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Monday, March 29, 2010

Uh, right...

Davenport, the city where my bishop has his cathedra, had a bit of a controversy this last weekend. It seems that on the advice of the city civil rights commission, the city manager, without consulting the city council, issued a memo that Good Friday would henceforth be known as Spring Holiday.

Outrage ensued... Aside from the outcry from Christians, a lot of it came from city employees whose contracts stipulate that Good Friday (NOT Spring Holiday) is a city holiday where they are paid time and a half.

Apparently order has been restored thanks to the city quickly backtracking and noting the city manager was out of order.

Hat tip to ABC News and Drudge.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The "Nomenklatura" That Must Disappear

The title given to Magister's latest piece on the Legion of Christ, a naming of names of men who need to go and sooner rather than later.

It is likely that the Vatican authorities will put the Legion under the command of an external commissioner endowed with full powers.

And he will have to be obeyed by the current heads of the congregation, who are the real obstacle to any movement toward renewal, no matter how slight.

But this leadership group is anything but resigned to giving way.

Freed from the annoyance of the visitors, and not yet subjected to the command of the commissioner, during this interim period which they are hoping will last for "several months" they are doing everything they can to consolidate their power and win the support of the majority of the 800 priests of the Legion, and of the other religious and lay members.

This is an excellent point. There needs to be a rooting out immediately. The Church cannot afford more cover-ups.

After giving the list, Magister details the relationships the men currently in place have with the deceased founder of the Legion and then gives a brief account of their actions.

According to some of the testimonies given to the apostolic visitors in recent months, some in this group knew about the founder's double life, about the carnal acts he performed with many of his seminarians over the span of decades, about his lovers, his children, his drug use. But in spite of that, a fortress was built around Maciel in defense of his virtues, devotion to him was fostered among his followers, all of them unaware of the truth, his talents were emphasized, even among the upper hierarchy of the Church. This exaltation of the figure of the founder was so effective that even today it inspires the sense of belonging to the Legion among many of its priests and religious.

Finally is a brief breakdown of where these men come from.

Both are Mexican, like most of the upper echelon of the Legionaries. The second most privileged nationality is Spanish.

The Italians, on the other hand, have always been kept away from the important posts. They are seen as less trustworthy, in addition to having too many connections in the Vatican curia, where the Legionaries have friends but also enemies, and more of them enemies now.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Women in the Sanctuary

Over at TitusOneNine, the Reverend Canon Doctor Harmon has a post with an excerpt from the Detroit Free Press on churches getting creative in adding men to their congregations.

But today, the head of Greater Grace Temple [Charles Ellis III] in Detroit looks out over his flock on Sunday mornings and gazes at a scene where women outnumber men about 2-1. The demographic shift worries him and other Christians looking for ways to draw men back to church.
[...]

To bridge the gap, churches are developing nontraditional programs to reach out to men — from sponsoring hunting trips and car clubs to holding annual men’s conferences. Some have toughened their messages to emphasize power, using masculine imagery in their services.

Longtime readers of Father Z's blog know that Father frequently blogs about how over time a correlation can be drawn between things like Mass attendance and vocations for the priesthood and the entry of women into what were traditionally male roles.

For instance, this is a comment of mine at T19 where I summed up one of Father's points:

Despite all the ballyhoo attempting to prove some kind of causation between priestly celibacy and the decline in vocations, the number of vocations in the Catholic Church started falling off just when women were being introduced into the sanctuaries as readers and music leaders and communion ministers.

The most obvious and visible expression of this trend can be seen in the altar servers (/altar boys being now out of fashion/). As dioceses across the US one by one started allowing girls to join the ranks of servers, the boys who had always enthusiastically sought the job started coming out less and less. The raw material of the Catholic priesthood has been cut off at the source.

Most of the comments at T19 come from Protestants in churches that may or may not have a female clergy, so the comments on the post covering the Detroit story reflect that outlook. One in particular had this to say:

I strongly disagree with the idea that men follow men because they’re men. I think that men generally don’t choose to follow women pastors because women pastors tend to focus on a damp, huggy, indistinct, kumbaya unitarian Christ who accepts you as you are, so there’s nothing to do. Men would rather focus on the rules and how to “win,” thereby.

While the Catholic Church does not have a female clergy and I wouldn't be so bold as to offer such an all-encompassing generalization, the Church has been undergoing since Vatican II a fight between traditional elements of the faith and what the above describes as a "focus on a damp, huggy, indistinct, kumbaya unitarian Christ who accepts you as you are, so there’s nothing to do." At the same time as noted above, women have taken a greater role, not least of which is the catechizing of Catholic youth. When I was in CCD, I was taught mostly by women. Most of them were pious and devout, but in a few classes, the "touchy-feelly" was pronounced.

Coupled with Father Z's points, an explanation arises for the following given in another comment:

OK, I was able to track down the data and found a nerd’s dream site:

Denomination Percent of parishes with 56% or more female
ROMAN CATHOLIC 73.2%
BAPTIST 69.1%
METHODIST 80.1%
LUTHERAN 76.1%
PRESBYTERIAN OR REFORMED 77.8%
PENTECOSTAL 77.9%
OTHER MODERATE OR LIBERAL PROTESTANTS 86.1%
EPISCOPAL CHURCH 85.1%
OTHER CHRISTIAN, NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED 56.0%
OTHER CHRISTIAN, NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED 60.1%
NON-CHRISTIAN 57.6%

To have a lot of geeky fun, do the following steps:

# Go to the National Congregations home page.
# Clicked “explore the survey data”
# Under “Create Cross-tabulations of Two Variables”Wave 2: 2006-2007 data
# Clicked under the first Variable. “Denomination.” For the second variable choose “Percent of regular adult attendees are Female”

May mix it up. Caution: data junkies can spend a lot of time with this site.
# Clicked: “I want my tables to reflect the number of persons in congregations”
# Clicked: Create Frequency Table.

Bolding my own. Let's rearrange those from greatest to least:

OTHER MODERATE OR LIBERAL PROTESTANTS 86.1%
EPISCOPAL CHURCH 85.1%
METHODIST 80.1%
PENTECOSTAL 77.9%
PRESBYTERIAN OR REFORMED 77.8%
LUTHERAN 76.1%
ROMAN CATHOLIC 73.2%
BAPTIST 69.1%
OTHER CHRISTIAN, NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED 60.1%
NON-CHRISTIAN 57.6%
OTHER CHRISTIAN, NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED 56.0%

The Catholic Church isn't at the top of that list, but it can certainly do better that three-fourths.

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent

An important message from Father Z:

You are all going to die.

I am going to die. You are going to die.

There is no way around it.

When we die, and we will, we will be judged.

Heaven and Hell are the only alternatives.

Both of them are never going to end.

Heaven or Hell are not like going on a really good or really bad cruise.

So, get ready.

You could die before you click away from this page.

Or it could be in a few more years.

But it is going to happen.

You might have some warning and lead time.

You might not.

One day that funeral procession that blocks traffic and keeps you sitting an [sic] waiting at the light is going to be about you.

Get ready.

You will have to account for what you have done with your life.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Father Coyle

by Sharon Davies

Remembering the 1921 slaying of Father James E. Coyle
[From Columbia, the magazine of the Knights of Columbus.]

Father James E. Coyle, an extraordinary priest and Knight of Columbus in the early 20th century, courageously stood up against widely-held anti-Catholic views at the risk, and then cost, of his life.

The Irish-born priest was scarcely in his 20s when, after his ordination in Rome, he was dispatched to Alabama to begin his priesthood. The Catholic population in Alabama had exploded with a promise of jobs, especially in and around Birmingham’s network of coal mines, steel mills and iron foundries. Father Coyle arrived in the city shortly before a wave of anti-Catholicism flooded the country, and the revived Ku Klux Klan (KKK) rebranded itself as a “patriotic” fraternity, targeting blacks, Catholics, Jews and foreigners.

[Read it all.]

Curial Reform, Where Art Thou?

From Damian Thompson:

I wrote: “Unfortunately for the Pope, his enemies inside the Church, who include members of the College of Cardinals, are happy for him to take the rap. Ratzinger was never ‘one of the boys’, the ‘magic circle’ of bishops who covered for each other, and now he is paying for it.”

The world’s cardinals (”they” – CMOC) may have elected Joseph Ratzinger pope by a large majority, but the Vatican is stuffed with curial officials, some of high rank, who resent the fact that Benedict has always been his own man. He has an inner circle, of course, but it’s small – and it’s not made up of canapé-chomping ecumenical back-slappers. Also, even some “conservative” curial officials from the JPII era are horribly snooty about the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and resent its liberation by this great pontiff.

So when the media stitched up the Pope over these Munich allegations, there wasn’t too much support from Vatican II-obsessed Roman Monsignori. Or their grey-shirted English muckers.

To the Irish

PASTORAL LETTER
OF THE HOLY FATHER
POPE BENEDICT XVI
TO THE CATHOLICS OF IRELAND


(Click above to read the full text)


Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blasphemy in Italy

ANSA.it: Soccer: Blasphemy cards to be used 'with care'

(ANSA) - Rome, March 17 - Italian soccer's new crackdown on blasphemous comments by players and coaches should be applied "with common sense," the head of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said Wednesday.

Responding to protests from clubs, CONI President Gianni Petrucci recalled that blasphemy is a crime under Italian law and he was glad to have suggested the campaign to Italian Soccer Federation chief Giancarlo Abete.

Petrucci, whose organisation oversees all Italian sport, said the campaign to give offending players red cards would go ahead but "FIGC will apply it with common sense".

"Blasphemy is not at all a secondary thing," he insisted, "but we have to handle it with care".

The drive to stamp out irreligious oaths has claimed international headlines and spurred protests from coaches including Juventus's Alberto Zaccheroni who said "championships could be altered by this overzealous campaign".
[...]

In an amateur match, three red cards were handed out for sacrilegious language, leaving one team with ten men and the other with nine.

I'm impressed. When I first glanced at the headline on the main English page, I thought it would be an article about a Muslim majority country in the Developing World, but Italy! That surprised me. Yeah, I know Italy is fighting the crucifix ruling from the EU, but a crucifix in a classroom seems pretty tame compared to referees handing out red cards for blasphemy. True, it's not the state mandating this...

But if it's a law and the sport wants to regulate itself and its players, I'm all for it.

I am interested in what constitutes blasphemy under Italian law and if it is specific to the Judeo-Christian God.

Medjugorje

ESTABLISHMENT OF INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON MEDJUGORJE

VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today published the following communique:

"An international investigative commission on Medjugorje has been constituted, under the presidency of Cardinal Camillo Ruini and dependent upon the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Said commission - made up of cardinals, bishops, specialists and experts - will work privately, submitting the results of its work to the authority of the dicastery".
OP/INVESTIGATIVE COMMISSION/RUINIVIS 100317 (80)

It begins.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Legionaries: A Conclusion?

Magister talks about the conclusion of the visitation to the Legion of Christ. Most of it is recounting the past, but a few snippets are new:

The apostolic visit began on July 15, 2009. And the five bishop visitors fulfilled their mandate halfway through this month of March, with the delivery of their report to the Vatican authorities. They were Ricardo Watti Urquidi, bishop of Tepic in Mexico; Charles J. Chaput, archbishop of Denver; Giuseppe Versaldi, bishop of Alessandria; Ricardo Ezzato Andrello, archbishop of Concepción in Chile; and Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, bishop of Bilbao.

It will be the Vatican authorities who decide what to do. The three cardinals charged with the case are Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, and Franc Rodé, prefect of the congregation for institutes of consecrated life.

But the last word will belong to Benedict XVI, the most prescient of all. Even before he was elected pope and when Maciel still had very powerful protectors in the Vatican, Joseph Ratzinger ordered an extensive investigation of the accusations against the founder of the Legionaries. And as pope, on May 19, 2006, he sentenced him to "a retired life of prayer and penance."
[...]

But that the current leaders of the Legionaries should be left at the head of the congregation is entirely unlikely. The more probable decision is that the Holy See will appoint a fully empowered commissioner of its own, and will set the guidelines for a thorough reform, including the replacement of the current leaders.

But rebuilding from the ground up a congregation still deeply influenced by its disgraced founder will be an arduous enterprise. [Magister then describes the insidious influence of Father Maciel.]

Over the eight months of the apostolic visit, this control was relaxed only in part. Some priests told the visitors about the things they believed were wrong. Others have left the congregation and been incardinated into the diocesan clergy. Others have continued to defend Maciel's legacy. Others feel lost. Still others, finally, have faith in the rebuilding on new foundations of a religious congregation that is part of their lives and that they continue to love.

Others may have faith in a rebuilding, but I don't unless two things happen.

1. All the top and mid-level men in the LC need to be removed from office.

2. The statutes and all the other handbooks and rulebooks handed down by Maciel need to be revised completely. If the LC wants to do it itself, under the direct supervision of the incoming commissioner, then the revisers need to be men who were NOT Maciel's top lieutenants and managers.

If Cardinal Ruini weren't already tapped by Vatican watchers to lead the alleged commission to Medjugorje, he'd be a great no-nonsense prelate to tackle this task.

Time and prayer will tell.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Fisichella to Siena?

From Father Finigan:

The Italian blog of the great Magister (Settimo Cielo) [surprise, surprise!] has carried several related articles recently, including a spat over comments made by Fr Federico Lombardi, the Director of the Vatican Press Office. The most significant article is Accademia per la vita, addio. Fisichella fa le valigie per Siena. (Goodbye Academy for Life. Fisichella packs his bags for Siena.) The speculation is that Archbishop Fisichella recently refused the Diocese of Modena, had dreamed of being Cardinal Archbishop of Turin, but is in fact going to Siena.

Archbishop Fisichella seems to be taking the rap fair and square, and will probably be glad to get some fresh air away from Rome. Not for the first time, the Secretariat of State seems to come up smelling of roses while someone else takes the hit. I wonder just how long it can continue before a big enough gaffe brings about some changes there?

Bolding my own. Readers may remember Archbishop Fisichella from earlier postings about the Brazilian abortion fiasco and the discontent among members of the Pontifical Academy of Life regarding their president and the undercurrents leading back to the Secretariat of State and Cardinal Bertone.

Father Finigan's summary of the reporting of this situation is appreciated!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Merry del Val and the Modern Secretariat

This piece from Magister on Rafael Merry del Val is from a few days ago. Magister sets up the contrast between Merry del Val and the current occupant of the office he held, Cardinal Bertone and then reprints the profile of Merry del Val by Gianpaolo Romanato. The profile details the secretary's close collaboration with st. Pius X.

The most interesting part is not the profile, thought I found it quite informative. Rather it is Magister's set-up, especially this paragraph:

Because of this and other fiascos, the past year will be remembered as the "annus horribilis" of the Bertone secretariat, both inside the Vatican and outside, considering the friction between the secretariat of state and various national episcopacies among the strongest and most faithful to the pope, in Italy, the United States, and Brazil.

Bolding is mine.