A Visit from St. Pio to Boston

(Today’s post comes from a BCI reader)

The recent visit of the heart of St. Pio of Pietrelcina to our fair city prompted a group of well-placed local clerics to wonder what might have transpired had the living, breathing “Padre Pio” visited – and even sought faculties to minister to the faithful of the Archdiocese.

The scene: A conference room in the chancery of the (fictional) Archdiocese of Brainstorm, located in a strip mall in a suburb of a large East Coast city. The Archbishop and some of his collaborators in ministry are meeting with Padre Pio:

His Humility, the Cardinal Archbishop of Brainstorm: Welcome, Padre Pio to our Pastoral Center. It’s a real joy to have you here with us. As you know, we have some slight concerns about your ministry here in our Archdiocese of Brainstorm.

Padre Pio: Thank you, Your Humility. What a large building you have here. As you know, my goal is simply to serve my Divine Master.

Fr. Jim Ravin’ [Episcopal Vicar for Conversions]: If I may speak, I always wanted to meet you Padre Pio. I’m Fr. Jim Ravin’. I’m one of His Humility’s Experts. I took a few workshops on psychology and I was the head of the St. John Vianney Institute. You must have heard of my counterpart, Msgr Edward Arsenault. Like me, he was an expert in Ministry-Today. I share his expertise and I was paid loads of money for my expertise. The Cardinal wants you to listen to me.

Padre Pio: Speak what you will.

Fr. Byrnie Paragon [Episcopal Vicar for Clergy]: Excuse me. Certainly it’s an honor for all of us to gather here. I think it’s important that, while we express our concerns, we should say that we are delighted to meet you.

Padre Pio: I am listening…

Fr. Ravin’: I believe that our Secretary for Ministerial Personnel has some words. That’s Fr. Bobby. Baloney. He’s another expert, almost as smart as me.

Fr. Bobby Baloney [First Secretary, Ministry of Personnel]: Thank you, Fr. Ravin’. Yes, Padre Pio. Let’s talk about some issues that have been raised. First, people say you have the wounds of St. Francis of Assisi. In our modern times, we do not believe that there is really any proof that St. Francis of Assisi ever existed. So we are concerned about you promoting a devotion to a man who never existed.

Padre Pio: Your Humility? Aren’t you a Franciscan?

HH: Well, yes, but I am a Franciscan of the 1970s. I think, um.. well, um…. Fr. Baloney, what is your assessment with regard to your field?

Fr. Baloney: I think certainly, Padre Pio, it’s clearly our consensus that you stop talking so much about “Francis” – I mean this “Saint Francis of Assisi”, not the Holy Father Pope Francis the First.

Fr. Ravin’: And we are also very concerned about your celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. The Cardinal desires, and I would add Pope Francis also desires, that we use our liturgies to express strong and active welcome to those on the margins, like Muslims, adulterers, and homosexualists. As you know, the Holy Thursday Liturgy has been modified to recognize the faith of our Islamic sisters and brothers. The problem with the Traditional Latin Mass is that it excludes so many of these people. We cannot welcome nor tolerate Catholics who want to celebrate this liturgical form. Even worse, when you celebrate it, you encourage some of our newly ordained priests to do so. We will not tolerate that. We simply cannot, in our modern Church, encourage Catholics who like this Latin liturgy. It’s too risky.

Fr. Baloney: {Interrupting} Padre Pio, if I may piggy-back on what Fr. Ravin’ has said, there is another concern. We hear that you have lots of people seeking you out for spiritual direction. It’s been reported that you challenge people to pray more and change their life. Here in the Brainstorm Presbyterate, we’ve come to the consensus that it’s very unwise to lead people in spiritual direction. I myself am a certified spiritual director. I took workshops and I’m an approved professional spiritual director for the Archdiocese of Brainstorm. I’m asking you to stop leading people in spiritual direction. We in Brainstorm don’t like to lead people. We walk with them and accompany them. We should never tell people to pray or to change their lives. Honestly, I don’t like to pray either. I like looking at trees and animals, but you’re telling people to pray the Rosary and have adoration. We cannot have this. You are not certified to give spiritual direction here in the Archdiocese of Brainstorm, so you must stop.

Padre Pio: But, Father, the people need..

Fr. Baloney {interrupting}: No! That’s your problem. I think we can all agree that people don’t need anything. And it’s our consensus and the will of the Cardinal that you cease from spiritual direction.

Padre Pio: Your Humility?… 

HH: Well, I think that you can continue…

Fr. Ravin’: {interrupting}: To listen to our consensus. What the Cardinal is trying to say is that you can continue serving in the Archdiocese, but you cannot do spiritual direction, hear confessions, say Mass, or preach. We need to conform to our Professional Standards. That’s what the Cardinal’s Board of Geniuses is all about.

Fr. Paragon: Certainly I agree with this board, and I think it’s important for us to let you know, Padre Pio, that we’re here to help you. If there is any way we can assist your integration into the Archdiocese of Brainstorm, we will offer whatever help we can. That’s what this meeting is about.

Padre Pio: But… Your Humility, what about Pope Benedict?

Fr. Paul Swooper [First Secretary, Ministry for the Five Year Plan]: {impatieltly} He’s done. And we are moving into a New Church now. Isn’t that right, Your Humility?

HH: Well, our Pastoral Plan calls us to lead our parishes into the future. Fr Swooper, perhaps you should tell Padre Pio about Process?

Fr. Swooper: Yes, Process. It’s all about Process. Your preaching and your liturgical preference are just too different. We cannot tolerate these deviations from the norm in our Archdiocese, especially in our Presbyterate. It interferes with our Process.

Fr. Baloney: Guys are not into this sort of thing. You’re different, Padre Pio, and that is a huge problem. It’s like you have no filter. We’ve even heard you preaching against sin in such a way that many guys were hurt by your sermons. You obsess about priests being holy, and I want you to know that many guys were offended and felt belittled by that. One of our hero-Monsignors was deeply hurt. He sent me a text message this morning which reads: “How dare this man tell ME to turn away from sin. That is so unwelcoming and offensive! No one will tell me to turn away from sin! Not the police and certainly not priests! Stop this Padre Pio!!”

Padre Pio: But the Gospel is clear…

Fr. Baloney: {Interrupting} Our consensus is clearer. You are too rigid and intolerant. In our modern times, our modern church doesn’t obsess over sin. I think we all agree that this is what Pope Francis has been saying. Padre Pio, you need to be more tolerant of different lifestyles in the Presbyterate of Brainstorm.

Fr. Swooper: And the Process, the Pastoral Plan, I think, calls us to be welcoming. We want to welcome everyone, no matter their walk of life.

Fr. Ravin’: That is a good point. Well said.

Padre Pio: However, Fr Ravin’, you suggested that you will not welcome Catholics who like the Traditional Latin Mass, or who pray the Rosary, or…

Fr. Ravin’: {interrupting} You don’t understand. Are you listening? We’re all about welcoming in our New Church. But in order to be part of the team you have to conform to the standards of the Presbyterate of Brainstorm, or we can’t welcome you here. I think we can all agree this is the point of our meeting, wouldn’t you say, Your Humility?


HH:
Well, we want a consensus. Our Bishops Conference believes in consensus. We are faithful to consensus, above all.

Padre Pio: I think that…

Fr. Ravin: {interrupting again} Stop. It’s not about you. It’s about consensus. And it’s the consensus of the Cardinal and his staff that you need to spend a few years in the St. John Vianney Institute. We only want to help you to adjust your thinking. Perhaps if our Curator of the Moderate was here he could help you to understand why this is correct.

Padre Pio: Your Humilty?

Fr. Baloney: Don’t bother the Cardinal, you can talk to us. We are the voice of the Cardinal, we are in charge.

Padre Pio: Your Humility? 

HH: I rely on the expertise of my experts. But, I want to add that personally…

Fr. Bob Kickem [Senior Chief of His Humility’s Secretariat]: {entering the room, sweat dripping down his forehead, fidgety, whispers to the Cardinal}: Your Humility, you’ve said way too much. Stop talking. {now raising his voice} Your Eminence, you have an airplane to catch now. You must go visit some of the airports around the world. {The Cardinal leaves the room, smiling, but looking like he feels manipulated}

Fr. Baloney: As you can see, Padre Pio, the Cardinal wants you to denounce the existence of Francis of Assisi, reject the Traditional Latin Mass, reject the pontificate of Benedict XVI, stop telling people to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel, and submit to the expertise of Fr. Jim Ravin’.

Fr. Ravin’: We will also visit a prison in New Hampshire to meet with the legendary Msgr Edward Arsenault. From within his cell, he will give us the guidance we need in dealing with you. I hope you welcome what he has to say.

Pio: But His Eminence hasn’t made a decision…

Fr. Swooper: Yes he has. We made it for him. This is our process.

{Padre Pio weeps and is led away}

A few hours hence, Frs. Baloney, Ravin’, Swooper, Paragon, and Kickem have an evening out working dinner; sharing a few laughs over fine food and good wine, They are joined by the internationally-known Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB who, in his cups, is overheard to say: “Another victory for the Brainstorm Boys!” As the evening draws to a boisterous close, they are joined by Bishops Bobby Weed and “Honest” Mark O’Canon, fresh from a conference call in the Pastoral Center.

Later that week, His Humility posts on his blog, which he typed while waiting in an airport: “we had a lovely visit from Padre Pio to our Pastoral Center.”

[N.B. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between the characters depicted herein and e.g. the Politburo of the Soviet Union ca. 1980 or any local clerics is purely coincidental.]

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17 Responses to A Visit from St. Pio to Boston

  1. Ginny Kearney Allen says:

    Fantastic !!! Fiction???

  2. Sheila Flanagan says:

    God help us!
    Pray that an RCAB leader tunes in to your excellent depiction of the errors of Communism, predicted by Our Lady at Fatima, and looks beyond the crisis in priestly vocations to minister to the lost souls here and now.
    Pray for the clergymen who are going against the tide!

  3. Bill says:

    Capuchin Friars brought the heart of Padre Pio to Boston for his feast day. It was a wonderful time for our archdiocese. Pure grace.

    Why post this fiction that turns a great gift from the Capuchins and our archdiocese upside down?

    • Bill, Thank you for your comment. The bringing of the heart of Padre Pio to Boston for his feast day was indeed a wonderful moment of grace. We do not see anything about this post that takes away from that.

      You didn’t say you felt the satire was inaccurate, it seems you’re just saying you don’t feel it’s appropriate. Since its inception, BCI has exposed various aspects of the operation of the Boston Archdiocese, which often include some degree of spiritual, ethical, financial or moral corruption. That is a part of what we do. In a number of cases, the exposure of this corruption to the light of day helped eventually lead to the situations of corruption being cleaned up. We can give many examples of these.

      Though BCI was not the author of this fictional piece, BCI is familiar with the people and players the piece satirizes, and we believe the piece does effectively capture the sort of reception St. Pio would likely receive in a scenario like this. As such, we believe it’s appropriate to share it. If some of the actual people and players should happen to recognize themselves and feel uncomfortable seeing their likely actions and words reflected here and they change their ways, then that would be a good outcome.

      On Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 10:07 AM, Boston Catholic Insider wrote:

      >

      • winslow1191 says:

        Bill, this is a very precarious time for the Church, locally and globally.We need faithful Catholics standing up and defending the Faith. It is definitely not the time to bury our heads in the sand.

        The individuals satirized in the article represent real people who are doing real damage to the Church. Don’t let them drag you down.

      • Bill says:

        Hi winslow. The people satirized in this article stood up for and defended the faith when they brought St. Pio’s heard to Boston.

      • Bill, You are contradicting yourself. The relic was brought to Boston by the Capuchin Friars who run the Shrine of St. Padre Pio in Italy, as reported in the article below:

        https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/amp/news/the-heart-of-padre-pio-is-coming-to-boston-yes-really-72854/?client=safari

        >

      • Beth says:

        Come on, Bill! Bringing Padre Pio’s heart to Boston is very clearly not the same as defending the faith. It should not be difficult for anyone with a sensus fidei to see that the Cardinal and his cadre have not defended the Faith in quite some time. Besides, in these dark times for the Church, one has to maintain a sense of humor.

      • Bill says:

        BCI. The Capuchin Friars offered to bring the relic. And the Archdiocese of Boston accepted the offer. They worked together.

        I visited the relic in Braintree. Then I took my family to the Cathedral. The people satirized here took an active role in bringing the relic to the people. Saw it with my own eyes.

        There is no contradiction.

      • Bill, Almost all of the people satirized in the piece spend most of their time on internal administration of the archdiocese. Your most recent comment suggests you personally know most of these people and have first-hand knowledge that people whose roles and responsibilities have nothing to do with bringing the relic to Boston somehow played an active role in the effort. BCI finds that rather unlikely and implausible.

        >

      • Bill says:

        Hi BCI,

        I know a few faces that I can match up with names. Not being an insider like you, that’s about all I can do, match faces with names.

        Take a look at these photo albums, you’ll be able to gain some inside about the active role taken by our archdiocese as a whole and some of the people you satirized in particular:

        20160923PioCathedral_gm0008
        20160922StPadrePio_gm0046
        20160921StPadrePio_gm0035

        Take a look at the video of the Mass:
        http://www.catholictv.com/shows/americas-catholic-television-network/saint-padre-pio-feast-day-mass

        I do not “personally know most of these people and have first-hand knowledge that people whose roles and responsibilities have nothing to do with bringing the relic to Boston somehow played an active role in the effort.”

        When I visited the relic at the Pastoral Center this is that I saw: all hands on deck active participation. Employees handing out holy cards, providing cool water to drink, helping folks in wheelchairs make it in to the chapel, etc. None of this would have happened without the active support of the administration. In other words an active role.

  4. Maynardus says:

    Sadly, this rings all too true – can anyone imagine a priest like Padre Pio being permitted to function in Boston unmolested by the Chancery? A superb piece of satire which really hits home! Pray, indeed, that some of the clerics parodied will take a look, hard look in the mirror.

  5. Jmat says:

    One quickly discovers that the satire while mired in spoof is not of BCI quality. It displays grade school nomenclature and commensurate writing.
    You were wise to distance yourself from its origination but showed weakness in accepting it for publication. With considerable oversight you could have edited it into a first rate piece of cutting edge commentary with the intended satirical purpose.

    As was stated, the heart of Padre Pio was given it’s just honor, publicized well and well attended at its showings. Perhaps another topic would have been better to choose for the intention of spoof.

  6. D Paul says:

    The “heart of a Lion” in the hands of a bunch of “chipmonks” at the Chancery. I would comment that today’s news had an article on the standing up for the faith by AB Charles Chaput who will never be a Cardinal against the new Director for the family in the Vatican. Cardinal designate Farrell clashed with AB Chaput over the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. Chaput said that in his archdiocese he will not approve of remarried divorced going to Communion without abstinence in sexual relations. Bishop Farrell was none too pleased. AB Chaput has a French Canadian father and native American mother. He is truly “The Last of the Mohicans” and happens to be a direct descendant of St. Louis IX of France.

  7. GaryP says:

    This is a bit edgy but I don’t read it as being in any way disrespectful to St. Pio or the presence of his relic in Boston… as for the Cardinal’s brain trust I don’t have enough first hand knowledge about them to know whether this is unfairly critical or accurate (if a bit sarcastic) But it does seem pretty obvious to me, after living in the Archdiocese for many years, that the Cardinal does seem to be out of touch and dominated by his curia, and that some of the men and women around him do seem to be confused as to their mission. If the authors are really “well placed” and not simply priests with an ax to grind, it sounds like the Archdiocese needs some fresh air and a serious recommitment to the mission of the Church.

  8. GaryP says:

    “Conform or be cast out” seems to be the order of the day in Boston… and also in Rome. See Sanrdro Magister’s report (http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/11/sandro-magister-reveals-banana-gestapo.html) about the goings-on at the St. John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. People think it can’t happen but it can and does. Ask Cardinal Burke; or Cardinal Sarah, who is slowly being frozen-out. We’ve seen this before, in the wake of the Council: orthodox and outspoken bishops sidelined, strong and faithful priests marginalized or worn-down, and confusion among the laity. The Church will survive, but it does indeed make it very difficult for the laity – and the clergy – to make sense of it all!

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