Archbishop Fulton Sheen may soon be called Blessed Fulton Sheen. Watch the video below and learn more about it.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen may soon be called Blessed Fulton Sheen. Watch the video below and learn more about it.
I am proud to be part of a Church that is not intimidated by politically-motivated bullying.
From what I’ve read, the pro-gay-marriage folks did manage to drive down attendance at the March for Marriage today. I am familiar with this sort of thing, on a much smaller level.
The photo at the top of Public Catholic’s page was taken of a demonstration against me, calling for my censorship by the Oklahoma Democratic Party. The reason was that I had passed a pro life bill over the veto of our Democratic Governor. That made me a big-time traitor in the eyes of many party members. In fact, it put a wedge between me and many of them that has never gone away, not to this day.
I learned about the demonstration in the photo only a few hours before it happened. The demonstrators showed up at a fundraiser I held to try to get funds for my re-election campaign. The minute I heard about the demonstration, I knew that donors were going to stay away from the fundraiser and the whole thing would be a big, embarrassing, bust.
I sent one email to a couple of close pro life friends who were not at all political, asking them to come just so I wouldn’t be left alone. When I got to the fundraiser, I was booed and to enter the building through a gauntlet of people chanting “Traitor!” at me in loud voices. I also had a few of them run at me, waving signs and yelling various things.
When I got inside the building, I discovered that my friends had forwarded that email to their friends, who in turn forwarded it to their friends. I specifically told my friends not to make a donation. All I wanted was for them to be there to give me emotional support. What I got was a group — not a huge crowd, but several dozen — pro life people who dropped everything and came to the fundraiser to support me.
These people were not political activists. They were just pro life citizens who felt called to keep me from being left alone. What totally surprised me is the amount of money they donated to my campaign. One of them told me that when he walked past the yelling demonstrators, he waved his check book and said, “I’m going in, and I’m giving money!”
These weren’t lobbyists — who, with two exceptions, ran away from me as fast as their little legs could carry them — but ordinary people, writing checks on their personal accounts.
It was a surreal experience for me all around. But I went home that evening feeling affirmed.
It was also interesting that a number of close friends of mine apologized to me later for not coming. They were really embarrassed, but they told me they were just too scared to come and be there during that demonstration.
I think this is what happened on a much larger scale at the March for Marriage today. People didn’t show up because they were scared to take a stand in a hostile world. They didn’t want to be called names.
I actually understand that, and I am not condemning anyone for it. But please folks. look into your hearts and see if you can find the courage to stand up in the future. We’ve got to start doing that.
It makes me proud that my Church was not among those who ran away. Archbishop Cordileone has been targeted for a bit of bullying over his plans to speak at this march. But he was there, and he gave a fine speech. At no time did he allow his comments to drop into the negativity and defamation that characterize what has been aimed at him and the organizers of this march.
The sound quality on this video is less that stellar, so I’m putting the full text, which I found on the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s website, below.
Read it and be proud.
Building a Civilization of Truth and Love
- June 19, 2014
“BUILDING A CIVILIZATION OF TRUTH AND LOVE”
Archbishop Cordileone’s Talk at the March for Marriage
June 19, 2014; Washington, D.C.
In our Catholic faith tradition, young people around the age of junior high school or high school receive the sacrament of Confirmation, normally administered by the bishop. At a Confirmation ceremony I celebrated recently in a large, Hispanic parish, two of the young people shared some reflections on what their Confirmation meant to them. They said that their Confirmation gave them the grace to go forth and “build a civilization of truth and love.” I could not have said it better myself! And that, my friends, is why we are here. Both are necessary, both, together, if we wish to have a flourishing society: truth and love.
This is the legacy we have received from our ancestors in faith. To my fellow believers in Jesus Christ I would call our attention to those first generations of Christians in the city of Rome, who were so often scapegoated by the powerful pagan Roman government. But when a plague would strike the city and the well-to-do fled to the hills for safety until the plague subsided, it was the Christians who stayed behind to care for the sick, at great risk to their own health and very lives. And not just the Christian sick: all the sick, regardless of religion, of how they lived their lives, or even what they thought of the Christians themselves. The historian Eusebius noted about the Christians of his time, “All day long some of them tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them. Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.” Likewise, the Emperor Julian complained to one of his pagan priests, “[They] support not only their poor, but ours as well.”
It is this kind of love and compassion in the service of truth, especially the truth of the human person, that has marked the lives of the holy ones of our own faith tradition and others as well: hospitals, orphanages, schools, outreach to the poor and destitute – giving without concern for getting anything in return, seeing in each human being, especially in the poor and destitute, a priceless child beloved by God, whom God calls to turn away from sin and toward Him, so that they might be saved. In1839 Jeanne Jugan met one such priceless child of God, a blind old crippled woman whom nobody cared for. That night, Jeanne carried the woman home to her apartment, and put her to sleep in her own bed. From this profound encounter was born the Little Sisters of the Poor, who even today are loving, caring for and providing homes for thousands of elderly who deserve dignity as well as care. These are the very nuns who now face the possibility of being shut out of spreading the love of Jesus to the needy because of their refusal to comply with a healthcare mandate that violates their moral convictions, convictions which stand on the truth of basic human dignity.
Let us, then, take our cue from the best our predecessors in faith have inspired, and not humanity’s frequent failings and sins. Like them, we now in our own time need to proclaim and live the truth with charity and compassion as it applies to us today: the truth of a united family based on the union of the children’s father and mother in marriage as the foundational good of society. Every child comes from a man and a woman, and has a right, a natural human right, to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their own mother and father. This is the great public good that marriage is oriented towards and protects. The question is then: does society need an institution that unites children to the mothers and fathers who bring them into the world, or doesn’t it? If it does, that institution is marriage – nothing else provides this basic good to children.
Yes, this is a foundational truth, and one to which we must witness by lives lived in conformity to it, and which we must proclaim with love. Love for those millions of loving single mothers and fathers who struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives and succeed in creating loving homes for their children – they need and deserve our love, affirmation and support. Love for the husband struggling with fidelity, for the woman who feels abandoned and pressured into abortion, for the teenager struggling to believe in the heroic vision of love that makes sense of chastity, for the single person who cannot find a mate, for the childless couple trying to cope with infertility, for the wife who finds herself nursing a sick husband in her marriage bed, for the young person trying to navigate through sexual identity issues and may feel alienated from the Church because of it, maybe even because of the sort of treatment received from those who profess to be believers. To all of you, I say: know that you are a child of God, that you are called to heroic love and that with God’s help you can do it, that we love you and want to support you in living your God-given call.
And let us not forget: we must also proclaim this truth especially with love for those who disagree with us on this issue, and most of all, for those who are hostile toward us. We must be careful, though, not to paint our opponents on this issue with broad strokes. There is a tendency in our culture to do this to groups of people the powerful don’t know and think they don’t like. We must not do that. We must recognize that there are people on the other side of this debate who are of good will and are sincerely trying to promote what they think is right and fair. It is misdirected good will. But even those from whom we suffer retribution – and I know some of you have suffered in very serious ways because of your stand for marriage – still, we must love them. That is what our ancestors in faith did, and we must, too. Yes, it is easy to become resentful when you are relentlessly and unfairly painted as a bigot and are punished for publicly standing by the basic truth of marriage as a foundational societal good; it is tempting to respond in kind. Don’t. For those of us who are Catholic, we just heard our Master command us in the gospel proclaimed at Mass the day before yesterday: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). We must not allow the angry rhetoric to co-opt us into a culture of hate.
Yes, we must show love toward all of these and more. Love is the answer. But love in the truth. The truth is that every child comes from a mother and a father, and to deliberately deprive a child of knowing and being loved by his or her mother and father is an outright injustice. That is our very nature, and no law can change it. Those with temporal power over us might choose to change the definition of marriage in the law even against all that we have accomplished through very generous participation in the democratic process, but our nature does not change. If the law does not correspond to our nature, such that there is a conflict between the law and nature, guess which will prevail? And people will figure it out.
We can take heart from what we see happening now in the pro-life movement. Back in the early 1970’s, just before the Court issued its infamous Roe vs. Wade ruling, public support for abortion was growing rapidly. And as with marriage redefinition today, a generation gap opened up in the polls, leading many to predict that opposition to abortion would literally die off. That was the future; before long, it would not even be an issue. Instead, something unexpected happened. A relatively small band of faithful believers held the line on the sanctity of human life in the womb, and today, two generations later, the pro-life movement is flourishing like never before. We now have the most pro-life generation of young adults since the infamous Roe decision. People have figured out that it is a human life that is within the mother’s womb, and that abortion, yes, really does harm women; they’ve figured out that it’s good to cherish that human life and surround the mother with love and support so a truly happy choice can be made, the choice for life.
People, too, will figure out that a child comes from a father and a mother, and it’s good for the child to be connected to his or her father and mother. These truths may seem obvious to us, but they aren’t to everyone while in the heat of controversy. They will figure out this truth about marriage, though, because it, too, is in our nature, and it is a key to individual and societal flourishing. All we have to do is look around and see that our society is broken and hurting in so many ways; there is so much work to do to fix it and bring healing. Yes, it is very complex, and many different things need to be done: we need to fix our economy; we especially need to pay a living wage to working class families; we need to fix our broken immigration system; we need to improve our schools, especially those that are failing children from poorer families. Yes, we need to do all this and more. But none of these solutions will have a lasting effect if we do not rebuild a marriage culture, a culture which recognizes and supports the good of intact families, built on the marriage between a man and a woman committed to loving faithfulness to each other and to their children. No justice, no peace, no end to poverty, without a strong culture of marriage and the family. This noble cause is a call to love we cannot abandon, that we will not give up on, and that in the end we know will triumph.
So take heart: the truth spoken in love has a power over the human heart. We are here today to March for Marriage, to pick up the torch, and pass on to a new generation the truth about marriage, not just the abstract truth, but the lived reality that makes a difference in children’s lives. So, my friends, we must not give up: the truth will not go away, and we will not go away. Let us take heart from the legacy we have received, let us place our trust in God, and let us go forth to build a civilization of truth and love.
There will be rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. Jesus Christ
There must have been rejoicing in heaven a few weeks ago. That’s when Wojeiech Jaruzelski, the former Communist dictator or Poland asked for last rites.
Mr Jaruzelski was also the former and the commander of the Soviet Military forces that put down an attempted move toward democracy in Czechoslovakia. He was an avowed atheist for most of his adult life.
True to its way of doing things, the Church accepted him back and rejoiced in his salvation. Mr Jaruzelski died May 25, following a stroke and was given a funeral Mass on May 30. He had recanted of his atheism and asked for the rites of the Church two weeks before his death.
“What a … beautiful thing, that the head of the government which was at war with the Church should in the end be reconciled with the Church. That’s cause to ring the bells of glory, isn’t it?” said Fr Raymond Gawronski.
Warsaw, Poland, Jun 19, 2014 / 12:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The recent funeral Mass said for Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was a Polish military commander and communist politician during the Cold War, has been received as an occasion for rejoicing.
“What a very odd but beautiful thing, that the head of the government which was at war with the Church should in the end be reconciled with the Church. That’s cause to ring the bells of glory, isn’t it?” said Fr. Raymond Gawronski, a priest of Society of Jesus’ Maryland province and a Polish-American, in an interview this month with CNA.
Jaruzelski, who was for many years an avowed atheist, died May 25 following a stroke. He was given a funeral Mass in Warsaw May 30, said by Bishop Jozef Guzdek of the Polish Military Ordinariate.
A priest at the ordinariate’s cathedral announced that two weeks prior to his death, Jaruzelski had requested last rites.
Jaruzelski was born in 1923 to a prominent Catholic family of Poland, and shortly after country’s invasion by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, he and his family were deported to Siberia, and he was later made to work in coal mines in Kazakhstan.
Before World War II ended, he had joined the Soviet-backed Polish army to fight the Nazis. He continued to fight the anti-communist Polish Home Army after the world war, defending the Soviet-backed Polish government.
Jaruzelski formally joined Poland’s communist party in 1948, and 20 years later became Poland’s defense secretary; that year, he occupied Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring, an effort at democratization.
In 1981, he seized power in Poland and soon declared martial law in an effort to suppress Solidarity, an anti-communist trade union inspired by Catholic social doctrine. Tens of thousands were arrested, and some 100 were killed in the crackdown; Jaruzelski’s imposition of martial law lasted until 1983.
My heart goes out to Father Joseph Terra.
He has to heal from grievous injuries, but that’s the least of it, really.
He also has to heal in his wounded heart. He will live with the trauma he has suffered personally, and also from the additional trauma of seeing his brother priest die in front of him, for a long time to come.
Survivors of violent crime are often saddled with guilt of all types.
Why didn’t I fight harder? Why didn’t I call the police? Why didn’t I do this or that or the other? They ask themselves these questions over and over until the questions themselves become a wound, a source of shame and grief.
There are other questions, as well. Why me? Why did this happen to me? Why would anyone do this? And the companion questions: Why did I survive? Why am I alive when others are dead?
Father Terra did all he could. In fact, he was heroic. But, good man that he is, he is also bound to be attacked by the questions that keep coming in the middle of the night, the first moments after waking, when he sees a television show that reminds him.
He will wake up at the hour it happened for a long time to come. He will be struck with panic and sudden memories that feel like he’s reliving it. He will face, over and over and over again the endless repeating memory of Father Walker, coming to help him, the sound of the gunfire, the death of his friend.
It doesn’t stop because the victim wants it to stop. It doesn’t stop because people tell them they were heroes and to let it go and get over it. It simply doesn’t stop.
These thoughts punch holes in a person. They drain away self-worth, peace of mind and trust. Everything depends on how people treat the victim of a violent crime in the first days, weeks and months after the event. In that, I think Father Terra is blessed. He is surrounded by loving people who want to help and honor him.
Father Walker is in heaven. I don’t doubt that. He is probably praying for the man who killed him. I have little doubt that he is also praying for Father Terra as he makes his way through the pain and grief of what has happened.
Father Terra will never be able to rewind this tragedy. He will always be the man that this happened to. But he can, with time and God’s grace, make it into something good. He is a priest, which means he is a conduit of God’s grace. He is now also the victim of a senseless violent crime. The Holy Spirit can combine those two things in wonderful ways.
I pray for Father Terra. My heart goes out to him. I hope that God uses him and this tragedy to give new hope and healing to many lost souls who need it.
PHOENIX – On Monday morning, Father Joseph Terra, a victim from last week’s attack at a Phoenix church, made his first public appearance.Terra didn’t speak at Monday’s Requiem Mass service.Father was in a wheelchair and hands were bandaged up. Severe lacerations were evident on his head.Father Terra was beaten so severely, he was brought to the hospital in critical condition.Around a thousand people packed into Saint Catherine of Siena Monday for a requiem mass service in honor of murder victim Father Kenneth Walker.
Pope Francis was born on December 17, 1936. He is 77 years old. He has one lung. He just got back from a grueling trip to the Middle East. He has kept a non-stop schedule since his election.
Now, he has cancelled many of his public activities for July.
Speculation about the Holy Father’s abrupt cancellation of plans is rolling around the internet. Grave rumors are rolling right along with it.
The Holy Father may be sick. I don’t know. What I do know is that the pace he has been keeping is enough to tire anyone, at any age, much less a guy approaching 80 who is getting by on one lung.
I also know that previous popes have left the Vatican altogether at this time of year and spent a few weeks’ vacation time at Castel Gandalfo. Pope Francis’ mini vacation of just canceling public appointments for a month while continuing to live in residence and work from his office is actually an uptick in activity from his predecessor.
I hope and pray that all he needs is a month of relative rest and quiet. I think that is entirely possible. In fact, I don’t see how he’s managed to do all that he’s done. My only answer is that the Holy Spirit is sustaining him.
I know that many people are going to get with the speculation program and that the rumor mill will run like a hamster in its cage. But as for me, I am going to continue praying for our Pope and wait and see.
Hopefully, what we’ll all see will be a refreshed and invigorated Papa, back from a few weeks’ rest.
Let’s make something clear at the outset.
When you send a letter to someone and then give the letter to the press, it’s not a letter. It’s a statement, an attempt to garner publicity, or something of the kin. It is not, most emphatically not, a communication between two people.
Things like this are not written or sent with the intention of persuading, informing or asking. They are not a discussion. These “public” letters are grandstanding, plain and simple.
Which brings me to the case of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s famous letter to Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco.
It seems that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to the Archbishop, with the supposed intention of asking him not to participate in the March for Marriage, which is scheduled for June 19.
So, Congresswoman Pelosi disagrees with her Archbishop and took it on herself to write him about the disagreement. So far, we have a sort of pastoral thing going on here. We also have a private communication between a priest and member of his parish, which in this case is the diocese.
What Congresswoman Pelosi did next negates all that. She gave the letter to the press.
That changes everything, my friends.
The single act of giving the letter to the press turns it into a political stunt.
Representative Pelosi represents San Francisco. You know, the San Francisco which hosts the notorious Folsom Street Fair.
That letter is a great little vote-getter for a politician representing San Francisco. But, if it’s just between the Congresswoman and the Archbishop, no one will know, and no political gain will be had.
Once the letter became public fodder, it stopped being a letter and became a political act in an election year.
I haven’t been able to find a copy of the full text of the letter. If anyone has one, please send me a link and I’ll post it. However, from what I’ve read, it was the usual stuff.
According to SFGate, she took Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge?” rhetorical question out of context to make it into an endorsement of homosexual sex, gay marriage and whatever what-not she wanted to put into it.
My reaction to this is simple: Yawn. In fact, Big Yawn.
Everyone who’s been keeping up with current events knows this is a deliberate mis-use of the Holy Father’s words by taking them out of context. I’ll just bet Congresswoman Pelosi knows it, too.
There was more, and from what the Chronicle reported, it was, as I said, the usual character assassination claptrap that is leveled at organizations and individuals who have the temerity to oppose redefining marriage. It sounds as if the Congresswoman cut and pasted from a good many propaganda pieces to write this thing.
That makes sense because the whole point of it seems to have been politics. I think she was piling on, along with a lot of local politicians, in order to grandstand for her constituency. This letter is politics. It isn’t and was never intended to be an attempt to communicate with or persuade the Archbishop.
I would include all the other similar public statements to the Archbishop from elected officials in this same assessment. I think Archbishop Cordileone’s public and cordial response to these political missives was well done.
As a Democrat, I’m embarrassed by Congresswoman Pelosi’s little letter. But I’m not as outraged as more normal people who’ve never held office appear to be. I just view it as another pre-election bit of campaigning by a woman who is a Congresswoman first and a Catholic second. Or maybe she’s a Catholic third … or fourth.
I’ve been told by people who’ve discussed it with her that Congresswoman Pelosi talks about her faith in an emotional and seemingly sincere fashion. They think she’s trying to be a good Christian and is deluded about abortion and gay marriage.
What do I make of that?
I mean that. I don’t have a clue.
Maybe she means it. Maybe she doesn’t. I see people all the time who cut their faith to fit their politics and don’t have the first notion that they are doing anything wrong. In fact, they — every last one of them — tend to get highly indignant and can even become abusive when someone points out to them that they are, in fact, walking on the wrong side of the issues if they want to be consistent Catholics.
Is she another self-deluded my-own-little-g-god Catholic, albeit a very public and powerful one, who has persuaded herself that the little g gods of her political party trump the two-thousand-year teachings of the Catholic Church? Is she just another person who’s drunk so deeply of the intoxicating propaganda of power politics that she’s convinced herself the Church is wrong and the little g gods are right? Does she honestly believe that the Church needs to change to align itself with her politics to preach, teach and follow Christ? Has she sold herself the whole bill of goods?
Or, is she callously doing what she has to do to get elected in San Francisco?
Orrrr … to take another look at it, has she been doing what she has to do to get elected for so long that she no longer knows, really, what she believes?
I don’t know.
I can tell you that I’ve seen a lot of this. I’ve seen good people who are deluded and bad people who don’t care and lots of people who have so totally lost contact with themselves that they no longer know much about anything as to what they believe or who they are.
All I think I know — and I’m pretty sure of this one — is that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s letter to Archbishop Cordileone asking him to withdraw from participation in the March for Marriage was pure politics. There was nothing else to it.
It’s a bitter pill for Catholics, watching the videos of Archbishop Carlson’s testimony.
I understand and share the emotions it raises.
But we do not serve ourselves or our Church by pretending that it ain’t so. We’ve got to face this because it is reality. It doesn’t change in any way the simple fact that Jesus said “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
What it changes is the blind notion that many Catholics have — that we all want to have — that our religious leaders are sinless Christ figures themselves.
They’re just people, just like us. They are conduits of the graces of the sacraments. God can and does reach through them and into us when we go to them for support and help in our troubles.
But the miracle in that is all on God, not on them. They don’t create the miracle, they don’t control the grace. I know from personal experience that God can reach out and touch anyone, anytime. I believe that all that’s needed on our parts is a willing heart. All we have to do to receive God’s healing grace is say yes to it.
Why, then, a priesthood? If God can reach directly into us Himself then why do we need priests who are conduits of grace?
Because the priesthood is God’s instrument for bestowing this grace in an understandable, predictable and accessible way. I think that the emotionalism that is sometimes exhibited in some churches is an attempt to re-create that first transforming moment of grace when they originally said yes. It is an attempt to touch God and feel it again by using our own emotions to elevate ourselves to that level.
The Eucharist gives us that healing moment of grace, that experience of touching God, of feeling Christ, without any effort on our part. All we have to do is say yes and partake. It is the same with confession. Confession bestows healing grace. So much so that there have been times, including long periods when I was feeling especially challenged, that I went to confession every week, even though my sins were not so grave, because I needed that encounter with Christ, that healing grace that confession gives.
Sacramental confession strengthens us in an almost unfelt way. The more often we go to confession, the stronger we are in resisting evil. In fact, my experience has been that if I confess something on a regular basis, I stop wanting to do it. It takes a bit of time, but that’s what happens.
These graces, as well as the graces of the other sacraments, flow through the priest in a way that is simple for those of us who receive it. We don’t have to understand theology. We don’t have to work ourselves into an emotional high. All we have to do is say yes and accept the grace that is freely given to us.
The crowning moment of grace is always the Eucharist, which is direct contact with Christ. So far as I’m concerned — and I’m not a theologian, so this applies only to me and my understanding — the Church is the Eucharist. And we are the eucharist. Because the Eucharist is Christ. The priesthood exists to bestow grace. Priests are conduits of grace, and it does not matter what kind of hooligan they are personally, the graces of the sacraments flow through them to us, regardless.
Which brings me back to Archbishop Carlson. I wouldn’t call him a hooligan. In fact, I’m not sure how to label him. I don’t want to label him and his faults. It is enough for me that this is the situation in which we find ourselves, him and us. Because at this point, that’s what it’s about: Him and us.
Not, Jesus and us, or even the Church and us. But poor, messed up Archbishop Carlson and us. We don’t have to decide what to do about Archbishop Carlson. What we are tasked with is determining how we are going to relate to our dear Church in the light of the obvious fact that our leaders are ordinary people.
They can be cowards. Just like us.
They can be craven. Just like us.
They can lie, cheat, steal and run away when they get in trouble. Just like us.
They can gossip and betray confidences, hold grudges and be spiteful. Just like us.
They are not Christ.
What they are is men who have consented to be the conduits of grace to Christ’s Church, which is us. There is a moment when heaven comes to earth and the Eucharist becomes His Body, His blood, in which the divine flows through them.
The fact that a few of them become callous about this and begin to devalue it and even start thinking that it is all about them and not Jesus, does not change the impact it has on us. The Eucharist is still real, even if the priest is a messed-up welter of confusion and sin.
Archbishop Carlson reveals himself to be a lawyered-up citizen who ducks and covers under oath in an act of self defense. I have no idea why he didn’t do the obvious thing and exercise his right to take the Fifth Amendment. It would have been far less damaging to his credibility than this performance.
You can find the full text of his deposition here. Many of the salient comments are highlighted to make them easy to find.
There really isn’t any point in trying to find an “out” for Archbishop Carlson in this. The deposition speaks for itself. Besides, it’s not our job to judge Archbishop Carlson. Our job is the much tougher one of working out how to be a faithful Catholic in a world of fallen leaders, including our leaders in the Church.
How do we follow these men when they are so nothing special as this deposition reveals them to be? Not, mind you, worse than us. Most of us would duck and cover in a deposition like this one, just like the Archbishop. Any of us who have brains would get the best legal counsel we could and do exactly what that attorney told us to do.
Archbishop Carlson doesn’t reveal himself to be a fiend in this deposition. He reveals himself to be no better than the rest of us.
Which brings us back to the task that faces us. We are fallen people, served by a priesthood that is composed entirely of fallen people, living in a fallen world.
Yet we serve a risen Savior, Who is God Incarnate. We are called to be “perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
But we can’t do it. We. Can. Not. Do. It. We don’t get through a single day without at least one and usually many sins of one sort or another.
We want heroes who will give us the illusion of the possibility of human perfection. But human perfection is always just that; an illusion.
To put it bluntly, we are all — priest and parishioner alike — down here in the pits together. As Jesus said, “There is none good except God.”
So how do we solve this conundrum of answering a call to be “perfect” while we are certain that there is “none good” among humankind?
We solve it by getting up every morning and giving our day to Jesus and His Mother. We solve it by availing ourselves of the certain graces of the sacraments. We solve it by forgiving each other and sustaining one another in our weakness.
How does this apply to the Archbishop Carlsons in our clerical leadership? More to the point, how does it apply to us and our response to the Archbishop Carlsons in our leadership?
My answer — and this is just me, talking about me — is that we need to cherish these men and help them as we can. At the same time, we need to stop pretending that they are anything other than fallen human beings. When they stand behind that altar and lift up the host, they are conduits of God’s grace. When they come down from behind the altar and scald us with a fit of rage or lie in a deposition, they are just people, wallowing around in the pit of failed good intentions along with the rest of us.
This is difficult for Catholics. It’s difficult for me. I am still working out how to deal with wounds inflicted by clergy. Some days I don’t do so well with it. Protestants can just dismiss their clergy as fallen people and be done with it. But Catholics are part of a hierarchical Church whose entire governance is built on the administration of these fallen men.
How do we, as Catholics, remain faithful when we see by their actions that we must be judicious about how and when we follow our clergy?
This is a tough one. It’s not always or even mostly about big public dilemmas like Archbishop Carlson’s dipping and dodging deposition. It is usually more personal, and because of that, far more damaging to us as Christians and Catholics.
How do we, say, disregard things a priest or spiritual director says to us in a fit of rage? How do we decide what to believe and what not to believe about the things they say to us? How do we overcome the sense of betrayal when a priest gossips about our deepest hurts? These are more the kinds of things that most Catholics must overcome in their walk of faith. The big public falls from grace seem easy to me compared to those much deeper personal dilemmas. How do we live together as Catholics in this fallen world?
These are hard questions with no easy answers. I’m going to leave it open for discussion and see what the rest of you think. In the meantime, take a look at Archbishop Carlson’s deposition. It’s clearly not a case of dementia or anything like it. He’s dipping and dodging and doing it quite well. Just like us.
Deacon Greg, as usual, has the story.
So, there’s this Archbishop in St Louis who is accused of the same old enabling of child sex abuse by a priest stuff we’ve gotten to know too well. Mr Archbishop gave a deposition about these accusations.
In that deposition, he did the lawyered-up, don’t-give-them-anything di-doh. It was a masterful performance of I don’t know nothin, sung to the tune of I Can’t Remember.
The all-time show-stopper was when the attorney asked Mr Archbishop if he knew that the act of an adult having sex with a child was a crime back when all this was going on. “I’m not sure if I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today it was a crime,” Mr Archbishop answered. The look on his face while he said it was classic the-dog-ate-my-homework.
The attorney pursued it, and the Archbishop kept right on lying.
If you’ve got the stomach for it, have a look.
I didn’t write about this when I first saw it because, to be honest, it made me sick. I felt so sad. Bereft, almost. I had nothing to say. I just wanted to go away from this and not deal with it.
Then, just to make sure that nobody ever believes him again, the Archbishop started the second quadrille to his little dance. Deacon Greg covered it. Mr Archbishop had the St Louis Archdiocese release another the-dog-ate-my-homework statement.
This time, it was a totally idiotic accusation that inaccurate and misleading reporting “has impugned Archbishop Carlson’s good name and reputation.” This was so daft it made me question if they knew that there was a video of the deposition out there on YouTube.
The letter goes on. But it doesn’t matter. We have the video.
Now Mr Archbishop has released a letter over his own signature. He also put up a video of himself, reading the letter. I see no point in going over what he said, since he essentially didn’t say anything. It was just typical I-wuz-robbed boilerplate.
The reason I’m finally writing about this today is simple. I want to tell the Archbishop something that he doesn’t seem to get: You made your choice.
I understand that the wise person takes their attorney’s advice when they testify. I also understand that we have a thing called the Fifth Amendment to protect people in situations like this. I further understand that an attorney who deliberately counseled a client to lie under oath would be guilty of subornation of perjury.
So, I rather doubt that your attorney, Mr Archbishop, told you to do this. Not in so many words. They may have said something like, don’t conjecture unless you remember precisely. It’s best to say, “I don’t know” unless you are absolutely certain. But I doubt very much that your attorney counseled you to go out there and lie under oath.
Testifying under oath is a scary deal for most of us and testifying on something like this, where you flat out know your are wrong, must be a real horror.
But you jumped the shark on this one. And there’s no turning back. It’s a done deal. And you — and every other Catholic in the world — is going to have to live with it.
It all began with enabling priests to sexually abuse children, you know. That is so egregious that nobody, and I mean nobody except maybe your mother, is going to buy the idea that it was anything but an absolute violation of your priesthood.
That’s what got this started. And it wasn’t just you, Mr Archbishop. It was a lot of your colleagues. It was rife. It was what might be called a practice.
Fortunately, I personally know a bishop who called the authorities at the first step. I am grateful to him beyond words for having done that. It gives me hope about our leadership.
But it appears that you, Mr Archbishop, did not make that stand-up choice. Which leads to the point.
It was, is and always has been, on you.
You made your choice then. You made your choice at that deposition.
When, if ever, are you going to stop trying to deny it?
You. Did. Wrong.
As a wrong-doer myself, I can forgive that. I also understand that no matter what any of us has done, we still don’t want to pay the price. There is nothing so terrifying as getting caught in your own dirt. We all want to run. I know. I’ve done my share of running away in my life.
Forgiveness comes easy from someone like me. I’ve done so much, had so much done to me, and been forgiven so much, how could it be otherwise?
I think I can forgive just about anything. All you’ve gotta do is tell me you’re sorry. But you, Mr Archbishop, are not asking for forgiveness. If you’re sorry, it looks like what you’re sorry about is getting caught.
As a Catholic who is trying to follow her Church, who actually wants to believe you, I am beaten.
I can’t believe you. I don’t. I can’t follow you. I won’t.
You made your choice, Mr Archbishop. It’s a done deal.
For another take on this, check out Frank Weathers.
The article, written by Eamonn Fingleton, who writes under the claim that he has “a sharp eye on media bias, official propaganda and globaloney,” says that the so-called septic tank is in reality a shaft burial vault.
I’m not saying that this article is the final word on the mystery. But it does underscore the points I made earlier today. (1) We can’t trust a media with an agenda, in this case hatred of the Catholic Church, and (2) When you’re dealing with one of these media hate orgies, it’s usually better to not let yourself get worked up about it. Wait and see.
Professor Finbar McCormick, of Queens University, says “The structure as described is much more like to be a shaft burial vault, a common method of burial used in the recent past and still used today in many parts of Europe.
“In the 19th century, deep brick-lined shafts were constructed and covered with a large slab which often doubled as a flatly laid headstone … Such tombs are still used extensively in many Mediterranean countries.
“Many maternity hospitals in Ireland had a communal burial place for stillborn children or those who died soon after birth. These were … often in a special area within the grounds of the hospital.
“For anyone familiar with Ireland, the story of nuns throwing babies into a septic tank was never a runner … they were nothing if not God-fearing, and therefore unlike to treat human remains with the sort of outright blasphemy impied in the septic tank story.”