Thursday, September 13, 2018

Clericalism, and My One Encounter with McCarrick

2005 World Youth Day in Cologne Germany

I am a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Pope Benedict had an event where he was going to be at a Church in Cologne to speak particularly to seminarians

My fellow seminarians and I arrived 4 hours early, but the Church was already full.  So they had a huge screen set up in the side yard of the Church where we were directed, and there we waited for about 4 hours with hundreds of other seminarians.

At one point someone pointed to a guy maybe 40 feet away and said "That's Cardinal McCarrick from D.C."  I looked over and there was the really old guy standing there in black pants, a black shirt, with his white roman collar sitting in his breast pocket.  "Just one of the guys" if you will.

Here's why I mention this incident.  In the ongoing discussion about how to address the abuse crisis, a word that keeps popping up in certain circles, including from Pope Francis, is a blaming of "clericalism".  Here's what our Holy Father told Jesuits recently in Ireland:

"sexual abuse is the consequence of abuse of power and of conscience as I said before. The abuse of power exists. Who among us does not know an authoritarian bishop? Forever in the Church there have been authoritarian bishops and religious superiors. And authoritarianism is clericalism."

Here's my point - the LEAST clerical guy that I've ever seen was Cardinal McCarrick. "I don't want to wear my Cardinal outfit, I don't want to have the seat of honor with the other cardinals INSIDE the Church listening to Pope Benedict...heck I don't even want to wear my collar for crying out loud...can't you see how anti-clericalism I am...I even want you to call me UNCLE Ted, not father or cardinal or any of that clericalist mumbo-jumbo"....and he turned out to be a serial sexual predator of the highest degree

I'm not arguing AGAINST talking about "clericalism" as ONE COMPONENT of this crisis, but to assume that it is THE reason is crazy.  

As we sort through this mess together as a Church, be very wary of those who say "The problem is simple: it is ____________________".  And by the way, that goes for those who are also saying "The problem is simple: it is homosexuality" as well.

The problem is NOT simple, and it has many tentacles and sources.  From my vantage point, some issues that need to be examined

1) Vatican II said priests should live in community.  Most parish priests live alone.
2) Are there healthier ways to set up our seminaries
4) How do we address homosexuality in candidates for the priesthood
5) What are ways to address the clericalist mindset
6) In the West, regular fasting and penance have evaporated.  How might that be rekindled systematically
7) How might the state of the Liturgy today contribute to clericalism and other issues
8) Are punishments/reactions to those who do abuse too lax

From what I've seen, it isn't JUST clericalism.  

Saturday, September 8, 2018

A half-time speech for struggling Catholics

I incorrectly said that the first reading was Paul to the Corinthians when it was actually from the Prophet Isaiah

A Novel I Cannot Recommend Highly Enough

"The Silver Chalice" by Thomas Costain

Here's an excerpt that seems appropriate to our own day!

(Adam Ben Asher): "I am disappointed in you, Luke the Physician.  I prefer you as you were before you wrapped yourself up in the toga of prophecy."

(Luke):  "Must I tell you again that I am not a prophet?  I am an old man who sees that things are going wrong in the world.  I have always thought that the truths of Jesus could be taught best by spreading the doctrine of charity and pity.  Now my heart is cold because I am beginning to see that the seed must be planted in the soil of tragedy.  Only if watered by the blood of martyrdom can the tree grow to greatness."

He sighed and spread out his hands in a gesture of disillusionment.

(Luke): "The habits of men cannot be changed easily.  It seems that the human mind can't be reached by kindness alone.  Man understands violence better.  Perhaps the Church of Jesus will gain strength from the flames of Jerusalem."

Monday, September 3, 2018

Bishops, I BEG you...

In 2010 I hated social media and blogs and Youtube.  I was a brand new priest.  And Pope Benedict asked priests to use it all.

So I dove in.

I bought a $400 camera/microphone combo

By just recording the things I WAS ALREADY DOING (classes/homilies/talks), I've been able to reach

1) Twitter: 6,000,000 times a person has read a tweet

2) Blog: 1,900,000 times someone has read a blog post of mine

3) Youtube: 10,670 subscribers (to subscribe means to get a notification every time I post a video)

4) 1,554,000 video views on Youtube (7,600,000 minutes watched)

5) Facebook: tens of millions.  Just started tracking.   Three homilies on the abuse crisis have been viewed 304,000 times and shared 5,700 times.  Another way to track it is 318,000 minutes watched on just those three homilies.  People sat down and watched my three homilies for a total of 318,000 minutes on Facebook.


People will argue that It takes a lot of time.  My response: it absolutely does not.  You can log in, check messages, post, and walk away.  I doubt I spend an hour a day on this stuff.

In posting this people might say "wow, you know all your statistics, you probably sit around your office counting up your views."  I actually don't care, I had to look them up specifically for this post. 

This crisis calls for direct shepherding and social media is free and allows you to reach BILLIONS of people.  FOR FREE!

I beg you - get in the fray and preach to people where they are at.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

On a Lighter Note

My brother at dinner with his kids: “If the baby is a boy, what should we name him?

5 year old niece: “Pope St Pius XII
My brother, laughing: “Why?
Niece: “it’s just cool

4 year old nephew: “I think we should name him “Charles our bishop”

My brother: “Okay. Thanks for the help!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Marriage and St. John the Baptist

What are Bishops and Priests Afraid Of?

On the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist, I think it is important, at this time in the Church, to ask a simple question:

"What are the bishops and priests that aren't speaking up...what are they afraid of?"

So let's say you are a bishop of some middle-sized diocese.  You don't call evil out because what?  You want a bigger diocese?  Why?  What could that POSSIBLY matter?  Did John the Baptist, the prophet par excellence (all bishops and priests are called to BE prophets)...did you learn to care about "getting a bigger diocese" from St. John the Baptist?

Or maybe you want to be on some committee in the USCCB?  If you play your cards right, maybe you'll get to be  on some committee on the liturgy?  WOW!  That is totally worth NOT being a prophet so that you could land something like that.  I mean if you were on a USCCB committee, then you'd be famous.

And what about priests?  "I'm going to be quiet so that I get a bigger parish assignment"????  Why do you want a bigger parish?  Did you get that from St. John the Baptist?  Did St. John the Baptist say "Be a prophet...UNLESS getting a bigger parish is a possibility....then play it cool and don't say anything...don't rock the boat."

Or maybe, as a priest, you don't speak out so that you can be on the priest council?  Or be in the running for the vicar for clergy?  Or the seminary vice-rector?  Or...gasp...the vicar general someday?  Your mom would then be able to brag at Euchre club about her extremely successful son.

WHO CARES?  We need priests and bishops in the mold of St. John the Baptist..."I don't give a rat's rear end what you do to me.  Your marriage is not a marriage...I'm calling evil for what it is...I'm going to speak truth to power and I could CARE LESS what happens to me."

Worrying about some of the things that bishops and priests worry about is so laughable.  And even leads to absolutely boring and irrelevant and unprophetic priests and bishops.

"The Beheading of John the Baptist" by Caravaggio

The Misplaced Fear of Rural Parishes

I caught the tail end of Teresa Tomeo's EWTN Radio show yesterday where Ralph Martin was sharing that a lot of priests do not speak out because they are afraid of being moved to rural parishes.

I don't understand this fear in the least.

I'm in rural parishes and I love it.

What are the benefits of being in an "urban parish"?  As I rack my brain, I can think of the following limitations of being in a rural parish

1) No art museum
2) No sushi bar
3) No symphony


So I can't stare at a Monet all day, I can't eat raw fish and I can't spend a night at the symphony without driving 45 minutes.  The horror!  I'd have to drive an hour to get those things (if I wanted any of them, which I don't)

I absolutely love being in rural parishes and I love the people of my parishes.  Priests (and lay people) that think rural assignments are exile have no idea what they are talking about.  People and priests who crave the completely insignificant comforts of "the city" are precisely the ones that need to be rehabilitated by the fresh air of the country.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Weird Wuerl Story

I know a person who was a seminarian in Rome when Cardinal Wuerl was the Bishop of Pittsburgh.  At the time Bishop Wuerl would come over a few times a year (as did most bishops) to visit the seminarians studying at the North American College, the seminary for American guys in Rome. Nothing weird about the fact that he visited a few times a year.

But here's the weird part.

Every morning, Bishop Wuerl's seminarians had to bring up fresh-cut flowers and pressed shirts for the bishop, and some other similar duties.

When I first heard that story about 8 years ago, it made my skin crawl.  That is just so weird.

It shows a completely different mindset, and a clericalist mindset.

I know bishops that live in simple homes and ride the bus.  Pope Francis did some of that it sound like when he was an Archbishop.

I'm not saying simple living is going to guarantee holy bishops, but for most normal people, a bishop that lives a clerical lifestyle, that tells you all you need to know.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

Wuerl, Rosica, and McCarrick

The tone-deafness in which you would say sexual assault was a "DISAPPOINTMENT"???

Fr. Rosica acting like the big harm here is that his friend was a molester???  How about saying the thing that is terrible here is the fact that PEOPLE WERE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED

Wuerl also says, in this same interview, "I don't think this is a massive scandal".  He later apologized but wow.  Just wow.

Sins I Would Never Commit

Some will read this and think I'm seeing things or hearing things or wearing a tin-foil hat as a conspiracy theorist.  I share this not because I'm worried about these things

But I have been reading and hearing about how the Communists would kill priests and then plant evidence (gay pornography, etc. etc.) to get everyone thinking that 
a) the priest committed suicide and
b) was in to some kind of sexually deviant behavior

And this was done, of course, to discredit the priest and his teaching.

And if you think about it, it is a WAY more effective way to try to attack the Church than just killing a priest.  If you make it look like he took his own life and was into all kinds of sins, that is way more destructive to the Church than martyrdom.  A martyred priest would RALLY the Church, whereas the approach the Communists and others have taken can both get rid of a priest AND break the Faith of some of the flock.

So I thought I should go on record on a few things:

1) I would never commit suicide

2) I am a virgin

3) I've never looked at pornography as an adult (we found some magazines at a friend's house when I was a kid, and porn was on at a few parties I went to in high school)

4) I've never masturbated

5) I've never experienced same-sex attraction

6) I would never violate my vow of celibacy

7) I have never and would never harm a child or anyone else

8) I could care less about money and would never steal money from anyone nor would I steal money from the Church.  I enjoy simplicity of life a great deal.  

I'm not bragging.  There are probably BILLIONS of people who have done some of the things I've listed above who are INFINITELY better people than myself.

Again, those are all just things I felt like it was important to go on record about.  I don't feel threatened in any way, but trying to preach the Truth has never been a particularly safe mission.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Priests stand in the breach

My Focus team director took this photo last night as I was doing a house blessing.  Thought it turned out pretty awesome.

Priests stand in the breach between light and dark, between good and evil.

Do not be afraid!

#LoveWins #EvilLoses

Yes, a part of me wants to leave

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Shepherds, Abuse, and the Media

Most of the response by leadership in the US and around the world to the various interwoven scandals plaguing the world and local Church has been through press releases.

Some people believe that is because the leadership just doesn't UNDERSTAND the power of media.

I'm not so sure

Going back several months, many in Church leadership seemed to FULLY grasp the power of the media and social media, the power of images, the power of not speaking through lawyers and press releases when they had a Mass on the border.

They seem to grasp the power of this.  Do this for the other crises too.

If you took all the millions of press releases, the blog articles, the USCCB bulletin inserts....if you added all that up and compiled it all, the image of a bishop handing the Eucharist to a hand sticking through a border fence spoke more than all of that other stuff combined.

On the multiple crises in the Church, do something like this: