Sed Contra


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Monday, September 30, 2002

Three priests in Kentucky threatened for preaching against gay sex
Each letter is slightly different, but the gist is the same, Dane and Bush said yesterday. The letter to Dane states: "We have told Fr. Tom and Fr. Bill that they need to get your bastard ass under control and out of the country (and off the Internet). That is if you would like to continue to receive a salary and keep your life intact." Before the letters arrived, Dane, who is British, had already made plans to return to Great Britain. The letters to Dane and Bush contain an identical threat: "Wouldn't it be a shame if something mysteriously happened to you and you suddenly went missing." The one-page-typed letters, postmarked in Lexington, bore incorrect return addresses.

At weekend Masses in Nicholasville, Bush read parishioners a portion of the threatening letter he received, and asked for their prayers.
"So many people didn't believe there was a gay culture throughout the priesthood and here it is right here," Bush told worshipers at one Mass. "This is how far we've ... degenerated."

Afterward, he told one parishioner that the threats won't work. "They picked on the wrong three people. None of us is intimidated and none of us backs down." Dane said he has been targeted because he preaches "Gospel values and Gospel principles," including the Roman Catholic Church's position that homosexual activity is "gravely disordered." The priest said he is careful not to condemn gays, because the church doesn't consider sexual orientation to be a sin -- only sexual activity outside of marriage. As for gay sex, "It's a sin and it's enough to keep someone out of heaven," said Dane. "It's our job to warn people."

The letters purport to be from the "Gay Priests Association," although no such organization is known to exist in the Lexington diocese.

This is a remarkable story - and shameful if true. I can't say whether I think it true or not. On the one hand it seems clumsy to have sent letters this way. On the other, as an occasional recipient of threatening letters, I know they do arrive. My prayers go out to these priests and praise for their Courage and compassion.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

One Reason Holiness Matters
Hi all. I have been travelling this week on business and I came back to find St. Blog's in a little bit of an uproar, as it sometimes has been lately, over what Gerard (as Father Bugge) might have done or not done in 1985 and what Cardinal Keeler did or did not do in publishing a list of priest's names who have been alleged to have acted in a sexually inappropriate way with at least one minor. I am not going to comment on the specifics since I have been away and have not really felt up to reading all about them thoroughly since I have been back.

However, the fact that there apparently been an admission of sorts from Gerard that something, apparently, did happen and since I have gotten some flavor of the din from reading some of it, I think it may be important to remember these points.

First, that we are not here primarily as priests, religious, or lay men and women. We are not here primarily as parents or children. We are not here primarily as professionals or as whatever vocations we happen to hold. We are primarily as Christians, as HIS. He is our Older Brother. He is our God. He is our Father. We are part of His body. Our deepest responsibility as human beings who claim Christ is to present in as fair, clear, generous, joyful, thorough, honest, and charitable way we can the Truth we believe He has given us though Himself and through the Church. We are not responsible for whether anyone to whom we offer this Truth accepts it or not. That is between them and the Holy Spirit. We are, however, responsible for presenting it.

Second, when we fail in that responsibility, as priests, as lay men and women, as religious it is, in my opinion a tremendously grave thing. This is why holiness matters. Now, more than maybe ever before, we have a generations of people who expect to be lied to. Think about it. If we take, in an unquestioning way, what advertisers tell us to be true we are thought of, probably fairly, as dupes. We routinely expect companies, politicians, ministers and other professionals, to remain less than candid when the matter at hand affects their self-interest. We have become, in short, a nation of cynics.

Holiness, purity of heart, is the only cure for this poisonous cynicism. There is the oft repeated tale of the wealthy donor visiting one of of Mother Teresa's hospices. The donor came in to see one of the young sisters pending over a man whose leprous skin stank and seeped with the residue from his many infections. She was methodically, gently, lovingly, cleaning each one. "Not for a million dollars," the Donor said. At which the young sister lifted her eyes from her her work. "You're right, not for a million dollars."

What the sister said, frankly, could be seen as so much pious claptrap EXCEPT she had her fingers and hands and nose in the reeking, pus-filled work before her. Holiness, purity of her heart for the vision of Christ before her right then, gave her words credence. Readers might remember some years ago a left-wing writer named Christopher Hitchens set out in a diatribe against Mother Teresa, commenting on this and that about her work that he found hypocritical and revolting. Why didn't his diatribe get a more sympathetic hearing? Why did so few people, particularly the average man and woman in the street give more heed to his complaints? Because whatever he bellyached from the clean security of his business suit and clean hands had next to no credibility next to a woman who had taken in impoverished dying people for years and made their last moments at least a little better.

I am not going to throw stones at Gerard. It's not my place to judge him. But I will say of both he and I, and I suspect many others, that when in our lives we have failed in holiness, when we have acted toward another person in inappropriately sexual or other way, we have seriously compromised the Gospel. We have given yet another soul yet another reason to believe that our belief in Christ is little more than pious nonsense at best and a selfish power-trip at worst. With Peter we have been asked to claim Him and, in the pinch, we have refused.

The issue is not whether or not Father Gerard's sexual dalliance was with a 17 year old or 21 year old. Do we suppose that if the young man had been 22 that would have made Father's actions, or our own, any better? Those of us who claim Christ, whether priests, lay people or religious simply cannot claim Christ, we must live Him as well. And that means not only striving to do what we ought (where we often fall short) but also to not do as we ought not.

Is this a high standard? Yep. But our brothers and sisters all around us, in our families, in our schools, work places, in our homes, look to us over and over again asking, without using words, is He true? Can I trust Him? Can I see Him here? Can I make this leap? By God's grace it is absolutely essential that when they ask that question looking at us we do the best we can to not only answer yes, but to live yes. That is the real issue of what Gerard, and many of us, have done or failed to do.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Vatican Monsignor argues that gays should not be priests
A Vatican official said today that homosexuals should not be recruited for the Catholic priesthood because they will undermine its mission and ministry. Writing in the influential Jesuit journal America, Monsignor Andrew R. Baker of the Vatican's Congregation of Bishops in Rome said "same sex attraction" gives rise to an array of problems. "First and foremost among them is the possible simultaneous manifestation of other serious problems such as substance abuse, sexual addiction and depression," the monsignor wrote. Homosexual men, he said, "may be more familiar with certain patterns and techniques of deception and repression, either conscious or subconscious, which were learned in trying to deal with their tendencies in a largely heterosexual environment."

A couple of observations and thoughts about this piece, to which I cannot link since it is reserved for America subscribers only.

First, while the article quotes an unnamed source as saying that Msgr. Baker could not have written without superiors approval, does it make sense that a major Vatican declaration on whether men with some degree of SSA should or should not be priests would appear in a small (largely liberal) Catholic magazine? How about the Catholic News Service, Zenit or some other outlets if this was supposed to be a major declaration.

Second, it is infuriating that while Baker appears to acknowledge the difference between living with a temptation and adopting an identity based upon it, he does not follow through with the distinction. Take, for example his throw away allegation familiarity of tactics of deception and repression quoted above. Maybe men would not feel as called to deceive or repress if folks 1) acknowledged that some men (and women) live with these attractions 2) these attractions are not be acted out BUT 3) in and of themselves do not preclude their holder from heaven (all this is Roman Catholic teaching, too, btw).

Then there is the paragraph:

In his essay, Monsignor Baker said that a man with a same-sex attraction obviously "will struggle with or even deny the clear teaching of the church regarding his disordered inclinations and any acts that might flow from these tendencies."

Can anyone else recognize a an ad hominem attack? I mean, there is so much presumption in that word obviously. There are thousands of men and women in the U.S. alone who live chastely with same sex attraction. And struggle with the calls discipleship on both priests and lay people are not new, and have not been disqualifying. Are we forgetting the waves of priests who have left the priesthood to marry, having lost their struggle with the priestly discipline of chastity? Should the presence of a struggle over whether one has done rightly to decide not to marry block heterosexually attracted men to the priesthood?

3) Countering Baker's foolishness America apparently provided Bishop Gumbleton (Detroit) a bishop who entirely buys the gay activist line and tries to speak for all priests who live with any SSA and labels them "gay." Sorry, the priests I know who live with a degree of SSA do not self define as gay and, contrary to Msgr. Baker's uninformed opinions, are fine, holy and chaste priests.

What this seems to me to be is an effort by America to sell magazines (the controversy is on the cover) and to find someone (Baker) who could provide an easy straw man for Gumbleton to knock over.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

More on Zimbabwe situation
Imagine a country racked by hunger whose leaders deliberately destroy its bountiful agricultural system. The premise is improbable, the stuff of dystopian fiction. Yet Zimbabwe is suffering that fate at the hands of President Robert Mugabe, a liberation hero turned dictatorial fiend. During the past two years, Mugabe has transfigured Southern Africa’s breadbasket into another African basket case. At this writing, 6 million Zimbabweans are in danger of starvation. Although drought set the stage for food shortages, Mugabe’s lunatic land-redistribution scheme—forcing white commercial farmers who own most of the arable land to cease production and surrender their farms to his cronies and sycophants—has turned a natural disaster into a national catastrophe.

International observers and most Zimbabweans agree that white expropriation of property during the colonial era, leaving blacks living in the least productive areas, should be redressed through a carefully crafted land redistribution plan. Rather than approach the process with national reconciliation as the goal, however, Mugabe cynically exploited old wounds in an attempt to bolster his dwindling political support.

Ian Wetherell: Editor Under Fire
Colleagues describe Wetherell as quiet and unassuming but with a lot to say about the role of the press in promoting justice, equality, and nurturing a new democratic dispensation in Zimbabwe. Wetherell’s editorship of the Zimbabwe Independent has been an apt demonstration of his passion for a press that refuses to pander to political patronage, it is said. Wetherell is one of 13 Zimbabwean journalists charged with “abusing journalistic privilege” under the new media law. He has also been charged three times under the Censorship Act, most recently for publishing a Reuters picture of semi-naked Amazonian natives playing soccer prior to the 2002 World Cup. The picture was published around the world without any other reported objection.

His arrest was but one of several incidents of harassment, intimidation, and threats that have become the norm for the independent press in Zimbabwe. But have such brushes with the law influenced Wetherell and his editorial team? “Only insofar as it has reinforced our determination to do our duty as a newspaper—keeping the public abreast of current issues and thereby ensuring they are able to make an informed choice as voters. We have repeatedly said we will not surrender to a repressive regime whose policies have spawned destitution and famine,” said Wetherell.

Like the Israeli women in the previous link Ian Wetherell, the editor of the Zimbabwe Independent is following his conscience in speaking out against what has been happening in Zimbabwe where, essentially, the government of hero-turned-despot Robert Mugabe has set about to starve not only his own country but much of Southern Africa through a systemic expropriation of white-owned farms and a distribution of them to his familiars. Needless to say the land is not being worked now and, while the current drought would have undoubtedly been bad, the current economic and political chaos Mugabe has brought about and continues to bring about has made the situation vastly worse. Ian Wetherell and the other folks who write for the Independent have the sort of courage that Christians need to emulate.

Watching the soldiers
Machsom is Hebrew for checkpoint. The first Israeli MachsomWatch groups were formed in January 2001, in response to press reports of abuse of Palestinians at checkpoints. The women who organized the groups wanted to accomplish three things: control the behavior of Israeli soldiers and border police officers, work to make sure that there were no additional cases of abuse, and set down their observations in reports. No one should ever be able to say that they didn’t know that terrible things were going on.

Israeli women took the initiative. There are now more than 70 women involved in the program in Jerusalem alone. They have created teams of three or four observers, and serve in two- to three-hour shifts at the checkpoints during rush hours: early in the morning, for example, when hundreds of Palestinian schoolchildren and workers have to pass through, and late in the afternoon, when they return home. The women wear small badges, which read “mm” in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. Their quiet presence is meant to counter the ruling militaristic discourse in Israel today, as well as calming the mostly very young soldiers.

One of the themes that comes up among folks coming into Courage from time to time is how difficult it can be to seek discipleship in Christ, to lead a chaste live in accord with the teachings of the Church. And I don't dispute that observation at all. It can be, and is, hard at times to do. But what I remind the Courageous is that we are not alone in seeking to lead lives in accord with consciences that we educate by what we believe to right and true and good. Folks all over the world, Christian and non Christian, male, female, young and old are seeking to do the same thing - even when doing so can appear to go against their group, their nation, their family or even their Church - as so many of the victims of clerical sexual abuse have been discovering recently.

In this story a group of Israeli women became appalled at stories they heard about the way Palestinians, not terrorists or suicide bombers but everyday men and women, old people, school kids, were being treated at the multiple checkpoints and roadblocks that had sprung up, particularly in the Judea and Samaria areas. So, on their own, they began to go to these places. Not to object, or to shout, or to protest but just to be, to watch, to be witnesses. It seems to me that takes a lot of Courage, hence I link to a story about them here.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

MCD's losing sales?
OAK BROOK, IL - McDonald’s Corporation announced today that it is lowering its 2002 earnings expectations for the full year, primarily due to lower than expected sales in the U.S. and Europe in the third quarter and a more cautious outlook on the fourth quarter. The Company currently expects 2002 earnings per share to be $1.43 or better, excluding charges in the first quarter(1). Including the charges, the Company expects annual earnings per share to be $1.31 or better, compared with $1.25(2) in 2001. The Company expects third quarter 2002 earnings per share of $.38 to $.39, compared with $.42 last year including special items and $.38 excluding special items(3). These expectations reflect a foreign currency translation benefit of one to two cents for the third quarter, and one to three cents for the year. McDonald’s also reported that Systemwide sales for the first two months of third quarter 2002 were $7.5 billion, up 3 percent compared with the same period in 2001.

While I don't want to wish ill on anyone, or anyone's job situation, I cannot help but find myself cheered by this news. Because while it is certainly a sin to hate individual or groups of people, I definitely feel a strong antipathy for McDonald's the corporation and institution. Why? Oh McDonald's how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways!

1) I hate McDonalds because it was the first of a poisonous crowd of restaurant chains which have marched across this country like Stepford locusts, paving over ever more green space, contributing mightily to the our overall solid waste (trash) burden and driving out of business countless numbers of small restaurants and diners which, while they flourished, preserved some little part of this country's regional cusine. Hominy grits may or may not be your thing, but try getting them in a McDonalds (not!) where they used to arrive at your table without asking South of the Mason Dixon line.

2) I hate the stamped out sameness of everything about it, the food, the tables, the lights, the decor, everything. It bugs me that I can be a McDonalds in Michigan, North Carolina or Idaho and not, really, be able to tell them apart. Subsidarity, let regions be different.

3) I hate the food. I hate the levels of fat, both evident and hidden, through which this restaurant chain (among others admittedly) has managed to leave vast portions of the American public glassy eyed and slack jawed by their almost crack-like addiction to lard. I hate the way the food tastes, smells, the fact that it can only barely be identified as food in some cases. (Is there really any MILK in a McDonald's shake? No, that's why they don't call it a milkshake).

4) I hate the way McDonald's pimps empty calories and high fat levels to kids with these endless "happy meals." Every pusher knows that you have to get em young for your best chance at a life long (however shortened that might be) addict. Schools have McDonald's in them now. Schools! I am not naive enough to blame the entirety of the burgeoning American stomach on McDonalds and their ilk, but they sure have played a role.

5) I hate the way McDonald's restaurants target the marginally employable, the young, the old, those coming off some sort of assistance in part because they know they are vulnurable and can be had, and gotten rid of, cheaply. Did you know that, according to Fast Food Nation, every time any employees (either in Canada or America) have gotten close to unionizing a McDonald's franchise the corporation has closed the store and blackballed all the former employees?

Those are just the top five. Any others from anyone else?
Vocations for all
One of the UK Courageous was kind enough to forward this to the Courage Online list.

A Vocation Office Not Just for Future Priests and Religious

LONDON, SEPT. 17, 2002 ( The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has launched a national office for vocations -- all kinds of vocations, in fact.

On top of promoting specific vocations -- marriage and single life, diocesan priesthood, permanent diaconate and consecrated life --the office hopes to build a "culture of vocation" and to strengthen its link with evangelization. Father Kevin Dring, formerly vocations director in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, is the first director of the new office.

"I look forward to the opportunity to work alongside many others in promoting a stronger sense of the calling of every member of the Church," he said. "It can only be from this deeper sense shared by us all that particular vocations will emerge to nourish and support the life of the community."

Added Archbishop Vincent Nichols, chairman of the bishops' Department of Catholic Education and Formation: "The establishment of this national office for vocation was a dream cherished by the late Cardinal Hume. He was so aware that God always calls his people to great things, but that to some extent we were not heeding the call as we should."

The National Office for Vocation is based at: The Chase Centre, 114 West Heath Road, London NW3 7TX. Its telephone and fax number is 020-8458-6017. Its e-mail address is

May I please borrow a moment to explain why I think this is a very good thing and why I hope and pray it makes its way across the pond to us former colonists as well? One of the biggest stumbling blocks to discipleship that I have seen, both among Courageous and others as well, has been a sense that one has no place in the Body of Christ, no role, as someone who, for a variety of reasons, is single and apparently will be for a very long time if not their entire lives. For some it could be issues of SSA. But for others it could be any variety of things. Previous attempts at marriage which ended in disaster. Seeing one's own family life, as a child, being a disaster and resolving never to inflict that sort of mistake on your kids. Getting an entirely screwed up notion of what being a man or woman means from watching your own parents or relatives stumble at. Putting it off for too long and finding, suddenly, that your choices have shrank. It could be a lot of things.

But the point is that in a lot parishes, or at least a lot of parishes where I attend (like many singles I have a number of parishes where I recieve the sacraments) have a good number of folks in their late 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's who are not, apparently, going to marry anytime soon and many of whom, frankly, would love to play more of a role in the life of the parish or the Body of Christ than being shunted off into a room with other unmarried folks and being told to "mingle." Even if you are assiduously seeking marriage, that can be death for an evening.

Recognizing that there are a good number of folks out there who are 1) not married 2) unlikely to be married 3) unlikely (again for a lot of reasons) to be priests or religious but who 4) still love Christ and would love to be able to put that love into action would be a positive step, I think. Just for example, at one parish I attend it is the singles who are among the stalwarts of the Perpetual Adoration, in part because they are not having to raise kids and will not disturb a spouse when they get up at 3:00 AM to get to the Church.

I think this new office in the UK is a good thing because it seems to recognize that all of us, lay and clergy and religious, have vocations and that many of us in the lay fold would love to have some encouragement and ideas about nurturing and growing our own vocations.

I would love to hear from some of you about ways if bringing singles more deeply into parish life that might have worked (or not!) in parishes where you have experience.

Courage on EWTN
Folks who want to know more about Courage and actually see some Courageous should tune into EWTN on September 27 and November 10 to see a video one of the Courageous produced called Portraits of Courage. Yes, your's truly in a much heavier incarnation will be among those profiled, along with a good variety of other folks who were brave enough to step in front of a camera.

Here are the dates for the US and Canada. Other times and dates for other programming overseas can be obtained by looking at EWTN's website under Special Programming. As you can tell, the times for the second date are a bit easier to view, but those of you are awake after the late shift or something might be able to catch the first date's show.

September 27th

12:00 a.m. & 12:30 a.m. (Pacific)
1:00 a.m. & 1:30 a.m. (Mountain)
2:00 a.m. & 2:30 a.m. (Central)
3:00 a.m. & 3:30 a.m. (Eastern)

November 8th

8:00 p.m. & 8:30 p.m. (Pacific)
9:00 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. (Mountain)
10:00 p.m. & 10:30 p.m. (Central)
11:00 p.m. & 11:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Debate over baptism standards
There is a debate going on over at HMS blog about what standards should be employed in baptism. Since more than one person in my history has considered me an unlikely candidate for the sacrament I thought I would share the account of my baptism from Beyond Gay.

Gradually, with each of these pulling and tugging me along, I approached Easter and the day of my baptism. Through it all Nicholas had been restrained and, I thought, somewhat distant. Each communion he stood, robed as usual but more somber somehow as I approached. With my arms crossed over my chest as though dead I came not to receive the Body and Blood but instead, in the manner of catechumens of old, to receive the dry manna of his blessing – a few words which had to carry me during those long weeks as I waited a seeming eternity to be reborn. Finally, on the last full Sunday of Lent, when we stood chatting briefly on the Church steps and long after the last of the altar guild had gone away, Nicholas turned to me, his face suddenly very serious.

“You know you are a great challenge to me David, “ he said. I paused, holding my tongue. “ I have described your case, without naming you, to other pastors with whom I work and the opinion is divided over whether I should baptize you without demanding you at least try to lead a more…. regular Christian life.” I held my breath. “But I have thought long about it and prayed and it seems to me that your heart is on Christ no matter where the rest of you may be. So if you promise me that, when I baptize you, you will lay your whole self, sexuality and all, on the altar of God – to be open to His will – I will baptize you at Easter.” In the tense silence after he spoke I remember my ears ringing as over and over again a voice in my head pealed out “choose!” and “decide!” Everything I had been living up to this point seemed to hinge on this moment. Did I, could I, trust Christ enough? Did I know I was right? What if I was wrong? In the end, really, did any of it matter? My blood sang when Jesus called. Nothing else mattered. “I will, I promise,” I whispered and Nicholas, grinning suddenly clapped me on the shoulder. “Good man!”

After that, the actual day of my baptism was a bit anticlimactic. Embarrassed and suddenly shy in front of everyone I bent my head. Splish, splash over my hair and down my back in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and it was done: I was Christ’s forever. But in reality it had only just begun, and I walked away from the altar and the crowd that afternoon ripe for the changes Christ would work in my life and willing, at last, to take up my cross.

Haloscan is down again
So, what else is new? I am keeping them and hoping they are back up again soon. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Principal vindicated
The statement also said the priest categorically denies all of the principal’s other allegations.

“Although these allegations have made an interesting story for the media, they are utterly false, as are all of Ms. Samide's allegations of sexual abuse,” Riopelle said.

Sorry, but everything Barbara Samide has said so far has proven true, witness Father's confession. Also, I believe an examination of the credit card and other bills through which the priest lost the embezzled 90K would find the money spent on more than one person. All for the discovery process, I guess.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Yet another "gay Mass"
Well, yet another Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. James Daley, appears to be unable to make the distinction between the temptations one has and building of an identity on those temptations and the endorsing of acting out on those temptations. There are a number of things to note in this piece:

First "I just want you to know you're very welcome here today," Daley told the congregation as he started the service. He wore a rainbow stole over his white robes.

There is both truth and falsehood here. The truth is that men and women living with same sex attraction are welcome at Catholic Churches, and would be welcome by Christ. But the falsehood comes in Father Daley dressing himself and the altar, in the colors of a movement that de facto rejects Christ, rejects the notion of discipleship, and deigns to consider Gospel only a message that affirms making sexual tempations, and acting on those temptations, a foundation of identity. If anyone doubts that is true consider for a second the response if Father had risen to preach on the reality of sexual sin and the need to seek Christ in all parts of our lives, including our bedrooms. "Oh, your not being supportive!" Would be the cry - and some folks want to proclaim that the gay movement is not about sex. Please.

At least Father is apparently willing to make himself an absent Father for everyone, not just folks living with a degree of SSA. "I didn't tell anyone at the 8 a.m. Mass or the 11 a.m. Mass (what to do in their bedrooms), so I'm certainly not going to tell anyone here at the 3 p.m. Mass," he said, receiving more cheers and applause. "Certainly no one is going to push me to stand at the pulpit and explain what is intimate."

Great, Father, there is nothing like rejecting Christ and His Church and discipleship across the board huh? Nothing like explaining to folks the difference between the cr*p that passes these days for luv and the real, genuine love Christians are called to have; love that would not be content to make another person, our alleged beloved no less, the means to attain our orgasm but would instead seek to do what was genuinely best for them. Nope, that kind of love might mean dying to self and putting our own desires onto the Cross and that, I doubt, would have been considered a "supportive" message.

What are we about as Christians, Father, if not seeking Christ in our own lives so that we can better turn around and offer Him to others? Yes, that's not easy but as Chesterton commented The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.Over 400 people showed up on Sunday looking for Bread, Father, and you gave them a stone.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Something's wierd in Arlington
The ongoing Arlington saga, and questions, about priests and porn and who lives with some SSA and who does not continues. Now we have a an actual lengthy statement from Bishop Loverde about how he handles such complaints (thanks to Dappled Things for the link) and a report from the Washington Post about one of the priests named in the original deposition. The priest, Father Hamilton, has resigned.

A couple of things are a little strange about these two accounts. First, here is Bishop Loverde's explanation of how he addresses complaints of priestly misconduct that does not involve children:

With the assistance of staff and others who have a particular expertise in the given arena of inquiry, I try to determine if the information or allegation is credible. In other words, does it have readily ascertainable facts that make it at least reasonable to pursue? Mere hearsay is not sufficient. For example: "I hear or someone told me that Father X is seeing a woman." I must first obtain something more definite to back up these vague assertions, so that I have something concrete with which to confront the priest. When sufficient information has been gathered, usually a priest who is a member of my staff speaks with the priest in the presence of another priest, who serves as a witness. The priest in question is informed of the complaint or allegation about him and is given a fair opportunity to respond. Any issue that involves a crime, e.g., stealing money, is also brought to the attention of civil authorities.

Here is how Father Haley described his treatment at the hands of Bishop Loverde after he brought a improper sexual relationship between a priest and a married female parishioner whom the priest eventually left the priesthood to join.

Haley said he alerted Loverde to the relationship in mid-1999, giving him copies of e-mails between Verrecchia and Nancy Lambert. Loverde at first suggested that Haley had "doctored" the e-mails, and four days later he transferred him to another parish, Haley said. Four months later, Loverde ordered Verrecchia to end all contact with Nancy Lambert.

Haley said a similar series of events occurred the first time he reported Father Hamilton's collection of pornography:

Haley said in the deposition that last October, when he and Hamilton were assigned to St. Mary's, he showed Loverde "a slide show of the pictures of [Hamilton's] incredible collection" of pornography. Some of the materials had been mailed to Hamilton at the church's address, Haley said. Haley said that a week later Loverde asked him to resign and that, when he refused, he was suspended from his ministry.

This despite the fact that the things Father Haley reported have really been problems. Witness the report of a priest dipping into the collection box:

Erbacher was pastor of St. Lawrence's [my old parish - DCM]in the Franconia section of Fairfax, where Haley was then stationed. Haley alleged that Erbacher was stealing money from collections taken at weekend Mass. He said he also showed the bishop "pictures of [the] homosexual pornography collection" Erbacher kept in his room at the rectory. The diocese announced in July 2001 that Erbacher had been suspended because of alleged financial wrongdoing. Haley said that Loverde took the action only after the media received information about the allegations, including documents showing that Erbacher deposited more than $320,000 into his personal bank account over three years. In its statement yesterday, the diocese said Loverde disciplined Erbacher and initiated an audit of the parish books as soon as he heard the allegations. It said that Erbacher was sent for evaluation and resigned as pastor.

Now, I can see where Bishop Loverde might have concerns about a priest appearing to snoop on his fellow priests, but these things were going on and are objectively serious matters. Despite how Bishop Loverde describes his procedures, part of the message priests could have drawn from this tale is that concerned clerics had better keep their whistles to themselves when they come across things in their rectories which ought to be questioned.

One more thing. Note that Father Erbacher was sent for evaluation. So apparently was Father Hamilton.

The diocese released a statement yesterday denying that Loverde failed to take action when Haley took his allegations to the bishop. It said that Loverde ordered Hamilton to undergo evaluation and treatment last fall and that Hamilton "fully cooperated."

Where did these guys go for evaluation and what sort of evaluation was it? What sort of treatment, other than penance, amendment of life and an examination of one's schedule is needed for the possession and use of pornography? I am not naive and I would like to say that my eyes have never seen pornography, but that would be untrue. Yet with that experience, so to speak, I am a little perplexed about what sort of treatment is good for pornography? Are we going to start treating the use of pornography like we do the overuse of alcohol and the use of other drugs? Is there a place to dry out from the use of pornography, a Betty Ford Clinic for the Deep Throat addicted? I know, unfortunate joke but it does seem a little weird.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

FDR's "Four Freedoms" speech
On this past September 11, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg quoted from a 1941 speech by FDR in which the president laid out American interests and goals (ideals really) in the coming conflict. This link is to the speech, should anyone want to read it.

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression --everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-- everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants --everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor --anywhere in the world.

I found the quotation of the FDR speech interesting, particularly the Freedom from Want clause which could be among the most thorny of all the ideals to attain. Look at the recent fights over increased "globalization."

I particularly liked the following graf from FDR:

What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition --clear, definite opposition-- to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall while the procession of civilization went past.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

G.K. Chesterton on Sex and Property
Now the notion of narrowing property merely to money is exactly like the notion of narrowing love merely to sex. In both cases an incidental, isolated, servile and even secretive pleasure is substituted for participation in a great creative process; even in the everlasting Creation of the world.
By the sweat of our brow
Six photographs of some of the work of Monastary of Christ in The Desert in the high alpine desert of New Mexico.
Reflections from Abbot Phillip
I wasn't going to blog anything today. Actually, today is having more of an effect on me than I expected. But in my mail this morning were two messages from the Monks at the Monastary of Christ in the Desert, specifically that community's Abbot Phillip. I post these excerpts from the two messages without comment:

One of the challenges for all of us is to face death daily. Saint Benedict tells the monk to keep death before his eyes. This is not to make the monk a sad person or someone who only lives in a morose manner. Rather it is to keep us aware of the reality: I could die right now. If I knew that I would die in ten minutes, would I change anything in my life? What if I knew that I had only three years left? Would I change some of my attitudes and my ways of acting? Most of us simply do not think about death, even when it confronts us with serious illness or accidents. We simply do not look death in the eye!

In the symbolism of the seasons, we are entering into a time of death in our part of the world. Plants are beginning to die. Leaves are already falling off of some of the trees. The mornings are colder, although we have not yet had a frost. As we deeper into winter, darkness becomes very strong in our canyon. The sun will finally go behind the cliff walls in the afternoon at 4:30 pm and only come up again on the other side about 10:00 am in the morning. There is light a bit longer at both the end and the beginning of the day, but there is much darkness.

Our personal lives sometimes go through winters as well. There are times when it seems that nothing goes right and perhaps some of our dearest friends die or are taken away from us. There are times when we pray and pray and pray—and the heavens seem silent.
Living well means learning to live with the reality of death surrounding us. Living as human beings with strength and courage means learning to live with joy and energy no matter what happens to us and around us. We must also have the courage to grieve at all that goes wrong—but not to spend our whole lives grieving.

As we remember today the terrorist attacks that took so many lives and forever changed our world, we must also recognize that in the
perspective of human history, such actions are not new and they will happen again. This should not make us simply accept what has happened. Rather, we should all be working to help create a new heaven and a new earth. This can only happen in our hearts are changed. That is the most difficult work in the world.

Even if the United States conquers every other country in the world, there will still be darkness and terror until human hearts have been
converted. So often our human solutions are only the solutions of institutions that will pass away and disappear. We want to find ways to change the world that will truly encourage the goodness and deep virtue of all humanity.

At a practical level, each of us must work hard to root evil, violence and anger out of our own lives. Always we must strive to convert ourselves first of all. It is far too easy to insist that everyone else change and then we will change!! This happens in monasteries all the time: monks want their brothers to change instead of changing themselves. Sometimes monks leave the Monastery because they are so incapable of living with their all-too-human brothers. As we celebrate this anniversary of September 11th, each of us needs to make a commitment to changing himself. As Alcoholics Anonymous so wisely puts it: “Don’t try to change the world! Change yourself and the world around you will change.”

And this from a homily from today's Mass:

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Forgive and you will be forgiven! The message of today’s readings is so straight-forward! The only difficulty is that normally we don’t really live out this wisdom that is found both in the Hebrew Scriptures and in our Christian writings. It is not even easy to forgive those who have not directly offended us. We must think, for instance, of the present teaching in the Catholic Church against the death penalty. Yet surveys show that most Catholics in the United States favor the death penalty.

We can also think of the present crisis within our Catholic Church over sexual abuse of minors. How many Catholics are truly ready to forgive those who have abused minors?

Somehow we modern Christians often confuse forgiveness with weakness. We tend to think that if we forgive, then the person who has committed some offensive act is then allowed to continue with more offensive acts. We tend to think that if we do not put someone to death for terrible crimes, then they will again commit more terrible crimes.

We are so uncreative in our response to that which is evil or offensive! The Gospel and the revealed Word of God invite us over and over to find loving ways to deal with evil—loving ways that do not encourage more evil or allow more evil—but loving ways! We humans seem only able to find evil ways or hateful ways to deal with evil.

The first reading, from Sirach today, is simple wisdom: the way you treat others is the way that God will treat you. Wow!! But not quite! It does not mean that if I am cranky, God will be cranky with me. Nor does it mean that if I misuse someone else, God will misuse me. What it means is that my mistreatment of anyone else will block God’s compassion and healing presence in my life. That is still a very powerful statement. It is not God who will will injure me, it is I who block God’s love and forgiveness and compassion in my life.

Jesus makes this go right to the very heart of our life: what if someone does something really bad to me? Do I have to forgive? Absolutely! And if that same person continues to give offense, I must always forgive. This has to do with the purity of my heart. I must also be wise and find a loving way to prevent the other person from harming me.

Most of us, when we are hurt, simply hurt others back. Jesus is never asking us simply to let ourselves be abused and sinned against. Rather, Jesus is talking about what must be in our heart at the same time that we are finding ways to protect ourselves—and what must be there is love and forgiveness.

Let us ask God today for this incredible divine gifts: wisdom to know what to do in a difficult situation and love as our basic response to all that happens to us.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Arlington may have priests with SSA after all





A few comments about this if I might.

First, this is a television news script, hence the large type and, in general, TV news is not known for in depth reporting and accuracy.

Second, Arlington has officially had a ban on ordaining any candidates with a degree of same sex attraction for many, many years, well into the term of the previous bishop to Loverde - and likely before for all I know. Candidates who were up front with their having a degree of same sex attraction (SSA), even if they never acted out and were committed to living chastely, were politely shown the door. Or such candidates were in cases that I knew of personally - men who have gone on, again being up front and honest and committed to living chastely, to study for other diocese.

Third, I cannot say I am terribly surprised if this story turns out to be accurate because, like all such bans, the Arlington Ban managed to 1) weed out the candidates who wanted to be honest, upfront and strong priests 2) made sure that any candidates who live with a degree of SSA could be only be ordained by lying about it 3) insured that these priests got no training and support in living chastely (after all, they are not supposed to have the temptation so how could they participate in Courage meetings or similar groups?)

Fourth, despite many lay initiatives, three that I know of myself, Arlington has no Courage group. Officially, the chancery is open to the idea but, somehow you know, it never, ever seems to happen. Now, if this story is correct, we appear to have a bishop who might, again if the story is correct, have been quite willing to allow male-male pornography etc among the priests in the Diocese. Watch this space for more, I expect.

Three priests in Lexington Kentucky arrested while cruising for sex
Three Lexington priests have been charged by police in the last four years after being caught exposing themselves and masturbating in Lexington's Jacobson Park, court records show.

At least one of the priests, Father Kenneth Waibel, has been on record previously with remarks that indicate he clearly self-identifies as gay.

I guess I would observe from this story that the priests involved have tried to justify what they were caught doing by questioning the church's teaching on celibacy for priests, which to my mind misses the point. In separate interviews Thursday, both Waibel and Poole confirmed the circumstances of their charges. Both questioned the Catholic Church's requirement of celibacy for priests.

First of all, there is widespread confusion between chastity and celibacy. If anything, celibacy is a subset of chastity, a discipline rather than a virtue. Imagine a really big circle with a much small circle inside of it. The much bigger circle is the historic Christian virtue of chastity. The smaller inner circle is celibacy. To look at it another way, it is quite possible to live celibately with a deeply unchaste heart but the goal of living chastely is to attain a chaste body, mind and heart.

The two Fathers comment erroneously, I believe, because it would seem from their comments that they believe that, had they not been priests, or had the Church not required celibate living from its clergy, then what they were caught doing would not have been wrong, or would have been less wrong, less sinful. But that's not true. Sexual activity by unmarried people is always a sin and ditto for same sex sexual activity. Celibacy here is not the issue.

Second, there is a third priest in the story, Father Charles Howell, who did not comment for the story and who had been arrested in 1998. Further, where these two priests have sought to justify their misbehavior, Father Howell has previously revealed it to the parish and asked his parishioners forgiveness. In a column in the church bulletin, Howell asked for forgiveness and predicted that "our own personal dyings from this shame" will eventually lead to resurrection.

If Father Howell was my parish priest, I would forgive him, and pray that he be given the grace to learn from the experience. That living a chaste life is not easy is a tremendous understatement, particularly in situations where people, like many priests often do, live alone and lack emotionally intimate contact with close friends and family members. Isolation is a great enemy of chastity and community, lived relationships with others, a great ally. The bottom line is this. Here a priest has fallen - but he appears repentant and, in the four years since, has apparently served his parishes well. I certainly am not clean enough to throw the first stone.

Monday, September 09, 2002

An attractive icon of Dorothy Day
Jim Forest, the author of Love is the Measure: A Biography of Dorothy Day and Praying With Icons has created a neat icon for Dorothy Day. I like it a lot and would actually buy one but I am not sure that CWM is even selling them.
Ok, I am really trying to be patient here...
But Haloscan continues to have problems. There were comments attached to the post about the gay-straight alliances. Two, from Frank, highly critical of me and one response from me to him. I don't know where they went. I have posted two messages about them to the Haloscan board. I apologize for the inconvenience and incomplete record. Sigh.
One of St. Sebastian's Angels speaks out
On September 7, the Dallas morning news ran this guest column, with the preceding explanation, from Father Clifford Garner. Father Garner was one of the participants in the St. Sebastian's Angels site which, depending on who you spoke to about it, was either primarily a site for prayerful support among self-identifying gay priests or a site which supported self-identifying gay priests acting out. South African bishop Reginald Cawcutte has already been asked to resign over the site.

From the editors of the Dallas Morning News: In June, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was drawing up a policy on sexual abuse, Roman Catholic Faithful, a conservative group from St. Petersburg, Ill., held a news conference in Dallas and charged that Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante was shielding gay priests whom the organization characterized as unscrupulous. The group said that more than two years earlier, two Dallas Diocese priests had been active on a Web site for gay priests, which it called a "porn site"; others described it as a site for prayer and support. Bishop Galante said the priests were ordered off the site, and one of them, the Rev. Clifford Garner, was given counseling. After the incident became public, the diocese asked Father Garner to apologize to his parish, St. Pius X Catholic Church in East Dallas, for having written sexually suggestive remarks about Hispanic men on the site. A congregational meeting was held with Bishop Galante and Father Garner. The following week, it was announced that Father Garner had left the parish permanently because he'd received two anonymous threats to beat him up. Last week, the Dallas Diocese announced that Father Garner had been granted a leave of absence. Today, in his own words, Father Garner, 36, says that he is leaving the priesthood altogether after three years as a priest. He says that these will be his final public words on the matter.

Guest column: Clifford Garner
Dallas priest says watchdogs destroyed his name and career


When nearly 300 Catholic bishops met in Dallas June 13-15, I was grateful to be on the other side of the world. A Roman holiday with parishioners and friends seemed the perfect antidote to all the media attention that descended upon the bishops and the city. I felt safely distant following events on Italian television. While I certainly had my own problems adapting to parish life, I was neither a pedophile priest nor a bumbling bishop. So I felt no responsibility for the sins of commission and omission that had plunged the Church into such a crisis. I returned to Dallas the day the bishops departed. The "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" had been approved, and I was ready to join my brother priests in the difficult task of restoring the trust and credibility that had been so badly damaged. I had no idea what awaited me.

A group of parishioners from around the city caught wind of controversy swirling around me and was determined to embarrass the bishops before their peers and in the press. Instead, their efforts destroyed my name and reputation and ruined my career.

It is true that I participated in a Web site for gay priests. It is also true that I made regrettable remarks in what I considered to be a strictly confidential setting. Like many priests, soon after my ordination, I experienced an emptiness I hadn't known before. My life in the seminary, like my life in the military, had been surrounded by friends and filled with attractions and distractions. But parish ministry and public life introduced me to a profound sense of loneliness. I tried to deal with this loneliness by searching for acceptance and encouragement.

The priests involved in that Web site were like me. They were looking for the kind of companionship and solidarity that would help them minister with integrity. At times their comments and postings were irreverent, inappropriate and even shocking. But these were also deeply spiritual men, and their prayerful support and unconditional acceptance nurtured my soul.

When a conservative watchdog group infiltrated the site and stole its content, they forwarded only the most salacious material to our religious superiors. The results were professionally damaging to some, and personally devastating to all. A few priests were severely disciplined and removed from their assignments. But many more were treated by their bishops with kindness and quietly given a chance to develop more appropriate expressions of intimacy.

To members of the watchdog group, it seemed as if those compassionate bishops failed to act. But in truth, their response was proportionate to the offense. Homosexuality is not synonymous with pedophilia, and being gay is not a crime. Participation in a gay-priest Web site does not deserve the same punishment as a sex act, either criminal or consensual. Yet our culture remains deeply homophobic. And the desire to purify our race of homosexuals threatens to destroy the very diversity that is the glory of the human family.

While I deeply loved being a priest and ministering as a priest, I have found the burden of living such a public life in a hostile environment too heavy to bear. To be sure, all who live public lives will be held to public accountability. But my story provides a lesson in what can happen when public accountability goes too far, when privacy is invaded, and hysteria rules. The resulting climate of suspicion, rancor and fear makes it difficult if not impossible for me to be who I really am.

Technically, I am on a leave of absence from the Dallas Diocese. But since I don't have the emotional stamina to live a lie or to endure the painful prejudice, I have chosen to leave the priesthood and pursue other professional interests. But I do so fully aware that Jesus said, "The truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

Living in the light of my own truth, I am now free to be an authentic witness of Gospel values, and to make a real difference in the lives of all whose human dignity has been diminished.

First of all, as I have said before, if a man genuinely self-identifies as gay and has given sexual inclinations and temptations such a place in his life that it is through those lenses primarily that he views himself and the world, then he probably should not be a priest. While I did not see all the St. Sebastian's Angels site, the parts of it that I did see indicated that a large number of its participants had given their sexual inclinations precisely that sort of place. The messages were often sexually explicit, speculative and, in Father Garner's case, racially and ethnically objectifying. If there was any inclination to "prayerful support" it was not evident in the posts I read.

Second, Father is right to note that [p]articipation in a gay-priest Web site does not deserve the same punishment as a sex act, either criminal or consensual. But neither does participation in such a site reflect the seeking of greater discipleship and growth in Christ that priests are meant to embody. Father complains that the revelation of his participation in this site ruined his career, but the priesthood is not a career. The priesthood is a vocation. What Father and the other priests did on St. Sebastian's Angels has much more in common with adultery than it does the swiping office supplies or cooking a firm's books.

Third, I do most strongly question this assertion: And the desire to purify our race of homosexuals threatens to destroy the very diversity that is the glory of the human family. Sorry, Father, nobody tried to purge you in the revelations of this website because you live with same sex attraction. Temptation is not the same as behavior and, again, if you feel that you cannot live without objectifying other men and viewing them in sexual ways then probably you shouldn't be a priest, but its not like anyone went looking to uncover the same sex attraction with which you and the other priests live.

In the end I fear Father's last line is the most telling and eloquent that he may have chosen to live in the light of his own truth rather than submit to the light of Christ's. When Christ told the rich young man that he needed to sell all he had, give the money to the poor and take up his cross to follow Christ all we are told is that the young man went away sorrowing because he had many possessions. We are never told he comes back. I hope Father does.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

It is easy for a little child to accept unquestioningly. That is why the League of the Militant Godless is so anxious to keep religion from little children. Because they know they will accept it, and though they fall away afterward perhaps, in an arrogant and adventurous adolescence, still is not so insuperably difficult to come back to it because there is some kernel of truth lying hidden, there in the soul- Dorothy Day.
Quotes on adversity
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. - John F Kennedy.

Adversity has the same effect on a man that severe training has on a pugilist - it reduces him to his fighting weight. - Josh Billings.

Nothing is more desireable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch. - James Baldwin.

Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines. - Satchel Paige.
Remembering September 11
Three days from now everyone, or at least everyone I can imagine, will remember that one year ago hijackers plunged three planes into significant public landmark buildings in New York and Arlington Va, my home county. From the balconies of my then office building, if we craned our necks, we could see the flames underlying the plume of dark and greasy smoke rising from the Pentagon into the clean blue sky and sirens seemed never to stop howling. The hikjackers would have plunged a fourth plane into yet another target, except for the actions a few brave passengers who resolved to take back their aircraft or die trying. Tragically, they died trying.

The run up to the first anniversary of all that has seemed muted to me. I don't do lots of electronic media, particularly television, so I haven't seen lots of pictures of the events again. Of course I am reminded of the day because I drive past the Pentagon fairly often. The ugly wound torn into the building that seemed to remain for week upon weary week has disappeared. The remarkable repair they have made still stands out against the older parts of the building, a little bit like a new scar does before it has a chance to fade back into more the color of the rest of my skin, but the wound is gone.

There are more flags on cars down here now. I saw a VW bug yesterday that looked like it could have been trying to stand in for a caddie in a presidential motorcade, a flag flew from each of what would have been the four corners of the car, if Beetles had corners.

One of the publications I write for had all of us reporters call up five people who we knew had a 911 story to tell and ask them to tell it to us for the 911 One Year Later issue coming out this week. At first I was highly doubtful that anyone would want to talk about the day. But to my surprise everyone was almost eager to talk - the problem was they couldn't. At least not easily. The first woman I spoke with lives and works south of Canal street in New York and at she agreed readily to tell me of her experiences that day - but then, 90 seconds into the interview, she started to cry. "I'm sorry, I will have to call you back," she said. And she did. But she said it was hard to talk about, harder than she had thought it would be.

That was the way it was with all the people I spoke with. By the end of the conversations I had the strong sense that they all had done what they had to do, picked up the pieces as best they could, got their lives moving again, but the events of a year ago lurked like a bloody stain just below the facade of normal life. Scratch just a little bit, really, in a serious way, and much of it came flooding back.

But everyone is different. One friend of mine who was in the Pentagon when the plane came in and was one of the first in the shattered hallways trying to pull people back from the brink of destruction told me yesterday evening that his Loved Ones Lost In a Fire nightmare has returned after many blessed weeks of easier sleep. He plans on another spate of talking with a empathetic chaplain to help beat it back again. But another friend, who had been caught in traffic on the stretch of highway that runs right in front of the Pentagon and over whose car the hijackers had flown the jet in order to hit the building, reports not thinking much about it.

As for myself I don't know how I will feel about it on September 11 2002. Crawling slowly along in traffic the other morning I became aware of how much attention, low level attention but attention nonetheless, I was paying to the three planes in the sky just then, flights leaving or arriving at Reagan National Airport. Mostly one year later I am strongly aware of how much in God's hands every single one of us lives and of how quickly, in the twinkling of an eye, everything can be sharply, radically, changed.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

BU orders on-campus Academy to cut gay activist group
Boston Univerisity's once and again president John Silber has ordered a college prep the school runs and houses on its Boston campus to withdraw support from the schools so-called Gay-Straight Alliance.

Boston University Chancellor John Silber ordered the headmaster of the prestigious BU Academy to disband a support group for gay and lesbian students. The administrator, James Tracy, this week complied, according to several teachers and a BU spokesman.
University spokesman Kevin Carleton said Silber does not believe the school should host any organization that deals with student sexuality.Silber ''is not hostile to any particular gender orientation, but he feels that it's not appropriate for a school, particularly one that begins at the lower end of the secondary level, to be getting involved in the sexuality of its students,'' Carleton said.
The academy, located on Commonwealth Avenue on university grounds, was started under Silber's auspices in 1993.

A few disclaimers before I comment. First, I attended Boston University for one year before transfering. I did so because I was dissatisfied with the level of instruction I received during the year, especially in light of the of amount of money I was shelling out. Second, at age 19 I made an attempt to kill myself, something which I am up front about in Beyond Gay..

The latter fact's importance derives from the hue and cry from those who support such "Gay-Straight Alliances" that they help prevent "gay teens" from committing suicide and that anyone who opposes them obviously doens't care that "questioning" youth might kill themselves. Sorry, but in a word I think a lot of that is poppycock.

Yes. Young people who are experiencing same sex attraction most often do so in a very isolating and troubling environment. Heck, the entire high school experience can be isolating and troubling if you have anything different about you. If you are smart. If you are unfortunate enough to develop much earlier or later than your classmates. If you are understood to be at all "wierd." Like can be hell - and it should not be. I am four square behind schools coming down with all fours on anyone who harasses and torments other students - for any reason. "Fag" and "dyke" and "queer" need to become words as shunned and disreputable as "nigger" and "spic," the use of which automatically tags the user as teetering on the edge of the Pale - if not beyond it. But my observation of so-called 'gay-straight alliances" are that they are something else entirely. Here are my problems with them.

First, when I was going the isolation and emotions that led me to try suicide what I really needed was a sane, compassionate and well-grounded adult with whom I might have spoken and shared some of my feelings and experiences. I didn't need someone who was going to tell that "gay is good" or that I was necessarily gay at all. I needed someone who could have helped me put the feelings I had in the context of my broader life, my age, and my inexperience. I needed someone to tell me that I did not need to define, at age 16, myself as gay. I needed someone to point out that a lot of men and women in their younger years experience some degree of same sex attraction but that it doesn't have to define them either. I needed someone to tell me just feeling the way I did didn't neccesarily mean I had to act on my feelings or that I would even necessarily want to, and I needed someone to tell me that experiencing same sex attraction is not the end of the world. Just hearing that, combined with having someone responsible, intelligent and compassionate in my life with whom I could share the experience would have helped a lot.

But the activities of a lot of the gay-straight alliances I have read about are 1)ideological "gay is good" and 2) have taken steps toward pushing young people experiencing same sex attraction into self-defining as "gay" or "lesbian." For example, the one in the Boston Academy clearly appeared to take a standard gay activist line, sponsoring a day of silence in which about one-fourth of the school's 135 students did not speak for the day as a way to symbolically honor the gay, lesbian, and transgender people in the world who have been silenced by society.

Sorry, but being encouraged to self-define as "gay" when I was in high school was not what I needed, and I don't think being encouraged to view myself as having been "silenced by society" would have been useful either. What are needed are more educated, compassionate, sane counselors and teachers to whom kids experiencing these feelings can approach and talk. The majority of evidence I have seen about the so-called "gay straight" alliances leads me to believe they are often a bigger part of the problem than they solution.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Well, Haloscan is not taking comments
and I wanted to add this one to the comments on the previous posting.

First of all, can we please have names here? Commenting as "anonymous" or solely as "a skeptic" seems cowardly to me. If you are going to cite statistics then I think that names and sources are appropriate. Likewise, if you sincerely believe that a man living with a degree of Same Sex Attraction cannot be a good priest, you have a right to that opinion and should have the courage of it. I am not offended.

However, I deeply believe your opinion is incorrect - and I have the Church's teaching on SSA and the experience of many good priests living with SSA upon which to ground mine.

I have no doubt that there are men who live with degrees of SSA for whom their temptations are not integrated and whose emotional maturity might not be what a priest would need. However, integrating that reality and gaining that emotional maturity does not necessarily mean they will no longer experience temptation. Nor does it say that the reality of that temptation should preclude them from being called to serve Christ as a priest.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

John Paul cautions against ordaining those with "emotional disorders"
There will be those who assume immediately that the Pope is talking about men who live with a degree of same sex attraction (SSA) or who self-identify as gay. But he didn't say that. In fact, he indicated that the formation of the candidate needs to be the guiding light:

"It is my duty to stress a renewed attention to the selection of vocations to the seminary, using all available means to obtain a proper knowledge of the candidates, particularly from the moral and emotional point of view," the Pope said categorically. "Let no bishop feel exempted from this duty of conscience. He will have to render an account directly to God," the Holy Father warned.

The Pope said that "it would be lamentable that, because of a misunderstood tolerance, immature youths or youths with obvious signs of emotional disorders, be admitted to ordination, which -- as is sadly known -- can cause grave scandal in the consciences of the faithful and obvious harm for the whole Church." Hence, "a solid formation for the life of prayer and the liturgy is fundamental," the Pope said, adding that "fidelity to the doctrine on priestly celibacy for the Kingdom of heaven must be regarded with great esteem by the Church."

Especially, "when it comes to discerning, in candidates to the priesthood, the call to unconditional and full commitment," John Paul II emphasized.

The issue is not what tempts us, whomever we might be or whatever temptation we face. The issue is how we live and for Whom and in Whom we live.
Some thoughts on the Crisis review of GBGM
I hate to have to sound one note over and over, but the failures to make the distinction between experiencing homosexual desires and adopting a position where one either practices or promotes active homosexuality continue. The latest instance in Crisis' article about Michael Rose's Good Bye, Good Men.

First, some overall thoughts about the article by Brian Saint-Paul. I will confess up front that I am biased toward Saint-Paul's effort to document at least one segment of GBGM, because that is what I would have done too. If I was asked to report about a book about which there was a disagreement as to its reporting on facts, I too would have also chosen a part of the book and sought to document what Rose reported.

Second, if Rose wants to assert the truth of his reporting he needs to somehow show that the folks who paint a far different picture of the Seminary at Louvain have somehow been lying or untrue in their account. For example, there is a ex-fiance reported in the article. Who is this woman and what does she think about the allegation that her former fiance allegedly self-identified as gay and tried to force another young man into having sex with him? What about other acquaintances and friends of the seminary rector, associates for example. What do they have to say about the allegations Rose makes against him? Let them even talk off the record if they want, although if the rector is clean I expect they will be glad to speak on the record.

Third, there is a spirit among some of my correspondents that folks who have raised questions about Rose's book have somehow treated him ill or are somehow trying to argue that there is no problem with cultures which condone same sex acting out at seminaries. In my opinion they miss the point. If we are to really clean up the moral life at seminaries and set to rights what is taught there, then we must have adequate and well-reported facts. Allegations, rumors, unconfirmed reports will only, in the end, hurt the effort to do what is right.

Now, will all that said, I have to contest what Saint-Paul sets as the litmus test for whether Rose's account of events in the seminary are true.

But if Father Van Durme isn’t gay, then Kellenyi’s story falls apart—and with it, much of what Rose has written about Louvain. All of this could have been cleared up with a couple phone calls.

Sorry, that's not the point. Van Durme may well live with some degree of same sex attraction, many people do, I wouldn't know. The question Saint-Paul should have been asking is: is Father Van Durme, then seminarian Van Durme, the sort of person who would have engaged in the sexually demanding vendetta against a former classmate in order to force him into having sex, which is what Rose alleged. I mean I can't believe a person could be as cruel, and selfish, and demanding, and arrogant, and contemptuous of the teaching of the Church as you would seem to have to be to do something like Rose alleged Van Durme did without those traits coming out in other areas - and continuing after seminary. What does Father Van Durme teach about same sex attraction today? What is his life and preaching like today? Interestingly, the only person in the article who really refers to the teaching of the Church is Father Van Durme:No, I’m certainly not gay, and I agree with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality: Love the person but not the activity.

At the bottom line I agree with Saint-Paul's offer to Rose.

I have a proposal for Michael Rose—an olive branch, if you will. The Church needs a book like Goodbye, Good Men. But it needs that book to be unassailable. Rose should rework the book—remove the sections that are either doubtful or, as in the case of Louvain, almost certainly untrue. Yes, the book may be a bit shorter, but it’ll be stronger for having the wheat separated from the chaff.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Rose: stop criticizing my book or I will sue!
From Fr. Johansen's site:

Well, apparently it is no longer sufficient for Mr. Rose to attempt to refute his critics in the forum of public discourse: Now he feels it neccesary to silence them: This letter from Mr. Rose's attorney demands that I cease my "ongoing pattern of numerous and defamatory statements" against Mr. Rose, and threatens me with a Federal lawsuit if I do not comply. He demands that I retract certain criticisms I have made, that I remove all statements I have made about Mr. Rose and his book from my website and its archives, and that I agree in writing never to write anything about Mr. Rose or his publications again.

Is Demography Destiny?
I found the October Atlantic Monthy (arrived in the mail yesterday, no articles up on the web yet) has an intriquing two page spread by Don Peck seeking to explain and defend the following observation: Thus the most important changes in world population over the next fifty years are less likely to be in the total number of people than in their age and geographic distribution.

Interesting factoids from Peck's piece include:

The Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip is projected to more than quadruple, from 1.1 million to 4.8 million by 2050, giving Gaza a population density greater than that of Hong Kong's or Singapore's. The population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will surpass that of Israel by 2036.

By 2050, only 57% of Europeans will be of working age.

Ravaged by HIV/AIDS, the life expectancy of people living in Botswana has dropped from 60 in the early 1990's to just 36 today.

All ten of the fastest shrinking populations on earth are in former Soviet or Eastern Bloc countries.

Across most Islamic-majority countries rates of fertility and population growth are quite high: eight of the ten fastest-growing countries in the world have Islamic majorities.

If free to do so, the majority of Britons would leave
Fifty-four percent of Britons surveyed by pollsters YouGov for the Daily Telegraph newspaper said they would like to emigrate if they could. A similar poll conducted just after the end of World War II found that 42 percent wanted to emigrate, and only 40 percent in 1975. Of those wanting to leave Britain, the United States was the most popular destination followed by Australia.

Top three reasons for wanting to leave? Cheaper costs of living abroad, more opportunities abroad and, of course, the weather. I wonder if they took the same survey here and in Australia what that would show. There are good number of Australians living and working in Britain.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

This should bring back Haloscan.
This is a test.
From Fall River to Palm Beach
This from a Palm Beach paper.

A few years back Courage had its annual conference in Worcester, Mass, which I think is in Fall River. Although he had not been scheduled to do so, Bishop O'Malley showed up in the cafeteria at dinner time, just like that. Nobody noticed he was there (he was just in clerics) until someone recognized him. He stood up and gave, without notes, without any apparent self-regard, the best, most encouraging extemporaneous talk on discipleship, on Christ, on real love..It was really quite good, and generous, and wise. I have never forgotten it. Much luck to him. My impression of him is of a very good man.
The case of Father Jaeger
This is a long article but I want to draw attention to parts:

'Too close to the edge'

Jaeger says he doesn't recall how many boys he massaged that summer. Eight. Maybe 10. He says he doesn't recall how long the massages lasted. Not long.

"Your job is getting people quieted down and resting and not talking," Jaeger says. "I would say 'Would anybody like a massage?' and if anybody said yes, I would."

But looking back, he says he must have convinced himself that touching a child was a safe outlet for years of repressed sexual impulses, a way he could be intimate within the confines of celibacy and without the complications of an adult relationship.

"Never really having touched much in a caring way, this was something I could do that would not get carried away, because I was sure I would not let it get carried away," he says. "It would not become sexual."

Jaeger says he touched the boys under their underwear only if they seemed OK with it. "A massage feels better direct than through material — that's what I was thinking," he says.

Whether he was rationalizing or, as a psychologist would later declare, sexually naïve, Jaeger says he believed then that the massages were harmless.

"I couldn't have known the experience of a 13-year-old boy because my adolescence was completely asexual," he says. "If I brushed against the genitals, it was not deliberate, and I don't remember it. That would have been across the line I had set. It meant a lot to me that at least I had a line, at least I had a conscience, you know, even though it was functioning poorly and was poorly informed."

After a second night of giving back rubs, Jaeger heard some boys talking about "Father Jaeger's massages." It scared him. He told himself he had done nothing wrong, but was worried what parents would think.

"I looked at myself and said, 'What is a 35-year-old man doing giving a massage to a kid, period? How imprudent! How too close to the edge.' "

He vowed never to touch a young boy, or anyone else, again.

Archdiocesan spokesman Bill Gallant has confirmed that a second boy also complained about Jaeger's behavior, but said he did not know the details. Jaeger says he was never told of that complaint.

In a report years later to Hunthausen, psychologist Richard Peterson, a state-certified sexual-offender-treatment provider, would conclude:

"The most compelling framework in which to understand Father Jaeger's sexualized contact with children in 1978 is that he was a sexually naïve, sexually repressed individual who became aroused by the physical contact he had with minor males. Not understanding his intense feelings, having few coping skills to deal with these feelings, and in an environment which he saw as encouraging repression and encouraging secrecy regarding sexual feelings, Father Jaeger attempted to explore his feelings in a way which he felt would not injure others nor be discovered."

First of all, I don't buy this. What this seems to me to be is a heavy dose of weasel wording. Gee, Father, "only if they seemed ok with it" and how many would have had the power and guts and self-awareness to say get your hands off me?

Then there is this:

Only under questioning by a therapist, ordered by Hunthausen, did Jaeger recognize he had done something wrong. The therapist asked about his sexual history, the seminary, the camps, the massages. "When she was done, she said, 'More than likely it happened,' " Jaeger says.

What, only under therapy did Father decide he had done something wrong? And this man wants to remain a priest? The only way I can see remotely keeping in vestments is 1) if he is never given an opportunity to work with kids and again and 2) (more important) he expresses evidence of having had the sort of conversion necessary that indicates he values discipleship in his life. Does he support the Church's teaching on same sex acting out or does he continue doing the weasel-wording that other "gay and lesbian ministry" priests have done in the past. Ideas mean things and bad ideas lead to immoral behavior. I am also not a huge supporter of zero-tolerance but, in this case, I think it helped catch someone who appeared to need catching.

Monday, September 02, 2002

What's the latest on enatation?
Will this blog ever be able to have comments? This is what enetation says:

Everything is fine So first up dont worry.

Basically currently enetation is running on a 700mhz, 256meg ram, server, now when 90% of CPU is used up it causes the server to crash and burn. So, enetation has an automatic script that checks how 'busy' the server is and if it is nearing that crash n burn point it wont out put but say 'server busy' thus ensuring it doesnt die.

This is only a stop gap for the next few days untill I get the new Athlon 1800 with a Gigabyte of ram up and running - then such things will not be needed as that is one beast of a server was on a hosting account with netweaver and was chucked off for using too much CPU.

Hope this answers questions,
Cheers Rob.

Haloscan is still down. Read above for what they allege happened to netcomment.

Our Lady of Angeles consecrated today
I find it a deeply sad and poignant irony that the new Cathedral in Los Angeles, the officially $193 million dollar Our Lady of the Angeles, which critics have dubbed the Taj Mahony, will be consecrated with a Mass involving dozens of bishops today, the day for Workers. The entire basement of the structure, above the hundreds of rubber pads meant to allow the structure to ride out the earthquate God might have in mind for it, has been set aside as a mausoleum, according to NPR (audio file). Folks willing to pay from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars will be buried there and the money will, the Cardinal said, pay for the upkeep of the building.

Other facts from an article in the The New LA Times include:

Seventy-two of Los Angeles Archdiocese priests, that we know of, are being investigated for allegations of having had sex with minors, among them several from his inner circle. Among them:

Father Carl Sutphin, whom Mahony in March 2001 elevated to the prestigious role of associate pastor of Our Lady of the Angels despite having known for years that he was an accused child molester. (Sutphin was among seven clerics Mahony abruptly tossed overboard in February and March of this year after it became clear that his harboring of pedo-priests would face public scrutiny.)

There have been protests about what the building has cost in the midst of budget problems and the ongoing sex scandals:

"It's outrageous that [Mahony] poured out a purported $200 million, and I suspect much more, for a lavish structure nobody needs and then all of a sudden he doesn't have an operations budget for it," says Katherine Morris of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, a lay group that administers to the poor. The group has long insisted that it was preposterous to believe, as Mahony has repeatedly suggested, that the cathedral could be built without reducing the archdiocese's commitment to the poor. It protested Mahony's failed efforts to bulldoze the former St. Vibiana Cathedral at Second and Main streets downtown (which white-knight developer Tom Gilmore is restoring as a cultural center after the Los Angeles Conservancy went to court to prevent the destruction of perhaps the city's most historically significant religious structure). The group, which has staged protests at key points during Our Lady of the Angels' construction, plans a candlelight vigil on Labor Day eve. They won't be the only ones protesting. "It's unconscionable to us that a cardinal who has turned his back on victims of sex abuse and protected [priestly] abusers could even go through with what they have planned," says Mary Grant, regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, which is highly critical of Mahony. "Given the way he's behaved, you'd think he'd have more humility than that."

Protestors or not, the fundraising will go on:

It's to include a cathedral tour, dinner and a sound and light show created especially for the occasion by Robert Egan, producing director of the Mark Taper Forum. The event has sold out, with tickets ranging from $1,000 per person to $25,000 for a table for 10. (Those who popped for the latter get a bonus: a special invite to a private dinner to be hosted by billionaire couple -- and ardent Mahony supporters -- Eli and Edythe Broad at downtown's exclusive California Club, with Mahony and cathedral architect Jose Rafael Moneo among the diners.) While the heavy hitters are wining and dining inside, a less-well-heeled (and presumably younger) crowd can attend a dance party for $125 per ticket in the cathedral's 2.5-acre plaza.

Plus, the Cathedral will offer a Chardonnay (suitably dry I presume) under its own label in the Gift Shop:

Astonishingly, for a spiritual leader, he has sounded anything but pastoral in his legalistic explanations for his failings, leaving many of the sex-abuse victims he purports to be concerned about dumbfounded and angry. A case in point is his repeated attempts to explain away his failure to turn over miscreant priests to police during his 17 years as archbishop of Los Angeles. In the case of notorious Long Beach pedo-priest Ted Llanos, accused of molesting at least 35 altar boys before committing suicide in 1996, Mahony insisted in a published interview last month that he had no idea that Long Beach police were having difficulties obtaining information about Llanos from the archdiocese. This, despite his top lieutenants having concocted a lie to tell parishioners at St. Lucy Parish Church as to why their priest had suddenly disappeared, after Mahony shuffled him off to a rehab center without turning him over to police. Yet, Paul Griffith, a retired glass company executive, says that he and his wife, Sue, a family therapist, explicitly complained that the archdiocese was impeding the police investigation of Llanos during an hourlong meeting with the cardinal at the chancery office in late 1995. Their son, Scott, in 1993 was the first of Llanos' victims to come forward. At the meeting with Mahony, Paul Griffith says, His Eminence promised that he would do something about the archdiocese's alleged lack of cooperation with police. "It's been clear to us for a long time that the cardinal simply makes up stuff as he goes along," Griffith says now.

It goes on and on and on....

Haloscan under attack!
Well, Haloscan at least has not just gone away. It's under attack, according to a notice that they have up.

The main server began experiencing a Denial of Service attack a while ago. After, the main server went down, the backup server on another connection was automatically activated but that also experienced the same attack and we have now taken both servers down till the attack stops and connections become stable.

We apologize for the downtime and are working hard to resolve the problem.

The Courage to Be Catholic
I haven't ordered this book yet, but plan to, if only on the strength of this comment from a Zenit interview:

ZENIT: Does it take courage to be a Catholic today?

Weigel: I chose the title "The Courage to Be Catholic" because that's the way genuine reform always works in the Church -- through men and women with the conviction and the courage to be countercultural, to be genuinely, fully, joyfully Catholic.

The Church has never been reformed by "Catholic Lite." Reform always means a deeper, more thorough appropriation of the truths that Christ bequeathed the Church -- the truths that are its "constitution," if you will.

Q: And that requires courage?

Weigel: Sure. But it's also exhilarating. One of the things Catholics need to recover is a sense of the great adventure of orthodoxy. Christian Orthodoxy is the most exciting proposal on offer in the world today. It's far, far more exciting than "Catholic Lite."

Q: "Catholic Lite" is an image that recurs through "The Courage to Be Catholic." What does it mean?

Weigel: We can't understand the crisis of clergy sexual abuse and episcopal leadership failure outside the context of the past three and a half decades.

During that time, a culture of dissent took root in the Church in the United States. And by "culture of dissent," I don't mean simply men and women who were confused, or who thought that the Church should express its teaching more clearly.

By "culture of dissent" I mean men and women -- including priests, women religious, bishops, theologians, catechists, Church bureaucrats, and activists -- who believed that what the Church proposed as true was actually false. If you really think
that -- if you really believe that the highest teaching authority of the Church is teaching falsehoods and is leading the Church
into error -- you're not in full communion with the Church. And that has consequences, including behavioral consequences.

Well, enetation says it's busy
But I hope this works. I have been through three comment services in three weeks. Net Comments is still down. Haloscan is down. Yaccs is not taking new subscribers...

Third time the charm?
Gonna try to add comments from enation....
Ok, I don't know what to do....
Now Haloscan is apparently down. I may be that I am not supposed to have any comments on my blog. Netcomment went away and now Haloscan has apparently gone away so... The text for allowing comments is still part of my script so I suppose when Haloscan comes back up again I will be able to have comments. I would appreciate any suggestions of comment services....

Today is Labor Day
And an apt day to recall that Our Lord worked for a living. Here is a reflection on work, by Dorothy Day, which appeared in the Catholic Worker in November, 1946. There are a couple of passages to which I would like to direct your attention. First, the great opening:

One night, just as we were beginning compline, two young boys came from Mott street, hitch-hiking, to pay a call on us at Maryfarm, Easton, 75 miles from New York. They would not come upstairs to the chapel, so while I fed them bread and milk and tomatoes (that was all that was left of supper), I talked to them. One is half Polish and half Italian, and the other Italian. They are both sixteen, smooth-cheeked, round eyed, young, strong and soft. Both have been in trouble with truant officers and probation officers for years. The reform schools are all crowded, accommodating sometimes twice as many as they have room for, so the boys know that there is no penalty for their minor misdemeanors. They merrily go on their way of petty stealing from their mothers and families, hanging around street corners and social clubs, of which our neighborhood is full, loafing, swearing, smoking, drinking--well on their way to more serious crime. The courts are full of just such young ones. How to reach them? They are cynical, they gamble, they want to get rich quick. They play the numbers, the horses. They don’t want a job, because they want big money. They see others making a killing. Everyone wants to get ahead, to be better off. This is what they are taught in the school, public schools and in the Catholic schools. But they are not taught to work--they are not taught a philosophy of work. They are not taught a philosophy of poverty which will make them use their talents rather than seek wages.

Sorry to be such an enthusiast but this is very cool. This is a lay Catholic community praying Compline together, and which is open to newcomer and helping them even as they acknowledged that the boy's current background and behavior was not and had not been particularly Christian or moral.

Second, there is this passage.

Peter Maurin wanted to call The Catholic Worker The Catholic Radical because he believes in getting down to the roots. And the root of our evil, he has been crying out like a prophet, like a St. John the Baptist, is the lack of a philosophy of work. It is significant that it is in reformatories that boys are taught crafts and trades. It is significant that it is in insane hospitals that the patients, some few of them, are taught to use their hands to do creative work.

But the sad part of it is that though they have these schools, teaching skills, and some learn to do things very well, and probably get great joy out of doing them, they do them with the sad sense of futility, of boondoggling, of having been given something to do because they are either criminal or insane--and not that they are doing things which are good and natural to man that they can continue doing when they get out, creating, making, using mind and body to work on beautiful things God has given man, raw materials He has provided, and in so working on God’s good things, getting a sense of the sacramentality of life, the holiness, the symbolism of things.

Dear Heaven, this will have been written 56 years ago this November. Is anything better or, as I fear, is it worse? I think of parishes in my any of them reach out to workers, particularly Hispanic immigrant workers who make up the bulk of the manual labor force in Arlington County at least, if not in the rest of Northern Virginia.

Here is also a reminder that many of the first apostles also worked with their hands, fishing with nets and they might have used this boat or a boat much like it.