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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from May 2006

Hey Mom -- go for the lesser evil! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 1, 2006

Why so much interest in Cardinal Martini's interest in African public health authorities' interest in getting the Catholic Church's approval for condoms? Because, on the gut level, everybody involved understands it's not about growing closer to God; it's about granting permission. If you...

the professional anti-Catholic Catholic by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 1, 2006

James Carroll was once a Paulist priest, but even the lax standards of orthodoxy and orthopraxis without that order proved too tough for him. Now he's a regular op-ed writer with the Boston Globe, cranking out column after column to criticize the Catholic Church, his father, or (when he's really...

proof performative by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 1, 2006

Fr. Charles Curran, priest of the Diocese of Rochester, NY, prime-time dissident, and Diet Dr Pepper® Professor of Ethics at Southern Methodist University, has some harsh words for the crisis of leadership in the Irish Church. Referring to how scandals have racked the Irish Church over the past...

"60 Minutes" unimpressed with Code scholarship by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 1, 2006

In The Da Vinci Code, novelist Dan Brown spins a long story about the "Priory of Sion," an alleged secret society that has been guarding secrets across the centuries. Interesting stuff, huh? The people at "60 Minutes" thought so, and the investigators from CBS-TV decided to probe the...

not by bread alone by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 2, 2006

Via Amy, more exchanges on Catholics and condoms. First, from the BBC, a video in which we see an able defense of the spiritual ends of marital love mounted by Anthony McCarthy of the Linacre Centre, countered by Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenberg, South Africa. Dowling's argument often...

all too human by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 2, 2006

For obvious reasons, there's been a lot of media coverage of the trial of Fr. Gerald Robinson, the Toledo priest accused of murdering Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl in 1980 in grotesque circumstances. Pahl's body was found in a hospital chapel sacristy, stabbed between 27 and 32 times. That's weird...

tardily assisted suicide by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 2, 2006

Presenting the case for the prosecution, Jim Naughton, the communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, claims to have uncovered a sinister plot by which (in his words), "millions of dollars contributed by a handful of donors have allowed a small network of theologically...

Rosen After Roe by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 2, 2006

Jeffrey Rosen has a long article in the June Atlantic called "The Day After Roe," attempting to sketch the political impact were Roe to be overturned by the Supreme Court before the 2008 elections. Most of his points are grim news for pro-lifers, most are valid (I think), and most have been made...

Second Things by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 3, 2006

From the Baltimore Catechism (III), 1891: Q. 491. What is the duty of the Teaching Church?A.The duty of the Teaching Church is to continue the work Our Lord began upon earth, namely, to teach revealed truth, to administer the Sacraments and to labor for the salvation of souls. Listening to...

second thoughts on second things by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 3, 2006

Below I quote C.S. Lewis: To sacrifice the greater good for the less and then not to get the lesser good after all-- that is the surprising folly. Since my occasion for citing that quote was a conversation about the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, let me add a second thought....

fourquartetsier than thou by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 3, 2006

Timothy Radcliffe is such a cute Catholic he astounds...

Ivy uproar by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 3, 2006

Journalists are pouring out the stories about charges of scholarly misconduct at an Ivy League school. What, you mean the CWN story showing that a tenured professor at Princeton deliberately doctored the historical record to support her own thesis in an influential scholarly book? No, the...

at the floodgates by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 4, 2006

Here's how the argument shapes up: Side A (the "Progressives") argues that the Church must allow the use of condoms by married couples if one is infected with the HIV virus. It's a matter of life and death, they say. Side B (the "Conservatives") argues that the use of condoms destroys the...

under new management by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 4, 2006

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls issued a smoking hot cannon-blast this morning in protest of China's second ordination of a bishop without the Holy See's approval. An excerpt (unofficial translation): The Holy Father learned of this news with profound displeasure, since an action so...

at last, a reckoning? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 4, 2006

Christin Gilbert (right, in the photo below) died after a botched abortion with botched after-care in Dr. George Tiller's notorious Wichita clinic (see earlier OTR postings here, here, and here). Earlier this week a judge ordered

carried away by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 5, 2006

With its ban on condoms the Church has caused the death of millions of Catholics and others in areas dominated by Catholic missionaries, in Africa and right across the world. -- Polly Toynbee, UK Guardian How does papal teaching on marriage increase the spread of AIDS, as so many of our...

China and the vindication of fidelity by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 5, 2006

Catholics throughout China "heaved a sigh of relief" after yesterday's condemnation by the Vatican of unapproved episcopal ordinations, according to an article posted by the Catholic AsiaNews service: "This statement was necessary," a priest in Shaanxi province told AsiaNews. "These ordinations...

a cardinal's blunt talk on Islam by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - May 5, 2006

The link is already listed in our "News Bytes" section, but just in case you missed it: Speaking earlier this week to an audience in Florida, the Australian Cardinal George Pell was characteristically provocative in a talk on the challenge of Islam. Highly recommended...

It's the Church's Bible by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 5, 2006

In a recent issue of First Things editor Richard John Neuhaus criticized the New American Bible and commented on some problems plaguing modern Biblical translations in general. One of the contributors to the revised NAB wrote in to defend the scholarship of the translators. Fr. Neuhaus replied...

... and LOOK at me when I'm talking to you! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 6, 2006

OK, it's only a mouse pad, but think what it's like to be stuck sharing an office with someone who thought it important to own one. (another Stepmother's Day gift suggestion from...

LT on Martini: nice guy, but a duffer by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 6, 2006

Sandro Magister's blog quotes last Tuesday's interview on Colombian television with Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who affectionately but unambiguously declared his fellow Cardinal, Carlo Maria Martini, mistaken in his recent comments about...

and for my next act ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 7, 2006

Creative alms solicitation in the U.K. Your Uncle Di is rooting for the spider. A team Rector in Kent who has a fear of spiders is to let a live tarantula crawl on her hand -- in aid of a church development fund.The Revd Marilyn Ilyas, Team Rector of Holy Trinity, South Chatham, is staging...

the perilously lovable lifestyle by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 7, 2006

The photo's part of a vocations campaign conducted by the Diocese of Rochester. Rich Leonardi recently posted it on his blog, and seems to have picked up the same cracked-bat sensation the ad gives me. It's the chin-in-hand pose plus the "I love my life" line that makes my skin crawl....

post-hominids by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 8, 2006

From Mark Steyn, some mordant observations on the blind spots of self-congratulatory Euro-secularism: Commentators like Andrew Sullivan have attacked Ramesh Ponnuru, somewhat hysterically, not for his book's argument but for its title [sc., The Party of Death]. In fact, the author got it from...

thought crimes by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 8, 2006

Good piece by Maggie Gallagher in the Weekly Standard, sub-titled, "The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty." Below, she's speaking about a conference in which scholars for and against gay marriage were invited to address problems of religious liberty: Reading...

the risk of poverty by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 9, 2006

Sorry I missed this yesterday; the full significance of this story took a while to sink in. The New York Times headline said it all: "America's 'Near Poor' Are Increasingly at Economic Risk, Experts Say." What's the risk? Poverty. The poor aren't "at risk" for poverty because they're...

nil nisi bonum by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 10, 2006

Like its "wedding" announcements, the New York Times obituaries are often exercises in ideological indoctrination. Go ahead. See if you can guess whether Lawrence Lader is meant to be a good guy or a bad guy. Lawrence Lader, a writer who so successfully marshaled his literary and political...

the Houston speech in London by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 10, 2006

Question: Could a committed Catholic, dedicated to the promotion of Church social teaching, find a place in the British cabinet under PM Tony Blair? Answer: Sure. Ruth Kelly, an active Catholic and reputed member of Opus Dei, is in Blair's cabinet. Question: But Kelly's faith has made her a...

"I don't care what your mother says. You're not going out dressed like that." by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 10, 2006

Give up? Cope, mitre, and flame-form lappets. (Hint: Pentecost for that favorite bishop on your shopping list is coming...

browned off by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 11, 2006

Mark Steyn scores some good hits on the DVC ... Novelist Dan Brown staggered through the formulaic splendour of his opening sentence. I've discussed his anarthrous kickoff with a couple of novelists and they say things like, "It doesn't sound like a novel," and I usually reply that that's the...

Still perilously lovable by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 11, 2006

Where was I? Oh, right; now I remember. The vexing question is how a diocese can recruit young men to the priesthood, and the clever answer is to find young men who would just love to be priests. For example (emphasis added in all the following excerpts): "The Changing Face of the Priesthood"...

all of them? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 11, 2006

The shocking headline from Pravda... USA executes its citizens every ten days ... would explain why immigrants wield so much political clout....

felo de se by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 11, 2006

More on European nihilism, and fanaticism, from George Weigel: The alternative approach to Europe's future was graphically on display last August upon the death of Robin Cook, the former British foreign secretary (and critic of the Iraq war). The funeral service was held in the historic "High...

New Directions by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - May 11, 2006

I’ve written a good deal in recent months about our future plans and our efforts to raise funds. Based on user response and our own continuing assessment, we’re modifying some of our plans, while others are going forward or have already been completed. Here’s an overview of where we’re...

Building Strong Families the Dilation & Curettage Way! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 12, 2006

"Honor your mom," the page reads, "with an online donation to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Your gift will support education, counseling and advocacy that improves women's health and safety and builds strong families." That is to say, your money will help pay for pro-abortion...

out of the frying pan... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 12, 2006

Seems you just can't win these days if you're a conservative Anglican. Just as you heave that first sigh of relief, upon learning that the next bishop of the California diocese will not be an avowed homosexual, you take a look around, and notice a different problem: The crisis came not in the...

judgment day by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 12, 2006

When someone behaves like a beast, he says: "After all, one is only human." But when he is treated like a beast, he says: "After all, one is human." -- Karl Kraus A Toledo jury, after due deliberation, decided that Fr. Gerald Robinson was only human. The superior of the religious community...

gnostics then & now by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 13, 2006

I've linked to this article before, but increased interest in the Gospel of Judas and DVC business gives it a new currency, and moreover it's one of the clearest expositions of the topic yet written: have a good look at Prof. James Hitchcock on Gnosticism. Some key paragraphs: "Gnosis" is a...

for sundrie actes of treason by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 14, 2006

Torn between morbid satisfaction and some obscure torment of his own, op-ed contributor Ron Liddle of the London Times pillories the vacillation of Britain's wobbly Catholic minister Ruth Kelly. Take note of the equanimity he brings to the discussion of Ms. Kelly's religion. But many people...

Secret from the conclave? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - May 15, 2006

American football fans probably noticed this story already, but I confess that I've only just now noticed it. Possible headlines: Pope gives offense to Cardinals Cardinals drafted Pope Pope was 3rd choice Pope surrounded by weapons, Cardinals...

the retirement project by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 16, 2006

So now, freed from the responsibility of running an archdiocese, maybe Cardinal McCarrick can step up the pace of activity on that committee of his... You know, the group of bishops trying to work out an appropriate response to Catholic politicians who support abortion? As you may recall,...

requiescat by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 16, 2006

Jaroslav Pelikan, Professor Emeritus of Yale University, died last Saturday at the age of 82. "In the estimation of many," says the First Things site, he was "the twentieth century’s most distinguished historian of Christianity." Pelikan's vast learning made him an intimidating figure to many....

Everything's Up To Date In Kansas City by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 16, 2006

The conventional wisdom is that if you’re a bishop who wants to reform his diocese, you have to take things very slowly. You need a five or ten year plan with limited objectives. You must proceed with great caution and sensitivity. You’re wise to avoid adverse reactions. At least that’s the way...

it isn't as it wasn't, or was it? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 16, 2006

An old blues number bore the elegantly pleonastic title, "Do What You Did When You Did What You Done Last Night." Well, whatever Monsignor CB of the Vatican Secretariate of State did last night, he didn't do what he did when he done what attracted the attention of the Rome police, and...

who decides? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 17, 2006

The only permissible response of a Catholic to the Church's teaching is to accept it. Not to accept is to say that you can be a good Catholic while rejecting Christ's Vicar on earth and the Magisterium that was divinely established in order that the deposit of Faith might be transmitted from...

Grade A incomplete by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 17, 2006

With charming informality in regard to the facts, Cathy Lee Grossman tells the highbrow readers of USA Today what they should think about the incoming Archbishop of Washington. A sample of her subtle approach: During the 2004 elections, when some bishops pledged to deny communion to...

the one thing necessary by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 17, 2006

In his Variety magazine review, Todd McCarthy is rough on the film version of The Da Vinci Code, and the crew that "conspired to drain any sense of fun out of the melodrama, leaving expectant audiences with an oppressively talky film.." But he does show respect for the best-selling novel by...

Da Vinci Code. Pffft. by Leila in "Off the Record" - May 17, 2006

I read the Da Vinci Code and all I can say is that I will be vexed if all the protests result in big profits for what promises to be a movie equal in stupidity only to the book. Truly, folks, the laughable level of pinchbeck scholarship and utterly abysmal prose in this book, not to mention the...

such sweet sorrow by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 18, 2006

He calls his weekly letter "Thinking of You" -- probably the most ill-named feature of its kind in ecclesiastical journalism (though Milwaukee's "Herald of Hope" column, in its Weakland years, was a strong contender). Washington's newly-retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick wants you to know that...

the horror, the horror by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 18, 2006

The G-word was imprudently used by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the expression "God bless Canada." Progressives are aghast. Mark Steyn is Mark Steyn: A generation or two back, Canadian schoolchildren sang "God Save The Queen." On public property! Then they went home and their parents sang...

ministry of the word by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 18, 2006

Just in time for that summer ordinand on your gift list, the Talking Jesus Plush Doll is now available. I can't bring myself to listen to the real specimens, but I've heard enough from the Gather Hymnal to hazard a guess or two: "My church is a church of love, not law." (Matt 5:18) "Thank...

disharmonic convergence by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 18, 2006

Bridgeport Bishop William Lori appointed just one priest to his Sexual Misconduct Review Board. Just one priest of the Bridgeport diocese has been forced to resign after a private investigator found that the priest had spent $200,000 of parish funds on fun and games with a male companion. Just...

third round TKO for Maciel by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 19, 2006

Herewith the key part of the Vatican's statement on Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado: After submitting the findings of the investigation to careful study, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the direction of the new Prefect, His Eminence Cardinal William Levada, decided -- taking...

the ministry of the word by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 20, 2006

Gumbleton gives us the four-square Gospel: Did you ever ask yourself why so many people from Mexico and from Central America come north and are crossing our borders? No one likes to leave his or her home place, their native land. What caused the poverty down there, made it worse the last 10 or...

Arinze to Skylstad: sorry, not buying it. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 20, 2006

...or, to respond in ICEL-ese, "And also with you, pal." A letter from Cardinal Arinze shows that, while the liturgy wars continue, the old tactics just aren't doing it. In the latest round of the Roman Missal translation battle, the U.S. bishops dug into their playbook and tried to run Pastoral...

Maciel & beyond by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 21, 2006

Below are some initial thoughts on the affair of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado. Though it's true of every post, it won't hurt to emphasize that these opinions may not reflect those of Catholic World News or, for that matter, of California State University at Fullerton. The Holy See's...

but where did we go wrong? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 22, 2006

The traditional commencement act-of-defiance stunt goes badly awry: RUSSELL SPRINGS, Ky. (AP) - The senior class at a southern Kentucky high school gave their response Friday night to a federal judge's order banning prayer at commencement.About 200 seniors stood during the principal's opening...

Bucky's Bail -- or, I Love Being Me by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 22, 2006

Bucky G, a street hustler, pimp and drug dealer, shot a rival dealer on Christmas Eve 1972. His family called me at my mother's home in Troy, where she lay dying of cancer. They wanted me to arrange for Bucky's bail. Albany's Bishop Howard Hubbard offers "Ten Good Reasons to Become a...

Big! Big! Kinda sorta big! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 22, 2006

After all the hype, the gross revenues for the opening weekend showings of The Da Vinci Code fell short of the records previously set by 2 Star Wars movies, 4 Harry Potter movies, 2 Spider Man movies, The Passion of the Christ, and Shrek II. This proves-- something, I'm sure. Suggested...

in case you had any doubts ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 23, 2006

For a copy of Arinze's letter to Bishop Sklystad (suitable for framing), go here. For a copy of Bishop Skylstad's fax announcing the glad tidings, go here. For a glimpse of the trajectory of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy's proposed amendments to the Roman Missal, go...

Warning: offensive language by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 23, 2006

Will some gutsy American bishop please ordain Ben Kessler and send him to my diocese right now?! Just one thing: Tell him to recant: not his original statement, but his unnecessary apology. (Follow the link and listen to his speech.) Tip to Dom for the link....

à propos of nothing ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 24, 2006

OK, this is a bizarrely contrived hypothetical situation. But suppose I owe obedience to a certain authority, and this authority has judged innocent a man whom I think guilty -- or conversely, the authority has judged guilty a man whom I think innocent. Clearly I have to act in obedience to...

No, He’s MY Personal Jesus by Peter Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - May 24, 2006

Most people don’t know how to have a friendship with Jesus, because it runs contrary to our human experiences. When a human has a friendship, he consciously or subconsciously draws the other person to himself. We try to change our friends just as we try to emulate them—in adoption of...

it's the church's fault by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 25, 2006

"Elton John mourns 60 friends lost to AIDS," reads a headline in the Irish Examiner. His bereavement seems to have affected his powers of observation adversely: Elton John has lost 60 friends to AIDS including pop pal Freddie Mercury and two members of his own staff. Speaking at a business...

autocratic auto-correct: sanitized for your protection by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 26, 2006

"Know that the LORD is God," reads Psalm 100:3f, "he made us and we are his, his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise." Sound alright? It should: that's the literal RSV translation. Note that there are six masculine references to God,...

THE Vatican appointment by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - May 27, 2006

While the Pope is in Poland, the Roman rumor mills are churning overtime. For weeks there have been little indications that Pope Benedict is preparing to tackle a daunting challenge: taking control of the Vatican's most powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, the Secretariat of State. (American...

warning: not for children or the squeamish by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 28, 2006

Did you hear the words "mortal sin" from the pulpit this Sunday? Bet you didn't. Contumacious parishioners, however, at St. Mary's by the Sea in Huntington Beach found themselves charged with mortal sin by their pastor, in a message communicated via the church bulletin. So, boys and girls,...

the secret by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 28, 2006

"I want to share with you the secret of happiness, that’s why I’m here," said Cardinal McCarrick in his long, loooooong talk at the Stonehill College commencement. Cardinal Ted continued: I will do that by first talking about a cartoon. I’m a big cartoon person. You said it, your...

religious education, again by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 29, 2006

Cardinal Mahony's in-house lawyer Sr. Judy Murphy once memorably referred to the Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission as "that off the wall right wing throw-away newspaper" -- this in an e-mail she wished had never come to light. The June issue of that right wing throwaway has two articles on L.A.'s...

A Memorial Day thought, especially for the clergy by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 29, 2006

If you're an American priest, or, If you're an American man considering the priesthood, or If you're a American bishop, with priests under your pastoral care, or If you're a priest in another country, who might visit the US, then I hope someday you have the chance to visit...

deeply impressed by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 31, 2006

The visitors have said they came away from the visits "deeply impressed by what is going on at the seminaries," Archbishop O'Brien said. That's the punch-line of the CNS story on the near-completion of the visitation of U.S. seminaries. The U.S. bishop who coordinated the visitation believes...

Hillary, Wilton, and product placement by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 31, 2006

Washington Post columnist Dan Balz had a column yesterday depicting Hillary Clinton -- sorry, a column in which Hillary Clinton is depicted as a centrist. Says Brent Bozell, "Balz is not so much reporting a news story as reproducing a sales pitch. It really ought to have the word 'advertisement'...

Moderates lament McCarrick's loss by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - May 31, 2006

The headline says it all. Update: Did I speak too soon? I hadn't noticed this (subscription-only) NCR story in praise of McCarrick: The Washington Post praised him as "humble by nature" and "disarmingly impish." The New York Times hailed him as a "natural diplomat." Fr. Robert Drinan, a...

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