Saturday, December 07, 2002

Not Looking Good In Louisiana.
The AP has called the race for Landrieu, whose voting record can be expected to veer left now that she no longer has to hang on for dear life.

December 7, 1941
As a nation, we must never forget the damage our own lack of preparedness caused us on that day, including the loss of more than 1,100 crewmen on the USS Arizona. Today at Pearl Harbor, survivors gathered to remember. Even with September 11, 2001 fresh in our minds, the lessons of December 7th, and the heroism and patriotism of those who died there, must never be forgotten either.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Darn, I Missed An Anniversary
I meant to comment yesterday on the 226th anniversary of an organization that I hold in great esteem and am proud to be a member of. On December 5th, 1776, in the Apollo Room of the Raleigh Tavern of Williamsburg, Virginia, William and Mary undergraduates formed Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest undergraduate honors society and the leading honors society devoted to promoting excellence in liberal arts.

Famous members have included John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, Henry Adams, Daniel Webster, John Marshall, Joseph Story, Daniel Boorstin, Robert Frost, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, Lynne Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, William Rehnquist, Learned Hand, Henry Kissinger, Dean Rusk, Phyllis Schlafly, Jonas Salk, Caspar Weinberger, Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Evans Hughes, Washington Irving, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry James, Horace Mann, Eli Whitney, William Howard Taft, Avery Cardinal Dulles, Edward Everett Hale, Gale Norton, Irving Babbitt, John C. Calhoun, Richard Henry Dana, James Russell Lowell, Paul Elmer More, George Bancroft, John Greenleaf Whittier, George Santyana, Francis Parkman, Alfred North Whitehead, Jeb Bush, Edward Everett, Henry Cabot Lodge, Booker T. Washington, Carl Sandburg, Bret Harte, Rufus Choate, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Bernard Baruch among many others.

Lest we be too proud of ourselves, other members include Bill Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Jimmy Carter, Betty Friedan, Kris Kristofferson, Eleanor Smeal, Susan Sontag, Paul Wellstone, and E.J. Dionne.

Even 16 years after admission I am still awed by it. I just got in by being a whiz at history and taking a great number of classes in my major. I am in no way the generalist many of these famous people are or were, or even in the same ball park as they. But it is a thrill to have once been considered worthy of membership in the same organization, even given the dilution of academic standards between their time and my own.

Probably Light Blogging This Weekend
We have a tree to put up, shopping, cards, and baking to do. Just setting the tree up and putting on the lights takes the better part of an afternoon. But I will be around to blog if something major comes up, though I may not react to it right away.

Oh Man!
The Globe has a Message Board on which readers leave their comments on the Scandal. There are about 300 comments. Let us just say that the excellent St. Blog's commenters all hold multiple doctorates of divinity compared to most of these guys. You can see the fruits of 40 years of dumbed-down Catholic education clearly on display. Someone with the energy and time could write a book refuting the arguments and correcting the misconceptions.

Try this one:
I grew up in Newburyport, Ma. Worked as an alter boy and worked in the rectory for 3 years. I know this sort of stuff happened years ago just by stories heard inside the rectory alone by priests and other members of the church. I have a hard time even considering myself a catholic any longer. HERES TO LIVING YOUR LIFE BY ONE WORD "KARMA"

Or this:
My fiance and I will be attending pre canna classes in the next few months and if they ask any stupid questions or question our faith, I am walking out.

The heretics take thier shot:
The corruption in the Catholic Church is as plain as the nose on our faces...and has always been as far as I can remember. I believe that God is allowing the corruption to be plainly revealed to give a wake-up call to those with hearts who truly want to serve Him. I suggest to get out of that "burning building" ASAP...as I did over 15 years ago) The Catholic Church and a great number of its leaders are spiritually and morally bankrupt. I would "bet the house" that this corruption is not only in Boston, but everywhere the Catholic Church exists. Check it out! Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his day in Matthew 15:8-9: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men"

He's forgetting the Episcopalians:
Well I am really sick of all this, why can't the priests just marry? That would weed out any wierd ducks

I should also have said that the fantastic St. Blog's commenters are all Rhodes Scholars by comparison:
i can't believe this is still going on. i guess the church is more corrupt than i thought. what realy amazes me now is the 'in your face ' attitude the courts/justice system in this state. from now on i will be trying my darndest to get out of jury duty. i have more things going on in my little world that kowtowing to this crap! the church,forgedaboutit.

Oh the profundities:
What goes around, comes around.

And those are just the highlights of the first few pages.

But seriously, many of these people are part of the the Boston Catholic community. Generally speaking, they are outraged. The Church does not, can never, work by polls or popular opinion. But now all but the inhabitants of the bunker on Lake Street have concluded that this cannot go on.

The Two Towers: Supportive Christian Myth
Thanks to Domenico Bettinelli for the link. The Wall Street Journal carries John J. Miller's take on the next Tolkien movie. We plan to see it during Christmas week. It looks like it will be well worth the price of admission.

Could The Diocese of Manchester Face Criminal Charges?
According to this article in the Concord Monitor (thanks to Amy Welborn for the link) New Hampshire prosecutors are considering indicting the Diocese of Manchester. This looks as if the diocese will be in a photo finish with the grand jury. Settle or be indicted. The deadline is a week from today. Failing an indictment of the diocese, Bishop McCormack, who appears to be one of the blackest villains in the entire pervert priest crisis (though not an abuser himself), may be indicted as an individual.

If New Hampshire, why not Massachusetts?

Rod Dreher Has a Lovely Blog In The Corner
Rod Dreher wrote this beautiful and moving testimony to God's love, and man's.

David Frum Called My Attention To This
I like National Review On Line's newest regular, David Frum. He was using this quote from the Prophet Jeremiah in the context of the shamefulness of Bill Clinton, but it applies to the Boston situation very aptly:

“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.

“Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.”

Also, look at his comparison of Bush's and Clinton's Christmas tree lighting speeches. Very revealing.

While Our Attention Has Been On the Boston Crisis
*UMass President William Bulger, brother of 10 Most Wanted fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger, and former Massachusetts Senate president, pled his Fifth Amendment rights when asked to give testimony before a congressional committee looking into the sleazey links between the Irish mafia and the FBI.

*The White House has asked for and recieved the resignations of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Economic Advisor Larry Lindsey. There has been widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of O'Neill, who has seemed to be more interested in junketing to Africa with Bono than in dealing with the economy. O'Neill was one of those establishment Republicans one sees in every Republican administration, whose main objective is to ride in a government limousine, be invited to the best parties, and enjoy the perks of the American equivalent of a knighthood: appointment to the cabinet. Neither he nor Lindsey could ever be called a genuine supply-sider. Hopefully, the White House will now pursue a more aggressive policy of tax cuts and spending cuts to stimulate the economy. Any of the people whose names have been floated as replacements in the past (Steve Forbes, Dick Armey, or Phil Gramm) would do nicely.

Saint Nicholas
I think we all need something positive and enduring just now. Today the Church celebrates Saint Nicholas. He is one of the most popular of the saints. He apparently was born in Lycia. He may have visited the Thebaid, ruled a monastery, spent time imprisoned for the Faith, and died as Archbishop of Myra in present-day Turkey around 324.

Much of what we know about Saint Nicholas appears to be legendary. The story of his restoring to life two children who had been killed and dismembered is probably in this category. There may be more of a basis to the story of the three daughters of the poor man, whom he rescued from a likely life of prostitution by providing dowries for them secretly. The story of his tossing bags of gold through the window of their house is the basis for his role as gift-bringer.

The cult of Saint Nicholas is widespread. He is the patron of sailors, travellers, pawn-brokers, spice-dealers, and, of course, children and young people. The Saint Nicholas Center has more information.

Historian Stephen Nissenbaum, co-author of a ground-breaking work on the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692, has written a compelling book called The Battle For Christmas, which describes the process of transformation of Saint Nicholas into the figure we now call Santa Claus. The Dutch cult of Saint Nicholas appears not to have migrated to New Amsterdam before the American Revolution. This is because almost all the Dutch immigrants to New York were protestant, not Catholic.

In the 1820s, three patrician protestant New Yorkers combined to create the modern incarnation. Washington Irving created elements of this modern myth almost out of whole cloth, though he did draw on Dutch sources.

John Pintard, exasperated by the rowdy, drunken, Carnival-like celebration of Chritmas by the lower classes of New York, began using Saint Nicholas first as a patron for New York, and then as a symbol for a domestic celebration of Christmas centered around a gift-bringer and the children of the household.

Clark Clement Moore put all the earlier elements together to give us the image of Santa Claus we are all familiar with. His was the poem known to all now as 'Twas the Night Before Chritmas, but originally titled A Visit From Saint Nicholas.

Later, New Yorker Thomas Nast, whose nativist anti-Catholicism was called to our attention by collegue Mark Sullivan at Ad Orientem, made Saint Nicholas a full-sized figure. Sundblom (for Coca Cola) and Rockwell (for the Saturday Evening Post) virtually completed the work in the 20th century. Just add in Gene Autry's peripheral tale of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the modern incarnation of Saint Nicholas is complete.

While much of the Saint Nicholas Day tradition has been grafted unto Christmas, in recent years celebration of Saint Nicholas Day itself has begun to be revived. It is pleasant to see the original understanding of the saint being restored to some extent.

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

We've Been Here Before, Twice
I can think of two circumstances similar to the current mess here in Boston. One of course was the Watergate scandal. The other was the impeachment of Clinton. In Watergate, President Nixon dragged his feet for more than a year, while the country was riven apart. Finally, he had the grace and patriotism to step down to spare the country further anguish. Clinton of course refused to leave despite more direct wrong-doing on his part than on Nixon's.

Clinton relied on the fact that the Republicans could not muster enough Senate votes to remove him from office. He had no concern that he was tearing the country apart, just as long as he held on to the office. Once he "won" the vote in the Senate, his administration continued to limp ungloriously to its constitutionally mandated end with no moral authority and no concern for a weakening economy (and no wisdom to do the right thing about it even if it did care).

The question now before us is whether Cardinal Law is a Nixon who steps aside graciously for the good of the Church he is supposed to be governing, or a Clinton who will hang on until he reaches retirement age in 4 years, no matter what it does to the Church in Boston.

Power Vacuum Felt By Boston Priests
The Globe reports this morning that the unfolding scandals in the Archdiocese of Boston are having a demoralizing effect on the priests of the area. This is hardly surprising. Opposition to Cardinal Law's continuence in office is growing.

Many priests say they are seeing dwindling attendance at Mass and reduced financial contributions as the crisis enters its 12th month, and they are increasingly frustrated.

''It seems that our leadership has been compromised, and continues to compromise the mission of the church by its behavior,'' said the Rev. Robert J. Bowers, pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Church in Charlestown. ''There is a remarkable history of coverup and abuse, and the accountability rests directly with Cardinals Law and Medeiros and their administrations. I'm tired of being embarrassed by them.''

Things are starting to unravel. The pettiness directed by Cardinal Law at a pastor he should have shunted to a very non-visible position 18 years ago shows that we have reached what viewers of The Caine Mutiny will recognize as "strawberry time." Time, I think, for a phone call from the Vatican to Lake Street. Past time, actually.

We Fared Well
The storm that battered parts of the East Coast left us in Salem fairly undisturbed. We have about 2 inches of snow on the ground, though it looks as if walking might be a little slippery this morning. Always thank God for favors like this.

Thanks To MJ For the Heads-Up
Back in May, the then-head of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship, Jorge Cardinal Medina Estavez, who retired this past summer, wrote in response to an inquiry from an unnamed bishop that homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies should not be ordained as priests.

"Ordination to the diaconate or priesthood of persons with homosexual tendencies is absolutely unadvisable and imprudent, and from a pastoral point of view, extremely risky."

The Boston papers and Fox had nothing on it this morning. The Macon paper MJ told us about in the last comment carries the news, and now EWTN has picked it up.

This is not definitive, but it does, I think, point to where the Vatican will go with this issue in the directive coming out next year. After all that has gone on in the US, especially here in Boston, it is obvious that the experiment has failed, and that the Church's priest recruitment policies will have to mirror, to some extent, those of the Boy Scouts. While the Boy Scouts had a pervert incident the other day, their record in the last few years is much better than the Church's. In both organizations though, there will always be those who effectively lie about their orientation. The Church is in a better position to employ detailed psychological screenings, though not well placed to do them correctly.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Requiescat In Pace
ABC executive Roone Arledge died today at the age of 71 from complications of cancer. He is known as the creator of ABC's Wide World of Sports and Monday Night Football. His career was distinguished, and included 37 Emmys. He brought prime-time sports to network television. He was producing the television coverage of the 1972 Munich Olympics when the Palestinian Black September lauched its attack on the games. On the news side of the business, he was responsible for the creation of 20/20, Nightline, This Week With David Brinkley, and World News Tonight. A very distinguished career indeed. Requiescat in pace.

The Globe Is In Danger of Becoming Known As The Daily Dung Barge
Now we have information that a Boston priest named James Foley fathered two children in the 1960s, and when their mother collapsed in his presence from a drug overdose, he failed to call for an ambulance. Here, when Law found out about it, he ordered him to resign from his parish and sent him for treatment. Of course, he came back and was given a new parish. Details here. The death by Chinese water torture of the Law episcopate continues.

The Globe's editorial page is calling on Cardinal Law to fall on his sword. Is this the third or fourth call for his resignation from the Globe this year? You won't find me in agreement with the Globe very often. But this is one of those times.

Bernard Law is not a monster. He is, however, a fool. His foolishness has led to harm to numerous young Catholics. Now that the excrement is hitting the fan, his inability or unwillingness to handle the matter properly is destroying the fabric of the Roman Catholic Church in Greater Boston.

I can find it in my heart to forgive Bernard Law. After all, none of the perverts he enabled did anything that I know of to anyone I know. But while I can forgive him, and will be able to let the current animosity go, there must be consequences first. Saying you are sorry over and over is not adequate repentence. That is Bill Clinton's mode of "repentence." Stepping down from leadership of an Archdiocese he is tearing apart and pulling down with him is a first step. The Church is greater than the man. The bishop is merely the servant of the Church. In the history of the Church, many holier men than Law, confronted with dreadful consequences of their own actions, have resigned from bishoprics they held. Some of them are saints now.

I will not try to judge the state of Cardinal Law's soul. That is between him, his confessor, and the Lord. I can pass judgment on his leadership. It has been weighed in the balance and been found wanting. The shepherd of Boston's flock is striken. A new shepherd, who will do a better job of keeping the flock in line, is needed. Now.

Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Hogwarts School Has Got To Go!
Eli Lehrer, writing in FrontPage Magazine, has an interesting take on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He points out that the left, finding nothing politically useful in Harry Potter, dislikes it. The fact that there is no notable left-wing bias in the stories (even less so than in Star Wars) speaks very well of Rowling's work. Let us hope she doesn't give in to the PC imperative in the remaining books in the series, and that the screenwriters, producers, and directors likewise keep politics out of the remaining movies.

Law Restricts Meetings At Newton Parish
Cardinal Law has banned all meetings on archdiocesan-related matters at Our Lady Help of Christians parish in Newton. The pastor there, Father Walter Cuenin, has been a leader in priest protests against the Archdiocese. Significantly, he is also a prominent dissenter on Church teachings on homosexuality, women as priests, etc. The Globe has more details here.

So why doesn't Law just fire Cuenin? Good question. I would. Quite apart from the issues of organizing opposition to Law (which in the current circumstances is somewhat justified) any pastor who dissents from significant Church teaching would be a pastor no more were I the Archbishop of Boston.

I think a commenter in a debate I was taking part in over at Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It! yesterday hit the nail on the head. There is in the hierarchy today a fear to exercise legitimate authority for legitimate purposes, and a corresponding willingness to exercise it for personal and illegitimate purposes. Be a Frank Burns-like tale-bearer who annoys the bishop with legitimate complaints against other priests (as some have characterized Arlington's Father Haley) and you are disciplined. Flaunt dissent against the moral teachings of the Church, and you are appointed pastor of an important parish. Law now won't take concrete action against Cuenin because other liberal priests would be upset. And Law is afraid or lacks the moral authority to really show them where the real power in the Church is.

Law should go. The Archdiocese under him is locked into a downward spiral of collapse and paralysis. The perverts he protected and those who helped him do it likewise must go. Their presence in the priesthood is an on-going affront to all right-thinking Christians. But dissenters like Cuenin should not enjoy the triumph of Law's departure long (we can all enjoy the departure of the pervert cliques as long as we like). A more demanding and orthodox martinet needs to be appointed in his stead to bring both the clergy and laity into full obedience to Rome. Boston needs to be brought to heel and to heal through traditional Catholic devotion. One word: Bruskewitz.

If not him, who? If not now, when?

I Still Think They Won't Do It
As I reported last evening, the Archdiocese of Boston's Finance Council approved any plans Cardinal Law may have of seeking protection under the bankruptcy code. The Vatican would have to approve such a move in advance. But given the context, it appears that the Archdiocese is just playing brinksmanship in its settlement negotiations. It worked once with the Geoghan victims represented by Mitchell Garabedian. They had originally settled for $30 million. The Archdiocese Finance Council rejected the settlement. The Archdiocese dithered for a while, talked about filing for bankruptcy, and Garabedian settled for less than half the earlier sum.

Now the Archdiocese is negotiating with all the plaintiffs (including more Geoghan victims represented by Garabedian). Because they have pulled this ploy successfully before, to make it work this time, they have to do more than just float rumors of bankruptcy. They actually have to take concrete steps that make it look as if they will file. But the intent is to sow fear among the plaintiffs and force them to settle for less than they otherwise would.

There are several reasons why the Archdiocese will probably not file for protection. One is that in the only Catholic diocese that did become bankrupt (not in the US, I believe) the bishop was summarily sacked by the Vatican. Another is that the move would be unprecedented. The idea of such a large Catholic diocese being re-organized without significant precedent means they would be taking a step into the unknown.

From a public relations standpoint, a filing would be yet another disaster. People say Cardinal Law and his advisors are morally bankrupt now. All his critics need is for him to make it official.

Also, the Archdiocese has ample financial resources, including more than $100 million in real estate not connected with the operations of any parish, plus plenty of empty convents, schools, and a few parishes either closed in the last few years or ripe for closure. There is also $65 million in insurance coverage that may have to be litigated, as the insurer is refusing to pay (and the bankruptcy talk may also be directed at the insurance carrier). They will have a hard time making the case that they are a legitimate candidate for bankruptcy, just because revenue is down and the books don't balance this year.

Also, while the current leadership will undoubtably be left in charge of the running of the Archdiocese, some of their major decisions would, if they filed, have to be approved by a bankruptcy judge. You can be sure that the plaintiffs' lawyers will petition for appointment of a disinterested trustee (and most likely fail, since no one wants to get into that potential minefield of church/state relations). The Archdiocese has little to gain (a limit on new claims, all the litigation put under one umbrella, possible limits on settlement payouts) and much to lose by filing. I don't think they will do it.


Happy Birthday Strom!
US Senator Strom Thurmond turned 100 years old today. Strom had his faults early in his career (he was a Democrat and a segregationist). But as the South went Republican, so did Strom. He also seems to have undergone something of a conversion on racial matters (undoubtably a more sincere one than former Klansman Robert Byrd, who still lets slip the "N" word from time to time). He has been a conservative stalwart on Capitol Hill for more than a generation. He is now the oldest serving US Senator in history. He is retiring on the completion of his term in January. I think it is just a pity that the Republicans were not able to take control of the lame duck session of the Senate, so that Strom could wield the gavel as President Pro Tempore one last time. His stalwart brand of conservatism, along with that of fellow retirees Jesse Helms and Phil Gramm will be sorely missed.

Montreal Express Still In Charge
It was still unusually cold this morning, though a little milder than the last two days. And there is snow (only 2-6 inches) in the forecast for this afternoon. This does help put one in the mood for Advent/Christmas.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Archdiocesan Finance Council OKs Bankruptcy
The Boston Archdiocese's Finance Council has approved a bankruptcy filing if Cardinal Law deems it appropriate. This story is breaking.

For Those Who Doubt A Direct Link Between Iraq and Al Qaeda
The Kurds in northern Iraq are fighting al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants fighting for Saddam. Close enough for me.

What To Do With Canada Geese
The appropriately named James Swan tells National Review's readers it is time to start shooting these pesky "foulers" of golf courses.

And I Was In A Good Mood Before That

Sickening and Shameful
The Globe Has a Follow-Up With More Details. Bishop D'Arcy comes off fairly well. No one else does.

In some cases, church officials - including Cardinal Bernard F. Law - reacted to the explosive charges by quietly transferring rogue priests to other parishes and treating them with a gentleness and sensitivity apparently unshaken by the heinous allegations against them. In 1999, Law, for example, held out the prospect of a return to ''appropriate'' ministry to a priest who had, years earlier, told church officials that he knew one of his abuse victims had killed himself.

The Second Coming?:

At least three women, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, charged that the Rev. Robert Meffan had sexually abused them 25 years earlier under the guise of spiritual counseling.

The priest encouraged them to be ''brides of Christ'' and described himself as ''the second coming of Christ,'' according to the files. The women said that Meffan, now retired, regularly invited them to his bedroom where he encouraged them to ''link spiritual stages with sexual acts,'' including the fondling and kissing of genitals.

In an interview yesterday, Meffan acknowledged the sexual contact with the girls

Lying to the public:

When the archdiocese feared the disclosure of its handling of Robert M. Burns, a former priest the church reassigned in 1982, despite knowing that he was a child molester, top aides to Law proposed public statements that would deliberately mislead the public about who was responsible for Burns's supervision. Burns, who had worked in Boston for years, was to be labeled a ''priest from outside the Archdiocese of Boston.''

Sweeping it under the rug:

In 1984, clinicians recommended that the Rev. Thomas P. Forry, accused of beating his housekeeper and carrying on a long-term sexual relationship with a woman, remain at a clergy treatment center for six months. But after Law met with Forry, the priest was instead returned to his South Weymouth parish. Forry was not removed from ministry until early this year.

"Well, maybe it made you stronger"

And in 1999, Law told the Rev. Peter J. Frost, whose abuse had made him a candidate for defrocking, that he might yet restore his ministry because of ''the wisdom which emerges from difficult experience.''


The church's file on the Rev. Richard A. Buntel, for example, contains allegations that his marijuana and cocaine use was so prevalent when he was at St. Joseph's Church in Malden, beginning in the late 1970s, that he had become known as ''pothead.'' Others knew him as the ''blow king of Malden.'' (I know Malden. I was born there. It is a gritty urban jungle. You have to go to great lengths to be "Blow King of Malden."- GTF)

In 1994, a Buntel victim sought a $500,000 settlement from the church. The boy's lawyer charged that two of the priest's drug dealers asked Buntel to make a pornographic film of himself sexually assaulting the teenager. The church and the victim ultimately settled the case for $55,000.

Buntel eventually admitted having sex with at least one teenager and with adult men, but when he was first confronted with allegations of misconduct in the summer of 1983, the priest denied that any problem was interfering with his priestly duties.

His response carried the day and, in August 1983, Buntel was reassigned from his Malden parish to St. Catherine parish in Westford. The transfer was made even after Bishop John M. D'Arcy raised strong questions about Buntel's fitness for ministry. It was also D'Arcy, who a year later - in 1984 - would write to Law to question the cardinal's decision to reassign Geoghan because of his history of sex abuse

In both instances, the warnings issued by D'Arcy, who was named bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., Diocese in 1985, went unheeded.

In Buntel's case, D'Arcy wrote to Bishop Thomas V. Daily that the priest's superiors were aware of Buntel's alcoholism, repeated drug use, allegations that he gave drugs to young people, and rumored ''homosexual activity.''

D'Arcy said he considered the charges against the priest to be credible.

''It is my conviction, as I believe it is yours as well, that we who are in the position of responsibility have the obligation to try to prevent scandal in those cases where it seems almost definite that it will occur,'' D'Arcy wrote Daily.

When Daily shared D'Arcy's concerns with Buntel, the accused priest grew ''upset and angry'' and insisted his problems were under control. And he took up his new assignment.

Buntel served in Westford until 1994, when he was again questioned about the 1983 allegation that he had provided cocaine to a 15-year-old boy in Malden, in exchange for allowing the priest to perform oral sex on him, according to a church memo. When he was confronted with that allegation, Buntel admitted the drug use. But he said he did not have sex with the boy until after his 18th birthday.

(So, it's OK if you wait like a vulture until the kid turns 18?-GTF)

He has been on administrative leave since March 1994.

"Nothing but the best for the boys in uniform":

D'Arcy also tried to warn his superiors about the conduct of Forry, who escaped discipline even after a physician wrote in 1979 that the priest had beaten up his 58-year-old housekeeper. It was, the doctor wrote, his second attack on the woman, resulting in cuts and bruises and a scalp injury, as clumps of the woman's hair were yanked out by the roots in the attack.

In July 1984, Law and other top church officials learned of allegations that Forry was sexually involved with a woman. He later would be accused of sexually assaulting her son. Nevertheless, Law approved Forry's assignment as a full-time Army chaplain in 1988 without any reference to the allegations against him or a recommendation that he receive psychiatric help.

''I have every confidence that you will render fine priestly service to the people who come under your care,'' Law wrote.

Forry kept his position in the church until early this year, when two parishioners from Quincy alleged he had molested them.

Still not bad enough to defrock?:

Frost, whose active ministry ended in 1992 when he was removed from St. Anne's Church in Readville, said he met with Law in 1994. Frost by then had admitted he had sexually abused boys as far back as 1969, when he was a deacon and still a year away from ordination into the priesthood.

In a handwritten, five-page letter to Law in April 1994, Frost said he was gay and a ''sex addict.'' He said he was abused as a 10-year-old and had learned early not to trust adult men.

''I cannot remove from my memory that one of my victims committed suicide because I would not give him an answer to his question, `How do I accept my homosexuality?' You see, I hated my homosexuality and did all I could to show I was not gay. I became an active homophobic and hated all gays, myself included,'' Frost wrote to Law.

But Frost, now 62, chafed against the archdiocese's refusal to allow him any public ministry and successfully fended off the recommendation that he be laicized, or formally stripped of his priestly identity. Frost could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Mash Notes For Molestors:

''It is my hope that some day in the future you will return to an appropriate ministry, bringing with you the wisdom which emerges from difficult experience,'' Law wrote on April 12, 1999. ''In the meantime, I want you to know that you and your family are in my prayers. I am especially sympathetic as you care for your mother. The Lord will give you a deep gratitude for the many opportunities you now have to show kindness to her.

''If I may be of particular help, Peter, please let me know.''


Burns, who pleaded guilty in 1996 to sexually abusing two New Hampshire children the year before, also received a solicitous letter from the cardinal when he was removed in 1991 for molesting children, the newly released records show.

Law wrote to Burns that he was grateful ''for the care you have given to the people of the Archdiocese of Boston. ... I am certain that during this time you have been a generous instrument of the Lord's love in the lives of most people you served ... Life is never just one moment or one event and it would be too unrealistic to have too narrow a focus. It would have been better had things ended differently, but such was not the case.''

Law offered prayers that Burns's ''courage and hope will remain strong.''

And it looks like our parish was not the only Salem parish infested with a pervert:

The case of the Rev. Robert H. Morrissette, which drew Law's attention that year, was one of those earliest notices.

Law received copies of memos about complaints that Morrissette may have molested youths at St. Joseph's parish in Salem, where he was associate pastor.

According to the records, Morrissette was accused of fondling a 16-year-old boy in his rectory room at St. Joseph's. The teenager's parents were threatening to go to the police if Morrissette was not transferred.

That was not the only problem, the records show. The mother of another youth, a college student, reported that Morrissette had allowed him to spend a night in his room. A third family had alleged that there were other unspecified incidents involving Morrissette and Boy Scouts and that he had been seen at Boston gay bars.

Morrissette, who declined to comment about the records yesterday, admitted that he had run his hand up and down the leg of the 16-year-old in his rectory room, but denied he had acted inappropriately with any other youths, including the college student.

With Law's approval, his top deputies decided that the best way to deal with the allegations was to move Morrissette. He was assigned as an associate pastor at a church in Bellingham, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - 67 miles away.

Law placed no restrictions on Morrissette's work at the new church, telling him in a December 1984 letter, ''I am confident that you will render fine priestly service to the People of God in Assumption parish.''

In October 1993, an archdiocesan review board voted that Morrissette, then 44, should be removed from ministry and placed in counseling. Morrissette is listed in the most recent directory of priests as being assigned to the clergy personnel office.

Readers, the cumulative effect of this stuff, when combined with what we already knew from the files of Geoghan and Shanley, is sickening. Aside from the basic and undeniable fact that Law is the duly appointed Archbishop of Boston, and as such his office deserves respect, can anyone defend this? Law will be lucky if he isn't lynched. And people, there is more to come. No wonder the Archdiocese worked so hard to keep this out of public notice.

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung round his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to the man through whom scandal does come!" Mathew 18: 6-7.

I Guess Ben Shapiro Was Right
His predictions look solid, too.

Marvin Olasky On Liberal Media Bias

It Is Nice When Nationally Syndicated Columnists Echo Your Sentiments
This time, it is Mona Charen, on Daschle and Gore, and "Limbaugh and the Vast Right-Wing Media Conspiracy."

The Sword of the Prophet
FrontPage Magazine offers Michael Stenton's compelling review of Srdja Trifkovic's book, The Sword of the Prophet: Islam: History, Theology, Impact On the World, which originally appeared in Chronicles.

Grand Theft, Election
Of course, I had to read about it in the Washington Times, not in the Boston Globe (New England's "leading" newspaper). The short of it is that the Democrats stole control of a Maine senate seat, which just happens to be the seat which will control the balance of that chamber. Now the Democrats have complete control over both chambers of the legislature, and the governor's mansion.

Pennsylvania Anti-Gay Speech Ban Signed
Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker has done Pennsylvanians a great disservice by signing into law a bill sponsored by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The Washington Times has details here. Critics of homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle, including conservative Christian ministers, may become subject to prosecution under this law (thank Heavens I don't live in Pennsylvania!).

The thrust of the legislation is to make it an additional crime to injure someone based on their sexual identity or orientation. This is, essentially, hate-crimes legislation. The state ought to stay out of the hearts and minds of the perpetrators, as far as posssible, and just punish the act itself. I have no particular problem with a just conviction of a heterosexual for assaulting or murdering a homosexual. But to add extra punishment because the perpetrator acted against his victim because of his orientation (or race, or religion) makes no sense. Is reproaching homosexuals for their sin to eventually become actionable, even if not accompanied by any act of violence?

Now I would never reproach someone like that in person. I would just have as little to do with them as possible. But many Christians give witness to their belief by trying to convert sinners. Will they be someday sued, or even charged with a crime, for pointing out, either individually or in a mass forum the facts of mainstream Christian belief on homosexuality?

Society ought not to start down that slippery slope. Of course, if all laws were read with the strictest of constructions, we would not need to fear slippery slopes. But since the judiciary and the legal profession are populated mostly by liberals who think nothing of torturing the words of a statute or constitution to get the result they want, we do need to fear slippery slopes. The whole history of American society in the 20th century can be read as consisting of slippery slopes started down unwisely.

Hate crimes legislation is pernicious. But when applied to protect a lifestyle that most people still believe to be unnatural, distasteful, and repugnant, and which is roundly condemned in Scripture, in the writings of the Fathers of the Church, and in the religious beliefs of many modern Christians, and some Jews and Moslems, they are even more highly inappropriate. This is where the comparison with race breaks down, there is no Christian animus against being black. There is a Christian animus against homosexual acts.

Pennsylvania has just protected the consciences of homosexuals from reproach by mainstream Christians. Once something cannot be criticized, it grows in popular stature. You get more of the things that are protected in that way.

Hezbollah Calls for Global Suicide Attacks
Palestinian barbarian front Hezbollah has called for global suicide attacks. That means bringing their barbarians over our porous borders and killing Americans (and Canadians, and Britons, etc.). The remarks by the Hezbollah leader were carried on a Hezbollah-owned television station in Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is threatening to blend the Palestinians' barbarism with that of al Qaeda.

Many of us have said all along that the two were already indistinguishable. I don't welcome the aditional threat. But it could bring more clarity and consistency to US policy regarding Islamo-fascist terror. Up until now, Colin Powell and company have been divining the number of angels on the head of a pin by bifurcating US policy on Moslem terror. Al Qaeda is to be "eradicated," but Moslem terrorism associated with the Palestinian "national cause" has been given more leeway and understanding.

Secretary Powell, they are all murderous bastards who need to be permanently removed from circulation so that free men may go about their business without fear of being suddenly murdered by Moslem fanatics. The sooner US policy comes to that realization, the more civilized lives will be saved.

Declining Abortions
According to this article in the Washington Times, the number of abortions in the country continued to decline through 1999. Why don't we have data for 2000 and 2001? In this day and age, one would think that information like that would be compiled by February of the next year. This is good news. But over 800,000 abortions is still over 800,000 too many. We have a way to go to end this aspect of the Culture of Death.

"The Greatest Living American"
The Washington Times covers Esquire's Survey of the American Male. Ronald Reagan is the Greatest Living American. Bill Clinton was also on the list, but much better, he topped the list as "Most Loathsome Living American."

Other interesting things to note in the survey included the data regarding religious belief. Seventy-five percent of men said they believe in God. But only 15% said they attended church or synagogue once a week. Another 11% said they attend about once per month. Twenty-nine percent said they attended less than once a month. Thirty percent said they don't attend because they don't belong to a church.

Among married men, "my wife" appropriately topped the list of sexiest women. Julia "The Mouth" Roberts placed first among celebrities in that category. Really? Hey guys, have your seeing-eye dogs comment here. I want to talk to them. Admittedly though, the other choices were lame (Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears). It looks like the choices were selected on a fairly rigid quota system that has no relation to percentages in the acutal population (one black, one Hispanic, two whites; one older, one younger).

Colder Yet
It was a cold walk to the train indeed this morning. The bank thermometer read 16 degrees, with a windchill again well below zero. Colder, I think, than all last winter (which was extraordinarily mild: we had costumed Victorian carollers visit early last December, and went outside to greet them, comfortably, in shorts and polo shirts).

"Piercing, searching, biting cold. Had the good Saint Dunstan but nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of such weather, instead of using his familiar weapons, then, indeed, he would have roared to lusty purpose."

Saint Dunstan had a cell built onto St. Mary's Church near Glastonbury, and there was tempted by Satan. Dunstan seized the Devil's face with his fire tongs, according to an 11th century legend, and hurled him out of the cell. Obscure references in Dickens explained at no extra charge, here at Verus Ratio.

Fox Has the Story
For some reason, the Boston Globe did not get this story onto its Boston.com site yesterday. But never fear, Fox has come through. The allegations are just as horrific as the ones involving homosexual abuse by priests.

In fact, so pervasive are the homosexual claims, that some of them seeped into what was supposed to be Attorney McLeish's day of heterosexual abuse allegations. Homosexual sex with a 15 year-old boy in Malden's St. Joseph parish in exchange for cocaine is alleged against Father Richard Buntel. As of this year, Buntel was employed in a non-ministerial position in a parish.

Bulding a house for, and carrying on an 11-year affair with a married female parishioner is the charge against Father Thomas Forry.

Quite disgusting are the claims against Father Robert Meffan, who allegedly recruited young girls to become nuns, and then prompted them to undertake sexual relations with him as part of their "training."

As in the other cases, those many of the reports crossed the desk of now-Bishop McCormack, who claims he never read them. If Cardinal Law is claiming that the buck never got to him, McCormack is claiming he never heard of such a thing as a buck.

The Globe has finally checked in with the story. All 8 of the cases released yesterday have McCormack's fingerprints on them. Reading between the lines (the Globe certainly isn't going to come out and say something like this) , McCormack seems to have coddled homosexual priests. But he acted fairly promptly, by Church standards, against priests accused of abusing girls.

No mercy for the straight abusers, but infinite coddling for the homosexual ones. I think that more or less fits the general pattern we have observed. In fact, I even commented on it in the article I wrote last February (it was published in June) for the New Oxford Review. Except at the time it was Cardinal Law's attitude that was at issue. If a straight priest marries and leaves the priesthood, he is the lowest form of scum on the planet. McCormack could be depended upon to launch against a priest with a thing for little girls. But a homosexual priest could bugger altar boys dozens of times and be pampered and cosseted by the Archdiocese, as long as he wanted to stay in the priesthood. There is a basic problem with attitude here. If it is reflected in canon law, that law needs to be changed. If it is just oral tradition that those so inclined can bugger altar boys as an accepted perk, that too, must go.

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung round his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to the man through whom scandal does come!" Mathew 18: 6-7.

Saint Barbara
Today the Church celebrates the 3rd century martyr Saint Barbara. She was the daughter of Dioscorsus, a man of some prominence and wealth. Legend has it that he installed her at the top of a tower, and sent philosophers, orators, and poets to teach her as much as possible. In the course of her studies, she became wiser than her instructors, and saw the folly of polytheism. She sent for Origen, who converted and baptized her. Barbara decided to consecrate herself to God and remain a virgin. She also tossed out of the windows of her tower all the statues of the pagan gods she possessed.

Her father found this blasphemous. He thought of striking her down with his own sword. Instead, he dragged her home by the hair, and brought her before the Prefect Marcian. The Emperor (Maximinus of Thrace) had charged Marcian with the eradication of Christianity. The name of the Emperor helps us pin down an approximate time for her martyrdom. The persecution of Maximinus lasted three years. So we know that Saint Barbara died around 235. He had her beaten with iron rods, torn by iron hooks, and tormented in other manners as well. Since she had not died yet, Dioscorus asked for the honor of killing her. He took her out of town and killed her with an axe.

Barbara has become the protector against death by lightning, sudden explosion, and fire. She has become the patron saint of artillerymen in all the armies of Europe and the Western Hemisphere. .

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Motion To Quash Denied
This time it is Los Angeles. Prosecutors there are conducting a grand jury investigation on priest sex abuse, and subpoenaed personnel files. Citing the broad scope of grand jury investigations, a three-judge state appeals court panel has held that the Los Angeles Archdiocese must comply with the subpoena, as grand juries have the power to issue them even without a statute on point. The subpoena was contested by some of priests whose personnel files were at issue. The Globe picked up the AP feed here.

Louisiana Senate Race a Dead Heat
Going into the run-off, the race between Suzanne Haik Terrell and Senator Mary Landrieu is too close to call. That is nothing new for this election year. In the final days all the stops will be pulled out by both campaigns. If the President can spend a fair amount of time there for the next two days, victory for the GOP is within reach. That would make defections by liberal Republicans (aside from John McCain with his growing messianic complex) even less likely.

Saint Francis Xavier
Today the Church celebrates Saint Francis Xavier. Francis was a 32 year old professor of philosophy at the University of Paris when he met Saint Ignatius of Loyola. He became a Jesuit. Denied the ability to sail for the Holy Land, he preached in Italy, and then Portugal. He saw an opportunity for missionary work on a grand scale, and embarked for Goa in 1542.

In India, Francis Xavier baptized no less than 40,000 Palawars. He established churches, schools and colleges wherever he went. He may have exercised the gift of tongues in Travancore, and may even have raised some people from the dead. We went to Japan for 28 months, and made many converts there. Returning to Goa, he prepared himself for what he hoped would be an equally fruitful mission to China. He fell ill during the voyage, and died on the island of Sancian in sight of Canton on December 2nd, 1552. It may be an overstatement, but some have estimated that he converted over 1 million souls.

The lay teaching order of the Xaverian Brothers was named for St. Francis Xavier. The order maintains several excellent secondary schools in Massachusetts, including my alma mater, Saint John's Preparatory School. I owe a great deal to the fine education provided by Brothers Robert Daily (history, freshman and sophmore years), Thomas Pucchio (English, junior year, and my debate team coach), Chad Nudd (religion, freshman year, the only decent religious instruction I received there), Joseph Comber (Latin, all four years), Phillip De Marchi (chemistry, junior year: I was terrible at it), David Mahoney (English, freshman year), Robert Sullivan (physics, senior year; again I was abysmal) and Tim Paul (biology, freshman year). Many of them are no longer teaching, or are at another Xaverian-run school now. Brother Chad, I know, died some years ago. But Saint Francis Xavier was the inspiration for their order. I wish them joy of the day, and thank them for what they did for me.

Shifting And Unreliable Ground
The Administration has wrong-footed itself on Iraq. By basing our renewed and heightened hostility to the Iraqi regime on the Weapons of Mass Destruction rationale, we have made our policy there a hostage to the UN and other Security Council members. Now it seems that military action to get rid of Saddam will only take place if the inspections process is declared hopelesly flawed, or if Saddam becomes genuinely and publicly recalcitrant on the inspections. Given the likely willful blindness of the inspectors, it is unlikely that they will find anything, that they have the competence to know that they are being hood-winked, or that Saddam will find them enough of a threat to risk publicly stonewalling them.

What should the Bush Adminstration have done? Well, the genuine rationale for the effort to get rid of Saddam is that he is the next vulnerable target in the effort to drain the swamp in which al Qaeda thrives. The problem is that the US intelligence agencies have not verified that from their own sources. They have not championed a direct link between al Qaeda and Saddam. The information that would do that is buried deep, and perhaps may never be known. But foreign intelligence agenies have some useful data. Czech intelligence was the source for the meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent. Perhaps the US should have endorsed the Czech findings (no matter that we could not verify them ourselves) and just gone with that as the rationale. Perhaps a decisive operation should have been launched against Saddam within a few weeks of the end of serious fighting in Afghanistan. Then once Saddam was a corpse or a prisoner, we would have had the luxury to let the world debate the Czech intelligence.

Now the US has an Archduke Ferdinand problem. When the Black Hand assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, world sympathy was with Austria for a tough line against Serbia. But Austria dithered for more than a month. By then, natural hostility to the Habsburgs had resumed. Austria had a blank check for dealing with Serbia in late June, 1914. By late July, the normal dynamics of European politics re-asserted themselves. In January or February, the US could have justified a quick campaign against Saddam on the basis of complicity with al Qaeda. Now, almost a year later, anti-Americanism has resumed its normal dimensions.

I suspect that the reason this was not done was a combination of the pride and lack of opportunism on the part of our intelligence services ("if we can't ourselves verify it happened, it didn't happen"), diplomatic game-playing and obscurantism from the State Department, and lack of military resources. For the last we have Bill Clinton to thank, yet again. Eight years of eviscerating American military power, undermining morale with efforts to make the military gay-friendly, and frittering away resources in Bosnia, Serbia,Haiti, and Somalia (President G.H.W. Bush entered Somalia, despite grave misgivings, because the incoming Clintonistas wanted it done) left the US a paper tiger, relatively speaking. A powerful but overburdened military with few boots on the ground is a brittle instrument. We had to rely on proxies for most of the fighting in Afghanistan, with the likely result that bin Laden and key confederates escaped from Tora Bora.

We actually ran out of Daisy Cutter bombs during the Afghan fighting. Precision-guided munitions were also in short supply by the time of the Tora Bora fighting. Thanks to Clinton, we probably needed the almost year-long respite to rev up the production lines. Despite official policy of being able to fight more than one war at the same time, active warfare always uses up many more resources than the planners ever think it will.

Because of this, our national security priority of getting rid of Saddam and his regime is now a hostage to weapons inspectors not instruments of our policy. If we act without a finding from the UN that Saddam is hiding WMD, we risk world opprobrium. That is not a satisfactory state of affairs, not after 3,000 dead in Manhattan. .

Ladies' Day
Attorney Eric (Roderick) McLeish is planning to release a number of documents today that relate to sex abuse of young girls by at least one Boston Archdiocesan priest. It is interesting to note that McLeish and others plaintiffs' lawyers have denied that homosexuality is the problem, while 85% of the cases involve abuse of boys by priests. Today, McLeish gets to be PC, currying favor with the homosexual community by talking about sex abuse of a heterosexual nature. You may hear a lot about this today, but remember that 85% of the sex abuse problem in the priesthood is homosexual in nature. Don't let self-interested factions confuse the issue.

A Last Thanksgiving Note
Just in time for the last leftovers to slide happily down the gullet, or the disposal, Diana West, carried in TownHall.com, discusses a grade school assignment that left her uneasy about the future of Thanksgiving. Another example of the relentless kulturkampf of the left.

A Good Morning To Discuss Coffee
Our walk to the train this morning was a cold one. The bank thermometer says it is 18 degrees, with a wind chill making it feel as if it were well below zero, according to AccuWeather. A dusting of snow during the night has turned the roads and sidewalks icy and treacherous. Appropriate to today's weather (though I'm drinking European-style cocoa this morning), Rich Lowry, carried by TownHall.com, explains the merits of free trade in coffee. Free trade is best for not just consumers, but also for coffee farmers.

Did you know that there is a coffee crisis, brought on by the entry of Vietnamese coffee producers onto the world market in the last decade? Did you know that the price of coffee is dropping because of that? You probably have heard rumblings about leftists agitating for "fair trade" certification status for all coffee consumed in the US. A first effort was made in Berkeley (where else, other than Cambridge?) and made it to the editorial page of the New Oxford Review in October or November. Lowry does not mention this, but if succesful, this will cause the cost of coffee to skyrocket. Are you ready for $5.00 per cup joe? I don't even want to think what that will do to the price of a mocha frappachino. I pay about $8 per pound for my beans now. I think that is quite enough.

Leftists really are insidious creatures, constantly trying to undermine civilized life, religion, traditions, manners, society, and the free market system at every possible opportunity, and pushing us down one slippery slope after another, often on the grounds of "fairness" or "social justice". Do yourself and your descendants a favor. Block your ears to their appeals, now and forever. Maybe a line can be drawn at coffee, and the leftists sent empty away, for once. When the issue comes up in your city or town, county, state, or in Congress, tell your representatives to not go there. Tell them to leave coffee on a free trade basis, now and forever.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Artificial or Natural?
The Boston Herald's Joe Sciaccia (it's pronounced Shaka) explores the debate over artificial Christmas trees and natural ones. I plan to blog on the subject this coming weekend, when our tree goes up.

List Mania
I will admit to being a "list Nazi." At no time of year does my list-making take on greater significance than at the run-up to Christmas. I make lists of groceries for cookie baking, Christmas meals, and New Years, and shopping lists of gifts arranged by store, by recipient, and by dollar amount. In my youth, I used to be able to buy gifts for 9 people (4-10 gifts for each), from a dozen stores, get them home and wrap them in one day, because I knew just what I was going to buy, where, and how much I would spend. Middle age has slowed me down a bit. But I still live by my lists at this time of year.

Between now and Christmas, I'll be giving you some lists I drew up for fun and contemplation. Here is one to start off with:

Favorite Christmas Reading
St. Luke's Gospel, Chapter 2
This is the Christmas story. I read it privately several times during Advent, and as part of our Christmas ritual after dinner on Christmas Eve.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens and his generation revivified Christmas. It takes a couple of hours to read through the original text. We have several editions, including a facsimile of the manuscript with the original illustrations. There are many fine screenplays, but take the time to read the original.

Washington Irving, The Bracebridge Hall stories
Mince pies, a whimsical squire bent on restoring ancient Christmas customs on his ancestral lands, a stranger given Christmas entertainment, a parson preaching against Cromwellian attacks on Christmas (in 1820), holly and ivy, wassail bowls, the boar's head, harp in hall, mistletoe, masquing. Young people read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. They should get to know Squire Bracebridge, and renew the acquaintance annually.

Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas In Wales
Thomas wrote this poem in prose about his childhood Christmas experience. Parts of it are common to all of us. This is a very short read (under an hour). There was a fine television adaptation some years ago, that is unfortunately hard to find today.

Karen Cure, An Old-Fashioned Christmas
This was a selection from the Conservative Book Club back in the 1980s. It explores in detail Christmas at Williamsburg, at Mark Twain's Hartford home, at Greenfield Village. This is a how-to book on celebrating an old-fashioned Christmas. If you find yourself lacking solid family Christmas traditions, give this a read to find ones you can adopt.

Linda Clements, The Spirit of Christmas Past
This is an English version of An Old Fashioned Christmas. We read here much more about holly and ivy, how crackers came about and why, and the Yule Log. There are also synopses of the rules of Victorian parlor games, like the Minister's Cat.

Aloise Buckley Heath, "It Says Here", published periodically at Christmas by National Review.
NR publishes this one every few years in rotation with other Christmas pieces by WFB's late sister. I saved my back-issues from 1981 on. It is a heart-warming story of an obviously affluent and large family preparing for Christmas morning.

Henry Van Dyke,The Fourth Wise Man
A story of faith and perseverence. Artaban went with his fellow mages in search of the new-born King of the Jews. He was separated from them, and wandered for 33 years in search of the Christ, only finding Him on Calvary.

Jim Bishop, The Day Christ Was Born
This story lacks the detailed historical information of The Day Christ Died. But Bishop does a nice job putting the events connected with the Incarnation into sequence.

Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle For Christmas
How Victorians recreated Christmas and why. By the 18th century, Christmas was largely Carnival, a rowdy drunken time of licentiousness and politically dangerous role-inversion. It resembled in many ways modern Halloween, had been banned, and was in danger of going the way of Lammas and Michaelmas. Within a few years, Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus/Father Christmas, Christmas shopping on a grand scale, the Christmas tree, the Christmas card, Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and most of the carols we sing today, all came into prominence both in the US and the UK. Christmas became a cherished domestic holiday.

The most important preparation for Christmas is readying the mind and the heart to welcome the Saviour. For Advent preparation, I've been reading Father Mark Boyer's Follow the Star, but am not entirely satisfied.

Getting Back To It
It isn't easy getting back into the groove after Thanksgiving. With Advent in full swing, and Christmas looming, the mind does wander. Of course there is plenty of business news, which has kept me busy this morning. But political and religious news today seems rather thin stuff. But as we all know, that can change on a dime.

If Only All Europeans Were As Stalwart
Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, writing for Corriere della Serra, and carried in FrontPage Magazine, condemns growing European anti-Semitism and indifference to the war on terrorism. She points out as particularly shameful the Vatican's foreign policy of cozying up to the Palestinian barbarians. She is essentially correct. If only more Europeans thought as she does.

A Rare Occurence
We saw the movies rated Nos. 1 & 2 at the box office this weekend. Both Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day were highly enjoyable. We don't see movies that are so popular that often, especially not in first run.

The casting for Harry Potter was again superb. Jason Issacs, who played the vicious Colonel Tavington in The Patriot, was superb as Lucius Malfoy. We shall, I hope, be seeing more of him in this role in future movies. From the time I read the book in January, I thought the part of Gilderoy Lockhart was written for Kenneth Branagh. He did not disappoint. It was, of course, the last screen appearance for Richard Harris, who died last month. A new Dumbledore will have to be cast for the third installment. Peter O'Toole, maybe? Maybe Ian McKellen.

James Bond continues to chug along with a solid performance. John Cleese is beginning to fill the role of the Quartermaster (they don't call him "Q", in homage to Desmond Llewelyn). Halle Barry isn't as bad as some critics have made out. After all, can you remember the last Bond Girl who was both a good actress and good looking? Any Academy Award winners among the likes of Britt Ekland, Ursula Andress, Jane Seymour, Barbara Bach, Barbara Carrera, Maryann D'Abo, Sophie Marceau (she is the closest, probably), etc.? I didn't think so. The plot required some significant suspension of disbelief in places. Critics have been harping on the prominent product placement given to Aston-Martin, but I did not find it distracting, and didn't notice other products given a prominent place. As I said more than a week ago, Bond smokes a cigar or two, which has the anti-smoking Nazis in the usual hysterics. Big deal. Bond has enjoyed a cigar in several movies.

Now we are looking forward to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and the next Star Trek installment. I believe both are due out in time for Christmas, though I haven't seen previews for Star Trek yet. Though some summer previews are in the theatre, there is nothing yet on the Aubrey/Maturin movie, so horribly miscast with Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Stephen Maturin. One upcoming movie that looks like a hoot is Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English, which appears to be a Bond spoof. Blackadder and Mr. Bean fans, get ready.

The Archdiocese of Boston Mulls Bankruptcy Even More Seriously
According to this story in the Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston is considering a bankruptcy filing even more seriously. In fact, senior aides are urging Cardinal Law to take the unprecedented step.

The move would force plaintiffs into a single group, allow a bankruptcy judge to limit attorneys' fees, would limit new claims, and would end discovery in the ongoing state court litigation.

One may recall that shortly before the settlement with the first group of Geoghan victims, the Archdiocese floated the bankrutcy option as a way of forcing the plaintiffs to settle for less. I believe it was the Dallas diocese that did this in similar circumstances some years ago. It may be that this talk is another effort to knuckle the plaintiffs into a more reasonable settlement posture. We shall see.

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