Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bishops, Profit, and Land Speculation


A week ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article, informing their readers about the incoming Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki's land dealings with a friend who had defrauded the Archdiocese of Chicago while Listecki was a priest in Chicago. The article seemed more concerned about his relationship with the thief, who Listecki believes was wrongly accused. My greater concern as a Catholic reading the article was why a Chicago priest and now bishop is involved in land speculation. It is this sort of land speculation that is partly responsible for the current economic crisis.

In addition, a priest is taken care of for life with a suitable salary, health care, and all the rest. Why is a priest involved in this activity? The article also mentioned that Portland Archbishop John Vlazny was involved with Listecki in land speculation. Why are bishops involved in land speculation? They are even better taken care of than priests... just ask Cardinal Law. The other half of the equation... if we assume that priests do not make enough to support themselves, why are they still involved with these economic dealings after they become bishops, as the article indicates is the case?

This whole scenario also begs the question, can the bishops involved in such dealings be moral authorities for the economic sphere? How many more bishops are involved in this type of activity that we are not aware of because no fraud was involved. I find these dealings very troubling and do not think that bishops should be involved in profiteering.

A Faithful Catholic

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pope, Sustainability, Peace


I probably neglect sustainability (or environmental issues) too often on this blog. Thankfully, Pope Benedict seems to be keeping up with the issue. His peace day message for January 1st was released to the press yesterday. His theme this year is the environment and our proper stewardship of it, which has been greatly lacking. As Catholics, we are told that we cannot sit idly by and pretend that issues of climate change, desertification, erosion of farming lands, pollution of rivers and drinking water, loss of biodiversity, and deforestation are not our responsibility. As Church, we have a responsibility to protect the environment because it is God's gift to us that needs to also sustain future generations.

The name of this document is: "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation." Here is a link to it. It also has great terms like "intergenerational solidarity." It is really a wonderful document that stresses the special relationship between God, humanity, and the rest of God's creation. He states that the current neglect of this relationship is leading to a loss of human dignity with such things as environmental refugees and will lead to future violent conflicts if we do not change our current practices.

Good job Benedict. We need this document right now.

A Faithful Catholic

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Young Catholics that Still Care about Being Catholic...



I was very surprised tonight to see a segment on Channel 6 news about a group of young Catholics, aptly naming themselves, Young Catholics for Choice, announcing that they had partnered with Wisconsin based Family Planning Health Services to make commercials stating their belief that they can be Catholic and use Emergency Contraception.

These commercials will start airing in the Milwaukee area any day. Fox 6 even had an interview with soon-to-be Milwaukee Archbishop Listecki, who stated the incompatibility of abortion with Catholic thought. He did not mention the views of Augustine and Aquinas about the soul not entering the embryo until weeks after conception. Although aborting the fetus immediately after conception was not viewed as a positive, it was not viewed as murder.

It will be interesting to see these commercials. It is also great to know that young Catholics that disagree with the Church's teaching on birth control and abortion are not simply leaving the Church or giving up religion. They are obviously passionate about their faith. I'm very proud to call these young people fellow Catholics.

A Faithful Catholic

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christ the King

Who is our King? It seems that all to often in the Catholic Church we point to the Pope or the Magisterium or a bishop or priest or nun. Our king is Jesus the Christ. Within many Protestant churches they will place kingship in the Bible, as do some Catholics. But our king is Jesus the Christ.

When we pray, we should be fostering our relationship with the Christ. When we attempt to live lives dedicated justice and peace in the world, in our country, in our city, in our home, and in our Church, we should be fostering our relationship with the Christ. Although it is an added bonus if we foster relationships with Pope, bishop, priest, friend, enemy, children, family, etc., what is most important is the Christ.

He is the pearl of great price and the treasure for which we will sell all we have to acquire him. I would hope that all reading this blog could agree on this point. If we cannot agree on this, then there are more problems within the body of Christ than I previously thought.

Let us praise our King as we prepare for his coming!!!

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Initial Thoughts about Milwaukee Archbishop "Elect"

On Saturday morning the news was spreading: Bishop Listecki of La Crosse will be the future archbishop of Milwaukee - news conference at 10:00am. I watched to see what our future archbishop would say. He did not surprise me, much. Although I can appreciate someone who is Church-centered and Christ-centered (shouldn't we all be), it makes all the difference in the world how one interprets those terms.

Listecki constantly referred to the Church during his press conference. It was clear from the context that in almost every instance, Church = hierarchy. Not very good Vatican II theology. As to how his Christ-centered talk will come to fruition in his policies will be interesting. We did see an example of how papal infallibility can be misused. Listecki, multiple times, equated the Pope choosing him for Milwaukee with the movement of the Holy Spirit. When people think they have the Holy Spirit on their side, they think anything they do is Holy Spirit-inspired. In other words, they have a mandate to do what they want. Hopefully, I am wrong in this assessment, but I am nonetheless uncomfortable with that language.

Listecki's comments on politics were interesting. He basically stated that his involvement in politics was an involvement in our political system. Real lawyer talk, which makes sense because he is a lawyer. He did not state that his past political (abortion) comments were an attempt to address a society of death. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I'm intrigued.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, November 9, 2009

Random Thoughts...


Still waiting for a new archbishop for Milwaukee. Things seem at a standstill at the moment. Understandably, Bishop Callahan does not want to make major decisions that could be overturned if he is not the next archbishop. Yet the number of priests is decreasing and the number of parishes in financial trouble is increasing. The reason for the latter being mostly the current economic crisis, but not in all cases.

Although abortion is obviously an important issue, the vocal U.S. bishops seem more concerned with abortion than health care for all Americans. They seem to forget that a lack of the latter also causes death among adults, infants, and fetuses. The United States has the highest infant mortality rate among First World nations. We're number 37 among nations of the world.

Nevertheless, for the most part, our churches continue week after week. The body of Christ distributed and the Scriptures are proclaimed. It seems that if the laity want something magnificent established, they will need to turn to themselves and take seriously the body and word that has been given to them.

A Faithful Catholic

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Anglican Catholic Church

Last week, it was announced that there will be newly created ecclesiastical structures for those Anglicans wishing to come into communion with the Catholic Church. This is great news and sad news. It's great in that I have always been very supportive of allowing greater diversity in the Church. Although the details of these new structures are forthcoming, it seems that Anglican ways of prayer may be preserved in their "Catholic" liturgy, much like it is allowed in the Eastern Catholic Churches.

This is also sad news, because this is another example of posturing to a conservative group of Christians by the Vatican to make them feel more welcome, while the Vatican is incalcitrant to liberals who would like greater diversity in Church liturgy.

This announcement will also create a new dynamic locally between Catholics and Episcopalians and possibly a small exodus of Catholic priests. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Episcopal diocese of Milwaukee have traditionally agreed not to accept each other's priests, meaning that priests who wish to switch denominations would need to relocate and to travel to a different diocese. With this document, all bets are off, so to speak.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, October 19, 2009

Double Standard at Notre Dame


Doesn't it seem odd to anyone that no one batted an eye when Cardinal Mahony spoke at Notre Dame last month? If one takes Cardinal Law out of the picture, Mahony was one of the premiere bishops in moving child molesters under the radar. He even moved a molester-priest to another parish in another county after he promised the police that the priest would be moved to a monestary in a deal to avoid sexual assault charges against the priest (See 2006 documentary "Deliver Us From Evil"). Although Obama may be pro-choice and as president will have the opportunity to perform plenty of evil acts, his rap sheet at this time is pretty small compared to Mahony.

I do realize that it was a minority of bishops that did not want Obama at Notre Dame and that Mahony was not among that minority, but why weren't these same bishops protesting Mahony speaking at Notre Dame? This is clearly a double standard. The only issue that matters to these bishops is abortion, not child abuse, the economy, the war, etc.

In truth, I really do not have a problem with any public figure speaking at any university. I like to think it can promote thought and ideas, and even disagreement. Nevertheless, Mahony shouldn't even be an active bishop right now and should perhaps be in prison. He's a criminal.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, October 12, 2009

Catholic Bishops Want Polygamous Women to be Able to Recieve Sacraments in the Church

Basic Catholic doctrine is that marriage is between one man and one woman, right? Well, even if that is the case, Archbishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi of Sunyani in Ghana recently told an African Synod of bishops meeting at the Vatican that special provisions should be made for women wanting to join the Church who are already in a polygamous marriage. To ask these women to get a divorce, especially when children are involved is unconscionable. Not only do they risk not being able to see their children, but they lose their financial and social stability. In the process, the Catholic Church receives the name of home wrecker.

According to Gyamfi, there are many women in this situation that see a beauty in Catholicism and would like to join the Church. Unfortunately, because of their situation, they are denied the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, and reconciliation. Often these women will attend Mass regularly and help out around the parish, but are denied the sacramental life of the Church. It is too bad that at this moment the Church cannot reach out sacramentally to these women. Bringing these women into the fold could be a means of bringing Catholic faith and values into their families. The long term effects of being pastorally compassionate to these women could have a large impact in their communities

A Faithful Catholic


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

All Saints Day


All Saints' Day is on the horizon. It really is a wonderful day that is underutilized by most congregations. There are so many great saints in our wonderful Church. Unfortunately, our saint calendar is primarily focused on European saints. Although there is nothing wrong with European saints, our church is so much more than that. There is wonderful diversity in our Church that Americans and European Catholics often are ignorant of or purposely ignore. Just from a pure numbers standpoint that seems odd when we consider that 60% of Catholics today live in the "Third World." There are saints to our south in Juan Diego and Martin de Porres. There are the Ugandan martyrs from the 19th century in Africa. There is St. Paul Miki of Japan. Each of these countries and areas of the world also have particular Catholic prayer styles that differ from our region of the world, but from which we could benefit greatly. If the early Church did not later accept some German inculturation, we would have neither the Christmas tree nor the Advent wreath. I cannot imagine a Catholic Church in Advent without an Advent wreath.

We are not done growing as a Church and All Saints' Day is the perfect opporntunity to learn more about Catholic piety in other parts of the world. If only our churches took All Saints' Day as seriously as Advent & Christmas.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 28, 2009

Eucharist Needed in Times of Crisis


Some of the laity in Cleveland have organized because their bishop plans on closing or merging 50 parishes. The laity state that some of these parishes are vibrant and financially self-sufficient. What reason could exist for closing all those parishes except the priest shortage. Bishop Lennon, celebrating the last Mass at one of these parishes a few weeks ago had a police escort.

In Spain, a study by a newspaper there has determined that 20% of the country's priests are married or laicized. Many conservatives still contend that a married clergy (or women priests) would not solve the priest shortage problem. They say: Look at Protestant churches... This has got to be one of the few issues that conservatives think that we can learn something from Protestants. Although a married and female clergy may not "solve" the entire problem, it would help dramatically. In addition, for vibrant and financially stable parishes that still do not have a priest, a lay person should be appointed by the bishop to be able to celebrate Mass as an extraordinary celebrant until a priest is available. In emergency situations, we already allow lay persons to perform baptism, anointing of the sick, and reconciliation. Is not the closing or merging of 50 parishes an emergency? I'm pretty sure if you ask the parishes involved they will see it as an emergency. I also believe that sooner or later, what's happening in Cleveland will be happening here in Milwaukee.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 21, 2009

Benedict Puts Male Celibate "Priesthood" ahead of Eucharist


What is the most important sacrament in the Catholic Church? Benedict would seem to say "Ordination." Benedict met with the bishops from the poor and northeastern area of Brazil, which suffers horrifically from a priest shortage. He told them to hold fast in preventing the line between the laity and priesthood from being blurred. In many of the remote areas of Brazil, lay people have been trained to lead discussions of faith and scripture. The people of these areas are lucky if they see a priest every six weeks. As such, some of these communities also celebrate eucharist together. Benedict does not state this, but his reminder that the priest "is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the word and celebrating the sacraments" makes clear his two concerns. Perhaps this blurring would not be the case if the reins on ordination were not so restricted. And although I respect the amount of education that is normally required for priests, exceptions should be made in rural areas where people do not have academic training so that eucharist, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, and other "priestly" minstries can be readily available. In the mean time, how can we expect Catholics to go six weeks to six months at a time without Eucharist? Would we simply accept this situation of "no eucharist" in a place like Milwaukee? I do not think so.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Second Coming...

As a kid, I really thought that I would be around for the second coming of Christ. I took that teaching from Scripture very literally. While I would not rule out the second coming - I don't think it is meant to happen literally in this world. We are only meant to experience glances and tastes of the coming kingdom in this world. I think that the kingdom is only fully realized for each one of us after we die.

Following this train of thought to it natural conclusion, I do not buy into the communal resurrection of the dead at the end time either. If a communal resurrection does exist, we as Catholics have circumvented it anyway. How can we pray to the saints if they have not been resurrected yet... oh yeah, there is no time with God. Using that logic, Mother Theresa could have prayed to herself while she was still alive. It seems more likely to me that we simply go to heaven, hell, or purgatory immediately following our deaths. I am not going to bothering defining those realities in this short entry, because that is beyond anyone's competence.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 7, 2009

Right to Unionize Often Denied by Conservatives


While all labor should be honored on Labor Day, unionized labor is particularly remembered. So many of the rights taken for granted by workers in the United States are thanks to labor - the 40 hour work week, child labor laws, higher wages, job security, etc.

Many conservatives in the Church whom I have talked to try to state that workers do not have a right to unionize. If they are a bit more educated, they will point out that Rerum Novarum in 1891 only supported "Catholic" worker associations. Although that is correct (Leo was averse to Communist controlled-unions), later popes and Vatican II saw there implicit support for labor unions in their modern form and explicitly stated so:

Mater et Magistra
22 ( by John XXIII): Pope Leo XIII also defended the worker's natural right to enter into association with his fellows. Such associations may consist either of workers alone or of workers and employers, and should be structured in a way best calculated to safeguard the workers' legitimate professional interest. And it is the natural right of the workers to work without hindrance, freely, and on their own initiative within these associations for the achievement of these ends.

Gaudium et Spes
68 (Vatican II document): Among the basic rights of the human person is to be numbered the right of freely founding unions for working people.

Laborem Exercens
20 (by John Paul II): All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labour or trade unions.

Centesimus Annus
7 (by John Paul II): This means above all the right to establish professional associations of employers and workers, or of workers alone. Here we find the reason for the Church's defence and approval of the establishment of what are commonly called trade unions

With such a wealth of sources (and there are more) supporting unions as a basic and natural right, it is hard to beleive how any Catholic could deny that this is official Catholic teaching. Normally, when I meet a conservative Catholic of this persuasion, I do not have these references with me. Hopefully, this short reference list that I have compiled will be helpful in illustrating without a doubt the Catholic Church's support for unions.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bishop Joseph F. Martino "Resigns"


Video of Bishop Joseph Martino's resignation, now former bishop of Scranton, from this morning's press conference can be found here. This morning, Bishop Martino announced that his resignation, that he had sent in June, had been accepted by Pope Benedict. Martino is only 63 years old. He states that it was his decision to resign because of insomnia and other health problems caused by the stress of being bishop of Scranton.

Martino is known nationally for his uncompromising and bombastic pro-life attitude. Reportedly, this bombastic style of his extended beyond abortion issues to the reorganization he was enacting in his diocese to deal with fewer practicing Catholics and changing demographics (proving that a conservative bishop is not synonymous with greater church participation). In the last few years we have also seen two bishops moved when controversy would not desist: Cardinal Law of Boston was "promoted" to a Roman post and Bishop Burke of St. Louis was "promoted" to a Vatican post. While it is very possible that Martino's resignation is for the reasons stated, it is not beyond any realm of possibility that he was pressured to resign after having lost the support of many Catholics and priests in his own diocese. As can be also seen in St. Louis and Boston, once the bishop lost the support of his priests, he was moved.

In any case, it is all very interesting and I am sure that speculation will continue for a long time.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lutherans One Step Ahead of Us...


This past week, the national assembly of the 4.7 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, meeting in Minneapolis, gave local congregations the authority to choose pastors or lay leaders who are in "lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."

Just as the Anglican Church was ahead of us on the issue of contraception in stating that it was permissible in 1931, so also the largest Lutheran denomination is ahead of us on the gay and lesbian issue. Though for them the issue resolves around scriptural interpretation instead of an interpretation of the natural law as it does for Catholics, it is still a monumental achievement (I will add an entry on the natural law in the near future, but it is safe to say that Catholic teaching does not rely heavily on biblical support on this issue and most citations of scripture are an afterthought) .

I do sincerely believe that we will one day, as a Church, reach the same conclusion as our Anglican and Lutheran brothers and sisters. It just takes us a little bit longer on some issues, particularly issues regarding sexuality. While I could be embarrassed that the Lutherans "beat us to it," I choose to be happy that they are pointing the way for us. When the Catholic Church finally corrects its imperfect teaching on this issue, the change will be easier.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Inappropriate Use of Church Funds in Burlington Parish

As reported in the Racine Journal Times, Fr. Jeff Thielen, has resigned from St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Parish in Burlington, WI. He had been there since 2004 and at this time they estimate that he misspent $75,000: some of that he used to overcompensate himself and $58,000 was used in purchasing gift cards to thank people. In the wake of this scandal, the trustees and the business manager resigned, though they are expected of no wrong-doing.

It seems odd that this appears in the news so shortly after just talking about this issue on the blog. Julie Wolf, the archdiocesan spokewoman, also made a very interesting comment. "Sometimes the parishioners - and even staff - are deferential to the pastor out of respect. Not that (they) shouldn't question the pastor, but it makes it difficult for them to do so."

We are supposed to celebrate "The Year of the Priest," but in one sense this only reinforces a stereotype that parishioners should always defer to the priest. Trustees need to realize that they are on the board of directors of their parish according to how each parish is organized in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. They need to take that responsibility more seriously. Trustees are an already built in defense to try and protect the financial integrity of a parish.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, August 10, 2009

Medjugorje Priest Laicized...


Father Tomislav Vlasic, a Franciscan priest who served as the spiritual adviser to the Marian visionaries in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, has been laicized by Benedict XVI. He has fathered a child (not always a bad thing), but he is also suspected of heresy, schism, "the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders." That's quite a list and all the charges were made "in the context of the Medjugorje phenomenon." While this request for laicization was made by Vlasic himself, it appears to have gone through rather speedily.

This is another chapter in a sad story of the suspect Medjugorje "apparitions." The bishop of the Medjugorje area at the time of the original apparitions has stated his belief that Vlasic made up the whole thing. I'm not aware of so much turmoil and charges of possible heresy regarding any other sighting so long after the original sighting, but anyone can feel free to fill me in.

This does raise questions about why local priests (i.e. Michael Lightner & Rick Wendell) continue to bring groups of pilgrims there. While they are not breaking any Vatican rules, the Vatican has made clear that no diocese or church can officially sponsor a pilgrimage there. And for two priests who are supposedly so orthodox, I do not understand their desire for spreading the "messages" of Medjugorie. If anyone reading this has made a pilgrimage there, I would appreciate your insight.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, August 3, 2009

Waiting on Church Audits...


Janet E. Pachmayer, the former bookkeeper at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Menomonee Falls, WI, was convicted of three misdemeanor theft charges last week and faces about two years in prison. She stated previously that she stole roughly $134,000 over the past few years by overstating the utility bills by a few hundred dollars and pocketing the difference. This raises some major questions of basic accounting procedure. When the pastor and a trustee at the parish signed checks, didn't they look at the amount on the check and the amount on the bill or did they not even have the bill with the check? This person was obviously given too much control of the parish finances. A basic audit would probably have uncovered the overstating of the utility bills because it is such a large portion of a parish's budget, and a basic audit would have also corrected the procedure for the signing and mailing of checks.

About one year ago, former Milwaukee Archbishop Dolan stated that church audits would be around the corner. So far... no news. The rumor is that this is because of the prohibitive cost. Nevertheless, something needs to be done to bring pastors and office persons and trustees up to snuff on basic auditing procedures. It would save us from many future headaches.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, July 27, 2009

Caritas in Veritate - Love in Truth


I found the Pope's new encyclical on the "social doctrine" of the Catholic Church to be pretty good. He hits most of the big economic issues. There is an ever-present reminder that profit cannot be the primary or exclusive motive for businesses. Greater care needs to be taken that intellectual property and health care are not only for rich countries (e.g. withholding HIV-AIDS medicine from the African continent).

I do think he is wrong about concluding that the economic crisis could have been largely avoided if the birth rate had not dropped significantly in 1st world countries. Though the birth rate has decreased in the U.S., immigration (legal and illegal) has made up for it.

Benedict also stresses that reason needs faith and faith needs reason. This along, with the need for "wealth redistribution" is almost a mantra within this encyclical. He even refers to the need for redistribution on a global scale (42). Societies like the U.S. are also called to lower their energy consumption. We must be aware our climate and not squander our natural resources on projects such as war.

Those are the areas that particularly hit me as cutting edge.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dan Maguire Statement about ROTC

Daniel Maguire, a Catholic moral theologian at Marquette University
recently released a statement concerning Marquette's Reserve
Officer Training Corp. Program (ROTC). As the local Catholic
press will probably choose not to cover it. I will repeat
his statement here:

Marquette University Peace Action: Marquette’s Lonely Prophets

Statement of Daniel Maguire, Professor of Moral Theology

Marquette University Peace Action (MUPA) has been a lonely
witness to the peace-making tradition that began in the
Hebrew scriptures and continued in the Christian scriptures
and early Christian communities. Their critique has centered
on Marquette’s being a center of ROTC training for 14 local
colleges. MUPA accepts the unfortunate fact that ROTC is
here. The military are firmly embedded at Marquette, and
money is a major factor in their being here. The university
and the ROTC students get financial support. MUPA recognizes
realistically that ROTC will not be easily dislodged because
of that. In my almost 40 years at Marquette, I have told ROTC
students: “Take the money from the military but don’t give
them your soul.” Of course, it is their souls and minds that
the military are targeting, and that is precisely the
educational issue that MUPA has been heroically engaging.

MUPA quotes The Army Field Manual:”Your personal values may
and probably do extend beyond the Army values, to include
such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs.
However, if you’re to be an Army leader and a person of
integrity, these values must reinforces not contradict,
Army values.”

Give the Army credit for candor. That could not be clearer.
Religious values are trumped by Army values and valuations.
That is a bold challenge to this religiously grounded
university. Why has the university mounted no curricular
response? That is the question that MUPA has been
insistently pressing, like a voice crying in the wilderness.

Pope John Paul II spoke for fundamental religious values
when he said: “We can enrich our common heritage with a
very simple discovery that is within our reach, namely that
war is the most barbarous and least effective way of
resolving conflicts.”

Pope John XXIII said that “it no longer makes sense to
maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair
the violation of justice.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu says: “In the wars of the 1990′s,
civilian deaths constituted between 75 and 90 percent of
all war deaths…Some two million children have died in
dozens of wars during the past decade….This is more than
three times the number of battlefield deaths of American
soldiers in all their wars since 1776.”

War is, by definition, state sponsored violence and it is
more brutal than it ever was in history. It is so horrible
that after Second World War the nations of the world
decided it could only be used as a police action,
collectively, in response to an attack, coordinated by the
United Nations.

Professor Richard Falk writes: “World War II ended with
the historic understanding that recourse to war between
states could no longer be treated as a matter of national
discretion, but must be regulated to the extent possible
through rules administered by international institutions.
The basic legal framework was embodied in the UN Charter,
a multilateral treaty largely crafted by American diplomats
and legal advisers. Its essential feature was to entrust
the Security Council with administering a prohibition of
recourse to international force (Article 2, Section 4)
by states except in circumstances of self-defense, which
itself was restricted to responses to a prior ‘armed
attack’ (Article 51), and only then until the Security
Council had the chance to review the claim”


THE SOLUTION AT MARQUETTE

ROTC is teaching our students a different gospel. ROTC
dissents from the popes by teaching that war is” a fit
instrument with which to repair the violation of justice.”
It teaches that war is not the “least effective way of
resolving conflicts.” In fact it is preparing our
students to participate in the three wars now ongoing—not
one of which was declared according to Article One Section
8 of our Constitution---wars against Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Pakistan, with threats of war in the air against Iran.
None of those wars meet the six criteria of “the Catholic
Just War Theory.” Not one of them meet those criteria.
None of the, in other words, satisfy Catholic teaching on
war-making. War that is not justified is collective murder
and our students are right now being trained to join in.

The challenge to Marquette is educational. The military
work on the assumption that war is a continuation of
national policy by different means. It works on the
assumption of the normalcy and inevitability of war. And
it is teaching our students that contrary to the teaching
of the two popes just mentioned, and contrary to the
biblical peace tradition, war is “a fit instrument with
which to repair the violation of justice.” It teaches
that “war is not the least effective way of resolving
conflicts.”

If ROTC were teaching the normalcy of abortion, Marquette
would respond with vigor. Why is war taken less seriously?
After all, war is abortifacient. Many of the hundreds of
thousands killed in the Iraq war were pregnant women and
we inflicted “shock and awe” on them and their fetuses.
Our students are being trained to do more of the same.

Solution: every ROTC student at Marquette should be
required to take two courses in the peace-making
traditions of the world religions, especially Judaism and
Christianity, with special training in the Catholic just
war theory. They should also be taught the obligations the
United States assumed by treaty to observe the United
Nations restraints on vigilante war, something we are not
now doing.

MUPA is no more radical than the popes. They are prophets
calling attention to Marquette’s failure to live up to its
avowed moral and religious commitments. They are not
calling for the ouster of ROTC. They are not trying to
take away ROTC money from Marquette or from Marquette
students. They are defending religious values and saying
those sacred values should not be trumped by military
values as the army insists. They are taking values they
were taught in their schools and churches and begging us
to live by them. To the shame of all of us, they have
been ignored for too long.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bishops are to be loving shepherds...


The pope recently spoke these words to newly installed archbishops visiting Rome. Although these are good words in and of themselves, maybe the situation of Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho is in the background. Sobrinho was the archbishop of Recife and Olinda Brazil. He was sent there in 1979 to replace Dom Helder Camara and his witness of loving compassion as well as his support of liberation theology.

Sobrinho has been in the news because he publically reminded a 9 year old, who had been repeatedly rapedy by her step-father for years, that the abortion she had meant that she was excommunicated per canon law. There was an uproar in Brazil for Sobrinho's callous response to the situation and even Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Acadamy for Life stated that the church's first reaction should have been to minister to the girl.

Pope Benedict offically accepted Sobrinho's resignation on July 1st
. Sobrinho is now 76. His resignation could have been accepted a year ago, when he turned 75. Bishops who are in the pope's favor often do not have their resignation accepted for years after turning 75. I'm guessing that Sobrinho's conduct did not please the pope. It is also a reminder that perhaps Archbishop Burke, formerly of St. Louis was really demoted when he received his Vatican post. I view this all as good news: callous bishops that were popular with JPII are perhaps not popular with Benedict.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, June 29, 2009

Married Priests too Liberal?

Rent a Priest (http://rentapriest.blogspot.com/) has had quite a few good articles recently on married clergy and priests with families in African countries. They are worth checking out. It seems that in many parts of Africa, priests knowingly have families and as long as they are not too open about it, it is accepted. The most recent posting cites a priest who left the Catholic Church to openly marry his girlfriend/nun, because he felt it was dishonest not to be open about it.

Weakland also addressed the issue of a married clergy regularly in his book. So why does the Roman Catholic rite persist in not having a married clergy (with very few exceptions)? Only two reasons come to my mind. Sex and liberalism. At least with former clergy that I have met that are married, most seem to have a more liberal bend. While allowing married priests would not guarantee a more liberal clergy, I think it is a fear. There is also a persistant fear of sexual issues from the Vatican and I do not think that bishops want priests having sex. How would it look if your parish priests was using condoms? The few priests that are allowed to be married are converts from other denominations. In most cases, they are coming to the Catholic Church because they want to be a part of a more conservative church. Hence, the current married clergy are often more conservative.

And although I know that a married clergy has not solved the clergy shortage in other denominations, as conservative Catholics like to remind us, Catholics are different. Maybe it would work for us. It couldn't hurt, could it?

A Faithful Catholic

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Brief Summary of "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop"...

The book begins with a prologue devoted to the public revelation of his relationship with Paul Marcoux in 2002. Chapter 1 he devotes to his family heritage and early childhood. Chapter 2 covers his years in Latrobe, Penn. at St. Vincent Abbey as he went through high school and began college. Chapter 3 covers his education in Rome, the taking of his final vows, and his ordination. Chapter 4 is devoted to his years at Julliard and Columbia University and his first parish assignments. Chapter 5: his years as a priest at St. Vincent. Chapter 6: He is elected abbot of St. Vincent after the current abbot is seen as too harsh and uncompromising. Chapters 7-10 cover his years as Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Order in Rome beginning at the age of 40. Weakland was involved in liturgical reform and protecting his Order from some in the curia who want to create uniformity in a culturaly diverse Order with various forms of ministry. He also travelled A LOT. He tried to bring male and female Benedictine communities up-to-date. Especially with many female communities, he pushed for education in scripture and doctrine. Pope Paul would aid his effort in this when curia members tried to stop him. It was soon understood that Paul would always lend an ear to Weakland. Weakland points out that Paul always attempted to keep the peace between the traditionalists and progressives by appointing both groups within the curia and as bishops and cardinals.

Chapters 11-15: In 1977, Paul VI asks Weakland to go to Milwaukee. Weakland decides to follow the pope's wishes, partly because he is led to understand that being a bishop doesn't mean he needs to always keep his mouth shut. While rumors abound, it seems false to conclude that Paul was trying to get rid of Weakland. With the election of John Paul II in 1978, Weakland comes to understand keeping opinions to oneself is the preference of JPII. Weakland devotes time to the Economic pastoral, which he chaired and is obviously proud of (for good reason), and his numerous confrontations with curia officials. Their problem is not so much with his doctrine as it is with his attitude; they want his attitude to be one of total permissiveness to the papacy; there is no room for disagreement or dialogue. Weakland also spends a lot of time on the idea of collegiality among bishops from Vatican II that JPII has basically destroyed single-handedly (he carefully explains how JP II did this). JPII has basically made all bishops representives for the pope and prevented national bishops conferences from publishing pastoral letters without aggressive meddling from Rome.

He spends about 40 pages on the sexual-abuse scandal, but I wish he would have said more.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weakland's Book is Fantastic... and sad.

Rembert Weakland's A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church is a fantastic book. It is a must read for anyone who wants an understanding of the renewal that was called for at Vatican II regarding collegiality, liturgy, ecumenism, renewal in religious orders, etc. He seems to be very honest and accurate in his assessment of pluses and minuses of both Paul VI and John Paul II, obviously favoring Paul VI.

The work that Weakland has contributed to economic, liturgical, laity, women, and collegiality issues cannot be over-emphasized. In these issues, Weakland has left a tremendously positive mark.

His sections regarding John Paul II and JP's agenda of centralizaiton in the Chruch is very discouraging, but it is an accurate portrayal of our current Church. I am not sure how to read his writings on sexual abuse cases in Milwaukee. I do not feel competent enough to judge how valid his responses are. And for those who want to know about his "affair," he also seems to be very honest there. I could hear him still struggling with how to appropriately handle the situation after the fact.

While I wish Weakland could have been a stronger man when it came to his loneliness, I think this book is important in writing an honest history of our post-Vatican II Church.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Year of the Priest...


This Friday begins the Year for Priests, as announced by Pope Benedict. In one sense, I have no problem with trying to offer greater support for priests. There are so many good priests out there that suffer from alienation. But could part of this alienation be because some are forced down a path of celibacy that is too difficult for them. In addition, the decrease in priests since the 1950s now means that most priests live in their rectories alone, instead of with the two other priests that were serving at the parish. The second problem could be partially dealt with by allowing married priests and women priests or by more dioceses allowing their priests to live away from their parish. So although Benedict is asking us to support our priests, is he really doing his part to support priests to the fullest?

The other disturbing factor in all this is that I doubt we will be seeing a year for the laity in the near future. Most of the liturgical changes of late have been to remind the people that priests are special by making more specific rules to keep the laity out of the sanctuary during certain times and to make sure they are not too close to the priest. The sexual abuse scandal has not only hurt the image of the priesthood, but of all Catholics, meaning mostly the laity. We are seen as idiots for still being Catholic. So let me know when Benedict will be holding something to support the laity, but I think I might be waiting a while.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sacraments still decreasing...

According to the U.S. bishops news service, infant baptisms were down 16,000 this past year, adult baptisms and confirmations were down 12,000, first communions were down 1,300 and confirmations were down 8,500. At the same time, the Catholic population stayed at 22% of the US population and rose by 1,000,000 people. The number of seminarians rose slightly.

It seems odd to me that the number of seminarians is rising as the number of those receiving the sacraments diminishes. Although any number of interpretations could be formulated, this seems to speak of a divide between priests and laity. This could also speak of a growing divide between a more liberal laity that is not happy with a growing conservative clergy. It should be pointed out that liberal clergy are not being allowed to grow right now because of ideological Vatican crackdowns and the continued ban on married and women clergy.

If the liberal clergy were allowed to grow, it would be fascinating to see if the sacramental numbers would be starting to grow rather than decrease. Unfortunately, we will never know for sure.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pentecost in Scripture


I've always had a difficult time reconciling the two Pentecost stories found in the New Testament. The best-known is from Acts 2:1-4, where after Jesus spent 40 days on earth, he ascended to heaven and shortly after sent the Spirit. The second passage is John 20:19-23, in which Jesus appears to the disciples shortly after the resurrection and breaths the Holy Spirit on them.

The basic message is that Jesus sent the Spirit to be with the community after his crucifixion and resurrection. This variance in Scripture itself indicates that maybe the community at times confused these two persons of the Trinity. The same thing happens today. Most us of are christological Christians instead of trinitarian Christians. We find ourselves praying almost exclusively to Jesus, which is not wrong, but we often forget that Jesus sent the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that perfects our always imperfect prayers to God.

In relation to this issue, there are those who correctly point out the error of some Catholics of replacing the Holy Spirit with Mary. Although I am not against the cult of Mary, for some Catholics there is a sense that Mary perfects our prayers and brings them to God to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Priest Remembered for the Good Things

So often in the news it seems that if you see a priest listed with his picture in a prominent part of the newspaper, he is being accused of something awful. In last week's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there was a prominent article regarding an Appleton, WI born priest who was slain in Guatemala - Larry Rosebaugh. 74 year old Rosebaugh was murdered in a supposed van-jacking as he was traveling on a highway with four other priests. He, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was involved in the Milwaukee 14, a group of men who burned thousands of draft card files from the U.S. Selective Service offices in 1968 as an action against the Vietnam War. After serving 20 months in prison, Rosebaugh went on to serve as a missionary among the poor in countries such as Brazil and Guatemala. In any case, it is nice to see an article that lauds a priest for the good he has done in the world. There are, of course, many more good priests who stories never grace the pages of the local newspapers.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, May 18, 2009

Church, State, and Adoption


As reported recently on CatholicNews.com, six diocesan Catholic Charities expressed concern over upcoming changes to faith-based initiatives under the Obama administration and changes to states' rights for gays and lesbians that could allow them to adopt. They are now calling for conscience clauses to exempt them from actions they do not want to take. Although they have a right to voice their opinion, it seems that they have already sold their soul to the federal governement. In 2007, $9 million out of their $27 million budget, or 33% of their income came from federal grants.

I am of the opinion that they should not be discriminating against gay parents seeking to adopt, but in the end they need to make their own choice. If they really believe that something is morally wrong, they should risk losing the federal money and the legal right to run adoption agencies. That sort of action would show that they have integrity. As it is now, they want to receive $9 million a year and tell the government how they wish to spend it. Grants usually work the other way; when you take money from someone it usually has strings attached. I'd be a bit more sympathetic to their plight if they renounced the government aid.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weakland Book to be Released

Before the end of this month, former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland's memoirs will be available for purchase: "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop." I am very excited to get a copy. Supposedly, he had been trying to get this book published for years, but most publishers turned him down because they wanted a greater focus on his sex scandal. While I am sure that that will be interesting to read, I am more interested in his take of the goings on at the Vatican during the 1960's, 70's, 80's, and 90's. The book is supposed to be pretty honest and specific when it comes to names - none of "a certain cardinal..." I think it will also be fascinating to see how he went from being in the Vatican's good graces as a friend of Paul VI, to the dog house as an "opponent" of John Paul II.

Weakland's one terribly bad decision has tarnished his career, but hopefully this book can provide some redemption and solace for those of us that fondly remember all the good that he has done for the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, May 4, 2009

Teaching Moment on Eucharist


The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has stated that the swine flu problem should be used as a teaching moment on the nature of the eucharist...

When it comes to differences between Lutheran and Catholic doctrine, I almost always side with Catholic doctrine. The one exception is the understanding of the real presence in the eucharist. Catholic doctrine speaks of transubstantiation; there is a complete transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. The eucharist only has the accidentals of looking and tasting like bread and wine. Luther believed in sacramental union, in which the eucharist is still truly bread, but also truly Christ.

If we use Christ as the measure for this doctrine, he did not obliterate his humaness in becoming human. And even though in the eucharist, the divine and human natures of Christ are present, I do not see the need for obliterating the elements of bread and wine. It should be pointed out that Luther's view is not foreign to Catholic theology, it was taught by Dons Scotus in the Middle Ages as consubstantiation (the differences in the doctrines are slight). The Catholic doctrine on transbustantiation only became settled a issue in Catholic teaching as a response to the Protestant Reformation. If the Protestant Reformation had not occurred, who knows how our understanding of the real presence would have developed.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, April 27, 2009

2nd Anniversary

This week hails the second anniversary of this blog. I think I have accomplished most of what I have wanted on it. I have tried to give honest and coherent commentary on the issues facing the Catholic Church in Milwaukee and in the world. At times I have also addressed doctrinal issues, which is difficult to make interesting on a blog.

At this point I am anticipating Benedict's third encyclical, which is supposed to cover social issues and be released in June. This document was originally slated to be released at the end of last year, but has been constantly delayed. It is thought that the worsening world financial crisis has caused numerous revisions of the document. I will be intrigued to see if after the release of this document, the U.S. bishops begin to spend any serious ink on the financial crisis.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, April 20, 2009

Breaking News!!!


In breaking news, Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop William Callahan has been elected by the archdiocesan College of Consultors to serve as the diocesan administrator of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee until a new Archbishop is installed.

St. Paul/Minneapolis - New Dark Chapter in Sexual Abuse

According to the U.S. bishops news service, the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis is withholding the names of those priests that have been accused of sexual abuse, but have never been charged civilly or criminally. The Archdiocese has stated that they want to be prudent and wait for a court ruling on the matter. Basically, they are not going to divulge the information unless they are forced to, just like many other dioceses across the country. The Archdiocese has currently moved for a protective order for the remaining names until the Second Judicial District Court has ruled on the admissibility of the information.

I can guarantee that if the judge rules that the information is admissible as evidence, they will not disclose it without a fight. And here we see another sad case of an diocese not doing what is right in the hopes of saving a few dollars. I do not like name calling... but these guys are a bunch of scumbags.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter 2009


Happy Easter All!

New life and resurrection. But what is the resurrection? St. Paul states that with the resurrection, Jesus had a spiritual body and many of the disciples do not immediately recognize Christ in his resurrected body.

Hence, it is fair to say this is not a resuscitation of his old, dead, earthly body. And if his old body was missing, this points to a body that has been transformed by God, the Father (or Mother). This is a taste of the resurrection that we hope for. But at the same time, we know that it is completely different and almost unrecognizable from our present state.

With this is mind, it is probably foolhardy to imagine a heaven where we will walk around chatting with our old relatives and friends. With a beautiful understanding and manner, Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Spe Salvi, described heaven as "plunging into the ocean of infinite love, a moment in which time—the before and after—no longer exists."

In any case, Happy Easter, let us look joyfully towards the day where we will be born to eternal life.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, April 6, 2009

Reiki No More! Reiki Never Again!

Above, I replaced the word war with Reiki in JP II's phrase. It simply is sad that in this time of economic crisis, during this time of war and rocket launch testing, the US bishops are worried about Reiki. Reiki is a type of massage from Buddhist Japan that is supposed to heal a person by focusing the "universal life energy." Hence, they believe that Catholic institutions and its representatives (hopsitals & chaplins) should not practice Reiki.

They find this conept of the universal life energry problematic because they do not believe that it falls into the two acceptable healing methods: divine miracle or natural medicine. They make a good point in stating that at the moment there is no scientific evidence that Reiki heals people, but I think there may be another way to understand the universal life energy. According to Einstein, E=mc2. Everything is energy; it is the basic building block of all life. I am not saying that I support Reiki. I just think that the bishops are wasting their time.

Abortions are on the rise because of the economic crisis. Finance is also the primary reason for divorce in the United States. Maybe if the bishops had that data they might decide to address the issue of the economy.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 30, 2009

Abortion is still Numero Uno

Right before leaving office, President Bush implemented conscience protection provisions for healthcare providers who do not want to be involved in abortions. Now some bishops, like Cardinal George of Chicago, are rallying to keep them in place, with no mention of the fact that Bush obviously put them in place to make trouble for the Obama presidency. It's hard to believe Bush would have put these provisions in place if John McCain had been following him.

While Cardinal George compares it to the conscientious objection that Americans can make towards military service, that is not the case. It is similar to selective conscientious objection, which states that a person already in the military should be able to decide to fight only in just wars. While this is official Catholic teaching, the bishops are not pressing for this. A true comparision to regular conscientious objection would mean that people have the right not to enter the medical field.

In truth, I do not have a major problem with medical conscientious objection, I think it is basically a good thing. My concern is that the U.S. bishops have basically made the seemless garment cover fertility to birth and then skip to one's death bed. They have all this other teaching on economic rights, selective conscientious objection for military service, etc., but they have become a one issue religion. It's as if the U.S. bishops read John 3:16 as: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that anyone against abortion who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 23, 2009

Morlino fires Woman for Private Thoughts

Ruth Kolpack, the pastoral associate of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Beloit, WI was fired recently by Robert Morlino, the bishop of Madison. There were allegations that she discussed the possibility of women's ordination and giving communion to non-Catholics. She denies that this was ever done in her role as a lay minister, but that she may privately hold views that dissent from Church teaching. Basically, she never publicly advocated for these positions.

The crux of the matter is that she was ultimately fired for refusing to denounce her master's thesis, which argued for inclusive language in the liturgy. Because of all the attention around this incident, Morlino will be meeting with her parishioners in April, where she has worked for 26 years.

Fr. Andrew Nelson, a Milwaukee priests and the former rector of St. Francis Seminary, where she graduated, found the situation very unfortunate because he knows that Kolpack is an extraordinary individual. He even went on record with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saying, "This might be a sign of a certain antagonism toward lay women in ministry in the church, and I feel so bad about that."

In a certain sense, I think that is a sign that if Morlino were to come to Milwaukee as the new archbishop, the priests here will not be silent like the priests in Madison. Another odd issue here is that Morlino fired the woman and not the priest of the parish.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 16, 2009

Signs of Lay Catholics Getting Sick of Status Quo

In Connecticuit last week, a bill was killed in the state legislature's judiciary committee that would have revised the way in which a Roman Catholic parish is organized. The proposed provisions would effectively give control of parish finances over to the laity and allow the priest and bishop only an advisory role. Quite the reversal from the way things are now!

There are a number of issues here. One, this has been done before. In the 18th century it was common to prohibit bishops from control of parish property which lead to the necessity for parish trustees. A big problem with those laws and this proposed law is that it is only focussed on Catholics.

The other side of this is that in this situation it was a group of Catholics that wanted this legislation, not discriminating Protestants. I do not know if this group of Catholics actually thought that this bill would become law or if they were trying to send a message to the bishops of the United States. I think that that message is this: "Bishops and priests have too much control over church finances and we do not trust you. WE NEED FINANCIAL REFORM!" I think the bill, if passed into law, would have created a whole new set of problems, but I think the message is appropriate. And of course, financial reform is not possible without ecclesial reform.
Sex abuse, parish finances and misspending... Perhaps these crucifixions will lead us to a new Church.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 9, 2009

Public Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

President Obama lifted the ban on public funding for embryonic stem cell research. The embryos used for this type of research are the "leftovers" embryos from the process of in vitro fertilization. The hierarchical magisterium already condemns the process of in vitro fertilization.

This entire process is a difficult situation filled with shades of sketchy morality and the dangers of human farming. In one sense, since the embryos are already there, I would lean towards making use of them towards research. These embryos will never be brought to term and be born (and the Vatican would view it as sinful to do so). On the other hand, there is the danger of mothers being paid to be embryo producers if there would be shortage of in vitro embryos and there should be legislation in place to prevent such embryos from being used.

Ideally, mothers would not opt for in vitro fertilization, but would adopt. Any one reading the newspapers these days can see that the foster care system is in shambles and there is a great need for parents to adopt. There is too much stress over having your own genetic children.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dolan Reflections & The Next Archbishop

What does Dolan going to NY mean? As Dolan is the first bishop from Milwaukee to be appointed to the Big Apple, it would seem to indicate that Benedict does not want a nasty, in your face character like Burke in the American spotlight. While Dolan is conservative and will toe the papal line, he'll do it with a smile. For those with a more intimate knowledge of the goings-on in the NY Archdiocese, I think their attitude will be reminiscent of Milwaukee - it could be a whole lot worse.

Oddly enough, Dolan as the outgoing bishop and bishop of NY will probably have a considerable say in who the next bishop in Milwaukee will be. This could bode very well for Milwaukee. It could be the difference between a friendly Bishop like Joseph Perry from Chicago and a nasty bishop like Robert Morlino from Madison, WI. I would look more to candidate like Perry to be placed here. I believe Dolan will want the next few years in Milwaukee to go smoothly to show that he did a good job in Milwaukee. Someone like Morlino could make the priests here fed up enough to make some national headlines. Dolan will not want that, because then his name would come up over and over again as his former bishop.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dolan Going to NY

Well, Dolan is going to NY. That is the good news AND the bad news, depending on who the new archbishop will be. Steve Avella in today's Journal Sentinel hit Dolan's theology right on the head. Weakland is a Vatican II bishop and Dolan is a John Paul II bishop. In my understanding, the former sees himself as having more autonomy and the latter is more as papal representative.

Dolan's accomplishments: He closed the seminary and did harm to the future of lay ecclesial ministry (bad). He worked significantly to balance the archdiocesan budget by major slashing of Archdiocesan jobs (good and bad). He "handled" the sexual-abuse scandal, but in the end seemed more concerned about being a "father" to his priests than a stalwart for children (mostly bad). For the most part, he has not actively tried to change the liberal aspects of the Archdiocese as long as they were willing to fly underneath the radar (good and bad). And it truth, most Catholics like him because he's jolly. I do not believe that most of those Catholics are very aware of his accomplishments.

The constant refrain of many with my train of thought is that it could have been worse, and maybe it will be...

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, February 16, 2009

Archdiocese Should Keep Great Spirit Open

Back in October, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Congregation of the Great Spirit could stay open if it could fully support itself. For whatever reason, I did not comment on that situation then, but it has been in the back of my mind ever since.

The Congregation of the Great Spirit is a Native American Catholic Church. They follow the Roman rite, but have tweaked certain portions (following the scholarship of liturgists) in order to incorporate their Indian cultures (especially the Lakota and Ojibwe). This includes a co-ed drumming circle and a penitential rite with burning sage.

As the Archdiocesan spokeswoman stated, the Milwaukee Archdiocese has a policy of each parish covering the salary of the priest. That is obviously only a general guideline since they have until now covered the Great Spirit's salary dole.

While if the parish does close, the parishioners can go to another Catholic Church, I doubt they will be able to bring their drums and burning sage. They may not be welcomed anywhere. This could in effect kill the Native American Catholic community. It is reminiscent of the US bishops, as a whole, refusing to reach out to African Americans after the Civil War (this is considered the main reason for there being so few black Catholics). Oddly, enough, I wonder if the two "black" parishes in Milwaukee (All Saints & St. Martin de Porres) could not financially support a priest because of poverty, would the Archbishop close them?

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, February 9, 2009

Archbishop Dolan's Response to SNAP is Troubling

As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dolan stated that he does not have authority over priests who are in orders in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, even if they are the recipient of serious allegations of sexual misconduct. Now, I realize it was Julie Wolf, the Archdiocesan spokeswoman who said this and not Dolan. But when Dolan is not available for comment and the spokeswoman is, she is only saying what Dolan told her to say.

Dolan (Julie) stated that "he can't force them to distribute names." While that may be true, if he knows that certain priests are in town, he should be distributing their names. This is his Archdiocese and he is supposed to be watching out for his flock (laypeople included, not just priests).

I could understand if he did not know that these priests were here since they are in an order. But he (Julie) did not state that that was the case, just that his hands are tied. This is very disturbing.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gay Hater Becomes Bishop

Benedict has certainly been a roller coaster ride. With his theological background and his meeting with persons like Hans Kung, I had hoped that he would begin appointing a higher grade of bishop than John Paul II.

The Vatican announced on Saturday
that Gerhard Wagner will become auxiliary bishop of Linz, Austria. Back in 2005, Wagner stated that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment because of homosexuality in New Orleans. Maybe he didn't get the memo, but the hurricane mostly hurt poor black people. This seems like a throwback to those bishops who originally thought that AIDS was God's punishment of gay people. This kind of bishop seems completely out of tune with the Gospel message of Jesus. 1) People are not sick because of God's wrath and 2) Jesus' mission is one of healing and reconciliation. I cannot understand Benedict's motivation for appointing a priest with such blatant incompetance.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, January 26, 2009

Financial Common Sense and You Tube

Rev. Ken Knippel let his parishioners at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Brookfield know that over the past three years, nearly $128,000 was stolen from the parish. It appears that Father Leonard Van Vlaenderen was taking it from the weekend cash offerings before it was counted. Normally, cash offerings were around $775 before Van Vlaenderen came and when we would be gone on leave, but were aroud $330 when he was around. There are a few red flags here. 1) The money counters should have noticed this. How could they have not noticed such a difference. 2) The bookkeeper should have noticed this. 3) Their administrative services committee should have been given regular financial statements and they should have noticed this.

Unfortunately, only the audit noticed this. I suppose this is pretty damning evidence that our parishes in the Archdiocese need audits, if not yearly, on some sort of random cycle. The other option... all three points mentioned above and the people involved in each point should be trained. We do the same thing regarding training against sexual abuse, why not training against financial abuse.

On a completely different note, I see that that the Vatican has begun their own YouTube site on which they will regularly post videos at "http://www.youtube.com/vatican".

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, January 19, 2009

Vatican Clueless with Regards to Seminaries

In the wake of the sexual abuse scandal, the Vatican performed a visitation of all US seminaries. Their conclusion is that they are pretty healthy and that there has been improvement in their health because of the appointment of "rectors who are wise and faithful to the church." There has also been a decrease in instances of immorality, aka, homosexuality. Their recommendations include greater oversight of seminarians and a stronger focus on moral theology as the Catholic hierarchy does.

Clueless. If the Congregation for Catholic Education thinks that less homosexual acts and more "orthodox" moral theology will stop sexual abuse, they are on the wrong track. I'm pretty sure that no seminary ever taught that sexual abuse or child rape is okay. When they state that seminaries are more healthy, they mean more in line with Vatican thought; not that they are safer for kids.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gitmo to Close

I usually reserve this blog for strictly religious issues, but in a real sense, everything is a religious issue. And the treatment and the existence of Guantanamo Bay has been an embarrassment for our country as well as the Catholic Church, which has been basically silent on this grave human rights abuse.

According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, one of Obama's first actions will be to give an executive order to close Gitmo. George Bush, whose favorite theologian is Jesus, never thought that this was good idea. I'm still skeptical of any politician, but I applaud Obama's humane and Christian action. With the Christmas season in the recent past, there was the regular tug of war about nativity sets and the like. That's window dressing that serves no purpose when at the same time our country and states and cities treat individuals inhumanely, uncharitiably, and un-Christian. I hope this upcoming action will set a new course for how America treats the "other."

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pope Calls for New Economic Model

On World Peace Day, January 1st, Pope Benedict stated that we need a new economic model. This model needs to be a "virtuous circle" based on simple living and fighting poverty. I do like that phrase of "virtuous circle." I'm assuming that it is supposed to be a play on "vicious circle," but I'm not sure if the official language for this kind of address is Latin or not. It is refreshing to see that on World Peace Day, Benedict addressed the issue of the economy rather than abortion. In his message, he also condemns the arms race, which is literally stealing resources from the world's poor. While he does not cite capitalism in particular, his section on finance is written against the unfair advantages that capitalism gives to the Western world. And simple living is definitely at odds with capitalism. Our president wants us to shop - that's how capitalism "works." Overall, a good message. I wish it was a bit more explicit, but it is obvious that our economy needs some Christianizing.

A Faithful Catholic