Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Off the Record blog of the Catholic World News has a post about Bishop Murphy and his meeting with his priests. This line is so very true:

"Rockville Centre is a remarkable diocese. With 1.5 million Catholics, it should be a showcase of ministry in the Catholic Church."

I have said this before on this blog, our diocese should be one that is pumping out Catholic priests, nuns, brothers and lay leaders like crazy. There is no reason why the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska should have more seminarians than us, considering they have a fraction of the Catholic population! We are an example of how dissent and poor leadership can ruin the local Church. And there is great potential in this diocese. (more on that later)

One thing I disagree with in the post is the take on Bishop Murphy's new bishops residence. He took over the top floor of a 3 story building that was being renovated. This renovation was going on before he ever got to Long Island and it involved many buildings on the grounds of St. Agnes Cathedral, which used to house a high school. It just makes sense for the Bishop to live here rather than in the $950,000 home that Bishop McGann lived in. This home had been left to McGann by his family and was located in the residential area of Rockville Centre. When the Diocese sells this thing, it will pay for the renovation or at least cover most of the cost. Maybe our bishops residence should not have expensive furniture and a large industrial kitchen for large dinner parties, but I don't see why not. Would decor by Ikea make us any holier?? I am sure the Bishop could have lived in the Cathedral rectory and maybe that would have been my choice, but this residence issue is not worth much debate. Bishop Murphy is not perfect, but he is the most orthodox Bishop this Diocese has ever had, at least in my lifetime. I have seen some improvement under Murphy and this improvement is what really causes Bob Keeler, Dick Ryan, Voice of the Faithful and the like to moan and complain.
Distributism

I became aware of Distributism.org from El Camino Real and enjoy reading the site. I agree very much with some of the ideas presented but disagree with others. The first quote on the home page is awesome:

"If working people can be encouraged to look forward to obtaining a share in the land, the consequence will be that the gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty will be bridged over, and the respective classes will be brought nearer to one another."

--Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII, 1891

From what I can see this idea exists in reality in the USA where home ownership is at an all time high. The ability of people to move from being uneducated and poor to being educated and middle class is greatest here. My own grandfather never went past the 6th grade, dropping out of school to help support his family by working in the family bar. Today many of his grandchildren are college educated and most own homes. The ability to own a house and some land is greater here than perhaps any other country although house prices have increased beyond the reach of many younger people within the past 10 years. This is especially true here on Long Island where houses are regularly sold for more than $200,000. The idea in life is to allow the greatest number of people to own houses and some property, which distributism advocates.



The definition of Distributism on the website is good: “Distributism is an economic system in which private property, (especially the 'means of production'), is well distributed, in which as many people as possible are actual owners.” Again I can whole-heartedly endorse this idea. In fact, the rise in the number of employee owned companies is a testament to this idea. I can remember the buzz generated a few years back when Home Depot became real popular with its program of employees owning stock in the corporation. I think the major obstacle to this is the reality of human interaction. Even if I owned several thousand dollars worth of stock in my company, would I really be willing to stand up at a meeting and give strong opinions?? How long would I last when my ideas butt up against another employee’s ambitions? I have personally seen people buy stocks and become more interested in the economy and the direction of businesses so I know that ownership does mean something. The ideal is to have as many people as possible own their own businesses. As far as property goes, especially in developing countries there has to be a way not only for people to own it, but also the education to manage it or produce from it.


The section of the website I have the most difficulty with is the section on the practical suggestions to making distributism happen. I see no good coming from abolishing all government relief and pension programs –as flawed as many of these are, they have made some strides in lessening poverty. Social Security for example has meant that the elderly are no longer the severe poor and most severe poor are no longer elderly. I see no point in allowing a person to only have one bank account. Also, while usury is an evil, not all lender institutions and lending of capital is usurious. I like the idea of guilds but they will become corrupt like unions have and then they are no better than that which they were meant to replace. All in all, I love the site and the ideas of distributism are fascinating but I think the whole philosophy needs to be updated for the modern economy. Distributism was a good answer to the communist challenge but we now live in a post-communist world. I am very much interested in seeing capitalism reformed so that all may live in a society where it is possible, even easy, to become a saint. Distributism is not the sole answer, but a good start.

Friday, January 23, 2004

The fourth suspect in the Mepham High School rape and torture case is looking for a lawyer now. Meanwhile, another 3 football players from another Long Island school were arrested for violent crimes. Their names are: Joseph Barracato, Daniel Dunphy, and Rocco Tenebruso. Remember what I posted about the culture of Long Island and the failure of Catholics to influence it??
Good news on Fr. Groeschel!
Manuel Vega, Creator Of 'Toucan Sam' Icon RIP

"Vega, who spoke Spanish and English, felt a special connection to the many Latino students in the area, Hartman said. In 1967, Vega became the district coordinator of art and created the annual district arts fairs. More than 30 years later, the fairs still display the talents of Brentwood students every spring."



Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Bishop Murphy met with almost 200 priests yesterday

I don't have much to say about this. It was organized by some of the more liberal priests so I thought it stunk from the beginning. I would guess that nobody mentioned the horrible things that went on in the Diocese of Rockville Centre while Bishop McGann was here. I am just glad there has not been a single priest accused of molesting a child while Bishop Murphy has been here and hope the liberal priests were able to vent their frustrations at losing power, so we can all go back to ignoring them.

Monday, January 19, 2004

I don't know why the Long Island Voice of the Faithful is so concerned with being banned from meeting on Church property. Their February meeting will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, which, considering the type of theologians they promote, seems a perfectly appropriate place.
Browsing the blogs today I noticed that Amy Welborn has shut off her comments in the Life is so complex post to give everyone a rest. I just read through the 106 comments and it is a challenging thread. Rod Dreher, a writer I first encountered when he worked for the NY Post, has commented many times about his dismay over the situation involving Fr. Weinberger in Dallas. Some take him to task over his general attitude in regards the institutional Church. I have to say that I respect and admire Rod Dreher (who is the same age as me, according to one of his comments), both for his writing skills and his public conversion to Catholicism. I think he is right to focus on the corruption within the Church and to be angry about it. However, I also agree with Mark Shea who can't figure out why his children need to be concerned with what a Bishop does. I too, have only met a Bishop in passing and would not see the need to teach children about how corrupt or wrong a Bishop is. Fr. Groeschel is also mentioned and perhaps unfortunately, due to his current situation. Fr. Groeschel is another person I admire and respect a great deal. I heard him speak several times since October, 2001 and found that I disagreed with some of what he had to say regarding the media focus on the child molestation within the ranks of the priesthood. I also noticed a change in his talks about it over the course of the past two years-I think he came to realize the true scope of the problem. Fr. Groeschel is a great priest and has worked hard for reform in the Church. Rod Dreher is a great writer who has also worked hard for reform. The two have the same goals and they could actually learn a lot from each other. The whole thread is a tough one because it focuses on the response of Catholics to the corruption of the Catholic Bishops and people within the Church. Although tough to read, stuff like this is very valuable.

Speaking of challenging ideas:

I will be attending the Latin Mass Magazine conference in Montvale New Jersey on Feb. 8th. (Conference info is not on their website-they probably do not need to advertise as the first two conferences were very well attended. Michael Davies will give one of the talks. Anyone in the area would be advised to attend as the first two were excellent. I hope to hear challenging talks by the speakers as I did the first two years. I thought of this conference while reading the Open Book post because Rod Dreher sounds like the traditionalists at times. They too see the corruption in the Church, perhaps more acutely than most Catholics. I also thought of the conference because one talk at the conference fits right in with the Fr. Paul Weinberger situation:

“Obedience: Wielding a Virtue as a Weapon” by “Father X”.