Pontifical Secrets

I’ve been trying to read through all the bishops’ and cardinals’ statements that have come out since Archbishop Vigano’s testimony.  I have to admit, I don’t usually draw attention to my bishop because, well, I don’t want him to be a target for the dissenting machine.  I’ve always found him to be a masterful strategist balanced with a truly pastoral heart, even for those who annoy the heck out of me, as he should, right? He’s definitely got a knack for teaching and encouraging his flock to aim for Heaven.

Anyways, one thing that stood out in his statement but I didn’t quite understand before I had some discussions with smart people and did a little more research was this:

They need access to all the relevant documents, most of which are protected as “Papal Secrets.” They need to interview priests who worked in the Roman Curia and U.S. diocesan offices, who also would be released from the “Papal Secret” and allowed to testify.

We need to find out the truth. Only the truth will set us free. And only the pope can authorize the steps that need to be taken to find the truth.

At first, I thought “papal secret” was some sort of colorful phrase.  Did you know a “Pontifical Secret” is actually a thing?! With Canon Law and penalties attached to it?! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontifical_secret#cite_ref-3  I also found the history surrounding Humane Vitae helpful in understanding why they are not necessarily a bad thing.  https://www.nytimes.com/1974/03/15/archives/vatican-tightens-secrecy-rules-after-leaks-of-popes-papers.html Some days, I’m not sure why we wonder how Dan Brown made millions?  This sounds like the stuff novels are made of, and it kind of lends credence to the rumors that Vatican investigators have been dispatched to search for Archbishop Vigano to bring charges. You should read the link above for details, but here’s a quick summary of what’s covered under “Pontifical Secrets”  (Bold is me.)

“The instruction Secreta continere lists ten classes of matters covered by the pontifical secret:

  1. Preparation of papal documents, if pontifical secrecy is expressly demanded

  2. Information obtained officially by the Secretariat of State in connection with questions requiring pontifical secrecy

  3. Notifications sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about teachings and publications and the Congregation’s examination of them.

  4. Extrajudicial denunciations of crimes against the faith and morals or against the sacrament of Penance, while safeguarding the right of the person denounced to be informed of the denunciation, if his defence against it makes this necessary. The name of the person making the denunciation may be made known to him only if it is judged necessary to have a face-to-face confrontation between denouncer and denounced.

  5. Reports by papal legates on matters covered by pontifical secrecy.

  6. Information obtained officially with regard to the naming of cardinals

  7. Information obtained officially with regard to the naming of bishops and papal legates and the relative inquiries.

  8. Information obtained officially with regard to the naming of the chief officers of the Roman Curia.

  9. All matters concerning cipher systems and enciphered messages. (No intrigue there.)

  10. Any matter that the Pope, a Cardinal in charge of a department of the Roman Curia, or a papal legate considers to be of such importance that it requires the protection of papal secrecy.[3]”

In short, they have a practical purpose to keep the Church from being scandalized or confused, but on this issue of abuse and cover-ups, that ship has sailed. This isn’t the 1300s anymore. The victims now have a serious voice called the internet. The scandal is now found in keeping silence, and Bishop Barber seems to realize that. That’s not to suggest that everyone on the planet gets to see everything, but probably something more like a Catholic grand jury is warranted.

Just before this cover-up wave hit, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors asked for the “Pontifical Secrets” penalties to be loosed in regards to the abuse scandal, and in certain respects on contacting authorities, it was. That said, where it really counted, peoples’ lips are still sealed. The Vatican was fine in dioceses contacting the local authorities when abuse allegations are made outside the confessional, but when it comes to their own files, they seem, to understate it dramatically, a tad bit hesitant.  What happens when people contact Rome about, say, a certain cardinal, but Rome does zip OR looses sanctions already in place against said cardinal? It would seem, as far as present circumstances go, that Rome tries to point back to the local diocese, country, etc., and say, “Sorry, it was them!”

I would like to point out that it seems when there was a problem in Australia with a certain “conservative” cardinal, the American liberal publications were all pointing out that the Pontifical Secrets should be lifted per the suggestion of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Also, just two weeks before the McCarrick scandal hit, the National catholic Reporter posted this.Yet, now that their buddies have been implicated, they’ve fallen strangely silent. One of the last things they want now is for Pontifical Secrets to be revealed. It would likely implicate way too many of their hopes and dreams in this scandal. Double-standard?  Oh, yeah!

I highly doubt that Archbishop Vigano is going to escape sanctions over this without more bishops and cardinals calling for the remedy to canonical penalties against revealing Pontifical Secrets. Either way, though, I think he very consciously made the decision to give his testimony knowing full well that some want his head on a platter. He also did it knowing full well that the cat was out of the bag. It was a little too late to protect the Church from scandal. As Bishop Lopes and hundreds of others have said, EVERYONE knew but nobody did anything about it because the “powers that be” didn’t want anything done. There were even reprisals against anyone attempting to stop it.

Bishop Barber is the first leader I’ve seen, since all hell broke loose, calling for the “Pontifical Secrets” to be lifted on the cover-up scandal now rocking the Church, but every bishop and cardinal should follow his lead. Those who have the information need to see that this doesn’t mean they are facing the threat of excommunication should they reveal the truth. They take that threat very seriously, as good Catholics should, and nobody wants an all-out schism in the Church. By calling for an end to Pontifical Secrets in the cover-up scandal, Bishop Barber is strategically and lovingly trying to avoid this very real and possible outcome. Should they be lifted, I’m quite sure a whole lot more facts would come out keeping us from the same mistakes repeatedly, schism would be avoided, and truth will heal the Church’s ails. Let’s let the chips fall where they may.  If a bishop, cardinal, or even pope is afraid of the truth coming out at this point late into the scandal, they really need to ask themselves why? (Ahem, Cardinals Cupich and Tobin!)

As Bishop Barber so rightly stated:

We need to find out the truth. Only the truth will set us free. And only the pope can authorize the steps that need to be taken to find the truth.

#ReleasePontificalSecrets #OpenTheFiles

 

 

Dear Diocesan Priests…

As long as I’m writing letters…

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while.  There are really a couple of topics to cover here.  There’s Amoris Laetitia and then there’s the diocesan priests who have been every bit the lemmings as the marchers in the “Women’s March” in many subjects but especially, as of late, in Amoris Laetitia.  Let’s look at the latter first. I’m going to use my own diocese as an example of what happens in many dioceses in the country.  To those fortunate to live in very humble and obedient areas, please try to keep the glee to a minimum and pray for those of us who do not.  You are blessed.

In a perfect Catholic world, our Bishops would be our commanders-in-chiefs and our priests would be their loyal generals leading us in battle against the culture seeking to ruin us.  Instead, what do we have?  Well, in most dioceses, we’ve got alternative hierarchical structures that more resemble the mafia with various nefarious mob bosses seeking to control the power in their territory and, quite often, they are working to undermine the power of the guy in charge.  So, yes, in many dioceses we have parallel universes.  Of course, the local bishop may still be a commander-in-chief or he could be the godfather.  We’ve had both here in my time on the planet.  The godfather is gone from our diocese, but the mob bosses held over from those days haven’t joined the army.  They’re still scrapping for the control they once had and they’re really taking it out on their lackeys, coaxing them under the bus in hopes of regaining control.   

Now let me give you an example using Amoris Laetitia to explain all of this. On December 6, 2016, Bishop Barber of the Oakland Diocese held a priests’ study day on Amoris Laetitia and brought in Bishop Mark O’Connell, J.C.D, from the Archdiocese of Boston.  What happened during this day and subsequent days illuminates how the “mob bosses” work in our diocese.  So what happened?  These guys here (it’s always these guys, and it’s been these guys forever. Sigh…) are part of the “mob boss” crew:

amoris-laetitia

Your scorecard – Fr. Dan Danielson, bottom right; Fr. Jim Schexnayder, partially eclipsed behind Danielson, and Fr. Jay Matthews, left.

Now, I wouldn’t normally put Fr. Jay in the “mob boss” category but he is rector of the cathedral parish and has been trying to depress and frighten the congregation over Trump’s win/Hillary’s loss, so I’ll just give him a promotion.  There’s probably a few others I missed (Fr. Richard Mangini might be in the background but the picture isn’t the sharpest, so we’ll just go with these guys for now).

Fr. Dan Danielson came to kingpin status under Bishop Cummins and has been reticent to relinquish that title.  In these parts, he was the one notorious for doing “lesbian friendship blessings” AKA fake weddings back in the late 90’s (or at least that’s when he was caught).  He’s a very charismatic chap and really has spent much time “grooming” the priests of the Oakland Diocese (grooming is actually a darn good word for it).  More recently, he waited until the bishop was out of town and put his ridiculous thoughts on overturning of Prop 8 seen here: http://www.catholicvoiceoakland.org/2015/10-05/forum1.htm
Fr. Jim Schexnayder of NACDLGM and CALGM (If I actually tried to give you his whole biography, it would take way too long, so I’m going to leave a few things here for you.)

http://www.ewtn.com/v/news/getstory.asp?number=23327

https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/ByIssue/Article/TabId/735/ArtMID/13636/ArticleID/3878/Helping-Catholics-with-same-sex-attraction.aspx

So back to the meeting.  From what I understand (and no, I wasn’t there, because I’m not on staff nor do I wear clerics) the two bishops did a great job clarifying Amoris Laetitia for the priests of the diocese.  Were all of them there?  Sadly, no.  Also, sadly, many of those who missed it were the ones who most definitely needed it, because our little “mob bosses” have been “educating” them for far too long.

Also, from what I understand, at this meeting, our little “kingpin” tried to float the idea ON MORE THAN ONE occasion that personal conscience gets to decide what is and what is not sin and whether or not they can receive Communion. From all accounts, the bishops clarified that Amoris Laetitia does not say that, and it sounds like they came up with a great analogy to illustrate the point.  I think they used the death penalty or such.  I can’t remember what was relayed to me, but it was almost two months ago and I’m just getting around to it now, so I’m just going to pick something that will resonate with the “appalled at all things seamless garment” crowd.  In other words, the bishops found something that is something so appalling that the liberals wouldn’t agree to the “let personal conscience decide” theory.  In other words, checkmate.

I’m going to give another example that I just ran across:  torture.  Dear priests who think personal conscience gets to decide sin, do you think this is the same for those who commit torture?  Hmmm???  Do ya?  My thought is that you’re getting mighty quiet right now trying to figure a way around this.  What the Church is really saying is that sin is not dependent on whether or not YOU find it sympathetic or abhorrent, which is what you’re trying to do with Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Now, had all of the priests of the diocese come to this meeting, I think they would have found these types of examples helpful.

So back to our diocesan “mob bosses.”  Do you know how “mob bosses” usually get their dirty work done?  They get their lackeys to do it so they can skate on any and all punishment.  They keep their hands “clean”, so to speak, but they throw their lackeys under the bus to get their mission accomplished. My guess is that’s what happened here in one very next Sunday’s bulletin: http://www.catholicvoiceoakland.org/2015/10-05/forum1.htm 

In the document, the pope appeared to side with theologians and bishops who had proposed an “internal forum” in which a priest or bishop decides jointly with the individual on a case-by-case basis if he or she can be fully reintegrated and receive Communion.

Whoa ho!  Did someone miss a meeting??? 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, six short days later, this magically appears.  Coincidence?  Seriously, if you’re going to skip a meeting on the topic of Amoris Laetitia, a document that’s been hotly debated, might you not want to find out what your leader says about it before posting an op-ed in your bulletin?  Did you just rely on what was relayed to you by the mob bosses who tried so hard to push the false integration theory?  My guess is yes.

So what’s the moral of this tale?  Dear priests, stop being lackeys in the family business!  You are being thrown under the bus by and for the bosses, and we’ve seen it happen over and over for years.  They’re not the loving brothers they are supposed to be.  Understand that some of your fellow priests want power and won’t think twice about using anyone or anything to undermine their commander-in-chief to get it. Open your eyes! Do you really want to be like the lemmings who attended the “Women’s March?”  At least in the Diocese of Oakland you’ve got a bishop who is on the side of all of us – you, me and even the mob bosses who are trying to get rid of him.  I have not seen a more patient and loving man. I’m sure many of you have similar bishops. You need to choose who you follow very wisely.  Souls are at stake.