Crisis Update


July 1, 1996

By giving a first place award to Richard McBrien’s Encyclopedia of Catholicism, the Catholic Press Association again betrays its deep prejudice toward the Catholic left. Reviewing the encyclopedia in the January 1996 Crisis Russell Shaw wrote, “This encyclopedia is as free of bias as the well-known tower in Pisa and as reliable as a broken compass. Rather than an objective source of information, this volume is a vade mecum of ‘progressive’ Catholicism tricked out to resemble a reference work.”


For the first time in thirty-five years, St. Patrick’s Cathedral held on May 12 a High Pontifical Mass, sung in Latin according to the Tridentine Rite by Cardinal Alfons Stickler, who is prefect emeritus of the Vatican Library.


A recent Gallup News Service Poll of 1,011 adults, taken late in April, shows an electorate far more conservative than is usually recognized. 73 percent of the respondents were in favor of a school prayer amendment; 67 percent wanted to see a law banning same-sex “marriages”; 71 percent would support welfare cutoffs after two years; and 83 percent found the idea of a balanced-budget amendment appealing. President Clinton seems aware of the electorate’s underlying conservatism: He has, at least rhetorically, moved to right in recent weeks on welfare reform, tax cuts, and, most recently, on same-sex “marriages,” which he says he opposes. There were anomalies in the poll, however, including a strong 68 percent in favor of doctor-assisted suicides.


Sixty Minutes has had its ridiculous moments over the years, but its recent “interview” with Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian, fresh from his most recent court triumph, bordered on the absurd. Andy Rooney complicitously yucked it up with Kevorkian and his thuggish lawyer, tossing softball after softball, and giving Kevorkian the opportunity to rail against organized religion, the court system, and the blinkered minds of those less “compassionate” than he.


On a more encouraging note, The Economist reports that an “astonishing revival” of classical Greek and Latin writers has been taking place over the past decade. After a low point in the mid-1970s, when there were only 20,000 students taking Latin classes in American schools, 50,000 to 60,000 pupils are studying Latin each year in high schools, along with another 90,000 in the nation’s junior colleges. This renewed interest is mirrored in book sales, with new translations of classical writers appearing almost daily. The phenomenon is not restricted to the English-speaking countries: In France there has been a 75 percent increase in the number of students studying Greek and Latin and Jacqueline de Romilly’s Pourquoi la Grece? (“Why Greece?”) has sold 60,000 copies—an amazing number for a serious nonfiction work.


“In the World: The Gospel of Resurrection in a Culture of Death” is the theme for a conference to be held in Glenview, Illinois (just outside of Chicago), on August 1-3, 1996. The conference is sponsored by Touchstone magazine, and its purpose is to explore options for how Christians can respond to a dominant culture where the moral ethos is being fatally undermined. Speakers will include Dr. James Hitchcock, Dr. Janine Langan, and Brother Isaac Melton. The registration fee of $85 covers all conference sessions, two meals, and breaks. To register or get more information, call 312-267-1440, or fax 312-267-6754.


Cardinal James Hickey of Washington, D.C., is doing “very, very nicely” following his quadruple coronary bypass surgery on May 10 at Georgetown University Medical Center. The cardinal, who is seventy-five years old, has been archbishop of Washington since 1980, and we wish him well in his recovery!


There is a great deal of support for the idea of a Parental Rights Act, and for those who wonder why, the Washington Times offered a story that provides a partial answer. A middle school in eastern Pennsylvania recently conducted genital examinations of sixth-grade girls, in several cases without parental consent. Cheryl Wetzstein of the Times reports that approximately fifty girls at J. T. Lambert Intermediate School in East Stroudsburg were directed to the school-nurse’s office, forced to take off their clothes, and then examined one-by-one by a female doctor. Katie Tucker, the mother of an eleven-year-old girl who was examined before being able to notify her, was angry: “They said they were looking for genital warts, but on a sixth-grader?” The school has come under media scrutiny and much public fire since the incident, but one is forced to wonder how widespread such practices are.


  • Brian C. Anderson

    Brian C. Anderson is a writer and Senior Editor of City Journal, a quarterly magazine, published by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. He served as literary editor of Crisis during most of the 1990s.

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