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Off the Record

Dynamic musings of a sharp-witted cultural critic (writing under the pseudonym Diogenes). This was a highly popular blog that ran through early 2011.

No items posted on August 01, 2012.

blame the (cynical) messenger

Crocodile tears are flowing freely in the offices of Central Jersey Planned Parenthood, where a trusted employee has been fired for "behaving in a repugnant manner that is inconsistent with our standards of care and is completely unacceptable."  Completely unacceptable, certainly....

If a pro-lifer falls in the forest,...

•  Yesterday tens of thousands of mostly young Americans marched in Washington, DC, calling for an end to abortion. • Also yesterday, hundreds of protesters marched in Tunis, calling for a clean sweep of the Tunisian government. Which of these public demonstrations received more...

the birds, the bees, and the tubes

Savor this opening sentence from a Washington Post article on Catholic health-care institutions, mentioned today in our CWN headline coverage: In Texas, a Catholic bishop made two hospitals cease doing tube-tying operations for women who are not going to have more babies. A "tube-tying...

You are the man.

An English playwright, capitalizing on BBC's celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible to promote his own peculiar agenda, has announced his belief that King David was homosexual. Uriah the Hittite was not available for comment. Showing his erudition as a student of the...

treasures in earthed vessels

Forward-thinking Anglicans (is there any other kind?) are asking the General Synod to change the wording of the baptismal ceremony as practiced in the Church of England.   The problem, says Rev. Dr. Tim Stratford of Liverpool, is with “language not being earthed enough.” A...

test your cynicism

Here's a short 2-question quiz to test your degree of cynicism. The facts: A Boston attorney whose firm specializes in sex-abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church has released the names of over 100 accused priests.  The attorney says that he did so to serve the cause of truth. Nearly all...

that devil celibacy made him do it

 A Catholic priest in England, convicted of downloading 740 pieces of child porn, told a court that celibacy was to blame. His legal advocate explained: “He has never had a chance to explore his sexuality. It has remained bottled up and boxed up and he thinks it may be to do with...

pop the cork

The 112th US Congress has convened on Capitol Hill, and for the first time since 1946, there isn't a single member of the Kennedy family on the roster. Got any champagne left over from New Year's...

unblushing brides

The dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was married on January 1, in a ceremony held at St. Paul’s cathedral in Boston and witnessed by Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts.  The dean’s spouse is a woman. That would be...

gone but not forgotten

Back in July, novelist Anne Rice announced that she was finished with Christianity. Not quite, apparently. Yesterday the National Catholic Register posted a story by Jimmy Akin, on Bishop Olmsted's announcement that a hospital in Phoenix could no longer be considered Catholic.  What does...

dirty words

In a live broadcast, NIna Totenberg of National Public Radio revealed that she "was at-- forgive the expression-- a Christmas party."  Shocking! There might have been innocent children listening when those words were broadcast. Imagine the psychological damage that might have been...

Why do we need a new translation of the Mass, anyway?

In English-speaking countries, the First Sunday of Advent was traditionally known as “stir-up Sunday”—not only because housewives were expected to “stir up” the plum pudding that would be served with Christmas dinner, but also because of the opening prayer for the...

Who's the leader of the band that's made for you and me?

Bishop John Noonan, who will be installed as Orlando's fifth bishop Dec. 16. And some people say that miters make bishops look...

pursuing poverty in style?

 Sister Marie Thornton, the former financial vice-president of Iona College, faces criminal charges for allegedly milking $1.2 million from college funds. According to one report, the embezzled funds helped to finance her penchant for trips to the casinos of Atlantic City. Prosecutors had no...

set your watch ahead

In an interview with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, Giocanni Maria Vian, explains why he doesn't think it was a mistake to publish that famous controversial excerpt from Pope Benedict's interview, and he doesn't think he was guilty of breaking an...

when the news isn't news

Act I, Scene I: The newsroom of a major metropolitan daily Reporter: Hey, boss! We’ve got a story here. Says the Pope might have allowed a priest who was accused of abuse to work in a parish while he was Archbishop of Munich. What should we do with it? Editor: Did the Pope personally...

Maybe he's just shy

 Six weeks after the Vatican accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard Sklba, attorneys are trying to convince a Wisconsin court that the former Milwaukee auxiliary should not be required to give a deposition in a sex-abuse lawsuit, and if he is deposed, the deposition should be sealed....

let me count the ways

Richard Posner, a learned jurist who has written many intelligent things about law and economics, embarrasses himself when he writes on contraception and the Catholic Church: In 1930, responding to the Anglican Church’s rescission of its prohibition of contraception, Pope Pius VI...

a star is born

Slate magazine has discovered L’Osservatore Romano. The Vatican newspaper has never been daily reading for the staff of the slick online ‘zine. But on November 22, the Slate “Explainer,” which provides “answers to your questions about the news,” saw fit to give...

pastors need not apply

Over on the U.S. Catholic site, Bryan Cones doesn't merely tell us that the upset victory of Archbishop Dolan is a "really big deal." He demonstrates, with his own overwrought analysis, that the election has thrown the Catholic Left into panic.  "Catholic right-wing bloggers...

not too moderate

The Washington Post explains the surprising result of the USCCB presidential election: Victims' advocates spoke out against Kicanas, but the more significant opposition came from conservatives, who considered him too moderate in tone. The use of terms like "liberal" and...

the spiritual combat

From today's CWN story: Father Richard Vega, a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and president of the National Federation of Priests Councils, has told The New York Times that when he heard that the US bishops were offering a conference on exorcism, “My immediate reaction was to...

campaign endorsement

If you're still wondering which candidate you should support for the presidency of the US bishops' conference, this endorsement might help you to...

I'm thinking of a word that begins with H

Three years after he was quoted as saying that it would have been “grossly unfair” to bar the ordination of Daniel McCormack—who would go on to notoriety as a convicted serial molester—Bishop Gerald Kicanas has reacted with some asperity to a National Catholic Register...

the unpaid informer

Back in 2006, Mehmet Ali Agca offered to tell the world who gave him the order to shoot Pope John Paul II. But there was a catch: he wanted to be paid $6 million for that information. That didn’t seem like a very good deal, because the world had pretty much assumed, since that fateful day in...

Hey, we're networking!

The Guardian reports the consternation of the Archbishop of Canterbury over the resignation of five Anglican bishops who are entering the Catholic Church. The subhead on the Guardian story is revealing: Rowan Williams expresses regret as five against ordination of women bishops leave church for...

toll collection

Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church, has announced his retirement at the age of 63. "The fact is, the last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family, and you," he told his flock.  He might have added that the years have taken a toll on...

an issue that hasn't been faced

Bishop Willie Walsh has trouble with orthodoxy. Not just with preaching it; even with recognizing it.  Still, give him credit: Bishop Willie has trouble with secular orthodoxy as well. He evidently hasn't been reading the weekly memos about how the sex-abuse crisis has nothing repeat nothing...

the Church as debating society?

 Bishop Willie Walsh, the (thank God) retired Bishop of Killaloe, Ireland, responds thoughtfully to a question about ordination of women:  “I really don’t want to cause division in the church, but what I have real difficulty with is that some subjects are not for...

making something out of nothing

The annual CCHD wars have begun, and the Catholic News Service-- which like the CCHD operates under the aegis of the US bishops' conference-- dutifully reports on the latest statement from CCHD headquarters asking Catholics to be generous in the pre-Thanksgiving collection. That's fair enough: the...

be a man

The World Series is over, and American sports fans turn their attention to other topics. Such as this new development reported by ESPN: A female-to-male transgender member of the George Washington women's basketball team wants to be identified as a man this season. Junior Kye Allums-- who used...

what 'preventive medicine' prevents

Thanks to ObamaCare, all American taxpayers will soon be paying for contraceptives, whether they use them or not. Contraception, you see, is a method of avoiding a serious illness. That’s not a terribly flattering way to be described, is it? I was once a serious illness. You were,...

I know it when I see it

If you haven’t traveled to Australia for a while, be prepared for a change. In the past, the card that visitors submitted to customs officials asked whether they were carrying pornography. Now the visitor is asked whether he has any illegal pornography. You see the problem, don’t you?...

all things to all men

Imagine that someone was a youthful revolutionary. After his fling with radical activism he pledges to refrain from any further violent efforts to overthrow the government (and since we are all gentlemen here, we’ll assume that he has honored that pledge). But he still identifies himself as...

knowing your place

Enterprising undergraduates at Boston College, having learned from their elders that compassion is measured in latex, are distributing condoms to their fellow students. One of the leaders in this initiative, writing in the campus newspaper, The Heights, expresses dismay that some people see the...

roll over, King Solomon

New York court has given permission for a widow to harvest sperm from the body of her deceased husband. She said she doesn’t want his death to stand in the way of their desire to start a family. If you think you’ve now reached the ghoulish final depot for an absurd train of...

not with a bang but a whimper

Bishop Richard Sklba was ordained as an auxiliary in Milwaukee by his Archbishop Rembert Weakland despite severe (and justifiable) misgivings in Rome. Sklba evidently repaid his patron’s confidence, keeping quiet about Weakland’s payment of hush money to a young man who charged the...

vandalism without bias

In northern New Jersey, a group of 5 college-age men face criminal charges for ransacking the offices of a gay-rights organization, tearing up shrubs and sign, ripping out lights. Bad news for the vandals: it was all caught by surveillance cameras. The young thugs are charged with trespassing and...

feeling no pain

Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska is pushing for federal legislation requiring that women seeking late-term abortions be informed that the procedure causes pain for the unborn child. Approving the legislation, he says, is “an issue of human compassion.” So who could possibly oppose the...

chicken-coop security excessive, foxes report

A year-long investigation conducted by foxes has determined that poultry farmers devote excessive attention to security measures for chicken coops. Details on this important study later. For now, the New York Times offers a similar report: A yearlong investigation by Naral Pro-Choice New York...

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