One of the benefits of living next door to small children is that they have taken an interest in the toys we packed away long ago as our own son outgrew them. He is out of college now, so we are talking about ancient bins of plastic Legos and sets of Playmobile people who once inhabited little houses made of foamboard and lots of glue -- "projects" that threatened to take over whole rooms in our house. That first round of playing with him was a rediscovery of my own childhood, and now I get to do it again.
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tI lunched with a veteran Italian vaticanista, meaning a journalist who specializes in the Vatican, this week. At one point, more or less out of the blue, he said to me: “You know, the American imprint on this pope’s curia is impressive.”
t(The Italian word he used was impressionante, which, if anything, is perhaps a bit stronger than “impressive,” suggesting something truly remarkable.)
tHe proceeded to tick off examples: Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office; Cardinal Francis Stafford and Archbishop Raymond Burke, who headed two of the three Vatican courts (Stafford just resigned in June); and Archbishop James Harvey, still the prefect of the Papal Household. (Harvey was appointed to that position by John Paul II in 1998.)
In addition, the Americans are the only national bloc other than the Italians to have at least one official working in virtually every Vatican office.
Former Santa Rosa Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann is dying of pancreatic cancer at an Arizona monastery where he settled after resigning in disgrace from leadership of the North Coast diocese 10 years ago.
Ziemann resigned abruptly in 1999 following revelations of his homosexual relationship with another priest. He left the diocese $16 million in debt.
“Like all of us, he had his faults. At the same time, he did a lot of good ... Now is the time to have him in our prayers," said Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa, Calif., about his predecessor
Ziemann, 68, is prepared to die from the cancer that has spread to his liver, said his attorney, Chris Andrian of Santa Rosa.
“He is definitely at peace and ready to be with God, as he said to me,” Andrian said Monday.
The storm over Rome's investigation of American sisters makes me wish that someone of the stature of the late Sister Marie Augusta Neal were doing the kind of sister surveys for which she was renowned.
Neal, one of the first women to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard, conducted all-inclusive surveys to study the influence of Vatican II's directive to U.S. sisters to renew their communities. The first was in 1966, in the wake of that call, and the second was done in 1982. Combined, they showed solid and increasing support for changes instituted by the congregations: housing, work, prayer and personal growth.
In the current turmoil, such a survey could clear up lots of confusion and misunderstanding. Perhaps there is much more of a live-and-let-live frame of mind among both conservatives and liberals. If a majority of sisters on both sides viewed religious life as a common devotion with multiple expressions, would that make a difference? What do sisters themselves think, apart from their leadership or the local bishop's attitudes or Rome's agenda? That would, of course, assume that sisters had a role in deciding their futures.
The most read stories on NCRonline.org in September:
- NCR Today, the NCR group blog
- Discerning ministerial religious life today, an essay by Sandra M. Schneiders
- Archbishop explains why he barred nun-catechist, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk talks about the Sr. Louise Akers case
- Louise Akers: Silenced or louder than ever?, Sr. Joan Chittister on the Akers case
- Perpetual eucharistic adoration, a column by Fr. Richard McBrien
- Cincinnati nun given ultimatum over ordination views, the NCR story breaking the news of Sr. Akers removal
Nikita Gaurav, an eighth-grader at Valley Catholic Middle School, Beaverton, Ore., is one of 10 finalists nationwide for the title of top young scientist. She will travel to New York to compete in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge on Tuesday. The winner will be awarded $50,000 in U.S. savings bonds.
What are Gaurav's dreams? She said, "I would like to become an eco-friendly architect or a mechanical engineer who designs sustainable technology."
For more information on the competition, go to this Web site.
As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I am a Lasallian volunteer living at the Holy Family Catholic Worker House in Kansas City, Missouri.
Living in the house can be an overwhelming affair. With so many people coming in and out on a daily basis it is often hard for me to find time for myself.
Luckily, I do have a retreat of sorts on the second floor of the house: my room. No, my room is not quiet. It does not have mythical properties that block out the hustle and bustle of all the people I see on a daily basis.
But it does have a history which I have found nourishing in times when it all seems to be too much.
Three decades ago Dorothy Day stayed in the room during a visit to the house.
Michael Gerson’s column this morning on the choice President Obama faces in Afghanistan is a congeries of fears, almost all of them misplaced. He is concerned that the deliberateness of the decision-making process the President is following is itself part of the problem, that “the debate, however, should generally take place in private and produce outcomes with al deliberate speed.” I am not so sure that privacy of judgment helped the Bush administration make wise choices, but never mind.
Gerson warns that an enemy can use delays to conduct propaganda. He quotes Al-Qaeda’s most recent video, directed at the Europeans, warning them that America will cut and run and then “will have gone away far beyond the Atlantic” leaving the Europeans exposed to Islamicist wrath. Well, isolationism exists in the far reaches of the left and right, among a few MoveOn.org types and Pat Buchanan, but Robert Taft is no longer the senior Senator from Ohio. And, NATO isn’t going anywhere.
Strategies that work against themselves.
Woody Allen's appeal to excuse Roland Polanski from being forced to return to the U.S. to face sentencing on charges of raping a 13-year-old girl more than three decades ago. Allen's credibility is a bit strained. While dating Mia Farrow, he began an affair with Farrow's adopted daughter, then 21 (he was 56), and married her six years later in 1997.
As reported on NPR, the Detroit school system, in an effort to bolster attendance as a means of maximizing state funding, is awarding prizes for showing up. Top prize: a 42" flat screen television set.
The Congregation for Religious, in its campaign to assist efforts by conservative U.S. nuns to root out Vatican II-itis in mainstream congregations, turns over the $1.1 million bill to the American bishops. This is unlikely to foster enthusiasm for the inquisition. The unintended consequence seems likely to be to thrown another log on the fire of reaction against it. My guess is that the tab will be, or already has been picked up by one of the usual wealthy Vatican backers, but a bitter aftertaste will likely remain.