Friday, May 31, 2002

Pretty Glum, Huh?

Just re-read that last post. Boy, pretty glum. I don't deny still feeling the post reflects some of my mellowing with respect to the blogging phenomenon, but it sure reads like a downer. Nothing like a 7-0 victory for my Wings to put a good spin back on things. I do have an idea and, with the help of readers, I hope it will work. As soon as YACCS lets me create an account -- how fast do you have to be to be one of the magic 25? -- I am going to add a comments function. That said, here's the ground rule: I only want comments on the reflections. Hopefully, this might add some of the interactivity I was hoping for when I originally started Integrity. (I know, I seem to refuse to make the ordinary use of any of these blogging technologies.) Emailing me your reflections might be too involved, but I'm hoping posting a quick insight won't be.

I'm not a huge fan of comments sections, but I am hopeful that the readers of Integrity will use the feature with the spirit I have intended and won't turn Integrity into a graffiti wall. If that happens, of course, I reserve the right to kill the feature. And edit posts. (Although, I only plan to do that if the posts having nothing to do with the reflections or are offensive.)

Maybe I'm Just Depressed ...

... but I have been reconsidering this whole blogging endeavor. For the fifty or so of you who drop by each day, don't worry. I fully intend to continue posting to Integrity until we have gone through all of CFL. After that, well, we will have to see.

There are a number of reasons for this. To be honest, one of the first ones was the lack of feedback I received on the site. I chalk most of that up to being a problem for me of pride and wanting to see Integrity be popular and frequently visited. I set that to the side. Still, as heartened as I am by having definite regular readers, I originally wanted this site to be far more interactive, hoping people would chime in with their own comments on CFL or living life as a lay Catholic. That hasn't happened and I suppose I should have foreseen it. But it leaves me the burden of handling all of the reflections and they take time to write.

That's another issue. I have come to the conclusion that I spend too much time blogging and reading blogs. Expect less posts in the weeks to come, but with more of them being reflections (which seems to be what people want anyway). Frankly, I don't know how so many of you are able to post all day long. Either you have very undemanding jobs or great flexibility in your working arrangements. I used to try and post during work a bit, but then got in the habit of writing all my posts for the day in advance and emailing them to me so I could update the site throughout the day relatively quickly. Even that has been a hassle. Going forward, don't expect to see any posts during daytime hours, except on the weekend. I never meant to try and go after the audience wanting deconstruction of news stories and I need to stop trying to post like I was.

But more than that, I find myself losing some of my taste for St. Blog's. I don't even like the label anymore. It reminds me of my law school days at HLS. I was a member of the Christian Fellowship when I was there. Like many Catholics and Protestants at HLS, I enjoyed the fellowship and company of fellow believers. But I learned many saw our meetings as a substitute for belonging to a real Church in the community. I can't say that has happened with St. Blog's, but it certainly something that I want to avoid. More than that though I have found St. Blog's falls regularly to what I have dubbed the "culture of complaint" one finds among Catholics who consider themselves to be faithful and orthodox. It's a temptation I struggle with and began to recognize as a problem during law school. Too often, so-called orthodox Catholics spend a great deal of their energy complaining about every little nit and nat. Father's homily wasn't up to snuff, today. Etc., etc. But it's only expressed as complaint. Much like the old men in the balcony of the Muppet show. It's in some ways a variation of political talk-shows: a sport in which many engage -- some for fun, some because they care -- but never rising much above the level of sport. I also sense some definite anti-clerical tendencies in St. Blog's.

Now, don't misread this as some big indictment against my fellow Catholic bloggers. It isn't. It also isn't a call to stop commenting on the Scandal (although I think there's plenty of other things to discuss about the Church and its work in the world today.) [PROGRAM INTERRUPTION: GOD IS GOOD! WINGS 2, AVS 0 AND WE'VE ONLY PLAYED 3 MINUTES!] I think many post great links, some interesting commentary and good analysis.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Latin Scripture Quote Of The Day

"Videns autem centurio, qui ex adverso stabat, quia sic clamans expirasset, ait: "Vere homo hic Filius Dei erat."" (Evangelium Secundum Marcum 15:39.)

Today's Lay Saint

Two for the price of one today. Today's lay saints are St. Isidore the Farmer and his wife, St. Maria Torribia. You can learn more about both of them here and here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Feedback Update

I want to thank the two readers who took the time to email me their comments on Integrity. Although two isn't a great sample, they are the ones who responded. Both had the same basic comment: they visit for the reflections on CFL and wish they were posted with greater frequency. Everything else is just trimmings. I have been hoping to establish a more regular schedule for the reflections, but they simply take more time to prepare. One difficulty I struggle with is in choosing how much of the text to cover in a single reflection. Too little and we will have five reflections all on the same topic. Too much and the post goes on for pages. It's a balancing act I'm still learning to do right, but you can expect to see a greater percentage of the total posts being about CFL.

Think these readers are off-base? Love the Today's Lay Saint feature instead and want to see that expanded? Well, jump to this post and send me an email with your answers to some or all of the questions. This is your shot to impact the direction of this blog.

Regular programming will resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Pick-up Lines

Emily Stimpson finds the Catholic pick-up lines developed by Envoy Magazine lacking. I'd agree, although I thought the "Confess here often?" one was funny. Alright, Emily, as a twenty-something single Catholic male, I will do my part and ... point to a list of already written Christian pick-up lines at (You didn't think I was going to draft a list myself, did you? At least not while I am at work.)

The Half-Way Point And Feedback

We have reached the half-way point in our reflections on CFL. I think it is a good time to pause and evaluate how things have gone so far.

To do that, I need your feedback. From the start, I understood that Integrity, with its unique purpose and focus on examining CFL, would have a very different life than most others at St. Blog's. My readership is lower. I don't receive much reader email (if any). Part of that comes with the territory of not making the typical use of the blogging medium to deconstruct newspaper articles and post daily complaints.

Although I don't intend to scrap the current format, I would like some input on whether it needs to be tweaked. If you would, please send me an email. Some things I would like to know:

  • How often do you visit? (1st time, daily, several times a week, weekly.)
  • If you are a repeat visitor, what brings you back? (CFL reflections, Today's Lay Saint, other.)
  • Do you find the CFL reflections helpful? Are they too long? Are they not frequent enough?
  • Do you read CFL itself or just the reflections?
  • Do you like the Today's Lay Saint feature? Would you like more information about the saint rather than just a link to it?
  • What papal documents would you like to see explored after CFL? (Some possibilities: Centesimus Annus, Laborem Exorcens, Fides et Ratio.)
  • Any other comments.
  • Also, if you regularly visit this blog and find it a nice respite from "all scandal news, all the time", please pass on the word to others. You can conveniently send emails about Integrity by using the form that appears in the left-hand grey column.

    Been Away For A Bit?

    Haven't been to Integrity in a bit? Or want to see what you missed over the long weekend? Well, stay a spell, scroll down and check out what's been posted since your last visit. In addition to today's reflection on CFL's Paragraph 32, two other reflections have been posted: On Paragraphs 28 and 29 (find out why St. Maximilian Kolbe's witness is so important) and On Paragraphs 30 and 31 (see what criteria the Pope says lay associations should be judged by). Also, there is my letter to Cardinal George about the upcoming Dallas conference and my question about why people are using the cryptic phrase, "The Situation".

    The Laity's Co-responsibility For The Church's Mission: An Introduction

    Reflections on CFL: Paragraphs 32

    We have reached Chapter Three of CFL. Previous chapters focused on the dignity of the lay faithful and their paticipation in the Church's communion. Now the pontiff turns his attention to the lay faithful's participation in the Church's mission.

    "We return to the biblical image of the vine and the branches ... Engrafted to the vine and brought to life, the branches are expected to bear fruit." This is not an option, but an "essential demand of life in Christ and life in the Church. The person who does not bear fruit does not remain in communion."

    Thus, our participation in the Church's communion and mission are intertwined. They are "profoundly connected with each other, they interpenetrate and mutually imply each other to the point that communion represents both the source and the fruit of mission: communion gives rise to mission and mission is accomplished in communion." This is an important point. I think many of us are tempted to embrace one of these over the other. Some want that close union with God. Others passionately want to impact the world. We need to understand that we should embrace both.

    What is the mission of the Church? The pope quotes St. John for that:

    "That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ."
    Again, the interrelationship of the mission and communion. If we don't take the time to understand and strengthen our communion, we hurt the chances of the mission.

    JPII tells us that "the Lord entrusts a great part of the responsibility [of the Church's mission] to the lay faithful, in communion with all other members of the People of God." For me, this is a point that I need hammered home every day. (Some of our clergy probably need that too.) It is too easy to see the mission as the domain of the clergy. But the clergy "were not established by Christ to undertake alone the entire saving mission of the Church towards the world, but ... it is their exalted office to be shepherds of the lay faithful and ... to recognize [their] services and charisms that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one heart."

    In the coming reflections, we will take a closer look at how the laity proclaim and live out the Gospel, doing their part in carrying out the Church's mission.

    Coming Soon: Reflections on Paragraphs 33 through 35 CFL

    Latin Scripture Quote Of The Day

    "Beati pacifici, quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur." (Evangelium Secundum Matthaeum 5:9.)

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Louis IX, king of France. You can learn more about him here.

    Monday, May 27, 2002

    Lay Associations and Pastors

    Reflections on CFL: Paragraphs 30 and 31

    As we discussed in the last reflection, the laity have a freedom to associate in groups. We've seen a number of groups form in reaction to the current scandal. In Boston, for example, there is the Voice of the Faithful. I'll leave critique of that group to other bloggers. Instead, I just note that Cardinal Law's cautions to that group and other attempts to develop new lay associations has been widely derided.

    One might be left with the impression that the Church has no place to evaluate the work of these lay groups or that to do so is just another example of clerical elitism. Not so. As mentioned last time, there needs to be criteria to evaluate the authenticity of the forms lay associations take in the Church. In this section of CFL, JPII sets forth some basic criteria for that task.

    "The primacy given to the call of every Christian to holiness." I think it is fitting that the pope places this at the top of the list. Lay associations that do not have this as an emphasis run the risk of losing sight of the full dimension of Catholic life and of becoming something else. A great concern for organizations like the Voice of the Faithful, for example, is that they are (or will become), without this emphasis on the call to holiness, just a political power play dressed up in some of the language of the Church. This criteria also emphasizes our responsibility for our own journey in faith. The laity ought to support each other in the process of sanctification, not to place that whole burden on the clergy.

    "The responsibility of professing the Catholic faith." Sadly, many lay groups dissent from certain elements of the Church's teachings, helping to further confusion about what the Church teaches and doesn't. As discussed before, the preaching of the Gospel is all of our responsibility through Baptism. Dissenting from Church teaching shouldn't be an option for lay associations any more than for bishops.

    "The witness to a strong and authentic communion in filial relationship to the Pope .. and with the local Bishop." JPII wants us to deepen our understanding of the mystery of being one Body in Christ. And as we discussed previously, we all belong to a particular Church. Lay associations should not see their work in competition with the rest of the Church, but as a complement to it. As the pope emphasizes, laity must extend that understanding to other lay associations, too.

    "Conformity to and participation in the Church's apostolic goals." The Gospel. Lay associations are asked to have "a missionary zeal" for "the evangelization and sanctification of humanity and the Christian formation of people's conscience, so as to enable them to infuse the spirit of the Gospel into the various communities and spheres of life."

    Finally, "a commitment to a presence in human society." I find this one fascinating. As we have discussed all along, the pope doesn't want the laity to have a narrow vision of their field of evangelization. The laity are not called to be just lectors and eucharistic ministers. Because of their place in all of the facets of society, the pope is eager for them to focus their efforts on infusing those places with the Gospel. If they do not, who will be able to?

    The remainder of this portion of CFL focuses on pastors and their relationship with lay associations. First, he calls on pastors to encourage them "so that lay associations might grow in Church communion and mission." He emphasizes that certain lay associations ought to be given "official recognition and explicit approval from competent Church authority to facilitate their growth on both the national and international level." All of this seems motivated from JPII's emphasis on the interdependency of the missions of the ministerial and common priesthood.

    And of communion. Again, we are all members of one Body. JPII calls this a "gift" that must be acted upon and lived out. In that light, he calls upon all, but specifically pastors, "to promote and nourish stronger bonds and mutual esteem, cordiality and collaboration among the various forms of lay associations." He reminds that division harms the Body and hinders evangelization and appeals to us, with the words of St. Paul:

    "I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."
    Coming Soon: Reflections on Paragraphs 32 ofCFL

    Memorial Day and Fr. Capodanno

    Today's Memorial Day. I can't say I have ever treated it much differently than any other government holiday. That said, things seem a bit different this year. My father served in the U.S. Navy and my brother currently serves as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

    I know many Christians who cannot comprehend how people of faith serve in our Armed Forces. Still, I hope they pray for them today and are thankful of the sacrifices of those who gave their lives. I also hope that, as Catholics, we might take time to remember those military men and women who lived Christian lives. Recently, I gave my sister-in-law a copy of a book about one such man: Fr. Vincent Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest and Navy chaplain who served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam. He died aiding the wounded in the midst of a battle. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor posthumously. You can read more about Fr. Capodanno here and here.

    Latin Scripture Quote Of The Day

    "Accurrens autem Philippus audivit illum legentem Isaiam prophetam et dixit: "Putasne intellegis, quae legis?". Qui ait: "Et quomodo possum, si non aliquis ostenderit mihi?". Rogavitque Philippum, ut ascenderet et sederet secum." (Actus Apostolorum 8:30-31.)

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Monica. Most of you should be familiar with her story, but you can read more about her here.

    Sunday, May 26, 2002

    Latin Scripture Quote Of The Day

    "In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum." (Evangelium Secundum Ioannem 1:1.)

    Reflection Updated

    The last reflection on CFL has been finished. If you have been waiting for it, click here to go to the post.

    My Letter To Cardinal George

    When I attended the recent Chicago Forums, I went as an observer. Mainly, I wanted to get a sense of what others were thinking and feeling about this scandal. I also went to be able to report back here on what happened.

    Recently, though, I have decided that I needed to add my voice to the mix. So I drafted and sent a letter to Cardinal George in order to address one aspect of what I feel must be done at the Dallas conference. I share with you the body of that letter.

    "I have been heartened by your efforts to obtain the laity’s opinion as you prepare for the Bishops conference in Dallas. As you can well imagine, hopes are high that this conference will be a large step forward for the Church’s recovery from the scandal caused by the minority of priests who have sexually abused minors. I write this letter because I worry you and your fellow Bishops may be so focused on addressing the sexual abuse component of the scandal that the conference might end without an examination of another key element: the leadership (or lack thereof) demonstrated by certain Bishops.

    The people are angry your Eminence, and a great deal of that anger stems from the perception that many Bishops failed to safeguard their flocks and instead placed priests guilty of abuse back into public ministry and hid news of these priests from the public. Hungry for authentic leadership and real shepherding, the confidence of the faithful has been rattled by news reports that leave one with a sense that many Bishops have behaved like mere corporate executives, and poor ones at that.

    In time, the facts will come out and we will have a better understanding of the degree to which this view of the Bishops and their past actions is accurate or mistaken. Nevertheless, the perception must be addressed. If not, I fear many Bishops will return home to dioceses that are even more hostile and wounded than today.

    I understand that you and your fellow Bishops may feel it improper to critique or rebuke a fellow Bishop for his possible role in this scandal. Understandably, even Bishops may not know enough facts to make a proper judgment. Accordingly, may I humbly offer a suggestion? The Bishops should not leave the Dallas conference without taking time to reflect on the vocation of the Bishop as the shepherd. The culmination of these reflections should be a public statement affirming the renewed dedication of the Bishops to living out this vocation with fervor.

    Such a statement would help reassure people that the Bishops understand and take seriously the idea of being the good shepherd and the need for honest and courageous leadership, carried out with integrity."

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Victor of Marseilles. You can learn more about him here.

    Saturday, May 25, 2002

    Does Anyone Else Find It Odd ...

    ... that, with all the calls from some for us to face the truth head on and call it as it is, they have chosen the cryptic "The Situation" to refer to the scandal?

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Notburga. You can read more about her here.

    P.S. Yes, I know the last reflection on CFL is incomplete. I'll finish it, but the Wings game is on right now.

    Friday, May 24, 2002

    Unique And Irrepeatable

    Reflections on CFL: Paragraphs 28 and 29

    In this next section of CFL the pope explores the ways the laity participate in the life of the Church, both individually and as a group.

    But his introduction to the section is of particular note. For it shows once again the personalist philosophy that is the foundation for JPII's understanding of the world. The pope tells us that:

    "each Christian as an individual is "unique and irrepeatable.""
    This is a resounding theme of the pope's philosophical writings. Weigel, in his biography Witness To Hope, quotes a letter from JPII to Lubac, in which he writes that the "evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation, indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person." One can surmise that this conviction, in part, is drawn from JPII's familiarity with Auschwitz. (Knowing its impact on me when I visited there a few years ago, I can only imagine the influence of what happened there has had on those who were in Poland during WWII.) It is also why JPII believes St. Maximilian Kolbe is such an important witness. Rocco Buttiglione, in his book Karol Wojtyla: The Thought of the Man Who Became Pope John Paul II, reflects on a homily of JPII that makes my point:
    "Aushwitz is a place constructed for the destruction of man, for the annihilation of his dignity. Power can certainly not kill all men: it has need of them as servants and instruments. To be sure of these instruments, it must, however, first annihilate their dignity, their self-respect. In the extermination camp, man is reduced to pure animality, and, by the programmed destruction of his spiritual personality it is scientifically demonstrated that he is not a bearer of any superior value but that he is merely a slightly more evolved animal than the others. He is like a trained monkey which can be domesticated, but which is always ready to return to the law of the jungle. From this point of view, humanity is not what is most profound in a man, but what is most superficial. By looking at the brutalization of the victims (and that of the murderers), each is forced to remind himself of what he is in his deepest dimension, and what he could at any moment become if he offended the powers that be or if he did not show himself completely obedient to their orders. The ultimate purpose of the extermination camp is, in a certain sense, metaphysical: it shows that authentic human values in the name of which it would be right to defy power do not exist, because man is only matter, which can by material means be coerced to any end. If, therefore, there is neither truth nor justice in man, if these are only empty words, then in principle the root of all opposition to totalitarian power disappears. Any possible opposition would also have to place itself, if it could, on the terrain of force alone. Precisely for this reason, in virtue of this metaphysical depth which belongs to the horror of Auschwitz, the witness of Fr. Kolbe is not just a witness but a victory. For, by sacrificing his life, he makes the extermination camp useless; he spiritually annuls it by showing at the same time that humanity is what is most profound in man. It is more fundamental for him and belongs to him more intimately than the instinct for self-preservation and all the other natural tendencies that man has in common with other animals. In the place constructed for the annihilation of man, for the negation of his spiritual nature, Kolbe shows the essence of human greatness."
    I take the time to present all of that in order to help open your understanding of the mystery of the human person. Too often we say the word without understanding its depth. There is much more to say on the subject of the person, but now at least you might understand the seriousness with which the pope believes that every single person has a part to play in the mission of salvation. "[E]ach member of the lay faithful should always be fully aware of being a "member of the Church" yet entrusted with a unique task which cannot be done by another and which is to be fulfilled for the good of all."

    Our uniqueness and irrepeatability is not lost by being members of the one Body of Christ. Instead, the pope tells us, these qualities our fostered by our membership in the Church as they "are the source of variety and richness for the whole Church." This mystery of communion is what the pope is exploring in this section:
    "[T]he Lord's words "You too go into my vineyard," directed to the Church as a whole, come specially addressed to each member individually.
    [E]ach individual is placed at the service of the growth of the ecclesial community while, at the same time, singularly receiving and sharing in the common richness of all the Church. This is the "Communion of Saints" which we profess in the Creed. The good of all becomes the good of each one and the good of each one becomes the good of all."
    And so the pope highlights two forms of participation in the Church's life: lay associations and the apostolate of the individual.

    "[I]n modern times such lay groups have received a special stimulus, resulting in the birth and spread of a multiplicity of group forms: associations, groups, communities, movements." The work and focus of these lay associations is quite varied. One of the important reasons for these associations is the reality that "a "cultural" effect can be accomplished through work done not so much by an individual alone but by an individual as "a social being," that is, as a member of a group, of a community, of an association or of a movement." But, with all this talk of apostolates, it is good that the pope reminds us of the need to help support our brothers and sisters in Christ in their daily walk. These groups can "represent for many a precious help for the Christian life in remaining faithful to the demands of the Gospel and to the commitment to the Church's mission and the apostolate."

    A danger exists, though, that a lay association might forget that it is still subject to the Church. The pope rightly says that the The Christian faithful are at liberty to found and govern associations for charitable and religious purposes or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world; they are free to hold meetings to pursue these purposes in common." But, "the proper relationship [must be] kept to Church authority" and there is "the necessity of "criteria" for discerning the authenticity of the forms which such groups take in the Church."

    Not everyone will be a part of a lay association, but everyone has an apostolate. The pope emphasizes this with his discussion of the apostolate of the individual. It is a bold reminder of St. Francis's great command, "Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words." JPII wants all of us to remember that a truly Christian life is a great witness to hope. This apostolate knows no boundaries. It is "useful at all times and places" and, in some circumstances, "it is the only one available and feasible." Consider again the witness of St. Kolbe mentioned above. What apostolate was available to him in the middle of Auschwitz other than the apostolate of the individual?

    That all the faithful live out this apostolate is vital, says the pope. For in it, he sees an ability to reach more people with the Gospel more often and with greater impact:
    "Such an individual form of apostolate can contribute greatly to a more extensive spreading of the Gospel, indeed it can reach as many places as there are daily lives of individual members of the lay faithful. Furthermore, the spread of the Gospel will be continual, since a person's life and faith will be one. Likewise the spread of the Gospel will be particularly incisive, because in sharing fully in the unique conditions of the life, work, difficulties and hopes of their sisters and brothers, the lay faithful will be able to reach the hearts of their neighbors, friends, and colleagues, opening them to a full sense of human existence, that is, to communion with God and with all people."
    Coming Soon: Reflections on Paragraphs 30 and 31 ofCFL

    Why I Don't Watch Bill O'Reilly

    Bill O'Reilly's latest column for World Net Daily is on, of course, the Catholic Church. It is yet another reminder of why I no longer watch the man's shows or buy into his self-promotion.

    When the O'Reilly Factor first appeared on the air I watched it with great devotion. It was a breath of fresh air. But as time went on -- and O'Reilly's popularity grew -- I noticed some disturbing trends. First, he seems to go for the knee-jerk answer and he subscribes to a cheap populism that distrusts any authority. I first started to notice this problem in his coverage of economic issues where he simply refused to accept the idea that people need to be responsible and learn what they are investing in. He also tends to paint with a broad brush. "Everyone knows this" and "It's common knowledge that." Combined with his shameless and unrelenting promotion of his books, I reached a point where I couldn't watch him. (Does any other news personality get away with giving you daily updates about his book sales and pitching them as gifts for every holiday, from Christmas to Father's Day?) I'm surprised whenever I talk with other conservatives or Christians and hear them fawn over the man.

    This article on the Church just reaffirms what I don't like about the man. Set aside the fact that he always applies a political/power angle to a story. Consider these quotes:

    "It is widely known within the church that Pope John Paul II is so ill that he is almost entirely out of the decision-making process. Instead, there are a few powerful "little popes" who surround the pontiff and issue orders in his name."
    Now, I don't doubt that the pope has delegated a fair number of tasks. But is this true? I think the degree of his incapacity due to illness is something that is of dispute. There are plenty of you who claim more intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Church, so correct me if I am wrong. But I dislike O'Reilly's casual way of putting it as if this is a fact for which he doesn't have to offer any support.
    "And the orders right now to American bishops have come down to one thing: Stonewall."
    Where does he get this? Yes there has been complaints about the media. But there is a right to complain about the media. I'm not a fan of the your-in-error-so-you-can't-call-me-on-my-error attitude that Americans have. Just because there have been cases of sexual abuse by priests doesn't mean that we should give the media a free pass and not require them to report things accurately. (Although I know most bloggers don't want to hear it, if this scandal didn't involve the Catholic Church it wouldn't be on the front page of the newspapers every day. Another simple test: check how often you see defendants in crimes identified as being Jewish or Muslim. But you can bet your last dollar that if it is a sex crime and you are or were a priest, altar boy or just Catholic it will be mentioned, regardless of its relevance.) As for the canon lawyer's comments, they have been overblown, both in what they meant and how much they reflect the Holy See's position. But that is all the "evidence" Bill gives us. That constitutes "stonewalling" in his opinion. Evidence to the contrary, such as the pope's comments that the abuse is a crime and unacceptable, isn't addressed.
    "And it's the pope's own fault. Although sick now, he has consistently given power over the years to men who are autocratic and unyielding. These are hard men, not princes of the Church in the image of Jesus Christ. John Paul II tolerates no dissent and no reform. He has put the "image" of the Church before all else – including the welfare of children."
    Again, you wonder if Bill ever re-reads his commentaries with a cool head. I hardly think that JPII can be described as neither tolerating reform nor dissent. I think he's tolerated a fair amount of both, frankly. And what's with all this about the pope? Come on, he has appointed plenty of bishops who haven't lived up to the likings of those commonly labeled as "conservatives". I think we need to face the facts that Bishops do have free will and some choose to do unwise things. And I think the last person who can be accused of putting the Church's "image" before all else is the pope.

    I know O'Reilly would say in his defense that he is a commentator. Hog wash. He still has a duty to get facts right and owes us a reasoned opinion, not just heat. John Mallon, if you're reading, I would love to read your thoughts on the likes of O'Reilly and others sometime. The Dowds of this world are easy to dismiss and spot. The problems with the O'Reillys are a little less obvious.

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Philip Howard. You can learn more about him at these two sites.

    P.S. I have fixed the archives. So feel free to check out the old posts again. (Don't know why it keeps taking them down.)

    Thursday, May 23, 2002

    New Link And Goodnight

    Most people find Integrity through one of two or three portals. So when Man Bites Blog appeared in the list of referral sites, I had to check it out. Now how could I not like a Blog that combines two things I love: the Church and sports. (I have to agree with his assessment that the Wings-Avs series is shaping up to be a classic. Of course, as a true Detroiter, that is as close as you will ever catch me saying something nice about the Avs.) Plus, John seems to share some of my concerns for prudence in use of the blogging medium and some of my distaste for what I have dubbed the "culture of complaint" that one finds among many orthodox Catholics. Check him out. And, John, I'm not a member of the parish council, but consider yourself part of St. Blog's now, for better or worse.

    That's all for today, folks. Check back tomorrow for another installment on CFL. (Maybe even two.)

    Illinois vs. Indiana

    Hmm, I used to think that St. Blog's was dominated by Hoosiers. Now, I'm beginning to wonder. Could it be that Illinois claims the greatest share of us? Let's see: there's me, Summa Contra Mundum, In Formation, Oremus, and, based on her posts today, I think a case can be made to include Fool's Folly in our totals.

    It's Not Easy Being Me

    Plenty of "Who Are You?" quizzes on the net, but this one intrigued me (and suprised me with the results):

    You are Kermit!
    Though you're technically the star, you're pretty mellow and don't mind letting others share the spotlight. You are also something of a dreamer.

    At Least The Lawyer Was Thinking

    From the Weakland settlement agreement:

    "7. As a condition precedent to the payment of the sum set out in paragraph 1, Paul J. Marcoux agrees not to publish and not to disclose to any third party, including, without limitation, any newspaper, any electronic media, reporters, and any other individual, or to release for publicity any of the allegations which he has made against the Archdiocese and the Archbishop, and the terms of this Agreement. Paul J. Marcoux understands and agrees that the confidentiality required in this Agreement is material consideration for the payment to be made pursuant to this Agreement, and in the event that he breaches this confidentiality requirement, upon such a finding by an arbitrator pursuant to paragraph 9 below, he will return to the Archdiocese all sums paid to him under this Agreement."
    I knew Quarles & Brady did good work. Question is, does the Archdiocese, in today's media climate, dare bring a breach of contract claim before the arbitrator and demand the return of the money?

    Of Course, She's Wrong

    Amy and her husband have tag-teamed in defense of her husband's post earlier this week on rumors that a Cardinal is an active homosexual. I don't intend to post on this subject after this, but -- at least as far as the criticism I levied -- she and her husband's defender have got it wrong.

    I don't deny the possibility that the rumors are true or that they could have serious consequences for the Church (e.g., blackmail) if true. And I didn't criticize Michael so much for reporting what he heard on the radio, but for his comment that he knows the Cardinal's identity. (Scroll down and look for yourself.) Besides, the reader of her husband's blog makes my point for me when he says:

    "but until and unless someone has direct knowledge of this situation, *and is willing to put his name to the accusation*, I will not publish anything naming this cardinal, nor will any responsible journalist."
    My point is that this standard should apply to blogs too and not mentioning the alleged cardinal's name doesn't seem to me to be a legitimate work-around. Again, if it is something that the public should know about, why wait until others publicly mention his name? If people aren't comfortable identifying him why are they comfortable in helping propogate the rumor? Also, what about the reputations of the twelve other men implicated by this rumor because they too are Cardinals?

    Rediscovering The Meaning Of Parishes

    Reflections on CFL: Paragraphs 25 through 27

    This past weekend, I commented on the importance of the parish in the midst of the neighborhood. Fittingly, our next section of CFL looks at the lay faithful's participation in the life of the Church as expressed in the life and mission of the particular Church and its smaller unit, the individual parish.

    Some of you may feel this reflection is unnecessary. After all, we all belong to parishes. We know what they are. Maybe so. But we don't always remember what they ought to be. Similarly, many of you may be converts to the Catholic Church. The concept of the parish is different than the concept of church embodied by your suburban, commuter mega-churches.

    But before we get to the parish, the pope wants to remind us of the proper understanding of the relationship between the particular Church (such as the Church of Chicago) and the universal Church.

    "The particular Church does not come about from a kind of fragmentation of the universal Church, nor does the universal Church come about by a simple amalgamation of particular Churches. Rather, there is a real, essential and constant bond uniting each of them and this is why the universal Church exists and is manifested in the particular Churches. For this reason the Council says that the particular Churches "are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is in and from these particular Churches that there come into being the one and unique Catholic Church.""
    The pope believes that a "clear and precise vision" of this relationship is essential for the lay faithful to be able to adequately participate in ecclesial life. The pope doesn't offer a great deal of explanation here, but I think we can draw one basic point from his emphasis: we need to recognize that we belong to a particular Church. I think we sometimes forget that the universal Church is made up of Churches, not churches. I take the pope as hoping that we take our membership in the particular Churches seriously and, by doing that, we may be of more benefit to the universal Church than if we operate with a mindset that sees dioceses, for example, as merely an artificial construction.

    I don't think many of us in America foster this "feeling for their own diocese, of which the parish is a kind of cell," and a willingness to stand "always ready at their bishops' invitation to participate in diocesan projects". Many of us have been tempted to look at JPII as the "Church", being comforted by his orthodoxy and example. Understandable, but the pope seems to be calling for a love and concern for the whole Church that, in some respects, has its eye focused on the local church first and expands outward to include the whole People of God.

    Those who complain that the laity lack a sufficient role in the governance of the Church to be anything other than financers of the local church should take some comfort from the pope's mention of diocesan pastoral councils and synods. As the pope notes:
    "The participation of the lay faithful in Diocesan Synods and in Local Councils, whether provincial or plenary, is envisioned by the Code of Canon Law.
    In fact, on a diocesan level this structure could be the principle form of collaboration, dialogue, and discernment as well. The participation of the lay faithful in these Councils can broaden resources in consultation and the principle of collaboration—and in certain instances also in decision-making—if applied in a broad and determined manner."
    Some dioceses already have forms of these structures in place. For me, the question isn't so much about whether they should exist as it is about who will serve on them and whether those individuals will have the interests of the Church at heart or see it as yet another political field. It is fair to add that Church leadership in the United States has been a touch selective in how they have used these structures and may not have listened all that closely to the pope's call for them "to evaluate the most opportune way of developing the consultation and the collaboration of the lay faithful, women and men, at a national or regional level, so that they may consider well the problems they share and manifest better the communion of the whole Church."

    But it is the parish that gets the bulk of the pope's attention. For it's the "most immediate and visible expression" of the ecclesial community. To fully understand this idea, one has to be able to see the parish as something more than the place where one attends Sunday Mass:
    "The parish is not principally a structure, a territory, or a building, but rather, "the family of God, a fellowship afire with a unifying spirit," "a familial and welcoming home," the "community of the faithful." Plainly and simply, the parish is founded on a theological reality because it is a Eucharistic community. This means that the parish is a community-properly suited for celebrating the Eucharist, the living source for its upbuilding and the sacramental bond of its being in full communion with the whole Church. Such suitableness is rooted in the fact that the parish is a community of faith and an organic community, that is, constituted by the ordained ministers and other Christians, in which the pastor—who represents the diocesan bishop—is the hierarchical bond with the entire particular Church."
    Similar thoughts were expressed by Paul VI, whom the pope quotes:
    "[T]his old and venerable structure of the parish has an indispensable mission of great contemporary importance: to create the basic community of the Christian people; to initiate and gather the people in the accustomed expression of liturgical life; to conserve and renew the faith in the people of today; to serve as the school for teaching the salvific message of Christ; to put solidarity in practice and work the humble charity of good and brotherly works."
    Most parishes have many programs that are examples of this outreach and life within the community. The bigger question is whether the people who make up the parish live it and embody it. Sometimes it is difficult to remember that our particular parish is tied to a territory and not just about those who come to Mass. The parish is to pray for and live in the reality of the whole community. I have always found the tradition of annually walking as a body the perimeter of the parish boundaries a great help in making tangible the parish's responsibility for and solidarity with all the encompassed souls, whether they come to Sunday mass or not.

    Besides, sometimes we don't want to be reminded of our faith. The parish that is in the midst of the neighborhood and is fulfilling its mission makes it difficult to avoid. The hymn chimed by the parish bells can be heard from my balcony. I might bump into one of the priests on the street or live next to the woman who sits beside me in the choir. But it also has its advantages. By just walking a few short blocks, my private prayer in my bedroom becomes reflection in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.

    The main point of all of this is that the laity's full participation in the parish's mission is critical.
    "Their [JACK: the laity] activity within Church communities is so necessary that without it the apostolate of the pastors is generally unable to achieve its full effectiveness."
    Remember, "[m]inistries and charisms, being diverse and complementary, are—each in their own way—all necessary for the Church to grow." As we discussed in previous reflections, the ministry of the clergy and the laity are linked and dependent on each other.

    If we take an active part in the life of our parish, helping it fully recognize its purpose and reality, then the parish will be
    "a "place" in the world for the community of believers to gather together as a "sign" and "instrument" of the vocation of all to communion ... [and] a house of welcome to all and a place of service to all, or, as Pope John XXIII was fond of saying, ... the "village fountain" to which all ... have recourse in their thirst."

    Coming Soon: Reflections on Paragraphs 28 and 29 ofCFL

    Today's Lay Saint

    Normally, I choose a blessed or saint to honor and introduce each day. I thought I would make an exception this morning and present to you the story of Venerable Pierre Toussaint. (Can't think of a better last name for a saint in the making, either.) Say a prayer for the glorification of this holy servant of God.

    Wednesday, May 22, 2002

    This Could Be Interesting

    Those of you who are regular readers of Integrity know that I am always searching for things that help the lay Catholic live out his part in the mission of Jesus Christ. Recently, I came across a copy of this little book: The Everyday Apostle, by Fr. Edward F. Garesché. I haven't read it yet. It's the Table of Contents, with headings like "The Apostleship of Character", "The Apostleship of Consistency" and "The Apostleship of Encouragement", that made me purchase it. I will let you know my thoughts on the book, and any nuggets I learn from it, after I have a chance to read it.

    Newspapers On The Chicago Forums

    I've noticed that a lot of bloggers have already linked to the Chicago Sun Times' coverage of last nights forums. I had to laugh when I read the article. Oh, don't get concerned, the article is fine, but it should be clear to anyone who attended the Holy Name Cathedral forum it speaks about that the reporter stayed less than half an hour. The quotes she offers are from the first handful of people who spoke. If she stayed longer, I'm sure she would have had some quotes from some of the victims who were present, even if she didn't mention their names. And it was not 120 people. 75 is far more accurate. Maybe 85 at the most. (I have to say, there were a fair number of other reporters who toughed it out for about half of the evening.)

    If you want a more thorough look at what happened, check out my post below. I will be updating it through the day until it is complete. Also check out In Formation and Steve's reflections on the forum that he attended last night.

    Field Report From Holy Name Cathedral

    Yesterday, I attended one of the forums sponsored by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago. The forums were held throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago in order to give the laity and others an opportunity to have their voice heard with respect to Archdiocese policies regarding clerical misconduct and sexual abuse. The forums were also meant to be a vehicle for providing Cardinal George input on people's expectations and hopes for the upcoming Bishops conference in June.

    This post will be somewhat lengthy. I don't intend to provide a transcript of the session I attended or cover every issue raised. My hope is to provide those who were not able to attend a more thorough look at what happened than they are likely to get in the morning newspaper or on the local news. Also, please no emails about heterodox comments. I want people to get the full picture of what was discussed and I hope to do it with limited commentary.

    Background. I attended the session at Holy Name Cathedral. It lasted about three and a half hours. About 75 people were in attendance, with a good dozen reports during the first hour. (Some comical moments as every reporter chased down each speaker to get the correct spelling of their names and follow-up quotes.) As the moderators explained during the evening, these sessions were not meant to be presentations to the faithful or opportunities to answer the faithful's questions. Instead, their function was to provide the faithful an opportunity to be heard on the issue and to record their comments so they can be presented to the Cardinal. Cardinal George specifically requested that the Guild hold these sessions. Probably the unsung hero of the evening was the court reporter who was present at the Guild's request, transcribing every word that was said. Around 45 people spoke. As one member of the Guild said, "the Cardinal will be presented with a book of everyone's comments". If the other 30 some forums were as talkative as this one, that is going to be some mighty big book.

    Overall Impression. Those who chose to speak came from many different backgrounds. Laity and Clergy. Blue Collar to Professionals. Ordinary Catholics to leaders of activist organizations. And those who I will politely describe as eccentric. (Hey, an open microphone does that.) To be certain, there were a number of people who came with agendas. The various gay and lesbian organizations were out in force to make certain no one left without hearing multiple times that "there is no evidence to link homosexuality and pedophilia". Representatives from Call To Action and other dissenting organizations were also present (sadly the priest who spoke was one of this group) and used the opportunity to soft-sell their desires for a non-hierarchical Church. Nonetheless, one left the evening with an overwhelming reassurance of the rationality of the ordinary Catholic. People had differing views on what was the cause of the problem and some of the possible solutions, but everyone presented their opinions respectfully and for the most part were in agreement on some basic principles: address problems when they are reported; help the victims; don't put children at risk by transferring abusers; give accused priests a fair hearing; guilty priests should face criminal charges; the leadership of the Church must act with honesty and integrity; everyone needs to pray.

    The People's Comments. So many topics and issues were touched on that a complete summary of them would go on for pages. Instead, below I offer a high-level summary of what people said.

    On The Cause. Varied opinions were expressed about what is the root cause of this scandal. Some emphasized homosexuality, while others focused on dissenting teachings. One lady suggested that the reason for the high number of boys as victims might be a matter of opportunity and access as priests are more likely to interact with boys than girls. (Which, she mentioned, might be different in the future with female altar servers.) Several people felt the problem also involved the minor seminary system, where adolescent boys entered training for the priesthood at too young of an age. They felt that some as a result never matured in a healthy manner and others were too young to know how to deal with and confront abuses by older priests they encountered.

    About The Victims. Everyone who spoke said the Church needs to make helping the victims its first priority. A number of doctors and health care professionals spoke about the effects abuse can have on a child's life, setting them on a destructive path that may dominate their lives for decades. But it was the stories of the victims that were most telling. Many were in different stages of dealing with their suffering, one acknowledging publicly his abuse for the first time last night. Their stories emphasized several things. First, most reported the abuse to the Church first (for they loved the Church), but the Church never dealt with the case, sometimes not even telling them the results of the investigation. They emphasized the need for counseling and support, the need for clear record-keeping about abusers and keeping them out of ministries where they can do harm, and that this is a global problem and not just for Catholicism. But most of all, they emphasized the need for spiritual reconnection. For one victim the recent words of the Pope were of great help. (And, as he commented, he hasn't been a fan of JPII.) None of the men who spoke wanted their abuse to destroy their faith and they struggle to move past it and reconnect with Jesus Christ. They echoed what other said too, the support of the victims is the task of the whole Church, including the laity.

    About Anger. Yes, people were certainly angry and upset. And they made those comments quite clear for the record. But most everyone recognized that we cannot let our anger get the better of us. The victims spoke to this most eloquently. One told us that the pain all Catholics are feeling because of this scandal is part of what the victims have been dealing with for years, and that we, as the Church, are all victims of this. And as the first victim to speak made clear, anger and rage isn't the solution: "The amount of comfort I have gotten from anger and condemnation has been zero." A psychiatrist echoed their words by emphasizing that in her work with victims of abuse she tries to help them see it as a moment for transformation and the need not to let the abuse dictate the path of their lives. All of the victims called on priests (and everyone for that matter) to focus on the one high priest of Jesus Christ. Only in Him will we find what we are ultimately looking for.

    On Priests. People had mixed feelings about the call for a zero tolerance policy. Everyone recognized that priests should be removed from public ministries during an investigation. Some emphasized that there is no job description in the archdiocese requiring pedophilia so it should be one strike and you are out. Others reminded people of false accusations that have been made in the past and the need to give the accused a fair hearing. People offered various solutions. The Call To Action representative suggested that if a priest is found guilty by the courts (or in the judgment of a lay review board if the case isn't prosecuted) of a felony, he should be banned from ministry and laicized. If guilty of a misdemeanor, he should only return to ministry after serving time and if the review board approves. Others asked what would constitute a "substantial" accusation and when, if a case couldn't be proved, would you then restore a priest to ministry. Even some of the victims emphasized forgiveness and seemed hesitant about a zero tolerance policy, wanting instead justice and proper handling of cases when they arise.

    On Bishops. In the case of Bishops, everyone agreed with one man's call: zero tolerance for cover-ups. The resounding theme was that the Bishops don't get it. They seem to be (and many gave examples) behaving like an old boys network, protecting priests not the people. Most had a favorable opinion of Cardinal George and how he is handling things. Some called for Cardinals Law, Egan and Mahoney to resign. Mainly, though, people could not fathom why the church leadership failed to handle these cases properly or why guilty priests were given new assignments that put children under their care. Many said the Bishops better wake up and address their own behavior at this Dallas meeting (not just that of the abusers), or there will be hell to pay.

    Solutions. Like everything else, the solutions offered at the forum varied. A number plugged the idea of allowing married priests and the ordination of women. Others called for the creation of a zero tolerance policy or variations on it. A number of the activist organizations called for the creation of independent lay review boards appointed by the lay diocesan council and the granting of more power (their word, not mine) to the laity. One woman called on the Bishops also to establish a policy for getting rid of corrupt Bishops and Cardinals. Several people who work in fields that are required by law to report abuse incidents said that the system works, is appropriately discreet, and that the Church should participate in it. Others called for better screening of seminarian candidates. And of course all emphasized that the Church needs to focus on the needs of the victims. Another man told a story of how his father took it upon himself to inform the parish to which a guilty priest had been transferred of the priest's past abuses when the Church leadership refused.

    But the main emphasis was summarized by one woman's focus on "how do the problems get dealt with". When an incident is reported, does the Church leadership deal with it honestly, openly and willingly? In the end, you were left with the sense that what the people crave is real leadership. Men of principle who stand ready to deal with issues head on and with integrity.

    And prayer. We need to pray. One man suggested that people make a novena to St. Joseph, protector of the universal Church, during the days leading up to and through the Bishops conference in Dallas. Not a bad idea.

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Ladislas, a king of Hungary. You can learn more about him here.

    Tuesday, May 21, 2002

    Reports Tomorrow

    I just now arrived at home from the three and a half hour listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. Much to report and digest, which I will do, but not tonight. So check back tomorrow.

    Will Report Back Later

    Okay, last post before I am off to the Chicago Forums on the Archdiocese of Chicago's policy regarding clerical misconduct. The forums are being sponsored by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago throughout the city tonight. I hope and pray that they will be constructive. Look here for a full report later. Also, look for at least one reflection on CFL later tonight, with another tomorrow.

    Not To Rake Him Over The Coals, But ...

    I have to disagree with Michael Dubruiel's defense of his post about the rumors about an American Cardinal. His post was more than a mere mention of what he heard on the radio. (See Mallon's Media for an example of that.) He went on to suggest that he knows who this alleged Cardinal is, adding to the gossip.

    And for what purpose? If it is something that the public should know about, why does he choose to wait until others publicly mention his name? If he doesn't feel comfortable identifying him why does he feel comfortable in helping propogate the rumor? Maybe some do "wish to remain blind [to] the problems that exist and just wish it would all go away" -- although I don't think that describes most members of St. Blog's ---, but some seem to like to play the "secret" game, letting people know they have one and hinting at its juiciness.

    Again, I don't want to harp on it, because I find Michael's blog ordinarily to be excellent and worth reading. And his comment was a subtle one versus what is being said on some message boards. I just take issue with his decision and believe it was the wrong way to go about it, even if what he suggests he knows is true. I'm glad he prays for the Church and the Cardinal he joins in accusing anonymously. I don't think that's relevant to the question of whether his post was the right thing to do, though.

    What Purpose Does This Serve?

    I had planned on posting the next reflection on CFL yesterday, but I wasn't in a position to finish it. I don't know why yesterday of all days, but the scandal hit me hard. Probably also has something to do with feeling sick yesterday as well.

    I know what triggered it. It was this post of Michael Dubruiel on the speculation that an American cardinal is an active homosexual. I don't blame Michael for the post, but for the life of me I cannot figure what purpose it served other than to tell us that he's "in the know", too.

    I have been grateful that God brought me to a fuller realization of the truth of the Catholic Church through reason and logic, not the personality of any particular religious leader. What saddened me yesterday was to think of the number of people whose faith isn't properly rooted and will be devastated by news, if true, that a Cardinal is actively violating the Church's teachings on sexuality.

    I hope to God that it isn't true. If it is, I hope that it has been primarily a matter of personal struggle and hasn't impacted the policies of his diocese, the formation of his priests, etc.

    But for those engaged in the game of speculating publicly about the existence of such a Cardinal and his identity, I have to ask: Why? Do you feel it's your right to publicly out a man for his sins? I don't have the facts, so there is no way to evaluate the seriousness of the rumor and everything that might go along with it. But I question those who would feed an angry public appetite. I'm reminded of people who write nasty letters to their bishops because of the liturgical abuses of their parish priest without ever confronting the priest directly and giving him a chance to explain or correct the situation. Maybe that has already been done in this case or the situation is extremely serious. But the whole idea of gossiping about the existence of a gay Cardinal strikes me as bad as the gay magazine, the Advocate, outing people on its cover. There is a right and wrong way to address sin and error. I'm worried that this is the wrong way.

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Maria Goretti. You can learn more about her here.

    Monday, May 20, 2002

    Our Role In Formation Of Priests

    Mark Shea posted a report from Rod Dreher about a parish in Texas. In it, Rod summarizes a bit of the priest's homily, which makes an excellent point for the laity:

    "He preached about how John Paul II was formed in sanctity by his own father, and by the good example and loving care of holy laymen throughout his early life. His point was that the laity was absolutely key to the making of our sainted pope's character, and that we in the congregation should understand that we too are the Church, and responsible for living and teaching sanctity. He said that in this time of terrible scandal for the Church, we shouldn't look to the bishops and the clergy to lead us out of the mess. If they do, that's great, but we mustn't despair and forget that the Holy Spirit is calling us to do our part to restore holiness and righteousness to the Body of Christ."
    A great reminder. So often we look to priests to be our role models and teachers in the faith. We forget that we are theirs too.

    The End Of The X-Files

    Last night, Fox aired the series finale of The X-Files. Hopefully, this will also mean the end of silly X-File lead-ins to local news on Fox network affiliates.

    I have always loved the show, although I haven't been a regular viewer for years and have been told that the show hasn't had the same quality or flair as the early episodes. Still, I made a point of seeing the finale to the series, especially hopeful to see some of the conspiracy mythology explained. (More devoted viewers can tell me how much has been explained in other episodes this season.)

    Now, does anyone have thoughts about the ending? Mulder opening up to God, maybe even Christ? I haven't seen enough of the show recently to evaluate this ending in context. But it is an interesting way to end it, as most people generally assume that proof of intelligent extra-terrestial life would mean the death of religion and faith. Here's one way of answering no.

    In some ways it reminds me of a science fiction book, called The Sparrow, that a friend once recommended to me. As he described it, the story line is about a Jesuit mission to an alien planet. Now, I have never read the book, so I can't speak to its contents or its description of the Church or God. (If any readers have and want to comment on the book, email me.)

    I doubt seriously the possibility of there being alien life. But if it does exist, I am certain the Catholic Church will be one of the few institutions that will be unshaken and capable of confronting the ramifications.

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is Bl. Anna Maria Taigi. You can learn more about her here. (I realized that I had not featured any female lay saints so far. Bl. Taigi is a perfect one to feature first as I correct that oversight.)

    Sunday, May 19, 2002

    New Links And Next Week

    My last post for today. I've updated the list of interesting Blogs, so be sure to check out the new additions. The list isn't comprehensive of all members of St. Blog's and I don't intend it to be. (I need room for the growing list of "short cut" links to allow people to keep up with the reflections on CFL.) Mostly, I link to Blogs I follow on a regular basis. Still, I am always open to adding new links, especially for those that link to Integrity. So if you have a site that you think would interest me and be useful to my readers, just drop me an email. (No guarantees on getting a perma-link, though.)

    Be sure to come back next week as we will have a number of new reflections on CFL and a report on the forums regarding the Archdiocese of Chicago's clerical misconduct policies. If you are new to Integrity, however, stay around for a bit and check out the archives! There's plenty there. To the left, you will find convenient links to all of the posts reflecting on CFL.

    1st Mass On Pentecost & Why Churches Should Be In Neighborhoods Not Parking Lots

    As I noted in an earlier post, Cardinal George ordained twelve men to the priesthood this Saturday. Karl of Summa Contra Mundum had the pleasure of attending the ordination.

    As it turns out, one of the newly ordained priests, Fr. Woznicki, belongs to my parish and celebrated his first Mass at the 11:30 a.m. Mass. Very fitting, I think, for new priests to be celebrating their first Mass on this feast day honoring the birth of the Church. May they be part of the rebirth. I knew that there was a seminarian in the parish, but had never met Fr. Woznicki before and didn't realize he would be ordained this year. (I was home last weekend for Mother's Day so I didn't have the parish bulletin to alert me in advance.) During his homily, he shared a bit about his journey back to the Church and ultimately to the priesthood. As it turned out, he lived close by and frequently encountered the priests of the Parish (one who is now a Bishop) on the street, saw people entering the parish for Mass, and heard the sounds of the parish's bell tower flood his condo. Today, he now serves the Church as a priest.

    I was struck by how much the proximity to the parish and its role in the neighborhood played in his journey. Where I grew up churches were set off from the community, usually on large acres of land and surrounded by vast parking lots for all of the commuters. I wonder how much we lose because of that, where the Church itself isn't there to stand as a witness to God's work in the midst of the community.

    This was the second time I have had the opportunity of attending a new priest's first Mass. The last time was during law school when two members of a new religious community there, the Brotherhood of Hope, were ordained by Cardinal Law. It was an exciting time for the brothers on two levels: these were the first two priests to be ordained as members of the community, the only other priest being the founder. Also, Cardinal Law granted the brothers their wish and assigned one of the new priest-brothers to the campus ministry at Boston University. They had done campus ministry in Florida and New Jersey and came to Boston at Cardinal Law's request with the hope of being able to continue that work in Boston.

    If you ever get the opportunity of attending a first Mass, do so. It is a wonderful chance to encourage a new priest as he starts his ministry and, in all likelihood, you will be treated to a Mass celebrated with great care and attention.

    Getting What You Pay For

    I just got back from a financial planning seminar that I signed up for earlier this week. Now, I am no financial wizard but I know enough to realize that I got what I paid for. Admission was free. If I had only known in advance, I would have skipped it and attended the reception at my parish for one of the newly ordained priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago. (See my next post.) Oh well.

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Genesius. You can learn more about him here.

    Saturday, May 18, 2002

    A Good Movie

    Okay, back from the movie and my errands. If you plan on seeing Star Wars this weekend, do yourself a favor and purchase your tickets like I did, using one of the on-line ticket services like Fandango. I wen't to the 9:30AM showing at the digital projection theater in downtown Chicago and the show was packed! When I came out, the line for the 12:30 showing was all the way around the block. Not a problem for me though, as I skipped the line and printed my ticket out at the Fandango kiosk.

    I know the critics have been mixed at best about the movie. Ignore them. It was a thoroughly enjoyable film. Sometimes, I think the critics forget that Star Wars was never meant to be Shakespeare and that each movie is just an episode in an ongoing serial. Besides, I think most critics can be plopped into one of three categories: (1) those who hate sci-fi/fantasy and will never give a film of that genre a good review; (2) those who loved the earlier films and have built them up in their minds to mythic proportions that defy reality; and (3) those who hate that this film will make a half billion dollars despite what they have to say about the film.

    I will keep my comments limited so I won't spoil the experience for anyone. Suffice it to say, the film is a thousand times better than Phantom Menance. It's still Star Wars style acting and dialogue -- remember this is Lucas who thinks the dialogue can be best described as part of the soundtrack --, but it is better. It has some great action scenes and some very funny moments.

    That said, I don't know if I would take young kids to see it. It isn't as dark or scary as Lord of the Rings, but there are a few scenes meant to show you that Anakin has already started to slip towards the Dark Side of the Force. Overall, Anakin is still a hero in this film, so I would worry that some kids might not pick up on the fact that he does a few things in this film that are most certainly wrong.

    Off To Star Wars

    Well, I'm off to see Star Wars. This early in the morning, you ask? That's what you have to do to get a matinee ticket price here in Chicago. Besides, have many errands and things to do afterwards. This will get me off to an early start.

    I'll resume posting later this afternoon as I watch my Red Wings take on whoever won the other series. (I never got a chance to check the papers to see the results of that game 7.)

    Karl over at Summa Contra Mundum has reported that he will be attending an ordination here in the Archdiocese of Chicago. By coincidence, I was opening my mail as I read that post and came across an invitation to attend the profession of perpetual private vows of a friend of mine who is a brother in a new religious community based in Boston. (They moved there at Cardinal Law's request some years ago.) Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend because I will be in Virginia attending my brother's graduation from The Basic School of the Marine Corps. Just as you pray for priests and seminarians, pray for these men and women religious who are committing themselves to a life set aside for God and of service to the rest of the Body. And to my friend, I will send word privately, but for now: congratulations and you have my prayers!

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Richard Gwyn. You can learn more about him over here.

    Friday, May 17, 2002

    On The Ordination Of Women

    Okay, I really don't intend to enter the fray. Peter over at Sursum Corda posted what I took to be a personal reflection on the issue and how he will have to approach it in his life with his daughter, and it has generated a lot of replies.

    One in paricular raised this question:

    "The issue of in persona Christi especially interests me. We are all baptized into Christ. There are all those references to this in various places in St. Paul's writings. We are to put on Christ. "I no longer live now, but Christ lives in me." This would be for a woman as well as a man, as far as I can understand, in becoming a Christian through Baptism. Becoming Christ ought to supercede our biological makeup and deal with things of the Spirit, where there are "neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female."
    I don't have a great answer for that, but it is clear that the Holy Father sees the in persona Christi Capitas (in the person of Christ, the Head) that comes fom the Sacrament of Holy Orders as different from the participation in the priesthood of Jesus Christ that stems from the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Where does he say this? Why, in CFL, of course! You can check out my reflection on that part by clicking here. (Yes, I know, it's long and you probably skipped it the first time you saw it. But it's worth reading. At least I would like to think so.)

    So, not so much an answer to the question of whether women can receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, but a potential reason why arguing from the basis of Baptism may not get you anywhere.

    Charisms Of The Laity

    Reflections on CFL: Paragraph 24

    Last time, we explored (at great length) the ministries, offices and roles of the lay faithful and how the ministry of the ministerial priesthood and the ministry of the common priesthood are intertwined. Today, we take a look at the other half of this subsection of CFL: the charisms of the laity.

    It's probably worth defining what we mean by charism. JPII tells us that it refers to the "particular gifts or promptings of grace" bestowed by the Holy Spirit. If you are looking for a finite list of charisms, you are out of luck. As the Holy Father reminds us, charisms:

    "can take a variety of forms both as a manifestation of the absolute freedom of the Spirit who abundantly supplies them, and as a response to the varied needs of the Church in history."
    Instead, what is important to note is that the laity just as the clergy might be given these charisms. It is a further reminder of our role in carrying out Christ's mission. We are not spectators, but participants. We should take comfort in the idea that the Holy Spirit will equip us for whatever particular role we are to play.

    I'm sure for some of you who are familiar with more charismatic or pentecostal traditions (inside or outside of the Catholic Church), talk about charisms can make you feel a bit squeamish. I know that has been the case for me. There can be an overemphasis on special gifts like speaking in tongues or healing as being "true" gifts of the Holy Spirit, with a lack of emphasis on the more ordinary gifts, such as the gift of administration. (Which, from the looks of it, a fair number of our Bishops lack.)

    When I was a freshman in college, I almost left the Catholic Church because of the campus ministry outreach of the Assemblies of God, Chi Alpha. I can't say I would have joined an AG church if I had left. They just raised a lot of questions in my mind about Catholicism, which the Lord in his grace answered very quickly and decisively. (I have always toyed with the idea of writing a book on my college experience. For now, a warning to all parents: if you are depending on junior high CCD classes and passive attendance at mass to instill the faith in your teenage children, beware when you send them off to college. They will be prime candidates for falling into a cultural Catholic lifestyle or joining a non-denominational or evangelical protestant church that dares to talk to them explicitly about matters of God.)

    All of that is background. It was in this group that I was first exposed to charismatics and the whole notion of speaking in tongues. I vividly remember one all-night prayer vigil at the local church most members of Chi Alpha attended. Very early into the night, someone started to pray in tongues and then another and another. There was a sense that everyone should be praying in tongues. There wasn't much emphasis on discerning whether the person was in fact speaking praise in those tongues. I was spooked. Combined with the low lighting in the place, I fled to a corner of the sanctuary and read Revelations. (You can tell what I thought at the time about praying in tongues!)

    Before I get too far off on this tangent, the pope reminds all of us in CFL that charisms are ordered "to the building up of the Church, to the well-being of humanity and to the needs of the world." Those who have received gifts are to place them "at the service of others" and "become 'good stewards of God's varied grace'", exercising them "for the growth of the whole Church."

    That's an important point. Ego is a powerful thing, and many might be tempted to see charisms as some sign of approval of one's own sanctity rather than something entrusted to them for the benefit of the Body. In a document encouraging the laity to step up to the plate and recognize just how important a part in the mission of salvation they play, the pope is wise to remind us not to let that go to our heads and forget that we are part of a Body. I think there can be a great temptation to act outside of, and not in concert with, the Church. The pope cautions against that, recognizing that the action of the Holy Spirit "is not always easily recognized and received." Thus, "discernment of charisms is always necessary", and "no charism dispenses a person from reference and submission to the Pastors of the Church." The Church is to test the authenticity of these charisms, not to stifle the Holy Spirit's work, but to make sure that it is authentically of the Spirit and "so that all the charisms might work together, in their diversity and complementarity, for the common good."

    Coming Soon: Reflections on Paragraphs 25 through 27 of CFL

    Chicago Forums

    Thanks to Amy Welborn for informing me of the upcoming forums that the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago will be holding next week on the archdiocese's policy for handling sexual misconduct by clergy. I plan on attending one of the forums, either near my parish or at Holy Name Cathedral. I will report back next week on what transpires. And while I am at it, I think I will join the Catholic Lawyers Guild. (After all, had a nice dinner at the Drake on them last year on law day.)

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is Bl. Emeric, a prince of Hungary. You can learn some more about him over here. His father was the first king of Hungary and also a saint, St. Stephen. St. Stephen passed along this bit of advice, known as "Az Atyai Tíz Parancsolat", or "The Paternal Ten Commandments", to his son who would have been king but for his untimely death:

    "1. Live your religion
    2. Respect the Church
    3. Honor the Bishops
    4. Respect the positions and persons in government
    5. Be patient and make best judgements
    6. Be cordial toward foreigners
    7. Accept good advice
    8. Use the wisdom and experience of your ancestors
    9. Possess the habit of prayer
    10. Perform good deeds"

    Thursday, May 16, 2002

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is Bl. Bartholomew (Bartolo) Longo. You can learn some more about him over here. Now if this isn't a sign of hope for all of us -- a saint who at one point in time was both a Satanist and a lawyer (no jokes about the two being the same thing, please) -- I don't know what is.

    Via email, Kairos raised a question as to why all of the lay saints have been Italian. Now, I've been selecting them somewhat at random, leaning towards more modern ones. I'd be curious if someone knows with more detail the percentage of Italian saints compared to the overall.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2002

    The Reflection Is Up

    Just scroll down to Tuesday's posts or click here to be taken to the post.

    Strange Events In Chicago

    I usually don't post news links, but two strange events happened in Chicago yesterday.

    First, some woman drove through a restaurant in the loop right across from St. Peter's, the Franciscan operated shrine in downtown Chicago. At least it explains the helicopters that were hovering downtown yesterday. The article reports that the woman says, "her foot got stuck on her accelerator pedal, causing the accident". All I will say is that lunchtime traffic is heavy enough that the cars hardly can be described as "accelerating" and that you really need to yank that wheel to hit that store as it is right in the middle of the block on a one way street, not at a corner.

    Second, this morning there are reports of another shooting on the South Side. One of the victims: an unborn (at the time) child. "'The baby hasn't even been born, and he's already been shot,' police spokesman Pat Camden said at a news conference Tuesday night."What a welcome to the world. The police have said that the shooting "appears to be domestic related. ... as the shooter was waiting in the area."

    (Links are to the Chicago Tribune. Stories are on their main site right now, but will be behind their free registration firewall at some point, I'm sure.)

    What Is Up With Blogger?

    Okay, now it's making all of my posts appear in italics. I'm not even going to bother figuring out what's wrong this time. Yes, I know that the reflection on CFL has the title and link, but no text. Not to fear, I will fix it shortly. So when you come back, please be sure to scroll down to Tuesday's entries to see the reflection. In the meantime, check out the archives or some of the other material.

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is Bl. Pier Frassati. Dom Bettinelli has a nice page where you can learn more about him. Check out this page, too.

    Tuesday, May 14, 2002

    The Ministries, Offices and Roles of the Lay Faithful

    Reflections on CFL: Paragraphs 21 through 23

    As it has been a bit, a quick reminder of where we left off. Having reminded us of the universal call to holiness and the dignity of the lay faithful, in this Chapter the Holy Father has been exploring how the lay faithful participate in the life of the Church. He continues that exploration now by turning our attention to the ministries and charisms related to the laity. We will focus on the ministries portion now and leave the charisms for another post.

    Everyone Has An Apostolate

    First, JPII reminds us of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and that it is the Holy Spirit that is the giver of these gifts:

    "The Second Vatican Council speaks of the ministries and charisms as the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are given for the building up of the Body of Christ and for its mission of salvation in the world. Indeed, the Church is directed and guided by the Holy Spirit, who lavishes diverse hierarchical and charismatic gifts on all the baptized, calling them to be, each in an individual way, active and co-responsible."
    I think JPII rightly understands that we often need a refresher course in what the Christian life is all about. For example, I think many might find it striking that the pope talks about "ministries" of the laity. Ministry? I've got a ministry? I have long wished for every catholic to come to understand the term "apostolate" and that we all have one, in one shape or another. The use of the word "vocation" to refer to only priests and religious bothers me, too. Yes, being a priest or brother is a vocation and an important one, but so is being a teacher or a mother. I think our Catholic language needs to reflect that. Sure, it should recognize that there is a difference between these various vocations. What I am afraid we have right now, though, is an otherness to the idea of "vocation": that has nothing to do with me, I'm not a cleric.

    The pope says, no, you do have a part to play in the mission of salvation. We are all supposed to be "active and co-responsible". This is a hard thing to remember at times, especially during a scandal like today. What that activity and exercise of responsibility looks like will vary from person to person and be based in part on the situation. Many are doing that today in raising their voice and speaking about the abuses that have occurred and calling on our bishops to be shepherds. What the pope seems to be looking for is that we do those things from a spirit of shared responsibility for bringing the Gospel to all nations and in order to build up the Body of Christ. If we are doing it because we feel the need for vengeance, see an opportunity to stick it to authority, etc., we are just adding to the damage already done.

    It is also interesting that he emphasizes both hierarchical and charismatic gifts. I think the emphasis on hierarchical gifts leads us into JPII's next major point: the interdependency and linked nature of the clergy (the ministerial priesthood) and the laity (the royal priesthood) and their missions.

    The Ministerial And Royal Priesthoods

    Some might find it puzzling that, in a discussion of the ministries of the lay faithful, the pope would have a whole section on ministries derived from holy orders.

    I did at first. JPII gives us a hint of what is to come, however, when he reminds us that all ministries:
    "-- even in their variety of forms -- [are] a participation in Jesus Christ's own ministry as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, the humble servant who gives himself without reserve for the salvation of all."
    Union. If that's the case, something can be learned about the ministry of the laity by looking at the ministry of the clergy and vice versa.

    First, the pope reminds us of the special character of the clergy and the institution by Christ himself of the hierarchy and the mission He entrusted to them. Because of that, they are in a "primary position in the Church".
    "These ministries express and realize a participation in the priesthood of Jesus Christ that is different, not simply in degree but in essence, from the participation given to all the lay faithful through Baptism and Confirmation."
    Maybe it's an American thing, but I find I meet a decent number of Catholics who just don't want to accept this fact. But it is true. That said, the pope brings things into focus by emphasizing that their ministry is a "grace for the entire Church" and, in particular, that:
    "the ministerial priesthood, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, essentially
    has the royal priesthood of all the faithful as its aim and is ordered to it."
    The Holy Father has hit on something key here. Notice the pope didn't use a passive image of the laity, but one that highlights the fact that they have an apostolate: that they are part of the royal priesthood. How many priests recognize this and understand that they aren't called to tend to an audience but to help raise up and support missionaries? In turn, how many of us laity demand that the clergy understand us in that way or welcome it when they do? As the pope says, just as:
    "pastors must always acknowledge that their ministry is fundamentally ordered to the service of the entire People of God, [t]he lay faithful, in turn, must acknowledge that the ministerial priesthood is totally necessary for their participation in the mission in the Church."
    We all know too many lay Catholics who miss that point. We all do at times. But our missions are linked and their fruitfulness is hindered by our failure to accept that.

    So Just What Are These Ministries, Offices And Roles Of The Laity?

    Okay, so the pope has reminded us that:
    "because of their Baptismal state and their specific vocation, in the measure proper to each person, the lay faithful participate in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of Christ."
    And he's called on pastors to:
    "acknowledge and foster the ministries, the offices and roles of the lay faithful that find their foundation in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, indeed, for a good many of them, in the Sacrament of Matrimony."
    Great, but what are they?

    Well, let's start with what they are not, at least as a matter of first order. The pope recognizes that pastors can delegate to the laity certain offices and roles related to their pastoral ministry, provided that they don't require a person who has received holy orders to carry them out. That said, JPII is cautious to emphasis that this doesn't make the laity pastors and shouldn't be done unless necessity requires it. He warns pastors against:
    "a facile yet abusive recourse to a presumed "situation of emergency" or to "supply by necessity," where objectively this does not exist or where alternative possibilities could exist through better pastoral planning."
    Why? As we discussed above, the pope recognizes a fundamental difference between the ministerial and royal priesthood and wants that difference to be respected. Although the liturgy is "a sacred action not simply of the clergy, but of the entire assembly,", serving as eucharistic ministers or readers is not the primary way in which the laity are called to carry Christ's mission. Yet, in practice I think many of our churches have emphasized just the opposite. My parish, for example, has five eucharistic ministers as every mass. Most rarely need more than three. But why are we there anyway, to make sure the mass conforms to some one-hour mandate? How many believe that if there was a bit less emphasize on being involved at the mass or at the physical parish we might have less women demanding to be ordained and more of them boldly bringing Christ into the world in other ways?

    For the lay faithful, their "field of evangelizing activity" is:
    "the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, as well as the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media. It also includes other realities which are open to evangelization, such as human love, the family, the education of children and adolescents, professional work, and suffering. The more Gospel-inspired lay people there are engaged in these realities, clearly involved in them, competent to promote them, and conscious that they must exercise to the full their Christian powers which are often repressed and buried, the more these realities will be at the service of the Kingdom of God and therefore at the service of salvation in Jesus Christ, without in any way losing or sacrificing their human content but rather pointing to a transcendent dimension which is often disregarded."
    Part of our problem is the lack of a vocabulary that fully captures the unique mission and vocation of the laity. The pope realizes this. To date, we have often run the risk of describing things in a manner that confuses the royal priesthood and the ministerial priesthood and have seen a "the tendency towards a "clericalization" of the lay faithful". I don't know if we have found the answer yet, but the pope offers a helpful hand by emphasizing the difference between:
    "the unity of the Church's mission in which all the baptized participate" and the "substantial diversity of the ministry of pastors ... rooted in the Sacrament of Orders ... [and the lay faithful]... rooted in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation."
    I've been surprised no one yet has written me to suggest Opus Dei or Regnum Christi as the answer to all of these questions I raise about how to live out the laity's mission. I'm not terribly familiar with either movement, although I do know people associated with both. Partly, that's because I haven't found member of either to be very upfront about the movements even when asked a direct question. Based on what I know, though, I wonder if they suffer from a different problem, which (lacking a better term) I will describe as the "religious-ization" of the laity. For all I have read of Bl. Escriva's writings, I have always been surprised by how much Opus Dei seems to be structured around the model of a religious order of consecrated brothers or sisters. That seems to be missing the point, too. As I said, my knowledge and experience with both are limited, so readers should feel free to send me email with comments or clarifications.

    Coming Soon: Reflections on Paragraph 24 of CFL