Sunday, March 25, 2007

Report on the "Loyal Dissent" lecture.

A report from our mole on the Topics-to-Go lecture by "'loyal' dissident theologian" Fr. Charles Curran yesterday, March 24. He promises more later.

Curmudgeon, Wolftracker,

Once again, I ventured into the deep and attended the Kansas City Catholic dissenters’ Topics-to-Go lecture series at the All’s Souls Unitarian Universalist "Church." And once again, I sacrificed a morning of my life (a beautiful spring morning, by-the-way) to hang out with a bunch of liberal gray-hairs.

You guys really need to start paying me for this. Really! At least cover the cost of the almond croissant and coffee I got at Napoleon’s Bakery to carry me through the ordeal. And give me five bucks to put into the "freewill offering" basket so they can pay airfare for the next dissident to Kansas City (don’t worry…I wouldn’t really do the latter).

So now I’m flipping through 15 smallish pages of notes looking for something interesting to say about Fr. Charles Curran’s talk. This time a professor was talking, so there were some outrageous things said, but not in a particularly outrageous way, unlike the antics of Bishop "Just Tom" Gumbleton (or Sister Joan Chittister and Kathleen Sebelius) last year. I’ll get to the summary in a moment, but as with the other talks, the most interesting things were the setting, the crowd and the Q&A session.

The setting was more subdued than last time. The only literature available as you walked in was a Voice of the Faithful brochure and a free copy the current issue of National Catholic Reporter (more on that later). I didn’t see literature or hear any new announcements about the KCSJ People of God organization that they were trying to start last year. The auditorium was as it was last time, except that additional chairs were set up in the foyer so that the huge crowd could be comfortable as it spilled out of the auditorium (it never did, BTW. There were a good number of empty seats. Attendance has fallen off since "Just Tom’s" talk in the heady early days of their project).

The front wall of the "sanctuary," the UU’s auditorium, still had that 25-foot tall nonrepresentational fabric-and-rope thingamabob that reminded me of a woman’s reproductive system. I used to think that there’s no place in this world for nonrepresentational art of that sort. I was wrong. The UU "sanctuary" is the perfect place for such a thing. This time I also noticed that beside the podium was a hoop-and-lamp doo-dad which is the UU logo. However, the lamp wasn’t lit. Rather fitting for it to be there in front of a dissident priest. And rather fitting that the lamp’s fire was out.

Anyways, the crowd was—as noted above—gray. Very gray. Lots of old women, fewer old men. A dozen or so younger folk (out of a total of around 200 people). And lots of women (old and young) dressed like men, with their hair cut like men. I didn’t sit next to anyone this time—there were plenty of seats available, but the woman down the row (30 to 40-ish, with the regulation manly haircut, manly khaki pants, and manly white button-down blouse) was apparently a true believer. She chortled at the typical applause lines (e.g., from Fr. Curran, "We tend to idolatry, making God in our own image, but we really don’t know what She looks like!") and guffawed and sighed at all the right places.

There was another amusing incident (amusing…like all of this…in a dark sort of way). Before the lecture started, the leader of the pack stood up and announced that there were copies of Curran’s book, Loyal Dissent, available in the back. Then she announced that someone had accidentally been given an autographed copy of the book, and she asked everyone who bought a book to examine theirs to see if there was a greeting scribbled to Sister Farrah Far-Out. Some guy raised his hand, and Sister Far-Out herself marched up to make the exchange. Her habit was indistinguishable from that of most of the other women in attendance: Regulation haircut, khaki pants, and a white button-down shirt. Perhaps they’re all sisters of the same order?

Anyways, there were no Roman collars in sight (certainly not from Fr. Curran, a suit-and-tie priest all around), but I recognized the former pastor of a midtown KCMO church behind me, and I also recognized my parents’ former rural pastor (now, I think, at some JoCo assignment…one of the "Holy Something-or-Other" parishes that seem to run together in my mind). I tried to get a couple of solid orthodox priests I knew to attend with me, and ask a few difficult questions, but I suppose Saturday morning confessions and other duties—or perhaps good sense—kept them away.

Now, I should discuss my talk, but I’ve just got to jump ahead. I’ll get to the bulk of Curran’s talk later in this email…or perhaps in the next. The Q&A session featured two or three queries and comments from the audience (two from some of the few members of the audience under 60), expressing fear for their progressive movement in the face of …. people like us: young conservative Catholics. One young woman (conspicuous due to her rather feminine haircut) asked "I look around, and I see a striking age difference here. We all see it. Most people who are young see things in black and white and are more conservative and legalistic. What are we to do?" A second woman, whose appearance I didn’t note and don’t recall, said she was concerned about the lack of youth in the room and asked "What do you think about the future of loyal dissent?" A third guy…thirtyish…stood up and announced that he was not so conservative as he used to be, and asked Curran to comment on "conservative dissent" on issues like bringing back--gasp--the Latin Mass.

In response to the first question, Curran took a mild track. He acknowledged that there was danger in certitude, and also that it was important that "groups like this" got together and dissenters drew support from one another. However, said Curran, it’s important that we all get along: it’s a big Church, and there is a need for Diversity as well as Unity. Curran then moved a little farther down the trail and cautioned the first questioner and the audience about the dangers of young Catholics looking for certainty, and he likened the conservative revival to the upsurge of evangelicalism that has eclipsed moderate protestantism in the last 40 years.

(Here, I noted that it was highly unusual…if not unheard of…for the dissenters to describe reactionary Catholic nuts like me as a source of "Diversity." Usually the Topics-to-Go crowd seems themselves as the sole source and arbiter of Diversity. We’re not ordinarily scored as "Diverse" notwithstanding that we’re often a minority of one in a room such as this).

To the second and third questioners, Curran opened up a little more, noting that keeping the interest of youth is a problem for every Church of every demonination. He noted that the average age of the subscribers to National Catholic Distorter was 67. That’s right….67 (!)...and they’re struggling to get younger readers. He sees real problems in the future. Curran’s suggestion was that younger people are too busy playing soccer-mom to get involved like the gray-heads in the room.

(Here I repressed an urge to jump up and answer the obvious question. So dissenters aren’t reproducing? Imagine that! I wonder if it has anything to do with disregard of the "non-core" teachings about artificial contraception? Or with the attitude of religious indifferentism? Too busy enjoying themselves to trouble with more than one designer child and too busy celebrating themselves to give that one designer child a solid leftist formation. Fr. Charlie oughta come to Blessed Sacrament. It’ll scare the hell out of him.)

Anyways, I have a few chores to do, so I’m going to postpone the writeup of the whole talk until latter on. I will say, though, that at the end of the talk, I lingered a little bit in the corner, pondering mischief. Do I kneel down and ask my parent’s old pastor for a blessing? Or perhaps as Fr. Curran? After all….St. Francis said that his first act on meeting a particular wicked priest would be to kiss his hands, because of their indellible sacerdotal character. Naw, I decided…my chaplain describes sacramentals as "spiritual bullets," but there seemed to be something wrong with firing such a bullet off in that setting.

More later.

Your unjustly-paid correspondent.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

No problem at all

A couple of weeks ago, I took down a comment that directed readers to audio files of the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Lenten mission, out of a concern (thoughtfully raised by Indulter X) that providing the recordings for free would interfere with the preacher's CD sales and make it harder for him to continue his ministry. Last week I was assured...indirectly...that the concern was unfounded, and that the preacher, Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea, is happy to have the conferences available.

They're available by CLICKING HERE.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Who needs the CD's when you've got the guy himself?

Tonight was the first of four nights of our parish mission. We're quite fortunate to have Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea with us. Tonight he preached on death. Tomorrow night is judgment, then heaven and hell on Wednesday and Thursday (actually, I think Wednesday will be hell. I'd never heard of the guy before yesterday, but he's pretty darned good (and he's got a high standard to compare to with our FSSP priests).

If you're interested, a few pews remain: Mass is at 6:30pm , and Rosary and Fr. Isaac Mary's talk follow. Blessed Sacrament, 20th and Parallel Parkway (or thereabouts...just look for the steeple). There's also Mass and a talk at noon.

Come, but just don't take my seat.

I'm glad this thing doesn't conflict with Fr. Charles Curran's upcoming talk. I'm sure they'll be in the same league, eh?

UPDATE MARCH 13: Mea culpa. Apologies to Fr. Isaac Mary, and to the Fathers of Mercy. I had found a CPM designation for him on the Google search I did yesterday. Turns out that it's just plain wrong. He's not a member of that institute (which, judging from the one Father of Mercy I know, is nonetheless to be highly regarded). Guess that goes to show you can't always trust the internet. Except for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is never wrong, of course. Oh, and this website...another one that is totally free from error or deception.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Remember . . . they said it wouldn't cost Missourians a dime?

I'm sure it's been prudently taken down from the Clone & Kill website now that they've won, but you'll recall that one of the grand lies that Jim Stowers' mouthpieces repeated ad naseum during the Amendment 2 campaign was that Amendment 2 wouldn't cost Missourians any money--there would be no public funding for scientists who created and then ground up babies for medical experiments.

Of course, that's 180 degrees from what Amendment 2 actually said (see Sec. 38(d)5) but of course, one isn't expected to be truthful in political campaigns, and if you have the right judge, and you've promised big bucks to the Secretary of State's future gubenatorial campaign, one isn't even obliged to be truthful on ballot language.

Now, of course they're all up in arms over there in the Missouri legislature, because some members really had the audacity to hold the cloners to their word. Blunt's plan to sell off state university assets to build cloning labs has been stymied.

And our own State Senator, Jolie Justus, towing the line of the party of death, is of course posturing her outrage.

Because you see, if it isn't about cloning, it also isn't about funding.

Of course not.

Let's not forget Satan's little helpers at the plaintiff's bar

Of course, remember, it's about healing, not about money. It's also about justice (but please don't ask us to explain to you how getting 40% contingent fees on a judgment paid by expropriating the patrimony accumulated by generations of sacrificial giving from innocent fellow Catholics, instead of the perverts and their enablers themselves, is just).

Now, one of my big blogging regrets is that early on, I intended to focus on the modern theives and scoundrels at bench and bar who are exploiting the misdeeds and misgovernance of the clergy and hierarchy in order to destroy the Church and enrich themselves in the process. I got a few posts off on the subject, here, here and here, for instance, but I wandered off into other rants. The bad guys are still at it, of course, and Satan's own Marci Hamilton is still scribbling away in her comfy-chair at Cardozo, putting out unsupportable nonsense that a law professor--even one all- consumed with the project of ridding the world of religion--should not be allowed to print under her credentials. If I start posting regularly, I need to get back to this topic. Really, because it's one that nearly everyone else ignores.
But, Oh, Mr. Curmudgeon, though, where did you get this ad?
Well, I got it from Orville, with many thanks. Orville cut it out of a newspaper.
But from which newspaper, you ask?
  1. The Davenport Leader
  2. The Quad City Times
  3. The Kansas City Star
  4. Pitch Weekly
  5. The Quad City GLBT News
  6. The Catholic Key
Yes, of course, he cut it out of the Catholic Key (page 10 of the March 9, 2007 issue, vol. 39, no. 10).
Obviously, things are still rudderless at the Key (which is, of course, better than having a firm hand at the tiller steering the paper purposefully in the wrong direction). But we see our own diocesan newspaper being used as a tool of the enemies of the Church (which isn't new, of course, but this is noteworthy for its brazenness). Something must be done.
Hilary, we need you down here!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Regnans in Excelsis

Pius Bishop, servant of the servants of God, in lasting memory of the matter.

He that reigneth on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and earth, has committed one holy Catholic and apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one alone upon earth, namely to Peter, the first of the apostles, and to Peter's successor, the pope of Rome, to be by him governed in fullness of power. Him alone He has made ruler over all peoples and kingdoms, to pull up, destroy, scatter, disperse, plant and build, so that he may preserve His faithful people (knit together with the girdle of charity) in the unity of the Spirit and present them safe and spotless to their Saviour.

1. In obedience to which duty, we (who by God's goodness are called to the aforesaid government of the Church) spare no pains and labour with all our might that unity and the Catholic religion (which their Author, for the trial of His children's faith and our correction, has suffered to be afflicted with such great troubles) may be preserved entire. But the number of the ungodly has so much grown in power that there is no place left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their most wicked doctrines; and among others, Elizabeth, the pretended queen of England and the servant of crime, has assisted in this, with whom as in a sanctuary the most pernicious of all have found refuge. This very woman, having seized the crown and monstrously usurped the place of supreme head of the Church in all England to gether with the chief authority and jurisdiction belonging to it, has once again reduced this same kingdom- which had already been restored to the Catholic faith and to good fruits- to a miserable ruin.

2. Prohibiting with a strong hand the use of the true religion, which after its earlier overthrow by Henry VIII (a deserter therefrom) Mary, the lawful queen of famous memory, had with the help of this See restored, she has followed and embraced the errors of the heretics. She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics; oppressed the followers of the Catholic faith; instituted false preachers and ministers of impiety; abolished the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, fasts, choice of meats, celibacy, and Catholic ceremonies; and has ordered that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin, entertained and observed by herself, be also observed by her subjects. She has dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices, to bestow these and other things ecclesiastical upon heretics, and to determine spiritual causes; has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Church of Rome or obey its precepts and canonical sanctions; has forced most of them to come to terms with her wicked laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the pope of Rome, and to accept her, on oath, as their only lady in matters temporal and spiritual; has imposed penalties and punishments on those who would not agree to this and has exacted then of those who perserved in the unity of the faith and the aforesaid obedience; has thrown the Catholic prelates and parsons into prison where many, worn out by long languishing and sorrow, have miserably ended their lives. All these matter and manifest and notorius among all the nations; they are so well proven by the weighty witness of many men that there remains no place for excuse, defence or evasion.

3. We, seeing impieties and crimes multiplied one upon another the persecution of the faithful and afflictions of religion daily growing more severe under the guidance and by the activity of the said Elizabeth -and recognising that her mind is so fixed and set that she has not only despised the pious prayers and admonitions with which Catholic princes have tried to cure and convert her but has not even permitted the nuncios sent to her in this matter by this See to cross into England, are compelled by necessity to take up against her the weapons of juctice, though we cannot forbear to regret that we should be forced to turn, upon one whose ancestors have so well deserved of the Christian community. Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Elizabeth to be a heretic and favourer of heretics, and her adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.

4. And moreover (we declare) her to be deprived of her pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.
5. And also (declare) the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to her, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordshop. fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these presents , so absolve them and so deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended title to the crown and all other the abovesaid matters. We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.

6. Because in truth it may prove too difficult to take these presents wheresoever
it shall be necessary, we will that copies made under the hand of a notary public and sealed with the seal of a prelate of the Church or of his court shall have such force and trust in and out of judicial proceedings, in all places among the nations, as these presents would themselves have if they were exhibted or shown.

Given at St. Peter's at Rome, on 27 April 1570 of the Incarnation; in the fifth year of our pontificate.

Pius PP.

The fashionable historians denounce it as the rash act of a holy, clear-thinking, but politically naive man. It wasn't fashionable, but it was right. Indeed, perhaps we need a little more holiness and clear thinking from Roman quarters (and from other points in the hierarchy), and a little more political naivete. A click of the news....from the UK, from the Czech Republic, from Red China, from the United States confirms it. I hinted at such myself last year. Perhaps Cardinal Biffi will give us a taste of that very sort of thing...the thing we had a taste of back in the days of Cardinal Ratzinger.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I really need to carry a few extra St. Benedict medals in my Car

Bumper sticker alert:

The Divinity in me
blesses the Divinity in You.


This sort of thing helps me focus my thoughts about New Agers. Honestly, I don't usually give them much thought, notwithstanding the proximity of their "spiritual center" to the Curmudgeon's Cave. But for some time, I've been thinking that their worship of self, of their own wills, of their own urges, can be summed up as follows:

Spiritual maxxxxxxxxxx.
Ahem. I don't want to get picked up in the wrong kind of Google searches. Let's try it again:

Spiritual self-abuse.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Who's laughing? At what?

Fr. Andrew M. Greeley, who is probably still rather perturbed by the cancellation of the local speaking engagement by his buddy, Bishop "Just Tom" Gumbleton (and the loss of a weekend of chumming about at the expense of whomever is funding the dissident activity in the Diocese of Tuscon), lets us know what he thinks about the state of Catholic education.

You see, in his column in the local shopper section of the newspaper in Tuscon (where he apparently now resides), he says there's a division between the hierarchy and the laity, and that the hierarchy is destroying Catholic education.

And how, Andy! (I mean . . . Fr. Andy)!

Oops, you mean the hierarchy's concern for "secularization and relativism" is what's killed it? Surely that's an editorial meant the hierarchy's disregard of it. Right, Andy? (I mean . . . Fr. Andy)?

At least Fr. Andy's right on one point, as Orville noted in our brief exchange about this article this morning:

All of this pessimism troubles me because I've spent much of my life doing research on Catholic schools. I have concluded that Catholic schools are among the best things that the church in this country has done, that they are resources in social capital that the church should treasure and that they are more important in a time of change in the church than in a time of stability. Most people laugh at my research, which is the fate of a sociologist whose findings conflict with conventional wisdom.
Yes, the underlining is mine. At least he knows most of us laugh at his research. ...those of us who've gotten over the scandal of it....

One thing I'd also like to note: Fr. Andy he still can't come to grips with the fact that he, and those like him, are winning the battle. He dare not declare victory, or his troops might lose interest in his cause. But of course, the people in his camp these days can lay claim to "conventional" wisdom; concerns about relativism and secularism aren't conventional at all.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A week since the motu proprio

Well, it's the first of March. It's been a week since the motu proprio was released and the ancient rite was released from bondage...

...or so some thought.

Actually, I have it on good authority, from the a volunteer at a parish in Overland Park, who overheard the parish secretary telling the sacristan that he heard the associate pastor talking to the pastor of a church in Kansas City, who knew a seminarian at Mundelein, whose friend from pretheologiate at Conception was a seminarian at the North American College in Rome, and the friend in Rome had dinner with a seminary professor whose housekeeper has a second cousin, and that second cousin is a headwaiter at a ristorante near Ottaviano station which is frequented by some Monsignori in the Pontifical Council for the Family, who were talking about a conversation one of them had had with the janitor who was responsible for cleaning Cardinal Arinze's office, and the headwaiter overheard from the Monsignori that the motu proprio would most certainly be released March 12, the Feast of St. Gregory the Great.

March 12.

It must be true. It must be.

So, call Vegas. Check the line on it, and put your money down.

March 12.