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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from October 2004

Bill of Rights? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 4, 2004

The faithful have a right to a true liturgy, which means the liturgy desired and laid down by the Church. ...The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: "No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority."...

The Bill of Rights and Catch-22 by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 4, 2004

Diogenes, It's commonplace to use the phrase "catch-22" to refer to a bureaucratic snafu. But at one point in Joseph Heller's book, the meaning of the title phrase is explained in clear language: "They can do anything you can't stop them from doing." In this case, what "they" can do is...

Out with a whimper -- or, Requiem for a Featherweight by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 5, 2004

The Spring 2004 number of Letters and Notices, a publication of the British Jesuits, approvingly repeats the following excerpt from the London Times's obituary of Fr. Cyril Barrett, S.J.: Like many Jesuits down the ages Barrett made no attempt to disguise his chafing at the Vatican's...

The October issue of Catholic World Report is now out! by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Oct 6, 2004

The October issue of Catholic World Report is now on newsstands and in mailboxes and here's what you'll find inside:Politics and Communion: With many prominent Catholic politicians flouting Church teachings on crucial moral issues, American bishops are struggling with their disciplinary duties....

the healing ministries by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 7, 2004

A Cape Cod jury has convicted gay rapist Paul Nolin of murdering 20-year-old Jonathan Wessner last September. So ends one chapter of a story so grotesque in its details as to be improbable in fiction. A brief review: In 1982, Nolin kidnapped a 10-year-old boy from a playground, tied him up...

dash to judgment by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 7, 2004

I note with interest that the Holy See announces today that two bishops of Sankt Poelten are now retired. Krenn exits, not quietly, stage left (Canon 401-2). The auxiliary has passed the retirement age of 75. We may hope that mistletoe will not feature in the Installation Mass of the new...

tie me kangaroo down, sport by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 7, 2004

Anglicanism south of the equator continues to win tardy rear-guard actions: Australia's Anglicans yesterday rejected blessing gay marriages and ordaining ministers in gay relationships, voting to uphold the traditional position that sex outside marriage is wrong. Of course the cobblestones...

The August/September issue of CWR is now online! by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Oct 7, 2004

The August/September issue of Catholic World Report is now available on the CWNews.com web site. Articles from that issue include an interview with Fr. Joseph Fessio regarding controversies over Ave Maria University; the controversy over what Cardinal Ratzinger said and Cardinal McCarrick said he...

Fighting phantoms with phantoms by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 8, 2004

In his latest assault on Church teaching, that tireless dissident Richard McBrien analyzes an argument that was never made, using a theological approach that was never advanced, to attack enemies who do not exist. Sound complicated? It is. The simple version is this: As always, Father McBrien...

a plea for understanding by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 8, 2004

FUNDAMENTALISM FEARED, MISUNDERSTOOD -- odd words to appear in a headline in the National Catholic Reporter. Shocked, are you? Well, your anxieties can be put to rest. The article refers to Islamic fundamentalism, which the author is eager to rescue from undeserved obloquy. The irony is that...

Customized message? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 8, 2004

Pope John Paul II emphasized that a bishop's position "one of service, not of honor, and therefore a bishop should strive to benefit others rather than to lord it over them." Hmmm.... Just wondering.... Is it purely coincidental that message was delivered to a group of Americans including...

Praying For Your Supper by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Oct 8, 2004

This sounds like something the Sisters of Loreto would put on their website. Anglicans across England are being encouraged to "pray for their dinner" -- literally, "sticking a theological toe in the Ganges," as one lay commentator caustically observed. Apparently, grace before meals is to...

can't we all just get along? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 9, 2004

Good news from this week's America: the editors are calling for a return to "charity in intellectual life." When the playground bully starts pleading for Queensbury Rules, he fears he's in for a thrashing. Check this out: The ferment produced by the Second Vatican Council has been stilled....

RAMPAGING CHRISTIANITY by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Oct 9, 2004

"During a speech to high school students in Tehran six months ago, Shiite cleric Hasan Mohammadi from the Ministry of Education declared, “Unfortunately, on average every day, 50 Iranian girls and boys convert secretly to Christian denominations in our country.” After the speech, which was...

a pious meditation on the comparative dignity of souls by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 10, 2004

Last week, a Hampden County, Massachusetts prosecutor indicted Bishop Thomas L. Dupre for child rape with two boys.... However, within hours, District Attorney William M. Bennett withdrew the indictment. Why? Apparently, because Dupre's attorneys filed papers arguing that the statute of...

in like Flynn by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 10, 2004

Archbishop Harry Flynn, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, has an article in the current America titled, "What Has the Charter Accomplished?" Methinks it serves as a pretty good index of where we are on the Learning Curve. Here's Flynn on the Zero Tolerance policy...

Sampling error by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 11, 2004

In two polls released today, Zogby finds Kerry leading Bush by 47- 44%, while the Washington Post has Bush leading Kerry, 51- 46. The Washington Post admits that its poll could be off by +/-3%. Zogby concedes up to +/-2.9%; to keep things simple, let's say they're both claiming accuracy to...

Self-defeating by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 11, 2004

If they really think it's a problem-- and the scientific evidence is ambiguous-- shouldn't these prelates avoiding releasing more hot...

Concern, archepiscopal style by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 12, 2004

"It's ancient history!" Seattle Archbishop Alexander Brunett said of news stories about the abuse, much of which occurred decades ago. "People are getting tired of ancient history! People can only read the same article 18 times. There's nothing new." But he quickly added: "That's not the same...

Don't think of a pink seminarian by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 12, 2004

There's more. Archbishop Brunett uncovered a homosexual network in the seminary. When he blew the whistle, he was, naturally, punished. The network remained. The archbishop-to-be learned his lesson, kept quiet, and advanced through the ecclesiastical ranks. Now, looking back, he sees...

Seasons: The Lesson of Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 12, 2004

Man was made for seasons, and seasons for man. This is true of all kinds of seasons, but the crackling clarity of Fall has brought it once again to mind. The changing of the seasons reminds us of the passing of our lives. The Seasons of Nature The most universal of the seasons are the...

candor, transparency, trust by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 12, 2004

Ohio Judge George Reynolds rips the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk for refusing to turn over subpoena'd memos having to do with -- can you guess? -- covering up for chickenhawk clergy: "You have held those documents hostage to your insistence to control discovery...

WRONG DISCUSSION by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Oct 13, 2004

"When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.' Edwards made the unprecedented campaign promises during 30-minute speech at Newton High School gym in Newton, Iowa..." (AP) Yes. We've been having the wrong discussion. If John...

A crushing rejoinder by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 13, 2004

When a dean from Notre Dame has an op-ed piece published in the New York Times, you can be confident that he's attacking, not defending, Church teaching. If you used that rule of thumb to make a bet about Mark Roche's essay in the Monday Times, you made some money. In this case, Roche is...

Whispers on stem cells by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 13, 2004

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, is getting a bit nervous about the rumors he hears on Capitol Hill. And sometimes they're more than rumors, he points out: Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) was quoted in the New York Times, saying, "I don't think you have to elect Senator...

Time to worry by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 14, 2004

Please tell me: What is there in the following statement that could not have been said by Bill Clinton: I believe the ideal world is one in which every child is protected in law and welcomed to life. I understand there's great differences on this issue of abortion, but I believe reasonable...

comparative dynasties by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 14, 2004

England's Prince Harry has been accused of cheating on a school exam. The charge, if proven true, would be a disgrace to the royal family. It would not, however, make Harry ineligible to serve as senior senator from...

Slurp City -- or, plus ça change ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 14, 2004

Milwaukee, two years post-Weakland: "We have learned from various gay and lesbian people that the face of the Catholic Church in the gay and lesbian community is not a welcoming or hospitable face by the various (church) statements that have been made," said Fr. Mich. And that's from the...

Very important message; very strange form by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 18, 2004

Is John Kerry excommunicated, or isn't he? That's a fairly important question, wouldn't you agree? But the form of the answer from Rome is simply bizarre. A ranking official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asks an American theologian-- who is himself a consultor to CDF--...

Prayer: When Asking is . . . Not Asking? by Peter Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Oct 18, 2004

In Luke 11:9 our Lord states that if we ask, we shall receive. We should approach our heavenly Father with our petitions with firm faith that He will grant our needs. But how do we ask for favors from God? How do we ask God to give us what we need and bring us closer to Him? According to St....

Curiouser and curiouser by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 18, 2004

Father Basil Cole, OP, who supplied the material for a CWN lead story with his response to a question about public support for abortion, has announced that he was not speaking officially for the Vatican. OK, fair enough. His letter did make it clear that he was responding "unofficially"-- in...

Precious Moments: Jesuits & fragments of neonate cranial tissue by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 19, 2004

The American Bar Association has awarded its most prestigious honor to Jesuit priest and former congressman Robert Drinan. In nominating Drinan, admirers described him as "an eloquent and effective advocate for the most downtrodden in society," someone "active in so many areas on the law and...

Out of contact by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 19, 2004

The Catholic News Service-- which is subsidized by the US bishops' conference-- has a very different take on the story that has stirred up such a ruckus on CWN. Did a California canon lawyer seek a response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? "The Congregation for the...

Prophets without a prophecy by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 19, 2004

The advice of Cardinal Martino and Archbishop Parolin, voluntarily offered to US voters, that we be aware of the Church's social teachings, prompts me to ask a question: When one thousand Catholic political leaders met for four days in Bologna earlier this month to discuss the duties of...

Logical leap by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 20, 2004

Speaking to Catholic voters in Denver-- who have been catechized on their voting responsibilities by Archbishop Chaput-- John Kerry (as the Denver Post story recounted) "pointed to a recent letter received by the U.S. bishops from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's arbiter of matters of...

Problematic by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Oct 22, 2004

I saw this headline in today's VIS Bulletin, the official daily press bulletin of the Vatican: "Cloning Embryos For Stem Cells Is Ethically Problematic." Problematic? Wearing white after Labor Day is problematic. Cloning and then killing children to harvest their cells is EVIL. Why can't they...

Logic running in reverse by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 22, 2004

A respected American theologian has argued that a Catholic who publicly supports abortion is subject to excommunication. The theologian's argument was prompted by an American canon lawyer's queries to the Vatican. We now know-- in fact, we always did know-- that the theologian's arguments are...

The Mote-Plank Meltdown by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 24, 2004

In the course of a provocative article in the Weekly Standard titled The Myth of the Catholic Voter, Joseph Bottum explains how the Catholic Church became almostly instantaneously irrelevant on public issues of morality: As their ability to deliver votes declined ... the bishops have had for...

almsgiving XXI by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 24, 2004

Suppose you're one of the 25 active diocesan priests of the Diocese of Las Vegas. Ordained in 1962, you're pastor of St. Andrew's Catholic Community in Boulder City. You're a member of the diocesan presbyteral council and the priests' personnel board. You have $500 in your pocket and are inspired...

Quiet on the set by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 27, 2004

A few CWN readers have noticed-- and even politely inquired about-- a slowdown in Off the Record postings. I can explain. The CWN staff is made up exclusively of rabid Boston Red Sox fans. We've been distracted. Please bear with us; it could/should be over...

Talk about global warming! by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 28, 2004

It's unseasonably warm in Boston today. The cold weather was all used up, I suppose, when hell froze...

Moral equivalence writ large by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 29, 2004

Bishop Joseph Adamec, of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, admonishes his people to realize that a presidential contest is not like a high-school debate. Then he continues with an argument that any capable high-school debater would demolish. We are called to promote life, as a God-given right,...

Terminated by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 29, 2004

Some people believe the US Constitution is divinely inspired. I wouldn't go that far, but at least one clause from Article II Section 1 ("No person except a natural born citizen...") sure looks prophetic right...

Excessive piety? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 29, 2004

Bishop Daniel Ryan, the poster-boy for Canon 401-2, has had another unfortunate misunderstanding involving local police in Illinois. You might wonder why Bishop Ryan resigned prematurely, since no other American bishop has ever drawn a connection between his departure and the allegations of...

You think we've got problems by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 29, 2004

Christianity Today blows the whistle on Episcopalians who are-- well, they're not practicing Christianity...

almsgiving XXII by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 30, 2004

Suppose you're a priest of the Diocese of Little Rock. Ordained in 1964, you're professor of moral theology at Spring Hill College, a Jesuit college in Mobile. You have $2,000 in your pocket and are inspired to give it away. To whom, or what, do you direct your alms? (a) to the Fellowship of...

My favorite day of the year by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Oct 30, 2004

364 days a year, I listen to people tell me, "You can't turn back the clock." You can, you know. And tonight, if you live in the US, you have...

batting his eyelashes mischievously ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 31, 2004

A Dominican formation director giggles away a former seminarian's disillusionment with the slack life: Laughing, Father Renz denied the allegations of "living luxuriously" with an open bar available before gourmet meals. "We try to live a simple, austere.... I don't know what that would...

"Lord, please DON'T hear this prayer" by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Oct 31, 2004

Ever been nettled by Prayers of the Faithful at Mass that sound like National Public Radio? George Weigel hits a live nerve in explaining why he can't join in petitioning God to let Himself be instructed by Nina Totenberg: The subscription services that supply many parishes with their general...

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