Wednesday, March 29, 2006

So much to say but...

Orville keeps sending me stuff that I'd love to get commentary on, including the action by the Archbishop of New Orleans and the big selloff in New York, and I found some other information, too, but I can't get to it now.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Wyandotte County Church Closing Letter

Here's the letter. A few clarifications on my rant below are in order now that I see it in print; however, the substance remains the same.

March, 2006
Dear Fellow Catholics,
I am writing to inform you of a new initiative in the Wyandotte County Pastoral Region, the development of a regional pastoral plan to assist in the ensuring and promoting the on-going life of the Church within this portion of the Archdiocese. The Wyandotte County Pastoral Region has a wonderful tradition of Catholic life and ministry dating back to the 1850s. Many changes have occurred over the years in response to the pastoral needs of the Catholic community and the challenges and opportunities of proclaiming and living the Gospel of Jesus. As a Church, we have never been complacent with the status quo. We are challenged to continually improve our parish life and ministries to better carry on the life and the mission of Jesus in the light of today's realities.

The purpose of the pastoral planning is to assist in the furthering of the mission of Christ and the Church through a process of good planning in light of present conditions and future possibilities. Our goal, is not change for the sake of change, but rather change for the sake of better living and sharing our Catholic faith through strong and vital parish communities, quality Catholic education and the practice of good stewardship of our resources including our priests, parish, employees and volunteers, our parish material and financial blessings.

Good pastoral planning needs to involve the ideas and suggestions of us all so please become engaged in the process at the general parish meetings. Planning must be grounded in facts about demographics and trends in the parish life and rooted in a clear understanding of what constitutes a vital, alive parish today. It requires the collective wisdom of a community that honors the past, but looks to the future with awareness that we have the responsibility to respond to the pastoral needs today just as our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did in years gone by.

How do we as a Catholic community build on our strengths and ensure that our ministries and programs most effectively carry out our Catholic mission in contemporary society? How do we respond to change? How should we use our financial and human resources to accomplish our God given mission?

I have asked your parish priests to form a group of lay representatives who, together with the priests, will study and discern the current life and ministry of the church within the Wyandotte County Region and make recommendations on how to affirm all that is of value, to strengthen the vitality of parish life and ministries and to exercise the best stewardship of our blessings and resources. With the assistance of Alan Meitler, a professional planning consultant, the process will include local listening sessions involving as many parishioners as possible to reflect on the facts and provide suggestions to the Planning Task Force. Ultimately, the recommendations of the Task Force will be presented to me for review and approval. My hope is that this will be completed during calendar 2006.

I ask that you prayerfully remember this effort in the upcoming months and that you participate in this important process of planning for a bright future for the life of the Church for years to come. May we all work together for the future of our Catholic life and our mission of living and spreading God's Kingdom in our world today and tomorrow.

Sincerely yours in Jesus, the Lord of Life,
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

Monday, March 27, 2006

OK, who wants to help out?

Do you live in the Kansas City area? Are you worked up like me (or even half as much as me) about the church closings that are sweeping the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Well, you can help do something about it.

I have set up a placeholder blog,
Church Closings in Kansas, which can serve as a bulletin board of sorts to track what's going on, and what's being said, officially or otherwise.

However, I don't have the time (nor does my wife have the patience) for me to keep it up myself.

I'm happy, and eager, to share the blog, and even turn it over to, two or three other folks who can help. But I just need to find those people.

Those people will have to take over the bulk of the work. They're welcome to use the photos I've gathered and the little information I've collected on KCK churches as a starting point (if I can figure out how to copy the posts over), but they'll pretty much have to take over from there.

If you're interested, contact me at

You don't have to give your name. In fact, I'd prefer it if we all stuck to noms-de-guerre. But I would like to know a little bit about you to make sure you're a legitimate concerned KC Catholic, and you're not ....say....that guy who thinks he's the Pope out near St. Mary's, or one of the Archbishop's consultants.

We'll see where this goes...

And rural parishes, too.

Word from a correspondent who was down around Garnett, Kansas, this weekend: the Archbishop has plans to close some rural parishes, too. Richmond? Gone. Probably also, one of the four parishes served by the Burlington priest--maybe Emerald, Waverly or Westphalia.

More news as it happens....


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Axing Parishes in the 'Dotte

Do y'all remember my warning—in Foreboding in Topeka—that church closings were coming soon to Wyandotte County? If you don't, then click on my sidebar, where I've indexed all the Kansas stops (so far) on my church tour, including that post.

Well, those church closings won't be coming soon. They will be coming now.

Today a letter from Archbishop Joseph Naumann was read in all Wyandotte County parishes with a bunch of blather about "reassessing" and "moving forward" (moving forward, mind you forward) to meet pastoral needs in Wyandotte County, and "wisely using our resources" or somesuch tripe.

What he was trying to say was "Hey, I'm going to be shutting down a bunch of your churches, but I'm not going to tell you which ones until we play some games and let you worry about it for a few months." That's a bad message, in substance, but the way it was presented was the worst part. The Archbishop's letter was written in such an utterly disingenuous and repulsive tone that I expected it to end "Sincerely Yours in Christ, Roger Cardinal Mahoney" or "May the blessings of the Almighty be with you, Archbishop Sean" or "Hugs and Kisses, Rembert."

It's not enough that the people of the Archdiocese have to suffer with the fruits of decades of episcopal incompetence and outright malfeasance—insufficient priests, damned-near zero nuns, dissident catechists, mediocre (or worse) schools, and silence in the face of heresy and scandal by local Catholic public figures (e.g. Sebelius). It's not enough that they have to endure the next betrayal of trust—the abandonment of parishes and churches that were built by our ancestors at great sacrifice. Before it all takes place, they must listen to the Archbishop insult their intelligence. Does the Archbishop REALLY think his flock is so stupid that they won't catch on to what is about to happen—that they won't figure out that he's going to shut their parishes down and throw their patrimony overboard, or does he REALLY think that if the flock does figure it out, it will somehow perversely see it as a positive thing?

Ahem. People of Wyandotte County: your spiritual father, the successor of the apostles who carries the special graces of a Bishop and was entrusted with a pallium by the previous Holy Father, the man who is your primary guide in matters of faith and morals…..he apparently thinks that you're a bunch of morons. He expects you to miss the fact that he's shutting you down, or to approach it with some sort of prayerful, pacifist resignation instead of a just anger.

I will get a copy of the letter and post it—without comment, and then, of course, with extensive comment—as soon as I can.

In the meantime, sound the bugle to retreat! The battle for souls in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is being lost, or has already been lost, and well, the Archbishop and his buddies in the chancery office are just going throw in the towel in an expensive and fashionable way with lots of consultants, "listening sessions," and crocodile tears, of course. They won't redouble their efforts to evangelize and bring people back into the churches. They won't extend their "reassessment" to reconsider the sensitive "pastoral approach" of the "adult faith" of the last forty years, which has left us with a closet full of polyester rainbow vestments and felt banners, but with nothing else except empty rectories, empty convents, empty cradles, empty confessionals, empty schools, and empty Churches.

So, after they pay the professional pastoral consultants a bunch of money (undoubtedly amounting to many weeks' worth of collections for some of these parishes), they're going to shut things down. Keep in mind that organizations don't bring in consultants to build things up; they bring them in to do dirty work. Think about it: Did Bishop Miege hire an outside consultant when he arrived on the Kansas frontier? Did Bishop Hogan hire an outside consultant when he planted the Faith in western Missouri? Did Fr. DeSmet ride to the missions with a consultant? (well, come to think of it, Fr. DeSmet did have a consultant—a woman named Rose Philipine Duschene, but she was a saint, but Naumann's men ain't).

Oh, the Archbishop's consultants won't say which parishes will get axed…yet. There has to be a lot of "listening" first. So, while the "listening" is going on, take a look at my sidebar—some of the key churches in KCKS—and place your bets. Maybe we can start a pool? A little more morbid than filling out an NCAA tournament bracket perhaps, but we might as well. Anyways, whichever parishes they plan to close, we can be sure that it's not because the State of Kansas has been knocking down houses to build freeways and state employee parking lots, as in Topeka, or because the floods have decimated residential neighborhoods, as with St. Thomas down in the Argentine area, but simply because the leadership of the Archdiocese, in its bid to be "relevant" and "engaged with the world," has quite obviously made the faith irrelevant and disengaged in Wyandotte County.

More to come!


PS, a clarification for my out-of-town friends: Yes, I was just talking positively about the Bishop a few days ago, and no, I'm not being fickle—I was talking up Bishop Finn in Missouri. Archbishop Naumann is on the Kansas side—recall that the state line, and therefore the diocesan and provincial line, runs right down the middle of the greater Kansas City area, and jurisdiction is split between Abp. Naumann in Kansas and Bp. Finn in Missouri, two new bishops from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, with…clearly now…the people of Missouri having the better part of the bargain).

Parody Blog

I very well may find this offensive, once I stop laughing:

Lispers in the Woggia

Hat tip to Mike at In Illo Tempore.

Naw, not the Catholic Key

Wow, somebody made the editor of the Catholic Key run an article on the Old St. Patrick's restoration.

Further Proof that I am an Idiot

For about a month (ever since I came back from hiatus), I've been posting somewhat regularly, but it's the strangest thing....whereas I used to get several comments each week from readers, suddenly I had none.

Zero. Nada, Nihil, Nichts. Zippo. Nil.

Days and weeks went comments. Wow, I thought, I'm either really boring people or really ticking them off. Not a comment one, since February 26.

Well, yes, now I know why. When I turned "comment moderation" off on my return, March 7, I somehow managed to restrict comments to "only members of this blog." Nobody could comment, except me (and why would I comment to myself?). I had virtually taped everyone's mouths shut.

So, uhhh, sorry about that.

If you've had anything to say on previous posts, and it's still with you, do please go back and say it. I really like the interractive part of doing this.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Catholic Radio

Well, I had lunch with Orville the other day, and he observed that it's nearly fund-raising time again for the local Catholic radio station, KEXS. He pointed out that there are about 85 Catholic radio stations in the country, and 15,000 Prot ones. The heretics have the numbers now, but only a few years ago, there were only a handful of Catholic radio stations, so we're gaining on them.

The local radio station has a fairly broad base of support, including lots of folks from the two canonically-regular traditional communities in town. Now, I may have said this before, but it bears repeating. You don't have to like every single thing the Catholic radio station folks program in order to think that the Catholic radio station is a worthwhile endeavor. I certainly don't like every single thing KEXS puts on the air. I think I've said enough about Jimmy Akin in this blog for folks to fairly draw the conclusion that I'm not a big Catholic Answers fan. There's lots of other stuff I don't like as well--no need to get into the list. However, Mrs. Curmudgeon likes Ray Guarendi's show, and there are other interesting things they program as well. Every once in a while, they rerun Dale Alquist's series on Chesterton, which is delightful, for instance. Opus Dei Fr. Jim McCloskey's series on Catholic authors, and the current one they're running on St. Thomas More, are quite informative (even if they come across as dry--they'd be much more enjoyable if we were sitting in front of a fire with Fr. McCloskey and his guests, sipping port, listening to the same conversation). Except for some things I've heard Fr. Groeschel say on one show (which may have been heard out of context), I've never heard anything that was blatantly heretical on the station.

Yes, I know there's an argument to be made to the contrary. Most of the programming comes from EWTN, and there are issues with EWTN in some areas, as Chris Ferrara has pointed out. But the fact of the matter is that the local radio station isn't the same thing as EWTN, or the Monahagn-funded Ave Maria Radio, or Catholic Answers. It's a local apostolate that's bringing the area the best that Catholic progamming it can find, and that's the best programming that it can find right now. If we think it could use better programming in some instances, well, . . . . I'd guess that there are others connected with the station who would agree. How do they get get better programming? They raise more money, so they can produce it themselves or support others who will do so.

And so my point is that it's good to have Catholic Radio at all, and it should be supported, even if it ain't precisely what we wish it was. Remember, there ain't nuthin that's exactly what it should be on earth--if there were, there would be nuthin to look forward to in heaven.

The generous couple who initially initially backed the Kansas City station, KEXS, are to be commended, as are the other families that are doing so much to help them keep it growing. The rest of us ought to help them out, too, and honor their efforts. They're doing more than some cantankerous blow-hard blogger like me is doing to evangelize the city. They're a powerful voice that runs counter to much of what gets put in the Catholic Key and the National Catholic Distorter (I really love the 20-second spot, recorded by the original station manager, in which he calls on the audience to pray for the staff of the Catholic Key, National Catholic Distorter, and the Leaven).

Anyone disagree?

Another Wanderer

Maybe I will cancel my subscription to The Wanderer before it runs out. Just got another issue, and we have another week in which we see Paul Likoudis throwing bombs and otherwise doing all he can to keep the SSPX away from the table and outside the church. Two articles this week: Another article where Likoudis quotes extensively from Traditio, the sedevacantist website and others outside the SSPX, and where he edits down what must have been out-of-context soundbites from the Society's US superior to villanize them. Alongside is another article from Msgr. Barreiro which is not necessarily objectionable in itself, but is being used in the Wanderer's campaign against reconciliation.

For months now, there has been talk of reconciliation, and for months now, we've been getting issues of The Wanderer devoid of commentary about the potential fruits of such a reconciliation, and devoid of any positive news about the Society or the workings in Rome either. Sheesh, if I want trad-bashing, I don't need to get a paper sent all the way from St. Paul; I can subscribe to (or just dumpster dive at) the National Catholic Distorter which is published down the street!

Face it, if God wills that there be a reconciliation and that the faithful priests of the FSSP and ICR are swept into an independent apostolic administration along with the SSPX, and all are suddenly able to do their work worldwide without the baggage of 1988 and without hindrance by entrenched modernist Bishops, then The Wanderer, and people like Likoudis, will be irrelevant. New publications, and new sources of information, will draw away a large part of their readership, and what little remains can always get their trad-bashing from the Distorter. Catholics in Rochester, and LA, and Albany, and St. Paul, and Orange County CA, won't be outraged by what's going on in their dioceses and parishes--because there won't be there to see it. The traditionalist momentum that would be gained by a reconciliation would sweep up their readership and divert their attention from the bad news which fills the pages of the Wanderer and direct it towards a positive future.


PS. I guess I should also say that I wish SSPX officials would be a little more careful about what they say. Using the phrase "errors of Vatican II," even in the context of a larger idea that sounds reasonable and Catholic in and of itself, is a bad idea. If they were to communicate the same message in terms of the "misunderstandings," "naivete," "ambiguities," and even "mistakes" of the majority of the Council Fathers and the outright malfeasance of those few others and their periti, they wouldn't be, in effect, arming those like Likoudis whose goal it is to keep the Society out of the regular structure of the Church.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A snippet of my day:

I had been talking to a fellow at a luncheon, and he, having picked up that I must be some sort of right wing nut job (people jump to that conclusion if you even mention homeschooling your kids) is sharing with me his own right-wing-Calvinist-libertarian view of the world and saying that the "worst thing they ever dun" in Washington was pass the Federal Reserve Act, and that most of what the government was doing was unconstitutional, and that our country would eventually collapse because of fractional reserve banking. The another woman at our table, patently uncomfortable with the conversation, probably wasn't set at ease by my response that there were so many reprehensible things that have been done in Washington that I couldn't pick a "worst" one, and that as to whether our government was constitutional or legitimate, we'd have to look farther back than that, because in reality, we're all, sitting in Missouri, de jure subjects of the rightful king of France, probably Luis, duc de Anjou (given that this part of the world was sold to the United States by the illigitimate government of France after the regicide, and such sale being made without right or authority, was void, etc., etc.). She left before I made the point that would have set her at ease, that (as the royalists in France themselves say) even if we don't recognize it as legitimate, we are, for practical purposes, are sentenced to live in it. Then again, she wouldn't have liked my next point, i.e., that the notion of a "social contract" and "governance by consent of the governed" was just a political fad invented by a bunch of leeches bleeding the upper classes in the 18th Century France, and that the fad had already come and gone.

A kid I met asks what courses he should take in college: "Should I take philosophy so I can be open-minded?" I respond "No, I'm pretty close-minded myself, and I do alright. You don't need to be open minded."

Mrs. Curmudgeon at home walks in on two of the little Curmudgeons, who are hanging over the footboard of our sleigh bed with little religious booklets, singing. "Mommy, we're pretending to be at church, and we sing Rubber Duckie* at our church." To which Mrs. Curmudgeon can only respond, "Well, dear, that wouldn't be too far off at a lot of churches, but thankfully not ours"

Mrs. Curmudgeon asks, "Hey can we move to Malta?" To which I can honestly reply "I've looked into it; I don't know of any Latin Masses there."


*Rubber Duckie is, of course, a Sesame Street song, but it's one the kids learned from Mrs. Curmudgeon; they have never seen (at least in MY house) Sesame street, and couldn't know Bert or Ernie from Adam, and if I have anything to say about it, they never will .

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Disagreement then broke out . . .

Got a long message from a traddie in a galaxy far, far away taking exception to my post saying that Vatican II was the vehicle, not the cause, of our ruination. Interesting, so with the permission of Jacques, the author (not his real name), I'm posting much of it here, with a couple of comments he's since passed along:

Curmudgeon: * * * One demurrer, or perhaps slight exception to your V2 commentary. Simply put, to argue that V2 didn't cause the crisis, that it was latent (or in some cases, outright) before it occurred doesn't convince me.Let me give an analogy: before the French Revolution, plenty of ideas were bubbling up, many silly, many downright sinister. But it took a specific action--the convening of the Etats-General in 1789-- to set off definitively the chain of events that would lead to the catastrophes of the French Revolution. Most definitely the consequences of its convocation were dependent upon its convocation [Jacques here wants me to point out that the foregoing sentence makes no sense; he meant to say something like "...convocation were dependent upon its having been convened"]. In similar fashion, one can say, sure modernism existed before the Council. Sure the Church had fools, dupes, and others bearning Bugnini-like malice. But they existed as individuals; they were atomized. It took a climactic, epoch-making event to give their work both worldwide recognition and implied sanction (or at least, not downright condemnation) along with worldwide recognition from a progressive media.

Could the Church have weathered the social upheavals of the 60s, with no V2, and still have remained strong as She was? Don't know--that's a counterfactual. However, what I do know is that She HAS weathered social upheavals in past centuries. It's our temporal parochialism that causes us to think that the 60s were some decisive moment in the history of mankind. She came out of the Revolutionary era of the late 1800s and the Napoleonic era of the early 1900s [here, Jacques tells me he meant to say 1700s and 1800s, or 18th century and 19th century]--when churches were sacked, pillaged, and destroyed, when priests and nuns were guillotined, and when lay faithful were slaughtered on genocidal levels--stronger than before, to give just one instance.

So I don't really buy the argument that the Church was already in deep water pre-Council. Yes, there were serious problems; yes, Europe was already slowly apostasizing; yes, America was already being blatant in Americanist heretical inclinations (as historian John Lukacs points out, many far-right McCarthy supporting priests supported a vernacular liturgy, precisely so it would be more "American"). But the Church ALWAYS has problems like this, always has heresies and whatnot trying to tear away the seamless robe. What it has never had, in my admittedly amateurish estimation of it, was a Council that seemed to open the door for so much nonsense and tomfoolery in its ambiguities and Orwellian double-speak.

I'm not a Lefebvrist, though sympathetic to a lot of what the SSPX stands for (not all by the way, and I do get annoyed with the sanctimony and sectarianism of some of 'em), but * * * every bone in my historical body tells me that the Conciliar Fathers either had an abysmal understanding of history, were duped by Rahnerians, or were actively seeking the Church's auto-destruction. It was all a colossal folly--the whole event reeks of self-congratulation, of a new kind of triumphalism (as in, "How much smarter we are now!"), and of a blissful, blinkered optimism about human nature. That it occurred less than two decades after secular forces killed and tortured more human beings than at any comparable point in history, in the midst of a "cold war" in which one side routinely killed and tortured and imprisoned (and the other, that is, us, didn't exactly have a great track record either) shows a foolishness unparalleled in the history of Catholicism.

The Council Fathers had learned, seemingly, nothing about human beings, or had forgotten what they knew.So yes, I blame Vatican 2. I may have to accept it (or maybe I don't -- I'm confused on that one, but again, isn't that Vatican 2's fault that I don't know this?). In this case, post hoc ergo propter hoc, indeed.

Hmm. Very interesting.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Which diocese are we in? Which century is it? What have I been smoking?

I logged on to the Old St. Patrick's website to check daily Mass times for this week. The old, plain website is gone and a snazzy new one is running. Check it out. Much to learn, much to know:

Especially check out the
restoration photo section, where you can see the work in progress--they're ripping up the old pews.

One correspondent, Orville, tells me that there are really no tears to be shed over the pews (other than the cost of replacing them, of course). They weren't quality furniture: just cheap pine slats held together for seventy or eighty years by cast-iron brackets (many of which were broken). Another correspondent, Guido (not his real name) also tells me that they had a surprise visitor at the work session on Saturday--
Bishop Finn showed up for a while to check out the progress and cheer on the troops. I knew I should have attended--both for the fun of actually helping undo a little of the "renewal" and for the opportunity to meet a very unusual Bishop.

In checking out Mass times, I also saw this announcement
in the current bulletin:

WITH GREAT JOY WE HAVE LEARNED that the Most Reverend Bishop Finn has graciously invited the Oblates of Mary, Queen of Apostles to the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. This order is dedicated to the support of the priesthood and will arrive near the end of March in Kansas City . . . .

Nuns in full regalia, with the traditional rule and the old office and sacraments, at the invitation of the Bishop of this diocese?

No, it isn't a cruel joke. My, my . . . how quickly the diocesan climate can change! I can't even think of anything curmudgeonly to say at the moment. So, we'll leave it at this:

Deo gratias.

What was I saying about Vatican II?

What was I saying about Vatican II? Oh yeah, it wasn't on the blog. I was corresponding with someone who wrote me with reminiscences about a now-closed parish in Kansas City, Missouri (I remember this correspondence because it was unusual. Most of my correspondence criticizes my poor typing and/or my lack of basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills).

My correspondent said something about Vatican II being the cause of the ruination around us.

I had to disagree, as I have with several correspondents lately. I'm starting to be more precise when I talk to people about Vatican II. A European priest I've heard speak once said that things weren't so great in the Church before the Council--the sorts of problems we have now were evident in the decades before it. Perhaps Evelyn Waugh's observations regarding the time before the Reformation, which I started to pass off as my own in a post last week, could also be applied to the time before the Council, or at least immediately before it.

The Council was not the cause of the ruination around us. We all know the name of the person who is the cause--we need not name him--and we all know (as did St. Pius X) the ideology, or set of ideologies, which was the cause--modernism. The Council was merely a vehicle for a pre-existing phenomenon, not a cause.

Case in point, blithely presented in This Far by Faith, vol. 1, page 154, which I read when I was in possession of the books a few weeks ago:
Another of Archbishop O'Hara's far-sighted programs was his introduction of English into liturgy. In addition, he had been so convinced of the value of lay participation in the Mass, that in 1949 he combined these two concepts in the Community Mass. He asked members of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Men to introduce the new ritual. While the celebrant spoke Latin softly, leaders chanted or spoke the English translation and he congregation, following a booklet provided, gave the response. St. Aloysius and St. John the Baptist [now defunct] in Kansas City reported enthesiastic participation when the Community Mass was chanted on Holy Name Communion Sunday, the Second Sunday of each month. Some parochial schools used a spoken version called the Dialogue Mass in the early 1950s. Although the Community Mass disappeared by the late 1950s, later developments at Vatican II indicated that Archbishop O'Hara had been on the right track. [emphasis added]

Well, was O'Hara on the right track? Or was he encouraging something that was clearly forbidden by the Church? (Hint: you can Google "Mass Vernacular Forbidden Pius" and find out). It had to have been an abuse. It had to be disobedience. Vatican II didn't cause this abuse. This disobedience was encouraged by--it originated with--none other than the Kansas City Ordinary himself (who had, interestingly, been made a sort of honorary Archbishop by Pius XII) well before the Council.

There are certainly more stories to be told regarding illicit pre-Conciliar experimentation just in the official Kansas City-St. Joseph diocesan history (including folk singing at Mass before 1965), much less in the unofficial history here and elsewhere. If any others of you have local anecdotes from back in the old days, do pass them along.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Could it be they're afraid of being caught in the center?

Just a thought, and it's not necessarily a charitable one, about why people like the Wanderer staff, and the Catholic Answers people, and much of the new-ish EWTN crowd are so vocal, and are dropping so much chaff with respect to traditional Catholics ("radtrads," as the "neo-Caths" call them) during this important time when things might get sorted out with the SSPX.

Maybe, just maybe, they're insecure of their position. Right now, these people are sort of perceived to be in the forefront of orthodox, faithful Catholicism. Most of them-"professional Catholics"--actually make their living based on that status, which is not an inherently bad thing (after all, some laity has to do that sort of work, as there aren't enough clergy stepping up to the plate), but the livelihood issue does bring the instinct of self-preservation into the equation.

If the Holy Father would actually work out a solution to the Situation, and the majority of the SSPX priests and their faithful accepted it, then those professional Catholics would no longer be perceived as pressing the right flank in the battle for the Church. They would be lost somewhere in the center. The right flank would them be pressed by traditional clerics--not just SSPX, but other priests who've stayed in the background, in prudence, but would no longer feel so constrained once a structure was created that would offer them some protection from newfangled hierarchs.

This is an explanation that I have no basis for positing, but if it's so, it all makes sense. Nobody (who isn't trying to get elected to office in some whitebread suburb like Johnson County) wants to be floating about the center. I certainly would take no pride in being a centrist.

Anyways, it's just a hypothesis. If that's the motivation for the malicious way these "professional Catholics" are handing the traditionalist issue these days, then, somebody needs to convince them a role for them to play--even an expanded role--in evangelizing within the Church even under the reorientation that would inevitably take place in the years following a reconciliation.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm not renewing this year -- really.

Last week's article on the potential SSPX reconciliation was the last straw. For the last couple of years, when my subscription to The Wanderer came up for renewal, I've almost dropped it. I'm going to drop it now, no question.

While it's true that the folks who bring the Wanderer to us cover lots of muckraking and often do a decent job over covering some of the awful stuff going on in the nations' worst dioceses--Albany and Rochester, for instance, I've just had enough of it. They spend page after page, week after week, detailing the collapse of Catholic institutions and the retreat of Catholic culture, but they just can't bring themselves to draw any conclusions, and to lay the blame where it ought to be. They can, however, sure point fingers and agitate pretty well, though, whenever the subject of traditional Catholics, including those associate with the SSPX situation, come up. I just can't take it anymore. And remember, I'm one who doesn't have association with, or history with, the SSPX.

And as for Paul Likoudis, the news editor for the Wanderer, I used to rather admire him, particularly for the trouble he has caused for folks who deserved it in Albany, Rochester (with AmChurch Comes Out) corrupt clergy all over the country). But we've seen, in a couple of recent issues of the Wanderer, him engage in such unjust treatment of the SSPX in his articles--in this particularly sensitive time when a reconciliation may be possible--that I just can't stomach him any further, either.

Several weeks ago, The Wanderer ran an article with a headline on attitudes within the SSPX towards reconciliation (I'd tell you the date, but I can't find it). Of course, the Wanderer didn't actually talk to anyone within the SSPX (i.e., any of the priests, who are, technically, the only members of the Society), and they only quoted sparingly from other written sources by anyone within or affilaited with the SSPX. Instead, the Wanderer quoted extensively the Novus Ordo Watch and Traditio websites--both truly schismatic outlets who promote a sedevacantist message that is and always has been rejected by LeFebvre and the SSPX.

Last week, the first two-thirds of Likoudis' latest SSPX article in the Wanderer was a string of extensive quotations pulled (apparently off the internet) from SSPV sources, i.e., the Society of St. Pius V, an organization founded by priests who were expelled from the SSPX for . . . you guessed it . . . questioning whether there were truly a Pope in Rome. Again--no word from anyone within the SSPX, or anyone affiliated with them--just quote after quote from crackpot sedevacantists and guilt-by-association for the SSPX.

Also last week, they used the last third of the article to quote from blogs sympathetic to the SSPX, but in so doing, they didn't bother to check any of their facts. They quoted Ian Palko as a "member of the Kansas City branch" of the SSPX. Well, I have corresponded a number of times with Mr. Palko over the last few months (most of the messages, I now recognize upon review, mention beer), and I am well aware that, while Mr. Palko does attend St. Vincents, he is NOT a member of the SSPX. He's not even a priest. I also note that they quoted quite extensively from him--perhaps too extensively. It was a nice quotation, but I would think that if the Wanderer wants what would have been a full article written by Mr. Palko, they ought to have paid him for it, or at least get his permission to use it. We bloggers can get away with that stuff now and then, but a newpaper that people like me actually pay money to subscribe ought to be a little more careful about quotations.

ANYWAYS, now I half expect the next issue of the Wanderer to include a front page article on Fr. Lucien Pulvermacher's and Mr. David Bawden's opinions regarding the dangers of reconciliation (for those of you who don't keep up with your antipopes, those are Pope Pius XIII and Pope Michael I).

Anyone has to recognize that Likoudis and The Wanderer are engaging in the lowest sophistical trickery, and they're not even doing a very skillful job at it. Their decision to print such garbage as they did in this case, and to present it with such a plainly malicious intent, and to so obviously borrow from my acquaintence Mr. Palko without even finding out who he is vis-a-vis the Society undermines the paper's credibility on virtually every other matter. For instance, why should I believe the awful stuff printed about Bp. Tod Brown and St. Mary's by the Sea. as reported in this week's issue? But for the fact that I've been following that matter independently for several weeks on my own, and have read extensively, from many sources, about Brown's malfeasance, I would have reason to doubt whether The Wanderer's treatment of him were accurate.

So, I'm not going to the trouble of cancelling my Wanderer aubscription yet, but I'm not going to renew, either. If a reconciliation does start moving, I hope it happeens before that subscription runs out, because I'll enjoy watching the Wanderer editors squirm and wiggle their way around the issue and the things they've printed in the recent past. But otherwise, I'll just let my subscriptio nrun out as it is (after all, the broadsheet newprint might come in handy if I'm packing dishes or something--the Catholic Key is only a tabloid, and so it's less useful.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

No coverage by the Catholic Key?

So I'm having lunch at a high-dollar, white-tablecloth place with Orville (not his real name) one of my right-wing Catholic friends, as we do almost every week (don't worry about my Lenten observance: during Lent, we keep it down to one cocktail and three courses, and we only drink domestic wine).

Anyways, Orville's been in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph since he was born, and although he's less cynical than me in general, he's even more cynical than me when it comes to the Catholic Key. So, Orville says to me that the event he attended this weekend with Fr. John Corapi, sponsored by the local Catholic radio station KEXS, was sold out, and about 2,000 people packed the venue.

"Would the Catholic Key even mention it?," Orville wondered. "They'll cover three hundred people in the basement of St. Theresa's listening to some obscure immigration speaker, and the coverage will go for three weeks, even. But will they cover a nationally-recognized orthodox Catholic preacher who draws a big crowd?"

I was thinking to myself, "Not only that, they'll cover Sister Polly Esther and Fr. Jim Jiggles giving a seminar at the Cathedral to forty tie-dyed gray-hairs on 'new ways of being Church,' but they won't dare give any press to someone who preaches relatively plainly about Catholic discipline and moral teaching—even someone who does so using the post-Vatican II vocabulary and style."

We concluded that the Key would probably ignore the Corapi event.

Was I wrong? Was Orville wrong? I had only to get home from the office to find out, because the week's Key was waiting for me.

And the answer was "no." While the cover featured some sort of Gaelic Mass thing with the Bishop, rather than Sister Polly and Fr. Jim, nowhere in the twenty or so pages of the Key was there a mention of the Corapi event.

Another week, another issue, and the Key continues to function as some layman's private newsletter for his favorite leftist causes, funded through our Cathedral taxes, rather than a tool for evangelization. When will Bp. Finn put an end to it? When will Tom Roberts, editor of National Catholic Distorter, also published here in Kansas City, take pity on the Key editor and hire him away (thus doing no further harm to NCRptr, to which no further harm could possibly be cone, but doing much good for the diocese)?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Old St Patricks Restoration Begins in Earnest

A correspondent has advised me that the folks at
Old St. Patrick's in Kansas City officially announced their plans, their budget, and their fundraising campaign to restore the Oratory at a kickoff meeting last Sunday.. That correspondent also forwarded a photograph of the interior from the late 1940s.

Looks like a wedding is going on. I'm not sure where he got the picture. Maybe it's my correspondent's wedding?

Anyways, compare that to what they did in the 1970s by clicking here. And see the happy dismantling of same by clicking here.

Anyways, things are moving forward on the restoration project:

Bad news: it's not just a matter of pulling up the baby blue carpet, melting down the swanky altar and canopy from the 1970's remodel, and repainting and reconstructing the old altar and communion rail—they have to do serious mechanical and plumbing work, construct restrooms, replace the wooden floor, replace the unsalvageable wooden pews and other expensive, but not glamorous, stuff.

Good news: is that it will be only about $750,000 to get that done and restore the church in functional condition so they can move in and have their own place to celebrate Mass. Believe me, that's not bad, considering the age of the building and the cost of any commercial construction these days.

Bad news: They don't have all the money yet.

Good news: They seem to have a plan to raise the money and tap into sources beyond the 85 families currently registered at the Oratory. I suppose part of that plan is for people like my correspondent to email people like me and ask me to send some money in. I'll be sending them a check, or at least some cash in an unmarked envelope (must preserve my anonymity). If any readers want to do the same, they can contact the Oratory or just mail it in (PO Box 414237, Kansas City, Missouri 64141). Tell them that I sent you (I don't get a kickback, or even brownie points—I'm not a member of the Oratory and they don't even know who I am).

Bad news: They haven't found the old reredos, pictured above, and they haven't yet found a suitable replacement altar. It needs to be wooden, unpainted, in a Romanesque (round, not pointed, arch) style. Marble is too heavy, a painted altar wouldn't match the era, and Gothic wouldn't match the style. If you have a 20-30 foot altar that meets such a description in your basement or garage, email me, and I'll put you in touch with my correspondent, who will put you in touch with the Oratory.

Good news: If they raise enough money to start construction next month, they can have the work done and be in the building by January 2007.

Bad news: Once they get into the building and finally have their own place for Mass, they need a couple hundred grand more to do other work, and then (although my correspondent says these weren't discussed) they need a few hundred more to build a rectory, and a couple million to build a school so they can educate the right-wing reactionary Catholics of the future.

Good news: By the time they get into the building, I'll surely have won the lottery and can simply write a check to cover whatever comes next.

Happy Birthday Susie!

I'm happy to say that I'm not the oldest member of the League of Evil Traditionalists. Hilary (who for some reason prefers to be known as "Susie" in our League correspondence) has me beat by a couple of years. Happy birthday, Susie!

Even our enemies . . .

More evidence that even our enemies admit they will ultimately lose the Culture War, based on demographics alone:

Phillip Longman, "The Return of Patriarchy," Foreign Policy, March/April 2006.

Waa, haa, haa, haa, haa, haa, haa, haa!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fiftieth Anniversary of the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph

Well, a recent Catholic Key (yes, I know I shouldn't be looking-it's an occasion of sin) announced that celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of the Diocese are planned, commencing on March 29 and running through December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The Diocese was formed in 1956, in a provincial realignment that saw two new dioceses--Springfield/Cape Girardeau and Jefferson City, formed out of territory of the archdiocese of St. Louis and the old separate dioceses of St. Joseph and Kansas City, along with the consolidation of the remaining territory in the latter two.

Hmm. I wish I had the chance to bend Bishop Finn's ear before he let the Catholic Key announce the coming "celebrations."

Having just read much of the history of the diocese in This Far by Faith, and having undertaken my tour around Kansas City, Missouri (which I am continuing--I promise), I don't really see much cause for a "celebration." In fifty years, dozens of churches have closed, and many of the historic churches which remain have been defaced (including the Cathedral . . . three times). Mass attendance rates have plummeted. Convents have emptied (aside: except for some canonically irregular Franciscans, I've never seen a woman religious in a habit on the Missouri side outside of a rare lone sister at a weekday mass). What clerics remain, with a few exceptions, conduct illicit liturgies and ignore or even condone heterodoxy and immorality in parish and diocesan programming, and those exceptions I know of are either new priests or are old-timers who have spent the last decades declawed and demoralized, in out-of-the-way rural or inner-city parishes.

Those schools which haven't already been closed can't be trusted to educate our children in the basics of the faith (one, with once-a-month Masses for young children, but once-a-week "spiritual rallies" with African drum-beating for all), and the tuition structure is often more than a large, faithful Catholic family of moderate income can afford. Prominent lay Catholics publicly promote inherently evil policies like the Stowers Institute's stemcell/cloning initiatives, and the bulk of ordinary pew Catholics are fully integrated into secular mass culture--they ignore Church moral teaching (what little has been taught), and pooh-pooh the remnants of Catholic discipline that remain, and they are wholly ignorant of her Sacramental theology (and, shamefully, I cannot entirely exclude myself from the foregoing criticism).

I do think the diocesan anniversary should be marked, of course. But it should be marked with reflection and mortification, not celebration. It should be a Lenten experience. Now is the perfect time for reflection, as we have a new Bishop who has the vision and the will to start the long process of turning things around. He has taken concrete steps to do so already (alas, not so many and not so large yet as I had hoped!), I would like to imagine that, in fact, Bishop Finn shall, whatever the hoopla surrounding him will be, use the anniversary as a time of reflection and redirection.

Indeed, two or three years ago, any criticism of the Kansas City-St. Joseph hierarchy and history (as I have done, and will continue to do) would have been sound and fury, signifying nothing--pointless calumny with no constructive end. But today, with Bishop Finn, there is a real reason to look back over the last fifty years and candidly assess the wreckage--to spell out exactly what went wrong, and who, and how, and where, and why. Understanding a error is the first step in correcting it, and, let's be honest, the history of the diocese is a string of prudential errors. I'm not convinced that Bishop Finn is going take all the right steps, or that he's going to succeed in those he takes . . . I'm not naive . . . but there is more reason for hope now than there has been at any time in the history of the diocese. The more we laymen know about the mistakes, the more candidly and more effectively we can pray for and petition the Bishop to address them and support him as he exercises his office, and the more likely the Bishop is to prevail over the forces of darkness that only he can contend with.

So, this Curmudgeon won't be celebrating anything this anniversary year, but he will be marking it with continuing posts, from time to time, on the history of the diocese, and on her parish churches, all with an eye to understanding how we got to this point, and to figuring out how Bishop Finn might lead us back if he is graced to do so.

God help and bless Bishop Finn, and God help and bless us all, especially those who would obstruct him!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Okay. FINE! Don't answer me!

I'm extremely disappointed that I never got a guess on the church I posted earlier this week. I did get an email, privately, from an individual who asked questions about it, and who, of course, thought it hideous, but I didn't get any real guesses.

So, I will admit that I posed a trick question. The building is not a Catholic church at all; it's a Mormon temple in Ogden, Utah (note that I cropped away the spire, with the gilded
Angel Moroni on top, in my original post).

The real Catholic church in Ogden (at least the original or principal one) is St. Joseph's, several blocks away. A beautiful church, in which the use of contrasting native stone is noteworthy (for this reason, I'm using less-forgiving color photos). I really wanted to get inside and see what the windows, and the sanctuary, looked like, and I pulled on every door when I was there, but I couldn't get in. Quite disappointing.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Strengths and weaknesses in American Catholicism

There is a paradox inherent in all her history that the Church, designed in her nature to be universal, remains everywhere a minority. We are inclined to think that from the ago of Constantine to that of Luther there was a single, consistently triumphant, universally respected authority and to wonder why, in fact, she made such poor use of her opportunities. In fact, of course, the Church has always been at grips with enemies inside or outside her body, has never enjoyed that serene rule her constitution expects, has repeatedly suffered disasters from which it seemed barely possible she would recover. Her position in America cannot be understood unless her previous history is kept always in mind. From time to time, from place to place, she has been in hiding; and she has been on the throne. In America her problems are less simple. There she is firmly grounded in a neutral, secular state.

The United States does not form part of Christendom in the traditional sense of the word. She is the child of late eighteenth-century "enlightenment" and the liberalism of her founders has persisted through all the changes of her history and penetrated into every part of her life. Separation of Church and State was an essential dogma. Government, whatever its form, was looked on as the captain of a liner, whose concern is purely with navigation. He holds his command ultimately from the passengers. Under his immediate authority the public rooms of his ship are used for religious assemblies of all kinds, while in the bar anyone may quietly blaspheme. That is the ideal relationship between ruler and ruled, between the individual qua citizen and the individual qua immortal soul, as conceived by doctrinaire liberals of the period when the United States were founded. Men required and tolerated very little from their government. The realm of "private life" was large and inviolable. And the division of Church and State is feasible only under those conditions. To-day in most nations the analogy between State and ship has broken down. In some places the Captain has developed the mentality of Bligh of the Bounty; in others the passengers have been more or less willingly pressed into the crew; all are continuously occupied in keeping the ship running; the voyage is no longer a means to an end but an end in itself. As the State, wither it consist of the will of the majority or the power of a clique, usurps more and more of the individual's "private life," the more prominent become the discrepancies between the secular and the religious philosophies, for many things are convenient to the ruler which are not healthy for the soul.

Of course, that isn't me talking. It's from Evelyn Waugh, "The American Epoch in the Catholic Church," Life, 19 Sept. 1949

Mr. Waugh, however, foresaw in large part what was coming for the Church, and a reading of his entire article is disheartening, as he focuses largely on the great successes of the church in America through the middle of the Twentieth Century, and at the same time warns, through a discussion of what's happening elsewhere in the world and what the weaknesses are in American culture, that the then-current success of the church might be short-lived.



I hate it when things are not properly footnoted. Anybody know what the doctrinal sources are for this article of the new catechism?

2243 Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate, unless all the following conditions are met: 1) there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights; 2) all other means of redress have been exhausted; 3) such resistance will not provoke worse disorders; 4) there is well-founded hope of success; and 5) it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.

I was thinking of doing some research and maybe an essay on this, but rather than stumble along, searching blindly for sources (if there are any) for this, I thought I'd start by asking someone to point me in the right direction.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


For the first time, I'm really trying to fast during Lent, instead of just settling on a pathetic "giving something up." It's hard, taking up a discipline like that for the first time when you're in your late 30s. My collations are, well, rather more than the "crust of bread with coffee" that they should be. While I'm skipping the bag of chips or the cookie at lunch, when I order a sandwich, I can't seem to avoid eating the whole thing, rather than throwing part of it out.

When one is traveling, or visiting relatives, it's hard not to eat between meals. I've blown it several times already. Right now, my comment on the Old St. Patrick's post of February 18 is really ringing true:

While we're on the subject, if any of my readers has a couple dollars they don't know what to do with, they ought to send them to me so I can buy a big bag of Guy's Barbeque Potato Chips, a picked hot sausage, and a 16oz can of Coors. For some reason, that combination sounds really appealing right now.


Well, I guess if I'm feeling hungry much of the day, I'm accomplishing something--I'm getting some penance in and at least putting up a little fight for integrity. I'll try to do better, and I'll try not to whine so much, also.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Quiz: Name this Catholic Church

Who can tell me the name and city of this Catholic Church? Do comment below.

I'm back.

Well, sort of back. I won't be posting very much at least until next week, at which time I'll get back to my KCMO closed church updates and then, eventually, go back to Kansas City, Kansas.

But for now, one comment, and one quiz.

First, the comment. Abp. Chaput, one of the most sensible and practical American bishops (and, though not without faults, my recommendation to replace Maida or McCarrick, when I get that fancy letter marked "Confidential" from the Nuncio) once again does a great job speaking plainly against the secular powers-that-be. You'll recall that last year, in a widely-reported speech in Denver, he vigorously defended the Church's tax exempt status. I think he stopped short of publicly forbidding anyone from receiving Holy Communion, as I recall, but he did jump right back at questions about government intervention in ecclesiastical matters. Now he's done it again, with a response to the movement to abolish the statute of limitations for clergy abuse cases.

Chaput's greatest strength is perhaps his ability to stand up to secular opposition and (without losing his head and launching into a fit of temper, as I might) speak plainly and persuasively to regular people. He tells it like it is: the clergy abuse plaintiff's lawyers are greedy bastards who are pillaging the church, not doing justice (my paraphrase, of course). Contrast him to someone like Brown of Orange or Skylstad of Spokane who blithely gives away that which they have no right to--the patrimony built up over generations. Furthermore, Chaput does so persuasively. Contrast that to Mahoney of LA, on one hand, who hasn't the ability to say or write anything that is not self serving and unbelievable, or Bruskewitz of Lincoln who generally says the right substantive things, but in off-putting ways. Chaput would have been the best of the available men to step into Boston and deal with both the filthy perverts in the Church there as well as the filthy carrion birds circling around her.


Finally the little quiz. Who can discern which Catholic Church is pictured below? Your guesses in the comment box.

Actually, blogger isn't cooperating tonight, so I'll have to post the photo and the question tomorrow.