Friday, December 13, 2002
I can't say that I blame them.
The end of Cardinal Law's released statement was to the effect that this is a time for a quiet departure.
Was he expecting the people of the Archdiocese to give him a going away party?
At National Review On Line, Victor Davis Hanson has a re-assuring look at the tip of our national spear, our aircraft carriers.
Our daily dose of pervert priest files, courtesy of the Globe, includes four, only one of which is "famous." The file of Monsignor Michael Smith Foster was released. But it does not contain the exculpatory evidence that cleared him of the charges.
''This is a helluva way to restore my reputation,'' Foster said, referring to the Archdiocese's promise to take steps to do so.
If he is truly innocent, I am sorry that he has been put through all this. But remember, there is a difference between genuine innocence, and he-said/he-said and we just choose not to believe the accuser. My sense is that is the basis on which Foster was cleared. Who knows what really happened? Only the absence of additional accusers and the shifting story of the accuser is at all probative.
Father Paul E. McDonald preyed on boys in the 1960s and 1970s:
One [victim] said he was repeatedly molested by McDonald over five years, beginning when he was 10 years old, during outings to the Blue Hills in Canton, when McDonald would allow the boy to hold the steering wheel of his car. In a weekly routine, McDonald would fondle the boy in the car while driving, then stop and masturbate in front of him, the alleged victim said. He added that the priest also orally raped him.
Another said he was repeatedly molested by McDonald after a fire destroyed his Hyde Park home and killed two of his brothers. McDonald, the victim said, befriended his family and then molested him and his cousin over a period of two years.
He left the priesthood in 1976.
Father John M. Cotter seems to have been a genuine pedophile, who molested both genders (though more boys, it would appear from the evidence, than girls):
[M]en and women said they were molested as boys and girls in West Roxbury and Beverly during the 1960s and 1970s. Cotter molested them in swimming pools, in church rectories, and in motel rooms, they said. In one instance, after fondling two boys in a motel room, Cotter allegedly told the boys to kneel and pray or they would go to hell for committing a mortal sin.
In 1995 and 1998, the archdiocese settled with seven of Cotter's victims for a total of $575,000. According to additional insurance records obtained independently by the Globe, four more cases against Cotter were settled for $361,000.
Other Cotter victims called church officials to report his abuse. Two brothers also from West Roxbury said that in about 1967, when they were about 13, they accompanied Cotter on a trip to New York. In a motel room, Cotter asked them if they had ever played with their penises. He then molested them.
Cotter served in St. Theresa of Avila Church in West Roxbury from 1965 to 1973 and was transferred to St. John the Evangelist in Beverly, where he would also be accused of sexually molesting children. He was placed on sick leave in 1980 and never returned to active ministry.
Note that both of the above cases involve abuse that occured long before Cardinal Law was appointed Archbishop of Boston. Both allaged perverts left the priesthood years before Law came here as well.
Father Robert E. Barrett ended up in a mental hospital:
[T]he first sexual abuse allegation against him appears in church files in 1993. In the case, a man reported that Barrett, while a priest at St. George's parish in Framingham in the 1960s, had grabbed his genitals during an overnight trip to Maine.
Barrett made a partial admission to the accusation, writing to Law in 1994 that, ''there was no genital activity but my actions were suspect, and the allegations were credible.'' Still, Law reassigned him to St. Rose's parish in Chelsea. The archdiocese settled the case in 1994 for $30,000.
A second claim was made by a man who said Barrett had sexually abused him from 1967 to 1968, when Barrett was assigned to St. Mary's parish in Hull. The church settled that claim in 1999 for $20,000.
By the time Barrett was placed on permanent disability, in July 1995, he had served in eight parishes and at several hospitals and nursing homes. Barrett also was committed to McLean Hospital in Belmont.
Ah, the old pattern. Abuse reported to Cardinal Law (this time in the 1990s, after the Father Porter scandal) who re-assigned him to another parish. This time, after a second allegation, he was removed.
Keep your barf bags handy. I guess we will be getting this in dribs and drabs daily through next week.
Born in Arlington, went to Matignon and Saint John's Seminary, two masters from the seminary, parishes on the South Shore, Assistant for Canonical Affairs, and Rector of Saint John's Seminary.
He looks like a townie. He'll end up probably in Fall River or Manchester as bishop after a new permanent archbishop is named. Too bad for him that he'll have to go so far away. But he can still drive back to visit his old haunts.
He has a tough and thankless job ahead. He can use our prayers.
Back to the mundane. Every news outlet has rushed to dig up victims for their reaction to the resignation. I feel sorry for the profoundly inarticulate people I have heard WBZ Radio thrust microphones at this morning.
That said, I do not favor closing parishes, closing schools, or otherwise disrupting the operations of the Archdiocese to compensate the victims. In fact, I don't see much need for monetary compensation at all. The perverts have hurt these people emotionally. The actions of the Archdiocese have compounded it. Indeed, they left lasting emotional scars. So counseling on the Church's dime seems highly appropriate. I'd cap the damages at $100,000 for each, to be held in trust and used for education and other necessary purposes. In addition, I'd have the Archdiocese pay $5 million into a fund to pay for counseling for these poor people for life. In addition to that, the Archdiocese should pay $5 million for abuse prevention programs. Total cost, assuming 1,000 victims: $20 million. Not the $100 million or more being talked about. The lawyers won't like it, since their percentage would be based on the $10 million for the victims, not on the larger $20 million figure. I feel deep sorrow that they won't get that country club membership, or $1 million contribution to their IRA under my plan, let alone the mansion on Antigua. They may actually have to continue practising law, rather than retire on their winnings from the pervert priest lottery. That does bite, but life is tough.
Shortly after Law's appointment here in Boston, there was much speculation, given his age, the high esteem he was held in by the Vatican, and the fact that there had never been an American pope, that Bernard Law just might be the one. Chiefly, that speculation came from a certain former sportscaster who writes for the Pilot, and whose last name rhymes with "tooth".
In response to the constant suggestions, Law made the following phrase a part of his schtick, repeated for years everywhere he went, "After Boston, there is only Heaven."
Well, we don't actually know what the future has in store for Cardinal Law. He remains a Cardinal. If the Holy Father dies in the next four years, Bernard Law will be eligible to help pick his successor. I, for one, plan to pray for Cardinal Law, that he finds forgiveness, that the rest of his life is fulfilling in some way, that he finds that place in Heaven when the time comes, and that it not come too soon.
I found this paragraph in the Globe's coverage of Law's resignation particularly offensive:
Issues that church officials have long sought to ignore, such as whether priests should be allowed to marry, whether women should be ordained, and whether too much authority is concentrated in the hands of the pope and his bishops, are now front and center. And the church's teachings on sexual ethics, already ignored by many American Catholics, are now a subject for parody in the popular culture. Despite estimates that as many as half of all American priests are gay, the Vatican has responded to the crisis by debating a proposal to bar gay men from seminaries.
Sorry liberals, those things are not on the agenda, and never will be. There will never be an acceptance by the Church of contraception, abortion, euthanasia, homosexual acts, priestesses, known homosexual priests. Not now. Not ten years from now. Not fifty years from now. Not 100 years from now. Not 1000 years from now. Not 10,000 years from now.
And the Vatican is planning to reiterate (not create anew) its ban on known homosexuals in the seminary because the experiment by the American Church in allowing it over the last fifty years has utterly and beyond even the slightest hope of being rejuvenated, failed. Eighty-five percent of the sexual abuse by priests is homosexual in nature. Without homosexual abuse, the volume of sexual abuse would be 15% of the current total. That is clear to all who look at this with a clear eye and are not in the grips of a special watching brief for the interests of the homosexual movement or have other axes to grind. End of experiment. But the Globe sees the way open to implementation of its social nostrums, when actually the door is closing, rather fast.
No jubilation. Just grim satisfaction and a sense that a necessary first step in putting this behind the Archdiocese and the Greater Boston community has been achieved. The Holy Father did the right thing, and Cardinal Law, finally, did the right thing. My question of a week ago, whether Law was more of a Nixon or a Clinton has been answered. Nixon. But even so, that isn't much to brag about.
Auxiliary Bishop Richard Lennon will be the administrator for the time being.
Now we all have to wonder what is next. How long will we have to limp along under an administrator? Who will replace Law for the long term? Will the new archbishop clean house, or will he play to the inmates on Lake Street? Do we get a genuine reformer, or another do-nothing who occasionally makes the right noises but goes along with far, far too much like his predecessor?
We just don't know.
The news as of 5:00 am has nothing to confirm that Cardinal Law has resigned or that the Holy Father has accepted his resignation. A quick check of my world time zone chart tells me that Rome is 6 hours ahead of us, making it almost 20 past 11:00 am there. I see no reason why this would be announced out of the ordinary course of the business day. If it is coming today, it will come in the next 7 hours.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Some sources are reporting that Cardinal Law will indeed offer the Holy Father his resignation when he meets with him tomorrow.
Domenico Bettinelli and Catholic World News are reporting that a resignation will be offered tomorrow.
Fox News reported that the resignation had been offered already, but has backed off that, and now says the resignation will be offered tomorrow.
Let us just pray that the Holy Father understands the situation well enough to accept the resignation.
On this date in 1914, novelist Patrick O'Brian was born. Patrick O'Brian was a new identity adopted by the author Richard Patrick Russ after service in British intelligence in World War II, and a rather discreditable abandoning of his first wife and children. As Patrick O'Brian, he settled in the south of France and started writing and growing grapes. O'Brian's first love was the Royal Navy of the Age of Nelson. In the 1960s, he produced the novel Master and Commander, featuring Captain Jonathan Aubrey, RN and his ship's surgeon, Stephen Maturin.
Both main characters have great depths. Aubrey is depicted often as a supremely competent sailor with a rogue of a father and an utter lack of ability to handle his affairs while not at sea. He is a jovial tall blonde fellow who is old fashioned and conservative, wonderfully hospitable, enjoys his bottle and his wench (he is regrettably something of a whoremonger). But Jack also has some mathemetical skill, and becomes an accomplished violinist.
Stephen Maturin is an actual physician, a calling far above the norm for Royal Navy surgeons. He is a small, ugly, dark Catholic Irishman, who has more than flirted with the cause of the United Irishman (he is a cousin of Lord Edward Fitzgerald), but is devoted to the destruction of Bonaparte. He has an Irish temper, is known to be a deadly duelist who has already buried many who insulted him. To make matters worse, he develops an addiction to opium and is a bastard. He is a enthusiastic naturalist. He is also hopelesly in love with a lovely English lady who does not love him. As if this was not enough, he enters the Royal Navy's intelligence service. He too is an amateur musician, playing the cello.
It is music that brings these two together. They sit next to one another at a concert in Minorca (where we are told that the quartet of Italian musicians are playing Locatelli) and nearly engage in a duel over Jack's exuberance at the performance. But Jack goes back to his lodgings, finds a message appointing him to command of his first ship, the little HMS Sophie, and in his happiness apologizes and invites Stephen to dine with him (love of good food is a theme in most of the Aubrey/Maturin novels). During the course of dinner Jack finds out that Stephen is currently not employed and asks him to join his crew as surgeon.
And we set sail on a voyage that would go on for thirty years and twenty novels.
O'Brian ably blends themes and atmospheres from Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Homer, Ian Fleming, and other sources. He stresses old-fashioned values like friendship, continuity of culture, faith, hospitality, and appreciation of the arts. His history is first rate. He used the published reports of the Royal Navy, The Naval Chronicle and the life of Lord Cochrane for primary sources. Period detail in naval terminology, food, medicine, politics, fashion, society, and literature permeates each of the novels. Though he wrote in the same format as C.S. Forester's Hornblower, Aubrey/Maturin is far superior as writing. Many literary critics believe that the Aubrey/Maturin novels, taken as a whole, are not only the best historical novels ever written, but possibly the best novels of the last four decades of the 20th century. Think about that. The competition is not that great.
Mr. O'Brian once said, "Obviously, I have lived very much out of the world: I know little of present-day Dublin or London or Paris, even less of post-modernity, post-structuralism, hard rock or rap, and I cannot write with much conviction about the contemporary scene." [Patrick O'Brian: Critical Essays and a Bibliography, edited by Arthur Cunningham]. In fact, Mr. O'Brian often seemed to have walked out of another era, and in his interactions with his publisher, he displayed a level of courtesy and civility rarely seen in our times.
I first read O'Brian in the spring of 1998. I had heard about the novels before, but resisted them. Remember, I am a re-enactor, and an infantryman. I was (still am) a great fan of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series. I knew nothing about sailing or medicine. But in a dreary time in my life I needed some new literary diversion. I started Master and Commander. Six weeks later, I had read the then-existing 18 novels. What won me over? The baroque music (Jack and Stephen play duets for their own amusement on the long voyages in most of the novels), the period food and drink (I was for a year quartermaster for my regiment and in charge of provisioning the troops in the field with authentic grub), the unfamiliar world of sailing an 18th century man-o-war (I did a short stint of marine duty on the tall ship HMS Rose, a replica frigate not all that different from Jack's beloved HMS Surprise, some years before this), the good fellowship, the wonderful characters like Jack's steward Preserved Killick ("Which, I wish I could put ratsbane in their toasted cheese") and Heneage Dundas, another naval captain.
O'Brian's publisher Norton, maintains the official Patrick O'Brian web page here.
Gibbons Burke maintains the terrific unofficial site. The links here are extensive. You could lose a day or more just navigating through the fascinating links.
Here is the Patrick O'Brian discussion forum, The Gunroom .
And here is an account (with photos) of O'Brian's visit to HMS Rose.
O'Brian died January 2, 2000 in Dublin while doing research for the 21st novel in the series. Here is a drawing by Geoff Hunt, who painted covers for all of the novels, of HMS Surprise in mourning for him.
A glass of wine with you, sir?
I think we can all use something a little lighter.
The Wild Geese Today discusses how Irish soldiers in the US Civil War celebrated Christmas.
Here is a discussion of Christmas in the British Isles.
Hilda Jarratt tells us about her memories of Christmases in Ireland.
More about an Irish Christmas here.
Check out this link, which discusses Eastern Europe's Christmas customs. It has some neat graphics, as well as warm memories and interesting information.
This story is developing.
On December 9th, 1531, the Blessed Mother appeared in the costume of a pregnant Aztec woman to a peasant named Juan Diego in what is now Mexico. She asked that a shrine be built toher on that spot. Juan Diego went to the local bishop, who was skeptical until juan diego showed him his cloak, on which the Blessed Mother left an image of herself. Juan also had an armful of roses, which did not bloom there at this time of the year.
The site of the Blessed Mother's apparition has become one of the major pilgrimage sites in Christendom. The cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been instrumental in bringing Spanish-speaking natives into the Church. This year, the Holy Father canonized Juan Diego. Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of the Americas. She is also patroness of the unborn.
We can use her prayers now, as well as the positive and enduring nature of her protection.
According to this article in the Globe, the Archdiocese is mixing up personnel files in responding to the court-ordered document requests. It included parts of the files of Father Richard F. Ahern, and Father Richard L. Ahern in the released file of Father Richard J. Ahern, the Stigmatine priest whose actions are discussed below. Likewise, parts of the file of Father James D. Foley, from St. Joseph's here in Salem, were included in response to a request for the file of Father James J. Foley. It appears to have been a coincidence that Father James D. Foley had a dark secret in his past that led to his suspension last week.
The Globe and the Herald are reporting this morning that Cardinal Law and five bishops who have worked for him have been served with subpoenas to appear before a grand jury and give oral testimony. You will remember that yesterday, AG Tom Reilly said that his team had to resort to using grand jury subpoenas in order to get requested documents from the Archdiocese. But Reilly was mum on whether subpoenas to appear in person and testify were issued. Apparently, according to the Globe's sources, state troopers served Law's subpoena at Lake Street last Friday. Later that day, Law took off for Rome. Cause and effect?
Subpoenas have been issued for Bishop Banks in Green Bay, Bishop Daily in Brooklyn, Bishop McCormack in New Hampshire, Bishop Murphy of Rockville Center, NY, and Archbishop Hughes of New Orleans. At least one other bishop and several priests have also been summoned to appear before a grand jury. The source said that several bishops have already given testimony before the grand jury.
Law's return from Rome is undetermined at this time. He is due to testfy in depositions in the Shanley case on Tuesday. I think it highly unlikely, but some are beginning to wonder if Cardinal Law is planning to take refuge in the Vatican, which does not have an extradition treaty with the US, as a church official implicated in the BCCI scandal did. I think the fact that he has been seen outside the jurisdiction of the Vatican counts against this. I expect he will be back in Boston by Monday at the latest. Whether he will still then be the sole archbishop of Boston remains to be seen.
Provincetown, for those from outside the area, is the homosexual-dominated upscale community at the tip of Cape Cod. How fitting. Shanley is sure to find that community as receptive to his presence as any other in Massachusetts. I would bet that a fair amount of the money for his bail came from there.
We have information from the Boston Globe at this early hour on more instances of scandalous conduct hidden by the Archdiocese of Boston. The first is another instance of the Archdiocese shunting its problem priests off onto the military chaplaincy, and telling the office of chaplains that there was no problem with the priest. Father Redmond Raux and another priest were accused of molesting a boy at Gate of Heaven parish in South Boston (one of the heavily Irish parts of town) in the early 1990s. A lawsuit was filed. It was settled for $200,000 in 1995.
In 1996 Cardinal Law gave the OK for Raux to serve with the chaplains, saying in writing he knew of nothing in Raux's past that would prevent him from working with minor children. The other priest named by the boy in the lawsuit, Father James Wilson, admitted his guilt, was placed on sick leave in 1993, and defrocked in 1998. The Archdiocese has now informed the Military Diocese of the accusation against Raux. Raux is assigned at Warren AFB, Wyoming.
Let me note a couple of things in fairness before moving on to other allegations. Raux maintains his innocence. Wilson admits his guilt, but their alleged actions were not joint, though the victim was the same. They are not alleged to have acted in concert. The fact that the suit was settled for a substantial amount does not necessarily constitute an admission of guilt. What is troubling is the use of the phrase that we saw in the Shanley file, that Cardinal Law knew of no circumstance that would prevent Raux from working with minor children. While he knew of nothing that was proved in court, he knew that an allegation had been made, and that the Archdiocese had settled the case. He should have said nothing on that front.
What is more troubling is the implication, pieced together from this file and one released last week, that the Archdiocese may have sytematically used the military chaplaincy (and the missions?) as a dumping ground for troubled priests, of course not giving full and complete information to the Military Diocese, as it similarly failed New York and California in the Shanley matter.
The Rev. Ross Frey was accused of molesting adolescent boys between 1978 and 1984 at retreats at St. Basil Salvatorian Center in Methuen. He was transferred to Lebanon in January 1996 about the same time church officials heard from a police officer that "there was about to be some bad publicity," according to the files. He was later placed on administrative leave.
Frey allegedly assaulted one boy the day he learned of his stepbrother's death. Frey told them sexual touching was mandated by the Holy Scriptures, according to the documents (GTF: is this guy reading the same translation as Bill Clinton?). Twelve plaintiffs in 1999 settled the lawsuit for $240,000.
Nothing in the documents indicated that Law or other top archdiocesan officials knew of the allegations before the lawsuit.
Altogether, 10 files were released yesterday. The Boston Herald updated with more information the Globe did not have.
Father James Power denies the allegation that he molested a boy during a camping trip in Maine in 1980. The alleged victim later (1992) approached Power demanding money. In 1996, the Archdiocese settled this matter for $35,000, though a review board did not find the allegation not to be supported by sufficient evidence. Power was re-assigned to a parish, but was removed in February of this year, as all alleged molesters were.
This one strikes close to home, as it is the first allegation I have seen of misconduct at my alma mater, Saint John's Preparatory School, though before my time:
Upon entering the Christian Brothers Order in 1964, James Comack took the name of Brother Ricardo and in two years became headmaster at St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers.
It was then that he orally sodomized a student who had endured a serious beating, and threatened to keep him from graduating should he report the assault, the single complaint in his file states.
One spring evening, Ricardo took the senior from Lowell to the hospital where he received kidney X-rays. To help him feel better, Ricardo gave the student a back massage before coaxing him onto his back, where he began massaging the victim's thighs.
``Br. Ricardo concluded the sordid episode by orally sodomizing (the victim),'' read the 1994 complaint.
The disposition of Ricardo's case is unclear from his file.
Father Richard J. Ahern, director of the Stigmatine's Camp Elm Bank in Wellesley in the 1960s, allegedly molested a 13-year-old boy who had lost his father, ordering two other teens to hold him down while he masturbated him, a 1993 complaint states.
``The two boys held me down, while Fr. Ahern began to touch my penis and testicles.''
Ahern and another priest, together abused the victim in another weekend incident, the complaint reads.
Ahern, who died last year, was the subject of another complaint by an altar boy who served when Ahern was a pastor at Our Lady of Angels Church in Woodbridge, Va., between 1959 and 1961.
An altar boy ultimately alerted the area bishop that Ahern, during those two years, allegedly ``seduced and sexually abused'' him.
Father Robert A. Ward was caught having downloaded child pornography in 1999. He was taken out of parish work, and assigned as development officer for special projects, as it was thought that he had not victimized anyone. In February 2001, a man stepped forward to allege that Ward molested him at Presentation parish in Brighton in the 1970s. Ward's public ministry was ended.
The Archdiocese did not hand over the full files on two other priests. Father George Spagnolia, will be remembered because he tried to defy the order for him to leave his Lowell rectory this year. He took a 20 year leave of absence from the priesthood, during which he has admitted to at least two homosexual relationships with adult men.
Monsignor Frederick Ryan has multiple counts of abuse alleged against him. One interesting notation in the documents on him that were handed over is this:
``First lawsuit, but not first call.'' Highly suggestive, that.
Ryan was once an influential member of the Archdiocesan bureaucracy.
Also notice this. Ten accused priests whose files were released yesterday. Number accused of heterosexual abuse: 0. Number accused of homosexual abuse: 10. I don't think Boston is unique in this, except for the concentration of perverts. Believe me, they are not holding back the heterosexual cases. The vast bulk of the cases are homosexual in nature. Tell me again that homosexuality in the priesthood is not the major part of the problem.
It is dimly amusing to see liberals and those with some sort of watching brief for homosexuality try to explain it all away. They are correct in one thing: homosexual inclinations do not equal sexual abuse of underage boys per se. But the correlation is large enough that one can't justify hiring known homosexuals for any position in which they would have unstructured access to underage boys (priests, scout masters, etc.).
And on it goes.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Everything being mailed out of the Fitzpatrick household has been purchased and mailed. Mrs. Fitzpatrick is done with her shopping. I just have a couple of things to pick up, maybe 25% of my shopping. Grocery shopping for Christmas/New Years has not been done yet. Decorating is done. Cookie baking has not been started, though we may start some tonight. We bake a number of varieties of cookies (details coming in a list). Our Christmas entertaining plans are not firm yet. About 20% of our cards are written and mailed. So things are falling into line little by little.
The Globe has obtained information on two more alleged pervert priests. Apparently nine files were released today.
Father Alfred Murphy, an Augustinian assigned as pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin parish in Lawrence in 1983, according to his personnel file, was accused of taking a 17 year-old boy on a cross-country trip with him and molesting him on 21 consecutive nights. He paid the boy $600 to compensate him for taking time off a summer job. The alleged victim sued the Archdiocese for $150,000 nine years later. The status of that suit is not known.
Father George Callahan, another Augustinian assigned to the same parish allegedly attempted to molest the same boy a few months earlier.
The priest enticed the boy to a room upstairs at the church, asking him if he wanted to "get closer to God," and if so, to "get undressed and get closer to him." The boy took off his clothes and laid on the bed, but then panicked and fled the room.
Both priests were eventually re-assigned to the Augustinian house in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Their status is not entirely clear.
The evidence here does look a little suspicious. One would think that his experience with Father Callahan, if it happened, would have put the boy off contact with priests. Yet, a few months later, off he goes with Father Murphy on a cross country trip, is allegedly molested by him 21 times, and does not complain for 9 years. At the very least, one has to ask what was going on with this victim and why he was so particularly attractive to two alleged perverts. It certainly does not look as if he took reasonable steps that a 17 year-old would have known to take, to protect himself.
Presumably, the Globe is preparing follow-ups on the other 7 files released today.
Fellow Salemite and cigar lover Domenico Bettinelli hits two home runs on topics I had overlooked. The first deals with an op-ed written by the Episcopal bishops of Massachusetts urging the Roman Catholic Church to follow the Anglicans into error and allow openly gay priests (and women priestesses, and married priests, and divorced priests, and probably openly gay but now divorced priests, and openly lesbian priestesses, and openly lesbian and now divorced priestesses; there is no bottom here). No thank you.
The second is on the Trent Lott problem. Lott has been a fairly ineffective Republican leader. He should have thought a little longer before saying what he did praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign. But Democrats are demanding that Lott leave the Senate Majority Leader post, resign from the Senate, wear sack cloth and ashes for the rest of his days, because he dared say something that can be interpreted as racially insensitive, rather than merely unctious in praise of Strom Thurmond. They seem to forget that their own outgoing President Pro Tempore of the Senate was a member of the KKK from whose lips the "N" word still slips from time to time. They forget that race-monger par excellence, Jesse Jackson, who is practically a full-time shill for the Democrat Party when he is not extorting money from corporations for alleged racial insensitivity, called Jews "Hymie" and New York "Hymie-Town" not so long ago. And they forget that Al Gore's father was a certified segregationist, too. Glass houses?
Over the weekend, it was the story of a young woman slitting the throat of a nine-month old. Today it is a pair of third graders arrested for selling pot. And now Fox is reporting that a four year-old in Holyoke, Mass. brought a bag of pot as a gift to her teacher. She says she got it from her mother.
Conditions: He has to stay in Massachusetts, can't have contact with children, has to let the probation department know where he is living, and has surrendered his passport. No house arrest. No bracelet. This guy is both a danger to the community and a flight risk. Letting him out on bail is insane.
His attorney says that the bail money came from a variety of individuals who do not want to have their names publicized, for obvious reasons. I'm guessing that NAMBLA circulated a fundraising appeal to get this leading light of their criminal movement out, since these perverts probably see him as a martyr to an unjust legal system. If it turns out anyone employed by the Archdiocese had anything to do with it, the outrage that will ensue will make all that has come up until now seem like a tea party of the ladies' auxiliary of the Massachusetts Historical Society. It may never be known who contributed, because the bail was posted in cash, leaving no record of who is responsible.
My recommendation: remember what he looks like. Study his photo carefully. If you see him in the mall, and are sure it is him (and I mean really sure), be sure to yell out, "Hey Father Shanley, when did you get out of jail? Are you shopping for little boys to molest?" Actually, that was former Congressman Peter Blute's recommendation from his radio show this morning. As Howie Carr, among others, says sometimes, "In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls." And no, I'm not recommending that anyone beat the living crap out of this champion of the pervert cause. He maintains his innocence and we should respect that. Giving him a good pasting would be wrong, no matter what the accusations. I merely suggest that his movements be carefully tracked and duly noted in public, for the protection of children.
By all available accounts, a great guy.
Rod Dreher, writing in National Review On Line, discusses the absurd NYC public school policy of banning creches as religious symbols, while allowing the star and crescent and menorahs as "secular" symbols. The NYC public schools don't have a leg to stand on in this case, based on precedent. How insane is this policy? Who can say that the menorah and star and cresent are secular symbols, while maintaining that the creche is a religious symbol? Only someone bent on ridding the public square of any symbol of Christianity.
Self-proclaimed CINO (Catholic In Name Only) Howie Carr is scathing today in his Boston Herald column on the curious juxtoposition of Cardinal Law's continuous advocacy of hand-out programs as part of the taxpayers' "moral responsibility" while considering bankruptcy when the judicial process would make him pay the piper for the rape of children by his priests.
Howie is a bomb-thrower with a bad case of the baby boom generation's lack of respect for anything, especially authority. But I can't argue with his position. It is enlightening to consider that Cardinal Law has been a consistent advocate for more taxpayer dollars for the undeserving poor. Yet, when the Archdiocese has to settle with those its agents harmed, there is no sense of social responsibility. There is a desire, or at least a threat, to evade some of the responsibility through bankruptcy.
As Howie said, it is Clintonian.
The Boston Globe cites Vatican sources that say it is likely that Cardinal Law will again offer his resignation to the Holy Father when he meets with him tommorow. But there is a difference between offering a resignation, and insisting that it be accepted. How forceful Law is in tendering it could make all the difference.
The situation has deteriorated further since April, when Law last offered to resign. It must be plain that the Church in Boston is not being well served by keeping Law in office. The growing rebellion among the priests of the Achdiocese is likely to have a galvanizing effect on the Holy Father, who has often been described as a "priests' pope," meaning that he considers himself to be as one with the concerns of his loyal priests as they go about their ministry. The laity and the media can piss and moan as much as they like. But if the priests say someone must go, John Paul II is likely to take notice. I'm not blaming him for it, or praising it. He is a product of his generation, and that is just the way he thinks.
But the form of that notice is subject to speculation. He could react with an "in-our-face" refusal to comply. We do not give in to pressure here, even if it comes from priests. But that is probably not in John Paul's make-up. He believes in the institution of the Church, but his feet are not set in concrete when it comes to personnel matters. If he has any source of information on the situation in Boston other than Law, he should be eager to accept the resignation now.
Despite public pledges to cooperate fully with state prosecutors, the Archdiocese of Boston continues to stall and withold documents, according to Attorney General Tom Reilly. Grand jury subpoenas have had to be used to obtain documents. Reilly will not comment on whether Cardinal Law has testified before a grand jury.
In fact, he said, ''the archdiocese has used every tool and maneuver available to them to keep us from the facts we need to come to a resolution of this investigation.''
He added: ''We have to fight them for everything we get ... The level of cooperation is nowhere near what it should be, given the magnitude of the crimes against children and the fact that we are dealing with a religious institution.''
Criminal prosecution seems unlikely, probably because Tom Reilly sees no political upside to prosecuting the Archdiocese (though he has no problem tilting at the Microsoft windwill almost alone, and insisting that the patently innocent Gerald Amirault remain in prison). He claims that Massachusetts law is less helpful in prosecuting the Church than New Hampshire law is, but he is overlooking the ripe RICO field, and other theories. If he can take a case to a grand jury, it will indict.
TownHall.com carries Pat Buchanan's column, in which he blames Vatican II for all the ills of the Church in the US. First of all, Vatican II is getting far too much of the blame. Other factors than the council itself were at work. The Sexual Revolution, feminism, liberalism, growing materialism and hedonism, and yes laziness by Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, etc. all play a role. To say that Vatican II is to blame for all is just post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning.
In fact, much that has been done since Vatican II to weaken the church was not compelled by the documents of the council. They were done (are still being done in parishes infested with "progressive" pastors) "in the spirit of Vatican II" in much the same way liberal Supreme Court justices found a right to abortion in the "penumbra" emanating from the 14th Amendment. Read through the voluminous documents of the council, ignore the actions that have taken place since the council in its name, and you will find very little problem with the council itself.
It was a legitimate council of the Church, that opened things up for some beneficial changes. If Catholics on the right of the Church wish to influence the debate, they must recognize the legitimacy of the council (and we conservative Catholics can use some allies on the right in our struggle with the left to restore a great deal of traditional practice and devotion). None of this nonsense about every pope since Pius XII being illegitimate, please. Those are the arguments of kooks, who exclude themselves from the debate, and separate themselves from the Church of Christ. Even if we prefer the aesthetics of the Tridentine Mass, we must not fall into the trap of denying the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo, even when variations on its basic theme make us want to grind our teeth.
Those who insist on denying the legitimacy of the Holy Father and Vatican II are like fringe groups on the political right, the John Birch Society with its absurb conspiracy theories, Perotistas who handed the presidency to Bill Clinton, and the libertarians with their single-minded focus on liberty, and not enough concern for an ordered and liveable community. By leaving the battlefield, they disrupted the plans of their allies, and made the victories of their enemies likely. This "if I can't have my way, I'll take my ball and go home" attitude is unfortunately more common on the right in both politics and religion than it is on the left, which tends to be much more cohesive.
That a vernacular Mass should be the norm seems uncontroversial to me. But I think Latin Masses should be available in many more parishes than they currently are available in. If the market finds Latin Masses very popular, and vernacular Masses less so, then so be it. As long as both are available and everyone recognizes the legitimacy of both.
I prefer to say that the manner in which the council's findings were implemented was high-handed, too fast, and smacked too much of the French and Russian Revolutions than to say the council was in error (which is impossible since it was guided by the Holy Spirit). The spirit of levelling and making all anew was too much prevalent. The hearts and minds of the reformers still aim at ridding the Church of traditional devotions, still aspire to the Unitarian/Catholic Church, where everybody does their own thing. They still dream of a Vatican III they can dominate. But the odium for all that Pat Buchanan points out falls on the reformers themselves, not on Vatican II.
That said, the laundry list of difficulties Pat describes is an accurate rendering. It is not even a rendering of the whole problem. Examine what is taught in parochial school religion classes and in CCD. Advert your attention to the open heterodoxy among priests, nuns, monks, theologians, and confusion among the faithful. The liberals in charge of the Church in the US (by-and-large) since 1950 bear a huge burden of blame for the shamefully decayed state of Holy Mother the Church.
They aimed at destroying the Triumphalist Church of the 1940s. They succeeded in destroying, like most revolutionaries. And like the Bolsheviks, what they offered in exchange for tradition was thin, weak stuff that appeals to few, and to those few only as entertainment. They built nothing of permanence, except ugly churches that look like part of a strip mall or an inverted ice cream cone. They got rid of the wonderful Gregorian Chant in favor of Father Andy's guitar Mass for the kiddies (who today listen to rap, not R&B or rock), when Gregorian Chant could have been worked into a mostly-vernacular Mass. What is next, a rap Mass? Or has that particular atrocity already been committed?
They wanted only liberals entering the priesthood, so that their work of destruction would be perpetuated. And because there were not enough straight liberal Catholic men, they had to become open to homosexuals entering the seminary, either openly, or with a wink and a nod (we won't ask, you don't tell us, if you do, we'll pretend we didn't hear it). We see what we got for that.
At the same time, as Michael Rose pointed out, good straight. orthodox men were rejected for the priesthood because they were considered "inflexible" and might actually have told someone they were wrong to commit sin, and might have to pay the eternal price for it if they did not confess it. Forbid that anyone be told by a priest they are sinful, that there is a devil, and a Hell, and that some will end up there! We can't have "inflexible" priests like that. They must all be social workers in Roman collars, who make no judgments and make no one uncomfortable (Jesus would never do that, would He?). Father Huggy Bear, yes. Father Fire N. Brimstone, no. That is a big part of why we are where we are.
But Vatican II didn't do that. The reformers who worked "in the spirit of Vatican II" did. Put the blame where it belongs, so that we can accurately get to work restoring the Church in America. To do that work, we may need the help of about 50 saints or prophets in the ranks of our bishops and priests. But the Holy Spirit has sent blessings like that before. We must pray that He does so now.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Things are getting awfully serious here in St. Blog's. No fault of ours though: we just react to the news. What with a new phase in the war against terrorism about to start, tons of materials on pervert priests being released, Cardinal Law in Rome interminably trying to make a decision whether to stay or to go, President Bush appointing suits with room temperature economic policy intellects to run his economic team, Trent Lott making a jackass out of himself, etc., etc. etc., it is no surprise people are concerned, alarmed, and outraged. We need a little Christmas list now.
This time, it is my list of the top 10 Christmas movies. My 10 favorite Christmas specials constitute another list entirely. They are in no particular order.
The Gathering Ed Asner stars as an estranged husband and father who finds out he has very little time to live just before Christmas. This movie is just chock full of scenes depicting preparations for Christmas, and Christmas being celebrated in the grand style in a wealthy household (they even have a pet protestant minister who drops everything to baptize a child at their home on Christmas Day). Ultimately this is a very heart-warming movie, though you have to blot out the "Vietnam was wrong undertone" and some 1970s clothing styles. Sadly, this movie is not currently available on VHS, though I have not checked DVD. Watch the cable listings (Fox used to carry it, try the Hallmark Channel) and tape it.
Scrooge This musical version of A Christmas Carol has some problems. For Lord knows what reason the producers decided to set it in 1860 (the book was written in the early 1840s) so the costumes are wrong. Albert Finney is a convincing Scrooge, but for some reason portrayed him as a recovered stroke victim. Alec Guiness has a unique interpretation of Jacob Marley. Kenneth More is very good as the Ghost of Christmas Present, but the beard he wears is rather cheesy. I think the actors who played Scrooge's nephew Fred and Bob Crachit are the best of all the versions I have watched. But the atmosphere of this rendition is terrific. You feel as if you had stepped into Victorian London at Christmas time. The song December the 25th is a classic. Another list will discuss and rate the various screen adaptations of A Christmas Carol (we have all but one or two).
The Homecoming This was the pilot for The Waltons. All the children reprised their roles in the TV series. I never cared for Patricia Neal, who plays Olivia. Andrew Duggan is not credible as John Walton (not after getting used to Ralph Waite). But this depiction of a Depression-era Christmas is moving nonetheless. And I grew up with it.
Jingle All The Way I saw this for the first time a week ago and laughed myself into coughing fits. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a stressed out dad trying to get that special toy for his son at the last minute. As an uncle who still bears the scars of the Cabbage Patch doll craze, this movie resonated. Is it me, or is there no super-hard-to-find toy this year?
A Christmas Story This is an adaptation of Jean Sheperd's works. Little Ralphie wants a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. Everyone tells him he'll shoot his eye out with it. The movie has a lot of what it felt like to be a kid at Christmas. Darren McGavin was a little old for the role of the father, but otherwise perfect.
Miracle On 34th Street There was a nice rendition in the 1970s, but you have to watch the original. Macy's Santa Claus turns out to be the real thing, but the Macy's psychiatrist wants to send him to the looney bin. The interplay between the judge and his political advisor is great.
It's A Wonderful Life Frank Capra tells us the tale of George Bailey and the Building and Loan of Bedford Falls. Jimmy Stewart is absolutely terrific as Bailey. It would not be Christmas without an evening looking at the life of George Bailey and rejoicing at his vindication. "No man is a failure as long as he has friends."
The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story Oh, no, you say. Not another glorification of small-town America. Though I found the Lee Remick character sort of off-putting, Angela Lansbury made up for it. More depictions of small-town traditions. This made-for-TV movie is not available on VHS or DVD, yet. Earl Hamner wrote it, and Delbert Mann directed.
The House Without A Christmas Tree Jason Robards stars as an emotionally scarred father who is hiding from his own emotional baggage by forbidding his daughter a Christmas tree. More small town values of the early-mid 20th century.
A Child's Christmas In Wales This screen adaption is narrated by Denholm Elliot, who plays the grandfather. It is a fine adaptation (I think it is the only one). Hard to find, though, as it was filmed for British TV in 1986. I still kick myself for not buying the copy Borders had 4-5 years ago.
The diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire entered into a settlement with the New Hampshire Attorney General in which it acknowledged that it probably would have been convicted of child endangerment, a misdemeanor under New Hampshire law carrying a $20,000 per instance fine. It will release details from the files of about 50 priests. It has agreed to enter into as yet unspecified policies to protect children in the future.
The terms seem pretty lenient for McCormack. But Phillips wanted a deal to put this behind New Hampshire before he left office next week. Those who wanted to see McCormack in an orange jump suit have lost perhaps their best opportunity.
Larry Kudlow, at National Review On Line, follows up on his discussion of the new economic team. The good news is that Snow has hidden depths, and got high marks from Jack Kemp, James Miller, and Ed Fuelner. The bad news about him is that he is a deficit hawk and given to extremes on corporate ethics.
The news on Stephen Friedman is all bad.
In a half dozen phone calls I couldn't find a positive word for Friedman. Naturally, no one wanted to be quoted. But from deep-background interviews I can report comments like "nasty," "arrogant," "ineffective," "not a detail guy," and "unpopular." One former Goldman partner told me he still can't understand why Friedman abruptly left the lucrative partnership in the mid 1990s. "He just walked out the door one day," he said. A money manager who knows Friedman said he jumped ship because Goldman's earnings were imploding. This individual, a conservative, said, "Look, I may not have agreed with him, but [Clinton's Treasury chief] Bob Rubin was a smart guy. Friedman was not."
Several people expressed dismay at Friedman's link to the Concord Coalition, a group that consistently opposes tax cuts and obsesses over deficits. Friedman was vice chairman of the group, and apparently had no strong political views other than deficit bashing. Another source said Friedman contributed at least as much to Democrats as to Republicans, including heavy support for Sen. Chuck Schumer and at least some help for Hillary Clinton.
Oh well, we have to remember, Bush is not Reagan (more's the pity).
They seem to cross the spectrum, to some extent. My wife's old pastor is on the list, and he seemed solid enough. Also a lot of Jesuits are on the list, some associated with the Weston School of Theology, which is surprising given Cardinal Law's overly lenient treatment of them and of the Boston College theology faculty regarding the required oaths (he scandalously told them to not bother). No Carmelites were on the list, or priests from our local area. I did see on the list the pastor of the parish where the pastor of my home parish in the late 70s and 80s now lives as a senior priest.
I think they have taken an enormous risk. Moreover, I agree with them. But I am not bound by a vow of obedience. The ring-leaders of the effort (Cuenin and a few others) will probably find it tough going with Law's successor, no matter what his views. Bishops don't like to have to worry about a possible rebellion among the ranks. The liberals among them probably should have a hard time on the basis of their views and actions (whether they signed this document or not).
This is a tremendously important document in the history of the priesthood in Greater Boston. It may have implications for years to come, as it has defined a large number of priests. One wonders if this document, generated under peculiar circumstances, is the end, or merely a founding document of a movement of priests which will take on a life of its own. If it is the latter, what will the future leadership of the Archdiocese do about it? It is important to note that the spur to this letter was the ban on meetings at Cuenin's parish, with the whole Scandal in the background. What will happen if a more conservative archbishop of the future decides that the Boston Priests' Forum cannot continue? Opposing Law at this stage after what has happened is natural and understandable. But has a precedent of an organized priesthood been established? The end does not necessarily justify the means.
Ben Johnson, writing for FrontPage Magazine, looks at the terrible change in immigration policy we made in 1965. You pretty much just need to know that Ted Kennedy was largely responsible to know it has been a disaster.
Over the weekend, a woman in Chelsea, Mass. was arrested for slitting the throat of the nine-month old child of her neighbor. Murdering a nine-month old by cutting his throat and then leaving him out with the trash? What could possess a human being to do such a thing? Several of the Chelsea police who responded to the scene understandably needed counseling. These atrocities seem to happen more and more in our society.
The Boston Priests' Forum, which claims to have between 100 and 250 members, only managed 58 signers for its letter calling on Cardinal Law to resign. Still, 58 priests (more than 5% of the active priests of the Archdiocese), no matter what their idealogical bent (I'm sure we can find a way to deal with them for that later), putting their careers on the line by calling on their boss to step aside is a significant development. If 58 signed the letter, you can be sure that the number who privately think he must go is at least ten times that number.
Any rebellion in the ranks of the Boston clergy is something neither Cardinal Law nor the Holy Father can ignore. Unfortunately, this action will make it look as if Law's eventual resignation (or removal) was a response to pressure from below. The Church cannot ever put itself in the position of giving in to popular demands, whether from laity or clergy. Ironically, this will probably mean that Law stays longer, perhaps with a co-adjutor. I'm not sure what this means for a succesor. The Vatican could feel pushed to appoint someone tough-as-nails to the see of Boston. It might also wimp out and appoint a "healer and conciliator", the usual pattern for appointments of American bishops. That would be a tragic mistake.
My advice: get rid of Law, clean out the perverts, blight the careers of any enablers still in the Archdiocese's employ, and appoint someone more orthodox and more tough-minded, with more of a "the-Church's-way-or-the-highway" approach. He can then deal with the residual rebellion by the priests and just let Voice of the Faithful's leadership go to the Unitarians where they belong. He can sort out the financial ramifications, and settle the lawsuits. He has to appear conciliatory towards victims, and reasonable towards the laity in general, while being more demanding of obedience in matters of faith and morals, and discipline within the priesthood, the seminary, and theology departments of our Catholic colleges. He will have to be an able administrator, a clever negotiator, present a smile to the public, be a clever politician with the common touch, be an absolutely devoted Roman, and be a loving martinet with his priests and administrators forcing them into greater obedience and union with Rome. It will not be an easy balancing act.
New Hampshire Attorney General Phillip McLaughlin has scheduled a major announcement in the case against the Diocese of Manchester for its failure to protect children from known perverts. McLaughlin had announced that a grand jury would convene Friday to possibly indict the diocese or Bishop McCormack, if no settlement was reached before then. McLaughlin is known to want to settle this matter before he leaves office on December 18th. It is said that documents on New Hampshire's pervert priests will be released to the public as part of any settlement. Fifty alleged pervert priests with over 100 victims are the subject matter of the investigation.
WBZ Radio (1030 AM, Boston) is reporting that The Suffolk County DA's office has been informed that Paul Shanley, present at the founding of NAMBLA and one of Boston's most notorious pervert priests, is going to post $300,000.00 bail and be released from jail today. It is not known who raised the money to spring Shanley.
Shanley, you will recall, could not be found for a long time before his arrest. He is also reported to have scooted to Thailand for a one last visit to one of the world's centers for child sex before surrendering to police. The bail seems to have been set far too low. This person is not just a danger to the community, but is also a flight risk. I would like to know how the bail money was raised.
Would you contribute to a fund to spring Paul Shanley from jail? I didn't think so.
People of New England and California, lock up your sons. You don't have to worry about your daughters around Shanley.
Files on seven more priests were released late Monday. Of course, the Globe decided to lead with what appears to be the only heterosexual accusation of the seven, that of Father William Scanlan, accused of raping a 12 year-old girl. Concerns were first raised about Scanlan in 1987, with one superior writing, ''He is going to cause me a problem. He fools around with kids. He is in difficulty.'' But he continued to be assigned to parishes. He is still apparently functioning as a priest at a VA hospital in California.
The Globe of course wishes to give the false impresssion that heterosexual abuse constitutes a preponderant part of the problem, so they lead with Scanlan. Of course the other 4 cases they discuss are all homosexual in nature.
Father Paul Manning was removed from ministry after being acquitted of indecent assault and battery. He was seen at his rectory by his pastor touching the genitals of an 11 year-old boy in 1993. By this time, the Archdiocese was taking these incidents seriously (this is the immediate aftermath of the Father Porter case), and McCormack and the pastor brought the complaint to the DA and the police. The victim's parents testified that their son was not molested, and Manning was acquitted, despite what the pastor had seen. Because of the pastor's evidence, Manning was removed from ministry.
Kudos to that pastor, Father Paul Sughrue, for sticking to his guns.
Father George Berthold was head of the liberal arts faculty at St. John's Seminary. Cardinal Law removed him from the seminary in 1995 for kissing a 19 year-old seminarian. Berthold went to Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, from which he was dismissed in 1998 after new allegations against him were made there.
Father Dennis Conte was placed on sick leave in 1993. He was accused of abusing a boy at St. Anthony's parish, Revere. He has shown little interest in returning from sick leave.
Father Edward McDonagh denies having raped a boy 40 years ago (the alleged victim died of AIDS six years ago). The accusation comes from the dead man's sister. He was removed from ministry, but wishes to return.
The Boston Herald adds details the Globe did not deem it appropriate to tell us.
Another priest whose files were released was Father Gary Balcom, of whom the Herald tells us:
In a 1994 report, Balcom admitted sexual contact with ``eight or nine'' teen boys over a 20-year period and was sued the year before for molesting an altar boy at Weymouth's Immaculate Conception Church.
Balcom, 56, went on to serve in Milton and St. Agnes in Arlington before being put on sick leave in 1985. In 1993, while under treatment at Maryland's St. Luke's Institute, he sliced his right wrist. Therapists there said he showed ``increasing empathy'' for his victims.
In 1998, he was laicized. He did not return a call for comment.
Interesting that the Globe had nothing to say about Father Balcom. That is why Boston needs two major newspapers with different political perspectives.
The last of the seven was Father Paul Moriarty, of whom the Herald only says:
Moriarty, who died in 1982, is accused of sexually abusing a child while at St. Mary of the Hills in Milton in the 1950s
These files look like the "after" of before/after photos. The changing events seem to have been the Father Porter trial and the national effort to clean up some seminaries, including St. John's, in the early 1990s. Many of these accusations are more recent, and the Archdiocese did take some action in most of the cases.
Monday, December 09, 2002
The Navy is naming the tenth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, due to be completed in 2007, the USS George H. W. Bush. The ninth Nimitz-class carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan is nearing completion, and should be available for duty sometime next year. Bush 41 was a fine, dedicated commander-in-chief and a navy pilot in World War II. Dulce et decorum.
Rush Limbaugh was joking that The Chinese navy will be naming their new guided missile cruiser the William Jefferson Clinton, to honor the hard work his administration undertook to leak information to them so that they could build their armed forces. Also sweet and proper.
John Leo, whose column is carried by TownHall.com, writes about the rather blase threat to marriage as we know it. institutions are often destroyed not by the enemy battering their walls down with massed batteries, but by being betrayed from within. Here, the American Law Institute is the one carrying water for "progessives."
Bob Novak's column, carried today at TownHall.com, says Stephen Friedman, the likely replacement for Larry Lindsey, is bad news for supply-siders. There were much better choices available: Dick Armey, Bill Archer, Phil Gramm, Steve Forbes, Paul Craig Roberts, Wayne Angell, to name just a few. But we get two boardroom denizens with no record of enthusiasm for conservative economic policy. George W. Bush is good, but he is no Reagan.
There is a press conference or a statement due from officials from the Archdiocese of Boston this afternoon. However, as of a little while ago, no exact time had been announced. This leads me to believe that Cardinal Law left most of his advisors in the dark about his intentions. The other inhabitants of the Lake Street bunker haven't been able to say when they will address the media, probably because they don't know what they plan to say. They are waiting for a signal from Law. And it looks as if Law has not made up his mind whether to press the Holy Father to accept his resignation, or stay at least until the litigation is settled.
John Snow, chairman of CSX, replaces Paul O'Neill, whose performance betrayed a great desire to make a public spectacle of himself (nothing like what various people in the Clinton Administration did, especially the Philanderer-in-Chief, but worrisome in a Republican administration) and very little understanding of how the economy really works (supply-side theory). Snow, with a background in the Ford Administration, does not promise more. Another establishment Republican favoring safe, predictable policies that his lunch club membership will think sound. He looks like the sort of businessman who plagues Republican administrations (think Donald Regan and Jim Baker). I would like to be surprised.
Also, Snow is known as an enthusiast for greater enforcement of corporate ethics. That sort of news terrifies the markets (every arrest, every announcement of "getting tough on fraud and abuse" sends the markets lower, in case you haven't noticed). Encouraging more seat-of-the-pants, devil-take-the-hindmost, risk-taking capitalism is the key. It helped Ronald Reagan. It works whenever it is tried.
Placating corporate journalists and not the markets is not the way to turn the economy around in time for 2004, to the extent that national adminstrations can do that (they do have an effect on the margin; aggressive and immediate tax cuts could spur a great deal of growth). Safe, stand-pat policies are not the ticket. Boldness, always boldness. With Republicans controlling both houses of congress, why not?
Update: I see that Larry Kudlow, writing for National Review On Line, is echoing my criticisms of O'Neill, though I think he must be as disappointed as I am in the choice of successor (unless there is something about Snow I don't know).
This may all sound like inside politics, but we learned in the Reagan years that personnel make or break policy. Intelligent appointees in tune with the thinking of the president can help to get a great deal done (Caspar Weinberger, Ed Meese, Dick Cheney) . Appointing moderates who shift with the latest fad leads to disloyalty and failure (Frank Carlucci, David Stockman, Donald Regan). There is an obvious lesson here for the Holy Father in appointing American bishops, also.
Today's Boston Herald takes us through the process of what would happen if Cardinal Law resigns. Boston Catholics can use a refresher course in the process, as it has been 18 years. What it does not say is that, if the Vatican has its act together and has a successor in mind, the process of replacing Law could take a week, or a day, not the 3-6 months that it has taken in other circumstances.
Given the circumstances, it would be best if an archbishop were named within a day or two of Law's resignation, and if that means short-circuiting the normal procedures, so be it. I don't envy the fellow who replaces Law. His work is more than cut out for him.
The Washington Times today provides a brief profile of the development of Ave Maria University. This is the sort of project the Catholic Church in the US ought to be involved in. It is a sad commentary on two generations of leaders that no Catholic university has been founded in the US in 40 years.
Sunday, December 08, 2002
Last weekend, I promised you a number of Christmas lists. Last week, I offered my list of 10 favorite seasonal readings. Today, it is my favorite Christmas albums (all available on CD).
In no particular order:
Chip Davis, Renaissance Holiday
The Chieftans, The Bells of Dublin
Emily Mitchell, Celtic Christmas
The Harry Simeone Chorale, The Little Drummer Boy (the original, with all religious carols)
The Revels, Victorian Christmas Revels
Mannheim Steamroller, A Mannheim Steamroller Christmas/Fresh Aire Christmas/Christmas In the Aire (all three rock, the first most)
Bing Crosby, White Christmas
The Boston Camerata, A Medieval Christmas/A Renaissance Christmas/A Baroque Christmas (again, all three are great)
Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (the original soundtrack but with some additions)
Perry Como, A Perry Como Christmas (a wonderful recording of Ave Maria)
The tree is up. All 2,300 lights are on. The three large ornament boxes have all been emptied and their contents hung somewhere on the tree. The silver bead garlands are all in place. The angel sits atop it all about 81/2 feet from the floor. The lighted star I used as a tree-topper in my youth is just below the angel.
The main creche stands on the sofa table (we have one in almost every room of the house). I've been collecting Fontanini pieces for the main creche for about five years and now have about a 30-piece set, including a town wall of Bethlehem that I built out of styrofoam, scored to look like stone blocks, and spray-painted with grey stone-textured paint (oh, the neat stuff you can get at Lowe's!). I built a night sky, using the tiny lights and adapters that Lemax sells for its Christmas villages, taped onto a piece of plywood and with a piece of fairly thin dark blue cloth draped over it. For ground cover, I used the green grass-on-a-roll available in some hobby shops.
It all looks nice. The house has a distinct Christmasy feel. And that is why you have heard so little from me this weekend.
According to the Globe, Cardinal Law is in Rome again. His spokeswoman does not know why he is there, she says. This is not a routine trip. It could be to offer a resignation, or to get approval for bankruptcy. There are precious few other reasons to cancel things on the schedule and fly to Rome. The Boston Priests Forum, which fellow Salemite and cigar lover Domenico Bettinelli does a good job of spotlighting as a liberal pressure group in the Boston priesthood, is now formally calling on Cardinal Law to resign. Even the most liberal priests are loathe to make a move like this. They must see that the handwriting is on the wall, if they are confident enough to make a public declaration like this. Though if I were Law's successor, after an initial period of publicly conciliatory remarks, I would make sure that the careers of all of the signatories were forever blighted, without ever telling them so.
Law is in the unenviable position of having united just about every Catholic not hopelessly hunkered down on Lake Street against him. Conservative, traditionalist, "mainstream," and liberal Catholics have all independently come to the conclusion that he can no longer effectively lead the Archdiocese. If collegue Mark Shea is right, and the Holy Father is keeping Law in place in order to make him bear his cross, the Holy Father is overlooking the fact that Law's continued tenure in office is tearing the Church in Boston apart. Law has lost the moral authority to have any positive effect. Keeping him in place after these latest revelations (that confirm the patterns seen in the Geoghan and Shanley files) would be destructive to the health and unity of the Church. And I am not just talking about its financial health.
Many holier men than Bernard Law have seen fit to abandon their sees when remorse for their own actions dictated that course. Some of them are saints now.
Let us hope that the Holy Father is getting an accurate picture of what is going on here from somewhere, and is not relying on what Law is telling him about the Boston situation. Lack of accurate information getting to the top is one of the hallmarks of the Catholic Church. Let us hope that the internet and use of other sources of information change that in the next generation. If the Vatican had reliable sources of information other than the press and the bishops about local situations, they might react very differently to them.
Maybe it is time for the Vatican to recruit its own intelligence network to police the world's dioceses. The bishops would hate it (especially the early AM phone calls from Cardinal Ratzinger or his successor) but it would make for a more cohesive Church, admittedly at the expense of the virtual independence now misused by the local dioceses. It would be a natural step from Vatican I, though.
Christopher Schiavone, writing the cover for this week's Boston Globe Magazine tells us of the travails of being a gay priest in the Archdiocese of Boston. When I first saw it, my reaction was, "Right, I want to read more pro-homosexual stuff that the ultra-liberal Globe sees fit to publish. Hell would freeze over first." But while I was shifting boxes of Christmas decorations around, Mrs. Fitzpatrick was reading it, and read aloud one section that caught her attention.
I was not attracted to the seminary or to priesthood because I was gay. I was attracted to it because I wanted to help people, because I liked what priests did -- leading ceremonies, teaching and preaching, being with people during some of the most important moments in their lives. The fact that priesthood absolved me (or so I thought) of the need ever to declare or practice my sexual orientation was a bonus. Celibacy, I was taught as a teenager, was a gift that God supernaturally granted to those who answered the call to serve him. I thought I would never need to tell another person my secret, because celibacy would make it irrelevant.
There we have the problem. Both Mrs. Fitzpatrick and I caught it immediately. He wanted to be a priest to "help people." He wanted to lead ceremonies and be with people during the most important parts of their lives. Nothing there about saving souls by preaching Christ and Him crucified. Nothing about being obedient to the teachings of the Church, or even to enhance his own chances of salvation. He wanted to be a social worker with a Roman collar. That is a huge part of the problem.
Priests who seem more aloof because they are doing their job of bringing the Sacrament to the faithful and preaching Christ's Word tend to have the type of problems we have read about recently less. When priests start to play Big Brother to troubled youth, I think a careful study of the circumstances will show, they become more apt to get involved in problems of the sort we have seen.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick also had this insight. This guy thought just becoming a priest would make it easy for him to be celibate. He never expected to struggle for it. He thought the Holy Spirit would do all the heavy lifting. But no matter what vocation one has, being true to it is always a struggle. Didn't anyone at the seminary explain that to him? Or was the curriculum so crowded with courses designed to make seminarians into effective social workers that some of life's (and faith's) most important realities went untaught.
How sad that he invested so much time in a vocation he was not truly called to.