Media Watch

Pulitzer Critique of Bishops Not Accurate, Says Report

ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 12 — “The Bishops vs. the Bible,” the title of author Garry Wills' June 27 op-ed piece in The New York Times, underscored his theme that abortion is “nowhere mentioned in either Jewish or Christian Scripture.” Because of that, he said, bishops cannot supplant personal conscience “with some divine imperative.”

His summation, “Scripture is silent,” was surprisingly simplistic for a Pulitzer Prize-winner, said AP religion writer Richard Ostling. Ostling said Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”) said Church opposition is based upon “the written Word of God,” but freely acknowledged that the Bible lacks any direct commandment.

Like many, the Pope also drew upon a New Testament passage, Luke 1:39-45. Here, Elizabeth's unborn son John the Baptist leaps in her womb as the visiting Mary says she is pregnant with Jesus.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes Jeremiah 1:5, where God tells the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”

In the New Testament, Paul writes similarly that God “set me apart before I was born” (Galatians 1:15).

New York Priest Accused of Bilking Elderly Woman

THE NEW YORK TIMES, July 14 — A lawsuit accuses Msgr. John Woolsey, pastor in a wealthy neighborhood in Manhattan, N.Y., and the former director of the Family Life Office in the Archdiocese of New York, of inducing a parishioner to give him stock and $100,000 to buy a condominium on the New Jersey Shore when she was in her 80s.

The case makes it clear that relationships between priests and elderly wealthy parishioners are a potential minefield, said the Times, which quoted other pastors offered donations by elderly parishioners.

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said in a separate statement that he is a longtime friend of Msgr. Woolsey's and considered him “one of the finest priests I have ever met.” Donohue called the charges “ludicrous” and urged people to wait until the court case is settled before making a judgment.

Bishop Makes Changes for Doctrine

THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT, July 10 — Six weeks after taking office, Bishop Francis DiLorenzo is reshaping the Diocese of Richmond, Va. to bring it into close conformity with Catholic teaching. That intention is most obvious with Bishop DiLorenzo's announcement in June that parishes must have guest speakers vetted by the diocesan theologian, a post re-established by the bishop.

Father Russell Smith is Bishop DiLorenzo's choice as diocesan theologian. Father Smith also will be responsible for ensuring that no one who deviates from Catholic doctrine is invited by a church group or parish to lead a retreat, hold a workshop or give a guest lecture “on Catholic property.” The priest said the precise definitions of orthodoxy can be found in the Catechism and Canon Law.

But within the bounds of orthodoxy, he said, Bishop DiLorenzo “is very broad-minded when it comes to the Church. No community or activity will be marginalized as long as it's authentically Catholic.”

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