Thursday, February 10, 2005

Catholic News today

The Catholic Church has received much publicity in the media in the past week. First, Pope John Paul was rushed to the hospital with respiratory problems. His condition was reported in most every newscast until his return to the Vatican today. This latest health scare prompted many articles on his ability to continue as pontiff, as well as who might be his successor.

Then, another Chicago-area priest resigned his position as chaplain after admitting to a sexual relationship with a seminarian fifteen years ago. Sadly, we have been numbed by such revelations that seem to keep popping up. Will we ever be able to purge these sinners from the hierarchy?

In another incident, a member of Notre Dame's Board of Trustees and former Notre Dame football player, resigned his post after being charged with domestic abuse. He allegedly struck his wife in a South Bend hotel room last weekend.

As a faithful Catholic, I am always concerned about how the Church is portrayed in the media. Knowing the salvation of souls are at stake, I wonder how many turn away from the Church because of the bad publicity we bring upon ourselves. Unfortunately, bad press is much easier to come by than good press. There are so many holy priests and other religious who never make the papers or television.

In trying to get the inside scoop on Pope John Paul's condition this evening, the news anchor on the local CBS affiliate chose to interview a well-known dissident priest from Notre Dame who irresponsibly stated that he had a contact inside the Vatican who said the Pope is in much worse condition than was being reported. He also said the Pope stopped breathing for over a minute before he was placed on a respirator. Sensing this particular priest's craving for headlines and his tendency to challenge Church authority, I question the accuracy of his information. Even if it is true, a faithful priest should not reveal personal information about the Pope's medical condition.

I turned off the television during the priest's smiling closeup and picked up the newspaper. Just glancing through, I found the word 'Catholic' many times. The front page story in the Faith section was titled, "Not just for Catholics - Some Protestants gravitating to comfort, practice of rosary." The article is about a number of Protestant denominations who are adopting and adapting the Rosary. Most of them replace the 'Hail Mary' with other forms of prayer. Despite this, I find it encouraging that those outside the Church are being drawn to Catholic spirituality. At last night's Ash Wednesday Mass, our parish priest said the local Lutheran pastor came to him asking for ashes to use at an Ash Wednesday service.

An inset to the Rosary article told of a current fashion fad of wearing rosaries around the neck. Apparently, a number of young celebrities started the trend and it is now catching on. Trying to make a statement by using a rosary for a necklace is like trying to pry open a stuck door with a stick of dynamite. If they knew the proper way to use it, it would be much more effective. According to the article, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales published a leaflet on the proper use of the rosary in response to the misuse.

On the same front page below the Rosary article was a story about a new 'inclusive' Bible, containing 'degendered' translation of Scripture. The new version goes so far as to change the 'Our Father' to 'Abba God', because God can no longer be referred to as 'Father'. The author of the article points out that this translation is still preferable to one proposed by the National Council of Churches which started, 'O God, Father and Mother.' Once the Word of God is altered, it is no longer the Word of God. So who ordered this perverted Scripture? OH, NO! It was produced for a group called "Roman Catholic Priests for Equality." FATHER, forgive them. They know not what they do.

Opening the paper, I find an article about Sister Jeannine Gramick, a nun who has defied an order from the Vatican to cease her ministry to gays. She is in South Bend this week to participate in the Notre Dame Queer Film Festival! Why hasn't the Vatican ordered Notre Dame to remove all ties to the Catholic Church? A Catholic institution should be expected to reflect orthodox Catholic teaching. Those who have a problem with that concept should go somewhere else.

What has happened to Notre Dame? Dissident priests, Queer Film Festivals, scandals - faithful Catholics are ashamed of what Notre Dame has become. The editorial page of this same newspaper has an editorial by Bishop John D'Arcy condemning the university for sponsoring the festival through six of its departments. Bishop D'Arcy explains that all people, including homosexuals, have a right to receive authentic Catholic teaching from those who minister to them. According to the Bishop, no place has been made at this seminar for the clear and accurate presentation of Catholic teaching. He goes on to quote that teaching from the catechism. How sad that a bishop has to chastise a Catholic University for refusing to be Catholic.

Exactly one week later (2/17/2005), Bishop D'Arcy finds it necessary to again address a problem at Notre Dame. In another lengthy newspaper editorial appearing in today's South Bend Tribune, the bishop takes aim on Notre Dame for allowing a production of "The Vagina Monologues" on campus. Notre Dame's administrators again thumb their noses at the Church, their Bishop, Jesus and His Blessed Mother.