30 July 2010

29 July 2010

Archbishop Carlson Makes an Offer to the St. Stan's Congregation

His Grace Archbishop Carlson has published an open letter making an offer of reconciliation to the members of the former parish of St. Stanislaus.  The terms are generous and direct, so I will spare giving a summary here, though I may post commentary on the situation in general in the coming few days.  The St. Louis Review has the goods:

Archbishop Carlson makes an offer to the parishioners of St. Stanislaus


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Peace, and my greetings to each of you. You are, I am aware, in a time of discernment and are faced with a decision regarding the return of St. Stanislaus to again be a Roman Catholic parish.


Over the past year, since arriving in St. Louis, I have met with the members of the board of directors of St. Stanislaus to find a way in which the parish could be re-established while, at the same time, addressing the fears expressed by many of you over the last seven years that the parish would be closed and its property sold with the proceeds being used for other purposes within the archdiocese.


One of the concerns expressed again and again was that, even if an archbishop made a commitment to keep the parish operating so long as Roman Catholics of Polish heritage wanted to have a parish and were willing to support it, he could not bind his successors.


Working with the members of the St. Stanislaus Board, we have developed the concept of the present corporation continuing to own the parish property and the cash and securities that it holds and leasing, without charge, the parish church and rectory to a new parish corporation, founded on the model of other parish corporations in the archdiocese, of which the pastor would be the president. The Polish Heritage Center would not be leased to the parish corporation, but it would be available, without charge, for all parish functions. The pastor and the board of directors of the St. Stanislaus Corporation would collaborate on fundraising and in other matters relating to the parish and the parish property.


It is my intention that this arrangement continue in perpetuity and that St. Stanislaus always be there as a personal parish for Roman Catholics of Polish ethnicity or language. To the best of my ability, I will assure that there is always a priest available and will work to get a priest, either a diocesan priest or a priest from a religious order, who speaks both Polish and English. If the parish were ever closed in the future by an archbishop, the parish property would continue to be owned by the St. Stanislaus Corporation and used for Polish Roman Catholic religious and charitable purposes.


In order to help get the parish re-established, I have committed that the archdiocese would provide the pastor for the first year of the re-established parish without cost to the parish and would contribute up to $10,000 to pay the cost of the consultant for a fund drive to secure the finances of the parish corporation and the St. Stanislaus Corporation for the future.


This proposal has my full support and I will do everything in my power to make St. Stanislaus succeed as a personal parish for Catholics of Polish heritage.


I ask that you please join me in praying that reconciliation can be brought about and, with the help of God, healing will take place.


Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson
Archbishop of St. Louis
______________________
 
It's nice to see the Archdiocese out in front of the public relations situation on this.  Like I said above, it is a very generous offer to those in the former parish as well as those on the Board.  Let us all pray that this offer meets with acceptance.
 
St. Louis, pray for us.
St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us.
St. Stanislaus Kostka, pray for us.

28 July 2010

The Picture Tells a Story: Catholic Schools Struggle

Photo by Stephanie Cordle of the P-D

There is a report in today's Post-Dispatch about the current struggles of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.  This phenomenon is common to most Archdioceses, and the causes are many.  In other words, I don't want to single out this Archdiocese, nor do I want to oversimplify the problems.

But, though the title of the article is "Catholic Schools Struggle in Economy", I can't help taking note of the above photo, which accompanied the P-D story.  It depicts a young girl in a classroom at Central Catholic School, which is located downtown.  Perhaps the picture gives a micro-window into one reason why Catholic schools are in some difficulties. 

The cross on the wall is devoid of the Corpus of Our Lord.  Surely the cross is a Christian symbol, but not a uniquely Catholic one.  The Crucifix is (though used by some non-Catholic groups) a clear marker of Catholic identity, and moreover is not a mere sign, but a sacramental.

And the girl pictured in the photo, while not immodestly dressed according to what passes for modesty today, is not exactly wearing what would have traditionally been expected in a Catholic classroom--even apart from any uniform requirement.  Before I get hate mail, I understand it is summertime, and I also do not fault the girl for the outfit, as I don't know the circumstances of her family's finances, background, knowledge base, etc.  In short, I am not focusing on the girl here but on the dress code of a Catholic school.

But these are mere externals, yes?  Externals, yes, but some externals are not "merely" so. 

There have been hard economic times in the past.  Though our current difficulties may exceed the hardships of the great depression, they don't yet.  But the rise of the Catholic school movement in this country--an organic push to offset the protestantism of the compulsory government schools-- occurred among people who were by and large not well off, and at times when hardship and sacrifice were common.  Among other reasons, they were founded to ensure the Catholic identity of our children and to assist in the passing down of our faith.

The disappearance of the low-cost, well-educated religious order teachers is a major factor.  But while most focus on the loss of the low-cost angle, I most lament the loss of the well-educated--or should I say, theologically well-formed-- angle.  Our Catholic teachers, mostly sisters and brothers, were theologically qualified and dedicated to imparting the Catholic faith.  Today's Catholic teachers, well-meaning and dedicated as they are, are co-victims of the Catechetical disaster in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, and are passing along the same faith they received.  Which is to say not enough, Catholic-wise.  The sad fact is that Catholic schools, by and large, teach "tolerance" instead of the Catholic faith; they practice "spirituality" instead of the Catholic religion.

Catholic families aren't living Catholic lifestyles (and in particular are contracepting at nearly the same rate as their non-Catholic neighbors), and their faith is not being improved by what they get at most parishes.  In short, if the three pillars of 19th and 20th Century Catholic life in America were faith-filled homes, faithful parishes, and high-quality Catholic schools, then I would say that all three pillars have crumbled.  There is still life in all three, but on various forms of life support.

So, back to the article:  yes, times are tough.  Schools are feeling budgetary pressures.  But I submit that for a Catholic school to compete and succeed in these times the ONLY thing that will justify the expense and hardship is that it BE Catholic.  I don't care if a purportedly Catholic school has a nifty computer room, or shiny new textbooks, or the latest pedagogical fad imported from the NEA.  I do care if it teaches the Catholic faith. 

Simple math-- Which is a better value?  Having a public school impart secular values contrary to my wishes for $0, or having a supposedly Catholic school impart secular values contrary to my wishes for (at least) $4,000?

From the full article at STLToday:

Catholic Schools Struggle in Economy

by Sara Sonne Lenz

[The article begins by cataloging some specific examples of tough times at some area Catholic schools]

...These difficulties are not isolated.

Catholic schools around the nation are shrinking in number, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. While 24 schools opened nationwide last year, 174 closed or consolidated. Over the last decade, enrollment rates have decreased 20 percent, said Karen Ristau, president of the association.


One bright spot has been the city of St. Louis, where after 40 years of steady decline, Catholic school enrollment saw a slight increase in 2008 and maintained that gain last year.

Overall, however, Catholic school enrollment in the 11 counties under the Archdiocese of St. Louis has dropped by 11,000 in the past 10 years. Enrollment in the Belleville Diocese has dropped by 10,000.


Most parish schools must survive on their own through tuition, Sunday collections and fundraising, said Al Winklemann, associate superintendent at the archdiocese for elementary school administration. He said the archdiocese steps up when parents or the parish can't afford to keep some schools open. Last year, the archdiocese gave $1.8 million in aid and this year that will grow to $2 million.

"It's always been a challenge to maintain Catholic schools," Winklemann said, adding that the cost of education has continued to rise as the economy has become more challenging. "I think all schools have felt that impact."

MORE THAN ECONOMICS

But the economy is only part of the issue, said Thomas Posnanski, director of education for the Belleville Diocese.

Shrinking family sizes have caused a large enrollment drop in Catholic schools. Posnanski said he comes from a family of 12. He subsequently had five children, and his children have three kids each.


"The number of families having a smaller number of kids has had a direct impact on the number of kids enrolling," he said. More than 60 percent of the families enrolled in schools in the Belleville Diocese have just one child, he said.


Catholics also are choosing parish schools less frequently, Ristau said.

"Catholics are not as strongly attached to the church as much as they might have been in the past," she said. "They don't go to Mass as much as they did 30 years ago."

Indeed, Catholic researchers at Georgetown's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate report that while 24 percent of Catholics born from 1943 to 1960 attend Mass at least once a week, 17 percent of those born after 1981 attend weekly Mass.


[...]

NON-CATHOLIC PUPILS

[...]

The Rev. Bill Vatterott, pastor of St. Cecilia, said 78 of the school's 109 families receive some type of financial aid.

"The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation has really brought life not just to the school but to the neighborhood," Vatterott said. "It has allowed parents to provide their kids with a good, solid foundation that will change their lives and the lives of their kids and grandkids."


One consequence of the foundation's shift in mission is that Catholic schools in the city are serving fewer Catholic students. St. Cecilia's student body is 70 percent Catholic; the national average is 85.5 percent. The Belleville Diocese's average is 95 percent.

Sharon Gerken, executive director of the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation, said a few parish schools in north St. Louis have no Catholic pupils.


"We still teach religion and prayer," Winklemann said. "The fact that we have large numbers of non-Catholics in our schools does not change the program in any way, shape or form."

[...]

27 July 2010

KMOV Picks up on the St. Stan's Vote

I don't know that there is anything new here, but I wanted to post this for the record.  Channel 4's report points to a "non-binding" vote on August 8 on the fate of Mr. Bozek's Wild Ride (tm).

Irony Check

Bowing to pressure from the media, Oliver Stone has apologized for making comments to the effect that one cannot make certain comments without being pressured by the media, thus proving that his comments could not possibly have been true.

26 July 2010

Monday is Today, and Today is Monday

Some recent items of varying degrees of interest to post today.

1.  I was contacted by a representative of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis about the recent Review article and SLC Post about the Catholic students who went on a field trip with the "Cultural Leadership" organization, whose honorary board members included Susan Talve and William Danforth.  You will recall that the deprogramming, er, debriefing session about the glories of this trip was held at the Central Reform Congregation, which the Archdiocese had declared was off limits to ecumenical/interreligious functions due to its involvement in the would-be priestess scandal.

The representative wanted to point out that this policy is still in effect, and that while it may not be possible to prevent this or that high school student from deciding to involve himself with that group, it should not have been covered in any positive way in the Review.  The coverage was an oversight and not any type of declaration of support by the paper.  I am glad to hear this, and am happy to post that confirmation here. 

I suppose it would be too much for the principals of these non-Archdiocesan schools to discourage participation in such groups.  But one step at a time.

2.  My home computer is finally fixed and will be up and running in situ tonight.  Hopefully, I can get to more regular blogging now.  Thanks to JG for his help.

3.  Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka has issued a wonderful letter to his priests about the importance of liturgy-- especially in following the rubrics, eliminating abuses and reintroducing Latin (generally) and the traditional Mass (specifically) in the Archdiocese.  Apart from one weird sentence about "eco-spirituality" it is an unbelievably awesome instruction letter that could be reproduced worldwide.  The text of that letter is here.

25 July 2010

Feast of Saint James the Greater

Today is the feast of the Patron of Spain, where he is known as Santiago Matamoros (St. James Moorslayer); he and his brother St. John were called the "Sons of Thunder".  And he is patron saint of my youngest son, too.

Today's feast is a special one, as it occurs to crown this holy year of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

There is a very edifying entry in Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year for St. James relevant to this title, an excerpt of which is below:


... And how did he justify his name of son of thunder, since his voice was heard by a mere handful of disciples in a desert of infidelity?


This new name, another special prerogative of the two brothers, was realized by John in his sublime writings... With regard to James, too, then, eternal Wisdom could not have been mistaken. Let it not be thought that the sword of any Herod could frustrate the designs of the most High upon the men of His choice. The life of the saints is never cut short; their death, ever precious, is still more so when in the cause of God it seems to come before the time. It is then that with double reason we may say their works follow them; God Himself being bound in honour, both for His own sake and for theirs, to see that nothing is wanting to their plenitude. As a victim of a holocaust, He hath received them, says the Holy Ghost, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over peoples; and their Lord shall reign for ever. How literally was this divine oracle to be fulfilled with regard to our saint!


Nearly eight centuries, which to the heavenly citizens are but as a day, had passed over that tomb in the north of Spain, where two disciples had secretly laid the apostle's body. During that time the land of his inheritance, which he had so rapidly traversed, had been overrun first by Roman idolaters, then by Arian barbarians, and when the day of hope seemed about to dawn, a deeper night was ushered in by the Crescent. One day lights were seen glimmering over the briars that covered the monument; attention was drawn to the spot, which henceforth went by the name of the field of stars. But what are those sudden shouts coming down from the mountains, and echoing through the valleys? Who is this unknown chief rallying against an immense army the little worn-out troop whose heroic valour could not yesterday save it from defeat? Swift as lightning, and bearing in one hand a white standard with a red cross, he rushes with drawn sword upon the panic-stricken foe, and dyes the feet of his charger in the blood of 70,000 slain. Hail to the chief of the holy war, of which this Liturgical Year has so often made mention! St. James! St. James! Forward, Spain! It is the reappearance of the Galilean fisherman, whom the Man-God once called from the bark where he was mending his nets; of the elder son of thunder, now free to hurl the thunderbolt upon these new Samaritans, who pretend to honour the unity of God by making Christ no more than a prophet. Henceforth James shall be to Christian Spain the firebrand which the prophet saw, devouring all the people round about, to the right hand and to the left, until Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem.


And when, after six centuries and a half of struggle, his standard bearers, the Catholic kings, had succeeded in driving the infidel hordes beyond the seas, the valiant leader of the Spanish armies laid aside his bright armour, and the slayer of Moors became once more a messenger of the faith. As fisher of men, he entered his bark, and gathering around it the gallant fleets of Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama, Albuquerque, he led them over unknown seas to lands that had never yet heard the name of the Lord. For his contribution to the labours of the twelve, James drew ashore his well-filled nets, from west and east and south, from new worlds, renewing Peter's astonishment at the sight of such captures. He, whose apostolate seemed at the time of Herod III to have been crushed in the bud before bearing any fruit, may say with St. Paul: I have no way come short of them that are above measure apostles, for by the grace of God, I have laboured more abundantly than all they.

24 July 2010

Into My Own Country

"But love must not be wrought in our imagination but must be proved by works.... Oh Jesus, what will a soul inflamed with Your love not do?  Those who really love You, love all good, seek all good, help forward all good, praise all good, and invariably join forces with good men and help and defend them.  They love only truth and things worthy of love.  It is not possible that one who really and truly loves You can love the vanities of earth; his only desire is to please You.  He is dying with longing for You to love him, and so would give his life to learn how he may please You better.

"O Lord, be pleased to grant me this love before You take me from this life.  It will be a great comfort at the hour of death to realize that I shall be judged by You whom I have loved above all things.  Then I shall be able to go to meet You with confidence, even though burdened with my debts, for I shall not be going into a foreign land but into my own country, into the kingdom of Him whom I have loved so much and who likewise has so much loved me."

--Saint Teresa of Avila

23 July 2010

Alice von Hildebrand and Christopher West

Lifesite News covers an important ongoing debate about Catholic teaching on human sexuality and the so-called "Theology of the Body".  In this case, the article discusses Alice von Hildebrand's call for Christopher West (perhaps the most well-known speaker on the TOTB) to "renew" his approach to the subject.

Many Catholics who had previously ignored or opposed Catholic teaching on contraception and other issues facing marriage have been positively influenced by West's message.  However, the TOTB in some important respects is a divergence from the traditional Thomistic formulation of many of these objective truths in favor of a more phenomenological approach typified by Husserl, Stein and John Paul II.

Furthermore, Christopher West in particular has been criticized of late for the increasing sensationalism of his approach.  From Lifesite News:

Von Hildebrand Calls Christopher West to ‘Renew’ Approach to Theology of the Body

By Patrick B. Craine

July 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As Catholic author and lecturer Christopher West continues his six-month sabbatical for “personal and professional renewal,” Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, widow of the famed theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand, has again exhorted him to correct what she calls his “hyper-sexualized approach” in presenting the Church’s teaching on sexuality.

“My general criticism of Christopher West is that he does not seem to grasp the delicacy, reverence, privacy, and sacredness of the sexual sphere,” she writes in a lengthy essay published by Catholic News Agency Wednesday. “He also underestimates the effects of Original Sin on the human condition.”

West began his break from teaching and speaking three months ago following a controversy that began in spring 2009 over his approach to teaching the late Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. The debate was sparked by a feature on ABC’s Nightline where West said there is a "very profound" connection between John Paul II and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and suggested that Christians should "complete what the sexual revolution began."

West later clarified the remarks, saying that the most controversial statements were broadcast out of context by ABC. He was defended by the likes of prominent theologians Dr. Janet Smith and Dr. Michael Waldstein, and received the support of his bishop.

At the same time, von Hildebrand and others, including Dr. David Schindler from the John Paul II Institute, the institution where West received his Masters degree, used the controversy as an opportunity to critique certain elements of West’s approach to teaching sexual issues.

Dr. von Hildebrand’s aim in writing her most recent piece, she says, is to warn parents and educators about what she perceives as the philosophical and presentational errors of West’s work and the potential grave consequences that could result from his teaching.

She compares West’s approach with that of her late husband, whom she says rightly held a high regard for the reverence owed to the “intimate sphere.” “Throughout all his Catholic writings, he insists upon humility and reverence,” she writes. “Reverence because of the depth and mystery of this sacred domain—a domain Dietrich always believed called for veiling.”

Von Hildebrand quotes her husband as saying that “God, and not a boundless search for ‘pleasure,’ should always be king of the bedroom.”

However, according to von Hildebrand, “Christopher West’s presentations consistently use language that lacks sensitivity, thereby obscuring the good inherent in marriage and the marital embrace.”

She accuses West of being “obsessed by puritanism,” saying that he leads one to believe that this is “the one great danger of our time.” “In our sex-saturated society, to concentrate all of one's efforts on this deplorable deformation, is to beat a dead horse,” she writes. “Puritanism was never the universal problem he imagines (in the Church or outside it); and today it is barely a speck on our cultural landscape.”

On this point, she says West mischaracterizes the theology of the body when he calls it a “revolution.” “It is simply false to claim that the Church has, until recently, been blind to the deep meaning and beauty of sex as God intended it,” she writes. Rather than being taught that sex is "dirty," she says her generation was instead given a “sense of ‘mystery’” around sexuality.

West’s “hyper-sexualized approach,” she says, will only “aggravate” sexual temptation. Further, she also accuses him of ignoring the Church’s “one successful remedy” to such temptation: “asceticism, the spirit of renunciation and sacrifice.”

“It is sheer illusion to believe that moral perfection can be pursued without this purifying discipline,” she maintains.

She even goes so far as to question whether West could rightly be seen as a disciple of the late Pope John Paul II, upon whose work West’s life’s work is based. “Why is it that John Paul II’s presentation of the Theology of the Body was never seriously challenged, whereas Christopher West’s interpretation of it has unleashed enormous controversy?” she asks. “Could it be that West has misrepresented it in fundamental respects, and worse, employed his own offensive language and ‘pop culture’ ideas to vulgarize it?”

In several places, Dr. von Hildebrand praises West’s “many talents” and insists that he has much to offer the Church, but nevertheless insists that his work “suffers from certain faults, calling for correction.” “I believe he will only fulfill his potential if he presents the Theology of the Body according to the traditions of our Church - reverently, with humility - and liberate himself from the wayward ‘enthusiasms’ of our time,” she writes.

Regarding West’s sabbatical, she expressed her “sincere and prayerful hope that he will use this valuable time, of ‘personal and professional renewal,’ to consider the many concerns that have been raised about his work - and thereby ‘renew’ his approach as well.”

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand’s essay is entitled ‘Dietrich von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Enthusiast: Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex’. It can be found here.

Canon Jason Apple Leaving the Oratory for Gricigliano

Bittersweet news from the Oratory today, as Canon Jason Apple is being called to return to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest's motherhouse in Gricigliano, Italy to oversee the formation of the many American seminarians there.  His place in St. Louis will be filled by Canon Aaron Huberfeld, another American priest newly-ordained three weeks ago by Archbishop Burke in Florence. 

There will be a farewell reception for Canon Apple on August 8 at the Oratory.

I know readers of this blog, especially those who have benefited directly from his faithful priesthood at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, will join me in thanking Canon Jason Apple for all of his wonderful service in St. Louis, wishing him the best as he returns to Gricigliano and offering him our prayers.  He is truly a holy priest.

I can only hope that being stationed in Tuscany will somehow soften the blow.  :-)


We also look forward to welcoming Canon Huberfeld back home to the U.S., and assure him of our prayers.


Canon Michael Wiener, Rector of the Oratory, has all the details in the latest email newsletter:

Dear Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory,


New Vicar


With joy and sadness, the Oratory will bid farewell to Canon Jason Apple soon. To ensure the best possible training of our future priests, our Prior General, recently decided to call Canon Apple back to our motherhouse in Gricigliano and to entrust to him the vocations coming from the United States. Canon Apple’s excellent embodiment of the specific Salesian spirituality of our community will be a great benefit in the priestly formation in Gricigliano. However, his presence in St. Louis for the last two years, as a confrere and as the Vicar, will be missed very much. On August 8, please come to a farewell reception after the 10am Mass, when we will have a chance to express our gratitude and good wishes to Canon Apple.


As Canon Apple assumes his new duties at our Motherhouse, we will welcome the service of our new Vicar, Canon Aaron Huberfeld, who was recently ordained by Archbishop Burke in Florence. Many of you already know Canon Huberfeld as a seminarian when he was assigned to the Oratory during the summer of 2008. Please join us in greeting him warmly as he returns to St. Louis as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.

God bless,
Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory
Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
Telephone: (314) 771-3100
FAX: (314) 771-3295
www.TraditionForTomorrow.com
www.institute-christ-king.org

20 July 2010

We Are Altar Cloth


(Photo by Rebecca Venegoni Tower of the St. Louis Review)

It is difficult to have a discussion about the differences in liturgical outlook between and among so-called progressive, conservative and traditional Catholics. Actually, it is quite easy, if you don't care if you hurt anyone's feelings. But as Catholics we ought to care. So, we should try not to do so.

The truth and charity are married, metaphorically speaking. They form one unified whole. Charity without truth is as insupportable as truth without charity. We strive neither for cold legalism nor for culpable treacle.

It is easy to claim that some of those that disagree with us are hypocrites. But hypocrisy is in good supply no matter what the shorthand type of label one adopts. I have seen error and exclusivity from the inclusive crowd; I have seen phariseeism among the traditionalists; and I have seen smug complacency among the conservatives. And in no way do I exonerate myself from the worst of it.

I lead with all of this because I am going to try to begin a discussion of
an article in the Review from last week about a local parish and a particular parish project in which they are engaging. I am genuinely befuddled by it, but those responsible for it no doubt have the best of intentions in doing it. And I would love some input on this without drawing battle lines--because sometimes I think Catholics we are divided by a common faith.

This division is not caused per se by differences in liturgical praxis, but it sure seems that liturgical praxis is a good indicator of how one falls out on lots of issues. As you know, I have often posted here about the disastrous consequences of the divorce between faith and worship. After Vatican II, it seems that as long as one gives intellectual assent to a particular set of beliefs then the manner of worship is irrelevant. Perhaps that seems right when engaging in apologetics work with evangelicals, but such a concept would have been completely alien to Catholics of the 1,500 year period prior to 1965. As St. Prosper's famous maxim states, lex orandi, lex credendi-- or, the law of prayer is the law of belief.

How we worship reveals what we really believe.

And so,
the article.

Parishioners of St. Gerard Majella in Kirkwood are sewing their names into an altar cloth that will be used at times for Holy Mass. The photo above shows the process of parishioners signing their names to the cloth, apparently on the part of the cloth that will cover the surface of the altar. This is being done, according to the article, to celebrate parish unity.

Stitch by stitch: Handmade altar cloth reminder of parish unity



By Jennifer Brinker


It can be said that Catholics become one when they are placed together before Christ's altar.

A Kirkwood parish is placing its personal touch on that idea through the creation of a handmade altar cloth that will be used for special liturgical celebrations.

Last weekend, members of St. Gerard Majella Parish were invited after Masses to sign their family name to the simple, white polyester cloth, which was sewn by parishioner Jan Hinkebein, a member of the quilters' group. Each name will be hand embroidered by members of that group and other volunteers.

"It will be unique in that it will be their own personal signature," said Lisa Vienhage, who is helping to organize the effort.

Vienhage said the inspiration for the idea came from another archdiocesan parish, Our Lady of Providence in Crestwood, which created a similar altar cloth for its liturgical celebrations.

[...]


Hinkebein said it's hard to guess how long it will take to hand embroider all of the names on the altar cloth. "When I did one, it took maybe about half an hour," she said. The length of time spent sewing the names will depend on the number of people who can help with the project.

St. Gerard "is such a wonderful family parish, and it's an amazing group of people, where everyone volunteers and gives a lot of their time and talent," said Vienhage, who has been a member of the parish for the last 15 years. She and her husband, Michael, have five children.

The project is a perfect example of showing "families coming together. We're all so different and unique, and different ages, but we all put ourselves before Christ at His table, and that's where we become one. He is the source of our spiritual nutrition.

"As a mother, it's crucial that my family has our meal time together. And the Mass is really the pinnacle of our faith as Catholics. We're trying to celebrate that by dressing Christ's altar."


__________________

Promoting parish unity is a good thing. However, with all due respect I cannot see why this project serves the stated end. First of all, Catholic unity comes from the Catholic faith and membership in the one Church, visible and authoritative. The Church has authority to order her worship of God, and has rules for the various items used therein. What does she say about altar cloths, if anything?

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 304, states:

"Out of reverence for the celebration of the memorial of the Lord and for the banquet in which the Body and Blood of the Lord are offered on an altar where this memorial is celebrated, there should be at least one white cloth, its shape, size, and decoration in keeping with the altar's design. When, in the dioceses of the United States of America, other cloths are used in addition to the altar cloth, then those cloths may be of other colors possessing Christian honorific or festive significance according to longstanding local usage, provided that the uppermost cloth covering the mensa (i.e., the altar cloth itself) is always white in color."

Even according to the more recent norms governing the Ordinary Form, it is clear that the uppermost altar cloth must be white. It is possible, I suppose, that the St. Gerard altar cloth will be underneath another white cloth, but then one won't see the names anyway. The traditional material for these cloths is linen (though polyester is not proscribed in the new GIRM), in part because Our Lord was wrapped in a linen shroud.


I think the final couple of paragraphs gives a clue to the theological issue here. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the representation of the Sacrifice of Calvary. And yes, we are nourished by Our Lord's Body and Blood. But it is evident that in recent years the meal aspect has been more greatly emphasized over the sacrificial aspect. Many Catholics point to the dramatic decrease in the percentage of Catholics who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as following naturally from this shift in emphasis. The family-meal theme of this project seems to be of a piece with this trend.

And like many well-meaning novelties in the way the new Mass is celebrated in our parishes, it has an ad hoc feel and is not designed to last. What happens when someone moves out of the parish? Or when someone moves in? Does there need to be a yearly altar cloth project?

I am not belittling the good faith effort of those persons responsible for this. They are trying to do something special. The point is that the Mass is already special enough when celebrated correctly. This type of project seems to be the type of closed-in, self-congratulatory practice lamented by then-Cardinal Ratzinger that so often banalizes the Ordinary Form.

The Mass is not the private property of any person or group. It is the gift of God to give due worship to God, entrusted to the custody and care of the Church. The way Mass is celebrated is of infinitely more importance than any building project or community-building exercise. The Mass is not "about" us.

So, I ask you, am I wrong in this? What do you think?

Position Available


Delena has the details. If you're man enough...

Celebrating Troublemakers-- of the Best Kind, Naturally

OK, the following article in the St. Louis Review caught my attention. It covers a group of area Catholic school students who participated in a cross-country trip with an organization called "Cultural Leadership".

The
Review article related the story as follows:

Cultural leadership group opens students' eyes to social justice, civil rights

by Joseph Kenny

Applause and horn-honking greeted 31 high school students and their chaperones as they returned to St. Louis after an eye-opening 23-day, cross-country trip meeting people and visiting sites key to the fight for civil rights and social justice.

The teens are participants in Cultural Leadership, a local nonprofit leadership development organization that focuses on fighting discrimination and making the community a more inclusive place to live, work and go to school. The June 8-July1 trip was part of a yearlong program for high school students to recognize and resolve issues of prejudice and bigotry and learn how they can make a difference.

Eight of the students attend Catholic high schools. The group included a mix of races and religions.


Sounds great. But let's take a closer look at what this organization is, what it stands for, and who is behind it. First of all, here is the purpose of the group, according to
its own website:

Cultural Leadership trains high-school students to be community organizers, social justice activists, and "troublemakers of the best kind."

In another paragraph, the site states:

Examples of mistrust, intolerance, misunderstanding and inequality are everywhere and we saw the need for a future generation of leaders, activists and change agents who would fight for social justice, inclusion and an end to discrimination. Using the lens of the African American and Jewish experience, we train our students to do just that. Over the course of the year, our student participants become “troublemakers of the best kind.”

Fighting racial discrimination is of course an excellent thing to do. Why Catholic students should be trained to become community organizers and nifty-type troublemakers using the lens of African American and Jewish experience is less clear to me. I mean, really-- community organizer? What does that mean? Why would this non-Catholic organization teach Catholic students how to live Catholic social teaching in adherence to the Catholic Faith?


Whose community are they organizing?

What will these future "change agents" change?

For example, to some, the Church's infallible teaching on the impossibility of women's ordination doesn't seem very "inclusive", does it?

Should we change it?

But I am sure you may think I am jumping to conclusions. What reason do I have to think this group might be hostile to Catholic truth? Didn't many brave priests, nuns and laymen fight for civil rights in this country?

Well, let's take a look at the leadership of this group. Among the
Honorary Board Members are at least two local leaders who have opposed the Church in recent years-- William Danforth and Susan Talve.

Dr. Danforth helped lead the effort to amend the Missouri constitution to enshrine into law the public funding of cloning and killing babies on the pretense of scientific research. His and this friends' ample riches and misleading campaign bought them the victory, despite the vigorous opposition of the Church and other pro-life groups.

Rabbi Talve is the head of the
Central Reform Congregation. She hosted the abomination that was the pretend priestess sorta-nation of 2007. She defied the express request of Archbishop Burke that she respect the Catholic Church's position and not help to undermine the faith of Catholics. As a result, Archbishop Burke forbade Catholics from having anything to do with the Central Reform Congregation in any interfaith matter. As an aside, this makes her the perfect guest of St. Cronan's Parish, which seemingly loves all religions except the Catholic one it professes to hold. But I digress.

Are these two examples of "troublemakers of the best kind"?

The point here is that who does the teaching is sometimes as important as the purported thing to be taught. If these students' teachers, pastors, textbooks (which I can only pray include the Catechism) aren't enough to teach them to refrain from racism and to promote a more just society, then there is something wrong with their formation as Catholics. Why is the Review publishing a story celebrating Catholic youth involvement with a group like this?

Do you still think it doesn't matter? Young minds are very impressionable. Again, from the Review article:


In a program at Central Reform Congregation in the Central West End where they shared their impressions of the trip, Trevor Green of CBC High School, a member of St. Matthew Parish in North St. Louis, said he learned the difference between making judgments and being judgmental. "Being judgmental leads to hate," he said.

Another CBC student, Devante Malone, who attends St. Louis Christian Center, said he intends to talk to his school administration about the need to incorporate more about African-American and Jewish history in the curriculum.

Nastanet Taeme of St. Elizabeth Academy, a member of St. Pius V Parish in South St. Louis, said she met one of the former students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and was impressed that "she never let anyone tell her who she was. As a leader, you have to know what you're about. I really respect that and take it to heart."

Another St. Elizabeth Academy student, Jessica Young, said that "before the trip I saw with closed eyes. I couldn't comprehend the Holocaust, slavery or the civil rights struggle. Now, I'm able to feel what they went through, experience a part of their pain."

The first thing you will notice is the location of the session where these students shared their impressions of their trip. The venue is the very same Central Reform Congregation that Archbishop Burke said was off limits to Catholic participation in interfaith gatherings such as this, due to its disrespect of the Church. Does this no longer matter to anyone? Perhaps not, seeing that this event is the subject of positive coverage in the Archdiocesan paper.

And no offense to these young people, but really, I would dearly love to see these Catholic high schools incorporate more classes about the truth of Catholicism and the Church's own history before adding more material designed to promote any other faith or social cause.

How can we expect our children to learn and internalize their faith if we keep reducing it to a mere cog in a greater social experiment?

19 July 2010

Fun Footage of Bishop Sheen on "What's My Line?"

I saw this on Susie Lloyd's facebook page, and wanted to run it here. I love this clip. It evidences a time when being a Catholic Bishop was held in higher esteem by the general public, that's for sure.

Note the natural modesty of His Excellency when answering questions about whether he is well-known, and note the warm welcome and admiration by the audience and panel.

Oh, and note that Dorothy Kilgallen kisses his ring at the end.

Of course, this is before the aggiornamento...

__________________________

Completely unrelated, but just FYI, I checked out Dorothy Kilgallen's wikipedia entry, and it is very interesting, particularly the circumstances of her demise.

Archdiocese Concludes Investigation of Purported Chaminade Miracle; Heads to Congregation for Causes of Saints

This story is making the rounds of the local press. The following excerpt comes from STLToday. This type of investigation by the local diocese is normal procedure in the course of a canonization process. Blessed William Chaminade was Beatified by John Paul II in 2000.

Rome to rule whether St. Louis woman's cure was a miracle

by Greg Jonsson

Rachel Lozano didn't die of cancer as the doctors predicted, and she says it's a miracle.

Not a miracle like a last-minute goal or winning the lottery. The real deal: the work of God through the intercession of a saint.

Other Roman Catholics in St. Louis believe, too, and on Friday, the St. Louis Archdiocese officially wrapped up its investigation into the claimed miracle with a prayer service to mark the occasion. Boxes of testimony generated by the investigative tribunal — about 3,000 pages — will be sent to Rome, where the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints will examine the evidence.

...[Lozano] attributes her remarkable recovery to the French priest Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, who lived from 1761 to 1850. If her case is indeed deemed a miracle, the pope could one day canonize Chaminade as a saint.

"I just feel elated to be part of the process," Lozano said Friday before the prayer service.

One miracle has already been attributed to Chaminade's intercession, the curing of a Argentine woman's lung cancer in 1991. The Vatican deemed that a miracle in 1998. Based on that miracle, Pope John Paul II in 2000 beatified Chaminade, a step toward canonization.

Lozano attended Chaminade's beatification in Rome, and that was the foundation of her miraculous recovery, she and others say.

"She was not feeling well at all," said the Rev. James Tobin, the pastor at Lozano's church, Our Lady of the Pillar, who went with her to Rome. "She began entrusting her health to the intercession of Blessed Chaminade."

Lozano had survived several bouts with cancer, and even underwent a stem cell transplant, but in 2002, doctors found a tumor growing near her heart, lungs and spine.

The news from doctors was all bad: Surgery would kill her. So would the cancer, in weeks or months, depending on which organ the cancer struck first. No one had survived a recurrence of this cancer after a stem cell transplant.

But she lived weeks, months, a year. Scans showed her tumor, which she named Spanky, wasn't growing as expected.

Eventually a surgeon removed the tumor and found it was dead.

"It was pretty astounding," her oncologist told the Post-Dispatch last year.

[...]


The tribunal's evidence is now headed to the Vatican. No one knows when a ruling might come from Rome. ...

16 July 2010

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.
(The Scapular Promise)

A blessed feast day to all, especially the Carmelite readers of this blog!

Of Which Mere Willingness is the Final Test

Almost before he knew what he was doing, he had been passed through the hands of about four intermediate officials, and was suddenly shown into a room, the abrupt blackness of which startled him like a blaze of light. It was not the ordinary darkness, in which forms can be faintly traced; it was like going suddenly stone-blind.

'Are you the new recruit?' asked a heavy voice.

And in some strange way, though there was not the shadow of a shape in the gloom, Syme knew two things: first, that it came from a man of massive stature; and second, that the man had his back to him.

'Are you the new recruit?' asked the invisible chief, who seemed to have heard all about it. 'All right. You are engaged.'

Syme, quite swept off his feet, made a feeble fight against this irrevocable phrase.

'I really have no experience,' he began.

'No one has any experience,' said the other, 'of the battle of Armageddon.'

'But I am really unfit--'

'You are willing, that is enough,' said the unknown.

'Well, really,' said Syme, 'I don't know any profession of which mere willingness is the final test.'

'I do,' said the other-- 'martyrs. I am condemning you to death. Good day.'


--G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

15 July 2010

The First Mass of Canon Michael Stein, ICRSS


In Gricigliano, Italy, near Florence. Assisting him is Canon Karl W. Lenhardt, former rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis.

Thanks to David Wallace for posting this photo.

Nine Hundred and Eleven Years Ago

On July 15, 1099, the Crusaders captured Jerusalem during the First Crusade. Duke Godfrey of Bouillon was made Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri (Protector of the Holy Sepulchre), refusing the title of King, saying he would not wear a crown of gold in the city where Christ wore a crown of thorns.

Godfrey's army started its journey from Lorraine in August 1096. Over the course of three years, his and other armies of crusaders suffered many hardships and loss, and fought many battles and conducted several sieges. It is something of a miracle that the crusaders ever made it into the Holy Land as a fighting force capable of success.

Godfrey died in 1100, and his brother Baldwin was crowned the first Latin King of Jerusalem on December 25, 1100.

Though there were other Crusades, none were as successful as the First, which gained its principal aim of liberating the holy sites from infidel control, and of protecting Christians from their sufferings under Seljuk Turk rule.

The holy city would fall to the Mohammedans in 1187, but the Kingdom itself endured for nearly 200 years, until the fall of Acre in 1291.

Relics of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta on Display Today in St. Louis

TODAY, Thursday, July 15, 2010 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, relics of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta will be on display and available for veneration at Saints Teresa and Bridget Church, 2401 North Grand, St. Louis MO 63113. The Missionaries of Charity are able to bring several relics of their founder, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, to St. Louis. The items include her sandals, a Crucifix, and small blood and hair relics.

Mother Teresa founded the order of nuns in India in 1950, with a mission of caring for the poor. Her work earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, as well as other humanitarian honors, and her order grew worldwide. After her death in 1997, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Several Missionaries of Charity work in North St. Louis City, helping minister to the poor and needy.

14 July 2010

That Fateful Day

Before going home to reintroduce myself to my family, I could not let the day go by without remembering the victims of the satanically-inspired revolution that marks today as a day of liberation. This revolution had its historical antecedents long before 1789, and its effects are still unfolding today.

But 14 July 1789 is the day of the
fall of the Bastille. Today marks the triumph of violence and vulgarity and irreligion.

That triumph is not destined to last forever; Christ will return victorious. The job of the Catholic until then is to endure, to preserve, to encourage, to defend. Tolkien captures the sense of this in the words of Galadriel to Frodo in the Fellowship of the Ring:

"Together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.”

Yes, in the worldly sense it has been the long defeat. But the victim martyrs of the revolution will be vindicated. The revolution will ultimately fail.

Our Lady of Victories, pray for us!

Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB, Director of the Institute of Sacred Music for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, Presents Paper at International Conference

NLM has posted the Fota III conference notes of Dom Alban Nunn, highlighting the presentation of Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB, Director of the Archdiocese's Institute of Sacred Music.

Fr. Weber's talk is thus described:

The final day commenced with Dom Samuel Weber's paper on the use of psalms. Extensive illustrations were provided with excerpts from the St Louis Gradual and the St Louis Hymnal for the Hours together with a bilingual edition of Compline. This presentation was essentially a practical exploration of what could be employed on the way to realizing a fuller use of the canonical psalter within the liturgy particularly in the proper texts which Fr Samuel identified as a particular concern in the thought of Benedict XVI.

Fr. Weber's work in the Archdiocese is vital to bringing a greater sense of the sacred into the music of ordinary parish liturgy. It is exactly the kind of approach needed to bring liturgical music of today in line with the historical patrimony of the Church -- including new liturgical texts set to classic chant and polyphonic settings in Latin and English.

It is nice to see Fr. Weber's contributions continue to be acknowledged in the international arena. Hopefully, St. Louis knows what it has, too. Toward that end, I really hope this talk is covered in the Review. The conference was entirely dedicated to Pope Benedict's vision of liturgical restoration, and in addition to Fr. Weber's talk, the Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis gave a presentation and presided at Vespers.
It sure seems like a great local angle to an important universal Church event.

Voices of Prometheus Ensemble to Perform at St. Francis de Sales Oratory August 7


From the Director of Sacred Music at the Oratory, Mr. Nick Botkins:

The Oratory is pleased to announce a forthcoming concert performed by the Voices of Prometheus Ensemble: Saturday, August 7th at 7:30pm. For more information please visit their web-site or see the above flyer (click to enlarge).

This ensemble, in my opinion, represents some of the finest choral chamber singing you’ll hear anywhere in the Midwest. Clarity, verve and panache immediately came to mind the first time I heard them sing. I’ve honestly never been to a more fulfilling choral concert, I can’t recommend them enough. Voices of Prometheus makes many other professional choirs (both mixed and male a cappella ensembles) look like a gimmick!
______________________

Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for students, in advance from the rectory office (314)773-3100

OR

$15/$10 at the door.

13 July 2010

They Can Have My Air Conditioning When They Pry It from My Cold, Dead Fingers

Or something like that.

I'm an American. Hear me? An American.

Among the many traits of such a son of the New World is a proper thankfulness-- and dependence-- upon air conditioning.

Call it the 8th Wonder of the World, if you will.

And if you get a moment to experience that first second of relief upon opening your front door on a blazing and humid July Sunday, after having worked off some Purgatory inside the air-conditioning-free zone that is your church, you will know what it is like to be thankful for God's gift of air conditioning.

I mean, of course the Incarnation tops it. Sure. And maybe the creation of man, if you want to get technical. But really, air conditioning is pretty good, top ten at least, and not enough appreciated. At night, do your children thank God for it? Do they? Do they? Come on!

Don't you teach them their Catechism? As you should know, the Catechism comes from Baltimore. Have you been in Baltimore in August? Do you know the real reason those gifts in the picture about the Fall of Man are wilting? It's hot out there!

And tell me this: Is the inventor of air conditioning canonized? If not, I would like to know why not. Not Catholic? Well, where are the ecumenists on this one?

As a fat man trapped in an obese man's body I will shout from the rooftops--I want my air conditioning!



My response?


No.


Call me the Chuck Heston of climate control.

12 July 2010

St. Stan's and the Postcard of Doom

Rumors continue to circulate that the St. Stanislaus Kostka imbroglio is near an end. This story reminds me of some of the articles that abounded before the promulgation of the motu proprio in 2007. At some point, the situation will almost certainly be resolved. Is this nigh? Is this real?

Wait and see, it seems. I wish I could provide a better lens into this matter, but the sources to which I have access won't allow public comment. But for what it is worth, here is what Tim Townsend is reporting:


From STLToday:

St. Stanislaus church members soon may discuss reconciliation with Catholic Church

BY TIM TOWNSEND

ST. LOUIS • More evidence that a final act to the St. Stanislaus drama may come soon arrived in the mail last week.

A postcard from Richard Lapinski, chairman of the directors of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, told parishioners they should be prepared to vote on a "reconciliation offer" from St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson at an "informal meeting" at the church on July 25 or Aug. 1. The postcard said that in a "historic vote" parishioners will be choosing between two board of directors slates "and also on the reconciliation offer on the table."

But the church's pastor, the Rev. Marek Bozek, backed away from Lapinski's language in the postcard, saying it contained "a mistake in wording." He said the meeting simply would update the congregation on the status of the church's legal battle with the archdiocese, and discuss how to proceed.

[...]

But in a statement given to the Post-Dispatch Saturday, Carlson said that "after a number of meetings with those involved, I have made an offer to the board of directors for the reconciliation of St. Stanislaus with the Catholic Church, which is currently under discussion."

[...]

If the archdiocese prevails, either in its lawsuit or by a majority vote by parishioners to accept a reconciliation offer, Bozek would be out of a job. Many consider the Polish native a hero for leading the church, and the congregation has grown since his arrival. But others, who have been riled by his support for homosexuality in the church and women's ordination, will be glad to see him go.

In November and again in May, Bozek told parishioners that he might leave the church "within months."

On Saturday, Bozek said he would wait till early August, to hear the outcome of the latest round of activity.

They'll Tolerate You Right Out of a Job

I would have posted on this sooner, but though I expect to have my home computer issues resolved soon, this weekend was a no-go. Here is an article about the University of Illinois adjunct professor whose courseload includes an introductory class on Catholicism. The fact that this course can be taught at all is refreshing, but apparently you can't teach the course from the point of view that Catholicism might be correct, particularly in the moral sphere.

Be sure to notice the response by the Newman Center.

From Urbana's News-Gazette:

Instructor of Catholicism at UI claims loss of job violates academic freedom

Jodi Heckel

URBANA – An adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism at the University of Illinois has lost his teaching job there, and he claims it is a violation of his academic freedom.

Kenneth Howell was told after the spring semester ended that he would no longer be teaching in the UI's Department of Religion. The decision came after a student complained about a discussion of homosexuality in the class in which Howell taught that the Catholic Church believes homosexual acts are morally wrong.

Howell has been an adjunct lecturer in the department for nine years, during which he taught two courses, Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought. He was also director of the Institute of Catholic Thought, part of St. John's Catholic Newman Center on campus and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Funding for his salary came from the Institute of Catholic Thought.

One of his lectures in the introductory class on Catholicism focuses on the application of natural law theory to a social issue. In early May, Howell wrote a lengthy e-mail to his students, in preparation for an exam, in which he discusses how the theory of utilitarianism and natural law theory would judge the morality of homosexual acts.

"Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY," he wrote in the e-mail, obtained by The News-Gazette. "In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same."

He went on to write there has been a disassociation of sexual activity from morality and procreation, in contradiction of Natural Moral Theory.

The student complaint came in a May 13 e-mail to Robert McKim, head of the religion department. The author of the e-mail said he was writing on behalf of a friend – a student in Howell's class, who wanted to remain anonymous. The e-mail complained about Howell's statements about homosexuality, which the student called "hate speech."

"Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing," the student wrote in the e-mail. "Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another. The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one's worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation."

Howell said he was presenting the idea that the Catholic moral teachings are based on natural moral law, and the Catholic understanding of what that means.

"My responsibility on teaching a class on Catholicism is to teach what the Catholic Church teaches," Howell said. "I have always made it very, very clear to my students they are never required to believe what I'm teaching and they'll never be judged on that."

He also said he's open with students about his own beliefs.

"I tell my students I am a practicing Catholic, so I believe the things I'm teaching," he said. "It's not a violation of academic freedom to advocate a position, if one does it as an appeal on rational grounds and it's pertinent to the subject."

Cary Nelson, a UI emeritus professor of English and president of the American Association of University Professors, agreed. He said while many professors choose not to share their beliefs with students, they are free to do so and to advocate for a particular position.

"We think there is great value in faculty members arguing in a well-articulated way," Nelson said. "What you absolutely cannot do is require students to share your opinions. You have to offer students the opportunity to freely disagree, and there can be no penalty for disagreeing."

Nelson is the co-author of a 2007 AAUP statement on "Freedom in the Classroom," as well as the author of a recent book that deals with academic freedom.

"It's part of intellectual life to advocate for points of view," he said, adding he has often used it to start a lively discussion in his classroom.

"Hopefully when they go out in the world, they can emulate that. They can argue a case, and do it in a well-informed and articulate way, and can make a more productive contribution to our democracy that way," he said.

Nelson also said it would be inappropriate to remove someone from a teaching position because they advocated for a position, unless they also required that their students to share the same belief.

Howell said when McKim talked with him about his teaching position, McKim expressed concern that Howell's statements in class would hurt the department. McKim is currently out of the country, and he deferred questions to Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for public affairs.

Kaler declined to comment on the specifics of a personnel matter. She said adjunct lecturers are hired on a semester-by-semester basis, and they have no expectation that their employment will last longer than that semester.

Kaler also said the UI is "absolutely committed to teaching the theory of Catholicism, but it's up to the department as to who teaches a class."

The religion department's website says Howell was recognized for excellent teaching in the spring and fall semesters of 2008 and 2009.

In a series of e-mail exchanges between McKim and UI administrators about how to proceed regarding Howell's teaching and his appointment as an adjunct professor, McKim states he will send a note to Howell's students and others who were forwarded his e-mail to students, "disassociating our department, College, and university from the view expressed therein."

In another e-mail, Ann Mester, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, wrote that she believes "the e-mails sent by Dr. Howell violate university standards of inclusivity, which would then entitle us to have him discontinue his teaching arrangement with us."

Howell said he and McKim have deep disagreements over religious matters, and his job loss was the result of "just a very, very deep disagreement about the nature of what should be taught and what should not be taught.

"It's an egregious violation of academic freedom," he added.

The UI Academic Staff Handbook's statement on academic freedom states that faculty members must teach their courses in a way consistent with the scheduled time, course content and course credit. "Within these constraints, they are entitled to freedom in the classroom in developing and discussing according to their areas of competence the subjects that they are assigned."

They must also provide students with "the freedom to consider conflicting views and to make their own evaluation of data, evidence, and doctrines. Furthermore, faculty members have a responsibility to maintain an atmosphere conducive to intellectual inquiry and rational discussion."

Howell said he disagrees with the idea that a professor must present lessons without even hinting at his own beliefs on a subject.

"It doesn't seem to me to be particularly honest or fair to a student. If you believe something, you can tell the student that," he said. "Where it becomes problematic is if it becomes injurious to a student by penalizing them for their beliefs. I always tried to be fair and honest and upfront with my students, and engage them on questions of human reason."

In his e-mail to students, Howell wrote: "All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult. That implies questioning what you have heard around you. Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions."

Howell said he's often had students who disagree with him, but "that's always been done with courtesy and respect on both our parts. This semester the students were the most negative and vociferous and critical that I've ever seen."

Howell is working with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian-based organization that "provides the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values," according to its website. Howell said his goal is to be restored to the classroom so he can continue teaching his courses.

The Alliance Defense Fund has just begun looking into Howell's situation, according to a spokesman.

Senior counsel David French provided a written statement, saying "A university cannot censor professors' speech – including classroom speech related to the topic of the class – merely because some students find that speech 'offensive.' Professors have the freedom to challenge students and to educate them by exposing them to different views. The Alliance Defense Fund is working with Professor Howell because the defense of academic freedom is essential on the university campus."

After losing his teaching position with the UI, Howell was told by the Newman Center that he would no longer be employed there either. The Newman Center referred requests for comment to the diocese office in Peoria.

[...]