We go to press today with our Dec. 25th issue, our Christmas issue. It's packed with features and news stories, including one about Seattle Fr. Michael Ryan, who has begun a campaign to try to slow down the introduction of a Latinized translation of the Missal. We reported the Ryan story Dec. 10 on this web site, but it is only fair to note again, as we did then, that the story stemmed from an article penned by Ryan that appeared on the America magazine web site and as part of the Dec. 15th issue of America magazine.
A spate of bad poll numbers has Democrats worried. The President’s approval rating has dropped. A survey of Indpendent voters showed them more likely to vote for a Republican in next year’s midterms than for a Democrat. And support for health care reform is also decreasing. What should the Democrats do about these polls? Ignore them and pass health care reform quickly.
Imagine for a moment what the current discussion about health care reform would look like if the economy had not gone into the tank last year. Government revenues would not be decreasing. Federal help for state and local government would not be needed on the large scale it is currently. More Americans would likely feel the country was moving in the right direction. When the economy tanks, especially when it tanks because of what amounts to a swindle by Wall Street, many Americans get angry at everyone and everything. And, they look to Washington for help and instead of talking about creating jobs, Congress seems to be mired in an interminable debate about health care.
Irish Columban missionary Fr. Sean McDonagh send this report from Copenhagen on Thursday, Dec. 17:
"There was a heavy fall of snow here in Roskilde (40 minutes by train from Copenhagen) last night. A blast of freezing air hit me when I opened the door of the Franciscan house to walk to the train station. That journey normally takes about 15 minutes. It took almost took twice as long today, as the underfoot conditions are treacherous. I nearly came to grief on a slope leading up to the station.
When I finally boarded the train, I chose a quiet carriage and thought immediately how aptly the weather reflects the mood in the Bella Center, where COP 15 is taking place. (Here in Copenhagen some carriages on each train are reserved for those who wish to travel in silence, with no loud music playing or no loud conversations on mobile phones.) To put it in a nut shell, trust seems to have collapsed on many fronts here during the past 10 days.
tIn what may be the final act of the long-running Catholic drama centering on Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the Vatican announced today that Milingo has been formally removed from the clerical state – in layman’s terms, defrocked.
tAs today’s Vatican statement noted, such a step is highly unusual for a bishop. The Vatican said it was compelled to act because of Milingo’s “persistent contumacy,” especially his decision to ordain several bishops without papal permission for his “Married Priests Now!” movement, which seeks to promote optional celibacy in the Catholic church.
The last case of a bishop being removed from the clerical state came in 2008, with Fernando Lugo, the president of Paraguay and former Bishop of San Pedro who resigned in 2005 in order to pursue a political career. Lugo had requested laicization in 2006 but the Vatican had consistently refused, relenting only after he won the presidency in April 2008.
tMilingo had been considered excommunicated since 2006 on account of his defiance of church authority.
After more than three decades in prison, James Bain , 54, will be allowed to go home for the first time in 35 years -- free from his life sentence thanks to a DNA test that showed he was not the man who took a 9-year-old Lake Wales, Florida, boy from his bed in 1974 and raped him.
Of the 245 people in the United States who have been exonerated by DNA testing, none has spent more time behind bars than Bain, according to the Innocence Project, a national organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing.
Yet another example offering support to abolish the death penalty. Mistakes happen.
O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
This evening at Vespers, we sing the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6zaiZxJIpU>first of the O Antiphons, addressing God with the feminine term, Sapientia, Latin for wisdom. (The Greek word for wisdom, sophia, is also feminine, as is the Hebrew word, hokma.)
Today is the feast of a 4th-century deaconess, St. Olympias, a friend and supporter of St. John Chrysostom, and of St. Gregory Nazianzus, who wrote the epithalamion for her wedding. After her husband's death, Olympias was ordained a deaconess by Patriarch Nectarius. She established a "domestic community" near Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). After Chrysostom was banished, Olympias was accused of starting a fire in Hagia Sophia. Her community was disbanded and she was exiled. She died at Nicomedia c. 410.
On Dec.15, by a vote of 11 to 2, the City Council of the District of Columbia passed a law that legalizes gay marriage in the nation’s capital.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington had opposed that legislation, and had threatened to withdraw from its social service contracts with the District government if it, or Catholic Charities, were forced to pay spousal benefits to same sex couples, or to be involved in facilitating adoptions for same sex couples.
Much coverage was lavished on the President’s meeting with top bankers on Monday. But, another White House meeting might have been more enlightening. A group of prominent clergy met with members of the White House economic team to insist that Wall Street be held accountable for its rapacious ways and to advocate for those facing foreclosure. Earlier, the group held a prayer vigil in front of the Treasury Department.
Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who attended the meeting, said, “To take advantage of consumers should not only be a crime, but is also a sin against God. Teachers, social workers, small business owners and our men and women in the armed services all know what it means to sacrifice for the good of our country in tough times, and they do so with pride. I refuse to believe that Wall Street is the one place in the country that is exempt.”
The event was organized by a coalition of progressive groups including PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, Sojourners and the Center for Responsible Lending. In addition to the clergy, homeowners struggling to keep their homes participated in the event.
Last night, we at Interfaith Voices (a public radio show) sponsored a marvelous evening, a fundraiser, with many of the great Kennedy women: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Vicki Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy and Kathleen’s daughter Maeve McKean.