Oct 28, 2006

His Excellency, the Illustrious Rogue Bishop of Motherwell

Bishop Devine is a Catholic Bishop of Scotland who is not afraid to "go where angels fear to tread." In April 2006, he challenged Scotland's First Minister to a public debate on homosexual adoptions. The bishop did not mince words:
Surely given his 'paramount concern' for the welfare and interests of children it was not too much to ask the First Minister to discuss in an open forum with interested parties the concerns they harbour about children being adopted by homosexual and lesbian partners.
Bishop Devine also challenged the First Minister to bring the adoption issue to the Scottish people in a referendum.
What affairs of state could be more important than the interests of children? Or does Mr. McConnell intend simply to debate the issue within the comfort and security of the Scottish Parliament where his political majority is assured?
Last year he declared that being openly gay would not be "compatible" with being a teacher in a Catholic school.

In 2004, Bishop Devine sent a letter to all Scottish priests strongly promoting Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. He was criticized for that, too.

In 2002, Bishop Devine also made the news by saying
Denominational education is an enabler of sectarianism....Roman Catholic schooling is divisive - sometimes it's a price worth paying....The Catholic community believes that with denominational schooling comes the creation of a common set of values - a coherent system that has the academic curriculum and moral and spiritual life in tandem.
Bishop Devine was correct in saying that Catholic schools have their own identity and it is NOT a secular identity of indifferentism or pluralistic beliefs!

Recently, Bishop Devine described certain Scottish political leaders as "moral vandals" and "politically correct zealots." But then he committed the unspeakable crime, Bishop Devine condemned the actions of a senior Church aide who had failed to oppose legislation that allows homosexual couples to adopt children.

NOW, the two most senior bishops in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Archbishop Mario Conti, have publicly rebuffed Bishop Devine for saying the Church is following "a policy of appeasement" with regard to homosexual adoptions. A senior Church source added: "This is probably the first time the Scottish hierarchy has contradicted a bishop. His fellow bishops are concerned about the spate of press releases coming from the Diocese. We are dealing with a rogue bishop..."

Rogue bishop? Bishop Devine, A ROGUE?!? No, NO, NOOOO! Frankly, if ROGUE applies to Bishop Devine, the term has suddenly acquired a very positive definition.

Current Editorials by Local Bishops

Bishop Finn--
I welcome more public statements or initiatives from our other local Catholic institutions that would show support for the church's teaching and oppose the serious dangers that are inherent in the proposals [Missouri Amendment 2] being put before voters. It is not too late to stand up.

Regardless of what happens in November, Jesus Christ has already won the victory of life. It is our role to make this clear choice for life known in the world and to extend Christ's kingdom by making it a reality in our culture. Voters will make their decision very soon. When you stand before Him on the last day, whose side will you be on?
Archbishop Naumann--
In recent years, some funeral Mass homilies seem almost exclusively devoted to extolling the good qualities of the deceased. Often such homilies appear to be no different than a secular eulogy. In an understandable desire to comfort and reassure families, the preacher, at times, seems almost to canonize the recently departed.

Purgatory is our belief that, after deeath, the Lord in his mercy purifies the soul of the believer in order that our hearts are capable of experiencing the fullness of life for which we are destined.

If I died today, I pray that I would die in a state of grace. At the same time, if I died today, I would still be a long way from having been freed from all the limitations in my heart caused by selfishness and pride. I hope that when I die, people will not just extol what, in their kindness, they perceived as my virtues. I hope that people will pray for me, assisting me with their prayers as, God willing, I complete my journey to heaven.
The two Kansas City Bishops, one from Missouri and one from Kansas, have been producing exemplary editorials in their respective diocesan newspapers--The Catholic Key and The Leaven. Much, much better direction and leadership than I've seen in the last 40 years!

Oct 26, 2006

Milanese Sacrileges--a New Catholic Italy?

Chiesa Online reports that Benedict XVI gave an important speech in Milan, the home base of the ultraliberal Archbishop Tettamanzi. How liberal is Tettamanzi? Sandro Magister says the Milan Cathedral, the Duomo, is now famous for:
1. Elton John playing and singing “Candle in the Wind” at a 1997 funeral Mass.

2. Lenten meditations on writings by Oscar Wilde, Marguerite Yourcenar, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Jack Kerouac, that replaced the readings from the four Gospels. Then the audience turned and watched videos projected toward the rear of the church.

3. A new video box installed in the Duomo crypt, where the visitor sits and watches a religious film which is covered the entire time with a black rectangle and where there is no sound. The explanation is that “the blocking of 90 percent of the view brings the visitor into a cloud of unknowing, in which he finally faces the free decision: to believe or not believe.”

4. Presentations of (a) selections from the writings of Jewish philosopher and mathematician of the XVII century, Baruch Spinoza; (b) a Japanese video that notes "each human being has his own rhythm, and rhythm is the force that unifies the universe,” and that showed a dual image of a young woman with her face first immersed in and then raised out of a basin full of gelatinous liquid, (c) musical concerts of a contemporary secular nature.

Nevertheless, the Pope in Milan insists that Italy is "rather favorable terrain" for rebirth as a Catholic nation--producing a new Catholic Italy to lead the way for all of Europe and the world. Frankly, I am reminded of the old films on the History Channel where people strapped on wings and attempted to fly off buildings and bridges.

First of all, Italy has lost the will to survive because its families have fewer children than any other European country except for Spain (1.22 children per family in 1997). Second, the number of Italian priestly vocations continues to spiral downward, as explained in a previous post that notes Italy now imports 1,700 foreign priests. Add a third element--Archbishop Tettamanzi and what he does or permits in his cathedral. A rejuvenated Catholic Italy cannot arise out of this environment.

Worm Hunting

We just returned from a walk in the misty fall air. Naturally the little one was attracted to those 2-inch long skinny things that wiggled across the concrete. Worms! It rained a lot last night and this morning, so worms appeared everywhere. In the spring, it's a great time for catching fishing bait, especially where someone, years ago, buried very large Canadian nightcrawlers.

My kids were introduced to the sport of nightcrawler hunting by their uncle over 30 years ago. It's in a rural area and rain was falling, so he told my husband to bring the kids late that evening to a nearby small town with lots of sidewalks, and where someone had planted night crawlers many years before. The kids returned very excited and laughing a lot, as they told everyone who would listen how much fun they had.

They described how their flashlights were used to find these giant worms that can be as big as small snakes. The kids said they had to be very fast to grab worms found in the grass. A nightcrawler places only part of its body outside its mounded hole, and very quickly withdraws if you shine a flashlight beam on it.

My husband said he also fully enjoyed the hunting of these very large, fast, and wriggly creatures, especially hearing the triumphal shouts of a child catching one, or the groans of defeat in losing one. (The rule was that you weren't supposed to catch only pieces of worms!)

My folks had a big yard and they had planted nightcrawlers a few years before. I participated in the next outing, just before the time when the yard was invaded by moles and other worm-eating critters who began to live sumptuously. That night the kids competed to catch the most worms. In about an hour, the kids had caught almost a gallon of solid worms!

We put some of them back in the grass, but my mother took a lot and refrigerated them in coffee cans filled with dirt until she and my dad went on their weekly fishing outing. [BTW, you need to poke small holes in the lids for air to penetrate inside; the fairly wet dirt also needs to be changed every three weeks or so.]

Muddy Shoes

One of my favorite memories of a long-ago childhood is playing in the mud. On an early warm spring day, it rained long and hard on our small farm. At the bottom of one field, the eroded soil had created a thick mud about a foot deep. Mother was very sad, but my siblings and I were quite happy. We took our shoes off, rolled up our pants, and walked in. Mud always feels so good as it squeezes between the toes!

It's been raining in KC and the backyard of one of my children's houses contains a glorious future playground area--(now known as a mud pit!). The 2-year old likes to walk the small wood wall and can keep her balance most of the time. I held her hand yesterday to make sure she didn't fall into the watery areas.

Nevertheless, she let go of my hand and stepped into what looked like a fairly dry area. Wrong! Within several steps the thick brownish glue had attached itself firmly to two new white shoes. I lifted her out (after she had walked through more mud) and we went back to the porch to clean the shoes.

A second pair of muddy shoes was by the stairs--this pair with dried mud. I cleaned both pair with a paring knife, a copper grill brush, and an old toothbrush. The grill brush works great on dry mud, after you scrape off the big pieces. But now, another 10 min was needed to handwash the white socks of the traveling two-year old while I was cleaning the shoes. I should have remembered to give her the barefoot experience of mud between the toes!

Oct 25, 2006

Muslim Support in the Election

American Muslims will overwhelmingly back Democrats on the first Tuesday of November, according to a recent survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Frankly, this is not surprising because I think the Democrats will find it relatively easy to embrace Muslims. Here are my observations:

1. Democrats have shown their principles are adaptable to the situation and time.
2. They will believe Islam is amenable to reason and negotiation.
3. After Israel is encircled and falters, they will want to be on the winning side.
4. In a choice between Christianity and Islam, they will choose Islam.

Yes, I'm waiting (and hoping) that someone will challenge these arguments!

Will it Happen or Not?

Will the traditional Latin Mass soon be 'un-forbidden' in Latin Rite churches around the world under a possible new directive of Benedict XVI? Rorate Coeli has posted new information from a Roman seminarian that offers hope. Here is one excerpt.
But the past couple of weeks have provided for us a glimmer of hope—a silver lining to a cloud darkened by 35 years of suppression and angst. Rumors have begun to surface about the existence of a Papal document which, if released, would “free up” the Tridentine Rite, setting it up as a Rite parallel to that of the Pauline Reform. While excited, I myself have remained rather skeptical, recalling that a similar rumor circulated through the back alleys of Rome last November. But all the signs point to something substantial on the horizon. The heads of dicasteries are flying to Rome, the city is abuzz with Cardinals and bishops (more so than usual), and my own friends who have ties to people working within the walls of the Vatican are conversing more and more with said friends. Something is definitely on the horizon.

Oct 22, 2006

Out-of-Date Publicity for Liberal Book

Our youngest daughter just sent me an outrageous article from the Dallas Morning News on "Vatican 'Crushed' Renewal of Nuns." The book claims the Vatican is the real cause of the tremendous decrease in the numbers of Catholic nuns.

The article was dated October 21, 2006, so it seemed like Kenneth Briggs' book, Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church's Betrayal of American Nuns, was newly issued. Not so! The book is at least four months old, not really current news. In fact, WolfTracker dealt with the book in an August post.

Some months ago I met a former college classmate who had written a novel and gotten it published by Publish America, Baltimore, a slight step above self-publishing. She is a former college professor of English, so her book is well written--but clearly appears not to be on its way to being a best seller!

I learned how she had received so many good reviews and accolades for her book. They were all written by friends from her college teaching days! Her friends were kind enough to stack the reviews on Amazon, say nice things on the rear flyleaf of her book, add favorable comments to Publish America's site, etc. It's great to have friends who continue to repeat, "I love this book!" Moreover, she encourages lagging sales of her year-old book by visiting local newspapers and libraries all over the state. Kenneth Briggs appears to be doing the same.

Catholic Megachurches?

The Hartford Institute for Religious Research has published documentation on the characteristics and rapid growth of non-Catholic megachurches with weekend attendances of over 2,000 people and typically seven days a week of activities.
“Based on the results of this survey, we are able to conclude that there are at least 1,210 Protestant churches in the United States today with average weekly attendance of over 2,000. That is nearly double the number of megachurches that existed five years ago.”
The Hartford Institute also examines 11 myths about megachurches. Catholics would do well to read the report.