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Commentary Archive

All Catholic commentary from September 2004

The mushy muddle by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 1, 2004

Just tell me this: When editorial columnists tell Republican Party leaders that they need to appeal to centrist voters, why do they always recommend softening the GOP opposition to abortion, embryonic research, and same-sex unions? Couldn't a more "moderate" stand on the war in Iraq have the...

Sins of omission by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 1, 2004

The leaders of an American Catholic diocese are planning a special ceremony to express their repentance for sins of omission in leadership. "We want the church to be a healthy family, and we can’t be until we move past this," a diocesan spokesman told the local newspaper. "I believe acknowledging...

HIDDEN SAINTS by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Sep 2, 2004

The hidden saints. They're important -- far more important than the scandals which often preoccupy us. Among the devout Jews, who must have a MINYAN, a quorum of ten men present for public worship, there is a pious belief that at every moment there is a minyan of ten truly pious, devout men, known...

A "moderate" position on gun control by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 2, 2004

Some people think that gun ownership is a good thing; others think it's bad. You can put me firmly in the pro-gun camp, but I acknowledge that some people disagree. So in the interests of finding a reasonable compromise, I suggest this solution: Everyone should have the right to buy a gun, at any...

The Boyz of Summer by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 3, 2004

Jesuit liturgists recently gathered in mid-summer conclave: Organiser Fr Keith Pecklers said liturgical inculturation is "very important" for the Church today, because liturgy should not be "dead." The congress brought together Jesuits and other experts in the liturgy field to share...

The enemies' list by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 3, 2004

Speaking at New York's Riverside Church during the Republican convention, former President Bill Clinton condemned religious conservatives, with "their absolute certainty that they are so right that they can kill people who disagree with them." Fundamentalists, Clinton continued, "believe that...

RENEWAL by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Sep 4, 2004

One of those hopeful signs for which one is so grateful nowadays. The Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls is to be given to a new, young, growing monastic religious community, the Fraternity of Jesus. One watches these new Religious Orders with great expectation. The Holy Spirit is at...

JOHN KERRY COMES TO STEUBENVILLE by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Sep 4, 2004

I doubt he stopped for souvenirs. A friend writes -- "John Kerry came to Fort Steuben (on 3rd Street) in Steubenville Ohio today to campaign for president. Just under HALF the crowd were protestors (I can get digital photographic evidence in a few days for you if you need). It occurred...

Not so fast: just what did Archbishop Burke say? by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 6, 2004

It's true; Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has conceded that under some circumstances a Catholic could vote for a pro-abortion candidate without being guilty of grave sin. But what are those circumstances? The archbishop said: ...a Catholic who personally opposes abortion rights, votes...

Taken to extremes by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 7, 2004

For weeks now, Catholic Americans have been arguing back and forth about whether bishops should discipline pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Most American bishops, clearly, are loath to act. OK, so let's push the argument a bit, to consider a more extreme case. Suppose, instead of lay...

Crying to Heaven for Vengeance by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 7, 2004

The Bible mentions only four sins which cry out to God for vengeance. Considering the source and the emphasis, we have little choice but to examine our consciences on these points. A cursory examination will not do; we must cast off our cultural preconceptions to see beyond the obvious....

Crying to Heaven for Vengeance by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 7, 2004

Our friend Jeff Mirus, over on the CatholicCulture site, has some pointed remarks about the sins our society might be inclined to...

almsgiving XV by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 8, 2004

Suppose you're the president of a Pittsburgh Catholic university with 9,600 students. Before assuming your current position, you directed the Creighton Center for Health Policy and Ethics and were acting president of Creighton University. You have $500 in your pocket and are inspired to give it...

celebrating diversity: they play, you pay. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 9, 2004

The U.S. bishops will once more be gazing with interest at events unfolding in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, now that a judge rejected Cardinal Mahony's desperation claim that clergy personnel records are protected by 1st Amendment guarantees, and because the Archdiocese's financial liability...

Junk polls by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 9, 2004

Pro-life Americans have been mostly buoyed by the results of recent presidential-preference polls, which show Pres. Bush increasing his lead on Sen. Kerry. Sorry to burst the bubble, but those polls are irrelevant. It's important to remember that, for all practical purposes, there is not...

See no evil by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 10, 2004

In Redemptionis Sacramentum, the Congregation for Divine Worship listed liturgical abuses that are prevalent throughout the Western world. In a classic example of how American prelates react to Vatican directives, Cardinal Roger Mahony has now announced that, despite exhaustive study, he...

Anne Burke Accused by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 10, 2004

The bishops' National Review Board chair Anne Burke receives some highly unfavorable notice in a new book by Robert Cooley called When Corruption Was King (NY: Carroll & Graf, 2004). Cooley claims to have been a corrupt criminal lawyer with Chicago mob ties who fixed cases by opting for bench...

say it ain't so by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 11, 2004

Pope John Paul has asked an Austrian bishop at the center of a sex scandal involving his seminary to resign from his office, according to the Kathpress news agency on Friday. "Church sources in Rome said on Friday that the Vatican has suggested to St. Poelten Bishop Kurt Krenn, who is in Rome...

almsgiving XVI by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 11, 2004

Duquesne University president Charles Dougherty isn't the only Duke who has manifested eleemosynary delectation in the thought of a Kerry presidency. Patricia Dunham, associate professor of political science, gave $250 to the Kerry campaign on March 12. As if on cue,

Bore them to death? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 13, 2004

At last, I think I understand the Vatican strategy against terrorism. The idea is to have a half-dozen prelates issue long-winded statements every day about the need for "dialogue and reconciliation," until finally the terrorist leaders drop dead of sheer boredom. It might work, but there...

pretty smiles by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 13, 2004

The Archdiocese of Detroit has issued updated guidelines for clergy, employees, and volunteers, as a supplement to its Protecting God's Children program. They make a reasonable start, using language uneasily adapted from the Dental Hygienists Professional Standards guide ... * Never engage in...

The by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 13, 2004

An interesting series of reports from Catholic World News raises a serious question of foreign policy. On September 7th, two Cardinals referred to the West’s involvement in warfare against terrorists as if it were both justified and inevitable. The next day, Pope John Paul II insisted that...

Krenn again by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 13, 2004

Readers of Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall will remember Paul Pennyfeather's first attempts to gain employment after dismissal from his Oxford college: "Sent down for indecent behaviour, eh?" said Mr. Levy, of Church and Gargoyle, scholastic agents. "Well, I don't think we'll say anything about...

Tom Brown's School Days -- or, "We have all been enlightened" by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 14, 2004

From the U.K. Telegraph: A 15-year-old boy has been charged with raping a 28-year-old teacher at a school in London, it has emerged. The school was closed for two days for police forensic science examinations after the alleged attack on the woman last Tuesday.A spokesman for the local council...

priorities by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 14, 2004

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony is not exactly filling laypeople with faith in the credibility of the church. His efforts to block prosecutors' access to personnel files on priests accused of sexual abuse "did little to enhance the reputation of the church in the United States for transparency and...

almsgiving XVII by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 15, 2004

Suppose (according to the new Kenedy directory) you're associate director of personnel for the Diocese of Fairbanks. You're also RCIA and adult education coordinator at the cathedral parish. You have $250 in your pocket and are inspired to give it away. To whom, or what, do you direct your...

sweet dreams by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 15, 2004

Last night's bedtime reading was the NCCB Membership Directory for the year 2000. Page 215 makes mention of (former) bishops Kendrick Williams and Joseph Hart, who have the distinction of being Dash-2 ("because of health or other grave reason") retirees. In both cases, the other grave reasons...

...and to end famine, burn crops by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 15, 2004

How do you respond to a crime wave?That's easy; disband the police force. Bothered by mice in your home? Don't worry; just leave plenty of cookie crumbs on the kitchen floor. Caught in a thunderstorm on the golf course? Relax. Just run to the highest point you can find, and stick a 9-iron in...

One step forward, two steps back by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 16, 2004

Cardinal Martino condemns UN involvement in promoting abortion. One step forward. But on the same day, the Vatican announces a stepped-in presence at the UN, conferring greater credibility on this international body, which is (see above) heavily involved in promoting abortion. Two steps...

IN THE CROSSHAIRS: The Pill by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Sep 17, 2004

A report that there is a new wave of sentiment against that great American institution, the birth control...

almsgiving XVIII by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 18, 2004

Suppose you're a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. Ordained in 1985, you're pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Mathis. It's Lent, and your thoughts naturally turn to almsgiving. You have $250 in your pocket and are inspired to give it away. To whom, or what, do you direct your alms? (a) to...

Don't confuse us with the facts by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 20, 2004

The front-page Boston Globe story begins: As HIV infections start to climb again among gay men and young adults, the federal government is moving to impose restrictions on AIDS education... That's a great lead, by Globe standards. You already know the "bad guy" (the federal government), and...

Inspirational Saints of the Liturgy by Peter Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 20, 2004

The First Eucharistic Prayer features the names of 41 saints. I confess that until recently I did not know who all of these saints are. But after hearing (and being able to really focus on) this prayer on the Feast of the Assumption, I decided to do some research to try to find out a little more...

Junk polls and realism, cont. by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 21, 2004

If you're hoping for a Bush victory in November, don't let yourself get too comfortable with those nationwide preference polls. Again, the nationwide count doesn't matter. What matters is the vote in the Electoral College. According to the latest Zogby poll of the crucial "battleground...

(burp!) by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 21, 2004

This just in, from UN headquarters. The Holy See opposes hunger. (applause) Champagne reception to...

The future belongs to the families that reproduce by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 22, 2004

Arch-liberal columnist Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe thinks it's foolish for liberals to worry about the statistics showing that conservatives have more children. It's nice that Goodman doesn't propose restraining the right of conservatives to procreate. She think it's OK for us to have...

almsgiving XIX by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 22, 2004

Suppose you're coordinator of student services for a Massachusetts diocesan school system; according to the new Kenedy directory, 7,708 students are enrolled in your diocese's 27 Catholic schools. You're also a lector, an extraordinary minister, and an associate of the Sisters of Providence. You...

Forget something? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 23, 2004

You represent the Social Justice Ministry for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia. You firmly believe that "justice is a constitutive element of the Gospel message.” You have a web site. Visitors are greeted immediately with a Prayer to End the War Against (sic) Iraq, which...

A curious time to discover a principle by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 24, 2004

It's a little-known fact-- although it's right there in black and white in the US Constitution (Article II Section 2)-- that Congress has the authority to restrict the appellate jurisdiction of the US Supreme Court, as well as the jurisdiction of inferior federal courts. Congress could...

Bishop-friendly, condom-friendly by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 24, 2004

CAFOD, the British bishops' overseas-relief agency, has endorsed the distribution of condoms as a defense against AIDS. Actually, that's not news. CAFOD has been encouraging condom distribution since... since... Well, at least since 2001, the year when the executive director of CAFOD held a...

almsgiving XX by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 25, 2004

Suppose you're a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts. Ordained in 1984, you're pastor of a large parish (Our Lady of Victory in Centerville, with 1,188 children in the parish religious education program). According to the new Kenedy directory, you're moderator of the Diocesan...

The unforgivable sin by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 25, 2004

Recently I've been thinking: Is there anything that US bishops will not tolerate? The intense bureaucratic response to the "Dallas Charter" has clarified things for me. As a practical matter: - You can deny the Real Presence - You can be married several times - You can never go...

REVENGE OF THE MOORS by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Sep 25, 2004

Of all the countries to be even thinking of this... the Socialist government of Spain has already determined to confront the Church, wrest away from her the last remnants of her special status in Spanish society, remove the crucifix from classrooms, etc. But now a controversy has erupted over the...

REVENGE -2- by Fr. Wilson in "Off the Record" - Sep 25, 2004

Bad link. I try again or you can cut/paste. Allahu...

You could buy 43 tons of food for the hungry, or.... by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 25, 2004

You live in Orange, California. The cost of living is high, and times are tough. You fall behind on your mortgage payments. You're desperate. Where do you turn? Ah, but since you're a faithful Catholic-- never miss Sunday Mass, never fail to throw something into the collection-- you know that...

Sure you can audit. Just don't ask questions. by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 27, 2004

No Catholic bishops are behind bars in New Hampshire-- yet. That's largely because of an agreement struck with the state's attorney general in December 2002, in which the bishops essentially admitted guilt, and agreed to regular "full and fair" audits for the next several years. But when he...

Tolkien and His Trees by Peter Mirus in "In Depth Analysis" - Sep 27, 2004

As an avid fan of J. R. R. Tolkien I was thrilled with the recent Lord of the Rings movie releases. The Ring Trilogy was finally brought to life on screen in a manner worthy of the integrity of the works. This familiarized many people with the trilogy for the first time. But if you’ve only...

Kerry's church by Phil Lawler in "Off the Record" - Sep 28, 2004

James Carroll, the former Catholic priest who is employed by the Boston Globe to write regular op-ed columns bashing the Catholic Church, has changed his target slightly. Now the "bad guys" are the Republicans who dare to question Kerry's commitment to the Catholic faith. Carroll instructs his...

RICO on the horizon? by Diogenes in "Off the Record" - Sep 29, 2004

The Springfield Republican is right: When he secured a grand-jury indictment of Bishop Dupre, then announced that he would not prosecute, district attorney William Bennett was sending an engraved invitation to prosecutors in other jurisdictions. But there's more. CWN reporters tell me...

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