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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from March 2003

Selective use of authority? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 18, 2003

The astonishing statement by Bishop Botean, informing Romanian-Catholic Americans that they must not cooperate in war against Iraq-- under pain of mortal sin!-- puts me to wondering: Does a bishop have the authority to bind his flock in this way? At least one canon-law expert believes that the...

Why do they hate us so? by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 18, 2003

Archbishop Martino's comments yesterday about the war ratcheted the rhetoric up another notch. He told Vatican Radio, a war against Iraw "a crime against peace that would cry out for God's vengeance." Now that would be fine if the criminal he was talking about was Saddam, but it's not. It's the...

Re: Botean by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 18, 2003

Phil, I agree with you about Botean's statement. I'd also point out Ed Peter's analysis that Botean creates a situation where the Vatican will either have to ratify or overrule the statement since it places Romanian Catholics in an ambiguous position vis a vis every other Catholic in the...

Realism lacking in bishops' statements by Fr. Rutler in "Off the Record" - Mar 18, 2003

President Bush's speech on March 17 was sober, forthright, and classical in its reasoning. On the same day, Prime Minister Blair delivered a speech in the House of Commons which stunned even policy opponents with its eloquence and intelligence. Contrast these with the statements of such as...

The trouble for just-war apologists by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 18, 2003

True, most critics of the US position have not been convincing. And the notion that the UN can solve this crisis seems ludicrous. But... In his speech last night, President Bush said this about the threas from Saddam Hussein: "These attacks are not inevitable. They are, however, possible....

re: trouble for just-war apologists by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 18, 2003

Phil, But Bush also made the point that waiting for a madman with WMD to strike first is not self-defense, it's suicide. I think the difference is that Soviet Union, for all that it was evil, was not unstable. In other words, it's leaders knew that to strike was to invite self-destruction....

Is it inevitable? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 18, 2003

Well, Dom, I'd accept your point--if it's inevitable the Saddam would eventually use WMDs. But the President says, pretty clearly, that it isn't. Maybe I'm reading too much into that phrase. At other times, the Bush Administration has said that it's only a matter of time... But do we know...

Glitches on new site by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 19, 2003

Surprise, surprise! There are a few programming glitches in our new site. Please bear with us; we're working on...

Rod Dreher, 2; Bishop Adamec, 0 by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 19, 2003

In a letter to the editor that appeared Monday in the Wall Street Journal, Bishop Adamec of Altoona, PA, denies the charges-- made in an earlier Journal column by Rod Dreher-- that he concealed sex-abuse charges in his diocese. Today in the Journal, Dreher responds. Suffice it to say that Dreher...

Reminder and introduction by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 19, 2003

I just want to remind readers to make sure they click on the menu above to see comments from yesterday and other days. This blogs may work differently than other blogs you may have seen on the Internet. I guess I should also define what a "blog" is. A blog is a "web log," a kind of informal...

War coverage by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 19, 2003

An interesting blog for following one war correspondent's journeys in Iraq is Kevin Sites' blog. Sites is a correspondent for CNN who is traveling in Iraq and offers his impressions and photos of what's going on in a fashion you won't get on the networks. Check it...

Another great resource by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 19, 2003

If you take an interest in questions of religious freedom-- and you should-- there's a very promising new service available. The Forum 18 News Service-- named after Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights-- has announced a new program "to report on threats and actions against...

Re: Rod Dreher 2 Adamec 0 by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 19, 2003

Bishop Adamec has been as underhanded as any in shuffling pervert priests and seems completely unrepentant of it. He has steadfastly refused to admit he made any mistakes or took any outrageous action, despite being presented with clear evidence. He must believe that stonewalling, denials, and...

A just war? Clarification urgently needed by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 19, 2003

The US bishops, as a group, have expressed reservations about a war on Iraq. So has the Vatican. But reservations are one thing; it's quite another thing to say-- as Bishop Botean has said-- that participation in the was would be a mortal sin. Bishop Botean's authority extends only to the...

Newman and Islam by Jeff in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2003

149 years ago on this day, Blessed Pius IX issued Optime noscitis, his encyclical epistle to the Irish hierarchy on the proposed Catholic university of Ireland (http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p9optim1.htm). The saintly pontiff notes, "As We know that you have already chosen Our beloved son,...

The tenor of Vatican statements against war by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2003

It's not so much the Vatican's opposition to this war that bothers me; it's the way that opposition has been expressed. Most of the statements from Rome have been phrased in language that is completely foreign to the just-war tradition-- the Catholic tradition of moral realism. A blatant...

A bishop's golden parachute by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2003

Bishop Patrick Ziemann resigned in disgrace from his California diocese in 1999. But he still has friends in high places, according to a provocative story in the San Francisco Weekly. The story is unsettling; the word "blackmail" keeps popping into mind. And we're left asking a familiar question:...

Pope on war: opposition but not condemnation by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2003

L'Espresso, an intriguing (if not always pro-Catholic) Italian publication, makes a careful distinction. Pope John Paul has expressed public opposition to war on Iraq, but has carefully avoided any condemnation of military action. The US media have not always grasped that distinction. The...

Archbishop O'Brien responds to Bishop Botean by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2003

Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of the US Military Archdiocese has responded to Bishop Botean's statement that forbids members of the Romanian Byzantine-rite Catholic Church in America from participating in the war. Archbishop O'Brien says Bishop Botean contradicts the US bishops' conference, and says...

When bishops disagree by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2003

OK; now it's explicit. We have 2 American bishops saying radically different things about participation in the Iraq war. One bishop says a good Christian can participate in the war with a clear conscience. The other says it's a mortal sin. That is NOT a minor theoretical disagreement....

Homosexuality as a gift? by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 20, 2003

David Mills at the Touchstone blog (look for the 5:15 pm entry from today) reveals that the Diocese of Baton Rouge, LA, is sponsoring a pro-homosexual retreat. Now this isn't simply an occasion where the teachings of the Church will be muddled a bit, but a straight on rejection of them. You could...

Studdock as Pecksniff by Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

Readers of C.S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength will remember the scene in which Mark Studdock, momentarily released from the degradations of Belbury, resolves to restore his self-regard by taking a high-hand with the upright Cecil Dimble: "The idea of being annoyed with the Dimbles occurred to...

Consecrating Iraq by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

Iraq's Chaldean bishops are asking the world to join them in prayer at 10 am EST as they consecrate the country to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady Queen of Peace. See the full information at the Catholic Light...

more episcopal confusion by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

If 80 or 90 percent of persons who develop lung cancer are cigarette smokers, and if only a small minority of the population had a craving for cigarettes, you wouldn't be guilty of smokerphobia if you followed common sense and said it's highly risky to place those with a tendency to smoke in a...

Rosemary's baby by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

In her March 21st column in the National Catholic Reporter, radical feminist, Castro-apologist, and longtime dissenter Rosemary Radford Ruether takes on the vexed issue of clerical abuse and warns her readers that she is running "the risk of appearing politically incorrect." Brace...

Prayers for peace by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

EWTN is offering a valuable resource: a page that links to prayers for peace, for our soldiers, etc. Also a summary of just-war principles, with commentary that should help people resolve doubts and questions of...

World War by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

Cardinal Etchegaray says says the war in Iraq is a world war because its impact touches the whole world. He's right but about the wrong war. The third world war started on Sept. 11, 2001 and that war really does touch the whole world. The war in Iraq is just one campaign in that greater...

Pessimism from the pulpit by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia has issued a statement concerning the war with Iraq. It is a very defeatist sounding statement. I don't dispute that war has grave consequences, especially for innocent victims. And he does offer prayers for servicemen and women and President Bush. But...

gather faithfully together by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

Help me out on this. When our Lord looks down upon the U.S. Catholic community gathered in prayer, how can he fail to grant our petitions for...

Pius IX, problems in the Church, and the plenary council by Jeff in "Off the Record" - Mar 21, 2003

150 years ago today, Bl. Pius IX issued Inter multiplices (http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p9interm.htm), an encyclical epistle pleading for unity of spirit within the French hierarchy. After praising the fidelity and vigor of the Church in France, the pontiff deplored the lack of unity...

down with memory lane! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 22, 2003

A puzzling sentence from an earlier story in the Boston Herald: Bernard Cardinal Law's attorney moved yesterday to put off Law's testimony in a civil case until after the cardinal goes before a criminal grand jury next month, explaining after that he fears Law might "inadvertently contradict"...

troubling appointments in Rochester by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 22, 2003

Bishop Braxton, head of the American bishops' committee on Louvain, has chosen Father John DeSocio, the priest in charge of the Diocese of Rochester's pre-theologate and seminarian formation programs, as vice rector of the American seminary in Louvain. According to this article, the new head of...

Apologies due? by Fr. Rutler in "Off the Record" - Mar 22, 2003

Today the Pope condemned the American-British attacks on Iraq, expressing concern for the harm this may do to relations between Christians and Muslims. I would remark two things. One, the Muslims have rejected Christ and, while we pray for goodwill between Christians and Muslims, we should pray in...

a delightful read by Jeff in "Off the Record" - Mar 23, 2003

"The Bill Show" -- P. J. O'Rourke's skewering of our former president in the March issue of The Atlantic Monthly -- approaches the Platonic form of...

lest we forget to pray for the POWs by Jeff in "Off the Record" - Mar 23, 2003

Mark Bowden, "Tales of the Tyrant" (The Atlantic Monthly, May 2002) "Justice for Iraq: A Human Rights WatchPolicy Paper" (December...

The religious-freedom defense by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 24, 2003

The Boston archdiocese is seeking to have sex-abuse lawsuits dismissed, on the grounds that secular courts can't judge the actions of religious organizations. From a Monday Boston Globe story: Mark Chopko, general counsel to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, adds that there is...

by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 24, 2003

Rod Dreher has written an interesting piece over at National Review Online entitled "War & Friendships." He details the experiences of many people who have lost friends as they debated the war in Iraq. I, too, find myself at odds with longtime friends over Iraq. In my situation, most of my...

Tick, tick, tick.... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 24, 2003

The war understandably dominates the news headlines, but if you look carefully-- see today's CWN News Bytes-- you'll notice that prosecutors are assessing the possiblity of bringing criminal charges against England's Catholic primate, in connection with the sex-abuse scandal. And California...

Our Distinctive Jesuit Approach by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2003

It's nervous. It's agonizingly apologetic. It occasionally descends into gibberish ("The more attractive option seeks neither to flee nor to dominate situations of pluralism"). It's thirty years late. But it's there. The U.S. Jesuit provincials have issued a letter in opposition to...

"The whole world is waiting..." by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2003

Happy feast day! Can anyone find an online version of the magnificent sermon on the Annunciation by St. Bernard? I'd like to post the link...

The bishops' political agenda by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2003

Are you for or against the Conservation Security Program? Would you support increased funding for the Millennium Challenge Account? Do you think the identity card issued by the Tohono O'odham Indian tribe should be accepted as proof of US citizenship? What? You say you don't know? Well, the US...

O tempora! O mores! by Jeff in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2003

The quality of the ICEL translations of the Latin liturgical texts has been widely discussed. Today is the eighth anniversary of the Holy Father's encyclical Evangelium Vitae, a circumstance that calls to mind the less widely known infelicities in the official translations of papal documents....

Archbishop also addresses military chaplains today by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2003

Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of the US Military Archdiocese sent a letter to Catholic military chaplains for today's feast day: As our preoccupied Nation struggles through the volcanic sights and sounds of war, portrayed live and graphically, a universal prayer is raised for a quick end to...

Ius in Bello by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 25, 2003

You can argue back and forth about whether the US had adequate cause to go to war. President Bush obviously said Yes; the Pope obviously said No. And I, frankly, had severe misgivings. But you reallycan't dispute that the conduct of the US military campaign to date has been exemplary from a...

Scapegoating the Abusers by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2003

Heads have rolled as a consequence of the Air Force Academy sex scandal. Four new senior administrators have been appointed. So which member of the Senate Armed Services Committee declared "It's not just a change in leadership. It has to be a change in values from top to bottom"? The junior...

Heresy hunters? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2003

If you enjoy Catholic rituals, but not Catholic teachings, you might find the American Catholic Church attractive. There's an actual organization by that name-- distinct (oh, yes; very distinct) from the Catholic Church founded on the Apostles. For an illustration of how quickly schism moves off...

Reversed causality by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2003

Archbishop Tauran (see today's headline story) worries that the war in Iraq will lead to terrorism. And maybe in the spring, when the snow melts, that causes temperatures to rise? There was terrorism long before this war began. And (was anybody in Rome listening?) it was the threat of...

by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2003

Just curious, but where was the Vatican's condemnation of Russian brutal campaign against the Chechens? How about China's repression and persecution of the underground Church? (In fact, in that case Cardinal Sodano was angered and embarrassed by the Fides news service's mentioning it on the eve of...

Re: reversed causality by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2003

Another strange statement from Archbishop Tauran was his insistence that soldiers be lumped in as "innocents," too when we say that the injury of innocents in the war should be avoided. Are these the same "innocents" fighting from within hospitals, firing mortars into crowds of civilians, posing...

the Buffalo vocation office's recommended readings by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 26, 2003

As disheartening as the new appointments to positions of influence in the Rochester vocation office may be (see Off the Record, March 22), the situation in the neighboring Diocese of Buffalo does not appear that much better. The vocation office there publishes a list of recommended books for the...

The criticism we don't hear by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 27, 2003

Humiliating (and possibly executing!) POWs; forcing children to fight; pretending to surrender and then shooting captors; hiding artillery behind hospitals-- to say that these tactics are not in line with just-war principles would be an understatement. Any time anyone at the Vatican is ready to...

The learning curve by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 27, 2003

In case you missed the item in today's News Bytes, Massachusetts prosecutors are hoping to revive their case against Richard Lavigne, a suspended priest who has always been the prime suspect in the 1972 murder of an altar boy. Twenty years-- 20 years!-- after the murder, Lavigne was finally...

Speak bigly and carry a loud soft by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 27, 2003

Another bold statement from the Vatican's last great hope for the world: the...

A true soldier's perspective by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 27, 2003

They were delivered a week ago, but the powerful words of Lt. Col. Tim Collins, of the Royal Irish, should not be missed. There's a man you'd follow into...

Shameless plug by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 28, 2003

I'm off to Dallas this afternoon, to give a couple of talks there. Men who live in the area are welcome to attend a Saturday-morning conference on "Successful Fathers," at the Dallas Country Club. Registration and continental breakfast at...

Now here's an original insight: by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 28, 2003

"Plante said that if Sherlock's known victims are teenage boys, it's likely that if there are other victims, they would also fit that profile. 'The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,' said Plante, editor of Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse...

Can there ever be a just war? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 28, 2003

Bill McGurn writing in the Wall Street Journal today observes a linkage between the Pope's and the Vatican curia's current view of just war and the change in the view of the death penalty. As we saw in the time immediately following the publication of the Catechism, the presentation on the death...

failure is not an option by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 30, 2003

Saddam Fires Air Defense Chief reads a wire service headline. The faultless timing of the intervention puts one in mind of the Charter for the Protection of Children of the U.S....

Mommy, where do homilies come from? by Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. in "Off the Record" - Mar 30, 2003

The reading list blogged last Wednesday by Diogenes provides a pretty good inventory of the intellectual furniture installed into their students by most English-speaking seminaries. Basil Pennington makes the roster five times; no Ignatius Press author gets on the scoreboard. The prospective...

sales slip enclosed by Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

A recent CNS story contains the following paragraph: As for whether or not the church should examine its current practice of ordaining men who may have a homosexual orientation, Bishop Galante said, "Orientation itself is not an impediment to ordination. ... Is there anything that says God...

By definition by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

Q: What's a liberal liturgist? A: A weapon of Mass...

To my friends in Dallas by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

Thanks again to those who came out on Saturday morning to hear me. For those who are still looking: The pre-battle speech by Lt. Col. Tim Collins to his troops can be found...

Memo to Vatican officials re the Iraq war by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

As heir to the Anglo Saxon race that fought at Agincourt and Normandy-- and, by the way, liberated Rome, I do not choose to take military advice from Italians....

"The Bible's unique appeal..." by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

Recently I came across a 1966 Catholic Truth Society edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible that contained this very peculiar preface: DESPITE THE DECLINE of religious practice, the appetite of English people for new versions of the Scriptures is, paradoxically, greater than...

text & commentary by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

When the troops arrived, singing 'It's a long, long way to Tipperary' at Mauberge, after forced marches in the dark, it was one of the most tremendous moments I had ever experienced ... they looked so young, so elastic, so invincibly cheerful, so English, so tired and so fresh. And the...

Diogenes sighting? by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

A friend who is a policeman sends this note along: "I pulled over a van three days ago while working, for going through a red light. When I saw the first name on the persons license I decided not to write him a summons. His name is Diogenes. The driver did know that Diogenes was a philosopher but...

Who is reaching Catholic men? by Cheshire in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

Having read (BBC World News March 20) messages to the troops from a British army chaplain, ("God doesn't want you for a sunbeam - he wants you for a soldier") and from Lt. Col. Tim Collins, who sounds like a good match for Henry V, and comparing this with the rhetorical flotsam of the Vatican...

Is Just War Obsolete? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

In a provocative column published last Friday in the Wall Street Journal, Bill McGurn asks whether Pope John Paul agrees with the Vatican officials who have said-- quite explicity-- that a "just war" is no longer possible. And if military action is no longer justifiable, how does a nation defend...

Archbishop Flynn speaks on sex abuse by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Mar 31, 2003

AP reports: Flynn, speaking Saturday at Siena College, his alma mater in upstate New York, said critics still are talking about bishops who shuffled priests from parish to parish. "This is not an accurate or fair characterization of the bishops' actions in the last decade," Flynn...

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