U.S. Notes & Quotes

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.”