April 2014

A reader alerts me to Cincinnati’s WLWT (TV) News 5’s recent story on the protest against Archbishop Schnurr’s Catholic clause in the new teacher contract. As has been noted, the contract simply requires teachers to assent to a number of settled Catholic teachings often opposed or denied by those of a more secular bent.

The story revolves around an online petition being circulated by lawyer Tim Garry, Jr., a member of Nativity parish who made news a dozen years ago representing the school’s principal, Bob Herring, when he was dismissed from his post by the then-pastor. (Herring was reinstated following mediation.) Garry is also a past member and president of the parish council, and in his online bio he rails against the “feudal system of governance of the Roman Catholic Church.” Readers may recall from an earlier post that a teacher from Nativity showed up at the contract protest last week on Fountain Square downtown. And of course Nativity is home to the notorious priestophobic teacher Gerard Ahrens, whose diatribes against the Church and any man wearing a Roman collar once plagued the forum pages of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Under Archbishop Pilarczyk, there developed a handful of what you might call “affinity parishes” of dynamic orthodoxy that were permitted to exist primarily as safety valves. Against these were aligned a far greater number of “mainstream parishes” of static heterodoxy where doctrine was seldom taught or promoted. Care to guess which camp Nativity fell — and falls — under? The good news is that we’re getting more of the former (witness the stunning success of Oakley’s St. Cecilia under Fr. Jamie Weber, a priest who defines dynamic orthodoxy) and fewer of the latter.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains four entries on “doubt,” all of them negative. The first (644) concerns the doubt of the Apostles about the resurrected Jesus, the subject of this morning’s Gospel reading from John; the second (2119) how tempting God “always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power; the third (1806) that prudence is “the virtue to overcome doubt about good and evil”; and the fourth (2088) the distinction between voluntary and involuntary doubt, both of which are to be avoided.

Thus, in Catholic teaching, doubt is a no-no. Of course, any reasonably catechized first communicant could tell you that, yet nonetheless at St. Rose this morning a priest on what appears to be a long-term loan from the cathedral explained to worshippers that doubt is a virtue to be embraced. “Indeed faith and doubt are necessary for us to get to where we want to be.”

What he may have meant is that questioning, wonderment, and mystery are compatible with authentic faith, but explaining that in a straightforward fashion wouldn’t have the cheeky appeal or shock value of his “Let’s break-out the doubt!” message.

The upside of Archbishop Schnurr’s reputed laser-focus on priestly vocations is that when the biological solution kicks into high-gear, there will be good men to replace these fools. The downside is that most of us will be in our retirement before that happens.

I am generally a fan of Rick Steves’s video-travelogues on Europe that air regularly on PBS. Tonight I queued up his “Florence: Heart of the Renaissance” on the DVR player. Sadly, it is from start to finish a rehashing of now discredited views of the Middle Ages and the Church’s role in the development of science, art, and learning.

Indeed, his opening sentence gives it away: “This time we explore the city that pulled Europe out of the Middle Ages and into the modern world.” This is followed seconds later by a remark about Europe “wallowing in centuries of relative darkness” after the fall of Rome with little “learning, commerce, or travel.” He then skips forward to “about 1400” when there was a renaissance of interest in the cultures of Ancient Greece and Rome and “the Church finally lifted its ceiling on learning.” It’s as though nothing of significance happened for roughly 900 years and Michaelangelo and the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (the stunning Florence Cathedral), to cite two Florentine examples of the period, appeared out of nowhere.

This is pure rubbish of course, and for a masterful treatment of the West’s steady, continuous, and Catholic rise to modernity, you can scarcely do better than Rodney Stark’s new How the West Won; Henrik Bering’s review in the Wall Street Journal is a good synopsis. (My apology for shilling for Stark so aggressively — his book is that good.)

In any event, enjoy Rick Steves’s infectious enthusiasm for travel and his appreciation for art and culture, but disregard his lazy discourses into history.

Much of the scholarly world has had strong suspicions about the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife fragment being a modern forgery written on old papyrus fragments.* As more information has emerged from Harvard, all the fragments in the associated collection are looking more iffy. Even the alleged provenance of the alleged former owner looks iffy. The supposed former owner apparently had little chance to obtain such things and wasn’t at all interested in history or art or old religious texts, much less stuff that’s rare and hard to find.

However, this week scholars got a chance (as part of a scientific report on the GJW ink) to look at one of the associated fragments: a bit of the Gospel of John written in the same hand, with the same ink, on the same kind of papyrus as the Wife fragment.

Christian Askeland noticed that the “sister fragment” apparently copies a particular 1924 critical edition of a particular Coptic language Gospel of John, right down to the line breaks. The only things modified are a couple of letters, but the modifications make no linguistic sense except as a forger’s attempt to impress. Other scholars overwhelmingly agree with his identification.

That just about wraps it up for this one.

Found via Paleojudaica.

* There are some indications that the GJW fragment was written on papyrus older than the Roman Empire, because it’s a lot easier to buy ancient Egyptian papyrus bits than Roman Egyptian ones. Oooooops.

From Rodney Stark’s fantastic new history of modernity, How the West Won:

A Muslim of Turkic-Mongol origins, Tamerlane (also known as Timur) was born near the Persian city of Samarkand in 1336. Seeking to restore the Mongol Empire, he conquered vast areas of Asia. Again and again Tamerlane perpetrated huge massacres — perhaps as many as two hundred thousand captives (men, women, and children) were slaughtered during his march on Delhi — and had towering pyramids built from the heads of his victims. So barbaric were his conquests that he earned the sobriquet the “Scourge of God,” as Christopher Marlowe put it in his great play (1587). And while Tamerlane killed huge numbers of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, he virtually wiped out the Christians and Jews in the East. In Georgia alone, Samuel H. Moffett reported, Tamerlane “destroyed seven hundred large villages, wiped out the inhabitants, and reduced all the Christian churches … to rubble.” Any Christian communities that survived Tamerlane were destroyed by his grandson, Ulugh Beg.

And to think they name theirs sons after this monster.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that around 60 people gathered at Fountain Square downtown to protest the teacher contract issued by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The contract requires archdiocesan teachers to initial their assent to settled Church teaching on a variety of topics. Evidently — and tellingly — their effort is supported by the George Soros-funded MoveOn.org, a far-left Democrat lobbying organization that came to fame in the last decade by smearing President George W. Bush. Here’s a snippet:

The contract for the first time spells out that archdiocesan teachers are not allowed to support publicly behavior that is in contrast to Roman Catholic teachings on gay “lifestyles,” out-of-wedlock relationships, abortions and certain fertility methods.

Some participants in the “March to Fix the Contract,” however, feel alienated. They said the restrictions don’t jibe with their own views as Catholics.

“They aren’t listening to all Catholics,” said Tom Flautt of Anderson Township. “They’re only listening to a small group.”

He thinks the contract is a thinly veiled attempt to shield the archdiocese from potential lawsuits – if, for example, a teacher is fired because of his or her personal beliefs.

“The whole thing is about money,” said Flautt. “This contract is an attempt to keep them from having to pay for improper labor actions.”

The march drew a mix of parents, students, former teachers and others who support their cause.

Mary Lee Busam of Westwood held a sign stating, “I am a Grammy. Fix the contract.”

She has 17 grandchildren, all old enough to attend Catholic school. She doesn’t like the restrictions that the contract puts on their teachers.

“I’m here to support teachers who can’t support themselves. It’s such an obvious injustice,” she said. “You can’t take away people’s right to free speech.”

Fast forward to 1:10.

That the video is posted by the former head of the University of Dayton’s “liturgical movement,” i.e., dance, ministry comes as no surprise.

More here.

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