Friday, January 04, 2019

I believe in God ...


Peter Martyr, my patron.  I believe in God.  Not in anyone else.  Jesus Christ is Lord.  I believe in God.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

The Letter

The Pope Speaks.

He sent a letter to the bishops on retreat, expressing his desire to be 'physically present' but was unable to do so.  The letter in it's entirety is available here.  It's excellent.

In a letter distributed to the bishops at the beginning of their Jan. 2-8 retreat, Pope Francis said he was convinced their response to the "sins and crimes" of abuse and "the efforts made to deny or conceal them" must be found through "heartfelt, prayerful and collective listening to the word of God and to the pain of our people." 
"As we know," he said, "the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore." 
The "abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse, and the poor way that they were handled" continue to harm the church and its mission, he said, but so does "the pain of seeing an episcopate lacking in unity and concentrated more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation." 
Such a division, which goes well beyond a "healthy" diversity of opinions, is what caused him to recommend a retreat because, the pope said, "this situation forces us to look to what is essential and to rid ourselves of all that stands in the way of a clear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ." - America
This restores my confidence and hope. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Double Lives

Cardinal Wright with Wuerl


I came across an article by that title on Commonweal.  It's probably the best written regarding the scandal.  It's rather balanced and sober, as well as enlightening.  I can't believe how naive I've been.

During the nearly four decades I spent writing about religion for Newsweek, I heard numerous tales of “lavender lobbies” in certain seminaries and chanceries, told mostly by straight men who had abandoned their priestly vocations after encountering them. At one time or another, the whispering centered on networks in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Chicago, or Pittsburgh, among other dioceses. One of the few priests to complain in public was the late Andrew Greeley, who spoke of gay circles operating in the administration of Chicago’s Joseph Bernardin, a cherished friend of his. As far back as 1968, I heard similar rumors about priests serving in the Roman Curia, mostly from Italians, who are generally more relaxed about homosexuality than Americans and unsurprised when those leading double lives are outed. What concerns me, though, is not simply personal hypocrisy, but whether there are gay networks that protect members who are sexually active.

Here it is worth revisiting the career of Cardinal John J. Wright (1909–1979) who, like McCarrick, was the subject of numerous stories about his own sexuality. Again, these came mostly from former seminarians and priests of the Pittsburgh diocese, which had a reputation during Wright’s decade there as a haven for actively gay clerics. That was especially true of the Pittsburgh Oratory, which Wright founded in 1961 as a religious center ministering to Catholic students attending the city’s secular universities.

Wright was an intellectually gifted churchman whose reputation as a liberal in the Spellman era rested chiefly on his interest in literature and the arts and his voluminous essays on those subjects and others published in liberal Catholic magazines, including this one. In 1969, at the age of sixty, Pope Paul VI chose Wright to head the Congregation for Priests in Rome and elevated him to cardinal. It was there, in the frenzied initial years of the post-council era, that I first heard stories of his leading a double life rather openly with a younger lover. What interests me now is not the private details of this double life, but whether it influenced how he ran the congregation overseeing the selection, training, and formation of the clergy. Donald Wuerl, who recently resigned as archbishop of Washington D.C., would surely know the truth about Wright. Wuerl’s first assignment after ordination at the age of thirty-one was as secretary to then Bishop Wright of Pittsburgh in 1966. The younger priest was said to be closer to the cardinal than the hair on his head. He became Wright’s omnipresent full-time personal assistant when the latter moved to Rome, even sitting in for him during the papal conclave that elected John Paul II.  - Double Lives - The Peril of Clerical Hypocrisy, By Kenneth L. Woodward

What I don't know is a lot.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

An Obligation Fulfilled

Mother of God,
pray for us.

What's wrong with the Church.

New Year's Eve I devoted to adoration before 5 PM Mass, in honor of the Mother of God.  The Mass has always been a holy day of obligation because it is also the Octave of Christmas.

This year one US bishop lifted the 'obligation' requirement for his diocese, and members of the online 'Holy Office' quickly cried out against it.  How Novus Ordo!  How Protestant!  Personally I thought lifting the obligation might be reasonable for those who have difficulties getting to Mass - the bishop had his reasons, I guess.  As for those who care nothing about 'obligation' yet go to Mass and adoration out of devotion and desire to participate in the liturgical life of the Church, nothing would deter them from attending Mass for the Octave.  After all, it's still Christmas - the 8th Day.  The Circumcision of Christ, the first shedding of his precious blood is likewise commemorated.

Anyway, last evening at my parish the pastor was away on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  (Together with his friend, a pastor from another parish they are leading a group of pilgrims.)  Fr. frequently refers to heading parish based pilgrimages as one of those perks of being a priest.  Be that as it may, guest priests are scheduled to fill in while he is away.  The schedule is already erratic, hours for confessions switched about, Mass times switched about, so there is often some confusion and people show up late to discover Mass time has switched.

Last evening the substitute priest showed up late.  It was snowing and evidently he was stuck in traffic.  The Music Director called Fr. in the Holy Land, Fr. told him that those who showed up for Mass could leave, they had fulfilled their obligation.  Some of us remained, and sure enough the guest priest showed up.  Completely taken aback because he had told people he would be late.  Those of us remaining in prayer, waited longer hoping Fr. would still have Mass.  He didn't.  He gave communion to a couple who asked for it, but other than that, nothing.

The obligation.

I've heard many priests complain because laity complain about holy days of obligation, and they think laity who do that are less than devout.  Then I've heard them complain that people come to Mass because they 'want something' - like on Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, or any Sunday when anyone and everyone goes forward for communion or a blessing.  I detect a sort of clericalism in their attitude, don't you?

So last night, when push comes to shove, we were all told we could go home because we fulfilled our obligation - as if that is what the celebration of Mass is all about.  Maybe we did.  But Fr. didn't.  Neither the pastor nor the quest priest fulfilled their obligation.

Why do we need a pastor, a priest?  To celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments and to provide pastoral care.  Not to fund raise, conduct tours, or lay out strategies to get more parishioners and recruit lay employees to run innovative programs.

What should have happened?

Considering the circumstances and the lack of communication with the in-transit celebrant, a Liturgy of the Word with Communion could have taken place.  With or without a deacon - an Extraordinary Minister could have conducted it.

Or, when the priest finally arrived, he could have, should have said Mass, with or without a large congregation.  Every Mass scheduled is said for a particular intention, accompanied by a stipend.  Maybe not always, but normally, and there is a real, canonical obligation to offer that Mass for the intentions of those who requested it.  The Mass needed to be offered.

In this case, pastoral care and consideration flew out the window.  As a layman, fulfilling an obligation is not why I go to Mass - it may be part of it to some extent - but the real reason the faithful attend Mass is everything the Church and her ministers tell us why we should.  We want to be there.  We want to worship God.  We need to be there, we need to hear the Word of God, to be fed, to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist.  We have nowhere else to go for that.  We have no one except Christ.  We can't confect him on our own - we need a priest - not an administrator.

Last night those in charge acted as if a performance was cancelled.  The show wouldn't happen, the singers wouldn't sing, the homily wouldn't get performed, the glad-handing greetings wouldn't happen.  No waves and happy New Year's exchanged.  No one was welcomed, no one dismissed, there would be no shouting and hugs and laughs after Mass.  Nothing.  Everyone was simply sent home, assured that they fulfilled their obligation.

That tells me it's a job for some priests.  Mass is entertainment - a performance, with a homily available on podcast, and if the music is good, maybe even a CD.  It's a business with perks - a career.  The best managers and fundraisers get the best promotions, and can dispense people from their obligations.  At least that is how it seemed to me last night.

Once again I know of what the Holy Father speaks when he says,  "priests should smell of their sheep".  So many priests no longer live among their sheep, they live off campus - you need to make an appointment to see them, during business hours.

Faith has dwindled in the Church.

Monday, December 31, 2018

This is funny.

Coming from Skojec, that is...

I'm not on Twitter but looking at Skojec's feed and those he follows, as well as those who comment on his site, I can see it's pretty much THE hotline for all the gossip and detraction which circulates online regarding the Pope and anyone else they disagree with.