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From Selected Sources
BY Jim Cosgrove
Religion in the Workplace
BUSINESS WEEK, Nov. 1-“A spiritual revival is sweeping across Corporate America as executives of all stripes are mixing mysticism into their management, importing into office corridors the lessons usually doled out in churches, temples and mosques,” wrote Michelle Conlon in a cover story on religious openness at some of America's top businesses.
“Companies such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and subsidiaries of Wal-Mart Stores are hiring Army-style chaplains who come in any religious flavor requested.
“Members of these 24-hour God squads visit employees in hospitals, deal with nervous breakdowns and respond to suicide threats. They'll even say the vows on a worker's wedding day or deliver the eulogy at her funeral. If America's chief executives had tried any of this 10 years ago, they probably would have inspired ridicule and maybe even ostracism,” Conlon said.
Company Orders Woman to Stop Talking Nice
CONSERVATIVE NEWS SERVICE, Nov. 10—A woman who was ordered to stop saying “Have a blessed day” at work has sued the company that threatened to fire her, the online news service reported.
Liz Anderson of USF Logistics in Indianapolis, who was named office employee of the year in 1998, filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission Nov. 9. She has worked for USF Logistics for more than three years. In June her employers told her to either stop telling coworkers to “Have a blessed day” or face termination. Anderson agreed to stop, but then obtained a lawyer, Kevin Betz, who said the company impinged on her religious freedom. “This was a religious practice of hers based on her Christianity,” Betz said. He added that her employer must accommodate Anderson “so long as to do so is not an undue hardship to the business,” the news service reported.
Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Bigotry
CNN.com, Nov. 10-Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer called discrimination against Catholics “one of the last socially acceptable prejudices left in America,” in a speech at St. Anselm's College in Manchester, N.H., the cable news network's online service reported.
“Today, the establishment clause has been turned on its head and has become the enemy of Americans’ right to freely exercise their faith,” Bauer said, “Expressions of anti-Catholic bigotry not only abound but are tolerated, especially by the cultured elite, often in the name of free expression or artistic license.
“Apparently, if those impermissible nativity scenes were decorated with dung, then they would be constitutional, “Bauer said, in reference to the recent controversy surrounding the Brooklyn Museum of Art's exhibit Sensation.
“An attack on a Jewish community center in Los Angeles was immediately labeled a hate crime”, Bauer said. “But when seven people were killed at choir practice in a Baptist church in Texas,” he added, “the media was very reluctant to call it a hate crime,” CNN.com reported.
From Selected Source
BY Jim Cosgrove
Kansas City Paper Goes After Celibates
CATHOLIC LEAGUE, Nov. 4—The Kansas City Star has commenced a sex survey of Roman Catholic priests, and now the Catholic League has decided to follow suit by issuing its own survey of the newspaper's staff. On October 15, Mark Zieman, editor and vice president of the Kansas City Star, sent a letter to Roman Catholic priests, all of whom were randomly selected from the 1999 Kenedy Official Catholic Directory, explaining the nature of the confidential survey; the survey only addresses HIV and AIDS. Our survey, personally addressed to each staff person, was sent to managing editor Steve Shirk for distribution.
“We have come to understand that the disease also had a devastating impact on groups whose members are unable to speak up about the difficulties they have endured,” wrote Zieman. The Catholic League fully agrees and this explains our interest in exploring the sex lives of Zieman's staff. William Donohue, Catholic League president, commented as follows: “I knew my doctorate in sociology would come in handy in this job some day. Being journalists, the reporters and editors at the Kansas City Star know nothing about objectivity, and that is why no control group was used in their survey. We have provided one by drawing on the journalists… this is also indicative of our commitment to inclusiveness.
“The language we used is almost identical to the newspaper's survey. But there were some changes. For example, instead of asking, ‘Do you know priests with HIV or AIDS?’, we asked, ‘Do you know any journalist who doesn't have HIV or AIDS?’ And so on. Our objective was also stated somewhat differently: ‘Our objective is to undermine your efforts at Peeping-Tom journalism. By getting our survey out first, we hope to submarine your newspaper's voyeuristic invasion of the privacy of Catholic priests.' Alas, we hope the newspaper appreciates our inquiry.”
Scholar and Rabbi Dispute Biography of Pius XII
THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 3—In his book Hitler's Pope, Vanity Fair writer David Cornwell writes that he was sent into a state of “moral shock” upon reading a letter written by the future Pope Pius XII about young Bolshevik demonstrators. According to the Times, the tone of the letter has not shocked other scholars, “who note that Pacelli's description of Jewish Communists, while not especially enlightened, was hardly uncommon 80 years ago.” The article continues, “There are Jewish scholars who dispute Mr. Cornwell's thesis. But they also reject the Vatican view of Pius XII. ‘Pius XII was not an anti-Semite,’” the Times quotes Rabbi Jack Bemporad, the director of the New Jersey-based Center for Interfaith Understanding, as saying. “He didn't publicly protest the deportation of Jews, but he also didn't speak out against the slaughter of Catholic priests in Poland. He believed it was more prudent and effective to be quiet.”
The article also quotes Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, head of the cause for Pope Pius's beatification. “Father Gumpel said his only criterion in his investigation was whether Pius XII lived ‘the theological virtues to a heroic or outstanding degree’ one of the official conditions for sainthood.”
But, Father Gempel added, “after having studied more than 100,000 documents written by him [Pope Pius XII] and written on him, so far I really have come to the conclusion that there is nothing against the cause. And, on the contrary, I agree that the man deserves to be beatified,” the Times article said.
From selected sources
BY Jim Cosgrove
‘Basics’ of the Faith Draw Thousands
DENVER ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, Sept. 6—Speaking to an audience of some 3,000, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput initiated Back to Basics, a nine-month program of talks that he will give on the Catholic faith, according to a report in the Denver daily newspaper.
“Like the biblical 5,000 who stormed a hillside hungry for loaves and fishes, [the event] looked like a testament to another kind of hunger — for meaningful, truth-filled faith,” observed religion writer Jean Torkelson.
Archdiocesan officials were not certain how many people would be interested in the series, and only set up folding chairs for 200. They were happily surprised when the auditorium of the John Paul II Center — the archdiocese's chancery office and new seminary — filled to overflowing, wrote Torkelson.
“The idea began after a Catholic publishing house, Servant Publications, asked Archbishop Chaput to write a book reflecting on next year's [Great] Jubilee,” reported Torkelson. “Archbishop Chaput told the crowd, yes, he's writing the book and what's more, ‘You're going to help.’”
The book will be based on the 90-minute forums, split evenly between the prelate's formal remarks and the question and answer periods that will follow.
Torkelson placed the encounter within the context of a national Catholic revival that has been apparent in Denver for some time.
She wrote: “Consider one listener, Kevin Augustyn, 22. The handsome, 6-foot-2-inch man from Fort Wayne, Ind., is one of 72 future priests enrolled at the new seminary.
“As a kid, none of his peers took Catholicism
seriously … Then in high school his faith exploded as he met
teens ‘standing up and witnessing, who loved Christ and the Church.’ That kind of robust Catholicism ‘was a revolution — I mean, a revelation,’ Augustyn said, correcting himself. Maybe he had it right the first time.”
Churches Get Scammed
REUTERS, Sept. 2—Securities regulators are warning that churches have increasingly been targeted for financial scams, reported the wire service.
The North American Securities Administration Association is warning religious groups to be wary of con artists attempting to gain trust by appealing to their faith, said Reuters in a story on how a number of religious groups have been fooled in recent months.
Cases reported by the wire service include a financial consultant who cheated 30 senior citizens out of $6 million, gaining their trust by espousing Christian values. Another man raised money from local churches for a fake telephone company that supposedly was minority-owned and operated.
In Florida, Reuters said, seven people from Greater Ministries International Church will go on trial for money laundering and mail fraud. The group may have cheated 17,000 people, many of them Christians, out of nearly $200 million.
“Just because someone in church, even the minister, said something about an investment is so, doesn't make it so,” said the Securities Administration's Bradley Kolnik. “Be very skeptical of returns that sound too good to be true, because they probably are.”
Prayer Revolution at High School Football Games
LOS ANGELES TIMES, Sept. 4—The last-minute ruling of a federal court judge allowed a 17-year-old student to lead a prayer before the start of a high school football game in Santa Fe, Texas, Sept. 3.
Asking for a safe game and goodwill in the audience, Marian Lyn Ward concluded her invocation “in Jesus' name,” said Times reporter Claudia Kolker. “Almost instantly, the audience rose to its feet to roar and clap its approval.”
She added: “The bleachers were packed to show support for the right to have an invocation.”
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had previously decreed that prayer could be used to “solemnify” Santa Fe High's graduations — but that football games lacked the “singularly serious nature” to merit public prayer. Even prayers before graduation, the court ruled, had to be nonsectarian and non-proselytizing.
“The dispute has reverberated far beyond Santa Fe. Effective in Louisiana and Arkansas as well as Texas, the ban on football game prayer provoked several instances of civil disobedience in Texas, where pregame prayers are a longtime tradition,” said Kolker.
Kolker said some observers “believe hundreds of other schools planned defiance of the appellate ruling during this football season, ranging from football game invocations to mass recitations of the Lord's Prayer.”
Hours before Ward's prayer at the Santa Fe game, though, in response to a lawsuit filed on her behalf, a U.S. district judge in Houston granted a temporary restraining order, barring the Santa Fe school from punishing her if she defied the previous court's ruling by giving a prayer.
Judge Sim Lake said the district guidelines “favor atheism over any religion” and therefore amounted to “state-sponsored atheism.”
From selected sources
BY Jim Cosgrove
Lawn Shrines Express Cajun Love for Mary
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Aug. 13-In a colorful exposition of Cajun Catholic life in South Louisiana, reporter Ken Wells featured a lawn ornament business to illustrate the region's devotion to the Blessed Mother.
In a story headlined “At D&D Ornamental, the Real Madonna is the Star of the Lot,” Wells tells the story of Michael DuBois and his growing business and his inventory of both religious and secular outdoor statuary.
Statues of Mary, however, have been responsible for 70% of his business, ever since DuBois, 40, established his company in 1985.
“To understand why this is a business at all, drive along any of the scenic byways of South Louisiana's Cajun belt. In many towns in this French-influenced, heavily Catholic region, every third or fourth house will have a lawn shrine — typically a small statue of Mary,” said Wells.
“We don't worship the Blessed Mother,” said Zam Tregle, a Cajun entrepreneur and one of DuBois's customers. “But we do venerate her.”
Msgr. Joseph Latino, pastor of St. Francis De Sales Cathedral in Houma, said Cajun Catholics display their religiosity with lawn shrines about as naturally as Midwesterners demonstrate their patriotism by flying a flag from the front porch. “These shrines are often put up in the belief that a favor has been granted,” he told the Journal.
“Folklorists say some of the first lawn shrines began appearing in South Louisiana after the Battle of New Orleans in 1815,” said Wells. With the city under siege by a larger British force, Andrew Jackson reportedly visited a convent of Ursuline nuns and asked them to pray to Mary for help. Concluded Wells: “The nuns said their prayers, Jackson's forces quickly routed the British, and shrines went up everywhere [in gratitude] to Our Lady of Prompt Succor.”
Misunderstood Artist or Anti-Catholic Bigot?
MILWAUKEE SENTINEL JOURNAL, Aug. 13-Artist Robert Kox “was dumbfounded when told about allegations” of anti-Catholic bigotry stemming from his “To Hell and Back” exhibit of paintings and sculptures, according to a story by reporter Tom Heinen in the Milwaukee daily. “He wondered if [Catholic] League officials read the explanations that accompany his works.”
Heinen continued: “In many cases, the artwork draws upon biblical warnings and represents Satan disguised as Mary or Jesus. In some others, it warns against worship of Mary as an idol.”
“They've just got things totally turned around,” Kox told the reporter.
It's difficult to square the brief explanation of Kox's purposes with the contents of the exhibit, which Heinen listed as including:
— “The Virgin Mary depicted as the “Great Harlot.” Christ labeled the ‘Son of Perdition.’
— “Christ wearing a necklace with the satanic symbol “666.”
— “A headless statue of Mary with “black filth” running out of her Immaculate Heart.
— “What the [Catholic League] calls blasphemous misuse of rosary beads, medals, crucifixes, scapulars and votive candles.”
The museum featuring the exhibit, Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, Wis., is operated by Brown County, which pays for maintenance and operation. “But all exhibit costs are paid for with funds raised by the nonprofit board, which also approves exhibits,” said Heinen.
“Representatives of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay have seen the exhibit,” added Heinen, “but Bishop Robert J. Banks declines to comment and recommends that people with complaints contact the museum.”
Bishop Explains Vatican Ban on New Ways Founders
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Aug. 14-In an interview with Utah's statewide newspaper, Salt Lake City Bishop George H. Niederauer explained that the Vatican's termination of a long-running, controversial ministry to homosexuals is not rejection by the Church of its members with same-sex attractions.
Rather, the decision to end the ministry of Father Robert Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick was finally forced by the pair's dissent from Church teaching, specifically the teaching that homosexual acts are immoral.
“It was not a condemnation of their general sensitivity toward and compassion [for] people struggling with their sexuality,” Bishop Niederauer told reporter Bob Mims. “The Church has always made a distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual acts.”
“The Church recognizes [sexuality's] goodness and value in all human lives, but this power is to be used only in the context of a stable relationship between a man and a woman,” he added.
Bishop Niederauer, ordinary of the 100,000-member diocese that includes all of Utah, said “loving the sinner but hating the sin” is not a self-righteous cliché, but a rule of thumb for all Christians to follow.
“The Church needs to continue to be a loving companion and guide to people as they struggle with all the ideals of the Christian life,” he said. Still, Christian love does not mean “indiscriminate acceptance” of all behaviors, he said. “That's not true of parents of children or the Church. Parents are not being unloving when they say you shouldn't do this or do that,” the bishop said.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Not a Pope Newsweek Would Want
NEWSWEEK, May 31—The national magazine included an item that leveled a cheap shot at the Vatican's Cardinal Francis Arinze. His crime: propagating the teachings of Pope John Paul II. The cardinal's fall from grace occurred at Wake Forest University where he gave this year's commencement address at the graduation of his nephew, Niki Arinze, a player on the university's basketball team. “On everyone's short list of papal candidates, Arinze, 66, makes about three U.S. visits a year — far more than John Paul II prior to his 1978 election,” said the magazine's The Buzz section. The reader might assume that a lack of a thorough knowledge of the U.S. is probably why the Pope is so out of step with American thinking, at least of the type approved by Newsweek. “In his address, Arinze used terms — “solidarity,” universal destination of created good, straight from the current Pope's phrasebook. The face is African, but so far Arinze,s ideas are papal deja vu all over again.”
Should an African Catholic who regularly visits the U.S. hold views at odds with a Catholic from Poland who has been to these shores only rarely? While Newsweek may be let down, Cardinal Arinze's identification with the Pope's thinking is exactly why many American Catholics consider him a suitable successor.
Visit to Romania Has ‘Great Value’
THE TOLEDO BLADE, May 22—In addition to the worldwide implications for Catholic-Orthodox relations, Pope John Paul II's recent visit to Romania has born sound ecumenical fruit in the United States — despite difficulties caused by America's conflict with Serbia, an Orthodox nation, according to a Blade story. “It will not mean an immediate solution to the differences [between the churches], but as a symbolic encounter, … it has great value,” said Father Leonid Kishkovsky, ecumenical officer for the Orthodox Church in America, told the Blade. Bishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in the U.S. said he viewed the Pope,s trip as a positive development in the quest for understanding between the two churches. The paper reported that a Catholic-Orthodox dialogue that has met in the U.S. since 1965 may finalize a common statement on mutual recognition of sacraments at its upcoming meeting June 1–3 at St.Vladimir,s Orthodox Seminary in New York. However, an international Catholic-Orthodox dialogue scheduled to meet in June in Maryland for the first time since 1993, has been postponed for a year because of the war in Kosovo. “Serbian and other Balkan Orthodox leaders reportedly are reluctant to be away from home during the war and also to visit the chief member country of NATO, which is bombing Orthodox Serbs,” said the Blade.
From Selected Sources
BY Jim Cosgrove
Philly on Fire with Evangelization
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, May 16—Philadelphians are still reaping the benefits of Lent's Reconciliation Weekend and its other successful evangelization programs, according to the Inquirer's Mary Beth McCauley. Officials estimated that 35% of the 100,000 who took part in the weekend were returning to the Church, often after decades away. Others were practicing Catholics who had neglected or did not understand the importance of sacramental penance. “The blitz of publicity for the weekend had made clear that long lapsed penitents … would get a welcome …,” said McCauley. The 1,100 priests who heard the confessions did not know what to expect going into the weekend, "and few emerged unaffected.” “I was in the midst of a miracle,” said Msgr. Joseph Marino. “People were touched by the invitation … they were touched by the Holy Spirit, by peace and tranquility.” So too, the priest. “There were moments when there were tears running down my face,” he said. “This is exactly why we were ordained” The reconciliation event followed introduction of a toll-free telephone service, 1–877-BLESSME line, “another successful and singular evangelization effort,” said McCauley. About 17,000 people have taken advantage of the opportunity to talk anonymously to a priest via the service.
An interactive website, www.blessme.org, has received 11,000 hits and counting.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia also requires that each of its parishes have an evangelization program of its own choosing.
TV Report on Confession ‘Smacks of an Agenda’
WFOR, May 16—CBS's Miami affiliate featured a story on its late news about the sacrament of reconciliation that highlighted the fact that many Catholics no longer go to confession. Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights President Bill Donohue noted that the story was heavily promoted during the movie that preceded the news, Joan of Arc, helping to capture a large Catholic audience. The news feature included scenes of sacramental confession as depicted in two other movies, Moonstruck and Mortal Sins, “thus adding to the triviality of the report,” said Donohue. The report, he said, conveyed that Catholics who do not go to confession have made a valid choice because it suits their own tastes. Donohue objected to “the forced symmetry that is so popular with some segments of the media, namely the strategy that puts Catholics who reject Church teachings on the same ground as Catholics who are loyal to the Church. This smacks of an agenda - not an honest inquiry.”
Promise Keepers for Couples
USA TODAY, May 20—An organization with goals similar to those of the Christian-based Promise Keepers - except with couples, not just men - will hold four rallies this summer and fall to promote a commitment to marriage and family, reported the national newspaper's Karen S. Peterson, Twenty-four groups with a total membership of about 31 million have formed the Convenant Marriage Movement, including Promise Keepers, Focus on the Family and the Christian Men's Movement. “Couples attending the conferences will be asked to sign a “covenant marriage, document pledging steadfast love and sexual purity,” said Peterson.
From selected publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
George and Abe Were Not Bill
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Feb. 11 — An opinion piece by Marvin Olasky of the University of Texas cited several examples of 1998 media attacks on the character of past presidents:
“Bill's in Good Company ... Top Contenders for a Rushmore of Cheaters,” said the New York Daily News. “Cases of Presidential Philandering Are Hardly Exceptional,” said Newsday, in an article that pointed to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — America's most revered presidents — as culprits.
Olasky did acknowledge some evidence that Washington and Lincoln had amorous, but not sexual, proclivities in their youth, but said both were models of marital fidelity.
He added, “Washington could not tell a lie when marital vows and legal oaths were involved,” and pointed out that Washington stayed true to his wife, Martha, for 41 years — despite eight years spent at war.
Lincoln always “put out the fires of his terrible passion,” as his law partner is quoted saying. Olasky recounted one incident where a friend sent a prostitute to him whom Lincoln was able to refuse. Later, when he was married, he stayed true to his wife through 23 years of marriage, even though she is considered mentally unstable by some and “once chased her husband down a Springfield street with a knife,” said Olasky.
Protestants Toughen Marriage Standards
USA TODAY, Feb. 11 — With one out of two newlywed couples facing divorce, a burgeoning “marriage movement” among Protestants is seeking creative ways to address the problem, USA Today reported.
In Florida, the problem is worse. There, three out of five marriages end in divorce, said Gov. Jeb Bush, a Catholic, according to the report. He has endorsed a “community marriage policy” that would link clergy of different faiths together in a common effort to save marriage.
“Clergy who endorse a marriage policy agree to establish minimum standards for a couple about to wed. The requirements can be modified by any religious community,” said the paper.
The plan has been adopted by 100 cities across the nation, and is the brainchild of Mike McManus, founder of the successful Marriage Savers program, said the article. McManus cites statistics that he says show that in counties that adopted the marriage policy in 1995, divorces have fallen about 35%.
But the paper quoted one skeptic: family issues author David Blankenhorn said “these claims just cry out for outside evaluation from accredited scholars.” He added that he admires McManus' work and supports the program.
Some Evangelicals Reject Contraception
CITIZEN, January — Evangelical Protestants are starting to embrace a Catholic understanding of birth control, if Focus on the Family's magazine Citizen is any indication.
In November the magazine published an article suggesting that Christians should avoid the pill. One reader agreed in a recent letter to the editor.
“Bravo for your challenge to Christian couples. ... We hear many messages about trusting God in the arena of finances, healing ... etc., but encouragement to trust God in the area of family planning is either rare or nonexistent” in evangelical churches, she wrote.
“My husband and I were led to relinguish birth control to God's control almost seven years ago, and God has added two precious babies to our family in that time. But I still grieve over the children we missed out on in earlier years because we followed the example of the world and Christians deceived by the world, rather than searching out God's heart on the matter.
“We also wonder if the lack of major progress for the pro-life movement isn't rooted in the contraceptive mentality. Evangelicals say that children are a gift from God, and yet in our own way (contraception) we also reject those gifts. The ‘slippery slope’ of devaluing human life did not begin with abortion; it began when the masses — including Christians — accepted Margaret Sanger's anti-child and pro-birth control philosophies.” Sanger founded Planned Parenthood.
FROM SELECTED PUBLICATION
BY Jim Cosgrove
&APOS;Sleeping In’ is Symbolic Excuse for Lapsed Catholics
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Jan. 17— “Is it possible for former Catholics to reconcile with a church that they feel is too rich, too harsh, tainted by scandal or chained to moral positions the rest of society abandoned decades ago?”
That was a question posed to Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua in an Inquirerstory that featured the successful efforts of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to re-evangelize lapsed Catholics. “I've heard them all,”said Cardinal Bevilacqua of the familiar litany of complaints against the Church. But archdiocesan studies found that personal disagreements or bad experiences were not the primary reasons for departures from the Church.
A chief finding was summed up by the cardinal as “I like to sleep in on Sunday mornings,”but which also reflects the impact of affluence and a culture that is wary of moral absolutes and has a diminished sense of sin.
The story highlighted lay evangelization efforts in Philadelphia and the archdiocese's 1-877-BLESS-ME program in which the public can speak to a priest any time of the day or night. More than 6,000 calls have been made to the line since it began in November.
Do Catholics Have a Better Language for Politics?
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Jan. 29—Evangelical Protestants should step aside and let Catholics articulate the Christian message in politics, says Journal columnist William McGurn. This is important, he argues, because Catholics are a key “swing” vote without which conservative Christians cannot succeed.
Observing that evangelicals too often slip into fire and brimstone rhetoric that comes off as harsh, “the natural-law tradition of Catholics does not suffer from this … handicap,” wrote McGurn. “The oft-noted fact that some of [President] Clinton's most effective moral critics have been Catholics has … to do with … a tradition that insists on objective moral truth while recognizing that we all occasionally fall short.”
A more “Catholic” moral approach does not risk Protestant defection. McGurn contended: “A more visible Catholic voice within the party might help Republicans to address many of their hot-button issues in a way that would retain their evangelical base but resonate better with the rest of America.”
From selected publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
Personal Touch Is Key to Vocations
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jan. 17—The AP reported that, “While many dioceses use modern techniques like advertising, Catholic clergy say the old-fashioned, personal approach favored by [Boston's Bernard Cardinal] Law will be the key to rejuvenating the priesthood.”
Cardinal Law has personally hosted a number of weekends for men who are considering the priesthood. Of the 52 men who attended the first two retreats, 10 have entered the seminary and others are considering it.
Cardinal Law's model on the vocations front is the newly installed bishop of West Palm Beach, Fla., Anthony J. O'Connell (see Page 1 article). Bishop O'Connell was the first bishop of Knoxville, Tenn., established in 1988. The new bishop surprised his flock by announcing that he would serve as his own vocations director, personally screening and directing candidates toward seminary admission. The results include 23 ordinations over the bishop's 11-year tenure in one of the smallest dioceses in the country, and one in which only 2% of the general population is Catholic.
“A study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University showed Knoxville had the highest ratio of priests to Catholics — 1 in 3,610 — in the nation,” AP reported.
Bishop O'Connell has been invited to come back to Knoxville early this summer to ordain this year's class of six new priests.
Diocese Calls Events Surrounding Teen a Mystery
BOSTON GLOBE, Jan. 22—Unexplained phenomena surrounding a 15-year-old comatose girl have been described as mysterious by the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., which will continue to investigate the case of Audrey Santo.
“The Church said that only faith, so far, can supply answers that science has yet to fathom,” wrote the Globe's Thomas Farraher. “That is the core of the report … on the case of Santo, who lies … in the back room of a cream-colored home, where hundreds say they have found God's special inter-cession,” wrote Farraher. He reported that Worcester's Bishop Daniel P. Reilly “delicately implored Catholics not to unreasonably seek tangible proof of heaven on earth.”
The Globe reported the Santo family has cooperated with the investigation and counts on the Church's guidance. There has also been no attempt to gain financially by the situation, even though thousands visit the home every year with many reporting healings.
Audrey has been paralyzed and mute since nearly drowning in her family's swimming pool in 1987.
Dr. John P. Madonna, a member of the diocesan commission, said that blood on Communion wafers that had been consecrated in the Santo home is human blood of unknown type that does not match any family members.
“As for oil from statues,” Farraher quotes Madonna: “We tried to determine what was really promoting the emission of fluids, and we found nothing that we could consider trickery.”
In comments attached to the preliminary report, Bishop Reilly said: “The most striking evidence of the presence of God in the Santo homes is seen in the dedication of the family to Audrey. Their constant respect for her dignity as a child of God is a poignant reminder that God touches our lives through the love and devotion of others.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Denver, Technology and the Church
A Vatican-sponsored summit on “The New Technologies and the Human Person” will be held March 26-28 in Denver.
At the conference, “top Roman Catholic officials will gather … to wrestle with the weighty issue of communication technology's impact on religion,” according to the Denver Business Journal (Dec. 22, 1997).
“Denver was a natural site for such an event,” according to Francis Maier, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver. Bishops worldwide think fondly of the city since 1993's World Youth Day, staged at Cherry Creek Reservoir and officiated by Pope John Paul II.
“Probably most important, though, is Denver's status as a hub of telecommunications and computer technology because of companies such as Tele-Communications Inc., Jones Intercable Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Sun Microsystems Inc. ‘We have tremendous resources along those lines, unrivaled by virtually anyplace in the country…’ Maier said.”
Speakers at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications-affiliated conference include: computer industry analyst Esther Dyson; Charles Geschke, president of Adobe Systems Inc.; Greg Liptak, president of Jones International Networks; James Bailey, “futurist and author”; Steve Schovee, OneCom founder and president of the venture capital fund Telecom Partners; and Ted Henderson, industry researcher at investment banking firm Janco Partners.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Niece Criticizes Disney
Alveda King, daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s brother, the Rev. Alfred King, is a political activist, like her uncle. But unlike some members of her famous family, she opposes abortion and affirmative action and favors school vouchers, according to The Washington Times, (Dec. 19).
In fact, her views are so unpopular in the family that Dexter King, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, refused to comment on her—even though she is a member of the Center's board of advisors.
King for America, an organization that Alveda King founded, has taken on many foes, but none so formidable as the Walt Disney Co. “As a mother, I relied on Disney,” she was quoted saying. “It was always a safe haven.”
She changed her mind first because of the content of recent cartoons but then her group, “expressed concern about Disney departing from family values,” she said.
King for America met early in the summer with Disney Senior Vice President John Cooke.
“[W]e talked about Ellen with them and Nothing Sacred was coming up. I said ‘John, I feel betrayed.’”
The paper also noted that King takes offense at those who draw parallels between race and homosexuality, as if the two were equivalent.