Saturday, March 08, 2003

The 58 Priests Who Demanded Law's Resignation Now Under Fire
I seem to have missed the articles the last few days from George Wiegel and Father Neuhaus attacking the 58 priests who signed the letter last December demanding Cardinal Law's resignation. A couple of quick obeservations are in order.

Though I generally agree with Wiegel and Neuhaus on this issue, it should be pointed out that not all the 58 who signed are dissenters from Church teaching. One I have met (he is quoted in the article) seemed to be fairly orthodox, but was pushed out of a cushy, affluent parish because of a long-standing feud he had with a majority of the faculty at the parish school. Though that pastor was more orthodox than some on the faculty, I think the dispute was more over having very inbred ways of working at the school changed, so it was more a personality issue than a liberal-conservative one. Though it is perhaps dangerous to speculate on anyone's motives, and such a decision is certainly a complex one, it is safe to say that resentment over Law's lack of support a year or so before entered into his decision to sign.

Nor do I think that the 58 should be condemned for their letter. Yes, they did shiv Cardinal Law in the back. But he deserved it. He needed to go. There can be no question of that. His leadership was a joke. There was no way he could continue. Aside from some people retaining a vestigial respect for his office, he had no moral authority in this Archdiocese whatsoever. One edition of the Boston Herald hit the streets with Law's picture on the front page and the headline,"Pimp!" That could not go on, as it would have if he had stayed on. The Church in Boston would be rubble and ashes if he had stayed.

For the Archdiocese to move on, he had to go. That has happened. Though signs are hard to detect, we may be starting to move on. Resolving the litigation is the major stumbling block. Moreover, while only 58 had the guts to sign their names to that piece of paper, the overwhelming majority of parish priests, like lay Catholics, thought Law had to go. Law's support by early December was limited to a handful of loyalists in the Lake Street Bunker. When the resignation was finally accepted, there was nothing felt in Boston but relief.

That said, if I were the new Archbishop, I would, as I said last December, make sure that the careers of the dissenters (like Cuenin, Bullock, etc.) among the signers were utterly blighted from this day forward. Find orthodox priests to take over and bring to heel their dissenting congregations, and assign them where they can do no harm. Their heterodoxy is palpable. That is reason enough to make their lives as priests of the Archdiocese so uncomfortable that they either knuckle under or resign. The "big-tent" idea of the Church has a limit. That limit is dissent over the moral teachings and dogmas of the Church. We can try to accomodate everyone only up to a point. The Church is universal. But it is also one, holy, and apostolic.

The new Archbishop should certainly not trust these guys. They seem to be clinging to some collective identity despite the fact that they got what they wanted. I predicted that their solidarity, to the extent that it is motivated by more than personal animosity to Law, would continue, that they would see themselves as a distinct grouping in the future. At least some of them see themselves as a priestly vanguard for VOTF-type destruction of the Church. Even leaving the dissenting ring-leaders in their parishes is perilous. As Weigel and Neuhaus suggest, I would keep a list of their names near me at all times if I were the next archbishop. Every shitty assignment that comes up, one of them would be assigned to it.

They can knuckle under, or they can go. My own view is that they should be thanked for their part in getting rid of Cardinal Law. That was a real service. But if they want to push the Church away from her traditional moral teachings and positions, or its traditional structure, they can leave and will not be missed here. Just as we are better off with out Cardinal Law, we will be better off without them.

Update: Unsurprisingly, I see that my neighbor Domenico Bettinelli more or less agrees with my views on this.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Bishop Moreno of Tucson Resigns
The Holy Father has accepted the request of Tucson, AZ Bishop Manuel Moreno to resign early (he is 72), reportedly due to health reasons. The diocese will not elaborate on Moreno's health. The diocese has had significant and expensive sex abuse problems, and is said to be considering bankruptcy. Bishop Gerald Kicanas, co-adjutor since 2001, has replaced Moreno.

US/UK Want March 17 Deadline For Iraqi Disarmament
We have seen putative deadlines come and go. First it was certain to be November, then late January, then Valentine's Day, then March 1, and now March 17.

The fact is that the US mobilization has been carried out at a very leisurely pace. Aspects of the effort to get the troops to the theater of operations have not been satisfactory, in part because our British allies think they need to go through the kabuki dance of UN approval (though I think they will settle for the support of a majority of the Security Council, even if France, Russia or China veto), and in part because of Turkey's game of ducks and drakes with US deployment there.

And we can't ignore the impact of the neglect of the military's sea and air-lift capacities during the 8 years of the Clinton Administration (not to mention the shortage of munitions caused by that Administration, which we have been desperately trying to make up since the fighting in Afghanistan stopped).

We have obviously not been bending the national effort to get troops and equipment to the Persian Gulf in a hurry. A report I read this week indicated that the bulk of the 4th Infantry Division, put on a war footing for deployment almost two months ago, is still sitting in the US waiting to embark. If this is the best we can do, we are in trouble.

Bruce Willis Stands Up to Be Counted
The Hollywood Left hates him, according to FrontPage Magazine's Norman Tines. And Willis has a new movie opening today, Tears of the Sun. Might not be a bad thing to patronize.

Mel Gibson's The Passion
Raymond Arroyo, in today's Wall Street Journal, interviews Mel Gibson on his The Passion project. Arroyo is sympathetic, as am I. I don't know if Gibson's design for The Passion will work. But I hope it does.

Mass said on the set daily, the star carrying relics on his person, the director carrying a Brown Scapular, a recognition that certain dark forces very much want this to fail, the dialogue in Latin, Aramaic, and Hebrew with no subtitles, careful attention to historical detail, and ultra-realism directed at the suffering and sacrifice of the Lord all are ingredients that I want to succeed.

Gibson's project is a work of love and faith. It has the potential to change hearts and minds, if those minds and hearts are open. I expect the critics to savage it. I think this movie could have an impact even if it is a flop at the box office, even if it is boycotted by most of the big theater chains. This movie will reverberate among small groups and individuals for decades on DVD as it is sold by religious goods stores or on-line concerns. I'm praying for its success.

Saint Thomas Aquinas
Today is the traditional feast day of one of the most important Doctors of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas. However, his feast was moved to January 28th under the reform of the calendar of feasts. Since I accept, but don't necessarily agree with, the various reforms made in the Church, you will have to wait until next January 28th to hear about Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Memo to Blogger: Get The &%$@_(*Y^()&&%$#)*! Thing Fixed Already!

We Didn't Hear From Helen Thomas Last Night
What a refreshing change. Whoever decided the president needed a question at avery press conference from that clueless liberal gasbag anyway?

Thursday, March 06, 2003

A Good New Advertiser
Welcome to Questia, an on-line library offering access to more than 70,000 volumes on line.

So, Bin Laden Is Like the Founding Fathers
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, (D-OH) has compared murderous scum Osama bin Laden with the American Founding Fathers. Steve called our attention to this in a comment below.

Would that we could have a national referendum on her staying in Congress. She is an utter disgrace. She is so far outside the mainstream that she is in another realm entirely. She does not belong in Congress. She does not even belong in the US. Her constituents ought to be ashamed of sending this BLITHERING IDIOT to Congress.

Eeewwww! Slimey
I've never liked the idea of lawyers advertising. When I practiced, I never advertised myself. I never worked for firms that advertised themselves like dish detergent. I don't appreciate having suited barracudas trolling for clients on my website (see banner advertising above for Kiesel, Boucher, & Larson and Parker & Waichman). In my opinion, advertising is unnecessarily degrading for a profession badly in need of an image re-make (and more conservative law professors).

Hint To Blogger: Try soliciting from Roman Catholic Faithful, The New Oxford Review, Crisis, Adoremus, smoke shops, cigar makers, distillers, gun makers, conservative publications, Republican candidates for office, Conservative Catholic orders, Pro-Life groups. more toy soldier concerns, re-enactment groups, the NRA, gourmet food shops, things like that.

Just because I discuss the Scandal does not mean that I want advertising from plaintiffs' lawyers. You did well with matching advertisers to my site until now. I'm happy to publicize advertisers that are not inimical to my views.

Democrat Filibuster Holds
The Senate failed to break the Democrat filibuster of Appeals Court nominee Miguel Estrada. Estrada won 55 votes, but needed 60 to break the filibuster.

So President Bush should respond by taking advantage of the next recess of the Senate to use his recess appointment power, and do so with all of his rejected judicial nominees. And he should take the issue to the people in 2004 and demand 60 Republican senators.

As for Estrada himself, he certainly deserves better. He has served both Democrat and Republican presidents. For that reason, I have not been particularly vocal in his behalf. I have some concerns about where he stands. I don't like stealth nominees. I loved Robert Bork, and Clarence Thomas (and Antonin Scalia) and debated hard in favor of them. I knew where they were coming from. But Estrada is highly qualified, and the Democrat filibuster against him is unjustified.

Plan B
Mackubin Thomas Owens describes the skeleton on the Pentagon's Plan B for the Iraq campaign for National Review On Line. His exposition of the difficulties is excellent.

Looney Left Aims At Impeaching President Bush
Would that we could have a national referendum on their tenure in office. David Enrich, writing for National Review On Line discovered this insane proposal.

Delay In Shanley Trials
Judge Constance Sweeney has ruled against the plaintiffs' requests for April and June trial dates in the Paul Shanley case. She cited the publicity as tainting the jury pool. Does she seriously think that the mood of the public will have changed by October or November? Does she think the story will go away?

You are not going to be able to find a jury pool that does not know about this Scandal anywhere in Massachusetts for the next three years. Besides, does anyone seriously think that the Archdiocese would risk letting a jury decide how much it owes the plaintiffs? If they were so foolish, verdicts of $50-$100 million would be handed out in individual cases if possible, "just to teach the bastards a lesson." That is a guarantee. The Archdiocese would be insane to let a jury come back with a verdict on this case, or any of the others. It can only settle for as little as possible. And counsel for the defense knows this very well. Their only objective is to delay paying as much as they can, which is the objective of most defendants in civil litigation. $30 million paid nine months from now is much better than $25 million paid now.

Delay is the only objective of the insurance companies, who are actually controlling the defense counsel. These cases will never be decided by a jury. Everyone knows that. Since there will never be a jury verdict, the concern over the jury pool is over-stated. Judge Sweeney just gave the insurance companies a much-desired delay: more time to dither, and run up billable hours. Her decision just means that the issue will be put off further, to the detriment of the Archdiocese (the longer this festers, the worse things will get). She pushed back the bar and eased the pressure for a settlement. I understand that it is the template for litigation. Is pretending that this case will be decided by a jury really helpful? Does it not only delay the day of reckoning?

It is interesting to note that the real interests of the Archdiocese (in a quick decision to get this behind it) are significantly at variance from the interests of the insurance companies who are paying for the lawyers, who only want delay.

In English history, the jury developed not as a group of disinterested citizens whose minds on the subject at issue were absolute blank slates to be written on by the lawyers. Indeed, English royal justice instead sought out people from the community who knew all about the circumstances of the litigation, and let them use their knowledge brought in from outside the presentation of the case to decide the issue. Over time, it has morphed into the opposite. Given that history, I have never liked the idea of an ignorant jury. An ignorant jury is too easily swayed by the art of counsel. I'd prefer people with their own ideas about the things at stake, but open to new evidence they had not already considered.

If OJ Simpsopn could be tried for murder, and later sued for wrongful death in the state of California, then Paul Shanley and the Archdiocese of Boston can stand before the bar of justice to answer for what they did. But it won't come to that, unless the insurance companies want to try an experiment to see how much a Massachusetts jury will return for homosexual rape of a minor.

Ann Coulter Has the Ultimate Answer To Those Who Claim We Are Not Doing Enough About Al Qaeda
TownHall.com carries her syndicated column today.

"The Pause that Depresses"
John L. Perry, in a column carried this morning by TownHall.com, tells us that delay is dangerous for troop morale, and for public opinion at home. I think Perry is absolutely correct. President Bush is going to have to make one more great televised speech to re-galvanize public opinion. Then, let us proceed to Baghdad without further delay, as soon as all that they need is in the hands of our troops.

Newly Discovered Letter Shows Pius XII Opposed Nazism
A letter written by then Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli, the Vatican's ambassador in Bavaria, in November, 1923 shows that the future Pius XII was no friend of the Nazi movement, according to Zenit.

In his letter, Archbishop Pacelli -- contrary to the allegations of a number of recent authors such as John Cornwell (author of "Hitler's Pope") on the relations between Pius XII and the Nazis -- denounces the National Socialist movement as an anti-Catholic threat and at the same time notes that the cardinal of Munich had already condemned acts of persecution against Bavaria's Jews.

Another piece of evidence against the Hochhuths and Cornwells.

He Said It of Scotland, But It Applies To the Whole of Europe and the US
The Holy Father met with Scottish bishops on their ad limina visits, and urged them to confront post-Christianization.

In Scotland, the Pope said, "as in many lands evangelized centuries ago and steeped in Christianity, there no longer exists the reality of a Christian society." The priests of the future, he continued, must lead a return to Christian traditions-- a task for which they must be formed by "a life marked by poverty, chastity and humility in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest."

FrontPage Magazine this morning features Jacqui Garofano's profile of pro-US groups forming on campus. In my day, it was YAF and the College Republicans, along with the conservative newspaper staffs (there was usually a lot of shared membership). Now there are groups forming on an ad hoc basis to support the US in the war on Moslem terrorism/Iraq.

Ah, Those Arab Unity Summits Are Good Television
Last time it was a (Saudi?) diplomat telling Libya's Col. Khadafy that there was a grave with his name on it. This time, it was a blow-up by the Iraqi ambassador at the Kuwaiti delegate.

"Shut up you minion, you (U.S.) agent, you monkey. You are addressing Iraq," Ibrahim said. "You are insolent. You are a traitor to the Islamic nation," he spat out as Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani tried to shut him up.

General Franks Says US Forces In Kuwait Are Ready
More troops are coming, but it is by no means certain that the war will wait until their arrival. It will be a month before the heavy armor is available in the theater of operations. The thought that the kabuki dance at the UN will continue that much longer is unsupportable.

More Snow Today
Will this winter ever end? At least it is only 1-3 inches.

More Advertisers
Welcome aboard to Russellnewquist.net, a political commenatary site which, from what I can see agrees with my position on Iraq.

The Ave Maria Grotto is also featured. It is a labor of love by Brother Joseph Zoetti, a Benedictine monk of St. Joseph Abbey (the grotto is on the grounds of the abbey). Brother Joseph built replicas in miniature of various shrines, cathedrals, and other buildings of religious significance. The grotto looks fascinating. We see a photo of Brother Joseph's replica of the Basilca at Lourdes. Quite an achievement.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

"Cliff" From Cheers Joins the Pro-US Position
John Ratzenberger, known to most as "Cliff" from Cheers has let it be known that he is on the pro-Administration side in a war with Iraq. Ratzenberger was on the Howie Carr radio show this afternoon to promote diabetic causes. Ratzenberger has been in Toy Story, A Bridge Too Far, The Empire Strikes Back, Monsters, Inc. and many other movies. High-fives for John.

Blogger Has Been Having Some Problems For the Last Hour Or So

One Of His Finest Hours
On this date in 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his "Iron Curtain" speech at Fulton, Mo.

A Nice Improvement
I noticed today that, instead of carrying advertising for things that have nothing to do with what I write about, Blogger has provided ads appropriate for my blog. if this is something Google is doing for its new property, I approve (though I can't believe they are actually in charge already.

So far, I have seen The Toy Soldier Company, an excellent firm with a great reputation. They have playsets that they have assembled from various manufacturers that are really quite terrific: the ultimate Christmas or birthday gift.

Conservative Catholic Books & News also advertises here. You can buy Michael Rose's Good-bye Good Men or Crocker's Triumph there, for Lenten reading.

Also, Arquebus Toy Soldiers advertises here. Their site is nicely set up. They seem to have a nice assortment of figures, including the new Tradition French & Indian War sets.

ToyKnights.com has an interesting range focused on medieval knights and playets.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, another of my advertisers is Dickens & Co. Carolers. I haven't heard them, but the costumes look great.

Also in the L.A. area are A Little Dickens Carolers. They have a CD for sale. Their costuming also looks good.

Click on the links in the ad (they rotate), if you are interested in browsing. Patronize them, by all means.

Awaiting the Sensation of A Short, Sharp Shock
That is what the Iraqi campaign is supposed to seem like to the Iraqi leadership.

The Invaluable Mark Sullivan Has Unearthed the Recipe for Legal Seafood's Unbeatable Clam Chowder
The ultimate in tasty Lenten fare. Patrick O'Brian said that clam chowder must be served every Friday in Heaven. Legal's has Heaven's recipe, I think.

By George Herbert

Welcome deare feast of Lent : who loves not thee,
He loves not Temperance, or Authoritie,
But is compos'd of passion.
The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church sayes, now :
Give to thy Mother, what thou wouldst allow
To ev'ry Corporation.

The humble soul compos'd of love and fear
Begins at home, and layes the burden there,
When doctrines disagree.
He sayes, in things which use hath justly got,
I am a scandall to the Church, and not
The Church is so to me.

True Christians should be glad of an occasion
To use their temperance, seeking no evasion,
When good is seasonable;
Unlesse Authoritie, which should increase
The obligation in us, make it lesse,
And Power it self disable.

Besides the cleannesse of sweet abstinence,
Quick thoughts and motions at a small expense,
A face not fearing light:
Whereas in fulnesse there are sluttish fumes,
Sowre exhalations, and dishonest rheumes,
Revenging the delight.

Then those same pendant profits, which the spring
And Easter intimate, enlarge the thing,
And goodnesse of the deed.
Neither ought other mens abuse of Lent
Spoil the good use; lest by that argument
We forfeit all our Creed.

It 's true, we cannot reach Christ's fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior's purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy ev'n as he.
In both let 's do our best.

Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
That travelleth by-ways:
Perhaps my God, though he be far before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
May strengthen my decays.

Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sin and taking such repast
As may our faults control:
That ev'ry man may revel at his door,
Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,
And among those his soul.

I was not familiar with this poem, but found it on Dylan's More Last Than Star blog.

Palestinian Barbarian Outrage Du Jour
Actually, the first since January.

Draping Sacred Images With Purple Veils
One ancient Lenten custom that has regained some prominence in the last few years is draping sacred images in the home with purple cloth for Lent. We did it last night, so that, when we woke up this morning, the house would have the unmistakable cast of Lent.

Since Lent is a time of penance, sacrifice, and remorse for sin, the comforting countenences of the Blessed Mother, the saints, even the crucified Lord, were historically veiled in European churches prior to the Reformation. Lent was intended to be a period of unrelieved penance. Purple, the color of Lent, is a color for mourning. So the veils were often purple (in some places they were white, according to Ronald Hutton's The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The Ritual Year 1400-1700).

The custom has been revived through the agency of many of those "Catholic activities for the home" books that have become so popular. We have done it in our house since our marriage (it is not a custom either of us grew up with). Cheap purple cloth will do. We bought a couple of yards of it at Walmart for under $10.00, and cut it up to cover all the crucifixes, images of the saints, and the Blessed Mother in the house. It is an easy custom to adopt. It adds substance to our penance during this season.

The BBC (Believe It Or Not) Has Some Excellent Basic Information On Ash Wednesday Devotions

The Ashes
The marking of their forehead with a cross made of ashes reminds each churchgoer that:
Death comes to everyone

They should be sad for their sins

They must change themselves for the better

God made the first human being by breathing life into dust, and without God, human beings are nothing more than dust and ashes

It's also a reminder of the mark of the cross made at Baptism

The phrase often used when the ashes are administered reminds Christians of the doctrine of Original Sin

The cross of ashes may symbolise the way Christ's sacrifice on the cross as atonement for sin replaces the Old Testament tradition of making burnt offerings to atone for sin.

If you are looking for basic information on Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter suitable for instructing children, read through this link. The clinical tone, and the use of the alien CE rather than AD are off-putting, but the presentation is a good one.

Three Boston Priests Still In Parishes Depite Abuse Allegations
This flies in the face of assurances the laity were given that those accused would be removed from parish work until the substance of the allegations could be ascertained. The priests are Father Edmund Charest, serving at Blessed Sacrament parish in Cambridge, Father Edward Keohan, formerly of Saint Mary's parish here in Salem, now at our Lady of Lourdes in Revere, and Father Edward Sherry of Nativity Church in Merrimac.

For once, I agree with Mitchell Garabedian:

''Church leaders have to err on the side of caution,'' said Garabedian, who represents hundreds of alleged victims of clergy sex abuse, ''because the damage to an innocent child is irreparable in so many cases.''

The potential damage to Catholic families that can be done by priests who may be inclined to abuse young boys far outweighs career considerations for the accused. They have to be taken off parish duty until the allegations are shown to be false or unsubstantiated. The needs of the many (and of the Church itself) must outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

This looks like backsliding on the new regime of how to handle these cases, perhaps brought on by a false impression that the heat is off since Cardinal Law's resignation. It is not off. Increased scrutiny forever is the price the Church has to pay for what it did. The Church can never go back to business as usual in regard to allegations of abuse by priests. This looks too much like business as usual.

It isn't easy to recommend this. I have met Father Keohan. He seems like a thoroughly nice guy. But he and the others ought to be placed on paid leave until this is cleared up, or assigned to the chanery. It is not just a matter of unbending principle, it is a matter of prudence.

Impact of the Scandal
Today's Boston Globe tells us that more budget cuts are coming for the Archdiocese of Boston. Look for more school closings, more parish closings, cuts in programs, etc. And it is not going to get better until the litigation is settled, because people will not give to have their money handed over to Mitchell Garabedian and Jeffrey Newman.

The impact by the numbers:

1) Mass attendence is down 14%. There are about 300,000 actually attending in an Archdiocese with 2.1 million Catholics crammed into a relatively small geographic area.

2) In 2002, the number of active diocesan priests dropped by 10%, from 555 to 505. That number is a little deceptive because there are many senior priests capable of helping out (though you can't go on relying on that forever). There are also the priests in orders. The number of active diocesan priests in 1981 was 1,072.

3) The Promise For Tomorrow fundraising campaign fell 1/3 short of its $300 million goal. So that means that there are funds, or chits, for $200 million sitting in that fund's accounts. The Cardinal's 2002 Appeal raised $8.4 million of the $17 million hoped for.

The chancery is saying that the coming cuts (which will amount to about 20%) will favor the poor, meaning everyone else is going to be really screwed so that the Archdiocese can maintain a presence in places in the inner city where the Catholic population is negligible. Parishes that run into a costly problem (a roof, a heating system, etc.) will have to deal with it themselves. Parishes financially dependant on the Archdiocese, except where a political decision has been made to bear whatever cost, can expect to be closed.

Still, with 505 Archdiocesan priests, that is enough to staff the existing number of parishes, though those 505 are aging. There are less than 400 parishes and most of the priests are old enough to be trusted with a pastor's assignment. And there are priests in orders to help out.

One good suggestion is to expand the number of orders active in the Archdiocese. Inviting the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, which has plenty of priests but has not been invited to become active in this Archdiocese, to take over 3-5 parishes might save those parishes (and have other beneficial effects). If push comes to shove, I would much rather see my own parish of Saint James kept open as a Latin Mass center for the North Shore than see it closed. I might even attend a properly sanctioned Latin Mass from time to time if it is convenient. It is aesthetically superior to the Novus Ordo, but aesthetics count for little. If that happened, the church reformers might well have egg on their faces when a PFSP Saint James generates more attendance and revenue than any other parish north of Boston. That is a prediction, but it is an informed one, because that is what happens wherever the PFSP gets established. But I doubt that the Archdiocese will have the insight to do something like that. The people who run this Archdiocese are, ultimately, not that bright, and are much more concerned with the prestige of their pet projects. They lack moral imagination. Their petty jealousies will prevent them from seeing this opportunity.

But even with that, some parishes, perhaps between 12-20 will have to close. Salem has already lost one parish this year. Saint John the Baptist Polish parish is the next most likely. That will hurt, because it is the closest parish for us, and one we attend often in the summer because it is air-conditioned. But its congregation is old and small. Saint Thomas is probably next.

None of the parishes are really healthy. Salem's population could probably best be described as "post-Catholic". According to the 2002 Archdiocesan Directory, there are 28,000 Catholics registered as members of the 7 parishes (now six) of a city of roughly 40,000. But the number of people you see in the pews weekly at all the parishes combined would not fill even my own parish, which is a huge structure that can seat 1,400. The principle beneficiary has been the pagan/Wiccan movement, especially among the young. Salem desperately needs one or more Vianneys.

Saint Joseph's has the only school (but a hideous modern church). Saint Anne's is, when you look at the number of funerals compared to the number of baptisms, in the best shape. But it is a tiny parish. Immaculate Conception will probably stay open because it is the historic first parish (in fact the first Catholic parish established outside Boston). Saint James sits on the border between a restricted historic district and post-industrial urban blight. Changes cannot be made to the exterior of the building with out approval of the historic distict's commission, because the building itself fronts the McIntire District. Behind it is a gritty former industrial area that has been unable to attract buyers. So the value of its realty, always a consideration in deciding which parish to close, is restricted. It is also a huge church (which would be a good basis to grow on in the future, or the seat for a regional bishop), and is the historic second parish of Salem. If a fourth Salem parish needs to be closed, I am guessing that Saint Joseph's will be the one (and one of the other parishes will re-open its school).

There is a rocky road ahead. But no one said that cleaning up the Archdiocese's act would be easy or free from pain.

"Remember, Man, That Thou Art Dust, And Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return"

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

I Hope This Is A Hoax
A South Korean newspaper is reporting that US authorities have found the remains of a North Korean missile warhead somewhere in Alaska. The Drudge Report and Lucianne.com are running with the story, though the Anchorage Daily News has nothing on it. If true, it means that North Korea has a greater missile range than we thought. The report does not say that the warhead found was nuclear.

If true, we have urgent business with North Korea after Saddam's regime has been expunged from the earth.

Since we are planning a vacation in Anchorage this July, it would be nice to see this situation resolved before then.

New Lenten Reading
I did go to the Carmelite Gift Shop to pick up some new Lenten reading. I could not find the Father Neuhaus book everyone at Amy's Lenten reading site has been raving about. I did find The Last Seven Words of Christ On the Cross, by Father Christopher Rengers (Tan, 1957), Day By Day Through Lent: Reflections, Prayers, Practices, by Father Daniel Lowery (Ligouri, 1983), and When They Crucified My Lord, by Brother Ramon, SSF (Ligouri, 1999).

For Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, I already had The Day Christ Died, by Jim Bishop. Some year I might pick up A Doctor At Calvary.

I also picked up two more copies of what is, in my opinion, the best version of the Stations of the Cross, Saint Alphonsus Ligouri's. We never have enough of these $1 pamphlets, since Mrs. F. gives them away as prizes for her class.

I think I will also do something mildly subversive, read the pre-Vatican II Saint Joseph's Missal's Propers For the Season (in English) for each day in Lent. Gasp! All that talk about penance, sacrifice, sin, the Devil, and Hell! Well, that is what Lent is supposed to be all about. It is the ideal season for a conservative. It requires recognition that man is not perfect, that his nature is naturally sinful (and only redeemed by the Lord's sacrifice). It requires the recognition of limits. And it incorporates more traditional devotions than any other period, except perhaps Christmastide.

I'm hoping to find a priest who will use the traditional, "Remember, man, that thou are dust, and unto dust thou shalt return," formula tomorrow. And if I am not successful, I will be reminding myself of that silently.

Mark Shea Is Going To Try To Take Catholic & Enjoying It! To Semi-Hiatus For Lent
Regular blogging at Amy and Mark's sites ended within a month. St. Blog's has partially lost its two lodestones in a very short time. Mark's contributions will be sorely missed. I really enjoyed reading his blog. Those of us left will have to work that much harder to take up the slack.

Well, I have no plans to discontinue Verus Ratio. On the contrary, I hope to make it more visually interesting and to add some bells and whistles as circumstances permit. Suggestions welcome.

Amy Welborn Has Created A Blog of Lenten Reading.
Just what I needed.

More Heavy Units Headed For Persian Gulf
Deployment orders have been cut for an additional 60,000 troops, from the 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment (essentially a re-inforced brigade that is independent of any division), the First Cavalry Division, and the First Armoured Division. Essentially, these are the armoured units that would flesh out the army units in Kuwait into two corps. There are currently 230,000 US troops in and around Kuwait. There are around 20,000 British troops in place, with 6,000 more due there in the next few days.

What the additional deployment means is uncertain. The heavy armoured units would be ideal to spearhead an offensive into Iraq, though the "infantry" divisions there are not light. In fact, the distinction between US armoured and mechanized divisions is nominal. An armoured division has 6 tank battalions, and 5 battalions of mechanized infantry. A mechanized infantry division has 6 battalions of mechanized infantry, and 5 tank battalions. By contrast, German panzergrenadier divisons of World War II had a single tank or tank destroyer battalion, and 6-9 battalions of "mobile" infantry, sometimes mounted on bicycles (I'm thinking of the 17 SS Panzergrenadier Division, which we encountered in Normandy in 1944). So our mechanized infantry divisions are really slightly weaker armoured divisions with slightly more armoured infantry. So the forces in place could do the business by themselves. Why the callup for the heavy armour came so late, I have no idea, unless it stems from Secretary Rumsfeld's long-held prejudice against our heavy divisions.

The question is, will the offensive wait the month or more before these units are in place and have shaken down, or will these armoured forces be used as occupation troops, a role they are not well-suited for. I had thought the heavies were being held in reserve for a contingency in the Korean peninsula. Has General Franks finally told the White House that the three divisions+ currently deployed are too small to conquer Iraq quickly and at low cost? Is deployment being delayed because of the very limited air and sea-lift capacity of the United States? It is interesting to note in the article that the bulk of the 4th Infantry Division is still sitting at Fort Hood because of the delay in getting Turkish approval for them to deploy there (they could, of course have deployed to Germany a month ago when first ordered, so that they would be closer to the scene of action).

By the time all forces currently ordered are deployed, the US and Britain will have 330,000 personnel in the region. That includes a quarter of the tiny British Army, and Britain's largest naval task force in 20 years (and that after 12 years of relentless force reductions and consolidations). That is more than enough to do the job in Iraq. In fact, it is a force that should intimidate the opposition into quick surrender. But one comes to the conclusion that the US government is unwisely working on a timetable that stretches out into what, in Iraq, will be the summer. In 1991, we built-up larger forces on a shorter timetable. The anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait was a week ago. We had much longer to start this deployment (indeed it has been in the works since the afternoon of September 11, 2001).

Perhaps the talk of a very quick air campaign was just that. Perhaps the plan is to do much the same as we did in 1991: take 30 days or so to pound the Iraqis from the air, then let the panzers loose. By then, the heavies will be in place.

Shrove Tuesday
Fasting's Eve, Mardi Gras, Carnival, or Shrove Tuesday are names for this day before the beginning of Lent. The great fast of Lent begins tomorrow. Since pre-modern Europe observed what we would call a stringent fast (no meat, or dairy products from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday) the last day for the fast was a time for eating up meat, eggs, cheese, and drinking. The names reflect that reality. The French "Mardi Gras" means "fat Tuesday." The Latin "Carne Vale" means "good-bye meat." The name "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the expectation that the pious would seek to be shriven (to confess) before undertaking the Lenten fast. "Fasting's Eve" is fairly clear.

Shrove Tuesday celebrations are continued to some extent in New Orleans' Mardi Gras. Drinking, feasting, and lewd behaviour were common. But some Shrove Tuesday pastimes have passed away. This used to be a great day for cockthreshing. A cock would be tethered to a pole, and selected participants would hurl stones at it in an effort to knock it down or kill it. It was also a good day for cockfighting, which continued to be popular into the 18th century. PETA-types would probably immolate themselves to stop that if it were common today (common, at least at the top of society).

Football games (we would call it soccer) were common on Shrove Tuesday in England. The difference was that in the 15th century, there were no teams and no rules. A football game was, therefore, a free-for-all. With the participants fueled by large amounts of alcohol and fresh meat, lots of people were injured. But it was all in good fun.

The Shrove Tuesday pancake is a slightly later tradition. The pancake requires milk, eggs, and butter, all of which had to be consumed before Lent started in that age before refrigeration. So the eating of pancakes became a Shrove Tuesday custom. Pancake races started at least 100 years before the Reformation. The Tossing of the Pancake at England's Westminister School is a natual development of the pancake tradition (a large pancake is tossed in part of the refectory, and the boy who comes out of a general scramble with the largest piece is given a reward).

Enjoy this last free day of Carnival. Tomorrow things take on a more sober cast.

Monday, March 03, 2003

The Lepanto Group
Patrick Sweeney of the Extreme Catholic blog has come up with a great idea. It is a list of Catholic blogs which favor US policy regarding the war on terrorism/Iraq. It is called the Lepanto Group, recalling the great victory a papally-sanctioned navy won over the forces of Moslem expansionism (16th century version). I am happy to say that Verus Ratio is part of the Lepanto Group.

Other members are neighbor blogs Bettnet, and Ad Orientem, as well as A Saintly Salmagundi, Classic Catholic, Dust in the Light, Extreme Catholic, Just Your Average Catholic Guy, Mystique et Politique, Blog From the Core, The 7 Habitus, and Ut Unum Sint.

Father Bruce Sibley, Mark Sullivan, Patrick Sweeney, Domenico Bettinelli, John Betts, Bill Cork, Robert Gotcher, Mark Cameron, Justin Katz, E.L. Core, and Ronald of 7 Habitus indeed constitute an excellent company to be in. "We few, we happy few. We band of brothers." In the days to come, I expect the band of brothers to expand, and maybe include a few sisters.

The World Is a Much Less Safe Place...
When 1/4 of the US Army, 1/2 the Navy, more than half the Air Force, and more than half of the Marine Corps are tied up in a single theater of operations. So we need to get this over with. Troops sitting in the Kuwaiti desert are not available for operations elsewhere. The French want to wait until July, or November, or next year. Let them wait. We need to act.

USS Nimitz Sails For Persian Gulf Area
She just finished a complete modernization, including an upgrade of her air wing.

North Korea Is Getting Frisky
From the Dow Jones News Service:
Military sources say as many as four North Korean MiGs intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane over international waters during the weekend, MSNBC reported Monday.

According to the sources, the MiGs came within 500 feet of the U.S. RC-135 plane but didn't act aggressively, MSNBC said.

The network said the incident - the first such intercept since 1969 - happened in international air space over the Korean peninsula.

Some Lessons I Have Learned the Last Few Lents
1) My memory is not what it once was. Last year I set out to memorize Psalm 50/51 during Lent. The objective was to include it in my daily prayers without having to read it off a card. Roughly 20 lines in 61/2 weeks? Should have been a breeze. After all, I took Latin and everyone knows that the secret of doing well in Latin is to memorize large blocks of translated text, so that you can regurgitate them on the test. Besides, I was a history major (and earned a Phi Beta Kappa key for my work in history). Memorizing is the sine qua non of the successful history major. But non sum qualis eram. By Good Friday, I had a tenuous grip on most of the Psalm. But I never got to the point of being word-perfect in it. Now it is mostly gone. I'll have to start over beginning Wednesday. By the way, I never remember to dispose of last year's palms in a timely manner so that they can be used to make ashes for Ash Wednesday. I'm just as guilty on this count this year as in every other.

2) The audience for traditional devotions in Salem is tiny. Actually, I learned that a couple of years ago. The turn-out for Stations and Friday adoration is miniscule. It is depressing that so few turn out, and that of those who do, Mrs. F. and I are the youngest by 20 years or so.

3) I have to leave the curry powder and cayenne pepper out of the tuna salad. Sliced onions and black pepper are enough. Enough said.

4) I get really tired of hummus and pita bread very quickly. I bought a half dozen tubs of various flavors of hummus. I ended up throwing it away. I'm better off sticking to the pasta cheese, egg, and potato dishes I grew up with.

5) I won't lose weight during Lent. Despite all the things I abstain from, I never lose weight during Lent. I'm lucky if I don't gain weight. Exercise would be necessary for weight loss. While I may take some walks around the Common in nice weather, exercise is otherwise a foreign thing. Besides, I am not abstaining in order to lose weight, though it would be a nice side effect. I'm abstaining to mortify the flesh.

6) On the days I abstain from chocolate, I get really cantakerous. If Verus Ratio has been a little bland since Christmas, it is probably because of the presence in the house of a huge supply of chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Keep me away from chocolate, and my mood is negatively impacted.

7) Don't read Cigar Aficianado or Peter Mayle during Lent. My tastes are highly influenced by what I read. If I start reading good articles in Cigar Aficianado or Peter Mayle, for whom good cigars are a daily thing, I develop a craving for cigars. It is, in fact, almost the only time I develop a strong craving for cigars.

8) Lenten devotional reading is pretty thin stuff. I own a few booklets, published by various priests, that contain daily reflections and prayers for Lent. They have titles like Repent, It's Lent, and God's Love In Good Times and Bad. The reflections are very commonplace and highly driven by the PC imperative. But even worse are two by a Father Donders, With Hope In Our Hearts, and Give Me a New Heart. I am still looking for something more substantive and traditional. I have Bishop Sheen's Seven Words To the Cross, but it isn't quite the thing. I read the Lives of the Saints and part of the Psalter everyday already. I may head to the Carmelite Gift Shop at the Northshore Mall tomorrow afternoon to look for something else. If I don't find something that works, I may end up just re-reading My Imitation of Christ. Suggestions welcome.

9) People have very little patience with and openess to deprivation and suffering. A couple of years ago, I saw a lovely crown of thorns for sale in a Catholic gift shop (Andrew Lane in Peabody). It was a life-size crown, and looked quite sharp. I'm not an Opus Dei type who believes in flagellation or even putting such a thing on my own head. I see it as the sort of thing one puts on one's coffee table as a daily reminder of the Lord's suffering. But even Mrs. F. didn't want it in the house (and we shroud all our crucifixes and images of the saints and the Blessed Mother with purple cloth for the duration of Lent). That crown was still in the store on Maundy Thursday. I have not seen it since. People just don't want to have that sort of thing around the house. Reminders of suffering, pain, and deprivation are very unpopular in our materialistic society. Remember how American Catholics as a whole reacted to the ending of year-round meatless Fridays? It was a gigantic sigh of relief, if not cheering. We don't want to feel limited in any way. Even if the limit is very minor.

10) Getting to Church on all three days of the Triduum is not easy. Every year it seems that we determine to get to Mass on Maundy Thursday, the Passion on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday evening. Inevitably, though, one of them drops off the list. Either one of us is not feeling well, or is too tired for it, or a schedule conflict comes up. The best we can do is to resolve to make all three, and hope for the best.

11) What I look forward to most is the Easter Proclamation or Exsultet. Even more so than the Gospel reading, perhaps even more so than the Chirstmas gospel reading, I find it a cause for rejoicing. I anticipate it eagerly.

12) It feels like cheating to have a meal with meat after the Easter Vigil Mass. I know. Once I attend the Vigil Mass, I have met my Easter obligation. Lent is then over for me. Technically, it is Easter for me, and I am free to chow down on whatever meats and other things I have given up for Lent. But it doesn't feel right. I've been abstaining for almost a full 47 days at that point. By the time we get home from the Vigil or get to a restaurant, it is near 10:00 pm. Easter morning is a couple of hours away. I don't want to end my abstinence until after sunrise on Easter morning.

Paul Johnson Is A Gem
Forbes carries his reflections on what we can learn so far from the Iraqi situation.

National Review's Jonah Goldberg Is Diverting
Now he has a line of products out featuring his dog Cosmo saying, "I wish I had an opposable thumb so I could enjoy a nice glass of Glenlivet after a hard day of chasing Jacobin squirrels!"

Bizarre. But good.

WFB On the Albany Diocese Mess
Carried today by TownHall.com.

Diocese Of Manchester In the Scandal Spotlight Today
The New Hampshire Attorney General is releasing a voluminous report today detailing incidents of sexual abuse in that state by priests of the Manchester diocese.

About 9,000 pages are being released. Obviously, I haven't read them yet. The Boston Globe story linked above tells us that the focus of the investigation was on conduct before America's most despicable active bishop, John B. McCormack, took over in 1998 (McCormack's active villainy mostly stems from his career as an Archdiocesan priest and chancery official in Boston, though he has protected some New Hampshire pervert priests as well).

As Wonderful and Heroic As Vaclav Havel Is, His Successor, Vaclav Klaus May Be Even Better
That is what Marian Tupy tells us in today's National Review On Line.

Something To Think About For the Near-Future
National Review On Line's Stanley Kurtz raises the prospect of a likely war with North Korea. Obviously, that will have to wait until the Iraqi situation is over. But North Korea may not give us that option.

The North Korean situation may end up driving the Iraqi timetable. We need a quick resolution in Iraq, so that forces can be re-deployed for a confrontation with North Korea. That means the sooner we can deal with Iraq, the better. The Administration said back in January (!) that the decision on Iraq was a matter of weeks, not months. It is now a matter of days, not weeks. Turkey's holding us up for weeks, and then finally saying no is especially galling. It is particularly galling because, while a two-front war is desirable, it is by no means essential. Just write-off the Turkish gambit as time wasted, and get the job done as well as we can, before it is too late to act effectively. Before Iraq's partner in the Axis of Evil, North Korea, strikes.

Not Taking Out Iraq Could Cost a Lot More Than Doing So
The very liberal Brookings Institute has come out with a study on the cost in lives and treasure that we could suffer in another terrorist attack. Around 10,000 could die in an attack on a US nuclear power plant. A hundred thousand could die if a small nuke is detonated in a densely populated city. The economic dislocation could cause a loss of $750 billion, perhaps even a trillion. it cost $42 million to clean up 2 ounces of athrax at the US Senate offices. The Fox News writer connects these costs directly as a possible consequence of not taking on Iraq.

In fairness, I will point out that these things could happen even if we take Saddam out now. It is not a sure thing that destroying Saddam's regime means that these things will never happen. They may happen despite it, or may even be triggered by it (by pre-arrangement by Iraqi intelligence or al Qaeda, or the two acting together). There are no sure things. But giving Saddam's regime its deserved quietus makes the chances of this smaller in the long term. The probabilities are that if we replace the current regime in Iraq with a more pacifistic one, one more concerned with the welfare of the Iraqi people, and less concerned with becoming a regional superpower, the chances of this happening to us are lower. It is one more step in draining the swamp in which al Qaeda and other entities thrive. But it is a necessary one.

One aspect of the economic impact that the Fox News story does not touch is the uncertainty that is sending prices for petroleum products skyrocketing, and depressing the equities markets. The Dow is substantially lower now than shortly after September 11th. Historically, the market declines on war speculation, and rallies on the beginning of hostilities. As I pointed out the other day, President Bush needs gasoline at $1.20 per gallon or less, and the Dow around 9,000 or more to be re-elected next year. Those benchmarks can only be reached by getting the Iraq business over with soon.

Faster, please, as Michael Ledeen says.

A Much Less Honorable List
FrontPage Magazine today also provides a list of the Ten Most Dishonorable Americans. I was surprised to see no Lifetime Achievement Award for traitor Jane Fonda.

Surveying the Celiberal.com List of Non-Leftists
Celiberal.com offers a list of the usual suspects (the Hollywood Left). But it also has a list of the entertainment industry's more conservative members. There are some surprising names on the list (I'm not sure what the criteria were):
BB King
Bruce Boxleitner
Cheryl Ladd
Crystal Gale
Danny Aiello
Delta Burke
Dennis Hopper
Drew Carey
Hank Williams, Jr.
Heather Locklear
James Earl Jones
Jean-Claude van Damme
John Malkovich
Kathy Ireland
Kelsey Grammer
Kevin Costner (?) (!)
Kirk Cameron
Kurt Russell
LL Cool J
Morgan Freeman
Montel Williams (?)
Rick Schroeder
Robert Duvall
Sean Astin
Shannen Doherty
Susan Lucci
Tracy Scoggins
Vince Gill
Yaphet Kotto
Yo-Yo Ma

Everybody knew about Wayne Newton, Bo Derek, Tom Selleck, the action-movie stars, Shirley Temple Black, Lee Greenwood, Tom Clancy, Charles Barkley, and Ben Stein. Tom Wolfe should be on the list, too.

The pundits like Rush, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Cal Thomas, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Michael Medved, Oliver North, P.J. O'Rourke probably belong in a different category. After all, most of them are "conservative pundits." If them, why not WFB, George Will, Pete du Pont, and Peggy Noonan?

But a few of the names really set me back a bit. Kevin Costner? Robert Duvall? John Malkovich? Morgan Freeman? Who knew? Are they really conservatives, or just not card-carrying socialists? Is the criteria that they are not bed-wetting anti-war pacifists?

Still, as the people who compiled Celiberal.com hope, patronize the products of the folks on the list of conservative celebrities. Shun the Hollywood left's products.

Some Of the Entertainment Right Are Beginning to Find Their Voice
FrontPage Magazine carries an article by Paul Bond, today. Bond tells us that some in the entertainment industry are beginning to respond to the Hollywood left. But they are not the people you might think. Schwarzenegger, Eastwood, Willis, Stallone, Norris, Gibson, and Sajak are still silent. But Ted Nugent and Charlie Daniels are not. Nor are Fred Thompson, Dennis Miller (who used to be a liberal), someone called "Kid Rock," Darryl Worley, and James Woods. If Ahnold ever wants a Republican nomination for anything in California, he ought to speak up soon.

Saint Katharine Drexel
Katharine Drexel (b. 1858) was the daughter of the very prominent Drexel family, one of Philadelphia's most important. She took a keen interest in charity for blacks and Indians. She donated money, but understood that personal involvement was required. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. From the age of 33, she devoted herself (and a fortune of $20 million) to the cause. She opened the first mission school for Indian children in Santa Fe in 1894. She opened more schools, with schools for Indians west of the Mississippi, and schools for black children in the South.In 1915, she founded Xavier University in New Orleans. At her death in 1955 there were 500 sisters in her order teaching in 63 schools. She was beatified by John Paul II in 1988, and canonized in 2000.

Very Cold And Windy Today
But day broke well before 6:00 am. That is a promising sign.

Collop Monday
Originally, "collop" meant only a dish of fried eggs and bacon. But it came to mean slices or steaks or chops of meat of all kinds. Because of the stringent fasting and abstinence requirements of pre-Vatican II Lents, traditional European society consumed the existing meat and dairy stocks in a huge celebration known as Shrovetide or Carinval, the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The meat and dairy products could not be eaten for six and a half weeks, and could not be frozen or refrigerated as we would do today. So, a huge feast was held to finish off meats so that they would not go to waste. Monday before Ash Wednesday was a day for eating collops of meat, especially, though eating as much meat as possible would have taken place on all the days of Shrovetide.

In our house this year, since I give up meat for Lent, we finished off the bacon and sausage over the weekend (and enjoyed a nice dinner of prime rib washed down with Drambuie). Some sirloin tips and some chicken breasts remain for tonight and tomorrow night. Then, it is good-bye to all that 'til Easter Sunday's ham.

Another Pearl Harbor In the Making?
The Washington Times' Bill Gertz reports this morning that al Qaeda may be planning to hijack planes shortly after take-off from Honalulu International and crash them into nuclear-powered submarines or ships based at Pearl Harbor. It occurs to me that they could much more easily stow away on, or replace the crew of a cargo jet than a passenger plane.

If plans like this are out there, why did the feds lower the alert level?

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Today was Sunday in Shrovetide, and Quinquagesima Sunday, In Case You Were Wondering

No Bottom
The human shields start to give up and go home long before the missiles start flying.

Pius XII
Pope Pius XII was born on this date in 1876.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?