Children, Child Molesters and Pinocchio’s Nose

Heads are rolling in the Father Fugee scandal. 


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Father Thomas J Triggs

Father Thomas J Triggs, pastor of St Mary Parish, Colts Neck, NJ and Michael and Amy Lenehan, parish youth ministers at the same church have resigned their positions. The reason is that they allowed Father Fugee to participate in parish ministries with children, despite his record as a convicted child molester. 

I would guess that this puts the St Mary Parish into quite an uproar with people taking sides either for or against their former pastor. 

It’s difficult for Protestants to understand the emotional bond that Catholics form with their parish priests. These men hear our confessions, comfort us when we in pain and listen to our most scalding confidences. 

It is beyond difficult to suddenly be faced with assertions that the pastor you’ve trusted so completely has betrayed you in such a fundamental matter. I have no doubt that the entire parish of St Mary is suffering from a sense of betrayal and confusion. 


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The Lenehans and Father Fugee

It appears that the Lenehans are long-time friends of Father Fugee. According to a news report, he publicly thanked them for standing by him when he was convicted of child abuse. 

I understand sticking with a friend when he falls into disgrace. If you love someone, you don’t stop loving them when they get into trouble. What I don’t understand is putting a convicted child abuser in contact with children. 

The Lenehans are saying that they did not know about the agreement between Fugee and prosecutors that he would not come into contact with children. Even if that’s true, they still must have known that he was a convicted child abuser. That alone is reason enough to keep him away from children. 

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It doesn’t matter if they thought he was innocent. It doesn’t matter if the conviction was overturned on a technicality. Their responsibility to the children of St Mary Parish, as well as their responsibility to the entire parish and the Church should have been important enough for them to not put a convicted child molester in contact with children. 

One of the things I’ve seen with people who are tempted to molest children is that they always find ways to put themselves into contact with children. Once they’re caught, they tell the judge sad tales about how they fought their dark impulses. But they also always seek out positions where they will have access to children. 

The debate seems to be what did this parish priest know. I’m guessing, but I would imagine that a conviction of a brother priest for child molesting right there in his own state might just have been something that this priest was aware of. If he did know, then so far as I’m concerned, he’s in the same slot as the Lenehans. Ignorance of an agreement with prosecutors is a technicality. 

If someone is convicted of child molesting responsible people do not place them in positions where they will be in contact with children. 

I do not understand why it’s necessary to say this. It’s obvious. Like Pinocchio’s nose. 

From the Trenton Diocese website:

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., has accepted the resignation of Father Thomas J. Triggs as pastor of St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck, effective immediately. The May 4 resignation follows recent reports that Father Michael Fugee, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, had assisted in several activities of the parish’s youth group despite having been restricted from such ministry in an agreement with law enforcement authorities in Bergen County.

 

Bishop O’Connell has granted Father Triggs a period of sabbatical before he will be given a new assignment. A parish administrator will be appointed for St. Mary Parish.

 

In one of his last official acts as pastor, Father Triggs accepted the resignations of Michael and Amy Lenehan, parish youth group ministers, effective immediately. The Lenehans had invited Father Fugee to take part in youth ministry events without ensuring that he would have been cleared for such ministry in compliance with the Diocese of Trenton’s policies.

 

The Diocese of Trenton released a statement April 29 reporting that it was first made aware of the presence of Father Michael Fugee at a youth retreat held in St. Mary Parish through an inquiry from the media on April 23, 2013.  The statement stipulated that Father Fugee had been given no permission to exercise ministry there by the Diocese nor had he filed with the Chancery the “letter of suitability” required of all priests outside of the Diocese before they are to conduct ministry here.   

 

According to that statement, upon learning of Father Fugee’s activities, Bishop O’Connell immediately contacted Father Triggs and indicated that Father Fugee may not exercise ministry there, including any ministry involving youth.  Bishop O’Connell then contacted officials in the Archdiocese of Newark to inform them of developments concerning Father Fugee.

 

In 2001, Father Fugee, while serving in Wycoff, was convicted of criminal sexual contact with a minor. That conviction was later overturned on appeal for procedural reasons. Rather than retry the case, authorities offered Father Fugee the opportunity to undergo counseling and rehabilitation and agree to limited ministry that would preclude access to children and youth. In compliance with those restrictions, the Archdiocese had given Father Fugee responsibilities in the Chancery in Newark. (Read the rest here.)

 

Mama Bear and Archbishop Myers

Mother 1

Threaten my kids and you’ll meet a she-bear on the attack.

I feel much the same way about my Church. 

Disparage Jesus and see how I respond.

There are just certain things that get my attack-defend side moving. 

Archbishop Myers has managed to step on just about every attack-defend nerve I’ve got. He put a confessed, convicted child sex abuser back with kids. Then he defended the action by claiming he didn’t violate the rules that the bishops have for handling these things.

Bah.

Mama bear and the babies

I am the mother of sons. The thought of someone endangering one of them like this has me ready to charge out and do battle. 

I love the Catholic Church with all my heart. I am so grateful to the bishops for standing up against the destruction of traditional Christian morality in our society. I would follow them anywhere in this fight. 

But with friends like Archbishop Myers, who needs enemies? Actions like his cut the moral ground out from under his brother bishops and make it difficult for any of us to defend the Church in the public square. 

As for disparaging Jesus, when a shepherd of the flock opens the gate and allows the wolf in with the lambs and then claims he didn’t do anything wrong … what do you call it? 

Me

I am also a public official. I am responsible for other people’s lives. That doesn’t make me more sympathetic with the Archbishop. It makes me less so. 

This wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t something where he didn’t know or the “experts” told him it would be ok. It didn’t happen back in some long ago past when people supposedly didn’t know that molesting children was wrong. (When was the time, anyway? I’m no kid, but I don’t remember it.)

This is now, after more than 10 years of constant talk about the “problem” of bishops putting child abusers with children. It comes after the apologies, after the reforms, after the promises of never again. The priest in question isn’t someone that was newly discovered to be a child abuser. He’s a confessed, convicted child abuser who was, essentially, remanded to the archbishop’s custody.

Is there some fact here I’ve got wrong? Is there some exculpatory bit of evidence I don’t know about? 

If there’s not, then what the tom fool was Archbishop Myers playing at? Why, why, why did he do this incredibly stupid, destructive and potentially catastrophic thing to the children that God has entrusted to his care? 

Why did he place his Church on the chopping block again? Why did he pull the rug out from under his brother bishops’ feet with actions he knew would get them all tarred with the same ugly brush? 

Sending a confessed, convicted child molester back to ministry with children makes as much sense as giving an embezzler a job in a bank or sending an alcoholic to work in a liquor store. If his goal to was help Father Fugee, he should have done everything he could to keep him away from young people. Surely there was a back room job counting beans somewhere he could have found for him. 

I could go on. 

And on.

But there’s no point. We’ve all got the weary task of once again trying to clean up the mess this Archbishop has made. It’s hard work, reminding people over and over again that Jesus condemns this, and that the Church is still true, even if her ministers sometimes trip and fall. 

One bishop who does something like this does so much harm. The damage — to individuals, to the Church’s witness to Christ — is incalculable.  

Convicted Child Molesting Priest Resigns: Does that Make it All Better?

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“The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

 Jesus Christ

Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, has the story. 

Father Fugee, the convicted child molester, has resigned. Archbishop Myers, who put him back with kids after his conviction, has accepted his resignation.

Tra-la-la-la.

Rather than go through another trial, prosecutors required Father Fugee to undergo counseling – which I assume they thought would make him all better – then they required him to sign a document promising he wouldn’t be around children anymore. 

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You may remember Father Fugee. He’s the New Jersey priest who pled guilty to child sexual abuse and whose conviction was subsequently vacated on a technicality by an appellate court. 

Archbishop Myers is the New Jersey archbishop who also signed the document promising that Father Fugee wouldn’t be around children. It sounds like the prosecutors tossed this child molestor back into the same place where he had committed his original crimes on the basis that he had promised them he wouldn’t do it again. 

Prisons are costly enterprises. Just think how much money we could save in Oklahoma if we were smart like these New Jersey prosecutors. We never thought about asking felons to promise us they wouldn’t do it again. Think how much money we’ve wasted, locking people up, when all we had to do was get them to promise us they wouldn’t do it ever, ever, ever, again. 

Of course, Archbishop Myers, who was Father Fugee’s supervisor the first time he sexually abused children, needed to promise that he wouldn’t do it again, too. That fixed it. No problems now.

Tra-la-la-la.

When the Archbishop got caught recently, breaking his promise, well, all we needed was for him to explain that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Which he did. He sent a letter to the priests in his archdiocese, explaining to them that he had not violated the rules he helped write to govern bishops concerning how they handle child sex abusers. 

Tra-la-la-la.

When ignorant people who don’t understand continued their outrage, it was time to drain the boil. Father Fugee resigned and the Archbishop accepted his resignation. 

Archbishop myers

I think — not know, think — Father Fugee agreed to exit stage left and Archbishop Myers “promptly” accepted his resignation because the two of them talked it over and decided it was the best way to save the Archbishop’s bacon.

The rest of us, of course, are expected to wipe our brows, go whew! I’m glad that’s over. And fergitaboutit. 

According to a nj.com article, Father Fugee “submitted his request to leave ministry,” and “Archbishop Myers promptly accepted the resignation.” I hate feeling this way about one of the bishops of the Church, but that sounds like one fine case of professional courtesy to me. 

Tra-la-la-la. 

Again, I hate saying things like this about a bishop of the Church, but when I have to choose between the bishop and following Jesus, the bishop loses. According to another nj.com article, Archbishop Myers has a history of things like this. 

From nj.com:

Myers and his aides say the archdiocese has taken aggressive measures to identify abusive priests.

 In other cases:

 - In 2004, the Newark Archdiocese wrote letters to six dioceses in Florida on behalf of the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak, one week after learning Gorak’s ministry had been terminated in the Orlando Diocese — after he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home.

- Also in 2004, the archdiocese banned the Rev. Gerald Ruane from public ministry after investigating an allegation he molested a boy, but did not publicly notify lay people or other priests. Ruane continued to say Mass and wear his collar in public.

- In 2007, the archdiocese failed to inform lay people that it found a molestation claim credible against the Rev. Daniel Medina, who had worked in parishes in Elizabeth and Jersey City. The case wasn’t made public until a victims group uncovered an alert sent by the archdiocese in September 2008 to other bishops saying Medina was on administrative leave and could not be located.

PROCEDURES FOLLOWED

Neither Myers nor the priests identified above would agree to an interview for this story. But Myers’ spokesman, James Goodness, said the archbishop has lived up to his promises of 2002 and that the archdiocese has carefully followed procedures meant to bar abusive priests from ministry. He said it has trained thousands of church employees to spot molestation, published procedures for filing sex accusations against priests and passed annual audits examining whether it keeps its promises. He noted, too, that the archdiocese has an agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office to forward all allegations of sexual misconduct to county prosecutors.

“We do not have priests in ministry without proper supervision, and those who have had credible allegations have been removed from ministry,” Goodness said. “We do notify the communities where people (priests) have served of the existence of allegations and the results of all our inquiries.

“We believe we are living both within the letter and the spirit of the charter,” he said.

One thing that troubles me is all this debate about whether or not Archbishop Myers followed the guidelines the bishops set up in Dallas. I don’t care if he followed those guidelines or not.

  1. He deliberately, with full knowledge of what he was doing, put innocent children in harm’s way.
  2. He violated the trust of every Catholic on this planet that our bishops will follow Jesus and shepherd us in the Way.
  3. He knew what he was doing
  4. When he got caught, he wrote a letter explaining how he hadn’t done anything wrong by putting a convicted child molester back with kids. He based this on a set of guidelines that he helped write. 

Let’s get off the guidelines and take a look at the Gospels of Christ. This man did not follow Jesus. He did not do his job of caring for the welfare of the people that the Lord God has entrusted to him. 

Father Fugee resigned and Archbishop Myers promptly accepted his resignation.

Tra-la-la-la????

Does that make it all better?

Not for me, it doesn’t. Archbishops Myers refuses to even promise that he won’t do it again. In fact, he tells us he didn’t do it in the first place. 

To top it off, if that nj.com article is accurate, he has a history of doing things like this. I repeat a question I said yesterday: Has he ever heard of Jesus Christ? 

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New Jersey Archbishop Strains out Gnat of Legalities, Swallows Camel of Child Sex Abuse

“Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck and he was cast into the sea.”

Minnesota030

I support the bishops.

How many times, over how many issues, have I said that?

I support them whenever and however they teach and preach the Gospel of Christ. I support them in their battles against secularism and the social dissolution around us. I support them in their efforts to evangelize this great Church and inspire the people of God to stand up and speak out for Jesus.

I support the bishops.

Except when I don’t. 

When a bishop stops preaching Christ and Him crucified and starts parsing legalities in order to get around rules he wrote himself and which he gave us his word he would keep, I take a look at him. When a bishop does this in order to excuse another violation of the promises to stop endangering children by placing them in the care of priests who are known child abusers, I don’t follow him.

A case in point is Archbishop Myers of New Jersey. Archbishop Myers has evidently placed a priest who is a convicted child abuser in a position where he will be in extensive contact with children.

Let me repeat that: Archbishop Myers put a convicted child abuser in ministry to children. 

Of course, as usual, the Archbishop is not the only bad guy involved here. Father Michael Fugee confessed to “fondling a 14-year-old boy’s genitals.” In the course of his confession, he evidently also said that he was a homosexual. Three years after his conviction, an appellate court vacated his conviction because the trial judge had allowed the jury to hear the part of the confession in which he said he was a homosexual.

I don’t know the legal hat they hung this on, but I do know that whatever basis it was sounds very much like political correctness run amok once again. I would guess that the assumption was that his admission of homosexuality was somehow regarded as too prejudicial for a jury to hear. The confession of child sexual abuse? Not so much.

So.

We have a confessed, convicted child abuser that the courts turn lose. Rather than go through another trial, the prosecutor’s office decided that what Father Fugee really needed was some of that counseling for sex offenders that has been shown to work so well at changing these guys.

The prosecutor basically did what we’ve condemned the bishops for doing. They gave a child abuser useless counseling, then put him back in the situation where he could do it again. The sop to public safety was that they made Father Fugee sign a piece of paper saying he wouldn’t do it again. More specifically, he signed a paper saying he would stay away from children, and Archbishop Myers signed it, too.

Let’s think this through. We have a court that vacates a judgement because the jury also heard that the confessed and convicted child abuser said he was a homosexual. Then, we have a prosecutor who follows in the footsteps of bad bishops and decides that what this guy really needs is some counseling and to make a promise that he won’t do it again.

Archbishop myers

Archbishop Myers, not to be outdone in this chain of abuse of the public trust and disregard for the welfare of children, follows through by putting said child abusing priest back where he’s with children, once again. As if that’s not enough, we also have a couple of people at the parish level who know all about Father Fugee’s conviction and go along with placing him with children.

Is there anyone involved in this situation who hasn’t violated the public’s trust? 

It is so tiresome to keep hearing about abuse of the system that is so egregious that we end up more disgusted with the public and Church officials who should have done something and didn’t than we are with the actual child abuser.

Everybody involved needs to lose their job. From Father Fugee on up the food chain to the appellate court justice, they all need to go into a line of work where they are not responsible for other people’s lives. I’m including Archbishop Myers in this, as well.

I haven’t read the fine print, but I honestly thought that the bishops gave us their word that they’d stop this nonsense of putting child molesting priests back with children so they could do it again. I thought they promised us they’d stop doing this. I also thought they meant it.

I think just about every bishop out there did mean it. But it’s becoming obvious that at least a couple of them made these promises with their fingers crossed behind their backs. 

Archbishop Myer sent an it-all-depends-on-what-the-definition-of-is-is letter to his priests in which he explains, basically, that he’s done nothing wrong. His reasoning is all about the finest of fine points in the Charter for the Protection of Children, a document he says that he helped write. He says that claims that he violated this Charter are “baseless.”

I wonder, has this guy ever heard of Jesus Christ?

Has he ever once thought about the Gospels he proclaims?

What does he think that shepherd’s crook he carries means?

I think that Archbishop Myers has broken the real Charter, and that’s the charter of trust with the Catholic people of the world. Notice, I did not say the Catholic people of his archdiocese. I did not say the trust of the children he allowed this priest to be near.

He violated my trust. And yours. And the trust of every person on this planet who follows the Church with the belief that it will lead us in the narrow way of Christ.

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Whatever the fine points of this Charter that the Archbishop helped write himself to govern himself, he has violated both the letter and the spirit of the Gospels he proclaims. Jesus said, “Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck and he was cast into the sea.”

What part of that contract doesn’t the Archbishop understand?

Archbishop Myer’s letter:

Arch myers letter

Arch myers letter page 2

 

From NJ.com:

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Fr Fugee with two boys during pilgrimage to Canada in 2010. Facebook photo

Amid calls for a Vatican investigation, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers came under fierce criticism Monday for his handling of a priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a lifetime ban on ministry to children.

At the Monmouth County church where the Rev. Michael Fugee had been spending time with a youth group, angry parishioners said they were never told about Fugee’s background and they questioned Myers’ defense of the priest, the subject of a lengthy story in the Sunday Star-Ledger.

“It’s complete craziness that the church can let this happen,” said John Santulli, 38, a father of two at St. Mary Parish in Colts Neck. “I’m a softball coach, and I need a background check just to get on the field. Every single person I spoke to today said, ‘Oh my God. I didn’t know about this.’ It’s incomprehensible.”

Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell, who previously said Fugee was operating in the diocese without his knowledge or permission, has ordered the pastor of St. Mary to bar the priest from any church activities, a spokeswoman said in a statement Monday.

The bishop of Paterson, Arthur Serratelli, has likewise said Fugee was on a retreat at Lake Hopatcong without permission.

For the first time in his many years as an advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse, Mark Crawford, New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on the archbishop to resign, characterizing Fugee as the latest in a string of problem priests shielded by Myers.

“The archbishop continues to insist it’s fine for Fugee to work with children. It’s a very dangerous message,” Crawford said.

Do Easy Annulments Degrade the Value of Marriage? The Pope Says Yes.

 

Some people call it the “Catholic Divorce.”

It is often treated as a pro forma ritual that divorced people go through to “normalize” their relationship with the Church.

It requires a lot of paperwork, but it doesn’t cost much money. In fact, the Church will waive any fees if they would prevent people seeking it.

The “it” I’m talking about is annulment. Annulment is the somewhat lengthy process Catholics go through when they want the Church to “invalidate” their marriage.

As I understand it, the whole process is predicated on the fact that marriage is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ. This is the same Jesus who did away with divorce with the statement “What God has put together, let not man put asunder.”

Marriage is a life-long commitment between a man and a woman. It involves, among other things, a willingness to create life through the bodily union of these two people. Marriage is the nest, so to speak, in which young human beings are nurtured and shaped into responsible and productive adults who can then repeat the cycle with their own marriages and children.

As such, marriage is of premier importance, not just to the two people who marry, but to the whole of society. Without responsible, productive adults who can marry and raise their own children to be productive and responsible adults, our society and indeed, all of civilization will founder.

Marriage is not only essential to the good of society, it is also holy.

This holiness is where annulments come in. Since marriage is a sacrament instituted by Our Lord, it is not possible for people — including priests, bishops and popes — to undo it or, to phrase it as Jesus did, “put it asunder.” Our Lord told us we can not do this. Not, notice that we may not, we can not, for the simple reason that marriage is created by God.

What God creates in this deep sacramental fashion, no one can uncreate.

However, there can be instances in which no marriage actually took place. For instance, the infamous “shot gun weddings” in which one partner or the other was forced into the marriage would not be a sacramental marriage because at least one of the parties involved did not consent to it.

There can be many ways in which consent or understanding or an intention to be married in the full sacramental sense was not present at the time of the marriage vows. I am not a canon lawyer, so I would not and could not begin to discuss them in depth. This is the purview of the marriage tribunals of the Church who, on the request of the couple, review the marriage in question to determine if it is a sacramental marriage, or, as they put it, if it is “valid.”

The process is called an “annulment.” It has become something of a scandal in the Church because of the easy way these annulments are granted.

This is complicated by the many converts who come into the Church with matrimonial baggage. There are other people who should be granted an annulment but can’t get through the paperwork for some reason. If the former spouse and the marriage witnesses are violent, dangerous, out of pocket or simply uncooperative, they can exercise what amounts to veto power on the annulment process.

This happened to a friend of mine who was a refugee from a violent and troubled past before attempting to convert to the Catholic Church.

The whole process appears, at least on the outside, to be fraught with troubles. One of the many problems is that it can seem that these same tribunals who sometimes refuse a just annulment over an inability to fill out the paperwork also sometimes grant annulments almost like slot machines for those who can wend their way through the process successfully.

I don’t think for a minute that there is any deliberate desire to harm people or to cheapen marriage by any of this. I believe that the priests who do this work want to help people. I believe they grant annulments more easily out of compassion for the people involved. On the other hand, the intransigence over paper work in situations that are life-threatening confuses me. I honestly don’t understand it.

Pope Benedict has weighed in on all this, echoing the thoughts of Pope John Paul II on the same subject. They both came down on the side of greater discretion in granting annulments. One of the reasons Pope Benedict  gave was that the practice of granting annulments too easily created pessimism in the public mind about our ability to “engage in lifelong commitments to love another person.”

I agree with the Holy Father about this. I think our divorce culture has damaged us in deep and difficult to heal ways, including teaching many of our young people that marriage is a futile and hopeless enterprise.

As a woman who has been married to her only husband for 30 years, I can tell you that this is untrue. I can also say that marriage is a wonderful, sustaining and nurturing lifestyle that enhances your life in ways that you cannot imagine until you partake of them.

Unfortunately, we have damaged many of our young people so badly with our serial marriages and serial monogamies that they don’t value stable relationships, and don’t know how to form them even if they want to.

We have a lot of things to answer for from our excesses and self-indulgences, and this destruction of the ability to marry for life and raise children who will become stable, productive adults in our young people is one of the most serious.

A CNS article describing Pope Benedict’s recent statement about too-easy annulment says in part:

Pope cautions tribunals against granting annulments too easily

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Granting marriage annulments too easily and without real cause plays into a modern form of pessimism that basically says human beings are not able to make lifelong commitments to loving another person, Pope Benedict XVI said.

“We run the risk of falling into an anthropological pessimism which, in the light of today’s cultural situation, considers it almost impossible to marry,” the pope said in a speech Jan. 29 to members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

The tribunal mainly deals with appeals filed in marriage annulment cases.

Pope Benedict said there is still a need to deal with a problem Pope John Paul II pointed out in a 1987 speech to the Roman Rota, that of saving the church community from “the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage destroyed in practice by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity.”(Read more here.)

Pedophilia, Comments from the Pit, Cardinal Mahony and Following Jesus

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

 

I wrote Is Legalizing Pedophilia the Next Amoral Social Movement?  a couple of weeks ago.

The response to this post (along with another post about a transsexual teacher in a Catholic school) was one of the more sobering experiences I’ve had in a while.

Comments supporting pedophilia and basically saying that concerns for children in our schools was unimportant compared to the “rights” of transsexuals rolled in like a wave of sludge. They had a crazy-queezy quality that stayed with me, even after I deleted them.

I felt like needed to take a long shower, vacuum out my brain, and have my computer de-slimed.

I always intended to write another post about this, but I didn’t know at the beginning that I was going to include the self-serving excuses of a prince of the Church in my analysis.

Those pedophilia-supporting, child-trashing comments came from the pit. They are what people devolve down to when they lean on their own understanding. There is no bottom to human behavior once we stop feeling we have to answer to God.

If you doubt this, think back. Sixty years ago, even Planned Parenthood said that abortion was wrong because it took the life of a child.

Copy of an old Planned Parenthood brochure.

Now, anyone who says this in public can be sure that the pro abortionists will settle on them like blow flies, declaiming that a “fetus” is not a human being, and those who say otherwise are not only religious fanatics but woman-hating moral ingrates, as well.

Thirty years ago euthanasia was considered anathema; the stuff of scare tactics by those who wanted to push women back to the back alleys. I was among those who sneered when pro life people warned that the disrespect for life that legal abortion created would lead inevitably to a push for mercy killing. I thought they were nuts when they said this. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

We are now at the pass where it is not possible to make a statement in opposition to legalized medical murder without being jumped out by the pro deathers.

Likewise with gay marriage. Fifteen years ago, the idea was bizarre to most people. It was laughable. Now, people who try to defend traditional marriage will find their conversations hijacked by those who tell them they are “haters” and “homophobes” for thinking this way.

 

There. Is. No. Bottom.

As soon as we accept one depravity, sometimes even before we accept it, the push is on to deepen the moral pit under our feet and push us down to the next new low. Whatever we accept, there is another step down where the purveyors of moral destruction want to take us.

This is where we go when we try to create a moral code out of our own thinking and debate. We simply can’t do it. What we construct is not a fixed mark. It moves as we move it like a ball in a soccer match. Inevitably, our morality becomes a matter of what we can wrest from political action and media public relations. It changes according to what the richest and most well-connected say it is.

When we try to create our morality according to the fashions of the times, we will find that it changes according to those fashions and is dictated to us by other people who have an agenda that does not often jibe with what is best of us, our children, our country or our world.

That is why I’ve become simple-minded about my morality. I tried mightily to follow the dictates of what I thought was right and wrong in my past and I reaped a whirlwind of remorse as a result. I no longer believe in my own moral superiority. I am not and never want to be a moral leader. I am a follower.

The One I follow is Jesus Christ. But I don’t rely on my own understanding, even in this.

Do you want to know how to discern God’s will?

I will tell you.

Read the Catechism and do what it tells you. Follow the 2,000 year old teachings of the Catholic Church.

When you fail in this, go to confession. Then begin again.

That is the only way I know to reliably discern God’s will. It is a reliable, simple and absolutely correct way to know if what you are doing is right or wrong. The trouble is, it often tells you to do things that will get you in bad with your buddies, cost you inconvenience or worse still, get you shunned and mocked for being a religious nut.

Which leads me to the Prince of the Church.

I wasn’t going to write about Cardinal Mahony. I don’t want to now.

But I think this needs to be said. The Cardinal has made excuses for himself. He claims that back when he was transferring priests who had molested children, he didn’t know how damaging this was to the children in question. He even published a letter yesterday in which he said that he’d never taken a course on this topic, as if that somehow or other excused his behavior.

The problem wasn’t a lack of proper coursework. It also wasn’t bad advice from “experts.” The problem was that the Cardinal was not following Jesus.

Even now that he’s been caught, humiliated and excoriated, he clings to secular excuses for what is, among other things, a grave moral wrong. Instead of relying on his education and failure-ridden secular “specialists” and “experts,” he should have paid attention to the Gospels he proclaimed and the teachings of the Church he represented. 

The Cardinal, no less than the rest of us, appears to have been beguiled by the world. I repeat: When he did these things, he was not following Jesus. If he had been following Jesus, he would not have been able to continue on and on treating little children this way. He could not have done it. Even if he had ignored the Gospels and the Catechism, the Holy Spirit would have stopped him.

He was following the world, not Christ.

We need holy priests. We don’t necessarily need priests who are stars, or who are brilliant or who can raise a lot of money. We need priests who follow Christ, who preach Christ, who teach Christ and who believe in Jesus with their whole hearts. We need servant leaders who are not so much stellar leaders as faithful followers of the One they should be pointing to every day of their priesthood.

We — you, me, all of us — can not create or enforce a moral standard for ourselves. That’s like a book writing itself, a statue carving itself. We are too finite, too fallen, too selfish and caught in the narrowness of our own selves to even attempt such a thing. When we do, we always end in a moral train wreck, whether we have the humility to admit it or not.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding,” the Bible tells us.

Whether your are homeless and living under a bridge or a Prince of the Church, it’s good advice.

 


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