I gave some casual commentary on the new bishops-elect in the comments section yesterday but living in Boston, I thought it deserved its own post.
I'm going to add a little background. I know it's long. Consider it the Sunday Edition.
Catholic parents have faced many trying years. Teaching right judgment at home has been severely challenged by the amoral, immoral and Godless secular culture. Public school and the media are constantly hammering at children of well-catechized families.
We very much needed (and need) our priests to evangelize, affirm, confirm the temporal goods of the Church so they wouldn't get sucked into the lies they were being fed at school and in the culture that the 'advancement' of widespread cultural demoralization has made Church teaching outdated.
It's a really stupid supposition when you think about it, but it has been (unfortunately) effective. Especially after the death of St. John Paul II who had the ability to connect with young people and keep them grounded. Pope Benedict's appeal was more geared to adults. St. John Paul II had the rare talent of connecting to both.
I don't have to tell TTC readers what happened in our local parishes, but it's important to articulate when talking about a bishop's role in catechesis of the family.
Home the kiddies come from school with the sexual agenda of the teachers union. Television,social media, Hollywood and music aid and confirm sexual demoralization of children. It sounds terrible, but the reality is, public school teachers position themselves as sexual mentors to our children. They foster the theory that parents are old-fashioned and children can't rely upon them to form their moral compass. It is a religious freedom constitutional issue that is thriving in lawlessness of this nation. The teachers explain because parents are so out of touch, they must provide books and resources to teach sexual experimentation. They provide links to websites that have 'chat rooms' where all kinds of adult predators lurk. At-risk and troubled children are lured into believing the answers to their low self-esteem will be found in promiscuity. Even the most solid kids can be sucked into the vacuum.
It's a mess and we needed our priests to position themselves as the 'go-to' people outside of the role of parents.
Just about the time children are old enough to observe the culture lives differently than mommy and daddy, and public school teachers are right there to hijack the situation, the role of a priest becomes critical in the spiritual foundation and formation of our children.
But we had worse than nothing. Our priests turned our local parishes into places where promiscuity, contraception and abortion was encouraged. There was a period when good priests continued to ground children with the teachings of the Church. But the people would call the Chancery and threaten to withhold donations. Bishops want the money in the wallets of people coming to Church and pressure good priests into silence.
Parents whose children are catechized call the Chancery about this or that priest doing significant damage to their children/parish/community.
This is the situation as it exists today. On and on it goes.
I am not even going to get into how the mess in the Chair of Peter has strengthened and empowered sexual demoralization of our families at the local parish.
My focus today is the family, the parish and bishops.
I have numerous times expressed my experience as a parent going back to the Cardinal Law days. Up against the know-it-alls on the internet, all I have is about five years experience as a parent encountering disorderly conduct at local parishes from which my family could not find refuge.
When I began calling, I would encounter chancery wizards on the phone who would assure me they would speak to Cardinal Law about Fr. SoandSo's spiritual misconduct. Time and time again they would tell me Cardinal Law said Fr. SoandSo was right.
The judgments I was being told he was making about heresy were completely inconsistent with the solid theology of his homilies. I was also very aware of his ministry to the dying. He would climb a mountain to make sure the sick and dying had access to Extreme Unction, sometimes to the frustration of people around him.
I was mystified. How could a man so serious about salvation with one hand empower the obstruction of its exercise at the parish level with the other? It didn't make sense.
This went on for a couple of years.
Then one day the "office for worship" rolled out a new Liturgy and Sacramental program that was completely out to lunch. A group of nutters came to parishes and told us the Blessed Sacrament was going to be removed from the worship space, reservation in a Church should be in the Sacristy and used only for Extreme Unction, we were switching to pita bread and lay Eucharistic ministers would surround the Altar and Lift Christ with the priests at Elevation during the Canon,then break It into little pieces to give communicants as we stand in line, we were not to kneel in prayer after Communion -- etc., etc.
I made the phone call to the Chancery and once again was told this program had Cardinal Law's blessing.
I had been to his Liturgies and knew how perfectly and respectfully they were executed. Every detail of his Liturgies gives to Christ and the people the honor the mystical Sacrifice deserves.
I knew something was really screwed up. I just had to know if he completely off of his rocker.
I went to the Cathedral, stood at the end of the hand-shaking line, gave him a one-minute highlight of changes and said I was told you approved of these changes.
He blew a gasket. He told me he absolutely did NOT know and it would be stopped tomorrow morning. And it was. And every time a priest damaged my children's moral compass and conscience, every time a disordered program was announced from a parish - I went directly to him and it was always kiboshed.
I told other parents encountering the spiritual misfeasance of their children to do the same.
I really did not understand the magnitude of the spiritual battles going on within the diocese until Walter Cuenin organized the local lavender mafia and they all rushed out of the closet. There is no question that Walter Cuenin and his cabal, with the help of Richard McBrien, cooked up the gross embellishment of the urban legend that the Catholic Church is operating a pedophile business and the bishops are the pimps. The goal was to try to introduce heresy in the chaos. And try they did. (God knows we had problems which continue to manifest themselves today, but the hysteria was a well-organized coup. Cuenin even had the stupidity to boast about HERE)
That is what makes Terry McDonough's retreat to the free masons so rich. At 80 years old, he has abandoned hope his dream will come true (more of his sob story here). This is the remnant of Cuenin's 'reformers'. Their retreat is a testimony to a tremendous victory in the battle for the soul of Christ's Church. Don't let the doors hit you on the booty on the way out!
Again, I am not getting into any other tsunamis. This post is about the spiritual nonfeasance and malfeasance of priests and how bishops handle the situation, how Cardinal Law handled it. The families who had a front row seat to this battle have very little doubt that he will be greatly rewarded for his faithful service to Christ's Church when push came to shove. And that's the way it is.
We have had a long 20 years of theological struggles in the aftermath. The Chancery has never been, in my lifetime, a place where there is a structure to ensure the spiritual safety of catechesis of the family. It is a bunker. Money and political power is the oxygen.
Some good bishops have come, gone and remain.
Bishops are the local guardians of the tools for salvation in the family. Titular bishops carry out the wishes and instructions of an Archbishop. If the modus operandi of an Archbishop is the protection of priests committing spiritual crimes against the family/community, then the titular bishops are strangled to do anything about spiritual abuse taking place in the family.
When the head of a family calls to report incidents in a situation like this, they are patronized, lied to, mistreated. If the situation goes public, slander is deployed against the family for damage control.
This is very much the situation most Catholic families in the US are living (and why the Pope who uses these tactics has become an enemy of the family).
A great deal of my service to Catholic families living this nightmare has been focused on encouragement to continue to hold the bishops/Archbishops feet to the fire. Heads of families whose spiritual focus is the salvation of their loved ones - we are not here to win friends and influence folks in the Chancery.
We are a witness to our children on how to live in service to Christ's Church, always speaking the truth, interceding in the deception of our people and trying to right wrongs.
Sometimes the bishop intentionally surrounds himself with people who deploy it on his behalf and sometimes people flock to the Chancery and deploy it while the bishop is being shuffled around like the entertainment elephant in the circus.
It is impossible to serve a priest or bishop in any other capacity when he is not on the team of the holy family. Or his team is not on the team. Stick to your role as a Catholic parent and let the chips fall where they may.
The battles of the holy family in Boston are not secretive. We ran out of every option internally and were forced to shed light on the ridiculousness in the public square. The battles have been fierce. For many years, every tried and true tactic was deployed without mercy. I believe we succeeded in making clear we will never be dissuaded and it is our intention to remain steadfast in our allegiance to Christ and empower other family victims of spiritual skullduggery to do the same.
It was a good 15 years of bloody war. There have been many victories and I can say with conviction there were temporal victories in every stop the madness campaign. We have been able to diffuse, stall, obstruct and frustrate 80% of it.
Over the past few years I have encountered a waving of the white flag.
There's a new 'tude. When spiritual guardians call to report misconduct, there is acknowledgment that what is happening is spiritually damaging and there is intervention. This is a most welcome change and hope and pray the momentum continues to traverse upon that trajectory.
With what is going down in St. Peter's Square, it is more important than ever to focus on the local parish and Chancery to preserve and empower the tools of salvation.
Here is my causal feedback on the new sheriffs:
Prayers for them both!
I recently had an interaction with Fr Reed about something outrageous that was published in the Pilot and was very impressed with how he handled the matter. He came across as a very honest, humble, kind priest who understood why parents are on top of nonsense that is offers for consumption by people whose duty it is to know better. He is an excellent addition to the bishops of Boston.
I have also had numerous interactions with Fr O'Connell but not for many years. He is a feisty one and my general experience won him the Nick name of sled dog. The hierarchy would make a stupid judgment call and load him up to deliver the goods and deliver them, he did. He pulled a couple of fast ones when the Chancery was really a bunker they were protecting with skullduggery. I believe the skirmishes and some personnel changes have softened most of them up a bit. Not sure how he emerged from the battles. Time will tell!
I believe a week or so ago, a third bishop was named that I wasn't familiar with? Anyone know him?
Are some bishops retiring or excardinating? Seems a little top heavy? My sense is Cardinal Sean has been an airport bishop for some time and the inmates were running the asylum. Perhaps these changes reflect better staffing in his absence.
A warm welcome to the fracus!
Here are some words to the wise to those who would like to avoid being the subject of stories on Boston's Catholic blogs.
1. Please, no patronizing letters. Our cellars have run out of storage place and we will only gather more families to persuade you to intercede.
2. If a head of a family approaches you and you do not see or hear the spiritual damage being done by the priest, pastor, lay person, nutty dame, program or resources, you are not listening with your soul.
3. There are numerous priests who have been spiritually misleading family members for decades. We don't give a flying fig if he is a friend of the Cardinal or the Pope. The role of a bishop is to stop him.
4. If you put a priest in charge who doesn't have the wherewithall to know he can't cut a deal to subcontract abortions, the Catholics who call your office to 'splain the theological problems with luring the uncatechized into killing people cuz you know you can't do it, are not the people 'doing a disservice to the Church'. Don't put that allegation out into social media. The priest with the spiritual judgment problem is the person doing a disservice to the Church. If you catch my drift.
5. Catholic families who live and teach the fiat of living every day in a state of Sanctifying Grace (and everything that comes with it), we understand pastoral judgment may sometimes require patiently steering a struggling priest. If the priest has been misleading souls for two decades without any kind of effective intervention for the holy family, the hierarchy has exhausted that patience. And rightly so. Treat those who approach you accordingly. It may seem like somebody is sweating the small stuff but there is a history and the likelyhood that some child has wondered off with a dragon because of the situation - to the great pain of the person you are listening to.
6. I know this is very misunderstood but it must be said: To Catholics who live our fiat, a priest who is spiritually misleading our children is more serious than a priest who is raping them. The gravity of the loss of salvation is paramount to us. This does not, in any way, diminish rape of a child, which we know has a demonic spiritual dimension that consumes a family and loved ones, but it explains the seriousness of the charges of spiritual malpractice that is your responsibility to stop. This is not a contest of ideas. People are being hurt.
7. The network we have built over the years is very much in place. It's a small world. If somebody approaches you about a problem and you mishandle it, assume that situation will show up on a blog. Everyone starts with a clean slate and the benefit of the doubt but we are more vigilant than ever. It's been relatively quiet and everyone likes it that way. Don't. Rock. the. Boat!
8. Take a rain check on invitations to stand beside politicians who are demoralizing our families. Your presence gives credibility to their political agenda which is slaying the souls of our people.
9. The damage control and publicity stunts coming out of Rasky Baerlein are God-awful and politically motivated. If you don't have the courage to tell the Cardinal (as we have) have a list of excuses handy to politely decline participation. The starvation of our people is catechetical, it is right under your nose and is catastrophic. The Jack Connors socialist and communist photo ops do lethal damage to the trust of the holy family who is being victimized by it.
10. God's abundant blessing and the protection of the Queen of Angels upon your vocations!