On the Eve of Denial-palooza…

I’m going to kick off this little blog post with an apology to my friends around the world. On the eve of the “Meeting on the Protection of Minors” AKA “Denial-palooza,” I’d like to ask that you don’t hold us responsible for Cardinal Cupich. If you want to find blame, go with the Jesuits. They’re the ones that lobbied hard for him. The fact is, most of us don’t like him. In fact, we like very few of our American cardinals. We’ve been shafted as almost the entire slate of American cardinals has changed in the last 10 years. We’ve at least got Cardinal Burke somewhere in the world doing what he can, and I’ll be nice and say MAYBE the completely defeated Cardinal DiNardo. That’s about it, so I’m sorry you’re saddled with the guy who said climate change and migration were so much more important than protecting people from immoral abusing priests.

If you are one of the people around the world (or at the Vatican) who think we love and adore Cardinal Cupich, the dissenting Catholic media has succeeded in their propaganda. Let’s look at the reality of the lack of adoration for Cardinal Cupich. He sent out this tweet this morning. https://twitter.com/CardinalBCupich/status/1097935698290724864

cupichtweet
At this writing, we’re out about five hours now from this tweet dropping. There are forty-some-odd replies (they’re rolling in by the second), and all but one (somebody tagging their friend) were critical of him so far. (Please don’t email me with the great “A-ha!” after you post a glowing tribute to him.) I’m sure his Jesuit buddies will eventually ride in to rescue him, but just look at the first five hours. There were definitely no “Thank you for all your great work!” posts. “Resign!”, “Fraud!”, and “Repent!” were the consistent message.

Let me be clear, we American faithful don’t like Cardinal Cupich. We don’t trust him. We don’t want him to represent us. We don’t think he cares about the abused. Bottom line, he was the absolute wrong choice to lead any conference on immorality and abuse of priests. Why?For so many reasons but remember, just a few short months ago, Cardinal Cupich actually said that the Holy Father had more to worry about than the abuse crisis. Then he ordered his priests to read a letter saying that the news report was edited to make him look bad (apparently, he doesn’t realize raw footage is a thing) and then gathered all his priests and gagged them. We’re all guessing great penalties came attached to breaking that silence. He’s just a narcissistic, hideous man who will stop at nothing to protect his image. I’m not really sure why he still thinks he has one, outside of the usual morally liberal strongholds, but he does.

So, we American Catholics are suffering right along with you. Hopefully, somebody can find a clever way to break the Vatican cone of silence and then, maybe, we’ll get somebody decent running the next “Meeting on Whatever.”

#ResignNow

No Sanity for YOU!

If you’re not keeping up with the news, here it is in a nutshell.  USCCB has their usual meeting and on the agenda is a code of conduct for bishops and a lay oversight committee.  As weak as most of us were saying this would be, the Vatican called in the Nuncio to the U.S. and basically said, no votes on anything. 

To say there’s a lot of ticked of Catholics today is an understatement.  The good old Vatican blindsided the USCCB.  It’s not like the Vatican didn’t know that we had our annual meeting starting when our bishops and cardinals were FINALLY given a meeting with Pope Francis.  It’s also no surprise that the Holy Father didn’t want discussion on the topic.  I believe he called everyone just to get together and pray.  So why the eleventh hour intervention?  More than that, why would he ever tell our bishops not to handle the crisis at hand and wait until February?  This. Is. Insane.

I am so sick of hearing the word “synodality” because, as I’ve said before, it’s a complete and utter farce.  I’m also sick of hearing how the laity needs to be more involved in, well, everything.  The actions today contradict both of the buzz phrases and that’s all they are.  They make for good PR but it should be clear to the stupidest person that this only applies to liberals, quite specifically, the Germans and their buddies.  If it has to do with them and their wretched ideas, it’s all about “synodality” and the laity.  If it comes to anyone trying to stem evil from overtaking the land, sorry, no sanity for you! Synodality and the laity can go to hell.

Ed Peters nailed it with this one little tweet.

Ed Peters

I cannot help get conspiratorial today.  What in the heck is going on? Are the liberals trying to put some grand plan together to gerrymander the February synod? What could the U.S. bishops come up with for THEIR territory that could possibly upset the Vatican apple cart?  Clearly some big panic was going on in Rome.

Also, I’m SUPER suspect of Cardinal Cupich’s statement.  Clearly this was not a shock to him.  He was completely prepared.  And, of course, whenever Cardinal Cupich sounds kind of sane, you know it ain’t off the cuff. He almost always spontaneously implodes off the cuff. So it certainly seems someone has a plan somewhere.  Besides that, Cardinal DiNardo confirmed that it came from the Congregation for Bishops and guess who’s in that.  Oh, yeah, Cardinal Cupich so please don’t tell me he or Cardinal O’Malley hadn’t a clue.  

Let’s look at the lengthy talk by our Nuncio.  It’s sad.  It’s pathetic and it flies in the face of EVERYTHING the Vatican has said as of late in regards to “synodality” and the laity.  That completely exposes all of the lip service we’ve been given the last 6 months AND forget collegiality.  We’ve got a dang  monarchy going on when something like this happens.

This is a long one.  Get some coffee.

ADDRESS OF HIS EXCELLENCY ARCHBISHOP CHRISTOPHE PIERRE

APOSTOLIC NUNCIO TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS

NOVEMBER 12, 2018

BALTIMORE,MARYLAND

Dear Brothers in Christ,

I am happy to be with you once more here in Baltimore. I wish to thank Cardinal DiNardo, the President of the Episcopal Conference, as well as Monsignor Bransfield and the Staff of the USCCB, for the opportunity to address you. I assure you of the Holy Father’s closeness, prayers, and gratitude for your ministry. One year ago, we were celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of this Episcopal Conference. Despite some bright moments – the Fifth National Encuentro and the recent Synod on Youth – we must recognize that the year has been marked by challenges.

Nope.  The Youth Synod was just another awful “challenge” that we’ll probably have to deal with for years to come just like this abuse scandal.

Actually, the events of this past year, which we have lived and continue to experience, have been both challenging and sobering. With humility and apostolic courage, we must accept our responsibility as spiritual fathers, facing reality with the grace that comes from the Lord. The Church is always in need of renewal for the sake of her saving mission of mediating the presence of Christ in the world and this is impossible unless we rebuild trust among the People of God, a task, which, looking to the future, demands time, effort, sacrifice and, most of all, true repentance and reform on our part.

They can’t accept their responsibility and deal with the “challenges” (If I was a victim, I’d be a little more than miffed that the destruction of their souls, purity and faith is being reduced to a “challenge.”) because the Vatican won’t let them. Hello?!?!  The USCCB just got one big time-out. How is this supposed to help us regain the trust of our current Vatican regime.  Quite frankly, I never thought I’d say this but I’m beginning to have far more confidence in the USCCB than the gang in Rome.

REFORM AND RESPONSIBILITY: BEGINNING AGAIN FROM JESUS CHRIST

There are many calls for reform in the Church, particularly amid the present crisis. You yourselves have expressed a greater desire for accountability and transparency. Still, I am struck by the words of the French author Georges Bemanos:

“Whoever pretends to reform the Church with … the same means used to reform temporal society- not only will he fail in his undertaking, but he will infallibly end by finding himself outside the Church. I say that he finds himself outside the Church before anyone has gone to the trouble of excluding him or her. I say that it is he himself who excludes himself from her by a tragic fatalism … The only way of reforming the Church is to suffer for her. The only way of reforming the visible Church is to suffer for the invisible Church. The only way of reforming the vices of the Church is to lavish on her the example of one’s own most heroic virtues.”

Well, it seems that everyone has read the October Magnificat. Seriously, even Cardinal Mahony was quoting it.  I’m actually surprised the Nuncio didn’t quote the whole thing.  The problem here is, where does that leave the St. Catherines of the world?  It seems everyone want to pick the saint who makes it the most comfortable for them.  Saying the desire for accountability and transparency is somehow how not be the tactic because St. Francis, is just another way to say “Shut up and sit in the corner and pray.”  Oy. Cherry picking the saints is not going to help us in this day no more than cherry picking bible verses.  Firm resolve to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin is what’s going to get the job done.

If the Church is to reform herself and her structures, then the reform must spring from her mission of making known Christ, the Son of the Living God. Pope Francis says that “What makes obsolete structures pass away, what leads to a change of heart in Christians, is precisely missionary spirit.” (POPE FRANCIS, APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION EVANGELII GAUD/UM, 24 NOVEMBER 2013, 25)

Is this something new?  Nope.  So, apparently, maybe learning how to be chaste and moral priests and bishops has to come first before we can be missionaries??? I mean, it seems we’ve missed some basics long before we talk about the “missionary spirit.”  Do you really want priests and bishops running around the world molesting people?  Is morality an “obsolete structure?!”

There may be a temptation on the part of some to relinquish responsibility for reform to others than ourselves, as if we were no longer capable of reforming or trusting ourselves, as if the deposit of trust should be transferred to other institutions entirely. To regain trust it is not enough to simply preach words about responsibility, without living the difficulties of that responsibility, even in the face of criticism. When it comes to the responsibilities, with which we are charged – with children and the vulnerable at the forefront- we must show that we can solve problems rather than simply delegating them to others.

Holy Moses!  Isn’t this what a good chunk of the faithful been saying whenever the liberals say “More women! More laity!” Why is this suddenly uncomfortable for you? Oh, I know.  The laity has grown weary and are going to investigate the hell out of you all because we don’t want to see anymore victims of rape and molestation? That’s the sum total of it. We wanted you to do something.  We asked you to do something.  In fact, we BEGGED you to do something and you just passed the buck down the road and spewed out platitudes about women and the laity and now that the laity has said “OK, I guess we’ll have to do it!” It’s “Whoa!   Hold up a minute!  We don’t need “outside institutions!”  What the what?!?!?! Make up your ridiculous minds.

At the same time, there can be no question that the insights of experts, the contributions of time and professional skill of all the faithful, laity together with the clergy and so many consecrated women and men, are critical to carrying out our mission as Shepherds. Assistance is both welcomed and necessary, and surely collaboration with the laity is essential. However, the responsibility, as bishops of this Catholic Church, is ours – to live with, to suffer with, and to exercise properly. The People of God have rightly challenged us to be trustworthy.

Translation?  “We’ll let you be involved, laity, when it pleases us to do so.”  You want to be seen as trustworthy?  Stop the “we need the laity/we don’t need the laity” bipolar swings!  Just deal with the fact that you’ve made your bed and now you have to lie in it.  Start utilizing the good old transparency you’ve been flapping your gums about FOR DECADES now!  We don’t want a witch hunt.  Heck, I’ve seen priests put on “credibly accused” lists that are being released that were investigated by their order, the diocese they were in, the police and were totally and completely exonerated.  In fact, even the supposed victim’s families completely and totally recanted the stories.  So yeah, you releasing a bunch of lists doesn’t do a darn thing if you can’t even get them right.

Pope Francis never ceases to tell us that if we are to begin again, then we should begin again from Jesus Christ, who enlightens our lives and helps us to prove that we can be trustworthy! When Christ called Peter to be the Rock he told him that he would build his Church upon Peter’s confession of faith, promising that the gates of hell would not prevail! We are that Church, and in our own Profession of Faith we say that we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church – a Church undivided, holy because of its divine element, catholic as universal and apostolic because of its foundations in the teaching of the Apostles. As the successors of the Apostles, we cannot be other than with the successor of Peter. We, in communion with our Holy Father, are heirs to the promise of Christ. As heirs and successors, each of us, individually and collegially is called to a special responsibility to strengthen the faith of our sisters and brothers, especially in confronting the challenges before us.

And again, that’s what the proposition you guys shut down!

My brothers, in the past decades you have put in place structures for the protection of children and young people. But we all know that Ecclesia semper reformanda est! There is always more to do and we bishops must not be afraid to get our hands dirty in doing that work in the vineyard of the Lord. Moreover, allow me to remind you, in these challenging days, that the measures you have taken in the last years have been effective in training bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity to be vigilant in the protection of youth. Those measures have been important, have set an example, and have led to a steep decline in the incidence of reported abuse today. There are some dioceses here in the United States that have been so thorough in their work that their training programs have become models for civil institutions. Those of you who have done good work are to be congratulated for your commitment as leaders, and for setting a good example for us all. At the same time, we must reaffirm vigorously that one case of abuse is one too many. Therefore, it is necessary, for the entire People of God, to remain vigilant.

Just more lip service.  Quite frankly, I’m not even sure if the incidences have gone down or some have just gotten better at covering it up. Remember, the latest flap is very much about how some managed to cover it up so well and how those guys are now in positions of power.

Despite the success of these efforts, there is not a corresponding increase in public approval of bishops, and given some recent revelations, perhaps none should be expected. Trust needs to be earned, not presumed. When protection of the young and vulnerable becomes not just a duty but a calling, when it is viewed as integral to the gospel not only to care for Catholics but for all in harm’s way, we bishops can rightly take our place as leaders looked up to rather than down upon with scorn. Of course, there is work to do, but do not be afraid to speak with pride of the work that has been done.

They were trying to earn it as best they can in this debacle but you told them to hold off. I cannot say that enough. We don’t care about the work already done when people like Cardinals McCarrick, Cupich, Tobin and Farrell all were promoted, not to mention the idiots at the Vatican.  That wiped out our view of anything good and the fact that you won’t allow our territory’s bishops to vote on something as simple as a code of conduct further looks horrific.

Indeed, as painful and humiliating as it may be at times, we can thank the media for bringing attention to this issue. There have been times when the media drew attention to precisely what we did not attend to ourselves. As said from the time of diplomacy in the Greek City-States, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” (And, as a Nuncio, I can assure you it is a phrase very dear to me!) It is also the case that an impression is sometimes left in the media that the Church has done little. That is simply not true, and we should not be afraid to refute this. We cry for the injustices perpetrated upon victims of abuse. We vow to fight a clerical culture that tolerates the abuse of authority. When abuse occurs, it is our sin and we must take it as such. These are not the sins of the media or the products of vast conspiracies. These are things we must recognize and fix. Our Holy Father has said it must end, and it must – not simply because he has said it, but because each of us in our hearts know that this is the only right thing to do.

Oh my gosh.  The Church has done a lot.  They’ve done everything to covering up the abuse, promoting the perpetrators and, most recently, they most certainly shot the messenger. You might not really want to go there, Nuncio. The right thing to do is what the PAPAL COMMISSION for the Protection of Minors said to do and release everyone from Pontifical Secrets in regards to abuse but it’s way more convenient to keep shooting the messenger.

Thus, we must see our failures clearly and not be discouraged if we feel the Church is somehow treated unfairly, turning upon ourselves as though the world is against us. This would-be self-referential behavior paralyzes rather than energizes. Christ and his mission demand we go into the world, not withdraw from it. At this critical moment in the history of the Church in the United States, I am confident that each one of us will be able to respond by going to and being with the people, showing them that we can be trustworthy. The path is clear and begins with Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

For heaven’s sake.  You might want to relay this message to the Holy Father because the “Great Accuser” schtick is getting really, really, really old.

From the Divine Master, we learn the proper use of authority through service. Seeing the imminence of the Passion and desiring to leave for the Apostles an example to imitate, He humbled Himself and washed their feet, commanding them to do the same: For I have given you an example, that as I have done, so you also should do. (JOHN 13:15).

So tiring.  Look, I’m a Pastor Aeternus groupie. This has ZERO to do with it. This isn’t about proper use of authority.  It’s about the improper use of authority.  You guys are the one who’ve been screaming clericalism, remember?

Rebuilding trust requires using our authority to serve humbly and to lead by example. Saint Charles Borromeo, a model for bishops, reflecting on the washing of the disciples’ feet, writes that:

“If we desire to consider entirely the things that are mystically contained in Christ’s example, we find the whole duty of an apostle expressed by him. He rose up from the Jewish supper. In like manner his ministers too must leave behind the lifestyle of the old man … and put on the new, rising from just knowing to putting it into practice, from the meal to labor, from letter to the spirit. They must lay down their garments, that is cast away all impediments to the virtues, that they may be able to labor strenuously and gird themselves with white linen, that is, integrity of life. Then they draw the water of saving doctrine and wash the character and conduct of their subjects with doctrine, the Sacraments, and example. This, our leader and standard-bearer Christ did, so that we might do the same. The disciple is not above the Master (Mt 10:24), nor is it fitting for servants of the humble Lord to be proud.’ (CHARLES BORROMEO, HOMILIA II, IN VOL. 1, JOSEPH ANTHONY SAX, ED. SANCTI CAROLI BORROMEI HOM!l/AE, MLIAN: JOSEPH MARELLUM, 1747-1748)”

 

Um, I think you’ve described the big, gigantic thing we’ve all been saying.  I agree this is very needed.  That said, it’s the opposite of what is happening and now what is being ordered not to happen.

Pope Francis asks us to be a synodal and humble Church, a Church that listens. We need to listen once more to the voice of Christ: For I have given you an example, that as I have done, so you also should do. The exercise of authority is a real service and governance should not be a privilege or a position, but a responsibility to be neither ignored nor totally delegated.

 I have never heard so many deaf people talk about listening. Nobody is listening to the view from the pew. If they were, Rome definitely would not have told our bishops to postpone doing something about the immorality in our country.

AUTHENTIC REFORM: LISTENING TO THE VICAR OF CHRIST

As the pilgrim Church journeys on in history, she recalls the words of the Savior: He who hears you, hears me. The Church listens to the voice of Christ. She also listens when the Vicar of Christ on earth, the successor of Saint Peter, speaks. Lumen Gentium’s third chapter takes up the role of bishops and collegiality, declaring “Just as in the Gospel, the Lord so disposing, St. Peter and the other apostles constitute one apostolic college, so in a similar way, the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are joined together.” (cf. LG 22) “The individual bishops represent each his own church, but all of them together with the Pope represent the entire Church in the bond of peace, unity’ and love.” (SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH LUMEN GENT/UM, 21 NOVEMBER 1964, 23)

And why is it that the Nuncio feels he needs to remind the USCCB of this?  Does anyone at all find this kind of a threat?  I know I do.

If we are together, in real hierarchical communion – hierarchical communion that permeates our hearts and are not merely words – we become the visible sign of peace, unity, and love, a sign of true synodality. In a recent audience, the Holy Father outlined three essential traits of bishops, which I believe can help us rediscover our own sense of identity and mission in the present situation: to be a man of prayer; a man of proclamation; and a man of communion.

Please, stop with the synodality. Thus far it’s been a lie. Honestly, it’s scary talk to be spending so much time on “real hierarchical communion” as if people who think that the Church is not handling the abuse crisis well  are somehow not in “real hierarchical communion.”  Like I’ve said before, I think we’re heading toward schism declarations.  I’m sure talk like this doesn’t make most of us comfortable.  For us, it’s like having to decide which parent to live with in a divorce.  It’s a horrible place to put us and, surprisingly, it ain’t the USCCB who is trying to bring us to the brink.

THE BISHOP AS A MAN OF PRAYER

In that audience, the Holy Father noted that the bishop, like Saint Peter and the Apostles, is “called by Jesus to be with Him. (cf. Mk 3: 14) There he finds his strength and his confidence. Before the Tabernacle he learns to entrust himself and so trust in the Lord.,  (POPE FRANCIS, AUDIENCE WITH PARTICIPANTS IN A SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY THE CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF PEOPLES, 8 SEPTEMBER 2018). It is important for us to regain our confidence that by the power of God and our cooperation with Him, we can face and meet any challenges.

“For the bishop,” the Holy Father continues, “prayer is not devotion but a necessity; it is not one task among many, but an indispensable ministry of intercession: each day he must lead people and lay their situations before God.” I am encouraged that you will have the opportunity to be together and to pray together on your retreat in early January, when you will have more time to contemplate the person of Jesus, to listen to His voice, to discern the path forward, and to intercede for your people.

Huh?  These guys are bishops. Do they really not believe this?  I don’t know about the Nuncio, but I watched a lot of good bishops call us all not only to prayer but to fasting and penance and it’s not like they just told us to do it.  They were right there with us.

THE BISHOP AS A MAN OF PROCLAMATION

In addition to being a man of prayer, Pope Francis recalls that the bishop should be a man of proclamation. The Apostles were sent to proclaim the Gospel to all the nations. How often the Holy Father exhorts us to be a “Church that goes forth”! This applies to us too!

In spending himself tirelessly for his people and for the Gospel, not living exclusively in an office, but among the people, the bishop proclaims the Word with a specific style. Hopefully, he follows the humble example of Jesus. The Pope reminds us that we are called to be “living memories of the Lord’ and warns against “being more concerned with form than substance, of becoming more actors than witnesses” and “of watering down the Word of salvation by proposing a Gospel without Jesus Crucified and Risen.”

How about giving talks as lame as this to the congregation?  Seriously.  This is a check off the box talk. It’s not even remotely acknowledging the elephant in the room.

THE BISHOP AS A MAN OF COMMUNION

The Holy Father also reminds us that the bishop is to be a man of communion, marked with “the charism of togetherness” – maintaining unity and solidifying communion. All of you are certainly aware of the polarization of American society today; it is a polarization that has sometimes affected and infected the Church and our parishes. The Holy Father states, echoing Saint Augustine, that “The Church needs union, not soloists apart from the choir or exponents of personal battles. The Pastor gathers: a bishop for his faithful, he is a Christian with his faithful.”

Let’s just pause here to note one phrase.  “The charism of togetherness.” Reallllyyyy???  When was this the pre-eminant charism of the Church?  That is a HUGE misunderstanding of the “one” in one, holy, catholic and apostolic.  Would we say the Church was suffering from a lack of the “charism of togetherness” when Paul withstood Peter or St. Catherine told Pope Gregory how it was?  Complete and utter agreement on everything in the Church is not needed for “one” to exist.

There’s a reason we’ve come to such a polarized place in America.  It happened because of weak, pandering leaders who chose platitudes over substance.  I agree that the situation in our Church is similar in polarization and for the very same reason. While we’ve always had periods throughout Church history, I’ve never seen it like this in my lifetime. Our Church leaders have made the same, sad mistakes as, say, Barrack Obama.  All style, no substance.

To accomplish this unity the bishop must love “weaving communion by being involved in the first person and by acting in a humble manner.” Part of being engaged and acting humbly involves listening. Last June, I said that spiritual fatherhood and effective evangelization require listening. The International’ Theological Commission recently noted the necessity of listening in discernment to build consensus among laity, consecrated men and women, clergy and bishops. And listening is curative; by listening, we begin the process of accompaniment. Spending time with the people and listening to their needs, we learn how to be better pastors. We are here to teach, but we can also be taught by our brothers and sisters.

Oh my gosh.  I feel like banging my head on a wall. Honestly, how many times can we pitch “listening” as the answer to everything without actually listening to a darn thing.

The recent Synod on Youth is an example of listening and of taking young people and their concerns seriously. The Fifth National Encuentro was exemplary in the art of listening in parishes, dioceses, regionally and nationally. Those who often find themselves at the margins were afforded the opportunity to express themselves to their pastors. For those present, who could not be moved by the event when bishops were seated around the table, exchanging ideas with young people?

Yes, it was a really nice photo-op and then a document was written with two-thirds of it addressing nothing the youth cared about at all. You know? Synodality.

Offering an attentive ear to priests is critical as well. We must remember that truly our priests need support and understanding. They must be listened to. As the Holy Father says:

“[The bishop] does not tire of listening … He becomes wholly one with his people and above all with his presbyterate, always willing to receive and encourage his priests. By example, more than by words, he promotes a sincere priestly fraternity, showing priests that they are Shepherds for the flock … ” (POPE FRANCIS, AUDIENCE WITH PARTICIPANTS IN A SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY THE CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZA TION OF PEOPLES, 8 SEPTEMBER 2018)’

Is this why it took so long for our bishops and cardinals to get a meeting with the Holy Father?  Because he felt that they needed an attentive ear?

Priests today are hurting. Many, having lived through 2002, are experiencing a trauma for the second time in their priesthood over the abuse crisis. Some are demoralized, while others are feeling angry or betrayed. Many are simply worn down with the burdens of ministry, the clergy shortage, and the suspicion under which they live. They are looking to you to be a father and brother who will listen -to their sorrows and joys – and who will empathize and encourage them to persevere. Listening to them and sustaining them is essential to responding to their concerns, so that they may be your joyful co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord.

Again, our bishops were trying to throw out the idea that the whole issue of conduct starts with them and they were just squashed at the last-minute. They were at least trying to go for transparency with the lay review board.  Again, no joy there either.  I can’t imagine why anyone would be demoralized, angry or betrayed. (Sarcasm alert.) Our priests are the boots on the ground.  They hear it from the laity when they are happy or mad.  How do you think the thumping the Vatican gave the USCCB today makes them feel. So, please, stop.

The problems faced by the Church today are compounded by a clericalism, which can affect both clergy and laity, and which “corrodes communion.” In this regard, it is important to recall that it is the People of God for whom we (and our priests) have been ordained.

Well, on this one point we can agree.  Again, I can’t imagine how today’s thumping is going to do anything to change the problems we face today. It’s only going to reinforce the laity’s growing reality that you are going to do whatever you choose and when you choose.  Where’s the “listening” there???

Our Holy Father has spoken of the ills of clericalism from the first days of his pontificate. It is an illness, and it must be treated as such. An effective response to clericalism can emerge by offering special attention to clergy and to seminarians by “updating our processes of selection, accompaniment and evaluation” of candidates for the priesthood. (CF. POPE FRANCIS, “ADDRESS TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE COURSE FOR NEW BISHOPS OFFERED BY THE CONGREGATION FOR BISHOPS, 13 SEPTEMBER 2018). I am confident that the new Ratio Fundamentalis and your forthcoming Sixth Edition of the Program for Priestly Formation will confront the challenge, offering an integral formation for seminarians, helping them grow continually in discipleship and configuration to Christ.

With patience and concern, continue to spend time with your clergy and seminarians, listening, so that through prayer you may discern a truly effective pastoral response, conscious of the Holy Father’s reminder that you are “fathers, not masters, caring fathers … ” (POPE FRANCIS, AUDIENCE WITH PARTICIPANTS IN A SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY THE CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELlZATION OF PEOPLES, 8 SEPTEMBER 2018)

 

I don’t really know what it’s like in other countries.  In mine, we have a lot of newer bishops who have been left with quite a mess from leaders like Cardinal McCarrick, Cardinal Mahony, Cardinal Bernadin, etc., etc., etc.  And now you’ve given us a few more who worshipped them like Bishop McElroy, Cardinal Farrell, Cardinal Tobin, Cardinal Cupich.  Maybe, if you want real change, don’t give us more of the same.  Give us people who actually agree with what you stated above rather than cardinals like Cupich who demand that people apologize for him when he steps in it time and again. Don’t give us bishops and cardinals who bounce the faithful Catholic men as “too rigid.” And hey, maybe drop the whole use of “rigid” all together!

CONCLUSION

My brothers, we cannot run from the challenges that presently confront us. We must face them realistically and courageously, listening with open hearts to the voice of Christ and his Vicar on earth.

It would appear that the only ones running from the challenges are confronting us are people in the Vatican.  Our guys were ready to at least make an attempt to confront the problems or at least try to appear like they were doing so.  I know it was an honest effort on the behalf of some.

I want to assure you, not only of my prayers and solidarity at this difficult time, but also of those of the Holy Father. Just as the Lord gazed upon Peter, knowing his weaknesses but also seeing his potential, I remain confident that the Lord gazes upon us now and will offer us his strength to meet the challenges, which seem daunting.

We cannot be daunted or held back by the challenging task; rather, we must be concerned with the people and mission entrusted to our care along the path to holiness.

Then get out of the way!!!

The experience of the divine, even in small victories and experiences of grace and healing, gives us hope. Even if things seem dark, do not be discouraged but have hope. He is with us. He accompanies the Church. Dedicated to Christ and belonging to Him, as men of the Church, each one of us must be living witnesses to hope. I conclude with the words of Cardinal Henri De Lubac:

‘A man of the Church will always remain open to hope; for him the horizon is never closed. Like St. Paul, he will want to be full of rejoicing in his sufferings and will go so far as to believe himself called … to ‘fill up those things that are wanting in the sufferings of Christ … for his body which is the Church.’, knowing that in Christ he has ‘the hope of glory’.” (HENRI DE LUBAC, THE SPLENDOR OF THE CHURCH, TRANSL. MICHAEL MASON, DEUS BOOKS: GLEN ROCK, 1956, 155.)

Thank you for your attention!

I’m going to leave my bishops with a quote that rings more necessary in these crucial times:

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.

~St. Catherine of Siena

I want to make one thing clear.  The Holy Father is totally within his rights to tell our bishops not to vote and to wait until February.  This is my point. It appears very hypocritical in the light of the constant call for synodality and collegiality and it doesn’t make it right to do so.

 

 

Here’s Hoping the Darkness is Dispelled!

Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!  What in the heck is happening?!  I’m sure that most of you saw the news but if you didn’t, here it is.

Fr. Weinandy’s note of explanation:

At the end of this past May I was in Rome to attend a meeting of the International Theological Commission, of which I am a member.  I stayed at Domus Sanctae Marthae.  Since I arrived early, I spent most of the Sunday afternoon prior to the meeting on Monday in Saint Peter’s praying in the Eucharistic Chapel.  I was praying about the present state of the Church and the anxieties I had about the present Pontificate.  I was beseeching Jesus and Mary, St. Peter and all of the saintly popes who are buried there to do something to rectify the confusion and turmoil within the Church today, a chaos and an uncertainty that I felt Pope Francis had himself caused.  I was also pondering whether or not I should write and publish something expressing my concerns and anxiety.  On the following Wednesday afternoon, at the conclusion of my meeting, I went again to St. Peter’s and prayed in the same manner.  That night I could not get to sleep, which is very unusual for me.  It was due to all that was on my mind pertaining to the Church and Pope Francis.  At 1:15 AM I got up and went outside for short time.  When I went back to my room, I said to the Lord: “If you want me to write something, you have to give me a clear sign.  This is what the sign must be.  Tomorrow morning I am going to Saint Mary Major’s to pray and then I am going to Saint John Lateran.  After that I am coming back to Saint Peter’s to have lunch with a seminary friend of mine.  During that interval, I must meet someone that I know but have not seen in a very long time and would never expect to see in Rome at this time.  That person cannot be from the United States, Canada or Great Britain.  Moreover, that person has to say to me in the course of our conversation, “Keep up the good writing!”

So, does ANYONE have a problem with his worry and actions thus stated?  I’m not sure a day has gone by in the last few months that someone in my Catholic world hasn’t asked, “What is going on?!?!?!?!”

So many times we just have to act on a wing and a prayer, and much more often than not we simply have to pray to the Holy Spirit and hope we get it right.  Quite frankly, I’m going to have to remember to put in some seriously detailed requests for validation after reading this.  Probably won’t get a sign like this, but you never know. Maybe I should have a little more faith that I will! Now, “Who is the sign really from?” will likely be the next question asked by those who don’t like Fr. Weinandy’s letter.  Whatever.  Again, all we can do is throw up a prayer and hope we got it right and I think that is what Fr. Weinandy did.

The next morning I did all of the above and by the time I met my seminarian friend for lunch what I had asked the Lord the following night was no longer in the forefront of my mind.  However, towards the end of the meal an archbishop appeared between two parked cars right in front of our table (we were sitting outside).  I had not seen him for over twenty years, long before he became an archbishop.  We recognized one another immediately.  What made his appearance even more unusual was that because of his recent personal circumstances I would never have expected to see him in Rome or anywhere else, other than in his own archdiocese.  (He was from none of the above mentioned countries.)  We spoke about his coming to Rome and caught up on what we were doing.  I then introduced him to my seminarian friend.  He said to my friend that we had met a long time ago and that he had, at that time, just finished reading my book on the immutability of God and the Incarnation.  He told my friend that it was an excellent book, that it helped him sort out the issue, and that my friend should read the book.  Then he turned to me and said: “Keep up the good writing.”

Asked for a sign, and taking him at face value, he got it!

In the light of Jesus fulfilling my demanding “sign,” I want to make two comments.  First, I decided to write Pope Francis a letter, which I intended then to publish unless he adequately addressed the issues I raised.  Almost two months after having received my letter, I did receive an acknowledgement from Vatican Secretariat of State informing me that the letter had been received.  This was simply an acknowledgement and not a response to my concerns.  Second, I find it significant that not only did the Lord fulfill my demand for a sign, but also did so in, what I believe, a very significant manner.  He accomplished it through an archbishop.  By utilizing an archbishop, I believe, that Jesus’ fulfillment of my request took on an apostolic mandate.

I have no way of validating whether he got the sign right or wrong, and neither can you or anyone else, for that matter.  It’s really between him and God.  I’m glad he gave the reason he made the decision, but really, those who are willing to accept the method he employed will. Those who hate it won’t accept it and will likely label his interpretation demonic, which is kind of ironic since I’m not too sure some of those folks actually believe in Satan.

On to the actual letter:

Fr.Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis:

Your Holiness,

I write this letter with love for the Church and sincere respect for your office.  You are the Vicar of Christ on earth, the shepherd of his flock, the successor to St. Peter and so the rock upon which Christ will build his Church.  All Catholics, clergy and laity alike, are to look to you with filial loyalty and obedience grounded in truth.  The Church turns to you in a spirit of faith, with the hope that you will guide her in love.

So, to the people trying to paint this as a Lefebvre situation, don’t.  Nobody is saying anything or anyone isn’t valid.  Like Burke, Brandmueller, Caffara, and Meisner, they all recognize and respect Pope Francis as Pope Francis and only he can fix it.  They all appealed to the Pope to use his authority to bring clarity.  They aren’t trying to start a parallel Church and usurp authority they don’t have.

Yet, Your Holiness, a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate.  The light of faith, hope, and love is not absent, but too often it is obscured by the ambiguity of your words and actions.  This fosters within the faithful a growing unease.  It compromises their capacity for love, joy and peace.  Allow me to offer a few brief examples.

Let’s pause. It is his pontificate and there is great confusion.  There is no denying it, and while it’s not always his ambiguity that causes that (we also can’t say that the liberals paraphrase him crazily on a regular basis and most of the time out of context), he’s not offering correction and clarification to most who are doing that.  This has ZERO to do with me being a “hater” and everything to do with being a simple fact.

First there is the disputed Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia.”  I need not share my own concerns about its content.  Others, not only theologians, but also cardinals and bishops, have already done that.  The main source of concern is the manner of your teaching.  In “Amoris Laetitia,” your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching.

Just as I can’t tell you whether or not Father Weinandy’s sign is genuine, I can’t tell you whether the Holy Father is intentionally ambiguous.  I really don’t need to know his intentional, or unintentional and there most definitely have been traditional interpretations as well as those that imply a change in Church teaching.

Now, there can be no denial that there are disputes and there is confusion, although I’ve heard some try.  They say that everything is crystal clear and the problem is with those who think there is confusion.  What???  When you’ve got two bishops with dueling interpretations on a crucial issue, there’s confusion.  When you have a boatload of them duking it out on the barque, it’s mass confusion.  That’s where we are.  Can we deal with reality, people? THERE IS CONFUSION.

There are many different opinions on why there is confusion.  Great.  I have mine, you have yours, etc.  The finger pointing is endless.  Personally, I don’t care.  I simply want clarity, and I REALLY don’t think that it’s wrong to ask for it.  I mean, how many of us pray for ambiguity and confusion?  I’ve appealed to the Vatican for situations in my locale and I got help.  This is a Church-wide issue today.  Appeals for clarity are necessary.

As you wisely note, pastors should accompany and encourage persons in irregular marriages; but ambiguity persists about what that “accompaniment” actually means.

Yes. Yes, it does.  We’ve heard the diverging interpretations of “accompaniment”. We just want to know which one is correct, and we want EVERYONE to know which is correct.  There can’t be two correct interpretations. Some of us have families and need to have teaching to be clear for our children, grandchildren, etc.!  If wanting our kids to have correct teaching is “rigid”, color me rigid!

To teach with such a seemingly intentional lack of clarity inevitably risks sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.  The Holy Spirit is given to the Church, and particularly to yourself, to dispel error, not to foster it.  Moreover, only where there is truth can there be authentic love, for truth is the light that sets women and men free from the blindness of sin, a darkness that kills the life of the soul.  Yet you seem to censor and even mock those who interpret Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia” in accord with Church tradition as Pharisaic stone-throwers who embody a merciless rigorism.

Pope John Paul II had people coming after him all the time.  He didn’t go after them with ad hominem attacks.  There was no name calling of anyone.  Neither was there with Pope Benedict XVI.  If there was a problem, they took “legal” action and at least tried to speak in filial language.  They didn’t use the media to call out their “enemies.”

This kind of calumny is alien to the nature of the Petrine ministry.  Some of your advisors regrettably seem to engage in similar actions.  Such behavior gives the impression that your views cannot survive theological scrutiny, and so must be sustained by “ad hominem” arguments.

I’m always wondering what the heck the “advisors” are telling the Holy Father that he would throw out such monikers.  I know the Holy Fathers have all lived in somewhat of a bubble as soon as they assume the papacy.  However, I’d like to think with the dawn of the internet they wouldn’t be so insulated, but we really see Pope Francis scanning the blogs?  Nah.  Now, one could say he picked the kind of advisors he wanted.  Who knows?  I’m not really sure how the heck you can keep the stupidity of some of the appointees a secret.

Second, too often your manner seems to demean the importance of Church doctrine.  Again and again you portray doctrine as dead and bookish, and far from the pastoral concerns of everyday life.  Your critics have been accused, in your own words, of making doctrine an ideology.  But it is precisely Christian doctrine – including the fine distinctions made with regard to central beliefs like the Trinitarian nature of God; the nature and purpose of the Church; the Incarnation; the Redemption; and the sacraments – that frees people from worldly ideologies and assures that they are actually preaching and teaching the authentic, life-giving Gospel.  Those who devalue the doctrines of the Church separate themselves from Jesus, the author of truth.  What they then possess, and can only possess, is an ideology – one that conforms to the world of sin and death.

Well, doctrine is truth and the truth will set you free.  I think I’ve heard that somewhere.

Third, faithful Catholics can only be disconcerted by your choice of some bishops, men who seem not merely open to those who hold views counter to Christian belief but who support and even defend them.  What scandalizes believers, and even some fellow bishops, is not only your having appointed such men to be shepherds of the Church, but that you also seem silent in the face of their teaching and pastoral practice.  This weakens the zeal of the many women and men who have championed authentic Catholic teaching over long periods of time, often at the risk of their own reputations and well-being.  As a result, many of the faithful, who embody the “sensus fidelium,” are losing confidence in their supreme shepherd.

THIS!  But, again, what’s more is that some of us have families to protect and some of these bishops are trying to lead our kids astray.  Do you know how many emails I get from families who are trying to get their kids to live the chaste life and carry their crosses only to have bishops like Bishop McElroy negate that message???  I’m in the mom zone.  I hear from people like trying to raise their kids in this world.  It is painful.  All we want is for our kids to get to heaven and we’re exhausted from fighting Satan on a daily basis in the secular world, and now we have to fight some of our own bishops for the souls of our children?! My main job is to get my family to heaven so if anyone wants to throw a rude nickname my way, go ahead.  I’ve got far more to worry about than that.  I’ll gladly accept Catholic Cyber Militia.  Think that bothers me?  Heck, I’ve already had it slapped on a t-shirt!  I DON’T CARE! That said, fear of being branded will likely silence the less activist minded people who have been dealing with bad bishops for years.  That saddens me because they have children too and they’re being beaten to silence by the ad hominem attacks.

Fourth, the Church is one body, the Mystical Body of Christ, and you are commissioned by the Lord himself to promote and strengthen her unity.  But your actions and words too often seem intent on doing the opposite.  Encouraging a form of “synodality” that allows and promotes various doctrinal and moral options within the Church can only lead to more theological and pastoral confusion.  Such synodality is unwise and, in practice, works against collegial unity among bishops.

Moral relativism does this, too, which is what priests like Martin, Cupich, and McElroy love and promote.

Holy Father, this brings me to my final concern.  You have often spoken about the need for transparency within the Church.  You have frequently encouraged, particularly during the two past synods, all persons, especially bishops, to speak their mind and not be fearful of what the pope may think.  But have you noticed that the majority of bishops throughout the world are remarkably silent?  Why is this?  Bishops are quick learners, and what many have learned from your pontificate is not that you are open to criticism, but that you resent it.  Many bishops are silent because they desire to be loyal to you, and so they do not express – at least publicly; privately is another matter – the concerns that your pontificate raises.  Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse.

They’re definitely losing jobs left and right.  Thanks to those who continue to speak up on behalf of our families.  We’re tired of our children being used like chips in a high stakes poker game of who will fold first.

I have often asked myself: “Why has Jesus let all of this happen?”  The only answer that comes to mind is that Jesus wants to manifest just how weak is the faith of many within the Church, even among too many of her bishops.  Ironically, your pontificate has given those who hold harmful theological and pastoral views the license and confidence to come into the light and expose their previously hidden darkness.  In recognizing this darkness, the Church will humbly need to renew herself, and so continue to grow in holiness.

The premise that God decided to give us a period of very clear light and dark is probably a really good guess.  We’d have to be naïve to think that these forces weren’t around during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  They were but they were much subtler. I’m glad they’re out there for all to see, I just wish they didn’t occupy a position of authority, which makes it much easier for them to lead people astray by offering them exactly what they want to hear instead of exactly what they need.  I’m hoping this is paving the way for a very strong pope who will take on filial correction as an art form.

Holy Father, I pray for you constantly and will continue to do so.  May the Holy Spirit lead you to the light of truth and the life of love so that you can dispel the darkness that now hides the beauty of Jesus’ Church.

Sincerely in Christ,

Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.

July 31, 2017

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Apparently, Fr. Weinandy is no longer at his job at the USCCB and it’s being framed as political and a pre-VII vs. post-VII thing.

November 1, 2017

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement on the nature of dialogue within the Church today.

Full statement follows:

“The departure today of Fr. Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., as a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine and the publication of his letter to Pope Francis gives us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of dialogue within the Church.  Throughout the history of the Church, ministers, theologians and the laity all have debated and have held personal opinions on a variety of theological and pastoral issues. In more recent times, these debates have made their way into the popular press. That is to be expected and is often good.  However, these reports are often expressed in terms of opposition, as political – conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, pre-Vatican II vs Vatican II.  These distinctions are not always very helpful.”

Uh, where does Fr. Weinandy mention any of those things???  Until yesterday, I had never heard his name (maybe I should have) so I Googled.  I didn’t see one put down by Fr. Weinandy of Vatican II.  In fact, I saw him quoting docs from it.  And, really, who in the world would work for the USCCB who took the pre-Vatican II stance?  I’m reasonably sure he would have been gone long ago.

Christian charity needs to be exercised by all involved. In saying this, we all must acknowledge that legitimate differences exist, and that it is the work of the Church, the entire body of Christ, to work towards an ever-growing understanding of God’s truth.

I agree, but it doesn’t seem like you’ve exercised by this missive.

As Bishops, we recognize the need for honest and humble discussions around theological and pastoral issues. We must always keep in mind St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “presupposition” to his Spiritual Exercises: “…that it should be presumed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it.” This presupposition should be afforded all the more to the teaching of Our Holy Father.

This, of course, is just a partial quote. Let’s look at the whole thing.

It should be presupposed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. Further, if one cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask how the other means it.  If that meaning is wrong, one should correct the other person with love; and, if this is not enough, one should search out every appropriate means, through which by understanding the statement in a good way, it may be saved.

Dubia, letters, dubia, letters.  Anyone? Bueller? This has been attempted on many occasions by many people.  They’re trying to solve the problems with Amoris Laetitia by seeking clarification, but they have gotten repeatedly kicked in the face for it!

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a collegial body of bishops working towards that goal. As Pastors and Teachers of the Faith, therefore, let me assert that we always stand in strong unity with and loyalty to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (LG, no. 23).”

Where is the lack of loyalty coming from?  Is it coming from all the letter and dubia authors???  Puh-lease!  Doesn’t he understand that bishops’ conferences all around the world are coming up with different interpretations of Amoris Laetitia???  How well does that work for unity?  For heaven’s sake, how about we read Lumen Gentium in its totality?  This is why so many of our clergy are appealing to the pope.  I’m sure for every query sent to the Holy Father there are thousands we haven’t seen.

This statement from Cardinal DiNardo is really, really weird in general and I’m kind of shocked it was made by him.  By all means, good cardinal, let’s discuss dialogue in the Church today but maybe we could not slander a seemingly good priest while we’re doing it because what he wrote and his characterization of it are completely different things.

Update:  Within hours of this going up I had more than one person who has knowledge of Fr. Weinandy say they were totally shocked that he wrote this and that he’s not really considered a staunch conservative when it comes to the Faith.  Like I wrote above, I couldn’t find anything showing a disposition portrayed by Cardinal DiNardo.