Winter musings


Four items plus one in search of a late-winter column:

1. Plasma therapy: Ambrosia Health offers “young plasma treatments.” These are “intravenous infusions of plasma from young donors, who are in the age range of 16 to 25.” According to its home page, “We treat patients who are 30 years old or older.” One liter is $8,000; two liters is $12,000. Ambrosia continues: “Young plasma is the result of research into the science of blood. Experiments in mice, called parabiosis, provided the inspiration to deliver treatments with young plasma.”

Harvesting plasma from the young for use by the old. No accusation here. But this reads kind of creepy to me.

2. Protests: There was a day not so long ago that people of faith used to protest if products or services advertised or flirted with offensive stuff, especially if kids would be exposed. That mentality has gone the way of the dodo bird. Take the recent ad for the Acura SUV.

The ad blasts the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” as its background anthem. I don’t really know how that ties-in with the Acura. Sample verse: “Just as every cop is a criminal\And all the sinners saints\Just call me Lucifer … \So if you meet me\Have some courtesy\Have some sympathy … Or I’ll lay your soul to waste.” Great lyrics for selling cars, huh?

3. Grand jury report analysis: Peter Steinfels has written a masterful investigation of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse. That report has been at the center of accusations against the Church virtually worldwide. The essential charge spelled out in its introduction was that six of the state’s Catholic dioceses acted “in virtual lockstep” to cover up abuse allegations.

In an in-depth article in Commonweal magazine, Steinfels calls the report “inaccurate,” “unfair” and “misleading.” Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal, former religion writer for The New York Times and professor emeritus at Fordham University.

Steinfels points out that many journalists did not go much beyond the inflammatory introduction. He writes that if one reads the full report carefully, “it is clear” that it “does not document the sensational charges contained in its introduction. … This ugly, indiscriminate and inflammatory charge, unsubstantiated by the report’s own evidence, to say nothing of the evidence the report ignores, is truly unworthy of a judicial body responsible for impartial justice.”

Catholic News Service did a great summary of his report, and the full article is posted on the Commonweal website.

4. Sticky wicket: Antonia Fraser is the leading historian of the Catholic struggles in England. Her work “Faith and Treason” — a study of the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to blow up Parliament — is a classic. Her latest work is “The King and the Catholics: England, Ireland, and the fight for Religious Freedom, 1780-1829.” It’s available at Amazon or your local bookstore. I’ve just gotten started on it, and I bumped into a surprise. Cricket is the most English of English sports. But John Nyren, the great early chronicler of the game, was born in 1764 “into a Scottish Catholic family. … Nyren was educated by a Jesuit. His father … was founder and member of the famous Hambledon Club, which gave laws to English cricket, and his daughter went on to be abbess of the English convent at Bruges.”

Finally, a correction: On Jan. 6, I wrote about the martyrdom of De La Salle Christian Brother James Miller, who was born in Wisconsin in 1944 and murdered in Guatemala in 1982. I wrote that he had taught at Cretin High School in Minneapolis. Cretin was in St. Paul. It is now combined with the girls’ school across the street. It’s called Cretin-Derham Hall.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.


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