Sunday, July 31, 2005

Drop In A Bucket

At least, that's how I'm looking at American Catholics today. Previously, my view was that -- with a 67 million of us -- we represented a promising voice (and a critical mass) that could have a positive impact on the future of the Church.

Today, it feels like 67 million may be a tiny drop in the bucket. Why the change in perspective? Check out this article at WorldWide Religious News about the Pope's observation that mainstream churches (including Catholic ones) are dying in the West. Yeah. Church attendance across the North America and Europe is down. That's no surprise.

What's a Church to do? First, look for someone to blame.
The Pope blamed a change in social attitudes in the 1960s for the Church's decline in the West, referring to what he termed a "second enlightenment" of 1968, the year of the so-called 'summer of love' and student and worker protests.
Second, look for opportunity.
Benedict said many developing countries were, by contrast, enjoying a "a springtime for faith."
Imagining the Vatican's "strategic business plan", I could see a focus on building a presence in South America, Africa and Asia. U.S., Canada and Europe might fall under a "milk the cash cow" initiative. (I can see a note in the margins: "Who needs 'em.")

With 67 million Catholics in the U.S. -- maybe double that if you include Canada and Europe, the "Catholic Cash Cow" represents almost 15% of the whole. While some may see that as a tidy sum, as the Holy See shifts its focus to developing countries, that 15% may be just a drop in the bucket.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Question of "How?"

I've been thinking about excommunication.

No, I don't expect to be excommunicated. (I certainly hope no one has any plans to excommunicate me!) But, reflecting on last week's post about the recently ordained women priests, I recalled that the women "expect to be excommunicated."

That got me thinking.

Truth is, I don't know much about excommunication. So, I looked it up. This, from Wikipedia.
Excommunication is the most serious ecclesiastical penalty for Roman Catholics. While a person excommunicated is not "damned" by the Church, the person is barred from participating in its communal life. The outward sign of this loss of community involves barring the person from participating in liturgy, i.e., receiving the Eucharist or the other Sacraments. Certain other rights and privileges normally resulting from membership in the church are revoked, such as holding ecclesiastical office. Excommunication is intended to be only temporary, a "medicinal" procedure intended to guide the offender toward repentance. In the Roman Catholic Church excommunication is usually terminated by repentance, confession, and absolution. Excommunication offences must be absolved by a more senior official or a priest that has permission from a senior official.
That helpful explanation of the "what" of excommunication also included the "why" -- a list of offenses that would constitute excommunication. My question is really about the "how".

For these newly ordained priests who are expecting to be excommunicated, how will they know they are? Do they get a call from the Vatican, or a letter from a bishop?

How does excommunication work?

Just curious.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Are We Done Yet?

Evolution, it seems, remains a hot topic in some circles these days. Personally, after not one or two but three posts on the topic, I'm nearing the end of my mental food chain on this one. But, Catholic Online featured an interesting Q&A on the topic this week. Father Edward Oakes provided some refreshing (and mathematically mind-bending) insight. Worth a read.

He addressed the question I wanted answered:
Q: What type of evolution is acceptable for Catholic doctrine, and up to what point can a Catholic follow evolution?

Father Oakes: Well, as I said, if evolution means "descent with modification," then evolution is quite acceptable, since that's just the way things are. Anaxagoras said that "the seed of everything is in everything else," a teaching that dovetails very nicely, in my opinion, not just with evolution but also with the patristic teaching of the "logoi spermatikoi" found in all rational beings -- and, according to St. Augustine, in every identifiable being.

My real worry would be rather about the more amateurish attempts to reconcile evolution and the Christian religion -- which, in my opinion, aren't in conflict to begin with. In other words, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Sounds fine to me.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

My, How Time Flies

It seems like only yesterday I was posting about Pope Benedict's first 55 days in office. Today marks Day 101.

As the Pope celebrates his first day back to work after his vacation, the folks at have issued their report on the pontiff's early progress (or lack therof).

The site is a project of Catholics For A Free Choice, who admit the didn't expect the Pope to address everything on its wishlist for his first 100 days. But, they had hoped for a better start.

Back on Day 1, the group outlined 8 items it believed the Pope "could and should do" in his first 100 days. The site has monitored the status of each daily. (Sadly, their daily monitoring has come to an end.) The report provides details, but the bottom line is a simple statement that appears eight times on the site today:
As of July 28, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has not done this.
What has the Pope done? According to a CFFC memo, here's a quick summary:
  • Made 117 individual appointments
  • Released more than 90 prayers, letters and speeches
  • Published a book
  • Participated in 150 formal meetings
And there was that month-long vacation in the Italian Alps.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Let's Be Friends

This week's National Catholic Reporter has an article that caught my eye -- about the Buddhist and Christian communities exploring how their differences can create solidarity among faiths. More specifically, it reports on a seventh international gathering of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies.

It's all fascinating, and inspiring. My favorite part of the story is at the end.
A disciple once told the Buddha that he suspected friendship was half of the spiritual life. Correcting the young monk, the Buddha told him it was the whole of spiritual life.
In that spirit, Laurence Freeman. one of the conference speakers shared a most encouraging word.
He encouraged the audience to work at discovering a global spirituality, in which different spiritual practices make up the spokes of a wheel and meet at its hub. “After that experience of unity,” he said, “comes something of immense importance for the modern world, which is friendship between religions.”
Here's to friendship!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rockin' the Boat

For change to occur, sometimes you need a few brave souls who are willing to rock the boat. Such was the case yesterday as a small group of women literally rocked a boat in Ontario when they were ordained as priests and deacons in the Catholic Church as they sailed the St. Lawrence River.

BeliefNet follows the story of the ordination of four priests and five deacons.
The event was organized by RC Women priests, an international group of Catholics who advocate women's ordination. Participants and many of the witnesses at the ordination said they are willing to risk excommunication because they envision a church in which women can fully participate.
The ceremony was presided over by three female bishops, two of which have been excommunicated. Bishop Susan Fresen of South Africa spoke of her hope to "break this unjust law and therefore change the system."
The newly ordained women called their ordinations a spiritual and political act they hope will bring about change. "We are one step forward to being the kind of church Jesus envisioned," Fresen said.
Here's hoping it's a big step.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Ministering Managers

The shortage of priests presents lots of problems. But, here's one I hadn't really thought about.

With fewer and fewer priests, many new priests are being handed the keys to parishes within a year of entering the priesthood. These "newbies" are walking into multi-million dollar organizations that face increasing debt, shrinking revenues and a host of organizational challenges. It's doubtful that it's what most of them imagined when they answered the Lord's call.

This AP story at Spokane's highlights how some dioceses are training their young pastors to be skilled leaders and parish CEOs. In Toledo, "priests meet with local corporate executives to glean their business savvy." In Cincinnati, seminarians study parish finances. In Chicago, newly ordained priests attend workshops on management and personnel issues.
Sister Christine Schenk, executive director of FutureChurch, a Cleveland-based group of liberal Catholic reformers, would like to see every seminary require courses in human resources, management and community organizing.

"Most priests want to be a priest because they want to be ministering to people, not because they want to be a manager," Schenk said. "Most do management badly."
The article highlights one priest who brought his experience as a corporate leader in Silicon Valley to his pastoral role.

The Rev. Brendan McGuire, 39, of Holy Spirit Parish in San Jose, Calif., was the executive director of the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association before becoming a priest. That job took him around the world as he worked with computer giants such as Microsoft and Fujitsu.

"Fundamentally, it's exactly what I do now," McGuire said. "You deal with lots of different people who have their own agendas, and you have to keep everyone unified on the same standard. And this standard is Jesus Christ."

McGuire has brought business practices, including employee evaluations, to Holy Spirit, a parish of more than 4,000.

Parish priests thinking like CEOs. Is it a good thing?
And, what if CEOs started thinking like parish priests?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

No (More) Excuses

Now, I'll confess. I didn't make it to mass while on vacation. (Gasp!)
Maybe next time, though, thanks to this online mass schedule.

Designed with traveling Catholics in mind, you simply enter the country, state, city, zip code or phone number of the locale you're visiting. Up pops a list of names, addresses and phone numbers of nearby Catholic churches and the mass schedule for each. There are links to maps to help you get to the selection of your choice.

If your vacation plans have taken you to Disneyland today, it looks like St. Boniface is nearby. The last mass is at 7PM!

Bookmark it on your laptop, and you'll be all set. Unless, of course, you just happen to leave your laptop at home....

Thanks to Dave at Catholic Report for the helpful link.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I'm back!

With vacation behind me, my first order of business is to catch up with what's new in the blogosphere.

Let's see...what did I miss last week?

Oh, yes. There's a new nominee to the Supreme Court. And, he just happens to be Catholic. (Yippee! Fresh blogging material!) Lee Strong reflects on the news From The Back Pew with his Supreme Court Limerick. Very fun. Chris at Infinite Wisdom found that the candidate bears a striking resemblence to "Otto" from the movie "Airplane". (And, he does!)

At Lesser of Two Weevils, Talmida has a delightful fresh take on a very human way to view Adam. She's also making me realize how much crap I have on my bedside table!

Back at the Back Pew, Lee celebrated his first daughter's marriage, (Congrats to the father of the bride!) and reminds me that after I clean off my nightstand, I really need to clean out my wallet.

Discerning Susan is fascinated with our fascination of her discernment journey, which is fascinating!

Todd at Catholic Sensibility actually blogged during his vacation (I'm impressed!) at home in the sizzling summer heat.

I see there's a new blog or two on the block. The Catholic Report is a compendium of all news Catholic. And, Joy and Hope, a monthly weblog that's "coming soon" lists Catholicism, Holiness and Spirituality's Steve Bogner as a contributor. I look forward to getting to know both.

Meanwhile, at CH&S, Steve is seeing the good in the world. That's definitely a good thing.

Great to be back in the neighborhood. Time for me to flip on the heat lamps, fire up the steam tables, and get back to the business of serving up cafeteria food for thought daily.

Order up!

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Taking a cue from Pope Benedict, who is taking a break this month in the Italian Alps, the Cafeteria Catholic is also heading out for a well-deserved week of (a much more domestic) vacation.

This Cafeteria Catholic looks forward to coming back in a week rested, refreshed and ready to blog!

Meanwhile, the Cafeteria remains open! (This one is never closed!)
Feel free to visit the archives for the "best of" the Cafeteria Catholic, the blogging buddies on my blog roll, (There's some good stuff there!) or just talk amongst yourselves!

Here's something to think about (and comment on) while I'm away.
What would you like to see on the post-vacation Cafeteria Catholic? Please, let me know!


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A New "Voice"?

The Voice of the Faithful just wrapped up its first national meeting in three years -- and, I believe, the first meeting outside it's own Boston. VOTF branched out to Indianapolis for the three-day "Convocation of Catholic Laity" entitled "The Laity Speak: Accountability Now."

A growing recap of the event is available on the VOTF site. But, the essence of the news from Indy is that while VOTF still has a hand in fighting the clergy sexual abuse crisis, it's reminding itself that its mission is about bringing about structural change in the Church.

From the official VOTF word about the conference:
Hundreds of VOTF leaders from 33 states pledged a renewed commitment to a healthier Church at the VOTF Indianapolis Convocation. Actions for change were identified, detailed training was provided, a new Representative Council was commissioned and awards presented, all within a framework of liturgical communion that brought our growing community closer and even more determined to stay the course toward a healthier Church. The weekend spoke clearly for the long term place of VOTF on the horizon.
In pre-meeting coverage by VOTF's hometown news station WVCB-TV, VOTF sounded as if it was prepared to move beyond the group's "anger" toward the Church to a more lasting strategy.
"Anger gets you part way, but it does not sustain you," said Jim Post, the group's president. "What sustains them (members) is love of the church, the belief that the church is worth fighting for, an institution with a moral mission. That's why we're called to repair it -- out of a love."
It sounds like VOTF has a shot of new energy. And, that's good. This is an organization I have actively sought out. But, local meetings have been cancelled. I'm a long way from Boston, but from where I sit, this group looked like it was out of gas. I look forward to hearing more, and would love to participate somehow.

Here's to a new Voice!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Elevating The Debate

Never mind about what bishops and priests in Kansas have to say about evolution and creationism. It seems a group of scientists has some questions on the subject for the Pope.

From the New York Times:
Three scientists, two of them Roman Catholic biologists, have asked Pope Benedict XVI to clarify the church's position on evolution in light of recent statements by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, an influential theologian, that the modern theory of evolution may be incompatible with Catholic faith.

The scientists asked the pope to reaffirm earlier statements on the subject by Pope John Paul II and others "that scientific rationality and the church's commitment to divine purpose and meaning in the universe were not incompatible." It is crucial, their letter says, "that in these difficult and contentious times the Catholic Church not build a new divide, long ago eradicated, between the scientific method and religious belief."

Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University, wrote the letter on behalf of himself and the two biologists, Dr. Francisco J. Ayala of the University of California, Irvine, a former Dominican priest, and Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University, a Roman Catholic who has written on the reconciliation of science and faith.

Cardinal Schönborn's remarks, which appeared Thursday in an essay on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, were prompted in part by an essay Dr. Krauss wrote in Science Times in May on the compatibility of religion and evolution. The Vatican press office, contacted Tuesday, had no comment on Cardinal Schönborn's article.

Dr. Krauss, who is not Catholic, said yesterday that the letter was en route to Cardinal Schönborn.

In his essay, Cardinal Schönborn said the theory of evolution, as it is understood by scientists today, is not true. He dismissed Pope John Paul's comments on the subject in 1996 as "rather vague and unimportant."

This could be very interesting...

Monday, July 11, 2005

United Leaders

Following the horror of last week, here's a bit of good news from London's Guardian.
Leaders of five of the main faith groups in Britain yesterday issued a joint statement of condemnation of the terrorist bombings in London.

In a day of prayers for the victims of the explosions, with clergy across the country and beyond, including the Pope, continuing to express their horror and sorrow, the unequivocal statement issued by Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders at Lambeth Palace indicated their public determination to stand together.

Each of the five read a paragraph of the statement in turn, starting with the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, followed by Dr Zaki Badawi, chairman of the Council of Mosques and Imams, then Dr David Coffey, the Free Churches' Moderator, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor for the Catholic Church and finally Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The five leaders are pictured in the AP photo above. The article takes a brief look at what their joint statement included.
The section read by Dr Badawi expressed "our shared commitment to resisting and overcoming the evil of terrorism, which the events of recent days here in London have brought home to us afresh and with such devastating clarity. It is an evil that cannot be justified and that we utterly condemn and reject"
Speaking with reporters, Dr. Badawi added a powerful comment:
"People do things in the name of Islam which are totally contrary to Islam. We will go out to these groups with good scholars to explain to them the true nature of Islam and to argue to them about the theological basis for their hatred and anger."
The article also excerpted a statement from Pope Benedict aimed at the terrorists.
"To those who foment feelings of hatred and to those who carry out such repugnant terrorist actions, I say to you: 'God loves life, which He created, not death. Stop in the name of God'."
There's something very powerful in seeing these five faces of good speaking out against evil. It's comforting, too. To see and hear united leaders of his Church and mine, along with three others, I feel like a voice has been given to my Muslim friend's frustrations. Mine, too.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Hurricane Sunday

Thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Gulf Coast today. I found this Hurricane Prayer among a list of Prayers for Powering Purpose:
Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, King of Kings:

Show us this day your awesome power and authority as this monstrous storm, this hurricane, sets itself to ravage any way it can, our land, our homes, our lives. We acknowledge the Word of God which says that "all power and authority" has been given to Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God, who has been given authority over all things in heaven and in earth, under the earth, and in the sea, to the glory of the Most High God.

Father, we pray in this Name which is above every Name, even Jesus the Christ, to show us the glory of Thy grace and mercy. For you have said you would have mercy, not sacrifice. So let it be with this storm of turmoil and savagery that has marked this area of the earth for its retribution for hatred and deception, whether perceived or real, and let the awesome power and presence of the Christ, in which are found the perfect balance of the earth elements, dissipate and quell, this storm that threatens our shores this day. Father, I pray that you will be with all those who are moving to escape the storm's ravages, its rage, and protect them, their lives, their homes, and their property, as you dispense your merciful grace and peace.

Let us not be deceived by our mental imaginings that your arm is shortened; for it is absolute, and available if we but call on the name of the Lord. We Praise Thee! We give Thee all the Glory! We fall on our knees in Thanksgiving for your boundless Mercy and Grace. We honor Thee with our lips and voices, and we give Thanks that Thou Art Our God! Hallelujah! Amen.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Comic Relief

We all need a laugh right about now. Don't we?

My dear "fallen away Catholic" friend who sent me the purple joke a while back sent me this fun little number yesterday.
Pope John Paul II gets to heaven.

St. Peter says, "Frankly, you're lucky to be here."

Pope says, "Why? What did I do wrong on earth?"

St. Peter says, "God was very angry with your stance on women becoming priests."

Pope says, "He's mad about THAT?"

St. Peter says, "She's furious."
Keep smiling.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Trying To Imagine

I'll admit, I know very little about Islam, or what it is to be a Muslim.

That said, I've been trying to imagine how it would feel to be a Muslim (or even a "Cafeteria Muslim") today.

If some radical faction of Catholics engaged in terrorist acts in the name of God and my religion, how would I feel? What would I do?

I would be angry, no doubt. I'd be embarrassed, too. I'd be frightened that others would think that I am "one of them", or that others in my religious community are terrorists, too. Mostly, though, I think I'd be really, really pissed.

What would I do? My natural inclination would be to turn to my church.
I'd look to my community: fellow parishoners, my priest, my bishop. There I'd ask what I/we could/would do. And, I would want so much to do something. I would look to the Pope, as the leader of the Catholic Church, to speak to the world to condemn these acts and to defend the beliefs of the followers of Catholicism.

If my community and church leaders did not respond, I would feel so helpless. I simply couldn't stick around long. I'd be asking myself what my religion is really about. I'd wonder if the actions of the terrorists were being accepted by my church. I'd look deep in my heart and ask if I wanted to be a part of such a faith any longer. The answer would be No. As hard as it would be, I would leave the church I have loved and been a part of all my life.

That's the way my imagination sees it. If it is anything like that for any of the 1 billion Muslims in the world today, my heart breaks for them.

Wondering who is Islam's equivalent to the Pope, I asked that very question to a friend of mine who is a Muslim. His answer was that there isn't really one leader. That's too bad. In times like this, every group needs a leader.

As much as I may agree and disagree with the Pope, I am so grateful that in moments of crisis everyone in the world can point their attention to Vatican City. There the world will hear the official word from my church. I can count on that.

My friend said he is frustrated, embarrassed and angry about what these criminals are doing in the name of his faith. He feels helpless, too. My heart breaks for him.

I really can't imagine.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Prayers for London

For those who suffer,
and those who cry this night,
give them repose, Lord;
a pause in their burdens.
Let there be minutes
where they experience peace,
not of man but of angels.
Love them, Lord,
when others cannot.
Hold them, Lord,
when we fail with human arms.
Hear their prayers
and give them the ability
to hear You back
in whatever language
they best understand.
Found it at Wolf Running With Spirit Wind's Prayer Circle. It's a lovely site with Native American, Celtic, Buddist and Catholic prayers.

This one is a Catholic prayer I'd never heard of called "For Those Who Suffer".


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Talking Wine

This news from Rome has nothing to do with the Catholic Church, but it struck me funny. So, I decided to share.

Imagine you're enjoying an evening at a lovely restaurant. The waiter brings the fine bottle of wine you ordered. You hear a description of this particular vintage, not from the waiter, but from the label.

That's right. A talking wine label.

"The idea is to bring the oenologist to the table so that each wine can explain itself in the first person," said Daniele Barontini, whose Tuscan company Modulgraf is putting the final touches on the product to be launched in November.

"We envision our talking wine label in restaurants, wine stores and at vineyards that offer wine tasting," he told Reuters Wednesday.

The new "label" would consist of a chip implanted in the bottle that could be listened to with a small device about the size of a cigarette package in the wine shop or the restaurant.

"It could tell you how to enjoy the wine, where it came from, everything you'd hear from a sommelier," Barontini said. "You could even have music."

Now, your favorite Chardonnay can be oakey, buttery and quite talkative!


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

KS Bishops: Speak Up!

An update on the creationism vs. evolution debate in Kansas, from the National Center for Science Education:
The place of evolution in the Kansas state science standards remains unsettled. The standards have been revised along the lines suggested by local advocates of "intelligent design," and are to be reviewed by the original writing committee in early August. Later in August, the board will consider the standards again in light of the original writing committee's comments, and decide on a final version, which will then undergo external review. A final vote is now expected in September.
Meanwhile, Fr. Darren Henson, a priest in the Archdiocese of Kansas City, asks a great question: Where is the Catholic Church in this debate?

In the UPI Religion & Spirituality Forum, Fr. Henson makes a case that this evolving debate offers an opportunity for Catholic pastors and bishops to speak up.
While the polarization in Kansas is deeply disturbing, what is even more disconcerting is the silence of pastors and bishops. At a time when much of the public perceives the Catholic Church as an unsympathetic moralizer and its bishops as less than glowing examples of moral rectitude, an opportunity presents itself for the Church to shine as a reconciler. The Church has a long history of addressing matters of creation, anthropology, science, and truth; church leaders can mediate in this unnecessary rift between creationists and evolutionists.

It is regrettable that the Kansas bishops have yet to vigorously embrace this rich piece of Catholic tradition. While many bishops are eager to assume activist roles and make public announcements, the range of topics seems severely limited. It appears clear that one of the bread-and-butter theological topics, the interplay between faith and reason, does not quite fit within the scope of their PR campaign.
Fr. Henson provides a bit of helpful history on the topic, too.
The reflections of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), a Jesuit paleontologist, were highly influential in helping the Church weave the mounting scientific evidence supporting evolution with its tradition and understanding of creation. Chardin postulated that in both the physical and spiritual worlds all living things partake of a common progress toward greater fulfillment, spontaneity, and consciousness. He described this as an upward spiral with all things culminating in the Omega Point.

While Chardin's positions were suspect in his day, the underpinnings provided by Chardin's thought can be seen in subsequent papal statements. Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis (1950) was the first to mention evolution. He described it as a serious hypothesis with no opposition to human faith. John Paul II took a more notable step in 1996, in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He recognized that evolution is more than a mere hypothesis, and that years of rigorous research have mounted evidence in favor of evolution. John Paul spoke of various evolution theories and philosophies to support it.
Fr. Henson's reminds us that this battle in Kansas is being waged in other states, too.
One might hope that the Spirit of unity will find its way to Kansas and the fifteen other states facing similar conversations. Bishops and pastors would do well to enthusiastically adopt a fundamental mission of the Gospel by helping two embattled sides seek peace, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.
I'm with Fr. Henson. Where are our bishops when we want (and need) to hear from them?

Monday, July 04, 2005


Not coming soon to a TV screen near you (unless you live in Australia or New Zealand) is Popetown, an animated sitcom about Vatican bureaucracy. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the series had hopes of expanding to the UK, but was recently axed by the BBC thanks to "more than 6000 British Catholics, without having seen a single frame, wrote complaints to Britain's national broadcaster."
When you watch it, you're left wondering why. It's entertainingly elastic, with elegant, simple animation. The characters and situations, while tricky, are hardly the stuff of controversy. "It's actually very mild," producer Phil Ox says. "The look of the show is edgy but the content is slapstick, in the tradition of a lot of comedy."

is the story of Father Nicholas (voiced by Kevin Eldon), an idealistic young priest struggling to make sense of the Vatican bureaucracy. The thorns in his side include scheming cardinals and a pope who is determined to shirk the duties of his office. It's juvenile in part, but it has little real provocation.

"In many ways, Popetown is a very traditional office sitcom because it's about having to deal with your boss, and not understanding what they mean most of the time, or what their goals are," Ox says. "In that sense, Father Nicholas is our point of view inside the Vatican. He is very eager to do things the right way, and unfortunately he's not always allowed to."

You can track the latest news and view video clips at (It looks silly and fun.)

Who knows? Being canned by the BBC might be the best thing yet for the Popetown crew. With all this publicity (including this post by the oh-so-famous Cafeteria Catholic), I wouldn't be surprised if Popetown is picked up in the U.S. Would you?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Vacationing Religiously

Today's On Faith column in the Washington Post shares examples of how vacationers are incorporating religious experiences in their travels, and how churches in vacation communities are reaching out to tourists. This tidbit, and the amazing sand art pictured above, make me want to plan a trip to Ocean City, MD:

At the northern tip of Ocean City, a Catholic parish has converted a meeting hall into a summertime church to accommodate tourists. The 500 mauve stacking chairs that fill St. Andrew's Catholic Center give its services a decidedly informal air. So does the usher wearing jean shorts and a blue "Mighty Ducks 3" T-shirt.

Jim Sunderhauf, 51, a marketing manager from Sewell, N.J., showed up at a Saturday evening Mass in a bathing suit, green T-shirt and flip-flops.

"I've never gone to church in flip-flops before, but I didn't bring any nice clothes on vacation," said Sunderhauf, who attends church regularly back home. "It's nice that they make it relaxed enough that I can come like this."

The Rev. Edward J. Fahey Jr., an associate pastor at the parish, said it is continually trying to reach more tourists. The parish advertises the schedule for weekend Mass in hotels and businesses throughout the area and on giant signs that dot the Coastal Highway.

Way cool!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Groovy Way To Pray

I've been finding lots of ways to pray lately. The latest is with the help of a prayer lava lamp at Emerging Church.

There's a pop-up box to place your prayer in a lava blob. And, there's a mini lamp that you can keep on your desktop, and listen to the meditative music while you pray, work or whatever. Very fun.

Thanks to Susan Rose, a "groovy sister" to be, for the link.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Miraculous or Martyr?

If it's too much work to find a few miracles, it appears the next step is to take a stab at martyrdom. Such is the latest news on efforts to put Pope John Paul II on a path to sainthood. Apparently, if the late pope is deemed a martyr, he is exempt from the "miracle" requirement.
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said Friday it was up to groups of theological experts to decide if the May 13, 1981, attempt on John Paul's life — as well as his long, public suffering before he died — warranted a declaration of martyrdom.

"In a technical, theological, juridical and canonical sense, the martyr gives his life for the faith," Saraiva Martins said in response to questions at a news conference, according to the Apcom news agency.

"We have to verify the motive for the attempt on the life of (Karol) Woytyla. And this will be the work of theologians."

Whether or not John Paul should be named a saint is certainly not my call. And, it is the work of theologians, and not this cafeteria catholic, to determine if he was a martyr. That said, declaring a shooting victim who dies 24 years later a martyr feels a bit like a loophole to me.

What do you think?