Touchstone Magazine HomeHome
Touchstone's Editors on news & events of the day.with Patrick Henry ReardonOrder our publications...Speakers bureau, Chicago Lecture Series, and more...Browse back issues...All the information you need


Touchstone's editors on news and events of the day.

Mere Comments Archive

Friday, May 31

SPACEY ECUMENISM:

From Religion News Service (May 16, 2002):

The Rev. Bob Edgar, the NCC's general secretary, began the discussions two years ago and made it clear he was willing to sacrifice the venerable NCC in order to attract Catholics and evangelicals to a bigger ecumenical table. An initial meeting was held last September in Baltimore. At the Chicago meeting, which was intentionally kept quiet, Edgar said all sides agreed that the time had come to bury past grudges and work together on common issues of concern, such as poverty, saving the environment and fighting pornography. "If the Russians and the Americans can live and work together in outer space, why can't Christians find a way to work together down here?" Edgar asked.



Interesting analogy, actually. Everyday Russians and Americans really don't do much together and don't speak a common language. Only a highly-trained professional minority of Russians and Americans can work together up in the stratsophere or in a vacuum, truly beyond the everyday experience of American and Russians. This is actually a good description of most official ecumenism: beyond the reach of average Christians, conducted on a top-down, professional level, up in the stratosphere somewhere.

Edgar's analogy actually works as a description of his own re-vamped organization built on the near-ruins of the NCC, a failed professional ecumenical body. It might engender some short-term money for the desperate NCC, but it is vacuous. I wonder how many of the signatories to Edgar's new ecumenical effort, including certain Orthodox and Roman Catholic bishops, realize that Edgar removed his signature last year from a statement supporting marriage as being between a man and a woman? He couldn't even support heterosexual marriage due to pressure from homosexuals. [see Touchstone Jan/Feb 2001, pp/ 72-73].

Sorry, Mr. Edgar, but heterosexual marriage is where most people on this planet live. Homosexual marriage can only exist in a sterile vacuum. If the new-and-improved NCC cannot endorse such a simple concept (boy meets girl, boy and girl get married), then it will be just another expensive space station. No thanks.


3:54 PM


Thursday, May 30

LAITY ABUSE: One could almost feel compassion for Archbishop Weakland when one reads his Dear John letter to his former lover, Paul Marcoux. Almost.

Weakland has been a real bastard to critics over the years, and has systematically undermined the Catholic faith in Milwaukee. He has used nasty language about the victims of child abuse. AD 2000 commented on his 1992 invitation to Australia:

Archbishop Weakland is a co-founder of the AIDS Resource Centre of Wisconsin /Milwaukee AIDS Project (ARCW/NIAP). His name has appeared on official letterhead and he has solicited funds - even donating archdiocesan funds to ARCW/MAP. A recent past-president of this organisation was known to have been a homosexual activist. The organisation distributes AIDS education brochures including instruction on "safe sex" which, apart from advocating condom usage, suggest "Watersports - urinating on each other", mutual masturbation, oral sex and other activities far too distasteful to list here. Additional literature distributed by ARCW/MAP carries advertisements for X-rated gay movies, gay baths and bars, pictures of gay strippers and a Gay Photo Calendar. In 1987, Weakland was asked by a group of lay Catholics to resign his position as co-chairman of the Board of Trustees of ARCW/MAP, but he declined to do so.

Weakland supported pedophiliac dissenting priests:

One of the several priests who celebrated Masses for Dignity-Milwaukee was Father James L. Arimond. Archbishop Weakland had supported Fr Arimond against Catholics United for the Faith's 1987 criticisms of his dissenting teachings in a course of lectures, "Homosexuality and Its Impact on the Family", given at the archdiocesan Archbishop Cousins Catholic Centre. Soon afterwards the Archbishop promoted Fr Arimond to the rank of parish pastor.
But three years later Fr Arimond was placed on an "administrative leave of absence pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct" (Milwaukee Journal January 22, 1990) and the Milwaukee Sentinel reported Arimond's imprisonment after a "no contest" to charges of pedophilia (July 24, 1990).


Anyone who protested sexual predation by priests was criticized and punished:

In July 1983, a new "pastoral team" was appointed to a Milwaukee parish. When the priest-principal of the parish school (of 15 years) queried the team's immoral/homosexual activities they had him sacked. Three teachers then wrote a letter (signed by one of them) to Archbishop Weakland on the "improper conduct and scandal" of one of the new assistant "team" priests. The Archbishop's response was to threaten the letter's signatory with a libel suit.

Soon afterwards all three teachers were pressured to resign. However, the team-priest in question, Fr Dennis Pecore, was later charged with pedophilia and jailed, also involving the archdiocese in a damages suit of $595,000 plus about $200,000 legal costs.


Less than a month later, Milwaukee's diocesan paper, the Catholic Herald, reported the Archbishop's views on clerical pedophilia (May 26, 1988): "Not all adolescent victims are so innocent. Some can be sexually very active and aggressive and often quite streetwise. We frequently try such adolescents for crimes as adults at that age."

Weakland's views take on a new meaning after the scandal.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is casting a suspicious eye at its former hero: It now remembers:

In 1988, Weakland drew a rebuke from one of Wisconsin's highest courts for his defensive response in 1984 to three teachers who blew the whistle to Weakland about sexual abuses by a Milwaukee priest, Father Dennis Pecore, then of Mother of Good Counsel Church, court records show.
Weakland wrote to the teachers - who had reported their allegations in a letter to Weakland - that "any libelous material found in your letter will be scrutinized carefully by our lawyers."
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals later chastised Weakland's response to the teachers as "abrupt" and "insensitive." In a 1994 interview with a Milwaukee Journal reporter, Weakland discussed his belief that true pedophilia among priests was rare. Instead, most of the priests who had trouble were attracted to teenage boys, he said - relationships he referred to as "affairs."
"What happens so often in those cases is that they go on for a few years and then the boy gets a little older and the perpetrator loses interest," Weakland told a reporter. "Then is when the squealing comes in and you have to deal with it."


Yes, you have to deal with it. The Catholics in Milwaukee had to deal with Weakland's corrupt administration for decades, and their protests to Rome were unavailing.

The Vatican appointed Weakland to Milwaukee. The Catholics of Milwaukee did not ask for him. Having appointed Weakland, the Vatican refused to do anything substantive when he attacked the Catholic faith year after year.

Was the affair with Marcoux the first one? Was Weakland involved with someone in Rome, in the Vatican? Is that why he thought he could get away with what he did in Milwaukee? Shanley tried blackmail with Madeiros and Law. Did Weakland try (and succeed) with a Curial official?

The Pope refuses to discipline bishops when they depart from Catholic teaching and undermine the faith of the laity. The bishops refuse to discipline priests who espouse man-boy sex (Shanley) and who corrupt children. Is a pattern emerging? Does the Vatican share in the guilt for this mess? The laity are the ones who suffer, and among the laity it is the little ones who suffer most of all, who are led into sin by the very ones who should be leading them to God.


7:47 AM


Wednesday, May 29

TONY HILLERMAN ON CHILDREN: Tony Hillerman married after the war and starved on a journalistÍs salary. Tony and Marie were able to have only one child, so they adopted four, and when a child who really needed them came along, one more. He was able to do this he explains in his memoir, Seldom Disappointed

Since the Pill was not yet in universal use and the practice of bumping off unwanted sons and daughters pre-birth had not yet been legalizedƒ

One daughter had a leg that would not grow. It had to be broken, stretched, broken, stretched, until it was the same length as the other leg.

When Tony slept in his pickup over night to meet a Hopi, he says

I awoke at sunriseƒand saw a man emerge from a house. He held the bundle he was carrying up toward the rising sun, stood like that for a long moment, apparently chanting, and then disappeared again into his house. I learned that he has been presenting his eight-day-old child to God, symbolized by the rising sun, in a ceremony in some ways like a Christian baptism and in some ways more than that. The elder I interviewed explained that the chant he had sung presented the infant as a child of God, and recognized the human mother and father as foster parents ¿ promising to nurture GodÍs child by the CreatorÍs rules and asking GodÍs blessing on this task.

Whether our children are born of our bodies or adopted they are not really ours, they are GodÍs: Eve got a man-child with the help of the Lord ¿ he is the Creator, we are but instruments. I pray for my children daily, that we may meet in heaven as friends and brothers and sisters. They are given to me but for a short time; the years fly increasingly fast, and they go their ways in the world.

Alas, our imperfections as parents, even when we try to be good parents, affect our children; but they have a true Father who is more their father than I am, and who loves them far more than I ever could. Because He is the true father, when we reject his children, by abortion or by the abandonment Hillerman describes in Carson Wolf, modeled after a real criminal, we reject God.


4:08 PM


Monday, May 27

EVERYBODY LOVES FATHER BRIAN: The Touchstone editors just finished an editorial meeting. The scandals in the Catholic Church were the main topic of conversation.

Jim Hitchcock observed that, once a priest was exposed as a pedophile, no one ever said ñHe was distant and formal," or "an old grump.î

A priest I had met around 1971 was arrested last week in Westminster, Maryland (Baltimore Sun, May 23 and May 24). I knew his parents, Richard and Shirley Cox, who helped me found the Charlottesville Virginia chapter of Birthright. Brian was in the Josephites at the time; he later switched to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

He was young and flaky when I met him. His parents regarded him as otherworldly. I thought he was odd. He told a story (which he thought funny) how he had had a home mass and one of the participants had given the host to her dog.

He became assistant pastor at St. JohnÍs in Westminster. A victim, Jeff Curran admitted: He has a naturally attractive personality, very outgoing. Everybody loved Father Brian.

Everybody loved Father Brian: he was a real entertainer, a charismatic priest and extemporaneous preacher who used unconventional methods to involve his congregation in the Gospel.

He celebrated sunrise Mass on Easter with balloons tied to each pew. He walked newly baptized babies around the church to be applauded. And on more than one occasion, Cox ended Mass by dancing down the aisle or by playing a kazoo.

When he was accused in 1995 and sent away for treatment, everyone turned on the victim: One letter writer to the local paper said:

"More Father Brians are needed in this sad, hateful and so much jealous world. ... Giving up his whole life for God is enough proof of his unselfishness. Come back, Father, nothing can compare to a bright tomorrow."

Marcie Wogan, deputy stateÍs attorney assigned to the case, saw nothing but sympathy for the priest, and anger toward the victim:

"When my office was investigating this matter in 1995, there was a great deal of anger and hostility directed toward whoever the public perceived as the victim of Brian Cox, and that was very painful, I'm sure, for anyone who was in that position to experience."

The Archdiocese of Baltimore protected him from the law:

"Father Cox was never questioned, because when investigators from the state's attorney's office attempted to reach him, he went on sabbatical and the church would not disclose his whereabouts."

Staunch conservative parish members still defend Father Brian. He was so interested in helping the poor. Why are people bringing up things that happened twenty years ago? If he did anything, it was from simple exuberance. What did he do?

Curran recalls going to the pool with Cox as many as a dozen times over several months. After swimming, Cox would take Curran into the showers in the locker room, which were generally empty during the week. There, he masturbated the youth on at least four occasions, Curran says.


And there were other victims.

When Blackwell, the Baltimore priest who was shot, was initially removed from his parish, the parish turned on the boy and his family, and demanded their priest back.

John Cornelius, a priest in Seattle, has been suspended. Everyone was so surprised. Everyone loved him so much:

Cornelius' involvement with teenage boys had been the stuff of whispers for years. But while there were rumors, there were few official church complaints. What most people saw were his dynamic preaching style, his championing of social causes and his ever-growing list of fans.
In his 18 years as pastor at Seattle's Immaculate Conception, and as chaplain for the Seattle Police Department, Cornelius counted among his friends some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the city. Through their support, he drove new cars and lived in a big house along Lake Washington.
He turned services into marathon events, infusing usually solemn ceremonies with energy and joy. Church membership swelled.


The Catholic laity have been enablers and share in the guilt of these criminals. The laity have wanted to be entertained; they find Christianity boring, all this stuff about sin and atonement and penance and grace. They want lively masses, clown masses, high entertainment. They donÍt want priests to be what they are supposed: men who have dedicated years of their lives to serious theological study and ascetic practices, men who are entrusted with handing on the very word of God, preaching a gospel of repentance, administering the dread mysteries of the New Covenant in the blood of God, mysteries at which the Thrones and Cherubim tremble. No, the Catholic laity want Father Brian and Father Bob and Father Bill, whom no one can take seriously. So what if these immature priests get their sexual pleasure by ruining the lives of children. What are a few ruined lives when the laity can have a fun religion, one emptied of the dreadful and saving message of the Gospel?


2:26 PM




For previous blogs, click here.


Home - Mere Comments - Daily Reflections - Store - Speakers & Conferences - Archives - Contact Us