Friday, November 15, 2002
Palestinian gunmen shot and killed at least 10 Israeli civilians, and wounded 15, on their way to Sabbath services in Hebron. The barbarians of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Just keep repeating, "religion of peace, religion of peace."
Today's Globe, in a surprisingly thoughtful article, raises the issue of what to do with pervert priests. This is my contribution to the debate.
First of all, the accused need to be investigated and the claims against them adjudicated. Civil authorities must have all of the material they request in order to decide what charges, if any, are warranted, and prove them. If a criminal prosecution is successful, the issues, as far as they were addressed in the criminal prosecution, should be considered as conclusively decided. For those the civil authorities can't prosecute, but suspect are guilty, it is for the Church to investigate the claims. For those the civil prosecutors decline to proceed against, due to lack of evidence, the Church should still independently investigate the claims. Those completely exonerated (that is, the claims are not credible and seem to have no basis at all in fact) should be restored to ministry, and removed from all databases of the accused.
But many of these cases will be just, "he said, he said." What do you do with that? If the accuser is credible, but there is no more evidence than his word, which is met with the flat denial of the accused, can the accused ever resume full ministry without a cloud over his head? I would suggest that he be restored to ministry, be allowed to say Mass, but be kept in assignments where he has no contact with children. I know, we are going to end up with a lot of nursing home chaplains, but there is nothing for it. A second offense should be taken as sign of guilt in the first accusation (assuming that the accusers are unrelated and are not conspiring together).
Now for those who seem to be guilty, we have a choice of what to do with them. Many claim that the Church should be more forgiving with them. I would point out these comments from the Globe article from Boston College theolgian Stephen Pope:
''There is a naive Christian view that forgiveness means wiping away all punishment, but in classic Catholic moral theology, you have to balance forgiveness and justice,'' said Stephen J. Pope, chairman of the Boston College theology department. ''You can forgive someone and accept them as a member of your community, without believing that you also need to give them access to positions that will allow them to harm people again. ''
Bear with me. There is a point to the next paragraph.
Many years ago, as outside counsel for the FDIC, I was in charge of regaining possession of a piece of property in Hingham, MA. The owners had defaulted on their mortgage of this large (35 acre) parcel, and the bank had been taken into receivership by the FDIC. The property owners had been clever, and had set up a network of dummy corporations, between which they transferred the title to the property. They also used bankruptcy proceedings to delay seizure. They even moved onto the property and claimed to live there, so that they had the protections of residents, rather than mere commercial holders. They had a Mass. nursing home license, which they used to negotiate in an effort to stave of eviction. Eventually, I had all the ducks in a row, and after getting approval from the court, and having the FDIC's local bankruptcy expert stationed at the Boston Bankruptcy Court in case they tried any new move, entered the property one morning with a deputy sheriff, movers, inventory people, FDIC representatives, and an agent of the company that would become caretakers until the FDIC arranged a sale. We were successful in evicting the holders. I don't know what happened, but I assume the FDIC sold te property eventually.
The point of this is that the property was a former seminary which had once belonged to the Archdiocese of Boston. It had been built in the early 1960s, when all looked like it would be rosy for the American Catholic Church forever. It was built to house 60 seminarians. The place had been closed in the 1980s, when the flood of seminarians became the most insubstantial of trickles. It had good recreational facilities (the town of Hingham used its athletic fields in the 1990s). The building was in need of substantial repair and restoration in 1995 when I was involved with it.
While Hingham is probably too close to a major metropolitan area to be of use here, and the Archdiocese has long since given up any legal interest in the property, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of seminaries, convents, and other religious houses that have been closed that the various orders and dioceses still retain title to. Some of them are in remote areas.
I would suggest the following. When we have a pervert priest case that is supported by substantial evidence, we give the accused a choice (and I think I am being more than generous here). They can be defrocked, lose their pension, and be utterly cut loose from the Church's sacerdotal ranks forever. But, if they don't want that, we offer only one alternative. The Church will support them with modest food and clothing and reasonable medical care until they die. They will live lives of rapt piety, offering Masses for victims and the souls in Purgatory. They will be housed in these remote but now closed religious houses.
The life will not be easy. They will be under the strict scrutiny of an unsympathetic rector and staff. They will have extremely limited contact with the outside world. Vistors will be positively discouraged. They won't have days off, or access to a car. There won't be any television or Internet access. The men will spend their days entirely engaged in gardening, praying, reading, and saying private Mass (there would also be a daily collective Mass and maybe some modified observance of the canonical hours). Meals will be simple, in fact Spartan, in accordance with the strictest of rules. Any homosexual activity that they are detected in will be grounds for immediate defrocking and dismissal from the house. There wouldn't be any getting out and hitting the local gay bar on Saturday night. They would be restricted to the grounds at all times. Any other criminal activity will also be grounds for defrocking and dismissal.
Since the burden of this house of penitents would be too much for any one diocese or order, I would suggest that regions of dioceses band together and select the most remote suitable site in that region. The dioceses and orders operating in that region would contribute to the rehabilitation of the property and the maintainence of its inmates in proportion to the number of inmates they send there, with a certain base minimum. For instance, there is or was a monastery in Wilmooski (?), Vermont were my father's brother's wife's brother was a monk. I'm sure he is long gone, and the house is probably either closed or about to close. Wilmooski seems remote enough for New England (it is way up on the Canadian border and the part of Canada it borders is fairly sparsely populated; I've driven through it on the way to re-enactments-it's the backside of the moon). The Archdiocese of Boston, and all the dioceses of New England, along with all of the orders operating in New England with offending priests, would pay for the house. But if Wilmooski is a thriving house now, I am sure some other suitable location could be settled upon.
The inmates would also be free to produce and sell items for the up-keep of the house, though it is unlikely that they will be able to completely support themselves that way. The appointed rector and his staff would be in charge of the business transactions and would have the only car.
If pervert priests want to have an avenue for staying within the institutional structure of the Church, and complain that we are not giving them an opportunity for forgiveness, something like this should be the altenative. We as a Catholic community can forgive, and even provide a place for those who seek genuine repentance. But the way there is not easy. The comparatively plush life of a parish priest with its opportunities for sin are too much for these guys. Let them learn genuine poverty, chastity, and obedience. Just saying you are sorry is not enough. If you don't want to be defrocked and cut off, this seems a reasonable way to repent. I doubt that more than 1 in 10 perverts will opt for this. I doubt they have the faith to live a life like this. But for those who want to repent, this is the way. It is only the lack of moral imagination on the part of the bishops that prevents such a solution from being thought of. Certainly, the material resources are there.
The FBI is warning Americans that al Qaeda may be planning some sort of spectacular attack that would cause mass casualties and damage the US economy. Rod Dreher in The Corner last night noted the presence of armed National Guardsmen around Grand Central Station last night. Didn't see anything like that, but Salem Depot is hardly a target on the same level of priority as GSC. Though Boston, with a brain-dead acting governor spending most of her time at home on the New York border, and a mayor with roughly the IQ and leadership skills of rutabega, would seem to be a more tempting target, despite the professionalism of our public safety professionals.
Most likely, this attack, if it materializes, will be multi-tiered. September 11th was a one-note wonder of an attack (when considered from a strategic standpoint). It left us all wondering what was happening next. Nothing did. A catastrophic attack, say on a nuclear power plant, combined with an attack on the power grid, Internet, water supply, 911 emergency system, and attacks on hospitals in the area affected would certainly qualify.
If al Qaeda does this to us again, it won't be long before visas from Moslem countries are no longer granted, and deportations begin. Regrettably, it may take something like this to bring the political establishment to the realization that Islam and even a tiny minority Christian/Jewish culture don't mix well. Certain people just don't play well with others.
Let us pray that any attack is detected before it can be carried out, and is thwarted.
Why is it that, when the USCCB confab broke up yesterday, I experienced the same feelings of hope, happiness, and freedom I used to have when the Democrat-controlled Congress would adjourn for a recess?
Thursday, November 14, 2002
But my calculations indicate that an unusually large number of Democrat US senators represent states that, as of January, will have Republican governors. And a decent number of these Democrat incumbents are, shall we say, at high risk due to the dread effects of anno domini and/or hard living. Of 49 Democrats, and I'm including Jeffords in this tally, there are 29 from states with Republican governors, who would appoint Republicans, presumably, to replace them should they not be able to serve their full term.
I'm certainly not advocating that anything be done by any yahoo to end the tenure of any of these solons. But Republicans lost control of the Senate largely through the unexpected death of Paul Coverdell of Georgia. He would have held his seat had he lived. But Democrat Governor Barnes was able to appoint Democrat Zell Miller to Coverdell's seat. The death of John East diminished our majority years ago. These things are worth being aware of. When the margins are so close, and they are still very close in the Senate, it is worth knowing who would be replaced by a member of the other party if something bad should happen. You know political operatives of both parties are very much aware of these facts. We ought to be aware of them as well. I would add that there are a number of Republican senators from states that will have Democrat governors. In this regard, the Republicans' failure to take the governorship of West Virginia could be significant, as Harry Byrd can't have too much longer to go, based on his embarrassing public statements of the last couple of years.
Here is the list:
John Forbes Heinz Kerry
Collegue Amy Welborn makes the point very well that from now on, we will just have to be on guard and become more active in the Church to counteract the Lavender Mafia. We can't just leave it up to the bishops. They will go out of their way to mess even this up. "An institute run with such knavish imbecility..."
In the first address of a Pope to the Italian Parliament, the Holy Father urged Italians to have more children to combat the declining birthrate. Seems reasonable enough to me. If native Italians don't step up the rate of procreation, Italy could become a Moslem country before the end of the century. Talk about the crusades in reverse!
This one comes from our own country (well, almost, it's Los Angeles). Two Iranian Moslems are under arrest for beating a Jewish man outside a club. The two were part of a mob of 15 or so chanting, "Kill the Jews!" as they beat and kicked the victim. What was it I said the other day about it being a fact that Jews and Christians are in danger when Moslems are present in large numbers? I am sorry to be so correct on this score, but there it is.
The Globe carries the story of a Dominican nun suspended for an incident that may or may not have happened 40 years ago in another diocese. But notice that the victim (?) here doesn't know the details of what happened, if anything did.
As allegations go, this is pretty weak. How can you defend against something this undefined. I'm all for throwing perverts out and hiding the key that would let them back in where none will ever find it, but this does not meet even my fairly loose standards.
Have we reached the point where there are no more credible allegations of past abuse, or are there still more to come, and as-yet unexposed Paul Shanleys lurking in the priesthood? I am inclined to the former explanation, though new cases could pop up (witness the two Darwin Award contestant Pennsylvania priests arrested in Montreal this summer soliciting sex from young boys).
Lordy .. I hope nothing happens to the Democrat plans to make Nancy Pelosi the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is going to be an absolute treasure trove of material.
She represents a large part of San Francisco in the congress. San Francisco,,, the city that just managed in 2002 to finally make it illegal to take a poop on a city sidewalk. Believe it or not... there was huge debate over this measure.
Here's some more news about San Francisco... Pelosi's base of operations. They had a Veteran's Day parade there yesterday. The City of San Francisco forked over $13,500 for the parade. Now ... let's see how the Veterans rate with the leaders of San Francisco. Here are some of the grants the city made to other celebrations.
Carnaval (a Brazilian holiday): $113,000
The San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade: $84,000
Chinese New Year Parade: $84,000
Cinco De Mayo (Mexican): $68,000
Columbus Day Celebration (Italian): $47,300
San Francisco Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival (Chinese): $30,300
St. Patrick's Day (Irish): $29,500
Filipino American Arts Exposition: $22,000
Juneteenth Festival (a new African American holiday): $22,000
Samoan Flag Day: $15,000
Veterans Day: $13,500
But veterans shouldn't feel left out. There is another parade that gets even less money than the Veterans Day commemoration -- the ceremony and parade to honor the memory of our fallen heroes: The Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade gets a whopping $5,500
George Will, in a column carried on TownHall.com today, dissects the bizarre Democrat compulsion to lurge leftward with the selection of Rep. Pelosi as House Minority (may they always be so!) Leader.
I'd like to hear what others think on this. I'm currently mired at around page 62 of Cardinal Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy. I got that far a few months ago, but found the prose too larded with theological and philosophical jargon to proceed. I have put the book aside and moved on to other books in my "to be read" pile. Does the book improve beyond where I am? Does it become proscriptive, rather than philosophical? I know the Cardinal is moving to conclusions I would support. But so far the prose has been too turgid for enjoyable reading. Is it worth plowing through?
Adoremus carries an excerpt from The Spirit of the Liturgy on the theology of kneeling. Helen Hull Hitchcock emphasizes the pointless infliction of difficulty caused by the "no kneeling" order. Adoremus' archives are culled for this discussion on why they don't want us to kneel, and why they are wrong. And a discussion of the subject from last year is also posted.
Crisis Magazine features the reflections of Father George Rutler on the Parable of the Two Debtors.
J. David Galland, writing for Defense Watch, and carried by FrontPage Magazine, discusses the possibility of US forces using non-lethal microwave weaponry on Iraq in order to render its communications, command and control systems useless. This technology may make its debut in this campaign.
But it strikes me that this is the sort of attack an enemy can recover from fairly quickly. Computers can be turned off, and used only for short periods. Armies can switch to messages carried by hand (in fact, there is evidence that Iraq has already planned for that). Tank engines are not run continuously. In fact, they are turned on only for brief periods daily unless actually moving tactically. Whole rifle divisions deployed in urban environments can still function and absorb weeks of house-to-house fighting to take out, since the technology to disable their AK-47s and hand grenades does not yet exist.
Galland asserts that there is no defense against these weapons. But we have been working on hardening our C3s from the electomagnetic disruption caused by the detonation of nuclear weapons for decades. The Russians and Chinese were doing the same. Since much Iraqi weaponry and systems is Russian or Chinese in origin, and since Iraq has had a decade to harden its C3 facilities and infrastructure, we must assume that these electromagnetic disruptions will not be 100%, or even 50% effective.
If these microwave weapons are to be effective, if we are to make the most of the confusion and disruption they will cause, ground forces have to follow hard on the heels of the microwave weapons. That means getting our ground forces into proximity with the enemy ground forces disrputed by the electromagnetic weapons within minutes or hours, not days or weeks after the microwave weapons are used. If we wait that long, they will have made what adjustments are possible. A promising technology, but it must be handled well.
Rod Dreher, writing in National Review On Line's The Corner discusses and quotes retired Archbishop Phillip Hannan thus:
God bless Philip M. Hannan, the 89-year-old retired Catholic archbishop of New Orleans. He was a paratroopers' chaplain during World War II, and drew on his experience in speaking prophetically to his bishop colleagues this week in Washington. He stood up to the dovish bunch, and defended the war on Iraq. Speaking of his fellow bishops, Hannan, who once stood with fellow American soldiers in liberated Auschwitz, told the Times-Picayune: "They're not realistic because (they've) never seen what is the result of absolute disregard of human rights. They've never seen it; they don't know what the hell they're talking about."
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
The victim got cold feet about testifying.
Judge Constance Sweeney has ordered the attorneys for the Archdiocese of Boston to produced complete personnel files on 62 priests requested in discovery by the plaintiffs' lawyers in the Shanley litigation, or face sanctions. The Globe has more details here.
I wonder if the Archdiocese is stalling on producing the documents because the information in them may tend to establish a "pattern of racketeering activity" that might bring them within the RICO statute.
You see, the nasty thing about a RICO charge is that you don't have to be machine-gunning people or running a string of prostitutes to be considered as engaged in racketeering activity. Mail fraud or wire fraud will do. "Dear Bishop: Father Paul Shanley is a fine fellow and an upstanding priest. We have no issues with him. We heartily recommend him for the position you are considering him for in your diocese. Signed Bernard Cardinal Law." Also, if one activity in the pattern is inside the statute of limitations, and the rest happened so long ago that they are outside the statute, RICO allows it all to be actionable. There are also civil provisions to RICO which allow claims for treble damages by private plaintiffs. So far, the Church has managed to laugh off the idea of a RICO prosecution. But the way the Archdiocese is clinging to these documents for dear life, one has to wonder.
Fox News carries an excellent take-down of the Clinton hacks' arguments for a less dominant US military.
The US bishops have approved a statement re-affirming the commitment of the Church to any reasonable steps leading to the diminution of the instances of abortion or tending to lead to a ban. The statement praises the determination of young people in favor of innocent life. That, at least, is edifying.
The bishops voted 246-7 with 6 abstentions to approve the new norms. The Boston Globe has more details here.
One of the 7 dissenters was Bishop Gerard Gettlefinger of Evansville, IN, who opposed the norms because they don't allow bishops to re-instate the rehabilitated perverts. Rehabilitated? Bishop Gettlefinger, with all due respect, get your mind out of the 1970s. These perverts are not able to be rehabilitated based on current medical knowledge. If new drugs come on the market theat make genuine rehabilitation possible, by all means reexamine the issue then. But for now the reality is "once a pervert, always a pervert." That is why society and the criminal justice system is moving towards open-ended civil commitments for child molesters. And what parish will accept a "rehabilitated" pervert, now that we have the names of these guys on a database, and can just look them up?
Bishop Gettlefinger, give it up, cut them loose, pray for them, stop making excuses for them, and don't ever employ them again in any capacity.
Now I'd like the names of the other 6 dissenters and the 6 profiles in courage who abstained.
Know anyone like this?
I have heard on WBZ radio that the bishops have given approval to the norms on pervert priests, over some lingering liberal objections. I even heard the sour grapes from the losers. But I haven't found confirmation on line because of the two big stories, the Iraqi "acceptance" of the UN resolution, and the choice of Boston as '04 Jackassocrat confab site. I want to see it in print, so we can examine the arguments of the losers in detail. But not yet, I guess.
In the summer of 2004 the City of Boston will be absolutely pululating with Democrat hacks, liberals run amok, a rainbow coalition of freaks, Sista Boom-Boom (if AIDS hasn't claimed its own by then), tree huggers, pacifists, feminazis, and other assorted bedwetting leftist flotsam and jetsam. Oh, wait. This is Boston. That describes every day here, Democrat convention or no. Still, such an hyper-concentration of loons in one place could be even worse than usual. Maybe we'll spend that week in Alaska, or just a cozy place in New Hampshire, the closest thing to a free state around here.
Kathyrn Jean Lopez of National Review On Line has written an omnibus review of various books on the Scandal. She missed James Likoudis' AmChurch Comes Out, and Shaken By Scandals with essays by various Catholic pundits. But otherwise, her review seems on track.
According to this article in today's Washington Times, the US bishops are urging the US to soften its immigration policy further.
Fine. Open the borders to all and sundry. Let everyone who wants to come here, come. Empty every Third World Hell hole onto the streets of Los Angeles and Atlanta, Boston and Chicago, New York and Seattle.
But since the bishops advocate it, let them, and them alone, deal with it. Only the American Catholic Church should pay the taxes to supply the welfare, food stamps, Social Security, SSI, and most expensively of all the herds of social workers needed to provide for these new and additional "tired and poor." The Junior Division of these new huddled masses can only commit crimes against bishops and their staffs. Let the new immigrants bunk at the diocesan chanceries. Let only the bishops encounter sales clerks and customer service reps and tech support "specialists" who don't speak English adequately. The bishops will have to take public transportation exclusively so that they can listen to the constant patter of foreign languages around them.
The American bishops celebrate diversity? Let them bear the burden for it.
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Al Jezeera is broadcasting an audio tape praising recent terrorist attacks. US officials believe the voice is bin Laden's. As I've said before, we need to do a better job exterminating this scum.
South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings is hinting that he may not seek re-election in 2004. That seat has potential as a Republican pick-up, if the right candidate comes forward.
I've been looking for the link for the Survivors First database on priests with sex abuse allegations. Amy Welborn found it. Thanks, Amy.
Sometime today, the Drudge Report will record its 1 billionth hit this year. Wow. With my 20-40 hits per day, I'm positively green. Congratulations, Matt.
Survivors First has compiled a list of priests suspended from duty on the grounds of sex abuse allegations. The Boston Globe has the details here. Provided that those exonerated are promptly removed from the database, I have no problem with the list. In fact, lay Catholics have a right to know this. If, somehow, a known pervert priest gets past the new norms, and ends up in some different parish, perhaps in another diocese or through an order, the laity there have a right to know that he has been accused, even if he has not been removed from the priesthood or active ministry. The safety of the Catholic family trumps the privacy concerns of the priests.
If the Church insists on trying some form of rehabilitation for low-level offenders, the laity has the ability to nullify it, by refusing to participate in a parish to which a pervert has been assigned. The database serves as a public warning, much like the registration of convicted sex offenders with the municipality or county. Once the laity begins doing this, it won't take the Church long to figure out that it has to keep priests with even the most minor proven accusations in their pasts out of possible contact with those they might victimize, whether the Vatican allows them to be defrocked en masse or not.
The bishops have charged Bernard Cardinal Law with the task of drafting a letter, to be copied in parish bulletins, decrying the coming Iraqi campaign on "Just War" principles.
What moral authority that missive will pack, drafted by a fellow who, though he still occupies an important see in the American Church, has no credibility whatsoever with lay Catholics in his own Archdiocese or in the country at large! Here, it will be read briefly, considered briefly, and, since I have already made up my own mind on the justness of the Iraqi campaign (no less just than invading Italy before Germany, though Italy was notably lukewarm about being at war with the US in the 1940s), round-filed along with the previous gaseous pronouncements on nuclear arms and the US economy.
It is an obvious effort to rehabilitate Law, as the bishops try to move past the pervert priest crisis. But what Law and his minions have done towers above him bellowing so loudly that we cannot hear what he has to say on any other matter. And since Catholics, no less than other Americans, understand that it would be insane to allow Saddam Hussein to remain any longer in power so that he can develop and pass on to his al Qaeda allies various weapons of mass destruction, it will be pointless. Giving Law such an important assignment would be laughable, if the bishops intended the pronouncement to be taken seriously.
The move is pernicious, since it could have a deleterious effect on the morale of Catholic American servicemen.
For a war fought with a standing army and a few mobilized reserves alone, and which should take about 3 weeks and cost less than 1,000 American lives, the application of just war principles is of dubious utility. In a protracted war involving a mass army and a significant percentage of national wealth and resources, a proclamation of the war as unjust would have some significance. Here, it is just a genuflection to the real constituency of the American bishops, the pacifist left of the Democrat and Green Parties.
We are in a war with al Qaeda and its allies. We are taking the governments that support al Qaeda out one by one. The first stop was Afghanistan. We are actively participating in efforts to get rid of the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines and various al Qaeda afflitiates in the Horn of Africa. Iraq is next. It harbors al Qaeda in Iraq itself, and has given it intelligence and financial support. It is hoped that taking out Saddam Hussein will be the spur to the Iranian people to overthrow the virtual dictatorship of the mullahs, so that we don't need to, and the Iranian people can return to the relative liberalism they enjoyed under the Shah.
After Iraq, the war will look very much different. Police raids will swoop down on suspected cells in states that don't want any truck with al Qaeda. In some states, the terrorists will be subjected to due process and the criminal justice system. In other places, they will just be shot out of hand. Small groups of US special forces will quietly exterminate al Qaeda groups in less civilized countries in much the same manner we saw in the movie version of Tom Clancy's Patriot Games, five-minute attacks on unsuspecting terrorists that leave them all dead or captured. These commando raids won't be known about and publically debated in advance. The only people who will know they happened are the politicians and generals who ordered it, the pilots who flew the commandos there, and the men who executed the raids.
Are each of these little micro-raids to be treated as a seperate war? Does the Just War principle apply to each raid? Will we be lectured that it really wasn't "just" to kill 20 al Qaeda members in tents in the Libyan desert, or in Yemen, or in Indonesia, or in Chechnya? Wake up and smell the coffee. The World Trade Center does not exist any more. The bastards who did that plan far more deadly attacks on our cities, with the help of friendly governments like Iraq. If they can obtain the means, it will happen. And without becoming a society in which jackbooted thugs totting submachine guns have to search every vehicle entering every city and town, there is no way we can stop it from happening. It is our responsibility to get rid of those friendly governments, and drain the swamp in which al Qaeda festers.
We have listened to, and disregarded the American bishops' collective statements before. If the American bishops and their Democrat patrons had their way in the 1980s, the Soviet Union would still exist since we would have unilaterally disarmed rather than challenged it at every turn. If the American bishops and their Democrat patrons had their way in the 1980s, our top tax rate would be 90% again, and we would have no economic growth, high inflation, high unemployment, and be slipping into a Third World standard of living in the name of a "just" economic order.
It is time to disregard the American bishops again, especially since they can put forward no better spokesman for their effort than a thoroughly and permanently discredited Cardinal Law, but also because they are back-seat driving without ever having obtained a license themselves.
According to the New York Times, the Iraqi regime is trying to obtain from various sources about a million doses of nerve gas antidote. Since the US isn't contemplating using nerve gas, it is obvious that Iraq is. A quick strike with commandos to take out the leadership of the Iraqi regime and military in the first few minutes of the campaign, though risky, is probably the way to avoid the use of chemical agents by Iraq.
National Review On Line carries Rod Dreher's observations on the new norms and the reliability of the current US bishops.
We need a rainy/snowy winter to put the region in good shape as far as the water supply goes.
USA Today has compiled some statistics on the Scandal that help put things in perspective. Thanks to Amy Welborn for the link.
Today, they are scheduled to tackle the revised norms and a complimentary document on "fraternal discipline" among the bishops themselves. These important issues are closed to lay scrutiny.
We don't get to hear which bishops are arguing what, and that is a shame. I, for one, would like to know what bishops still are not in favor, at this late date, of any action against pervert priests. I want to know who the hawks are, and who are the doves. It would be helpful in evaluating both past and future public statements and policies that come from these bishops individually. Public scrutiny in some degree is a natural consequence of Vatican II, much more natural than bowdlerized liturgies and gutted churches and decrees against kneeling.
The consequence of this Scandal has been that large numbers of conservative laity are no longer willing to just ignore the public pronouncements of the bishops on anything. Anything they say or do will be the subject of lay scrutiny and criticism. Since the bishops have failed the Church so dramatically, whatever they do will be scutinized from now on. Take the misguided "reflections" on proselytizing Jewish people. The bishops' organization is very much used to promulgating gaseous vapors like this with no notice being taken at all. From now on, Catholics more faithful to Rome than the American bishops will no longer take these things in stride. We will raise our voices in protest when we think the American bishops have not been faithful servants to the universal Church. And someone in Rome may take notice if our voices are loud enough, and our correct views are put forward congently and with justice.
The information age will eventually reach into the Vatican itself, transforming the relationship between local bishops and Rome and making it in fact if not in outward form more like an employee/employer relationship, rather than a fraternal one. And that would be most welcome.
Amitai Etzioni, writing in the Weekly Standard and picked up in FrontPage Magazine, connects the dots and notes that many Moslem countries and individuals are engaged in an ongoing pogrom designed to eliminate Christianity and Judaism/ The conclusion that it is hazardous to one's health to remain a Christian or Jew in places where there are a lot of Moslems is inescapable. It also has a great number of unthought-through consequences for US (and European) immigration policy, as well as foreign and security policy.
Joseph Yeager, writing for FrontPage Magazine, disposes of the tired leftist canard that the coming Iraqi campaign is fundementally about oil. It isn't, except for those who have been trying to prevent it. The French and Russians have been doing quite a bit of oil business with Iraq.
Cal Thomas echoes my views, expressed here on Sunday, on the significance of Nancy Pelosi, a genuine San Francisco Democrat, becoming House Minority leader.
A speech by Bishop Wilton Gregory kicked off the November meeting of US bishops yesterday. It is helpful to remember that Bishop Gregory was one of two US bishops made by the Vatican to stay in Rome and be present at the press conference while the Vatican publically repudiated the policy formulated under his leadership. This harsh treatment can only be taken as a direct and public rebuke. His assertion that the role of the bishops must not be undermined is correct, though many bishops individually and personally need to strike themselves or be struck by a higher authority for blatant and unignorable misconduct. The role of the bishop as shepherd of his diocesan flock, with all the power that implies must be preserved, while the miscreants holding those important offices, and the people around them who are perhaps even more culpable for aiding and abetting perverts, need to be replaced from the ranks of more conservative rank and file diocesan priests.
Anyone in their right mind has known for decades that you don't put known perverts anywhere where children are present. If the bishops actually believed that some counseling made perverts "safe", they had no reasonable basis for that belief, not in 1962, not in 1972, not in 1982, not in 1992, not in 2002. These sexual perversions are not "curable," at least not with the current state of medical knowledge. In the criminal justice system, another place where liberalism holds sway, we are moving inexorably towards lifetime commitment, including civil commitment after jail sentences are concluded. Right-minded people have been urging this course for 50 years and more.
Do we give bishops a pass because they professed to be governed by the latest fashionable psycho-babble about rehabilitating and curing pervert priests? Can we absolve them because they were guided by their staffs and by mistaken or willfully misleading psychological evaluations? No. What they did contravened common sense. Everyone else in modern American society has known for decades that most psychological analysis is politically motivated and without much basis in reality. We should not give the bishops a pass because they decided to go along with evaluations that conveniently served their purposes. They should be held to account. Those who have harmed Catholic families should continue to suffer financially until they get the message that they are being shunned by the right-thinking laity, and resign.
Keep the post of shepherd as it is, but get new shepherds.
Today's Washington Times updates us on developments of Arlington, VA Bishop Loverde's apparent cover-up of homosexual priests and persecution of a whistle-blowing priest. The allegation from Father haley that Father Rippy, Chancellor of the Arlington Diocese is one of the perverts being protected by Loverde is troubling, but makes sense. Of course, it is all "he said, he said" at this point. If Father Haley's allegations are substantially true, Loverde (and Rippy and the other two priests named, if they have not resigned already) can be added to the list of those who need to be broomed out of exalted places in the hierarchy to get the Church moving again. Compared to what has been going on in Boston, it is small potatoes, but it is troubling nonetheless.
Monday, November 11, 2002
I came out as George Washington, even though I admire John Adams most. Go figure. I found the link over at Mark Sullivan's excellent Ad Orientem site.
Thanks to NRO's Andrew Stuttaford for the link.
Fittingly, on this day in 1885, General George S. Patton was born. He served on the staff of Black Jack Pershing in Mexico and in World War I, and was an advocate of armored warfare theory before World War II. He was given the job of taking over a defeated US corps in North Africa, and turned it into a first-class unit. He commanded the Seventh Army in the invasion of Sicily, and took Messina. Some bad publicity shelved him during the D-Day invasion, but he was soon given the command of the US Third Army, and lead the breakout from the Normandy/Brittany area across France. His forces turned 90 degrees to respond to the German offensive in Demember, 1944. His forces were pushing past the limits of the US zone of occupation when the war ended. in peacetime, his hostile and realistic attitude towards the Soviets earned him early retirement. But he died as the result of a car crash in Germany in December, 1946.
The Charge of the Light Brigade (the 1960's version)
The Green Berets
War & Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk's version)
And five that could easily have made the list:
The Blue Max
Pork Chop Hill
The Rough Riders
Short of talking to veterans we know, or taking part in public ceremonies, one way we can remember what our veterans endured is to try to re-live the events through the medium of the motion picture. Here is my list of the ten best World War II movies. All are readily available on VHS or DVD for rental or purchase.
A Bridge Too Far
Saving Private Ryan
The Sands of Iwo Jima
The Longest Day
The Battle of the Bulge
Cross of Iron
The Battle of Britain
And five that I might have put on the list:
To Hell and Back
The Fighting Sullivans
by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
From The Imperial War Museum:
The origins of the term "Tommy Atkins" as a nickname for the British (or rather English) soldier are still nebulous and indeed disputed. A widely held theory is that the Duke of Wellington himself chose the name in 1843....
The Duke of Wellington's use of the expression is said to have been inspired by an incident during the Battle of Boxtel (Holland) against the French on September 1794. Wellington, (then Arthur Wellesley), led the 33rd Regiment of Foot, and at the end of the engagement Wellesley spotted among the wounded the right-hand-man of the Grenadier Company, a man of 6 ft 3 inches with twenty years' service. He was dying of three wounds - a sabre slash in the head, a bayonet thrust in the breast, and a bullet through the lungs. He looked up at Wellesley and apparently thought his commander was concerned, because he said, "It's alright sir. It's all in a day's work", and then died.
The man's name was Private Thomas Atkins, and his heroism is said to have left such an impression on Wellington, that when he was Commander in Chief of the British Army he recalled the name and used it as a specimen on a new set of soldiers' documents sent to him at Walmer Castle for approval.
In the United Kingdom and its former colonies, today is Remembrance Day, essentially Memeorial Day for the war dead of Britain, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and India war.
We in the US think of our British cousins, when we do, as stalwart allies in common efforts. But Britain has gone it alone without the US when it was convinced the cause of freedom required it.
It was British redcoats who hemmed in Louis XIV, thwarted Bonaparte at Waterloo, and curbed the Czar in the Crimea. Britain brought civilization to a sizeable chunk of the globe. Britain along with France held the Kaisar's army at bay until the US deemed it appropriate to join in the fray. Britain stood alone against Hitler and Mussolini in 1940 and 1941. British troops fought Japan in Asia, and fought alongside us in Korea, Serbia, the Iraqi desert, and in Afghanistan. They will be alongside us when we depose the tyrant in Iraq next year. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us for 40 years, ready to stop a Soviet blitzkrieg into Western Europe.
This is a day to remember also Tommy Atkins, soldiering on at Malplaquet and Ramillies, Fontenoy and Culloden, Minden, Quebec, Warburg, Plassey, and Wilhelmstahl, Bunker Hill, Long Island, Brandywine, Germantown, Camden, and Guilford Courthouse, Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes de Honoro, Cuidad Roderigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, the Pyrennes, Quatre Bras and Waterloo, Sevastopol, the Sepoy Mutiny, Roarke's Drift, Ladysmith, and Omdurman, Ypres, Gallipoli, the Marne, and the Somme, Dunkirk, Crete, Gazala, Crusader, El Alamien, Dieppe, Goodwood, Epsom, and Arnhem, Goose Green and Desert Sabre.
As an honorary member of the officers' messes of the Royal Anglians, Royal Welsh Fusileers, the Black Watch, and Connaught Rangers, I have special reason to observe this day. This is a day to remember those who have fought for our sakes, even long before we were born.
As the importance of the anniversary of the end of Waorld War I declined after the Second World War, the observance of November 11th in the United States was transformed into a day to honor those who have served the US in uniform. On this day, the president participates in services at Arlington National Cemetery, laying a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier. All across America, small ceremonies are held to remember our veterans.
But for most Americans, with financial markets, banks, post offices, schools, and government offices closed, it is a day to get a head start on Christmas shopping, or get more sleep. That this day has been so transformed is a sad commentary on our culture. It should be a day for thanking our veterans, and remembering what they lived through for our sakes.
In modern society, a small percentage of young men serve in uniform so that, when needed, they can protect their country and its people. The military has been our safeguard since 1775, earlier if you count our struggles with the French and their Indian allies.
In that time, the honor roll of battles is a long one. From Trenton, Princeton, Saratoga, Stony Point, Vincennes, and Yorktown to Lake Erie, on the USS Constitution, and at New Orleans, to the Alamo, to Chapultapec to Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Appomattox, to San Juan Hill and Manila Bay, to the Western Front in 1918, to Midway, Tunisia, Sicily, Monte Cassino, Omaha Beach, Nijmegen Bridge, the Battle of the Bulge, the Hurtgen Forest, the Crossing of the Rhine, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Pusan, Inchon, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, Ia Drang, Tet, Libya, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Serbia, and on the USS Cole, in Afghanistan, and at ten thousand other places, the American serviceman has answered the call to arms and served with distinction.
My own father's World War II experience is probably fairly typical. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942, at the age of 22. He was assigned as base security at Alamagordo, New Mexico, guarding an airstrip in some way related to the Manhattan Project (but he didn't know that, then). For more than two years, his biggest worries were rattlesnakes, and convincing the PX clerk that, when he asked for "tonic," he wanted Coca Cola, not hair tonic (actually my father preferred a noxious brew you can still buy called Moxie). The Battle of the Bulge created a huge need for combat infantry replacements, so in early 1945, he found himself on a liberty ship heading for Germany. He was assigned to the 69th Infantry Division, and took part in the battle for Germany. He won a Bronze Star for pulling a wounded comrade to cover while under enemy fire. In April, his luck ran out. While moving through the supposedly cleared town of Wiessenfels, he took a sniper's bullet an inch from his lower spine. He spent a few months in hospital in England, and then was sent back to Germany until he was demobilized. While guarding a supply train, he was almost murdered by Russian soldiers intent on looting the train. After a liberty ship trip back to the US, he married my mom. The bullet remained in him, and began to give him difficulty again just a few months before he died (of a heart attack) in 1989.
If any generation of American servicemen had not done their duty, one shudders to think what would have become of the American experiment in democracy and capitalism.
Other cultures have held ours in contempt, and felt we would not make real warriors. As David Hackett Fischer wrote in Paul Revere's Ride,
The Regulars of the British Army and the citizen soldiers of Massachusetts looked upon military affairs in very different ways. New England farmers did not think of war as a game, or a feudal ritual, or an instrument of state power, or a bloodsport for bored country gentlemen...In 1775, many men of Massachusetts had been to war. They knew its horrors from personal experience. With a few exceptions, they thought of fighting as a dirty business that had to be done from time to time if good men were to survive in a world of evil....[M]ost New Englanders were not pacifists themselves. Once committed to what they regarded as a just and necessary war, these sons of Puritans hardened their hearts and became the most implacable of foes. Their many enemies who lived by a warrior- ethic always underestimated them, as a long parade of Indian braves, French aristocrats, British redcoats, Southern planters, German fascists, Japanese militarists, Marxist idealogues, and Arab adventurers have invariabley discovered to their heavy cost.
So for those who have served our country in uniform, we thank you for that service. American democracy depended upon you, and you came through. America is a better place for your service, though the memories may be painful to you, even more than 50 years later.
At eleven minutes after the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, World War I ended. It was a war entered into by most of Europe with jubilation 4 years before. The astonishing slaughter of the trenches in pointless battles at Verdun, Ypres, the Somme, the Argonne, the Marne, and Gallipoli turned the jubilation into bleak despair as Europe's generals could think of nothing better than to have an entire generation slaughtered and maimed, while their governments ginned up what popular enthusiasm they could by proclaiming it a war to end all wars.
World War I ended Europe's dominance of the world. It's outcome abruptly ended the rule of the Romanovs, Habsburgs, and Hohenzollerns. It brought the menace of communism to reality in Russia. It made the rise of Nazism in Germany possible. It butchered innocence and optimism along with millions of young men. Europe no longer had the self-confidence, or the money, to maintain colonial empires after the war, so most of mankind was swiftly cut adrift into the modern world without proper guidance in how to cope in it. It brought the US and Russia to the fore of world power. But the battle of attrition of that war wasn't properly concluded. The peace that was imposed was so mild, yet seemingly so harsh, that Germany was both motivated to, and able to attack again in 30 years, bringing on even greater human catastrophe, and dimming Europe's star, perhaps forever.
The day that ended that nightmare of a war has been commemorated solemnly ever since. When I was a child there were still many World War I veterans alive. But, as Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy sang, "The old men still answer the call/But year after year, the numbers get fewer/Someday no one will march there at all." Today the youngest veteran of World War I is in his late 90s. Very few people have contact with anyone who fought that grievous, bloody, pitiless war. Sadly, World War I has become a forgotten war. The subsequent history of mankind has made a mock of the claim that "The Great War" would end all wars.
On a personal note, my grandfather and his brother enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers (formerly the 88th Regiment of Foot) in 1915. My grandfather was a gas casualty at Ypres, but survived the war. He died in 1936, 28 years before I was born.
Update: I noticed that James Robbins at National Review On Line has posted an article on Armistice Day.
The second First Lady, and the first American woman to be the wife of one and mother of another president, was born on this day in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1744. But we just discussed her extensively on the anniversary of her death on October 28th.
Today the Church celebrates Saint Martin of Tours, one of the most important saints in western Christendom. Martin was born in Pannonia around 325, and entered the Roman army's elite cavalry at an early age. Encountering a beggar while was stationed at Amiens, he divided his cloak with him. Shortly after age 20, he was baptized and left the army, becoming an exorcist under the direction of Saint Hilary of Poitiers.
He lived as a hermit on the island of Gallinaria, and returned to Gaul where he founded a monastery at Liguge, the first important monastery in the West. His monastery followed the Rule of Saint Basil. In 371, he was forcibly carried off to become bishop of Tours. He had hidden from the delegation from Tours, but his hiding place, it is said, was revealed by a goose, hence the custom of eating goose on Martinmas.
He ruled the see of Tours for 26 years. In that time, he made numerous conversions in Berry, Touraine, Anjou, Beauce, Dauphiny, Paris, Luxembourg, Trier, and Sennonais. Wherever he went, he cast down idols, built churches, and left priests and monks to carry out his work.
In 397, worn out, he lay dying at Candes. His followers begged him to live. He struggled to say, "If God finds that I can still be of use to His people, I do not at all refuse to work and to struggle longer." He died with his face turned to Heaven.
He became almost immediately, the most popular saint in Chistendom. In France alone, 4,000 churches are dedicated to him, and over 500 villages are named for him.
Martinmas in Europe corresponds to the traditional time for slaughtering animals not intended to live through the winter. It also signals the time that the new vintage of wine is ready for drinking. Fresh beef and Beaujolais Noveau have traditionally meant feasting in Europe. So Martinmas has traditionally been a jolly time, a last opportunity to enjoy God's bounty before the fast of Advent starts.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
Today at Mass something unusual happened. While Father was distributing the Eucharist, he suddenly stopped. For some reason, a communicant a few people ahead of us in line, after receiving in the hand, turned and walked back to his pew without, at first, consuming the Eucharist. Father Dan was watching this fellow. After Communion, and before the Concluding Prayer, Father reminded the congregation that the Eucharist is to be consumed in the presence of the priest or Eucharistic minister.
The Holy Father does not permit reception of the Eucharist in the hand at the Vatican for the reason that some might treat the Host as a souvenir. Here in Salem, there is a real threat of individuals making off with consecrated Hosts for the purpose of profaning the Eucharist.
It was good to see Father Flaherty so attentive to that point. He is an exemplary pastor, who preaches good, no-nonsense sermons, restored the reserved Eucharist to the Tabernacle behind the altar, and brought back the bells during the Consecration. It is not surprising to see that he is careful to do what he can to protect the Eucharist from profanation. Would that all pastors and ministers of the Eucharist would do likewise. The Eucharist is the defining element of the Holy Church. Its centrality is obvious. It is owed more than respect. It commands adoration.
Of course, it would be better still if reception in the hand was done away with, pretty much avoiding the problem altogether. But that is a blog for another time.
My finger (tip of the middle finger, right hand) is mending nicely, though not completely healed. I was reaching into the flatware drawer (I had to suppress the New Englander's habit of typing that word the way we pronounce it; "draw") and made unwanted contact with something very sharp which should not have been there (except that I put it there) and ended up with a half inch slice in the aforementioned spot, at an angle from the end of the finger nail.
Fortunately, while I was doing other things (more and more of that may happen as the holidays begin to impinge on my blogging time) the news seems to have been mighty quiet. It is as if the country, after the great exertion of the election, and the diplomatic victory in the UN Security Council, had decided to take it easy.
The only thing really worthy of extensive comment has been the House Democrats' likely choice of ultra-liberal Rep. Nancy Pelosi as putative Minority Leader. May she always lead a minority, preferably a constantly shrinking one. Some people have taken the Democrats to task for the choice. Do they regard Gephardt as some sort of moderate? He has long been significantly to the left of the American political mainstream (which runs from the center to me). So Pelosi is a little to his left. Tip O'Neill was also.
Aside from the possibility that some sort of national calamity could give her real power (either a majority in the House or, Heaven forbid, even succession to the presidency) the tenure of a genuine San Francisco Democrat at the head of their congressional party can only help isolate them right where they are. It nicely undoes the only thing Bill Clinton accomplished, making it look like that party was in some way mainstream. My only regret is that they did not choose Barney Frank, who would do that even more directly.
The US bishops will be meeting shortly, and Verus Ratio will be providing full coverage, though I doubt any surprises are in store. The plenary council will not happen. Given who the US bishops are, and the mindset of their staffs, it is probably for the best that it does not. The new pervert priest norms will be given pro forma approval, and be sent on to Rome, where approval will be rapid, assuming the US bishops make no changes.
I am planning a tribute to America's veterans for tomorrow, which is also the feast of one of the most important saints in Christendom, Saint Martin of Tours.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.