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BY Jim Cosgrove
College Woman Speaks Out Against Pornography
USA TODAY, Oct. 19-Kimberly Palmer, a junior at Amherst College, wrote an editorial in the Oct. 19 edition of USA Today in which she laments an increase in the consumption of pornographic materials among men her age.
Porn consumption has its immediate effects, Palmer said. Women begin to sense men treating them as objects, and men find it difficult to enter into relationships without perverse expectations and disordered impulses. Palmer noted the ease with which filth now proliferates by way of the Internet, and called on men to take control of themselves for their own sake and for sake of the women they court.
Splinter Group to Build Church in Denver
DENVER POST, Oct. 16-The schismatic Society of St. Pius X is building a Church outside Denver, the Denver daily reported.
Its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated by Pope John Paul II in 1988 for ordaining priests without the blessing of the Church, Members of the Church, which will be named St. Isidore the Farmer, have raised $800,000 for the project. The cornerstone was laid on Oct. 17, and workers plan to finish the large cruciform Church by next summer.
Society priest Joseph Pfeiffer, the pastor of St. Isidore's, says the Society will eventually open a primary education school on the site. The original Church is located in downtown Denver, which claims 300 Society members.
A spokesman for Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput has reaffirmed the Church's condemnation of the Society, which chooses to operate outside the control of its local ordinary and refuses to accept the validity of the revised Mass. Masses at St. Isidore's will be said according to the Tridentine rite exclusively.
Feminist Atheist Blasts Brooklyn Exhibit
SALON, Oct. 6-Camille Paglia is best known for her controversial books that challenge traditional — and contemporary — orthodoxies. In her biweekly column for Salon, she had some negative words to say about the Brooklyn Museum of Art's “Sensation” exhibit.
The exhibit has been criticized by the Catholic League and others for an image that denigrates the Blessed Virgin Mary, scattering her image with elephant dung and pornographic images.
Paglia, a lesbian and an atheist, teaches art history at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
“The rote attacks on [“Sensation” opponent New York Mary Rudolph] Giuliani have been deafening,” Paglia said. “While the mayor certainly exceeded his authority in demanding that the entire show be stopped … I am frankly enjoying his assault on the arts establishment, which is in dire need of a shake-up. …
“And I'm just as sick of ‘Catholic-bashing’ as Giuliani himself. I may be an atheist, but I was raised in Italian Catholicism, and it remains my native culture. I resent the double standard that protects Jewish and African-American symbols and icons but allows Catholicism to be routinely trashed by supercilious liberals and ranting gay activists,” Paglia said.
Excerpts from selected publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
Internet Revolutionizes Religious Research
DESERET NEWS, Dec. 12—Many clergymen, who have acquired impressive libraries of concordances and reference texts, are wary of using the Internet as they work on their sermons, said a report in the Deseret News. Others, who use it extensively, find that they have at their finger-tips free religious reference tools that were practically unattainable—or prohibitively expensive—five years ago.
The links the article mentions are useful for interested lay people, as well: www.as.wvu.edu/coll03/relst/www/linkres.htm, for one, offers the kinds of statistics and basic information from a number of religions that public speakers—or others who frequently discuss religion—often use.
“But that's not the only use for the web, for the religion-minded,” said the article. “Thousands and thousands of people use the Web to download free or cheap software programs of everything from the game Biblehunt (which helps you learn the books of the Bible in order by arranging them) to various versions of the Bible.”
The article listed three places for such software, free or at low cost: ZDNet (www.zdnet.com), Shareware.com (www.shareware.com) and the Download Zone (www.download.com).
New Breed of Criminals Target Churches, ‘Don't Care’
SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, Dec. 12—Crime expert and sociologist John DiIulio has warned that a widespread lack of parental control, coupled with greatly diminished standards of morality in many communities, are combining to create a new type of criminal, which he calls “super-predators.”
A spree of church vandalism and burglaries in San Antonio—which mirror incidents reported in Denver and around the country—give frightening new evidence that these sociopathic criminals may have already proliferated.
St. Leo's Catholic Church there has seen everything from satanic vandalism to stolen tables, broken and emptied candle boxes, and two missing pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
One parishioner was quoted saying she is afraid to pray in the church. “I really feel scared here. There is so much vandalism. … I took off my ring
and watch and pin while I'm sitting here. You don't know who will come in behind you.”
Father Enda McKenna has been reinforcing St. Leo's locks and closing the church at dusk to compensate. It may not be enough, he told the paper. “If people are desperate, word will get out about the money boxes.”
Another Church had to hire an armed guard when it began the practice of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, said the article. Before the guard came to St. Pius, it reported, five parishioners were robbed at gunpoint and a couple was the victim of a car-jacking in the parking lot.
Spotty reporting and inexact police classification of these incidents make the trend hard to track, said the report, but it quoted one sociologist who sees the incidents as pointing toward a fundamental moral breakdown. Armando Abney, a sociologist from the city's St. Mary's University, said of the thieves and vandals, “They just don't care.”
Abney blamed lack of parental control over “mischievous teenagers who become precarious adults and lack values,” said the paper. “About the only thing that controls [their] behavior is the police,” he is quoted saying.
Knights and Others Attract ‘Baby Boomers’
CAROLINA MORNING NEWS, Dec. 14—Groups like the Knights of Columbus have been busy recruiting younger members, worried that a senior membership leaves their organizations with an uncertain future.
A report on one Knights Council in South Carolina shows another way of reading the signs of the times: perhaps an aging “baby boomer” generation eager to help their communities as they reach retirement age is a gigantic pool of potential new members.
Said the report, “Two years ago, it would have been a stretch of the imagination to believe tiny St. Andrews Catholic Church could field enough parishioners to support an active Knights of Columbus fraternity. But times are changing. “Today, only a few months after receiving its charter, [the Council] has 51 members and is actively supporting a number of [community] charities.”
It quoted one Knight, Dick Roy, saying, “A lot of Catholics moving to the area are retirees really looking for a way to pay society back, so to speak…. and the Knights are second to none in working for our fellow man.” Roy listed the impressive charity efforts the growing council has already accomplished.
The council's publicity director, Jerry Weiland, told the paper some other benefits that make the Knights attractive to the parish with its large retirement community. “It's a matter of fellowship, of associating with people in the community,” he is quoted saying. “And, of course, it's a way to grow in one's Catholic faith.”
Added Roy, “The basic precepts of the order fall in line with my thinking of what traditional family values should be, what human life is all about and how we should treat it.”
Excerpts from selected publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
A Doctor and a Priest Aid DiMaggio
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 9—Joe DiMaggio, renowned for a 56-game hitting streak in 1941 that was the high point of a Hall-of-Fame career, has been struggling for his life in a Florida Hospital. When the AP reported the following story, he had made a dramatic recovery, and the article mentioned two potential reasons why: the efforts of a doctor, and the efforts of a priest.
On Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, things looked grim, said Dr. Earl Barron. “We called the family because, frankly, we thought we were getting down to the last road,” he said. “Today [Wednesday], there's a little more hope.”
DiMaggio, 84, was suffering from a fever, pneumonia in his one good lung, and an intestinal infection as he recovered from lung cancer surgery. “He perked up immediately,” Barron said.
But the article also mentions that, at his grimmest point in November, “a Catholic priest was summoned to administer last rites,” the Catholic sacrament whose purpose is to restore spiritual health and, sometimes, physical health as well.
In December, the family refused to sign a controversial “do not resuscitate” order that doctors commonly offer in cases of severe illness, said the report.
Buddhist Devotions Allowed in Public Schools
DESERET NEWS, Dec. 9—“Consider the uproar that would result if a … public school district were asked to interrupt school classes to deliver entire student bodies to assemblies wherein a Catholic priest would conduct Latin Masses in front of an altar” began an opinion piece in a Utah daily, by activist Paul Mortensen who wants to strictly separate church and state.
The equivalent happened in one Utah school district, he said, where “entire student bodies from the district's four public schools were assembled in Moab's Grand High School auditorium to observe [Tibetan] monks conduct prayers, sacred music, and sacred dance rituals in front of an altar, a picture of the Dalai Lama, and a large mural of the monk's monastery, all of which were prominently displayed in the center of the stage.
“Subsequently, at West High School in Salt Lake City, during school hours, the monks conducted a four-day ceremony dedicated to the ‘female deity aspect.’ This particular ceremony consisted of the creation of a sacred mandala sand painting, which was heralded by sacred chants and music offered before an altar.”
If the devotions had been Catholic, he said, “In no time, ACLU attorneys would [intervene]… The media would editorialize its concerns and insist that plans for the Masses be dropped. Indeed, no school district would seriously consider such a request in the first place.”
Advent Has Special Meaning at Vandalized Church
DENVER POST, Dec. 8—Advent took on a personal meaning as Archbishop Charles Chaput re-blessed St. Peter's Catholic Church in Greeley, Colorado. Ugly and destructive vandalism that had marred the inside of the Church had an unintended outcome as a crowd of 700 parishioners and well-wishers of different denominations from throughout the Denver area gathered to rededicate the Church—and themselves—to God, according to a recent report.
Archbishop Chaput attributed the desecration in part to corporate sin—and thus, saw it as a call for corporate repentance. “All of us, in some way, share some responsibility for what happened,” he said.
Those in attendance saw the day as an opportunity for mercy and hope. “We just need to pray for the people that did this hideous act,” Chuck Crowe, who came from Denver for the ceremony, told the paper. “It's not going to hurt us,” he said. “It's just going to bring us together. I feel sorry for [the vandals], though … very sorry.”
“It's exciting to see people of so many different faiths and backgrounds gathered here tonight to stand together,” said Father Eugene Oates, of a neighboring church.
A 3-month old baby who was scheduled to be baptized the morning the vandalism was discovered was baptized at the ceremony by Archbishop Chaput, as a sign of the church's recovery and “rebirth,” said the report.
Excerpts from selected publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
Goddess Cultists Target Catholics and Jews
LOS ANGELES TIMES, Nov. 20—A radical strain of feminist, New Age religion called the “Goddess movement” has alarmed female — and Jewish — observers as it increasingly infiltrates mainstream religion, said a recent Times report. “The whole Goddess movement is creating a false god in the image of woman,” said Diane Knippers, president of the Institute of Religion and Democracy in Washington.
She told of visiting a conference at which followers lined up to take a bite of an apple — a reference to Eve.
“It horrified me,” Knippers said. “Eve was disobeying God, and that is not something to be copied.”
They follow Eve's example of disobedience as well: Goddess devotees deny the authority of the Bible, the existence of the Trinity, and accept lesbianism.
Rabbi Bradley Artson of the Board of Rabbis in Los Angeles says they preach anti-Semitism as well, blaming the Hebrews for patriarchy. “I find that no less oppressive than old-fashioned sexism,” he was quoted saying.
Helen Hull Hitchcock was quoted deploring Goddess cultists who seek to enforce their beliefs in Catholic parishes.
“I find it ironic that the Catholic Church is charged with reducing the role of women when it most strongly utilizes the gifts of women,” said Hitchcock, of Women for Faith and Family.
“If you don't like this religion, why try to deform it? Why don't you start your own?” she said.
Homiletics: A Lost Art?
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Nov. 21—Catholic homilies, many complain, could use some work. A new program may help address the problem.
Bad homilies may have become more prevalent because of the unique Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, wrote New York Daily News columnist Charles Bell recently.
“Catholics often complain about the poor quality of homilies. … One reason, possibly, is that it is Communion, not the sermon, that is central to Catholic worship. Most homilies run 10 or so minutes, tops, which often does not allow for much in the way of anecdotes, reflections, and so on.”
Nonetheless, Msgr. Timothy Dolan, rector of North American College, a Vatican seminary, took advantage of the many priests and nuns in Washington for the bishops' conference to arrange a meeting to look for someone to head a new homiletics program he is starting, said the columnist.
“I call it a summit meeting on preaching,” Msgr. Dolan told Bell. Several candidates gave their advice to homilists and Bell quoted some of their suggestions.
“Keep to just one point. It's the hardest thing to do,” said one candidate. “Teach seminarians to speak of Jesus and God as if they actually had heard of them, not just read about them,” said another.
Michigan Catholics Unite at the Ballot Box
THE DETROIT NEWS, Nov. 21—Detroit News religion columnist George Bullard has noticed something new in Michigan: Catholic unity on matters of public policy.
“John Kennedy's run for the White House was the last time ‘Catholic vote’ was chatted up seriously as an entity. Kennedy made a point to say he wasn't beholden to the Vatican on political matters, and that set the tone for Catholic politicians since.
“But Catholics are back. They heavily influenced the Nov. 3 defeat of a state ballot proposal to allow assisted suicide. The Michigan Church transformed itself into an instant political organization, with speeches and literature distributed through churches. Many of the faithful prayed at Mass, reading from special cards, for the defeat of assisted suicide.
“It was a throwback to the 1950s when they prayed like that weekly for the conversion of Russia. And even though President Reagan often gets credit for dismantling the evil empire, who knows what really works, and what doesn't?
“That brings up speaker-elect Perricone, Republican from Kalamazoo. He might reopen debate on the death penalty, now banned in Michigan. Capital punishment also concerns Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida, who's against death penalties and is the spiritual leader for 1.5 million Catholics in Metro Detroit. “If he does, expect Catholics to be in the debate as a group. Some in the archdiocese already are keeping a distant eye on Lansing [the state capital] on the matter.”
Excerpts from select publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
Fox to Catholics—No Apologies?
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Nov. 9—Did the Fox television network apologize for smearing the priesthood and religious life in its Ally McBeal show?
According to the Washington Post, it did. It was reporting on the recent episode of the show about a nun suing the Church after being forced out of the religious life for violating her vow of celibacy. The show, apart from its premise, offended Catholics by casting pedophilia by priests and lesbianism by nuns as commonplace. It also featured a priest who videotaped confessions.
Rick Henshaw of the Catholic League was quoted as telling the Washington Post that the network had promised that, “they would see that this kind of thing does not happen again. We were quite pleased with their forthright response.... They said they totally understood and totally sympathized, and promised to monitor the show more closely.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, however, no assurance was made. It said sources at Fox “merely said—in an off-the-record conversation—that they were sensitive to the Catholic League's concerns, but weren't issuing any apologies or assurances.”
Catholic News Service reported Nov. 10 that Fox's new official response to Catholic concerns about the show was “no comment.”
Nuns Are Sports Fans, Too
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, Nov. 11—Religious sisters are fans of sports both north and south of the U.S.-Canadian border, said a recent report.
The story noted that Catholic nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph order in Boston had recently “described their obsession with the Red Sox, admitting that they frequently call in to sports talk radio and get rowdy at the games. One nun said the sisters especially enjoy dogging former Red Sox players like Jose Canseco: ‘It is not un-Christian to boo,’ said one.”
The report also said, “The sisters of the Precious Blood order in Edmonton, Alberta, believe they were instrumental earlier in the year in saving Edmonton's hockey team, the Oilers, by praying that the team would not be relocated.”
An archdiocesan spokesman there confirmed that members of the order are hockey fans. He also said the sisters enjoy booing the Calgary Flames.
New Latin Mass Center to Open in South Jersey
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Nov. 4—Pine Hill, N.J., will soon be the new home of a Latin Mass center, reported the daily newspaper in nearby Philadelphia. The group Opus Mariae Mediatricis will report to Bishop James McHugh and be in full communion with the Church, said the article.
The group plans to take over a property which was owned for three decades, said the paper, by “a band of lay people who called themselves monks but were not associated with the Catholic Church.”
“Now Opus Mariae is converting the 34,000-square-foot property into a home for Philadelphia-area seminarians, priests who join the association, and others who want to learn more about Latin rituals,” said the paper. Renovations should take another six months, it said.
Founded by Father William Ashley, the 2-year-old organization, which has some 4,500 supporters nationwide and 200 locally, will move its headquarters to the renovated site. The diocese and the local government have both been very helpful to the new group in expediting its move to the facility, said the paper.
Excerpts from select publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
Ten Commandments are ‘Hot Right Now’
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE, Oct. 27—“The Ten Commandments are … hot, right now,” said a recent wire report printed in the Detroit News and elsewhere.
As evidence, it listed the current very public debate over the 7th and 9th commandments (6th and 8th in the Catholic numbering): adultery, in the Oval Office, no less; and perjury, by the president, no less.
But also, “legislators and legions of social activists are fighting over whether it's legal to post this particular top 10 list anywhere in the public square,” it said, referring to the Ten Commandments Defense Act in Congress.
And now, radio superstar Laura Schlessinger has written a book titled The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God's Laws in Everyday Life, with her rabbi, Stewart Vogel.
Dr. Laura, who dispenses advice to record nationwide audiences, finds in the commandments a distillation of “real life,” said the report. Her co-author, Rabbi Vogel, agrees.
“Without a God … you end up with a subjective morality. There's no way around that,” said the rabbi, who leads Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, Calif. “To believe in God is to believe that human beings are not mere accidents of nature. … Without God, there is no objective meaning to life and there is no objective morality. I don't want to live in a world where right and wrong are subjective.”
“One thing leads to another,” he said. “So people commit adultery and then they have to lie to cover it up. So No. 7 leads straight to No. 9. … And when people start lying, they are really setting themselves up as idols. So we're back to the issue of God. People are saying that they get to set up their own standards for what is right and wrong and it doesn't matter what happens to others. They put themselves in the place of God.”
Y2K: The Final End or a New Beginning?
WIRED NEWS, Oct. 22—Pope John Paul II has declared the Church's intention to use the anniversary of Christ's birth in the Jubilee Year 2000 to start anew: atone for sins of the past and recommit the faithful to the New Evangelization. He expects that a “new springtime” of the faith will follow.
But other Christians focus on the “Y2K” — year 2000 — bug that they say will cripple society as computers programmed to count years by their last two digits fail to make the leap from “99” to “00” and shut down. “I'm hearing everything from end-of-the-world predictions to head-in-the-sand denial,” Lawrence Roberge, of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, who has been studying the predictions, told a computer news service, wired news.
One vision of the future was offered by evangelical Rev. Billy McCormack: “President Clinton will declare a state of emergency. He will invoke executive power beyond our wildest imagination. He will become our very first dictator. He will seize control over utilities and industry. He will federalize the National Guard. It will ration food, gasoline, etc. Your money will be declared illegal …” the service quoted from his essay, which recommended stockpiling food, water, clothing, and ammunition.
Kate Allen, of Atlanta's Joseph Project 2000, also sees trouble ahead; but her group also sees evangelizing opportunities. “We feel that Christians need to be prepared to minister to the needs of the people both in a physical sense as well as the spiritual sense,” she told the news service.
“We think it's an opportunity disguised as a problem. When people get into a tight spot, they start looking to the Lord as a source of light … If the Christian is not prepared, when the problem arises they'll be in just as much turmoil as the non-believer.”
J.P. McFadden, Defender of Life, Eulogized
NEW YORK POST, Oct. 22—“A truly great American, James Patrick McFadden, was laid to rest yesterday after a Requiem Mass in the Church of St. Agnes,” wrote columnist Ray Kerrison of his friend.
“Jim McFadden did not build skyscrapers or write his name in Broadway neon. He didn't run City Hall or preside over a corporate empire. … He was a director of National Review magazine, editor of a scholarly quarterly titled Human Life Review, and editor and writer of a blazing little newsletter called catholic eye.
“Most of all, he was a rock of a man who served God, family, and country. He devoted most of his working life to protecting human life — even as he clung to it by one flimsy thread after another.”
Kerrison briefly remembered the résumé of the man who in death drew so many to his funeral. McFadden was a reporter in Pennsylvania, a military intelligence officer in Europe, a “lowly assistant in the circulation department” of National Review who rose to associate publisher, husband to Faith Abbot, and father with her of five children.
Said Kerrison, “The U.S. Supreme Court forever changed Jim's life when it legalized abortion in 1973. He started up the Human Life Review, a studious, common-sense, pragmatic magazine dedicated to the defense of life.
“At St. Agnes yesterday, the pastor, Monsignor Eugene Clark, said Jim McFadden was a strong, logical Catholic, highly intelligent, punctilious, and interested only in doing what God wanted him to do. He took whatever the Lord sent. [Lawyer] Tom Bolan said Jim was an incredible man with an unbelievable spirit. He got all his affairs in order. He only hoped he had the strength to face death. In a tender obituary, Bill Buckley, a pallbearer, would say Jim McFadden was the prime exhibit of G.K. Chesterton's dogged insistence that piety and laughter are inseparable.”
In conclusion Kerrison said, “Life, born and unborn, was everything to Jim. He defended it for others and fought desperately for it for himself. It was a privilege to have known him.”
Cardinal O'Connor Baptizes El Duque's Daughters
CBS SPORTS, Oct. 25—It isn't often that CBS sports covers a Mass. It did recently, though, when New York's John Cardinal O'Connor celebrated a Mass attended by Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, star pitcher for the world champion New York Yankees.
The cardinal was instrumental in uniting Hernandez with his family at the celebration of the Yankees' recent World Series win. Hernandez had not seen his family since he defected from Cuba in December to play for the team.
“We are grateful to President Castro,” Cardinal O'Connor said at St. Patrick's Cathedral. “He also has stated explicitly that the family is free to return to Cuba.” The cardinal also thanked Attorney General Janet Reno, FBI Director Louis Freeh, and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
“This Mass is in honor of God,” the cardinal said. “Give thanks to him for having ‘El Duque’ and his family here.” Said CBS, “After Mass, the Hernandez family had brunch in O'Connor's residence. At that time, the pitcher planned to ask the cardinal to baptize his daughters, 8-year-old Yahuamara, and 3-year-old Steffi.
“They could not be baptized in Cuba, where the Roman Catholic Church was oppressed for 40 years under Castro's rule.”
Excerpts from selecte publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Human Environmental Movement
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, Sept. 26—What if you worked a few minutes from your home, walked to Church when the weather was nice, and knew the name of virtually every person you saw in your neighborhood each day?
Christian and Jewish leaders have an answer: your spiritual and moral life would be healthier, strengthened by a community that would notice — and care — if you began to go astray.
Many religious groups want to improve the "human environment" in just that way, said a story published in the San Jose Mercury News by a Dallas Morning News reporter.
It said a Cleveland program begun by Archbishop Anthony Pilla is being mirrored across the country as religious people long to see their understanding of the human person reflected in the communities in which they live.
Nancy Eiesland, a religion sociologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told the reporter that Churches see firsthand that modern commuter living damages the basic building blocks of society.
"Religious organizations realize this style of life that combines longer work hours with longer commutes creates less time for care of self and community and family," she is quoted saying.
The Cleveland program is designed to ensure that parishioners — and diocesan neighbors — have an opportunity to meet and develop relationships with each other, in an admittedly limited attempt to address the problem, said the report.
Democrat's Human Rights Principles Make Him Pro-Life
WALL STREET JOURNAL, Sept. 30—The character education work of Catholic layman Thomas Lickona has been praised in the New York Times and in other national publications. But when he saw himself quoted on page one of the Wall Street Journal recently, he was not happy.
"I was pleased to talk with your reporter… [but] I was surprised to find that my comments ended up in your front-page story on 'Clinton Loyalists' and how they are 'distraught' but still 'supportive of the President,'" he wrote in his published letter to the editor.
"Your article correctly identified me as a practicing Catholic and lifelong Democrat, but as a matter of conscience I have never supported Mr. Clinton or any other Democrat who believes that citizens should have the right to kill children as long as they have not yet been born."
Lickona went on to quote a passage from Pope John Paul II's encyclical The Gospel of Life: "Civil law in a democracy," wrote the Holy Father, "must ensure that all members of society enjoy respect for certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person. First and fundamental among these is the right to life of every innocent human being."
Cardinal and Parish say “Shanah Tovah” to Jews
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Sept. 27,29—Two Philadelphia news articles reporting on the Jewish High Holidays this year focused on observances not just by Jews, but two extraordinary observances by Catholics as well.
Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua's lecture at the Temple Sinai on Yom Kippur was highly unusual, said the first. Jewish officials quoted in the article could not remember any comparable precedent. The article, written before the lecture took place, showed the high praise Temple leaders had for the Cardinal's willingness to address them on the Vatican's document about the holocaust.
The second article reported that on the two Sundays falling closest to the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, St. Agnes Catholic parishioners were given cards to deliver to Jewish neighbors. Each side of the cards contained a message by a Pope.
On one side, a prayer by Pope John XXIII is quoted saying, in part, "Forgive us for the curse which we have unjustly placed on the name of the Jews. Forgive us for crucifying you a second time," according to the report. On the other side is a 1987 quote of Pope John Paul II wishing the Jewish people, "Shanah Tovah," Hebrew for "good year". Monsignor Thomas Craven told the paper he created the cards because his father taught him to fight anti-Semitism when he was 9, in 1937.
Alan Miller, who has suffered from anti-Semitism in his own life, received a card from an employee, and was so touched he made copies of it for family and friends. "Everybody is stunned," Miller told the paper. "My wife was almost moved to tears. She said, 'I can't believe how beautiful this is, and how thoughtful this is.'"
Excerpts from select publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
Scandal Seen as an Opportunity to Reject Immorality
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE, Sept. 12—Reams of articles have commented on the moral scandal in which the President, and now the general public, is mired. At least one drew attention to the response of Catholic commentators.
On September 12, Scripps Howard focused on the comments of a bishop and a layman, both of whom urged Americans to take the opportunity to refresh their moral standards.
Bishop James McHugh, of Camden, N.J., wrote in an article for his diocesan newspaper, “My purpose is not to judge the president, much less punish him. My deeper and more fearsome concern is the prevailing public reaction and what that says of the moral fiber of the country,” the bishop said.
He said behavior like the President's “is never private. It always has social implications. That is why all societies try to control it by laws, customs, social restrictions,” he said. “His dilemma should be a lesson to the nation that our national mores and attitudes need refashioning.”
Catholic laymen William Bennett's new book The Death of Outrage also mourns what he fears is the deadening of the public's moral conscience. Things have gotten so bad, he said in the report, that the public airing of the President's conduct, unfortunate in itself, may be necessary to force the public to confront — and reject — the present state of American morality.
Picketers Must Not Disturb Mass, Says Cardinal O'Connor
NEW YORK POST, Sept. 14—When hundreds of Catholic school teachers picketed outside St. Patrick's Cathedral during Sunday Mass, John Cardinal O'Connor was sympathetic to their right to request better wages and pensions, said the New York Post, but he was outraged that they would do it at a Mass.
According to the report, the cardinal decried the picketers' timing during his 10:15 sermon.
Calling himself the son of a union man whose archdiocese has negotiated with unions in good faith, he said. “I will defend the right to collective bargaining in good faith until the day I die … I hope that nothing forces me to revise my personal position of a lifetime, but as sacred as is the right to collective bargaining, some things are even more sacred … the holy sacrifice of the Mass, to me of inestimable holiness … [is] in no way to be politicized …”
Furthermore, the cardinal “hinted that the protest, which violates a contract provision prohibiting certain unions from demonstrating outside the cathedral during the 15 minutes before and after Mass, could be met with serious consequences,” added the Post.
Priests Suffer from False Accusations, Says Bishop
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, Sept. 12—When Bishop Patrick McGrath (pronounced “McGrah”) moved this month from the San Francisco Archdiocese, where he was an auxiliary bishop, to prepare to take over for San Jose's soon-to-retire Bishop Pierre DuMaine, an interview in the local paper introduced him to his new flock.
The article showcased the bishop's comfortable and convincing style of explaining the Church's teaching on issues such as celibacy, the all-male priest-hood, assisted suicide, and abortion.
But he also spoke of the pain of both true — and false — accusations of pedophilia.
His interviewer asked, “Have you as an administrator ever done anything that just doesn't sit well with you deep down?” He answered by saying he once had to confront a priest who had been accused of an incident from 20 years before that the priest denied. The Bishop put him through the painful and difficult psychological assessment required by the Archdiocese. The tests found that guilt was unlikely, and the accuser then admitted his charge was false.
Bishop McGrath says he told the priest, “You're totally exonerated. It's fine. It's over and done.” But, after the ordeal of the charge and the test, “It was like putting Humpty Dumpty back together; you can never do it. I had stolen a part of that person's soul that I will never be able to put back.… I had put him through hell. And his accuser could be so flippant about it .…
“I've always regretted that because I realized a part of that man died that day. This is a man who dedicated all his life to doing good things for people. And then to be accused of something like that and it not be true — it devastated him. And he still does good things. But I know there is a part of him that just doesn't revive.
“So you can do an awful lot of damage to another human being, damage that you can never take back. On the other hand, I act because I must make sure that people are safe … When somebody brings in an accusation to me, I must respond to that … I don't want anybody endangered.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Catholic Schools Vouch for Latino Kids
SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, Aug. 14—In the heavily Latino Edgewood School District 871, students have been given private-school scholarships paid for by area businesses.
The situation there highlights the issues involved in voucher debates nationwide: public schools complain that they are losing money because of the scholarships, while thousands of poor families are eager to abandon well-funded but ineffective district schools. Voucher dollars are causing the school district to compete in ways it otherwise did not, and diocesan schools are a major beneficiary of the new students, whom they welcome while worrying about how it will affect their Catholic identity.
About 616 awardees have shared $3 million in tuition payments so far, officials with the Children's Educational Opportunity Foundation (CEO) told the paper. CEO gives vouchers of $2,000-$4,000 to families, said the report. Meanwhile, the school district complains it stands to lose $6 million in projected state funding next year as a consequence — though admitting that the state of Texas will still provide it more than nine times that amount.
What's more, even though CEO had to turn away most of the 1,479 applicants and more than 4,500 phone calls, the popular vouchers have caused a competitive response. Edgewood has opened up special vocational and other programs to outside districts to attract more students. One district board member even complained about the competition. He was quoted expressing resentment that “these kids are being experimented with.”
The archdiocesan superintendent, Dale Hoyt, claims enrollment is rising noticeably in Catholic schools in the area. He wants to reassure state critics, he told the paper, “as long as it does not take away the Catholic identity, as long as it does not have a negative effect on the purpose and philosophy of Catholic schools.”
Scandal Drove Catholic Supporters from Clinton
NATIONAL JOURNAL, Aug. 15—When Christopher Matthews recently asked Leon Panetta what he thought about the affair between the president and one of his interns, the former White House chief of staff answered, “Chris, you and I have … a standard that goes back to our backgrounds.” He said as a Catholic, he considered it reprehensible.
That made William Powers of the National Journal notice something: it seems that many of the president's former allies who dropped their support of him during the scandal share one thing in common.
“Is it any coincidence that so many of the commentators who have chosen to signal their unhappiness with Mr. Clinton, despite their ideological comfort with him, come out of the same Church?” he asked in his report.
He listed several Catholic detractors: CNBC's Matthews, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, The Washington Post's Michael Kelly and Mary McGrory, PBS's Mark Shields, ABC's Cokie Roberts, NBC's Tim Russert, and former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, each of whom has criticized the president regarding the scandal. Matthews gives Catholic morality the credit for his opposition.
Roberts gives the Sacrament of Penance some of the credit, too. Growing up Catholic, she is quoted saying, “You just hear over and over, ‘You take responsibility. You did it.’”
In contrast, she called Clinton's begrudging admission of lying to the country but not to the independent counsel a “mea minima culpa.”
Elected Catholics in Michigan Told to Defend Life
PRNEWSWIRE, Aug. 17—The Catholic Campaign for America's Michigan Chapter told Catholic public officials they have a duty to defeat the so-called “Marian's Friends” initiative.
The law would legalize assisted suicide, repealing the state's ban. It is a centerpiece of the gubernatorial campaign of Geoffery Fieger, whom the state's Democratic party has vigorously supported despite much controversy.
Fieger, the lawyer who successfully defended suicide-specialist Dr. Jack Kevorkian, has been widely quoted ridiculing the Pope; saying Orthodox Jews are like Nazis; and calling Jesus a “goofball who was nailed to a cross.”
The Catholic Campaign named Catholic politicians and quoted Pope John Paul II's words in The Gospel of Life that prohibit them from supporting the measure.
“In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it,” said the encyclical.
Robert Mylod, co-chairman of the Catholic Campaign for America, named these Catholic elected officials in Michigan: U.S. Rep. John Dingle, David Bonier, Joe Knollenberg, Dale Kildee, Gov. John Engler, State Attorney General Frank Kelly, Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara, and Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer.
Gov. Engler opposes assisted suicide. (See related “InPerson,” page 1.)
EXCERPT: Excerpts from select publications
Excerpts from select publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
Editorial To Politician: Choose Pro-Abortion or Church
THE CATHOLIC SUN, August 6—The newspaper of the diocese of Phoenix took local Catholic U.S. Congressman Ed Pastor to task in an editorial Aug. 6. It told the Democrat to choose between his religion and his proabortion stance:
“Two of Arizona's representatives belong in the hall of shame on this issue [of partial-birth abortion]: John Kolbe [a Methodist from Tucson] and Ed Pastor both voted against the veto override.
“Pastor, a name which means ‘shepherd,’ ought to be thrice ashamed. The shepherd protects innocent, defenseless sheep from predators. Not Pastor; he has consistently voted pro-abortion and forsaken the defenseless unborn.
“Pastor is a Democrat, the party that for decades has aligned itself with the downtrodden, the oppressed, and those who have no voice; the Democratic Party ought to be the one to protect the voiceless unborn. While there are people of good will in the party, unfortunately it has consistently been the party of death when it comes to abortion.
“Pastor is also a Catholic. He knows the Church's teaching on abortion and refuses to follow it. He could do much to preserve the unborn lives, but does not. He supports the availability of any abortion, every abortion.”
“It is time for Pastor to change his heart — and his voting record — on abortion. If not, he ought to disavow his Catholic faith. He cannot possibly, in good conscience, reconcile his faith and his stance.”
Organ Recipients Likely to Embrace Religion
DALLAS MORNING NEWS, August 9—When Catholic apologists say that you need to share your heart with others to evangelize them, they don't mean literally. But perhaps they should reconsider: the Dallas Morning News reported that patients who receive life-saving organ transplants are almost universally interested in religion.
The paper interviewed three people who had organ transplants. George Cameron received a kidney. Bill Lombardi and Bob Seibold received new hearts. Experts in the field say their responses are typical of a phenomenon that they see in nearly every patient saved by an organ transplant: they have each found religion.
Cameron was a lapsed Catholic before his brush with death and the surgery that saved him. Now he centers his life around confession, Mass, and the Eucharist.
Lombardi is nagged by questions about the meaning of life, and says he feels God's presence. “It's an internal radiance that I feel,” he is quoted saying. “It's a feeling of love, an extreme and deep love. It's also an awareness that … something else is going to come about, but you don't know what it is.”
Seibold told the paper, “There is no plausible explanation for me being alive today other than that it was God's will.”
Woman Converted by Friends and Eucharist
WASHINGTON POST, August 8—The Washington Post is publishing occasional testimonials about religion by Washingtonians. Kim Marie Lamberty wrote that her conversion to Catholicism was sparked by her admiration for the grand architecture of the Washington National Cathedral, but fanned to a flame by friends.
“The year was 1989. I had a respectable job with a respectable salary, an advanced degree from an Ivy League school, good friends. I was buying a condo. Professional success, prestige, power, money, approval from others…I thought that the life I was working for would lead me to happiness and love; instead I was miserable.
“I…had a lot of Roman Catholic friends and through them experienced the strength of their faith. It was my earliest experience of community.
“A friend suggested I read some stories written by others who had converted.… ‘If you feel called by the Catholic Church,’ another said, ‘then go to Mass.’
“I went to Mass in the spring of 1990. It was a Wednesday night… When I got there I discovered that it was Ash Wednesday. It was raining buckets outside, and I was soaked and late. So I had to stand in the back.
“The priest was speaking about reconciling oneself to God. I stood near the door and cried as hard as it rained. I knew then that I had come home.…
“At the center of [my faith] is the Eucharist, which is receiving the body and blood of Christ. When I take Communion with the countless other Catholics in the world, it gives me hope. The hope is that despite all our divisions, our violence, hatred, anger, injustice, and poverty, that someday humanity will be one. This hope is what gets me through each week.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Homosexual Parade That Wasn't on TV
In a June New York Post column, Ray Kerrison noticed an odd phenomenon in local television coverage of the recent parade of homosexuals in New York. Every network had stories and pictures of the parade, but none of them reported what really happened.
He wrote that the yearly parade is vulgar, violent, and anti-Catholic and yet every year, the city's TV stations send out their cameras, producers, and reporters—and they all come back with glowing accounts. With almost conspiratorial censorship, all six stations automatically delete the lewdness, nudity, profanity, and blasphemy that are the intrinsic ingredients of the parade.
“They block out the dirty placards, the insulting banners, the violent, anti-religious themes. Instead, they present the parade as a fun festival, rich in color, pageantry, and pride. The distortion is a criminal abuse of truth.”
“The TV propagandists were at it again Sunday night after the 29th parade down Fifth Avenue.” He quoted WNBC (Channel 4): “They're celebrating with pride and parades, a rainbow of flags, floats, and festivities… They kicked off in high style … and remained spectacular to its end.”
The WABC (Channel 7) reporter announced excitedly: “It was a wild and fun afternoon … a fun affair.”
Kerrison continued: “None of them told of the reported half-dozen men who were stark naked except for their green condoms. None told of the bare-breasted women prancing down the avenue. None showed the lurid excesses of the drag queens and cross-dressers.” Or the ridiculing of the Pope, religious sisters, priests, and saints.
“None find it offensive that this essentially obscene promenade starts at 52nd Street so it will pass the front doors of St. Patrick's Cathedral and dishonor the religion it represents.”
Of Marriage and Movie Stars
Why do movies seem so antagonistic to marriage at times? Perhaps it's because the denizens of Hollywood have such awful marriages—despite a few notable exceptions.
That is one conclusion a June 26 Philadelphia Daily News article, “On Hollywood's sea of matrimony, 10 years is one long cruise,” might suggest.
Calling 10 and a half years “a pretty good run for a Hollywood marriage,” the report said it is the extended length—not the recent end—of the marriage of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore that should draw attention.
The report pointed out that, recently, Drew Barrymore ended her marriage after seven weeks, Christie Brinkley ended her third marriage after seven months, and Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett ended theirs after 21 months.
“But there are star pairings who have stuck it out even longer. What do you think were the secrets of their success?” The report lists these exceptions to the Hollywood rule:
• Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward have been together 40 years.
• Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft have been married 34 years.
• Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews have been married 29 years.
• Ronald and Nancy Reagan have been married for 45 years.
BY Jim Cosgrove
The U.S. House of Worship
Would it be unconstitutional if the U.S. House of Representatives doubled as a church on Sundays? Not according to the men who wrote the Constitution or succeeding generations of Americans lasting until at least the 1860s.
Religious freedom is a hot topic in Washington now. Several pieces of legislation have been introduced in Congress to try to correct — or fine-tune — the notion that the Constitution prohibits public expressions of religion in government-run institutions.
The Library of Congress, reported The Washington Post June 6, has created a timely display in its lobby that shows the great extent to which religion and government worked in tandem in the days of America's founding.
“The exhibit chronicles the frequent use of federal buildings for Sunday worship services, a practice that was common from 1800, when the government moved to Washington, until after the Civil War. Services ranging from High Communion to evangelical revivals were held in the Treasury Building, the War Office and even the Supreme Court chambers.
“But the most popular worship venue was the House [of Representatives], which in its heyday in the 1860s drew 2,000 people a week to the ‘largest Protestant Sabbath audience … in the United States.’”
“That assertion was made by House Chaplain Charles Boynton, who also was pastor of First Congregational Church, which held services in the House until the members could build their own sanctuary.”
According to the report, such services in the House were frequented by Thomas Jefferson in his day — a man whose reference to a “wall of separation between Church and state” is often misunderstood as a ban of religion from state-run institutions.
Novelist Extols Catholic Schools and Faith
Catholics who see no resemblance between their own “old-style” Catholic schooling and the negative stereotypes they see in movies and on television will be sympathetic to an opinion piece by novelist Edward Sheehan in the Boston Globe June 6, occasioned by his 50-year high school reunion.
“In Newton Centre, where I grew up, I had been educated in grammar school by the Sisters of St. Joseph at Sacred Heart Parish … when a moral consensus reigned between the major religions, right and wrong were clearly defined, and the authority of the Roman Church was virtually unchallenged in Massachusetts. Moreover, the system worked: I was superbly educated in the basics of grammar, religion, and history by the veiled nuns and by the kindly [and quite learned] attentions of Cardinal Cushing.
“Transferring to Boston College High was a shock…. I was a shy, awkward, self-conscious youth. By sheer discipline, my Jesuit teachers struggled to straighten me out.”
“Ah, they were tough…. [But] by the end of our senior year, we survivors were fluent in Latin and Greek, such discipline of mind hardening us for the cruel struggles of life ahead.”
Sheehan said certain themes were a constant refrain in his Jesuit education: “Actions have consequences. Do wrong and you will be punished. Do good and you will be rewarded, if not on this earth then in heaven….
“We had fistfights on the asphalt playground, but guns in school? Unthinkable. We engaged in adolescent [and harmless] sexual humor, but … the Church's command that sex should be saved for marriage and procreation was much honored. Self-respect was drummed into us as the fruit of personal honor and achievement, but the now trendy conceit of ‘self-esteem’ had yet to be invented.”
He concluded that, “However, infecting our culture today are emotions of rancor among many sophisticated and prosperous Catholics, not least in the media, who resent the rigors of their youthful faith and have abandoned it. The Church educated them, but now they scorn it and loathe its teachings. This is a form of Catholic self-hatred that I cannot fully grasp. Let them live with their resentments. Imperfectly, I feel only gratitude.”
Why is Anti-Catholicism OK? Asks Magazine Article
Terrence McNally's play Corpus Christi, featuring a homosexual Christ figure, seems calculated to offend Christians, U.S. News and World Report columnist John Leo wrote in the June 15 issue. So why aren't secular critics of hate speech protesting it?
Pointing out that even Passion plays (and Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice) are rarely performed because they might offend Jewish people, Leo argues that “arguments about artistic freedom are not applied consistently.”
“Michelle Malkin of the Seattle Times wrote a recent column about a Seattle art show that drew no media criticism, even though the paintings featured Jesus on an obscene version of the cross, a pope apparently engaging in a lewd act, and pages of a Bible defaced with Satanic marks. What would have happened, she asked, if the art had featured a lascivious rabbi or a black slave woman in a degrading sex act?”
“‘There is no question the city's civility police would be out in full force,’ she wrote. “… Cardinal John O'Connor has been called ‘Cardinal O'Killer’ [an AIDS poster] and ‘a fat cannibal’ whose cathedral is ‘a house of walking swastikas’ [an art show catalog]; priests are ‘sociopathic’ and the celibacy vow is ‘an empty sham’ [Spin magazine]; the Pope is ‘His Silliness’ [ACT UP] and ‘a dirty old man walking around in a dress’ [K-Rock radio in New York]; Communion hosts are ‘crackers’ [The Nation] that might be replaced with ‘Triscuits’ [a Michigan talk-show host] — or perhaps sausage, for ‘a spicy body of Christ’ [a Chicago talk-show host]. In the art world, blasphemous art intended to debase Christianity, much of it coming from homosexual artists, routinely features sex acts involving Jesus, or the Pope, or priests. Colorful things are done to the Virgin Mary, too. Gay parades often feature swishy-looking Jesus figures and hairy guys dressed as nuns. It's a continuing theater of propaganda, much of it under the guise of art.”
“Question: In the current age of hypersensitivity, what other group in America has to put up with vilification like this? No religion should expect immunity from criticism. But these aren't arguments about sexual policy or dogma. They are attempts to degrade and enrage. The technical term for this is bigotry. Sensitivity mongers, please note.”
BY Gabriel Meyer
San Antonio Catholic TV
From Vatican II to John Paul II, the Church has urged Catholics to make use of modern technology.
The Diocese of San Antonio has answered that call in the television medium for 18 years, but, as reported in the Express-News there May 13, that could end July 1. Archbishop Patrick Flores has announced that the cable company that carries the Church-supported Catholic Television San Antonio (CTSA) has forced him to halt its broadcasting.
He announced that he had delivered a letter to Paragon Cable warning them that their decision to move the station to a new channel “will eliminate a significant number of viewers from access to CTSA.” The cable company's plan was to move CTSA from Channel 22, which is accessible to everyone receiving the basic cable service, to channel 61, which is only available to those who pay more than twice the basic cost to obtain more channels.
Archbishop Flores has asked viewers to contact the company and register their disapproval.
“I've heard [Paragon] say this station isn't really that important to the people of San Antonio, but that's not what we're hearing,” Flores is quoted saying.
He also said that Paragon has a moral responsibility to people who rely on CTSA's ministry.
Locals seem to agree. The Rev. Kenneth Thompson, an official of the San Antonio Community of Churches said that Protestant and Jewish leaders intend to write to Paragon expressing their disapproval.
One local parishioner said she was “very disturbed” at the decision. “When I was a minister to the sick, whenever I'd go to their homes, they were watching the Mass on CTSA; this will be devastating to them.”
Sinatra Reconciled With Church
There has been much written about Frank Sinatra on the occasion of his death and funeral, but the articles, covering his several marriages, his reputation for past carousing and his Mafia ties, left one burning question in many Catholics’ minds: what was his status with the Church?
The Philadelphia News answered the question May 19: he had been eligible to receive the sacraments since 1977.
He married his first wife, Nancy Barbato in the Catholic Church in 1939, said the article. However, subsequent marriages to Ava Gardner, Mia Farrow, and finally to Barbara Marx were not Church weddings, and were not valid in the Church's eyes, since the first marriage was still recognized.
When Sinatra's mother, Dolly, died in 1977 — a year after his fourth wedding — the singer sought reconciliation with the Church. He sought and obtained an annulment for his first marriage, which was the only one in question, and then remarried Barbara Marx in a Church ceremony.
The annulment was kept secret until 1979, when Sinatra was photographed receiving communion in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.
In his final years, Sinatra was a parishioner at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. He actively lived his faith: he arranged to have a priest live in his Palm Springs estate to instruct Barbara and prepare her to enter the Catholic Church. When his friend Princess Grace of Monaco was killed, he organized and led a prayer service for her at his parish.
BY Jim Cosgrove
An Occasion to Teach about Communion
When a South African Catholic priest violated rules guarding the Blessed Sacrament in order to give President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton Communion, the incident touched off a spate of confusing stories by reporters unfamiliar with Catholic doctrine. Misleading comments from the White House and from the responsible parish didn't help.
One consequence of the incident can be welcomed, however: secular newspapers are publishing articles about the Real Presence.
For example, The Washington Post (April 18) described that Catholics recognize that “when bread and wine are consecrated at Mass, they are actually transformed into the body and blood of Christ, even though their outward appearance does not change.”
It noted, “Catholics are required to fast for one hour before Communion … and to be in ‘a state of grace’” when receiving Communion, which “prohibits divorced Catholics who have remarried without obtaining an annulment from receiving Communion.”
Bishops also took the opportunity to teach their own flocks that it is Catholic beliefs about the Blessed Sacrament, not about other religions, that bar inter—communion.
Bishop Donald Wuerl published an op—ed article about the Eucharist (Pittsburgh Post—Gazette, April 18) that began by pointing out all the Catholic Church has done to work toward true ecumenical reform. Then, to critics, he said, “It is not particularly helpful … to frame the profoundly theological issue of the meaning of the Eucharist in the simplistic context of ‘mutual hospitality.’ If the issue were truly that clear, it would have been solved long ago.” Then, he carefully explained Church teaching on the Eucharist.
On the issue of Christian unity he added, “To give the impression that one is in full communion and shares the Catholic understanding of the nature of the Church, the Eucharist and the meaning of Holy Communion when one does not offers nothing to advance true and lasting unity.”
Rolling out the Carpet for Atlanta Latinos
A carpet company CEO has given $1 million to a northwest Georgia Catholic Church to help it accommodate a new wave of Mexican, Central, and South American immigrants, said an Associated Press article published April 18.
Carl Bouckaert, whose Dalton—based company Beaulieu of America claims to be the third—largest carpet company in the world, said that the Hispanic community is good for the Church—and good for the carpet business.
Both those principles are at play at St. Joseph's Catholic Church—whose mere 200 seats put many of its 1,700 parishioners onto its carpet. With Bouckaert's gift—and $2.5 million more it has raised—the Church is well on its way to building a bigger facility.
Hollywood Angels vs. the Real Thing
A New York Post article (April 20) listed some attributes of angels, asking “Who ya gonna believe: Hollywood, or Holy Scripture?”
Hollywood angels, according to the article: Make great boyfriends (City of Angels); guzzle beer and party hearty (Michael); are excellent marriage counselors (The Preacher's Wife); dress like Dieters and hang out in German libraries (Wings of Desire); dress like Ralph Kramden and save folks from suicide (It's a Wonderful Life).
Biblical angels are very different. Real angels: “[A]re not cute creatures that we incorporate into our fantasy life, but bearers of the truth to which our lives should conform,” Father Richard John Neuhaus told the paper.
Can be “terrifying,” often look like humans, but are “messengers” of God's will having “nothing to do with sweetie—pies who rearrange chairs so people don't stumble,” said Rabbi Jacob Neusner, of New York's Bard College.
Are misrepresented by Americans who “tend to see religion only as something to comfort us,” evangelical theologian Doug Groothuis told the paper.
Pro—family activist Rabbi Daniel Lapin's quotation seemed to sum up the article: “I think if America has to turn to Hollywood for spiritual direction, we're in worse shape than anyone knows.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Healing Services Becoming More Popular
In an extended special report, the Columbus Dispatch of March 20 examined a popular new practice in evangelical worship: faith healing.
Catholics might consider the new trappings of the practice familiar: oil, laying on of hands, a belief that the soul's cure must accompany the body's.
Said one bishop of the local Evangelical Lutheran Church, “Our understanding of the healing service is it is to bring wholeness and peace…. It includes the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and the physical.”
A spokesman of the United Methodist Church in the area described a similarly expansive view of healing services. In a healing service, “you talk about bringing people to health in mind, body, and relationships. It also involves reconciliation, coming to terms with your situation, forgiving people.”
At a Pentecostal Church in the area, the pastor explains that at his Church “We will do laying on of hands, with oil, and pray.”
But, giving credit where credit is due, the article points out that the “oldest healing services come from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.”
The article quoted Columbus diocesan spokesman Father Larry Hemmelgarn, who pointed out that the sacrament of the anointing of the sick or “last rites” has always included oil and the laying on of hands intended to heal the soul—and, at God's discretion, the body as well.
There may be a new emphasis on healing in other Churches, but having merited a place among the seven sacraments, “Healing has always been important in the Catholic Church,” he said.
ACLU and Evangelical Go Against Catholic Charities
It is hard to imagine the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) taking a born-again Christian's side in a religious freedom dispute. But it happened in Pittsburgh, according to a March 19 report by the Associated Press.
Carlyn Kline was jailed for 26 hours last year because she refused to attend court-ordered marriage counseling. According to Kline, Judge Robert Kunselman sent her to jail when she said she objected to the counseling because it included literature published by Catholic Charities.
Kline told the judge she considers some Catholic teachings counter to the teachings of Jesus. “My God forbids me from contacting the dead,” she is quoted saying, explaining her objection to prayers to the saints. The judge was apparently unconvinced, and sent her to jail for avoiding counseling.
Kline's case, however, was decided on a technicality rather than on the merits of her religious challenge. Her brief jail time ended when a federal judge freed her from the court order—on Good Friday of last year. Pennsylvania state judges like Kunselman don't work that day.
Since the incident occurred, the ACLU has made a settlement that forces Catholic Charities to provide their literature indirectly, by giving it first to the court, so that no one has to pay the organization directly for its services.
Understanding the ‘Fifth Dogma’
A daily secular newspaper may be an unlikely place to find a well-presented discussion of the Blessed Mother's role in salvation history—but Baltimoreans woke Saturday March 21 to find a thorough treatment of the matter on their doorstep.
A Baltimore Sun article, prompted by a Steubenville, Ohio group's attempt to persuade the Vatican to proclaim Mary “Mediatrix,” included the following explanations:
• For those who missed the news last year, “a Vatican commission of 23 Mariologists unanimously advised the Pope not to proclaim the teaching. And the Pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said last year that neither the Pope nor any Vatican commission is studying the proclamation of any new Marian dogmas,” according to the account.
• The promulgation of the proposed new title is what supporters call the “Fifth Dogma,” or “Fifth Doctrine,” because it follows four other proclamations about the Blessed Mother: (1) the Council of Ephesus declared her the Mother of God in 431; (2) the Council of Constantinople proclaimed her perpetual virginity in 681; (3) Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 by ex cathedra decree; and (4) Pope Pius XII similarly proclaimed the Assumption in 1950.
Father Frederick Jelly OP, identified as a prominent Mariologist at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., is quoted in the article explaining the appropriateness—but perhaps the imprudence as regards timing—of the title Mediatrix.
Use of the term “Mediatrix,” he said, raises the question, “What is she mediating that Christ is not?” Though some theologians favor the proposed title, none were quoted in the article.
Further, said Father Jelly, the full title being proposed, “Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate for the People of God,” raises another issue. In modern English, the prefix “co-” puts two people on the same level, he said, citing the example “co-signer of a check.” He is quoted saying, “If it's interpreted that way, you're in trouble … that is not Catholic doctrine.”
In Latin, the problem disappears. In Latin, “co-” has “the connotation of saying that Mary is subordinate to, dependent on” Christ, rather than a sort of easier-going Christ or a surrogate of the Holy Spirit.
Father Jelly agreed that the Holy Father's well-known personal devotion to the Blessed Mother might well embrace the proper use of both these titles, but pointed out that the Holy Father was not likely to make a determination for the Church based on his private devotion.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Adultery's Approval Ratings Drop
Leaving high-profile cases aside, adultery is definitely frowned upon in the United States—and new programs are springing up to prevent it and heal its consequences.
In the United States, adultery is more unacceptable than it has been for decades, said a University of Chicago National Opinion Poll quoted in the Detroit News (Jan 31). Those who disapprove of it have grown from 69.8% in 1973 to 78.5% in 1996, according to the poll results released last June.
The Church is responding. The newspaper reported the ministry of Nick and Virginia O'Shea whose 41-year marriage has had to survive two affairs. They credit a program called Retrouvaille (“rediscover” in French), which their Catholic diocese referred them to, with saving their marriage. The two now counsel other married couples on how to avoid adultery—and how to mitigate its consequences.
Described as “Christian-based”, Retrouvaille consists of a weekend retreat followed by six-weekly sessions dealing with topics such as sex, intimacy, listening, and conflict resolution. The program matches troubled couples with “teams” of three presenting couples, according to the article. The presenters explain how they were able to salvage their marriages in the face of grave difficulties, often adultery.
Bud Ozar, director of the Life and Youth Center at the Archdiocese of Detroit explained that Marriage Encounter was designed to help good marriages improve. Retrouvaille is designed to resuscitate marriages that are nearly dead.
Two Women Debate Abortion
On the 25th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion nationwide, MSNBC featured an on-line debate between two members of the Common Ground Network in support and opposition to abortion on demand.
The organization is envisioned as a place for those who favor and oppose abortion to argue their differences civilly. At one point in their debate, the two described how they first formed their positions on abortion. Susan Kloc's reason for supporting abortion came from her experience of sexuality in a young age, she said.
“When I was in college I thought I might be pregnant. I remember the fear, the panic, the shame. Although I did not have to wait long before I found out I was not, the experience stayed with me because I remember thinking about my options. I visited a Planned Parenthood clinic soon after and was grateful to find someone I could talk to who provided me with meaningful birth control information. (This was around 1972-73 when my family doctor asked some leading questions while implying that I was not supposed to be sexually active.)”
Frederica Mathewes-Green, who had an early pro-abortion sticker on her car, “converted” from supporting abortion to opposing it around the same time. She read “What I saw at the abortion” by Richard Selzer in Esquire magazine.
“Selzer described the patient, 19 weeks pregnant, lying back on the operating table, and the doctor sliding into her abdomen the needle of a syringe to deliver a dose of prostaglandin. Then he says he saw something he never expected: the needle began to bob and jerk against the woman's abdomen ‘like a fishing line nibbled by a sunfish.’ … What shook me up about this essay was realizing that in abortion I had welcomed, even celebrated, violence.”
Abortion ‘Pill’ Delayed Indefinitely
Although one New York group of abortion-advocates has raised enough money to provide a limited supply of RU486 to 11 doctors around the country, widespread distribution of the “chemical abortion pill” is “on indefinite hold,” according to the Detroit News (Feb. 1).
What happened to the drug treatment that President Clinton and the Food and Drug Administration have both supported? According to the article: Hoechst AF of Germany, the drug's original distributor, has been forced to limit its markets to England, France, and Sweden under international pressure from pro-lifers.
After the nonprofit Population Council gained U.S. patent rights to the drug in 1996, it chose Joseph Pike to arrange for the drug's production here. It later discovered that he had resigned from the North Carolina Bar in a forgery scandal. After he refused to sell his controlling interest in the project, he had to be taken to court. Control went to a number of investors.
A privately held company called Advances/Neogen was created to handle the introduction of RU486 into the United States, but the chief executive of that company stepped down and no replacement has been named.
The Hungarian company that had made an agreement with Advances/Neogen to manufacture the drug suddenly stopped and did not produce it. “Nobody knows why,” Lawrence Lader of Abortion Rights Mobilization is quoted saying.
As yet, no U.S. drug company is willing to manufacture the drug.
BY Jim Cosgrove
One Church in Costa Mesa, Calif. is addressing the problem of Mexican-Americans whose marriages are not normalized within the Church, according an article published in the Los Angeles Times Saturday, Nov. 15.
St. Joachim Catholic Church in Costa Mesa scheduled 13 marriages that day, according to the article.
“We offer them an inexpensive way to get married,” said Sister Elvita, who helped organize the biannual ceremonies. "Some of them have been married by a justice of peace but [today] they will be making their vows to each other in front of Christ.”
“The Church will perform the ceremonies at 10:00 a.m. and noon. Each will include Communion and the joining of each couple by a lazo, facilitated by the best man and maid of honor.”
“The lazo is like a garland of flowers … two circles together,” Sister Elvita said. “It is a rope that binds them together. In the first ceremony, two of the four couples being married will also have their 6- and 8-monthold babies baptized after they exchange vows.”
The Church covers everything involved in the ceremony, but does ask a $50 donation, according one of the participants quoted in the article. Sister Elvita said that the Church asks that the brides not wear white.
“It can be a simple off-white dress or a dress they can wear another day or on another occasion,” she said.
Before the couples are wed, they must meet the criteria set by the Diocese of Orange County, according to the article.
Sister Rosina Conrotto's ministry was sent in a new direction by a providential coincidence recently, according to an article published in the San Francisco Examiner Sunday, Nov. 16.
One afternoon, she is quoted saying, “I'd found some writings of our foundress, Nano Nagle. The Presentation nuns are mostly thought of as a teaching order, but in 1784, Nagle wrote that one of the order's missions was to take care of the prostitutes in her city of Cork, Ireland.”
Moments later, when she received a phone call from the prostitutionoutreach organization PROMISE, she saw an opportunity to renew that aspect of her order's original mission.
“If Nano Nagle were here today, this safe house is exactly what she'd be doing. It's exactly what we're supposed to be doing.”
Now Sister Conrotto is working with an interfaith group to minister to prostitutes in San Francisco.
“The house is the first of its kind in San Francisco and only the fourth that [organizers] have been able to find in existence in the United States. The others are in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Waikiki.”
The home will not be a place to proselytize, though spiritual help will be available on request. It will simply be a home that gives prostitutes—often, girls as young as 14—an alternative, according to the article.
The new home in San Francisco, which has not yet decided on a name, will be modeled after the highly successful 17-year-old Mary Magdalene Project in Los Angeles.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Felix Luis Rivera's grandchildren can now call him “Father” if they wish. He was ordained a priest Sunday, Sept. 21 in Chicago.
As Adrienne Dell explains in the Sept. 22 Chicago Sun Times, Rivera, “has two sons, a daughter, and five grandchildren from a long, happy marriage to his late wife, Mary.”
The 59-year-old priest celebrated his first Mass in Spanish at St. Michael's Church in Old Town. A deacon for some time, Father Rivera has lived his adult life both in Chicago and Puerto Rico, according to the article.
“On her deathbed in 1993, Mary made her husband promise to return to the seminary where he had studied before their marriage many years before.
“‘I tookyou from the seminary, and Jesus lost you. But I am going to die first, and you will return and become a priest,’ said Father Rivera, recalling his wife's words. His left hand still bears the wedding band that ‘Mary gave me. I will never take it off. She is always with me.’”
Speaking of his children and his new parish, Father Rivera said “I am twice a father,” according to the article.
Are hefty government contributions—often amounting from 60 to 80 percent of their budgets—a boon to cash-starved charities—or doom?
At a Washington meeting last week, public policy scholar Joe Loconte shared some of the results of a study he has done that suggests government's involvement in charity has a strong down-side. He surveyed Massachusetts charities, including the local Catholic Charities, and found growing concern among them that government rules “lock them into inefficient practices.”
Larry Witham reported the story in The Washington Times Sept. 26.
“‘These sorts of warnings are coming from some of the most savvy providers in one of the most progressive states,’ Mr. Loconte said, surprised at how candid charity officials were when he requested interviews.
“The head of Catholic Charities in Boston told him the government contract system has expanded to the point where there is the ‘disappearance of a truly voluntary sector.’”
Some maintain that government's involvement is a safeguard against fraud and abuse in charities, according to the article. Others worry that, “‘Government rules paralyze decision-making and force providers to waste resources,’ he said… ‘[allowing] distant politicians rather than front-line workers to set the priorities.’”
The arrangement also tends to separate “public” charity from religious faith.
“Thus a Catholic charity cannot seek to hire Catholic personnel over non-Catholics. ‘That, to me, is a real problem,’” Mr. Loconte said.