Richard Chonak: September 2004 Archives

Krenn resigns

Bp. Kurt Krenn has resigned from his diocese in Austria in the wake of a seminary sex scandal.

Episcopal Spine Alert!


From Lifesite, via Amy:

Bp. Rene Gracida (retired, Corpus Christi) reveals his efforts to dissuade a "pro-choice Catholic" politician from his errors. After the politician gave no response to the bishop's letters of correction and warning, Bp. Gracida applied the penalty of "interdict", which forbids the offender from receiving the sacraments of the Eucharist or Anointing of the Sick.

If I understand aright, this is close to the approach Pete has recommended, and I can see why: the letters of instruction, the warnings, and even the choice of interdict rather than excommunication help to show that the bishop's aim is to dissuade, correct, and reform the erring Catholic, and not to 'expel' him from the Church. The bishop even goes so far as to keep the process private between himself and the dissenter, unless he finds that the latter disregards the penalty and insists on receiving the Eucharist.

Sad to say, the politician in this case died in 2001, apparently without recanting his errors. And what gain did his worldly-minded supporters give him in reward for his stubbornness? The power and privilege of being a member of the state legislature: which is to say, not much.

Thank you, Bp. Gracida, for your efforts to correct a sinner and defend the sacredness of human life and of the Most Holy Sacrament. May the Lord always keep us (or make us, to the extent that we are not) faithful to His Gospel.

Update: I previous had Bp. Gracida's title wrong, but have fixed it now.

¿Cristo de los inmigrantes?

Statue of Jesus found in the Rio Grande

In Eagle Pass, Texas, Border Patrol agents found a five-foot figure of our Lord washed up from the Rio Grande, and devout faithful are welcoming it.


FYI: An AP article on soldier bloggers in Iraq.

A milestone!


I mentioned some time ago that I was organizing a monthly chant Mass at my suburban parish in Stoneham, MA. Well, the project reached a milestone with our first such Mass Sunday evening, and everything came off just fine. Here's what we did:

Before Mass: the Introit Omnia quae fecisti
Procession Hymn: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
Kyrie XVI
Glory to God, recited
Psalm 146 (in English): verses on tone V; refrain to an OCP setting
Alleluia, on the simple tone from Jubilate Deo; verse in English on tone VI
Creed: recited

At the offertory: I transplanted the Gradual Oculi omnium and we sang it at this time.

Sanctus XVIII
Memorial Acclamation: Danish Amen Mass
Great Amen: Danish Amen Mass
Our Father: recited
Agnus Dei XVIII

Communion Hymn: Shepherd of Souls, Refresh and Bless
Communion Antiphon: Memento verbi tui, with verses from ps. 118
Hymn: To Jesus Christ, our Sovereign King

The propers were sung a cappella; everything else was done with organ accompaniment.

I haven't tried to recruit folks from the parish yet, but invited in some "ringers", volunteers mostly from the schola of the indult Mass in Boston, including our organist member Randolph Nichols. I'm exceedingly grateful to them all for coming out to spread the beauty of the Church's proper music (and not standing me up for the first such event I've ever organized!).

The congregation sang the ordinary well, especially the Kyrie; Shepherd of Souls wasn't familiar to some, but they did all right on the other hymns.

After Mass, a few people came by to thank us, including one very enthusiastic lady, a revert who has been watching Mass on EWTN and pining for something like that in a real parish. She was thrilled to hear "real hymns".

When the celebrant thanked us at the end of the Mass, he mentioned we'll be here again monthly: so I guess we're confirmed to be in.

Today's word: "pajamaheddin"


I heard today's vocabulary word from a pundit on Fox News; I hope you enjoy it too.

A couple of weeks ago, some former CBS exec derided bloggers who criticized that network's journalistic failings as a bunch of guys sitting at home in their pajamas, typing mere opinions -- definitely not worthy of the Tiffany Network's attention.

Today CBS acknowledged that the documents in the Rathergate case were indeed forgeries, and that they shouldn't have run the story. The PJ-clad warriors of the net turned out to be some competent fact-checking ninjas.

Today's fashion tip


No, it's not a scene from an Indiana Jones movie or some hip-hop music video.

The Oriental potentate in the pic is the real-life Crown Prince of Brunei with his Swiss-born wife, a commoner, at their wedding service. The pièce de résistance in the bling department is, you'll note, the "bouquet" of gold and diamonds.

Swingin' the carols

The sinister jazzy sound of the MIDI file embedded on this page is about as far as you can get from this pop duo's sweet version.

Oh, no: you mustn't forbid that!


Does the EU think adultery is some kind of human right?

Welcome to Spain. Now duck.

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Photos of this year's "battle of the tomatoes", the "tomatina", held in the town of Bunol near Valencia. I'll summarize:

Over 40,000 people attended the annual event in which about 100,000 kilos of tomatoes were thrown. Not a single visitor or wall remained dry as the city was drenched in a reddish broth.

The origin of the annual spectacle is a matter of speculation: one story tells that during the famine of 1944, a political argument between two families turned into a tomato fight. Others claim that during the '50s some youths made fun of a street musician and threw vegetables at him. According to that tale, the musician was prompt to strike back.

The spectacle, which takes place on the last Wednesday in August, has become an international attraction since 1970.

Austrian church crisis nearing end

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Vienna's die Presse reports that the crisis in that country's St. Pölten diocese is likely to be resolved shortly. The apostolic visitator Bp. Klaus Küng, appointed to investigate the diocesan seminary where "gay" parties and a child-porn scandal were exposed in July, is expected to report his findings to Vatican officials in Rome Thursday. According to the word in "undisputed church circles", says die Presse, diocesan bishop Kurt Krenn signed his letter of resignation on Friday in a 15-minute one-to-one meeting with Giovanni Cardinal Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Since Bp. Küng arrived in St. Pölten, he has ordered the seminary closed and has met with former students for personal interviews.

Update: Kathpress denies die Presse's story Wednesday, with a statement from someone "near to Bp. Küng" that he will not be going to Rome this weekend and that the visitation will proceed in a "peaceful and orderly" manner.

Correction: The first story in die Presse stated that Bp. Küng would be going to Rome "tomorrow", which I erroneously interpreted as Wednesday. It should have been Thursday, so I have corrected it in the text above.

Another year, another 140 abuse claims


At some point, the Archdiocese of Boston needs to set a limit on payments for sex-abuse claims. Since last year's settlement of over 500 allegations, another 140 cases have appeared, with a potential tab of up to $20 million. Similar old claims could continue to arrive for years as the numbers trail off.

So far the archdiocese has been settling the cases with amounts much larger than they are legally obliged to pay. The archdiocese has not exercised its right under Massachusetts law, as a charitable institution, to cap the damage payments at $20,000, but at some point, I think they should consider invoking that limit. The aim of setting a deadline would be to motivate any remaining claimants to present their information sooner rather than later. Let's get this done. Let's do justice. And let's not drag out the pain and the payments for the next decade.

The primary abuse victims have a right to consideration, but the whole diocese is also hurt by these cases, bearing burdens that the perpetrators created -- burdens that in some cases were worsened and multiplied by the failure of victims and their families (and yes, the bishops too) to report the crimes when they happened. The Church is an injured party, and deserves to get the cases resolved in a reasonable time.

This sounds good: a lecture and slide presentation on the Eucharist as represented in art.

Date: Saturday, September 25
Time: 3 - 4:30 pm
Location: Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, Harewood Road, Washington
Presenter: art historian Judy Scott Feldman, Ph.D.

More info at

"The Vanishing Protestant Majority"

The Protestant ethic, long a subject of great interest to numerous generations of scholars (including the esteemed sociologist Max Weber), is one of the most debated subjects within the field of sociology. This recent report authored by two sociologists at the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center brings to light the fact that for the first time in the history of the United States, members of the Protestant faith will no longer constitute the majority of the population within the foreseeable future. The 23-page report, authored by Tom W. Smith and Seokho Kim, notes that the percentage of Protestants in the national population shrank from 63 percent in 1993 to 52 percent in 2002. Another interesting finding of the report notes that from 1993 to 2002 the number of people who said they had no religion rose from 9 percent to nearly 14 percent.
(From the Scout Report internet newsletter.)

The blunder of the parish closings


The church closings in Boston are underway, and it's getting harder to see them through. Some congregations are being transferred in their entirety to neighboring parishes, so at least they have somewhere to go -- a "welcoming parish" that will take in the people and some of their church furnishings -- serving at least as a commemoration of the old parish.

In contrast, members of some ethnic parishes - churches unique in the Archdiocese for their ministry to a specific nationality group - are being told: your parish's ethnic-specific mission is completed, so you should join your geographical parish.

Of course, there is a problem with this. Regardless of whether we think separate ethnic parishes were ever a good thing at all, these communities exist. They are real groupings of the faithful with a shared history. And unlike the parishes being merged into specific neighbors, they are being told: your community is to be dissolved. This is about as far as you can get from "strengthen your brethren".

No wonder the faithful of the Lithuanian, German, and French parishes are distressed: those communities are not experiencing the change as closing one door and opening another. For them, it's just a closing.

If I remember right, the rebellious non-ethnic parish in Weymouth whose parishioners are occupying their old building is in an analogous position: instead of being merged into some other parish as a group, their territory has been carved up and dispersed.

I guess this can serve as a "lesson learned" on how not to set about closing parishes.

St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, NH runs a community outreach program called the "Parish Nurse Center for Wellness". The hospital reports:

2003 Accomplishments:
(1) Continued program development including screenings, classes, health fairs, held at the Parish Nurse Center for Wellness. Expanded current program offerings and increased total class enrollments 10% over prior year.
(2) Partnered with NH Technical College massage therapy students to begin offering free massage therapy services at the Parish Nurse Center for Wellness.
(3) Completed Reiki training, became certified Reiki providers, began offering Reiki twice per month at the Parish Nurse Center for Wellness....
Former "new age healer" Clare McGrath Merkle tells what Reiki is about and why it's not really a good idea for Catholic hospitals to offer it.

Thou shalt not steal

Especially not from German nuns.

One of the enduring mysteries of St. Blog's Parish has been revealed, and quite by accident, it seems. Film writer Barbara Nicolosi has disclosed the name of the anonymous proofreader Nihil Obstat. He's the editor of an anthology of 20th-century Christian poetry. Ah, well, there goes the mystique.

(Via Victor the first.)

Not good for the state's image


Maybe I'm being a bit too much of a snooty Yankee, but I'm sort of disappointed that there even is a town in Florida with this name.

Thank you, Steubenville


Hundreds of Catholic pro-lifers made their message heard at a Kerry rally on Saturday. More from Fr. Wilson at the CWN blog.

No sex please, we're British


News of the Weird spotted this item for the woman who want to dispense with all that rubbish about courtship, marriage, and lovemaking, so that she can get on with producing only the best high-quality progeny:

Among the reality-TV series being batted around in London, according to recent reports in the Daily Telegraph and The Independent, is "Make Me a Mum," in which a woman reduces a field of men to the two whom she believes will make her the genetically best offspring. At that point, producers will inseminate the woman with sperm from both men and, using intravaginal micro technology, will attempt to record a "race" to see which sperm gets to the egg first.

What's wrong with this picture?

Occasionally local governments get embarrassed when they let unsavory private organizations sponsor roadside clean-up projects. I guess it happens to parishes too. What's going on when one of the landscaping sponsors at a Catholic parish is some outfit called "Spiritual Readers"?

Well, it's a start.

A gentleman bandit returns a stolen laptop.

Parish church under construction


Here's the plan for expanding my parish church in suburban Stoneham: the long rectangle on the left is the current nave, and the square on the right is the addition. The church interior will be reoriented, with the new sanctuary along what is now the left wall.


There are some good things about the design: the tabernacle will be restored to its rightful position on the center axis, whereas it is currently on a side altar. The setting of the organ console and choir in the former sanctuary puts them in an unobtrusive location.

On the downside, the wrap-around seating and the far-forward placement of the altar on its, um, peninsula are a disappointment. The design lacks a visibly distinct and well-defined sanctuary and nave, the classic symbol of divine-human encounter and of earth-to-heaven pilgrimage so suitable for the Holy Mass. The new church will be in some ways a missed opportunity.

Going by a recent parish newsletter, the celebrant's chair will not be on the center axis as this diagram depicts, but will be set to one side. That's a good change.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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unless you state otherwise.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Richard Chonak in September 2004.

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