Never mind the bollards

During a Nov. 18 interfaith prayer service urging action to prevent home foreclosures that took place outside the Treasury Building in Washington — which is right next door to the White House, and therefore subject to all of the security-state measures the nation’s chief executive gets — there were several big trucks, including a crane, working on a Pennsylvania Avenue, which is otherwise shut off to vehicular traffic.

So how do vehicles get inside the phalanx of protective bollards, those metal-coated cement obelisks installed every two feet or so in front of many federal office buildings?

It turns out that not all of them are totally stationary. Inside a guard shack on Pennsylvania Avenue just west of 15th Street NW, an officer can push a button, and four of the bollards will retract to below street level, allowing drivers of four-wheeled (or more) vehicles to come and go. Once they’ve passed, the bollards reappear.

It’s not exactly a quick process, but for somebody who doesn’t have a habit of seeing things systematically sink into the ground, it’s a fascinating process to watch.

I wonder now who else at the prayer service might have spotted the disappearing bollards — and whether they hoped they could make their mortgage miseries disappear as quickly as those bollards.

The cost of living in eastern Kentucky

Sister Ann Marie Quinn, an Oldenburg Franciscan sister who bases her ministry out of Good Shepherd Parish’s rectory in Campton, Ky., notes that she gets her share of people who come to the door of the rectory in eastern Kentucky looking for money for gasoline.

Distances between points are great in Kentucky, and even though the price of gas is generally cheaper than in many metropolitan areas along the East Coast, the wage paid to a Kentucky worker — provided one has a job — is generally less.

Sister Ann Marie takes people to the Marathon gas station across the street from Good Shepherd. Not only is it convenient to the church, the price is the lowest in town (it was $2.08 — and nine-tenths — a gallon on Nov. 11).

She recalled when one woman came to the door looking for money for gas for her well-aged vehicle, and Sister Ann Marie went with her to the Marathon station. “How much does it take to fill up your tank,” the sister asked. The reply startled her: “I don’t know,” said the woman. “I’ve never been able to fill it up before.”

Four guilty for ‘dying’ at Omaha defense conference

A peace activist and three Catholic Workers were found guilty of failure to leave Nov. 12 in connection with a “die-in” protesting the militarization of space at an annual gathering of military leaders and defense contractors in Omaha, Neb. Catholic News Service first reported Oct. 10 on the faith-inspired witness during Keep Space for Peace Week.

Among those convicted was 90-year-old Peg Gallagher, a longtime peace activist and member of St. Cecilia Cathedral Parish in Omaha. She was sentenced to 20 hours of community service.

Gallagher and about 20 others had gathered outside the Qwest Center, site of the Strategic Space and Defense 2008 conference, a major event where new weapons systems are introduced and strategies to deploy them are discussed.

Also found guilty in the 4th Judicial District Court of Nebraska in Douglas County were Omaha Catholic Workers Kathy Peterson, 54; Mark Kenney, 51; and Jerry Ebner, 58. Peterson was fined $100 plus court costs; Kenney was fined $150 plus court costs; and Ebner was fined $500 plus court costs and given probation. Kenney and Ebner pledged not to pay their fines and may be subject to future jail sentences.

A fifth person, Michael Walli, 60, a Catholic Worker from Duluth, Minn., entered a not guilty plea days after his arrest and went to trial Nov. 14. The charge against him was dismissed after a Qwest Center employee and arresting officers testified that Walli was not told individually to leave the facility. He had been held in the Douglas County Jail for 38 days after failing to post a $15,000 bail.

Walli told CNS shortly after leaving the courthouse that he plans to gradually make his way back to Duluth.

Three others arrested at the protest have served jail time for their involvement after being found guilty during court hearings in October.

Catholic Channel now available on XM receivers

This year’s merger of XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio was accomplished in part to achieve efficiencies of scale for the United States’ two satellite radio firms.

Some of those efficiencies were achieved Nov. 11 when some programming content exclusive to one service became available on the other service.

The Catholic Channel, which is programmed by the Archdiocese of New York and was launched by the archdicoese and Sirius in 2006, is now available on XM Channel 117. It’s still available to Sirius subscribers on Channel 159, right next to EWTN at Channel 160.

Are pro football stadiums family-friendly?

I used to think that it was just the Washington Redskins (because I live near Washington) who had a problem with foul-mouthed and inebriated fans creating problems for families who want to attend games without being verbally assaulted. But then I spotted this item in The Catholic Spirit in St. Paul, Minn.

Editor Joe Towalski took his 10-year-old son to last weekend’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. The headline on Towalski’s column says it all: “Vikings game was memorable for the wrong reasons.” An excerpt:

Here’s what my son said to me in the closing seconds of the third quarter: “I think maybe we should wait until I’m older to come to another game. I’ve never heard so much swearing in one building in my life.”

Earlier this month I read a piece by one of my favorite sports columnists that made several references to the problem here in Washington, but no longer will I think the problem is just because the Redskins have one of the biggest stadiums and most raucous fans in the league.

Text of statement by Cardinal George on abortion, election

Just off the presses. It’s the followup to this story.

STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” (Psalm 127, vs. 1)

The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all.  Because of the Church’s history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad.  The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.

The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents.  A good state protects the lives of all.  Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973.  This was bad law.  The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.

In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any “interference” in providing abortion at will.  It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry.  FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars.  It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.

Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion.  Abortion clinics would be deregulated.  The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated.  FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.

FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children.  It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities.  It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.

On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will.  They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby.  Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men.  The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.

The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world.  If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve.  Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected.  Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.

This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us.  Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful.  We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation.  The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.

Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government.  Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected “watchman.” (Psalm 127)  May God bless him and our country.

Links to CNS coverage of the U.S. bishops’ meeting

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, addresses the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore Nov. 11. Bishop Murry was elected to succeed himself as secretary of the conference, a post he has held since last November. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, addresses the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore Nov. 11. Bishop Murry was elected to succeed himself as secretary of the conference, a post he has held since last November. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Catholic News Service has the most complete coverage of the U.S. bishops’ fall general meeting. You can find the majority of our stories here.

Latest stories:

Bishops approve $144 million budget, plans and programs for 2009

The U.S. bishops Nov. 11 approved a $144 million budget for 2009, as well as more than 230 pages of plans and programs for the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Bishops choose Revised Grail Psalter for liturgical use in U.S.

The U.S. bishops chose the Revised Grail Psalter produced by the monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri over the Revised New American Bible translation of the Book of Psalms for liturgical use in the United States.

Bishops cite abortion deregulation fears in postelection statement

Fears about laws and changes in regulations on abortion that might advance under a new Democratic-run Congress and White House are the central focus of a statement approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 12 during their annual fall meeting in Baltimore.

Before recent voter registration issues, CCHD had cut off ACORN funds

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development cut off funding earlier this year to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, for reasons unrelated to the organization’s current troubles over voter registration and partisan politics, reported the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on CCHD.

Bishops approve section of missal translation rejected in June

Despite some continued criticism that the translation is plagued by obscure wording and sentences that are too long, the U.S. bishops approved another lengthy section of the English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal Nov. 11.

Abortion opponents protest U.S. bishops’ ‘support’ for Obama

Several pro-life groups held a candlelight vigil Nov. 11 near the Baltimore hotel where the U.S. bishops were conducting their fall general assembly, protesting statements made by some Catholic leaders who called the victorious campaign of President-elect Barack Obama a step forward in stamping out racism.

Bishops to present concerns on abortion, other issues to politicians

After a total of nearly three hours of discussion in public and private sessions Nov. 11 during their annual fall meeting, the bishops gave their president, Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, a set of concerns about abortion and other matters to raise in a public statement he will issue on their behalf. The statement was to be completed for final approval Nov. 12.

Bishops approve blessing service for children in the womb

To fill a gap in existing prayer books, the U.S. bishops Nov. 11 overwhelmingly approved a liturgical service in English and Spanish for blessing children in the womb.

‘We are our brothers’ keepers,’ remind bishops in economic statement

The brief statement issued by Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, the bishops’ president, noted that “hard times can isolate us or they can bring us together.”

Bishops instruct task forces to develop church priorities up to 2011

Three bishops honored for their restoration efforts following Katrina

Bishop Murry of Youngstown elected USCCB secretary-elect

Catholic University sees record-breaking fundraising, enrollment

Questions at bishops’ press conference focus on U.S. election results

Bishops’ conference opens with nod to historic presidential election

Pope’s encyclical said to give charities encouragement, guidance

Special reports: CNS liveblogs of the bishops’ open sessions

President-elect Obama phones pope


U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on the phone Nov. 6, returning calls to world leaders. (CNS photo/Obama Campaign/handout via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — U.S. President-elect Barack Obama telephoned Pope Benedict XVI to thank the pope for his message of congratulations on his election victory.

The pope was one of the many world leaders Obama has been contacting since his Nov. 4 win.

Vatican spokesperson Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi confirmed to Catholic News Service Nov. 12 that the president-elect telephoned the pope Nov. 11 “to thank the pope for his telegram, his congratulations” on winning the U.S. presidential election.

Further details about the call were not known, Father Lombardi said.

(UPDATE: Full story)

Recapping a busy day for the bishops

Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing, Mich., speaks on the floor of the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 11 in Baltimore. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing, Mich., speaks on the floor of the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 11 in Baltimore. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Here’s a summary of today’s stories and liveblogs on today’s sessions of the U.S. bishops’ meeting:

Bishops to present concerns on abortion, other issues to politicians

Bishops approve blessing service for children in the womb

‘We are our brothers’ keepers,’ remind bishops in economic statement

Text: “Solidarity at a Time of Economic Crisis”

Three bishops honored for their restoration efforts following Katrina

Tuesday morning’s liveblog

Tuesday afternoon’s liveblog — Part 1

Text: Bishops guidelines to Cardinal George

Tuesday afternoon’s liveblog — Part 2

Look for further coverage of the meeting tomorrow both on our home page and on our blog.

Liveblog: U.S. bishops’ Tuesday afternoon session (Part 2)

(If you’ve opened this page mid-session, make sure you refresh your browser often to get the latest updates.)

Tuesday afternoon’s string was getting too long, so we’ve decided to start a new live string here, which begins after the bishops’ mid-afternoon coffee break.

6:45 p.m.: Final press conference is here.

6:23 p.m.: Results are announced that the bishops have approved both liturgical items discussed earlier this afternoon — the Mass translations and the Grail Psalter. Both now need approval by the Vatican before they can be implemented.

And as Cardinal George just said, this ends the public portion of this year’s fall general meeting.

6:17 p.m.: Some questions raised about the criteria and process for the CCHD funding and collection.

6:08 p.m.: He adds that auditors have found no connection between CCHD funding of local ACORN groups and the problems at the national ACORN office.

6:06 p.m.: He stresses that no funds are going to ACORN and that his subcommittee is formally ending any relationship to ACORN because of serious issues such as political partisanship and financial irregularities.

6:00 p.m.: Report now being given on relationship between Catholic Campaign for Human Development and ACORN by Bishop Morin.

5:45 p.m.: Each of the U.S. synod delegates — Cardinal George, Bishop Kicanas, Archbishop Wuerl, and Cardinal DiNardo — is giving a brief report on what the synod meant to them.

5:36 p.m.: Oral report, led by Cardinal George, now being given on last month’s world Synod of Bishops on Scripture. (You can read all about the synod here.)

5:33 p.m.: Goals and objectives done. Bishop Kicanas thanks the bishops for their input because this will lead to specific goals and objectives to be voted on one year from now.

5:23 p.m.: Bishop Kicanas, who is leading the discussion on goals and objectives, points out that they’re not listed in any order of importance. There had been some concern that cultural diversity was listed ahead of faith formation or vocations.

5:17 p.m.: Seems to be no objections to the goals and objectives, or maybe it’s just because it’s getting late in the day.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., signals that he would like to address the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore Nov. 11. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., signals that he would like to address the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore Nov. 11. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

5:13 p.m.: I know I missed the debate on the Grail Psalter, but there’ll be more on that later. Now they’re on the long-term goals and objectives.

5:02 p.m.: Committee chairman election results announced. The new chairmen-elect are:

National Collections: Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas.

Cultural Diversity: Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento.

Doctrine: Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

Pro-Life Activities: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

Communications: Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles.

4:59 p.m.: Paper ballots now being collected.

4:48 p.m.: More discussion of whether these prayers are too long and too hard to understand, even though they’re faithful to the original Latin. Bishop Galeone compares some of the prayers to music — a period is a full stop, a semicolon is a half stop. Should these prayers be poetic or faithful? But Bishop Serratelli, chairman of the liturgy committee, defends the translations, saying they are faithful but not slavish to the Latin. No translation will meet the personal preference of everyone who hears it, he says.

4:45 p.m.: Bishop Braxton warns that some priests and laity have already said they won’t use these translations, so efforts must be made to educate our people.

4:35 p.m.: Ineffable stays. So now they’re working toward a final vote. But this too will be a paper ballot, so results won’t be available right away.

4:29 p.m.: What about the word “ineffable”? Some bishops think people won’t know what it means, but others think liturgical words can rise above ordinary conversation and be worshipful and sacred.

4:21 p.m.: For instance, the dispute now is over how to properly translate a Mass prayer from the original Latin.

4:17 p.m.: This is going to get tedious for the ordinary Catholic, but liturgical issues always take time. And these are the prayers that were rejected at the last meeting.

4:11 p.m.: Here we go. First up, Mass translations.

4:10 p.m.: Cardinal George wanted to resume at 4, but they’re already running late.


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