On hot wings and a prayer

HootersLogoWebA family member who knows a thing or two about culture in Waco, Texas, sent me this interesting ecumenical news story and you have to admit that Fox News put a snazzy lead on it. It's about the decision of a local Catholic priest to do the official rites of blessing for the new and, in a Southern Baptist mecca, controversial Hooters franchise. And that lead?

Please bless these overly revealing orange shorts, and all who wear them while serving me cheese fries.

As it turns out, this online story was a revamped version of a much longer report by reporter Cindy V. Culp in the Waco Tribune-Herald. It seems that 60 local ministers had expressed their displeasure that this establishment that specializes in hot chicken wings and breasts was coming to their somewhat conservative community in central Texas. However, it might be very popular with backsliders and with mainstream reporters in town (and very bored) while covering President Bush's retreats to nearby Crawford.

So what was the Rev. Msgr. Isidore Rozycki up to?

"Blessings are part of the Catholic tradition," said Rozycki, who is pastor of St. Martin's Church in Tours. "You bless the building so it will be a safe haven, so that the families that enter will be blessed, so the employees will be blessed -- as they support their families. ... God's image is in all of these folks," Rozycki said.

For the record, though, Rozycki said he doesn't think Hooters deserves the bad rap it has gotten from some. He has eaten at a Dallas-area Hooters twice, he said, and enjoyed the experience. People who go to the restaurant with lust in their hearts are sure to find what they are looking for, Rozycki said. But that would be true no matter where they went, he said, adding that the waitresses' uniforms are less revealing than what is on display at the beach or a public swimming pool.

The obvious follow-up story: Will this event hurt Baptist-Catholic relations in a state that is crucial to conservative political plans for America's future?

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