Showing posts with label Bishops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bishops. Show all posts

Friday, July 9, 2021

Is it moral to finance a generation of corrupt bishops?

I consider it an error to trust and hope in any means or efforts in themselves alone; nor do I consider it a safe path to trust the whole matter to God our Lord without desiring to help myself by what he has given me; so that it seems to me in our Lord that I ought to make use of both parts, desiring in all things his greater praise and glory, and nothing else. (St. Ignatius of Loyola to Francis Borgia, 1555)
I first drafted this essay in 2019. Recent events by multiple bishops treating orthodox clergy as enemies and the faithful like nuisances has rekindled the content herein. The matters described below are merely a small sample of scandalous pastoral actions, primarily among bishops, just in recent months. Obviously not all bishops, but obviously too many bishops seem intent on steering the ark to perdition. This essay is both an examination of the merits of the argument against financing corrupt bishops and a thought experiment. It provides additional suggestions while welcoming other solutions toward orthodoxy.

The faithful deserve an authentic liturgy, justice among clergy, and truth from their shepherds in season and out of season. Faithful baptized Catholics should take note, they are royal princes and princesses in the eternal Kingdom. They merit the fullness of Christ the King.

With times as grave as they are in today's Church, what recourse do the faithful have for restoration to consistent orthodoxy? If the current trajectory persists, yet another generation of uncatechized souls will stumble unprepared to the evil snares that await. Far too many clergy have remained silent in the face of unbelief regarding the Eucharist, true marriage, life, injustices against faithful priests, or even or the very foundations of Christ's purpose as the singular door through which few will enter the eternal kingdom.

Generations of faithful have been in the habit of contributing money to the church on a regular basis. Historically, one can see the fruits of such practices, such as the existence of some of the most breathtaking churches, vibrant authentic ministries, and a zealous faithful ignited by the very truths of the faith.

Today, such fruits are sparse. And, tragically, too many clergy either refuse to teach critical doctrines in season or out, or they doubt those doctrines themselves. Would it not be welcome to hear, without hesitation and with perfect clarity, the truths of the faith? Would it not be welcome to hear this from the sacerdotal pulpit, from the mouths of the clergy—and not only the priests, but the bishops? Would it not be a tribute to truth and justice if heterodox clergy were sanctioned and orthodox clergy exalted, rather than the inverse we see today.

Years of attempts at so-called welcome "dialogue" with the hierarchy have failed. Without exaggeration, multiple bishops have turned deaf ears or outright ignored the faithful's inquiries on such matters. This is not the relationship of a shepherd and his flock. It is better described as the tyrant and the underfoot. 

What recourse remains?


Consider the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. How tragic it is that the majority of "Catholics" do not believe this foundational truth. A 2019 poll stated that only one-third of Catholics believe in the real presence. Even among weekly mass attendees, the figure is two-thirds. How is this not at 100%? What shipwreck of catechesis was permitted to fester until the figures were this scandalous? And, still, little to nothing is said among most clergy to remedy the crisis. Is it fair to interpret their silence as an attitude of unalarm? If one's house was on spiritual fire, he would act with urgency, in a frenzy, to remedy the crisis of unbelief. The clergy's silence all but shouts their apathy toward Christ being regularly received by unbelievers. Their persistent silence suggests they believe it is okay. This is not okay.

When the Eucharist was denied to then-candidate Joe Biden, who openly and persistently supported abortion, other clergy scandalously swarmed to condemn the priest. Instead of deferring to that priest, or at least citing canon law to support his own statement, Cardinal Dolan went on Fox News to say he wouldn't have denied the Eucharist to the pro-abortion politician. Chicago Cardinal Blaise Cupich, who was named several times by Bishop Vigano as it pertained to sex abuse and the disgraced Cardinal McCarrick, contradicted his fellow Illinois bishop on the matter of distributing the Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians. Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki issued a statement forbidding such "Catholic" politicians from receiving the Eucharist and cited Canon Law 915-916. Cupich contradicted Paprocki, saying such sanctions "don’t change anybody’s minds and the politicians have to deal with the "judgement seat of God." Cupich's "mind change" appeal is not only an invented requirement, but isn't even necessarily true. His statement about forgoing judgment in deference to God is an affront to every excommunication or withheld Eucharist by any bishop or priest in Church history. And, he doesn't abide by this supposed rule himself, as Cupich suspended a priest in February 2018 for burning a "gay pride" flag that was at his church. Both Dolan's and Cupich's argument to distribute Communion to the persistently defiant abortion-supporter is devoid of any theological argument supported by Canon Law or magisterial texts on the subject. Their response is political and not theological. 

Read here for Canon lawyer Ed Peters' explanation of the canonical sanction and theological basis for withholding the Eucharist to persistently defiant pro-abortion politicians. A number of Church Fathers echo the sentiment, as well. For example:
With all our strength, therefore, let us beware lest we receive communion from or grant it to heretics; Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, says the Lord, neither cast ye your pearls before swine Matthew 7:6, lest we become partakers in their dishonour and condemnation. (St. John Damascene, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4.13p, ca. 743 A.D.)
Bishop Paprocki commented on the dereliction of his peers thusly:
One of the misleading arguments voiced by some bishops and cardinals opposed to drafting this document [on the Eucharist] was that doing so would be divisive and would harm the unity of the bishops’ conference. Yes, we should strive for unity, but our unity should be based on the truths of our faith as found in Sacred Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Church. No one should want to be united on the path to perdition. (Bishop Thomas Paprocki, Catholic Times column, June 27, 2021)

Faithful parents are out there trying to teach their children about the sinfulness and perils of pre-marital sex and cohabitation. Why do their children have to hear these truths from their parents in isolation? Churches regularly, not exceptionally, marry openly cohabiting couples. Where is the clergy's clear rejection of that norm? Why are we at the point where youth can say nearly without exaggeration, "Everybody's doing it." Why do we not hear from every pulpit, not just a precious few, about the damage to couples in such situations or the perils to children growing up in unstable homes? Where are they to lead the battle to destroy this scandalous norm? How are parents supposed to convey that marriage and cohabitation are serious matters when so many clergy have shrugged at the matter? When teens see their parents making these claims about sex, they do not see the clergy backing them up with the same gravity, if at all. The parents have largely been abandoned by the clergy. Where Christ promised not to leave the faithful orphans, too many clergy today have been willing to sell those faithful for 30 pieces of secular praises.  

In keeping with the silent effort to damage families, many bishops have been seen in recent years openly championing organizations and events that explicitly mock and reject Church teaching. Lexington Bishop John Stowe "serves" as "ecclesial advisor" to the heretical group "Fortunate Familes," which celebrated the Obergefell Supreme Court decision on gay "marriage" in 2015, have rejected the idea that homosexual sex is sinful, and have called for the Church (impossibly) to contradict moral dogma on homosexual behavior. It is no wonder that there will be no consequences for a priest in Stowe's diocese, Fr. Jim Sichko, who tweeted on the Feast of the Holy Family that "there are all types of holy families out there, heterosexual and homosexual, married and unmarried..."  As well, Stowe, along with Cupich and McElroy (mentioned herein), are among direct collaborators with the group Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, which has called for women's "ordination" and has welcomed exhibitors promoting gay "marriage,", to name a few of its improprieties. Stowe, and Kentucky Archbishops Foys ad Kurtz were also among those who within hours of the release of a politically deceptive video issued unwarranted public condemnations of Covington teens in 2019.

In April 2019, Newark Archbishop Joseph Tobin, of "Nighty-night, baby" fame, decried the Catechism's language on homosexual behavior. A secular interviewer asked him how he can "welcome" people the Catechism calls "intrinsically disordered." Tobin ignorantly replied, "it’s very unfortunate language. Let’s hope that eventually that language is a little less hurtful." First, Tobin accepted the false premise that the Catechism calls persons of homosexual orientation "intrinsically disordered." It doesn't. The language of CCC#2357 states: "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." Second, when has Tobin ever lamented other references in the Catechism about other sins described similarly. Acts of lying and calumny are called "intrinsically disordered" CCC#1753). Any sexual act apart from its unitive and procreative nature is called "morally disordered" (CCC#2351). Acts of masturbation are called "gravely disordered" (CCC#2352). There are multiple other examples of sinful "disorders" in the Catechism. The very idea of disorder is a theological reference to the human person as he exists in the image of God. Proper order is a foundational concept for morality. Either Tobin does not know this or he is more concerned with whether the truth is "hurtful," as he said. In either case, Tobin delivered a lie gift-wrapped with a bow of false compassion.

As reported in March 2021, the archdiocese of Washington has a $2 million budget for the "continuing ministry" of recently resigned Cardinal Wuerl. As Phil Lawler for Catholic Culture pointed out, that's over $5,000 per day allotted for the undisclosed activity of a resigned clergyman. 

Other life and faith issues
Meanwhile, pro-life advocates David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt continue to face legal injustices after exposing Planned Parenthood for butchering and selling baby body parts. Did a swarm of bishops take to the pulpits and social media in support of this pro-life cause, just as they did to condemn a contextless video of Covington teens in January 2019? They did not.

In August 2019, the Jesuit superior general, Fr. Arturo Sosa, said the devil is not a "personal reality" in contradiction to the Catechism and Pope Paul VI, among other magisterial sources. With such ignorance at the head of the order, it is not surprising how many other American Jesuits are permitted to promote heresy and quasi-heresy.

Many dioceses have been sending funds to the "Catholic Campaign for Human Development" which regularly contradicts Church teaching in its promotion of abortion, contraception, and even the physically destructive notion of "transgenderism" in its campaigns.

In December 2019, it was revealed that Vatican funds were used to promote the R-rated film about Elton John. Also in December, we learned that the Vatican's "Peter Pence" fund, which draws collections from the world's dioceses, gives only 5% of collections to aid those amidst "war, oppression, natural disaster, and disease." In November, we learned more about a Vatican financial scandal involving former administrators who were "jailed for systematic fraud and embezzlement" and millions in other financial losses. Also in November, we learned that Pope Francis granted special appointments to Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, despite the bishop being under investigation for sex abuse and possession of gay pornography. It is reported the bishop is now failing to respond to legal notices. In October 2019, Pope Francis would not address the nature of an apparently pagan "Pachamaa" statue present at the Amazonian Synod. He later apologized that the statue, which was present before bowing worshippers in days prior, was thrown into the Tiber River. Too often, when such confusion comes from Vatican officials and clergy, there is no clarification, such as in the case with the still-unanswered Dubia; or when Bishop Vigano made his famous testimony, of widespread improprieties in the Church, Pope Francis replied, "I will not say a single word" on the matter.

When orthodoxy was actually voiced by the US Catholic Bishops in January 2020, Cardinal Cupich reared his jaws again, this time to criticize his own brethren's attempt to teach moral law. The USCCB statement included concerns regarding the new president, especially: 
"[O]ur new President [Biden] has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences."  
Cupich lamented the process by which the statement was crafted. He then chose to criticize them publicly via the Twitter app, which is itself a non-protocol. He added: "[T]he U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued an ill-considered statement on the day of President Biden’s inauguration." Again, Cupich's series of tweets offered zero confrontation of any theology at issue.

The organization Coalition for Cancelled Priests was recently formed to aide faithful priests who have been removed from active ministry with no evidence of improprieties given, and in many cases, with no explanation whatsoever. The group even received a detailed endorsement from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who has made similar efforts for orthodoxy and justice in recent years.  

Perhaps the most vocal of these priests is Father James Altman of La Crosse, Wisconsin; who is known for promoting traditional postures such as communion rails and Latin liturgy, and calling out heterodoxy among bishops. On June 8, 2021, Bishop William Callahan issued a removal the removal of the priest from ministry. In a decree, the bishop only calls for Fr. Altman to "spiritually heal and recharge and to address the issues that caused the issuance of this decree." Presumably, the issues were condemning democrat party support for abortion genocide. Late last year, the Bishop said, "His generalization and condemnation of entire groups of people is completely inappropriate and not in keeping with our values or the life of virtue." Much like the bishops arguing for distribution of the Eucharist to abortion-supporting politicians, Bishop Callahan's statement is also devoid of theological analysis. Certainly lamenting about tone and generalization of groups would result in condemning the prophets and even Christ who called the Pharisees a "brood of vipers" (Matt. 12:34). As well, there are plenty of priests making condemning generalizations with scandalous tones in public who are not in a bit of trouble with bishops. To boot, it was reported that local media was present at mass the morning of the decree, indicating secular parties were privy to the removal even before the parishoners. 

In the diocese of Rockford, Illinois, Bishop David Malloy removed from his parish Father James Parker, issuing no reason for the removal other than "various concerns," and did not reassign him to another parish, leaving the pastor in a pastoral "prison" or "limbo." It is scandalous enough that the faithful are deprived of their beloved pastor, but the bishop has since ignored their inquiries for answers. Additionally, the diocese opened their June 15 statement addressing Fr. Parker's removal as part of changes in priest assignments "typically announced" at that time of year. Since Fr. Parker was not reassigned to another parish, the diocese assertion is by all measure a false one. This is not a "typical" priest reassignment. It is penal in nature. Further discussion and documents can be read at FB group We Stand with Father Parker.

The Coalition for Cancelled Priests has a number of media resources describing this phenomenon of faithful priests removed by their bishops from ministry with no evidence of improprieties. Interviews with one of the victims, Fr. John Lovell, go into more detail. Imagine the perspective of a young man discerning the priesthood, perceiving the potentiality of being unable to practice his vocation for no apparent reason other than his orthodoxy. The scandal is intensified when one is aware of how many heterodox or outright heretical priests are allowed to persist in ministry while the faithful ones are attacked. 

It goes without saying there are a number of faithful bishops and priests. For instance, the authors of the "Dubia" presented to Pope Francis, Cardinals Raymond Burke, Joachim Meisner, Walter Brandmüller still await his answer (Carlo Caffarra has since passed away). In 2018, Auxilary Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Tomash Peta, and Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga issued a document on the truth of sacramental marriage. In November 2019, Bishop Strickland and Archbishop Chaput rebuked their peers Cardinal Cupich and Bishop McElroy—the former defended the traditional language describing abortion as a "preeminent" moral issue.

And, there are others, but there are also countless other stories of heterodox clergy well. There are too few hierarchical voices enflamed with the truth of the faith, delivered with certitude, and grounded in Sacred Tradition.

Temptation of Christ on the Mount
; Duccio, di Buoninsegna; ca. 1308-1311

In early June 2019, I had a brief Twitter exchange on this subject with JD Flynn, editor-in-chief of the Catholic News Agency. I asked if he thought it was time to suspend diocesan giving in favor of other apostolates, such as "EWTN, Catholic News Agency, Ave Maria Radio, Catholic Answers, etc..." At the time, Flynn was opposed to the idea of withholding diocesan giving, stating in part: "I think it's our moral obligation to support the local Church, qua Church, even if the administrators of that money risk their souls by their choices." He also stated "our first obligation is to support the local Church. The Code of Canon Law says we have an obligation to do so."

At the time, I thought Flynn's perspective was reasonable and acknowledged misappropriations occurring within the Church. However, as I briefly stated in that exchange, I don't think continued giving in the current climate is actually helping the larger or local church. That is what has been going on for decades. The faithful participate, they give in the Sunday basket, and the routine goes on. And, heterodoxy persists from the mouths of too many clergy, without consequence. 

Furthermore, the number of corrupt bishops and their aggression against orthodoxy has seemed to intensify in recent months. The question presents itself: Is it moral to finance a generation of corrupt bishops?

In December 2019, it was reported the Church may pay out upwards of $4 billion in sexual abuse settlements. Are the faithful obligated to contribute to such liabilities?

Canon Law states:
The legitimately accepted wills of the faithful who give or leave their resources for pious causes ... are to be fulfilled most diligently even regarding the manner of administration and distribution of goods... (Can. 1300)
[T]he ordinary can and must exercise vigilance, even through visitation, so that pious wills are fulfilled... (Can. 1300.2)
The faithful have an expectation that their giving will go toward "pious causes." Not paying legal fees for the crimes of perverted infiltrators. Not paying the salaries of archbishops who are opposed to the catechism and ignorant of moral theology. Not paying to keep churches going with bland homilies that avoid teaching the truth about relevant subjects. Not going toward the de-beautification of church architecture. Not redistributed to organizations that openly oppose Church teaching. Not going to support the lives of priests and bishops who tickle the ears of the Church's secular enemies in the media. At what point does one's financing enterprises make him complicit in pastoral crimes?

In June 2019, pro-life champion and theologian Dr. Jennifer Robak Morse was interviewed on Kresta in the Afternoon. On the subject of corruption that can occur when clergy intermingles with civil authorities, Dr. Morse stated: "And I think it is going to come from the people at the bottom. Raising their voices, raising their hands, withholding their money. You know, doing whatever needs to be done."

The situation is dire. The response must be drastic. It is not reasonable to expect collection-basket giving as usual will produce more of the same?

As mentioned earlier, there are faithful clergy. And, there are vibrant parishes and religious communities. Should these remain recipients of general giving? Perhaps. Here are the possible pros and cons of giving to faithful parishes or religious communities. The pro is to hopefully to move all dioceses to make every parish exemplary of the true faith, like the ones the faithful support financially. The con would be that dioceses might re-route funds. The argument against giving even to vibrant parishes or religious communities would be to exhort even them to be able to go to their bishops and superiors and say, "The faithful are serious. We must take the faith seriously."

Could suspension of giving result in churches closing or faithful programs disappearing? Perhaps. However, it is also possible that such reductions, such suffocations, will be the means by which the Church is born anew. Bishops must know, unequivocally, that the faithful will not stand for the persistent heterodoxy that has permeated the walls of the Church and the lips of the clergy without consequence. 

Diocesan parishes or religious orders are not the only arms of the Church available for financial giving. A number of lay apostolates remain vibrant and faithful, such as the aforementioned EWTN, Catholic News Agency, Ave Maria Radio, or Catholic Answers. There are many life apostolates such as Pro-Life Action League, Live Action, the Ruth Institute, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Prolife Across America, Waterleaf Women's Center, and more. Others include law firms that have defended pro-life and other Catholic causes, such as Becket Law or Thomas More Law Center. There are no doubt many other good life, apologetic, bioethical, and ministerial apostolates a Catholic can donate to with minimal fear that the funds will support something offensive to the faith.

In the delicate discernment process to suspend giving as described herein, what would be the signal to resume giving as normal to local parishes or religious communities? I would suggest until clear changes toward orthodoxy become normal. These are suggestions one could ask for even as a parishoner or to pursue as a member of a parish counsel. For example, the following, or things like them, would indicate the Church has begun a purification process we can expect to last:

Removal or sanction of heterodox and corrupt clergy/Restoration of faithful clergy
One of the most critical changes must be made among the clergy. As mentioned earlier, there are often no consequences for clergy who advance heretical ideas or enable corruption to flourish. Obviously, the criminal need to be removed and prosecuted. As well, so must there be consequences for clergy who foster heretical ideas, including giving a platform to those who do so. The names and improprieties described above are, scandalously, hardly the only examples. The Church must sanction or remove these culprits from positions of authority. In cases of formal heresy, excommunications should be issued, and appropriate priestly privileges revoked.

When clergy improprieties are permitted to persist without consequence, the faithful can only conclude those up the hierarchy find their improprieties acceptable. No sanctions nor removals have been dealt to the likes of Cardinal Cupich, Bishop Stowe, Archbishop J. Tobin, Fr. Sichko, Fr. Sosa (and multiple scandalous Jesuits beneath him), nor a host of other clergy promoting unsound doctrines or opposing their faithful peers. The truths of the Church are sacred. There will be no purification in the hierarchy until the corrupt are removed from corrupting.

In 1791, Pope Pius VI spoke of clergy causing public scandal, teaching error, and making pacts with secular authorities, not unlike the state of many in today's hierarchy:
Love, which is patient and kindly, as the Apostle Paul says, supports and endures all things as long as a hope remains that mildness will prevent the growth of incipient errors. But if errors increase daily and reach the point of creating schism, the laws of love itself, together with Our duty, demand that We reveal to the erring their horrible sin and the heavy canonical penalties which they have incurred. For this sternness will lead those who are wandering from the way of truth to recover their senses, reject their errors, and come back to the Church, which opens its arms like a kind mother and embraces them on their return. The rest of the faithful in this way will be quickly delivered from the deceits of false pastors who enter the fold by ways other than the door, and whose only aim is theft, slaughter, and destruction. ... We pointed out to [a Cardinal] the error of his opinion in taking the oath, and the canonical penalties which with sadness We would be obliged to apply, stripping him of the rank of Cardinal unless he removed the public scandal by a timely and appropriate retraction. (Pope Pius VI, Charitas (In the civil oath in France), 1791)
In the same vain, there can be no more removal of faithful priests with no theological reasons stated. Those faithful priests whom have fallen victim to these bishops' pastoral crimes must be restored to full ministry.

Eucharist taken seriously
As mentioned above, many of the faithful do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and a number of clergy have collaborated with corrupt politicians in devaluing its significance.

Receiving the Eucharist like common food tends to betray the divine reality at work. Receiving the Eucharist is arguably the most important thing we will ever do in our lives. Bishop Schneider has explained the significance of posture in our understanding of the Eucharist, and the advantages of receiving on the tongue or kneeling. Some parishes either use the Communion rail or place or stand behind a small portable kneeler to foster kneeling postures and reception on the tongue simultaneously.

Bishops are obligated to uphold the Church's teaching on withholding the Eucharist from politicians who publicly support mortal sins, persistently and defiantly. The Church has had such sanctions and even excommunications throughout history because the faith is a serious matter.

I wrote last year on how minimizing recourse to lay extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist can help communicate the truth of the sacrament. 

These are just some of the types of ideas the Church could advance in order to restore the true mystery of the Eucharist in the hearts of the congregation.

Edifying architecture and music
I also wrote last year about the topic of the importance of epic church art and architecture that better communicates the majesty of Christ. 

Truth from homilies
Certainly there are priests who can deliver homilies that deliver the truth with clarity, no matter the issue. It is imperative that homilies are given in light of the salvation of the souls of the faithful. However, there are too many priests (or deacons) who never or rarely enforce the truth to their congregations on "controversial" issues. Too many homilies are bland paraphrasings of the Gospel, if it is addressed at all. Too many have the effect of coddling the congregation, such as those that never confront the reality of sin. This is both from personal experience and the testimony of many others. Yet, Jesus preached such razor sharp truths that once-followers departed from him on the spot (John 6:60-66). A priest should not fear to do the same.

As mentioned earlier, when too many priests consistently avoid mentioning, for example, the true nature of the Eucharist, we have what we have today—a scandalously large number of Catholics who believe neither in the Real Presence, nor its significance. The importance of the holy sacrament should be trumpeted from the pulpits. 

When the Church marries scores of cohabiting couples, they are in a sense betraying faithful young people in need of the Church's backing. Couples who avoid contraception should have their faith confirmed from the pulpit while those who contracept are clearly explained the perverse, damaging, and sinful quality of such acts. The dangers of pornography should be articulated clearly when such rampant use is so statistically evident. The true nature of marriage between one man and one woman should be explained anthropologically, that the two sexes are not interchangeable pieces that result in the same sacred institution. Sin should be taught from the pulpit in all its forms. Families are broken, tongues are spiteful, the world grows more perverse. Souls are at stake. The priest must equip the faithful with sound doctrine, that they might live in love, and understand the richness of the true faith. The lives of heroic saints should be announced as exemplars of living out the splendorous truths that flow from Scripture and Tradition. All these and more truths facing the faithful today should be trumpeted from the pulpit, to confirm and exhort the faithful, to educate them, to equip them to carry the message to others. This should not come from a few priests. It should come from all priests.

Pope Pius XII stated:
Let priests therefore, who are bound by their office to procure the eternal salvation of the faithful, after they have themselves by diligent study perused the sacred pages and made them their own by prayer and meditations, assiduously distribute the heavenly treasures of the divine word by sermons, homilies and exhortations; let them confirm the Christian doctrine by sentences from the Sacred Books and illustrate it by outstanding examples from sacred history and in particular from the Gospel of Christ Our Lord; and — avoiding with the greatest care those purely arbitrary and far-fetched adaptations, which are not a use, but rather an abuse of the divine word — let them set forth all this with such eloquence, lucidity and clearness that the faithful may not only be moved and inflamed to reform their lives, but may also conceive in their hearts the greatest veneration for the Sacred Scripture. (St. Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu, #50, Sept. 30, 1943)
Other signs of serious Church
Celebrating the liturgy ad orientum unites the congregation with the Christians of old. Use of Latin does likewise. Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio in 2007 fostered the use of the Latin liturgy. However, the Church's negligence in teaching Latin in recent decades makes the language shift more challenging to many Catholics. As a transition, bits of the mass could be said in Latin, such as is sometimes done when "Lamb of God..." is said as "Agnus Dei..." And over time, more Latin phrases could be incorporated easily and immediately.

Some, such as Cardinal Burke or Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral rector Fr. John Lankeit, support a return to the exclusively male altar server to distance that role as simply a participational one or one of mere capability. The role these men have in mind would be one by which young boys experience liturgical life at the altar as part of a vocational discernment. This is an idea very worthy of consideration, especially in times of confusion about the sexes inside and outside the Church.

Any change made in parishes and religious communities should be done so in light of sacred tradition, befitting of the body of Christ. Too often, secular demands have transformed churches rather than the other way around. By holding to traditional sacred themes wherever possible, the Church announces itself as unique, a place that has something to offer that you cannot get in the world. This is a truth betrayed when worldly sights and sounds meet the visitor of a church, when unsound doctrines enter the holy halls and spill forth from the mouths of the clergy. What good is a Church that just regurgitates what one can already get from the world? 

It goes without saying, prayer and fasting are an integral part of the spiritual life. This situation is no different. In the opening Ignatian quote, the saint encourages us to also work with what God has given us.

If one agrees that the Church is in need of much reform and purification, then the questions of financial giving to parishes or religious communities include: Should withholding financing to corrupt bishops be plan B in light of their refusal to dialogue or confront theological arguments? Does financing corruption and injustices make one complicit in the crimes of corrupt bishops? 

A natural reaction for some might be concern that this would bring about an end to various church programs. However, this only means those programs would not be funded by parishes. They could still be funded if they were compartmentalized from parish coffers with separate fund raisers or oversight by lay apostolates.

Another objection is that the bishops in league with secular officials will receive their funding from those secular powers in exchange for secular favors. That corruption is a possibility, but those withholding money still won't be culpable of financing the corruption.

Another objection might be fear that parishes will close. This is another possibility if the faithful were to, in large numbers, withhold their money. The question then is whether or not the Church has to get small before it can grow anew. Will pruning, although painful, result in restored vibrancy and life?  This was the thought of then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI over 50 years ago:
The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. ... As the number of her adherents diminishes...she will lose many of her social privileges. ... But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret. (Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and Future, 1969)
Do we have the courage to go through such a purgation? Does the current situation call for such a drastic reaction as the withholding of money from parishes or religious communities until serious signs of purgation appear? Is financing corruption immoral? These are the questions on the table. May the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of Our Lady move the faithful wherever God will be glorified.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

When Bishops embrace politics over pastoring

In January 2019, the diocese of Covington Kentucky, under direction of Archbishop Roger Joseph Foys, issued a condemnation one day after a viral video appeared to show high school boys harassing an older man at the March for Life in Washington. The archdiocese called the students' behavior "opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person" and issued an apology to the actual aggressor. The media had already politicized the issue, emphasizing race, and showing only a specious snippet of video that belied the story. The light-speed reaction of the archdiocese has left them embarrassed as subsequent footage of the incident revealed the older man to have been the aggressor. Even though the archdiocese openly condemned the students absent of further investigation, their most recent statement said it is "important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate." Lexington Bishop Stowe originally called the students a, "contradiction of the very reverence for human life that the march is supposed to manifest." Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz tweeted a condemnation of what he claimed were "the shameful actions of the Covington Catholic High School students." Other bishops made similar premature condemnations. They wittingly or not worked in concert with an unethical media, hostile to the Church and the pro-life movement. And, once again, they showed themselves perfectly capable of crying out in unison when politically popular, but painfully mute when needing to champion unpopular, but true, teachings of the faith.

In February 2018, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich responded in a week to publicly condemn and sanction a priest who burned a flag promoting homosexuality that once hung in his parish. Meanwhile, after two priests in Cupich's archdiocese were arrested for committing a public sexual act with each other, Cupich said he would wait for an investigation. Neither originally, nor over four months later, has any public condemnation come from Cupich. Cupich is also the Archbishop who responded within 48 hours to the first Viganó letter about clergy abuse by say saying the Pope should focus on "other things" and that addressing the letter was to go down a "rabbit hole." Vexingly, the Pope still appointed Cupich to the organizing committee of the February abuse synod.

In June 2018, news media drew attention to the temporary separation of family members crossing the southern U.S. border while screening occurred. Although these detainments were temporary and complicated by such matters as child sex traffickers often posing as a child's parents, multiple bishops, in a unified, simultaneous voice, condemned the policy in the harshest language. Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger referred to the practice "In light of the canonical penalties that are there for life issues" and suggested the hierarchy consider "canonical penalties for Catholics who are involved in this". San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said, "To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral (and) evil."  Brownsville Archbishop Daniel Flores said, "separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy." Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron said, "The forced separation of children from their parents, which is underway now at our southern border, is an unconscionable violation of human dignity." Chicago Archbishop Cupich also spoke out immediately (He did not wait for further investigation as with his priests in Feb. 2018), stating the policy was "nothing remotely Christian, American, or (sic) morally defensible..." These are just a small sample. But whatever one thinks of these detainment policies (the policy was since deauthorized), if the bishops were truly concerned about damage to families, where is their massive condemnation about ongoing issues that are destroying legions of families, in numbers no border detainments will ever approach? Where are the bishops' unified and sobering statements about family destroyers such as divorce, cohabitation, pre-marital sex, or contraception? These things have created a hemorrhage of destruction in the institution of the family. Obviously, the bishops have shown they have the ability to issue strong condemnations in a unified voice. Why not conduct a communication blitz on these other matters instead of something politically charged that does not even constitute objective immorality?

Jesus Chasing the Merchants from the Temple by Quentin Matsys, 16th cent.
Public domain image acquired from Wikimedia Commons.
These incidents are some among many examples. Meanwhile, scandals among the hierarchy themselves persist. The faithful are left vexed. Stories of infiltration abound. Neither Pope Francis nor any other named bishops have been able to rebut the content of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó's letters detailing cover-up of sexual deviance within the Church. Pope Francis has neither replied to the 2016 dubia issued by four cardinals on the matter of Communion. Stories of priests teaching heterodoxy from the pulpit persist. Bishops consistently react fast when making popular political condemnations, but react glacially slow or altogether silently when upholding Church teaching or when condemning ills coming from their own ranks. The current state of bishops is unacceptable.

What are the faithful to do? Foremost, there is prayer. Another consideration some Catholics have suggested is withholding Sunday giving in favor of other faithful Catholic and non-profit organizations. In this scenario, dioceses are withheld funds until the true doctrines of the faith are promoted and opponents from within the Church are silenced or expelled. However, there is opposition to that view, such as from Catholic radio host Al Kresta from November 2018. Phillip Lawler, who has been instrumental in journaling scandal within the Church, also has suggestions in his recent book, The Smoke of Satan: How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, and the Faithful...and What Can Be Done About It.

Further resources:
Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones, Psychology Today (2011)
Unprotected movie, Don Johnson Evangelistic Ministries (2018)
Children falling short in school? Blame parental break-ups, Nicole M. King and Bryce J. Christensen (2018)
Kresta in the Afternoon, Jan. 25, 2019, hour 1, interview with Phil Lawler (on Covington Catholic incident)
The Patrick Madrid Show, Jan. 21, 2019, hour 1 (on Covington Catholic incident)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Revisiting Fr. John Corapi in light of current Church scandal

Detail of Fr. John Corapi from
his "Heaven & Hell" CD collection
Fr. John Corapi was considered among the greatest Catholic preachers of the 1990s and early 2000s. He left public ministry in June 2011.1 I blogged about his departure back then, including this timeline of events. A statement from a priest in his order claimed his behavior was "unbecoming of a priest." Rumors abounded that he engaged in improprieties with one or more women and possibly returned to drugs, from which he escaped decades ago. Fr. Corapi argued the canonical process was flawed, stating that his canonical and other attorneys concluded he "cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process."

Today, the Church faces a renewed look at the modern sex abuse scandal. More prominently figuring in coverage is that 80% of victims have been male and post-pubescent.  This is consistent with data reported in 2004. Although this does not mean simply being "gay" makes one a predator, it does mean those who are gay and predatorial are active in the Church.

Reigniting the current attention to the scandal was the August 22, 2018 letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. In the letter, he describes a network of pro-homosexual and/or heterodox clergy having risen to key positions in the Church throughout the decades.

Viganó's account is striking because of the high position within the Church from which it comes. But it is not unique among clergy itself. A scathing exposition on the homosexual subculture and powerful clergy blocking faithful clergy was written in 2012 by Fr. Dariusz Oko. In June, journalist Rod Dreher recounted his efforts to break the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick scandal as far back as 2002, but those with information would not go on record. A popular homily on August 26 by Fr. Robert Altier expounded on infiltration dating back to the early 20th century, as described in such places as the famous book AA-1025.

There are many other accounts describing the scandalous behavior of infiltrating culprits, roadblocks encountered throughout the decades by orthodox priests, and more. Heterodox clergy are at the highest levels. Faithful clergy are persecuted and threatened. With all this in mind, let's return to Fr. Corapi.

I recently listened again to a number of Fr. Corapi's talks from the 90s and early 00s. Whatever the truth about his departure, his talks were among the most popular the Church has heard in recent memory. They were candid, typically delivered passionately, truthful, and backed firmly by magisterial teaching. If you have old CDs or MP3s, I would recommend giving them a listen again. His messages from back then are largely just as relevant today.

Let's review several excerpts from Fr. Corapi's talks in light of what has been described about Church scandal today. Emphasis mine:
I sat in a meeting not that long ago with a number of bishops and theologians. I sat between two bishops. The one on my left said, “Well, we’re wasting our time in this meeting.” It was on moral theology. I said, “Why is that, Bishop?” He said, “Well, until we come out and publicly denounce Pope Paul VI and Humanae Vitae, we’re wasting our time.” Yeah, the Bishop said that. To my face. I didn’t read it on the front page of The Wanderer. He said it! My hearing was fine. I made him repeat it three times to make sure. The one on my right said, “I don’t think we can talk much about formation of conscience, you know, it’s in the catechism, but, you know, we have to tell our people they have to form their conscience to the world around them.” What? What do you mean by that? “Well, we’re not the only ones with a good idea. We have to be up to date and people of our times.” “What do you mean, that if the culture says that it’s all right to commit mortal sin, we should form our conscience in accord with that?” He said, “Oh, mortal sin, I doubt there is such a thing.” Now if you’d ever confront one of them with this, they’d deny it to your face. We tolerate evil men! And watch out, the consequences are about to come home to roost.  ...  (MP3)
Those self-styled apostles, who are nothing of the sort, you found that they don’t really teach what the Church teaches, however clever their language, however subtle their heresies. Let me tell you something, and I’m saying it straight out. There are two Churches right now. The right one and the wrong one — God’s Church and Satan’s assembly. (Apocalypse Now #2 of 4, 1994) (MP3)
A religious sister I knew for years, forty-some years professed in an active order, marginalized because she was faithful to the Church. Still wore her religious habit. Thought it was odd that the only novice they’d had in years was about to be professed, and she wasn’t invited. She also thought it odd that the ceremony was to take place on what she thought was the vigil of All Saints Day—midnight, Halloween in other words. She hid in the choir loft. What she saw can’t be repeated. It involved witchcraft and lesbianism. She confronted the superior the next day and was told “If you ever say a word, we’ll put you in a mental hospital. And it will be your word against ours, and you won’t win.” She came back from the school she had taught in for thirty years to find her suitcases in the parking lot and the locks changed. Her reward for forty-some years of religious profession. And a good lay woman had to come and take her to live with her. (Apocalypse Now #3 of 4, 1994) (MP3)
I sat in a room having dinner with a group of 10 priests two months ago. After dinner, one of my brothers said, “What do you think of the new encyclical on moral theology?” [probably Veritatis Splendor from August 1993] They didn’t know me. I was a stranger there. One of the priests responded, “He’s got some nerve trying to tell us what to do.” And it escalated. Like sharks smelling blood working themselves up into a frenzy. And the hatred that radiated out of that room would frighten you. And I’ve seen it for years. ... (MP3)
At a recent convocation of priests in a diocese in the northeast, [to] get together to discuss the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the main speaker, who had 90% of the time, said in a nutshell, “Don’t pay too much attention to it, boys.” And the bishop sat there. “Don’t believe it literally. Because we don’t believe that anymore. The parts on moral theology—ugh! They talk about sin! Never talk about sin. Talk about immature behavior. Talk about a psychological deficiency, but never mention sin. We don’t want to give anyone a guilt complex.” This is what’s going on in your Church and mine, the Bride of Christ. But the Bride of Christ is indefectibly holy and beautiful. But at the moment, She’s being attacked—in a sense raped. That is not alright with me, nor should it be with you. (To Love the Church is to Love the Lord, 1993) (MP3)
I know many places right now where a lie is being taught that there is no such thing as original sin. That is a heresy. In case you didn’t know it, you’re hearing it here. Heresy. Jesus Christ is divine without any question. That’s an old heresy that’s been recycled—Arianism. He is not merely human. He is fully God and fully man, true God and true man. The Blessed Virgin Mary is immaculately conceived, preserved without sin from all eternity in virtue of her son’s passion, death, and resurrection. Virgin before, during, and after birth. Dogma. Doctrine. Without faith in that it is impossible to please God. Why? Because He’s revealed it to us. We have a better idea than God? I think not. We smarter than God’s Church? I think not. And it is nothing but unmitigated callous arrogance to think that we know more than what’s been revealed. And there are millions, possibly, who fall into that category. And you can go in many diocese and see it taught at the highest levels, from the chancery office down, including in our seminaries. And then you wonder why Father has a problem. Then you wonder why Father has a moral problem. Then you wonder why Father isn’t feeding you with the substantive doctrine of truth. (The Truth is a Matter of Life and Death, 1993) (MP3)
Very often a moral problem is behind a doctrinal problem. Why is it that they can’t see that artificial contraception, homosexual behavior, just isn’t right? In some cases, part of their life. And how are you going to preach against it, unless you convert, change your life? (Attack on Truth, ca 2004) (MP3)
Notice in the first story about the meeting with bishops, the bishops condemn the papal encyclical on human sexuality, Humanae Vitae. Fr. Corapi proceeds to then describe something like a competing subculture when he refers to "God's Church and Satan's assembly." Notice how Fr. Corapi describes teachers in the Church who try to make "conscience" the primary driver of "morality" instead of Church teaching.

We still see this. For example, in February 2018, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich stated in February 2018 that conscience must be the primary driver of morality instead of universal Church precepts. His statements remind us of the idea of the "dictatorship of relativism" then-Cardinal Ratzinger warned about in 2005. In September, Cupich swiftly sanctioned a priest for burning a flag promoting homosexuality that once hung at his parish. Of Viganó's letter on Church sex scandal (which named Cupich), Cupich quickly called the allegations going down a "rabbit hole," made accusations of racism, and insisted the Church has a "bigger agenda" to worry about. Cupich also endorsed the book of and invited to speak a Jesuit priest who regularly promotes homosexual behavior, has referred to a man's same-sex partner as "husband," and hopes so-called "married" same-sex couples will kiss at the sign of peace in the same way married couples do. These are just examples of many occasions in which Archbishops, bishops, and priests deviate from Church teaching and deceive the laity.

Notice Fr. Corapi describe how a heterodox priest said to "never talk about sin." In Cupich's entire February talk, sin is mentioned once only when he quotes Pope Francis dismissing the idea that people in "irregular" relationships are necessarily in mortal sin. The concept of sin is supplanted with the notion of "accompaniment," which is mentioned in some form 18 times. He describes what includes sinful arrangements only as different types of "situations" some 10 times.

Notice in Fr. Corapi's story about the nuns and witchcraft, the faithful sister was threatened with mental rehab. A September 25 blog post by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf describes the frequency of this same ploy used against orthodox priests.

Notice in the other stories the attack on authentic doctrine that often comes with corruption and moral problems. According to Viganó's now-famous report, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was instrumental in Cupich's ascension to Archbishop. And McCarrick, as is now well-known, has been a central figure and culprit in the Church's sexual scandal for decades. Doctrinal and moral corruption, as Fr. Corapi described, often work in concert. Exceptions are not strong objections. If a doctrinal error is deliberately perpetrated by a clergyman who has not committed sexual scandal directly, he still, by virtue of diluting the truth of the faith, fosters the belief that Church morals are malleable.

Many voices have now risen to describe the devil's vicious tactics to silence orthodoxy and promote immorality in the Church. It is not publicly known what was the true fate of Fr. John Corapi and why he ended his ministry. We know his popularity and willingness to call out heterodox bishops no doubt made him a thorn in the sides of infiltrating powers. We know in his younger years he lived a sinful life, including cocaine use and spending a year in a mental hospital. What happened with him in 2011 could range anywhere from him relapsing into sin or an infiltrating subculture of enemies plotting his demise. He could have succumbed to his old ways, or, in light of his past stay at a mental hospital, he could have been threatened by an infiltrating subculture with mental rehab as were many other priests.

He did start a website, since closed, under the name John Corapi minus his "Father" title for a brief period after departure. Criticism abounded even among faithful Catholics that he acted in disobedience no matter what happened. The entire affair seemed chaotic. It is my opinion that the quality of his talks particularly lost some sense of candidness and zeal somewhere in the mid-later 2000s. But, before that, he was arguably the best preacher of his time.

In June 2011 the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Rene Henry Gracida, stated: "I believe that he is justified in not seeking to clear his name through a canonical process; at the present time such processes are very flawed in most dioceses." In July 2011, a since-deleted post from the webmaster of Fr. Corapi's order, SOLT, cautioned against believing Fr. Corapi and that "Church authorities ... have been trying to bring him in for years."

What we do know is that Fr. Corapi's earlier talks often spoke candidly of a poisoned Church, including the hierarchy. We know that his theology was firmly grounded in orthodox truth. In re-listening to his stories, we can see that they are consistent with many others who have since come forward to describe improprieties, heterodoxy, and infiltration in the Church.

What we can learn from Fr. Corapi's and others' accounts from years past are clues to what attention we should give to what warning signs. He warned of an overlap of doctrinal and moral deviance. We must be alert to linguistic snakery that gives way to doctrinal and moral corruption. It may be necessary to intensify sanctions regardless of whether a clergyman deviates even slightly from a dogma or commits grave sin. In another talk, Attack on Unity, Fr. Corapi proposed the notion that a lack of understanding in Thomistic metaphysics and philosophy has resulted in a "downhill" trend in theology, because many teachers fail to understand the meaning of "being," for example. Many are calling for a return to a more traditional liturgy and traditional Church decor and iconography. If doctrinal and moral faults are as intertwined as they appear, then the Church's solution to this crisis must include doctrinal correction in addition to a systemic correction of checks and balances. If it takes a soft inquisition to purge any defiant, unbelieving clergy, so be it.

Remember the famous quote from then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1969:
The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. ... As the number of her adherents diminishes...she will lose many of her social privileges. ... But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. (Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and Future, 1969)
Time will tell if the Spirit wills such a purgation to shrink the Church and raise it again to "great power." We must pray for wisdom and invoke Our Lady, the angels, and saints.

Decades have passed while several voices have cried out in the wilderness as did Isaiah or Jeremiah during tumultuous times for God's people. The time for purification of this scandal is overdue.

1Fr. Corapi's current whereabouts and status are difficult to ascertain. I sent an inquiring message to his former order, SOLT, on Monday, Sept. 24, but have not received correspondence as of Oct. 3, 2018.

Related reading:
St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
Dr. Ryan T. Anderson's Truth Overruled on marriage between a man and woman.
Austin Ruse on the science of fatherless or motherless children.
Dr. Jeff Mirus: In denial about not ordaining homosexuals?
Phil Lawler: The McCarrick scandal & the gay lobby: a problem the bishops won’t address
Dr. Janet E. Smith: McCarrick, dissent from ‘Humanae vitae’, and the ‘sensus fidelium’.
Rod Dreher: Voice of Conscience = Voice of God, a critique of Arch. Cupich
The Catholic Voyager: Psychology of a pedophile