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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from December 2006

When the News is Good . . . by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 1, 2006

Dedicated Catholics in the West are very well aware of the problems the Faith faces in a secularized culture. The influence of Catholicism has been more or less on the decline in the so-called First World for half a millennium. Despite this fact, though, positive things are happening all the time....

you people are such good dancers by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 1, 2006

Naomi Riley fails to be impressed by Fr. Andrew Greeley's condescension toward Third World Christians: WASHINGTON--Last week, Andrew M. Greeley, the well-known liberal priest and sociologist of all things Catholic, gave a celebrity interview to his fans. Though his main interlocutor was Robert...

so close ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2006

From the Worcester Massachusetts Telegram: The diocese said Pope Benedict XVI this week permanently removed Edward M. Kennedy ... Be still, my heart. The AP cruelly dangled that teaser in front of us only to let us down with a thud: "The diocese said Pope Benedict XVI this week permanently...

the people's friend by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2006

One of the media's prime cheerleaders for world socialism, the BBC has been shaking the pom-poms for Venezuelan Hugo Chavez non-stop. In a current photo spread titled "Life in a Caracas barrio," there are no fewer than four plugs for Chavez inserted in the captions. [Community leaders] say...

under new management by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2006

The Holy See has issued a very blunt statement of sorrow and rebuke in respect of the illicit episcopal ordinations that took place in China last Thursday (under the auspices of the state-controlled Patriot Association). Two details struck me particularly. First, the Holy See uses the expression...

"Energized" -- the Cardinal wins the Lottery! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 2, 2006

At the beginning of the year, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles came up with a plan to split its sex abuse liabilities into two categories. One group of cases would be litigated (i.e., contested in court) with the "hope" that the Archdiocese's insurers would step forward to pay for the losers. The...

fully renewed priestly ministry by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2006

The androgyne among androgynes? Since you asked, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has responded to the diminishing number of clergy by "Preparing for a Future With Fewer Priests." In a word, the process of process is process: At issue were subcommittee reports from the Future Implementation...

on probation by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2006

Father Bernard Kelly got off with seven years probation. He's the Cape Cod priest who looted his parish while exploring boundary issues with his handymen: In court yesterday, prosecutor Robert Welsh explained how Kelly used St. Joseph's bank account to write about $380,000 in checks to himself...

in the Not-Yet Set by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 3, 2006

Today's New York Times has discovered -- or, more likely, invented -- the phenomenon of "hetero hold-outs," and treats us to a cheery puff piece on the subject: Some heterosexual couples, mostly in their in 20s and 30s, are protesting the inability of gay and lesbian couples to marry by...

Berry Sexy Too by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 4, 2006

The LA Times reports that the Archdiocese is not only a landlord, but a landlord with a fully developed post-Conciliar sense of social responsibility. The L.A. Archdiocese seems to have some cushion against selling churches and schools. Its nonreligious properties run the gamut of real estate...

let them eat cake by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 4, 2006

Great post by Anthony Esolen on how the poor are all-too-adept at learning the irresponsibility of the rich, yet lack the rich man's means of insulating himself from the consequences. The rich can afford their vices, for a time anyway; the poor have no such margin for comfort. They are, in...

that was quick by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 4, 2006

Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Sao Paolo, widely known as the Marie Osmond of the Brazilian hierarchy, gave a farewell interview on leaving his diocese en route to Rome, where he is to head up -- God help us -- the Congregation for Clergy. In the interview, Hummes was quoted as saying: "Celibacy...

The single dumbest statement of 2006. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 4, 2006

It comes, not surprisingly, from James Carroll of the Boston Globe, writing about what he always writes about: the intellectual deficiencies of the Catholic Church leadership, which has the temerity to disagree with him. This time, in a disconnected ramble prompted by the Pope's visit to...

as seen on tv by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 4, 2006

From an article in today's LA Times: Joelle Casteix knew something had changed when she started to see the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal spoofed on "The Simpsons." In one episode, the animated residents of Springfield lapsed into awkward silence in the presence of a Catholic priest....

inventory control by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2006

Second runner-up in the Trans-Danubian Robert Runcie Lookalike Contest shows Miss Ulrike the ropes. Glad to see they're bar-coding deaconesses in Austria now. This must be what Cardinal Hummes had in mind when he declared that, "in this modern age," the Church must "advance with...

all your fault by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2006

Perhaps you remember the case of Father Michael Fay, the light-fingered priest who evidently lifted $1 million or more from the collection plates at his parish in Darien, Connecticut. This was possible because: A priest whose salary was about $28,000 threw himself a black-tie dinner at the posh...

Is Non-Creation the Same as Saving a Life? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 5, 2006

OK, so you don’t have any idea what this headline means. It comes from a bumper sticker I saw this morning on my way to Mass: “My cat saves lives. It’s spayed!” Presumably this means that if there are too many cats in the world, more of them will be killed and discarded. Therefore, as night...

the mahony files by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 5, 2006

What did he know and when did he know it? Reporters, plaintiff attorneys, the DA, the grand jury, insurance companies, victim advocacy groups and victims themselves all want a look at Cardinal Mahony's archdiocesan files. He's been outstandingly nimble in avoiding disclosure. Herewith a brief...

the source & summit by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2006

Amy directs us to this video of Barney's Bye-Bye Blessing at Corpus Christi parish in the Diocese of Orange. The performance suggested three questions: Question #1: In the days before jpegs and video-sharing, what would the chances have been that a sober letter of complaint describing the...

annunciation by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 6, 2006

The oil is by Philippe de Champaigne (c. 1644), the vinegar courtesy of Fr. Prosper Grech, O.S.A. (c. 1998), in wry acknowledgment of the contribution of form criticism to New Testament exegesis. Happy...

infelix culpa by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 7, 2006

Terry Mattingly at GetReligion has an instructive post on the peculiarly alarmist boners to which the prestige media are susceptible when reporting on evangelicals. Most recently he'd come upon a howler in Denver's Rocky Mountain News for November 23rd. The correction reads: This story...

sunshine and rose windows by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 7, 2006

Modern society is "wrecking the planet's environment," the Anglican bishop said, and so: He called on churches and other places of worship to reduce global warming by installing solar panels on their rooftops. Notice, in this Times Online report whose environment is at risk. Not yours. Not...

a catholic with guts by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 7, 2006

I'd been led to believe that only in America could a Christian politician make public mention of his religion. Canadian Kathy Shaidle quotes MP Pierre Lemieux addressing the federal parliament on the same-sex marriage debate. The Church also teaches, unchangingly, that marriage is a...

the call stands: runner is out. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 7, 2006

Good news travels fast. Nino Ganganelli's cousin Sam (who does photocopier repair in Topeka) reads us some quotes from the November 24, 2006 letter of Cardinal Giovanni Battista "Sugar" Re, the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, to Lincoln Nebraska's Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. By way of...

not just for Christians by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 7, 2006

For Christians, sex is anything but trivial. Thus the Catholic bishops of Ireland, in their statement opposing a lower age of consent for sexual activity. Your excellencies, would you accept a friendly amendment? Let's strike those first two words: "For Christians." Sex is anything but...

Dorothy Sayers for our times by Peter Mirus in "Off the Record" - Dec 7, 2006

Recently, I had the opportunity to read a biography of Dorothy Sayers by David Coomes. Here are two excerpts that I think you will enjoy. Sayers of course could not write dully to save her life, and only she could have imbued with such swinging wit and bile the simple thesis that it wasn't...

either human or not by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 8, 2006

The French bishops have caused a ruckus, the New York Times informs us, by raising questions about a popular telethon to benefit medical research. The sticking point is embryonic stem-cell research. “For us, these embryos are not things, but human beings,” Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the...

the change of heart by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2006

George McKenna is a political scientist retired from CCNY. His lengthy article Criss-Cross: Democrats, Republicans, and Abortion was published recently in the Human Life Review and deserves a careful read. Here's the premise: Suppose this: suppose a politically savvy Rip Van Winkle in say,...

... to do what and with which and to whom by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 9, 2006

[AIDS] is not stopped by our best intentions or even by marriage. Each person must take responsibility for knowing their HIV status and making sure that others who may be affected also know their status. Such honesty in relationships is a witness to the radical and self-giving love which is daily...

among wolves by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 11, 2006

"But all I did was mention the Bible!" "That was your mistake. There are lots of times to mention the Bible, but that classroom wasn't one of them. Naturally you were accused of 'imposing' your biblical morality on everyone else." Mark stared at me as though he couldn't believe his eyes. "But...

It's Not Too Late: Three Steps to a Successful Advent by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 11, 2006

The same thing that makes Advent wonderful often makes it terrible: preparation for Christmas. This is because, inevitably, we prepare for two Christmases. First, there is the spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming in grace and glory through the celebration of his coming in time. Second, there...

transubstantiation by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2006

The photo comes from the BBC and shows a lass in Chitral, Pakistan, on the way back to the barn after some high-altitude harvesting. Studying the image for a few minutes and wondering what the yield of the wheat on her back might be, I got to thinking about the effort of plowing, sowing, reaping,...

where it hurts by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2006

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act didn't make it last week. This from the New York Times's account: On a 250-to-162 vote, backers of the measure fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary to pass the bill, which would require medical personnel to inform women that a fetus could...

the defenestration of dolly by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2006

Bishop of Southwark (C of E) Tom Butler tied on a noseful the other night at a London party and had an eventful, if circuitous, journey home. He initially claimed to have been mugged, but it turns out to be a case of aggravated auto-kenosis. The Daily Mirror has the story: The Mercedes'...

make way for ducklings! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 12, 2006

A CNS story reports that U.S. Catholics' approval rating for bishops is the highest since the sex abuse scandal broke in January 2002. A Zogby poll, conducted by telephone interviews, of 1,505 self-identified Catholics provided the data. Hello? In the fall 2006 Contemporary Catholic Trends...

Sklba & The Great Spirit by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2006

What were those 17th century French Jesuits doing among the Indians of the northern Great Lakes? Teaching them to celebrate the solstice, of course! It worked. Tip to Terrence...

spiritual direction by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 13, 2006

The Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, whose former bishop owes his freedom to the statute of limitations, is now fighting against its own insurance companies' efforts to gain access to diocesan records regarding sex-abuse allegations. By now you know the drill: the insurers believe that those...

high performers by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 14, 2006

The current NCR has a piece on corporate America's solution to the Catholic Church's management problems. The driving concept behind the lay-led National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management is simple enough: Take the best tools of modern management -- detailed budgeting, comprehensive...

a "must read" by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 14, 2006

An excellent piece today by John Allen, on the late Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, the cantankerous but certainly heroic and probably saintly Father Giuseppe Puglisi, the Church and the Mafia in Sicily. Definitely worth a...

Christmas in the Prison that is Bethlehem by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Dec 14, 2006

Bethlehem is behind a wall, a twenty-seven foot wall. Over the past several years, Israel has been constructing a wall throughout the Palestinian lands on the West Bank of the Jordan River. The wall is designed to ensure the safety of Jerusalem as well as the expansion of Israeli settlements in...

on closing the barn door after... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 14, 2006

Let's say that you're writing a news story for the Boston Globe, about the implementation of a new Massachusetts law requiring hospitals to provide "emergency contraception" for rape victims. You're faced with a dilemma. The paper's editorial policy insists that "emergency contraception" can...

Tantalus goes Tridentine by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 15, 2006

It's been described as "imminent" since October, if not earlier. But the best estimates of an actual publication date keep moving backward. Now the Spanish-language ACI-Prensa news agency, which has good contacts at the Vatican, predicts that the motu proprio on the Latin Mass will appear...

not even once by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2006

Last year a Montana billionaire, disturbed by the social damage caused by addiction to crystal meth, convinced many of the state's television and radio stations to broadcast public service messages -- produced at his own expense -- designed to discourage even "first-time" meth use among young...

the enforcement-only option by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2006

My nephew Jim is a very good driver, with aspirations to join the NASCAR circuit. Last week he was pulled over by a state trooper, who thought Jim's speed-- clocked at 114 mph-- was excessive. Now notice: nobody was hurt; no harm was done. The road was clear and dry; Jim was fully in control....

make no mistake about it by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 16, 2006

Fr. Richard McBrien explains how the liturgy got renewed (and why your opinion on the question doesn't matter): Make no mistake about it: persistent opposition to the changes in the liturgy that were authorized by the Second Vatican Council and approved by the late Pope Paul VI has had little...

morning prayer was made optional by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 17, 2006

Daily life for seminarians changed radically. Changes in discipline were among the most obvious. Students were allowed to dress however they wished. They were not restricted to the seminary grounds. Morning prayer was made optional. They could read newspapers and magazines more freely. In 1969 the...

splitsville by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 17, 2006

The NYT's Laurie Goodstein has an article on the travel of free mercury in the bottom of the wobbly Anglican saucer, with speculation on whether any of the quiverings can be called schism yet. It makes an attempt at even-handedness but, like the dog in Proverbs, returneth all-too-predictably to...

the ritual slaying of ritual by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 18, 2006

The December Adoremus Bulletin includes an excellent paper by Prof. James Hitchcock titled "Liturgy and Ritual." It's a sober, balanced, and thorough account of the trajectory of the post-Conciliar liturgy and its cultural and intellectual tributaries. Worth downloading and reading with...

Splitsville, cont. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 18, 2006

Liberal Anglicans changed the teachings of their church to allow the ordination of women as priests, and the more conservative Anglicans fretted, complained, but remained. Liberal Anglicans changed the teachings of their church to give their blessings to same-sex unions, and the more...

let nothing you dismay by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 18, 2006

In December of 1998, back when the war on Christianity was comparatively tame, George Will was inclined to dismiss the contras as a negligible fringe: Christmas in America nowadays is largely an artifact of nonsectarian figures such as Charles Dickens, who poured a syrup of sentiment over the...

not fatherless by choice by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 18, 2006

In a remarkable op-ed appearing in the Washington Post, a young woman named Katrina Clark explains what it's like to know that you are the child of an anonymous sperm donor. It's not fun. The essay could be Exhibit A in any argument about the morality of artificially assisted human...

unwelcome inquiries by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 19, 2006

Christ, from heav'n descending low,Comes on earth a stranger;Ox and ass their owner know,Becradled in the manger,Becradled in the manger. This did Herod sore affray,And grievously bewilder,So he gave the word to slay,And slew the little childer,And slew the little childer. --15th century Latin...

The War Against Pornography by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 19, 2006

What is the great plague of the 21st century? Bird flu? Terrorism? Global warming? No, none of these. The pandemic of our century is pornography. This scourge was already severe in the twentieth century with the development of color photography, moving pictures, and cable television. But with the...

beyond our control by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 20, 2006

Almost all Americans drive drunk, says a report published Tuesday... "The reality of the situation is that most people have been drunk behind the wheel, and it's been that way for several decades," says Lawrence Toper, director of domestic research at the Schlitz Institute, a New York...

not just for Catholics (again) by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 21, 2006

The president of the Canadian bishops' conference offers some instruction to the nation's prime minister: "For Catholics, marriage is an issue intimately related to human nature which has been created male and female," wrote Sherbrooke Archbishop Andre Gaumond in a Dec. 18 letter to Harper....

Dear Mrs. Q by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 24, 2006

Himself a Catholic convert from Anglicanism, Ronald Knox wrote a series of letters to an Anglican woman who was on the verge of becoming a Catholic but dithering because of the pain and consternation her conversion would cause her friends and relatives. Knox had great sympathy for her position,...

Corruptio Timmy, O.P., Pessima by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 24, 2006

Can't understand why the odds are lengthening. The betting line above indicates the punters give former Dominican Master General Timothy Radcliffe one chance in ten of becoming the next Archbishop of Westminster (Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor turns 75 next August, and the bookies already...

the Grinch wore a cassock by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 24, 2006

Father Manuel Musallem, a pastor in Gaza, has called off Christmas Mass to protest the fighting between Palestinian factions. Right. That'll fix 'em. You want them to stop fighting, so keep out the Prince of Peace. Got...

a bit of reading for Christmas Day by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 25, 2006

Pope Benedict's Christmas homily at midnight Mass, a beautifully limpid meditation on the simplicity and humility of the Incarnate God, is available in full on the Vatican web site. The Urbi et Orbi message, too. A quick sample: But does a "Saviour" still have any value and meaning for the...

second helping by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 25, 2006

We've already noticed how the Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola is perceived by the NY Times as the main cause of a split in the Anglican communion, although Archbishop Akinola holds fast to the beliefs shared and taught by Anglican prelates everywhere until this generation. (Understand the...

bruskewitz besieged! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 26, 2006

Brace yourself, Bishop B. You've been "targeted" by the power hitters at National Call To Action, who intend to bombard you with fragrant and well-spelled letters indicting you for failure to comply with the alternative sexualities audit...

In the Beginning Was the Word . . . by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Dec 27, 2006

This week I visited an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution called “In the Beginning: Bibles before the Year 1000”. This exhibition displays fine specimens of early Biblical texts from the first thousand years of Christian history. It includes papyrus fragments, pieces of scrolls and early...

the Pelosi gambit by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 28, 2006

Amy Welborn has an excellent analysis of the scam that Nancy Pelosi is trying to pull, celebrating her arrival as Speaker of the House (in anticipation) with a big, splashy, and identifiably Catholic celebration at Trinity College in DC. Will the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church let...

Chinese "underground" priests arrested by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 29, 2006

The AsiaNews service reports a new assault on the Catholic Church in China: 9 priests of the "underground" Church have been...

the anti-Becket by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 29, 2006

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Becket, martyred on December 29th, 1170, in Canterbury Cathedral by agents acting on the wishes of King Henry II. The Catholic Encyclopedia says that "the great matter of dispute was reached in the resistance made by Thomas to the king's officials when they...

Katharine Jefferts Greeley by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 30, 2006

For the Greeley generation of progressive Catholics, the truth is just beginning to sink in: if you want a bunch of grandchildren frisking around the living room for the holidays, there's an intermediate step that needed to be taken. And it wasn't. Contraception makes for calm Christmasses: calm...

for those in peril by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 30, 2006

A pleasing legend has it that the Aberdeen Journal of April 15, 1912, splashed the story of the sinking of the Titanic with this headline: "North East Man Lost at Sea." Herewith the Church Times on the secession of seven Virginia parishes from the Episcopal Church: Virginia remnant vows to...

the sole non-negotiable by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 30, 2006

Frances (Catholics for a Free Choice) Kissling has one serious problem. If pro-aborts join the call to reduce the number of abortions, doesn't that imply that abortion is a bad thing? But if they admit that it's a bad thing, they've conceded the moral argument out of hand. True, it's an...

passages by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 31, 2006

Earlier I drew attention to Father Andrew Greeley's take on the Virgin of Guadalupe: At the center of [the popular religion of Mexico] is the figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe, once perhaps a pagan goddess, but now unquestionably the patron of the Mexican peon with whom she identifies. I can't...

death penalty and double standards by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Dec 31, 2006

We are still amid sorrow and prayer over the execution of Saddam Hussein. But we cannot fail to denounce the hypocrisy of the many champions against the death penalty that the former Iraqi dictator managed to gather around him before and after his hanging. That's the start of an excellent...

rembonix by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Dec 31, 2006

Weakland on the Feast: "Oh ... that's ... that's Jewish. That's very Jewish. Did you read the first reading where it says that mothers take care of their sons and it doesn't even mention daughters? That 'Jewish mother' thing goes way, way back. And here is Jesus in his Jewish background...

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