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The Bernadin era, or, the death of the dream January 17, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, sickness.
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In the 60s and 70s, there emerged on the Catholic scene a generation of leaders, bishops and high level priests, who were liberal/progressive in outlook and were willing to work very hard to push the Church in the United States in that direction.  Their leader was Joseph Cardinal Bernadin, a man whose name evokes frequent frustration, even revulsion, among more traditionally minded Catholics (ahem).  George Wiegel, the man who kick started “theology of the body” by hyperventilating over a little noticed series of talks by Venerable Pope John Paul II in a biography, describes the end of the Bernadin era, which we are witnessing.  Many of those players are still around, still writing their harangues in the Distorter and Commonweal, but their numbers are thinning relentlessly.  And a new Church is emerging in their place.  A couple of quotes from a very long piece:

The Bernardin Ma-chine’s approach to governance within the Church was frequently described as “collegial,” but those clergy and laity who, in their dioceses or in their interaction with the NCCB/USCC, felt the sting of authoritarian Catholic liberalism in the 1970s and 1980s would likely demur. For the Machine was quite rigorous in enforcing its ecclesiology and its politics, and it was perfectly capable of withdrawing its favor when bishops once thought loyal club members showed signs of intellectual or ecclesiastical independence. One prominent example was now-retired Cardinal James Francis Stafford. Stafford was thought part of the Bernardin world when he was named a member of the U.S. delegation to the 1980 Synod of Bishops on the family. But he eventually took a different path, in part because of his unhappiness with how Bernardin, also a member of the Synod, quietly tried to maneuver that body’s deliberations into a critique of Paul VI’s teaching on the morally appropriate way to regulate births in Humanae Vitae.

Stafford was surprised at this, but he shouldn’t have been. For the Bernardin Era and the style of governance characteristic of Bernardin Machine bishops were deeply influenced by the Roman-brokered “Truce of 1968,” an ill-fated attempt to settle the disciplinary situation in the Archdiocese of Washington, where dissent from Humanae Vitae was widespread and public. Whatever the Vatican’s intentions vis-à-vis the difficult situation in Washing-ton, what was learned from the truce were two lessons that would shape an entire era of U.S. Catholic history. The first lesson was that the Holy See would retreat from rigorously enforcing doctrinal discipline if it could be persuaded of the danger of schism. The second lesson was that American bishops were ill advised to go out on a public limb in defense of Catholic teaching (as Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington had done by disciplining priests who had publicly rejected Humanae Vitae), for that could result in the Holy See sawing off the limb and leaving the bishop in question in a bad way.

I have heard this “schism” theory before to explain the seemingly baffling unwillingness by Rome to enforce doctrinal discipline.  Perhaps it’s true, but I also know that the default setting for most people is to avoid confrontation and hope the problem goes away.

And they were prepared to challenge the culture—and American politics—to re-discover the public-policy implications of America’s founding commitment to self-evident moral truths; they were not interested, in other words, in finding an agreeable fifty-yard line. They had learned from John Paul II and the Revolution of 1989 in east central Europe that seemingly invincible forces could be defeated, and they were determined to defeat, not find an accommodation with, the cultural forces that, in their judgment, were at war with the gospel even as they were eroding the fabric of American life.

There was paradox here. Joseph Bernardin, growing up in that part of America where Catholics were most suspect, defined a style of engagement with American public life that put great stress on remaining “in play.” The bishops who ultimately brought an end to the Bernardin Machine and the Bernardin Era grew up comfortably Catholic and comfortably American—and then came to understand that their Catholicism could require them to be forthrightly countercultural in dealing with American culture and politics. The paradox underscored that a sea change had taken place, the effects of which were likely to be felt for generations.

The ecclesiastical sensibility that characterized the Bernardin Era can still be discerned in several parts of the complex reality that is the Catholic Church in the United States. That sensibility is perhaps most palpably felt in Boston, where Father Hehir has wielded considerable influence over archdiocesan affairs in recent years and has done so according to the Bernardin model. The Bernardin ethos is also felt within the bishops’ conference bureaucracy, as it is within diocesan bureaucracies. But if the Bernardin Era is indeed over, one should expect to see some continuing shifts of default position, not least within the bishops’ conference

Congregation, let us pray.

What happened to Fr. Euteneuer – the mystery spreads January 17, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, sadness, scandals.
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I’ve written a few times about the seemingly odd connection between the virtual disappearance of the formerly very public Fr. Thomas Euteneuer (also formerly the head of Human Life International) and the simultaneous disappearance of his books Exorcism and the Church Militant and Demonic Abortion.   Now comes an article from the Palm Beach Post discussing his virtual disappearance.  Suffice it to say, his departure was sudden, and was timed very closely with the release of Exorcism and the Church Militant:

But this summer, without warning, Euteneuer, 48, left his HLI post, saying he had been called back to the Palm Beach Diocese by Bishop Gerald Barbarito. His book on exorcism disappeared.

The Catholic blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree, as supporters speculated on where he was, why he left an organization he seemed destined to lead and what his professional future might be.

The person who could answer those questions is Barbarito, Euteneuer’s superior. And Barbarito is not talking.

A diocesan spokeswoman said only, “This is a matter dealing with priestly personnel, and we are not going to participate in this story.”

Euteneuer did not respond to an interview request.

Euteneuer’s supporters are still questioning the reasons for his departure.

“What really happened to exorcist Euteneuer?” wrote Catholic blogger Matt C. Abbott in December on RenewAmerica.com, a Catholic website.

Trained in exorcism ritual

Before he dropped out of public life, Euteneuer was a frequent interviewee on Abbott’s blog. Abbott contacted the Diocese of Palm Beach regarding Euteneuer, but received no response.

A small number of modern-day priests, like Euteneuer, are trained in a specific Catholic exorcism ritual, in which the priest orders demons to leave a possessed person or place.

Exorcism has been a part of Catholic Church practice since its earliest days. There are references in the New Testament to Jesus casting out devils.

In a speech he would give titled “An Evening with an Exorcist,” Euteneuer attempted to demystify one of the least understood of Catholic rituals. He also recounted his bizarre experiences.

In another interview, Euteneuer said one demon offered to help him with his Latin if he would let him stay put. Asked by the interviewer if that might be an example of demonic humor, Euteneuer retorted that demons have no sense of humor.

He condemned the Harry Potter books and movies, the Twilight vampire books and movies and the television sitcom Sabrina the Teenaged Witch as vehicles for the devil to enter weaker natures. He also advocated that exorcisms be performed outside abortion clinics, which he described as “temples of a demonic religion.”

Euteneuer harshly criticized the public funeral for Sen. Edward Kennedy:

“Senator Kennedy will not be missed by the unborn who he betrayed time and time again, nor by the rest of us who are laboring to undo the scandalous example of Catholicism that he gave to three generations of Americans,” wrote Euteneuer in an official HLI statement in 2009.

Whatever happened to Euteneuer, it happened swiftly.

In June, HLI was promoting his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant. In July, Euteneuer was back in his home diocese, in Jensen Beach, giving his “An Evening with an Exorcist” presentation.

On Aug. 27, Human Life International issued a brief press release saying Euteneuer had “stepped down” at the request of Barbarito.

All references to the exorcism book disappeared from the HLI website.

His scheduled September talk on Catholicism in a Chicago suburb was canceled.

By September, it was nearly impossible to buy a copy of his book, Exorcism and the Church Militant, just published in June. One online bookseller was offering it for $975.

There is more at the link, including a further explanation from HLI as to why the book (Exorcism…) was pulled (or not published further, whichever you choose to believe), which doesn’t ring any more true than it did before.  Apparently, HLI is sufficiently awash in funds that they don’t need to proceeds from a book  that sold out its first printing in 3 months – a pretty good achievement for a niche market book.  Since he has now been out of the public eye for almost 5 months, with nary a peep from a formerly very public priest, this looks to me less like a sabbatical and more like an enforced silencing.  And he still has no diocesan assignment.  Maybe he’s been pulled into Catholic special ops to serve as a silent assassin of demons?  We can only wonder. 

You might, in your charity, consider offering up a prayer for Fr. Euteneuer, a truly good priest and a man that should, by any logic, have a very public ministry.  I pray he will return to serve the souls he loves very much, very soon.

My triumphant self-congratulatory post of the day January 17, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Society.
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I got an e-mail from Charlie Duke!  Not a form e-mail, a real one!  Woot!  Charlie Duke is so awesome to listen to in all those old Apollo videos I have – his down home charm is a distinct pleasure compared to the almost mechanical speech of some of the more rigid test pilot types that populated much of the Apollo program.  Oh, yeah, and he did walk on the moon!  Yay me!

Here is Brig. Gen Duke on the moon with Apollo 16 – “and the old flag……..”

Here he has trouble with a drill –

Charles M. Duke served on the support crew for Apollo 10 and 11, was the backup LMP (lunar module pilot) for Apollo 13, and the LMP for Apollo 16.  He also was the backup LMP for Apollo 17 – a “dead end” assignment (since it was the last lunar flight) that required a great deal of work.

While not a Catholic (as fellow Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan are, of which I know), Charlie Duke had a conversion in the mid-70s and is a devout Christian.  I will pray for him.

Explosive – permanent deacons must be celibate! – ? January 17, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, General Catholic, North Deanery, scandals, Society.
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According to well known canon law expert Ed Peters, canon law stipulates that all those who are ordained – including permanent deacons – must refrain from sexual relations, even though they are married.  Catholic Vote (Ed Peters’ son, Thomas) is arguing that the Church needs to start enforcing this virtually forgotten canon, and since there are now 15000 permanent deacons in the US, this should make for some interesting discussion:

This little point, illustrated my father Canon Layer Ed Peters, has huge potentially consequences for many thousands of men already serving as permanent deacons in the United States (and around the world), and it also promises to impact the growing number of married Anglican and other protestant clergy coming into the Church through the ordinariate established by Pope Benedict and similar, previous provisions.

Simply put: the law of the Church says that permanent deacons, because they are clerics, are obliged to observe “perfect and perpetual continence.” In simple terms, permanent deacons are obligated by law to refrain from sexual relations with their wife once they are ordained.

More than that, the same obligation to observe perfect and perpetual continence would seem to apply to married priests who obviously remain married after they enter the Church and are ordained as priests (this would seemingly apply to all married Anglican clergy about to be ordained as Catholic priests). Again, simply put, ordination to holy orders in the Roman Catholic Church always carries with it the obligation to abstain completely from sexual relations.

My father has published on his website CanonLaw.info a complete explanation for this argument, briefly, that we have fallen out of the habit of observing Canon 277 in the Church, but the law (and theology behind the law) remains unchanged. In addition, he has made available the PDF file of his 34 page academic article substantiating his argument. Fair warning: the argument is air-tight. There are, in my opinion, simply no loop-holes to be found.

Fr. John Boyle, an English canonist, also has a helpful post on his blog explaining my father’s argument step-by-step.

I believe this is a “Josiah moment” for the Church. In the Old Testament, we are told that the good King Josiah discovered the law of Moses, after it had been long forgotten, and had it proclaimed again to the people of Israel. In the West today, we have forgotten the Church’s discipline about one of the essential obligations that ordination to orders carries with it. We are now witnessing this forgotten law being discovered again. The question now is, “will we follow the law?”

There are more than 15,000 permanent deacons in the United States alone, and the great majority of them are married. I do not know the number of married priests, but we can expect their number internationally to increase as more married Anglican priests come into the Roman Catholic Church.

And, yes, if this canon is enforced, one wonders how much that will dampen enthusiasm for Anglican clergy to convert.  Even without that aspect, this could be a truly explosive situation – were this canon to be enforced, how many permanent deacons would abide?

And a larger question is, with this canon having been in place for……forever……..how did we come to have married permanent deacons in the first place?  Was it assumed they would give up their marital responsibilities in that area?  What of their wives?  Once again, we see ‘provisions’ emerging in the wake of Vatican II that seem difficult to reconcile with law, practice, and Tradition.