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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from April 2008

archbishop gregory bolsters historical reliability of gospels by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 1, 2008

April Fool. In the ill-named "What I Have Seen and Heard" column in his diocesan newspaper, the Archbishop of Atlanta discourses on the Gospel "stories": One of my favorite Gospel stories is from St. Matthew's 18th chapter where the question arose of how the community ought to treat an...

otr dashback: 3-28-04 -- crises & hypocrisies by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 1, 2008

Question: Can the Church's ministers be sinful and the Church herself sinless? Any well-catechized Catholic will answer Yes. The possibility that my bishop is breaking it as I write has absolutely no bearing on the validity of the Levitical Code or on the integrity of the institution that...

the man for the job by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 1, 2008

The San Jose Mercury News has a story on clerical sex abuse in Oakland county focusing not on diocesan clergy but priests belonging to religious orders. The Salesians come in for some unflattering attention: [Salesian Father Richard] Presenti admitted in a 2005 deposition to molesting the...

objection sustained by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 1, 2008

To give credit where credit is due -- and it is -- Erie Bishop Donald Trautman has taken a stand against Hillary Clinton's appearance at a Catholic college: Trautman issued a written statement on Monday, the day after the Catholic liberal-arts college announced Clinton would be speaking, saying...

otr dashback: 8-29-05 -- today's church, tomorrow's treasure by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 1, 2008

XPQwire (August 29) "WE'RE BUILDING for the future," claims Los Angeles Archdiocesan Projects Manager Msgr. Bud Bradelstad. The man who directs its long-range planning explained that California's largest Catholic diocese designs its churches with a view to future use -- as warehouses,...

CRS, AIDS Prevention, and Condoms by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 1, 2008

Something of a furor exploded over the AIDS-prevention policies of Catholic Relief Services in late February when Russell Shaw and John Norton published a report on the agency’s new policies on condom information. Then a highly-respected moral theologian, Germain Grisez, questioned the moral...

the obstinate question mark by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 2, 2008

NCR correspondent John Allen has an interesting piece on the Jesuits and Pope Benedict. As usual, Allen is balanced, sober, and inclined to put a positive construction on Catholic controversies. Unpersuaded both by the claim of the newly-elected General Superior that Jesuit conflict with the...

otr dashback: 4-26-04 -- feelings by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 2, 2008

Ellen Goodman loyally works all the NARAL talking points into her pre-march column, including the predictable lie from the studio of Josef Goebbels: After all, those of us who remember when birth control was illegal and when 10,000 American women a year died from illegal abortions don't have to...

red-shirting by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 3, 2008

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick will be the commencement speaker at Notre Dame this year. The choice is interesting in view of the tension between Notre Dame President John Jenkins, C.S.C., and Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D'Arcy, regarding Notre Dame's sponsorship of the V Monologues again this...

otr dashback: 11-29-05 -- armageddon by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 3, 2008

We can't say we hadn't been warned. Three years ago already, the Episcopal Bishops of Massachusetts predicted the carnage that we are witnessing this very moment. The Episcopal bishops of Massachusetts, in a rare public challenge to the Catholic Church, are warning that a steady stream of...

strictly ballroom by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 4, 2008

Father Joe Kempf and his companion Big Al made an appearance at LA's Religious Ed Convention earlier this year. The former presided at the Young Adult-themed Mass held in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom. Father Joe is the author of No One Cries the Wrong Way: Seeing God Through Tears. If you have...

Baptized Prophets by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 4, 2008

All Catholics are baptized priests, prophets and kings, though only some of us go on to the fullness of any of these roles. Very few of us are kings in the Davidic sense, but all of us lead and govern others to some limited degree. Relatively small numbers of Catholics are called to the fullness...

otr dashback: 11-18-05 -- two-way traffic ahead by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 4, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Roman rep discusses the shift of Anglicans to Roman Catholicism and vice-versa: Bishop John Flack, head of the Anglican Center in Rome, said he meets people moving in both directions, yet the ecumenical dialogue has not explored the implications of their...

the ministry of presence by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 4, 2008

Now here's a dim shaft of creativity. In 2003, Juan Gonzalez was dismissed from Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon consequent to allegations that he was viewing kiddie porn. Though police were notified in 2003, a warrant for his arrest was not issued until 2005. In the interim he had been hired by...

otr dashback: 2-29-04 -- transcript by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 4, 2008

24:01:44:02: Dallas, we have a problem.24:01:44:05: Go ahead, Fidelis.24:01:44:09: Dallas, we're showing an undervolt on main bishop B for Boston. We've got 5, no 7, ... make that 24 priests out of action. Over.24:01:44:16: Fidelis, we copy 24 priests. Suggest possible telemetry...

'tis pity she's a whore by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 5, 2008

The other day a friend at Boston College passed on a news item from the student newspaper detailing the university's official response to an irregularly-posted flyer with racial overtones. With wearisome predictability, the academy that prides herself as a defender of freedom of expression --...

"smoking ceremony" by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 5, 2008

This remarkable CWN story from Australia must have escaped the notice of most readers. Otherwise, I feel sure, the "Sound Off" circuits would be overloaded with expressions of outrage and dismay. There were apparently at least two (allegedly) Catholic bishops in attendance at this ceremony, in...

otr dashback: 12-4-03 -- some enchanted evening by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 5, 2008

-- or, None Dare Call It Kishka On March 9th, 2001, Arnim Meiwes killed, cooked, and ate his chum Bernd Jürgen Brandes. Shocked? You should be. After all, it was a Friday in Lent. But at least the relationship of diner to dined upon was consensual -- and isn't that what true love is all...

clothe before striking by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 6, 2008

April, God help us, the bishops have designated Child Abuse Prevention Month. WASHINGTON -- Child Abuse Prevention Month will be marked in parishes and dioceses around the United States in April. To assist church groups, the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has developed...

otr dashback: 5-14-05 -- here it is, folks! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 6, 2008

Young minds. Fresh ideas. Audacious innovation. The future has...

daddy's little girl's girls by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 7, 2008

From darkest Australia we're given a fore-glimpse of enlightened post-Christian sexuality, coming soon to a Gender Studies seminar near you. You'll be edified to see how naming and owning their personal truth has emancipated the innovators from a static, one-size-fits-all morality: A father...

dumb dogs and unseasonable silence by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 7, 2008

An OTR reader tipped us off to this homily preached by Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis at the ordination of James Vann Johnston as bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. The best part is Burke's admonition to the bishop-elect: May the cathedra or bishop's seat, which gives the name to the...

otr dashback: 2-16-04 -- bishops & us by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 7, 2008

It's always sad, in Barnes & Noble, to see a thirty-year-old propped against the stacks while leafing through a book on How to Make Friends. If you need to ask, as the saying goes, you won't understand the answer. C.S. Lewis wrote, "That is why those pathetic people who simply 'want friends' can...

healing the rift by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 7, 2008

At the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in 2006, keynoter Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., urged us to "let our imaginations be stretched" by watching Brokeback Mountain, etc. Radcliffe, it appears, stretches easy. At this year's Congress he spoke to the question "Is Dialogue Possible in the...

Sister Jenny’s Hour by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 7, 2008

On one evening at the end of March, people turned off their lights to observe “Earth Hour”. This is essentially an exercise in consciousness-raising for the environment, global warming, and carbon footprints. No harm done, certainly, but some people don’t feel that turning off the power for an...

otr dashback: 12-18-03 -- surgeons & nutritionists by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 8, 2008

Among orthodox Catholics concerned about reform one can identify two main approaches to the job: nutrition and surgery. Nutritionists believe that the Church's ills can be cured by fresh air, moderate exercise, and a diet of green leafy vegetables. Surgeons believe the patient has an...

a defining moment -- but for whom? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 8, 2008

USA Today's Cathy Grossman has an article on Benedict's upcoming visit, amusingly headlined, "U.S. Visit Will Give Pope a Defining Moment." Will it now? Predictably, Grossman frames the visit using the standard categories of the liberal Left. Less creditably, she borrows much of its rhetoric...

otr dashback: 5-22-05 -- pastoral indifference to suffering by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 8, 2008

Ancient Israel had no police force or DA's office. Thus, if you were the victim of an injustice, the only option open to you (apart from an ad hoc vendetta) was to try to get the attention of a judge. A person without wealth, family, or important allies found it all but impossible to bribe or...

cognitive dissonance by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 9, 2008

I don't get it. Father prances up the aisle surrounded by song, incense, and banners; spins, dips, counter-spins, pirouettes into the sanctuary; holds the Book of the Gospels aloft in a rapture of exultation. And then in his homily explains that the events recounted never really...

otr dashback: 2-3-05 -- obsessed? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 10, 2008

Papal fixation with sex upsets priests declaims Melbourne's daily newspaper The Age. "Most [priests ordained between 1955 and 1975] are no longer committed to the old taboos on sexuality. Most do not believe that couples living together are doing something very wrong," [Father Eric Hodgens]...

the pseudo-prayer by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 11, 2008

Painful. And embarrassing too. We -- and by "we" I include Reuters and the Sisters of Loreto -- have been given a preview of the orations, liturgical and other, to be used during the papal visit to the U.S. By the dispensation of an inscrutable providence, the prayers specific to the occasion...

sold by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 11, 2008

At this year's Catholic Charities CYO Loaves & Fishes Awards Dinner and Gala -- so reports the Archdiocese of San Francisco newspaper -- Archbishop George Niederauer will present the prizes: The outstanding philanthropic works honor will go to George M. Marcus, founder and chairman of The...

otr dashback: 5-11-05 -- allegiances by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 11, 2008

A couple weeks ago I saw two or three articles with the title "Santorum reconsiders death-penalty stance" -- or words to that effect. A pro-capital-punishment Republican senator, Santorum was reported to be rethinking his support in the light of recent statements from Pope John Paul II and the...

question for the day by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 11, 2008

As we celebrate the feast of St. Stanislaus, patron of Poland, I can't help wondering whether he was comfortable when he rebuked King Boleslaw....

in cold blood by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 11, 2008

Responding to a long series of killings by two rival families involved in the Irish drug trade, Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick has come out squarely in opposition to murder and mayhem: To kill another human being in cold blood and to regard that deed as something acceptable is a denial of the...

Is It Ever Right to Lie? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 11, 2008

The moral question of lying is one of the most interesting and most difficult to resolve perfectly and precisely. It has occupied the attention of moral theologians since the Patristic Age, yet we still don’t have a complete understanding of what “lying” means. Most of us have a deep intuition...

non-negotiables by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 12, 2008

Back in 1990, Harvard Professor of Judaic Studies Jon Levenson wrote an article in The Christian Century entitled "Theological Liberalism Aborting Itself." Himself Jewish, the author had no personal interest in the triumph of any particular strand of Christian thought. Levenson was concerned to...

otr dashback: 5-8-05 -- what would onan do? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 12, 2008

Where the old education initiates, the new merely conditions. The old dealt with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly: the new deals with them more as the poultry keeper deals with young birds, making them thus and thus for purposes of which the birds know...

do you really think so ...? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 12, 2008

How to make Benedict blush. "He is a person who could easily hold an endowed chair at Notre Dame." Sitting in a spacious office on the top floor of Notre Dame's gold-domed administration building, the university's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, pays Pope Benedict XVI what might be...

over the top by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 13, 2008

Some mischievous right-wing prankster, with the evident intention of exposing Catholic academics to ridicule, presumably colluded with the editors of the Washington Post in publishing an op-ed titled "Freedom and Faith on Campus" -- an essay that purports to be the work of a Catholic college...

otr dashback: 6-9-05 -- the case of the incontinent curate by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 13, 2008

Further adventures of our...

now hear this by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 14, 2008

Though their contempt is rooted in different antagonisms, the angry Americans featured in this AP story have pretty much all the same message: "The papacy is so obsolete, so distant, so irrelevant to contemporary life, that we're going to travel to Washington to make sure the world hears our...

the core of the faith by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 14, 2008

"Poll Finds Most Catholics Are Observant" That's the headline for a story from The Bulletin, which serves "Philadelphia's most discerning readers." Discerning readers might wonder what it means to be an "observant" Catholic, and if they worked their way down the page they'd find an answer of...

catharsis by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Apr 14, 2008

Newsweek columnist Lisa Miller doesn't have a high opinion of Pope Benedict, and I don't have a high opinion of her column on the impending papal visit. (Fortunately Newsweek also provides a partial antidote: a different perspective from George Weigel.) Still one passage of the Miller piece...

Add your voice to The Faithful Departed conversation! by Leila in "Off the Record" - Apr 14, 2008

Dearest readers of Off the Record and Catholic World News: I want to invite you to join the conversation about Phil’s book, The Faithful Departed, on a weblog designed to be user friendly and accessible to all. Here we will keep you updated on Phil’s appearances and interviews, as well as give...

otr dashback: 3-25-04 -- can't we all just get along? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 14, 2008

What is it about "faithful orthodox Catholics" that makes so many of them talk as though despair and anger are the first and only characteristics of the Truly Christian life? Several blogs have recently raised the question of why orthodox Catholics so often froth at the mouth when the subject...

bowled middle stump by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 14, 2008

In an article in USA Today, abundantly credentialed Professor of Religion Stephen Prothero twirls his sociological willow in the face of stolid ultramontanism ... Young Catholics are shockingly ignorant of the most basic tenets of their faith. Many cannot name any of the four Gospels, or...

the minutes seem like hours... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 15, 2008

Pope to begin three-day visit to United States That's the headline atop a story in the Belfast Telegraph The Pope arrives today: Tuesday, April 15. He leaves Sunday, April 20. You do the math. Update National Public Radio offers a contrasting analysis: Pope Embarks on Weeklong...

Readers on Lying by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 15, 2008

The response to last Friday’s column on lying has been remarkable (see Is It Ever Right to Lie?). Many readers have offered their own viewpoints on this complex matter in an exchange of ideas which has been both pleasant and instructive. Every opinion was worth serious consideration. I’ll...

in pursuit of human dignity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 16, 2008

A gay rights action group has announced its intention to hurl ashes at the popemobile and to drown out the Pope's addresses with whistles in order to call attention to his sins. The Rainbow Sash Movement is calling on all Catholics of good will to take the Papal visit as an opportunity to...

too much information by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Apr 16, 2008

It's official: Americans are now suffering from a glut of news about the papal visit. How do I know? Consider this Fox News headline: A sports perspective on the Pope's visit to America. Among the gems contained in the story: There are 70 million Catholics in the United States, most of whom...

to encourage the brethren by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 17, 2008

In yesterday's address to the U.S. bishops the Pope stunned his audience by giving them more than 6,000 consecutive English words without using the adjective "vibrant" (as in "your diverse and vibrant faith community"), thus breaking the record for a Latin Rite prelate set in 1994 by Fabian...

good news by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 17, 2008

If the papal visit hasn't already helped you to feel good about the Catholic faith this week, click...

modified habits by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 17, 2008

The news photo above from the BBC website is accompanied by the following caption: In Katmandu, Nepal, Tibetan nuns flee from pursuing police officers during a demonstration against Chinese rule in Tibet. The t-shirts and headbands and birkenstocks prompt the question: Do Buddhist nuns...

Pope to American Bishops: Moral Formation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 18, 2008

The first formal ecclesiastical event in Pope Benedict’s pastoral visit to the United States was his meeting with the entire body of U.S. bishops on Wednesday at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, DC. Here he laid out his program for the episcopate in reviving Catholic life in...

Pope to Catholic Educators: Moral Formation by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 18, 2008

My title for this summary and analysis of the Pope’s address to American educators deliberately mimics the title I used for my review of his address to the U.S. bishops. Though the title carries a slight risk of oversimplification, it is true that if you understood the Pope’s emphasis on moral...

Sexual abuse, liturgical abuse: connected? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Apr 19, 2008

After a week of interviews with radio, TV, and newspaper reporters, most of them concentrating on the sex-abuse crisis, I'm more convinced than ever that most American-- even most Catholics-- are missing a vitally important point. Most people see the sex-abuse crisis as an isolated problem,...

encroaching darkness by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 19, 2008

When he first arrived in Boston, then-Archbishop Bernard Law rallied pro-life sentiments by describing abortion as "the primordial darkness of our time." In 2005, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Boston performed 8,016 abortions, according to statistics furnished by state health officials. In...

it's not your fault, koko bear by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 20, 2008

Emancipation from religious authority produced in its wake a litter of thumb-sucking books ostensibly designed to help children deal with the consequences of their parents' brave quest for self-fulfillment, most notably the anguish of divorce. We are meant to picture the four-year-old nestled...

my way by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 21, 2008

"I want this to be a dialogue," Sister Hartman said, and then didn't shut up for forty-five minutes. -- P.J. O'Rourke, Holidays in Hell, recounting an interview with a Sandinista nun. Sister Doris Gottemoeller, RSM, offers us "An Imaginary Dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI." Contribution on...

unclear on the concept by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 22, 2008

Reacting to the Pope's visit, Catholic grad students at New York's non-denominational Union Theological Seminary admit they were entertained but not persuaded: [Kim] Harris -- a Catholic who used to be Presbyterian -- said her concern about church reform, specifically the need to expand the...

by gubernatorial decree by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 22, 2008

It has, I realize, every appearance of being a ruse, but we're entering territory where parodists fear to tread. An OTR reader sends us this link to the office of South Carolina Governor Mark Sandor, who was either off his meds on the day in question, or whose Chief of Staff is being held hostage...

serendipity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 22, 2008

Here's a curiously cheering photo. Jeff Miller steers us to a blog entry by a Catholic from South Bend who posted some jpegs of a Eucharistic Procession held last Sunday on the campus of Notre Dame. In addition to several shots of the clergy and monstrance, we're shown glimpses of the...

in hock, propter hoc by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 22, 2008

CBS News Palm Springs reports that the LA Archdiocese is putting up half a dozen high schools as security on a loan intended to pay a fraction of the buggery bill. (AP) - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is using its school properties to help pay $660 million to alleged victims of...

Bishop Fellay Says No: The Scandal Continues by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 22, 2008

Bishop Bernard Fellay, the schismatic and excommunicated head of the Society of St. Pius X, has stated that Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, which mandated wider use of the 1962 Roman Missal, is not nearly enough to bring about a reconciliation between the SSPX and the Holy See. This is...

The Nature of Political Sacrifice? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 23, 2008

Did you see the story about the U.S. Senate’s refusal to recognize Pope Benedict’s concern for “each and every human life”? The final official Resolution of Welcome mentioned the Pope’s regard for the vibrancy of religious life in America, his commitment to ecumenical dialogue, his encyclical...

Does this sound like a consensus? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 24, 2008

Ideological allies? Absolutely not. But although they disagree on many other things, these voices are singing in tune on one topic. See if you can pick out the dominant note: Voice of the Faithful press release: Voice of the Faithful has publicly called for the Holy Father to ask for the...

joined in acrimony by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 25, 2008

Titters the headline in the Calgary Herald, "Retired Lesbian Priests Marry at Nursing Home." I know what you're thinking: who gave away the bride? The scene -- popping corks, tinkling glasses and loving vows -- was typical. But the wedding couple -- two retired lesbian Anglican priests --...

Accepting the Sinfulness of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Apr 25, 2008

The Church is the flawless bride of Christ. He gave Himself up for her so that “he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). But it is also true that the Church's sacred identity far...

we're on a learning curve here by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 26, 2008

Back in January of 2005, Boston priest Jerome Gillespie, while drunk, accosted a woman and her 12-year-old daughter in a restaurant. Stiff charges were knocked down and eventually dismissed; the Archdiocese says: "Father Gillespie is currently assisting parishes on an interim basis. It is...

Bishop Fernando Lugo Mendez, President of Paraguay by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 28, 2008

The election of a Catholic bishop to the presidency of Paraguay last week presents an interesting problem for the Vatican. Bishop Fernando Lugo Mendez led the San Pedro diocese from 1994 until his resignation in 2005, ostensibly for health reasons, but almost certainly to pursue a political...

roma locuta est by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 29, 2008

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, strikes a courageous evangelical blow for whatever. The occasion is the Buddhist celebration of Vesakh. From the Vatican website: On a practical level can we Christians and Buddhists not do more to...

resignation accepted by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Apr 30, 2008

Gallup New Mexico Bishop Donald Pelotte has finally been retired under the Canon 401-dash-2 provision. The demands of trust and transparency being what what they are, we can expect a candid explanation of the circumstances toward the end of...

Telling the Good News by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Apr 30, 2008

Occasionally it is worthwhile to remind ourselves that some news is good. For example, in mid-April the Congregation for the Clergy launched a campaign to remind priests that prayer must be their first priority, and to remind all of us that we should be praying for our priests. This campaign,...

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