What’s a Catholic to Think?!

Well, that was a fun week in Catholicism. I’ve been very quietly sitting in my corner (or as quietly as I can) taking in all the commentary on the “heresy letter.” Dun…dun…dun!

First, let me say this. If you are a “Live Catholic or Die!” type of Catholic, you probably find Pope Francis, how should I say, problematic on most days. I’m sure “Ugh!” has gone through our minds on several occasions when hearing those lovely in-flight interviews, when a new document drops, or when we hear about “the Great Accuser.” It doesn’t mean that we are “alt-right” Catholics. (By the way, “alt-right” has now become synonymous with “Move along, people! Nothing to see here!”) In short, many have serious concerns. Generally, the people who are thinking “Oh, no!” on a regular basis are people of good will, whether or not you declare the pope a heretic.

So now this letter drops. Most of the people who just want to be Catholic without conflict at every turn are wondering what the heck they’re supposed to do with it. Do you ignore? Do you beg to sign it, too? Do you condemn the authors? Etc., etc., etc. Honestly, there are not simply two sides to this one, there are as many as the stars. It’s really complex and yet amazingly simple. For us, we need to educate ourselves as much as possible and follow our conscience. Form it and follow it.

To start, I would like to deal with some of the ridiculous opinions on this that I’ve seen. I suppose everyone wants to be on a team and have that team win and then they become super–fan-like. As a mom, it would just be nice to send them all to their rooms and tell them not to come out until they can get along.

“These are just a bunch of cranky Catholics who don’t like the Pope.” Really? Can it really be that simple? I’m pretty sure they are Catholics worried it might take years to undo the mess of ambiguity. Many are likely people with children and grandchildren and they worry about their suffering from the debacle the clergy, particularly the German bishops and many Jesuits, are making right now. Again, we might want to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are Catholics of good will. The things the authors point out may or may not amount to heresy, but they are super concerning at the least. I’ve had interactions with and like some of them. Sounds like everyone likes Fr. Aidan Nichols. The ones I’m familiar with aren’t those to simply be written off as fanatics who were bored.

“Those canon lawyers and theologians who say that the Pope’s actions don’t canonically constitute heresy are just being legalistic.” Uh, Canon Law is kind of important, people. You’d probably be the type that usually throws out a canon or two in defense of your position, anyway, so you’ve lost me with this argument. If it “technically” doesn’t amount to heresy, then it “technically” is not. Sigh. If you are championing a letter declaring heresy, defend it without whining, please. Also of note, most of the aforementioned canon lawyers and theologians are not cheerleading for Pope Francis. They still have great concerns. They’re just calling it as their Canon 212 duty tells them.

Following on that… ”The bishops who don’t back this letter are just worried about their jobs!” Again, really? Or could it be that they simply don’t believe it canonically meets the standards for heresy? Seems like just another hyperbolic argument. I’ve seen many bishops speak up for the dubia, the Vigano letters, the Weinandy letter, etc., yet they didn’t sign the “Easter Letter” and all of those previously held as heroes have been notably absent on backing the letter, too. Are we to assume they’re just worried about their jobs, as well? Or might they have the same take many others have?

“You’re going to hell if you’re wrong about this.”  I’m so glad you know the mind of God here.  Sigh.  Would somebody care to tell St. Vincent that? He literally picked the wrong pope to follow.  Yes, it’s a serious position to take and I’m glad I don’t feel compelled to take it but, geez!  You might, at least, wait until somebody’s excommunicated for something before you go there.

“Those who argue against this letter are trying to hide behind ignorance.” That’s my favorite. Yeah, all those people who argue against it are soooooo undereducated. Just deserves one more “Really?!” I wish I could think of something more clever but that’s usually my go to when people are just debating poorly.

Now what is my position on the actual letter instead of the hype around it?  Again, I think the authors of the letter had the best of intentions. They probably thought long and hard about it and they firmly believe it to be in accordance with the teachings of the Church. They did what their conscience dictated. Others have done the same and come to a different conclusion. Quite frankly, and this might run counter to others’ thoughts, but right or wrong, I think that the letter will only have a positive impact on the overall Church.

After reading and watching MANY commentaries on it, I feel that the canon lawyers who say it’s not heresy are probably right. This and this are probably the closest to my thoughts, although imperfect representations of them.

Why do I feel this way? Because I’ve read Pastor Aeternus (excerpt below, but please read it in its entirety) and Canon 212 many times. 

Pastor Aeternus
“And since, by the Divine right of Apostolic primacy, the Roman Pontiff is placed over the Universal Church, We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, [12] and that in all causes, the decision of which belongs to the Church, recourse may be had to his tribunal, [13] and that none may re-open the judgment of the Apostolic See, for none has greater authority, nor can anyone lawfully review its judgment. [14] Therefore, they stray from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as if to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.

 

Canon 212

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

  • 2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

  • 3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Nobody in this current debate ever seems to mention Pastor Aeternus. I feel Raymond Arroyo took the position of that document when he said the next pope is the one who will judge Pope Francis, which is exactly how it’s always been done in times of papal turmoil. That’s why I’m not going to get my knickers in a bunch over this or feel like I have to get entrenched on a “side.” Yes, we could get to a point of Fr. Fessio’s “What if…?” but let’s really hope it doesn’t come to that. It’s bad enough now.

Regardless of who is right or wrong (and even some saints have been wrong for parts of their lives), as Fr. Fessio pointed out, this letter is important because it shows the seriousness of the situation in our Church. It’s chaos. NOBODY can deny it. And as many have said, it should not be ignored, although I fear it will be, just as all the letters, corrections, dubias and testimonies so far. The old sticking fingers in ears and saying “lalalalalalalala!” seems to be their way.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to keep expressing my concerns in light of Canon 212 and my knowledge, competence and prestige (not that I have any of that). I’m also going to keep up my prayer of “May God open their eyes or close them.” I hope you will join me in this!

 

 

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Frustrated? Feeling Low? Deal!

Not to get all “mommy” on you but sometimes I feel like I’m dealing with the endless amount of dirty laundry and every time I feel like I might see the end of the pile, the washer or dryer breaks. Except it’s not really laundry right now. It’s the crud in the Church. It just never ends and we can’t seem to catch a break, right?  This is where I was this weekend with the death of Bishop Morlino right on the heels of the disastrous USCCB meeting.

Thankfully, I got the one two punch I needed to keep my chin up and move on. First of all, I hit confession. I admitted feeling a weeeeeeeee bit of frustration after hearing about Bishop Morlino’s death. I mean, really??? We have how many bishops and God chose to take him. Of course, my priest told me what I really already knew. He’s an even greater advocate for us now. My priest also reminded me not to be part of the problem. I also get that. It’s not like the Holy Father doesn’t score a small point when he mentions gossip even though my guess is he says it because he’d just like a little silence. “My side” has a problem with that sometimes, too.

Then it seems I got right out of the confessional and got a homily on speaking the truth. Yep! There’s definitely a balance there that those in the blogosphere have to get right. I’m sure I fall short on some days, but I’m still trying. And there’s also a message about not giving up on the truth and St. Paul and all that good stuff. Around this time of year, it’s mighty tempting just to take a super long vacation. I mean, I’m not getting paid to do this so crawling back into my Catholic cave is appealing. That said, I have a sneaking suspicion this is the devil trying to sideline me. This is not the time for any of us to let up.

Now let’s go back to my warning from the confessional and things about which I think we all need to be careful. I’m sure this isn’t going to be popular to hear for many and this blog post might not even see the light of day, but here goes.

Let me contend with the whole theory that the Pope isn’t the pope. I’m not going to say the assumption is wrong, although I suspect it is. It’s like people don’t remember we’ve had less than stellar popes that were still actually popes, just bad ones. But let me tell you why I think questioning whether Pope Francis is really the pope or calling him “Bergoglio” is a colossal waste of time and damages “the cause.” IT’S NOT OUR CALL!  Seriously, until Pope Benedict XVI rises up and says “Just kidding!” which is not going to happen, the only other person who can make that judgment is the next holy father. Now, he may in fact do so, but we’re wasting time on this one.  So much more energy could go elsewhere. Please note, saying the Holy Father is ambiguous or has a poor management style, etc., etc., etc., is not something out of our scope. I’m not even close to saying we have to sit on our hands and shut up.

Now, is there some way through canon law he could cease to be pope or be declared as such? People have been mulling this over for centuries and, who knows, there might just be a loophole there somewhere, but good luck with that.  And, really, can you imagine if someone tried to make this move?  I can’t even imagine the split in the Church then. Canon Law even says that the Pope can be judged if he deviates from the Faith and he can retire, but it never mentions who would be the judge when it says no one can judge the pope. It’s all so easy to wish this away with the “He can’t possibly be the REAL pope!” wish.  Get over it. All we have is this, which is why I’m sticking with my “We’re stuck waiting to see how that shakes out until the next pope comes along.”  

http://catholicplanet.org/councils/20-Pastor-Aeternus.htm
And since, by the Divine right of Apostolic primacy, the Roman Pontiff is placed over the Universal Church, We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, [12] and that in all causes, the decision of which belongs to the Church, recourse may be had to his tribunal, [13] and that none may re-open the judgment of the Apostolic See, for none has greater authority, nor can anyone lawfully review its judgment. [14] Therefore, they stray from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as if to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.

If anyone, then, shall say that the Roman Pontiff has the office merely of inspection or direction, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the Universal Church, not only in things which belong to faith and morals, but also in those which relate to the discipline and government of the Church spread throughout the world; or assert that he possesses merely the principal part, and not all the fullness of this supreme power; or that this power which he enjoys is not ordinary and immediate, both over each and all the Churches and over each and all the Pastors and the faithful; let him be anathema.”

So, again, why are we wasting time on this?  We’ll know at some point in the nearish future.  Just call him by his title and move on to more concrete and valid points. It’s a distraction from some really valuable points.

We also really need to stop throwing out accusations where we have no proof.  For example, I completely think that Fr. Martin is probably suffering from same-sex attraction, but I really have zero proof.  Same goes for a few other priests, bishops and cardinals.  We do, however, have enough to be upset about with all the damaging FACTS of heresy, malfeasance, weird tweets.  Now, if you’re an investigative reporter, follow the leads, but until you get to the proof, focus on where you have proof.  I don’t have to sit around and wonder if Fr. Martin is SSA.  I do have irrefutable proof, though, that he’s not discouraging people and is even encouraging people to live active homosexual lifestyles and sooooo many other things (go ahead and search my blog). I mean, he’s stated tangible heresy and immorality.  I don’t need to know his attractions.  I need to show that he runs counter to the Church and why.  And, I can easily show that HIS way doesn’t work via his lifelong friend in a “gay marriage” who he’s never managed to get out of the active homosexual lifestyle.  So much for the bridge.  It’s ending exactly where we said it would.

There’s a few other areas where we need to reform and to focus like a laser on the truth that we can show with facts. We need to make sure we are acting in our purview and we need not usurp the authority we do not have.  Even if we are right in our suspicions, we will hang ourselves.  Investigate at will.  I encourage it, because uncovering facts are never a bad thing, even if the facts may show evil.  Just don’t get antsy to spill the goods.

I’ve seen many of you downtrodden over the state of the Church.  Personally, I think I’m living in an awesome time because, as history shows us, the hard times are how saints are made!  I think, for the first time in my life (I’m not that old so we’re not talking about the entire history of the Church by any means), people are paying attention. They aren’t asleep anymore.  It’s total and complete proof that God can take a bad situation and still bring about good.  I see it on the blogs, on Twitter, in the fasting and prayer, with statements some bishops and cardinals have made, etc.  People are making a stand for the Faith and are doing SOMETHING!  Seriously!  When have you seen many bishops asking us to fast, abstain and make reparations (much to Fr. James Martin, SJ’s chagrin)??? (And, yes, he did express anger that people would be asked to make reparation. It’s not a hunch!) So, don’t be disheartened!  Be thrilled to live in a time where the Church in our country has a pulse!

Let’s all follow Bishop Molino’s most excellent example and persevere to the end!  I’m a mom.  If I can stare laundry in the face day in and day out for decades, we can all do this together!  With God all things are possible!  Carry on!

 

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.