Sports fandom not unlike religion

In my new role as a GA reporter, I’ll be writing some features about the Yankees’ playoff run.

I have an article going tomorrow about…Yankee haters.

As a nearly life-long sports fan in New York, I know that the Yanks have a large and passionate fan base. But I also know that many baseball fans can’t stand the most prominent team in sports.

tjndc5-5r9ots8glyh12n5icnap_layoutMany are Mets fans. Some are old Dodger fans. Most decry the arrogance of the Yankees and their fans. Not to mention the team’s fat payroll and all the free agents.

I thought it would be fun to let Yankee haters vent, so we put a few queries on LoHud and in the JN to find some “haters.”

The reaction reminded me oh so much of covering a conflict between religious traditions.

Not only were many Yankee haters truly over-the-top in denigrating the team they love to hate. But Yankee fans wrote to me to protest my desire to highlight what everyone knows is true: that many New Yorkers don’t like the Yanks.

Yankee fans wrote that I was trying to polarize New York at what should be a time of unity. Lighten up!

It’s like a Clash of Civilizations out there in baseball land.

Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “haters.” How about non-Yankee fans?

Bridgeport diocese loses last round of legal battle over sex-abuse papers

It appears that the Diocese of Bridgeport’s long struggle to keep secret stacks of legal documents related to sex abuse is finally over.

And the diocese has lost.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused today to block the release of 12,000 pages of documents from 23 lawsuits against 6 priests.

The records have been sealed since the cases were settled in 2001, but the Connecticut courts have ruled that they should be released.

The Diocese says:

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We are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to extend the stay.

The content of the sealed documents soon to be released has already been extensively reported on.

For more than a decade, the Catholic Church in Bridgeport has addressed the issue of clergy sexual abuse compassionately and comprehensively.

For now, however, the serious threat to the First Amendment rights of all churches and the rightful privacy of all litigants remain in jeopardy because of the decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. This, indeed, is regrettable.

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Dan Bartley, president of the lay reform group, Voice of the Faithful, says:

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Voice of the Faithful respectfully insists that Bishop Lori accept the Supreme Court decision and stop blocking the right of Catholics in Connecticut to know what happened. Bishop Lori must stop wasting untold hundreds of thousands of parishioners’ dollars to prevent these same parishioners, and the public, from finding out how Lori’s predecessors, including recently retired Cardinal Edward Egan, dealt with cases of sexual abuse of children.

A prominent priest on a sainted priest for the ‘Year of Priests’

When the pope first announced that June would begin the “Year for Priests,” I was kind of baffled.

I mean, priests play such a central role in the Catholic world — with the Eucharist and all — that it seemed odd (at least to me) that they would have their own year.

What’s next: The Year for Catholics?

But priests have had it rough in recent years and their numbers are dwindling. So why not have a Year for Priests to punch them up a bit.

RutlerOn Tuesday (Oct. 6), one of those priests, a prominent fellow named Father George W. Rutler, will speak at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers about a very appropriate subject: Saint John Vianney. Vianney, a Frenchman who died in 1859, has been the patron saint of parish priests. But the pope has announced that Vianney is being upgraded to the patron saint of all priests.

Vianney is famous for his long service in a tiny French village — which was visited by thousands who wanted to hear him preach or have him hear their confessions.

Rutler, meanwhile (that’s him), hosts “Christ in the City” on EWTN and writes for many publications. He was once an Episcopal priest but turned to Rome in 1979 and was ordained by Cardinal Cooke in 1981. He once served as an associate pastor at St. Joseph’s in Bronxville and has served as pastor of the Church of Our Saviour on Park Avenue since Sept. 17, 2001.

His bio says that “…in 1996 Governor George W. Bush made him an Honorary Texan.” Must be a good thing, right?

His presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. Free. Open to all. Call 914-968-6200, ext. 8292 for information.

New study: Support drops for legal abortion

Support for legal abortion is slipping, according to a new study from the Pew Forum on Religin & Public Life.

The percentage of Americans who believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases passed 60 percent at several points during the last decade, but now has dropped to 47%.

And the percentage of people who believe that abortion should be ILLEGAL in all or most cases had risen in the last year from 41% to 45%.

image02So we’re now looking at almost a dead heat: 47% in support of legal abortion, 45% against.

The study suggests that opposition to abortion among conservatives has strengthened during a Democratic presidency, while liberals have gotten complacent on the issue.

The percentage of liberal Democrats saying that abortion is a “critical” issue has fallen sharply from 34% in March 06 to 8% in August 09.

The Pew people say:

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The timing of this shift in attitudes on abortion suggests it could be connected to Obama’s election. The decline in support for legal abortion first appeared in polls in the spring of 2009. Overall, roughly three-in-ten (29%) think Obama will handle the abortion issue about right as president. One-in-five Americans (19%) worry that Obama will go too far in supporting abortion rights, while very few (4%) express the opposite concern that Obama will not go far enough to support abortion rights. Concern about Obama’s handling of abortion is especially evident on the right; fully half of conservative Republicans (52%) worry that Obama will go too far in supporting abortion rights. However, nearly one-in-five political independents (18%) also worry that Obama will go too far in support of abortion rights.

A new Bible for African-American children

Two decades ago, Wade and Cheryl Hudson found themselves disappointed by the dearth of good books for African-American children.

So they published an alphabet book using “Afrocentric” themes and images.

Just Us Books was  up and running out of East Orange, N.J. Since then, they’ve published dozens of book on black history and culture.

031071964xNow the Hudsons have edited My Holy Bible for African-American Children, a New International Version (NIV) Bible that’s filled with culturally significant artwork and themes. The Bible is available this month and will be followed in February by a King James version.

“Our goal is to publish resources to help more African-American children explore God’s Word,” said Annette Bourland, publisher of Zonderkidz, a leading publisher of children’s Bibles, “and we believe that this one-of-its-kind full text Bible with its glorious illustrations, created just for the African-American community, emphasizes just how much God knows and loves them.”