Saturday, August 10, 2002

The Crisis Continues
The Archdiocese of Boston has suspended another priest from duty (this is the fourth revelation in about a week). Father Anthony Rebiero, chaplain at Quigley Memorial Hospital and Soldiers' Home in Chelsea was removed from duty today in response to a newly-reported case of sex abuse that occurred 30 years' ago. Civil authorities have been notified. It is not known whether the alleged victim was male or female.

Should we start a contest on how many priests Boston will have left when all the past cases are revealed and adjudicated?

They're Baaaack!
I just clicked on an old link to the American Spectator to find that Bob Tyrell (whose Continuing Crisis feature deeply influenced my prose style) and the old crew are planning a comeback with the good old Spectator.

For those of you who do not know about the glory that was the American Spectator, it was the runner-up to National Review in the conservative journal of opinion sweepstakes of the '70s, '80s, and '90s (into which role the Weekly Standard is now trying to push itself, without much success). In the 1980s, those wonderful days when Ronaldus Magnus presided over a growing economy and the beginnings of the end of the Soviet Union, the Spectator was known for the wonderfully baroque prose of Taki, Ben Stein, and Tom Bethell, and the political and legal commentary of Terry Eastland, and Grover Norquist.

If you wanted to identify yourself in a public venue as a conservative, you brought out and started to read a copy of National Review. I recruited my study group in law school by taking out a copy of National Review immediately before the first class, and casually browsing, knowing everyone was taking note of everyone else (might as well find out who your friends will be right away). But if you wanted to identify yourself as a conservative very much in the know about the culture, you brought out the Spectator.

In the 1990s, the American Spectator became a huge factor in American politics, digging up the true story of Anita Hill, and uncovering the past of Bill Clinton (including Paula Jones and "Trooper-gate" ). David Brock did some of that investigative reporting, but developed a sense of guilt(!) and shame(?) at harming those good liberals, and turned on the Spectator.

Brock, a homosexual, apparently wanted to get invitations to the nicer parties (in his ongoing expiation of his former conservative associations, he has a book out now called Blinded by the Right), and could not deal with being the social pariah a tough-as-nails right-wing investigative reporter inevitably is. Though his journalism for the Spectator appears to have been solid enough (it was all fact-checked extensively), his former employers now view Brock as a pathological liar in every other respect.

The Clinton Justice Department decided to give Tyrell and crew some payback, with help from Brock. The charges (alleged witness tampering) were unfounded and could not even convince a grand jury. If a prosecutor can't get a grand jury to go along with his efforts, there is nothing there. As the magazine was suffering, George Gilder took it over, and tried to make it profitable (it had never been what you would call a money-maker, even in the days when its circulation surged over 200,000). He made it glossier, with more emphasis on business and technology, backing away from politics and culture. But it did not work. Gilder has handed control back to Tyrell and the American Spectator Foundation.

It is a different world now. National Review (Lord bless it) towers as the beacon of conservative orthodoxy. National Review On Line owns the conservative patch of the Internet. Though, if you like the smart-ass prose of Jonah Goldberg, you will love R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr., who despite being much older, can out-smart-ass Jonah (or me- I was once a small-scale right-wing enfant terrible). The Internet plays much more of a role in journalism than it did 5 years ago. Let us hope the old dogs understand the new tricks. But it will be good to have the Spectator back in the lists. Let us hope that under the old crew, it can regain the place it once occupied; a solid number two in the hearts and minds of conservative intellectuals.

Still Considering It
Fox News reports this morning that the Archdiocese of Boston is considering filing for bankruptcy protection. This is essentially the same story the Globe reported last week (and we discussed at that time). Not much news there, though a national audience may not have been fully aware of it until Fox chimed in. After all, not everyone reads the Globe, or Verus Ratio, for that matter.

One of the Neat Things About Living In Downtown Salem
is walking out your front door every so often and finding yourself in the middle of a street festival. Today, Salem is kicking off its annual Heritage Days with a street fair. There are clowns, jugglers, dance and music performances, magic acts, arts & crafts booths, hot dogs, Italian sausages, fried dough, roasted peanuts, and all sorts of diversions and carbohydrates. Later in the week, there will be a chowder fest, an ice cream "scooper bowl," band concerts, and a parade. The Coast Guard cutter Eagle is in the harbor along with our own tall ship Friendship (a replica of a 1797 merchant ship-her masts, struck by lightning last year, are in the process of being replaced) to commemorate the bicentennial of Nathaniel Bowditch's publication of The New American Practical Navigator.

Today the street fair is a one-day event. Come Halloween, Salem transforms itself into the "Halloween Capital of the World," with street fairs, haunted houses, and tens of thousands of people in costumes wandering the streets just about every weekend in October. If Halloween should happen to fall on a weekend, and the weather is nice, we could well have 50-60,000 people milling about along Essex Street.

The city and its business community haven't figured out how to do the same with Christmas yet, though last year we were treated to a very good group of Victorian carolers (but the day they chose to perform, it was around a freak 80 degrees, and we stood outside listening in summer clothes-it snowed lightly the weekend before Halloween last year, too).

As If In Answer To Father Connors
Today's Globe also carries an article about the abuse of high school seminarians at a seminary in Wellesley run in the 1950s and 1960s by the Stigmatine Fathers. The story shows all of the classic patterns of abuse by diocesan priests, and amplifies much of what Michael Rose said about minor seminary life in Goodbye, Good Men.

The school had only 10-15 teachers at any one time. But five of the priests there have been accused by former seminarians. Officials of the order were informed of the abuse, and did nothing to stop it. One priest who blew the whistle was twice transferred as a trouble-maker. The abusers preyed on the tender consciences of the seminarians, and abused the confessional in the process. The Stigmatine order is fading away, with only 20 active priests in the US.

Those accused by the seminarians include Leo Landry, who was later a parish priest in New Hampshire (where there are abuse allegations pending) and left the priesthood in 1972. Father Richard Ahern and Father Joseph Flood, both of whom are now dead, are also accused. The order, according to sources, has turned over the names of Father Leo Riley, and Brother John Fowler, as well as Landry's, to authorities.

If the orders expelled perverts, problems like this would not be coming up. If the accusations at Wellesley had been dealt with appropriately at the time, Landry woud not have gone on to abuse more boys as a parish priest in New Hampshire. The Stigmatines might even have survived as a viable order, since they would have had more good will from the laity. Father Connors and other superiors, take notice.

Saint Lawrence
Today is the feast of Saint Lawrence in both calendars. Lawrence was deacon to Pope Sixtus II. When Sixtus was being led off to martyrdom in 258 A.D., Lawrence ran along side, tearfully asking Sixtus if he could accompany him to glory. Sixtus told him that in three days, he would meet the same fate. Lawrence was responsible for all of the funds of the Church. Fearing confiscation, he turned all of the Church's property into cash, and handed it out to the poor.

Two days after Sixtus' death, Lawrence was summoned to the Prefect of Rome, who demanded that he turn over all of the treasure of the Church to the imperial officials. Lawrence asked to return the next day, so that he could collect the treasure. The prefect agreed. Lawrence came back on the next day with a crowd of beggars, and gestured to them, "Behold, the treasures of the Church!"

Lawrence was condemned to be roasted over a slow fire. He was stretched out on a gridiron, and the process began. At one point, he called out to his executioner that he was well-cooked on one side, and that he should be turned over. He died praying for the City of Rome.

"Scapegoating Abusers?"
Today's Boston Globe carries an article featuring remarks by the spokesman of the Major Superiors of Men, Father Canice Connors, criticizing what little the bishops did in Dallas and saying that they and the culture are scapegoating the abusers. How can you turn into a scapegoat the person responsible for the calamity?

A hypothetical airline pilot is a raging drunk. Somehow, no one notices that he is far, far too sloshed to be flying, and he takes off with a 747 full of disabled kids heading for Lourdes. The co-pilot and flight engineer both fall asleep. The pilot is happily swigging from a bottle of cheap vodka. Despite every warning, he plows the plane into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Five hundred die. Is blaming the pilot turning him into a scapegoat?

A husband cannot control his sexual urges. He has had numerous affairs, but has always kept them quiet. One day, a recently-graduated hottie with a thing for older men starts working for him. Predictably, they are soon carrying on a torrid affair, and fail to keep it quiet. The wife finds out, and is distraught. It gets even worse when some of her husband's other paramours make themselves known to her. She sues him for divorce on the grounds of infidelity. Is she scapegoating the husband?

The word "scapegoat" means one bearing the blame for others. It implies that the blame is undeserved, and that others are truly responsible for the negative repercussions. The origin, without checking my dictionary of etymology, was probably a goat sacrificed by a community or individual, to take upon itself all of the sins of the person or community so that the gods would be appeased by a blood sacrifice. The goat did nothing wrong. Jesus Christ was a perfect Scapegoat. Utterly without sin Himself, He took upon Himself the sins of all mankind and died for all.

Is Father Connors claiming that these pervert priests are without sin? Are they being made to take the blame for things that they did not do? If you take the path of claiming that anyone who would do these things is sick, and therefore is absolved from all responsibility for their acts, you might be able to claim that the pervert priests are scapegoats. But no one thinks that. First of all, I don't necessarily agree that they are "sick" beyond just not being willing to not act according to their perverted diesires. We do not absolve the mentally ill from all responsibility for crimes they might commit (except for the "not-guilty by reason of insanity" plea, in which case, "the law is a ass," it should be "guilty, but insane"). And most people find the various diminished capacity defenses raised by defense lawyers just lame excuses, and convict anyway. As a society, and as a Christian community, we cannot absolve offenders from all responsibility for what they do. More importantly, others who may have similar inclinations resist the temptations they are plagued with.

Even if the Church covered up for them, and made it possible for them to have access to young people, the primary sin is with the pervert himself. He is not being made a scapegoat for the sins of the Church's leaders. He is bearing his own burden of sin, while the hierachy bears its burden. That does not make the pervert priests scapegoats.

Father Connors makes another point, that in the spirit of forgiveness and Christian community, the Church ought not to cast out of its priesthood these perverts, but should just keep them away from young boys. As a matter of law, the Church is responsible for the transgressions of its employees. Priests are unique employees, who are always "on duty," even on their days off. So if a priest, who in his job is carefully shielded from contact with young boys, goes off on his vacation to Montreal, let us say, and tries to homosexually rape a 17-year old boy he happens to meet (perhaps telling him he is a priest), the Church may very well be found responsible for the priest's actions. A case can be made either way, depending on the circumstances. It is only by defrocking and casting out from priestly status such perverts that the legal link is unequivocally broken.

But beyond legal liability issues, Father Connors has the wrong end of the problem. We can forgive without ever trusting again. We can, as Christians, say to a perverted priest, "We forgive you for your transgressions, but you have proved yourself unworthy to remain in priestly status." In fact, that is exactly what we should say (I think it is what the Holy Father should be saying to various US bishops who have protected pervert priests, but getting the Church there will take some time and prayer, and finding someone with the ear of the Pope). Priestly status, no matter what protections there are in canon law, is not a right, but a privilege. That privilege can be taken away by the Church.

I will admit that there is some redemptive appeal in having a priest who has been a sinner bringing grace to others (I am thinking of the central character in The Power and the Glory). But some sins are so serious, that we cannot just forgive them and move on. Some require that "another take his office." An example must be made sometimes, so that the community of believers sees that some behavior (and I would say buggering little boys falls into the category) cannot be tolerated, and does not fall into the same error later. Forgiveness is a completely separate issue, and in fact is an individual matter, not an institutional one.

In casting perverts out of the priesthood, we are not exiling them from the Christian community. We are not cutting them off from God. We are merely saying that the offender is no longer fit to exercise the extraordinary powers of the priesthood. The offender can use his own faith to make his personal peace with God. He remains in the Church (I doubt that even the monster Paul Shanley will be excommunicated) and has, as a layman, the whole apparatus of penance etc. open to him.

As Catholic Christians, we can hold our leaders to a higher standard of conduct. When they fail to meet even basic standards, their services as leaders can be dispensed with, as the Church decides.

Father Connors and the other leaders of religious orders ought to re-examine their position. Failing to expel perverts from their orders just guarantees that perversion will find a home (and a base to operate from) there. While the problems with diocesan priests may eventually be cleaned up by the nearly-zero tolerance policy (as far as it is humanly possible to do so) the orders will remain a hothouse for various sexual perversions unless the orders expel their perverts as well.

I think other things not being reported in the mainstream media are coming into play in the decision by the orders. One factor is that a very high percentage of priests in orders are homosexual. I have seen this discussed in several places. The gay members of the orders exert pressure, if they even need to, upwards within their order, so that the order's leadership is unable or unwilling to take any action that might be perceived by the lavender rank-and-file as anti-homosexual. We all know now that 85% of the priest sexual abuse cases being dealt with now are homosexual in nature. The homosexual community hates that fact to be known, but there it is. So it comes down to the perception of homosexuals that expelling priests for buggering young boys is an anti-homosexual act.

Superiors of orders are not subject to popular pressure in the same manner that diocesan bishops are. They have the luxury of being shielded to a much greater extent from lay scrutiny. But they do require a favorable consensus from their members. The hagiographies are filled with leaders of orders driven out by thier members. So, in fulfilling the desire of very vocal and highly organized cadres of homosexuals within their orders, they are not just doing the bidding of that group, they are also protecting their own jobs.

The superiors are doing their orders no favor in retaining perverts. They are lowering themselves in the estimation of right-thinking Catholics. Once the perception becomes fixed among the laity in general that the orders are havens for homosexuals and those suffering from other sexual disorders, then the flow of donations will stop. It won't be too much longer after that until the orders find they have no ability to carry on. All that, just so that it won't be said by the undiscerning that,"the abusers are being scapegoated"?

Friday, August 09, 2002

Hey, Nihil Noticed Me!
I thought I was being snubbed by St. Blog's self-appointed proofreader. But I was looking back through Nihil Obstat's archives, and found that he mentioned me back in June. I disagree with his view that Jabba Cardinal Hutt is not the proper form. I always was taught that that was the proper form of address for a cardinal, whether for official Church purposes or not. It is the way the Boston media, and especially The Pilot have always addressed the Primate of New England. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Still Not News
The Boston Globe has still not deigned to mention the round-up of The Club child pornography ring on it's front page. The story is now some 4 hours old. Other front page stories have come and gone in the meantime. I guess the Globe only cares about exploitation or abuse of children when it can be used as a stick to beat the "sexually repressive" Catholic Church with.

The Globe is the best example in existence of why people who are not apathetic or left-wing idealogues don't get their news from the "mainstream" media anymore.

Very Sad News
I was just eating my Friday bowl of chowder and getting ready to head for the library for another thrilling three hours of research when I heard that Charlton Heston has let it be known that he is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. He is in the early stages of the disease, and plans to continue as president of the NRA for a time. Lord, bless Chuck Heston and his family in the trials to come.

I Guess We Know Where Their Priorities Are
It is about 12:30 pm now. About two hours ago, the Justice Department reported the breaking of a major international child pornography ring, called The Club, in which parents offered their children for pornographic purposes. Fox News is running with it as it's lead story. But I have checked the Boston Globe about six times since the story broke. It is not to be found on it's Boston.com front page: no teaser paragraph, no link, not even in it's Updated National Stories listed on the front page from the AP wire.

The Globe thinks a highly questionable report about the nemesis of segregation slipping back into the educational realm is a more important story than parents selling their kids into pornographic slavery. It also thinks that the Mayor of New York wanting to ban smoking in bars is more important. This tells you a lot about the Globe's priorities. The Globe implies that child pornograhy is part of a liberated sexual lifestyle (as long as Catholic priests are not the ones "using" it). So if the authorities break up a ring of pornographers, it isn't news. Even if the kids' own parents are exploiting them for profit. All the news that is fit for liberals to read.

It also makes you wonder, if the pervert priests were pervert Universalist ministers, would we have heard nearly as much about it from the Globe. I doubt it.

Keating v. Law
Governor Frank Keating is a great guy. His political views are solid. But it seems that he has a badly distorted view of his position on the review board. In June, he seemed to not realize that whatever his board agrees to is not a done deal until it is approved in Rome. He is clearly isolated on the board, surrounded as he is by liberal Democrats. Last week, he encouraged Catholics to attend Mass in other dioceses and withhold contributions from their own if that diocese is not doing a good job on the pervert priest issue.

In fact, the withholding of contributions is just what people are doing. The donations won't come back until a new archbishop presides over the See of Boston, one committed to cleaning up the archdiocese's two seminaries, and smashing the powerful Boston branch of the lavender mafia and bringing to heel Boston's many dissenting theologians, and is clearly serious about promoting Catholic moral teachings. As a result of the withholding of contributions, Law offered his resignation to the Holy Father, though one suspects that he did so in a rather pro forma manner, and without pressing the Pope to acccept it. Donations to the Archdiocese are so far down that the budget has been cut 40%, the annual stewardship appeal has been largely postponed, and the Cardinal's bright idea of creating a capital improvements fund (Promise For Tomorrow) has been a joke.

Boston would be the place people are most likely to boycott. It isn't such a long drive to other dioceses: thirty miles for most of us. There are Catholics in this world who have to drive 30 miles to get to Mass every week. Unfortunately, our surrounding dioceses are Manchester, NH (presided over by Bishop McCormack, the pervert priests' best friend in the Boston bureaucracy), Providence, RI (where they are recruiting seminarians on MTV), Worcester (with plenty of pervert priests of its own), and Fall River (Father Porter's old hunting ground). As a practical matter, you can't get away from this mess within 50 miles of Boston.

The Pilot , a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cardinal Law, is accusing Keating of encouraging the mortal sin of missing Mass. Now, we won't mention today the Cardinal's enabling of the mortal sin of buggering little boys. Or the mortal sin of bearing false witness in recommending Father Shanley to other Catholic bishops. We'll belabor the Cardinal with those matters another time.

But The Pilot's claim is badly over-stated. There is no mortal sin in re-directing contributions away from the Archdiocese of Boston and to, say, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, or Crisis, or the local homeless shelter. It is, of course, highly inconvenient for the Archdiocese, and a measurable indicator of the failure of Bernard Law's episcopacy (which is why The Pilot is so vigorously taking Keating to task). There is no mortal sin in going to Mass over the diocesan line, either. So, while what Keating suggests regarding going to another diocese for Mass is not entirely practical (in this day and age, people want least of all, to be inconvenienced), it is not sinful.

So The Pilot would be better advised, as Amy Welborn points out, in this election year to spend its time attacking Massachusetts politicians who support abortion, gay rights, undermining the institution of marriage, and who prevent aid to Catholic schools. Gee, seems to me that some of that is a genuine mortal sin. And it is a lot closer to home than Frank Keating.

A Carmelite Saint
Today is the feast of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who was born Edith Stein. She was born in a Jewish family and read herself into converting to Rome. In 1922, she was baptized. In 1933, she took vows as a Carmelite nun. She was transferred to Holland from Germany. When the Nazis took over that country, she was shipped to Auschwitz, where she died in the gas chambers on August 9, 1942. She is the patroness of Europe, and of those who have lost their parents.

As a Carmelite and martyr to the totalitarian madness of the 20th Century, she stands high in my personal veneration.

Expect A Sell-Off
A little bit of unsolicited financial advice absolutely free. The equities markets will be lower, at least initially this morning. The news last night that Worldcom inflated its earnings in 1999 and 2000, as well as 2001, and that the total fraud amounts to some $7 billion is bound to have a depressing effect on the markets. But I would hold. Wait out the selling, and look around for opportunities to buy. When you think the sell-off has run out of steam, then buy.

And the selling may not be all that bad anyway. The market has known that Worldcom is a baket case for a while. Smart investors suspected that substantial additional fraud was present in those years. An afternoon recovery is possible even today. The market for the last few days has been over the moon at the prospect of a 25 basis point interest rate cut (which I don't expect). When the Fed meets August 13th, and announces that it is leaving rates alone, expect even more selling.

Gee, 1999 and 2000. Wasn't Bill Clinton President then? How come his people did not detect this fraud? Will this mean that Clinton will get some of the blame for this? More infamy for the only President impeached in the 20th Century.

It's Next Week
...but you wouldn't know it from the calendar. V-J Day, the day Japan surrendered to the US and its allies, ending World War II has disappeared from the calendar, at least the one I use. Even the Old Farmer's Almanac has dropped it. It is odd that the final victory in the greatest war we ever fought has faded into oblivion in the memory of Americans.

Is it just political correctness, not wanting to mention our victory so that our friends the Japanese will not be offended? Is it guilt that we ended the war by nuking Nagasaki and Hiroshima, thus saving at least a half-million US soldiers' lives and the lives of countless Japanese? Whatever the reason, it ain't on the calendar.

Remember, it is August 14th.

The Cure of Ars
This is the traditional feast of Saint Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney. Under the reform, his feast is now August 4th, and was duly noted on that date.

Islam Continues To Prove Itself A "Religion of Peace"
The latest Moslem atrocity was the attack by grenade-throwers on a Christian hospital in Pakistan. At least 3 nurses were murdered as they left a chapel.

What a brave act! Mustn't let those Christian demons and their effective medical arts take root on Moslem soil. We'd much rather die of smallpox at 28 than live to 68 and tolerate the presence of Christians. "Allah be praised!"

Look at the time-line and trajectory of the anti-western attacks in supposedly-friendly Pakistan (provided by the BBC):

October, 2001 18 killed in Punjab church attack
17 March 5 killed in Islamabad grenade attack on a church
8 May Karachi bus blast kills 15
14 June 11 killed by bomb outside US mission in Karachi
13 July 12 European tourists injured in grenade attack in Mansehra
5 August 6 killed in attack on Christian missionary school
9 August 3 nurses killed in grenade attack on Christian hospital

This list omits the kidnapping and brutal murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and the attack by Moslem Pakistani extremists on India's parliament building which resulted in armed confrontation in Kashmir and the possibility of thermo-nuclear warfare between India & Pakistan.

Was this all the work of al Qaeda? Who knows? Violent and armed anti-western, anti-US, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish crackpots and scumbags are a penny a thousand in the Moslem world. Notice, however the alarming pick-up in frequency of these attacks in Pakistan this summer. More and more, Ann Coulter's post-September 11th solution is looking good, or at least like the best of bad alternatives.

Who Is Yasser Arafat?
Read this excerpted version of David N. Bossie's investigative work from today's Washington Times here. In short, not the man to be doing business with.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

The Crisis Continues
We can now add the name of Father Paul W. Hurley to the list of accused Boston pervert priests. He was indicted in Cambridge Superior Court today on charges of molesting a 15 year-old boy in 1988 and 1989 when assigned to Blessed Sacrament parish in Cambridge. Hurley is already on leave and restricted from ministry. Hurley apparently gave the boy $80.00-$100.00 for the sexual activity on several occasions. The victim complained to out-of-state authorities who reported it to the Cambridge police a year ago.

The Orders Don't Get It
The superiors of the various religious orders in the US just concluded their annual meeting (and that one slipped under my radar screen). They decided that they will not expel perverts from their orders, but will just keep them away from children. This is outrageous and unacceptable.

While the level of homosexuality and dissent in the diocesan ranks is bad enough, various things I have read give me the impression that the orders are in even worse shape. The orders acount for 1/3 of US priests. If the diocesan bishops can agree to expel from the priesthood certain classes of perverted priests, than the orders should follow suit. Not only should they, they must.

Rod Dreher points out in The Corner that this policy does nothing to punish priests who abuse disabled retarded adults (he cites a suit against 5 Jesuits for sexually abusing retarded adult men at a facility in California). Under this policy, these perverts are not even covered, just because thier victims were not children. Expulsion followed by defrocking is the only solution.

The Bells Should Be Ringing
Rose has also contributed a short essay on the need for bells and bell towers in churches. Adoremus has it here.

I have long been disgusted with the societal trend against bells. Spoiled baby boomer neighbors raise a stink about the ringing of bells (you buy next to a church, you get bells) and the church stops ringing them. Several churches have been sued over their bells, and have agreed to limit the ringing. It says a great deal about the selfishness and self-absorption of a great many people that they cannot live with church bells ringing nearby. It says more about a judicial system that would countenance such complaints. It says even more about church leadership that rolls over for such frivolous attempts to deprive the community of an accustomed presence.

Soon enough, the church stops ringing them altogether. Gone is the mournful tolling for the soul of a dead person whose funeral is being held. The joyful peal for a just-married couple is also gone. Forget about tolling throughout the evening of All Saints' Day for the souls who will be honored the next day. The tolling on Christmas Eve followed by a peal just as Midnight Mass starts is also a thing of the past. Few churches even ring the Angelus now. If they do, they skip the 6:00 am sequence. Some Catholic parishes now omit even the ringing of the handbell during the Consecration, but that is an entirely different matter.

Bells fill a significant need in our lives. Our ancestors heard them day-in-and-day-out for their whole lives. They could even identify the rings of the various churches. The experts knew that the Anglicans were always 3 minutes fast, or that the Congregationalists where right to the second. The regular ringing of bells brings peace and a sense of good order. They promote a sense of community and advertise the churches' part in that community.

Bells mark the important moments of our lives. We should welcome them back into the community. They are a lot more pleasant to listen to (yes, even at 6:00 am) than the music people choose to regale us with from their cars. When we hear a bell tolling, we are reminded to pray for the faithful departed. When they peal to mark the birth or resurrection of the Prince of Peace, a smile and sense of joy should fill the Christian heart and mind.

Churches should start using their bells again. New churches should have prominent bell towers. Those who don't like it can lump it. I happen to live in a downtown area with 7 churches of various denominations within 4 blocks (4 Catholic, though my own parish is 8 blocks away). I love the sound of the bells that are rung, and wish there were more. The Polish parish, St. John the Baptist, though a little off on the times of ringing, I think, offers wonderful hymns via its bells. If, as Rose says, the physicality of the church itself is an evangelizing presentation, then this auditory evangelization is just as important. Let there be more of it.

Rose On Church Architecture
Michael Rose, writing for Adoremus, has some helpful remarks on church architecture here. I did not remember that Rose is trained as an architect. Rose's Ugly As Sin is on my list of books to read once I am through with the project I am currently doing after work.

Spiderman Gets the Fitz Seal of Approval
I am not a big movie goer. I much prefer to wait until the movie comes out on VHS and buy it to watch in the comfort of my house. Someday, when the technology becomes affordable, I'll transfer everything to DVD (Phillips makes a device that will do that now, but it retails for $1,000.00). I am also not a great fan of sci-fi/fantasy/comic book movies.

But we saw Spiderman last night. Let's put it this way. My wife tells me that there were annoying children seated behind us, talking and kicking the seats throughout the show. I didn't notice, and I was not asleep. Willem Dafoe had a good part. There was a nice small part for Cliff Robertson, and a bigger part for Rosemary Harris, who played the aunt (she was in Holocaust). But I didn't recognize any other actors (Contrast that to the last movie I saw, Gosford Park, where I recognized just about the entire cast.). Good performances by the kid who played Peter Parker/Spiderman and the girl who played MJ. Really rather a wholesome movie.

Pretentious "Literary" Writing Under Fire
B.R. Myers takes on literary pretensions in a new book discussed in Fox News here.

Fourteen Holy Helpers
Today is the traditional collective feast of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saints whose aid are particularly sought for certain situations. They are:
1) St. Blaise (2/3) for maladies of the throat.
2) St. George (4/23) for skin diseases; patron of soldiers and of England
3) St. Erasmus (6/2) for intestinal diseases
4) St. Vitus (6/15) for nervous disorders and "St. Vitus' dance"
5) St. Margaret (7/20) for kidney ailments and women in childbirth
6) St. Christopher (7/25) for protection from accidents and sudden death
7) St. Barbara (12/4) for protection from sudden death; patroness of artillerymen & firemen
8) St. Acacius (5/8) for protection from headaches
9) St. Cyriacus (8/8) for eye ailments
10) St. Panteleion (7/27) for wasting diseases
11) St. Giles (9/1) for demonic possession
12) St. Eustachius (9/20) for protection from fire and damnation
13) St. Catherine (11/25) patroness of lawyers, philosophers, and scholars
14) St. Dionysius the Aeropagite (10/9) for headaches and attacks by the devil

Pope De-Frocks A Pervert Priest
Joseph Ross, who was a priest for the St. Louis, MO Archdiocese, has been defrocked by order of Pope John Paul II. Ross had pled guilty to molesting an 11 year-old boy in 1988. Other allegations of abuse have also surfaced. It is not known if Ross is the first to be defrocked since the Scandal gained international attention this year.

Now We Can Talk About Saint Dominic
Today is the Feast of Saint Dominic in the reformed calendar of feasts. Under the traditional calendar, his feast was celebrated on August 4th. Born in Castile in 1170, Dominic became a canon regular at Osma's cathedral. On a trip to Rome with his bishop in 1205, he fell in with Cistercians delegated by the Pope to convert the Albigensians. The Cistercians made no headway, but Dominic and his bishop were more persuasive. The bishop died, leaving the task to Dominic. Dominic recruited other priests to the task. While they made some headway with their example of virtue and preaching, other considerations led the papacy to favor armed conquest of the Albigensians (the Albigensian Crusade).

Dominic's order was approved in 1215 by the Holy Father. They are called the Order of Preachers. We know them better as the Dominicans. Dominic spent his final years urging members of his order to study. About 50 years after his death in 1221, his order counted some 700 doctors of theology. During Dominic's lifetime, there had been only 25 doctors of theology in all Europe. The feast of his mother, the Blessed Juana of Aza is also celebrated today.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Checking The Archives
In researching the bishops who signed the letter calling for a plenary council, I went back to the Dallas Morning News story about the staggering number of bishops who juggled pervert priests. Archbishop Daniel Cronin of Hartford was prominent on the list for keeping accused priests on duty (one at a middle school!). At that time, he refused to identify two of the offenders. Of course, that does not mean he isn't theologically solid, or genuinely interested in getting the perverts out of the priesthood and keeping them out on a theoretical basis.

It Looks like Bishop DiNardo of Iowa has also sheltered and protected at least one pervert priest.
I haven't noticed any other signers on the DMN Hall of Shame

Input welcome.

We Know Something About One Bishop
Auxiliary Bishop Allen Vigneron, a signer of the plenary council letter, is the head of Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary. The Detroit Free Press could not reach him for comment this morning.

That seminary came in for widespread criticism from several of Michael Rose's sources for Goodbye, Good Men. Until the mid-1990s, it was seen as a "hot house" of active homosexuality. That problem has at least been forced below the surface since then. I am just guessing here, but isn't it fair to assume that Bishop Vigneron was the one who cleaned it up? In the absence of any other information, I prefer to be hopeful and give him the benefit of the doubt. Anybody know anything to the contrary?

Even With 8 Votes
The 8 bishops who have called for a plenary council on the root causes of the Scandal still face quite an uphill battle. They have to get enough support at the November USCCB meeting to have such a council called. Then, if that should happen, they have to fight hard to keep the bureacracy from hijacking the council. Even if the council is not completely hijacked, they have to win on the merits. When you consider how strong the opposition is, how well-entrenched, and that they have the support of the media, it is, indeed a very tough fight ahead.

I really don't see more than a few dozen votes. That is a sad commentary when you reflect upon how many of these bishops are JPII appointees.

Logistical Difficulties
Saudi Arabia has told the US that it cannot use its bases in that country to support the intended attack on Iraq. That creates logistical and tactical problems for the US Central Command. Assuming Kuwait is more pliable, US ground forces and logistical support would have to be funneled into Kuwait and attack from there, rather than along the long Saudi-Iraqi border. That means that an offensive will come in the more heavily built-up Basra area, rather than in the desert. The open ground of the desert proves more room for maneuvre for US armored forces, and fewer natural defensive positions. There is desert west of the Basra area, but the shorter the likely area of attack is, the easier it is for the defender to contain.

While it is awfully tempting to say, to heck with other countries, we'll do it alone, think of what that means: Marines and airborne committed to a possibly bloody amphibious/airborne assault on Iraq's Persian Gulf Coast combined with heavy army units attacking out of Kuwait towards Basra would have to be the first step. (I am thinking conventially, and disregarding, for now, the possibility of an opening airborne strike on Bahgdad and Hussein's command and control structure linking up later with armor operating out of Kuwait-too many variables- too much like Market-Garden {Arnhem, September 1944}).

Without cooperation from Kuwait, or Turkey, or Jordan (not in the cards) US troops would have to fight to establish themselves on the ground first before building up enough for a drive on Bahgdad. That means possibly heavy casualties. It also means air cover limited to what the carriers can provide, or long range strikes from Diego Garcia. Forget about tank-busting A-10s, which need to operate from a fixed airfield. No we do need Kuwait for this mission. And Kuwait owes us, big-time.

True Colors
In case you missed it the other day, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has been made an honorary Druid. Are we sure it is Rowan Williams, not Rowan Atkinson wearing a gray beard?

The link is old. You may have to search archives for the story.

A Kennedy Could Lose?
According to Bryan Preston's piece in National Review On Line, Rep. Bob Ehrlich (R-MD) is in a nip & tuck battle with Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) to become the next governor of Maryland. Maryland is a heavily Democrat state, so don't bet the farm on this. But the prospect that a Kennedy, any Kennedy, could lose an election brings joy to this old heart. If the Kennedy juggernaut could be stopped, even once, in Maryland of all places, there would be a shout of joy in New England the world has never heard before.

Father Doc Got His Way
Jennifer Granholm won the Democrat primary to be the Democrat candidate for governor of Michigan. She is the pro-abortion Attorney General endorsed by Father "Doc" Ortman Sunday. She is currently leading in the polls against the Republican Lieutenant Governor Posthumus. John Engler is stepping down (term limits).

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) just barely held off a pro-gun control challenger. Also in Michigan, liberal Rep. Sander Levin beat terminal foot-in-mouth challenger William Callahan. In the US Senate race in Missouri, it will be popular Rep. Jim Talent (R) vs. Senator Jean Carnahan (D). In Kansas, the gubernatorial race will feature State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger (R) and Kathleen Sebelius (D).

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Now We Know Who Signed
Catholic News Service has published the letter calling for a plenary council, and published the names of the signers. Here they are: Auxiliary Bishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Helena, MT, Bishop Raymond L. Burke of LaCrosse, WI, Bishop Daniel N. DiNardo of Sioux City, IA, Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford, CT, Archbishop James P. Keleher of Kansas City, KS, Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscome, of Mobile, AL, and Archbishop John G. Vlazny, of Portland, OR. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz did not sign(?), which is something of a surprise.

I must admit that most of the names are just names to me. If it is a consolation, none of them are spotlighted as troublesome in Goodbye, Good Men. I'll try to do some research to be a bit more enlightening.

In my earlier discussions of the topic, I left out one possible reason why a liberal bishop would sign it. There is a brand of liberalism which is very much in favor of discussion of controversial topics. I call them "due process liberals". They are publically open-minded and like the idea that everyone has their say on the issue at hand. But they do want their side to prevail. Keep that one in mind as you mull the names.

There is a letter from a Father "Doc" Ortman of Our Lady of Good Counsel (sic) endorsing pro-abortion Democrat Jennifer Granholm in today's Democrat primary for the Michigan governorship. He not only endorses her, but endorses her because she is pro-abortion and takes abortion opponents to task "for not realizing what a blessing choice is." This guy needs a trip to the woodshed. Cardinal Maida is the person who could do it. Read this remarkable exercise in sophistry here. Give Cardinal Maida's office a call.

Happy Anniversary!
It's 16 years for Rosie & John Derbyshire. Happy Anniversary. Celebrate this great day for the Derbs (now both US citizens) by clicking on John's latest here, and maybe buying one (or more) of his books.

Derb, I mean to get that detestable Marmite out to you, but please promise not to regale us with stories of pouring warm water into the nearly empty jar and drinking the resulting gloop.

IF RCF Won't Do, I'm Open To Alternatives
Rod Dreher and others at Mark Shea's blog have indicated that RCF may not be the vehicle to turn into a nationwide orthodox Catholic network. Fair enough. I was dimly aware that the organization seemed to lack the drive and leadership to become a successful national vehicle. I only suggested it because a) many have heard of it, and b) it already exists.

I'm completely flexible with regard to means. If Catholics For Authentic Reform will work better, great. Thanks for the suggestion. I had never heard of it. It isn't exactly making a lot of news, unlike RCF. If an entirely new organization needs to be started up, that's OK also.

The model I am thinking of when I suggest some nationally prominent conservative Catholic to "godfather" the group is Young Americans for Freedom and William F. Buckley, Jr. For those who don't know the story, back in the early 1960s, Buckley recognized the need for a nationwide group of conservative students. He invited a number of young conservatives to his home in Sharon, CT for a conference. They agreed on a statement of principles known as the Sharon Statement (which is still a pretty good statement of conservative orthodoxy). YAF has had its ups and downs since then. At its best, it is very effective. And it's a nice thing to be among people who think as you do on a college campus. YAF has been the nursery for many conservative leaders.

What orthodox/traditional/conservative Catholics need today (especially in response to the Scandal) is a similar clearinghouse. We have lots of little groups pushing this or that agenda. There is no unity (and won't be until a truce under a single banner prevails). There is also a lot of internecine bickering. The Wanderer takes on Latin Mass Magazine. The New Oxford Review dukes it out with Peter Kreeft and Father Neuhaus. Remember what Ronald Reagan called the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt speak no ill of a fellow Republican. Apply it. Except for racists and those who refuse to accept the validity of Vatican II- "No enemies on the Right".

We could also use a nationally prominent lay Catholic of solidly conservative leanings (but untainted by anything unseemly- sorry Pat Buchanan) who is knowledgeable about the faith (sorry Gov. Keating) and vigorous enough to provide leadership (lets WFB off, but Lord bless him). Bennett would be ideal. Dan Lungren or Chris Cox is not an impossibility. Peggy Noonan would be cool. Linda Chavez has much to offer.

As to the argument that we have that already, it is known as the Church and has the greatest leader of all, the Lord, yes, but... The Church is the structure and framework in which we worship. It is not a good forum for grievances and problems with the way the Church is run. The Church is not a good vehicle for grabbing erring bishops by the lapels and telling them that they need to be closer to Rome's teachings. We need something of the Church but just outside its framework to accomplish that.

Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a diocese where, if you have a problem with the orthodoxy of your bishop or those who work for him, you can talk to your bishop mano a mano. But for most of us, the archbishop or cardinal is an entirely remote figure, who might deign to show up at your parish for a 100th anniversary Mass, but is otherwise unseen.

I can't help but remember the lady who called Boston's chancery to complain about one of the pervert priests (Shanley?) and now-bishop Dailey, or now-bishop Banks, or now-bishop McCormack had her put on hold for hours over and over until she just gave up. So much for the Church as a responsive framework that will be responsive to the concerns of the orthodox. If the lady had been a representative of an organized group of orthodox Catholics with a strong presence in the Archdiocese, she might not have been treated as "just a troublesome woman upset about homosexual priests," and been told to talk to the hand.

And I would have worked all of this into the comments box on Mark's page, if YACCS was working.

YACCS Down Again
According to YACCS, comments will be back up around 1:00 am. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Two Deaths in Sports World
Chick Hearn, the long-time announcer for the LA Lakers (since 1960) died in his 80s. Darrell Porter, who Red Sox fans will remember as the catcher for the Kansas City Royals of the early George Brett-era, was found dead this morning at the entrace to a park. Requiescat in pace.

The Transfiguration
August 6th is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This reminder of the divine status of Jesus Christ comes at an interesting time. Fox News today tells the story of a student in a seventh-grade writing class in Brookfield, OH, who chose as the the object of a letter he was writing, Jesus. The teacher objected that "Jesus wasn't a real person, He didn't exist."

Now, as a matter of historical fact, Jesus is one of the best-documented persons of His time. He was, indeed, an historical Person. Aside from the Gospels, there are the mentions of Him in Flavius Josephus. This teacher just does not know what she or he is talking about on this score. It is interesting that, after two thousand years, opponents of Christianity don't just argue that Jesus was not the Son of God, but that He never existed. It is also interesting that, after 2,000 years, the response of secular authority to Christian faith is, again as it was under the Roman Empire, that Christ never existed.

Which makes the Trasnsfiguration all that much more important. Today, we as Catholic Christians affirm that Jesus did indeed exist. He did not just exist, He did all the things, and said all the things attributed to Him in Scripture. In the Transfiguration, Jesus gave a sample of His divinity to the apostles who accompanied Him up the mountain.

I have always liked Peter's response about it being good that he and the other apostles were there, so that they could build a memorial to this event. But Jesus was not after a monument. The monument of His ministry lives today in the hearts of Catholics worldwide, and in the Church. What need did He have of a monument? He had a Rock.

Our Saudi Allies?
A recent briefing prepared by the Rand Corporation for the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board highlights the unmistakable fact that Saudi Arabia is helping our enemies, and hurting our friends. That should make them a target in the war on terrorism. The Administration, and especially the State Department, will have to be dragged a long way, kicking and screaming all the way no doubt, to come to this realization. The Defense Policy Board is chaired by Richard Perle, and includes Dan Quayle, Henry Kissinger, Newt Gingrich, Tom Foley, James Schlesinger, and Harold Brown. Kissinger reportedly objected to the briefing's anti-Saudi tone.

Primary Day
This is primary day in Missouri, Michigan, and Kansas. There may be some interesting results. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) is in a close race with a pro-choice single mother. Senator Jean Carnahan (D-MO) faces a primary challenger. There is an interesting 3-way fight in the Democrat primary in Michigan's gubernatorial race. Rep. David Bonior faces former governor James Blanchard and Attorney General Jennifer Granholm. If this race holds true to form, watch for Granholm to take a huge share of the women's vote, while Blanchard and Bonior cancel each other out.

I'll report the results tonight or tomorrow.

Newest Civil Rights Cause? Confused Freaks
The "transgendered" are the hottest commodity on civil rights lawyers' client lists right now, according to an article in today's Fox News. Forty-six jurisdictions, including New York City, have laws prohibiting discrimination against this "marginalized community." There is currently a fair amount of litigation over spousal rights, child custody and employment discrimination for this group. One commentator says that the, "common link is the desire to disestablish or deconstruct the two-sex system, which most people view as natural."

Raising Naval History
The turret of the USS Monitor was raised from the waters off Cape Hatteras yesterday in the culmination of the US Navy's salvage effort. Monitor was the first US Navy ironclad, and fought an indecisive battle with the Confederate ship CSS Virginia (often called the Merrimac) off Hampton Raoads, VA, March 9, 1862. This was the first time that iron-clad warships fought each other. The battle revolutionized naval warfare.

The Monitor sank in a storm on New Year's Day 1863. Sixteen crewmen died in the sinking. The skeleton of one member of the crew was retrieved by divers on Saturday. Once the turret was raised, it was secured upon a barge. Dents from the Virginia's shells are visible on the turret. The turret is considered the last retrievable artifact of the Monitor.

The More Religious The Man, The Better a Father?
A study reported in today's Washington Times indicates that evangelical and Catholic fathers spend more time with their children than fathers from non-religious or mainline protestant backgrounds. Religious belief seems to make a difference in a man's involvement as a parent. More than half of evengelical and Catholic fathers want to spend more time with their families.

Makes sense to me.

Monday, August 05, 2002

I Knew I Was Right About This
I've been taking advantage of the lull in noteworthy news items to do a little research. You may have noticed that I prefer to use the term "Moslem," instead of the pervasive "Muslim." I minored in medieval studies, and am much more familiar with the use of "Moslem." I just checked my 1950 edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage. "Moslem,muslim. The OED treats the first as the ordinary English form, & there is no doubt that it is so. Correction into muslim is to be deprecated; see DIDACTICISM."

Say what you will about the language evolving. I'll stick with Fowler, thank you. "Muslim" has always sounded like an English-speaker being politically correct by pronouncing the word the same way an Arabic-speaker would. Fowler's right. It is pretentious. AP Style Book editors take note.

You Have to Hand It To Patrick O'Brian
Readers who have been with Verus Ratio from the beginning will know that I am a huge fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels. O'Brian was known for his meticulous historical detail. But I have long had doubts about two words he uses a great deal in dialogue, "medico", and "politico". They did not sound right to me. They sounded like 1940s slang.

Well, tonight I checked the Oxford English Dictionary, "Medico" was first used in 1689 (though it seems to have become more common after 1830). "Politico," was first used in 1630. So much for my instincts. O'Brian was correct using the words in historical novels set in 1800-1817.

By the way, if you like historical fiction, pick up Master and Commander, the first of the 20 stories in the saga of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. You will be hooked. O'Brian's writing is better than C.S. Forester, or Bernard Cornwell, or Alexander Kent. The whole series deserves a spot on any list of the most important books of the late Twentieth Century. Don't get hung up on the nautical, or medical, or culinary terms. There are guides which explain them. I read the first 18 novels in the series in 6 weeks, and have re-read most of them.

Teaching Math American Style....
Just passing this along.

Teaching Math in 1950:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.
What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80.
What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970:
A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money.
The cardinality of set "M" is 100.
Each element is worth one dollar.
Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M."
The set "C", the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set "M."
Represent the set "C" as a subset of set "M" and answer the following
What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?

Teaching Math in 1980:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20.
Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990:
By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20.
What do you think of this way of making a living?
Topic for class participation after answering the question:
How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the
There are no wrong answers.

Teaching Math in 2000:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is $120.
How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?

Teaching Math in 2010:
El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de production

Silly Season
What the British call the Silly Season is upon us. With Parliament in recess for August, the British press traditionally turns to reports of low-rent scandals and sensationalistic accounts of any trials that might be going on. We in the US now have the same thing, and we are there. Watch for lots of press coverage of fires, murders, kidnappings, catastrophes, trials, and the just plain weird for the next three weeks. Verus Ratio, however, will try to rise above that.

This Might Also Interest You
The Cardinal Newman Society was formed to foster a renewal of genuine Catholicism at Catholic institutions of higher learning. If you have a son or daughter preparing for college, if you yourself are in college, or if you teach at a Catholic college, you might want to check out what the society has to say about the state of Catholicism at supposedly Catholic colleges and universities. There are college chapters of the Cardinal Newman Society at many schools. I think they might prove to be a very wholesome organization for young people to join. Check out their website here. Wouldn't it be great if there were an organization like this for Catholic elementary and secondary schools?

A Slow News Day
Washington has been vacated by just about everyone of importance. While Wall Street continued its meltdown today, there was little substantive news there. The war is quiet. Today's planned Palestinian outrage backfired (thankfully). You can hear the crickets on The Corner. Even St. Blog's is quiet. But I found this link that you might enjoy. Last year, Laura Berquist wrote this article as part of series on Catholic homeschooling for Latin Mass Magazine. For those considering this, take her words to heart. She has homeschooled her own 6 children.

Historic Hartford House Damaged
Early Monday, someone in an SUV drove through a guardrail, and into the 1782 Butler-McCook House on Main Street in Hartford, which had recently been renovated. The SUV smashed into a room, and damaged a stairway. Many artifacts are believed to have been damaged or destroyed in the accident.

If You Buy On a Golf Course...
You get golf balls. That is what a New Hampshire couple have discovered to their amazement. A few years ago, they built a house on an existing golf course (it had been there for 10 years). In fact, they had the house set further back from the road, and closer to the golf course. Now, they are complaining that errant golf balls routinely hit their house, car, and other property. Of course, they are suing the golf club. Before the New Deal, cases like this were barred by an array of defenses, now all eroded. Caveat emptor seems to be one of the doctrines that might apply, along with contributory negligence, and a few others I barely remember from my 1L Torts class. Sadly, no more. Wonder how much they will get.

Never Can Be Too Careful...
Especially when you are carrying lots of high explosives and are on your way to commit mass murder. Two Palestinians had an accident on the way to commit another mass murder today. The car they were driving blew up. I wonder if they get the 70 virgins each anyway. I don't think Allah is as forgiving to idiots as all that. Maybe these guys just get the raisins.

The Courage To Be Catholic
Michael Novak has a very positive review of George Weigel's upcoming, The Courage To Be Catholic in today's National Review On Line. I will have to wait a while to read it (it is only in galleys now), but will do so with great interest. As I said to Percival the other day, the Vatican's main problem in dealing with the Scandal is lack of information. Novak says that Weigel goes into that problem in depth. I think we all need to understand this constraint and see the Vatican's response in context.

The Terrorists Are Busy
Sunday was a good day for barbarism, and a bad one for civilization. The bus suicide bombing in northern Israel that I noted was only the first of several incidents. Several Palestinian shooting incidents occured, including one in which a young Jewish couple were killed and two of their three children injured. The mother was pregnant. There was another suicide bombing as well. Meanwhile in Pakistan, barbarians who call themselves Moslems stormed a Christian school, murdering 6 adults. Also, in Afghanistan, terrorists fired rockets at a US base used by Special Forces units. No one was hurt. The Pakistani president again issued a statement claiming skepticism that bin Laden was behind the September 11th attacks.

I hate to say this three months before the mid-term elections, but the war on terror seems to have ground to a halt. Progress in the last 8 months seems to have been virtually nil. If bin Laden is dead, we can't verify it. We still don't know the identity of the anthrax terrorist. Saudi Arabia is proving to be more of a burden than an asset in this fight. The Administration seems hopeless on the question of Israel's war on Palestinian terror. Airport security is the sickest joke imaginable, with young Moslem males allowed on planes without a second thought, while 75 year-old congressmen are given the third degree. There are still plenty of armed Taliban & al Qaeda roaming the hinterlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Are we just restocking inventories of daisy-cutters, and working to improve intelligence? Are we quietly cooperating with Israel and giving them what we have on the movements of their enemies? Are the Saudis providing really useful help secretly? Or are we in a strategic quandry that we can't solve without a Cold War-sized military, and lack the chutzpah to tell Congress that ("Six more divisions, please")? Only the Administration knows for sure, if they understand the situation fully.

What To Do With Pervert Priests
Today's Washington Times carries a discussion of what to do with pervert priests once they have been removed from active ministry. The facile solution was to ship those who did not opt for defrocking to monasteries to live out lives of rapt devotion in a monastic setting. However, active monasteries just do not have the facilities for such men, and don't want them. The orders point out that the vocation for monastic life is very different from the vocation to be a diocesan priest, and that becoming a sex offender does not qualify one for the monastery. So the bishops will look at long-term housing facilities like Servants of the Paraclete, though they currently have facilities for only about 10 men. Boston alone has many times that number who may opt for this alternative.

Probably the best solution is defrocking in all circumstances. Then, the legal ties to the Church are cut. They are no longer the responsibility of the Church in any way. Whatever they do on their days outside, the Church will have no liability for it. It is a hard choice, and certainly won't be a popular one. But I think it is necessary.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

It All Started Today
On August 4th, 1914, the German Army invaded Belgium. This was the first overt act of World War I, a war almost completely forgotten now, as its last veterans die. World War I did not start the modern age, but it did push forward and accelerate dangerous trends that led, ultimately to Auschwitz, the Gulag, moral relativism and just about everything else that is negative in the world. For a good account, read the first chapter of Paul Johnson's Modern Times, one of the best-written histories of our time.

Liturgical Abuses-Part V
The Liturgy of the Word is such a straightforward part of the Mass that it is difficult to see how it can be messed up. But, alas, it sometimes is. As always, some of this is just a matter of taste. However, some of it goes to fundamentals.

We left off in our trek through the Mass some weeks ago at the Opening Prayer. This is the job of the celebrant. There is a set form for the Opening Prayer that was composed by those who compiled the translation of the Mass and the Lectionary. The Opening Prayer is different for just about every day of the year. The Opening Prayers sometimes don''t quite capture the message of the Gospel and readings for the day, but often come pretty close.

Where priests get into trouble with the Opening Prayer is ad-libbing. Even when the prayer is right on with the Gospel or the readings, priests sometimes think they can do better themselves. There is much to be said for just saying the Mass the way it is written. There is much to be said against getting into the habit of making it up as we go along to suit our own particular whims. Heaven knows that the people who came up with the Opening Prayers are not perfect. But their work product is what we have. It is best to stick with it.

After the Opening Prayer, the Lector walks to the ambo and reads the First Reading, which is from the Old Testament, except during Easter. It really helps if the Lector has practiced a few times. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the readings butchered through lack of practice. Sometimes, lack of notice is a factor. I was once recruited to do the readings as I came through the door. I shortened my pre-Mass prayers, and read through both readings and the psalms frantically (perhaps 6 times in 10 minutes). That was just enough to prevent me from making a public fool of myself. If there are place names or proper names that you don't know how to pronounce, ask someone.

Also, liturgists, don't depart from the prescribed texts. Often, especially during Ordinary Time, the liturgist gets the bright idea of a "theme Mass". Father Whatever says OK, and we are off to the fantasy land of our local priest wannabe. The readings are laid out so that we read the whole Bible in a three-year period (I'm including daily Masses). We should not depart from that program without a very compelling reason (war breaks out, famine threatens, the Democrats win control of Congress, or some other national calamity seems to engulf us).

And when did "Word of the Lord," replace "This is the Word of the Lord" ? In ten years, will we be reduced to "Lord's Word"? In thirty, will it just be, "Word"?

And while we are at it, LEAVE THE RESPONSORIAL PSALM ALONE!!! Many times I have seen the psalm changed because it didn't fit the liturgist's "impression" of the Mass. Once I saw before Mass that one of my favorite psalms was on the agenda for that day, only to be crushed when the music director, or whoever, decided to go with something else. Even worse, and I say this with genuine anguish, the psalm might be altered to make it gender-neutral. Just over a year ago, in my current parish (which is usually immune to this sort of thing), a liberal nun was allowed to do a bit of liturgizing at a Mass for the end of the CCD year. She proceeded to change all references to "men" to "people", and all references to "His children" to "God's people." A good example of why the sisterhood is just about extinct.

Just pray the psalm as it is written in the approved translation, thankyouverymuch. And do use the psalm intended for that day's Mass.

If the psalm is sung, a note to music directors. The tune you use should be dignified: nothing that sounds like a Broadway showtune from the 1930s. The tempo can be upbeat for a happy psalm. Not all the psalms are laments, you know. At least half of them are quite up-beat. You don't have to drag them out to make them dignified.

The Second Reading needs to be even more thoroughly understood by the Lector. Saint Paul (who we hear from more often than anyone else) uses simple words (at least that is what we have from the Greek) to express a very dense, complex meaning. Believe me, if the congregation is paying attention, they are having trouble following Paul. Be careful with how it is punctuated. You the Lector really must understand what Paul is conveying, much more so than with the comparatively simple narratives of the First Reading. Lectors should read the Second Reading over more than just enough not to look foolish, but so that they can convey the meaning not just the words.

The Gospel Acclamation comes next (and this is why this column is coming out so late in the day- I was stuck with researching this, and was ultimately unsuccessful). Does your music director play it through once, then have the cantor sing it through once, and then play it for organ, cantor, and congregation? Drives me crazy. If they stuck with the simplest Alleluia every week, they would not have to do this.

Let me confess that I don't read music, and am just about completely ignorant of musical terminology. The Alleluia I am thinking of was the most popular one when I was growing up 1970s-1980s. It is simple, with the notes ascending and descending for each of the three Alleluias. My wife thinks the notes go e,f,g,e,/ f,g,f,e,d,c /e,f,g,f,e,e . But she wasn't sure. (Comments?) In all of my research this evening, I could not come up with a name for this Alleluia. Even if I am not doing a good job identifying it, everyone knows this Alleluia. There would be no need to play it over and over. Once before the Acclamation, and once after would be fine. Twice is better than 4 times.

All Catholics know that, as the celebrant is pronouncing, "A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew," we should be using the thumb (only) of our right hand to make the Sign of the Cross first on our foreheads, then on our lips, and then over our hearts, while silently praying, "May the words of the Gospel be ever on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart," right? I didn't need to tell you that (I hope).

Now it is the priest's (or deacon's turn). Most priests do a good job with the Gospel. They usually know how to pronounce all of the proper names and place names that appear there. I must note one thing with disapprobation, however. The Gospel should be proclaimed from the ambo. I know the clip-on mike is an awful temptation. Some priests prefer to come from behind the ambo, hold the Lectionary in their hands, and read the Gospel while standing practically in the nave. It gives them that"good vibes, getting in touch with the people feeling". Fathers, resist the temptation. The ambo is there for a reason. Proclaiming the Gospel is not the time to perform. Save it for the parish concert.

Annoying personal habits are a hard thing to criticize. Often the person does not know that they are doing it, or can't help it. When I am pensive, I often pull on my chin and pace. But somewhere in the years of preparation to become a priest, hasn't someone sat down with the aspiring priest and listened to them read and preach? Haven't they coached, criticized, and tried to break bad habits again, and again, and again? I know one priest who bounces up and down on the balls of his feet throughout the Gospel and homily. He could induce motion sickness in some people. I am sure you can come up with annoying traits that someone in the seminary should have broken priests of your acquaintance of.

I think the theme of today's discussion on the Liturgy of the Word is that it is best to keep it simple and on target. Don't experiment. Don't change things to suit your own tastes. Read and pray this part of the Mass with the dignity it deserves and the way it is written. And Lectors, practice beforehand.

Good Debate
There is a great debate going on in the comments at Amy Welborn's In Between Naps and Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It! over what to do about the exclusion from debate of orthodox Catholics from VOTF's message board. I've been active in it. You know where I stand. Surf over to their sites and check it out.

Saint Jean Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars
Jean Baptiste Vianney had a lot of trouble getting into the priesthood. His Latin was not considered up to standards. More importantly, he came from a poor family, and the local seminary did not want to take a chance on him. A friendly priest took him under his wings, and helped him in his studies, and made him his curate. Eventually, Vianney was given one of the more insignificant villages to be pastor of, Ars. He found the church there in a state of decay and the population estranged from the Faith by the revolution's atheism, and anticlericalism.

Slowly, he went about the task of rebuilding the faith of the people of Ars. He took the time to get to know each one of the people. He preached diligently. He opened men's hearts to the Faith by his reverence and his sacrifices. He grew to become a tremendous confessor. His ability to read the hearts of penitents astounded many. His fame spread to such an extent that he heard confessions up to 18 hours a day. He took upon himself the scars of sin of those who confessed to him. He became the model for what a parish priest should be. He wasn't at all concerned about the politics of things. He just wanted to convert the people of his parish.

He died on the Fourth of August, 1859. Traditionally, his feast was August 9th. In the reformed calendar, he was moved to August 4th, his death date. Priests need to look to his example. This is a difficult time for good priests. They can do no better than to pray to the Cure of Ars for guidance and help.

Saint Dominic
Today is the traditional feast of Saint Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, or, as we usually call them, the Dominicans. But we won't be talking about Saint Dominic until August 8th, because that is where the reformed calender of feasts puts his feast day.

Yet Again
A Palestinian barbarian blew himself up on a bus in northern Israel today, killing nine and injuring some 37. Hamas jubilantly claimed responsibility. Still, the Bush Administration, which has yet to exercise righteous wrath over the murder of 5 Americans by Hamas last week, continues to bleat about a "peace process." They cry "Peace, peace," but there is no peace.

There is no possibility of peace now. The sooner it dawns on Colin Powell, the better. The only peace will come with total and complete Israeli victory in this war, just as in our own war on terrorism. We don't want other nations interfering in our ability to conduct our war on terrorism. Therefore, we should not interject ourselves into Israel's, just to prop up the foolishly utopian vision of a Palestinian state.

As the Palestinians behave now, the world community, including the US, does not want and should not be aiming at a Palestinian state. Maybe after a generation or two of peaceful, democratic, market-oriented governance under strict Israeli tutelage (including Israeli control of all security functions) the Palestianians will be ready to emerge as a responsible state. But surely not now.

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