Category Archives: Pastor message

Pastor’s Message October 14th, 2018

Pope Francis has convened a Synod of Bishops on the topic of youth. Among the bishops elected by their peers to attend is the outspoken Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, who is also a permanent member of that synod. Here are two of his interventions there.

“I was elected to the Synod’s permanent council three years ago. At the time, I was asked, along with other members, to suggest themes for this synod. My counsel then was to focus on Psalm 8. We all know the text: ‘When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him’?” 

“Who we are as creatures, what it means to be human, why we should imagine we have any special dignity at all – these are the chronic questions behind all our anxieties and conflicts. The answer to all of them will not be found in ideologies or the social sciences, but only in the person of Jesus Christ, redeemer of man- which of course means we need to understand, at the deepest level, why we need to be redeemed in the first place. If we lack the confidence to preach Jesus Christ without hesitation or excuses to every generation, especially to the young, then the Church is just another purveyor of ethical pieties the world doesn’t need.”

In this light, I read Chapter IV of the instrumentum,* (paragraphs) # 51-63, with keen interest. The chapter does a good job of describing the anthropological and cultural challenges facing our young people. In fact, describing today’s problems, and noting the need to accompany young people as they face those problems, are strengths of the instrumentum overall. But I believe (paragraph) # 51 is misleading when it speaks of young people as the “watchmen and seismographs of every age.” This is false flattery, and it masks a loss of adult trust in the continuing beauty and power of the beliefs we have received.

In reality, young people are too often products of the age, shaped in part by the words, the love, the confidence, and the witness of their parents and teachers, but more profoundly today by a culture that is both deeply appealing and, essentially, atheist.

The elders of the faith community have the task of passing the truth of the Gospel from age to age, undamaged by compromise or deformation. Yet, too often my generation of leaders, in our families and in the Church, has abdicated that responsibility out of a combination of ignorance, cowardice and laziness in forming young people to carry the faith into the future. Shaping young lives is hard work in the face of a hostile culture. The clergy sexual abuse crisis is precisely a result of the self-indulgence and confusion introduced into the Church in my lifetime, even among those tasked with teaching and leading. And minors – our young people – have paid the price for it.

Finally, what the Church holds to be true about human sexuality is not a stumbling block. It is the only real path to joy and wholeness. There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic’, as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ. This has never been true in the life of the Church and is not true now. It follows that “LGBTQ” and similar language should not be used in Church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the Church simply doesn’t categorize people that way.

Explaining why Catholic teaching about human sexuality is true, and why it’s ennobling and merciful, seems crucial to any discussion of anthropological issues. Yet, it’s regrettably missing from this chapter and this document. I hope revisions by the Synod Fathers can address that.”

#2
In his opening Mass homily, the Holy Father described Jesus as “eternally young.” When I heard this, it reminded me of a song by the artist, Jay-Z, that was popular a few years ago. The song was entitled “Forever Young,” and it was a remake of a popular tune by the German group, Alphaville, from the 1980s. Jay-Z sang for the young — and for all of us –“I want to live forever and be forever young.”

The image of Jesus as “eternally young” is not only beautiful but powerful. As we deal with the many outside pressures on the Church today, and the problems we also face within our believing community, we need to remember that Jesus is alive and vigorous, and constantly offering his disciples an abundant new life. Thank you, Holy Father, for reminding us of that.
Of course, the Jesus who came into the world as an infant did not end his mission as a youth. He matured into an adult man of courage, self-mastery, and mercy guided by justice and truth.  He was a teacher both tender and forceful; understanding and patient — but also very clear about the kind of human choices and actions that would lead to God, and the kind that would not.

The wealthy societies of today’s world that style themselves as “developed” – including most notably my own — are in fact underdeveloped in their humanity. They’re frozen in a kind of “moral adolescence” – an adolescence which they’ve chosen for themselves and now seek to impose upon others.

The instrumentum does a good job of exploring the roots of that underdevelopment and the challenges to young people that flow from it. But it needs to be much stronger and more confident in presenting God’s Word and the person of Jesus Christ as the only path to a full and joyful humanity. And it needs to do this much earlier in the text.

* The instrumentum is the working document from which the synod members develop their various resolutions to present to the Holy Father for his final approval and proclamation.

 

Pastor’s Message October 7th, 2018

Next Sunday, October 14th, Pope Francis will canonize two men as saints; both were bishops. One became a pope; the other was martyred. Both men suffered hurt and insults from within the Church as well as from outside of it. Both lived in the 20th century. I met the first of these and had an opportunity to speak with him in his Vatican apartment in 1967. The other, I wish I had also met in this life, and I pray that I may meet him in the next.
Pope Paul VI was born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897, in the Lombardy region of Italy. He was ordained a priest at the unusually young age of 22. Later in his career, because of Vatican political intrigue at that time, he was exiled from his high-ranking position in Rome and sent off to become Archbishop of Milan. When Pope St. John XXIII was elected, among the first things as the new pope he did was to make Montini a cardinal. Montini continued as archbishop before his election as Pope in 1963, succeeding that same Pope St. John XXIII. He died in 1978.
While Pope, he oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by Pope St. John XXIII. He also promulgated a new Roman Missal in 1969. Perhaps best remembered for his prophetic but controversial 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which upheld the Church’s teaching against contraception, he also affirmed the merits of priestly celibacy. His cause for canonization was opened in 1993. In December 2012, Pope Benedict XVI recognized the “heroic virtue” of Paul VI, giving him the title “venerable.” He was beatified in Rome on Oct. 19, 2014.
The first miracle attributed to his cause is the healing of an unborn child in the fifth month of pregnancy. The mother, originally from Verona, Italy, had an illness that risked her own life and the life of her unborn child. She was advised to have an abortion. A few short days after the beatification of Paul VI, she went to pray to him at the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in the city of Brescia. The baby girl was later born in good health and remains in good health today.
This second required miracle closely resembles the one that opened the way for beatification. That miracle took place in the 1990s in California, when an unborn child was found to have a serious health problem that posed a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted the outcome of her pregnancy to the intercession of Pope Paul VI. The child was born without problems and is now a healthy adolescent and is considered to be completely healed.
The other man to be canonized this Sunday is Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador in El Salvador. Romero was born in 1917, in El Salvador. One of eight children, by age 13 he entered the minor seminary. Later, he enrolled in the national seminary in San Salvador. Completing priestly studies in Rome in 1941, he had to wait a year to be ordained because he was younger than the required age. Remaining in Italy to work on a doctorate in Theology In 1943, he was summoned home by his bishop to serve as a parish priest. In 1966, he was chosen as Secretary of the Bishops Conference for El Salvador and became the director of the archdiocesan newspaper, which became fairly conservative while he was editor, defending the traditional Magisterium of the Catholic Church teachings.
In 1970, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, and in 1974, was appointed the Bishop of the Diocese of Santiago de Maria, a poor, rural region. In February 1977, Romero then returned to San Salvador to serve as the new archbishop. While his appointment was welcomed by the conservative government, many priests were disappointed, especially those liberal priests openly supportive of a Marxist ideology. Those priests feared that his conservative reputation would negatively affect their radical commitment to the poor.
Deeply affected by the murder of his friend, Father Rutilio Grande, just weeks after his own appointment as archbishop, he gradually developed into an outspoken social activist and began to denounce human rights violations of the most vulnerable people and defended the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposing all forms of violence. On March 23, 1980, Romero delivered a sermon in which he called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression and violations of basic human rights. The next day, while offering evening Mass in the Sisters’ chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence, he was assassinated by right-wing militants.
When asked: ‘Do you agree with Liberation Theology?’ He answered: “There are two theologies of liberation: one is that which sees liberation only as material liberation; the other is that of Paul VI. I am with Paul VI.” He also expressed disapproval for divisiveness in the Church, saying, “There is only one Church, the Church that Christ preached, the Church to which we should give our whole hearts. There is only one Church, a Church that adores the living God and knows how to give relative value to the goods of this earth.” Romero faithfully adhered to Church teachings on a preferential option for the poor, desiring a social revolution based on interior reform.
More than 250,000 mourners from all over the world attended his Funeral Mass, overflowing into the streets. During the ceremony, smoke bombs exploded near the cathedral and rifle shots came from surrounding buildings, including the National Palace. More than 30 were killed by gunfire in a stampede of people running in panic. Throughout it all, Romero’s body was buried in a crypt beneath the sanctuary. After the burial, people continued to line up to pay homage to their martyred archbishop.
In 2014, El Salvador’s main international airport was named after him, becoming Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport.

 

 

Pastor’s Message September 30th, 2018

Filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney have produced a film titled, “Gosnell: America’s Biggest Serial Killer.” The film, in theaters beginning Oct. 12, follows the true story of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist who was convicted of murdering newborn babies and numerous other crimes inside his “house of horrors” abortion facility. It stars Dean Cain (“Lois & Clark”) and is directed by Nick Searcy (“The Shape of Water,” “Justified”).

The filmmakers have been hitting roadblocks since they began their project more than four years ago. Their struggles with the liberal media and Hollywood continue. Undaunted, the filmmakers said the abortion industry will not keep their movie from being released. At least 750 theaters across the U.S. will be showing the film beginning Oct. 12.

Last month, NPR rejected the filmmakers’ ad because it used the term “abortion doctor.” NPR claimed the term is not “value neutral,” but it has used the term in its own reporting numerous times. Many pro-lifers will remember how the mainstream media ignored Gosnell and the horrors of his Philadelphia abortion practice. It appears many still are trying to keep the story quiet. “NPR might have covered up Kermit Gosnell’s crimes, but we won’t,” the filmmakers wrote last week.

In 2013, a jury convicted Gosnell of murdering three newborn babies and contributing to the death of a female patient, along with numerous other crimes. He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison. The movie is rated PG-13. For more details, visit gosnellmovie.com.

The famous blind Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli, who has sold over 70 million records worldwide, interrupted his concert to recount the story of a pregnant woman who was admitted to a hospital with acute appendicitis. He said, “The doctors had to apply ice on her stomach, and when the treatment ended the doctors suggested she abort her unborn child.” “They told her it was the best solution because the baby would be born with some disability. But the brave young wife decided not to abort, and the child was born. That woman was my mother, and I was the child,” he said. He added, “Maybe I’m partial, but I can say that it was the right choice and I hope that this could encourage many mothers who sometimes might find themselves in difficult situations but want to save the life of their baby.” Shortly after his birth in 1958, Bocelli was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, which made him partially blind. Then, by age 12, he lost total vision after being hit on the head during a game of football.

In his tribute to his mother, he didn’t explain why the doctors recommended an abortion at a time when it was still illegal in Italy. Before 1978, the procedure was permissible only when the fetus was severely disabled, or the mother’s life was in great danger. Bocelli failed to say if his mother underwent surgery for appendicitis, nor does he describe the medical condition with which the doctors suspected he might be afflicted. He simply praised his mother for rejecting the “advice” of doctors to abort him on the grounds that he would be “disabled.”

Next Sunday, which is the annual Respect Life Sunday throughout the U.S., you and I will be given the opportunity to help stop abortions and to advance the defense of human life by spending one hour (2 to 3 pm) in silent prayer. Doing this, we, too, can to promote the cause of that little life gestating in the wombs of mothers. All across America, there will be hundreds of similar prayerful moments along our nation’s busy streets and highways. Our location for the prayerful witness will be at the intersection of Federal Highway and Linton Boulevard. We park the cars in the lot by Carabba’s Restaurant, though closer to the bank on that intersection. We then pick up our placards (with printed prayers on the back of the placard) and man the four corners for a silent demonstration. Bring a hat to shade you, and some suntan lotion to protect you. I invite you to bring your family along for that occasion, for “The family that prays together, stays together.” You’ll be teaching many valuable lessons to your youngsters.

Pastor’s Message September 23rd, 2018

This reflection on the 9-11 tragedy is presented to us by our own Deacon Gregg Osgood. 

  
Seventeen years this past September 11th, around midnight, Lieutenant Thomas Colucci of the NYCFD sat down exhausted – collapsed really – on the massive pile of smoldering debris that once was the World Trade Center, muttering “I was there, right there in the middle of it all, and I still had a hard time believing what had happened.”

Five men from his firehouse were killed at Ground Zero. He would come to learn of many other firefighters, personal friends, who died there as well. “After the first couple of days we knew we weren’t going to find anyone else alive. Mostly we just helped each other as we cleaned that place. And I went to funerals, sometimes three a day. Grief, it was just grief.”

Many firefighters knew, and other workers came to know, the kind of man Tom Colucci is. As they worked, many approached to ask him, “Why did this happen? Where is God, Lieutenant?” “I would tell them, ‘Christ is here. He’s here… in the workers, in the volunteers. He’s here’.” Lieutenant Colucci became Captain Colucci. Then, in another fire in another place, flames ignited an explosion. He was badly hurt. He underwent two surgeries, one of which nearly killed him. Months later he was forced to retire. He went to a Benedictine monastery. That is where he told me his story. As I listened to him the one word that came to mind was: Serenity. He never thought (who could have?) that he would see anything like what happened that day and the days after at Ground Zero. Yet he was at peace. At the urging of the monks, Brother Colucci- once Lieutenant Colucci- entered the seminary, was eventually ordained and became Father Colucci. He had thought about the priesthood from time to time over the years. But there came a time, when he knew it was time- to respond to God’s call. He used to fight fires to help save lives; now he fights alongside God to help save souls.

Vincent Druding was one of the volunteers at Ground Zero. Vince had won an internship in New York, a long way from his home in Indiana. As he had practiced the night before, Vince took the subway downtown; and when he came up to street level he saw people coming toward him, trying to get away from the Towers. Then he saw a plane – the second plane- plunge into the second Tower. He saw people jumping to their deaths rather than stay in the burning building. He told me, “Deacon, once my head started to clear, all I could think was, ‘What can I do? What do I do to help’?” So, he began helping people get to safety. After the Towers collapsed, he joined the others digging in the rubble looking for anyone who might still be alive. He related, “Over the next days, I started to lose it. I was depressed, exhausted. I had nightmares when I tried to sleep. My hair began falling out. And then I saw a priest- in the middle of the night – blessing the remains of a firefighter. On Sunday morning another priest gave me the Eucharist.” After Vince received, he found a place to lay down. He fell asleep for a couple of hours. It was the first real sleep he’d had since the Tuesday before.

When he awoke he was surprised to find that he felt at peace. It was a deep, comfortable peace unlike anything he had experienced before. Though nothing had changed outside – Ground Zero was still as it was – he had changed inside. “It was the hand of God, Deacon,” he said. “I encountered Christ in a very real way two or three times in that hellhole.”

He said these words with intensity, but with placid conviction. His eyes were vibrant as he spoke. Vincent once was a promising young business man. Now he is a priest.
Both men decided to forgive and then they gave themselves to God and God’s people. Ground Zero is a term that means the point of maximum impact. In the case of 9/11, it usually refers to that place of massive destruction at a time when evil won. Yet both men encountered our living God in the middle of it all.

There is peace – meaning the lack of turmoil. There is a greater Peace, that is serenity, even in times of turmoil. This is God’s peace. This is being at peace with God, resting in the hands of God, not denying reality but rather accepting reality and responding as God would have us respond – Faithfully; giving and receiving forgiveness; trying as best we can to attain holiness; looking for ways to help others.

We’re not all called to Holy Orders; but we are all called to always, in every circumstance, do what God would have us do. We’re also called to help others attain eternal safety and perpetual joy with God in heaven. This is living a life of maximum impact; this is life at Ground Zero.
The Alleluia verse, “I chose you from the world, that you may go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord,” (Jn 15:16) comes to mind when helping people, whenever we can, to get to heaven. That is for all of us. And we can’t forget the last part – that is bearing fruit that will last. When our time here is done what we all want to hear is, “Well done good and faithful servant. Come share my happiness!” Please pray for the innocent souls that died on 9/11. Pray for those they left behind. Remember the ones who remain, wounded in body or spirit; and forgive those who need to be forgiven.

 

Pastor’s Message September 16th, 2018

In my multi-part series of ongoing responses to the sex abuse crisis in the Church, I offer another point-of-view this week, primarily from a psychological perspective.
According to leading psychologists and experts, misconceptions people may have about sexual abuse, sexual harassment and homosexuality as elements of the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church can hinder efforts to address it. The complex nature of each of the elements can make it hard for the average “Catholic in the pew” to understand the differences among them, delaying the formulation of good solutions. Though many may blame the abuse scandals strictly on a homosexuality problem among the clergy, same-sex attraction doesn’t make priests more likely to sexually abuse children. It’s perfectly understandable that people could be confused by this, because we know that 80% or more of the clerical sexual abuse victims are boys. So, some people might conclude that if you get rid of homosexuals in the clergy, then you’ve got the problem solved; it doesn’t work that way.
But, most of the clerical sexual abuse perpetrators have been “situational generalists,” a term used throughout extensive John Jay College of Criminal Justice summary reports, (the most recent in 2011), to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). These do not have a specific sexual preference for youth, but instead turn to children as a sort of “substitute” due to psychological and emotional difficulties in bonding with peers. Such individuals – who often exhibit issues with substance abuse and impulse control — can’t really develop successful, negotiated, intimate relationships with adults, according to Dr. Thomas Plante, a celebrated psychologist, who recently served as vice chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth.
Since generalists seek readily available victims, boys have historically — though by no means exclusively — been a target for many clerical abusers. For understandable reasons, priests often have had access to, and trust with boys, much more so than girls. This proximity has led to the erroneous conclusion of a correlation between homosexuality and clerical abuse.
Historically, child sexual abuse has occurred in the Church and in human society since the dawn of time. St. Basil decried the problem back in the fourth century. The classic pedophile is attracted to young, prepubescent children. Prepubescence is typically defined as less than age 11. Only a small number of abusive priests – and of sexual abusers in the general population – can be formally classified as pedophiles, according to the clinical definition used by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in its “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM),” the authoritative guide used by mental health professionals worldwide.
Dr. Plante also says that “the vast majority of sex offenders are regular men, often married or partnered, with 80 percent or more victimizing their own family members.” Overall, men are far more likely than women to become abusers, which helps to explain the comparatively lower rates of abuse perpetrated by female religious. This striking gap between the genders – with “90 to 95 percent” of perpetrators being male – is generally due to basic differences in the psychological makeup of the sexes.
Plante also stressed that sexual harassment, perpetrated by a number of clerical superiors against seminarians, should be distinguished from child sexual abuse. Both involve power and sexual violation, but they are different. “Sexually harassing people at the workplace is not a sexual psychiatric disorder. It could be a personality disorder; it could be a variety of things, but it’s not a sexual disorder. Every industry, every organization has a problem with this issue, where people abuse power and sexually harass their subordinates.”
In the United States, incidents of clerical sexual abuse rose during the 1960s and 1970s, paralleling a society-wide increase in other problematic behaviors such as substance abuse and sexual experimentation. By the early 1980s, the number of cases began to level off, due in part to increased research, mandated reporting, awareness and intervention strategies. Because the traumatic nature of child sexual abuse tends to prevent victims from disclosing their attacks until years later, recent legal investigations do not always reflect current levels of clerical abuse, which have declined significantly. Dr. Plante stated, “I think the average person on the street thinks this is rampant today in 2018, when it’s not,” adding that annual data collections, independent audits, safe environment training and zero-tolerance policies have proven effective. Although ongoing vigilance is required, Plante is hopeful about the Catholic Church’s ongoing prospects for protecting youth from clerical sexual abuse. “I think we are using best practices now,” he said. “Sadly, we can’t change what happened 30, 40, 50 years ago, and we treat those victims with great compassion and respect. But thankfully for everybody, today’s Church is very different from yesterday’s Church.”

Pastor’s Message September 9th, 2018

Unlike most commentators William Donohue* of the Catholic League (Ph.D. in Sociology) read most of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. He recently published a statement to debunk many of the myths and lies that mar the report and/or interpretations of it. Here is an edited (for brevity’s sake) version of his statement. I want you to see another side of the story! Then you can draw your conclusion.
Myth: Over 300 priests were found guilty of preying on youngsters in Pennsylvania. Fact: No one was found guilty of anything. Yet that didn’t stop CBS from saying “300 ‘predator priests’ abused more than 1,000 children over a period of 70 years.” These are all accusations, most of which were never verified by either the grand jury or the dioceses. The report, and CBS, are also wrong to say that all of the accused are priests. In fact, some were brothers, some were deacons, and some were seminarians. How many of the 300 were probably guilty? Maybe half. The 2004 report by the John Jay College for Criminal Justice found that 4 percent of priests nationwide had a credible accusation made against them between 1950-2002. That is the figure everyone quotes. But the report also notes that roughly half that number were substantiated. If that is a reliable measure, the 300 figure drops to around 150. During the seven decades under investigation by the grand jury, there were over 5,000 priests serving in Pennsylvania (this includes two more dioceses not covered in the report). Therefore, the percent of priests who had an accusation made against them is quite small, offering a much different picture than what the media afford. Remember, most of these accusations were never substantiated.
Importantly, in almost all cases, the accused named in the report was never afforded the right to rebut the charges. That is because the report was investigative, not evidentiary. Though the report’s summary suggests that it is authoritative, it manifestly is not. The report covers accusations extending back to World War II. Almost all the accused are either dead or have been thrown out of the priesthood.
Myth: The grand jury report was initiated to make the guilty pay. Fact: False. It has nothing to do with punishing the guilty. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro admitted on August 14, that “Almost every instance of child abuse (the grand jury) found was too old to be prosecuted.” He’s right. But he knew that from the get-go, so why did he pursue this dead end? Why did he waste millions of taxpayer dollars in pursuit of alleged offenders when he knew he couldn’t do anything about it? Because he, and his predecessor, Kathleen Kane (who is now in prison for lying under oath and misusing her Attorney General’s office) wanted to shame the Catholic Church. Kane and Shapiro have never sought to shame imams, ministers, or rabbis—they just want to shame priests. They won’t conduct a probe of psychologists, psychiatrists, camp counselors, coaches, guidance counselors, or any other segment of society where adults routinely interact with minors. Shapiro, and those like him, are delighted with all the salacious details in the report. When it comes to non-priests, news reports on sexual misconduct typically note that a sex offense has occurred, but readers are spared the graphic accounts. Not when it comes to priests—they love to get as explicit as they can. It’s not just Shapiro who is interested in appealing to the prurient interest of the public.
Myth: Shapiro is seeking to right these wrongs by pushing for legislation that would suspend the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against minors, allowing old cases to be prosecuted. Fact: This is one of the most bald-face lies of them all. Neither Shapiro, nor Pennsylvania lawmaker Mark Rozzi, who is proposing such legislation, has ever included the public schools in these proposed billsthey only apply to private [read: Catholic] institutions. In most states, public school students have 90 days to report an offense. That’s it! Which means it is too late for a student raped by a public-school teacher to file suit if the crime occurred this year at the start of the baseball season. Public institutions are governed under the corrupt doctrine of sovereign immunity; few politicians have the courage to challenge it. In the few instances where states have included the public schools in such legislation, guess who goes bonkers? The public school establishment (teachers’ unions, school superintendents, principals) all scream how utterly unfair it is to roll back the clock and try to determine if the accused is guilty of an offense that took place decades ago. They are right to do so; [but] they are rarely called to action. The reason we have statutes of limitation is because many witnesses are either dead or their memories have faded. The public school industry understands the importance of this due process measure, and rightfully protests when it is in jeopardy. So why is it that when bishops make the exact same argument, they are condemned for “obstructing justice”? The hypocrisy is nauseating.
Myth: The abusive priests were pedophiles. Fact: This is the greatest lie of them all, repeated non-stop by the media, and late-night talk TV hosts. Let me repeat what I have often said. Most gay priests are not molesters, but most of the molesters have been gay. Not to admit this—and this includes many bishops who are still living in a state of denial about it— means the problem will continue. How do I know that most of the problem is gay-driven? The data are indisputable. The John Jay study found that 81 percent of the victims were male, 78 percent of whom were postpubescent. Now if 100 percent of the victimizers are male, and most of the victims are postpubescent males, that is a problem called homosexuality. There is no getting around it. How many were pedophiles? Less than 5%. That is what the John Jay study found. Studies done in subsequent years—I have read them. Shapiro fed the myth about this being a “pedophile” scandal when he said the victims were “little boys and girls.” This is a lie. Anyone who actually reads the report knows it is a lie. Most were postpubescent. This doesn’t make the molestation okay—the guilty should be imprisoned—but it is wrong to give the impression that we are talking about 5-year-olds when more typically they were 15-year-olds. The New York Times, which has been covering up for homosexuals for decades, found it convenient to highlight the minority of cases where females were allegedly abused; so did many in the media who take their talking points from the Times. The Times is so dishonest that it mentions a “sadomasochistic clerical pedophile ring in Pittsburgh that photographed boys they had posed to look like Jesus Christ, then gave them gold crosses to show they had been groomed.” The section of the report that discusses this alleged offense cites Father Gregory Zirwas as the ringleader. Every person whom he groped was a teenager, meaning this was a homosexual ring. But, of course, the unsuspecting reader doesn’t know this to be the case. In short, this is a ruse. The Times wants the reader to believe that this is a pedophile problem, and that females are as much at risk as males, thus discounting homosexuality. This is patently untrue, but it feeds the lie that this is not a homosexual scandal! It also allows people like Anthea Butler, who calls God a “white racist,” to say, “The Catholic Church is a pedophile ring.”
Myth: Bishops who sent abusive priests back into ministry did so out of total disregard for the well-being of the victims. Fact: This lie is perpetuated by the grand jury report when it ridicules bishops for having priests “evaluated” at “Church-run psychiatric centers.” The fact is that in the period when most of the abuse occurred— the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s—almost all persons in authority who dealt with sexual offenses, in any institution, relied on the expertise of those in the behavioral sciences. Quite frankly, it was a time when therapists oversold their level of competence, and many continue to do so. There were very few psychologists or psychiatrists at the time who didn’t overrate their ability to “fix” offenders. The bishops relied upon them for advice. Yet the media rarely hold them accountable for misleading Church lawyers and bishops.
Conclusion: What is driving the current mania over this issue is not hard to figure out. I am a sociologist who has been dealing with this issue for a long time, having published articles about it in books and international journals. Here is what’s going on. There are many vicious critics of the Catholic Church who would like to weaken its moral authority and will seize on any problem it has to discredit its voice. Why? They hate its teachings on sexuality, marriage, and the family. These very same people delight in promoting a libertine culture, which ironically was the very milieu that enticed some very sick priests and their seminarian supervisors to act out in the first place. There is nothing wrong with Catholic teachings on this subject: If priests had followed their vows, and not their id, we would not have this problem. Those who refuse to use the brakes God gave them, straight or gay, should be shown the gate or never admitted in the first place.
* Dr. Donohue is the national President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

Pastor’s Message September 2nd, 2018

Last Sunday’s Readings at Mass, especially the Gospel, give us much food for thought in these difficult times in the Church. The Gospels of the past few Sundays according to St. John, centered on the theme of the Eucharist. They were a break in the usual Gospels according to St. Mark that we’ve been following throughout during the year.
We don’t always understand everything we hear, just like the disciples in today’s Gospel. Jesus has told them, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  They didn’t understand. They said: “This is too hard to hear.” So, the Gospel tells us: “As a result, many of his disciples left.” We do that, too. I hear of people leaving the Catholic Faith because they say they don’t understand what is too hard to hear.
For instance, take last Sunday’s Reading from St. Paul. For many years before I entered the seminary, it seemed that whenever this reading came up – where wives were to be subordinate to their husbands – I didn’t understand why St. Paul was saying what he did. In those day, I was younger, more headstrong and impatient, so, I didn’t care for this reading. It seemed too hard, too sexist. As a result, I was turned off to a lot of other things that St. Paul said, or even anything said about him. I actually began shutting out St. Paul each week – at least until I came to study the Scriptures in my last four years at the seminary. I had chosen to abandon Paul because what he said was too difficult to understand. What I didn’t understand then was that marriage in his day was really a business arrangement between the parents – a convenience arrangement for financial reasons. For example, they questioned: How could it help a family to make a marriage match? How many cattle would she bring to the family? Does his family have a lot of land? The idea of marrying for love is mostly a concept from the last two centuries. Before that, the parents of the boy and girl who were to get married got together and brokered the situation, and everyone hoped that it would work out for the best.
So, what Paul is saying in that reading to the Ephesians is really radical. He is saying husbands should do more than treat their wives with some respect. Husbands should LOVE their wives. They should cherish them the way Jesus cherishes each of us.
During that lost period of time, I missed out on some of the greatest treasures of the Church. I realized later that St. Paul’s writings actually reflect his human-ness, and his love for the communities where he stayed and taught. His writings are wonderful!
But when things get too hard for us to understand, people want to leave the Catholic Church – especially now with the recent news about the Church in Pennsylvania and who knew what and when about Archbishop McCarrick – all of which is sad and terrible, for there are no excuses for allowing that kind of abuse to be tolerated or continued. Yet, we know it isn’t just in Pennsylvania; this is a disorder that has infected the Catholic Church across the country and around the world. As a result, some Catholics may decide “this is too hard, so I’m going to leave this Church.”
But if we look around at Mass, our Church is right there. This group of people in our parish on Saturday evening or Sunday morning – this is our community.  WE are the Catholic Church! Our Catholic traditions and sacraments are a way to deepen our relationship with God. We can’t let the horror that has been uncovered be our excuse to say, “This it too hard. I’m out of here!”
St. Paul also wrote to the Ephesians: “How great is the hope to be called to act.” This is a time to be called to that hope because our Catholic Church will be healed from this and our Church will be changed for the better because of this. Jesus assured Peter, whom He chose as the foundation Rock of the Church, that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
So, what can we doing beyond staying committed with hope? We can insist upon greater transparency and accountability, and to see that the laity are involved in the process. We can push for changes to bring much more lay experience into the internal procedures. We can be part of the Church that’s committed to healing and to reaching out to those who have become disillusioned and disgusted. It won’t be easy; but it will be blessed by the Spirit working among us so that we might be more of the Church that Jesus called us to be.
In the Gospel, Jesus looks around as many disciples began drifting away and leaving Him, and says to his apostles, “Are you leaving, too?” Peter answers for the twelve, and for us, “To whom would we turn? You have the words of eternal life.” Hang in there!

Pastor’s Message August 26th, 2018

Following my last week’s column in the bulletin, several people asked me how is it possible to have “bad” shepherds (bishops) in the Church? Isn’t it the Pope who’s responsible for choosing ‘weak’ shepherds? Does anyone advise him on these matters? How can he avoid repeating the mistakes of the past? Does the laity have any input into the selection of bishops?

It’s not easy to answer in a few short sentences. First, remember that the Evil One always seeks to attack those who are trying their best to do good. His evil-doing invariably can affect any and all members of the Church – even her shepherds – at all levels. Human nature, being what it is, is subject to all sorts of temptations. So, while the ultimate decision in appointing priests (to be bishops) rests with the pope, and he is free to select anyone he chooses, you may wonder how does he know whom to select? It can be a rather lengthy process, and somewhere along the line we know that temptations, such as those to ‘favoritism’ and ‘nepotism’ can come into play, despite rigorous efforts to try to “keep the pot clean.”

The process for selecting candidates for the episcopacy normally begins at the diocesan level and works its way through a series of consultations until it reaches Rome. It is a process bound by strict confidentiality and involves a number of important players – the most influential being (1) the Apostolic Nuncio (the pope’s representative to both the government and to the Church hierarchy of a given nation), (2) the Congregation for Bishops and (3) the Pope.

Every bishop may submit to the archbishop of his province the names of priests he thinks would make good bishops. Florida is just one of 34 U.S. provinces whose bishops are united with the Metropolitan Archbishop (of Miami). Prior to the regular province meeting (usually annually), the archbishop distributes to all the bishops of the province the names and ‘curricula vitae’ of priests which have been submitted to him. Here, certain responsible Catholics among the laity may be consulted privately by the bishop about the worthiness of certain priests. Following a discussion among the bishops at the annual province meeting, a vote is taken on which names to recommend. The number of names on this province list may vary. The vote tally, together with the minutes of the meeting, is then forwarded by the archbishop to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington. The list is also submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Great weight is given to the nuncio’s own recommendations, but it is important to remember, however, that his “gatekeeper” role does not mean that his recommendations are always followed.

Once all the documentation from the nuncio is complete and in order, and the cardinal-prefect of the Congregation approves, the process moves forward. If the appointment involves a bishop who is being promoted or transferred, the matter may more easily be handled by the prefect and the staff. If, however, the appointment is of a priest to the episcopacy, then the full congregation is ordinarily involved. While there are distinctions between the first appointment of a priest as a bishop and a later transfer of an existing bishop to another diocese or his promotion to archbishop, the basic outlines of the process remain the same.                                 A cardinal ‘relator’ is chosen to summarize the documentation and make a report to the full congregation, which generally meets twice a month on Thursdays. After hearing the cardinal relator’s report, the congregation discusses the appointment and then votes. The Congregation may follow the recommendation of the nuncio, chose another of the candidates on the terna (a list of three candidates for a vacant office, including the office of bishop), or even ask that another terna be prepared.

At a private audience with the pope, usually on a Saturday, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops presents the recommendations of the Congregation to the Holy Father. A few days later, the pope informs the Congregation of his decision. The Congregation then notifies the nuncio, who in turn contacts the candidate and asks if he will accept. If the answer is “yes,” the Vatican is notified, and a date is set for the announcement. It often takes six to eight months—and sometimes longer—from the time a diocese becomes vacant until a bishop is appointed. So, you can see that it’s not just an overnight decision made by the Pope, and that arriving at a selection must take into account many ‘players’ and many layers in the final outcome. Much prayer is needed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, especially to offset the potential for any interference by Satan. As we are always called upon to pray for good priests, so also should we also pray for good shepherds to guide the flock along the path to salvation.

“Our loss is your gain.” You may have heard that expression many times in life. It comes into play again for our parish staff. We recently heard that Boca Regional Hospital has undergone a major merger, resulting in a restructuring of its administration. Because of her reputation as a great fund raiser and leadership skills, Julie Ott, our Stewardship and Development Director, has accepted a position with the Hospital as Director of Development. While we share in her joy for her new job, we also express a real sense of loss as we part with a valuable employee and friend and sister in Christ. We know that she will do well in her new assignment and thank her for her years of service to our parish. She and her family will continue as parishioners, and she promised to be involved in parish activities as much as she possibly can. May she continue her good work, sharing her God-given gifts with Boca Regional Hospital and the community at large.

Pastor’s Message August 19th

Last Wednesday evening, on the Feast of the Assumption (Holy Day of Obligation), I was approached by a church-goer who said that she only came to church because she knew that if she didn’t, then she would commit a serious sin and would wind up in hell if this sin was not forgiven at the time of her death. She then proceeded to quote me from the New Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2181. Correct though she was, I began to ponder about whether she even considered something that I found more troubling — one that has been plaguing the Church in recent times, with more than sufficient news media coverage. I wondered if she was bothered as much by this sin as her select sin.

After the recent publication of retired Archbishop (and former Cardinal) McCarrick’s past scandalous sexual perversions and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Grand Jury report, many US Catholics are in a virtual state of shock, frustration, anger — and sadness — as I am. In some ways, it feels like coming home to find your own house burglarized and ransacked. You feel violated and exploited. But in this case, we’re not just talking about things, but persons!

Many factors have contributed to this crisis that weren’t properly addressed. Some of the more serious ones include: widespread dissent from Church teaching on human sexuality; the failure of Church leaders to defend the truths of our Faith; failure to handle the issues with transparency; and properly disciplining the malefactors without fear of consequences that might diminish their standing in the community. We can no longer pretend that those who willfully ignore Church teaching, and the wolves who pose as shepherds that tend the sheep, have not contributed deeply to this crisis.

Once again, we’re forced to confront the widespread abuse of human souls – by our own purported leaders, in our own generation, in our own Catholic Church! In truth, many of the newly-revealed cases of abuse occurred decades ago and are only being reported now. I’m still stymied by how former Cardinal McCarrick’s upward promotion through the ranks of the Church hierarchy occurred after his misdeeds were known to many. I even heard of them as much as eighteen years ago, though I was never under his jurisdiction. New evidence shows that many current bishops, even Cardinals, participated in cover-ups and failed to take quick and decisive action against abusive priests. Some, as in the case of McCarrick, were actually predators themselves.

Although this may seem to be one of the darkest moments in the Church’s 2,000-year history, our Church history also shows us the way forward as it did in the Middle Ages, when even more heinous crimes were committed by parallel type characters. It’s an age when some of the greatest saints in our history arrived on the scene — just in time! The great reformer saints did wonders to change the face and composition of the Church.

So, when burdened with despair and hopelessness, we must cling to the example of St. Peter. Jesus, seeing many followers leave Him when He gave His first instruction on the Holy Eucharist, asked the Apostles: “Will you also leave?” Peter looked Him in the eyes and said: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life!”

It is with these thoughts in mind that I still can find a spark of hope and dare to rejoice when I tell you that we have a second good seminarian from our parish who, just this summer, was accepted into the seminary. Louis Padavano now joins seminarian Marc Gustinelli, in the program of priestly formation. Pray that these fine young men will be given the grace to pursue their vocation journey to the Priesthood. Louis just entered

St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami (from which Marc just graduated) and Marc has entered St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. Even though the winds of chaos and confusion tend to swirl about the Church and Satan is proclaiming some sort of victory in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Christ has built the foundation of His Church on the weakened Peter who became the “Rock,” and the powers of hell will not prevail in the long run!

As for the clergy who have abused or abetted abuse in the Church, pray for them. If they are living, pray that they repent of their past before they come to stand before the tribunal of God; if they are deceased, pray that God will have mercy on their souls! Then pray that Our Lord will send good and HOLY priests to minister in His Church. Amen!

 

Pastor’s Message August 12th, 2018

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Humanæ Vitæ, Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on the gift of human life. Although many have misunderstood this encyclical by reducing its message to a “No” to contraception, we reaffirm that the message of Humanæ Vitæ should be seen as an emphatic “Yes!” to the fullness of life promised to us by Jesus Christ. Humanæ Vitæ teaches that, created in the divine image, the human person is called to reflect God’s love in the world, loving the way he does – freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully – by means of our body. This is an immense responsibility. The love Jesus has for us allows us to understand better how married love is called to be an image of God’s love: a love which is life-long, exclusive, and ready to reach beyond the couple itself, even bringing forth a new life! This is why Christ has committed himself to husbands and wives in the Sacrament of Marriage. He will always be present to empower them with his infinite love. Through prayer, the Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spouses will experience the grace to grow in love through life’s everyday challenges.

Christian marriage reflects the love of Jesus who lays down his life for us. In his letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul writes: “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church” (5:32). Through his incarnation, death, and resurrection, Jesus has united himself to his Bride, the Church, and the two have become “one flesh.” His offering of himself on the Cross is made really present to us in the Eucharist, so that we can experience in our bodies his gift of himself. Christ is the Bride- groom, and we are his bride. When we receive Holy Communion, we make this gift our own and participate intimately in it. Only in union with Christ can we be empowered to make the complete gift of self to which we are all called. Every Christian marriage is, therefore, called to be an image of this gift of Christ to his people. Since our sexuality is part of how we are made in God’s image, it also should take part in reflecting God’s love. Every expression of love in marriage is meant to be an image of God’s love, including the most intimate expression of marriage – sexual intercourse.

In Amoris Lætitia Pope Francis praises Humanæ Vitæ’s teaching on marriage and family, which includes “the intrinsic bond between conjugal love and the generation of life.” This means that every sexual act in marriage is meant to speak a love which is free (not coerced), total (giving one’s whole self), faithful (devoted to one’s spouse), and fruitful (open to new life and supporting the couple’s spiritual fruitfulness). Anything else distorts the beautiful language which God has written into our bodies. Weakening or falsifying this language changes the way each of the spouses experiences love; in these cases, sexual relations do not fully embody real love. While they may be well-intentioned, sexual acts that do not speak the language of such love misdirect our search for love and make it harder for us to find true and enduring love (Humanæ Vitæ, #12, 14). The Church’s teaching on sexuality reminds us that we are not made for just any kind of love; we are made for an infinite love – the very kind that led Jesus to offer his life freely on the cross for us. Nothing less than his infinite love can fill the deepest aspirations of our hearts. Thus, the Church’s teaching is not aimed at repressing our sexual desires or ensuring that each of us ends up living frustrated and boring lives. In fact, the opposite is true. The Church shows us that marriage is the place where sexuality can be fully experienced and lived out.

In the words of Blessed Paul VI, “an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and woman, and is, consequently, in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will” (Humanæ Vitæ, n. 13).

Since married love is called to be a reflection of God’s fruitful love, when married couples give themselves to each other totally – growing in communion and open to the blessing of fertility – their love reflects God’s love for us. They see their relationship strengthened and deepened in a true communion – “common union” – with each other. On the other hand, intentionally modifying a sexual act so as to render it sterile – e.g., through the use of contraceptives or through sterilization – ends up falsifying the language of our sexuality. In this case, we place clear limits on the gift of ourselves while giving the illusion of a total gift.

There are many married couples who have adopted fertility awareness-based methods for overcoming infertility and for responsible family planning. Because these methods do not change the language of sexual intercourse in any way, they can help couples grow more deeply in love with each other and with God. Based on modern scientific knowledge of fertility, these methods are also known as natural family planning. They allow parents to plan their family in a way which fully respects their love and their dignity.

Blessed Paul VI, with the Encyclical Humanæ Vitæ, brought out the intrinsic bond between conjugal love and the generation of life: Married love requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time must be rightly understood. The exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties towards God, themselves, their families, and human society.

In fact, married couples can only live out the truth contained in Humanæ Vitæ by the grace of God, our loving Father, who with his Son, Jesus, empowers us with the strength of the Holy Spirit. Marriage is indeed a noble vocation. May all married couples, in faithfulness to the grace of their baptism and marriage vows, live and experience the joy of married love as taught in Humanæ Vitæ and thus be signs of God’s loving presence in the world.