Cupich Wants a Retro New Ecclesial Season – Been There, Done That!

I set this letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich aside a few days ago. Kinda wish I had set it aside indefinitely. Just a waste of ink with the endless spin to tell us how much “they” care. 

The bishops’ retreat and a new ecclesial season

January 9, 2019

I am writing this as the retreat held for the Catholic bishops of the United States at our seminary in Mundelein concludes. The weeklong retreat was the idea of Pope Francis.

He recognized that the crisis of clerical sexual abuse had created a great deal of anger and confusion in our church and among the bishops. It is in such moments, he observed in his letter to us before the retreat, that “we need to be attentive and discerning, to free our hearts of compromises and false certainties, in order to hear what the Lord asks of us in the mission he has given us.”

I never had a problem with the retreat. That said, I think being locked in a room with a bunch of super angry parents would have made more of an impact, but that’s just me. I do have to focus on the message from the Holy Father I highlighted. Are they just now doing this??? I would think that this would have popped into their heads long before one is made a bishop.

Again, while I never had a problem with a retreat per se, the timing on this one smacks more of a pause on dealing with this issue hoping people will forget about it than a thoughtful way forward. Seriously, the “Let’s just wait to deal with this until we can have a retreat to contemplate something we somehow woefully missed before” really doesn’t cut it with the vast majority of people, or at the very least people with children.

The Holy Father sent us his personal preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa. The 84-year-old priest told us that he had received lots of letters telling him what he should say to the bishops. While respecting the wisdom of the voice of the people, he agreed with the pope that in moments like this we need to discern what God is saying to us.

“What God is saying to us???” Seriously? I would think “Stop being perverts, protecting perverts, recruiting perverts, etc.” would be a no brainer. But, I suppose, since it’s been missed so far, the good friar might be right about going back to kindergarten on this.

Cantalamessa’s talks were both inspiring and encyclopedic. His grasp of Scripture and the rich tradition of the church allowed the bishops to hear truths we have long held but in a fresh way. I am pleased we have the texts to review in the days and months ahead, but I also carry with me a number of images he offered, which I want to reflect on.

How about reflecting on the image of a person abused by a priest, bishop, or cardinal? Seems like that might be the central image to focus on. Yes, the spiritual lives of a good chunk of these bishops and cardinals seem wanting, but this is ridiculous. If we have to go back to what should have been taught day one in seminary, then you’d think Cardinal Cupich might get a clue that the formation has been lacking for a long, long time in most areas of the country. Somehow I don’t think this is going to be his take away.

One was the difference between moving over water in a rowboat and a sailboat. The rowboat requires our effort, as we pull against the inertia of the water, relying on our own power and devices to steer the direction ahead. But believers are called to trust in the Holy Spirit to move us forward, much like the wind is needed for moving the sailboat forward.

With that image our retreat director asked us to reflect on our approach to challenges, not only this one, but in all cases. Do we see ourselves in a rowboat that makes everything depend on us, or are we attentive to the prompting of the Spirit to chart a pathway ahead? I can honestly say I am not satisfied by how I answer that question some days.

I will keep in mind what Cantalamessa said: “The wind is caught by the sail of prayer.”

Uh, I’d have to say many of you are not piloting a sailboat or even a rowboat. You’re more like the drug runner on a luxury yacht with someone else doing the “hard work” of ruining souls while you socialize with the elite and try to keep your hands clean. So, honestly, we’re not satisfied, either. We’d like you to be on the Barque of Peter. That, however, seems a little too much to ask.

 

He then shared another image to further develop this point. A professor lecturing on time management conducted a small experiment for his students. Taking a large glass jar, he placed tennis-ball-sized rocks in it until there was no room in the jar. “Is it full?” he asked. “Yes,” the students replied.

But, then he began pouring in small pebbles, rattling the jar until they settled in vacant spaces between the rocks. “Now is it full?” he asked again. “No,” they replied. Agreeing with them he then poured sand into the jar, filling up the spaces between the stones and the pebbles. Yet again, the professor asked, “Is the jar full?” Without hesitation, the students replied in unison, “NO!” “Correct,” replied the professor.

So he poured water into the jar until it was absolutely full. Then the professor explained. “What we learn from this experiment is that if we don’t put the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit all of them later.”

Cantalamessa’s point was simple. Our prayer life, our turning to God to discern where he is leading us, has to be the priority. For if we do not prioritize the discernment of God’s will, other concerns and voices will absorb our attention and render our decision-making impoverished and partial, especially in a moment of crisis.

I’m thinking the stories of the saints, Church teachings, etc. might have been a little more pertinent than time management stories from Facebook, but that might just be me. The problem is, some of you can’t seem to figure out what the big stones are even if they hit you in the head. If you’re going with Facebook memes, you might want to go with a simple flow chart of decision making. Some of you can’t get past the first branch correctly and probably should rethink your career (and I’m very intentionally using career because it seems more like that than a vocation for many of you)!

flow chart

 

His reflections also underscore our commitment to the protection of children and the healing of victims, which grounds all our responses to the crisis. We must make sure nothing ever crowds out that priority.

You and many other bishops and cardinals already blew that one! Let’s just remember you were the one that said there was more important things to worry about like “climate change.” The fact that you had to have that “underscored” just shows how completely out of touch you are with, well, Catholicism.

It is clear, however, that the Holy Father’s intentions in calling us to make this retreat expand well beyond this particular moment or challenge facing us bishops. Pope Francis wants us to see that we are in “a new ecclesial season,” as he calls it, that will require a new approach to our ministry.

I’m sorry, but the public relations tactic of a “new” anything is ridiculous. This is an abuse crisis of epic proportions. This isn’t time for a new buzzword or ad campaign for the Church. It’s time for repentance and reform. This is “old”, not new. The problem is, you guys spend so much time on spin and rebranding that you can’t just do what needs to be done. Sure, not all of you are doing that, but many are and the many are hampering the rest of us.

We cannot be “mere administrators,” but must take up the task of teaching those we serve “how to discern God’s presence in the history of his people.” As he remarked in his letter to us: “Amid the upset and confusion experienced by our communities, our primary duty is to foster a shared spirit of discernment, rather than to seek the relative calm resulting from compromise or from a democratic vote where some emerge as ‘winners’ and others not.”

Oh. My. Gosh! We’ve already discerned the immorality which led to abuse which led to the cover-ups is evil. Duh. Enough said. You’re the one who’s been trying to avoid it from day one. The US Bishops wanted to address the reality, but you and your cronies, Cardinal Cupich, managed to get it put on hold. I don’t care if it takes a democratic vote to clean up this mess. The only ones who do care are you and your buds who were going to be the losers because you are the ambassadors of evil and immorality. There most certainly should be a winner and loser. The winner should be GOOD and the loser should be EVIL. You want so badly to move your agendas forward that you are all willing to throw victims under the bus. We’ve had enough!

The task before us is to work together to find a way to embrace “the present situation, one that, most important, can protect those in our care from losing hope and feeling spiritually abandoned.”

If that was truly your goal you would have jumped on this long ago. All the psycho-spin you’ve spilled here does NOTHING to help those you’ve betrayed. We embraced the present situation about 17 years ago. Where have you been?

“This will enable us to be fully immersed in reality, seeking to appreciate and hear it from within, without being held hostage to it.”

If you haven’t been “fully immersed in reality” by now, you’ve missed whatever boat you’re supposedly on all together! The TRUTH which you seem to want to keep everyone from is freedom, not a hostage situation. You, Cardinal Cupich, are the one seeking to take hostages. You’ve been trying forever to make people a slave to their sins and you’ve been perfectly happy to keep the victims of abuse slaves to their captors. I’m pretty sure you’re hoping for full blown Stockholm Syndrome at this point. Sorry, we’re not falling for it. We will do everything possible to escape your trap.

We are not leaving this retreat with all the answers to the important questions facing the church in these days, but we are leaving with a renewed sense that it is time to turn in our rowboats for sailboats, and take our cue from the guidance of Christ’s spirit rather than our own efforts.

Well, let’s avoid YOUR efforts for sure.

We also come away reminded that we will need to keep our priorities straight. One other blessing from our days together is that it drew us closer to each other and to the Holy Father. One bishop told me, “Pope Francis was right to call us to take a retreat and it shows that he cares deeply about our ministry and the church in this country.”

Do you know how I know this was a complete waste of time? It’s because you have not mentioned sin once. You didn’t leave this retreat with anything. I’m sure those bishops and cardinals who truly long to guide Christ’s people are still longing for this, but you are just looking to get off the hook. You are simply looking for some good PR and are hoping words like “discerning” and “mission” are going to assuage the faithful. Wrong. These are the same things we heard almost two decades ago. You’re really, really counting on us being that stupid?

I have no doubt that just as the early church relied on Peter’s unique ministry to meet the challenges of the day, so we will draw strength and insight from our unity with his successor.

Ah, and there it is. If we are angry with you, somehow we are removing unity with Peter’s successor? Yeah, sorry. You can keep pushing this line but it’s not going to keep us from holding you accountable.

It doesn’t get said enough, but a huge thank you to the bishops and cardinals who are really trying to bring healing to the victims and to the Church. We’re praying you succeed. Please stay the course. #USCCB #DontMakeSameMistake

 

Advertisements

The “Gotcha Game” Played by Fr. Martin

OK, OK, I’m back from my little vacation time full of family. I gotta thank those who sent me nice little notes wishing me Merry Christmas, wondering if I was OK, or downright chewing me out for disappearing for a few weeks. I appreciate them all, but I simply have to take a little break this time of year. It’s the only way to keep the muck from dragging me down. It’s also an injection of energy, because, make no mistake, I’m doing this for my kids,  future grand-kids, and the rest of my future lineage first and foremost.

So I’ve spent the last few days scanning the blogosphere to get a pulse. After spinning the wheel of immorality and dissent, I’ve landed on this. https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/01/08/opus-dei-paid-settle-sexual-misconduct-claim-against-prominent-catholic-priest/ I don’t have a critique of this article, per se, seemed pretty straightforward, but I do have some comments on the response to the situation.

First of all, a disclaimer: I am not a member of Opus Dei. I don’t have a problem with them and I’ve known several of their priests, members, and cooperators. Just not my thing, even though some of them are peachy. I’m not sure why the fangs come out whenever they are mentioned, but I just thought I’d cut down on the “you’ve been brainwashed” flogging I’ll probably get. Honestly, I’ve yet to experience the perfect order. I will say this, though, they ain’t Jesuits or anything close to them.

The main reason I’m writing about this is because of responses like our good ol’ friend James Martin, LGBTSJ. I mean, the guy seems positively giddy. Can you just imagine him pumping his fist and saying, “They caught a conservative, heterosexual abuser! Woot!”?

martinopusdei

Really, Fr. Martin? Is it that tragic to you? Methinks you are pretty darn pleased. What IS tragic is your “I got one!” attitude. First, while abuse is very systemic in the Jesuit order, it is not in the Opus Dei order. And, you’re still wrong. It is still very much a homosexual problem. 80% so. Msgr. Pope already schooled you on your cruddy logic in this area.  An outlier does not an argument make.
 martinopusdei2

I don’t think anyone has ever said there hasn’t been abuse in many different orders and dioceses or that it’s all homosexual priests. This is a constant red-herring Fr. Martin uses. His usual tactic is to take an argument not made and debate it.  What has been said is that it’s been an overwhelming problem of homosexuality. I think we’re up to 80% of the cases that we know of. Does that mean that there are some priests who don’t suffer from other deep-seated disorders? Of course not! This is an argument which has never been made. So, please. Do not let Fr. Martin’s ridiculous apologetics for the LGBTSJ crowd fool you. When homosexual priests who are supposedly in the minority are the majority of the problem, they are the majority of the problem.

And let’s talk about why abuse is not a systemic problem with Opus Dei priests as it is with other orders, like, say, the Jesuits. One abuser out of 2,000+ is one too many, but it is far better than most orders/dioceses. First of all, they vet their seminarians as the Vatican directives mandate. So what happened with Fr. McCloskey? Could have been something for which he always had a weakness. Who knows? The fact that he is suffering from what’s been deemed advanced stage Alzheimer’s might be an issue, though.

If you’ve dealt with someone with that dementia, you learn a few things. Alzheimer’s is a catch-all for dementia. Sometimes it is actually Alzheimer’s, but many times it’s another type of dementia, and they cannot tell unless they autopsy the brain after death. I had a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but it was more than likely some other form of dementia because he lived WAY longer after the diagnosis than the typical patient and, in hindsight, the symptoms were present long before. People suffering from dementia lose a lot of their morality, personality, modesty, and sensibility, and they also do things they wouldn’t have thought of doing when they had all of their mental faculties. It also sneaks up on those who know them. Here’s hoping that was it. It’s really here nor there, but it’s an interesting turn of events and probably had zero bearing on how Opus Dei responded.

Next, Opus Dei only allows spiritual direction of women and minors in the confessional. In other words, they try to avoid causing scandal. Obviously, Fr. McCloskey didn’t follow that procedure and that was a problem, but I suspect that is one factor of why abuse is not a systemic problem with Opus Dei.

Lastly, Opus Dei acted swiftly. While they didn’t completely take Fr. McCloskey out of work, they did curtail it right away. We’ve heard of the main abuse victim, a second who was uncomfortable with his hugs, and third, thus far, unsubstantiated or detailed claim. Thankfully, whatever eye they kept on him before removing him completely from ministry seemed to protect women from further abuse. Compare this with the many, many other instances of abuse. Quite frankly, Opus Dei got it righter than anyone else. While they didn’t broadcast the news, they did help the woman, advised her to get help (legal and mental), and settled with her, which is why she’s apparently still Catholic and doesn’t seem to harbor ill-will, unlike the victims of the Jesuits and their ilk. In fact, in this CNA article she is quoted as saying that she is “very happy with how it’s being handled right now. They listened.” How many other victims have said the same about their response?!?!

martinopusdei3
Uh, yeah. They’ve actually shown remorse for the whole situation unlike many orders and dioceses. She wanted them to go public and they did after already helping her. Maybe you should use them as a model, Fr. Martin, instead of trying to use them to further your cause.

martinopusdei4

One last attempt to keep it in the spotlight. Again, Opus Dei’s formation and response should have been the model. To simply say “See! It’s not a homosexual problem at all! Heterosexual conservatives do it too!And it’s systematic across the entire priesthood!” is not even in the realm of reality. You should be looking at what they did right and why their percentages are so low compared with, oh, your order. It starts with the screening process and ends with a humble response instead of a massive cover-up of the problem. We’ve never said it was going to stem every possible evil scenario. Satan still finds a way, but it would certainly be a huge stumbling block for him. It starts with avoiding things that might cause scandal in the first place instead of running towards near occasions of sin like they are a playground to be enjoyed as long as one doesn’t pass the fictitious line they probably crossed long before they got there. This is the common sense the Jesuits lost long, long ago.

Say what you want about Opus Dei, but my guess is that other victims of abuse wish that the hierarchy of their abusers treated them with as much respect as the Opus Dei hierarchy treated these women. So many victims were treated horribly, disbelieved and lost their faith, but this approach would have helped them through the trauma. Thankfully, this woman was accompanied correctly. Their mission is to save souls, not to save their behinds.

Another thing, I know some are for defrocking abusers. Personally, I’m for holding them to a life of penance, reparation, and, hopefully, redemption. Defrocking is the easy way out. Quite frankly, jail is probably an easy way out, too. I don’t want them whiling away their days watching soap operas in the rec room. I want them to live an austere life of silent contemplation. Far more grueling.

Lastly, Fr. Martin, try as you may, you can’t make the reality go away that 80% of the abusers were homosexual. And before you whine for the umpteenth billion time that not all homosexual priests abuse, duh. Truth bomb – an overwhelming amount of them do. Time and again, popes have spelled out why homosexuality doesn’t work in the priesthood and shouldn’t be allowed, but you somehow think you know better. Deal with reality as it is, not how you wish it to be. And for heaven’s sake, stop cheering every time a female is victimized. It’s disgusting.