Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Personal Asides: Cardinal George’s Maltese Cross…the Domino Pizza Man Browses Through a Book as Controversy Rages

Maltese Cross

If Chicago only had a religion writer he/she would be making headlines now—but as the Sun-Times has pop-admirer Cathleen Falsani who writes of Cubs manager Dusty Baker’s encounter with God, as well as the latest female Episcopal bishop and the Tribune has somebody named Manya A. Brachear who writes puff pieces about the lay chancellor with the interesting baptized name of Jimmy Lago (and who reports to an unseen editorial presence in the Tower, like God, remote), news consumers don’t know that there is a kind of pocket-book uprising against the archdiocese because of its flaccid attitude toward gay rights.

Two organizations of business-types feted Francis Cardinal George within two days, Legatus, an organization of Catholic CEOs and the Knights of Malta, a venerable group composed of a load of money-givers to the Church. Of the two, Malta is wealthier and more prestigious. At any rate, while the Cardinal came to talk about changes in the liturgy at Legatus, Question Time involved how the archdiocese is prepared to deal with DePaul University, the nation’s largest so-called “Catholic” university. For decades, many Catholic universities have chased the buck to the detriment of their almighty souls. The first error was to change their boards from religious types to money-changers, i.e. usually deep-pockets contributors who were secular and in many cases not Catholic at all. The next: the boards allowed the school presidents to do whatever they wished in order to win more government and foundation grants. In turn, the university presidents abdicated and turned control of various academic departments to secularists—especially in the philosophy and theology areas—who in turn hired not only non-Catholics but in many cases anti-Catholics including a number of bitterly hostile ex-priests and nuns. The ruling credo was: follow the money.

All the while, the middle class working stiff parents scrimped and saved to send their kids to schools with high-sounding Catholic names—DePaul, Loyola, Notre Dame, Georgetown—only to find much of their progeny were converted to become relativists, agnostics, atheists and liberal Democratic ideologues. Crucifixes were taken down from the classrooms at Jesuit Georgetown; President Father Leo O’Donovan questioned divine transubstantiation. But probably the most astounding occurrence came when a priest suggested to student William Clinton that he might consider joining the Jesuits for a lifetime of celibacy, voluntary poverty and sworn obedience to the Pope. That the ivy walls did not topple on the bumbler priest was an act of notable heavenly restraint. Flaming heterosexual 20-year-old Clinton was not even a Catholic much less a devotee of the regimen required.

In Chicago so-called Catholic higher education has been going from bad to worse with a race to the bottom between Loyola and DePaul. Recently DePaul seemed to capture the World Cup for Catholic sacrilege by announcing formation of an academic minor in “Queer Studies.” Use of the word Queer, in a bygone era a term of disparagement against homosexuals, was adopted as the latest badge of honor for the gay movement which touts discrimination as raison d’etre for creation of a body of study into same-sex practice. The course seems nothing less than an entrée for young people into the ritualistic practices of sodomy which the Church has condemned for all its 2,000 years.

Catholic Citizens of Illinois has officially protested the course to not only the priest-president of DePaul who is barricaded behind a phalanx of public relations advisers but to Cardinal George and to the Vatican. It has announced that it will not rest until either the university abolishes the course or is relieved of the title of Catholic university. As a matter of course, when Question Time rolled around at the Legatus meeting last week, the Cardinal was asked about the matter. He responded that he had taken the matter up with the U. S.-born archbishop stationed at the Vatican who is in charge of Catholic higher education. That prelate informed him, said the Cardinal, “in a Roman way”—meaning a high degree of Italianate nuance—that the archbishop would prefer the archdiocese to go slowly in hopes that the DePaul president would be successful in working something out. It turns out that the DePaul president seems to think everything is fine because as a portion of the course will be devoted to traditional Catholic teaching.

If you believe that’s an advance, we have an original Michelangelo oil of the State Street bridge we’d like to sell you. The Legatus group seemed not overly satisfied with the answer but let the matter drop. But the next day, the worthy Knights and Ladies of Malta—the archdiocese’s A list of contributors—reportedly hit their frescoed ceiling. Malta is the most elite of the elite, dating back to 1530 when European knights wielding swords and battle-axes initiated a crusade to rescue the holy artifacts in Jerusalem. Since then, Maltese members have been less militant but with the Cardinal they seemed be reinvigorated by another crusade. This Blog was not there but the reports are intriguing. Of course the issue is blacked out in the twin newspaper pillars of political correctness because Ms. Falsani and Ms. Brachear—along with their editorial board superiors--evidently believe homosexual recruitment on Catholic campuses evidently ranks with academic freedom and Chicago Catholics should not be disturbed from their slumber.

Accordingly, one will have to await reports in The Wanderer, the nation’s oldest and most fearless Catholic weekly newspaper, for which I write, to get the full results. As for Ms. Falsani, she is on book tour, appearing at your local Barnes & Noble, addressing the nature of Dusty Baker’s latest religious experience. And Ms. Brachear? She awaits the latest thunderbolt of inspiration from the religion editor who talks to the managing editor who communicates with publisher Dennis FitzSimons who reports to the corporation’s profit center which to him is reportedly God .

Pizza Mogul Browses

Tom Monaghan is a big name in U. S. Catholic circles. A self-made billionaire twice over, he developed Domino Pizza and has decided to spend most if not all his money on good works for the Catholic Church. A litany of fine things he has done with his money includes formation of Legatus, the group of Catholic CEOs, investment in radio stations and not long ago, the creation of a truly first-rate Catholic university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ave Maria University. Now he has moved the university and law school, with some controversy, to Naples, Florida where in addition to funding the school, has actually created a separate town, Ave Maria, Florida.

He also has a self-made man’s disinclination to follow the herd. In Chicago the other night, he addressed the chapter and told them, as members sat before him, that he was not entirely pleased with the growth of the city group, citing that his own home-town of Detroit had far more members. It reminded some executives, successful men with an abundance of grey in their hair, of the old days in their business careers when their bosses gave them Dutch uncle talks and urged them to get out there and start selling. When he finished his admonition, he was presented with a beautiful book containing magnificent photographs of key Chicago Catholic churches.

The Cardinal followed with his address while Monaghan sat, cross-legged, idly turning the pages of the book during the prelate’s talk, the page-turning continuing while the audience asked questions of the Cardinal concerning DePaul. What’s so unusual about that? Nothing but a highly developed case of savoir faire which is what happens when you are idolized as a legendary defender of Catholicism—and have made a billion or two.


  1. That book is impossible to put down.

    He may have been juxtaposed on St. Jerome's, or hypnotized by St. Hyacinth's.

    The Cardinal may forgive his inattention, given that he is the publisher in Corporation Sole of the book in question.


  2. Blog about the new liberal Archbishop of DC Wuerl who proudly gave communion to pro abortion / infanticide Senator John Kerry.