Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Anne Burke Continues to Speak Out: Laity Have Right to Expect Truth from Catholic Leaders

And, as a counterpoint to the commentary on the John Paul II beatification to which I've just pointed, I'd like to take note as well of a valuable statement Anne Burke published this week about the ongoing abuse crisis in the Catholic church.  This op-ed piece is in U.S. Catholic.

John Paul II Beatification Approaches: A Selection of Commentary

And from one royal spectacle to another: John Paul II will be beatified this weekend, and here's a selection of articles that, to my mind, provide valuable commentary as the beatification nears:

From One Royal Wedding to Another: Kate and Wills Marry, and I Remember Charles and Diana

When I wrote yesterday about Austen Ivereigh's anti-gay heterosexist take on the Kate and Wills show, I said in a comment to TheraP that I had not intended to mention the royal wedding at all on this blog.  I chose to do so only after having read Ivereigh's comments, which, in my view, deserve attention as one in a series of male-entitled heterosexist blasts he has made against his gay brothers and sisters in recent years at America and elsewhere.  Blasts that baffle me, since I wonder what causes him to invest so much energy in issuing persistent reminders to his gay brothers and sisters that they do not count and must not expect to be included in his Catholic church.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Austen Ivereigh on the Royal Wedding: Not the Gays' Show

To all you gay folks who imagine the royal wedding (or marriage in any shape, form, or fashion) might have something to do with you, English Catholic blogger and America contributor Austen Ivereigh is here to set you straight.  Ivereigh posts today about how the Kate and Wills show is "a winning combination of elements which film-makers strive after: on the one hand, what is totally 'other.' -- a dreamy, fairy-tale setting: the marriage of a prince, the making of a princess -- with what, on the other, is universal and human: boy meets girl; they fall in love; they marry."

Claire Bangasser on Holy Women as Apostles of the Resurrection

And one final update/postscript today: as I blogged during Holy Week about the questions the Elizabeth Johnson case raises re: the bishops' teaching authority, I noted the role that the holy women of the gospels played as Jesus was crucified and resurrected.  I noted that it was the women among Jesus's disciples who walked with him to the cross and who first found him risen from the dead, and because of their fidelity to Jesus and their witnessing of the resurrection, these holy women then challenged Peter to find his faith again--after he had abandoned Jesus during his passion.

U.S. Bishops' Pro-Life Spokeswoman: Catholics Oppose Taxpayer Funding of Contraception

Third update: I posted during Holy Week about Gerald Slevin's recent critical analysis of Germaine Grisez's revisionist history of the post-Vatican II papal commission on birth control.  As I noted in that posting, it strikes me as inconsistent to oppose both artificial contraception and abortion, since abundant evidence demonstrates that the majority of abortions take place because pregnancies haven't been planned or a couple or woman dealing with a pregnancy feels unable to provide for and raise a child.  

Alan McCornick on King & Spalding: It's About the Right of People, Not Ideas, to Legal Defense

Second postscript: after I wrote yesterday about the King & Spalding decision to drop the defense of DOMA, I discovered that Alan McCornick has also posted about this topic this week, at his wonderfully thought-provoking Hepzibah blog.  As with everything Alan writes, this posting is dense, and I won't try to summarize it: I challenge readers to read it for yourselves, working carefully through Alan's well-constructed prose.

Donald Cozzens to Bishops Accusing Elizabeth Johnson: Step Up and Let Yourselves Be Seen

I'm struck today by a number of articles that seem to me to offer interesting perspectives on topics I've discussed here in the past.  And so I think I'll do one of those "in the news" series of postings, catching up on issues from previous postings.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cheryl Saban: It Gets Better

A brief postscript to what I posted Monday about Minnesota's problem with the gays and the recent suicide of two teens in Minnesota, Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz: Cheryl Saban has a very good article at Huffington Post right now, providing personal testimony about how her interaction with the LGBT community in Los Angeles in the 1970s opened her eyes to the real-life struggles that those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans go through on a daily basis.  She notes the struggles of LGBT persons to obtain adequate health care and to be free of threats and violence.  As she says, some of the LGBT people she met in the 1970s experienced bullying of one sort or another on a daily basis, resulting in enormous stress for them--stress compounded in many cases by their families' rejection of them.

King & Spalding Refuse to Defend DOMA: Framing the Ethical-Legal Discussion

I'm finding the furor of many of those commenting on the recent decision of the King & Spalding law firm to drop the defense of DOMA fascinating.  As many readers may know, this Monday, the D.C. law firm whose services had been retained by Republican House Speaker Boehner to defend the Defense of Marriage Act announced that it will no longer be available for that service.  At that point, the King & Spalding point man assigned to the case, Bush solicitor general Paul Clement, resigned from King & Spalding and joined the firm Bancroft PLCC, which has announced it will carry on the DOMA defense.  Clement is a Republican who routinely donates to Republican candidates.

What Catholics Should Do When Allegations of Abuse Are Made Against a Priest: Educational Resources

What's happening in Philadelphia is raising questions for Catholics in many places right now about how to deal with allegations that their parish priest or some other priest they esteem has engaged in sexual misconduct with minors.  For Catholics and others dealing with these questions, I'd like to point today to several resources that provide helpful information.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Weather-Related Note

It occurs to me to share with readers information about the weather in my part of the country--in case the power in our community happens to be interrupted for extended periods of time in days to come.  As many of you know, I live in Little Rock, in the U.S. state of Arkansas.

Temple Grandin on the Role of Eyebrows in Animal Communication

I do think about science.  I swear I do.

I'm intrigued by the following observation that I read yesterday in Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson's Animals Make Us Human (NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2009):

New Scientific Findings Confirm Catholic Magisterial Teachings about Sex? Semen as "Better Gift Than Chocolate" for Women

This is one of the crazy corners of American scientific research about which I'll freely admit I know next to nothing.  I first became aware that this field of research--re: the male-female union-cementing properties of semen--existed, when a proponent of the theology of the body logged onto a Commonweal thread some months ago to argue that new research shows that women crave semen (as it were), since a good dose of semen in their vagina gives them an upper-type experience unparalleled anywhere else in nature.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dan Savage: "Minnesota Has a Real Problem"

Dan Savage writes, "Minnesota has a real problem . . . ."

And Steve and I are wondering why this is the case (since it seems to us Savage is correct here), following our recent experiences with his family in Minnesota, about which I blogged some days back

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Elizabeth Johnson Case and Teaching Authority of Bishops: Further Reflections

A definition of Catholicism based primarily on the teaching authority of the bishops is altogether too thin.  This is particularly true when this definition is asserted self-referentially by the bishops and is dependent almost exclusively on their assertion that they alone are the teachers of the church.  This definition of what is central to the Catholic tradition does not compel the assent of large numbers of followers of Christ in that tradition today.  It does not form the centerpiece for any spiritually compelling or coherent practice of the Catholic faith for increasing numbers of Catholics at this point in history.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More Responses to Elizabeth Johnson Condemnation: Fr. Anthony Ruff at Pray Tell

Finding a moment to blog, though without sufficient time to reflect as I do so--which may make for a volatile posting!  Please be forewarned.  These are top-of-the-head thoughts as I finish reading Fr. Anthony Ruff's recent reflections about the Elizabeth Johnson debacle at his Pray Tell blog (about which I learned through a posting of Kevin Clarke at the America blog yesterday).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dying, Rising: Easter Weekend

Dear Gentle Readers,

I will be slow to post here through Easter, since Steve and I have taken a small and much-needed break/retreat these days.  A longtime friend of ours turned 60 this year, and we had promised to visit him and celebrate his 60th birthday at Easter time.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gerald Slevin: Reviewing the Record about Paul VI's Birth Control Commission

When I posted two days ago about my own conclusions re: the Planned Parenthood debate, I noted that, in my view, the Catholic magisterial teaching outlawing artificial contraception works against the claim that the Catholic hierarchy is intently concerned to prevent abortions.  It is, in my view, logically inconsistent to oppose both artificial contraception and abortion.  Given the abundant evidence that the majority of abortions take place because pregnancies haven't been planned and because the couple or woman dealing with the pregnancy feels unable to provide for and raise a child, it seems to me that the logical (and humane) position for consistent pro-lifers to take vis-a-vis contraception is a position of support.  Of advocacy, in fact . . . . 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Joe Feuerherd on Cuccinelli: What Would Jesus Pack?

It appears that Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli is on more radar screens than one today.  I've just noticed that Joe Feuerherd has published a brief piece about Cuccinelli at National Catholic Reporter today, noting that Cuccinelli is defending the right of Virginians to carry six-shooters to Mass.  Feuerherd also summarizes Cuccinelli's controversial record since he became attorney general, noting a number of the points I mentioned in my previous posting about Cuccinelli today.  

Two More Updates: Gays on Christian College Campuses, Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli Blocks Access of Poor to Health Care

And two more quick follow-ups:

I blogged some days ago about the controversy that developed at Arkansas's Harding University, when gay students and alumni launched a website to create discussion about how gay members of this Church of Christ campus community are treated.  As I noted, Harding responded to the website by blocking access to it in the campus's computer network.

Thomas Reese on "Huge" Exodus of American Catholics, and My Conclusion: Catholic Church as Mean Machine

Another follow-up:

I blogged on the weekend about the record number of German Catholics who officially resigned from the Catholic church in 2010.  As I've noted in many previous postings, there's a parallel development in American Catholicism, where a Pew report in the spring of 2008 found that one in three adults in the U.S. who were raised Catholic have now left the Catholic church, and one in ten American adults is a former Catholic.

NOM's Louis Marinelli: Brian Brown "Trying to Intimidate Me to Stop Talking"

An update to a story about which I've blogged recently:

I wrote yesterday about former NOM activist Louis Marinelli and his break with NOM, after he began to recognize that the gay folks he and NOM bash and use as objects in political games are real human beings.  I noted that Marinelli has begun to disclose insider information about how NOM functions, and is revealing some of the sleazy tactics NOM uses to do its dirty work as it bashes the gays.  I concluded by saying it will be interesting to see just how much Marinelli is willing to reveal, from his years of close association with top NOM leaders.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gay Marriage and the Philadelphia Situation: Two Blog Recommendations

And as a p.s. to my posting earlier today about what happened in Maine in 2009, I'd like to take note of a valuable compendium of resources that blogger Terry Denson of the Theology Degrees website sent to me recently.  It's a gathering of what are, in Terry's view, the top 10 blog sites offering resources for those interested in promoting marriage equality.

Planned Parenthood Debate Continues: Two Catholic Statements Taking Different Sides

The debate about Planned Parenthood continues.  I've summarized my own position as a Catholic in this particular debate.  (And for commentary worth reading, see here, here, and here).  Two more recent essays present two very different, and opposed, approaches to the Planned Parenthood debate, both from Catholic standpoints.

Another Conversion Experience among Anti-Gay Activists: Marc Mutty of Catholic Diocese of Maine Reveals Troubled Conscience

Something is happening these days.  First, a leading propagandist for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Louis Marinelli, has what amounts to a conversion experience and begins to see the real human faces of the gay people he and NOM have attacked over the years.  Whose lives they've deliberately sought to make miserable, in the name of God.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Record Number of German Catholics Leave in 2010: The Costly Moral Backdrop to the Beatification of John Paul II

The response to my posting earlier today about the Catholic church in Belgium has sparked ongoing discussion of why people are now leaving the Catholic church in many places, and what it means to remain connected to it at this point in history.  And this reminds me to update readers on the situation in Germany: 

The Situation in the Belgian Catholic Church: Bishop Vangheluwe's Interview and Moral Rot at the Center

Bishop Roger Vangheluwe

Commenting on the abuse situation in the Catholic church, Irish moral theologian Fr. Vincent Twomey writes that at the heart of the cover-up of cases of child sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic church there is an inexplicable and shocking lack of "expected emotional response" to reports about the abuse of minors. Twomey says that the persistent lack of the expected emotional response to reports of sexual abuse of minors by pastoral officials receiving these reports shocks us, because "horror and outrage" are what we expect people to display when they hear such reports.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bully Bill's Money Machine Buys Another Ad

P.S. Whoever's dropping money on Bully Bill Donohue and the Catholic League really, really wants that false message about the Catholic abuse crisis (all about gay priests misbehaving) to get out to the public.  Bully Bill's boasting today that the Times ad received such an "overwhelming" response that he intends to run it on Sunday in the Chicago Tribune.  

J. Crew Ad Shows Boy with Pink Toenails, and Hell Breaks Loose

I've been following the perfervid reaction of the political and religious right to the recent J. Crew ad featuring a mother with her son's toenails painted pink with no little amusement.  And quite a bit of impatience.

A Reader Writes: In the Abuse Discussion, "The Vast Majority of Female Victims Have Been Silent"

It's strange, isn't it,  how the deceptive meme Bill Donohue is still peddling in his expensive full-page ad in the New York Times keeps cycling around, no matter how often it's been completely disproven--and shown to be part of a disinformation campaign designed to shield from public scrutiny the responsibility of the Catholic bishops for the abuse crisis and its cover-up?  And strange how people--interestingly enough, usually clerics--who claim to be critics of Donohue and the bishops on many other scores are willing to assist them in continuing the disinformation campaign about how the abuse crisis is all about homosexuals.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

For National Poetry Month: Andrei Voznesensky's "Someone Is Beating a Woman" (Re-Posted)

We're right in the middle of National Poetry Month, and I haven't yet mentioned that event, for which I did a series of postings last year.  Since my discussion of the Catholic abuse crisis in the last several days turns around questions of the continued callousness of many societies and faith communities--particularly those dominated by heterosexist patriarchal elites--to the abuse of women, I want to re-post a poem I posted last April for National Poetry Month.  This is Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky's "Someone Is Beating a Woman":

Mychal Judge Nominated for Congressional Gold Medal: How You Can Help

Some good news here (and an appeal for you to assist, if you're so moved): Franciscan priest Fr. Mychal Judge, who died in the 9/11 attacks after he refused to leave the North Tower building despite requests that the building be evacuated completely, has been nominated for a Congressional gold medal.  He was killed when the collapse of the South Tower sent debris into the other tower, striking him in the head.  Fr. Mychal was a chaplain to New York firefighters, and insisted on remaining in the building to minister to these and others who were wounded during the 9/11 attacks.

Abuse Suit Filed Against My Diocese of Little Rock: SNAP News Conference

I had the interesting (and very educational) experience yesterday of attending a SNAP news conference in my home city of Little Rock.  Barbara Dorris, SNAP's Outreach Director, has been in town to publicize the filing of a lawsuit against the diocese of Little Rock, and to offer support to the person filing suit.  Details are in this press release at the SNAP site.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Two More Valuable Statements on Catholic Abuse Situation: Patrick Wall and National Catholic Reporter

And, to place the discussion of Donohue's New York Times ad in the broader context of ongoing discussion of the cover-up of the abuse crisis by church leaders, two more valuable statements hot off the press:

Barbara Dorris of SNAP Responds to Bill Donohue: "Outrageous Claims Made by a Well-Funded and Angry Man"

SNAP Protesters, Philadelphia Cathedral, Ash Wednesday 2011

In my posting of responses to Bill Donohue's recent New York Times ad, I want to single out, in particular, Barbara Dorris's statement at the website of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).  This statement deserves special attention because, better than any other response to Donohue, Dorris's response masterfully exposes Donohue's game for what it really is and what it really means: 

More Responses to Bill Donohue's New York Times Ad: Bully Bill and the Bishops Lose Control of the Narrative

Commentary about Bully Bill's expensive full-page ad in the New York Times just keeps pouring out.  And it continues to be unsparingly critical of the deceptive, blame-shifting message Bill Donohue wants to give the American public on behalf of the U.S. Catholic bishops: that everybody except the bishops is responsible for the abuse crisis.  And above all the gays--they're the chief malefactors.  Since we all know what the gays do, given access to children.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bill Donohue's NY Times Ad, Last Fall's Minnesota Bishops' Anti-Gay Video: Gay-Bashing Alive and Well in American Catholicism

When I blogged yesterday about the astonishing way in which Steve's sister chose to repay our recent hospitality with a thank-you note reminding us that "the rules of the Church" command her not to "condone" our "gay lifestyle," I think some readers of that posting may have missed the significance of the graphic I used to illustrate my posting.  The graphic is a snapshot of the video that the Catholic bishops of Minnesota mailed to every Catholic household in the state on the eve of the 2010 elections, in an attempt to use anti-gay sentiment to throw the gubernatorial election in their state to the one candidate that opposed gay marriage, Republican Tom Emmer.

U.S. Bishops' Annual Audit Comes Out, and Bully Bill Goes on Warpath: One Day, Two News Items

Suppose you were head of a big corporation with shady ethical principles, or a paid spin-doctor for the shady, ethically dubious corporation, and a report was about ready to come out that revealed your corporation was as ethically dodgy as ever.  While it claimed to be something altogether different.  And while it was involved in a huge, multi-faceted, money-draining legal situation that began opening its internal files up for all the world to see the corruption.

Monday, April 11, 2011

At the Risk of Being Immodest: A Bit of Good News, for a Change

My two postings earlier today contain quite a bit of kvetching.  Kvetching is a word I learned from Steve, who says his mother used it frequently when he was growing up.  We now learn, as we track the history of the word, that it's Yiddish, not the standard German his mother assumed she was hearing as she grew up in a German-speaking household in Minnesota.  

Mary Hunt on U.S. Bishops' Condemnation of Elizabeth Johnson: All about Power

In her inimitable, straight-to-the-point way, theologian Mary Hunt dissects the U.S. Catholic bishops' recent action against theologian Elizabeth Johnson's book Quest for the Living God.  Hunt's analysis doesn't contain any information that hasn't already appeared in other accounts.  But as always, better than other tellings of the story, it drives right to the heart of the matter, framing the USCCB's condemnation of Johnson as an assertion of naked power at a time when the bishops' moral and teaching authority could not be in more disrepute, due to their handling of the abuse crisis.

Many U.S. Catholics Move to Affirmation of Gays, Others Hold the Line: A Family Saga

And so here's the latest little family drama with which Steve and I've been dealing, to which I've alluded in several comments here in the past few days.  I've wondered if it's appropriate or productive to blog about this--or inflammatory and harmful to Steve's family.  Steve and one of his brothers, who is a very good friend and brother to us, encourage me to do so, however.  And since I've blogged in the past about a similar missive Steve's other sister sent him a few years ago--for his birthday, no less--I'm not introducing this subject out of the blue.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Friday Again, Corapi Again: Greg Kandra Updates Corapi Story

And speaking of Lent, and Sunday, and the constant rhythm of sublime to ridiculous and back again in human life and the journey of faith: Greg Kandra's Deacon's Bench blog updates the Corapi story at a posting this past Friday entitled, "Another Friday, Another Corapi Update."

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Galero (But Were Afraid to Ask)

It's Lent.  But it's also Sunday.  And we're supposed to enjoy ourselves just a bit on Sundays.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Once Lost, Now Found: Louis Marinelli of National Organization for Marriage Has Conversion Experience

The story developing now with a former National Organization for Marriage head honcho, Louis Marinelli, is engrossing.  It's in important respects like a modern-day conversion story, a story of scales falling from the eyes, as a person suddenly begins to realize people he has demeaned and sought to treat inhumanely are human beings, in the same way he's human.

Weekend News Round-Up: The Catholic Abuse Scandal (New Hampshire, Legion of Christ, Euteneuer)

I blogged yesterday about the scandalous attempt of Bishop John McCormack of New Hampshire to "out" a John Doe who has filed suit against New Hampshire Catholic officials re: claims of childhood abuse.  And this morning, I'm seeing in Voice of the Faithful's latest issue of the VOTF e-newsletter In the Vineyard that the New Hampshire VOTF chapter is challenging McCormack to "honor his pledge to treat clergy abuse survivors with care and concern, not harassment through punitive legal measures."

Weekend News Round-Up: Continued Discussion of Planned Parenthood

As anyone reading the U.S. news in recent days will know, the organization Planned Parenthood has remained in the news as the Republicans in Congress tacked a tea party-driven rider onto the negotiations about the federal budget, in a last-ditch effort to defund this organization that provides much-needed services to low-income women throughout the U.S.  I blogged some weeks back about this Republican initiative, and the disinformation (Planned Parenthood is predominantly about abortion, federal tax dollars go to the organization to pay for abortions, etc.) being used to garner support for the initiative among pro-life people of faith.   

Faith in America on Archbishop Charles Chaput: "Anti-Gay Catholic Leader Lying--And He Knows It"

This is significant: I can't remember when I've seen this forceful of a response by a group of interfaith leaders to the belligerent public homophobia of a Catholic church official in the U.S.  The group Faith in America calls the archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, on the carpet today for his repeated efforts to block and remove human rights of gay and lesbian citizens of the U.S.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Paul Krugman on Voodoo Economics of Republican Budget Proposal: Ludicrous and Cruel

Good commentary today (as always) by Paul Krugman in the New York Times--on the Republican budget proposal, to be specific.  As Krugman rightly notes, it's both ludicrous and cruel.

Peter Isely and Michael Sean Winters: Competing Perspectives re: the Moral Authority of the Catholic Bishops

I just mentioned the other valuable resources that the Wisconsin SNAP site has now made available, from the recent Marquette Law School conference on the Catholic clerical abuse crisis, whose theme was "Harm, Hope, and Healing."  These include an outstanding presentation by Peter Isely of SNAP's national board, entitled "Saint Jane Doe."  Isely takes the story of Jesus's healing of a woman who touches him in Mark's gospel (Mark 5) and turns it into a parable about the abuse crisis, in which the power of touch either to harm or to heal is displayed in the most dramatic ways possible.