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Monday, April 12, 2010

Confirmation Problem

I recently received a question about how a homeschooler might deal with a parish confirmation program that really, really stunk.
Are there any options other than a parish based program to Confirm our children? Our parish does not allow parents to homeschool any of the sacramental years including Confirmation (2 year program).
My son Lucas detests going to class because it is a class of all boys that he describes as a bunch of crazed monkeys. They disrupt the class the entire 2 hours and it's very hard for him to concentrate. I realize that they all are 12 and 13 and this is normal. But Lucas is very mature for his age thinks it's silly for them to act this way.
He's asking us why he has to go through this? He could learn all this material at home without all the distraction. It's hard to argue with that logic. We've spoken with our priest and with the director of the Religious Ed program. Both have emphasized the need to be apart of the church "community" and just stick it out. Being part of this particular community (his class) would mean acting like a crazed monkey! So you can see our dilemma. Please send any thoughts and/or suggestions.
This was my response:
You have several options. 
All involve pain.   
1) Once someone is baptized, they may approach ANY legitimate minister of the other sacraments in order to receive those other sacraments. All that is necessary to receive a sacrament is 
(a) the recipient knows what it will do to him/her 
(b) the recipient wants that change to happen and 
(c) the recipient knows enough about the liturgy to successfully move through it.   
That's it.   
So, you could go to ANY PARISH IN THE WORLD in order to get your child confirmed. Any bishop, indeed, any priest whose bishop has given him authority to confirm, can do this for your child. Thus, you are quite within your rights to check out other parishes/dioceses for alternatives. Hispanic children, for example, commonly go to a grandmother's house in Mexico to get confirmed over the summer and avoid the gringo stupidity that you are presently encountering.  
2) You can fight the priest. The documents are QUITE clear on this point. The Rite of Confirmation #3 even says: 
“The initiation of children into the sacramental life is ordinarily the responsibility and concern of Christian parents. They are to form and gradually increase a spirit of faith in the children and, at times with the help of catechism classes, prepare them for the fruitful reception of the sacraments of confirmation and the eucharist.”
Articles 2220-2225 of the CCC re-state the parental duty/right in slightly different language. CCC 2225 says "Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of faith." The phrase "mysteries of faith" is a technical theological term that refers to the sacraments (Part II of the CCC is called "The Mystery of Faith" and it discusses sacraments and liturgy). The parents are the primary educators of their own children and no pastor, no bishop, no DRE, no deacon, NO ONE can interfere in your right and your duty to prepare your own children for the sacraments. I have a couple of chapters on this in my book, Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America.
If you bone up on the Magisterial documents and approach the pastor, making it clear that you know what you're talking about and you will take it to the bishop if he doesn't allow you to prepare your child at home, most pastors will back down because they know they have no ground to stand on.   If you run into a stupid pastor who really wants to fight on this issue, then after talking with him, take it to the bishop. 
Bishops know perfectly well that they can't force you through the parish program. He may or may not bluster and try to bully you into it, but if you stand your ground, he will relent, if only because he wouldn't want you to take it to the papal nuncio, which you should make clear you are willing to do.   
The most common objection is that the parish is supposed to participate in the child's preparation for confirmation. Yes, well, you are part of the parish, so you represent the parish to the child. The parish exists to support the family, not vice versa. Families got along without parishes for the first 1000 years of the Church just fine. Parishes don't exist without families. Parishes must support the parents. Anything else is a violation of the principle of subsidiarity.   
3) You can go into the class with your child, as is your right, and loudly correct any error the confirmation instructors try to bring forward, i.e., make a real nuisance of yourself. It works best if you get ALL the homeschooling parents to do this en masse. Facing a large-scale revolt, the pastor will quickly find an alternative way to deal with homeschoolers.  
The only reason he's been able to ram this down your throats so far is you haven't all gotten together and had a come-to-Jesus meeting with him. If he sees 20 or 30 families all ticked off and all ready to head to the bishop and sit on the bishop's doorstep, the pastor will back down and accommodate you.   Familiaris Consortio (#69-72) recommends that parents form associations to work together for their common good. In this day and age, that means you need to band together against your pastor, break green lumber over his head in order to get his attention, then tell him what he needs to do to fix his ignorance, and his insulting attitude towards the parents in his parish.  
He'll hate you for taking option #3, but that's ok. He'll get over it. And he will cave, guaranteed. Pastors hate parish insurrections. A big insurrection reduces the likelihood that the bishop will give the pastor a cushy parish next time he has to pass through the spring "pastor roulette" when bishop transfers pastors.   
Now, that having been said, bishops don't like noise either, because it looks bad on their vitae if the noise reaches Rome. Given the internet, most noise reaches Rome nowadays. So, #3 is really going to tick off the bishop as well (although Rome won't mind) and it will give homeschoolers a generally bad name with him. I just mention it because it DOES work, if nothing else does.   
4) Skip confirmation for the moment. Yes, I know it's a sacrament, and yes I know it sounds wrong, but if he just waits until he's 18 or 19 to get confirmed, then all of this juvenile behaviour from the pastor and the deacon magically falls away. 
Typically, most parishes have a "catch-up" program for adults who missed confirmation in their youth (which is not uncommon). The adult program is much less onerous, typically only a couple of weeks, and the level of discourse does not involve crazed monkeys.   
It should be noted that, for purposes of receiving a sacrament, canon law recognizes the age of 8 as being an adult. So, technically, an adult prep program for your child is perfectly within his rights if he's 8 years old or older. Now, nobody is going to let your twelve-year old into an adult confirmation program, and I wouldn't argue that you should try, but since your child is unlikely to fall away from the Faith UNLESS he participates in the parish confirmation nonsense, it is actually a prudent decision on your part to simply delay the sacrament until such time as either the boy or the pastor grows up.   
Since the former is more likely to happen than the latter, I don't think it unreasonable to wait until he's 19 for confirmation if you can't avoid the near occasion of sin in the parish program any other way.   Again, #4 is not the best choice, but I throw it out as an option that I think can legitimately be considered if you don't want to pursue the other courses of action. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Is Maureen Dowd Missing?

In Maureen Dowd's latest column, she claims the Catholic Church is just as oppressive as Islam.
Yes, indeed, I must admit it, we are.

That's why we cut off Maureen's clitoris when she was five.
Without benefit of anesthesia.
Just like the Muslims do.

And we married her to a forty year old man when she was seven.
She lost her virginity to him that same year.
Just like the Muslims do.

In fact, they learned all that from Catholics.
Betch'a didn't know that, eh?
Maureen knows.
She's brilliant.
She works for the New York Times.
They're all so brilliant at the New York Times.
We wish that we wish we would be like them, but we can't wish it because we are so everlastingly "patriarchal" (that means "stupid," I think. I'm not sure. I don't work for the New York Times. Big Sigh).

In any case, Maureen, who (along with Dan Brown) has revealed these hidden secrets, has obviously never recovered from the shock of what happened to her.

Sadly, she escaped and we failed to recapture her, cut off her ears and nose, and stone her to death, as is only proper. Another thing the Muslims learned from us. The Muslims learned all the bad things from us, like blowing themselves up and stuff. We had classes for them, back in the day, but we had to stop when the smart people invented the New York Times. Another Big Sigh.

The failure to recapture her and properly punish her is the Pope's fault.
He changed canon law on us in 1983, so when we petitioned to have her caught and at least a hand cut off or something, we lost the argument.

As you can see, we had to just settle for the frontal lobotomy.
It's all the law would allow.

We apologize to America for allowing her to inflict herself on you all.
We hope you can forgive us.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is the Times a-changing?

Shockingly enough, Newsweek, The New York Times and ABC all show signs of backing off the Catholic aspect of the sexual abuse story.
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't read it myself, but here are excerpts from each organizations' coverage. This is incredible:
Ernie Allen of national Center for Missing and Exploited Children denies that Catholics have a special or unusual abuse problem....Since the 1980’s, when insurance companies started issuing policies, they have not charged Catholics higher premiums...
The more youth formation programs you have, the more abuse you have – premiums are a function of number of youth programs, not denomination. Catholic Church has by far the largest school network in the nation...Catholics are also the single largest denomination in the nation and the second largest in the world (behind Islam).
Of 110,000 priests active 1950-1992, only 4% have had complaints (about 4400).
4392 priests complained about from 10,667 victims.149 priests responsible for 25,000 cases 75% of abuse comes from families and friends.
Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than other congregations.
As the report notes, insurance companies don't charge Catholics higher premiums than other faiths, because Catholic priests are not at special risk of offending. Premium rates are pegged to the number of youth programs a church has - nothing else. The more youth programs you run, the more claims there are, and therefore the higher the premiums. Catholics have the largest private school program in the nation.
As a side note to Newsweek's coverage, I again refer back to the Shakeshaft report, one of the most damning and one of the most completely ignored stories of the first decade of the 21st century.
When Shakeshaft's report on public school education from 1990-2000 is compared to the John Jay report on Catholic priest abuse, a remarkable thing emerges. In the five decades from 1950 to 2000, we saw 11,000 abuse allegations against roughly 6700 priests. 6700 were substantiated, 1000 were unsubstantiated, the rest were moot as the priest had died. 78% of the Catholic priest victims were between the ages of 11 and 17, while 6% were 7 or younger.
4.5 million versus 11,000.
One decade versus 5 decades.
That means 450,000 abuse cases from the public schools each year versus 220 abuse cases per year from Catholic priests. A difference of 2000 percent.
Perhaps this is why school teachers were, at one time, required by law to be single and they were forbidden to date while they were teachers. Vows of celibacy apparently protect against abuse. And even early 20th-century Protestants knew it.
If the rate of abuse among Catholic priests stands (per the John Jay data) at roughly 4 percent, that’s less than half the rate that Allen cites for the population as a whole. And the Jay study covers the sweep of the last 50 years; if you compare the rate of accusations against priests now (as opposed to during the crisis of the 1960s and 1970s) to Allen’s 10 percent figure, it looks like Catholic clergy currently abuse children and teenagers at about one-fifth the rate of the male population as a whole.
In this same week, ABC News followed up with a report on sexual abuse in athletic and fast food venues. It seems some USA Swimming coaches were routinely photographing and abusing the swimmers they trained.
USA Swimming's response?
The executive director of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus, acknowledged the problem, but said "It's "It's not nearly as serious in USA Swimming as it might be in the rest of society."
"I don't want to be the one to sit here and say 36 is not too many, one is too many, but this is not just a problem that's isolated to one sport," said Wielgus.
In some cases, the swimming coaches found to have been sexual predators were able to move from town to town, one step ahead of police and angry victims and their parents.
"We have a system that does not encourage the reporting," said Bob Allard, a San Jose, CA lawyer representing sex abuse victims suing USA Swimming....
Asked if he had apologized to any of the young teen victims, Wielgus responded, "You feel I need to apologize to them?"
He added, "I think it's unfair for you to ask me whether individually or me as the representative of an organization to apologize for something when all we are trying to do is everything we possibly can to create a safe and healthy environment for kids who are participating in our particular activity."
But ABC wasn't done. It then continued with a segment on Starbucks and other fast food venues. When it was demonstrated that employees were sexually abused by supervisors:
Starbucks executives declined to be interviewed but in a statement the company said, "These two employees concealed their relationship from Starbucks, which violated company policy. We are confident that the case will ultimately be resolved in finding that Starbucks is not at fault."
...The case turned ugly as the Starbucks law firm, Akin Gump, used hard ball tactics to defend their client, including successfully seeking to make public the young woman's sexual history once it learned she had been interviewed for "20/20."
"They are trying to defend themselves by calling me a slut," she told "20/20." "It's intimidation. It's harassing to sit though deposition and just be re-victimized."
Federal judge Andrew J. Guilford agreed with Starbucks lawyers and ordered the information unsealed because of the company's need "to defend themselves" and "level the playing field."
Starbucks disclosed in court papers that the woman has had sexual encounters with 12 men other than Horton, seven of them before she met Horton.
Starbucks says it does have a strict policy against sexual harassment and managers dating baristas, but there is nothing specific about relationships with teens under the age of 18.

McDonalds and Taco Bell also have lawsuits pending against them, and those lawsuits likewise involve statutory rape by supervisors.

And, of course, NO ONE wants to talk about the sleeping elephant of Islam, where child marriage is perfectly in accord with Muslim morality, indeed, it is praised as a way to emulate the prophet Mohammed.
“In God’s eyes legal, but in laws of the country (Malaysia) not legal,” said the Kijang state assemblywoman when questioned on the legality of child marriages [in Islam]....
Section 8 of the Kelantan Muslim Family Law Enactment (2000) states that any girl below 16 cannot marry, except with written permission from the Syariah Court.
When questioned on what criteria would merit such consent, Ubaidah replied that in cases where a girl and her partner are “madly in love beyond control”, the court would grant them permission to marry. A father who wishes to marry the girl off to a rich man may also receive similar authorisation from the court.
Although Ubaidah said that a girl’s consent and understanding is needed before marrying her off, she said: “Silence is consent”. If a girl is married off without her consent, she can seek help from her relatives or approach the religious department herself, Ubaidah added.
Now, this is just one story about sharia law in Malaysia.

We could also bring forward stories from Yemen, where a 13-year old girl died of bleeding from genital tears five days after her marriage to a 30 year-old man, or Saudi Arabia, where the shariah court refused to annul the marriage of an 8-year old to a man in his late 40's, or Pakistan, where girl children are married off to adult men to settle family feuds (swara), pay a debt, or as part of a deal to marry off an older sibling. A seven year old married to a 45-year old man with other living wives and children is absolutely common.
The list could go on, but why bother?
If reporting on sexual abuse were accurate, there would be five reports of Protestant, rabbinic or Eastern Orthodox sexual abuse for every one report of Catholic sexual abuse. There would be 200 reports of public school sexual abuse for every one report of Catholic sexual abuse. There would be thousands of reports of Muslim sexual abuse for every one report of Catholic sexual abuse.
Wherever there is sharia, there is what Westerners would call child sexual abuse. It is legal, moral and laudable. But no one goes after the imams for this, do they?
Who do they go after? Pope Benedict XVI, formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
As for Cardinal Ratzinger's culpability, he was appointed head of the CDF in 1981. Take a close look at the chart from the John Jay report provided by the New York Times blogger:

Do you notice anything interesting? Do you see how that red line (number of cases) and that blue line (number of priests committing abuse) both begin a REALLY rapid descent? Well, if you look closely at the year when that rapid fall begins, that year would be 1981 - two years after John Paul II is elected Pope and the same year Ratzinger is picked to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Even though the CDF won't streamline the process and gain sole jurisdiction over abuse cases until 2001, the chart shows that the minute Ratzinger became the head of CDF, someone, somewhere started shutting these abusive priests down. By 1995, most of the rat holes had been closed.

The press didn't pick up on what was going on until AFTER Ratzinger or one of his confreres had already finished most of the work.

This chart is from a New York Times blogger, folks.

You want to make the MSM look silly?
Push this chart around.

Shockingly enough USA Gymnastics is doing the same thing.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Of Pet Goats and Apologies

Reuters and other news sources have found a new way to milk their pet goat.

Reports indicate that several important Jewish men and women are very upset that the Pope's personal preacher mentioned the opinion of his Jewish friend during his Good Friday homily. Reading from a letter he had received, the preacher pointed out that - from his Jewish friend's perspective - the MSM attack on the Church was comparable to the anti-Semitism displayed in Europe in the early part of the 20th century.

By a rare coincidence, this year our Easter falls on the same week of the Jewish Passover which is the ancestor and matrix within which it was formed. This pushes us to direct a thought to our Jewish brothers. They know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms. I received in this week the letter of a Jewish friend and, with his permission, I share here a part of it.

He said: “I am following with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, the Pope and all the faithful by the whole world. The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism. Therefore I desire to express to you personally, to the Pope and to the whole Church my solidarity as Jew of dialogue and of all those that in the Jewish world (and there are many) share these sentiments of brotherhood. Our Passover and yours are undoubtedly different, but we both live with Messianic hope that surely will reunite us in the love of our common Father. I wish you and all Catholics a Good Easter.”

And also we Catholics wish our Jewish brothers a Good Passover. We do so with the words of their ancient teacher Gamaliel, entered in the Jewish Passover Seder and from there passed into the most ancient Christian liturgy:

“He made us pass
From slavery to liberty,
From sadness to joy,
From mourning to celebration,
From darkness to light,
From servitude to redemption
Because of this before him we say: Alleluia.”

That's it. As with the non-existent Tea Party "N" word slur from a few days ago, there is no use of the "H" word (Holocaust) or "S" word (Shoah) for the simple reason that it is possible to discuss violence against the Jews without calling either to mind.

People may not realize it, but the Holocaust didn't start until well after World War II had begun. Nearly all the death camps are in Poland or Byelorussia - captured territory. Google it.

Personally, I'm a little tired of the Jews trying to claim the Holocaust as their own personal disaster. After all, the Roma (Gypsies) suffered, on a per capita basis, much more severely in the extermination camps then the Jews did. Indeed, almost none of the Gypsies survived the war, and they are still subject to enormous persecution. But the Roma don't have strong political pressure groups, so no one makes movies about what happened to them.

Furthermore, while 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, so were 3 million Catholics. Twelve million people died. Auschwitz alone killed Catholics EXCLUSIVELY for the first 26 months of operation (actually, one Jew did die at Auschwitz during that time period, but you get the idea). However, Catholics haven't spent the last seventy years kvetching about it.

The Holocaust targeted Jews.
The Holocaust did NOT target JUST Jews.

Catholics have as much right to invoke the Holocaust as the Jews or the Roma.

But all of this is moot, since Fr. Cantalamessa didn't invoke the Holocaust.

Instead, he invoked pre-war anti-Semitism. Now, anti-Semitism was rife in Europe for decades before the Holocaust started killing Jews. Indeed, Hitler took power in 1933, and the MSM of the 1930's ran some absolutely scurrilous attacks on the Jews between 1933 and 1939. But, apart from a somewhat higher level of virulence, this MSM anti-Semitism was what most European countries had in their own newspapers between the Dreyfuss Affair and the beginning of WW II.

This is the violence that Cantalamessa and his friend were discussing.

So, to say that there is a correlation between:
(1) how the MSM in Europe treated the Jews in the 1920's and 30's and
(2) how the MSM today treats the Catholics is
(3) merely to speak aloud an historical fact.

Still, Elan Steinberg, vice-president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants is upset. Rabbi Marvin Hier of Simon Wiesenthal Center is perturbed. A spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is heartbroken. Rabbi James Rudin, senior interreligious adviser to the American Jewish Committee, is shocked.

Maybe they don't read history books.

In any case, there is a demand for a personal apology from the Pope.

Now, I would think it would be a lot more efficient if the people who are offended by this accursed Catholic-loving Jew went out, found Cantalamessa's Jewish friend and just beat on him until he started thinking like a "real Jew", or whatever it is they think themselves to be.

After all, if they're mad at him, why bring us into it?
Like the New York Times, we're just the messenger here.

But, OK.

Let's take the apology aspect of it seriously.

..... exactly what is the Pope supposed to say?

"I'm sorry my preacher has Jewish friends"? That won't go over well.

How about, "I apologize for my preacher daring to portray Jews who disagree with other Jews - we all know they think as a monolithic block."? No, call me dense, but I can't see how that apology will help either.

What if he said, "We who are goy salute you!" It has a certain ring to it, but maybe not enough of an apology aspect.

Ok, ok, I got it... "Jews are only supposed to notice attacks on their people. We all know they have no sympathy or interest in how others suffer from attacks. I am grief-stricken that my preacher attempted to violate that stereotype." ....

No....., no, on second thought, I don't think that one will work either.

This is a real puzzler.

So, could all these offended individuals explain exactly how the Pope is supposed to apologize to the Jews for the remarks of a Jew?

Has anyone got suggestions?

PS - Has anyone noticed that this Pope gets in trouble not for what he himself says, but for telling us what other people said? First Regensburg and the quote an Eastern Emperor made about Muslims, now this. Maybe if he had gone to journalism school and got a union card, he wouldn't get so much grief. The boys in the biz hate scab labor.

Noonan Doesn't Get It

In her most recent column, Peggy Noonan argues that the MSM tried very hard NOT to report on the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. They were dragged kicking and screaming to the table, and they still get cold chills every time they run a story.

Peggy Noonan is simply wrong.

According to the Dept. of Education's own studies, the public schools produce victims at a rate 400 times higher in the course of ten years than the Catholic Church produced in 50 years.

If the news reporting were equitable across all lines, we would see 400 stories on public school sexual abuse for every one story we see on priest sexual abuse.

Similarly, the rates of sexual abuse among Protestant and Jewish denominations are also higher than that in the Catholic Church.

If the reporting were equal across all incidences, we would see two or three stories about other faith denominations' abuse for each Catholic priest story.

Finally, we must remember that child-marriage is not only NOT a sin in Islam, heterosexual pedophilia is considered a virtue, since the 50 year old man who consummates marriage with a nine-year old girl is simply emulating Mohammed.

Mohammed lived a sinless life, according to Muslim belief, so anyone who imitates him is living a virtuous life. Mohammed married Aisha when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was nine. He was 54. There is essentially NO reporting on this fact anywhere.

No one is calling for Islam to cleanse itself of the rot.
Peggy, how about a column about that?
But why not?
Aren't you and other news types willing to risk having your throat cut for criticizing Mohammed?

So, let's sum up a little more accurately than Peggy was able to do.

The MSM reporters went after the Catholic Church almost exclusively and certainly out of all proportion to the actual amount of abuse that occurred within the Church.

It ignored (in order of abusive importance) Jews, Protestants, secular public schools and Islam.

Noonan's attempt at MSM apologetics is simply pathetic.

Yes, the abuse happened, but no, the reporters didn't try to avoid attacking the Church.
They reveled in it, the focused on it, they intend to take the Church down.
The crescendo is designed to reach its peak during Holy Week.
End of story.
Peggy Noonan is either an idiot or a liar.
I've lost all respect for her.