Action Alert!

Monday-morning musings

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 27, 2015

  • The PR flacks of Planned Parenthood tell us—with straight faces!—that they don’t “sell” fetal tissue; they only ask for “compensation”—that is, enough to cover their costs, plus a little extra (for the Lamborghini). When you go to the supermarket, or the used-car lot, or the hardware store, you expect to pay enough to cover the proprietor’s costs, plus a little extra. In the business world, that “extra” is called “profit.” When you’re haggling about prices, you’re engaged in sales.
  • And while we’re on the subject, the same logic applies to the “compensation” offered to women who donate eggs. The Wall Street Journal reports that the going rate of compensation was stable until the late 1990s “when demand went up and clinics began paying more.” If the price is set by the forces of supply and demand, that’s a market price, not a compensation for time and trouble. And if it’s a market, it’s a market in human tissues. (Incidentally, the Journal story reveals that donors are complaining because fertility clinics are holding down the “compensation” payments. Are you surprised?)
  • If thugs enter a parish church and pull the artwork off the wall, we call it vandalism. What do you call it, though, when the artworks are removed by professionals, with the pastor’s approval? The secular courts will be—and should be—loath to become involved in a dispute within a parish. But something is terribly wrong when one pastor can tear down what his predecessor built up, without clear approval from the parish community. (The community, remember, paid for the artwork, and is now paying unnecessarily for its removal.) Does canon law protect parishioners effectively against a pastor’s arbitrary decisions?
  • Then, on the other end of the spectrum, here’s a worrisome story about a funeral that was disrupted when the congregation—specifically, the family of the deceased—insisted on changing the order of the Mass. The Rochester diocese issued a statement expressing regret over the “misunderstanding or lack of information” that caused the mourners to believe that they could insert personal reflections about the life of the deceased into the Liturgy of the Word. As it becomes more and more common that the people attending Catholic funerals (and weddings) are unfamiliar with the liturgy, and expect to be able to design their own ceremonies, pastors are likely to face similar challenges frequently.
  • After suspending the credentials of the Italian journalist who broke the story on a leaked copy of Laudato Si’, the Vatican press office has now announced that another reporter, representing the same media corporation, will not be allowed on the papal plane traveling to America in September. Fellow journalists (myself included) argue that these reporters are being punished improperly. They did not violate an embargo, since there was no embargo on the bootleg copy of the encyclical that was handed to them. The real offense was committed by the Vatican official who leaked that document. Who was it? Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo told CNN that the identity of the leaker is no secret: “It’s very easy to know who it was.” OK, so who is it? And why punish the messengers?
  • Back in 2006, Father James Mason tackled a delicate but vitally important subject in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review: effeminate behavior among candidates for the priesthood. If we want to bring Catholic men back into the pews, we need manly priests—priests who can relate to ordinary men. And manly priests won’t be produced by seminaries where effeminate behavior is accepted as normal. It’s good to know that Father Mason “gets it”—especially since he just became the rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in the St. Louis archdiocese.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Jul. 29, 2015 8:41 PM ET USA

    ...Pastor's arbitrary decisions. Really? This has been going on years if not centuries. I love our priests and am devoted to Christ's church. This, however, is one area of no oversight let alone laws other than the virtue and honesty of a particular pastor.