Saturday, June 30, 2007

No more rumors to await? Au Contraire! How 'Bout Lay Cardinals? How 'Bout Women Cardinals?

Ruth Gledhill: The indult is on its way, to be published 7 July. Some senior bishops already have it. Meanwhile, I am trying to check out a bizarre rumour I've heard - I stress it is just a rumour at present and really barely bloggable, never mind reportable - that Pope Benedict plans on reviving the ancient office of lay cardinal. Further, that the first two lay cardinals appointed will be our own Tony Blair, and France's Jacques Chirac. The picture shows Giacomo Antonelli, one of the last of the lay cardinals

I'm knowingly 'flying a kite' here but it would be an extraordinary story if true.

In the meantime, here in the UK we on the religious frontline are already feeling the impact of Gordon Brown's move into Downing Street. Those who griped that Tony Blair, for all his outward devotion, was unsound on certain Catholic doctrines as expressed in areas of public policy, must now be wishing for the 'devil they knew'. (Update: I asked a friend to look into the lay cardinal rumour. I could never have anticipated the level of truth they discovered in the rumour, and the machinations behind the rumour. It also clarifies a point for me made clear in Martin's comment, below. This is what my friend tells me: 'I have a suspicion that there is a plan for lay cardinals, both to empower the laity but also to hold out to the prospect of serious office to laity, so that some would not make their careers as dissidents. Chirac and Blair maybe being suggested to ruin the plan.')

Fotomertel Teodolfo Mertel, pictured here, was the last one. The idea has been around for a while, I'm told. Jacques Maritain was suggested at one point. It is possible the idea is being put about by some in the Community of Sant'Egidio, although this is not how it reached me. This is a public lay evangelisation movement with more than 50,000 members founded in Rome in the 1960s by Andrea Riccardi, then a student. He is known colloquially as 'the Lay Cardinal of Rome'. Tony Blair is known to have close contacts with this community. Conservatives in Rome will oppose lay cardinals, however, because of the danger of clericalising the laity. Also, in the modern world, would even the Catholic Church be able to resist a demand for there to be women lay cardinals? Too much to hope for that it would embrace it I suppose. Women cardinals in Rome in my lifetime, what a dream. Sounds good, doesn't it, Cardinal Ruth Gledhill? Cardinal Libby Purves? See what I mean. In another century perhaps. Rome has enough troubles with the pseudo-clerical laity already, without giving them (us?) red hats to go with it.

But never mind Rome for the moment. These are exciting and challenging times in Britain. There is no Secretary of State for Religion, but religion manages to stay up there on all the agendas. And there is one notable feature that all Gordon Brown's appointments have in common. They are all incredibly, formidably bright.

Our transport correspondent is already considering the impact on his work of the hard-to-read Ruth Kelly. Personally, I am wondering if there is any way I can use my religious contacts to persuade her to change the signposting on the A4 out of London so that all the M3 traffic doesn't get diverted past my front door in Richmond. (Just kidding.)

But I'm thinking primarly of Alan Johnson's move to health.

Mr Johnson was Education Secretary when the churches' lobbying, primarly the Roman Catholic Church's lobbying, scuppered his proposal to impose a 25 per cent 'other faith or no faith' quota on faith schools. I doubt he's forgiven them. The mood in the country, after months and months of campaigning by Life charities, has seemed to be one of lowering the abortion limit and generally tightening up the law. That momentum, some fear, could now be lost.

Here is what SPUC are saying this morning. They fear he will 'support wider provision of abortion and other anti-life practices.'

Soon after becoming a member of parliament in 1997, Mr Johnson signed two parliamentary motions, one defending an alleged "woman's right to choose" abortion and another condemning "restrictive abortion laws". In 2000, Mr Johnson voted in favour of stem cell research on cloned embryos. In 2004, Mr Johnson voted against pro-life amendments to the Mental Capacity Act, which according to SPUC "enshrined in statute law euthanasia by omission."

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: "We fear that, if abortion is introduced into the debate when the government's draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill comes before parliament, the government will give at least tacit support to amendments to extend abortion provision. Whether or not the government grants a free vote to backbench MPs, past parliamentary experience proves that signals of the government's opinion heavily influences the way backbench MPs vote. Pro-life parliamentarians should therefore not attempt to open up the abortion law on the floor of Parliament whilst a government-backed pro-abortion majority holds sway, lest there be a repeat of the 1990 defeat of the pro-life lobby."

In a way, it is a shame that Tony Blair did not convert while in office. I fear it might be many more years before we get the chance to have a Catholic Prime Minister in Britain. Not that I'm any apologist for Rome, far from it. It just does seem to me a scandal we've never had one. And equally that we've not had a Jewish one. Now that's a thought. Maybe that's a rumour I could start, Gordon Brown about to convert to Judaism? I don't think so somehow, although there is still gossip going about that Margaret Thatcher was tempted that way.

Still, that's enough on the rumour front for now. Time to get going on establishing the facts about that elusive indult!
Times of London (and check out the comments!)

Strib Ignores Archbishop Nienstedt Welcoming Mass and Reception

Why is this news that they didn't cover it, you wonder? Par for the course! Just a reminder.

I can't find a thing in today's Internet version of the Red Star that covers a news event of interest to upwards of a million Catholics in Minnesota.

This is what they did cover today:

Two men in Flaming SUV ram Scotland airport
Lingerie Wars to enliven Uptown
"My Mom signed up for Facebook!"
Mpls settles fourth lawsuit against ex-fire chief
Mpls Wi-Fi hits parts of downtown

Flock welcomes new shepherd: Packed House at the Cathedral!


The future leader of the Catholic Church in the Twin Cities got to the point a few minutes into his homily.

He is not coming to divide the Catholics of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis - his mission is to unify the faithful.

"Much ink has been spilled in the press over speculation about how this new coadjutor will differ from the present archbishop," Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt said during his welcome Mass on Friday at the Cathedral of St. Paul. "But frankly, I believe that speculation is misplaced."

About 3,000 people filled the cathedral - including more than 300 priests, two cardinals, innumerable archbishops and bishops - for the 2½-hour Mass that marked the beginning of the transition from Archbishop Harry Flynn's leadership to Nienstedt's. [Plus more Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus than anybody around here had ever seen, several squadrons of Papal Knights and their Dames, a phalanx of seminarians and many representatives of Nuns and Brothers. More could have attended if the Cathedral, one of the largest in the U.S. were larger. ]

"This is historical," said Bob Cardinal, a volunteer handing out programs to worshippers. "You have cardinals, bishops. The whole foundation of the church is here. It's huge."

Nienstedt, 60, will work with Flynn, 74, until the archbishop's retirement next year. Then Nienstedt takes over spiritual leadership of the archdiocese, including its 495 priests and 646,000 parishioners.

The thrust of the Mass was about inclusion, not only in its message but in its language: A Gospel reading was in Vietnamese, a Psalm was sung in Spanish, and a section of the petitions included recitations in Tagalog, Nigerian, German and Gaelic.

Nienstedt even wove a greeting in Hmong - translated to "the Lord be with you" into his homily.

After Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic letter appointing Nienstedt as coadjutor archbishop was read, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. One woman hooted, while another jumped up and down until she doubled over from the excitement.

The atmosphere surrounding the event was almost like a festival, with volunteers directing hundreds of cars through the Cathedral Hill neighborhood while a couple dozen worshippers sang, clapped and beat tambourines outside the cathedral.

Friday's celebration contrasted with April's announcement that the former bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minn., would fill the post. Some speculated Nienstedt's theologically conservative approach would clash with more progressive views held by Catholics under Flynn's guidance - especially on issues like homosexuality and women in the priesthood.

But Nienstedt tried to quell those concerns during his welcome Mass.

"Leadership in Christ's church should not be about the differences in personality or administrative styles, but rather about our commitment to the message and mission of the Lord Jesus," Nienstedt said.

The future archbishop used his homily to pledge support for Catholic schools, the sanctity of life and careers in the

About 3,000 people, including some 300 priests and higher clergy, attended the Mass, where Nienstedt pledged to work for unity. (JEAN PIERI, Pioneer Press)

"My mission, our mission, Christ's mission is to promote a culture of life and to build a society of justice and peace," Nienstedt said.

The congregation took the message to heart.

"If the fear is that he's going to throw us back into the Dark Ages, that's a misconception," said Tom Kneissel, a parishioner at St. Bernard's in St. Paul. "If anything, he'll lead us closer to the faith."

John Paul Morgan, a St. Paul seminarian, said he felt emboldened by Nienstedt's support of young men looking to get into the priesthood.

"It's a great blessing to have a shepherd who's dedicated to promoting vocations in the archdiocese," he said.

Church dignitaries, such as Cardinal Adam Maida, of the Detroit Archdiocese, and Cardinal Justin Rigali, of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, were joined at the Mass by local public figures, including Laurie Coleman, wife of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, and St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington.

Flynn ended the Mass with a wish for Nienstedt's future in the archdiocese: "May your years be as happy as mine have been since I've become a priest."

The Mass was followed by a reception at the "old Radisson Hotel" downtown St Paul, well attended with an exceedingly long reception line for our new shepherd. He'll probably need physical therapy on Monday. A Tip of the Hat goes to the Chancery for pulling off the logistical feat of getting busses for more than 1,000 people to move folks the half mile to the hotel and back to the parking lots. Net Ministries and St Paul Outreach volunteers cheerfully managed the crowd. No swords were needed from the attendant Knights to keep the happy Catholics, many from New Ulm and Detroit (where Abp Nienstedt was first a priest and Auxiliary Bishop) in line.

Mary from Veritatis Splendor (the Roamin' Roman herself) has a link to Archbishop Nienstedt's homily and some nice comments on it and the Mass and Reception.

Mary's Photographs from the Mass and a couple from the Reception

Catholic Spirit Article About the Mass and Reception (written before they took place)

The Masculinization of the Church: We need more Jerome Blazevics

The Rev. Noel Stretton of St. Elizabeth’s Church was betting that Jerome Blazevic wouldn’t show up for Friday night’s Duluth Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“We cannot get him to come to any of the recognition dinners,” said Stretton, who described Blazevic as too modest to be thanked for his volunteerism at the Gary-New Duluth church.

But Stretton would have lost that bet — Blazevic was on hand when his name was announced as the 82nd entrant to the hall, which recognizes stellar volunteer service to the Duluth community. I’ve evaded this position for many years, and you finally caught up with me,” Blazevic, 82, said in his short acceptance speech at Northland Country Club.

Blazevic, a fixture of the western Duluth community, wasrecognized for his decades of volunteerism with several Duluth groups and organizations.

“He’s done 40 or 50 years’ worth of stuff,” said Al Braff, program director for the Duluth council of Boy Scouts of America.

Braff said Blazevic led a troop of Boy Scouts for many years and made several trips to the Boy Scouts’ National Jamboree.

“He’s a spectacular guy,” Braff said.

“He’s one of those people who never has to be asked,” Stretton said. “If he sees something to be done, he goes off and does and he never wants to be thanked.”

Blazevic helps open and close the church, Stretton said. Until recently, he also worked with the church’s religious education program. He also presides over bingo at St. Eligius Health Center once a month.

“When he turned 80, he said, ‘It’s time for me to do things for myself now,’ but, of course, he doesn’t,” Stretton said.

Sue Matuszak nominated Blazevic for induction into the Duluth Hall of Fame. She got to know him by bringing her daughter, Kaylee, to the swimming lessons that Blazevic teachers at Morgan Park School.

“He helps people like crazy,” Matuszak said. “A couple of weeks ago, he was late for swimming lessons because he was up in Ely, leading a group of disabled vets [on a camping trip].”

When Kaylee Matuszak heard that Blazevic, a trapper and avid outdoorsman, was bringing an educational display to another school, she asked if he could bring it to Hermantown Elementary, too. Blazevic did.

Another time, Kaylee was reading a book of ghost stories that mentioned Spirit Island in the St. Louis River. She asked Blazevic about it, and he ended up taking her out to the island so she could see it herself.

“He’s so giving of his time,” Matuszak said. Duluth NewsTribune

Long Holiday Weekend at the Pioneer Press?

Dateline: Pioneer Press Article Last Updated: 06/28/2007 06:39:59 PM CDT


Pope Benedict XVI is going to allow wider use of the Latin Mass, which disappeared from most Catholic churches in the years following church reforms of the 1960s. The Mass, the central liturgy of the church, is usually said in the parishioners' native language.

Some people will argue whether this return to Latin is a step forward or a step backward. But we imagine it as a business opportunity... .

Worried about sounding stupid in the pews on Sunday? Call the Mea Culpa Crew!

Mea Culpa Crew members come to your house dressed in cassocks and surplices just like real altar boys! They assess your Latin skills and provide intensive training so that you don't get caught mumbling during the Confiteor!

All Mea Culpa Crew associates are 50s-and-older men who were once altar boys and cannot get those phrases out of their heads! And guess what - they don't know what it means, either!

Call 1-555-MEA-CULP and tell us how long it has been since your last Latin Mass! Pioneer Press

Roman Standard Time: Why does that seem to be like a snail's pace

Yesterday, the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis welcomed its new Co-adjutor Archbishop, John Nienstedt, fifteen months or so after Archbishop Harry Flynn had requested one, and one year after a decision was rumored by many knowledgeable sources, in and out of the Curia. The day before yesterday, Father Peter Christensen of St Paul was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Superior, 20 months after Bishop Raphael Fliss had submitted his retirement request.

A week from today, July 7, it is expected that the long expected Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict loosening the requirements for priests who desire to say the Mass using the old Latin version attributed to Pope Pius V, often called the Tridentine Mass, last updated by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and virtually outlawed since the adoption of the Novus Ordo Mass using English in 1969.

They sure do take a long time to make decisions in Rome. I've often joked that that is why the Church has lasted 2,000 years (forgetting the promises of Our Lord).

Sandro Magister, columnist for the Italian magazine, L'Espresso, a professor at an Italian university and author of the widely distributed internet column "Chiesa" (Church), is acknowledged by most to be the most knowledgeable person in the world communicating about what is happening in the Church. Today he deals with "Roman Standard Time" in his column, Roman Curia: The Reform that isn't there.

The last great reform of the Vatican curia was made by Paul VI in the fifth year of his pontificate. Benedict XVI is in his third year, but there’s nothing to indicate that he is preparing anything similar.

The few appointments made in the curia so far by pope Joseph Ratzinger, interpreted by almost everyone as the preannouncement of a systemic revolution, have remained what they were: few and isolated. The most spectacular of his initial decisions was even revoked.
Joseph Ratzinger worked in the curia for 24 years before being elected pope. He knows it better than anyone else. He arrived there with the anti-Roman distrust typical of the Germans. But he later acknowledged that he had been won over. “One of the things that I learned well in Rome is how to bide time,” he said in a book-length interview in 1985. “Biding one’s time can be a positive thing; it can permit a situation to settle, to mature, and so to clarify itself.”

Perhaps this is exactly the way in which Benedict XVI intends to discipline the curia. For the two crucial appointments at the beginning of any pontificate – that of secretary of state and that of his deputy – he waited until the resistance and rivalries had dwindled down to nothing.
In the third year of his reign, it is by now evident that reform of the curia does not figure among the priorities on Benedict XVI’s agenda.

In part because of his advanced age, pope Ratzinger has drastically pared down the matters to which he dedicates himself body and soul: before all else, preaching, the liturgical celebrations, and the book “Jesus of Nazareth,” the second volume of which, on the passion and resurrection, he is already writing.

On these absolute priorities, Benedict XVI is not “biding his time”; on the contrary, he dedicates himself to them with a tireless passion equal to the crystalline clarity with which he formulates his theses. Pope Ratzinger never minces words on the controversial questions close to his heart. He clearly says what is the right thing to do: in the field of the liturgy as in the field of public ethics, for example on whether or not to receive communion if one maintains that abortion is permissible. But in the end, the pope wants to leave these decisions to conscience. More than issuing orders and establishing sanctions, he aims at educating, at convincing.
And it’s not only the appointments – documents, too, can undergo long delays intended to smooth over resistance.

The pope’s letter to Chinese Catholics that was promised for Easter was put off until the summer, in order to find a formulation that would satisfy both the “realist” diplomats, the ones most accommodating toward the Beijing authorities, and the “neoconservatives” like the cardinal of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, who are much more combative.

Another document that was announced repeatedly but delayed a number of times was the one that authorizes more extensive use of the Roman missal in Latin that was in effect until 1969. Here the opponents are both within and outside of the curia, and the pope listened to all of them.

One reason for this preventive caution was the deluge of criticism that continues to assail, forty years later, certain daring innovations made by Paul VI in the areas of the curia and conclaves.

Instead of going up against the machine, Benedict XVI limits himself to placing here and there in the curia his trusted men: from Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Sri Lanka, made secretary of the congregation for divine worship, to his former right hand man at the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Bertone. Or he calls in prominent personalities from the outside: like Brazilian cardinal Cláudio Hummes, and the former archbishop of Bombay, Ivan Dias.
Much more than curia appointments, Benedict XVI has at heart the appointment of bishops.

He dedicates much greater attention to these than John Paul II did. Before giving his permission, the pope keeps the dossiers of the designates on his desk for up to two or three weeks. And sometimes he rejects them, without giving an explanation to the competent curia dicastery presided over by cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.

Pope Ratzinger is very demanding; he wants bishops of quality, and doesn’t always find them. The pace of episcopal appointments has fallen by a quarter with him, in comparison with the previous pontificate.

To explain to the Roman curia what it was not supposed to be, Paul VI described it in 1967, the year of his reform, as “a pretentious and sluggish bureaucracy, entirely wrapped in rule and ritual, a breeding ground for ambition and sordid antagonism.”

But Benedict XVI is not tender, either. On May 7, 2006, while ordaining 15 new priests for the diocese of Rome at Saint Peter’s, he recalled in the homily that, shortly before describing himself as the good shepherd, Jesus said of himself “I am the door.” And he continued:

“It is through Him that one must enter the service of shepherd. Jesus highlights very clearly this basic condition by saying: 'he who climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber" (Jn 10: 1). This word 'climbs' – 'anabainei' in Greek – conjures up the image of someone climbing over a fence to get somewhere out of bounds to him. 'To climb' – here too we can also see the image of careerism, the attempt to "get ahead", to gain a position through the Church: to make use of and not to serve. It is the image of a man who wants to make himself important, to become a person of note through the priesthood; the image of someone who has as his aim his own exaltation and not the humble service of Jesus Christ. But the only legitimate ascent towards the shepherd's ministry is the Cross. This is the true way to rise; this is the true door."

Diocese of Winona creates interactive online community to educate on abuse

The Diocese of Winona has launched an interactive online learning community to educate people in the diocese about recognizing and reporting child abuse.

The project – a collaboration of the diocese and the Professional Learning Board, which creates online training programs – allows adults who are regularly involved with minors to take online courses to complete the training required by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Moving the program from the classroom to the Internet will help the diocese reach its large rural audience, said P.J. Thompson, chancellor of the diocese.

"An online learning community is the best way we have found to reach virtually all of the people in our diocese that work with children in a religious, education or volunteer capacity," Thompson said in an announcement about the program, available through the "Safe Environment" link on the diocesan Web site,

Members of the diocese can reach the online safe environment learning community through any computer that connects to the Internet. Once they are online, users can interact and share ideas about how to create and maintain safe environments for children.

"It is so important that our churches, schools, homes and individual communities are safe for all God's people – especially our children," Bishop Bernard J. Harrington of Winona said in a statement.

The new learning community will also make it easier for the diocese to track the compliance of participants to ensure they are meeting USCCB standards. Catholic Online

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Father Peter Christensen of Nativity of Our Lord in St Paul is Bishop of Superior

Father Peter F. Christensen has been appointed as the Bishop of Superior, Wisconsin.

Father Christensen, born in Pasadena, CA, in 1952, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis in 1985 and has been pastor of the parish of The Nativity of Our Lord in the Macalester-Groveland area of St Paul since 1999. Bio from the Nativity Web Site

Bishop Raphael Fliss of Superior was born in Milwaukee in 1930 and ordained in that same city in 1956. He was appointed Co-Adjustor Bishop of Superior in 1979 and Bishop of that city in 1985. He will be 77 in October and submitted his retirement letter to the Pope almost two years ago.

Bishop-Elect Christensen interview with Superior Catholic Herald

Pioneer Press Article

Catholic Spirit Article

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The motu proprio liberating the Tridentine Mass for the entire Catholic Church has been given to about 30 bishops from all over the world in the Sala Bologna of the Apostolic Palace by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone

Vatican (
Die Welt report that the motu proprio liberating the Tridentine Mass for the entire Catholic Church has been given to about 30 bishops from all over the world in the Sala Bologna of the Apostolic Palace by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone.

The bishops had been invited to Rome for that purpose. At the end of the meeting, in which the motu proprio was introduced together with a letter of explanation by Pope Benedict XVI., Pope Benedict met with the bishops. The document is about three pages long, the accompanying letter about four. From Germany, Cardinal Lehmann had been invited. The circumstances of the procedure make clear that the Pope was very interested to personally inform the bishops, in collegial manner, of the content rather than from the media. The publication of both documents will take place on July 7th. It emphasizes the unity of the Roman Rite which will consist of an ordinary and an extraordinary form which are supposed to inspire each other. The ordinary/regular form will continue to be the new rite of 1969. The extraordinary form will be the Missal of Bl. John XXIII. of 1962.

The german original

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pro-Motu; from "Inside the Vatican": The Eucharist and the Divinization of Mankind

"Inside the Vatican" is a pretty classy magazine that deals well with the subject described in its title. Check it out and subscribe! Their current editorial deals, conveniently enough, with my previous "Pro-Choice, Pro-Motu."

A reflection on the meaning of the Mass, and a comment on the debate over the restoration of the old liturgy

"Throw melted wax into melted wax, and the one interpenetrates the other perfectly. In the same way, when the Body and Blood of Christ are received, the union is such that Christ is in the recipient and he in Christ." - St. Cyril of Jerusalem

"When Mass was over I remained with Jesus in thanksgiving. Oh how sweet was the colloquy with paradise that morning! It was such that, although I want to tell you all about it, I cannot... The heart of Jesus and my own -- allow me to use the expression -- were fused. No longer were two hearts beating, but only one... My joy was so intense and deep that I could bear it no more and tears of happiness poured down my cheeks." - St. Padre Pio (canonized June 16, 2002)

In Rome in mid-June, the release of Pope Benedict’s motu proprio allowing wider celebration of the "old Mass" was reportedly "imminent," expected in any case "during the first days of July, before the Pope goes on his summer vacation," Vatican officials close to the Pope said. (And yet, the document has been delayed before.)

So what do we know already about this matter? Several things: 1) that the Pope has wished to publish the motu proprio for about a year; 2) that he has been advised by many bishops, who evidently fear it will cause divisions in the Church, not to publish it; 3) that he has therefore taken his time, consulting many advisors, and has written a prefatory letter to explain what the motu proprio means.

Why all the attention to this issue? That is the deeper question. Isn’t the essence of Christianity to lead a good life, with all the liturgies of the Church a secondary concern? That is what many seem to believe.

It is difficult to get at the truth of the matter, and the difficulty will not cease even with the release of the motu proprio. In fact, it may only intensify.

Some would see the Holy Father’s interest in the old Mass as a matter of cultural taste. His desire for a wider use of the old rite in Latin is seen as something comparable to his interest in classical music. For these people, the issue is often reduced to a question of practicality: the old rite, in Latin, is "impractical" in the 21st century, and so, these people say, it would be unwise to expand its use.

But this is a serious misunderstanding of Benedict’s motivation. He is not concerned with Latin in itself. His respect for the "old Mass" is not a nostalgic cultural attachment to an ancient language. No, Benedict is concerned about the essence of the Mass itself.

And what is that essence? The right worship of God.

Certainly there is something to be said, in practical terms, for the use in a worldwide Church of a single liturgical language. And certainly, Latin is in some ways a good candidate to be that universal language. It was the language of the Empire under which Jesus lived and died. It has been used for almost 20 centuries. And translations could make the language "accessible" to all even today -- and even in times to come.

But that is not the point. It isn’t about the Latin. (And the Latin Mass is, in any case, not the Latin Mass at all; that is a misnomer; it is, rather, "the Latin, Greek and Aramaic Mass," with "Kyrie eleison" in Greek and "Amen" and "Alleluia" in Aramaic.) And those who think Latin is at the core of this matter do not see fully what is at stake here.

And what is at stake is not a trivial matter. If it were, the Pope wouldn’t have given two years of attention to it, or 25 years as a cardinal to stating repeatedly that there needs to be a "reform of the reform." Rather, it is an important matter. In fact, the most important one. For the Mass is celebrated for a single reason: for the Eucharist. And the Eucharist is one thing only: Christ with us. And Christ with us is the sole reason for the Church’s being.

So in dealing with the Mass, the Pope is not dealing with a marginal, a peripheral matter. The liturgy is not a "side issue." It is a central one; indeed, the central one. It is the little matter (and the Orthodox rightly stress this) of... the divinization of man! A reality which brought Padre Pio to tears.

So it is a very important matter. But what is the problem? It seems that Benedict, like many thoughtful believers, is concerned about the fact that the conciliar reform of the liturgy in the 1960s has in some way apparently failed to achieve its chief goal, which was to bring about an even greater reverence for the Eucharist, an even greater participation by the faithful in the mystery of Christ, an even deeper sacramental life within the Church. (That is what the conciliar fathers hoped to accomplish by approving a liturgical reform.)

And if there are in the "old Mass," as many argue, qualities too hastily discarded in the 1960s -- a sense of tradition which made it a bit easier for some to turn their minds toward the eternal, a sense of solemnity which helped some to turn their hearts toward God -- and if that loss can, even if only in part, be made good, if it can be remedied, by a motu proprio allowing the "old Mass" to be celebrated more widely, then it is a work of great import for the Pope to carry out.

If the "old Mass" is merely a "cultural" matter, the fad of a small elite, it will not flourish in any case, and the motu proprio will be a dead letter. But if it is a matter of renewing the Church, and if the dignity and holiness of the old rite strikes the faithful in such a way as to re-kindle in them a sense of that devotion which prepares them to encounter Christ, then allowing the old Mass to be celebrated more widely will be an act worth preparing for with much toil and care.

"Assissi on Ninth", St Olaf's City Park


Many of us have been enjoying the park and if you have not visited it, I invite you to do that. The trees have already blossomed and are replaced with leaves; the volunteer parishioners from St. Olaf have been out there on Saturday mornings planting flowers and creating a green paradise in the heart of our city.

When St. Olaf bought the building that stood on the corner of 9th Street and 2nd Avenue about 10-12 years ago, it rented the space to a business but soon after that business moved. Before new renters could move in, St. Olaf was required to renovate the building to meet new city codes. It was then that St. Olaf decided to demolish the building in the hope of creating more surface parking for the Church. But, happily for us, we were denied that request because no more surface parking was allowed by the city.

What was St. Olaf to do with this property? It was then decided to make it into a small park to beautify our city and St. Olaf staff members were asked to make suggestions for naming the park. I suggested it be called “ASSISI ON NINTH,” after St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was a great lover of animals and nature and has now become the patron saint of ecology and inspires the movement to save and protect the earth. Sr Joan Tuberty, St Olaf's

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm Mortified!

Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • sex (17x)
  • abortion (12x)
  • rape (4x)
  • gay (2x)
  • hell (1x)

I think it was Terry-of-the-many-blogs who posted all these words on my innocent Stella.

Mingle2 Blog Rating

Tip O' the Hat to the I.C.

Pro-Choice, Pro-Moto

St Blog's Parish, especially its Roman branch, is all a-twitter these days with rumors that the long desired Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict, authorizing greater use of the Latin Mass as it was celebrated in 1962 (most often called the Tridentine Mass or the Mass of St Pius V) is about to be released.

And in other parishes, populated by those who have taken solemn vows to eradicate Latin, swords and shields are being shined and WD-40 squirted on them to make more effective in the upcoming spiritual combat.

It is really interesting how folks who will march and contribute for the "right to choice" with respect to abortion will quickly enlist to engage in the campaign to prevent Latin from being a "choice" for those who might desire it.

I think at its heart, the anti-choice anti-Latin folks are the pointy headed intellectuals of the Catholic Church who are satisfied that they know what is best for all of us.

Here's Father Z on the Rumors

Here's Father Z on the Enemy

Welcome Liturgy and Reception for Co-Adjutor Archbishop Nienstedt - June 29

Welcome Mass, Cathedral of St Paul
Friday, June 29, 2:00 p.m.

Reception: Crowne Plaza Hotel (the old Radisson), 4:00 p.m.
11 East Kellogg Blvd., St Paul

Shuttle busses will be available
between the Cathedral and the hotel.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Total LifeCare Centers to move next to Highland Park Abortion Mill

Total LifeCare Centers, a pregnancy resource service non-profit that has facilities throughout Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, headquartered in St Paul, has decided to purchase a building on Ford Parkway only a few steps from that city's Highland Park Planned Parenthood Abortion Mill, one of the largest in Minnesota.

At the LifeCare Centers, we don't provide a quick fix and we don't look only at the current dilemma. We offer assistance to a woman as a whole person: We work with women because we know they have emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.

A pregnancy affects other people too. For this reason, our counselors often assist boyfriends, friends, husbands, and families in accepting and supporting the pregnancy.

Most exciting about the news is that Archbishop Harry Flynn has given them permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in their building so that Eucharistic Adoration may be held there on occasion.

Details on the final closing on the purchase of their new Highland Park home are not yet available. But you can be sure that we will make them known. There is a Dairy Queen currently under construction on the east side of the Planned Parenthood abortuarium. They will not be very happy to see an increase in the number of demonstrations right next to them. Tip O' the Hat to the SwissMiss from St Monica's Kneeler

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Dreaded Two by Four Meme; Never heard of it? Now you have!

An eon or so ago, June 8, that pesky Adoro, who most of you know, who should dread memes as the cause of one more post for her day, went out scouting for one and then chose me to further it according to the Meme Rules Society regulations.

Here are the rules: Share four things that were new to you in the past four years. Four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years. Then share four things you want to try new in the next four years.

Four New Things in the Past Four Years:

1). This one is easy. I learned to blog. Some of you may have noticed. But I have yet to register on the "Higher Beings" category on the Truth Laid Bear scale.
2). [Alert to my "tone-deaf" siblings] I have joined a new Gregorian Chant men's group and have been taking singing lessons. First time since grade school. And I haven't been thrown out of it yet. Our overly-ambitious leader, his eyes on an appearance some day in St Peter's (Rome, not Mendota) figures we will be ready for a public perfomance in about 20 days. We'll be singing in Latin, so those of you who can't wait for the Motu Proprio, you can come and cheer for us. I guess "cheer" is not the right word.
3). I have become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion in a hospital. That has been an Extraordinary Experience for me.
4). I opened a little business to sell much of my book collection on One can quite well as opposed to selling them to a book dealer who would need to make a profit and perhaps hold the book for several years before it sells.

Four Things in the Next Four Years:

1). I need to get a part time job. You know where to find me 23 hours a day. Right here.
2). I need to do something about the 260+ messages sitting in my Outlook inbox and the files on two dead computers.
3). I have to assemble all of my family history research into some sort of readable file and start depositing it in various places so that others can use it. Few of my relatives have expressed much interest.
4). One of my cousins, younger than me, is suffering from cancer and it's serious. I have lost contact with most of my first cousins and know few more remote cousins. I should make some kind of attempt so that we can all get together now and then. Most of them live in Duluth or the Twin Cities, I think.

I'll leave it to which of my 14o or so weekly readers who visit Stella Borealis to let them try out the meme concept using the Two by Four Meme.

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged (Bishop Trautman wouldn't like that translation)

Erin at bearing blog has a thoughtful post on just what are the implications of this "11th Commandment" added by Our Lord in His Covenant for the "New and Eternal Testament." She doesn't tell you what you should "do", but she clearly tells you what you should "consider", before judging your neighbor (or relative, co-worker, traffic engineer, etc.).
H/T to Cathy of Alex

Is this prayer intelligible, proclaimable, reflective of a vocabulary and linguistic style from the contemporary mainstream of U.S. Catholics?

Cathy of Alex, who blogs at Recovering Dissident Catholic, has been on a posting tear recently and she leads us off today with an article from the progressive America magazine by Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, PA. Bishop Trautman is the leader of those forces wanting to simplify the English language translation of the Mass so that American Catholics can understand it. The people of the wealthiest nation in the world just can't handle big words, he maintains.

(U.S. States renamed for countries with similar GDPs
Click on Map on the destination page to remove boxes

I decided to do a little analyzing of Bishop Trautman's writing style.

This is the first paragraph of his article:

This is a proclaimed prayer. What will the person in the pew hear and comprehend? Will the words “prefiguring sacrifices of the Fathers” and “born ineffably of the inviolate Virgin” resonate with John and Mary Catholic? Is this prayer intelligible, proclaimable, reflective of a vocabulary and linguistic style from the contemporary mainstream of U.S. Catholics? Is this liturgical language accessible to the average Catholic and our youth? Does this translated text lead to full, conscious and active participation? I think not.

Eliminating the third sentence, "Will the words. . .," I subjected the paragraph to a "Document Readibility" formula I found on the internet and received the following results.

Indication of the number of years of formal education that a person requires in order to easily understand the text on the first reading

Gunning Fog index : 12.23

Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text :

Coleman Liau index : 11.26
Flesh Kincaid Grade level : 8.28
ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 7.17
SMOG : 10.75

A different paragraph from the same article:

What happened to the liturgical principles of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? The Council Fathers of Vatican II stated: “Texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify. Christian people, as far as possible, should be able to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively and as it befits a community” (Article 21, CSL). Note the words “with ease.” This is the norm, the expressed wish of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. This is a prerequisite that calls for not just accuracy of translated texts but for the easy understanding of those texts.

Gunning Fog index : 12.08

Coleman Liau index : 10.22
Flesh Kincaid Grade level : 9.80
ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 9.93
SMOG : 12.22

Newspapers are written at the Sixth Grade level. Bishop Trautman himself doesn't even write English at that level. But the progressive Catholics who subscribe to America, a Jesuit publication, probably are smarter than average and know what is good for the average parishioner.

Denver's Abp. Chaput: Calling sin by a new name doesn't change its substance!

Magazine article on cohabitating couples ‘bafflingly naïve’

One of my vivid memories as a young priest was watching the United States exit Vietnam after claiming to win at the bargaining table. Less than two years later, Saigon collapsed, and the war ended.

I knew plenty of serious Catholics who opposed the war. I knew many others who supported it. But no one on either side believed that we left because we had “won.” Americans have a genius for marketing, and one of the things we’ve learned from experience is that we can often make bad news look better by giving it a different name. The problem stays the same, but at least we feel happier about it — for awhile.

I remembered this as I read a recent article in U.S. Catholic magazine. Since the 1960s, premarital sexual activity has greatly increased. So has the number of couples living together outside marriage. In some dioceses today, as many as 90 percent of the couples who present themselves for marriage preparation already live together and have sexual relations.

But “A betrothal proposal,” written by two marriage researchers, argues that a big difference exists between sexually active couples who casually cohabit, and “nuptial cohabiters” who intend marriage. The former couples are, say the authors, far more likely to split up than the latter, should they marry.
This makes sense. The intent to marry and the intent to enjoy sex as a kind of recreation are very different motives. Nor is pre-nuptial sex “news” to any confessor. Love and human nature being as they are, engaged couples have always had a difficult time refraining from sexual intimacy. This doesn’t make sexual relations between engaged persons morally right. It merely explains the behavior. It also highlights the need for Catholic couples to have strong support and guidance in waiting until they marry.
The U.S. Catholic article goes beyond identifying a problem, though. The authors argue that “current pastoral responses to cohabiting couples [are] both uninformed and outdated” and that “Our experience with young [cohabiting] adults leads us to doubt the claim that they are living in sin. It would appear closer to the truth that they are growing, perhaps slowly but nonetheless surely, into grace.” The authors also examine the history of Catholic thought about marriage and suggest “a return to the marital sequence of betrothal (with appropriate ritual to ensure community involvement), sexual intercourse, possible fertility, then ritual wedding to acknowledge and mark the consummation of both valid marriage and sacrament.”

I believe in the intelligence and good will of the authors. I also believe that their argument is bafflingly naïve. If the Church, in her reflection on the Gospel, has always taught that sex outside marriage is morally wrong, then for the Church to now bless “nuptial cohabiters” amounts to colluding in sin. Ritualizing a sinful behavior, or calling it a nicer name, does not change its substance. The very last thing we need in a society already awash in confused sexuality is a strategy for accommodating it.

The greatest irony of the U.S. Catholic article comes in a comment by the authors that many young adults “cite confusion about Church teaching because Church leaders send mixed messages about sex, contraception, and divorce/annulment.” I very much agree. And one of the sources of that confusion might be Catholic publications, theologians and researchers who help feed it.

We need more support for marriage in society and the Church, not alternative arrangements. Cohabiting couples deserve the understanding and patience of the Catholic community, but above all they need to hear the Christian truth, persuasively offered, about the nature of marriage, the meaning of their sexuality and the importance of the family. We waste words and time when we focus on anything else. Denver Catholic Register H/T Catholic Parents Online

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's about time that the Church started addressing the really serious modern problems.

Thou shall not drive under the influence of alcohol. Thou shall respect speed limits. Thou shall not consider a car an object of personal glorification or use it as a place of sin.

The Vatican took a break from strictly theological matters on Tuesday to issue its own rules of the road, a compendium of do's and don'ts on the moral aspects of driving and motoring.

A 36-page document called "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road" contains 10 Commandments covering everything from road rage, respecting pedestrians, keeping a car in good shape and avoiding rude gestures while behind the wheel.

"Cars tend to bring out the 'primitive' side of human beings, thereby producing rather unpleasant results," the document said.

It appealed to what it called the "noble tendencies" of the human spirit, urging responsibility and self-control to prevent the "psychological regression" often associated with driving.

The document's Fifth Commandment reads: "Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin".

Asked at a news conference when a car became an occasion of sin, Cardinal Renato Martino said "when a car is used as a place for sin".

One part of the document, under the section "Vanity and personal glorification", will not go down well with owners of Ferraris in motor-mad Italy.

"Cars particularly lend themselves to being used by their owners to show off, and as a means for outshining other people and arousing a feeling of envy," it said.

It urged readers not to behave in an "unsatisfactory and even barely human manner" when driving and to avoid what it called "unbalanced behavior ... impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy ..."

Praying while driving was encouraged.

Vatican City, the world's smallest sovereign state, doesn't have many of the problems listed in the document.

It has about 1,000 cars, the speed limit is 30 kph and one Vatican official said the last accident inside Vatican City's walls was about 1-1/2 years ago, resulting in minor damage. Reuters Tip O' the Hat to the Whapping Shrine

Now that the Pope has made this important first step, it will be much easier for me to expand this list from "ten" to maybe 666 "Commandments of the Road", dealing with such critical things as tail-gating, using cell phones while cornering and sipping on a Pepsi at the same time, the NASCAR method of lane changing (first one there gets it), the Hiawatha Avenue traffic signal system (this probably will deserve its own set of commandments for the Traffic Engineer School dropouts currently employed to tweak (Ha!) the timing of the lights), CD insertion and searches, newspaper reading and other traffic hazards that one sees daily meandering through any large metropolitan area.

Rural Live Sunday, Montgomery, Most Holy Redeemer, Jun 24, 1:30 p.m.

The Archdiocesan Rural Life Sunday Celebration begins at 1:30 pm and include the Eucharistic Liturgy of the Sunday with Bishop Pates presiding, a creation blessing, and essay and poster contest awards.

This year’s event is sponsored by the parish of Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery and is being held at the Jeff and Anne Tuma family farm. Dinner and refreshments will be served (free will offering accepted). Games and activities for the children, a petting zoo, Czech music, and entertainment round out the day’s activities. Please bring lawn chairs and blankets; some seating provided. All are welcome.

For map and directions, visit and click on the Rural Life Sunday link. Or call the Rural Life Office at 651-645-8590.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Saint-Speare, a Catholic Youth Theatrical Production - Jun 22 - 25, UST


Catholic Youth Theater by

Epiphany Studio Productions!

Come support our nearly 60 Twin Cities youth in the E-Rhapsody CYT drama program

Directed by Jeremy D. Stanbary.

June 22 - 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the BEC Auditorium on the South Campus of the Univesity of St Thomas in St Paul.

Tickets, $5.00, available at the door.

Co-Sponsored by the Center for Catholic Studies.

Huge Used Book Sale, 50 cents - 1 Buck - St Helena's June 21-23

St Helena School, 3200 E 44th Street, Minneapolis
(jog right, then left, then right, quickly, at 42nd & Hiawatha)

Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children's books and More!
Hardcovers are $1 and Paperbacks are 50 cents.

June 21 - 24
Thurs: 5-9, Friday: 9-9; Sat 9-5; Sun 10-5

For Donations or Volunteer Information: 612-729-1017

Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St Francis 2007 Retreat July 27-29


The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St Francis

(Third Order Franciscan group)


The Trinity:

Father, Son and Holy Spirit


The Universal Call
to Deep Contemplative Intimacy with the Holy Trinity

A Retreat for All the Faithful

Be Renewed in Christ

By Father Thomas Dubay – Retreat Master

Archbishop Harry J. Flynn will celebrate Mass for us on Saturday.

Father James Reidy

Friday July 27th to Sunday July 29th

Franciscan Retreat Center—Prior Lake, Minnesota

Information: 651-433-2753

Put it on your calendar!

$160 Complete

Princeton U's Peter Singer's "Inhuman" Views Have Him Rejected as Speaker at Noted European Conference

GNIEZNO, Poland, ( - Every so many years some of the world's most eminent scholars and religious and political leaders meet in the Polish city of Gniezno to discuss matters pertaining to Europe, especially the uniquely European view of spirituality and the nature and dignity of man.

The Gniezno Congress--which traces its roots back to the year 1,000 when Otto III arrived at the tomb of bishop martyr St. Adalbert in the city of Gniezno--is regularly attended by numerous presidents of European Countries, and, in 1997, was attended by the Holy Father John Paul II during his landmark visit to Poland.

This year's Congress, held from June 15-17, according to its website, addressed such questions as: "What is man? To what extent is the human being - in the fullness of his dignity - the foundation of the civilisation of Europe? And what are the areas that still jeopardise humanity in its most profound dimension?"

In an effort to facilitate discussion on these difficult questions, the Convention initially chose to invite a man with a somewhat less palatable view of human nature and the European legacy than the former Holy Father--Princeton scholar Peter Singer.

Peter Singer is the notoriously radical philosopher and bioethicist, whose approach to ethics includes advocating as morally acceptable sexual intercourse with animals, the killing of "undesirable" or disabled newborn infants and eugenic euthanasia and abortion.

However, earlier this year a number of Christian groups found out that the Congress had invited Singer and began complaining to organizers. A source close to the scene indicated that parents of Downs Syndrome children were prepared to protest the Congress if Singer did in fact end up attending. In the end, however, Congress officials decided to cancel Singer's invitation due to the controversy, and the activist's name was removed from Congress literature.

In March of this year one of the mainstream newspapers ran two opposing columns discussing the pros and cons of Singer's proposed presence at Gniezno.

One article quotes Congress organizer Marcin Przeciszewski, who defended the Congress' invitation of Singer on the basis of fomenting debate about the pertinent issues. He also pointed out that Peter Singer's views are an interesting demonstration of where secular humanism ends up if followed through to its logical conclusion. "To be a Christian in the modern world means also to defend your views and win discussions with your greatest enemy," said Przeciszewski. "If we can't do this, it's difficult to speak about our mission in the world."

Polish opinion journalist Tomasz Terlikowski, however, who was strongly opposed to Singer's presence at the Congress, argued that there are simply some ideas that are so "inhuman" that they should never receive any recognition whatsoever, even for the purpose of debate.

Peter Singer, said Terlikowvski, "not only postulates the killing of the children, but also says that 'zoophile marriage' is illegal only because of speciesist chauvinism. You cannot talk to someone who presents views which are not simply eccentric, but criminal. They are inhuman, un-European and unworthy of serious discussion. You don't invite Adolf Hitler to a debate on Judaism, or ask Osama bin Laden to give a lecture on the future of Europe. A convention organized by Christians cannot be a place where such criminal views are presented."

Other speakers at this year's Congress included numerous respected Catholic figures, including Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state of the Holy See, who pointed out to attendees that fundamentally Europe is a Christian civilization, and that the strength and unity of Europe can only be maintained by returning to the continent's Christian roots. The Congress also included representatives of numerous other religious and ideological backgrounds, including Muslim and Jewish leaders.

Archbishop Nienstedt on Relevant Radio

Two weeks of reflections, commentary by Archbishop Nienstedt

On Relevant Radio – 1330 AM –
Your Local Catholic Station

Relevant Radio 1330 AM invites you to get acquainted with coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt. June 25 through July 6, Relevant Radio 1330 will present features throughout the broadcast day to welcome Archbishop Nienstedt, featuring his own reflections on the Church, the priesthood, his faith life, and his own preparation to shepherd the Church in the Twin Cities.

This announcement is from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I don't know if the same features on His Excellancy will be available via the Internet stream or not.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Finally! Some statistics on sexual abuse occurrances in other religions. What took them so long?

The three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members.

The figures released to The Associated Press offer a glimpse into what has long been an extremely difficult phenomenon to pin down—the frequency of sex abuse in Protestant congregations.

Religious groups and victims' supporters have been keenly interested in the figure ever since the Roman Catholic sex abuse crisis hit five years ago. The church has revealed that there have been 13,000 credible accusations against Catholic clerics since 1950.

[For some unknown reason, the author of this article was unable to "do the math." I'll tell you, that it comes to 228 cases a year for ALL Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, religious organizations etc. This article apparently covers only the "majority" of protestant parishes. Let's be generous and say 350 case per year in them. About 1.5 times as many incidences as there are in Catholic organizations.]

Protestant numbers have been harder to come by and are sketchier because the denominations are less centralized than the Catholic church; indeed, many congregations are independent, which makes reporting even more difficult.

Some of the only numbers come from three insurance companies—Church Mutual Insurance Co., GuideOne Insurance Co. and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co.

Together, they insure 165,495 churches and worship centers for liability against child sex abuse and other sexual misconduct, mostly Protestant congregations but a few other faiths as well. They also insure more than 5,500 religious schools, camps and other organizations.

The companies represent a large chunk of all U.S. Protestant churches. There are about 224,000 in the U.S., according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, although that number excludes most historically black denominations and some other groups, which account for several thousand congregations.

Church Mutual, GuideOne and Brotherhood Mutual each provided statistics on sex abuse claims to The Associated Press, although they did not produce supporting documentation or a way to determine whether the reports were credible.

The largest company, Church Mutual, reported an average of about 100 sex abuse cases a year involving minors over the past decade. GuideOne, which has about half the clients of Church Mutual, said it has received an average of 160 reports of sex abuse against minors every year for the past two decades.

Brotherhood Mutual said it has received an average of 73 reports of child sex abuse and other sexual misconduct every year for the past 15 years. However, Brotherhood does not specify which victims are younger than 18 so it is impossible to accurately add that to the total cases.

Abuse reports don't always mean the accused was guilty, and they don't necessarily result in financial awards or settlements, the companies said. The reports include accusations against clergy, church staff and volunteers.

Even with hundreds of cases a year "that's a very small number. That probably doesn't even constitute half," said Gary Schoener, director of the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis, a consultant on hundreds of Protestant and Catholic clergy misconduct cases. "Sex abuse in any domain, including the church, is reported seldom. We know a small amount actually come forward."

Tom Farr, general counsel and senior vice president of claims for GuideOne, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, said most abuse cases are resolved privately in court-ordered mediation. Awards can range from millions of dollars down to paying for counseling for victims, he said.

One of the largest settlements to date in Protestant churches involved the case of former Lutheran minister Gerald Patrick Thomas Jr. in Texas, where a jury several years ago awarded the minister's victims nearly $37 million. Separate earlier settlements involving Thomas cost an additional $32 million.

When insurance companies first started getting reports of abuse from churches nearly two decades ago, the cases usually involved abuse that happened many years earlier. But over the past several years, the alleged abuse is more recent—which could reflect a greater awareness about reporting abuse, insurance companies said.

Insurance officials said the number of sex abuse cases has remained steady over the past two decades, but they also said churches are working harder to prevent child sex abuse by conducting background checks, installing windows in nurseries and play areas and requiring at least two adults in a room with a child.

Patrick Moreland, vice president of marketing for Church Mutual, said churches are particularly susceptible to abusers.

"By their nature, congregations are the most trusting of organizations, so that makes them attractive targets for predators," he said. "If you're a predator, where do you go? You go to a congregation that will welcome you."

A victims' advocacy group has said the Southern Baptists, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, could do more to prevent abuse by creating a list of accused clergy the public and churches could access.

"I think they should have a list of credibly reported clergy child abuse," said Christa Brown, a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group initially created to hold the Catholic church accountable for sex abuse by its clergy.

"These are things people are entitled to know," said Brown, who says she was sexually abused as a child by a Southern Baptist minister. "The only way to prevent this crime is to break the code of silence and to have absolute transparency when allegations are raised."

At the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in San Antonio this week, the Rev. Wade Burleson of Enid, Okla., proposed a feasibility study into developing a national database of Southern Baptist ministers who have been "credibly accused of, personally confessed to, or legally been convicted of sexual harassment or abuse."

A convention committee referred Burleson's motion to the SBC executive committee, which will report back with findings and a recommendation at next year's meeting in Indianapolis.

Southern Baptist President Frank Page said leaders are considering several options to help churches protect children against abuse.

"We believe that the Scripture teaches that the church should be an autonomous, independent organization," Page said. "We encourage churches to hold accountable at the local level those who may have misused the trust of precious children and youth."

Several years ago, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which represents moderates who have increasingly distanced themselves from the conservative-led Southern Baptists, started a list of accused clergy for churches, but not the public. Under pressure from victim advocates, the Texas group just released the names of some convicted sex offenders who may have been ministers in local congregations.

Joe Trull, editor of Christian Ethics Today and retired ethics professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, helped the Texas convention create its registry and says there are now about 11 cases involving clergy abuse with minors.

But he believes these are just the "tip of the iceberg" because churches don't have to report abuse cases to the registry and aren't likely to.

"The problem we're having is that churches just weren't sending the names," Trull said. "In the normal scenario, they just try to keep it secret. We're going to have to be more proactive and let them know if they don't come forward, they're helping to perpetuate this problem." Pioneer Press

Friday, June 15, 2007

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, starting this afternoon, right now . . .


I went to this last year for just the last day. Boy did I regret not going to the first two! I thought it would be too cerebral for me. Some of it was, but most of it was pretty funny, too. I'm clearing my calendar now!

I don't know all the featured speakers, besides Dale Ahlquist, ACS President and Chuck Chalberg, G.K. himself, but I do see that also speaking will be Dawn Eden blogger from The Dawn Patrol, New York editor, writer (The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On!), Feminist, Convert and Conversationalist, etc., Joseph Pearce, former London "skinhead" and author of biographies of Chesterton, Belloc, Tolkien, Wilde, etc., and a bunch of professors will be there to educate and entertain you.

Thursday evening through Saturday evening, June 14-16. University of St Thomas, St Paul: Details Here

There is no charge (other than meals which are very reasonably priced - less than $10 for the banquet!) for any of the presentations. But some will be very crowded, so be on time or you sit on the floor!

New and used books will be for sale as well as CDs from previous conferences.

Even if you haven't read much about or by Chesterton, you will enjoy your experience here. And you have plenty of time to read something by him in the next month. I suspect Chesterton's book, "The Man Who Was Thursday", kind of the theme of the Conference, would be an ideal choice for you.

If you are so tied to your keyboard that you can't get out to a bookstore, you can find many of GKC's books for free in a digital file at the Gutenberg Project.

St John's University, Collegeville, Theologian Daniel Finn, an Apostle of Common Sense, for Today


It's the nature of my job that I attend far too many conferences. Over the course of a decade reporting on "all things Catholic," I've sat through thousands of papers, lectures and keynote speeches, in various languages and on various continents. Even measured against that volume of material, however, the Daniel Finn's presidential address June 10 at the annual Catholic Theological Society of America convention ranks as one of the most impressive presentations I've ever heard.

When I say "impressive," I mean not just intellectually provocative or rhetorically satisfying, though Finn's address was both, but also brave and potentially transformative -- not only for the CTSA, but for American Catholicism.

Finn, of St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, invited his colleagues to consider whether the CTSA's high-profile public statements criticizing the Vatican and the bishops over the years have been counter-productive. Those statements have produced a distorted public image of the CTSA, he argued, and they've divided the theological community, driving away conservative theologians who feel "alienated" by declarations that "poke fun at Vatican shortcomings and put the CTSA name on statements they do not endorse."

"The price has been too high compared to what we have gained," Finn said. "I wish we were not facing this trade-off, but I believe we are."

The CTSA, Finn argued, should instead be a common space in which theologians of differing perspectives can come together.

"Our church is wracked by divisions caused by ideological simplicities on all sides, and we need broader dialogue in the church than we have today," Finn said. "In the CTSA, all theologians should feel respected, and a majority should not employ the mechanics of majoritarian democracy to produce statements that the minority would find offensive, and then leave."

This was Finn's last act as president; the office is now in the hands of Margaret O'Gara of the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto.

Finn, it should be said, hardly means to muzzle theological discussion of church teaching or Vatican interventions. He suggested that in the future, statements on those subjects should come from individual theologians, perhaps with others signing on, rather than in the name of the CTSA. Read the Balance of John Allan's article here.

Allen went on to say in giving perspective to his comments: "Second, Finn's choice of topic should not be read to suggest that there's presently some crisis between the CTSA and church authorities. In fact, a number of bishops took part in the conference, including Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles; Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington, president of the U.S. bishops' conference; Bishop Tod Brown of Orange, California; Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup, New Mexico; Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba of Milwaukee; Auxiliary Bishop Richard Grecco of Toronto; Emeritus Bishop Fritz Lobinger of Aliwal, South Africa; Emeritus Bishop Francisco Claver of Malaybalay, the Philippines; Emeritus Bishop John Cummins of Oakland; Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit; and Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of San Marcos, Guatemala. Several expressed appreciation for the theologians' work."

It would seem to this writer, barely knowledgeable about the makeup of the U.S. Episcopate, that if these Bishops are the only Bishops from the U.S. who were present at the theologians' conference, not a few of them are considered to be mainstays of the progressive elements in the American Church and there IS "some crisis between the CTSA and church authorities."

The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars is the organization formed by the "more conservative" Catholic theologians.

Is it good that the American Church has two theological organizations. Shouldn't theologicans be debating with those with whom they disagree in order to arrive at "truth?"

Why was I not taught devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

I guess it was because the feast day comes during summer vacation from school. And even back in those halcyon days of the Tridentine Mass of St Pius V, our priests didn't teach us much about devotions, except for the occasional Holy Hour or Parish Mission during Lent or Advent.

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You can read about it at length in the Catholic Encyclopedia which you should be perusing regularly.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

World Day of Prayer for Priests

John Paul II has established that on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart the Church will observe the World Day of prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

Annual Day of Prayer for Priests

In 2002, the Catholic Church announced a special annual world priest day, a day of prayer for the sanctification of priests to be held on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The 2006 World Day of Prayer for Priests has been a tremendous success. We are most grateful to all who participated in making this day such a special gift to our 400,000 priests worldwide.

We are now especially interested in receiving messages from lay people young and old alike, to be viewed on line. We also ask priests to share their stories of ministry with their brother priests and the lay people of the world on line.

We strongly encourage each and every one of the faithful to begin if not already doing so to pray for our priests, today, this day this very moment, in preparation through prayer, celebration of the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, so that June 15 2007 will be an even greater celebration of the priesthood of Jesus Christ worldwide.

Who we are

We are a group of committed Catholic Communication /Advertising laypeople, who love and cherish the priesthood of Jesus Christ, we have set up this website to facilitate the World Day of Prayer for Priests. It is our prayer that this website may be a gateway to a deeper understanding of the priesthood of Christ as exercised by our priests, a priesthood in which, by virtue of our baptism, we all share.

We affirm our Priests

It is timely that we express our appreciation to so many priests who are indeed a daily reflection of Christ's love for his people. We wish to express our love for our priests and provide them with the support and encouragement they deserve. We express great joy in affirming and encouraging our priests as the servants of God's people. We are also encouraging people around the world to stop whatever they are doing at 3pm local time and spend a quiet moment praying in thanksgiving for our priests and contemplating the gift of priesthood.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

Together with you, we wish to thank God for our priests and pray that they may be holy and competent pastors, capable of leading even in the complex and difficult times we live in. We pray for them that their faith may not fail, that they may feel themselves surrounded by the caring love of their people and of the whole church.
The meaning of Priesthood

We wish to bring into focus the true meaning of the priesthood as the means by which Christ is present among his people. We wish to promote an understanding of the immense dignity and beauty of the vocation of the ministerial priesthood in all its fullness and variety.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has not been chosen without good reason. It is the feast of the humanity of God incarnate. It reveals to us the very heart of Jesus, beating with love for all people of all times. Priests are called to listen to that heartbeat and become ‘other Christs’ among God’s people.

They truly need our prayers as we need theirs.