Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ten Questions We Should Be Asking about the Finn Story

All of the really useful courses I have ever taken in research methodology stress this important point: good, productive research depends on asking the right questions.  Start with the wrong set of questions, and no matter how sophisticated your research technique, you're not going to end up with useful data and a set of meaningful conclusions.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering: One Gay Soldier Who Gave His Life

We Americans are a famously insular folk, and readers of this blog in other places may not be aware that today is a national holiday in the U.S.: Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who have died in the nation's wars.  Steve and I are using the holiday weekend to spend some time in Minnesota, so that he can visit his mother, whom he hasn't seen since his father's funeral.  And his aunts who are Benedictine sisters, who remain constantly welcoming and affirming of us as a gay couple, while Steve's über-Catholic siblings don't welcome us.  One of them even warned us not to come home to visit his mother on this whirlwind trip. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Turns Out He Didn't Know: Bishop Finn Says He Didn't Read Principal's Letter

Yesterday, I posted an update to the story of Father Shawn Ratigan of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, who was arrested on May 19 for possession of child pornography.  Yesterday's posting notes that a local Catholic school principal, Julie Hess, wrote diocesan officials a year ago to share with them widespread concerns that Father Ratigan posed a threat to children.  

Sojourners Again: Questions about Coherence and Integrity in the Struggle for Justice

I'm continuing to find the story of Sojourners and its prejudice-driven refusal to take sides in the struggle for justice for LGBT persons in society and faith communities instructive.  The narrative line that catches attention here: it's a parable about how people of faith who profess to be committed to justice nullify this when they refuse to practice justice in some area in which, right before their eyes, the struggle for justice is being played out in a conspicuous way.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Catholic Charities of Rockford Ends Foster Care Services, Claims Right to Discriminate in Name of Faith

Now that the state of Illinois recognizes the civil unions of same-sex couples--granting those couples rights enjoyed by heterosexual citizens, from which gay folks are otherwise excluded--Catholic officials in one Illinois diocese have chosen, as Catholic officials have done elsewhere when similar laws are enacted, to retaliate.  Yesterday, Catholic Charities of the diocese of Rockford announced it will end foster care services rather than be required to place children in homes headed by same-sex couples.

Kansas City Diocesan Officials Informed a Year Ago about Father Shawn Ratigan: Unfulfilled Promises to Put Children's Safety First

Head over to the website of the Catholic diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and you'll find a nifty little section linked right to the main page, called "Protecting Children."  Click a link on that sub-section site called "Report from the Bishop," and up pops a smiling photo of Bishop Robert Finn, pom-pom topped biretta in hand, followed by this statement:  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Petition to Pope Benedict about Unjust Firing of Bishop William Morris

Through the lay Catholic reform group Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), I've just gotten word of a petition drive being organized by the group Just Church to object to the unjust treatment of Australian bishop William Morris.  As I noted in several postings some days ago (and here, here, and here), Morris was removed from his position as bishop of Toowoomba the day following the beatification of John Paul II.

Pope Benedict removed Bishop Morris from office, and this petition is directed to the pope.  If you feel inclined to sign (and I recommend signing), the petition is here.  The petition site also has instructions about how you can share this document with others.

Catholic Ethicist Daniel Maguire on USCCB President Timothy Dolan's "Love Letter" to Paul Ryan

Also noteworthy today: Marquette University ethics professor Daniel Maguire's assessment of the recent love letter that the head of the U.S. Catholic bishops Timothy Dolan wrote Representative Paul Ryan.  Though Ryan seems to have only the most tenuous possible passing acquaintance with Catholic social teaching and with the preferential option for the poor that animates this teaching, and though he has stated that his social philosophy is radically influenced by the self-centered social Darwinism of Ayn Rand, the USCCB president has essentially given Ryan his blessing and imprimatur.  

Truthdig on John Edwards' Case: "It's the Cover-Up" (and Implications for the Catholic Bishops)

At Truthdig, Kevin Douglas Grant summarizes the consequences of John Edwards' cover-up of his longstanding affair with Rielle Hunter.  As Grant notes, Edwards violated campaign finance laws to conceal the affair, drew his aide Andrew Young into the charade, and permitted key campaign donors to pay hush money to Hunter.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Background to the Story of Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph: Previous Bilgrimage Postings

As a follow-up to what I posted yesterday about Bishop Robert Finn's absymal performance as a pastor in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, I thought I'd list previous Bilgrimage postings in which I've blogged about Finn.  These are for the benefit of any readers who might want to have more background re: Finn.  Most of these postings point to additional articles or statements on other blogs about Finn:

Mark Silk on John Jay Report: Bishops Set the Terms and Got What They Wanted

The chilling (and correct) conclusion of Mark Silk's assessment of the recent John Jay report blaming Woodstock*--not the bishops themselves or the Vatican--for the Catholic abuse crisis and its cover-up: 

Enlightened Catholicism on Ayn Rand Economic Fantasies of U.S. Catholic Bishops

Quote for the day, from Colleen Baker's Enlightened Catholicism blog, re: the Ayn Rand economic fantasies now being promoted by the U.S. Catholic bishops through their president Timothy Dolan:

End-of-World Predictions Revised: Stay Tuned

Well, darn.  It seems we haven't dodged the end of the world quite yet.  Christian talk-radio guru and end-of-the-world authority Harold Camping has now decided he was a wee bit off with his May 21 eschaton predictions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Opposite-Sex Marriage and Deep-Rooted Cultural Tradition: Considering the Argument

And then there's this: last week, as I continued trying to find my way out of my latest little stint of selva oscura, I follow the thread responding to Michael O'Loughlin's good commentary at the America blog on the debate about civil unions for same-sex couples in Rhode Island.  Why I bother, I don't know, since I can write the predictable (and exceptionally banal) responses from most of the contributors to this blog in advance--the predictable male heterosexist responses, that is to say.

Another Rotten Bishop Story Breaks in Kansas City: All about Power, All about Control

This is a pitiful story.  A hair-tearing one.  And yet, an entirely predictable one--it's one whose contours American Catholics have now come to know with wearying familiarity:

Preeminent Journalist, Walter Robinson, Comments on John Jay Study: "Deeply Flawed"

Valuable perspective on the new John Jay study commissioned by the U.S. Catholic bishops to explain the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church: this is from a veteran reporter and journalism professor, Walter Robinson, who led the Boston Globe's Pulitzer-prize winning coverage of the initial outbreak of stories about the crisis in Boston.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Matthew 25 and Expectations of the End of the World

By the way: I read the strangest report yesterday morning.  Did any of the rest of you happen to see it?

It seems 284,000 empty shoes (all in pairs) were found Sunday morning around the world.  The people wearing them seem just to have . . . vanished.

The Dark Forest, the Middle of Life (and the Church's Failure to Light the Way)

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, ché la diritta via era smarrita.

In my experience, Dante's describing a recurring experience in human life.  All unexpected, we wake up one morning or another in the middle of our lives, surrounded by dark, overhanging trees.  Shut in by the occluding forest in which there are no paths anywhere.  And it happens again and again: our lives have many middles.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Minnesota Presbytery Votes to Abolish Discrimination in Church, Minnesota Catholic Leaders Work to Enshrine Discrimination in State Constitution

Outstanding commentary today by Terry Weldon at his Queering the Church blog about what the Presbyterian vote to ordain openly gay partnered clergy portends for churches in general.  Terry enumerates four significant implications:

Presbyterian Church Votes to Remove Anti-Gay Discriminatory Language from Book of Order: Historic Shift in American Christianity

Significant news today about the rapidly progressing movement in U.S. faith communities to support the human rights of gay and lesbian persons: the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. has just voted to ordain openly gay ministry candidates in committed relationships.  As I noted two years ago, when a narrow majority of the church's presbyteries turned down a similar proposal, a shift was already underway the last time the church voted on this issue.  And so it is not surprising that a majority of presbyteries has now voted to approve ordination of openly gay partnered candidates for ministry.  A great deal is changing quickly on this front among people of faith in the U.S. today, and the shift in this major Protestant denomination (following on the heels of a similar decision by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) in a mere two years demonstrates the quickness of the change.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

John Boehner as Catholic University of America Commencement Speaker: Where's the Outrage?

David Gibson has started a valuable thread at Commonweal's blog today, noting the contrast between what happened when President Obama gave the commencement address at Notre Dame University two years ago, and what's happening now as Speaker John Boehner gives Catholic University of America's commencement address.  There's no outrage, none of the vitriolic reaction many Catholics exhibited when the president spoke at Notre Dame--vitriol stemming from the claim that the president undermines Catholic values, particularly in the area of respect for life.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sojourners Refuses Once Again to "Take Sides" in Struggle for Gay Rights

I've noted in a number of previous postings that I no longer offer support to Sojourners, though I'd like to do so.  We sorely need organizations in the U.S. that draw together coalitions of faith-based communities working for progressive change.  But Sojourners' (and Jim Wallis') ongoing refusal to  support gay rights (and gay and lesbian human beings) has become more than a blind spot in that organization's work for justice, as far as I am concerned.

Joelle Casteix on the Beatification of John Paul and the Better Path to Sainthood

As I've repeatedly said on this blog, I think that Australian bishop Geoffrey Robinson is absolutely correct when he says that, if the Catholic church is to have a future and is to find healing for the ills from which it currently appears to be sick unto death, the path to healing lies in the witness provided by survivors of childhood abuse by clerics.  The attempt to suppress or ridicule the voice of survivors of abuse, which appears to be gaining strength in some quarters of the Catholic church now, is not only deeply unChristian.  It's also tragically short-sighted, since the knowledge that survivors bring to the Catholic community at large is essential for the entire church, if it wants to negotiate its present crises.

Mothers' Day: Catholic Bishops Would Be Better Fathers If They Acted Like Good Mothers

As Mothers' Day arrives in many parts of the world, I'm thinking back to the following posting that I wrote in May 2009. It still seems pertinent to me, with its arguments that the bishops of the Catholic church would be far better bishops if they acted more like good mothers and less like bad fathers.  Here it is (with Mothers' Day wishes to readers):

After I posted yesterday about the inability of the U.S. Catholic bishops to convince either Catholics or society at large about their interpretation of what respect for life entails, my friend and fellow-blogger Colleen Kochivar-Baker left a comment. Colleen notes that my posting dovetailed with what she posted on her Enlightened Catholicism blog the same day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What to Call bin Laden's Death?: Michael Sean Winters vs. Michael Moore

Bless his heart, Michael Sean just can't seem to help himself, when opportunities arise to take a punchy jab at "the left."  I can well imagine it's a hard job, but somebody has to do it, and this obviously keeps Michael Sean on his toes, as he mediates between right and left for the beltway establishment.  And as he assures that his own Catholic church and other American religious groups remain duly conservative in the officially mandated areas (e.g., "respect for life" and for the sanctity of marriage), while exploring left-leaning values about other issues like health care and justice for working people. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Historian William Johnston on John Paul's Leadership Style: "Blind Spot" and "Acts of Personal Cruelty"

At several Catholic blog sites, Carolyn Disco has very helpfully linked in the past several days to a 6 April 2005 Australian National Radio "Religion Report" program, in which program host Stephen Crittenden discusses the legacy of John Paul II with British historian and Vaticanologist Peter Hebblethwaite and Melbourne professor of history William Johnston.  I would acknowledge the precise blog site or sites at which Carolyn has provided this link, but for the life of me, I can't track them down--though I did read and save the transcript of the Religion Report program to which Carolyn's helpful link pointed.  And I do remember that a comment posted by Carolyn Disco to some discussion(s) I was following contained this link.

Mary Hunt on Royal Wedding: Theologically, "Stabilizing for the Status Quo"

As with everything she writes, Mary Hunt's recent commentary at Religion Dispatches on the royal wedding is well worth reading.  Hunt's take: in key respects, the symbolism woven into the recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was "stabilizing for the status quo," in a theological sense.  And more's the pity.

Joan Chittister on Expulsion from Family and Minority Wisdom: Critical Questions for the John Paul II Era of Catholic Apologetics

When I posted yesterday about the recent NCR editorial re: the story of Bishop Morris in Australia, I had planned to post a follow-up about Joan Chittister's latest NCR essay, "Expulsions from Religious Orders, Family, and Minority Wisdom."  I thought of posting a comment about Chittister's piece because it's, to my mind, a perfect counterpoint to the discussion of what Benedict is doing to Bishop Morris, and of the inexorable, draconian logic of patriarchal hierarchy that underlies the pope's actions in this case.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recent Blogging Bugs?

Dear Readers,

I've had emails from two longtime readers of Bilgrimage in the past few days, telling me of difficulties they're encountering trying to post comments on the blog.  I appreciate readers telling me about these bugs, and am, of course, very concerned to hear about them.

Alex Pareene: Please, Mr. President, Release Photos of bin Laden Burning in Hell

As a counterpoint to the discussion two days ago about those seeking to link the assassination of Osama bin Laden to the beatification of John Paul II (his "second miracle," rhetoric employed even by the president of Peru, Alan Garcia, as TheraP pointed out in the thread to my previous posting about this issue):

National Catholic Reporter on Firing of Bishop William M. Morris: Pope's Priorities Now Clear

National Catholic Reporter has published an editorial addressing the recent firing of Australian bishop William M. Morris.  As the title of the editorial suggests, if anyone still remains in doubt about Pope Benedict's priorities for his church, she or he need doubt no longer: the priorities are clear after this action.  It's all about extending an "intellectual chill" in the church that goes beyond the excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois for supporting women's ordination or the condemnation of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson's magisterial work on the theology of God.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Minnesota Theologian Gary Boelhower: Marriage Equality Is About Equality

And from Terry Weldon's outstanding Queering the Church blog yesterday, powerful testimony from a theologian, Gary Boelhower, teaching at St. Scholastica College in Duluth, Minnesota.  Terry links to an op-ed statement Boelhower wrote Monday for the Duluth News Tribune as the proposal to revise the Minnesota constitution to ban same-sex marriage, about which I blogged yesterday, goes to the legislature. 

Australian Bishop Deposed for . . . No, Not That: He Wanted Dialogue about Women's Ordination

Bishop William M. Morris

A day to catch up on some of the significant blogs I try to follow, and then often fail to follow as faithfully as I should, when the news of the day catches my eye and saps my reading time:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Minnesota Moves Towards Statewide Vote on Constitutional Ban for Gay Marriage

As an update to my several recent postings about the role the Catholic leaders of Minnesota are now seeking to play in the political life of that heavily Catholic state, particularly in attacking its gay citizens: at the end of last week, the judiciary committee of the Minnesota senate passed a bill that will call for a statewide vote to amend the state's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.  The bill now goes to the state legislature, which has been Republican-controlled since the 2010 elections, and is likely to pass at that level.

Attacks on Planned Parenthood Continue to Raise Questions about Goals of Pro-Life Movement

When I've blogged about Planned Parenthood (most recently here), I've noted that, for me as a Catholic, one of the overriding moral issues to be taken into consideration as proposals are made to cut funding for this organization is that it provides essential health care services to economically struggling women throughout the U.S.  And I've questioned whether one can have bona fide pro-life intent if one claims that Planned Parenthood should be shut down because it provides abortions, while the large majority of the services the organization offers are much-needed health care services for poor women.

Hans Küng on JPII Beatification: Chronic Sickness in a Church of Sumptuous Pomposity Masking Total Emptiness

As Tom Fox notes in National Catholic Reporter, Paddy Agnew published a good overview yesterday of critical responses to the beatification of John Paul II.  Agnew is writing in the Irish Times.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Online Commentary Connecting Beatification of John Paul II to bin Laden Assassination

Well, yes, now that I google a bit, I discover the following commentary in the blogsphere, seeking to link the assassination of bin Laden to John Paul: 

Holy Irritations Blog: "Professed Christians" Attributing Assassination of Osama bin Laden to Bl. John Paul II?!

Maybe some readers of Bilgrimage who have been paying more attention to television commentary following the assassination of Osama bin Laden than I have can decipher the following statement by ennie on his Holy Irritations blog today:  

John Paul's Beatification: A Solution for the Divided Church? Perhaps Not (2)

I'd like to append a brief theological postscript to what I posted yesterday about how the beatification of John Paul II has revved up the mean machine within the Catholic church in recent days, as some of Bl. JPII's most ardent fans use the occasion of his beatification to issue new, even more hateful reminders to many of their Catholic brothers and sisters that we're just not wanted in the lean, mean Catholic machine of the new millennium.  New, even more hateful reminders--and this boggles the mind--to survivors of clerical sexual abuse that they're unwanted, that they're self-absorbed whiners who can't appreciate that the real, true Catholic church is all about winners and losers.