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All Catholic commentary from May 2005

State of Shock

An eminent Jesuit theologian confesses that he was stunned by the election: But the Rev. Patrick Howell, dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, said he was shocked."I think most American Catholics were shocked by the selection of Cardinal Ratzinger because he's been...

Vision Book Cover Prints

eyes that see not

USA Today has an article on the upcoming Apostolic Visitation of seminaries: A Vatican evaluation of American seminaries planned three years ago in response to the clergy sex abuse crisis is expected to move forward under new Pope Benedict XVI and will likely tackle the polarizing issue of...

Christ Present in the Eucharist - 1

From an address given by Msgr. George A. Kelly (died August 13, 2004) at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (July 13, 1997): While on an errand of mercy in 1949, both of my parents were seriously injured in an automobile accident. When a chief surgeon decided to operate on my...

Christ Present in the Eucharist - 2

From Elizabeth Anscombe, "Transubstantiation," a pamphlet published by the Catholic Truth Society, London, 1974: It is easiest to tell what transubstantiation is by saying this: little children should be taught about it as early as possible. Not of course using the word "transubstantiation,"...

Sash Wars V: The Empire Slaps Back

It's nearly that time again. The Rainbow Sash Movement is gearing up for its Annual Pentecost Disruption ("This simple act is a public dialogue that counters those who promote hate in God's name..."), and we can pretty well anticipate the nature of the media coverage both pre- and post-stunt....

criticism beyond what is helpful

In last February's First Things, Fr. Richard Neuhaus vented his disappointment with the USCCB's November 2004 meeting, while delivering himself of some mordant commentary: On Bishop Skylstad: While bishops, needless to say, are immune to the lures of ambition, the general rule for getting...

the inner ring

A Springfield (MA) paper is reporting that its investigator believes he's located some of the daisies in the chain: The investigator hired to probe the 1972 unsolved murder of 13-year-old altar boy Daniel Croteau says he now suspects that a ring of about 10 pedophiles, many of them priests,...

The Art of Congratulating the Pope

Nearly every prominent religious leader and organization in the world issued statements on the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. While about half of these statements properly express pleasure and congratulations, along with a promise of prayers, the other half seek in...

playing it safe

Loyola University (CHICAGO's JESUIT UNIVERSITY, the promotional slicks remind us) has an on-line Student Self-Care page titled Playing It Safe. It begins with a curtsey dropped in the general direction of Mediterranean value-systems and within the space of a paragraph ends up flat on the...

no place like home

From Ekklesia (UK): Churches trained to welcome child abusersChurches are to receive training in how to welcome those who have abused children, into their congregations. The first-ever training programme to help churches respond to the growing number of former sex offenders at services and...

retraction

It seems I was mistaken in my generalization that moral defeatism was endemic to Jesuit universities, in view of the rigorous defense offered below on behalf of Marquette Gold -- not, as it sounds, a new brand of lite beer, but a market-tested and Jesuit-approved replacement for ethically...

throwback

The lines below were penned 130 years ago, describing dramatis personae created 400 years ago, whose historical "originals" lived 950 years ago. See if you don't recognize in this description a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Macbeth is excitable...

sashes to ashes

Archbishop Harry Flynn takes half a stand (via Amy Welborn). Therefore, this is to notify you and the other members of the Minnesota Rainbow Sash group that I am asking you to remove your sashes before you receive Holy Communion. I ask you to observe this sign of respect for the Eucharist not...

My Narrow View of the Church

I received an email from an unregistered visitor the other day which said simply that the correspondent found my narrow view of the Church disturbing. I immediately grabbed my metaphorical pen and prepared to answer. But, wait, to what could I reply? Messages like this are rather obviously...

orthodoxy optional

Watching the course of the Church of England over the past few decades has been like seeing the trailers for a film series that progressive Catholics act out in real time five years later. So one reads new developments with a sense of impending dread. Wednesday's Telegraph recounts a dispute...

a.m.d.g.

NEW ORLEANS's JESUIT UNIVERSITY is honoring pro-abortion pols next week, and Archbishop Alfred Hughes is refusing to take part in the capitulation. Hughes said he decided he could not attend commencement ceremonies May 13 and 14 "lest my presence confuse the faithful and give the impression...

America: the magazine for thinking Catholics

Fr. Tom Reese, S.J., has resigned as editor of the Jesuit weekly America, reportedly under Vatican pressure. Amy links many of the stories in the prestige media. They all apply more or less the same spin; here's Cooperman in the Washington Post: During his seven years as editor, the...

scarlet

LADY IN RED -- Hannah Christ, a junior at St. Joan Antida High School in Milwaukee, dances to "Lady in Red" during a multicultural music and dance performance at the school April 29. The dance number portrayed five generations of young women who have attended the Catholic girls' high school...

What Would Onan Do?

Where the old education initiates, the new merely conditions. The old dealt with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly: the new deals with them more as the poultry keeper deals with young birds, making them thus and thus for purposes of which the birds know...

respect

Feel like a trip deep, deep into the Mordor of the Abortion Movement? Take a look at the letters to the editor of Conscience, the journal of Catholics for a Free Choice. This is territory in which Frances Kissling herself is a subordinate orc -- indeed, ideologically suspect on grounds of...

the issue that matters

Let's suppose a bill was introduced in your state legislature, making it easier for victims of accounting fraud to file lawsuits and recover damages. Do you suppose your bishop would get involved? Do you suppose he'd write to all the clergy of the diocese, explaining that the bill "should be of...

people look at us differently

Flashback to June 1998, when St. Petersburg Bishop Robert N. Lynch came in as interim administrator to rescue Palm Beach from its predator prelate. His bumptious condescension was at full throttle (all quotes from a story by Dan Moffett in the Palm Beach Post, 6-6-1998): "There are no more...

Faustinus Luciferanus on the Christ

This evening I had trouble thinking of a suitable topic for News & Notes, so I decided to wait to write until I had done my spiritual reading. Perhaps the Holy Spirit would provide. As it turns out, He provided a deeper understanding of what it means to be the Christ. I am currently reading 1...

3 Degrees Kelvin

The Boston Globe has a heavy-breathing article today on the Holy Inquisition and its impact on the life of the mind. The announcement Friday that the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, an oft-quoted commentator on the workings of the Catholic Church, has been forced to resign after seven years as editor of...

whose obsession?

Let's just suppose you heard me tell a newspaper reporter that I'm afraid of Islamic terrorists, drunk drivers, white sharks, scorpions, skunks, cancer, and income taxes. Then the next day you read the headline story, which focused on my fear of skunks-- not even mentioning the other items on my...

Everything Must Go!

The Diocese of St. Georges [Newfoundland] has announced it will sell all of its churches to raise $13 million to compensate the sexual victims of one Fr. Kevin Bennett. "Everything," Bishop Douglas Crosby said Monday from the diocesan headquarters in Corner Brook, Nfld. "All of the churches,...

the distinctive Jesuit approach

When a theologian says that he "wants to experience teaching theology in a Jesuit environment," what does that mean? John Norris explains: "I honor the Jesuit approach to education and theological formation." So he needs to get away from "a school where we are distinguished primarily by our...

allegiances

A couple weeks ago I saw two or three articles with the title "Santorum reconsiders death-penalty stance" -- or words to that effect. A pro-capital-punishment Republican senator, Santorum was reported to be rethinking his support in the light of recent statements from Pope John Paul II and the...

Well, got THAT wrong ...

Barb Nicolosi has some well-expressed observations on the reluctance to confess to a legacy of failure. How about Richard McBrien saying, "That freakin' Catholic philosophical tradition may have been oppressive and patriarchal, but damn if it didn't produce students who were more rigorous in...

Certainties

An axiom of modern belief holds that some things about human nature improve with time, and these improvements take place in defiance of the repressive effects of Christianity – thus proving religion wrong, or at least not really necessary. When a Catholic tries to advance the doctrine of...

A Glimpse at the Mind of a Bishop

"A Glimpse at the Mind of a Pedophile" reads the Los Angeles Times story on former Diocese of Stockton priest Oliver O'Grady. The article is accompanied by video excerpts of O'Grady's deposition last March, in which he speaks in explicit terms -- I don't say "candid terms" -- about his disorder....

pitching a fit

Commonweal flounces out of the room in a rage, slamming all the doors behind her. There are some good laughs to be had once your ears stop...

on the development of doctrine

"If the Church claims some questions are settled once and for all, then how can the Church maintain that she believes in the development of doctrine?" We've seen this question posed in various forms in various places over the past few weeks. William Marshner does a nice job of exposing the...

The Case of the Incontinent Curate

Last year, the fearless investigator Mary Jo White was hired by the Diocese of Albany to launch a fearlessly honest investigation into reports of wrongdoing by Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard, for which the Diocese of Albany paid her $2.4 million fearless American dollars. By a remarkable...

all the news that fits do print

When intelligent people behave in unintelligent ways, it's sometimes worthwhile to examine the behavior carefully, and look for an explanation. Working on that principle, I thought I'd take a second look at the tantrum thrown by Commonweal editors over the resignation of Father Tom Reese. (Can...

Vatican Praises Anglicans for Latest Steps

You know things are really hurting in the ecumenism business when you congratulate the other guys on their option for suicide via hunger strike instead of by shotgun. "The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is of the opinion that these developments affirm the general thrust and...

Limbo and the Hope of Salvation

In a recent website review, we were compelled to list the site’s views on limbo as a weakness. Some Catholics are under the impression that the Church has formally taught that unbaptized infants cannot be saved but must inevitably be consigned to a marginal abode known as limbo, where no...

prom night

Reader Patricia alerts me to the website of Boston's Jesuit Urban Center, passing on an urgent request for volunteers: The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth seeks adult volunteers to help chaperone the up-coming BAGLY Prom on Saturday, May 21, 7-11 p.m. at Boston...

not applicable

Most of the abuses mentioned in Redemptionis Sacramentum do not pertain to the celebration of the Eucharist in our Archdiocese because of our many efforts to provide intensive and extensive training in proper liturgical norms and practice. -- Card. Roger Mahony Helen Hitchcock of Adoremus once...

On the Perpetual Virginity of America Magazine

From the apocalyptic language, you'd think America's Fr. Reese had been burnt at the stake (instead of deployed elsewhere), that his replacement was a remote-controlled Opus Dei droid imposed by Rome (instead of Reese's own recruit as associate editor), and that America from its conception had...

crime pays

Scenario #1: You are the head of a large charitable organization. For 16 years, you have been conducting annual fund drives, telling donors that the funds will go to needy people. Actually you've been using the funds for normal operating expenses, and the needy people are getting needier every...

Ratzinger shivered me timbers

An Anglican archbishop speaks about the papal election: A senior Church of Ireland clergyman has said that "shivers went down his spine" when he heard that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been elected Pope. The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill, the second most senior cleric in the Church of...

in a pig's eye

The Weekly Standard's Scrapbook wryly notes the following innovation in the pontifical armory. We missed this at the time, but there was a classic mistranscription in the International Herald Tribune's coverage of Pope John Paul II's funeral last month: "His folded hands intertwined with a...

The Case of the Incontinent Curate - II

Further adventures of our fearless sleuthette. Chapter Five "Pardon me, Monsignor," said Nancy, stepping into the spacious and well-lit Chancery office, "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but our dear Sister Margaret was found strangled and stabbed between 27 and 32 times in the hospital chapel,...

obedience school: Mahony & the rainbow

The annual Rainbow Sash Repentecost seems to have flopped yesterday, but the RSM's Joe Murray claims to enjoy the support of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, posting a letter from his flak. May 13, 2005Dear Joe,Just a note to say that, as in the past, members of the Rainbow Sash Movement who...

A Jesuit, or a Catholic?

The Boston Globe, still determined to convince its readers that the resignation of a Catholic magazine editor is cause for deep concern, carries side-by-side op-ed columns on the Thomas Reese Affair. There is a characteristically sensible piece by Father Richard John Neuhaus, and a fuzzier piece...

blackmail on the layaway plan

Reckoning the cost. Harvard President Lawrence Summers committed his university Monday to spending $50 million over the next decade on a range of programs -- from mentoring to child care to late-night transport -- aimed at improving the climate for women scientists, many of whom were angered by...

The hedonist will see you now ...

If I had been a Heathen, I'd have crowned Neaera's curls, And filled my life with love affairs, My house with dancing girls; But Higgins is a Heathen, And to lecture rooms is forced, Where his aunts, who are not married, Demand to be divorced. Chesterton's Song of the Strange Ascetic...

more fire & ice

The NCR is continuing her heroine-lashed-to-the-traintracks aria this week, wailing about the episcopal villains that sacrificed America's Tom Reese to the CDF locomotive, in the hope that someone might find her worth tieing-up herself. There are a couple interesting anonymous sources quoted in...

Human leftovers

In a Boston Globe story on frozen embryos, we're asked to feel some sympathy for one John Rizza, who handles the "leftovers from fertility treatments." Leftovers. But there's more. The Globe informs us: Some people -- including Rizza -- consider the embryos potential lives. To justify...

the exchange of simple affection

Newly released documents from the Diocese of Orange reveal more heartbreaking stories of predation, mendacity, moral cowardice, grotesque refusal to face reality, and, most of all, a blood-freezing indifference to human suffering. Had we not read similar accounts elsewhere, it would be...

beyond the realm of possibility

Here follows a wholly fictional news story: A group of about 100 white supremacist Roman Catholics and their supporters were denied Holy Communion at Pentecost Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul on Sunday.But, at St. Stephen's Catholic Church in south Minneapolis a group of Ku Klux Klan members...

And if the lavender mafia causes you to sin...

Based on today's Gospel reading, what would be the most logical way for a bishop to deal with reports that a homosexual network had set up in the diocesan seminary? Assume the reports are false. If they come from laymen, tell them they're being uncharitable. If they come from seminarians, get...

The Case of the Incontinent Curate - III

Further adventures of our fearless sleuthette. Chapter Nine Driving slowly through the quaint Cape Cod village, Nancy found the church and parked her sporty auto on the side of the leafy street. She climbed the porch steps of the large clapboard house, and summoned up the courage to ring the...

Fools for Christ

How is New York's Trinity Church (Episcopal) celebrating Trinity Sunday (universal)? With a clown liturgy. On May 22, Trinity Sunday, we will have a Clown Eucharist, "doing church" as if we were a circus come to town. We will celebrate the Eucharist and learn about the basic traditional...

home for whom?

Memphis Bishop Terry Steib plays on the legacy of racism in order to plead for Catholic acceptance of -- not homosexuals -- but "gays and lesbians" (from Dom's blog): A brief look at history -- from slavery to the "march of tears" of our Native American sisters and brothers to the grape strikes...

Ice Age: the Evolution & Extinction of Thought

Curran said the personal action the Vatican took against him "had a tremendous chilling effect on theologians. Look at what the chilling effect has done in moral theology for example. Very few people were willing to write on sexuality for a long time because, even if you were, quote, a lay person,...

bishops and indifference to suffering

Ancient Israel had no police force or DA's office. Thus, if you were the victim of an injustice, the only option open to you (apart from an ad hoc vendetta) was to try to get the attention of a judge. A person without wealth, family, or important allies found it all but impossible to bribe or...

wholly without shame

You have to hand it to Rembert G. Weakland, quondam Archbishop of Milwaukee: he always exceeds expectations. I missed his Statement on the Death of his Holiness when it was issued. Even had it come from the pen of St. John Fisher it would be insufferably condescending. Given its real authorship...

episcopal management quiz

What do you-- I mean, what do you do-- when an auxiliary bishop encourages kids to picket the archbishop's residence? You notice that he's over the age of 75, and accept his resignation. You say he hasn't submitted his resignation? That's OK; accept it anyway. You recall how in 1995, after he...

she's ugly

Gratuitous pain gets more expensive all the time (from...

The Case of the Incontinent Curate - IV

Further adventures of our fearless sleuthette. Chapter Eleven "Goodness!" thought Nancy, as she passed through the imposing gates of the Massachusetts State Prison for the Sexually Adventurous at Bridgewater, "What an unusual place for a clergyman to work. I hope they won't mind that I'm a...

shell game

The Boston Globe has a story on a lay push for a probe into the handling of donated monies on the part of the Archdiocese of Boston: The heart of the complaint is the accusation that the archdiocese diverted about $4.5 million donated annually by parishioners over 16 years for the priests'...

Rethinking Limbo: Reader Reactions

I’m leaving my column on Limbo on the home page for an extra week for two reasons: (1) Having been struck down by the common cold last week, I lacked the mental acuity to develop a new topic; and (2) The Limbo column has garnered more feedback than any other column to date. How often is human...

reaching common ground

The National Abortion Rights Action League's Ask Genny column answers highly realistic-sounding questions from highly realistic-sounding teen inquirers. How can I help reach common ground with anti-choice groups??Dear Genny:Was psyched to get the alert about the open letter that NARAL...

Dash - 2

Changes: The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Raymond James Boland in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Robert W....

hypocrisy?

One Robert Scheer has chosen to pitch a fit in this morning's Los Angeles Times: And, as is so often the case with the most severely judgmental and repressed, the church's stance is rife with moral hypocrisy. ... This is all especially outrageous considering that the openly gay community has...

provisional celibates & tactical christians

Along with the news of the death of Scotland's famously philandering bishop, we are treated to more "leadership" from St. Andrews-Edinburgh: The leader of Scotland's Catholics has risked reigniting a row over married priests by predicting the Vatican will eventually relent and allow the...

His Slowliness

Doing its best to loosen rivets at key junctural points of orthodoxy, U.S. Catholic passes on advice addressed to the Pope by thirteen hostile women, the least rancorous of whom is Joan Chittister: We will all come to [truth] slowly, with more or less reluctance, with more or less insight into...

musn't be too quick to condemn

An NCR artiste finds a hunger for faith in the international land-mine sales community. Or...

the mascot myth

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Elkhart yesterday condemned in strongest terms the nickname of the San Diego Padres and the corresponding "Friar" mascot, calling them "covert conveyers of patriarchy: morally repellent and offensive to the dignity of Catholics and indeed to...

angry gender-benders at large

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton is currently four months past his sell-by date. His homily for Trinity Sunday should give ample reason for the folks at the Congregation for Bishops to move his retirement papers to the top of the stack. When you think about it, when the [Trinitarian] formulation was...

French toast

Tomorrow-- May 29-- the people of France will be asked to ratify the constitution of the European Union. If they polls are accurate, they won't. So suddenly, tomorrow night, when the votes are counted, the political leaders of Europe are going to realize that a cherished project is dead in the...

The Case of the Incontinent Curate - V

Further adventures of our fearless sleuthette. Chapter Fourteen "Oh Ned, I'm so glad you made it here in time!" Nancy whispered to her friend, as they met outside the chancellor's parlor. "Perhaps between your discoveries and mine we'll be able to get to the bottom of this riddle or...

Mass Suicide: Parodists Draw Swords, Fall on Them

From the Times of...

Why the converts keep coming

At the present time, more than in any preceding age, Roman Catholics are seen to lapse into infidelity, and Protestants to be converted to Roman Catholicism. If you consider Catholicism within her own organization, it seems to be losing; if you consider it from the outside, it seems to be gaining....

Limbo Again: Clarifying Evangelium Vitae No. 99

I am indebted to Chris Lane who, in response to my previous Note on the question of Limbo as treated by John Paul II in Evangelium vitae, alerted me to the fact that none of the modern language translations of section 99 of the encyclical match the official Latin text. It turns out that this...

whosoever shall cause these little ones to sin ...

An old joke recounts a telephone conversation between a college football coach and a high school prospect: Coach: Height? Jock: Six foot five. Coach: Weight? Jock: Two-sixty. Coach: Best 100-yard? Jock: Nine point seven. Coach: S.A.T. score? Jock: 1600. Coach: You're perfect!...

remedial formation

This morning, the Feast of the Visitation, at the Church of the Gesù in Rome, Father Joseph Fessio professed his final vows in the Society of Jesus. Fessio entered the Jesuits in 1961, proving that even slow learners, if persistent, can eventually make the...

See no evil. Hear no evil. Report no evil.

Dr. Woo Suk Hwang takes a human egg, extracts the nucleus, replaces it with genetic material from another human cell, and produces... Well, what does he produce? Read the story in the "Science" section of the New York Times, and you never do get a clear answer to that question. On May 20, when...

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