Thursday, March 31, 2011

More on the Controversy at Arkansas' Harding University about Gay Campus Members: Harding Alum Speaks Out

At the beginning of this month, I blogged about a controversy that had just developed at a university in my home state of Arkansas, Harding University, when a group of gay students and alumni launched a website and e-zine calling for open discussion of the status of gay and lesbian students, faculty, and staff at their Church of Christ university.  The response of the university to the new website and its call for dialogue was to censor the site and its e-zine, by blocking access to it from the campus computer network.

U.S. Bishops Condemn Work of Leading American Catholic Theologian Sister Elizabeth Johnson: And Who's Still Listening?

I posted a link yesterday to Colleen Baker's commentary at Enlightened Catholicism on the glaring disparity between how Catholic church officials have treated Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who is being harshly punished for supporting women's ordination, and Fr. Donald McGuire, who was permitted to roam the world as a high-profile "spiritual director" for years, even when many church officials knew he was abusing minors.  Bouregois has been slapped hard by Catholic pastoral officials.  McGuire was long given a free pass by Catholic pastoral officials. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Colm Tóibín on Medjugorje (with Questions about the Politics of Marian Shrines)

I mentioned a few days back that I've been reading Colm Tóibín's book The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe (London: Macmillan, 1994).  One section of this travelogue-cum-meditation recounts what Tóibín saw when he visited the Marian shrine at Medjugorje in the early 1990s, in the midst of war.  He happened to be there on Good Friday.

NPR on More Post-Philadelphia Questions, and More on McGuire and Corapi

More valuable commentary in the wake of the Philadelphia story and the story of Fr. Donald McGuire, Mother Teresa's confessor, about which I blogged yesterday:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Steve Kornacki on Iowa and What the Republicans Have Made of Themselves: Attacks on Gays, Muslims, Obama, and Godless Liberalism

And speaking of that political party the U.S. Catholic bishops have anointed in recent years as the Catholic party of choice (I'm linking here to my previous posting): as Steve Kornacki points out at Salon today, the Republican party has created a nifty trap for itself, by permitting itself to be taken captive by religious right extremists (and tea partiers masquerading as libertarians while keeping the religious right extremism alive).  In Kornacki's view, we see on full display right now in Iowa an exhibit of the mean-spirited "religious" lunacy that has become the GOP:

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the Future of American Catholicism: Laity Defending Human Rights Tradition Abandoned by Bishops

One of the themes about which I've blogged persistently on this blog, when I've dealt with the pro-life movement, is that I find many of the claims of Catholic pro-lifers not at all credible, due to the lack of a consistent commitment among Catholic pro-lifers to the value of human life--across the spectrum, from the prenatal stage to death.  I've noted, in particular, that the constant attacks of the ardently "pro-life" U.S. Catholic bishops on the human rights and human worth of gay and lesbian people radically undermine, as far as I'm concerned, the claim that the bishops really believe in the value of human life as they work to outlaw abortion.  I've come to the conclusion that factors other than a defense of human life--chief among them, the desire to control women and women's reproductivity--lie behind the bishops' "pro-life" crusade.  

Questions Continue to Arise, Post-Philadelphia, As New Abuse Stories Break

Several good overviews in recent days of the questions we're left with after Philadelphia, where it has become apparent that a significant number of priests credibly accused of abuse have been left in active ministry, despite assurances of the U.S. bishops that we now have a well-functioning system in place to remove such priests from ministry:

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Postscript to Father Corapi Story: Catholic News Service Article Today

A quick postscript to what I  posted earlier today to update the Corapi story:

As the day winds down, I'm seeing a Catholic News Service article by Dennis Sadowski, noting--as I did in my penultimate posting about the Corapi story--that the claim of his employee Bobbi Ruffato that Bishop Mulvey of Corpus Christi has put Corapi on administrative leave is incorrect, and that it was his religious superiors in the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity who took that action.  

Presbyterian Minister Murray Richmond on How His Mind Changed re: Homosexuality: More on Misuse of the Bible to Attack Gays

When I blogged several days ago about the curious appeal of anti-gay biblical literalism for some contemporary American Catholics,  I concluded that people's ability to understand the radical injustice of many churches' attacks on gay folks depends to a great degree on whether people know and love someone who is gay.  Or whether they're gay themselves.

Update on Corapi Story: Tom O'Toole on Corapi-Euteneuer Ties

Another quick update to the Father John Corapi story: yesterday, Tom O'Toole blogged at the Renew America site about some of the connections between Corapi and Father Thomas Euteneuer, about which I knew nothing when I posted several days ago about some of the parallels between the Corapi and Euteneuer stories, and the models of priesthood both men have been promoting (and see also here).  In fact, until a reader of the two Bilgrimage postings to which I've just pointed readers--ClevelandGirl Margo321--told me that Corapi was Euteneuer's spiritual director, I had no idea of that fact, when I first began to recognize strong parallels between their stories and their models of pastoral ministry.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Corapi Again: Father Corapi Releases New Statement on His Website, Attacks Dallas Charter

I had decided not to blog any further about the story of Father John Corapi, about which I posted several days ago (and here and here).  That is, I had decided not to blog any further about this story until substantial new information came along.  Continuing to pursue and parse this story in the absence of new information only deepens the implication that there's really something there about which to blog.  And if Corapi is correct in maintaining that he is innocent of the charges made against him, then deepening the implication that smoke points to fire is not fair to him.

Catching up on News at Two Catholic Colleges--Marquette and Chestnut Hill


Catching up to some stories about which I've blogged here in the past:

I mentioned this yesterday: the situation at Jesuit-owned Marquette University in Milwaukee.  In yesterday's posting, I alluded to what happened at this Catholic school last spring.  As I noted last May, controversy developed following an announcement by Marquette's president Fr. Robert A. Wild, SJ, and provost John J. Pauly that the university had rescinded an offer of an administrative position to an out lesbian scholar, Jodi O'Brien.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Celebrating (?) U.S. Lay Catholics' Support for Gay Rights: The Need for Critical Analysis of Male-Entitled Heterosexism in Catholicism

And a quick gloss to what I posted earlier today about celebrating (?) American Catholics' support for gay rights:

More on the Appeal of Anti-Gay Biblical Literalism for Some Catholics: My Personal Struggle, Captured in Journal Entries

As a follow-up to what I posted yesterday about the surprising trend among some American Catholics to buy into the Protestant fundamentalist ploy of biblical literalism when it comes to gay and lesbian issues and gay and lesbian persons, I'd like to direct readers' attention back to two pieces I posted here some time ago.

Celebrating (?) U.S. Lay Catholics' Support for Gay Rights

News about recent poll findings showing American Catholic support for gay marriage growing by leaps and bounds has been making the rounds of blog sites recently.  A recent report compiled by the Public Religion Research Institute finds American Catholics more supportive of legal recognition of same-sex relationships than members of other Christian faith communities and the public at large.  Catholics also support legal protection for the rights of gay and lesbian persons at a somewhat higher rate than does the public at large.  Journalist Lawrence O'Donnell devoted one of his "Last Word" broadcasts at MSNBC to a discussion of these data recently, calling on those who speak of "the Catholic vote" as predictably conservative to stop misrepresenting what a majority of American Catholics think about gay issues--in contrast to what Rome and the bishops dictate.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gardens: Madness, Frustrated Hopes, and Cheap Sermons

Diane Ackerman writes,

Few things are begun with as much hope as a garden, and it can disappoint in direct proportion to one’s anticipation (Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden [NY: HarperCollins, 2001], :p. 32).

On the Curious Appeal of Anti-Gay Biblical Literalism for Some Contemporary Catholics

One of the fascinating aspects of some recent blog discussions I've tracked about the Catholic church's stance on gay issues is this: a certain segment of American Catholics today seems sold on the argument that the bible condemns homosexuals and homosexuality.  And so, these Catholics insist, anyone questioning Catholic teaching about gay and lesbian people and gay and lesbian issues has to contend with the clear-cut biblical evidence that homosexuality is wrong.

Remembering Oscar Romero: God Hears the Cries of the Poor

Today is the anniversary of Oscar Romero's assassination in 1980.  Since several readers have mentioned in comments here lately that they don't know much about Romero, in commemoration of his life and profound witness to the gospel, I thought I'd point readers to some valuable resources to learn more about Romero.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Conservative Catholics Question Beatification of John Paul II: Breaking News

Father Marcial Maciel and Pope John Paul II

And here's a fascinating bit of news: it's not merely marginalized, hanging-on-by-the-fingernails Catholics like me who are raising serious questions about the push to beatify John Paul II so precipitously.  It's conservative Catholics who are now also raising questions--some conservative Catholics, at least.

Richard Sipe and Tom Rigert Call for Catholic Reformation (Starting with Benedict's Resignation)

When the situation in the Philadelphia archdiocese hit the news recently with a damning grand jury report and the indictment of the archdiocese's secretary for clergy Msgr. William Lynn, a wonderful reader of Bilgrimage, Kathy Hughes, asked if Richard Sipe had written anything about the Philadelphia situation.  I told Kathy I'd be on the lookout for Sipe's response.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why the Corapi and Euteneuer Stories Matter

Here's why I think the stories of Fathers Euteneuer and Corapi are worth paying attention to, why they matter:

When the first round of revelations about the abuse crisis broke in Boston in 2002, the more or less immediate response of the U.S. Catholic bishops and the Vatican was to look for a scapegoat--to deflect attention from their own responsibility for the abuse crisis, for the decades of cover-up and shuffling around of serial abusers of which we got a glimpse in the files that the cases in Boston opened to us.

Lines I Wish I'd Written: Jamie Manson at NCR on Archbishop Dolan's "60 Minutes" Interview

Jamie Manson writing in National Catholic Reporter about USCCB president Archbishop Timothy Dolan's recent "60 Minutes" interview:

Corapi Story: An Update (and Questions about What These Stories Say about Us)

After I posted about the John Corapi story yesterday, a number of news sites published articles with further information about who has taken him out of active ministry, and why this has happened.  The most comprehensive account I've found comes from Catholic News Service (CNS), and is now on many diocesan websites throughout the U.S., including this version at the Baltimore archdiocesan site.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Father John Corapi and the Manly-Man Model of the Priesthood: Survey of Recent Discussion

As I follow the news that another of the manly man hero-priests beloved of the Catholic right, Father John Corapi of EWTN fame, has been put on leave due to allegations of sexual misconduct with adult women (and drug abuse), I’m fascinated by a spin-off conversation now developing on some Catholic websites in the wake of the news about Corapi.  This is a conversation about precisely how and in what specific ways the Catholic church is now benefiting (or not) from its fixation of late on recovering the manly-man model for its priests.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

One More Piece Worth Reading Now: Michael Sean Winters on Obama's Visit to Romero's Tomb

In my posting earlier today, I provided a link to a posting at Jayden Cameron's Gay Mystic blog with a video of a recent performance in Prague of Rene Ochoa's Misa del Pueblo to honor St. Óscar Romero.  (I have my own iconostasis of saints, which doesn't always correspond to ones Rome has officially canonized--Oscar Romero is on my iconostasis.)

Worth Reading: Sustenance for Lenten Reflection

Worth reading in the past several days--worth reading specifically because of the spiritual sustenance these pieces provide for Lenten reflection:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Andrew Sullivan on Growing Catholic Support for Gay Marriage and His Experience as a Gay Catholic

My posting about Ross Douthat's latest op-ed statement re: why monogamy matters mentions that I responded to Douthat's essay in part due to a comment Andrew Sullivan recently made on his Daily Dish blog about his experience as a gay Catholic.  Sullivan notes just-released poll data showing that a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage.  As he also notes, the shift towards support for marriage equality has been particularly pronounced, in the very recent past, among white Catholics.

Ross Douthat on Monogamy: Moving the Goalposts as Marriage Equality Advances

When I first read Ross Douthat's recent op-ed piece in the New York Times about why monogamy matters, I briefly entertained the idea of blogging about it, and then thought better of the idea.  I can't find it in me, to be honest, to take Douthat seriously as a thinker.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Love in Action

Our animal brothers and sisters sometimes set the moral example for the rest of us.

This Yahoo news story by Brett Michael Dykes has a translation of the commentary on the video.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig: Remembering the Lessons

Days of remembrance like St. Patrick's day invite us to look back at the significant lessons handed down to us by those who have gone before us, by our elders, by those who transmit the wisdom of family to us through the very imperfect structures of real-life families.  For me, on St. Patrick's day, there's always the remembrance of certain key virtues highlighted for me in those stories told persistently in my own family circle--in this case, stories about my grandmother's mother, brother, parents, all of whom left Ireland in the early 1850s on the heels of the Great Famine.  People who left Ireland with hardly any worldly goods, who had known the brutal edge of hunger as they left, and who had seen four of their seven children die in infancy in those terrible years of starvation and disease.

Mary Gail Frawley O'Dea Asks, Where Is Catholicism's Tahrir Square?

As I do, the broken record knocking again and again as the turntable rounds another time, Mary Gail Frawley O'Dea asks when Catholics will finally say, "Enough," and claim ownership of their church:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Revisiting Discussion of Valerie Schultz's "America" Posting: Continued Questions about Censorship Policies on Some Catholic Blogs

Amazing: that posting at America magazine's "In All Things" blog by Valerie Schultz I mentioned two days ago?  The contributor to the thread following Valerie Schultz's posting who signs himself as John--no last name--and who wrote that the Catholic church teaches that homosexuality is a mental disorder needing treatment has still been allowed to flaunt America's rules for those contributing to blog discussions.

Jim Jenkins on Philadelphia Story: Bishops at Heart of Story, but Lay Catholics Complicit

And another must-not-miss piece of commentary today for anyone tracking the abuse crisis in the Catholic church and wanting to understand why it has happened and what needs to be done to deal with it: James Jenkins' "Philadelphia Story" at the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) website.  Jenkins formerly chaired the archdiocesan review board in San Francisco.  He knows whereof he speaks.

Secret Vatican Document for Vetting Bishops: Does He Say Yes, Yes, Yes to the Holy Father?

The Australian Catholics for Ministry website and the Catholica website have uploaded a copy of a secret questionnaire used in the Australian Catholic church to vet prospective bishops.  The document has been generating a lot of interest at Catholic blog sites, including the Clerical Whispers site, where I first saw the Catholics for Ministry version of the article linked today.  I'm also grateful to Jim McCrea for emailing a copy to me and others on his email list yesterday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dealing with Bugs on Blog

Dear Readers,

I've just gotten word from one reader of Bilgrimage that she had tried to make a comment here, and found herself unable to do so.  I think the problem may be with the Disqus system, somehow.  And I intend to try to find out what the problem is and fix it, if I can do so.

Daniel Sharfstein on the Invisible Color Line in American Families

Another book recommendation today: I've just finished Daniel J. Sharfstein's new book The Invisible Line, and found it fascinating.  The book studies three American families who, over the course of their long histories in the United States, crossed the color line and began to "pass" as white families, though they have both Caucasian and African ancestry.  And though both longstanding prejudice and stringent (and often draconian) legal codes sought to make such "passing" impossible.

Colm Tóibín on John Paul II's Visit to Dublin: "Mysticism and Mystery Followed by Authority and Power"

John Paul II and Marcial Maciel
When I first read Irish writer Colm Tóibín's eulogy of Pope John Paul II in the New York Times several days following the pope's death, I remember being struck by three points.  The first was how perfectly Tóibín captured the theatricality of John Paul II and his papacy.  Of everything John Paul did in the public eye, down to the minutest gesture.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

For Catholics Who Still Don't Get It . . .

Hans Küng

Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Küng has an important message: 

Remembering a Brother's Death, Looking at Churches' Response to LGBT People

Dear Folks,

Continuing to feel raw these days, in part, due to what is happening in Japan, and  the strange way in which my dream life involved me in that disaster with a dream full of foreboding some days before the events there.  Not a bad thing to feel raw for Lent, I suppose, since feeling the tender new skin with which we approach each day exposed and wondering how to fit things together opens us to God, I have to believe.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Sorry, folks.  I have just inadvertently deleted the blog list on this site.

I had noticed that one blog has migrated to a new location, and thinking that I was updating that particular blog's url, I find I've just deleted the entire blog list.

I'll see if I can remember the blog list well enough tomorrow to recreate it.  Meanwhile, my apologies for deleting this part of the blog.  Shows me I was right when I said in my last posting I'm a bit off-center due to what's going on in Japan, and a cold-cum-pollen-allergy that has me sniffling, snuffling, and complaining more than any decent human with a picayune illness should be complaining.

On Dreaming: Whys and Wherefores?

Dear Readers,

It's possible my postings today sound a bit discombobulated.  And that they'll continue to do so for some days now.  And it occurs to me to tell you why, though this means speaking at a level of personal self-revelation that some bloggers who want to be thought of as tasteful and respectable eschew.

In the News: Jamie Manson on Consistent Ethic of Life, Nicholas Cafardi, NCR, and CNS on Philadelphia

From my file of articles published in the last several days that I find well worth reading:

Jamie Manson at National Catholic Reporter, commenting on the damning irony of some Catholics' wish both to curb abortions and to cut social support services that help economically distressed women choose some option other than abortion, in crisis situations:

John Allen on Focolare Movement: "Track Record of Bringing People Together"

Remember how, when Pope John Paul II died, we were told that the signs waved by the faithful at his funeral--saying, "Santo subito!"--were a spontaneous cry from the heart of the church for the immediate canonization of the saintly pope?  What wasn't frequently reported in American newspapers as these "spontaneous" demonstrations captured the attention of the mainstream media was that the "spontaneous" outburst of piety was carefully orchestrated--and paid for--by a powerful Catholic lay group, Focolare.  Focolare had, in fact, manufactured the "Santo subito!" signs and was already distributing them in advance of the funeral.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

USCCB President Timothy Dolan on Cuomo Concubinage Controversy: Tempest in Teapot

A day ago, Brian made a comment at my recent posting about the remarks of the president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, Timothy Dolan, re: the Obama administration's decision not to defend DOMA.  Brian's comment--which notes (rightly) that there's an inbuilt dialogic space exclusively for the powerful in the American Catholic church--points to a New York Times article on Tuesday, in which Nicholas Confessore discusses the response of Dolan to calls to exclude New York governor Andrew Cuomo from the eucharist.  Since, you know, he lives with a live-in girlfriend, Food Network talk maven Sandra Lee.  Without benefit of holy matrimony.

Terence McKiernan to Catholic Hierarchy, Post-Philadelphia: Start Thinking about the Handcuffs

Speaking of good advice (here, I'm keying off what I just said about Marci Hamilton's advice to Gina Maisto Smith re: probing the files of the Philadelphia Catholic archdiocese): Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability has splendid advice for the next diocesan official who might be thinking of concealing evidence or continuing to transfer predatory priests while claiming no known predators remain in ministry.  

Marci Hamilton's Advice to Philadelphia "Independent" Investigator Gina Maisto Smith: Eyes Wide Open

For those who imagine we have complete data on the abuse situation in the American Catholic church, that all the data are on the table, that the John Jay study had access to all the information available to the bishops and Rome, and that we can make sweeping generalizations about the situation on the basis of the very partial information released by bishops up to now as they kick and scream to keep their files sealed, I highly recommend Marci Hamilton's article yesterday at the Patheos website.  

Joan Chittester on Wisconsin and Middle East: It's about Including Everyone in the Discussion

Joan Chittister, with her accustomed holy insight, talking about the parallels between Wisconsin and the Middle East, and about the collapse of participatory structures in both church and state when anyone is excluded from the conversation that builds those structures:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Michael Sean Winters on Philadelphia Story: Telling It Like It Is

Michael Sean Winters preaches, re: the Philadelphia story:

The New Evangelization? Forget about it. Pro-life activities? Not a chance. Advocacy for the poor? It rings hollow. If the leaders of the Church cannot be trusted to keep their most solemn pledge to protect children, they cannot be trusted at all. If they fail to see this, their moral sensibility is not merely skewed, it is dead. It is not only that they cannot be trusted, it is that they should not be trusted. 

And he's right.

The Current State of American Democracy, Core Challenges: A Selection of Recent Resources

If you care about the future of democracy in the U.S. (more precisely: if you care about whether democracy has a future in the U.S.), Rachel Maddow's analysis of the role the Koch brothers are playing all over the country "in every scummy political scandal" that pops up anywhere is must-see viewing.  The video clip is at the end of the Alternet article to which I've just linked.

Philadelphia and Ash Wednesday: My Continued Response to Richard Gaillardetz on the State of the American Catholic Church

As I noted in my posting yesterday about Richard Gaillardetz's recent sounding of the current state of American Catholicism, Gaillardetz frames his analysis by noting that the American Catholic church is in a "state of unrest."  Gaillardetz's analysis contains one phrase after another denoting unrest: "something is amiss" in the American church right now; there are "warning signs" everywhere, if we have eyes to see them; thousands of Catholics have left in "a state of resigned disillusionment"; large numbers of Catholics are simply giving up and going elsewhere; the U.S. Catholic church is "in crisis."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Catching Up on News in Philadelphia: 21 Priests Suspended Today

I'm just now seeing the news from Philadelphia today: that 21 priests were placed on suspension today, following the recent grand jury report and the indictment of the secretary for clergy for the archdiocese of Philadelphia, Msgr. William Lynn.  As Joann Loviglio notes at Huffington Post

Archbishop Timothy Dolan Responds to Obama Administration's DOMA Decision: Redefining Discrimination as Justice

As a brief postscript to my posting earlier today reflecting on Richard Gaillardetz's analysis of the 2009 U.S. bishops' pastoral letter "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan," I want to take note of the response of the current president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, Timothy Dolan, to the recent announcement of the Obama administration that it will not defend the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).