On Friday July 1, from 9 AM to 12:30, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is running a religious freedom event at Annunciation Parish, to spread knowledge of religious persecution going on in Lebanon and Syria, and to encourage us to fight anti-Christian stuff going on in the US. It is also designed to increase knowledge of Maronite Rite Catholicism among us Latin/Roman Rite Catholics, as well as being a nice example of cooperation between the Archdiocese and the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon (cathedral in LA).It’s all part of the Fortnight for Freedom.

The highlight of the “One Church of Mercy Conference” is a visit and speech from the Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church (under the Pope, of course!), His Beatitude Mar Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, from Antioch.

(“Mar” is his Maronite title. Mar = Lord in Aramaic and Hebrew. It’s what you’d call a rabbi, for instance. You also see it in “Maranatha,” which means literally, “Come, Lord.” Rai is his last name, “His Beatitude” is the Vatican title for a Patriarch, and “Cardinal” is his Vatican rank.)

The day will feature a joint Lauds/Morning Prayer, a little snacktime, a joint talk about religious freedom featuring the archbishop, the Maronite eparch, various diocesan and eparchan folks, and the one and only Syro-Malabar Rite priest in Cincinnati (who’s naturally governed by yet another eparch). Then the Patriarch makes a presentation. Then there’s a Q & A.

This sounds like a really good thing to attend, and a good way to learn more about our Catholic brothers and sisters in other Rites by seeing how they live out our common Faith.

It does cost $10.00, but that’s cheaper than going all the way to Syria or Rome to meet a Patriarch. You have to register at the Archdiocese’s website.

There’s also a free event at 6 PM on July 1st: a Pontifical Divine Liturgy (ie, Mass) at St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Church. You are asked to RSVP at St. Anthony’s website (it involves a brief survey, because they want to know if you want to be on their mailing list).

There will be a banquet afterwards at 8 PM, but you have to call the parish center for details. It’s $77.00 per person. (But probably worth every penny! Lebanese banquet! Man, I wish I could go!) Probably this will be a limited seating event intended more for Maronite folks… but hey, if you’ve got the time and bucks, you might as well inquire.

 

It turned out that the WHIO news story on Friday night was actually a sort of commercial for the Dayton Daily News story that was going to be printed on Sunday. The results were somewhat misleading.

Since the DDN doesn’t make this article available online to non-subscribers, I will give a precis of the article.

First off, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is unhappy with Fr. Earl Simone’s business dealings — because diocesan priests are supposed to let the Archdiocese know about their business activities, and get permission for them. The Archdiocesan spokesman was unsure if this was against canon law or not, but apparently it’s against policy.

Fr. Simone says he didn’t know he was supposed to get permission from the Archdiocese before starting businesses, or that he was supposed to report on how his businesses were doing.

Second, Fr. Simone bought $2.9 million of real estate (rental properties) over a period of 20 years (1994-2014). His company was named Flynn Realty, Inc.; it runs 31 rental properties. At one point, he apparently ended up having to pay more property tax than he had bargained for, which left him owing back taxes for several years. He is now totally paid up, except for $2,687 owed on one of his apartment complexes. Over the same period, his rental properties were cited by cities for 91 minor violations (stuff like not mowing the grass).

There have been major maintenance problems at a rental property on Powell Rd. in Huber Heights, with tenants reporting nobody dealing with black mold, a dangerously wired ceiling fan and hallway light, a moldy leaking A/C unit, bad plumbing, a water heater that shot out flames, broken cabinets, and broken back doors.

DDN reporters also talked to tenants at the other rental properties, and they didn’t have any complaints.

Fr. Simone currently employs a property manager to manage all this stuff, Mr. Matt Heidenreich of Mak Gregor Management. This property manager has only been working there for a year. The previous property manager was Tom Marts. The property management company has been in business since 1984. Part of their property management services is that they actually do all the work to rent out apartments and collect the rent for units owned by other people and companies. (In other words, they are the “landlord,” as far as tenants would be concerned.)

Third, Fr. Simone had a restaurant company called Flynn Systems Inc., which ran “The Bagel Shoppe: A Gourmet Sandwich Place” in Vandalia. This restaurant closed in 2006. The company was owned by Flynn Realty, Inc. Fr. Simone says he had a partner, James Michael Duckett, who actually ran the business. When the business failed, this partner disappeared. Duckett wasn’t a partner on the paperwork, though, and wasn’t on the hook for the bank money and taxes. He currently lives in Hawaii and was “unavailable for comment” to the DDN reporters.

Fourth, Fr. Simone had a separately incorporated real estate business called Flynn Enterprises. This company was also owned by Flynn Realty, Inc.

Fifth, in 2002 when the back tax thing resulted in a garnishment order, the tax folks sent one of the garnishment orders to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. But apparently nobody at the Archdiocese took any notice of strange government tax paperwork and court orders!!

Sixth, St. Peter’s and the rest of the parish cluster doesn’t have a “business manager.” They have bookkeepers who don’t do the actual money handling; and various parishioners handle the money from various sources (ushers for the collection, CCD people for CCD fees, etc.) Nothing has yet been released about actually finding money missing, or what person or persons may have had sticky fingers. (If anybody did. Sometimes it’s just bad record-keeping, or an account that’s not being remembered.) The other parishes in the cluster are still being audited, too. The interim pastor, Fr. Hadden, and the “pastoral council” (parish cluster council, I guess) are looking into what should be changed for the future.

That’s it for now. Doesn’t look like anything’s been definitely proved hinky, as of yet.

UPDATE: In the comments to my first post, a commenter gives some interesting “gen.” The commenter indicates that Fr. Flynn may have inherited some of the money and properties.

Report on Flynn Realty Inc. on credibility.com

Fr. Simone, who was pastor over at St. Peter’s in Huber Heights for years before he resigned back in April, is currently the subject of a diocesan forensic audit, an investigation by Huber Heights’ police department, a news story on Channel 7 last night at 6:15, and a Sunday front page story in the Dayton Daily News.

The “good” news is that it’s not anything sexual.

The bad news is that a fair amount of parish money is missing, and nobody seems to know where it went.

This is what I know from my own knowledge and from the news reports:

St. Peter over in Huber Heights is a prosperous, active, busy parish. They have something like 20 or 30 different activities going on, and a grade school, and a whole bunch of religious education for all ages, and helping centers for families, and…. They get vocations. They also have a pretty healthy set of contributions and building projects, and have been trying to pay off the church mortgage while the archdiocese is doing its matching funds deal.

Somebody made a complaint to the archdiocese about missing funds, which set off the first investigation.

Fr. Simone is an old guy who tools around in his powered wheelchair. A lot of the day to day running of the parish is apparently done by the associate priests (who are fairly traditional) and the parish council. But the associate priests are also running around dealing with the other churches that are clustered with St. Peter’s.

Fr. Simone apparently owns, or is part owner, of a realty company that owns several apartment complexes and duplexes in the Troy and Huber Heights areas. He seems to have been a silent owner, since the tenants didn’t know their landlord was a priest. Whoever is supposed to be doing maintenance on these properties isn’t getting it done, according to numerous city citations to mow the grass.

Beyond that, I guess we’ll find out more on Sunday. (And I apologize for totally missing the original reports in February and March, including the one in the Catholic Telegraph.)

This could obviously be a totally innocent situation, since (as Margery Allingham noted) there are some people in the Church who tend to give away money to those who need it, and forget to do the paperwork. On the other hand, it could be something very bad. Either way, the parishioners and priests of St. Peter’s need our prayers.

A sad photo-essay from the Daily Mail over in the UK.

St. Peter’s Seminary in Argyll, Scotland was founded in 1964. Large classes of Baby Boomer priests were supposed to be coming, and the most modern architecture was chosen to make it a building of worldwide significance. (And honestly, it’s not bad-looking; there’s some shape to it instead of just blank walls.)

The seminary was closed, then converted into a drug rehab center.

It is now abandoned.

“Joseph and Asenath” is in the news this week, with some tabloid Discovery Channel show breathing heavily about a lost Gospel and (of course) Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene.

The story “Joseph and Asenath” is well-known. It’s an apocryphal (Bible fanfic) story about the Old Testament figure of Joseph, and the wife that Pharaoh gave him, Potiphar’s daughter Asenath. They fall in love before they get married, because they both hear about the good character of the other. But Joseph is reluctant to marry a Gentile. Asenath is upset, and Joseph prays for her conversion. Asenath also fasts and prays to Joseph’s God and is converted. On the eighth day, an angel comes to tell her that her prayer is granted. He finishes the job by miraculously giving her various things to eat (bread, wine, honeycomb, honey that turns to blood — there are a lot of different versions!) and thus transforming her into a Jewish girl. She and Joseph get married and live happily ever after.*

Then there’s a second part, where the same brothers who avenged Dinah by killing her rapist (and the rest of town…) protect their new sister-in-law from Pharaoh’s son, who wanted to marry Asenath instead. This is opposed by some of the other brothers (the kids of Leah and Rachel’s maids), who want to kill Asenath (and Benjamin, while they’re at it) and blame it on Pharaoh’s son. The good guys win, they bind up the bad guys’ wounds, and everybody becomes friends in the end.

It’s a probably Jewish-written apocryphal text. (There is a legal principle in Jewish law that converts are “new bodies,” and therefore anything that applied to their Gentile selves doesn’t apply to their new Jewish selves.)  But Christians liked the story also (love story! angels! Gentiles enter the Covenant!), so there’s about five zillion copies in five zillion vernaculars. Asenath was a popular heroine to Christians of the Middle Ages.

So this particular ms of this widespread story (the ms that is featured in the Discovery Channel show, which is in Syriac and from the 5th century) apparently there’s some comment about “Oh, yeah, and I just told you this story because it’s an allegory for Our Lord and how He brought the Gentiles into God’s family.” The comment is incomplete, so the tabloid documentary guys are theorizing that the missing part said, “It’s an allegory for how that Jesus guy married that hot Magdalene! Totally!”

And apparently idiots are not getting the point. Mary of Magdala may have been a lot of things, but she sure as heck wasn’t a Gentile. Gentile-born Jewish converts and Gentile-descended Christians were the point.

Anyway, I advise you to read “Joseph and Asenath” and ignore the Discovery Channel silliness. It’s a good story.

“Joseph and Asenath” roundup on the Early Jewish Writings site. The story also exists in very early Armenian, Ethiopian, Slavonic, and Latin versions. Article from the Jewish Encyclopedia.

“Joseph and Asenath” translated by Brooks. The foreword lists the medieval Latin, German, French, Icelandic, and Greek versions, among others.

Notes on “The Storie of Asneth,” a Middle English poem. The actual poem. Like the Latin version, this poem has Asenath as a sort of young Belle Dame Sans Merci who falls in love with no man, but is particularly reluctant to marry an ex-slave. However, when she actually sees him she realizes he is worthy of respect, and begins a process of repentance that leads to conversion. This version also reprints Vincent of Beauvais’ Latin text of the story.

Scholarly roundup of news stories and academic reactions at the Paleojudaica site. (The general reaction is “Shyeah, no.” Scholars love “Asenath,” and they teach various versions of the text in various disciplines, so they’re not being shy about it.)

*The other versions are “Joseph wasn’t too worried about it, because Jewish guys were still okay with marrying Gentiles,” “Asenath converted non-miraculously and that counts too,” and “Asenath was the daughter of Dinah, whom you never hear anything more about because she moved to Egypt to get away from her brothers, and then Dinah died and Potiphar’s wife took Asenath as her daughter, or maybe Dinah was Potiphar’s first wife who died.”

On October 27th, Pope Francis addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and talked about evolution as one of God’s probable methods of Creation. News reports in English had the Pope saying, “God is not a divine being.”

What the Pope actually said was, “….Dio non è un demiurgo….” which is the Italian for “God is not a demiurge.”

In heretical Gnostic theology, the creator of the material universe was an evil or depressed lesser being called the Demiurge [Builder] who was often identified with Satan, whereas God was a higher being (or beings, or eight beings, or….) who never wanted matter created at all. Christian Gnostics justified this term (like many others they used) because it was used once in the Bible in Hebrews 11:10 – “For [Abraham] looked for a city that has foundations, the Architect and Builder of which is God.” (Of course St. Paul didn’t mean it like they meant it.)

So yeah, maybe some of you will believe me now about the pathetic inaccuracy of the current Vatican English translations. 🙂

UPDATE: Actually, it wasn’t an official or even an unofficial Vatican translation, so apologies to vatican.va and the translators! (However, the English version still isn’t up as of 10/31/2014, so what’s up with that? Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, but no German or Czech or English? Are you guys on vacation?)

No, it was Religion News Service that messed up. Here’s Dawn Eden’s initial story on Get Religion, with comments from RNS: “Religion News Service monkeys around with that Pope Francis evolution speech”. Here’s a story about the RNS comments, and Get Religion’s defense of Dawn Eden being critical. Basically, they don’t expect reporters to know stuff or to be able to look stuff up. Reporters don’t dig for information. (Yeah, there’s a surprise.)

After the 10 AM Mass on Sunday, the University of Dayton is holding a “leavetaking ceremony” for the UD Chapel.

That’s honest, at least. Because it’s not going to be anything like itself, after this renovation.