Latest Fad: Monastery Retreats

TIME, Aug. 3—Monks who retreated to the Egyptian deserts of the fourth century did so to escape faddish society and grow closer to God. But their solitude didn't last, reminded a recent report in Time magazine.

“As Christianity became legalized and then haute, the Desert Fathers and Mothers found themselves overrun by hipsters from Alexandria and Rome.”

Time's Tamala Edwards writes that the phenomenon may be repeating itself in America. Monasteries and convents across the country today are often being booked months in advance by “baby-boomers,” many of them non-Catholic.

“There is even a popular guidebook, Sanctuaries, that helps readers choose a great monastery or convent. While organized church retreats are not new, what is startling is that much of the increase is in individual retreatants, including many Protestants and even non-Christians.… Now, say the monks, if only they could keep the growing horde down to the true spiritual seekers, not just vacationers at Club God.”

The religious who run the homes say they are playing the odds, considering their centers a “halfway house” according to one and banking that, if they have to keep silence, retreatants can't hide from God.

ABC Says Church Teachings Hurt the Sick

ABC NIGHTLY NEWS, July 21—To Catholics tired of an atmosphere of tolerance toward everyone but them, it seems that every new month brings another story about the ABC-Disney company attacking the Catholic lifestyle and those who choose it.

The ABC Nightly News “A Closer Look” segment July 21 focused on the important moral issues at stake when Catholic and non-Catholic hospital systems merge.

“It appears that there was a predetermined story line predicated on the biased premise that communities in this country are ill served because Catholic hospitals remain faithful to the ethical and religious directives of the Catholic Church,” wrote Catholic Health Care Association President Father Michael Place in a letter to ABC.

In his letter, Father Place outlined several points where viewers were presented with “outright inaccuracies, subjective value judgments presented as fact, or distorted facts.”

He quoted the ABC report as saying: “Medical decisions are increasingly being made by bishops, not doctors”; “Catholic hospitals are ultimately owned by the Vatican”; “Because of the Catholic Church's rules about birth control and abortion, there have been severe consequences for patients.”

Cokie Roberts Remembers Vatican Ambassador as Mom

PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE, July 23 —TV news commentator Cokie Roberts'new book is called We are Our Mothers'Daughters. In her case, she is Lindy Boggs's daughter, the new U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican installed last year.

When her book tour made a stop there, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette asked Roberts about her mother. Her job “puts her in the interesting position of explaining Bill Clinton to the Pope,” Roberts said. But, “If anyone can do this, my mother can.”

She recalled that her capable mother not only took over her husband's congressional seat when he died in an airplane crash years ago but also has done such things as cook for 1,500 wedding guests when Cokie married fellow journalist Steve Roberts.

“Roberts still has this image burned into her brain, she said, acting out the motions: Her mother, balancing a grandchild on one hip, using that hand to stir a bowl of batter on her other hip, cradling the phone in her neck, and dictating a speech to be delivered the next day,” said the report.