Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Downhearted Days: A Hiatus from Blogging

Dear Readers, Dear Friends,

I'm sorry to be away from the blog for several days (though this may well be a relief to many readers).  I've been a bit under the weather this week, and since it's a birthday week for me, I also decided to give myself a bit of time to enjoy the exceptionally pretty spring weather we're having these days.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book Ends: David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife

And another fine read: David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife (NY: Random House, 2008):

They looked our way with desperate interest.  I knew at least one of them would not stop until she had learned the subject of our debate.  Polygamy inspires this in otherwise thoughtful women--in the relentless need to know another's business (p. 257).

Book Ends: Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child

First of all, how not to like a book that begins 

"My nature demands that my life should be perpetual Love," wrote dear Lord Beaconsfield to one of his female friends in a moment of spiritual expansion, and Dr. Swift recommended women to "turn their attention less to making nets and more to making cages, so that there might be fewer unhappy homes" (Agnes Jekyll, Kitchen Essays [London: Thomas Nelson, 1922, repr. Persephone, 2008], p. 11)?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Kristine Ward on Dolan-Donohue Collaboration in Attacking SNAP: Gospel? What Gospel?

Kristine Ward, NSAC

Kristine Ward, chair of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition, thinks, as I do, that His Eminence Timothy M. Cardinal Dolan tipped his hand about the involvement of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops in the current attack on SNAP, when he blogged this week in support of Bully Bill Donohue's slimy characterization of SNAP's David Clohessy as a con artist.  

Standing in Solidarity: Pushback Against NOM Drive to Dump Starbucks

If you're interested in a bit of e-activism to support gay rights, here's a good opportunity:

Bob Burnett and George Lakoff on Patriarchal Center of Republican Imagination

Citing George Lakoff, Bob Burnett notes that the overarching concern of the Republican party as it's now configured is to reverse the social gains of the 1960s--to turn back the progressive gains made by the civil-rights movement, the consumer rights movement, the environmental justice movement, the gay-rights movement, and the women’s  movement.  At the heart of the turn-back-the-clock imagination, Lakoff and Burnett propose, is patriarchy: American conservatives want to re-establish the dominance of males and impose that dominance throughout social and religious institutions:

Mike Lux on Ryan's Repeal-the-20th Century Social Darwinian Budget

Mike Lux's summary of what's at stake with the Ryan budget, "the most radical, repeal-the-20th Century budget document" Lux has read in 30 years following politics:

Robert Chesal on How Dutch Castration Story Finally Came to Light

Dutch journalist Robert Chesal writes about the astonishing--and deeply troubling--story of the use of involuntary castration to "cure" young Dutch men reporting sexual abuse by Catholic religious authority figures.  As Chesal reports, there is strong evidence of a coordinated cover-up of this barbaric activity, which implicates Catholic officials, the police, and government figures.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bishops' Upside-Down Morality: Tom Gallagher Looks at Money Trail, Critics Look at Ryan Budget

At NCR, Tom Gallagher looks at the money trail (i.e., the massive flow of federal money to Catholic institutions), and wonders why His Eminence Timothy M. Cardinal Dolan (and His Grace William Lori, and USCCB employees Anthony Picarello, Richard Doerflinger, and Sister of Mercy Mary Ann Walsh) imagine they can keep making--with a straight face--the claim that the Obama administration is attacking Catholics:

Friday News Round-Up: Craziness Triple Plays, God Hates Facts, Etc.

A Poem: Friday in Lent (4)

All in a day

a robin built,

then left,

a nest

under our porch eaves.

About which

what more

can anybody say?

Day moving after day,

night following on night.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Qais Azimy: Speaking the Names of The Dead

Käthe Kollwitz, "Woman with Dead Child" (1903)

Finally this morning, at Common Dreams, Qais Azimy points out that in the days following the news that American soldier Robert Bales massacred sixteen Afghan civilians in Kandahar, the media have been focusing on questions of the identity of the soldier, his motives, whether he acted alone, etc.  

Is the Pope Gay? Richard Sipe Dares to Ask

And another article this morning that seems to go hand in hand with the material about which I've written earlier in the day--this, as with the links in my previous posting, also recommended by an esteemed reader of Bilgrimage, Kathy Hughes:

Abuse in the Dutch Catholic Church: A Selection of Articles from a Reader

In response to my posting a few days ago about the castration of teens and young men in Catholic institutions in the Netherlands after they had reported sexual abuse by priests (and as a "cure" for homosexuality), a reader called Guestbloggy has provided an extremely valuable assortment of further news stories and analysis to complement what I initially posted.  Guestbloggy also provided some of these links in response to my story the day before the Dutch story about bullying of SNAP by Catholic officials.

What the Vatican Has Known about Marcial Maciel for Years: Revelations as Benedict Heads to Mexico

And speaking of a dearth of bona fide pastoral leadership at the top levels of the Catholic church (I'm building on what I just posted about the twin bullies Dolan-Donohue), what to make of this breaking news: as Pope Benedict prepares for his trip to Mexico, a new book indicates that the Vatican has known for over 50 years that the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel, was a drug addict and pedophile.  For a summary of the story, see the AP article by Nicole Winfield and Eduardo Castillo that appeared yesterday in both Huffington Post and the Washington Post, and Michael Sean Winters's brief commentary at National Catholic Reporter.  

Dolan and Donohue Again: Religious Bullies Joined at the Hip Continue to Attack SNAP

Last week, I wrote that Dr. Donohue of the Catholic League appeared to have USCCB insider information when he told the media recently that "the bishops have come together collectively" to fight the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.  Dr. Donohue was referring to the legal hardball games that attorneys working for Catholic officials are playing in Missouri. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Future of American Catholicism: Barbara Johnson, Centrism, Power, and Taking Sides

Many of the articles to which I've linked today implicitly ask an important question: where does the future lie for American Catholicism?  In the Boston Globe article to which I link in my posting about Santorum, Charles Pierce cites influential right-wing Catholic commentator George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, who tells a gathering of the Legatus group, 

[L]iberal Catholicism is out of gas intellectually. They haven't had a new idea in 20 or 30 years.

The Horse's Mouth Speaks: His Eminence Cardinal Dolan Talks about Swing Voters

If the U.S. Catholic bishops realize they're catering to a minority of American Catholic voters with their manufactured "religious liberty" crusade (which has just won their religious liberty guru Bishop William Lori a plum position as archbishop of Baltimore), why carry that crusade on?  I've speculated previously on this blog that the bishops' clearly partisan crusade to defend a Catholic religious liberty that is not embattled has everything to do with a cynical political calculation that, if they can get enough low-information Catholic voters in swing states to vote Republican in 2012, they'll throw the election.

Santorum's Catholic Conundrum: Recent Commentary

I have an inkling that most readers of Bilgrimage read widely at various news sites, so I am probably carrying coals to Newcastle when I offer you the following summary of recent links discussing Rick Santorum's Catholicity--and how little solid support he has among Catholic voters as a whole.  Still, in case some of you may have missed some of these articles, here's a listing of recent links to pieces that, in my view, make valuable contributions to the discussion:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Denying Communion to Folks: Theological Warrants and Bottom Lines (and Who Owns the Sacraments?)

I'm still in processing mode this morning--in this case, continuing to process the ongoing discussion of when, where, under what conditions a pastor might validly deny communion to a fellow Christian (or, for that matter, anyone).  As I keep thinking about these issues, it occurs to me that in the rather heated discussion that ensued here after I blogged about the Father Guarnizo story again on Sunday, there's a strong theological warrant informing my own thinking that I may not have put on the table as clearly as possible when I responded to various readers commenting on Sunday's posting.

Catholic + Gay: Resources for Discussion (with Reflections on the Church's Capability for Evil)

Andrew Sullivan has continued to update his ongoing series of comments (and reader reports) entitled "They Cannot Even Speak Our Name."  The "they" are the leaders of the Catholic church.  The "our" are gay and lesbian human beings.  As I noted a week ago when I first reported on this series, Sullivan frames this series by noting, 

Breaking News: Dutch Catholic Institutions in 1950s Castrated Teens Reporting Clerical Sexual Abuse

As a number of readers* noted yesterday, the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad is now reporting that at least 10 teenaged boys or young men were castrated in Catholic facilities in the 1950s to "get rid of homosexuality."  Bruno Waterfield summarizes the story today in the Irish paper Independent.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bullying of SNAP by Catholic Officials: More Recent Commentary

David and Goliath

And more valuable educational resources I'd like to recommend this morning--these about the attack of the U.S. Catholic bishops on Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP):

Valuable Discussions of Christian Sexual Ethics: Geoffrey Robinson and Jeffrey John

Two good recent discussions I'd like to recommend to readers, both about the teaching of Christian churches re: human sexuality:

Diana Butler Bass: Feminist and LGBT Movements as Test of Religious Hospitality

At Religion Dispatches, noted scholar of American religion Diana Butler Bass tells Candace Chellew-Hodge that American religious groups are on the cusp of a new spiritual awakening.  But as with other progressive breakthroughs in American history, the nearer dawn approaches, the darker things appear.  In the latter part of the 19th and early 20th century, the rise of many progressive movements went hand in hand with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Colman McCarthy on Low Comedy and High Cons in GOP Race

Colman McCarthy, bless his heart, tells it like it is about the GOP primaries, in brilliant commentary at National Catholic Reporter.  His essay begins as follows:

If ever the country needed bed rest and a chance to dose up on Prozac or the antidepressant of your choice, it’s now. Through some 20 televised debates and hundreds of interviews, Republican aspirants to the presidency assaulted the nation’s intelligence, or what was left of it, with displays of venality, egomania, pandering, deception, self-delusion, self-promotion and scripted nonsense -- and that’s just from Newt Gingrich.

And it only gets better after that.

A Reader Writes in Response to Father Guarnizo's Story: "Priests Are Religious Cops"

Matthew 11:28

Father Joseph O'Leary has responded to my recent posting about the pastoral implications of the story of Father Marcel Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson (Guarnizo denied communion to Johnson at her mother's funeral) with the following observation: 

Cousins Talk, I Listen: Family Values in the New Millennium

Conversations I've had with cousins in the past week--distant ones, but kin nonetheless: 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Senator Inhofe to Rachel Maddow: Truth? What's That?

In the must-read category of news analysis: Rachel Tabachnick's careful deconstruction of Senator James Inhofe's lies evasions and obfuscations of the truth in his interview with Rachel Maddow regarding his connections to David Bahati, author of Uganda's kill the gays bill.  Tabachnick is writing at Talk to Action.

Bill Boyarsky on Orchestrated Attack on Obamacare (and My Reflections on Role of Catholic Bishops)

And (drawing on what I just posted about the alienation of many Catholics these days): here is one quite specific reason that some Catholics--and I include myself in their number--are outraged by the partisan political behavior of the U.S. Catholic bishops vis-a-vis the HHS guidelines re: contraceptive coverage:

Question for Catholic Centrists: How Will You Address Your Role in Alienation of Catholics from Church?

I've blogged a number of times recently about what seems to me a crucially important question: how do those Catholics who remain with the church, and how do the pastoral leaders of the church, intend to deal with the ever-increasing phenomenon of disaffiliation of American Catholics from the Catholic church--or, as some folks now put it, of "deconversion" from the Catholic church?  My recent reflections on this important issue are here and here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Poem, Friday in Lent (3)


The redbud blossoms

With reckless abandon,

Flowers dropping

Without thought

Of any morrow.


My heart lies still.

Then (suddenly)

Takes flame.

Day moving after day,

Night following on night.

Commentary on the U.S. Bishops' Continued Dirty Little War on Women's Healthcare Needs

Commentary following the announcement of the U.S. Catholic bishops two days ago that we most certainly do intend to keep fighting that old war the rest of you imagined we'd lost (I'm talking about the contraception war, by the way, not the war the Mississippians interviewed in the video about which I've just posted are talking about):

Robert Reich on the Upside-Down Morality of the Religious and Political Right

Robert Reich takes a close look at the moral concerns energizing the Republican base (and many Catholics, since Santorum and Gingrich are, after all, Catholic) in this and every recent election cycle, and finds that the Republicans have morality upside down.  While Republican candidates (and many Catholics) constantly decry what they see as the breakdown of private morality, the breakdown of public morality is gutting our democratic society in one way after another--and the Republicans front for the very economic elite whose lack of morality is producing social decay:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Father Guarnizo Tells His Story: "A Warning to the Church"

And speaking of popcorn-worthy theater: Father Marcel Guarnizo has now responded to his recent disciplining by the archdiocese of Washington with an exclusive interview published by CNS News.  The title of the interview: "I Did the Only Thing a Faithful Catholic Priest Could Do."

Get Out the Popcorn: USCCB Announces Intent to Continue Theater of Absurd

Get out the popcorn and pull up a chair, folks: looks as if the theatrics will be continuing.

As Fr. James Martin and Grant Gallicho are reporting this morning at America and Commonweal, the USCCB has just announced that it intends to keep the fight against the HHS guidelines going, despite the offer of an accommodation by the Obama administration.  I haven't read the USCCB announcement yet.  I'll try to do so later today (running off to a doctor's appointment in a few minutes), and will see if I have more thoughts to offer about this later.

Louis Ruprecht on Bishops' Anti-Contraceptive Crusade: Clerical Hysteria at Center Stage

A Cardinal's Couture

At Religion Dispatches today, Louis Ruprecht takes a careful look at the U.S. Catholic bishops' demands for conscience exemptions from mandates and laws requiring Catholic institutions to provide contraceptive coverage.  He notes the curiously selective focus of the bishops, the role of clerical hysteria in their reaction to the gains of the women's movement, and the theatrics of their behavior.

Phyllis Zagano Offers Advice to Disaffected Catholics: My Response

Writing at National Catholic Reporter, Phyllis Zagano is the latest in a string of Catholic commentators to lament the ad the Freedom from Religion Foundation recently published in the New York Times.  I discussed the reflections about the ad (positive and pastorally engaged ones, in my view) of theologian Tom Beaudoin at America's "In All Things" blog several days ago.  As I noted in that posting, quite a few Catholic commentators are now up in arms about the ad, which invites disaffected Catholics to leave the Catholic church.  This defensive response is a typical response of the tribal-thinking enclaves of both the Catholic center and Catholic right to initiatives such as the FRF ad, and these critics of the ad have been talking once again about anti-Catholic bias in the American media and the New York Times, in particular.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Fr. Guarnizo's Obligation to Defend Our Lord

Writing in response to an article by Jerry Filteau at National Catholic Reporter noting the recent suspension of Father Marcel Guarnizo from ministry, AMDG explains it all to us--why sinners absolutely must be barred from communion in Catholic churches:

USCCB and Bully Bill Getting Bad Press re: Attempt to Break SNAP

Bully Bill Donohue's gloating remarks about his insider information vis-a-vis the U.S. Catholic bishops and their current campaign to bully SNAP are not getting good press coverage in the blogosphere.  I'm referring here to the statement that the Catholic League director made yesterday in Laurie Goodstein's New York Times article about the attempt to bully SNAP through hardball legal tactics in Missouri, where Bishop Robert Finn is now facing criminal indictment.

Santorum and the South: Think Education

Why did Santorum clean up in the South yesterday when so many media pundits--who never set foot in the South until an election cycle comes around--assured us that Romney had taken the lead over Santorum in Alabama and Mississippi?  As Randall J. Stephens and Karl Gibberson, authors of The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, explain, it's all about that old-time religion.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SNAP Petition to U.S. Bishops: Stop the Bullying!

I'm just now seeing this petition from SNAP as the day ends, telling the U.S. Catholic bishops to stop the bullying of SNAP and survivors of clerical sexual abuse.  I just signed, and encourage readers of this blog to consider doing so as well.

Quick News Addendum: Father Guarnizo Suspended

Oh, and before I forget it, in my previous news round-up, I meant to update my story about Father Marcel Guarnizo of Gaithersburg, Maryland, who denied communion to Barbara Johnson at her mother's funeral recently:

In the News: "Doonesbury" Controversy, MSNBC and Tony Perkins, and Dolan's Shtick

Other news tidbits that have caught my eye in the past day or so:

At the Maddow Blog, Steve Benen reports on the controversy that Gary Trudeau's "Doonesbury" series of comic strips satirizing legislative measures to shame women seeking abortions is eliciting in some parts of the U.S.  As Benen notes, some newspaper editors have yanked the cartoons, claiming that they cross a line of good taste.

NY Times Reports on David Clohessy's Deposition, Bill Donohue Speaks of Bishops' Role in Bullying SNAP

Interestingly enough, Laurie Goodstein reports today in the New York Times about David Clohessy's Kansas City subpoena, as I did yesterday, and unless I'm badly misreading her report, it fairly well squares with what I posted on this matter yesterday.  Goodstein cites the highly regarded legal scholar and advocate for victims, Marci Hamilton, who thinks that Catholic church leaders are deliberately trying to shut SNAP up by playing ugly legal hardball games in Missouri.

Creeping Lifeism, the GOP, and Mass Insanity: When Biblical Politics Trump Reason

Fred Clark's memory of how and when conservative evangelicals lighted on abortion as the burning moral issue du jour matches mine:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lawyers Move for Finn Case to Proceed, and David Clohessy's Deposition Released

An update on the story of Bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City, who is under criminal indictment for shielding Father Shawn Ratigan, after child pornography was found on Ratigan's computer and after Finn permitted Ratigan continued access to children: as Mark Morris reports in the Kansas City Star last Friday, prosecutors have petitioned the court for the criminal case to move forward.  This is in response to a motion filed by Finn's lawyers last month to have the charges against Finn dismissed without trial.

Andrew Sullivan, They Cannot Speak Our Name: An Addendum

As I take a welcome break from slogging on my treadmill machine, I'm seeing that Andrew Sullivan has now posted an addendum to his previous posting to which I linked earlier today, on the refusal of the Catholic church's leaders (and, I'd argue, the powerful liberal-centrist Catholic media and intellectual commentariat colluding with them) to speak our gay names.

Stepping Where Grace Tells Us to Step: On This Day in 1967, I Become Catholic

On this day in 1967, I "became" Catholic--as in, "I was re-baptized and accepted into the [Roman] Catholic church."  I had, of course, been baptized as a boy in my family's Southern Baptist church, but as the assistant pastor of the Catholic parish in our small south Arkansas city who accepted me into the Catholic church (and who was to commit suicide several years later) told me, "You never know with those Baptist churches, what they do or how they do it.  Let's just re-baptize you to be on the safe side, in case they used the wrong formula."

Andrew Sullivan on Letter to English Catholics about Marriage: They Cannot Speak Our Name

Why has it taken liberal Catholics so long to begin seeing what many of us have seen for some time now? I just wrote.  And as I dealt with that question, I suggested a compelling answer to it: liberal-centrist Catholics have, for far too long, simply pretended that the brother and sister Catholics on whose backs the papal and episcopal whips fall are not there.

E.J. Dionne on U.S. Bishops' Squandered Opportunity (and Me on Liberal Blindness)

E.J. Dionne argues that the U.S. Catholic bishops squandered a premier moment of unity in American Catholicism, when Catholics across the spectrum, including liberals like him, stood with the bishops in their resistance to the attempt of the Obama administration to have religiously based institutions cover contraceptives in healthcare plans.  The tea-party response of not a few bishops to the reasonable accommodation the administration offered the bishops has convinced many Catholics, he writes, that the bishops are more about Republican politics than about moral teaching:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Catholic v. Catholic in Marriage Equality Debates: BBC Interviews Terry Weldon Tomorrow

Terry Weldon

Later the same day: this is a quick addendum to underscore something I mentioned earlier today in my posting "Catholic v. Catholic" about the ongoing marriage equality debates/battles:

Catholic v. Catholic: Marriage Equality Debate (and Battles) Continue

And on the more ignorance, less bliss front (I'm piggybacking here on what I just posted about Krugman's latest): readers will be shocked to learn (not!) that His Holiness has once again attacked same-sex marriage--in this case, yesterday in remarks he made in an address to Catholic bishops from Minnesota and the Dakotas.  He specifically addressed the situation in the U.S., where momentum for the recognition of civil marriage for same-sex couples continues to grow.