Monday, December 27, 2004

Putting things in perspective:
The Annunciation and Birth of Our Lord.

Has anyone else every wondered why the Church celebrates with so much joy and glory at Christmas ? Wait now, hear me out. I'm not saying that the first epiphany or manifestation into the world of Our Lord isn't a great Christian celebration and shouldn't be celebrated as such. I've been wondering, for us Catholics who believe that life begins at the moment of conception , why don't we celebrate the Annunciation with an even greater fever than Christmas. The Annunciation is when Divinity and Humanity were brought together, wasn't it ? As THE church Christ founded, what are we saying about the importance of human life before birth when we celebrate Christmas more than the Annunciation ? If the Annunciation falls on a Monday or the preceding Saturday, it may NOT even be a Holy Day of Obligation according to a recent decision by the American bishops that was approved by Rome.
Something to think about maybe?

A big problem in Catholic Apologetics:
Sincere hearts but terrible results.

I'm one that occasionally listens to people whose philosophy or moral standard in life I disagree with. Why ? Because I know they are made in the image and likeness of God and The Lord always has the ability to plant seeds of faith in their heart, seeds that I may have overlooked or not utilized in my heart.

I was recently listening to a C-SPAN program where Justice Stephen Breyer; hardly a conservative, was taking questions and giving answers to high-schoolers in California. I may paraphrase part of the question and answer, but I believe an essential point can be made from his viewpoint, a point essential to Catholic apologists who are loyal to the Holy See and the Magisterial teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

A student asked: "Justice Breyer, you said earlier that some cases are technical in nature and some are more personal. Have you ever got emotionally involved in personal issues and how do you step back to only judge the law instead of the personal situations of the plaintiffs or defendants ?" His answer was,

"I try not to get emotionally involved. If you do feel too emotionally involved, you should disqualify yourself. [He went on to explain how each Friday they have a round table conference on the cases they have heard for that week, and before each Friday meeting they shake each others hands, in order to foster a sense of unity. (Remember 5 votes/8 are needed for a Supreme Court opinion.) No 5 votes, no decision.] One thing I've noticed over time is that if you feel or reveal you feel terribly emotional about an issue that is very divisive, people think you're wrong. Don't tell me why that is, but it's a fact. If you feel too emotional, you'll be unpersuasive. You'll say, "Hey, I feel emotional about this, the world is coming to an end !!!!!

and your listener will also say:

"Hey, ME TOO !!!

Life is short.

When you hear someone presenting an argument and see that person as very emotional, you begin to think, it's emotion, not reason, that is driving him or her. Then you start to think, "Oh, I have other things to do, I'll talk to you later ....." So, I've found the more emotional you are the less persuasive you are. In certain contexts, you are most persuasive when not emotional. You can still have strong feelings but try to put them to the side. Try to think about it. Try to always think that people who are against this may be in good faith too. What do they think about it. And how do I really respond to what is their BEST argument, not their WORST argument. And how do I really answer. And that requires a little imagination causing you to have to put yourself in the position of the other person. And how do I respond to it. Put yourself in their situation. Thinking that way sort of clarifies things."


I believe this is a rare situation in which Justice Breyer has an excellent point, especially when applying it to the attitude and disposition that Catholic apologists should have when faith sharing. I was brought up as a Catholic by birth. The Lord has implanted a love in my heart for the Eucharist, the teachings of the Church, our Holy Father: Pope John Paul II, Our Lady and our Spiritual Mother, the saints, and especially my Catholic brethren here on earth. I've either been in or heard of faith sharing conversations where:

The Real Presence was attacked or misunderstood.

John Paul II was attacked or misunderstood.

The rosary was attacked or misunderstood.

Church teachings were attacked or misunderstood.

Our Lady was attacked or misunderstood.

etc, etc, etc.

I believe Justice Breyer is saying two important things here. First if you love something, it is humanly natural to defend what you love, especially when what you love is under attack. Thus it is natural to have "have strong feelings" on an issue. I believe it's also important to refresh our memory here: What is the purpose of Catholic apologetics ? "Apologetics" comes from the Greek "to give words to", or "to give a defense for". As St. Peter states in 1 Peter 3:15-16:

"Be ready always with an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do so with gentleness and fear, having a good conscience, so that wherein they speak in disparagement of you they who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame."

This leads to his second point here. Since Catholic apologetics is based on REASON, when we start faith sharing and the issue under conversation gets personal and emotional, by natural, we get emotional and if we have no rational answer, we get defensive. Once we get emotional and irrational, why should any one expect a "reason for the hope that is in us ?" (End of 1 Peter 3:15) As Justice Breyer said, "When you hear someone presenting an argument and see that person as very emotional, you begin to think, it's emotion, not reason, that is driving him or her."[Thus the title of this editorial.] Only when we can listen and strive to understand where the other person is coming from can we effectively be more persuasive. But what if we don't have any answers to strong emotional attacks from the other person ? Our Lord said that, "The True will set you free." Tell them, you don't have a good answer now for them, but you will try to research the question by reading, references and friends. They will appreciate a human reply more than one that sounds like it's from a pharisee or "know-it-all". Their "strong emotional attacks" show YOU that they are not thinking rationally about the topic at hand. "...so that wherein they speak in disparagement of you they who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." As Catholic apologists we should follow the example set in Peter's epistle.

My rules and goals for faith sharing:

  • Be honest. (If you don't know, say so; if you're unsure, say so.)
  • Strive to maintain and build friendships, no matter how harsh the dispute.
  • NEVER build a phony friendship. If you have a hard time building a friendship, bring it to The Lord in the Blessed Sacrament !!!
  • Agree to agree; and agree to disagree on different aspects of faith. As Cardinal Law said when he was Bishop of Missouri:

    "the most ecumenical thing a Catholic can do is be unmistakably Catholic."
  • Strive for follow up conversations in order to: Clarify unresolved differences.
  • Maintain and build friendships.

    I include myself when I say, the biggest fear we, as Catholic apologists have, (a lack of knowledge) is JUST the thing we CAN obtain: Knowledge.

Something to think about maybe ?


The Crisis in the Church Today

Posted: May 16th 2002

Updated: October 15th 2002
Updated: December 6th 2002 - recommendations / my dilemma
Updated: December 22nd 2002 - George Weigel's suggestions for a healthier Church



by Mike Humphrey , CPATS.ORG Webmaster

December 14th Note:

A Christmas 2002 commentary is being worked on. In the meantime, I would like to humbly ask those close to decision makers in the Vatican who are responsible for choosing a replacement for Cardinal Law the following: Please, please, please FINALLY send us a Cardinal who has the courage to clean up our seminaries and the satanic mess they really ARE and bring them back to a state of HOLINESS! Remember Cardinal Law inherited this mess. Shanley was a 1960 graduate. What does this mean? It means this problem started at least under Cardinal Cushing's watch!!! and was inherited by both Medeiros and Law.


Please send us a ultra conservative with the courage to be firm as a loving father of a family sometimes has to be firm for the child's good.






I thought that it was important to take a few minutes to comment on the crisis in the Church from my viewpoint, especially since, in the Boston area - where this CPATS support group is located - we have seen the development of several new lay support groups. Any suggestions, criticisms or feedback made to the hierarchy of the Church within this essay are in no way to be taken as destructive criticism from within the Church but constructive criticism, in line with canon law's reference to making my spiritual needs and concerns known to the pastors of the Church. Since Our Lord's One Church is not only Divine, but dynamic, I plan to make additional comments and suggestions on this topic as new events arise.



Points I plan to initially address are:

The Crisis

As some of you may know, I am one of 24 Hourly Adoration Coordinators who assist the Perpetual Adoration ministry in my parish in the Framingham/Natick area. My long acquaintance with a community of Benedictine monks placed in me a love for the Catholic Church that our blessed Lord Jesus founded and for Eucharistic Adoration: a gift for which I would like to personally thank them. Thanks, guys!


The Church crisis is obviously something I have meditated on during my Adoration hour from 11pm to midnight. Although no one with any common sense will condone the many abuses by Catholic priests of their holy calling, the bigger scandal, I believe, was and still is today the action or rather lack of action taken by Church leaders, particularly bishops, who discovered the abuses. It was always my understanding that one of the primary responsibilities of ANY bishop of ANY archdiocese was the spiritual well-being of his priests and religious. In what we can factually call "a cover-up" by some Catholic archbishops and bishops, the shepherds of the Catholic flock in America have failed to fulfill this responsibility.

But how did this happen? and why did this happen, not from the world's viewpoint, but from a theological viewpoint and from a Church viewpoint?

The three main reasons are:


  • Lack of a personal prayer life among the clergy, especially among the Cardinals and bishops
  • Lack of a sacramental life among the laity
  • The result of these: a "covert al-Qaeda strike"


Lack of a personal prayer life

Most of the problem, I believe, has come from a misplacement of spiritual priorities. No matter what state of life we have been called to, our first obligation is to meet the spiritual needs of our own soul. This is especially true for priests. Whether he is a religious priest, diocesan priest, or bishop, every priest has to first meet the spiritual needs of his own soul. Regular daily prayer INCREASES virtues in our souls and DECREASES vices. The Catechism tells us:

1804 Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect
and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

And also:


1774 Emotions and feelings can be taken up in the virtues or perverted by the vices.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says:

Prayer is an act of the virtue of religion which consists in asking proper gifts or graces from God. In a more general sense it is the application of the mind to Divine things, not merely to acquire a knowledge of them but to make use of such knowledge as a means of union with God.

A soul, especially that of a Catholic priest, that has no personal prayer life welcomes plenty of vices, including a lack of courage to stand up and take action.

As Eparch John
A. Elya of Newton has said:

Growth in prayer and virtue are at the heart of our Christian Life. "Prayer is by nature a dialog and a union of man with God. Its effect is to hold the world together."

Satan is out to sift our Catholic priesthood like wheat.

If our diocesan priests and, for that matter, seminarians are not seriously trained in safeguarding a regular disciplined prayer life, the spiritual state of the Catholic priesthood in America IS in danger.

In view of the crisis in the Church, I thought these paragraphs from the Catechism would also be important reminders:

1839 The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace purifies and elevates them.

1806 Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going." "Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.

If our priests don't have wills and hearts that want to take time for personal prayer, their priesthood may start off well, but due to a lack of habitual virtue, over time it will end up like that of the defrocked priest John Geoghan, whom I knew personally for a year and a half.


I can hear a few rebuttals now, especially from my priest brothers:

  1. I'm too busy in the parish and don't have time for personal prayer
  2. There are not enough priests here to allow me to say the Divine Office.
  3. I have no time for Adoration.
  4. I offer daily Mass: that's enough.



I truly believe that all priests reading this have been called by the Lord to serve as one of His priests, but I can't accept the above excuses that rationalize away what our Lord Himself did a lot of -- that is, to PRAY -- and like you he was 100% human!

I would say to all my Priest and Bishop brothers:

With the turn of the millennium, private personal prayer is a MUST....FOR YOU!

For a solid, stable Catholic Christian priesthood: you will be able to discern truth better, read up on current Catholic issues via encyclicals from the Vatican, have time to meditate on difficult decisions and more.

My personal prayers from the heart I always find most effective. Try this one:

(My recommended prayer for priests)

Eternal Father, I know you would never put me in a situation where I would not have time for
a good prayer and adoration life. I am currently having a hard time finding one now. Please hear my petition and give me the ability in my current priesthood to set time aside for a solid prayer life. I ask this in the name of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Jesus, have mercy on the inadequacies of my priesthood, and bless my priesthood that it may be a reflection of yours.

Amen.

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Now what about the laity?

As Catholic Christians we also have the primary responsibility of saving our own souls first. We can't save other souls until we first have our own soul cleaned up. This again requires a life of prayer:

For Catholic Christians, it starts with daily prayer, I stay young by saying the rosary; on Sunday the 15 decade rosary :)), and living a sacramental life on OUR PART. As Catholics we believe sin is not only an individual issue, but a social issues well. When I sin, my sin not only effects my soul but it also affects the body of Christ itself or the body of Christians.

For non-Catholic Christians. it starts with a daily prayer life and an openness and willingness to develop our conscience and knowledge of Holy Scriptures, Christian history, especially the Early Church from 33AD to 850AD, sacred theology, and of God Himself.


For non-Christians, it starts with a daily prayer life and an openness and willingness to develop our conscience and knowledge of God Himself, but MUST go further than that for them.

It also entails:

  • using our God-given MINDS to discern good from evil;
  • of being able to look at one's own faith;
  • look at ones own actions; and
  • look at ones own beliefs and challenge any thought or action that goes contrary to the natural good that is written on the hearts of all mankind.

This is what was greatly lack in people like Mohamed Atta and other extreme religious people. Islam means "To submit"..but to what?...to Islamic religious leaders that demand obedience at the price of no reason or rationale that discerns good from any evil they are saying?

This differs a lot from the Catholic view. The two predominant things Catholics respect, that Muslims don't are: Reason AND Free Will. Catholics believe Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Catholics also believe that Our Blessed Lord has bound Himself to His One Church and that on issues-teachings of Faith and Morals the Church cannot err. Because Christ, who is True God and True Man, will never lie (Matt 16:13-20) nor deceive the faithful of His Church, the practicing Catholic can always trust the Church on issues of official faith and morals. When the
Catholic obeys the Church, he is obeying Christ Himself. This Church will always reveal the Truth Christ wants us to have at any point in time, BUT because God gives EACH man FREE WILL to choose good or evil, mankind's actions, including those of cardinals, bishops and priests can scandalize The One Church that has the fullness of Revealed Truth.


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More than you think? Yes: The covert "al-Qaeda" strike


Besides a lack of personal prayer on the part of Church leaders and the laity, I also believe the Church Crisis exists due to (the equivalent of) a non-reported set of "al-Qaeda" attacks that occurred in the 1960's or 70's in Catholic seminarians. Professors who were never interested in teaching Catholic doctrine, were allowed in Catholic seminaries to teach. Religious Sisters were allowed in that taught new age and feminist trash. I personally know of two close friends WHO LEFT the seminary in disgust due to things they saw and heard, including mistletoe
in the seminary?



When the head of the NCCB, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Wilton Gregory, is on the record as saying:

"IN MANY CATHOLIC SEMINARIES THERE IS A HOMOSEXUAL ATMOSPHERE."

We have a problem!


Question: What single, practicing male Catholic, age 25 - 40, would want to be trained in a seminary with a homosexual atmosphere?

In my opinion, only one without a brain!

P.S. I don't know about you, but I don't want a brainless pastor.


Any Catholic would agree we have a major problem here!!!

Since 9/11 America has been fighting:


"TheWar On Terror"


What Cardinal Wilton Gregory and the rest of the Bishops in America have to decide is weather they plan to strike back in this:

"Spiritual War against America in Catholic seminaries

And we wonder how the Church could give us a priest like Fr. John Geoghan or Fr. Paul Shanley?

If you need more proof try this:

http://www.goodbyegoodmen.com
by Michael Rose
http://www.goodbyegoodmen.com/reviews.html
http://www.diocesereport.com/diocese_report/news/goodbye_goodmen.shtml


In a letter I wrote to several Vatican congregations, I tried to explain why, even if Cardinal Law resigns, it wouldn't be enough. Quote from my letter below:

You may be asking: Why wouldn't his resignation be enough then? Let me give you an analogy.

Clinton, the former president of the USA, destroyed the moral fabric of America for 8 years. I think, Holy Father, you would agree that President Bush is far more of a practicing Christian than Clinton. BUT after Clinton left, Bush came in as the new president.


QUESTION:
Were all the immoral Clinton appointees gone when Bush first entered the Oval Office? No, of course not. The Clinton system, loaded with immoral people was still AND probably is still with us, but to a lesser extent.


Your Holiness, there is a similar problem with the people who support Cardinal Law, the decision maker’s that assist him and former Cardinal Medeiros. They have no courage and in some cases are not loyal to the Magisterium!

The point I tried to make later in the letter was that, "someone" has to clean THE cover-up system that fears being caught WITH a system of courage and truth that "acts quickly and correctly" when scandal is found. This especially is true for the toilet waste we see in Catholic seminaries in America NOW! This will include reviewing and if necessary replacing rectors of seminaries, professors and textbooks.

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Should Cardinal Law resign?

How can any Cardinal, Bishop or Priest who allows children to be homosexually abused by other priests, command any moral authority? How can any Cardinal or Bishop like this, be pro-life? He has said that he trusted the psychiatrists and psychologists along with their evaluations. This truly baffles me!!! Since when do you need the secular sciences to tell you that a priest that is sexually abusing minors IS rehabilitated and can go back into the ministry, when the CATHOLIC FAITH tells you he should be thrown out!! Just because a killer confesses to a murder doesn't mean you should let him back into other parishes to do more possible killing.

I recently

read a Pentecost letter by His Eminence where he explains his action in handling the Fr. Shanley case. In the 7th paragraph from the bottom, which starts, "I am certain that as time goes on.." He says:

Mistakes have also been made when facts which should have been before me were not. I often have made decisions based on the best information available to me at the time, only to find that new details later became available which some may argue I should have had previously. Obviously, I wish that I had been aware of all pertinent facts before making any past decisions.

If what His Eminence says is true, then several questions MUST be asked:

  • What people or group of people were responsible for ensuring that all the pertinent information
    on such "priests" was in front of you?

  • Why were they covering up? I don't see the relationship between holiness and covering-up
    the sins of a priest?

  • Have they been FIRED/REMOVED from this position?

  • Did a brother bishop give you bad information and if so did you follow-up with him?

(Below quotes from "Alan Keyes is making Sense" on MS-NBC 10:00pm Monday through Thursday)

In his deposition Cardinal Law was asked:

Question:
Okay. What was the practice that you had in place in 1984 when you were Archbishop to deal with this kind of Allegation when it comes in?

Answer:
I viewed this as a pathology, as an illness, obviously I viewed it as something that had a moral component. It was, objectively speaking a gravely sinful act and that's something that one deals with in ones life, in ones relationship to God. But I also viewed this as a pathology, as an illness, and so consequently, I, not being an expert in this pathology, not being a psychiatrist, not being a psychologist, my modus operandi was to rely upon those whom I considered and would have reason to consider to have an expertise that I lacked in assessing this pathology, in accessing what it is that this person could safely do or not do.


As Alan pointed out it is sad that the primary problem that the Cardinal saw was a physical problem, a pathology, an illness. It was the moral part that was a sub-component of the bigger problem. As a predominant spiritual leader
within the Catholic Church in America, a Catholic prelate is suppose to be make spiritual judgments isn't he, not physical.

As Alan said, "The nature of the sin was not just about the individual committing it but the harm done to the individual (in this case John Geoghan) suffering the sin, about the moral and spiritual attack on his welfare. This consideration didn't enter into his response. Also not a word was spoken about the other side of this grave sin: the assault on the moral and spiritual life of the youth."

Serious doubt is being raised about whether someone who was in a position of spiritual leadership was actually making judgments according to spiritual priorities versus worldly or earthly priorities.

Question: If the spiritual assault of the youth was not on his mind then, how can one have any confidence it will be on his mind in the future? Remember Our Lord Jesus said that it's the one that destroys the soul and body that does more harm than the body. (Matthew 10:28)

I believe you can safely conclude that I believe Cardinal Law should resign ON HIS OWN.

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Defenders of the Cardinal or ..... of the Church?

I have heard several priests and lay people defend Cardinal Law and his actions. I am truly saddened by this. Why? Because my brother Catholics are putting their faith in a sinful man, not in THE Church that will not err on issues of official faith and morals. My fear is that too many of the Catholic faithful will put their faith in a bishop or a Cardinal but when that Cardinal or Bishop falls from grace, they will loose the faith, fall away from the Church or join another Protestant sect with the same faults. To this practicing Catholic it has been truly disappointing the NO priests have come out to chastise the Cardinal during this time. Does Holy Obedience mean I have to defend the actions or inaction of a negligent Cardinal? Does becoming a priest mean I can't criticize my local ishop when he needs correction? If St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, implored Pope Gregory XI, to leave Avignon
and go back to Rome to
reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States, does this mean a priest in the Church today can't correct the local bishop or even speak from the pulpit on an issue that needs correction?

This is not right!

God gave this Catholic a brain and I don't think it was meant to be parked in idle!


My position: I am a CATHOLIC CHURCH apologist, NOT a CATHOLIC CARDINAL apologist!

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The other main problem arising from this crisis:

True Christianity is scandalizing other Christian faiths not in union with us.

This crisis is truly an embarrassment for the One Church that should be holding up Christian values. As many of you know, Catholics and Orthodox agree on many, many doctrinal issues where other Protestant Churches will disagree with us. My Coptic Orthodox friend at work has told me that the newspapers in Turkey publish embarrassing headlines about the Catholic Church with it's terrible priests! This has opened the door for criticism by three possible groups:

  1. non-Christians, like Muslims, who hate Jews and Christians alike

  2. professional anti-Catholics, like James White and Lorraine Boettner, who make a living off of falsely attacking the Church.

  3. Un catechized "catholic" support /action groups

This last bullet, Un catechized "catholic" support/action groups, is especially a problem in the Boston area. So far there are two groups that have sprung up. Voice of the Faithful and Coalition of Concerned Catholics. The
problem with these groups is that they falsely believe they should change the Church.

The fact IS that the Church, through the sacraments, should change US.

Yes, Catholics have the right and obligation to make their needs known to the pastor AND have the right to start organizations on own to build the CATHOLIC faith within the community. To that extent they should be applauded and encouraged. Where they go wrong is when they allow a democratic process to develop within their group
that:


  • does not respect the Pope and Magisterium
  • does not respect current Church doctrines and teachings (scandalous actions of cowardly
    bishops obviously excluded.)
    and
  • encourages changes in the Church, that can never happen due to the nature of the Church
    and her Divine Teachings. (Example: women priest.)

Guys, the Catholic Church is not a Democracy! The Episcopal Church is, but not us! Our teachings and disciplines come from Christ Himself. Surely, the Church may need, like today, a reformation from WITHIN, but we don't need another Protestant revolution! NO ONE will disagree with you, that we need changes in the Church. The point
is that we have to obtain change the correct way, by holding on to what we believe as Catholics and making suggestions that fall within correct doctrinal parameters.

Jim Mulluer, president of Voice of the Faithful, will make reference to a vague theological concept called the "sensus fidelium" -- about taking what ordinary Catholics already believe on some open doctrinal question and using that to help the Magisterium make a firm decision about it. But:


  1. it doesn't apply to closed questions (e.g., women priests),
  2. the "sense of the faithful" is not measured by polling or voting, or expressed in public pressure campaigns.

Some of these dissenting types think that as long as they can dress up their agenda in a Latin phrase, then they can fool the more "conservative" (i.e., orthodox) Catholics into accepting it.

What he's really up to is this:

  • we'll build an organization, and we'll get some power;
  • and *later* we'll ask the members what the agenda should be.
  • You can just **trust us 'till then.**

Joseph Gallagher Jr., cofounder of the Coalition of Concerned Catholics in Boston is one of several groups that is asking the United Nations to intervene in sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, and hold the Vatican accountable. Obviously Joe is more interested in bringing the Church down then restoring and building it up FROM WITHIN. I have no idea where he thinks the U.N. or Ungodly Nations will help. My question is this: Which Headline do you believe makes more sense:

Vatican condemns the United Nations for its position.

United Nations condemns the Vatican for its position.

Obviously both these groups are great opportunities to pull away uncatechized Catholics from the faith and get new members for other Protestant Churches as well.

What I would support.

What is needed in this area THAT I WOULD SUPPORT is a Boston-based support group for abused children and families that would:

  • respect the Papacy or Pope and
  • base its mission statement, feedback, and suggestions within current and future Catholic teachings

I believe working within the Church in a constructive manner is the only way to ensure this does not happen again. I understand souls of "once children" have been morally and spiritually hurt and that families have been wounded. What is needed are people who can forget the past and build a plan to prevent this scandal from happening again. If you ARE one of the "once children" that has been sexually abused by a Catholic priest, you have to ask yourself a question:

Do you want to be part of a process to strengthen Jesus' ONE Church, or part of a process to destroy God's Church?

Are you a Christian or family of daily prayer ? or one that will hold a grudge to your judgment day?

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The Good that can be pulled out of this

As we know, there is nothing bad that God permits, that a greater good can't be pulled out of. I believe their are several very good things that can be pulled out of this Crisis:


  1. Priests including Cardinals and Bishops will strive more for a TRUE daily prayer life.
  2. Seminaries will be restored to a Christ like environment.
  3. There will be an opportunity to correct misconceptions about Catholic beliefs, especially between the terms infallibility and impeccability.

    Infallibility
    (ihn-FAL-lih-BIHL-uh-tee): The inability to err in teaching
    the truth. In theology, it refers to: 1) the Church, in that she preserves
    and teaches the deposit of truth as revealed by Christ through the Pope.


    Impeccability
    (ihm-pehk-uh-BIHL-ih-tee ): The impossibility of sinning,
    which both Jesus (because of His divinity) and Mary (because of the Immaculate
    Conception) enjoyed, but the Holy Father, Cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons
    NOR I enjoy.

I believe the Vatican will over time require more strict standards for rectors of seminaries, professors, and reviewing of textbooks used in seminaries.

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What won't work

Before I go on to my recommendations, I first want to briefly address what won't work. In many Catholic discussion circles there has been some talk about allowing priests to marry.

First let's clarify that in the Latin or Roman Church, celibacy IS NOT a doctrinal issue. It is a disciplinary issue and can change. (This is unlike the issue of women priest, which IS a doctrinal and theological issue in nature and CANNOT change.) In the universal or Catholic Church WE DO have married priests! I believe they are in the Eastern Church in areas like Egypt and Asia.

The Western Church or Roman Rite will probably never allow a married priesthood for VERY GOOD reasons.

In the Church, different people are called to different vocations. Some are called to the married life, a very holy vocation; some are called to the single life, also a holy vocation; some are called to be a religious, like a nun or brother, and some are called to a special vocation: to act in the place of Jesus, the priesthood.

In a REAL sense they ARE MARRIED. They are married to the CHURCH, the Bride of Christ. Their children are the parishioners of their local parish. Their time is used to feed the faithful with the Word of God and the Eucharist and
to develop ministries that help them grow in holiness.

An important point to remember here: IT IS THEIR CHOICE! They pray over this decision and understand
what is behind this lifetime commitment.

Jesus, the role model for all priests, HIMSELF was celibate! If God himself is celibate, I would hate to be on the other side of that disagreement :)))

A married priesthood IS THE EXCEPTION, NOT THE NORM.

A married Roman Catholic priest would be forced to choose between: their spiritual family: the parishioners of his Church & his natural, biological family.

Seeing that the problem of pedophilia among Protestant denominations exists at high rates, I believe a married Roman rite priesthood is a false argument.

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My 10 recommendations toward a solution.If the Holy Father put me in charge of all Catholic seminaries in America, this is what I would do:


  1. CLOSE ALL Catholic seminaries that don't have Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.
  2. Kick out ALL SEMINARIANS that have no interest in weekly Adoration of our Blessed Lord.

    (Remember, we as Catholics believe the Eucharist is the source and summit
    of the Catholic Faith! If we are suppose to believe it,
    shouldn't our future
    priests?
    )

  3. IMMEDIATELY FIRE all teachers that don't have time for one hour of Eucharistic Adoration
    a week.

    (Are you are a current seminary professor that has no time for one hour of Eucharistic Adoration a week OR don't understand why you have to do this? You're fired!)

  4. I would advise the Holy Father to recall and, if needed, replace Cardinals and/or Bishops
    that:

    1. provide no oversight for Catholic Catechesis in their diocese, especially in their own Catholic seminaries.
    2. allow non-Catholic doctrine to be taught
    3. allow scandalous non-Christian sexual behavior within their diocese
    4. ARE NOT firing OR removing:

      • Advisors or assistants in local diocesan administrative offices, OR rectors of Catholic seminarians who are found to be covering up scandalous actions of any diocesan priest or seminarian.

        (If you work for a bishop in a Catholic diocese and are found covering up grave scandal of a local priest, YOU'RE FIRED IMMEDIATELY! Are you a diocesan priest yourself? I would commend to the Holy Father that this priest be sent to a contemplative Catholic religious monastery for a minimum of 1 year of prayer and penance.)
    5. Fire all teachers that are teaching anything not in line with Catholic Doctrine
      (femi-nazi theology, New Age, Liberation Theology, etc.)
    6. Kick out ALL SEMINARIANS who are or have been involved with any homosexual activity in
      or outside the seminary.
    7. Kick out ALL SEMINARIANS who are or have been involved with any illicit sexual activity
      with women, inside or outside the seminary.
    8. Entrance restrictions for all seminarians:

      Any man who has an interest in being a seminarian but who does not have an interest in regular Eucharistic Adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and of developing a private prayer life for oneself would be barred from entering.

      Any man who has an interest in being a seminarian but has any history of homosexual activity would be barred from entering. Any seminarian who has participated in the homosexual lifestyle will never understand the family life and family life counseling issue that will arise in any future priesthood.


    9. Dealing with future allegations of sexual abuse by a priest:

      What the news media does NOT tell you is that MOST Catholic priests humbly do their job and live a holy, celibate life. And again, we have to say THIS IS BY THEIR CHOICE! False accusations against good priests in the Church cannot and should not be tolerated.

      I would tell the Holy Father that ALL priests are innocent until proven guilty by canon law, but set diocesan policy such that any priest accused of sexual abuse is treated as if he were guilty for the safety of the faithful and until the local diocese has more to evaluate each case on. I know this may seem like a contradiction, but we have to strive to protect ALL PARTIES: the children, the family and the priest.

      This is not an EITHER OR resolution we have to reach but a AND BOTH resolution.
      Diocesan policy also HAS TO BE SET such that possible phonies, who just want to make money off the Church, will see that their attempts will be fruitless.
    10. Dealing with the reality of possible pedophile priests still serving in the Church:

      If there is a pedophile priest serving in the Church who either:

      - wants to forget the past abuse he has committed
      - doesn't believe he did anything wrong
      - believes he is "reformed"
      - or some other excuse

      he needs to talk to his bishop and turn in his collar. My concern here is that, like the alcoholic, he is in denial.

      The prelates of the Catholic Church in America have to regain the spiritual strength and courage, I believe they have lost. My question to the prelates of the Church is this:

      If you know of a priest that has sexually abused a minor in the past, but is still in the ministry:
    • Is your inaction, a decision:

      Jesus would approve of?
      Our Blessed Mother and Joseph approve of?
      the saints in Heaven approve of?

    • Are you prepared with a reply on judgment day to account for your decision or lack of one?

      Sidenote:
      Despairing thoughts are not an option, courageous decisive actions and strict diocesan policies accompanied by prayer ARE!

11. STAPLES, the Office Superstore, has the solution to restoring Catholic seminaries to a state of holiness.

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Staples, the Office Superstore

Background: I have been in Hi Tech most of my career. Only recently has the economy forced me to start working retail sales. We have a great team in the Natick, Mass store.

In corporate, I believe they have a great idea that can help sustain holiness in Catholic seminaries for years to come. Every month Corporate Staples sends someone, unannounced to all our retail chains and verifies that, indeed, we are giving great Staples customer service. They call this being "mystery shopped". After the mystery shopper has been through a retail Staples, he or she records the responses to about 10 questions that are asked to the employee being mystery shopped. These answers are reported back to Corporate for review. Random employees are asked questions in different Staples departments.

E.g. Front End/Cashiers, Greeters, Electronics, and Merchandise.

Example:

Were your greeted kindly?
Were you assisted quickly?
Was your need for coming to Staples met?
Did the Staples associate ask questions about your needs?




Based on the results of the mystery shop, the vision of Corporate toward that retail store can be very positive or very negative. In certain situations this can help the employees, as a team, financially.

The Church


Let's turn to the situation in the Church now. By now most informed Catholics know that the Vatican is thinking about having Apostolic Visitations to Catholic seminaries in America. This idea is headed in the right direction but is not good enough. What do I mean?

If you, and your spouse, if married, plan on having someone over for dinner and you know what time they will be coming, are you going to leave the house in the mess that it currently is? Let's take the Smith family. A well-rounded family of five that strives to practice their Catholic faith.

  • If the Smith family knows ahead of time that the deacon is coming for dinner, how much
    will they clean up the house?

  • If the Smith family knows ahead of time that the pastor is coming for dinner, how much
    will they clean up the house?

  • If the Smith family knows ahead of time that the bishop is coming for dinner, how much
    will they clean up the house?

  • If the Smith family knows ahead of time that the Holy Father is coming for dinner, how
    much will they clean up the house?

I think you see where I'm going here.. Apostolic Visitations to Catholic seminaries in America by the Vatican is a good start, but if "those demonic" people who have allowed a gay subculture into the seminaries, know Vatican officials
are coming, of course they are going to "clean the house up", but only temporarily!!! As soon as these Vatican officials leave, it is back to the gay sub culture that was present before the Visitation.


No, what is needed is a "Vatican Mystery Shop". I have to confess here that I don't know exactly how to implement the program, but this is where the Vatican has to "be creative" within orthodox boundaries. This would inevitably have to involve not a mystery shopper like at Staples, but one of three mystery evaluators:

  • a mystery seminarian
  • a mystery seminarian professor and
  • a mystery diocesan chancery employee
Hey guys, God gave us a mind to be creative with didn't He? Canon Law SHOULD NOT protect seminary professors or chancery employees that are priests if they are encouraging a gay sub culture or teaching unorthodox things. If it does IT SHOULD BE CHANGED!

In the same way a properly trained Staples associate has nothing to fear about being mystery shopped, ....... an orthodox seminary professor or diocesan chancery employee has nothing to fear of being evaluated by someone anonymously representing the Vatican. Obviously this seminarian, professor, or employee will report
ONLY
directly back to the Vatican
on issues like:

  • what he has been taught (mystery seminarian)
  • what he has been allowed to teach (mystery seminarian professor)
  • what has been going on (mystery diocesan chancery employee)

"Mystery shop" evaluators would also have to be rotated in and out of Catholic seminaries and chanceries in America seeing that liberal Catholic bishops would be talking to each other about who, at any one time, is the mystery shop representative from the Vatican. This approach will guarantee ACCOUNTABILITY, HOLINESS and ORTHODOX TEACHINGS in the seminaries and Catholic chanceries.

Now on to YOUR objections:

  • The bishop has authority over seminaries, not the Holy Father.

    You're correct the bishop does have authority over his seminaries as the Holy Father has responsibility over seminaries in the diocese of Rome. But due to the Petrine Privilege the Holy Father has, if he knows of a bishop that is promoting scandalous teachings or a perverted sub culture in the Church, he has the right and obligation to remove that bishop from office and, if necessary, excommunicate him. Although not reported in the main stream media this has happened in America.

  • Your suggestions show a total lack of trust in the bishops of America, those chosen by the Pope himself.

    First let me start by saying I don't believe ALL bishops in America are liberal. Many are, but not all of them. Just look to Lincoln, Nebraska for an excellent bishop.

    I don't believe any papal review process for choosing bishops would knowingly ordain a bishop who would allow a gay sub culture like those we have in our seminaries today.

    [If this is a possibility,
    I would recommend to the Holy Father that we go over the review process for choosing bishops.]

    So the question: What happened between the time of a bishop's ordination and now, where they are allowing unorthodox teachings and a non-Catholic sub culture into their seminaries. I believe this goes back to a lack of
    a personal prayer life on the bishop's part but it's more than that. Let's remember here, Bishops are not divine. They are just as human as you and me. Even orthodox bishops hire those priests that
    they believe
    will help
    them to help the diocese, but:


    1. they may unintentionally make some bad choices and
    2. over time, due to a lack of courage, they may fall into "clicks" among fellow bad priests that only make the problem worse.

    As a means of justifying priestly "clicks" within the diocese I have heard St. Cyrian totally misquoted here

  • "The Church is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who
    cohere with one another."

    St. Cyprian of Carthage - To Donatus.

I believe the intent of St. Cyprian here was to "cohere with one another" in Truth and Orthodoxy, not in scandal and cover-up. Duh!!

Because bishops are human and can make mistakes, I believe having a set of mystery evaluators would only be a help and assistance to orthodox bishops. Why should an orthodox bishop worry about anything? All bishops would receive the results of their mystery visit periodically straight from the Vatican on a periodic basis, I recommend every 3 mos.

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The Holy Father's biographer has a prescription for a healthier Church

I recently read an article in a Catholic newspaper where George Weigel listed his suggestions for a healthier Church. I thought George had some great ideas. He suggests the following have to be addressed:

  1. The reform of seminary recruitment, so that effective discipleship, not certain scores on the Meyers-Briggs Personality Profile, is the first thing we look for in a candidate for the priesthood.

  2. The reform of seminarians, so that new priests are intellectually and spiritually equipped for the rigors of countercultural religious leadership in the 21st century.

  3. A vigorous investigation of religious orders where problems of sexual identity and
    conduct remain quite serious.

  4. New criteria for the selection of bishops criteria that put the emphasis on a man's apostolic
    zeal and demonstrated pastoral effectiveness in calling people to live the
    fullness of Catholic truth.

  5. The development of criteria by which the Holy See will know when a bishop has lost the capacity to govern his diocese.

  6. Confronting the sorry effects of the therapeutic culture on Catholic institutions including
    vocation offices, seminaries and novitiates.

  7. Redesigning continuing priestly education to focus more on theology and far less on
    psychobabble.


Along with no. 7, I personally would like to see, especially in America, priestly education redesigned so that new priests will encourage lay Catholics, like me, who have a strong calling to lay Catholic apologetics in the work place. Catholc Apologetics should be taught and encouraged EARLY in the CCD education of young Catholic children. Priests working in union with the Holy Father should look at Catholic Apologists in their parish as co-disciplines, working with them and their sacerdotal ministry to bring other non-Catholics to the fullness of the Christian Faith that can only be found
in Jesus' Catholic Church.





I would rather have a few strong prayerful, pastoral and orthodox "religious-order like" priests coming from the seminaries then a billion "Judas priests" rushed through that were poorly trained through no fault of their own.

Some may believe these standards are too pure, too tough or too rigid. My reply: If we are REALLY partaking in the Divine Nature God Himself as Catholics, AND WE ARE, how pure do we want to be in union with Him? If we don't want the best, we will be lead to the worst. And I don't like Hell.

(PS Please don't reply by saying God would not send anyone to Hell. Of course He wouldn't. WE SEND OURSELVES THERE!)

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Getting the trust back and my dilemma

Although I firmly believe that The Faith has not been lost among "catechized" Catholics, I do believe that a good measure of trust has been. What is a Catholic to do? How does a Catholic know whether his weekly donation will go to pay off high legal fees, to settles sex abuse law suites OR to fund the local parish school. The Bishop DOES have control of MOST OF THE money in the diocese, AS HE SHOULD. Just because we run into one or two bad bishops doesn't mean we should forget that ALL BISHOPS are the successors to the Apostles. We do have some very good bishops in the Church in America as well. Until I see some of the similar actions taken above in my "My recommendation and solution" section, I personally can't just give to the diocese of Boston, knowing there is a high probability that it will be going to pay off HIGH legal bills OR support seminarian professors or employees that should be fired.

My solution:
I will put as many dollars in the Sunday collection as the number of seminarian professors, teachers and others responsible for this scandal that are FIRED. Example: If the Archdiocese of Boston fires 3 seminarian professors or seminarian employees promoting this "gay sub culture", I'll put 3 dollars or a multiple of 3 dollars in the basket. Let's get HOLINESS BACK INTO THE SEMINARIES!!!

Like I said earlier: God gave this Catholic a brain and I don't think it was meant to be parked in idle!


Now my dilemma:



I've been talking with a priest-friend of mine and he has informed me that due to the Crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston, his parish will not be receiving funds from the Archdiocese of Boston for their parochial school (they have both a grammar and High School)

Where do you think those kids may HAVE to go. That's right, the public school, the place that passes out condoms and has books like "Heather has two Mommies"? I have been praying over this dilemma and I believe Bill O'Reilly,
though
he sways from Catholic teachings periodically
, has the solution. Don't give to the Sunday collection.
WHAT EVER MINISTRY INTERESTS YOU THE MOST, DONATE BY HAND. PUT THE CHECK, PUT THE MONEY RIGHT IN THEIR PHYSICAL HAND.

Will the Church go poor? No. Like I heard one priest say, paraphrasing, "The Church and their good priests will always be around to serve the people, even if Sunday Mass services have to be out of the garage of a local parishioner."

I know some of what I say may be controversial, but that's OK. An exchange of constructive ideas and recommendations from good hearted practicing Catholics is our best weapon toward a resolution. As always, I submit my private, personal views to the Holy See for their / Jesus' correction and/ or approval. (Matthew 16:13-20,
1 Tim. 3:15)

Sidenote:
With time I will be posting the comments I have receiving from my commentary. And I have received comments! Thanks guys for your feedback. I believe is it extremely important in the year 2002 that non-Catholic Christians as well as non-Christians, see lay Catholics not only as a Faithful people of God but also a "thinking, rational people". Faith and Reason should not be EITHER OR talking terms, but AND BOTH talking terms. That's what apologetics
is all about.



FINAL NOTE. It would be appreciated if someone could forward my suggestions to an official in the Vatican.

If someone is interested in publishing my commentary in a newspaper, magazine, Catholic or secular, here in America

I would be more then interested. I can be reached
here.


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Mike Humphrey
CPATS Webmaster, Theology Minor but Pizza Major :))
Web site developer and Catholic Apologist
http://www.cpats.org
http://www.mikeswebsites.com