Happy Patriots' Day

So, in honor of Patriots' Day, I found this Family Guy tribute to the Spirit of Massachusetts:

But in my searching, I also found this 1982 ABC news report about beautiful Rhode Island, "The Biggest Little State in the Union."


Alma Mater, Thee We Hail

One other nice thing about the papal visit for me is that when people see me wearing my "Catholic University of America" sweatshirt, for a little while at least people might know what the heck it is...
(Worst incident:
Harvard Student: "Oh my God, that's totally funny, like a generic Catholic university, haha."
Me: "Well, actually, I received my B.A. from it."
HS: "Oh. Um, sorry.")

Venue profile of CUA here.
CUA's main website for the visit here.

Distinguishing gay men from pedophiles

In almost a throwaway line from his remarks while on "Shepherd One" en route to the U.S. this afternoon, B16 distinguishes homosexuality from pedophilia. Not a big gay rights advance, but it will certainly (hopefully?) give pause to those who identified the presence of gay men in the clergy as the cause of the sexual abuse crisis.

“It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen,” he said. “As I read the histories of those victims it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way. Their mission was to give healing, to give the love of God to these children. We are deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible that this cannot happen in the future.”

Apparently drawing a distinction between priests with homosexual tendencies and those inclined to molest children, the Pontiff said: “I would not speak at this moment about homosexuality, but pedophilia which is another thing. And we would absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.”

Papal Visit Round-Up

Just wanted to round-up a few of the best sources for reliable information as Benedict's visit to the U.S. begins today, and then add my own two cents...

Rocco at Whispers in the Loggia is obviously the norma non normata of Vaticana these days. Expect him to have the earliest scoops and the best inside information.

Another great source is David Gibson's blog on the papal visit entitled "Benedictions" and sponsored by Beliefnet. Where Rocco brings a heartwarming admiration to the table, Gibson also has the critical, sometimes cynical eye of a seasoned journalist, but with (shock) actual knowledge of the Catholic Church and an ability to distinguish big issues from side issues. And he's fun - check out his article in the Star-Ledger (yes, the New Jersey Star-Ledger) on papal fashion choices.

The New York Times has the fanciest pope visit page, combining some of this past weekend's journalism on the current state of the Catholic Church in the U.S. with live reports on everything that's happening. Expect them to have the best pictures. Crucially, they also have an updating schedule up, so if you've got a map of the eastern seaboard and a little yellow tack, you can follow the pope like a hurricane up the coast.

The Boston Globe also has a good page on the visit, and Michael Paulson is a long-standing, careful observer of things Catholic; though less flashy than the NY Times page, my money's on his analysis's being a bit more insightful.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has shown a good deal of media savvy for the trip, and has their own, high quality blog on the papal visit. It's almost entirely the official line-up of who's who and why they're important, but it will be a good source for photos as well.

If you're following the visit from home, most major television carriers will no doubt be carrying it. EWTN will be streaming it all (and smoke, drink, or donate some money to the Democratic Party at the same time, if you want to offset your possible support for their advertisers...). And you can follow along using the papal missal for the trip, released last week by the Vatican in pdf form.

So what am I thinking about all of this?

Well, I think it would be difficult to be a Roman Catholic Christian and not feel a great deal of excitement and pride about the visit of a pope. For someone raised within the church, the sheer visual and musical spectacle of it all hits all sorts of deep nerves within me. I'm particularly struck/excited by the proposal to ring bells in Catholic churches across the country at 4 pm today EDT, the time of Benedict's plane's arrival.

I respectfully disagree with some of what this particular pope has done, both as the prefect of the CDF where he hurt people who were close to me, and even now as pope. But on the other hand, this is one of those occasions, almost like a funeral or wedding, where one puts aside some of those differences. If he's truly functioning as a symbol not of his own sometimes poor, IMHO, choices, but as a symbol of the universal church and its presence with our own churches here in the United States, then a papal visit cannot but help remind us of that. Plus, B16 is simply a better theologian than JPII, so if John Paul's visits were focused on the question of what John Paul did, I'll be looking on this trip to see what Benedict says.

And yet I think that my experiences -- as a gay man, as a theologian, as a feminist, as an overly-educated academic -- will give me a sense of distance from some of the visit. I can't but approach this visit without some serious question, and while that might be dismissed as not "getting into the spirit of the thing," I think it's actually a saving grace in a quite literal sense. B16 knows (and, I think, knows better than his immediate predecessor) the danger of the pope-as-spectacle becoming a focus for a cult of personality, for an idolatry that places the pope in the place of Christ. After all, he was a child in Nazi Germany, he knows how easily this very human excitement at being fascinated by the spectacle, at being caught up in the moment and losing oneself in the crowd, can be turned, twisted, and misused for something grotesque. So, bottom line, I'll be watching for the next few days with real, unfeigned excitement, and yet with a bit of a critical eye. I think my own experiences, and my generational location, may have saved me from the untrammeled cynicism about all things papal that I find in some of my elders, as well as from some of the uncritical papolatry, in the strict sense, of some of my peers.

I'll be glued to the TV with the rest of America, and I'll be sincerely praying with and for the pope on this trip - but one of my students attending the Mass at Yankees Stadium has instructions to acquire a Benedict XVI popener for me (a papal-themed bottle opener....)

Viva il papa!


Gregory Douglass

Heard a pretty good singer-songwriter tonight that Harvard's BGLTSA brought on campus named Gregory Douglass. Nice sound, going back and forth between piano and guitar. He did mention that with the exception of Peter Gabriel (and one other guy I can't remember) that he tended to listen primarily to female singer-songwriters like Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Sarah McLachlan, etc...and it shows. In a good way. Especially at the piano, where he used a lot of upper key tinkling to balance off his voice, and a few good Tori-esque slur/scream/growls, and then on the guitar where his strumming added a neat, Ani-like percussive feel. Like I said, good stuff...although there was a small crowd, he was pretty appreciative. I'll go find him next time he's at Passim.


Pope Videos

Two fabulous videos:
1) The Holy Father's message about his visit to the United States next week:

2) And the D.C. Metro's ad (now yanked) for the day, featured B16 in bobblehead form (thanks to Whispers for the tip):


Opening Day, and a Chance to Pray

It's Opening Day at Fenway Park. Game time at 2 pm. Ring time at 2 pm.
I'll be correcting papers while watching the Olde Town Team.
This might also be a chance to check out two of the sassiest Red Sox blogs on the block, Basegirl and Respect the Tek. Go Sox!

And, if you happen to be in the Boston area, I'm helping to plan an ecumenical service this evening at 7 pm at the Paulist Center celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Paulist Fathers. Entitled "Hearing Paul Together," it features three great preachers reflecting on St. Paul's writings: Fr. Antony Hughes of St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cambridge; Rev. Jep Streit, the Dean of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Boston; and Ms. Laura Everett, the Associate Director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and all-around-kick-ass church chica. (She doesn't put that title on her C.V., but it ought to be there.) If you're in town, come on by. More information at the Paulist Center's newly re-designed website.


PawSox Season Opener

So I'm heading down to beautiful Pawtucket, Rhode Island, home to my paternal family, for the PawSox Season Opener tomorrow night. My wonderful friend Laura has organized quite the little road trip. Bartolo Colon will be on the mound. See you there! Go Sox!