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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from December 2004

titters by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 1, 2004

The Jesuit Urban Center is Boston's somewhere-over-the-Rainbow parish, providing regular doses of post-Christian camp to those who feel alienated from Catholic orthodoxy and family-oriented churches. Homilizing on the Feast of Christ the King, Fr. John Loftus, S.J., yuks it up over the quaint...

Can death camps be far behind? by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Dec 1, 2004

When they legalized euthanasia in the Netherlands, they said it was only for those who specifically requested it. Then they started killing those who couldn't ask for it themselves, calling it "mercy killing". After sometime they proposed lowering the age of euthanasia to 12 years old or even...

content-free christianity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 1, 2004

Back in October, in response to the uproar provoked by the ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire, the Church of England issued the "Windsor Report," which merely invited the U.S. church to express "regret" that its actions had caused consternation in many parts of the Anglican Communion....

The Winners! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2004

Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice is familiar to OTR readers as an emblem of what can be accomplished by mutually respectful dialogue with pro-aborts. She began her personal journey as an inflexible and unapologetic proponent of abortion on demand. After years of sharing and study,...

Who's dysfunctional? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2004

When a priest doesn't get excited about whether or not children are validly baptized, you can guess he's not a heavy theological thinker. Nevertheless, Father Peter Kennedy gives us a nugget worth considering when he says that the Church is "dysfunctional" because it doesn't work well with...

Irish Grinch steals mood music by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2004

I mean, is nothing sacred? From the Irish Independent comes the news that "Frosty the Snowman" cannot be performed during Christmas-carol services in the parishes of the Kerry diocese. Also explicitly banned is "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." (I confess that I am not familiar with that...

She said; he said by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2004

She was raised a Catholic. Now she heads the most prominent pro-abortion organization in the US. She says that she had a major clash with her bishop, 15 years ago, because of her outspoken support for the slaughter of unborn babies. The bishop, she claims, made "a public effort to excommunicate...

"... and to contribute to the support of their pastors" by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2004

An animated discussion at Amy Welborn's blog takes up a number of interesting points, including the duty of Catholics to provide for their pastors, citing the Code of Canon Law, C. 222 §1: Christ's faithful have the obligation to provide for the needs of the Church, so that the Church has...

Just think of it as another mortgage payment. In fact... by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2004

C'mon, Diogenes; lighten up! What's $87 million among friends? The faithful of the Orange diocese are surely willing to make a few more sacrifices so that their priests can live in...

It's not the waves, it's the undertow... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2004

... and from the perspective of Cardinal Roger Mahony, the problem isn't with the $85+ million that the nearby Orange diocese is handing out to sex-abuse victims. (The ever-reliable laity will foot the bill; see the items below.) The problem is with the legal precedents. Fact: By accepting an...

responsiveness by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2004

When Frances Kissling announced her presentation of Condom4Life's Good Shepherd Awards -- consisting of "a small sculpture" -- to bishops eager to promote condoms to reduce AIDS infection, we speculated that the award would take the form of a statuette or trophy, and asked OTR readers to suggest...

on the discernment of spirits by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2004

John Allen interviews Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor on ecumenism. "If I didn't think the Holy Spirit was in this," he said reflectively, "I would probably go the other...

just before bedtime by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 4, 2004

Progress has been "nothing less than miraculous," said Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. -- news item, June 2003 Mommy, why do we go to church? Because, Melissa, we believe God raised his Son Jesus from the dead. Well, how do we know it's true?...

the reason for our hope by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 4, 2004

Dr. David Hope, the out-going Anglican Archbishop of York -- let me try that again: Dr. David Hope, the retiring Anglican Archbishop of York ... One more time: Dr. David Hope, the current Anglican Archbishop of York who'll be leaving the job soon, complains to the Telegraph about the damage done...

purrs of self-satisfaction by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 4, 2004

Mark Steyn makes a telling point in the New Criterion: One doesn't wish to overplay the red state/blue state thing, but it seems to me that, pace Jane Smiley, Maureen Dowd, et al., the "ignorance" is not on the red side. Red staters are very aware of the blue states because we live in a...

getting better by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2004

Back in December of 1998, Fr. Fernando Sayasaya began to feel North Dakota was becoming too hot for him ... ...when two boys told West Fargo police that the priest had gotten them drunk and sexually abused them. One boy, in his early teens, had recently come home with bloody underwear after...

The rights of the laity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2004

Down under in Brisbane, Father Peter Kennedy-- he of the invalid baptisms-- has finally achieved a meeting of the minds with his archbishop. They both agree that the really bad people are those mean-spirited Catholics who take notes about liturgical abuses, so that they can complain to the...

The Better Part of Valour -- or, No one heah but us capons, boss! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2004

Remember Father Robert J. Silva, President of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils? He has been in the news frequently since the eruption of the Crisis, arguing that both abuser priests and their superiors have gotten a bad rap, because "The trauma caused by child sexual abuse was not...

Says who? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2004

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal online for the following quotes: "Much is positive in Iraq today... Universities are operating, schools are open, people go out onto the streets normally... Where there's a kidnapping or a homicide the news gets out immediately, and this causes fear among the...

diversity, celebrated by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2004

Father Nick (left, in the photo below) maintains a listing of America's most gay-friendly parishes, as well as other links that demonstrate his concern for the Faith. The Archdiocese of Baltimore, to which Fr. Nick and St. Bernadette's belong, obviously applauds his style of outreach....

Ancient history by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2004

Another day, another 14 headline stories about the sex-abuse crisis. (When I say there are 14 stories, I'm referring to the number of News Bytes links today. With a minimum of effort you could probably find 140 stories.) Isn't it curious that, more than 9 months after Bishop Gregory...

Poll Results: Future Directions for CatholicCulture.org by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 6, 2004

Between October 25th and November 8th, we ran a poll on the future directions of CatholicCulture.org. Principally we wanted to find out two things: (1) Whether the weekly columns Peter and I write in the Highlights section are considered valuable by our users; and, (2) Whether developing extensive...

sweet nothings by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 7, 2004

The Weston Jesuit School of Theology is a daffy and sickly old maid not long for this world, and Boston College is courting her in the hope of getting her library -- which she would otherwise leave to the cat. I was amused by BC's attempts at flattery, as recounted in this morning's...

Everything's up t'date in Kansas City by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 8, 2004

The National Catholic Reporter begs to announce that it is celebrating its 40th Anniversary (to put that span in perspective for younger readers, the latex prophylactic -- so beloved of the NCR -- was a device largely associated with heterosexual intercourse back when the romance began). How...

Openness in Oakland by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 8, 2004

Remember the Dominican house in Oakland that put its neighbors in a stir when it turned out to be housing seven former sexual offenders? A local councilwoman has organized a town hall meeting to give the citizenry a chance to voice their concerns on the matter. Guess who's decided not to be...

We have been enlightened by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 8, 2004

Archbishop John Donoghue of Atlanta celebrated his 76th birthday in August, so he's now 16 months beyond the regular retirement age for bishops. It's not surprising, then, that rumors are beginning to float around about his potential successors. I won't tell you which name is being mentioned...

Make my son an honest woman! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2004

Some Massachusetts firms have decided that what's sauce for the goose is ... sauce for another goose: Many of the state's largest employers are dropping health benefits for unmarried gay couples, seven months after Massachusetts became the only state to legalize same-sex marriage. Massachusetts...

man to man by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2004

Tasmanian Father Green availed himself of the St. Poelten Protocol in reaching out to a young man during grief counseling. The young man failed to see it as innocent horseplay, and 30 years later found a judge to agree with him. Justice Underwood said a significant aggravating feature of the...

twisted by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2004

Jesuit Queer Shock Theology takes another step cellarwards with Fr. Andrew Hamilton's gibbering exposition of covert biblical feminism: At the centre of God's plan for humanity are strong women whom responsible men marginalise. Later Christians softened this message. They saw female martyrs as...

And don't forget: bad record-keeping, too! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2004

When Cardinal Mahony told a jury that he had faced only one sex-abuse case during his years as Bishop of Stockton, he neglected to mention that he had confronted two other priests accused of similar misconduct. He ordered those two priests to leave the country. So why didn't he tell the...

Highly recommended by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2004

The world's most famous atheist philosopher-- I should say formerly atheist philosopher-- says this book by my friend Roy Varghese helped change his mind. Enough...

Shameful Ovations by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2004

The Pilot (newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston) deplores Springfield priest James Scahill's tongue-lashing of bishops and fellow priests during a VOTF award ceremony, and scolds the audience that applauded him: It was painful to watch 600 Catholics emotionally applaud a priest who bashed his...

The ultimate insult by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2004

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, radical activists defaced a Catholic chuch, spray-painting feminist slogans on the facade and twisting coathangers around a statue of the Virgin Mary. The pastor was nonplussed. Why did they do it? he asked the Boston Globe, observing that his was a "progressive"...

from Ireland, a glimmer by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 11, 2004

It's not much, but it's a start. Some priests in Ireland are making personal sacrifices in reparation for damage done by their fellows: Priests in the Ferns diocese have dipped into their own pockets to the tune of more than €75,000 to set up a new trust fund aimed at helping out victims of...

See a trend here? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 11, 2004

Did anybody else notice that the appointment of Bishop Gregory to the Atlanta archdiocese came on the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Fulton Sheen?...

small issues, smaller men by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2004

It was a very bad idea for the four bishops to say they would refuse to offer Kerry Holy Communion, he said. "Abortion is a small issue." The "he" in the quote above is Jesuit priest and former congressman Father Robert Drinan, addressing an audience at Tufts University this past November, at...

thanks for the memories by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2004

Under increasingly close scrutiny for his handling of sexual abusers, Cardinal Mahony continues to dance the dance, hopping from one storyline to another and back again. As Archbishop of Los Angeles, his fatherly spiritual mentoring of his priests is so intimate that it would be sacrilegious to...

Jesuits Show Strength by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2004

The New York Times's David Gibson has a weird article on the U.S. Jesuits, finding signs of vitality in their insistence that there are signs of vitality to be found. CWNews editor Phil Lawler gets a look-in: But the vacuum created by the recent church scandals has given the Jesuits an...

Times Take Two by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2004

You can tell a lot about where a journalist is coming from by "asymmetry of identifiers." An identifier is a kind of tag that pigeon-holes a person, publication, or institution on the basis of ideology. A journalist writing for the public-at-large is ordinarily supposed to be evenhanded in...

Curious White House omission by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2004

Political columnist Robert Novak can't understand why President Bush didn't have time to meet with Rocco Buttiglione. Good question. Buttiglione, as CWN will recall, was denied a place on the European Commission because he professed Catholic beliefs. After being thoroughly "Borked," the Italian...

Set your alarm clocks by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2004

On Thursday, December 16, the media will carry stories about Vatican disapproval of American foreign policy. How do we know? Because on Thursday, December 16, Cardinal Renato Martino will hold a press conference to introduce the Pope's annual World Day of Peace message. Maybe Cardinal...

by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2004

If this story is anywhere near accurate, it's frightening. Consider: A priest has a conflict with his bishop, and is suspended. The priest says an injustice has been done, and files a canonical appeal. The Church's highest court sides with the priest, and orders the bishop to reinstate him. But...

damned if you do by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2004

The Times (of London, in this instance), reviews John Cornwell's latest oeuvre, The Pope in Winter: These days, people think less of John Paul's contribution to the ending of the cold war, and more of his dogmatism, narrow-mindedness and sheer wrong-headedness. At what point, Cornwell asks,...

Catholic Superheroes by Peter Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 13, 2004

If you really think about it, we Catholics live on the edge. We're a radical bunch — composed of individuals who believe the impossible, hope the impossible, and do the impossible. In fact, even if many people don't recognize it, we're the superheroes of the new millennium. Batman, the X-Men, and...

Ev'ry Thing's Coming Up RO-ses! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 14, 2004

Well, kiss that hope goodbye. At the max temperature point of the abuse crisis in April 2002, after the extraordinary meeting of U.S. cardinals in Rome, we were promised a "new and serious apostolic visitation" of seminaries. More than two years later the signals are that the visitation may...

Meet Jesuit Singles! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 14, 2004

This morning, while bouncing around the LA Times online home-page, I typed "jesuit" into the search engine -- and the following appeared in the "Sponsored Links" section of the results page: Meet Jesuit Singles Free photos, personals and hot profiles of local singles....

On freedom in the liturgy by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 15, 2004

In November the US bishops elected Bishop Donald Trautman to chair their Committee on Liturgy. That vote was an obvious slap at the Vatican; Bishop Trautman has publicly criticized the Holy See's "interference" in liturgical matters. Writing in America magazine, Bishop Trautman charged that the...

for pure, 200 proof, undiluted gall ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 15, 2004

.. it's hard to top this bit of pecksniffian finger-wagging from the National Catholic Reporter: Republicans, especially the Christian right, should expand their priorities to include the full Gospel message. Grapple with the tough issues -- such as the fact that the abortion rate decreases...

Standing strong by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2004

Here's a heart-warming CNS story announcing more coals and switches to be stuffed in our Christmas stockings. Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of Minneapolis-St. Paul spoke to Vatican officials about gay rights proponents wearing rainbow sashes to Mass and receiving Communion. Unlike some other...

More corrupt than Boston? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2004

Feel the need for pain? The full text of Cardinal Mahony's recent deposition is online here. The accompanying article, I regret to say, falls short in some respects from the editorial deference traditionally accorded metropolitan archbishops. "No amount of public relations can turn this...

Making inroads by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2004

If you go to the New Visions online site-- "Uganda's leading website"-- and click on the "Latest Headlines" box in the upper right, you should find yourself in a familiar place. Act quickly; this won't last...

See no evil by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2004

Sorry; I really don't mean to keep whaling on poor Archbishop Flynn (see below)-- who's going to be busy enough today, for reasons you'll find in the "News Bytes"-- but I can't let go without calling your attention, once more, to this gem. On liturgical matters, Flynn said, the bishops were...

Who chose the hymn? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2004

At the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry, held in Pittsburgh earlier this month, Bishop Wuerl presided at the closing Mass. Here's the second verse from the hymn sung at the offertory, "A Place at the Table": For women and man, a place at the table, revising the roles,...

Let us greet our presider with #391 in the green hymnbooks by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 17, 2004

Archbishop Flynn said sash-wearers would not be denied Communion because members of the movement had assured him in writing that their presence was not in protest of church teachings. -- news item The original of the following hymn was found in a previously undiscovered folio of the...

looking up by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 18, 2004

The anti-hero of Nabokov's Lolita, after the sudden death of his wife, seizes the opportunity to pull off his stepdaughter's seduction: My scheme was a marvel of primitive art: I would whizz over to Camp Q, tell Lolita her mother was about to undergo a major operation at an invented hospital,...

Relax -- the healing process is nearly complete. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2004

Sunrise seen from 56th Street: "The Catholic Church is going to be the safest place for children in the country sometime soon," says the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America. Soon, you say? Let's revisit the opinion of Fr. Stephen Rossetti of the St. Luke Institute,...

You may eat in the garage, Mister ... Sanchez. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2004

Alarmed by the fact that, e.g., a good portion of the Hispanic vote is pro-life, movers and shakers in the Democratic Party are "rethinking its image on abortion," according to an instructive article in the Boston Globe. The bottom line: absolutely no compromise on 100% death-on-demand through...

Hardball by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2004

Would you mind terribly if I asked you some leading questions? In an article that's comically toadying even for a paper that has raised toadying to an art form, Deborah Solomon conducts a three-hanky interview with de-somethinged Methodist minister Elizabeth Stroud in the New York Times...

the new & serious apostolic visitation by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 20, 2004

The working document for the upcoming visitation of the U.S. seminaries -- known in Vatican slang as the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- occasioned some grim prognostications on our part that were blogged below. Yet I passed over the single ray of hope given by Bishop Nienstedt: his...

Through the Pass: A Christmas Reflection by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 20, 2004

I was hiking in a fairly remote region when a few other hikers told me of a mountain pass leading into a spectacular valley resonant with cascading waters, lush with rolling meadows, dotted with innumerable wild flowers, and protected on all sides by snow-capped peaks. This sums up my idea of...

Re-Visitation by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Dec 20, 2004

VERY interesting, Diogenes. I was in the seminary during the last round of Visitations in the mid-1980s. We did have the right to present ourselves to a member of the Visitation team if we wished. But the Team was composed of a bishop chairman (+Friend of Shreveport) and several faculty of...

Bashful by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 21, 2004

The Pope deplores "attacks on marriage and the family," and the RSM goes postal: The Rainbow Sash Movement is calling Pope John Paul II to stop his international Gay Bashing. Dogma is driving this effort not Holy Scripture. Personal piety is driving the Church in the direction that is opposed...

The Gold Standard by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 21, 2004

Thank God the bad old days are behind us, aren't they? A body of judges, lawyers and experts in child sexual abuse has accused Seattle Archbishop Alex Brunett of being unrealistic, and possibly misleading, in assuring the public that priests here are unlikely to molest minors in the future....

chosen by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 22, 2004

A British journalist researching a story on paganism interviews a pagan, who lets slip the most chilling sentence on the subject I've ever read. So, can a modern pagan just pick any god to worship? I asked. Egyptian? Roman? African? Are there any rules? Steve put his hands self-consciously...

tidings of comfort & joy by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 22, 2004

Lest anyone doubt our orthodoxy, we profess with the Church Universal that there is no conceivable connection between sexual interest in underage males and sexual contact with underage males. On the other hand ... Agents searched the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church and Academy parish...

The bishop's right hand by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 23, 2004

The chancellor of the Springfield (Illinois) diocese was found badly beaten in a public park on Tuesday night. The Springfield diocese? Isn't that the one whose former bishop, Daniel Ryan, resigned in 1999 because of health problems that arose soon after he was publicly accused of sexual abuse?...

Tips from the pros by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 24, 2004

Gloria Feldt of Planned Parenthood has some advice for the Democratic Party. I know, I know; that's not news. She's been giving them advice for years, and they've just not noticed that her advice helps them to lose election. But I digress. Democrats, Feldt says, "need to stop allowing the...

Merry Christmas by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Dec 25, 2004

From all of us here at Catholic World News to all of our readers, we wish you a happy and blessed Christmas. May the blessings of the Christ Child be with you and your family on this holy...

Out of the mouths of babes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 27, 2004

A friend reports this conversation: When: Sunday morning, Dec 26, 2004. Feast of the Holy Family, Two hours before Mass. Where: Living room. middle-class America. Who: 13 year old son, with his father. What: Watching Fox News Sunday and the interview of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Son:...

The Feel-Good Doctrine by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 28, 2004

Read the entire Fox news interview, and-- basing your replies solely on the content of Cardinal McCarrick's statements-- answer the following questions: Is The DaVinci Code (mentioned twice by interviewer Chris Wallace) a good book? What is the evidence for a "revival" of Christian faith-- aside...

Are you older than your children? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 29, 2004

Sister Christine Vladimiroff, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, comments on the fact that women's religious orders are dying out, as their members grow old and are not replaced by younger women entering the orders. But, she said, it is not only the religious...

Guide us to thy perfect light by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 30, 2004

As we approach the feast of the Epiphany, here's a reassuring statement from the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston*: While there are reasons for doubting the literal historicity of the Magi in the Christmas story, it is difficult to support with evidence that there were no Magi who visited the...

prophecy by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 30, 2004

But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire? And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil. And...

happy trials to you by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 31, 2004

Life-Teen founder Msgr. Dale Fushek is once more in hot water. In 1995 the diocese paid $45,000 to settle a sexual harrassment claim brought against Fushek by a male parishioner. Wednesday he was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation of accusation that he was present while a...

Unsung heroes by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 31, 2004

We all know that, since their June 2002 meeting in Dallas, the US bishops have been in the forefront of the battle to protect children from molestation. We know that, because they've told us so. Repeatedly. So isn't it odd that, in a year-end survey of legal developments on the child-abuse...

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