforts to protect the archdiocese from scandal.

"The people are not interested in intentions," he told the cardinal.

A third priest reportedly asked Rigali if he could "shed light on the impression" that the archdiocese under Bevilacqua and Krol had "put too much reliance on legal wisdom, or the wisdom of the world, and not enough reliance on Jesus and the Gospel."

Rigali "really did not answer," said one priest who attended the meeting, which included prayer and readings from St. Paul and Timothy. He characterized Rigali's remarks as "diplomatic."

A fourth priest told the cardinal it was "the wrong time to defend the indefensible."

I doubt it was intentional, but it's one of those blessed ironies of history that the 90-minute meeting took place in the Romanesque splendor of St. Martin's Chapel, site of Philadelphia Catholicism's last great "Crossroads Moment."

In the spring of 1964, the Conciliar wave of enthusiasm swept through St. Charles, as it did at most every American seminary. At one point, the frustrated students took matters into their own hands and walked out of classes en masse, going on to release a "White Paper" to The Bulletin -- then the paper of record here -- detailing their proposals for changes to the formation program in its academic, spiritual and human elements.

They were the six days that shook the Sem.

A week after the double-blow of the student protest and the media leak, then-Archbishop John Krol shocked the community by showing up to preside over Sunday Vespers in St. Martin's.

At the close of the rite, he addressed the students at length, dictating the course of the next four decades of his archdiocese's history in the process.

"You have the choice of staying and obeying, or leaving," Krol said. "Non datur tertium" -- "There is no third choice."

With those words, as practically every other See succumbed to the excesses of the Conciliar wave, John Krol drew his line and beat back the tide in his archdiocese.

Given these recent events and the newfound openness of the priests, is it safe to say that the tide averted for so long is back with a vengeance?

It seems we'll see. But suffice it to say that, under the same roof where the Boss once fumed, the boys listened and the words shaped a generation, this time it was the Boss listening and the men speaking their minds in words that might well shape a new generation.

It's official: The old order is no more in Philadelphia.


Stop SNAPping!

From the eminent Ann Rodgers at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, word comes that as one investigation ends, another might just be beginning....

Three advocates for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests met with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. yesterday, asking for a grand jury investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The meeting came on the heels of a Philadelphia grand jury report that castigated the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for past failure to remove such priests, though the cases were too old to prosecute.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a national group, pointed out that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop of Philadelphia from 1988 to 2003, was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1983 to 1988.

"Only the most naive would believe that abuse, deceit and cover-up in Pittsburgh's Catholic hierarchy suddenly and magically ended with Bevilacqua's departure," said a letter that activists presented to Zappala. They held a news conference outside the courthouse after earlier leafletting outside St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland, and Zappala invited them in.

OK, it's getting a little ridiculous now. As Philly showed, everything is past statute -- and, as everyone should know by now, Donald Wuerl had religion on abuse a long, long time ago.

"If you're looking for a bishop who is going to oust these priests, [Wuerl] is the man for you," said Tim Bendig, 34, whose 1988 civil lawsuit led to Wuerl's fight in the Vatican for the right to remove predators.

Um, somebody send David Clohessy to talk to Bendig, because he's off being hysterical. Again.

The actions of Datillo and Wuerl are "somewhat encouraging" but not reassuring, said David Clohessy, of St. Louis, the national director of SNAP.

"Virtually every diocese can point to one or two cases that were seemingly handled well. That doesn't mean there was no cover-up," he said.

OK, between this and David Clohessy's local hand having no clue who Marcel Maciel was on live television the other night while trying to accuse Papa Ratzi of "letting abuse cases drop" with a straight face, I'm just... um... not the biggest believer of SNAP's right now.

Oh, and their president strongly implied to the AP the other day that it was better to have abusive priests defrocked, without supervision and in the general population as opposed to under watch and living lives of prayer and penance in an enclosure.

That sound you hear? It's the last drops of SNAP's credibility, rushing away....

I'll repeat the quote from the Sane Survivor, it's so good

"If you're looking for a bishop who is going to oust these priests, [Wuerl] is the man for you," said Tim Bendig, 34, whose 1988 civil lawsuit led to Wuerl's fight in the Vatican for the right to remove predators.
But, as usual, not even that first-hand assessment is good enough for David Clohessy. How tragically par for the course.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Like a Rolling Rock?

For those who appreciate good culture, I'm watching Part Two of the Scorsese-directed docu-epic on Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, which has aired on PBS last night and tonight.

Watching the remastered archived footage, it's just electrifying. And they just showed our dear departed Mario Savio.... What a time.

Anyone else see it? Comments?


You Know, There Still Remains Another Vacancy....

With everything going on, it's very easy to have forgotten. But it's coming

President Bush, close to nominating a successor to retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, has narrowed his list to a handful of candidates that outside advisers say includes federal judges and two people who have never banged a gavel -- corporate attorney Larry Thompson [former Deputy AG] and White House counsel Harriet Miers.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Tuesday that Bush had pledged to consult with senators about his selection and said, "I think we were essentially wrapping that process up as early as today."

He declined to say if the president had interviewed any candidates and wouldn't speculate about Bush's favorites, but legal analysts monitoring the selection process say others often mentioned are federal appellate judges Alice Batchelder, J. Michael Luttig, Edith Jones, J. Harvie Wilkinson, Priscilla Owen, Samuel Alito, Karen Williams and Michael McConnell. Also said to be on the list are Maura Corrigan, a judge on the Michigan Supreme Court, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Bush is expected to announce his nominee quickly after Thursday's anticipated confirmation and swearing in of John Roberts as chief justice.

Who will it be? Time for Jesus to "take control" again.


Sem Wars

You know, word spreads fast... more than just sometimes.

Less than three weeks before its Apostolic Visitation (chaired by whistle-blower Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend), Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg dismissed a seminarian earlier today.

Supporters of the guy in question (all of whom are outside the Emmitsburg walls) are ranting, raving and going all kinds of crazy. My inbox is rocking to high heaven.

For my part, all I can say -- all any responsible party would say without a presentation of the evidence -- is that, well, you have to trust that the seminary authorities know what they are doing. Period.

I'm dead serious.

Nobody approaches a decision to dismiss lightly, and I pray that everyone for whom today's action is a moment of sorrow will be able to find peace and find hope.

Still, with less than three weeks before the Visitors show up, all this is more than a bit unsettling....


No "Pro Multis" Here

As it's been asked, I will confirm that the most recent drafts coming from ICEL state at the consecration of the wine "for you and for all."

"And for the many" is nowhere to be found.

I remember that EWTN once tried to toy with the liturgy and use "and for the many" in English -- a Big No-No that went down in 1994. As often happened with the Alabamans, Rome went berserk and clamped down immediately.


A Moment of Penitence

More from the most recent ICEL drafts -- Papabile asked about this one:
Priest: Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
that we may be ready to celebrate the sacred mysteries.


All: I confess to almighty God,
and to you my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned greatly
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and what I have failed to do,
(striking their breast, they say)
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault.

(Then they continue)
Therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Priest: May almighty God have mercy on us
and lead us, with our sins forgiven,
into eternal life.

"The Cardinal's Rough Night"

From our ABC affiliate -- home to the nation's highest-rated local newscast -- another report (with video) on last night's "unloading" on Cardinal Rigali at Villanova.

For some reason, the Inquirer and the TV people focused on the same questioners. Were they the only controversial ones? It's something to think about.

Gratefully, the text of the Cardinal's lecture last night -- on Gaudium et Spes and the role of Catholic higher education -- has been posted on the archdiocesan website.

In all honesty, I really hope that his words about the Council are not lost in the hubbub over the grand jury report. Even if he's getting screamed at about other things, when a bishop teaches, he teaches. And that's an important thing to keep in mind.

Here are some snips from the address.

The first important question treated in [Gaudium et Spes] is the dignity of the human person. This is basic to everything else in the document, everything else in the Church and in university life. This is presumed in everything that follows. Vatican II sees this dignity of the human person as being linked to the fact that the human person is created by God, redeemed by Christ and called to communion with God for all eternity. This was one of the favorite themes of John Paul II for the twenty-six and a half years of his pontificate. He was constantly inspired by this conciliar vision. In season and out of season, he proclaimed the dignity of the human person.

Linked to the dignity of the human person, however, are the ever relevant questions of conscience and human freedom. Gaudium et Spes describes conscience, saying: “In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which he is bound to obey. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience can when necessary speak to his heart more specifically: Do this. Shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man. According to it he will be judged” (no. 16). If obedience to conscience is part of human dignity, then reflecting on it must touch the realm of Catholic universities.

Intimately linked to the theme of conscience is that of freedom. The Council insists that the dignity of the human being demands that he or she act according to a knowing and free choice, which excludes “new forms of social and psychological slavery” (no. 4). In effect, God wanted the human being to be able to say no precisely so that his or her yes would be authentic and meritorious. The dignity of the human person demands that he act according to a knowing and free choice. Gaudium et Spes recognizes authentic freedom as “an exceptional sign of the divine image within man” (no. 80)....

Later on in Gaudium et Spes we will find a remarkable text about the truth of our identity as human beings. It states: “We are witnesses of the birth of a new humanism, one in which man is defined first of all by his responsibility to his brothers and sisters and toward history” (no.55). I submit that the birth of a new humanism is very much connected, whenever it occurs, with the activities of Catholic universities, and that the “new humanism” of Vatican II—the humanism of solidarity, indeed of being defined in relationship to others, must be an evangelical guiding light for the orientation of all Catholic higher education. What great dignity, what great responsibility, what a great mission is entrusted to the human person! And what service the university can fulfill in being a herald of this “new humanism”!

In 1987, in continuity with Gaudium et Spes, Pope John Paul II amply developed the theme of solidarity and the act proper to it, which is collaboration, in his encyclical letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis. Included in Gaudium et Spes there had also been a splendid treatment of reverence for the human person. This emphasis by Vatican II was subsequently developed magnificently by John Paul II in his encyclical the Gospel of Life and in many other documents. Meanwhile, Gaudium et Spes had given us a summary of what is opposed to this human dignity. It says: “Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self destruction; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as mere tools for profit rather than as free and responsible persons; all of this and the like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator” (no. 27)....

Vatican II spoke intriguingly (cf. Part I, chapter 3) about the Church’s religious and moral principles that derive from the heritage of God’s word, but which do not always have at hand the solution to particular problems. Gaudium et Spes admits clearly that it does not offer ready-made solutions to the many problems of the world, but rather sees the Gospel as the guide and source of principles that will respond to the issues of the modern world (cf. no. 33). In this way the Church scrutinizes the signs of the times, interpreting them in the light of the Gospel (cf. no. 4). Surely Catholic universities are called to do the same, striving to respond to perennial questions, without at the same time having simplistic solutions to every problem. Gospel principles in the life of the Church are crystal clear, but their application involves prayer and openness to the Spirit of Truth.

In treating the mission of the Church in the modern world (cf. Part I, chapter 4), Gaudium et Spes expresses the conviction that the Church believes that she can contribute greatly toward making the human family and its history more human. The Church holds in high esteem and values the contribution of other Christian churches and ecclesial communities and of all human society. A special part of the Church’s mission is to proclaim all human rights. The forces of all people of good will are needed in this vital cause. Certainly the leadership role of Catholic higher education must not fail. There is still so much to be done throughout the world.

Yes, there is so much to be done.


From the First Visitation

So you've got a team of five visiting your Seminary, the first of 226 to be scrutinised. What do you do?

If you're Dominican Father Charlie Bouchard, head of the Aquinas Institute in St. Louis, you hold a press conference.
The 25 candidates studying to become priests at Aquinas Institute of Theology were described as "anxious" but not worried Monday as a Vatican team began evaluating how they are prepared intellectually, spiritually and sexually for priesthood.

"Whenever you are under the spotlight, it's difficult," the seminary's president, the Rev. Charles Bouchard, said at a press conference Monday. The students themselves were off limits to reporters, so it was Bouchard who was left to describe their mood....

Bouchard said that what Aquinas tried to determine about its applicants was whether they have the capability to live a celibate life.

Whereas some Catholics believe that homosexuality should disqualify men from priesthood, Bouchard said, "We hope to provide evidence that that shouldn't be the case."
Sounds like fightin' words to me.


"Serene and Kindly... Um... Oh, No..."

More from the ICEL stuff. The bishop-members of the commission met in Leeds three weeks ago and no work has been done on these texts since. So, to this point, it is what stands.

Here's a snippet from Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon.

It currently reads:
Look with favor on these offerings
and accept them
as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel,
the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.
The revised text says:
Be pleased to look upon them
with a serene and kindly gaze
and to accept them,
as you were pleased to accept
the gifts of your just servant Abel,
the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek,
a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.
Er, that's a mouthful.

And as one source put it, "the last thing anyone needs these days is for the words 'serene and kindly gaze' to be uttered with a bunch of American seminarians gathered around. Just picture it."


The National Catholic Op-Ed Page

First Amy the Fair, and now John the Master....

Allen's on in today's New York Times, reinforcing the point that Roman law is, well, Roman law.
Although this is a difficult point for many Anglo-Saxons to grasp, when the Vatican makes statements like "no gays in the priesthood," it doesn't actually mean "no gays in the priesthood." It means, "As a general rule, this is not a good idea, but we all know there will be exceptions."

Understanding this distinction requires an appreciation of Italian concepts of law, which hold sway throughout the thought world of the Vatican. The law, according to such thinking, expresses an ideal. It describes a perfect state of affairs from which many people will inevitably fall short. This view is far removed from the typical Anglo-Saxon approach, which expects the law to dictate what people actually do.

While Italians grumble about lawlessness, fundamentally they believe in subjectivity. Anyone who's tried to negotiate the traffic in Italian cities will appreciate the point. No law, most Italians believe, can capture the infinite complexity of human situations, and it's more important for the law to describe a vision of the ideal community than for it to be rigidly obeyed. Italians have tough laws, but their enforcement is enormously forgiving. Not for nothing was their equivalent of the attorney general's office once known as the Ministry of Justice and Grace.

The British historian Christopher Dawson has described this as the "erotic" spirit of cultures shaped by Roman Catholicism. Catholic cultures are based on the passionate quest for spiritual perfection, Dawson writes, unlike the "bourgeois" culture of the United States, which, shaped by Protestantism and based on practical reason, gives priority to economic concerns. As one senior Vatican official put it to me some time ago, "Law describes the way things would work if men were angels."

So much for the vaunted "nuclear option."


Four Hours and Dinner

John Allen interviews Father Hans Kung.

The Pope "personally prepared" yesterday's statement from Navarro-Valls which stated that "Both parties agreed that, in the space of this meeting, it made no sense to enter into an argument about the doctrinal questions remaining between Hans Kung and the magisterium of the church."

As Kung says below, there were "no reproaches, no polemics" from Pope Benedict the Great.

A Sept. 26 statement from the Vatican did not say who had requested the meeting, but said that it took place in a "friendly climate" and that Benedict XVI offered special support for Küng's efforts to build a Weltethos, or a moral framework based on values shared among religions which can also be recognized by secular reason.

That statement, Küng told NCR, was prepared personally by the pope and shown to Küng for approval prior to release.

Both parties agreed, according to the statement, that it did not make sense to go into the "persistent doctrinal questions" between Küng and the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

"We should not have delusions," Küng said of what the meeting suggests about the pontificate of Benedict XVI. "His stances on church policy are not my own."

Nevertheless, Küng said, he regards the meeting as a "sign of hope for many in the church with the same vision as mine."

He described the session as "very joyful," with "no reproaches, no polemics."

Küng said he did not request that Benedict XVI restore his license to teach Catholic theology.

I'm supposed to meet with Kung next month.... Maybe he'll be a Cardinal by that time and I'll get to kiss his ring. How thrilling is that!


How The Hell Will We Sing This?

OK, you lot need some more ICEL.... You really do.

Here's the latest Gloria
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God almighty Father.

Lord, Jesus Christ, Only-begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Um, Amen? Hmmm....

Let me just tell you this: when I saw the proposals for the Institution Narrative, I almost wept with fury. It's horrrrrrrible.


Ecce, Literal Translation... Ecce, Qui Tollit Peccata Mundi...

More from the latest ICEL revisions.... These are September, 2005 drafts, people -- that's this month.
Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are they who have been called to the banquet of the Lamb.

Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof,
but only say the word,
and my soul shall be healed.

Of Big Houses and Hondas

Well, all hell is breaking loose in Boston. Again.

I spoke with a priest of that long-suffering archdiocese last night who told me of what he called the "massive demoralization" of the presbyterate, compounded in recent days by the departure of the loose cannon Father Walter Cuenin as pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton.

One of my ex-girlfriends was from Newton, but she's an atheist. Oh well.

Back to Cuenin -- who, I must remind some of you, is a Catholic. The story is headlining in Beantown yet again today due to the report that Fr. Chris Coyne, best known as the archdiocesan spokesman of the late 2002 period, has been named to take Walter's place.

As Michael Paulson writes in today's Globe
Cuenin was a frequent target of the most conservative elements of the church locally, who wrote on blogs and in e-mails of their views that he was a heretic who should be ousted from the priesthood. One of the blogs used the headline ''this is fun" on a link to a newspaper story about Cuenin's resignation.

''This is a witch-hunt, not more, not less," said Gisela Morales-Barreto of Newton, a parishioner at Our Lady's for 20 years. ''They were trying to find something against him, and it took them all this time to make it happen. This is their way to punish him and punish us for how outspoken he has been. And now the one thing we have feared all along is happening -- that if Walter will leave us, they will send someone from the other extreme to put the brakes on what this community is all about. Chris Coyne is in the opposite end of what Walter is all about."

Coyne, in a brief telephone interview yesterday, said he understood the concerns of parishioners. ''I think the most important thing, given the present situation, is just to try and listen to people and also to be available to people," he said. ''Over time, I hope to work with them, to continue to build the good faith life and community that is already present at Our Lady's."

Hmm... But the award-winning entry of the day comes from Globe columnist Brian McGrory

That's right: After silently shuffling pedophiles from one town to another to prey on fresh batches of children, the archdiocese is finally cracking down on wayward priests -- for driving Hondas.

Honestly, I want to think nice things about the Catholic Church and its leaders. I want to report that the Boston Archdiocese has turned the proverbial corner, that it understands the horror of its recent past and is looking to make amends with the people who need its ministry most.

I want to write nice things about the hundreds of achingly selfless nuns and priests who feed the hungry and shelter the indigent and guide so many poor souls who inevitably get lost along the way. They do this every single day.

But O'Malley and his insipid advisers, leftovers from Cardinal Bernard F. Law's long reign of incompetence and malevolence, make this somewhere beyond hard.

Then, McGrory uncovers this best nugget of all

Quietly, archdiocesan leaders have warned Catholic Charities not to expect any church contribution to the upcoming budget. That amounts to a million dollars that now goes toward food pantries, homeless shelters, immigrant programs, and the like. Gone.

Still, it comes to my attention that the archdiocese was able to find $687,000 recently to buy a house in West Roxbury on behalf of Richard Bradford, a former Episcopal priest who left his church in a dispute and was ordained as a Catholic priest under Cardinal Law in 1998, despite being married.

Bradford and his wife were apparently displaced when church property was sold to Boston College. One logical option would have been to assign them to one of the little-used rectories in the area. But Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, said, ''Since he's married, you can't do that."

Why not? Because that's the way it is. Walter Cuenin gets canned for driving a Honda while the church buys a favored priest an expensive new place to live. Any real estate agent will tell you that $687,000 still gets an awful lot of house in West Roxbury.

OK, triple idiocy... Dare anyone say "quadruple"? I guess as long as this Bradford tows the line from the pulpit, it's all good and money is no object.

As O'Malley's appointed co-chairman of the commission to close parishes -- no renegade, he -- said to the Herald about the rationale for removing Cuenin, "Not even my dog believes that story."

Good point.


Vox Populi est Vox Deo?

I noted the other day that Cardinal Rigali was to give an address last night at Villanova University near Philadelphia on the 40th anniversary of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes.

The lecture went forward, and this morning's Inquirer tells us it wasn't pretty.

Catholic laypeople, angered by last week's grand jury report alleging sexual abuse by priests and cover-ups by the Philadelphia Archdiocese, unloaded on Cardinal Justin Rigali last night as he gave a talk at Villanova University.

Rigali gave an hour-long talk on a 40-year-old Vatican social document named "Gaudium et Spes," which translates from Latin as "Joy and Hope." He found little of either during the beginning of the question-and-answer period that followed his speech, presented before about 200 people in the school's Connelly Center.

The first questioner, Judy Gray, noted that Rigali had mentioned "human dignity" 37 times in his speech. She wanted to know how that squared with his support of "criminal cardinals who have protected oral and anal rape."

Rigali defended his predecessors, Cardinals Anthony J. Bevilacqua and John Krol, against charges that they orchestrated cover-ups.

"I think I will have to leave this judgment to God," Rigali, who has apologized for the sexual transgressions, responded to Gray's question.

"I'm sure you will. I'm sure you will," Gray countered. "You're a phony!"

Asked later why she had attacked Rigali at a public meeting, Gray, from St. Philip Neri parish in Lafayette Hill, said: "Where else? I can't get to him. I've written him a million times."

"That thing about human dignity [in Rigali's talk] pushed me over the edge," she added.

Another speaker in the question-and-answer period, Marian Moran, a former Catholic youth minister, urged the cardinal to go to the parish level to talk to youths on dealing with the problems caused by the disclosures.

"It's been a really rough week. It's been a really rough 31/2 years," said Moran, who lives in Media. "We need to heal. Our youth needs to heal."

"You need to hear this youth. You need to hear that they're hurting and they're very disillusioned."

Rigali, who noted that he had a good interaction with archdiocesan youths during last summer's Catholic world youth meeting in Cologne, Germany, acknowledged that work had to be done with young people but did not commit to holding meetings.

Moran later said she thought the cardinal's answer was "poor."

"I want something concrete," she said.

Well, the Cardinal will have a slightly more friendly audience today as he holds a Holy Hour for the priests of the archdiocese at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Whether there'll be any time for questions or exchanges is unknown at this point.


Is This What You Believe?

I came across a copy of the latest revisions proposed by ICEL -- here's where the Creed is at....
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only-begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
(At the following words, up to and including and became man, all bow.)
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

Crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
And one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Amen Amen and Amen?


He Doesn't Look Like Paul Prudhomme

This morning's editorial cartoon from Tony Auth of The Philadelphia Inquirer.