Saturday, June 15, 2002

Bruskewitz Is "Only" 67
According to some quick research, Bruskewitz was born in 1935, which makes him 67. Even without waiving the rules on retirement at 75, that would give him 8 years to clean up the See of Boston if he started this year. Tough job, but someone has to do it.

My Apologies To Fox
Apparently, the problems at Fox were not the result of budget-cutting. Fox was the subject of a "denial of service" cyber attack. Most of the content is back, now. ABCNews.com, the Weatherchannel.com, and ESPN.com were among other sites assaulted in this manner. Don't know the source of the attack yet, but watch out for more of this, as al Qaeda and other enemies target the Internet as a way to disrupt American life. Then there are always those "domestic" hackers with nothing better to do.

Bruskewitz For Boston
I don't know how old Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska is. I don't care. If Cardinal Law should be promoted upstairs soon, I can think of no better successor in the American hierarchy than Bruskewitz. If the Holy Father would be good enough to appoint him to this see, and waive any and all age-related restrictions on his ability to serve, and to vote both at meetings of American bishops and for the next pope, I think he is just what Boston needs. A thorough, hands-on flushing out of St. John's Seminary and Pope John XXIII Seminary (for late vocations) should be the first order of business. Then on to the rest of the archdiocesan bureaucracy, especially the Catholic education office, now headed by a liberal nun with predictable results. With all due respect to Lincoln, Nebraska, Bruskewitz is wasted there. The second most important see in the US, probably the see with the highest concentration of Catholics per square mile, needs someone of his views. From my blog to the Lord's receptive ears.

A Renewed Commitment To Consecrated Life
The office of the Holy Father issued a pastoral letter yesterday which is a cause for cheering. After the failure of the American bishops to address the core issues of homosexuality and dissent, it is refreshing to see this from the Pope. In the letter, the Holy Father calls on priests to more thoroughly shun the world in order to live within the norms of poverty, chastity and obedience. Extra caution is urged upon heads or orders and bishops in selecting men for the priesthood. Those who seem unlikely to live chaste lives should be weeded out at the start, regardless of the number of priests in a diocese or order.

The letter was immediately welcomed by Roman Catholic Faithful and by Catholics for Authentic Reform. My only fear is that the Holy Father is only preaching to the choir. Conservative prelates are already doing this. Conservative laity count for nothing in this issue. Liberal bishops will continue to do as they please, or as their liberal staffs advise. Liberal laity will scorn it, and urge like-minded clerics to do so, too.

Eventually, I think issues like open, avowed homosexuality and wordliness in the priesthood and theological and social dissent will divide the sheep from the goats. This process seems, to me to be well under way. A continuation of orthodoxy from Rome coupled with a more directed policy on bishop appointments will seal the issue. Those unwilling to endorse and follow the traditional (public) norms of priestly behavior will fall away. Whether they form an new American Catholic Church along with liberal laity or just become Unitarians or Episcopalians remains to be seen.

What will be left will be a more vigorous group intellectually, a more coherent and unified core. It may only amount to 30-40% of present day Catholics (there are huge numbers of people, at least in my neck of the woods, who are Catholic in name only, and a recent survey showed that only 35% of American Catholics described themselves as conservative, or traditional, or orthodox). I don't think the two can live together forever. It will mean that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States will be smaller, own less property, have less influence, and have less wealth. These are not necessarily bad things.

According To The Old Farmer's Almanac...
In 1662 on this date, a day of fasting and prayer was held here in Salem for rain. It is a rainy, blustery, cool morning today. We've had normal or above normal rainfall since mid-March. I wonder how much more we need before we are officially out of this drought. A wet and cool Spring and Summer usually mean a nice foliage season in the Fall. Last year's foliage was nice, but nothing compared to two years ago, when we had a wet and cool Spring & Summer.

Grim In Dallas
National Review's Rod Dreher reports that the mood among orthodox Catholics in Dallas is grim. Bishop Bruskewitz, Phil Lawler, Michael Rose etc. in a panel discussion last night emphasized that the bishops missed the point and that they were unwilling even to consider addressing the true root causes for the Scandal- homosexuality and dissent. I don't like to say I told you so, but, I told you so.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Check This Out
J.P. Zmirak penned this wonderful article on Weakland's resignation. Thanks to Domenico Bettinelli for calling our attention to it. It is sweet, but sobering.

More On Gore
The airport was Reagan National. Now that is a sweet irony. Gore and his bags were searched not once, but twice. Tonight's T&T is for you, Norman.

Latest SDI Test
Worked like a charm.

No Parish Work
The bishops are about to say that past offenders who have only buggered one teenage boy can stay priests, as long as they are sorry and promise not to do it again. They won't be allowed to work in parishes, or otherwise around children. Does this mean that they will end up more firmly entrenched in diocesan bureaucracies? The damage networks of predatory homosexuals in such places can do will be uncheckable. Priests have a life outside the ministry they are assigned to. They have days off. True, the Church probably would not be legally liable for what they do on their days off, so long as they don't make use of Church facilities. But the Church is still clothing them with the office of priest. By not forthrightly defrocking them, great scope for abuse under Church auspices remains. The bishops are about to fail to get the Church off the liability hook. Even this may be too much for Rome to accept. This is a terrible compromise.

Gore Frisked At Airport
Airport security has forced Al Gore to be frisked. I always knew you couldn't trust that guy. Looks pretty shady to me. If he's still wearing that cheesy beard, I can see why they were suspicious. I always thought he might be some kind of foreign agent. Frolic with Buddhist monks? Bet they were actually very carefully disguised al Qaeda operatives. This is the first good thing I have ever heard of "Underperformin' Norman" (as National Review's priceless John Derbyshire has dubbed him) Mineta's security measures.

Robidoux Verdict
The jury has found Jacques Robidoux guilty of murder in the first degree for starving his infant son Samuel to death over a two-month period on the strength of a "vision" from another member of the cult known as "The Body." "The Body" rejects modern medicine, government, and science. According to the"vision", Samuel would improve if deprived of solid food, and fed only his mother's breast milk, which his mother was unable to produce in sufficient quantities. Jacques' wife's trial is in the Fall. I think this is a just verdict. If you place an unreasonable reliance on faith-healing when more effective methods are available, whatever the sincerity of your beliefs, you are deliberately putting a life in unreasonable danger. This is heart-breaking, but just.

Flag Day
Just checked out the calendar. Its June 14th, Flag Day. If you took the Red, White, and Blue off your car for the Winter, put it back on now for the Summer. Yes, those cheap flags are not made to withstand the constant 40-60 mph winds they experience on your car antenna. They fray quickly. Yes, mindless vandals do snap them off, along with your antenna. Both happened to me last Fall. If you don't want to risk these possibilities, switch to a flag sticker on the bumper or in the back seat's windows.

I have to make note of something. Last October, during a two-week informal survey, I noted that 10% of Boston area cars were flying the Star Spangled Banner. That was pretty good for the capital of "don't want to offend anyone with nationalistic symbols" political correctness. That percentage has dropped very markedly since then. Let's bring that percentage back up. And no, I'm not in the flag business.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died to protect our flag. It is the symbol of our country. And our country is still at war, a war that may yet bring untold devastation to our home. Flying the flag is a sign of national resolution. Every American who flies the flag from their home, or car, or workplace is saying to our enemies that they cannot defeat us. There are too many of us. We will not give up. We will not yield. We will not falter. We will not fail. We have been attacked, and our cause is righteous. We will prevail. To borrow from Evelyn Waugh, "Put Out More Flags".

The Incredible Shrinking Fox News Site
Fox News has recently pushed ahead of CNN as the leading purveyor of cable news. At the same time, its web site is declining in usefulness. In case you have not noticed it, the site has been down for a couple of days. It is back up now, sort of, with much less content. True, you don't make money off the web. But Fox is missing a great opportunity to showcase its other products. A good useable web site provides an opportunity give the web-surfing public a chance to sample the rest of what the network has to offer through advertisments and links. The money spent on the website does not need to be exorbitant. But a news agency like Fox aspires to be needs a very substantial presence on the web. Rupert should know better.

On the Bright Side
Even though al Qaeda activities have picked up (see below), there is still some cause for optimism. Let's look at what has happened to these latest plots. The cell planning to attack Gib was disrupted by Morroccan police. The cell that tried to shoot down US planes in Saudi Arabia failed. They did fire the missile, but it failed to lock-on. Was the equipment they bought from the Chinese defective, or was their training inadequate? The leader of that cell is in Sudanese custody, and is apparently talking. The car bombing in Karachi failed to achieve any decisive result there. Most of the injuries were to Pakistanis. The US consulate is still functioning. At least two members of the cell that was to work on a radiological bomb to attack DC are in custody.

Aside from the fact that most of the recent plots have been failures, it is important to note the scale of these attacks, and where they have been directed. Suicide boat attacks on warships, firing man-portable missiles at aircraft, and car bombing a consulate in a country where al Qaeda has a huge presence all appear to be signs of diminishing capacity to do real damage to vital interests. Al Qaeda normally makes attacks of escalating intensity. They appear to be treading water. If that is the best they can come up with in the middle of a war, they are in trouble. Their strategic scope seems to be limited. They are operating out of safe Moslem countries (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morrocco). The will to attack remains, however, and capacity is not a constant.

Perhaps, we shold not read too much into the feebleness of these attempts, however. Never overlook the possibilty of strategic deception. More decisive attacks, perhaps even here in the US, may be being masked by these weak and visible efforts. It is also impossible to defend all potential targets adequately.

The radiological bomb attack on the US capital is a more troubling plan. It has the same audacity and capacity for demoralization and destruction as the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. But it was detected while still in the planning stages. Just as important, we caught one of al Qaeda's most vital assets, a convert from a non-Middleastern background. The best hope al Qaeda has for inflicting damage on the US homeland rests in these non-Arab terrorists. With vigilance and common sense, we can detect and stop most of their other operatives. Their appearance gives them away (and yes, of course we should profile). There are not more than a few hundred Western converts to Islam who may be part of the al Qaeda network. Richard Ried, John Walker Lindh, and Jose Padilla are now in US custody. We need to find out a lot more about Western converts in the last 10-15 years who have been to Afghanistan or Pakistan, or Yemen. We also need to look at militant US and European mosques much more closely. Our most serious domestic security problems for the next few years will come from there.

Al Qaeda's Latest Activities
Al Qaeda was fairly quiet on the world stage while we were busy taking out its base of operations in Afghanistan. But in the last month or so, their level of activity has picked up noticeably. One cell tried to take out US planes in Saudi Arabia. Another was planning to attack US & British warships at Gib. One has conducted a suicide bombing in Pakistan. Yet another was planning for a devastating radiological attack on Washington. They seem to have set up a base of operations in Pakistan. Their heads are no longer down. They are up and running again, and are looking for mischief to do. They must have thier finances back in order.

To be blunt, I am saying that our strategic follow-through after the victory in Afghanistan has failed to sweep al Qaeda away. We had them running, and failed to conduct an effective grand strategic pursuit. Lack of forces on the ground, lack of political will to follow up into Pakistan, and lack of strategic imagination are to blame. In fact, much of al Qaeda's activity seems to be directed against the ability of the US to conduct operations in West Asia. In other words, they are attacking the US's strategic rear in order to re-establish operations in the area of Afghanistan.

It is time to take this war to the next level: infiltrate Pakistan very thoroughly, locate, and destroy Al Qaeda's operations bases there, regardless of the effect that has on the Pakistani government. Pakistan probably should take precedence over Iraq. Al Qaeda probably have been instrumental in pushing India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear war, in order to gain breathing space in Pakistan. Remember the precipitating event of this round of bellicosity was an attack by Moslem militants operating out of Pakistan on the Indian Parliament. I am now prepared to say what I have not seen anyone else say since then. The attack on India's Parliament was an al Qaeda operation designed to rachet-up tensions between the two states, so that Pakistan would have to pull troops guarding the Afghan border away, so that al Qaeda could flee into Pakistan with greater ease. Al Qaeda has been identified in the vicinity of the disputed Kashmir province. Whether, or more precisely to what extent, Pakistani intelligence is cooperating with al Qaeda remains to be seen. Pakistan needs to be cleaned up.

In the meantime, we probably should be helping our new Russian allies protect their oil supplies, which we may need to call on. You can be sure that, even if the Saudi and other Arab governments remain willing to export oil, al Qaeda has operatives in the oil fields and refineries, waiting to sabotage oil production there. Since we will turn to Russia after that, be sure there are plans to attack Russian oil facilities.

We have also been ambiguous regarding Russia's low-intensity war to prevent Chechnya from breaking away. It is time to give the Russians some help here. Al Qaeda has a fair amount invested in the Chechnyan war. At the very least, Chechnyan rebel strongholds are safe zones for al Qaeda. "The enemy of our enemy is our friend" applies even if we were not so friendly with Russia as we are. Human rights concerns there need to be swept aside for strategic considerations. Those who are still wedded to a cold war-destabilize Russia outlook need to shift gears and direction. We need a stable Russia now. Doing what we can to help Russia put down the Chechnyan revolt could pay us strategic benefits beyond measure later. Failure to help the Russians now could be disastrous.

I'm Not Surprised, As You Know
The bishops can't pull the trigger on all pervert priests. The "zero tolerance" policy they are debating is not actually zero tolerance. For past offenders, the "if-you've-only-buggered-one-teenage-boy-you're-still-in" rule will remain, with a slight exception- no parish work. No "Go forth sinner, and meet your doom" here. They get to remain in the priesthood, with all the benefits and powers pertaining thereto. It is not even as much as this cynic had dared to hope. Very little, I gather, has been said about the seminaries. The "elephant in the sacristy" is being studiously ignored. Somehow disciplining the bishops responsible? No way. Probably to be tabled until a later time, when, presumably, the heat will be off. I didn't expect much. The bishops have given us just that, not much.

Suicide Attack On US Consulate in Pakistan
A suicide car bomber crashed his vehicle into the guardpost outside the US consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. One marine guard, and 5 Pakistani employees of the consulate were slightly injured. At least 7 bystanders were killed, and 40 injured. About a dozen parked cars were obliterated by the explosion. A ten foot hole was blown in the wall of the compound by the bomb, which scattered debris for a half mile. Al Qaeda members in Pakistan are the obvious suspects. Karachi's mayor-"The terrorists have no religion. They are not Muslim. They are not human. They are just terrorists." There is some truth in that. But it is also true that this sort of genocidal violence seems, over the last 30 years to be coming exclusively from Moslems towards westerners. That fact, also, must be reckoned with, not by "removing the root causes" but by cutting off the diseased branches of the "religion of peace".

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Marriage Wins A Round In the Mass. Courts
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the constitutionality of the ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to define marriage as a legally sanctioned union only betweeen a man and a woman. Gay rights advocates had challenged the initiative on the grounds that it infringes on the ability of the courts to annul and uphold marriages, and that it dealt with more than a single issue. On Wednesday of next week, the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth (state legislature) will meet in constitutional convention to determine if this initiative may appear on the ballot. If the initiative is approved by the convention, then it must be approved by the next session of the legislature in constitutional convention. The earliest it can appear on the ballot is November 2004.

Attempted Attack On Air Force In Saudi Confirmed
Al Qaeda cell members in Saudi Arabia have attempted to shoot down US military aircraft from the perimeter of the major US base in that country. The head of the cell was captured after firing one missile which failed to lock on a month ago. That terrorist is now in custody in Sudan, and has confessed, according to an ABC News report. What kind of security are the Saudis providing for our bases? Do we really want to stage an invasion of Iraq from Saudi Arabia?

Attention: New England Courtroom Watchers
The Robidoux case is going to the jury this afternoon. Expect a verdict tomorrow. Also the corruption trial of Providence, RI mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci is already before the jury. That jury may also have a verdict by the end of the day tomorrow. Will Buddy beat this rap?

Not Good News
Verizon has announced that it plans to lay off 927 workers, mostly in Massachusetts.

I'm Not Watching
I see no point in gluing myself to the gavel-to-gavel on EWTN. I don't normally watch broadcast (or cable cast) TV anyway. We do know how this will come out. Some variant on the draft proposal will pass, with surprisingly little sturm und drang. But we all know that that is not enough, and that it is not binding. The elephant in the sacristy, to borrow Mary Eberstadt's wonderful phrase, will again go unaddressed. Dissent and harboring predatory homosexuals will go unpunished. The AmChurch will drift further away from Rome.

Constructive change in the Church comes slowly. It usually comes from the laity. It will take a generation at least for the true conservative reaction currently clustered around the blogosphere, Crisis, The New Oxford Review, Latin Mass magazine, The Wanderer, Roman Catholic Faithful, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Catholic homeschooling, those fighting to restore a sense of the transcendant in Catholic church architecture, and the movement to resanctify liturgy and liturgical music finally begin to dominate the Church both in the US and elsewhere.

John Paul II has had an opportunity to jump-start that process with his power to appoint bishops. Like certain Republican presidents' judicial nominations, however, John Paul's bishops have been of too uneven a quality to force the issue. Eisenhower admitted that two of his biggest mistakes were sitting on the Supreme Court (Earl Warren and William Brennan). John Paul's mistakes are in bishoprics all over the US. Some of them are out-and-out obstacles to this movement. John Paul's successor becomes all the more important. So will be how that pope appoints American bishops.

In sum, don't worry so much about what the bishops do in Dallas. They can be counted on to do what they believe to be politically necessary, and not one ounce more. Real restoration will come from other quarters. It will come slowly, and not without titanic battles along the way. But it will come.

Sticks And Stones
Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) is suing Bill Clinton, James Carville, and Larry Flynt for emotional distress caused by their efforts to verbally kneecap him back during the impeachment crisis. He's looking for $30 million. Without going back to the clippings from that awful time (the whole 8 years were an awful time, but the failure to convict in the Senate was the nadir), I don't have anything useful to add on the substance of the claim. But I have no objections in theory to Barr using those three objects as his personal ATM. God speed, Bob Barr.

Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Anthony was an early Franciscan, who gave up his desire for martyrdom, and preached until he died at age 36. St. Francis de Sales began the tradition of invoking Saint Anthony when in need of finding lost articles.

Saint Anthony, please intercede to aid the US Catholic bishops (who are meeting in Dallas today) to find the following lost articles:
1) Spines made of sterner stuff than boiled linguini
2) Humility
3) Common sense
4) The guidance of the Holy Spirit in leading their dioceses
5) Loyalty and fidelity to Rome
6) Forthrightness in explaining how we got here
7) The confidence of the laity

National Review Gets It (And Always Has)
Nice editorial on the conference in the July 1 NR on DT (dead tree) reprinted on line here.

The Conference Spokesman Harbors Homosexual Priests
According to this article in today's Washington Times, Bishop Joseph A. Galante has sheltered and refused to remove two homosexual priests priests in his diocese who have been posting to a gay chat room that contains both homoerotic photos and criticism of the Holy Father and Cardinal Ratzinger. Before the mobs with torches and pitchforks show up at their parishes, it should be noted that there are no allegations of abuse of minors by either of these priests.

Rev. Cliff Garner, associate pastor at St. Pius X parish in Dallas, has a history of involvement in the site, called St. Sebastian's Angels. After attending a national youth conference, he posted, "...There are really some cute guys around the country ....I did, however, share a room with one of our youth ministers...-and is he cute!...we got along-wonderfully! It was almost like we were meant to be together. I do have a special place in my heart for those Latin blooded ones!"

In April 2000, Father Garner posted praise for openly homosexual South African bishop Reginald Cawcutt who had criticized the Holy Father and Cardinal Ratzinger. Cawcutt wrote, in a posting on JPII's 1999 trip to Poland, "Talking about the Vatican-JP is in Poland at the mo-mebbe he will die there? I will listen to the news broadcasts in hope." Father Garner wrote to Bishop Cawcutt, "You are doing God's work."

Rev. Art Mallinson of St. Francis of Assisi parish, Lancaster, TX , also has posted to the site. About 50 American priests post to the site. The site's content became widely known after a member of Roman Catholic Faithful infiltrated the site, and copied much of the content. The information was brought to Bishop Galante's attention two years ago.

Bishop Galante's kid glove treatment of these two dissenters (remember my dictum- homosexuality begets dissent, and dissent enables and fosters homosexuality) stands in stark contrast to his dismissal of two blameless orthodox pastors who failed to conduct background checks on some of their employees. It was just an opportunity for Galante to rid himself of some conservative priests.

If this is the public face of the bishops' conference, expect little but cosmetics.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

At Last
Justice Scalia's essay on Catholicism and capital punishment is available on line. Here it is. For me, the important point, that I am happy to see Scalia mentions, is the novelty of the Catholic church's turn against capital punishment, and its nonbinding status on American Catholics. I have found this turn troubling, as it is directly contrary to 2,000 years of church practice, and is directly contrary to not what the American people want, but what they think is absolutely vital to the maintainence of civil order.

He's Back
National Review's Rod Dreher is back from a trip to the Netherlands, and has this take on the Dallas conference. He is right on, as usual.

Whatever The Bishops Do Needs Rome's Approval
Just a reminder. The bishops start in earnest tomorrow in Dallas. But whatever they come up with, must be approved by Rome. Rome is on record against zero tolerance, and against cooperating with civil authorities in prosecuting pervert priests (there are larger precedents involved here concerning protecting the church in places like China where the practice of Catholicism itself is in danger from civil authorities). Rome has also shown no interest in taking out bishops who have been negligent (or worse) in handling these cases. Canon Law still stresses rehabilitation of pervert priests and returning them to duty as soon as possible. This whole exercise in Dallas may be entirely pointless, unless Rome endorses and agrees to be bound in its decision-making on future laicization proceedings by what the American bishops agree to.

Heartbreaking Situation
Testimony is ongoing in the trial of the Robidouxs a couple from southeast Massachusetts who belong to an odd cult. Their young son died because they did not feed him solid food over a period of months, because another member of the cult had a "vision" that the child would be cured by feeding him breast milk only. The cult does not believe in making use of modern medical technology.

We don't have many problems like this here in Massachusetts. Here, almost everyone is Catholic, belongs to a mainline Protestant church, is Jewish, an adherent of one of the Eastern faiths, or is Wiccan. We don't have many fundementalists here, with their individualistic interpretations of scripture. Most every faith here has a reasonable attitude towards medical care.

Note this, though. The Robidouxs are of French Canadian extraction. If they were not raised Catholic, their parents or grandparents were. As more younger people fall away from the Faith, they may be drawn to cults with dangerously individualistic folkways and beliefs. We may see more of this kind of thing.

"Exhaustive" List of Pervert Priest Scandals
The report I heard on CBS Radio this morning came from the Dallas Morning News, which has compiled a list of the pervert priest scandals, diocese by diocese. It is an exhausting and depressing read. Just reading the Boston list, one sees that it only scratches the surface (at least here). Here it is.

French Arrest Terrorists
French police have arrested 2 Pakistanis and 3 North Africans in Paris in connection with the Richard Reid investigation. No word yet on what the connection is. A federal judge threw out one charge against Reid yesterday- this guy should not be in the criminal justice system- he belongs at Gitmo.

Still No Motive
Missouri investigators have yet to come up with a motive for the fatal shooting spree at Conception Abbey. the killer appears to be a loner, who was estranged from just about everyone in his family. No notes were found. he had recently begun attending some protestant church, but there is nothing else on this guy. It appears that I was right the other day- this fellow just decided to take some Papists with him.

Very Bad Idea
The City of Boston, with the blessing of Mayor "I Ain't A Fancy Talka" Menino will be pushing the legislature to approve a home rule petition to bring back rent control. Massachusetts voters killed rent control in a 1994 ballot referendum. Other efforts to bring back rent control have died a fast death in the legislature. However, given the Great and General Court's disdain for the will of the voters (Clean Elections Act, the tax cut, the death penalty) it does not take too much imagination to envision them caving to "housing advocates"- the "gimme" constituency. Don't be surprised when the housing stock available for rent in Boston declines, both in number and quality- the inevitable result of rent control.

Two-Thirds of the Bishops Shuffled Predators
In a report on CBS Radio this morning, it was reported that roughly two-thirds of the dioceses in the US have protected or shuffled predatory priests from one place to another. Given that, I really don't think it is likely that the conference will approve any sanctions on bishops who have protected pervert priests. At best, the relief against bishops will be prospective. And what practical effect it will have, when, in reality, the bishop is only responsible to Rome under Canon Law, is anyone's guess. Of course, there is a remedy for bishops who have in the past knowingly put minors at risk- criminal prosecution.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Just When You Thought...
Two "Catholic" stories broke right after I finished lamenting the lack of such items today. Francis Cardinal George is putting it about that he has a plan calling for the punishment of bishops who mishandle predatory homosexuals. Well, that is a bit of unlooked for good news. Remains to be seen if there is sentiment to pass such a thing. And, there will be one less bishop in Dallas. Auxiliary Bishop James McCarthy, the former personal secretary to John Cardinal O'Connor, announced his resignation over revelations of affairs he had...with women. Yes, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. It is fair. We want active homosexuals out because they have violated their vows. We also recognize that unchaste heterosexuals must go, on the same grounds. But don't forget that the homosexual predations are also unnatural abominations, and far more serious than consensual sex between man and woman, both being of legal age and knowlingly consenting. But the heterosexual liasons of some churchmen also make them targets for blackmail by what Andrew Greeley called the "lavendar mafia". So they, too, must go. Teach me to dare watch a couple of old episodes of Rumpole.

A Secular Day
So far, this has been a very secular day in Verus Ratio. Not much "Catholic' happening that is of interest. Still no word on a motive in the Missouri seminary shooting. Bishops on their way to Dallas to do, not enough. One pervert bishop sacked by the Vatican, but we knew that was coming. Little going on with regard to the Boston aspects of the scandal. Amy Welborn is busy defending herself for criticizing Mary Eberstadt's "The Elephant in the Sacristy" (Mary is right, Amy is a little off, but you know that from reading my previous blogs). Catholic blogdom is quiet. Andrew Sullivan is not annoying us today on things moral and Catholic. Even today's feast (Saint Barnabas) doesn't suggest anything. There will be days like this. Once the Scandal cools down (and it will), there will be many days like this. That is why I deal with secular stuff as well.

Nice Defense of Rush
Balint Vazsonyi, writing in today's Washington Times, offers this defense of Rush Limbaugh. I agree with most of this, but Rush still needs to lighten his tone a little bit. Three hours of whacking Bush when he goes off the reservation is too much. Reagan went off the tracks many times, too. I saved my back issues of National Review from the 1980s. I can dig out the many, many times the movement had to criticize the Administration (and the movement was almost always in the right, in retrospect). No president, not even Ronald Reagan, has been perfect. Conservatives should have patience with Bush, but advocate for a more staunch line, just as we did with Reagan. Maybe we just had more confidence in Reagan, because we knew he was one of us- he'd been at the meetings for more than 20 years before he went to Washington. Bush, we are afraid, is his father's son.

Tom Daschle is just a very small man given a veto over policy by Benedict Arnold, oh, sorry, Jim Jeffords. He isn't worth so much effort from Rush. Maybe a lighter touch would work better here, too.

Liberals need to be lampooned, and no one is better at that than Rush. Rush is also one of the best advocates and exemplars of patriotism and the American capitalist way of life. I've listened to Rush whenever I can for more than 10 years. He is an institution. "A Man, a legend, a way of life." Long may he reign over the airwaves.

Too Clever By Half
Since there was a grisly terror bombing in Israel the last time Sharon visited the White House, this time the Israelis surrounded Arafat as Sharon left for Washington. The implicit threat was, if anything happens while Sharon is in Washington, Arafat leaves Ramallah on a blotter. Sharon had his meeting with Bush, and left Washington. The Israeli military relaxed their vigilance on Ramallah. Within hours of Sharon's return we had the latest terror bombing.

Arafat is being cute, thumbing his nose at the world, and at us, and at the Israelis. It is time for the Israelis to put the threat into execution, and do it fast. No temporizing, no drama while Arafat gives incoherent interviews via cell phone. Just take him and his henchmen out efficiently and professionally.

But there is no replacement for Arafat? Let the Israelis worry about that. Let them turn "Palestine" inside out and upside down for a while. Let them round up the militants and "deal with them". Then, let them dictate borders for "Palestine" and nominate some tame Palestinians to run it under Israeli auspices. No need for a Palestinian security force. The Israelis will handle that permanently.

While Europe's Arafat-pandering is something of a limit on Israel, the main limitation is coming from the Bush Administration in general, and Colin Powell's State Department in particular. The killing in Israel of innocent civilized folks by barbarians will continue until we get off Israel's back. We need not worry about oil and the Arabs. We have Russia now. The Arabs don't love the Palstinians so much that they will lose business for them. Faced with a fait accompli (the Israelis could complete the change-over in a couple of weeks), the Arab world would have little choice but to accept it.

Another Terror Bombing In Israel
A Palestinian terrorist bomber blew himself up in a restaraunt in the town of Herzliya. Nine civilized people were injured. Only the barbarian died. Just remember, "Islam means peace."

Status of Detainees
We have reached a very interesting pass in regard to what we do with al Qaeda operatives of whatever nationality. They do not fit into any of the known categories. They are not prisoners of war, in the sense that they have rights under the Geneva Convention. They are not soldiers of a government recognized by anybody. They are not "criminals" in the conventional sense, which would give them access to the criminal justice system of the US. The closest I can come up with is that they are land pirates. This applies to those captured in Afghanistan, or the Phillipines, or Yemen, or Chechnya, or elsewhere. It also applies to their agents caught here in the US, regardless of their nationality.

How should they be treated? They should be kept in humane conditions. They should absolutely not ever be allowed any access to one another- they should be held apart- in solitary. If it is thought useful, they should receive injections of sodium pentathol or scopalomin for the purpose of interrogation.

When al Qaeda and its allies are smashed utterly and beyond hope of repair, well here it gets controversial. These detainees carry in their hearts and minds an implacable hatred. They also have skills in demolition, weapons, destruction, and terror. Letting them out, ever, is a risk we do not want to take. This is not like letting Nazi prisoners out to reintegrate into German society after WWII. With Hitler dead and Germany divided and occupied, the threat from former SS soldiers diminished markedly. But even after bin Laden is dead, these detainees represent a threat not just to the US, but to civilization. They would destabilize not just the US, but their homelands at the first chance they got.

I don't really have a good answer to this difficulty. It is easy to say, just get the information we need out them and then shoot them. That may be the most efficient way to deal with them, but common humanity argues against it. I can't see us doing it, and would be troubled by it (though remembering the lives lost on September 11th would probably keep me from losing much sleep over them). Lobotomize them? Too, too scary. Let them go home, but quietly make sure that some unfortunate fatal accident just happens to befall each of them once home? Too hard to organize. Just leave them imprisoned forever? Without trial? Even the Nazi war criminals got trials. I just don't know.

Mitt Romney's current travail over his residency status is a sideshow distracting from his bigger problem. In a move that has caused many Bay State Republicans to openly question his judgment, he has insisted on backing the candidacy of Kerry Murphy Healey for Lieutentant Governor, on the grounds that she has a Ph.D. The real grounds are that she is a she, and his polling is telling him that he will have trouble winning without a woman on the ticket. But Kerry Murphy Healey? Some rich guy's social-climbing trophy wife? Who has never (like Romney) held public office? Who, unlike Romney and her opponent, businessman and former State Committee Chairman Jim Rappaport, has no business experience? She has a Ph.D. Remember what Bill Buckley said about the Harvard faculty- that he would rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Cambridge phone book than by the faculty of Harvard (Ph.D.s all). Jim Rappoport has paid his dues. He deserves the shot. I think Massachusetts Republicans will tell Mitt that in September.

Sharp Dealing Among New Jersey Democrats
A knife fight erupted after an Atlantic City Democrat City Committee, as members of rival factions clashed outside the union hall where the Democrat committee meets. The chap who pulled the knife, who coincidentally is the brother of the leader of one of the factions has the priceless name Jihad Callaway. The union local leader said he would continue to let the Democrats meet in his hall, but may have to install metal detectors. "Honest, Ma, I just went to a knife fight, and a Democrat City Committee meeting broke out. We didn't know it would get that bad." Jihad Callaway?

"His Holiness Regretfully Accepts..."
Bishop Kendrick Williams, 65 of Lexington, KY saw his resignation accepted by the Holy Father today. Williams has been accused of sexual misconduct by three male plaintiffs. Williams' personal perversions were symptomatic of bad policy. He was, according to Michael Rose, one of the most aggressive prelates with regard to replacing priests (his liberal diocese has had a severe shortage) with lay "almost-priests". In one instance, he and his bureaucrats ignored the reasonable suggestions of one parish- if you can''t assign us a priest, let us recruit one from an order, from the Third World, or from another diocese. That could not be done, since it might put a conservative priest into a position in the diocese. (Goodbye, Good Men, pp. 212-214) His people also refused to accept one of Rose's conservative sources on a bad recommendation from a a fallen away Catholic analyst in another diocese, despite their severe shortage (Id. p. 36).

Polite usage dictates that resignations be accepted "with regret". I don't think there is much regret in this case. This guy was appointed bishop by JPII. What myopic, uninformed git has been advising the Holy Father on who to appoint bishops here in the US?

He Did Have Accomplices
We learned last night that Al Mujahir did have at least one accomplice, who was arrested in Pakistan last month, and is being held there. Looks like he won't face a military tribuanal, as Ari Fleischer said it was not indicated as "he is a US citizen". Sometimes, even US citizens who are serving the enemy need to be put up against a wall and shot, after conviction. Question still remains- what about helpers already in the US? We need the correct answer, fast, as the materials to assemble a dirty bomb could be found here.

Murder Most Geriatric
Yesterday's shooting at the Conception Abbey in Missouri is just plain weird. The killer, who went in brandishing two guns, lived some 70 miles from the Abbey, and was utterly unknown to anyone there (who lived, anyway). He was also 71 years old. His victims were all over 65. One was 85. Is that just a representative cross section of the brotherhood? So far, it appears that the killer was just a nut case, a time bomb who suddenly decided to take some Papists with him. I'd like to know what literature was in his place, and who he talked too. Apparently, the Moslems don't have a monopoly on genocidal hate crimes in the US anymore.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Islam Means "Peace"
Morroccan authorities have arrested three Saudi nationals who were plotting attacks on US and British ships in the Straights of Gibraltar. Islam means peace. Islam means peace (acutally, it means "submission"). It just has an unusual share of fanatic homicidal nutburgers.

More On the Missouri Shooting
It appears that the third body found at Conception Abbey was the killer, or at least one of them, who took his own life in the chapel. What disordered thought process or personal tragedy led to this we do not yet know. Prayers for the two monks killed are, I think in order, as well as for the recovery of the two wounded.

Won't Be Down For Breakfast
Gangster John Gotti died in prison today. Maybe someone more charitable than I am will pray for the repose of his soul.

Is Rumsfeld Kidding?
Mackubin Thomas Owens has a great article in NRO on Rumsfeld's plans to downsize the Army. There may have been very good reasons why the very sound strategic thinkers in the Reagan and first Bush administrations did not see fit to employ Rumsfeld. If I remember correctly, he was then, and appears to be now, an advocate of the airpower-only theory of military power, a mistaken and unbalanced approach to military force structure. Let's get this straight, we are thinking about invading Iraq, and face the long-term prospect of war with China and/or North Korea, and we are thinking about getting rid of our panzer divisions which triumphed against Iraq (yes, with air power in support). Nothing gets me riled more than mistaken force structure and strategy- not even 10 pervert priests. For more on the limits of airpower, read Max Hasting's Overlord: D-Day & the Battle for Normandy, Simon & Schuster (1984). I just finished a D-Day anniversary re-read.

Three Shot Dead At Missouri Seminary
A large abbey used as a seminary in Conception, Missouri is the scene of a shooting incident. Three people are dead, two of them monks. The killer or killers remain at large. The timing of this incident is, interesting- just as the bishops are gathering in Dallas. Don't know if there is a connection. Even though Catholic blogdom is holding its collective breath over the proceedings in Dallas, the rest of the world, Catholic and non goes about its business, which sometimes includes senseless acts of murder. Maybe Catholic schools should look into increased security, as disordered individuals may seek this opportunity to strike out at anything Catholic. Conception Abbey is 80 miles north of Kansas City, and has nearly 100 students. Associated Press is jumping to the conclusion that this has something to do with a settled accusation of abuse from the 1980s, as it ends its news story with a rendition of the Stokes-Blackwell shooting. In law school, we used to call that "assuming facts not in evidence."Developing...

Target: Washington
More information coming over the transom. It appears that the intended target of the radiological bomb was to be Washington, D.C. This would be in keeping with al Qaeda's modus operendi of retargeting subjects after a failure. Remember Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers revolted against their captors was intended to take out the White House or the Capitol.

A radiological bomb's major damage would not be the destructive impact of the bomb itself. It might be as powerful as the car bomb that took out the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. It might not be that powerful. But the radioactive materials wrapped around the bomb would cause widespread sickness and death in the targeted area (though not nearly as much as a nuke would). Many of the victims would be rescue workers responding to the scene. The main effect would be to disrupt the city, and spread fear and panic throughout the country, along with economic disruption.

I wonder if Al Mujahir had any domestic co-conspirators.

ACLU, Call Your Office
Although Al Mujahir/Padilla is a US citizen, he is being held by the Defense Department as an enemy combatant. How many minutes before the ACLU, and his own lawyers, are in court for a habeas writ? By day's end, I predict. The efforts of the legal establishment to criminalize acts of war (and treat them in the much more lenient venue of the civilian courts) are inexorable. A good question is, what will a judge do? I hope he or she leaves Al Mujahir where he is, and orders briefs on the subject (the ACLU case is easy, it is the government that will have to think out its position very carefully), and holds with the Administration on this issue.

Yet More
The suspect was born Jose Padilla, and was serving prison time in the early 1990s when he converted to Islam. He adopted the name Adullah Al Mujahir. He was arrested at O'Hare on May 8th on his return from Pakistan. Ashcroft, speaking from Moscow, indicated that the information leading to the arrest came from "multiple, independent, corroborating sources." Apparently, since the suspect is a US citizen and not of Middle Eastern descent, it was believed that he would have an easier time gaining access to wherever the bomb was to be detonated (we still don't have that information). Developing...

More Details
The suspect was born in Chicago and is known as Abdullah Mugaher (phonetic spelling). He is hispanic, and converted to Islam in prison. He is confirmed to have had weapons and explosives training with al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Developing...

Gee, The Suspect Is a Moslem, What A Surprise!
There is no information available on where the radiological bomb was to be detonated. The suspect is an American citizen of hispanic descent (apparently) who converted to Islam, and is affiliated with al Qaeda. He has been in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was arrested at O'Hare in May. President Bush signed off last night on transferring him from the custody of the Justice Department to the Department of Defense. Sounds like this guy is headed for a military tribunal. Developing...

A.G. To Announce Capture of "Dirty Bomb" Suspect
In the next few minutes, Attorney General John Ashcroft will go before the cameras and announce the arrest of someone suspected of planning a "dirty" or radiological bomb attack somewhere in the US. Developing...

This is John Wayne's birthday. This quintessential American icon was a second or third generation Irishman, enjoyed a good cigar, blasted leftists for their opposition to the War in Vietnam in particular and fighting communism in general, and made, I read somewhere, a deathbed conversion to the Catholic Church. Happy Birthday, Duke! We could really use your type on the screen today. Mel Gibson is o.k, but isn't quite the same.

The Catholic bishops gather in Dallas this week. I hold little hope that they will act courageously, or even intelligently. At best, we can expect the draft proposal of last week minus the free pass for priests with only once past instance of buggery on their records. There is last minute maneuvering to allow SNAP leaders to address the conference. But that is just empty posturing. I don't particularly care if the bishops schedule sessions with each and every victim. They have already made up their minds- to protect bishop's non-sexual misdeeds (shuffling), to do nothing about the remaining problems in the seminaries, and above all to do absolutely nothing about the gay subculture in the priesthood. Without action on these fronts (and they are simply not on the agenda) little that is meaningful will be done. Watching the proceedings on EWTN would provide a good snooze. Don't get your hopes up. Pray that the Holy Spirit works in the American Church over time to strengthen orthodoxy, diminish dissent, end clericalism, and keep those who don't belong in the priesthood out of it in the future.

The legislature is about to levy new broad-based taxes that are expected to raise $1.2 billion. This includes ignoring an income tax cut approved by the electorate in a referendum. Other states facing the same problems have focused on cigarette taxes, borrowing, rainy day funds, fees. But here in Democrat Massachusetts, the first option is always to raise taxes. Of course, spending is going up at the same time, where other states are using fiscal restraint. The acting governor does not favor the increases, but with such lopsided majorities in both houses, the lame duck's threat to veto means absolutely nothing. As anti-tax advocate Barbara Anderson has said, "No wonder we are the laughingstock of the country."

Sunday, June 09, 2002

You've Probably Seen This
But just in case you haven't, here is Noel Augustyn's invaluable Salvation Aptitude Test. No one should be allowed to graduate from 8th grade in a Catholic school without a passing grade on this (and no curves). Just on a whim, my wife and I took it one evening about a year ago. She scored 98%, and I scored 97%.

Liturgical Abuses, Part I
One of the most troubling trends in the Church since the post-Vatican II reforms (Notice the construction: not since Vatican II itself, but since the post-Vatican II reforms- a distinction with a difference. As Roman Catholics, we are obliged to accept the legitimacy of the council itself. The actions undertaken under the aegis of the national conference of bishops are not owed anything like that degree of loyalty.) has been the experimentation with and abuse of the liturgy. We will inaugurate this regular Sunday feature with one that confronts you even before the Mass begins.

This is something we see all the time. After we enter the church, we dip our right hand in the holy water dispenser, make the sign of the cross, and figure out where we want to sit. Going to the pew of our choice (in our home parish we have a "regular" seat), we face the Tabernacle, and genuflect.

One genuflects before the Tabernacle because it is the repository of the Sacred Elements. They have been consecrated as the Body and Blood of the Lord. It is a mark of respect and reverence. The Lord is present everywhere and at all times, don't get me wrong. But He is specially present in the Sacred Elements of the Eucharist. Going down on one knee, or making some other mark of respect like bowing, is a recognition of this central fact of Catholicism, that the Lord is really present in the Eucharist.

Now, the Eucharist should be front and center in the church. It should be housed in the place of greatest respect in the church- behind the altar. In many parishes, the Tabernacle has been shunted off to the side since the early 1960s, and has been replaced behind the altar by a throne for the priest (it is that way in the parish I grew up in). But the faithful should orient themselves towards the Tabernacle as they genuflect. If the Tabernacle is on the side, face to the side and genuflect. If it is behind the altar, face forward as you genuflect.

We see three things a great deal.

1) Not genuflecting at all. This is a mark of gross disrespect. Many parochial school students have never been trained to show respect for the Eucharist as they enter or leave the pew. They have grown into adults who don't even know what they should do. How can they pass on knowledge that they don't have to their children? According to Michael Rose, even some seminarians are no longer trained to perform this basic act of respect.

2)Genuflecting towards the altar, no matter where the Tabernacle is. This is sheer ignorance. Someone, at some point told them they should genuflect as they enter the pew. But no one ever explained why they are genuflecting. Some may think that the altar is what they are genuflecting towards, as it is the place where the Consecration takes place, but that is not the theology of genuflection. The altar is a special place that should be treated with reverence. But the Contents of the Tabernacle are What we adore. In parishes that have not yet acted to restore the Tabernacle to its proper place, these people are genuflecting towards the priest's throne. They are elevating the priest to the same status as the Eucharist, and giving him the adoration due to the Lord. I have seen parochial school teachers, principals, nuns, and even priests do this. Maybe some have just forgotten about moving the Tabernacle. Hint, there will be a red lamp burning next to the Tabernacle (or at least there should be).

3) Not genuflecting as you leave at the conclusion of Mass. It is not customary to genuflect as you line up to recieve Communion. But it is a traditional mark of respect for the Eucharist to genuflect as you leave the pew at the end of Mass. A great many neglect this. Agreed, since the entire congregation is leaving at once, it is crowded. If necessary to avoid tripping people, genuflect in the pew, rather than in the aisle. It is better than nothing.

Widespread dissemination of why we genuflect is the only remedy for this abuse. It is just one little thing, but it is a beginning. I'll be tackling each of these little things that have crept into the celebration of the Mass one by one, each Sunday. I should finish some time in 2005.

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