Saturday, August 03, 2002

A Good Downer
Read John Derbyshire's latest offering at National Review On Line, in case you are feeling optimistic. Derb will surely cure you of that.

A Saturday Tradition-Listening For You, Mum
Just about every Saturday I tune in, even if only for a few minutes or in the car, to the Irish Hit Parade radio show on WROL 950AM Boston. Every Saturday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm they play Irish music, and have since 1967. My mother discovered the program in the early 1970s. Dad preferred his Saturday westerns, but liked the Irish music, too. Once I started re-enacting the British Army 1770-1815, I discovered some old favorites of my redcoated predecessors being played on the Irish Hit Parade. For 12 years, I've been listening. Mum died in 1998 (today would be her 79th birthday). Today, I'm listening for you, Mum.

Irish Trial Lawyers Are Equally Scuzzy
Just heard about a case decided this week in which a lady was walking along the top of the kneelers at the cathedral in Waterford, fell, and cut her leg. There was nothing at all faulty about the kneelers, nor were they of an unusual design. She was awarded 9,000 euros.

Church Doesn't Want to Fly the Flag
There has been a little-noticed dispute going on over flying the American flag over veterans' graves at a cemetery run by the Diocese of Springfield (MA) . The cemetary was recently taken over by the diocese. Once they took over, the diocese limited the number of days the flag can fly to 14. The diocese cited maintainence issues.

This is mighty lame and amazingly short-sighted. Some of the men and women who are buried in the graveyard served our country bravely. The Church should not attempt to interfere with the flying of the flag over any veterans' graves, ever, especially since this was an established cemetery that it took over.

My parents are not buried in a Catholic cemetery but in consecrated ground in a graveyard run by a city. My father served in World War II (Army Air Corps-New Mexico as base security connected with the Manhattan Project, then 69th Division-Rhineland-Saxony, Bronze Star and Purple Heart). I fly the US flag there from Patriots' Day-Thanksgiving in most years. Last year, I just replaced the flag with a fresh one in Novemeber, and let it stay all Winter. We are at war, and I'm sure Dad would want to show the flag. I noticed that many others left the flags flying last Winter. The city was wise enough not to interfere.

Catholic cemeteries are notorious for being very restrictive on flowers, plantings, etc. But to claim that "maintainence concerns" should prevent the flying of the flag over the graves of those who served our country is absurd. Give up this petty concern, and let Old Glory fly.

As if we Catholics don't have enough of a public relations problem. This case should be settled with very generous terms for the veterans' groups. Shame on the cemeteries office of the Springfield Diocese! "An institute run with such knavish imbecility that, were it not the work of God, it would not last a fortnight."

From 1692 to Antietam
Just a random musing. I realized that Salem had three very famous sons whose lives link the Salem witch trials of 1692 to the Civil War. The great merchant Elias Haskett Derby, the first American millionaire, was born in Salem in 1739, and therefore, as a boy, knew people who, when they were young, had lived through the witch trials. Derby hired the Salem-born mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch (born 1773) as a supercargo on some of his ships. Bowditch ran an insurance company in Salem until 1823, when he moved to Boston. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem in 1804 (July 4th). He was born two blocks from Bowditch's office. He courted Sophia Peabody in a house around the corner from Bowditch's office. As a young man preparing for Bowdoin, he undoubtably knew Bowditch. In fact, they were distant cousins through the Ingersoll family. Hawthorne died during the Civil War.

In four generations, you can link back through these famous men some 170 years of Salem history. There certainly must have been less well-known people whose birth and death dates juxtapose in such a way to link the two events in only 3 lives.

Not exactly "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon", but an interesting observation nonetheless.

C. Emerson Winchester?
I just took the "which M*A*S*H character are you?" test at at Peter Vere's. I suppose all you other Catholic guys will come out with Father Mulcahey, like Peter did. I came out as Major Charles Emerson Winchester, III. Who would have thought it? To try it for yourself, go here to Peter's excellent Clog site, and scroll down to find the link.

YACCS Did It (I Think)
YACCS' server seems to be down, thus causing the loss of the comments. Everyone in St. Blog's who uses YACCS has lost their comments. Hopefully, they will get things sorted out soon.

I've Been Robbed!
Sorry about the sudden disappearance of the comments. I have no idea why they disappeared. I'm looking into it and will try to have it restored. Thanks for your patience.

Peggy Noonan's Great Column
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal carried Peggy Noonan's splendid column on Pope John Paul's trip.

I think Peggy is wrong that we won't hear more calls for the Holy Father to step down soon. I think she underestimates the imperviousness of liberalism to experience.

Festung VOTF
Well, Dave Alexander and the other brave souls attacking VOTF on it's own message board over the Deborah Haffner/SIECUS issue have been arbitrarily shut down by the stalinists at VOTF. No room at "Voice of the Faithful" for voices from the genuinely faithful- just the voices of the usual left-wing flotsam & jetsam not busy working on Democrat campaigns. I hate to say "I told you so," but I told you so. At least they knew their ability to contest this issue would not last.

Some of them may have been under the delusion that the average VOTF member would be outraged at the silencing of the discussion. Think again. They don't care if Dave Alexander or SAHmy's voices are heard. Just so long as their voice is heard, and obeyed.

Pagan Radicals For a Liberal Choice
Fox News has a very informative story about Catholics For a Free Choice, the group that has very little of anything Catholic about it led by Frances Kissling, a 1960s nun who spent ,"twenty years looking for a government to overthrow without being thrown in jail. I finally found one in the Catholic Church." Kissling said she no longer attends Mass or prays.

There are tons of big money flowing into the group from left-wing foundations and individuals. Interestingly, the group told Fox that it would put a spokesman up for Fox to interview, only if the group was portrayed in a positive light. Don't want any hostile published interview to interrupt the flow of corporate donations now, do we?

I have said it before, but where is the corporate money flowing into conservative causes? On single issues here and there, yes, there is some. But liberals have a huge advantage in the corporate mendacity field. Conservatism would do a lot better if someone of our guys who is very persuasive could get inside the head of Bill Gates. You have no doubt heard that the stalwart John M. Olin Foundation is winding up its affairs. We need someone to come forward to fill the gap. How about it Mr. Lauder?

Catholics Aren't The Only Ones
According to the Washington Times, there is quite a row going on over the participation of a Lutheran pastor in a post-September 11th prayer service in Yankee Stadium that also featured non-Christian Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, and Wiccan figures. "Praying with pagans" is contrary to Lutheran disciplinary norms. The pastor was suspended in June, though he had the blessing in advance of the Missouri-Synod leader (who is defending him). Now the leader who suspended the pastor has been kicked off the Lutheran Hour, after angry calls and e-mails.

I'm no Lutheran, but it seems to me that, knowing about the long-standing prohibition on joining non-Christians in prayer, the pastor should not have accepted the invitation in the first place. I deplore the fact that the superior who had the backbone to discipline the pastor was himself disciplined. I don't think anyone would reasonably say that the Lutherans are unpatriotic if they don't participate in these "inter-faith" services, which in my view, aside from the genuine calling on God's blessing, are all stuff and nonsense-politically correct window dressing taking away from the substance of the uniqueness of the Christian faith.

Enough minding other peoples' business. Back to our own donnybrook.

The Globe Discovers the Plenary Council Request
The Globe hasn't been able to get much more information on the call, except to run to a reliable source, Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB staff, to pooh-pooh the idea as, "just an agenda item for the November meeting". Remember this little tidbit, when we wonder about anonymous leaks the Globe reports from the USCCB.

The Crisis Continues
The Archdiocese put on administrative leave Father Thomas Curran, pastor since 1996 of Saint Michael's parish in Hudson. The cause was a "single instance of sexual misconduct 25 years ago". No further details. Homosexual or heterosexual? With a minor or an adult? Consensual, or not? New allegation, or just found? The Archdiocese isn't telling. Curran is the 18th priest removed from service on these grounds since February, and has been recovering from by-pass surgery.

Archdiocese Confirms
According to today's Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston confirmed that the possibility of a bankruptcy filing is being considered, should the claims by pervert priest victims mount. Chancellor David Smith provided the usual explanation that this is a "worst-case scenario," and that the Archdiocese hopes it won't have to do it. Worldcom said the same thing. More likely, this is a gambit to force the plaintiffs' lawyers to agree to a set pool of about $30 million, from which all victims of all the pervert priests must draw in proportion. But, you never know, contributions are way down, and the Archdiocese cut its budget 40% this year.

Friday, August 02, 2002

This Weekend
I will be posting. I just might post Liturgical Abuses-Part V on Sunday. Weekend blogging is usually limited by lack of news, but I will see what I can do. Now, I have to put in a few hours at the library researching Nathaniel Bowditch.

I Like Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson seems a sensible sort to me. His reaction to the Scandal is just what you would expect- that it is terribly sinful, but nothing to lose one's faith over. Mel is Catholic, tends towards the conservative (rumors of his favoring the Latin Mass-certainly a viable option in my opinion), is a family man, and likes a cigar once in a while. Hollywood could do much, much worse in finding a role model to promote. Besides, I liked the Lethal Weapon movies, Ransom, Braveheart, and The Patriot. And just between you and me, I think his (and Franco Zefferilli's) version of Hamlet was better than Ken Branagh's.

What A Surprise!
In today's Globe, the nearly one-for-one identity between VOTF activists and liberal Democrats was pointed out (not in a condemnatory way, of course). Gee, it is open to women priests, homosexual priests, is "too sophisticated" to blame homosexuality for the Scandal, wants power for itself, and is staffed by Democrat campaign veterans. If it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, and is known to associate with ducks, chances are that it is a DUCK! This article should be the best recruitment incentive Roman Catholic Faithful has ever had.

Simon Leads In Latest Poll
It is no secret that this blog is cheering very enthuisastically for Republican California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon. The latest poll conducted by the LA Times ( I think) gives Simon a 47%-45% edge over Governor Gray-out Davis. God speed, Bill Simon.

Saint Alphonsus Ligouri
I will confess to missing the Feast of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, which according to the reformed calendar of feasts was yesterday. I can only plead that I did not turn my Catholic calendar to August until this morning, and that his feast was traditionally celebrated today, August 2nd.

Why the reformers thought it was so important to move the feast of this important saint 24 hours is a matter of dispute. They would have done better to leave all the saints' days where they were, and just add new ones to the dates as necessary (even in Father Englebert's Lives of the Saints, published in 1951 and which I rely on for my commentary on the saints, there are a half dozen or more saints whose feasts occur on just about every day of the year as it is, and it obviously does not include the 462 new saints added by John Paul). I found to my chagrin that I had failed to note the feast of St. Thomas, one of my personal patrons, because his feast has been moved from December to July!

Saint Alphonsus Ligouri is one of the most important writers of devotional works in the history of the Church. He was born to a comfortably-situated family in Naples in 1696, and studied for the bar. After frustration with the profession, he joined 4 of his siblings in professed religious life. In 1762, he founded the Redemporists with an emphasis on good solid preaching, especially for the poor. His devotional works The Glories of Mary and Visits to the Blessed Sacrament have informed the piety of generations of Catholics. They are available through Tan Publishing, and at any good Catholic bookstore. His marvelous and simple Stations of the Cross are, I would say, the standard text for this Lenten devotion.

Archdiocese Considering Bankruptcy
According to anonymous sources quoted in today's Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston is mulling a Chapter 11 filing to reorganize in the wake of the pervert priest lawsuits and the declining contributions resulting from it. The sources indicated that the filing would be a "worst case scenario". Such a filing would be a first for a major religious organization. But there are definable advantages in terms of bringing finality to any and all claims against the Archdiocese for past actions by pervert priests, establishing a priority of creditors, allowing the Archdiocese to continue with its work, limiting liability to some extent.

It is, as the Russian communists used to say, no accident that this was leaked to the press the day the Cardinal takes the stand in the hearing on whether the Archdiocese is bound by the settlement agreement with Geoghan's victims. The mere prospect of a bankruptcy filing, it is hoped, will cow the plaintiffs. Another diocese was hit with a $199 million jury verdict for sex abuse, and discussed bankruptcy. The victims settled for $31 million. But I would not count on a capitulation in this case. The issues are too large, and the personalities too grasping.

Such a filing, would, of course be a tremendous blow to the prestige of the Archdiocese. Then again, the Archdiocese's prestige is at a pretty low point anyway. It would be a disgraceful culmination to the episcopate of Bernard Law. In all but the formalities, his leadership has ended in disgrace already. And it would set a terrible precedent for other bishops and other religious groups. "Bankrupt, financially and morally!" would be the cry, and not without justification. Maybe it would just formalize what everyone, especially believing Catholics, already knows. Leaders who do not take a strong stand against perverted priests in accord with the moral teachings of the Church and shuffle perverts from parish to parish are morally bankrupt and ought to be financially bankrupt. "If the truth is scandalous, it is better that the scandal be exposed and endured than that falsehood be taken as the truth."

Crisis Scoops Media
Deal Hudson at Crisis broke the story (actually Greg Popek at HMS Blog broke it a week ago but lacked some of the details) about the 8 bishops calling for a plenary council to discuss the role of homosexuality and dissent in the Scandal. Now the "mainstream" media is picking up the story. Pressed by reporters, Hudson added just one detail, that there were no cardinals who signed the letter. Only 1 auxiliary bishop, four archbishops and three bishops who run dioceses signed the letter. The identities of the signers remains a mystery (why?).

As I have written elsewhere, I have a fair degree of skepticism about the wisdom of the move, and about the motivations of some of the signers. Hudson says that they come from "across the spectrum" which immediately raises alarm bells. Are we to believe that liberal bishops, who just six weeks ago refused to even consider the role of homosexuality and dissent in the Scandal, have since seen the light and are ready to discuss and condemn them in a plenary council? It is, of course possible. Even Father Andrew Greeley has made some sense in discussing the Scandal (he coined the term "lavender mafia").

But the probabilities are not on the side of such a conclusion. If a liberal bishop or two signed on to the call for a plenary council, most likely it was a political move. Those who are correct in blaming homosexuality and dissent for the Scandal and are willing to publically say so, number very few among the American bishops. Given the personalities and politics in play, what would be the likely result except a finding by a plenary council that homosexuality and dissent played no role in the Scandal? Of course, liberals would like nothing better. Of course, the Holy Father might not endorse such a finding, if John Paul is still alive then, and if he is well-informed on the matter (few signs of that now, sadly).

Such a finding, I believe, would be most damaging for the future health and growth of the Church. Just leave the dissenters in place in the seminaries and in the theology departments of our Catholic colleges. Continue ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood, regardless of what the Vatican says about that. You want real anti-clericalism in America? That is the best way to get it.

Now my background is historical, legal, and political, not theological. I don't believe in calling for a meeting or a vote unless I know in advance that I have the votes to carry my view. I've always thought it unwise to call for a public (or private) vote unless I know in advance that it will come out as I want it to. You don't call the question unless you know you have the votes. So I have grave doubts about what looks like a leap of faith (faith in the bishops acting as a body, and in their bureacracies?).

Calling for a plenary council and hoping the Holy Spirit will make everything come out right doesn't sound like sound planning to me. Surely, there has not been a change of heart by a majority of the bishops who were in Dallas in June so soon. Lobbying other bishops relentlessly behind the scenes, for years if necessary, until you have commitments from more than a majority to support you is more my cup of tea. Then let the Holy Spirit do His work. I think we would find that a better approach to the problem. So I will follow this call for a plenary council with prayer, but with grave misgivings.

Hear Him! Hear Him!
John Derbyshire had a magnificent rant yesterday in National Review On Line's The Corner (I would link to it, but it would only get you to The Corner. I tried cut & paste, but ended up with three days' of postings from The Corner in my edit template. Besides, you must already have The Corner in your Favorites, right?) on the deaths of those 5 Americans at Hebrew University in the Palestinians' latest act of barbarism.

I can add little more except to express my disgust at the Administration's pathetic response to this monstrous act. It is time to just step back, and let the Israelis destroy utterly, completely, and forever Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, and anything of a similar nature that rises to take their places. The members of these groups and those who support them have no business using up good oxygen. They have shown that they cannot be trusted to share space above ground with the civilized. Their time is long past up. Turning the other cheek and accepting vengence as the province of the Lord is fine for individual people. But states must look to their interests, and deal with others accordingly.

John Derbyshire is, in my opinion, Exhibit A in the case against shutting down all immigration.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Today is Lammas Day, the Feast of Saint Peter Ad Vincula. In Europe, it was celebrated as the first fruits of the harvest. Lammas probably comes from "Loaf Mass", and a ritual blessing of loaves of bread made from the first grain harvested was part of the Lammas rite. Harvest queens would be crowned in villages, and harvest suppers would be held.

In Western Europe, the harvest is about 3 weeks earlier, on average, than in New England. We think of harvest time as September and October. But even in our own suburban gardens, aren't the first tomatoes ready about now? Raspberries and blackberries are a few days away. Sweet corn is about ready here. Apples will start ripening in a few weeks. Six weeks to fresh sweet cider! Just because we are no longer an agricultural society does not mean that we need to lose touch with the traditional seasonal tempo of life.

You don't need to be Haydn Pearson (the Countryman essayist in the New York Times 50 years ago) to notice that Autumn is on the way. Some sickly trees will start to change by the end of the month. It may still be hot now and then (though here in Salem, a heat wave broke last night, right on schedule).{Comment Revised & Extended: it was still right around ninety degress, but the humidity dropped away and there was a breeze, so maybe the heatwave didn't officially break until Friday}. The "Dog Days" may hold sway until the middle of the month. But the cooler days will start to be noticed more, especially after the fifteenth. Autumn-themed decor started showing up in stores a few weeks ago (I noticed the first on July 9th). There were back-to-school displays (stacks of binders) in Walmart in June, two days after school ended! Unfortunately, I and my fellow ragweed allergy sufferers will start to be miserable in about 10 days, and will stay that way until the first hard frost in October.

This was also the beginning of the Autumn fair season (think about it-there are 7or 8 weeks to the Topsfield Fair and other fairs before that; King Richard's medieval faire starts Labor Day weekend). Many towns held large fairs on Lammas that brought people from far and near to the nearest thing Medieval and Early Modern Europe had to a mall. In medieval Europe, those fairs took on a much greater commercial significance than their descendants do today. The fairs were mobile, spending a few days in a given location (like a modern carnival). One still hears an Irish folk song called "The Aulde Lammas Faire."

The Feast of Saint Peter Ad Vincula is the Feast of Peter's Chains. Saint Peter, having been arrested, was held in custody, but miraculously was permitted to escape. Two links said to be from the chain that he was confined in are venerated at the church of Saint Peter Ad Vincula at Rome. The Feast of Saint Peter's Chains was superimposed over the pre-Christian harvest festivals (but with less success than with Christmas, Easter, and All Saints' Day). Though Lammas has lost much of its significance in the last hundred years, it has more cultural resonance than Saint Peter's Chains.

May the Lord bless this harvest and provide ample food for all His people.

Gordon Humphrey For Governor
No sense holding back endorsements. Gordon Humphrey is running for Governor of New Hampshire. The incumbent Jean Shaheen is running for US Senate. Humphrey is one of the most effective and consistent friends the pro-life cause has ever had. He is a principled conservative. He may be the outstanding conservative statesman in New England. No others come to mind. I'd prefer to see him as governor of Massachusetts. But he is New Hampshire's. Our friends to the north would be crazy to not elect him Governor of the Granite State.

On A Lighter Note
Bugs Bunny topped the TV Guide list of the 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time, and rightly so. What astonished me was that Mickey Mouse did not make the top ten. Top Cat placed ahead of Mickey. I will confess to a lack of affection for Mickey myself, and a total estrangement from Disney since Walt's death. The list has a healthy number of favorites like Mr. Magoo, Heckel & Jeckel, Tom & Jerry, The Flintstones, Underdog, Homer Simpson but some startling ommissions.

A few of the names on the list, I don't even recognize, and others I haven't watched. But I do note the absence of Deputy Dawg, Huckleberry Hound, Auwgy Doggy and His Doggy Daddy, Wally Gator, Mr. Peabody and his Boy Sherman, George Jetson, Quick-Draw McGraw, Dick Dastardly and Muttley, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Dudley Do-Right, McGilla Gorilla, and Garfield.

The Grinch made the list on the basis of a single 20-minute stint. Something from the Rugrats made the list. Bobby Hill, but not Hank? Is there no justice at TV Guide?

Read the commentary here, and the list, here.
"Overtures, curtain lights..."

Most Successful Terror Attack On Americans Since September 11th
According to Fox News, five of the seven killed in the terrorist attack on Hebrew University yesterday were Americans. Other sources say only three were. Two of the dead have ties to Massachusetts. Many Americans are among the 80 injured. This is a small part of why I have so vigorously taken the Israeli side in this conflict. How many people don't know as friends, neighbors, co-workers, a Jewish family which has one or more relatives living or working in Israel?

This is the most successful terrorist attack against Americans since September 11th. Hamas is taking responsibility. Hamas has been considered an affiliate of al Qaeda, though now that it is inconvenient, it is disclaiming the link. Time for the State Department to wake up, and let the Israelis blot out forever this local branch of al Qaeda.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002


A reader writes in response to my blog below on VOTF spokesman Tom White's appearance on Brudnoy:

The response of the Pope and his Roman yes men to this sex abuse scandal has been a scandal in itself. Simply put, the Pope does not have a clue. He may be pious and personally good, but totally out of touch.

Traditionally, the Church has been severly [sic] out of sync with the United States, with Popes as late as the mid 19th century preaching that democracy was a sin. When faced with this monumental scandal all we have heard from the Pope was vague platitudes and open hostility to the media from the Cardinals.

Face it, the Church was caught in an enormous sin.....committed by the clergy and hidden by the leadership and when this sin was laid out to view the Roman leadership reacted with rage...not at the perpatrators [sic] but those that would call Rome to account.

My Reply

First of all, the Church collectively is incapable of sin. "The Church...is held as a matter of faith to be unfailingly holy," (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 823). Sin there certainly is. It screams from the shoulders of pervert priests. It howls from the consciences (or lack thereof) of enabling diocesan bureaucrats and bishops. But the Church itself is incapable of sin.

Rome knows what goes on in America only what the American bishops tell it is going on. As much as I would like to drop a note to Cardinal Ratzinger from time to time telling him what the real state of affairs is, that is not the way the Church works- or most corporations for that matter. I would be the first to sign up if Ratzinger started to recruit agents to report on what American priests are doing wrong. But the call has not gone out.

Yep, some fools have blamed the media. While the Globe has been gleeful in its coverage, since the Church stands as an obstacle to much of what the Globe would like to accomplish (which coincidentally is what the primary actors in this tragedy-perverts like Paul Shanley- want to accomplish: open homosexuality among the clergy, women priestesses, an end to traditional teachings on morality) the Globe's reporters were not out buggering teenage boys (well, if they were, it hasn't been made public). The media is not to blame, in that it is not the primary actor, but it sure is happy to cover it.

If you're in Rome, and don't read English well (even when he was younger, the Pope was not very fluent in English), what are you going to believe about a scandal that erupts in America- what you see in the American press, or what your men on the scene-the American bishops- tell you? If your "regional reps" are telling you it's no big deal and that the press is blowing it out of proportion, are you going to respond well to the situation? The linguini-spined American bishops are to blame here, too. They are not doing their job of reporting accurately to Rome. The Pope appointed them? Yes, but not on personal knowledge. The Church is too big for any one man to personally know the people he is appointing to bishop status.

As to the Church being out of sync with America, a little perspective is called for. There are about a billion Catholics in the world. Sixty million are in the US. Of those 60 million, 20 million are traditionalists who just want the perverts out of the priesthood and the enablers demoted, degraded, etc., and have no other problems with the Church. Twenty million are liberals who are out of sync with Rome and the traditions of the Church. Twenty million are apathetic and lean whichever way the wind blows.

More to the point, the concerns of each of those billion is, in the eyes of the Church, just as important. That means the peon in Latin America has just as much worth as the investment banker in Swellesley. What a radical thought! The "elite" VOTF member should have no more say in the Church than a campesino. That really hurts the ego of the VOTF guy, but it is indeed true.

Instruction in political science and history in this country is in such poor shape! In case you missed it, the US is not a democracy- it's a representative federal republic. You may have not noticed it, but we have states whose inhabitants vote for slates of electors for the office of president based on a system called an Electoral College. Pure democracy does indeed have an enormous potential to be sinful.

But what is sinful in and of itself is modernism. I have a feeling that a great deal of what Percival thinks of as being in sync with the US is covered under modernism: feminism, homosexual rights, and on down the list of modern pseudo-religions. Hilaire Belloc covered it extensively in his book The Great Heresies. More to the point, I would advert the reader's attention to the Oath Against Modernism promulgated by Pius X in 1910, and to Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis from 1950- both, by the way, still absolutely valid, reaffirmed, and incorporated by reference into the findings of the Second Vatican Council and in the new Catechism. You can buy it at any good Catholic bookstore. Also, living and thinking in accord with Humani Generis is in no way inconsistent with American ordered liberty. In fact, the American system would work much better if all its citizens (and certainly all US Catholics) adhered to it.

And since when does the Church have to be in sync with the US? It is the American Catholic who needs to be in sync with Rome. It is called the Roman Catholic Church, not the American Catholic Church. But, then again, an American Catholic Church is just where VOTF is heading. And you know, those of us who stick with Rome will have a much more coherent, orderly, and orthodox Church without them.

It's a free country. They are free to go. I'll pray that they see the light. But I won't pray for their odious views to prevail so that they stay. When you are a Catholic, you exercise your reason and will within the structural confines dictated by the Church. That is the way it has been, the way it is, and the way it always will be. If, ultimately, some cannot accept that, they don't belong in the Church.

Higher Casualites
At least six are reported dead, and 70 injured in the Palestinian outrage. Hamas, which has been part of al Qaeda, claims responsibility. It is not clear if the bomb was a suicide effort, or a planted bomb. CNN reports 7 dead, and more than 80 injured. Late Update: Two of the dead are said to be American students.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Today is the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. Ignatius began as a soldier, was wounded, and during his recuperation, had nothing to read but The Golden Legend, and the Life of Christ. Under the influence of these books alone for months, Ignatius experienced conversion. He withdrew to a cave, and started to put together The Spiritual Exercises. This work became the cornerstone for the Society of Jesus.

Through no fault of Ignatius' the order he created was found to have a pernicious effect on Catholic youth (the caller on Brudnoy who boasted about the "increasingly good education" that enables VOTF members to pick and choose what they like about Catholicism claimed the Jesuits did that to him). Pope Clement XIV suppressed the order in 1773. It was re-established in the Kingdom of Naples in 1804 and in the Church worldwide in 1814. Today, while there are some highly valuable Jesuits (Father Fessio, and Father Gumpel come to mind) it seems as if the order is ripe for suppression again, as it has largely become over the last 50 years a nest of dissenters and homosexuals leading people like that caller away from a genuine faith.

But this in no way detracts from the deserved sainthood of Ignatius. He became a truly holy man. If only those who belong to his order could more closely imitate him today.

By way of disclaimer, yes I graduated from Boston College and Boston College Law School. Nevertheless, my exposure to the order there was very limited. The late Father Mahoney taught me Modern European Diplomatic History for two semesters in my Sophmore year. In my Freshman year, my Honors Program double class was taught for two semesters by a professor who, in the first semester was Father M., and by January had left the Jesuits, and became Professor M. My last semester in Law School, I had another Jesuit, Father Nicholson, for Conflicts of Law. He was the only Jesuit on the Law School's faculty, and has since retired. There was a very nice priest of the Society (since deceased) who was faculty advisor for the Pro-Life Coalition, in which I was active while at BC, but I met him maybe 10 times and, sad to say, don't remember his name at this point. So I can't say that my contact with the Jesuits impacted significantly on my world-view, or on my views on the order.

Latest Palestinian Outrage
An explosion occurred at the cafeteria of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, on the border of East and West Jerusalem. Israeli officials said there are at least 30 injured, though the casualty list is not complete, yet. Yesterday's suicide bombing also occurred on the border of East and West Jerusalem. Nice to see how the Palestinians honor and respect learning, as well as civilian lives.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

An Unreliable Link
The link to Father Shaughnessey's article is unreliable. I tried it a couple of times, and found myself shunted off to a homepage for Ignatius Press. But it worked twice out of five times. If you have the same problem, type in www.ignatius.com/scandal/gaypriest.htm on your browser. That is the direct address, and it should get you there. It worked twice (out of two tries) for me.

The Gay Priest Problem
Domenico Bettinelli has put up on his site a link to a brilliant article by Father Paul Shaughnessey that appeared in Catholic World Report in November 2000. I just had time to scan through it quickly now, but wanted to call it to your attention. It looks like a worthy companion for Mary Eberstadt's and Rod Dreher's and George Sim Johnston's journalism on the true origins of the Scandal. Notice the date, November 2000- long before anyone had heard of Geoghan, or Shanley, or Birmingham, or Paquin, or Desillets. Father Shaughnessey sounds like a straightforward guy, who is not cowed by the lavender mafia. If the direct link doesn't work from my site, go to Bettnet.com and open it from there.

VOTF On Brudnoy
Last night, David Brudnoy, WBZ (Boston) Radio's openly gay libertarian talk show host had as a guest Tom White, a spokesman for Voice of the Faithful. I don't want to turn my blogs into all-VOTF-bashing-all-the-time, but some things White said are, I think, worth amplifying. He really painted a very useful portrait of VOTF. I did not find it a flattering one.

Brudnoy started off by describing VOTF's mission as a "radical" return to the structure of the early Church- with laity choosing and dimissing bishops at will. White agreed that was their goal, said he couldn't put it better. White was candid enough to describe VOTF's "primary objective" as diminishing the power of the Church's hierarchy. Until they "get their way" White said VOTF was willing to live with lower amounts donated to charities and agreed that VOTF is setting itself up as a rival fundraising organization through its Voice of Compassion program.

Brudnoy raised the issue of the group's membership make-up: white, middle-aged, upper middle class. White agreed that that was the case, and indicated that Hispanics are not joining because they come from a more "authoritarian" culture, in which questioning bishops is unthinkable. A caller then amplified this point, calling VOTF's membership "increasingly well educated Catholics" who think things through on their own and formulate their own opinions, and don't follow the party line. The VOTF spokesman agreed and called these people the real base of the Church. Another caller said that the issues that are stirring VOTF are deeper than the sex scandal, and would have come to the fore because of something else, but for the sex scandal. White agreed.

A final caller took White to task for not demanding Law's resignation. White hemmed and hawed a bit about this, and said that, when it was considered, the organization was using a consensus requirement, but has since moved to a 2/3 requirement to act on a measure. At the time, there were more than 2/3 in favor, but not a "consensus".

White then said something very interesting. He denied that Law is the issue, though he thinks he should go. Personalities are not the issue, he said, "power is the issue".

Well, there we have it, right from the group's spokesman. At this point, VOTF is not really interested in Law's departure from the scene. As long as Law is there, he acts as a terrific recruiting poster for VOTF. "See, the problem is still there. How can we trust a Church run by him? A new Archbishop of Boston would be seen as a fresh face, a chance for a new start. But that would have the effect of cutting into VOTF's membership, taking the wind out of their sails. So they are not interested in Law leaving now (not until VOTF gets every last bit of use out of him as a symbol, the Church of Boston is in ruins, and has to turn to VOTF for help).

Personalities are not the issue, "power is the issue". The goals of helping victims of sex abuse and supporting good priests are mere window dressing for the real issue here, power. Power to the laity translates into power to VOTF and its members. This is about a cabal of pampered, rich baby boomers who think they are better qualified to run the Church than its leaders, so that they can modify personnel (and therefore teachings) to their hearts' content.

Want women ordained? Just let the laity elect enough liberal bishops. Want Circus Masses in your parish? Let the laity pick their priests. Want all this nonsense from Rome about birth control, and premarital sex, and divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality silenced? Again, just let VOTF pick the bishops, and cafeteria Catholics can have their way without regard to stick-in-the-muds like Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger, and Cardinal Dulles. Rome can talk to the hand. We American VOTF members know better. This is about power. And power means who decides what is taught, and what is not. Just turn power in the Church over to the "educated elites" of laity from VOTF, ignore Rome, make women priests, allow priests to marry, and declare an impromptu millenium. What a Brave New World VOTF is striving for! Or is it an Animal Farm?

I don't know about you, but I was deeply touched by White's admission that VOTF can live with lower donations to charities, until VOTF "gets its way." I'm so glad he and his members are willing to do without some donations from Catholic Charities, or health care from Caritas Christi. Not, of course, that these Wellesley residents are likely to go knocking on the door of the local Catholic Charities office looking for a handout. But it is the thought that counts.

I was also struck by the complacent assertion of the caller, agreed with by White, that VOTF members are cafeteria Catholics, and proud of it. Since they are "increasingly well educated", they know better than others how the Church ought to be run. They certainly know better than those benighted Hispanics who come from "authoritarian cultures" and don't question the bishops. American education, Catholic as well as secular, has been turning out increasingly less well-educated citizens for more than 40 years. "Increasingly well-educated"? Gee, I know where I keep my Phi Beta Kappa key. Does White or the caller?

Aren't you glad there are so many enlightened people in Wellesley, Dover, and Wenham who can run the Church (when they are not busy with their divorces, or their daughters' abortions, or welcoming their son's gay lover, or buying that second house). Aren't you honored that they call themselves "Catholic" despite all that medieval nonsense coming out of Rome? I know I go to bed every night thanking God for Tom White and the other bright, beautful people at VOTF.

So VOTF thinks of itself as an elite. Well, it's typical member has some money. But money alone does not make one part of an elite. Are Michael Jackson, or Jennifer Lopez, or Puff Daddy, or Elizabeth Taylor, or Ellen De Generes the leaders of society? Do you look to them for moral guidance? No? But they have money! And a lot more of it than the VOTF members. Any one of them could buy and sell just about anyone in VOTF.

I came across this quotation yesterday from James Duncan Phillips, a Yankee aristocrat and historian who flourished 50 years ago. "It is not the flamboyant morons of Hollywood or Broadway, however smart, who make for the eventual good of a community, but people of taste, culture, and mental activity, living decent, restrained lives." I had no idea I would find a use for this insight so quickly!

So, if you want to be considered an elite, check the second house and the 401(k) balance at the door. Taste, culture, mental activity, and leading a decent, restrained life have much more to do with elite status than money. VOTF needs to learn this lesson. One does not turn over control of important institutions to people whose only qualification is their bank balance (oh yes, and their "increasingly good education"!).

So, White really put VOTF in a very clear light. It is made up of well-heeled, selfish, baby boomers (and Korean War half-generation people) whose goal is power for themselves. They don't care if people in need of help don't get it, just as long as they "get their way" (White actually used those words). They think of themselves as an elite. They demand that their voices be heard, and obeyed.

They are not willing to stay in the proper role for laity in the Roman Catholic Church. Their pride has issued its "Non serviam!" As Michael Novak wrote, they haven't made up their minds whether they are Anglicans or Unitarians. But it is clear that, no matter what they call themselves, they are no longer Roman Catholics. So long! Don't let the door hit you on the collective arse on the way out! Have fun singing "Kumbaya" with the Unitarians!

Panetta On the Review Board
National Review On Line's Kathryn Jean Lopez has this short, but informative look at the inexplicable presence of Leon Panetta on the bishops' sex abuse review board. According to the investigative reporting of others, the board has several members whose primary credential seems to be fealty to the Democrat Party.

Is there anyone, anyone, who feels more confidence in the panel now that it has been "improved" with even more liberal Democrat hacks?

Pope In Guatemala To Canonize Saint
While Pope John Paul II is in Guatemala today, he will formalize the canonization of Pedro de San Jose Betancur, a 17th century missionary in Guatemala who dedicated his ministry to helping the poor, prisoners, and orphans. The Holy Father has been greeted enthusiastically by huge crowds in Guatemala. He will also beatify two Catholic Indians martyred in 1700. Tonight, he leaves for Mexico, where he will canonize Juan Diego, the Indian visionary who saw the Blessed Mother at Guadalupe in 1531. Juan Diego will be the Church's first Indian saint. The Holy Father appeared more tired last night on his arrival in Guatemala, after the World Youth Day festivities in Canada.

Fixed the Gorski Link
The Gorski link below was not working (thanks to a reader for pointing it out). It is working now.

Now, They Are Going After Our Water Supplies
Federal authorities have in custody two suspected al Qaeda members arrested in the US (they are apparently US citizens who converted to Islam). On their computers were found plans for poisoning US water supplies. The two brothers are connected with the mosque in Seattle that is suspected of harboring an al Qaeda cell. One of them provided computers for the Taliban and may have scouted out a site in Oregon to establish an al Qaeda training camp there.

This must be some mistake. I'm sure they only intended to improve our water quality, since, as the Administration has told us many times, Islam is a religion of peace.

Palestinians Target Fast Food Stand
Another Palestinian outrage to report. A suicide bomber detonated himself at a Jerusalem falafel stand, injuring 4 (two hospitalized). Only the barbarian died. This is the first suicide bombing in more than a month because of the Israeli army's occupation of most of the major Palestinian towns. Islam, we are told, is a religion of peace.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Ten Percent of the Cuban World Youth Delegates Defect
Amy Welborn pointed this article out. CNN reports that of the 200 Cuban World Youth Day delegates, 23 have defected, and are seeking asylum in Canada. Some of them have family in Florida. A Congressman from Florida has written to Prime Minister Chretien urging him to accept the applications for asylum.

Castro's Cuba remains one of the most hellish regimes on earth. Hope for the future, genuine religious freedom, free enterprise, freedom of the press, or of assembly, or of speech are non-existent there. It is no surprise that just about anyone who has the opportunity to get out of that nightmare will attempt to do so.

Let us hope that the Canadian government will not disgrace the cause of freedom by rejecting the asylum applications. I can think of fewer spectacles that would be less fitting for the cause of liberty than handing these people back to Castro's thugs to be tortured, imprisoned, re-educated. Our own government did the wrong thing over Elian Gonzalez. Let us hope Canada respects liberty more than Janet Reno and Bill Clinton.

July-August New Oxford Review Is Out
Since I write for the New Oxford Review sometimes, I thought I might alert you to the availablility of the latest issue. While NOR has an on-line component, it is several months behind the dead-tree issue (April's issue is up now). Highlights include a defense of the Vatican's conduct regarding the joint Catholic-Jewish commission on Pius XII and the Holocaust. There is a lengthy piece by Father Jaki on the Malines Conversations of the 1920s (when Lord Halifax sponsored discussions on reunification of Rome and the CofE), and several interesting topical notes on the Scandal. The ongoing fight with Father Neuhaus on universal salvation is taken up again. Can't find NOR at your newsstand? For just $19 you can get a year's subscription (11 issues). Send your check to the New Oxford Review/1069 Kains Avenue/Berkeley, CA 94706-2260.

Piling On
Roman Gorski, T.O.P. went to a VOTF meeting, to find out what goes on. TCR has his take here. The self-righteous liberal speakers Gorski describes are appalling almost beyond comprehension. He, and Michael Novak, and Dom Bettinelli have it right. VOTF is something to avoid as sailors would avoid a plague-ship.

Domenico Bettinelli is "Not A Reliable Source"?
A chap named David Alexander is a member of VOTF. He was appalled at VOTF's choice of a representative of SIECUS, which advocates for sexual freedom for those of all ages (read: legalizing NAMBLA-like buggering of young boys to gratify the lusts of perverts like Paul Shanley) as a speaker at their convention 9 days ago. He posted on the VOTF's message board Dom Bettinelli's description of what SIECUS stands for. The system administrator pulled the description, on the grounds that Bettinelli is "not a reliable source".

In my reading of his works (daily for the last four months) I have seen that Dom Bettinelli is a careful journalist. He does not shoot from the hip. He studies matters closely, and comments on them intelligently. OK, I'll grant that Dom was quoting from something he read that SIECUS published. It was not based on extensive interviews with SIECUS members. But he is entitled to do that. If you can't quote the published works of an organization or its members, then there is no accountability for what one advocates.

To me, this is just one more piece of evidence that VOTF is a left-wing agenda-driven pressure group, and nothing more. It wants power in the Church for it's leaders. It is not open to different points of view about the nature of the Church. This just hardens my view that, if you are looking for a group to join to express disgust at the Scandal, VOTF is not the thing. Try Roman Catholic Faithful. They may not be perfect, but they are orthodox, and growing.

Excellent Analysis
Michael Novak in National Review On Line over the weekend described VOTF wonderfully. His piece on John Paul II and why liberals hate him is especially worthy of attention. There is a tremendous animosity on the Left against John Paul. Cawcutt was not the only man in orders to pray for his death. But their hatred is for the real Church which John Paul is strengthening and clarifying. While John Paul has been busy defining Vatican II, the leftists in the Church have been busy with fantasies of a "peoples' church". It is Christ's Church on earth. It is defined by His teachings, His words, His doctrines. It cannot be less than that, if it is to be true to it's Founder, and to itself.

Overview of Scandal Books
Today's Washington Times carries an overview of some of the recent books on the Scandal, including Garry Wills' screed and Goodbye, Good Men. George Weigel is coming out with his take in September. The coverage of things Catholic in the Washington Times has been fair, and substantive since the Scandal broke.

That paper has set a standard for intelligent coverage and investigative journalism lately. Bill Gertz has really been out front in the investigative journalism department. With the lacklustre performance and transformation of the American Spectator lately, it is good to see the Washington Times stepping in to fill the gap.

Oasis, Or Bubble?
According to the Boston Globe, Bernard Cardinal Law found his six-day trip to Toronto with the Boston World Youth Day pilgrims refreshing and inspiring. He found very little interest in the Scandal among the pilgrims. He stuck close to that group, and kept a low profile. The Globe describes the attitude of the young pilgrims as an "oasis of support" for Law.

If the Cardinal is taking the attitude of a group of pilgrims happy to see the Holy Father (who is likely to be made a saint by acclamation on his death) and in love with the Faith as personal support or a vote of confidence, he had best reconsider. His handling of the numerous pervert priests in Boston is still very much an issue for Catholics of all opinions. Liberals in VOTF are still pressing for their unwise demands. Conservatives are genuinely outraged, and hope that while the Holy Father refused Law's resignation, he only did so to avoid the impression that it was done in response to public pressure. We hope that something is in the works so that Boston can have a fresh start once the media coverage dies down.

Law returns to reality today. The "truce" between plaintiffs' lawyers and the Archdiocese broke down last week. So there are more depositions and hearings ahead. He will have to address the issue of VOTF contributions to Catholic charitable programs. When next he appears at the Cathedral, there are sure to be protesters. And then, there is the press, always eager for a story, and sensing blood in the water. He will find the euphoria of World Youth Day pilgrimages a bubble, an impermanent shell, an unrealistic indicator of the true state of things.

Law can stay in his gracious bunker on Lake Street. He can occasionally issue press releases. He can meet with his loyalists. He can have Lobster Thermidor for breakfast every day, if he likes. But is that leading the numerous Catholics of the Boston area? His job is to guide his flock. If he is physically able, he should be out among his parishes. He should be a moral force for the teachings of the Church. He must be a public advocate for the unborn, the elderly, the sick, the hungry. He can no longer do that effectively; not locked behind the closed gates of the palace on Lake Street as he is.

If he has the chutzpah to get out and interact with adult Catholics, he may find a massive cold shoulder. Once the confidence and support of the Catholic laity are lost (and it is) it is very hard to get it back. Forgiveness is one thing. Forgetting is quite another. And Law hasn't even started to make people forget the mash notes to Geoghan and Shanley, and the lies to other bishops, and the shuffling of perverts, and his treating of victims as if they were something scraped off his shoes, and the alleged abuse of the confessional that he may have personally engaged in with a victim of Father Birmingham.

And Law's continued tenure as archbishop is already being discounted by informed Catholics. The rumor mill is focused on successors. The smart money has Law shunted off to a job in the Vatican within the year. As far as Boston area Catholics are concerned, we are already without a leader. Law is now, at best, a lame duck. No one is genuinely looking to him for leadership.

Faced with this reality, the enthusiasm of the young pilgrims may be a comforting memory. But it is not a true test of his ability to guide Boston's Catholics. Many bishops in the history of the Church have stepped down under less incriminating circumstances. I know he offered his resignation once. But how hard did he really try? How forcefully did he put his case? Would the Holy Father refuse it a second time, or a third? The Church in Boston needs to move on. It cannot with Law at the helm. A new broom (hopefully a vigorously orthodox one like Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz) is needed. It can sweep up the bubbles, along with the mess.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

The Crisis Continues
Two New Jersey priests were caught solciting sex from minor boys in a sting operation conducted by Montreal police. Father William Giblin, age 70, a former headmaster of Seton Hall Prep, and Father Eugene Heyendricks, age 60, of Saint John Nepomucene parish in Guttenburg, NJ attempted to access the services of a prostitution ring that employs boys as young as 14. According to the Yahoo! news story I saw, both voluntarily "left the ministry" after their arrests.

Time to test out all of the new procedures, I think. If I recall, an incident occuring after early June, 2002 means automatic laicization. Make it so.

They're Alive!
The rescue workers reached the nine miners in Pennsylvania. All nine are alive! Thanks be to God! Thanks also to the dedication and tireless effort at overcoming obstacles shown by the rescue workers. I must admit that I was not hopeful when I learned that no tapping had been heard since Thursday. With all the terrible stories of child abductions recently, and the depressing news from the financial markets, and the lack of news on the war, the country needed this. Thanks, Lord!

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