The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, June 26, 2004  

Items in the News
June 26, 2004

Off the Deep End
I honestly don’t know how much longer I’ll be watching this controversy unfold from the inside, but it’s fascinating to see some members of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, men who long ago squandered heaps of moral capital protecting their own, sowing the seeds of yet another major rift among the faithful. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (“Burke: Voting for Abortion Rights Candidate is a Sin,” by Jo Mannies and Tim Townsend):

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke said Friday that Catholics in St. Louis who vote for political candidates supportive of abortion rights have committed a grave sin in the eyes of the church, and should confess and do penance before receiving Communion. […]

On Friday, Burke made clear in the interview that a candidate’s position on abortion trumped their stands on other issues. Regardless of a Catholic’s reasons for voting for a candidate, “If the voter is aware of that politician’s pro-abortion position, they would still be supporting someone who is cooperating in the promotion of abortion.”

This is moral -- and political -- lunacy. It’s difficult to determine what the outcome will be: an emptying of abortion clinics or an emptying of the pews, but I have a strong feeling it’s more likely to be the latter.

Bishop Hubbard Cleared
The bishop who confirmed me more than 20 years ago, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., has been cleared of accusations of sexual misconduct by a panel of outside investigators headed by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White (“Report Clears Albany Bishop in Sexual Misconduct Inquiry,” by Daniel J. Wakin, the New York Times).

For those not aware, Bishop Hubbard, whom the Times correctly identifies as “one of the nation’s most liberal,” long has been a righteous thorn in the side of right-wing Catholics, including Roman Catholic Faithful, a group that has been peddling false charges and outlandish rumors about Bishop Hubbard for many years. (Other RCF targets include Bishop Matthew H. Clark of the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., and Joseph L. Imesch, of the Diocese of Joliet, Ill.) [Full disclosure: Bishop Hubbard is a close family friend of my brother’s in-laws.]

Stewart Sentencing Delayed
The sentencing of publisher Martha Stewart, convicted in March of lying to federal prosecutors, has been delayed from July 8 to July 16. According to the Associated Press, “Martha Stewart’s sentencing was delayed yesterday for an additional week after her lawyers said they wanted the judge to have enough time to consider their requests for leniency and a new trial.” The delay came one day after prosecutors filed a motion opposing Stewart’s request for a new trial, a request arising from accusations of perjury against a key government witness. (See “Stewart Should Be Denied New Trial, Prosecutors Say” by Constance L. Hays, the New York Times, June 25.)

What Year is This?
The starting salary for flight attendants at Southwest Airlines is $14,000 annually. That figure is somewhat familiar to me. At my first job after graduate school I started at $14,500. In 1986.

Joining the Ranks
Among the “lay-offs” announced this week: MCI Inc.: 2,000; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.: 600; and Campbell Soup Co.: 400. (I remember when the term “lay-off” meant the workers affected would return to their jobs at some point in the future. When did that change?)

Read Your Own Paper
The editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer write, in “Victory on Chestnut Street”:

At a grand reopening of the Victory Building on Wednesday night, a red carpet ran up the granite staircase to the original wood doors of the jewel of Chestnut Street.

Talk about extreme makeovers. Vagrants once squatted at the top of its stairs. Rats once scurried in the shadows amid debris. Scrub trees grew from balconies. . . . This Victory, indeed, is one worth celebrating.

That’s true as far as it goes. The corner of 10th and Chestnut Streets is much improved by the $25 million rehab of the Victory Building, built in 1875 as the local office of the New York Mutual Life Insurance Co. And the editors are technically correct when they observe, “This remarkable renaissance on Chestnut is soiled only by the city-owned, boarded-up former library at 1021 Chestnut.”

The party, unfortunately, is premature, something the editors would know if they read their own newspaper, specifically the columns of Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron. Saffron, with ample justification, for months has been railing against the now all-but-certain eyesore proposed by Thomas Jefferson University Hospital: a seven-story, 700-vehicle parking garage at . . . 10th and Chestnut Streets.

It’s long been clear the Philadelphia City Planning Commission hasn’t been reading Saffron’s tightly reasoned and well-informed columns. What’s surprising is to learn her colleagues also have ignored her hard work and dogged determination when instead they should be celebrating and promoting it.

[Note: Additional items may be posted to “PP&T” after initial publication but only on the day of publication, excluding post-publication addenda.]

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