Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Paradox Of The Sheen Family Clan

I have noticed two contradictory blog posts concerning the family of Martin Sheen. The blogosphere was humming with the news of Charlie Sheen's rant against the producer of his comedy show and CBS; which was followed by news of his firing by CBS and the suspension of production of said show. OF course, these reports included stories of his out of control behavior. Now, turn 180 degrees and you will find a blog posting in America magazine's website, which reports on a movie written and directed by Emilio Estevez, and staring his and Charlie's father, Martin Sheen. The movie is called The Way, and tells the story of a grieving father's journey on the Camino de Santiago. It is one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in Europe.

It is sad that Charlie Sheen's troubled life is receiving so much public attention, and this uplifting movie by his father and brother is not.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Different Images Of The Church

Images have always been a part of human culture, from the cave paintings of primitive humans, to ancient mosaics, Renaissance paintings, to Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can paintings. Images can hold various meanings for a society, or have one meaning that unites a society.

There are images that symbolize how different factions see the Catholic Church. I discovered two of them surfing the blogosphere. One is a picture I saw on the Deacon’s Bench, of Cardinal Raymond Burke, ordaining a deacon, attired in Pre-Vatican II vestments. For me it is an image of a regal, clerical Church far removed from the lives of ordinary people. The other image I saw was from Whispers in the Loggia, is of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP, Archbishop of Boston. He was participating in a Liturgy of Repentance in Ireland, with the Archbishop of Dublin. Part of the ceremony was both prelates washing the feet of some of the survivors of clergy abuse. For me, this shows the Church as both Penitent and Servant. It is this image I will remember and cherish; it is this Church I want to belong to.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

When Does A News Story Appear Below the Fold?

How long does a news story have “legs”? When does a story get so old, that the national and international news organizations will no longer pay attention to any new developments? Could this be happening to the story of the Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse story?

On February 14th, the Catholic News Service carried the story of a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; grand jury indicting 4 individuals, 3 priests and a 1 layperson of sexually assaulting children; and a former archdiocesan official of endangering children by ignoring the abuse. Probably because of the events in the Middle East, the national media seems to be ignoring this story. Or could we be seeing another example of the famous American trait of a short attention span. If a situation was not resolved in few weeks, Americans are said to turn their attention to something else.

This story is still very much alive for the victims of abuse and their supporters; very much alive for those Catholics who love the Church and are in pain of what has been happening to it. Each new story seems to rip off the scab and expose the wounds again, not just in this country, but across the sea into Europe. Many Catholics cannot bear it any longer and have left, others struggle to reform the Church and calling on it to be more accountably for the actions of its clergy.

The American bishops established a zero tolerance policy concerning priests who were credibly found to have abused children; dioceses have established preventive programs Many American Catholics find that these actions are not enough, that certain bishops need to be forced to resign; and that the names of all priests accused of abuse be made public. But there are now some Catholics who have voiced concerns over whether the zero tolerance policy goes too far; that we may have forgotten the American ideal that a person is innocent until he or she is found guilty in a court of law. John Allen of National Catholic Reporter has written about these new voices in the clergy sexual abuse story.

This is story that will sadly be with us for a long time, whether reported in the national press or just in the Catholic press. It will darken our hearts and challenge our faith. But there are some stories of hope and healing, as reported by the Concord Pastor and the Deacon’s Bench. In the Archdiocese of Dublin, the Archbishop of Dublin, and my own Archbishop, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM CAP, will be leading a Liturgy of Lament and Repentance. They will both be washing the feet of victims of abuse. Would that all bishops do the same for all victims who members of their flocks!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

National Catholic Reporter on Permanent Deacons UPDATED

In their February 4, 2011 issue, National Catholic Reporter included a special section reporting on Permanent Deacons in the Catholic Church. The cover of the special section has an open letter by Deacon William Ditewig to newly ordained deacons. Deacon Ditewig, who was formerly the executive director of the Secretariat for the Diaconate at the NCCB, and is currently a professor of theology, reminded the newly ordained that deacons are called to be servants for the Church and the world. Paraphrasing St. Paul, he wrote “Over all this, again echoing St. Paul, put on Christ. Do not grasp the diaconate as something to be exploited, but empty yourself, taking the form of a slave, in total service to others.”

The rest of the section had stories of individual deacons, including Deacon Greg Kandra, of “The Deacon’s Bench Fame.” It has also had some stories about deacons in other countries. It is good to be reminded that the diaconate is being reborn in the rest of the world, not just the US.
There was also an essay concerning the history of deaconesses in the Church.

The section also had some statistics including 21 dioceses in the US with the greatest number of permanent deacons. The Archdiocese of Boston is 12th on the list, with 245 deacons.

Overall it was a very interesting report.
UPDATE: Deacon Greg Kandra referenced this NCR section on his blog, The Deacon's Bench.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Controversy About New English Missal?

The Jesuit publication, America magazine, published on their website an open letter to United States bishops, written by Father Anthony Ruff, OSB. Father Ruff, a liturgist, was informing the bishops that he could no longer in good conscience speak in support of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, due for implementation in Advent of 2011. He is concerned about the way the approval of the translation was handled by the Vatican.

Now the translation that the American bishops approved and sent to Rome for confirmation already had its critics; but the confirmed translation that came back from the Vatican, with additional changes, caused further uproar, even among some of the supporters of the original translation.

From my seat in the ecclesial bleachers, this appears to be further proof that there are factions in the Vatican that do not trust the local bishops of the world; and really do not trust the theologians, the liturgists, and translators of the world. They seem to have a real need to keep a tight rein on the local churches, for fear that that whole universal Church will collapse. The problem is that if you hold the reins too tight, then you stifle the energy, the fire, the spirit the local churches can bring to society.