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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from December 2005

ICEL agonistes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 1, 2005

Former Tablet editor John Wilkins has a shoddy and tendentious article in the current Commonweal on the fortunes of ICEL, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. We get the conventional Four Legs Good Two Legs Bad storyline, with the Vatican playing its customary role of villain....

Sugar, your Holiness, or Sweet-n-Low? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 1, 2005

How'd you like to be Artur Rubinstein's personal...

a primer on vows by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 1, 2005

Here's an address I've never heard a new priest give, but wish I had. With appropriate changes, it applies equally to marriage promises and military oaths of loyalty. Thanks to you all for coming today as witnesses to my vows of priestly chastity. I'd like to take this opportunity to...

all the views deemed fit to print by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 1, 2005

Imagine that you became the editor of an influential newspaper. Let's call it-- just for the sake of this discussion, you understand-- the New York Times/. Now imagine that there's a very controversial issue in the news. Let's say, oh, abortion. Let's say that issue came up before the Supreme...

... or they could just ignore it by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2005

In a covering letter sent to bishops along with the Doomsday Document, the Vatican said that homosexuals should not teach in seminaries. The usual suspects are scrambling for a way to tiptoe around that little bombshell, and the Washington Post reports: Some experts on church law said yesterday...

Academic Position Opening in Classical and Early Christian Studies by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 2, 2005

This employment announcement comes from Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. Since I helped to found Christendom back in 1977, I take a special interest in the College's faculty needs. Here are the details: The Department of Classical and Early Christian Studies at Christendom College...

unclear on the concept? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2005

Bewilderment, from Judy Thomas's 2001 Kansas City Star series: "When young men go into seminary, they don't even know what celibacy is," said [Fr. Harry] Morrison, a California priest who has AIDS. "A lot of this technical language, these Latin phrases, all you know is there's something to be...

Exhibit A: Affective immaturity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2005

Andrew Sullivan... The sheer accumulation of unfounded slurs, malicious smears and unsubstantiated prejudice should remove from any reasonable person's mind the notion that the Vatican is not now a repository for bigotry and hatred of the clearest kind. The new policy is a betrayal of charity, of...

detesting the unlocked door by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2005

Have you noticed, in the multitude of hostile reactions to the Vatican's Instruction, that what has provoked the most violent outrage is not the Church's teaching that homosexual tendencies are objectively disordered, but her conviction that they are capable of being overcome? Gays don't like the...

"I was aborted at 7 1/2 months." by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2005

In 1977, an unmarried American 17-year-old had an abortion by saline injection. The product of conception fetus surgical waste tissue baby survived, and is now 28 years old. She has forgiven her mother. From the UK Telegraph: In the early morning of April 6, 1977, the abortion failed....

experts agree: trust the experts by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2005

Who's been screening the screeners? No nation, in the admission and formation of its clergy, has relied so extensively and supinely on secular professional psychology as the United States. Hence the reactions to the Instruction -- and especially the over-reactions -- are a testament to the...

On Jordan's Bank by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2005

A Monday visit to Andrew Greeley's weekly homily site always helps me appreciate the sermon I heard the day earlier, much as dropping an engine block on your foot (in P.J. O'Rourke's image) helps you appreciate your toothache. Here's Greeley on yesterday's Gospel: The early Christians had a...

clergy gift ideas by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2005

For that semi-Pelagian clergyman on your Christmas list, I recommend the (corrective) gift of this handsome example of Dresden-ware, which beautifully illustrates the doctrine of the propitiatory atonement. Note that the juvenile quarterback in an option offense is faking the hand-off to...

Four days have passed ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2005

... we're still waiting for a...

lessons learned by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2005

The editorial board of The Heights, Boston College's student newspaper, has expressed its indignation at the university administration in no uncertain terms: What we think: BC should follow Jesuit values, not Catholic doctrine. You said a mouthful,...

thank you for your sacrifice by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2005

Those unfailingly altruistic folks over at Abortion Clinic Days set the rest of us straight on their respect for, ah, medical waste. There are very strict guidelines about how all human tissue is handled, and medical waste is a very well regulated business, the Sopranos not withstanding. It is...

May I have the honour of the next, er, waltz? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 7, 2005

There's been some lamentable confusion among the Blogvolk as to the nature of Boston College's controversial GLBT sock-hop. Enquiring minds want to know: Who leads? To help bring clarity to this vexed issue, your Uncle Di refers you to an article titled "Using Students as Discussion Leaders...

The Tangled Ecclesiastical Web by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 8, 2005

When the news broke in October that the Boston arm of Catholic Charities was actively helping homosexual couples to adopt children, most serious Catholics were surprised. When these same Catholics learned that Fr. J. Bryan Hehir was justifying the practice, their surprise quickly changed to...

either/or by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2005

Alvin Kimel at Pontifications has been posting a fascinating series of letters of J.H. Newman (post-conversion) addressed to various Anglican objectors. Even viewed through one side of the correspondence it's obvious that the stakes were high, and that all parties were in dead earnest about the...

The Rev. Mr. Grinch by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2005

Please don't tell anyone at the USCCB, but the latest craze in Christmas-morning church services is...to have no church services. Thus far the trend seems to be confined only to the "megachurches," some of which can offer a handy DVD for families to pop into the new machine from Walmart that...

known by their enemies by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2005

Old friend Dom Bettinelli is among the subjects of today's Boston Globe story about conservative Catholics in the Boston area. You already know the party line. The "conservatives" are supposed to be the bad guys: the people who use uncharitable language. But they are not the people who accuse...

"Save the last dance for me" -- BC by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2005

A Boston College student shows he knows what he's been taught, and what he hasn't: For the three-and-a-half years I've been at BC, the school has taken steady, ease-into-the-hot-tub steps to give the green light to the GLBT community. ... BC did all this, but I'm not sure what it will allow...

not just cooperation by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2005

Father J. Bryan Hehir, the embattled head of Boston Catholic Charities, tells the Boston Globe that in its dealings with government regulators, his office is carefully following Catholic moral guidelines. 'We are using the principle of material cooperation," Hehir said. Material cooperation?...

theology, Boston style by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2005

Boston's Mayor Tom Menino responded last night to the Catholic critics who have protested his support of abortion and same-sex marriage. And the Boston Globe, always sympathetic to anyone in conflict with the Catholic Church, gave His Honor's speech a rave review. Menino, who is not easily...

such a lovely little lie by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2005

The Stockton Record reports on the Doomsday Doc: The document further states that homosexuals are "intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved." Notice the missing word? Exactly. It's homosexual acts that are intrinsically...

non-smoking newspaper, capricorn, seeks 50-ish feminist for possible romance by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 10, 2005

Female, Agnostic and the Next Presidente? runs a front-page headline in today's Washington Post. The article concerns a candidate in Chile's presidential election. Here's the lede: SANTIAGO, Chile -- Everyone in the audience was dressed in dark blue or black. Some wore clerical collars, and...

time for our nap, dear by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 11, 2005

Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara has, apparently, been working a little too hard in recent weeks. Emphasis added: The demonstrators outside a Catholic Charities fund-raiser honoring Mayor Thomas M. Menino the other night are not leaders of some right-wing ascendancy among the laity in...

cursory nursery rhymes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 11, 2005

Repeat after me: This is the law that God built.This is the Church that taught the law that God built.This is the boy that served the Church that taught the law that God built.This is the priest that boffed the boy that served the Church that taught the law...

Condition Rose by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 11, 2005

It's Gaudete Sunday, and Robert McClory dons tinted specs to pitch a fit about the Doomsday Doc. The Vatican's recent instruction on barring gays from the seminary may be the worst document issued by the church since it declared in 1866 (three years after the Emancipation Proclamation) that...

Impose your morality on us! Globe pleads with churches by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2005

In a startling about-face, the Boston Globe has recognized and applauded the notion that Christian churches have a key role in replacing private choice with public obligation: "Our city is crying out for hope," said the Rev. Gregory G. Groover, pastor at Charles Street African Methodist...

healthy alternatives by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2005

Perhaps OTR has been unduly hard on Boston College, Chestnut Hill's Jesuit university. It's true that the parents of freshmen who reside on campus get hit with billed costs of $41,950, but that sum opens up possibilities not always available at other colleges, such as Healthy Alternatives...

Santa too scary for children, says UK government by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2005

What would we do without the nanny state to protect us from ourselves? From The Scotsman: The highlight of any Christmas party for generations of children has been the moment when the lights dim, voices hush and the sound of sleigh bells signals the imminent arrival of Santa Claus. But that...

noted by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2005

In other news, the head of of the religious ed department of St. John Fisher College was so upset at the Vatican's baseless claim that he was immature that he wept through two sleepless...

The sixth way. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2005

Your Uncle Di fondly remembers those days of undergraduate study in cosmology and causality, parsing the tight packaging of St. Thomas' proofs for the existence of God, such as his Fifth Way. The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack...

onward by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2005

The Bishop of Marquette, Michigan, James Garland, due to retire next December, has resigned under of the provisions of Canon 401 §2. The Holy See has appointed 45-year-old Fr. Alexander Sample as the next...

'Tis the season by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2005

... and Eng. Lit. fans will be delighted to learn that Max Beerbohm's A Christmas Garland is now available online in its entirety. The book is collection of parodic Christmas stories, each written in the eerily exact manner of English authors well-known at the turn of the last century. Uncle...

Gay Jesuit deplores pain caused by Church by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2005

From the Chronicle of Higher Education (tip to Rick Garnett at Mirror of Justice): The Rev. Thomas Brennan was also raised in a Catholic family. An assistant professor of English at Saint Joseph's University, in Philadelphia, he knew from the time he was 12 or 13 that he was gay. "I've gone...

tidings of comfort & joy by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 14, 2005

Yet another bold, transgressive artist dares to speak truth to power -- in this case, as far as I can see, the power that last resided in the Holy Roman Empire. In the Yuletide yukfest, the "Rescue Me" star has a skit about lesbian nuns and a song by "Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering Church...

thanksgiving and citizenship by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 14, 2005

On the Square posts a good essay by Robby George, on gratitude as the key to making immigrants into Americans: [My grandparents'] gratitude was not diminished when times got hard -- as they did for all Americans -- in the Great Depression. Although both my grandfathers encountered ethnic...

changes in San Francisco by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 15, 2005

George Niederauer, Bishop of Salt Lake City, has been named Archbishop of San Francisco. SF cornerback Ahmed Plummer will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery (left ankle) to remove bone...

test case by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 15, 2005

Here's a fascinating conundrum thrown up by The Crisis, which has moral, canonical, ecclesiastical, and legal ramifications. Minus a couple key details, it's set forth pretty clearly in an article in the Seattle Times. In brief: James Poole is a Jesuit child molester. His provincial superior...

A Christmas Dialogue on Isaiah 45: “I am God; there is no other.” by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 15, 2005

The following is an imaginary dialogue between the soul and God which draws out the meaning of a powerful text used to prepare for Christmas during the Advent season, Isaiah 45:6-12, 19-22. The complete passage appears at the end of the dialogue. To set the stage, consider Isaiah 45:22: “Turn to...

Extra Virgin, get it? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 15, 2005

The Jesuit publication America puffs itself as "the magazine for thinking Catholics." Accordingly, while the thinkers at my local library trot off with America to read the essays on metaphysics and exegesis, I always remain stuck in the corner with a box of Crayola washable crayons and my Rembert...

after faith, what? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2005

In a pointed essay in the UK Spectator, Mark Steyn takes aim at post-Christian Euro-atheists, and especially the moral shallowness that attends their ceaseless self-congratulation. Yet these atheists' attitude toward believers is not one of detachment but is urgently malignant -- a fact that...

... and a medium slurpy to go by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2005

Father Bob Pierson, O.S.B., read the Vatican's instruction and blew out a head gasket: "For quite some time I have wrestled with conflicting teaching by the church -- that gays and lesbians are to be respected, but that somehow we are not fit for work in the church," said Pierson, who...

the new nuncio by Jeff in "Off the Record" - Dec 17, 2005

This morning, the Holy See announced the retirement of Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. His successor is Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine. Archbishop Sambri, to whom Pope John Paul...

the new nuncio on gay pride by Jeff in "Off the Record" - Dec 17, 2005

Last spring, as an international gay pride march was being planned for Jerusalem, Archbishop Sambi called the event "a provocation to the Jews, Christians, and Muslims of Jerusalem and all over the world." He added, "This is a holy city for people who accept the Lordship of God on their...

cowpokes: take two by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 17, 2005

So the Bishops of the United States, through their office, have rendered their opinion on the newest gay pic about your everyday 1960s cowboys Ennis and Jack, from Brokeback Mountain: The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L (limited adult audience, films whose problematic...

had enough? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 18, 2005

Ad in America, Dec 5th, 2005, page 36 If Ignatius Loyola still governed the Jesuits, roughly 20 minutes after the advertisement (above) for the condom-covered Madonna had appeared in America Magazine, abject and unequivocal apologies would have been expressed to the faithful, to the Holy See,...

The Strange Case of the Missing Mass by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2005

In his 1981 book From Bauhaus to Our House, Tom Wolfe mused on the compound ironies in the fact that America's leading capitalists were headquartered in "glass box" buildings that derived, ideologically, from radical socialist designs for proletarian worker housing. The very folks who could...

selective prosecution by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2005

A New Jersey priest was sentenced to 5 years probation and 250 hours of community service for stealing $350,000 from parish funds to pay off a homosexual lover. Hmmm. Does something about this case sound familiar? The priest in the New Jersey case, Father Naughton, has already paid back...

our barbies, our selves? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2005

Can't help but think that what Midge Decter calls the "treacherous confusion between the statistical norm and normality" applies...

And don't just keep Christ in Christmas by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2005

Around this time each year, earnest Christians urge each other to "remember the reason for the season," and to "Keep Christ in Christmas." That's all good advice. While we're reminding people about how the holiday got its name (and pointing out, in the process, that "holiday" is a...

Precious Moments at America by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2005

Grabbing an offensive rebound from America magazine's Lady in Latex controversy, Kevin Jones posts an e-mail sent in response to unhappy Christians: Dear Reader: We too are offended and very much regret we did not catch the mistake prior to publication. We are returning payment for the ad and...

up in smoke by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 20, 2005

Frances Kissling's Catholics for Free Choice post and endorse a statement protesting the comparison between the millions who died in the Holocaust and the millions slain by abortion: As religious, women's rights and human rights leaders, we are outraged that an exhibition in the European...

poster boy for celibacy? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 20, 2005

Would an end to mandatory celibacy solve the problem of priestly pedophilia? Apparently not, if this report on a married Anglican cleric means anything. Rev. Richard Thomas, indicted on kiddie-porn charges, maintains his innocence on that score. But then: Thomas has been deeply...

I am Richard. Hear me Rohr. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 20, 2005

If you spend much time visiting the feedlots of the Catholic Left --Commonweal, NCR, U.S. Catholic, etc. -- you've probably noticed therein two major "tendencies" (to use the Marxist jargon): on one side, a stern, pro-abort, pro-feminist, confrontational camp; on the other, a mushy, New Agey,...

hot investment tip by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 21, 2005

In the Boston archdiocese, once again this year, the collection at Christmas Mass will be designated for the priests' retirement fund. A typical parish-bulletin announcement reads: We encourage you to give generously to this collection, due to the financial difficulties involved in providing...

volatile terrain, vulnerable textures by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 21, 2005

Who needs a slippery slope when you can free fall? In case you're behind on fashion news, pederasty is back "in" this season. Variety magazine reports on a new drama that tells the tortured story of Jerry, who develops a sexual relationship with his nephew while trying to stay friends with...

Elizabeth A by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 21, 2005

Thanks to Mark Shea for providing a link to this notorious essay by the late Elizabeth Anscombe, Catholic, wife, mother of seven children, and, incidentally, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. She's writing in defense of the Church's teaching on contraception. Two...

Catholic Universities: Hold ‘em or Fold ‘em? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 21, 2005

On October 31st, Archbishop Michael Miller addressed the University of Notre Dame on Catholic Universities and Their Catholic Identity. Archbishop Miller is the secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education. His purpose at Notre Dame was to set forth what the Vatican says Catholic...

speculation by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 22, 2005

In a BBC radio interview, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams strides into the thick of battle and nails his colours to the fence: Simon: And if one of your priests wanted to become involved in a civil partnership?Rowan: Well, the guidelines issued by the House of Bishops are quite...

unqualified candidates by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 22, 2005

A man suffering from a serious mental disorder should not become a priest. Can we agree on that? OK. Now the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that an inclination toward homosexuality is a serious disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says it is not. At most American...

simple servants and marked men by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 22, 2005

A Christian Brother in Philadelphia explains why he's switched to wearing civvies. Twenty years ago, Brian Henderson wore his full habit more, well, habitually as a clear sign he was a cleric. Now, the Southwest Philly native, who last spring celebrated his 25th year as a member of the...

Don't ask, don't tell: a subtle seminary entrance test by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 22, 2005

1) What is your current occupation? construction worker computer programmer dance instructor 2) Would you like something to drink? a cold can of beer would be nice Scotch, thanks, with just a splash. Chardonnay, but only if it's chilled. Or do you have any herbal tea? 3) In...

mystery solved by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 23, 2005

And could you tell us please how the inadvertence occurred? The problem came about because America's editors only saw the ad in black and white before it was published, and the condom was not as evident, according to the magazine's associate editor, Rev. James Martin. ...Another issue may be...

upon a midnight clear by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 23, 2005

For obvious reasons, there's a lot of discussion these days about the power of C.S. Lewis's imagination. I think one of his most outstanding talents was the ability to take other people with him and allow them to stand in imaginative shoes not their own. Is there any other writer with such a...

circular letter by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 28, 2005

Dear Intimate Friend, Phew! Where does the time go?!?! Negative One was such a busy year it seems we just got last year's Saturnalia shopping done when it was time to write again. Rod and I spent November cruising Tarshish and the Isles and have been "weekending" at the lodge near Ashkelon,...

The Quotable Skylstad by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 30, 2005

Highlights from USCCB President Bishop William Skylstad's address to the American College at Louvain (December 5, 2005): "During these last years of crisis, we bishops have had to face an extraordinary moment in terms of the public image of the Church. Especially in 2002, I did not recognize...

hearing voices by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 31, 2005

The Springfield (MA) Republican is reporting that only 20% of the priests in the Springfield Diocese (31 out of 154) signed a petition aimed at amending the state constitution so as to eliminate same-sex marriage. Larry Cirignano of Catholic Citizenship, which helped organize the petition...

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