June 2013


St. Cecilia Church in Cincinnati’s Oakley neighborhood on the East side offers some suggestions for observing the Fortnight for Freedom in the home stretch.

Archdiocese of Cincinnati spokesman Dan Andriacco on the US Supreme Court’s overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act earlier today:

“Obviously we in the archdiocese and the bishops of the United States were hoping both cases would go the other way,” Andriacco said. “At this point however, it appears nothing in today’s actions nullifies the actions of Ohio and a number of other states in preserving traditional marriage. That is a very positive aspect of today’s developments. We’d really have to study the decisions further to understand the full implications but that’s the initial appearance of what happened today.”

“The Catholic Church’s interest in this issue is not to enshrine in law our own definition of marriage but to preserve the definition and understanding of marriage that everyone has held for thousands of years until just recent decades,” Andriacco said. “That has worked very well for the good of society.”

The Marian Library is currently holding a retrospective of the artwork of the late deacon and UD alumnus, Ned Ostendorf. It includes “hidden image” paintings, paintings and drawings of many Biblical figures, and illustrations of various kinds. He made his living as a professional artist and illustrator, often of Catholic material. Later in life he was ordained a deacon and served at various parishes, as well as acting as a prison chaplain.

One of his brothers was also a commercial artist: Lloyd Ostendorf, well known as a Lincoln collector and Catholic comics writer, penciller, and inker. He died back in 2000.

America magazine reports that Fordham University has bestowed honors on two of the worst bishops the Church in America has produced in the past 50 years. By virtually any measure — vocations, Mass attendance, apostolates, school closures — Matthew Clark of my home diocese of Rochester and his good friend and vacation partner Howard Hubbard of nearby Albany have been unmitigated disasters. But that didn’t stop university president Joseph McShane, S.J., from praising their postconciliar “vision”:

On Feb. 13, 2013, Bishops Matthew H. Clark and Howard Hubbard were honored for their long episcopal service in upstate New York with the presidential medal from Fordham University. In his introductory remarks, President Joseph McShane, S.J., lauded Bishops Clark and Hubbard for affirming “a vision of the church in which the laity are fully empowered to serve the Gospel through their diverse talents. Each in his own way has helped ensure that the Good News truly comes alive in the world today.

“Together, these remarkable men have been tireless promoters of the Second Vatican Council’s call to the laity to take up vocations that ‘harmonize with the general good of the human race’ and ‘unhesitatingly devise new enterprises’ capable of repairing a world broken by sin.”

To get a sense of how these new enterprises turned out, you can read my brief review from 2010 of Clark’s execrable book Forward in Hope:

Bishop Clark presides over perhaps the most dissent-filled, decadent diocese in the nation. His unique approach to lay ministry, which includes illicitly appointing two members of the Women’s Ordination Conference as “pastors” over parish clusters, has resulted in an unparalleled vocations crisis. (In the book, he flagrantly defends his elevation of dissenting would-be priestesses by claiming Lay Ecclesial Ministry “has become a substitute ministry for the one to which they feel called.”) From 1995 to 2005, the Diocese of Rochester lost over 45% of its priests, a figure unmatched virtually anywhere in the United States. Indeed, priests aren’t even priests in Rochester; they are called “sacramental ministers” in local Catholic officialdom. And while Mass attendance has stabilized or increased in most parts of the Church in America over the last decade, it is in free-fall in Rochester, dropping almost 25% since 2002.

UPDATE, Monday, 24 June 2013. Cleansing Fire, a group blog of Rochester Catholics, reports that “an announcement will be made Tuesday [tomorrow] regarding the naming of our next bishop.” It wouldn’t hurt to send a prayer to the long-suffering people of the Diocese of Rochester.

Archbishop Samples of Portland, Oregon has his work cut out for him, because his archdiocese contains not only Portland and environs (which is work enough) but also one of the world’s biggest Catholic music publishing houses. Recently he encouraged his flock to sing the Mass (including things like antiphons and verses) and not just random songs and hymns.

His CMAA speech is simple but definite, and includes some strong catechesis on the Mass as well as its music.

You can listen to it here, or read the transcript at Philothea on Phire.

This is your heritage of Catholic church music! Explore it!

Some of this stuff really is big and elaborate and difficult — but a lot of it is easy, or just requires average voices and normal choir work. Every parish could pick out pretty decent music and do it pretty well, because church music through the ages was mostly written for normal voices and normal instrument players. And some of that “average” music is amazing!

You can listen to recorded pieces already performed at this website as they are posted. (It looks like this year has been busy, as I don’t see anything up yet. But they have recorded stuff, so just wait.) You can listen to previous years while waiting for the new stuff. I recommend the 2012 Madeleine Choir School concert, which showcases the kids at the Madeleine’s serious music school.

You can also listen live at radiofeca.com to the following events from the Colloquium, at the Cathedral of the Madeleine (St. Mary Magdalene) in Salt Lake City:

Friday the 21st, 7:15 PM ET/5:15 MT — Mass for St. Aloysius Gonzaga’s Day.
9:45 PM ET/7:45 MT — Vespers.

Saturday the 22nd, 4:15 PM ET/2:15 MT — Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sunday the 23rd, 1 PM ET/11 AM MT — Sunday Mass.

The Masses are sung each day by different groups of singers separated into different ability levels, each class doing a few of their own pieces every day. There’s beginning, middle, and advanced classes in chant, and in partsinging; everybody has to be in a chant schola and a polyphony choir. (And that means everybody: priests, musicians who never sing, people who know a lot about singing and those who know nothing. Everybody. And you practice every day for a couple hours, plus other classes.)

The Church Music Association of America is an organization of church musicians and those interested in church music. It is dedicated to serving God (and the Catholic Church) with good church music, teaching chant and polyphony, spreading music played on the organ and other fitting instruments, and encouraging contemporary composers to work inside the Church’s traditions and laws. (Among all sorts of other things.) Their website, musicasacra.com, is full of free and public domain resources available to everyone.

The Colloquium is a weeklong workshop held every year, with Mass sung every day along with morning and evening prayer, as well as a multitude of classes and music practices, fun activities, and socializing.

The other day, I characterized Archbishop Schnurr’s episcopate as “one step forward, two steps back.” Here at least is a decision that falls in the former category.

Sean Ater has been tapped to run the newly created Office of the New Evangelization starting July 1. What this means for the responsibilities of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, where he has most recently served, is unclear. I first met Sean when he was with Immaculate Heart of Mary parish on the far East side. He is young, energetic, hardworking, and orthodox, and I’m sure he’ll give the AOC’s evangelization efforts a boost. Congrats, Sean!

“Through trainings, resources, and initiatives, this Director will help promote a culture of evangelization that should permeate throughout our Department, our central offices, and into the parishes and ministries that we serve.”

The term “new evangelization” was popularized by Blessed John Paul II. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made it a central focus of his Pontificate, creating a Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and calling for a Synod on the New Evangelization in 2012. Pope Francis has continued the focus on the new evangelization calling the College of Cardinals to “search for new ways to evangelize” in his first meeting with them after his election.

“Evangelization has always been the central mission of the Church,” Ater said. “The Church exists to evangelize. “The ‘new’ in the New Evangelization calls the entire Church to confidently and with a new ardor seek out new expressions and new methods for proclaiming the Gospel. I am excited and grateful for this opportunity to work with others in this central task of the Church.”

The former Monastery of the Holy Name on Erie Avenue in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park neighborhood is for sale by the local Methodist community. They bought it for $1.2 million in 2001 and are asking just under $2 million now. Built in 1954, the monastery housed the cloistered Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration for nearly fifty years. It was a shame to let this lovely campus slip out of the Church’s hands a dozen years ago, and would be wonderful to bring it back. Since the effort to restore St. Mark’s Church to a parish devoted to the classical liturgy, a.k.a., the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, apparently has been suspended, perhaps a group with similar goals would consider Holy Name. The property sits on one of the busiest streets in Cincinnati and would provide an opportunity for plenty of curbside evangelization.

Veteran Catholic journalist Francis X. Rocca offers the latest attempt to provide a charitable construction to Pope Francis’s habit of delivering extemporaneous remarks. It doesn’t work any better than earlier efforts from others. The fact is, we have a Pope who seems to speak first and think later, if at all. How else can one make sense of remarks like this one?: “Maybe you will get a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) saying that you said this or that. But don’t worry. Explain what you have to explain, but keep going.” Sometimes he isn’t just sloppy and glib, but rude, as when he likened the spiritual bouquet of rosaries sent by a traditional Catholic group to a form of neo-Pelagianism. When pressed to defend this verbal incontinence Francis explains, “You are going to make mistakes, you are going to put your foot in it. That happens! I prefer a church that makes mistakes because it is doing something to one that sickens because it stays shut in.” But here’s the thing: the papacy isn’t about him or about what he “prefers.” As its inheritor, his only real official title is Servus Servorum Dei, Servant of the Servants of God. Much has been made about Francis’s humility, mostly due to his well publicized breaks with the practices of his predecessors. Yet verbosity and showiness aren’t what come to mind when I think of humility. Moreover, speaking, wisely or foolishly, is “doing something,” good or bad, when your primary office is a teaching one. A reasonably catechized eighth-grader would know this; is it too much to ask that our Holy Father be cognizant of it too?

A leftwing group based in Washington has issued a 24-page report accusing a “small but well-funded network” of conservative Catholics of waging McCarthyism against the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the controversial anti-poverty program sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Its principal target is the American Life League and the Reform CCHD Now coalition, whom they claim practice “guilt by association and other tactics from the McCarthy-era playbook.” At one point, a dozen or so dioceses refrained from taking up a CCHD collection over concerns about the campaign’s priorities and its recipients’ ties to questionable groups. Are the bishops of these dioceses guilty of McCarthyism too?

No real attempt is made to respond to the charges of critics that many CCHD-funded organizations peddle radical leftwing politics only tenuously linked to the Church’s social mission. Rather, the report’s authors are content to question the motives of CCHD critics. This has been the tactic of Tony Stieritz, the director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Catholic Social Action office that oversees local administration of the CCHD, who told the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2010 that CCHD critics “are very selective about what parts of church teaching are important. … They have another agenda: They oppose the bishops’ support for social justice.” And for what it’s worth, Archbishop Schnurr backed Stieritz’s smear when I asked for his response.

Here’s an excerpt from an LTE I wrote to the Enquirer in November of 2010 that sums up why the CCHD’s problems aren’t limited to the company their grant recipients keep, i.e., the “McCarthyite,” guilt-by-association charge, troublesome as that is:

The standard for Catholics shouldn’t be merely to avoid funding groups that oppose our central teachings. I would hope we could take as much for granted! Rather, our standard should be to support organizations with a clearly recognizable Catholic identity or set of guiding principles. That can’t happen when CCHD recipients include highly politicized groups like the Contact Center, whose website masthead once featured the slogan “welfare reform = death,” and the Amos Project, an organization known for shaking down local businesses with unfounded charges of racism. Ditto for the scandal-plagued ACORN, which received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the CCHD even after it was exposed for various financial improprieties.

Moreover, when it comes to societal problems with a variety of legitimate Catholic solutions, e.g., how best to help the poor, the role of bishops and priests is to inform the laity of the principles they should take into the public square. It’s then up to the laity, not a bishops conference or a chancery — and certainly not the CCHD — to apply those principles to concrete situations in their communities. Part of that application is determining which local groups are worthy of support.

And the title of this post is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but if you’re going to trot out a fifty-year-old cliche, you can expect a response in kind.

Tip, Catholic World News.

UPDATE, 16 June 2013. The group behind the report is affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Shocker.

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