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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from August 2004

almsgiving IX by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 1, 2004

Suppose you're the lay president of a Catholic university founded by the Society of Mary. You have $1,500 in your pocket and are inspired to give it away. To whom, or what, do you direct your alms? (a) to a Marian shrine (b) to another spiritual or corporal work of mercy (c) to Senator...

Tolerance oils the machine by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 2, 2004

Count on the Boston Globe to print an op-ed piece that perfectly distills the fashionable case for embryonic stem-cell research (in other words, cloning). When I say it's a "fashionable case," what I meant is that author Ann Parson (no, I don't know who she is, either) makes her presentation...

Snake oil antidote by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 2, 2004

The case for embryonic stem-cell research is fashionable, but illogical and immoral. (See the item below.) For a quick, powerful statement of the case against, based on logic and moral principle, see Robert P. George at National Review Online. George heard Ron Reagan's overheated tribute to...

The quadrennial GOP nod to Catholics by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 2, 2004

You heard it here first: Tomorrow President Bush will endorse school choice. I have no special inside information, but I make this prediction fearlessly, because the President will be speaking to the Knights of Columbus in Dallas, and this is the obvious occasion for "the Catholic speech"...

Why Communion Won't Be Withheld by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 2, 2004

Although I am in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians, I am sadly convinced this issue's day has not yet come. Considerations of culture, spiritual discernment, prudence, fidelity, feasibility, jurisdiction, law and courage all enter the discussion. Let’s take a look at a few of...

Correction: the Warsaw uprising by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 3, 2004

Due to (my) lazy editing, a CWN headline story on Monday announced that Pope John Paul II, in his Sunday public audience, had recalled the 60th anniversary of the "Warsaw ghetto uprising." That was an error (which we've now corrected). The Warsaw ghetto uprising-- a heroic moment, to be sure--...

Taking the Fifth by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 3, 2004

Kim LAWTON: Some groups fear the bishops' energy and commitment may fade.Archbishop Timothy DOLAN: Can't happen. Can't happen. We never, never, Kim, want to go through what we've had to do. We just can't do it. We can't do it personally. I think we bishops will collapse if we ever have to go...

healing by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 3, 2004

The Diocese of Evansville temporarily has relieved a priest of his duties and sent him to counseling after he allegedly was caught viewing pornographic material. The Rev. William A. Traylor left a letter to be read to parishioners at St. Joseph and St. Theresa last weekend explaining he was...

On second thought... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 4, 2004

Kim LAWTON: Some groups fear the bishops' energy and commitment may fade.Archbishop Timothy DOLAN: Can't happen. Can't happen. We never, never, Kim, want to go through what we've had to do. We just can't do it. We can't do it personally. [PBS interview, November 2003] I get it. The bishops have...

No faulty record-keeping here by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 4, 2004

Remember when Cardinal Law told reporters that the sex-abuse scandal in Boston was caused larged by flaws in the system of keeping personnel files? Just across the state, it seems that another bishop had found an effective way toremedy such...

Your collection dollars at work by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 5, 2004

Bishop Thomas Dupre of Springfield, Massachusetts resigned suddenly in February, leaving town just as lawyers were preparing to file papers in connection with sex-abuse complaints against him. Explaining that his health problems made it impossible to continue in office, Bishop Dupre headed to...

stigmata by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 6, 2004

Former Stigmatine priest Leo Landry pleaded guilty to abusing two boys at a now-defunct seminary high school in Massachusetts. At the sentencing hearing, Assistant DA Jeanmarie Carroll read an impact statement addressed to Landry by one of his victims, identified only as ''DS." ''I was a...

Knights errant by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 6, 2004

From Supreme Knight Carl Anderson's speech at the Dallas convention of the Knights of Columbus: No other organization in the Church today can make the impact that we can at every level of the Church. Probably true. If the Knights want action, they can get it started by themselves....

Voter's guide by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 6, 2004

Catholic Answers has put together an excellent Voter's Guide for serious Catholics. It's a short document, with clear and accurate points on what's negotiable, what's not, and how to reach reasoned and reasonable conclusions about a candidate's stands. Well worth a...

story time by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 6, 2004

Uncle Di, how come you're so sunny and hope-filled all the time? You see, Melissa, whenever I feel a little glum I pick up the paper and read how our bishops are helping to bring about a kingdom of justice and truth, and then my heart sings. F'rinstance? Well, here's a heart-warming...

PPF's olive branch by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 7, 2004

Isn't about time we in the pro-life movement moved beyond stereotyping and shallow name-calling and, taking a cue from our partners in dialogue, began a mutually respectful and enriching conversation about the difficult choices women face? Note the positive portrayal given the CATHOLIC candidate....

a guide for the perplexed by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 7, 2004

In the wake of the National Review Board's report on the sexual abuse crisis, many bishops professed to be mystified by the manner in which homosexuality was deemed to constitute a "risk factor." Father Richard John Neuhaus takes them through the reasoning: Between men who want to have sex...

a modest proposal by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Aug 7, 2004

Here is an inspired idea which I humbly and helpfully submit to Archbishop O'Malley as a fundraiser to possibly offset the closing of the next sixty or seventy parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston. The nude parish calendar. This has all kinds of possibilities. A Church of England Vicar...

July's Catholic World Report is now online by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Aug 7, 2004

The July issue of Catholic World Report is now available on the CWNews.com web site. Articles from that issue include a look at the meeting between President Bush and the Pope; a look at the latest trends in religious education; a review of the Pope's trip to Switzerland; and more. Click here for...

The August/September issue of Catholic World Report is now out! by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Aug 7, 2004

The August/September issue of Catholic World Report is now on newsstands and in mailboxes and here's what you'll find inside:Puzzling Exchange: Are the US bishops "very much in harmony" with Vatican instructions on receiving the Eucharist? Disputes Among Friends: The plan to develop a major new...

Almsgiving X by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 7, 2004

Retired Maronite Catholic Archbishop Francis Zayek donated to Senator Kerry, and current Maronite cathedral rector Father Abdallah E. Zaidan-- who is also the American superior of the Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries-- has given $1,250 to congressmen renowned for their support of...

distractions by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 8, 2004

Now at age eighty-three, after fifty-nine years of a happy and exciting priesthood, my early questioning of celibacy has been confirmed. Rather than an enhancement, celibacy has been more of a distraction. The current Commonweal has a reflection by Msgr. Harry Byrne on priestly celibacy. As...

Secondary explosions by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 9, 2004

How did the Boston archdiocese become the focus of the sex-abuse scandal in the American Catholic Church? It's not because Boston's policies differed markedly from those of other American dioceses. From what we've been able to learn, it seems clear that dozens of other dioceses coddled their...

Do You Love To Argue? by Peter Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 9, 2004

Over the years I’ve been party to many apologetics debates over Catholic doctrine, and I’m proud to say that, in most cases, all involved (including me) participated with the proper attitude. But I’ve also seen conversations degenerate to the detriment of evangelization when the...

Kerry Communion Capers continue by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Aug 9, 2004

John Kerry and Teresa Heinz stopped for Mass in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Sunday. They reportedly received Communion. I wondered what the local bishop had said about pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion. Albuquerque is in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and the ordinary is Archbishop...

Promoting Christianity-- or something else by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 9, 2004

The Los Angeles Times, on the news that Alan Keyes will join the Senate contest in Illinois: "We do face an uphill battle, there's no doubt," said Keyes, 54, who promotes a Christian philosophy. What do you call someone who "promotes a Christian philosophy?" That's easy. You call him a...

Best in the business by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 10, 2004

It's an enduring source of frustration for us at CWN that the best English-language reporter at the Vatican works for the National Catholic Reporter. But the fact is that if you don't read John Allen's weekly "Word from Rome," you miss quite a bit. This past Friday's "Word" begins with a very...

Trust. But verify. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 10, 2004

Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of Raleigh, North Carolina has responded to the statement in which 3 other bishops from nearby dioceses announced that pro-abortion Catholic politicians would be barred from Communion. In his own weighty statement on the question, Bishop Gossman proclaims: The Church...

almsgiving XI by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 10, 2004

Suppose you're a priest of the Order of the Friar Servants of Mary. Ordained in 1967, you have a distinguished vita and are professor of ethics and director of Catholic-Jewish Studies at Chicago's Catholic Theological Union. You've even been called "the leading Catholic authority on...

Tick, tock; tick, tock; ... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 12, 2004

So now you see what an apostolic visitation can accomplish. In less than a month, a corrupt Austrian seminary is shut down. Here in the US, meanwhile, we're still waiting for the apostolic visitation that the leaders of the American bishops' conference promised to undertake, "without delay," in...

Dude by Leila in "Off the Record" - Aug 12, 2004

"The thing about football [soccer] is that one side of being gay is being masculine. And football is masculine." First pot bellies and flannel shirts, now sports. They certainly are trying to bust out of those mincing stereotypes. I'm wondering if, in the ultimate gesture of masculinity,...

straight talk on stem cells by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 12, 2004

Today's Wall Street Journal editorial (subscription required) on stem-cell research is noteworthy for several reasons: The Journal is not taking the Catholic position. The editorial leaves open the possibility that, if embryonic stem cells can be used to cure adult illness, the Journal might...

Sign of the times by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 12, 2004

You know that it's time to hire a lawyer when you're told you should expect to hear from: a federal grand jury, which has already questioned several well-known drug dealers from your neighborhood; a litigious neighbor, who thinks your new fence crosses his property; the police chief, who has...

After all, this isn't Massachusetts by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 13, 2004

The governor resigned, and headline stories cited "an extramarital affair with a man." This is confusing, because: 1) It wasn't the affair itself that drove the governor out of office; it was the threat of blackmail and/or sexual-harassment charges. 2) The governor is male. He had an affair...

Today's Bishops: Working To Rape You Less by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 13, 2004

Manly remembers a meeting in Orange County Superior Court shortly after DiMaria’s settlement. Judge Gray had ordered the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange to offer DiMaria an apology in person. Representatives for Cardinal Roger Mahoney attended, as did Orange Bishop Jaime Soto...

almsgiving XII by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 14, 2004

Suppose the local archbishop has appointed you president of the archdiocese's Catholic Charities / Catholic Youth Organization, which has a $35,000,000 budget. You have $25,000 in your pocket and are inspired to give it away. To whom, or what, do you direct your alms? (a) to the Missionaries of...

magistra, no! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 15, 2004

Writing in America magazine, Catholic congressman David Obey announces, "I agree with my church that abortion in most cases is wrong." But the Church teaches that abortion is wrong in all cases, exceptionlessly. Therefore David Obey in fact disagrees with the Church. He seems to think it...

Magistra, no (cont.) by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 15, 2004

And even by making the point ((inaccurately) that he usually agrees with the Church, Obey discloses that he actually does not agree with the Church in another, larger sense. The Church claims to teach with inerrant authority on questions of faith and morals. If you accept that claim-- that is,...

Priest Loses Massage License by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 15, 2004

That's a headline from the Akron Beacon-Journal. Father Rick's been rubbing-down the greater Akron metropolitan area since 1996, but went on voluntary leave from his parish only after his arrest for growing marijuana this past January. In other news, USCCB President Wilton Gregory has...

The Worst We've Ever Had It. Apocalypse Now? by Peter Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 16, 2004

For about the past 10 years I’ve been following Catholic world events with some interest. And throughout that period I’ve heard some Catholics—priests, religious, leaders of lay apostolic organizations, and even a few of my friends and acquaintances—claim that the...

Kerry's impassioned defense of ... gay marriage by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Aug 16, 2004

Now that John Kerry is running for president, he wants you to think that while he supports "equal protection" for gay and lesbian couples, he’s opposed to gay marriage. His record says otherwise. In fact, John Kerry has previously made statements showing he’s a radical liberal in favor of the...

The Kerry Communion Watch: The Home Game by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in "Off the Record" - Aug 17, 2004

Beliefnet.com is providing a convenient Kerry Communion Watch, detailing whether John Kerry goes to Mass every Sunday, where, and whether he receives Communion. Now you can play in the at-home version of everybody's favorite game show—The Canon Law Follies! Try to predict whether canon 915...

"I am Joseph, your brother." by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 17, 2004

Psychotherapist Richard Sipe, a frequent commentator on sexual misconduct by Catholic clergy, gave an address at a LinkUp conference last year in which he re-opened the controversy surrounding the late archbishop of Chicago (note: Bernardin was earlier Archbishop of Cincinnati; the Josephinum is a...

Julius Streicher strikes out by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 18, 2004

Planned Parenthood's campy and scurrilous Choice Chick video has been coming in for some well-deserved abuse in the Catholic blogblatt. As a desultory student of political caricatures, I find it wryly amusing that PPF's hate-mongering should falter on the question of race. One of the monsters...

a spectacular power grid by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 18, 2004

As noted below, Richard Sipe has voiced his conviction that the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was untruthful in his claim to have lived chastely and has suggested his success at escaping responsibility for his homosexual lapses may provide a "clue" to a larger puzzle. To his credit, Sipe...

Not guilty, your honor by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 20, 2004

Ed Peters-- a very solid canon lawyer whose blog is ordinarily quite reliable, takes me to task for a recent comment about an annulment granted to the notorious Rudy Kos, enabling him to enter the Dallas seminary and begin preying on boys. Maybe I skipped over the point too quickly, but I did not...

Cui bono? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 20, 2004

When one Catholic publication deliberately sets out to damage the reputation of someone connected with another Catholic publication, you've got to ask yourself: Why? What purpose is served, aside from character assassination, when the National Catholic Reporter does a "hit" on Deal Hudson?...

Die Pressing by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 20, 2004

The Austrian daily Die Presse reports on the aftershocks of the St. Poelten poofter porn scandal: The figures, which have not yet been published but have been seen by "Die Presse," reveal that the number of people leaving the Church has surpassed religious leaders'’ greatest fears, with an...

A welcome diversion (of funds)? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 20, 2004

Like everyone else, I sometimes grow weary of the struggle. There are days when I read the headlines, shake my head, and ask myself, "Why is it always about sex? Why can't we have a good old-fashioned scandal about money?" Today was one of those days. I just couldn't face another story about...

almsgiving XIII by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 21, 2004

Suppose you're responsible for programming and production at the Diocese of San Jose's Catholic Telemedia Network, which provides videos and other electronic resources for Catholic schoolchildren. You have $500 in your pocket and are inspired to give it away. To whom, or what, do you direct your...

Re-dress, please! by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 21, 2004

An enterprising parish of the Church of England is putting out a calendar featuring nude photos of parishioners, to help rape victims in Rwanda. Now you might be wondering how, by posing nude, a woman in England helps rape victims in Africa. The vicar explains: "Many of the atrocities in Rwanda...

he said/he said by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 21, 2004

Claiming to have been abused as youths by their Brooklyn pastor, a (Metuchen) priest and his brother insist they were stonewalled by former Bishop Thomas Daily when they asked for justice: During some wrenching conversations back in 1997, Father Tim Lambert revealed to his older brother that...

woe to me if I preach not by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 22, 2004

... anyway, when they were backing out of their parking place -- and it was a very crowded parking lot -- the Daddy didn’t see a car that was coming behind him and plowed into it! The car was a brand new Jeep Wrangler. It had the right of way. The daddy was furious, especially because he knew it...

PRIEST DARES TO CALL CARDINAL PELL INFLEXIBLE by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 22, 2004

That's the heavy-breathing headline to Kelly Burke's Sydney Morning Herald article concerning a forward-thinking priest with an appreciation of diversity and discreetly highlighted hair who's in a pet with his boss. Kelly dear, for the sake of any readers we have in common, let's review Peter...

A modest proposal by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 23, 2004

Since bishops are now requiring criminal background checks on priests and parish volunteers (in all probability, effectively shutting down parts of the Hispanic apostolate because of the fears of illegal immigrants), why doesn't the laity come up with a scheme to do background checks on bishops?...

The Retirement Trap
(and other age-related temptations)
by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 23, 2004

I was an unwilling member of the 60’s generation, treated throughout my college years to the sweeping denunciations of the military-industrial complex by campus radicals. Fifteen years later, I noticed that many of these same radicals were busy making money in business—and living luxuriously....

CWN author under fire-- literally! by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 23, 2004

Regular readers of Catholic World Report may remember Father Paul Shaughnessy, SJ, as the author of "The Gay Priest Problem," one of the most provocative articles we've ever published in the magazine. Father Shaughnessy took a lot of flak for speaking out boldly on a topic that most people, to...

Actually, this is for the record by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 24, 2004

A somewhat hysterical Catholic blogger says that comments I made about the Deal Hudson affair have caused "confusion and outrage." If you read her rant, you can see that she's not kidding about being confused. But despite a couple of email exchanges, I still haven't been able to elicit any...

Other voices by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 25, 2004

Another sober and balanced perspective on the Deal Hudson affair is now available on the Catholic exchange site. Oddly, the Crisis magazine site remains silent on this...

Smoke signals by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 25, 2004

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed (registration required), neoconservative essayist David Frum takes note of the fact that at the coming Republican national convention, the most-watched speaker will be former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a "pro-choice" keynote speaker for a party that remains...

Defense of Cardinal Pell-- and more by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 25, 2004

A Dominican friar combines a strong defense of Australia's Cardinal Pell with a devastating critique of the cardinal's liberal critics, in an op-ed column in the Sydney Morning Herald. (registration...

When neighbors disagree... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 25, 2004

Now here is a story that CWN should be investigating carefully. There are definitely some unanswered questions. All I can say is that I hope nobody involved was Catholic. Especially the...

Split in the ticket? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 26, 2004

When was the last time that an American vice president voiced clear public disagreement with the president on an issue as important as a proposed constitutional amendment? I may be wrong-- corrections welcome-- but I think it was 1832. Here's what happened then: Vice President John C....

poor record keeping by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 27, 2004

Another glimpse into the care of souls. Former priest James Hanley admitted he molested at least 16 boys at three Catholic churches in Morris County, and said he told former Paterson Bishop Frank Rodimer about 12 of them in 1984, long before his formal removal from the ministry last year. ......

Code words by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 27, 2004

Try to guess: Who's the speaker, and what's the audience? (Hint: the speech was vigorously applauded.) We need to be aware that a certain threat to women’s rights is also posed by the resurgence, particularly in the United States, of Christian fundamentalism, and the alliance of countries...

enlightenment by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 27, 2004

In a notable New York Times column of some years past (3-4-2000), Peter Steinfels, a famously liberal Catholic himself, rightly scored the reflexive intellectual self-congratulation of dissenting Catholics and their sympathizers: A woman with an impressive track record in liberal, humanitarian...

from the "Where did we go wrong?" department by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 27, 2004

Today's seminarians just aren't paying attention to their...

almsgiving XIV by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 28, 2004

Suppose you're the director of Ministry to Catholics of African Ancestry of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. You lead an affiliate of the National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life. You have $250 in your pocket and are inspired to give it away. To whom, or what, do you direct your alms? (a) to...

The Pastoral Approach -- or, No Blood No Foul by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 28, 2004

Here's one of the those "looking-glass war" stories which -- if you have the patience to sort through the non-denials, no-comments, half-answers, and oblique concessions -- gives a bright but narrow glimpse into the workings of Howard Hubbard's Albany Diocese. In a nutshell: erratic attorney...

if nun, write none by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 29, 2004

Call it the Janet Reno...

thank you for sharing by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 30, 2004

From an October 2003 deposition of former Scranton Bishop James Timlin: Bishop Timlin: You're not [angry]? OK. You sound angry but go ahead.Mr. Bendell: I'm angry that a boy was molested and you don't seem to give a damn.Bishop Timlin: Don't you dare say that to me. Don't you dare say that to...

Double standard: illustration # 13,909 by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 30, 2004

Suppose President Bush gave the sermon at St. Patrick's cathedral... Can you imagine the howls of protest if a Catholic church heard a sermon from a Republican president? The anguished editorials about the separation of Church and state? The hand-wringing about fundamentalism and a looming...

Why didn't anybody tell me? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Aug 30, 2004

How did I get this far in life without ever having read Come Rack, Come Rope, by Robert Hugh Benson? And why is such a great novel so hard to find? The good news, I suppose, is that since nobody sat me down with the when I was a teenager, I've had an unexpected delight in middle...

With friends like these by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Aug 30, 2004

"At some point, the bishops will realize that Voice of the Faithful are the best friends that they have,'' the group's executive director told the Boston Herald. That may be true. But it's a very harsh indictment of the US...

The Chastisement, Revisited by Peter Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Aug 30, 2004

I’ve had a number of responses to my recent article titled The Worst We’ve Had It. Apocalypse Now?. It seems that a few points from the article require some clarification—specifically for readers who thought I was being too flippant about a serious subject or that I might not...

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