Sunday, December 19, 2004
All three of the kids, in varying degrees and symptoms, came down with a bad case of either "growling in the grass" or the trots.
Dee-lightful! Rachel had the mildest (thank God) symptoms of all of us--just a couple of hideously full--or overfull--diapers. I should edit that--"Mildest symptoms next to her apparently-Ebola-immune mother" would be more accurate. Heather's imperviousness to the diseases of the world continues to be a source of irritating wonder. Better her than me, though.
After all, even the littluns' dad got ill--and with remarkable projection and velocity--last Monday night. Apparently, it is Basic Epidemiology™ that being barfed on three times by a sick person greatly increases your chances of contracting their malady.
Of course, I became ill just before a morning flight to South Florida for business.
I had almost nothing to eat for three days, which, given my size, is probably a good thing. Fasting, penance and all that. That, and I don't enjoy hurling.
I flew in to Miami, and drove Alligator Alley over to Ft. Myers (flying directly into Fort Myers from Detroit is expensive enough to force the immediate default of your average Third World kleptocracy) for the necessary transactions and inquiries. Anyone who ever complains about Metro Detroit traffic has never left Michigan. Miami traffic at 2:30pm is something to be strenuously avoided, as I discovered. But once I cleared that, I found the section of I-75 that cuts through the northern Everglades/Cypress region to be hauntingly beautiful. And a little chilling, too. All that fencing is there for a reason--there are gators, indeed, in them there 'Glades. Just waiting for that extra-special, not-particularly-agile, clueless tourist from Up North...
Business was transacted, and I drove back Wednesday. Then, The Fun Began.
You see, I had to change my hotel reservation, and was advised that it was "the Days Inn close to Miami International Airport." [BTW, a salute to Miami IA--the loudspeakers played honest-to-God Christmas carols--Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Little Town of Bethlehem were two of the memorable ones.] I was given an address and phone number for the new hotel, and I drove quickly to Miami, watching an overcast sunset over the same Everglades. Then I discovered what "close to the airport" meant, as I headed increasingly into the downtown area.
A-ha! A Days Inn logo!
Ooookay--where the hell is the exit? Well, surely any exit will do. Right?
At least there were no gators. Several blocks of twisting around lights, finding seemingly parallel streets, and navigating further around a city I'd never been to in my life brought me to the front desk. Ah, yes--here's my reservation confirmation number.
"Sorry, sir, we don't even have a number close to that. That's odd."
Yes, it sure is...Um, isn't this the Days Inn closest to the airport? Off 11th Street?
"Oh, no--This is 12th Street. The other Days Inn, that's back off the expressway. Just go back on the 826 and head west. You can see it right from the expressway."
Five hours on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.
Well, after wending my way around some badly advertised construction, even-more-badly-planned on-ramps and exits, I worked my way back to the 826 and started looking. No luck.
You see, while the expression "You can see it right from the expressway" was fully accurate and utterly true, the same also applies to Ursa Major. It doesn't mean that it's easy to see, much less that I have any ability to get there.
I took an exit, and tried the phone number.
Have you ever seen a steering wheel turned into a balloon animal? It's pretty cool, if hard to explain to the rental car company.
I tried a local, who advised me in an earnest and friendly, if not fully-reassuring way, to "take road to end, then right."
Well, why not? It was better than "seeing it from the expressway." Better yet: it worked. I pulled in, checked in, and crashed.
So I'm a little slow in getting re-started around here. Your patience, please.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Let's see--since Thursday, we went on an all day Christmas shopping blitz, followed it up with more shopping, rode out my son's convincing impression of Linda Blair in her signature role and had our youngest daughter baptized into the Catholic faith.
Good pictures are here, taken by the godfather. Yes, Rachel is adorable. The redhead is Heather, and no, I am not worthy. I'd call it an advanced case of Ric Ocasek Syndrome, but I can't sing. Chalk it up to the mysteries of Providence.
You'll also see Madeleine (in the blue sweater and denim skirt) and Dale (in a sweater vest). Our parents and other family members are also there.
You'll see very little of the lad in his snazzy new sweater vest and corduroy pants, as he barfed right before the baptism began. Right as daddy was holding him. He missed me, but obliterated the vest and pants. Fortunately, his aunt Elaine was equipped with a substitute outfit for her youngest son, and it fit nicely. You can see it in most of the pictures of him. Poor kid, though he seems to be past whatever it was that ailed him.
So, as you can see, I have been very busy and with work upcoming, I don't look to surface before Wednesday night at the earliest. Those of you in correspondence with me should not take silence as indifference--I'm just swamped.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
The famed British philosopher is now a theist, though he correctly describes his belief system as deism.
The reason is one which St. Paul readily understood:
Over the years, Flew proclaimed the lack of evidence for God while teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, and Reading universities in Britain, in visits to numerous U.S. and Canadian campuses and in books, articles, lectures and debates.
There was no one moment of change but a gradual conclusion over recent months for Flew, a spry man who still does not believe in an afterlife.
Yet biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says in the new video, "Has Science Discovered God?"
The video draws from a New York discussion last May organized by author Roy Abraham Varghese's Institute for Metascientific Research in Garland, Texas. Participants were Flew; Varghese; Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jew; and Roman Catholic philosopher John Haldane of Scotland's University of St. Andrews.
The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the August-September issue of Britain's Philosophy Now magazine. "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote.
The letter commended arguments in Schroeder's "The Hidden Face of God" and "The Wonder of the World" by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.
A fascinating story, and one that will be worth watching.
I owe Mark Mossa (he's not yet been ordained, btw) a retraction and an apology for one of the comments in the fisking below--the one insinuating his youth ministry and classroom work were failures. As he points out, I don't know him, apart from a selection of his writing. That was a cheap shot, and I withdraw it and apologize.
I won't be deleting it because I don't care for the "memory hole" approach to written mistakes. Apologize for it, but don't pretend you didn't write it.
If you're into happy endings, Mr. Mossa and I are engaged in a civil discussion offline, and it will remain offline.
He now has a blog, which you may be interested in.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
From our burgeoning Impending Gory Death of Western Civilization files, a Canadian hockey mom took a unique approach to taunting opposing fans at a pee-wee hockey tournament:
The incident reportedly happened during a confrontation that erupted mostly between parents of players on two opposing minor pee-wee teams: the York Toros and Mississauga Terriers. The teams played Monday night in Mississauga, west of Toronto.
In a letter to the league, a parent who witnessed the alleged incident called it "unfortunate" and "disturbing."
"She lifted her top well above her breasts. (Wearing a bra) she shook (her breasts) side to side," the woman wrote.
Ms. Maternal Expressions is nonplussed by the attention:
When reached by phone, the woman said she didn't want to discuss the matter.
"That's none of your business," she said.
Oy. I'd say it was pretty well everybody's business on November 29. I wonder how Junior feels about it?
William Luse, any thoughts?
Friday, December 03, 2004
[IMPORTANT UPDATE: I'm something of an Asshole at times. No surprise to regular readers, but for those who Google in, there you go. This post was one of those times. READ THIS FIRST. Mark Mossa, S.J., is a better man than I. As of 2008, he's also an ordained Jesuit priest and the Church is all the better for it.]
America's favorite rogue religious order for men is still in the casuistry business, I'm happy to report.
As can be seen in this largely hissy review by Mark Mossa, S.J., of George Weigel's Letters to a Young Catholic.
Reading George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic is a bit like watching Kevin Costner attempt a British accent in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” You can see that he’s trying, and for stretches he gets it, but despite his best efforts he can’t avoid returning to his normal way of speaking. So, too, of George Weigel’s attempt at a “youthful” accent.
If true, this is a legitimate point of criticism. There's nothing more likely to turn off an inquiring reader than a patronizing tone. Think George W. Bush greeting the attendees at an Urban League conference with "Yo--wassup? W is in da hizzouse!"
However, as we will shortly see, there is a very good chance that Fr. Mossa is reading into Weigel things that might not be there.
You have to give him credit for trying to speak a positive message about the Catholic Church to young people, for it is something they desperately need. Still, every time you think he’s got it, he reverts to his high intellectual and ideological self. This makes his sincere attempts to connect with young people seem artificial. (In the book, for example, G. K. Chesterton becomes simply GKC, as if he were a rap artist.)
The first example: Or maybe Weigel calls him "GKC" because that's what others called him, Fr. "Marky Mark."
(Might as well continue the artificial "rap" references.
Hmm. Come to think of it, the Jebbies these days are definitely a "funky bunch," so maybe the reference isn't so forced after all.)
By the way: the musical form is called "hip-hop" these days, Father.
You don't want to leave Gen Y scratching their heads about dated references, now, do you?
The result is a work that will be inaccessible to most young Catholics. Given that in the first chapter he is already talking about Nietzsche, Sartre and what he calls “debonair nihilism,” and his use of presumptuous openers like, “Sometime, when you’re in Florence...” the book might be more accurately titled, “Letters to a Young, Middle- to Upper-Class College-Educated Catholic.”
OK, now I'm confused: what's Weigel's besetting sin here, again? Talking down to the reader, or sending the conversation whizzing way over his head? I know which one I find more grating, and it's the former.
Put another way: is it really better to assume your reader is a booger-eating moron?
To use a simple analogy--sometimes part of the fun of a Monty Python (they're a British comedy troupe from the '70s) sketch is not being fully up to speed on the references--"Purley, squire? Say no more!"--but still being invited in to laugh anyway. I'll take that over the "you're too damn dumb and uncultured, televidiot, so I'll speak to you accordingly" approach every day of the week.
Then there's the matter of Fr. Mossa's current posting: a professor of philosophy at Loyola University of New Orleans. That would mean that Fr. himself is dealing with, well, "college students," right? Plus, according to the website, a year at LUNO will set you back almost $32,000. Can you say "middle to upper class Catholic"?
I knew you could.
Weigel is just not speaking to the majority of young Catholics who have peopled my classroom and youth ministry programs in the last 15 years.
Only a tiny percentage of which I've ever seen darken the door of a church afterwards, worse luck.
Despite these limitations, the work shines in places. The author’s evocation of the Catholic “sacramental imagination” as an optic through which we see the world is compelling. His chapter “Mary and Discipleship” is one of his best, showing the value that reflection on Mary’s life can have for overcoming youthful fear of commitment. His contemplation of Chartres Cathedral and our need for beauty is Weigel at his most lyrical, though he teeters on the brink of proclaiming all things past beautiful and all things present ugly, a hazard throughout this historically minded travelogue.
Ah, the nice stuff. Furthermore, I join with Father in rejecting a world view that "proclaims all things past beautiful and all things present ugly."
The second half needs an essential qualifier: "virtually."
Two of the central chapters represent, successively, the low and high points of this work. The first, “Why and How We Pray,” is vintage Weigel, a sustained attack on contemporary liturgy and worship (“The Catholic Church has failed its Lord times beyond numbering”). Worship God only because God is to be worshiped, he suggests; our experience of worship doesn’t matter.
The choir says "Amen, Brother Weigel! Preach it!" In fact, I'd go beyond the quoted sentence and replace "failed" with "insulted." The problem is that "our experience of worship" has become the focus of the Mass, as seen in the constant effort to celebrate the inherent Pelagian wonderfulness of the folks whose butts warm the kneeler-free pews.
Well, of course, not so much "our experience of worship" as "our betters' experience of worship," influenced as it is by the near universal Pre-Conciliar Traumatic Stress Disorder of American liturgical experts.
Lord knows nobody gave a rat's ass about my devoutly Catholic aunt's "experience of worship" when the new pastoral administrator (an OSJ nun) took over the parish and injected herself, front and center, into the liturgy. This "experience of worship" has ensured that my aunt hasn't darkened the door of a Catholic church in over a year and counting. Likewise, my "experience of worship" is irrelevant to the consciousness-raising that must--must!--occur when the parish ensemble leader offers up his/her gender-neutered version of the Gloria at 90 decibels, or the priest sings about God as "She", or....skip it.
I'm getting tired of talking about it.
Forgetting his audience, he trashes “the Phil Donahue-style priest,” a reference that will leave readers under 30 scratching their heads.
Is that an example of talking down or over their heads? It's so confusing.
More disturbing is the way he begins that same chapter, offering, presumably, a role model in Father Jay Scott Newman.
Why do I picture Fr. Mazza reacting the exact same way my cat does to a feline interloper on the lawn?
He quotes, at length, the inaugural sermon of this new pastor, introducing himself as “a priest of the New Covenant in the presbyteral order.” As Weigel excerpts it, this new pastor presents his fundamental duties as being “to teach, to sanctify and to govern” and goes on to explain how “presbyteral ordination configures the man ordained to the Person of Christ the Head and Bridegroom of the Church in such a way that he is able to stand in the Person of Christ and act in his name for the welfare of the whole Church.” It’s hard to imagine that Weigel thinks such self-importance in a priest is a good thing, especially given the way such attitudes contributed to the church’s sexual abuse scandal.
Sounds like Fr. Newman has the makings of one hell of a fine priest, a man who takes his vocation seriously--as a God-given challenge and charge. As opposed to an endlessly diffident and deferential nebbish expected to affirm the Almighty Flock in all particulars, all in the name of "pastoral sensitivity."
Which, naturally, is the problem for "the pastorally sensitive" who refuse their parishes nothing in the way of bad behavior. OK, you can give the occasional racism, consumerism and social justice speeches. Just as long as Fr. Nebbish doesn't suggest anyone is actually guilty, beyond the vaguest, most expansive sense that makes everyone (and therefore no one) culpable for these sin--er, structural inequities.
Reality check: the abusers don't exactly have a record of gabbing about acting in persona Christi. Instead, they were rule-breaking iconoclasts like Fr. Shanley ("if he wasn't a damned pervert, he'd be my hero"), or guitar-playing "rock stars" who charmed the gullible as they "allegedly" hide a history of serial child rape. Not exactly men who thundered neo-Tridentine catchphrases.
It could be worse, Fr. Mossa. Fr. Newman could have said ordination configured him to act in the office of priest, prophet and king, just like one of those pre-conciliar theology manuals.
The next chapter, “How Vocations Can Change History,” the best chapter in the book, and a relief after the previous one, could easily stand alone. Introducing the vocational journeys of the Polish martyr Jerzy Popieluszko and the Polish pope Karol Wojtyla, Weigel paints a picture of two humble and heroic priests. With his reflection comes sound vocational advice, absent the backsliding into ideological agendas that mars the other chapters. Popieluszko’s murder by the Communist government in 1984, Weigel says, teaches the important lesson that “faith has consequences,” as does Wojtyla’s courageous underground training for priesthood during Nazi occupation.
Weigel encourages young people to think in terms of vocation (“something you are”), not career, for “people determined to live the truth of who they are—people determined to live vocationally—are the most dynamic force in history.” In this chapter, Weigel maintains his accent from beginning to end, and speaks to young people most powerfully. I will recommend this chapter to my students, as well as his handy summary of Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body, which is presented earlier in the book.
There's nothing to pound on here. Good stuff, really. Though perhaps an acknowledgment of his own ideological blinders would have been nice. He sits firmly entrenched in the progressive camp--perhaps even on the far left of the Jesuits, too--for example, see this summary of an article by Fr. Mossa which, inter alia, argues that the war in Afghanistan was likely unjust.
Then again, yanking the log out of one's own eye can be awfully difficult, in all fairness. Lord knows I don't fire up the chainsaw enough myself.
Obviously, there are things to recommend in Letters to a Young Catholic. But ultimately, one senses that the Catholic world Weigel presents in these pages, filled with certainties about what is good and what is bad and largely lacking in complexity, is as hermetically sealed as the idyllic Catholic boyhood with which he begins. Though he says, “for Catholics, suffering is a vocation,” there is no evidence that he has ever suffered, especially from doubt. And while clearly not his intention, his “Matrix”-like conclusion, “Welcome to the real world,” signals the end of the reader’s vacation in George Weigel’s world and the return to a less black-and-white Catholic reality.
Obviously, there are things to recommend in Mossa's review of Letters to a Young Catholic. But ultimately, one senses that the Catholic world Mossa--and by extension America--presents in these pages, filled with uncertainty about what is good and what is bad and lacking in objective standards, is as hermetically sealed as the lurid Catholic childhoods of the magazine's readership, festooned as they were with wrinkled and scary Slavic nuns wielding hardwood rulers. Though Mossa mocks Weigel by accusing him of blind certitude, there is no evidence that Mossa and Catholics like him have ever offered certainties about anything in Catholic life, aside from their own enlightened bona fides and fitness to lead the Church in America. And while clearly not his intention, his conclusion signals an invitation to vacation in the fantasy world of AmChurch, where nothing is ever black or white, and moral decisions are based on principles so hopelessly nuanced, relative, and unmoored to authority that everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
I recommend cancelling the reservation.
[Update 12/6/04: additional info about Fr.'s current posting, grammatical errors eliminated, and a sentence added to the experience of worship section.
Also, hat-tip to Bill Cork for the link.]
I like Geoffrey Norman's occasional sports writing for National Review Online. He strikes me as a perceptive guy with a good feel for team sports.
But he's all wet here, with his comments on the state of the Fightin' Irish football program.
Thesis: Golly, but Notre Dame would win more if it just weren't so darn pure.
Cue sound of ten pounds of projectile vomit filling a five pound bag.
Wipe face with cool, damp washcloth.]
Actually, no--all-wrongy. Twaddle, in fact.
Disclaimer: I'm about the polar opposite of an Irish fan. One of my favorite questions (heard multiple times) asked since I became Catholic is "So, you have to root for Notre Dame now, right?"
[Load up the Krusty the Clown groan: "Oyyyy."]
Notre Dame's problem since the Holtz era can be summed up in three words: No Lou Holtz.
The fact is, the game hasn't changed much since 1988. There were plenty of standardless rogue programs graduating (or not graduating) kinesiology majors back then, too. Barry Switzer's Oklahoma and Jimmy Johnson's Miami ("Catholics v. Convicts," anyone?) racked up the titles during that era, but ND was still able to compete with them under Holtz and remain an elite program.
The painful reality is that ND has gone into a spiral, and is suffering because it hasn't had a marquee charismatic coach since Holtz left. Davie was positively awful, and it will take time to repair the damage he inflicted on the program. Time Willingham was not given, though I will concede that Willingham might not have been the guy.
Or is someone actually going to try to suggest that *Nebraska* needs to lower its standards to confront its sudden decline since Osborne was elected to Congress? Is this what the Washington Huskies have to do, paragons of mediocrity (or worse) since the retirement of Don James?
It's the coaching, stupid. When/if ND gets a name coach, these halo-burnishing purity discussions will get mothballed, tout suite.
And not a moment too soon. It's ruining everyone else's digestion, Domers.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
I haven't had any liturgy-related stuff in a while. Here's the reparation:
1. The Pontificator (a blog by an Anglican priest) offers up 10 ways to improve the Western Rite Liturgy. Thumbs up to all 10. (Hat tip: Aristotle at Recovering Choir Director.)
Not so BTW, scroll around the site and you'll see that the always-worthwhile Pontificator (to be blogrolled) offers advice straight from The Amityville Horror to faithful Anglicans still in the ECUSA:
[BTW, the stories about the house in Amityville have been conclusively debunked as a hoax.]
2. The "renovation" of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit gets a review in Sacred Architecture. It is not favorable, in the main, and nails the problems perfectly.
Though a veteran modernist architect, Gunnar Birkerts claims a distaste for anything dogmatic. By giving "each building its own theoretical base" he seeks to free himself from "the imposition of a set structure on any design" and believes that "the theory can be deduced" from the resulting forms he creates. Readers of Sacred Architecture will be familiar with the contradiction in terms which is constantly utilized by modernist architects; i.e., the dogmatic belief that an architect should never follow anything dogmatic. The idea of creating rules without organic reference to the known Good, True and Beautiful is a bit like a Cartesian mind game attempting to create its own past, present and future.
* * *
"You know, one of the first things that he [Birkerts] wanted to do was to change the nature of a gothic cathedral, which by its very nature is very dark down below with large stained glass windows above. Now, that reflected the Church of the Middle Ages where people were insignificant and were always looking up to the godly. We're in a more unified Church where people have a much stronger role today than in the past. They're involved in every single part of church life and so we wanted some light to come in to that cathedral ... "
Here we have the medieval Church pitted against the modern Church in order to justify the new lighting scheme. And despite Tocco's claims, Birkerts did not change the nature of the Gothic cathedral even with the added lighting and other novel insertions. In fact, it is remarkable how the Gothic church that exists still overpowers the intruding elements simply by beauty of form, scale, and proportion. The new elements look more like a Star Trek set inserted into the crossing of a venerable Gothic church.
* * *
But beyond the actual building, the language surrounding this project serves as a self-condemnation for modern-ist interventions in general. Fr. Pelc, in an article in Faith and Form in 1987, stated that "Catholic Christians, in the main, now know that they can never be comfortable celebrating one type of ecclesiology in a building that silently screams another."
In other words, traditional architecture cannot be reconciled to the new liturgy. Is traditional architecture obsolete then? Msgr. Tocco believes that we still have room for it:"I would have said yes ten years ago, but I'm not sure that in the climate of the church today that's necessarily true. We have a lot of areas where we're not only looking forward, we're looking backward as well ... it is much easier to do liturgy in a church that is designed with the new directives for art and architecture, where people can gather around the altar, where sight lines are better, where there are not so many barriers, where you don't have a thousand things pulling them away from the altar, where the sound system is good, where the word and music are integral to the building itself."
And the last paragraph is probably the most heartening news about the renovation--the sign that the modernist assault is losing steam and confidence in itself, with this half a loaf approach signalling a retreat from the high-water mark of the Rog Mahal in L.A (all hail the Yellow Armadillo!).
It still rankles. Though Blessed Sacrament had its flaws, it was not the "pathetic," dark, dingy hellhole the archdiocesan pointmen claim it was. I gaped like a tourist during the Rite of Enrollment there in 1999. It would have "cleaned up" just fine without adding marble versions of the Enterprise's command chair and transporter platform.
But... I'll take it. The admission of Fr. Tocco is remarkable: ten years ago, they could have done so much more. Now--they can't. And there's nothing in that statement to indicate the pendulum is going to swing back any time soon.
It could have been much, much worse. And given that the changes (unlike the gothic structure itself) will age about as well as olive shag carpet, in 25 years it can be truly renovated with comparatively little effort.
3. On a related note, Michael Rose (of Ugly as Sin fame) has a new website on church architecture called Dellachiesa. Go there often--a veritable clearing house of things architectural and liturgical. (Hat tip to Mark Sullivan.)
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
No. Exhibits 99882 and 99883 to the contrary:
1. Oakland Dominicans are housing seven admitted sex offenders at their seminary. But don't worry: their diligent overseers are quite aware of the gravity of the situation:
[Dominican Fr. Roberto] Corral says the neighbors have nothing to worry about, that he keeps an eye on the sex offenders. But, he also admits they are allowed to walk the neighborhood unescorted, even to check out a car and go for rides alone.
* * *
Father Roberto Corral: "My experience, most of these guys are delightful men, again, we're all imperfect and they simply happen to have done something that was very foolish at one point in their lives."
"Very foolish," eh?
Licking a Detroit lamppost in January is "very foolish."
Drinking Everclear through a bong is "very foolish."
Learning moral theology from West Coast Dominicans appears to be "very foolish."
Child rape is not "very foolish," padre. It's evil.
The inability of prelates, priests and religious to understand this--to the point of obstinate refusal--is why the Scandal will not, contra Bp. Gregory, be "history." It will be a long, slow bleed for the next generation or so. Evidently, this blinkered mindset will only be remedied by the hallowed six brass handles of reform.
P.S.: The residents are helping to shape The Priests Of Tomorrow.
The other important issue is those seven sex offenders make up a third of the priests at the seminary, and they have a vote on which young men will become priests.
O, brave new world...
2. The newly-elected head of the USCCB, dogged by his own handling of an abusive priest, displays a similar approach:
A month after Tim Corrigan's death [a 39 year old father of three who committed suicide shortly after revealing he had been abused by a priest under then-Fr. Skylstad's supervision], Skylstad returned to Assumption to answer for the damage his old housemate had caused.
At a special nighttime meeting — part of a series of visits to parishes harmed by abusive priests — Skylstad apologized on behalf of the church, then touted a new clergy-abuse policy from the bishops' conference. His own diocese, he said, went further, banning priests from taking children on vacations or to their rooms.
But parishioners weren't in the mood for policy, according to a videotape of the meeting.
"I've been a parishioner at Assumption all my life, and I have to say, from the depths of my heart, that it truly sickens me, this thing that took place here," Bob Moore told the bishop. "Did you do everything in your power, when you found out about this wrong, to try and correct it and to protect the kids who were so harmed by the actions of this man?"
Skylstad nodded, thanked Moore, and returned to policy. "So much of the ministry of the church deals with young people, and we have to make sure that ministry takes place in a safe environment, as safe as we can make it," Skylstad said. "It's just got to be."
In the back of the church, a woman whispered: "Where's the answer?"
Actually, you have your answer, madam.
Unfortunately. Does anyone really think this is going to go away so easily?
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