Since we went away

You steal away for a fortnight or so in the middle of what used to be the lazy, hazy end of June and beginning of July and it's as if you've taken a snooze worthy of Rip Van Winkle. The contemporary sporting agenda rolls over us in ever mightier waves, unfolding not in cycles but revolutions.

Consider just some of what's happened since last we gathered around this figurative water cooler:

The Lakers finished taking their bows while the Celtics scattered to the winds. The Celtics lost Doc Rivers, and then got him back. Three more teams were honored by the President at the White House. Boxing returned to Yankee Stadium. At 47, the remarkable Manute Bol died. A Dinka tribesman from the hellish Sudan, Manute brought dignity to the NBA that was almost as towering as his presence.

The NHL had their draft of kids who have just graduated from high school. The NBA had their draft of kids who will never graduate from college. Tyler Seguin, a stylish center who looks too good to be true, became the latest "can't miss", "franchise-player" drafted by the Bruins since the last one who actually was one, Raymond Bourque who was drafted 30 years ago.

Four more NFL performers got arrested for assorted acts of malice. Michael Vick drifted through the scene of yet another crime claiming to be blameless with the event in question being, of course, his birthday party. What else? Demarcus Russell crashed on drugs. Three other NFL foot soldiers got suspended for drug abuse. The athletic director at the University of Georgia got nailed for DUI. Chris Simms, QB of the Titans and son of legendary Giants QB Phil Simms, got charged with doing marijuana while driving.

Heavyweights named Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin fought in Vegas for a title in an event termed "the Ultimate Fighting Championship". Cages were used and whips were spotted and, if ratings are to be believed, amazing numbers of people took it seriously. On the other hand, the highest rated X-Game event of the period was the Coney Island hot dog devouring obscenities that ESPN, in its relentless pursuit of the lowest common denominator, cheerfully televised as a celebration of Independence Day. What all of this says about American cultural values is a question that would have silenced Thomas Jefferson.

The Big 10 tried to expand to 12 teams. The Pac 10 swelled briefly to 14. The Big 12 downsized to 10. This led some to wonder if these guys can't even count, why should we pay any attention to them? Out in La La land USC, having finally been bagged by the NCAA for gross violations of college football recruitment practice, apologized. But Coach Pete Carroll, who was in charge when it happened, didn't. The University of Kentucky set to work putting together a nice new contract for Coach Calipari, even though the contract he's got has many years and millions of bucks to go. Down at U-Conn, Coach Calhoun was celebrating his new 13 million dollar five-year deal even as the NCAA gendarmes were descending on Storrs.

In golf, the riddle of Tiger Woods deepened as he skirted missing the cut at an obscure tourney in Newton Square, Pa. At Wimbledon, one tennis match between two little known but impeccably behaved hackers bore on for three days with the last set lasting 138 games as half the civilized world, including the Queen, cheered. The NHL's free agency season began with a dozen decent defensemen promptly playing musicals chairs. The NBA's free agent season crested with a bizarre burlesque in Miami that set a new standard for vulgarity in sport. Roger Federer lost a match at Wimbledon and it wasn't even in the Finals.

Forbes Magazine posted its annual poll of "the 10 most disliked people in sports". Vick remains in first-place (and that was even before his birthday party) but closing fast on the inside rail was the once sainted Woods. Another newcomer comfortably in third place was Ben Roethlisberger, the lecherous quarterback of the Steelers. Best bet to finish high in the rankings of the notorious next year is LeBron James, the delusional and self-appointed mega-star of the Heat. Sharing in James' shame should be his cheerleaders from ESPN who cleverly frittered away what little was left of their credibility in his dubious behalf.

Seven more Red Sox -- Messrs Pedroia, Martinez, Varitek, Hermida, Delcarmen, Buchholz and Lowell -- went down for the count with six of them landing on the vastly overcrowded disabled list. Meanwhile, Jacoby Ellsbury was getting re-injured at least twice more. The Yankees added five games to their lead. The Rays awakened. So did the Mets. The White Sox resurrected. Eight Yankees made the all-star team. So did six Bo-Soxers. Injury or the fear of it sidelined a dozen all-stars. The swelling of the disabled list perplexes Baseball. The Phillies lost three mainstays -- Messrs Durbin, Polanco and Utley -- in a 24 hour span.

The Mariners insulted the Yankees as few teams would have dared in the age of Steinbrenner, then traded Cliff Lee who is known to be seeking the second highest pitching contract in all of baseball history to a Texas Rangers' team that's about to officially become bankrupt and placed on the auction block. The Commissioner did not object. Dallas Braden and A-Rod smooched and made up. Carlos Zambrano went ballistic in the Cubs dugout. BJ Upton went ballistic in the Rays dugout. In a Rangers' uniform, the amiable Vladimir Guerrero returned to Anaheim, which had dumped him, and hit three homers against his old Angel mates as Angel fans cheered wildly.

The Bruins tried but couldn't trade Marc Savard and Tim Thomas for an annual saving of about $10 million on the salary cap which might have been enough to rent Ilya Kovalchuk. They did, however, rid themselves of Dennis Wideman who escapes a slap shot ahead of a Garden lynch mob that regards him as the second coming of Don McKenney. The Patriots made absolutely no news, concluding easily the quietest off-season of the Belechick era. With the dispensing of a couple of more rich contracts the Celtics anchored themselves to the Pierce-Garnett-Allen triumvirate for at least two more years, at which point the average age of the three amigos will be pushing 38. Mrs. Tom Brady, done with maternity leave, went back to work. The city of Cleveland melted down.

In what may prove to be their best off-season move, the Bruins re-signed defenseman Dennis Seidenberg whose loss to injury late in the season cemented their playoff fate and deprived them of the honor of being the Blackhawks' foil in the finals. In a deed notable because he had two more years on his contract and could have hung around doing little and collecting much, the charming Rasheed Wallace opted for retirement. The Celtics replace him with the once formidable Jermaine O'Neal, who is almost as old but probably not as good. Bob Sheppard, the gentle man with the godlike voice who served as the Yankees' elegantly patrician public address announcer for six decades, died at the age of 99.

The point, hopefully, is made. A lot goes down as the sporting world spins even if it's only for a couple or three weeks at the slow time of the year in the midst of high summer's heavy torpor. But at least we had the soccer contrasting brilliantly with the mundanities of the daily scene. Even for those of us who won't watch another match for four years it was glorious.

Too many Americans in a typical display of provincial petulance tuned out when the home team got deservedly booted. But the rest of the world remained intensely wired and even if the final -- matching the dogged Dutch and the frightfully efficient Spaniards -- lacked sheer beauty the magnificence of the show still prevailed. The World Cup remains the grandest stage of the sporting universe. The Futbal transcends all the games.

The South Africans pulled it off and that's terrific. But the triumph of the 2010 tourney belongs to all of Africa for which we can all stand up and cheer.

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...

Leaked German report shows 3,700 cases of abuse of minors in 68 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A 350-page document leaked to German media and published Sept. 12 documents nearly 3,700 cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by ...

Pope accepts resignation of Brazilian bishop arrested for embezzlement

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Brazilian bishop who was arrested and charged with embezzling thousands of dollars in ...

Love breaks chains of slavery to sin, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only true love for God and neighbor can destroy the chains of greed, lust, anger and envy that enslave humankind, Pope Francis said. ...

Washington cardinal to meet with pope to discuss resignation

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington has told the priests of the archdiocese that he will meet soon with Pope Francis to request ...

Pope to convene world meeting on abuse prevention with bishops' leaders

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention ...

Supreme Court petition next step in effort to stop natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Pennsylvania religious congregation planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether their religious freedom rights ...