Monday, January 6
In the Christ the King Graceland Independent Anglican Church of Canada, "Rockin' Reverend" Dorian Baxter presides with the sideburns and singing of Elvis Presley to attract the wayward to Jesus Christ.
Equal parts entertainer, activist and preacher, the 52-year-old Baxter - who also goes by Elvis Priestley - does it his way, singing Elvis favorites with a Christian twist.
"Well it's one for the Father, two for the Son, three for the Holy Spirit and your life has just begun," he starts to the tune of "Blue Suede Shoes," wrapping up the chorus with: "You can do anything but don't turn Jesus away."
His church is labeled independent because Anglican church elders frown on the Elvis-themed antics, and Baxter held Sunday's inaugural service with 200 supporters in a Newmarket veterans hall, on the northern fringe of the Toronto metropolitan area.
While not defrocked, Baxter was forced out of one Toronto-area church and denied a license to perform Anglican weddings, with Bishop Ronald Ferris of the Algoma diocese calling the mix of Elvis and church functions in poor taste.
Aww, come on. Poor taste? How can you say that?
Former New Hampshire Bishop Odore Gendron destroyed church records during the 1980s that detailed sexual abuse of children by two Roman Catholic priests, according to court records.
The records indicate Gendron, who was bishop of the Diocese of Manchester from 1975 to 1990, destroyed documents in one case at the request of the accused priest and in the other at the request of a facility treating a priest for sexual misconduct.
Mark Abramson, lawyer for about 60 people suing the diocese over alleged sexual misconduct by priests, said in a motion filed late last week in Hillsborough County Superior Cout that the destruction of the records amounts to fraudulent concealment.
Evidence of the destruction is contained in letters Gendron wrote in 1986 and 1989, the motion said.
In the first letter, Gendron assured the Rev. Philip Petit that he would ''certainly destroy all documents, notes, etc., referring to your treatment'' for sexual misconduct.
The letter went on to say Gendron had kept one letter from Petit's file that included a doctor's report saying the priest was making progress and that a sexual incident in Dover was isolated.
I begin every novel with the vow that I will not write about technology, Catholicism, or hell. As you know, I end up writing about all three. They just happen to be personal obsessions of mine. However, the next novel will not deal with any of them.
The most interesting character to me is someone who is stuck in the no man's land between Belief and Unbelief, Faith and Faithlessness. I'm capitalizing like a German, but it doesn't matter whether it's faith in a person or in God, or belief in science or whatever, it's the desperate in-between state that makes for interesting dramatic tension.
As for most Catholic novel to date? Mmm. Chapter 12 in White Man's Grave, where one of the protagonists goes to morning mass and confession for the first time in 40 years, is definitely my most Catholic chapter, but perhaps I might agree that in terms of direct references to Catholicism (as opposed to belief in the soul or Christianity), Bet Your Life has the most, simply because the main characters are all Catholics or fallen-away types.
The pastor and parish council of St. Mary's Catholic Church on Saturday decided to remove former Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell's name from the church's family life center. In March the founding bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville resigned as bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., after admitting to sexual impropriety involving a former teenage seminary student in Missouri. The incident occurred more than 25 years ago. Church pastor Father Michael Woods read a statement at each Mass over the weekend explaining why he had decided to change the name of the Bishop O'Connell Family Life Center at the church that serves some 1,100 families. Woods said the decision came after praying, reflecting and consulting Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz as well as meeting Saturday morning with the nine-member parish council.
The area's Polish community will raise money for the defense of a visiting Polish priest charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl he counseled at Sacred Heart Church.More than 150 members of the Polish community met over the weekend to set up an organization to oversee a defense fund for the Rev. Roman Kramek, The Herald of New Britain reported.The organization, temporarily named Polish Brotherly Help, also will consider paying Kramek's $500,000 bail.Kramek was arrested on Christmas Eve and charged with second-degree sexual assault for allegedly forcing himself on a girl he was counseling for a previous rape.According to court documents, Kramek admitted to the act, saying it was part of the counseling. He is being held on bond in a Hartford jail."It's our responsibility as Polish people to help this priest, because he is a fellow Pole," Lucyna Kolakowski, one of the organizers of the meeting, said.
"He is alone in this country, has no money, and is in a very difficult situation," Kolakowski said. "If it was anyone else, we would be meeting here to help them in the same way. If the Poles don't help this priest, nobody is going to help him. It's besides the point whether he's guilty or not."
It is, of course, the Feast of the Epiphany. It's also the memorial for Blessed Andre Bessette, whose story is well worth reading, especially in conjuction with that of Venerable Solanus Casey, both excellent examples of holy men through whom God worked very powerfully despite the discouraging attitudes of their religious superiors.
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