A Visit from St. Pio to Boston

November 16, 2016

(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.]


Boston Archdiocese Income Declined $20M in Fiscal 2015; Lost $5M

February 24, 2016

With little fanfare, the Boston Archdiocese published its Fiscal 2015 financial report recently, where they reported a $20 million decline in revenue vs Fiscal 2014, and a $5 million operating loss for the year.  In addition, it should be noted that the Boston Archdiocese is unable to repay about $36 million in debt owed to St. Johns Seminary, and managed to get the seminary board to defer repayment from 2017 to 2027 with no interest charges. The annual Catholic Appeal raised $400K less in fiscal 2015 vs 2014, and spent $400K more than the previous year to do so.One third of parishes are operating in the red. Here are a few of the key points from the report.

Operating Loss (p. 12)
Operating income decreased $20.5 million from an operating income of $15.6 million in fiscal 2014 to an operating loss of $4.9 million in fiscal 2015. Revenues declined by $10.4 million, while expenses increased $10.1 million. This was explained as follows (p.8):

“Fiscal 2015 was a challenging year from a financial standpoint, with a significant decline in operating income for parishes, a deficit in central operations, and a loss in our self-insurance program. External events were a major contributor to these results. Low capital market returns impacted by concerns about a global economic slowdown, a return to a more customary level of parish bequests, and an extremely harsh winter that resulted in a number of catastrophic property insurance losses and increased utility and maintenance costs at parishes negatively impacted financial results.”

In addition, Central Operations lost $7.3 million in fiscal 2015 as compared to a $2.3 million loss in 2014.

Unable to Pay $36M in Debt
On many occasions, BCI has questioned how the Archdiocese will be able to repay the $36 million in debt to St. Johns Seminary for the property sold in 2007 in order to pay off sexual abuse settlement loans.  That debt was due to be paid in 2017. The 2015 Archdiocesan Annual Report and the 2014 Annual Report both describe how the debt payback has magically been deferred for 10 more years.  “On September 22, 2014, the St. John’s Seminary Board of Trustees voted to extend the due date of the $36.4 million note to August 23, 2027 (which was previously due on August 23, 2017).”  Such a vote presents a massive conflict of interest, as the Board of Trustees includes: Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Vicar General Bishop Peter Uglietto, and Chancellor John Straub–all of whom have an interest in not seeing the Boston Archdiocese default on the debt. But since the RCAB took the property from the Seminary and sold it out from under them, it’s an inherent conflict of interest for them to vote to defer repayment of this huge loan and charge no interest on a loan for 20 years–from 2007 until 2027.  Even in 2027, how will it be repaid?

Deception Around Paying for Clergy Sexual Abuse Settlements with Parish Funds
The lie continues here in the 2015 report. On page 20 they write, “Consistent with past practices, parish funds, money raised from the Promise for Tomorrow Campaign, the Annual Catholic Appeal and proceeds from the parish reconfiguration process are not being used to fund settlements.”  Page 21 of the report reveals the deception, which we debunked that deception two years ago in our post, “Archdiocese of Boston uses parish funds to repay sexual abuse settlement costs:

To repay the $4.8 million note, in 2013 the Boston Archdiocese transferred property from the closed Our Lady of Presentation and St. Gabriel’s parishes to the Seminary.  Here are the references in the 2013 Annual Report (p. 21):

Corporation Sole agreed to canonically transfer all of its rights, title and interest in Our Lady of Presentation Church, Rectory and parking lots and the St. Gabriel rectory and school to the Seminary. The properties have a collective appraised value of approximately $6,070,000 and a book value of $566,000.

During the year ended June 30, 2013, Corporation Sole transferred the Our Lady of Presentation property with an appraised value of $2,850000 to the Seminary to discharge a portion of the note. In accordance with the MOU, the Seminary agreed to forgive the remaining note balance of $1,038,000 which is included in gain on settlement of note payable in the statement of activities.

Debt
Long-term debt is about $100 million, but something funny appears to be happening with the debt for the Clergy Fund and clergy retirement costs.  They write, “Net unfunded clergy pension and post retirement obligations of $62.9 million and $36.4 million in debt owed to St. John’s Seminary represent the significant long-term liabilities…Accrued pension and other retirement costs decreased by $21.1 million. An increase in the discount rate, the impact of the Regina Cleri asset transfer and updated retirement age assumptions, somewhat offset by the adoption of new mortality tables, led to the decrease in the net unfunded liability.”  With more clergy reaching retirement age, presumably their medical and retirement costs and unfunded liability should be increasing, yet it is somehow miraculously decreasing.

Ongoing Sexual Abuse Costs
For the year, the total cost of sexual abuse settlements  was $1.73 million, plus there were costs incurred related to abuse prevention, outreach and other costs  of $3.07 million, for a total expenditure of $4.8 million during fiscal year 2015. When will this end?

1/3 of Parishes are In the Red
The 2016 Central Ministries Budget Plan informs us that 1/3 of all parishes are running an annual deficit. “Currently, about one-third of parishes are not self-sustaining with some requiring financial subsidy, either directly of indirectly, by the Archdiocese.”

Other than the above issues, the fiscal health of the Boston Archdiocese is just great! . The Boston Archdiocese is contemplating the idea of launching a major capital campaign to raise hundreds of millions of dollars (rumors have it targeted at anywhere from $100M to more than $300M), and it would surely take that amount of money to repay debt and unfunded liabilities, let alone provide for other long-term needs. Meanwhile, we hear many stories about struggles with the Disciples in Mission initiative (DIM), but that is a topic for another post…


Boston Offers Clergy Wellness Seminar by Woman Minister

February 23, 2016

The Archdiocese of Boston Clergy Health and Retirement Trust is offering wellness seminars for priests. Several of them strike us as odd, and risk working against the spiritual wellness of Catholic priests. Then there is the matter of the struggling Clergy Fund.

Centering Prayer Workshop
One of them is in June 2016 in Duxbury offered by Rev Meninger OCSO on the New Age practice of Centering Prayer. Of course, one of the big problems is that Centering Prayer actually is not a “prayer” and it is not even Christian. It originated with Abbot Thomas Keating at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, but its origins are a pagan practice and it’s more like a form of self-hypnosis.

Authentic Christian prayer and meditation stem from contact with God. Proponents of centering prayer claim prayer centers in one’s being, as opposed to what prayer should be–namely, a conversation with God from the center of our souls. Read this excellent piece, The Danger of Centering Prayer which clearly articulates how Centering Prayers exercises are “at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.”

As reported by Catholic Culture, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of’ the Faith under then-Cardinal Ratzinger warned about the dangers of blending Christian prayer and Eastern methods of meditation (e.g., Zen, Transcendental Meditation and yoga). Although Some Aspects of Christian Meditation does not single out any persons or schools of thought by name, many of its warnings apply to the centering- prayer literature, including the writings of Abbot Keating and his spiritual disciple Father Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O. Both have backgrounds in Eastern meditation methods and cite those experiences favorably as instructive for today’s Christians.

 

Cardinal Ratzinger warned about methods which “try as far as possible to put aside everything that is worldly, sense perceptible, or conceptually limited.” An approach of this sort to prayer may actually be “an attempt to ascend to or immerse oneself in the sphere of the divine, which as such is neither terrestrial, sense perceptible nor capable of conceptualization.” Besides the temptation to reject the material world in this approach there is another problem-indicated by Cardinal Ratzinger’s use of the word “oneself” in the last quote-the temptation to ascend to God by one’s own power or strength. In fact it is God’s choice, not ours, whether we enter the sphere of the divine. “God is free to ’empty’ us of all that holds us back …. to draw us completely into the Trinitarian life of his eternal love,” but this gift is granted “not through our own efforts.

Time Management, facilitated by a Protestant Minister
In April there is a session at our Lady Help of Christians in Newton offered by a Rev. Nancy Foran–she is a minister in the United Church of Christ and pastor at Raymond Village Community Church in Maine, and specializes in Myers-Briggs. Can we not find any Catholics in Boston who are good at managing time to lead such a session? The brochure can be found below:

Clergy Wellness Brochure Side 1

Clergy Wellness Brochure Side 2

Who picks these sessions?!

Clergy Fund

As BCI has mentioned previously, the Clergy Fund is adding nothing to the rapidly depleting reserves–what is collected at Christmas, Easter, Assessments, September Collection and Annual Priest Appreciation Dinner goes directly to pay annual expenses. With more clergy retiring, that means increasing retirement and medical expenses, and that means reserves get tapped to pay those expenses.

Other that that, Boston is doing a good job taking care of clergy.

 


The Error of Preaching Mercy without Repentance

December 15, 2015

With all the fanfare over the start of Pope Francis’ declared, “Year of Mercy,” BCI is getting increasingly frustrated by all of the articles and homilies reported to us that, frankly, convey  an incomplete or flawed picture of what the Catholic Church actually teaches about mercy. We wish more priests would either skip over mentioning what Pope Francis has said on this topic that is flawed, or find a way of clearly setting the record straight. Instead, we see faithful Catholics being led by priests they think are solid and credible to believe something that is not correct. It’s happening everywhere–in parishes, the Boston Pilot, and mass media.

First, what the Catholic Church teaches on something and has taught for 2000+ years is more often than not these days NOT the same as what Pope Francis is saying publicly or writing in his various documents.  Hopefully, everyone realizes that by now.  And if Jesus Christ, the Bible and the magisterium of the Catholic Church during 266 papacies have all said one thing about particular Church teachings, and Pope Francis says something radically different, a reasonable person should ask, “Which Pope is wrong?  Francis, or all of the others?”

So it is that we get to the topic of mercy. We draw inspiration for this post from both Msgr. Pope’s excellent Reflection on the Modern Error of Preaching Mercy Without Repentance as well as a review by Boston’s Fr. Daniel Moloney’s review of Cardinal Kasper’s dreadful book, “What Mercy Is” (a book Pope Francis said publicly had a big influence on him).  Readers should read the entirety of both pieces, but here are a few excerpts from Msgr Pope’s piece:

“God’s offer of mercy and healing love stand, and are offered to everyone. But these magnificent gifts must be accessed through repentance. That is to say, we must come to understand the seriousness of our condition, turn to God, call upon his mercy, and begin to receive the glorious medicine he offers: the medicine of his Word, of the Sacraments, of prayer, and walking in fellowship with the Church, which he established as his ongoing presence and voice in the world (cf Acts 2:42).

But of course it is not enough for us simply to hear of this new way of thinking, we must actually come to it, decide for it. Repentance is to actually embrace this new mind, and this unlocks all the blessings the healings, the mercy, and the salvation that is promised. We must allow the grace of God, interacting with our freedom to effect an actual change, a decision in our life that changes the way we think, the way we act, and puts us into a saving relationship with the Divine Physician Jesus.

Like the patient above, we must be brought to understand the seriousness of our condition, come to know that there is saving help available, and then by positive decision, rooted in grace, actually reach out to lay hold of that help.

Repentance is the door, is the key that unlocks mercy.

Yet too often today mercy is preached without reference to repentance. Too many who preach and too many who hear have come to see mercy as granted without any human engagement. One simply has it automatically, no matter what.

Yet that is not what Scripture teaches. Most notably, Simon Peter on Day One of Pentecot and the going for of the gospel preached a sermon laying out who Jesus is, and how we, in our sin and rebellion killed the very author of life. The text from Acts says,

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-38)

Thus, when asked what they are to do, Peter does not say, “Don’t worry, all is well,God is mercy. He says, “Repent and baptized.” In other words, come to a new mind, come to your senses, reject your sins, be washed clean and come to Jesus. And this will unlock the supreme blessing of the Holy Spirit of God, who is the mercy of God, the love of God the very life and grace of God!

And how is this accessed? Repentance.

Isaiah had said, The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD (Is 59:20).

And to the Disciples in Emmaus Jesus said, This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48)

And thus preachers and teachers in the Church, who are Christ’s witnesses, must proclaim repentance that unlocks the forgiveness and mercy of God.

St. Paul warns, In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

Thus those who preach and teach mercy without repentance are deceivers and likely themselves deceived. And those who think of mercy without reference to repentance are deceived.

Faith and repentance are the supernaturally transformed and assisted human element that is necessary to unlock mercy and the graces of God. To ignore or deny this amounts to a denial of human freedom and does not help God’s people. Rather it hinders them, for mercy is accessed through repentance, and without it, the door cannot open. Repentance must be preached to all the nations because repentance, by God’s grace opens the door

 

Here is a passage from Fr. Moloney’s piece

Thomas Aquinas famously warned that a small mistake at the beginning of an argument leads to a large one at the end. For Kasper, most of the time, his weaknesses as a systematic theologian cancel each other out. He frequently uses the terms love and goodness and mercyinterchangeably, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the first two terms but not the third can be proper divine attributes. The upside is that readers can go along with all the nice things he says about God’s love, as Pope Francis apparently did, and not be sticklers for the details.

If Kasper’s understanding of mercy is wrong, what’s the right way to understand it? Mercy’s political origins are important to remember, because it’s very easy for a flawed application of mercy to lead to grave injustices in real life. The crime waves of the 1970s and early 1980s across England and the United States came in part from the introduction of a false concept of mercy into criminal punishment. Prominent experts at the time suggested that crime was really a form of mental illness that demanded therapy rather than incarceration. Judges developed or were given a variety of sentencing options, including expanded parole and out-of-prison furloughs, aimed at reintegrating criminals into society so that they would feel more connected. Prisons were reoriented around the idea of rehabilitating criminals rather than punishing them. Therapy, leniency, reintegration, and rehabilitation were implemented in one jurisdiction after another—and crime went through the roof. Soon voters were demanding stricter laws.

Around the same time, the Catholic bishops tried to replace canonical punishments with therapy, leniency, reintegration, and rehabilitation. In the 1970s, priests who were reported to be abusers of children were ­quietly sent for psychiatric treatment to be treated, rehabilitated, and reintegrated into parish ministry, rather than punished according to canon law. This was, among other things, an attempt to show mercy to the priest—by protecting his reputation and allowing him a second chance. In many places, including my own Archdiocese of Boston, psychiatrists pronounced the priests cured and fit for ministry even after several “relapses,” and the bishops did not second-guess the psychiatrists. Neither did they apply canonical penalties. Today, the bishops do not permit themselves even the possibility of granting mercy to a priest who has been accused of such a sin or committed it only once.

Is my bishop, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, merciless for enforcing the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, with its famous “zero tolerance” for abusers? I’m quite sure that Pope Francis doesn’t think so, since he just appointed him to head the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. ­Probably most of America would think likewise. But why? Why does the ­Boston Globe’s readership think that it’s a scandal for the Church to show “mercy” to priests wh­o ­committed one serious sin of abuse forty years ago but that it’s a sign of the wonderfulness of Pope Francis that he’s reportedly considering showing “mercy” to a man who dumped his wife and kids for a younger woman, also forty years ago? A consistent principle of mercy is lacking, and Walter Kasper has not helped us find one.

This brings us to our gripe.  BCI has heard complaints that a number of priests in Boston preached on “mercy” this week and specifically quoted Pope Francis’ recent comments on the topic, published in The Pilot and around the globe in secular media:

“How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy,” he said.  “We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgment will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love.”

What’s missing here is that mercy requires moving away from evil, and there is no mercy without there first being truth.  To leave out the need for repentance is the equivalent of spiritual malpractice. It’s simply not correct and is not at all what the Catholic Church teaches. As discussed recently in First Things, “St. John Paul II: No Mercy Without Truth

Mercy is not moral peek-a-boo. Mercy requires moving away from evil: “Where [mercy] enters in, evil effectively gives way. Where evil does not give way, mercy is not there—but we also add, where there is no mercy, evil does not yield. Mercy does not accept sin nor looks upon it as if peeking between one’s fingers, but only and exclusively helps in conversion from sin….  Divine mercy goes strictly in tandem with justice”

We take issue with one piece in the Pilot which, though it mentioned the need for repentance, also encouraged readers to read Pope Francis’ “The Face of Mercy,”(called in the article, a “great resource” (even though it neglects repentance and drew inspiration from Cardinal Kasper’s drivel). And the author merely regurgitated Pope Francis’ line about why we needed a year of mercy, when the handwriting is clearly on the wall about why Pope Francis is on this bandwagon and the false teachings behind it.  A far better piece in the Pilot is What is Mercy — And What are Some False Conceptions of it , where author, Matt Hadro quotes Dr. William Mattison, a moral theology prof at the Catholic University of America saying:

“If my kid is obstinately avoiding treating his mother respectfully, there’s a time for mercy, but there’s also a time to recognize that things are what they are and they need to be punished. The goal of punishment is not an end in itself. The goal of punishment is to correct the will of the sinner to be restored into right relationship.”

If a priest you know preached on what Pope Francis said without giving the full truth, or a friend or family member is talking about mercy without repentence or judgment, we suggest you send this blog post to them.


Boston Diocesean Deception on Survey

December 6, 2015

In our last post, we criticized the Boston Archdiocese for spending in excess of $100K to survey mostly non-church-going Catholics about their views on the Catholic Church and Catholic faith. By coincidence, the day after BCI posted our criticism, Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications, sent out an email to all priests in the archdiocese explaining the background on the survey.  Here is his email, and then the BCI analysis of the deception follows:

From: “Donilon, Terry”
Date: 12/03/2015 11:37 AM (GMT-05:00)
To:
Subject: Background on Survey Effort

Dear Monsignor/Father,

During the course of the past year, the Archdiocese of Boston has been planning to gain a broader understanding of what is in the hearts and on the minds of Catholics. The reason for this effort is we believe that we should be in an ongoing conversation with our people. Recently we convened a series of focus groups and conducted a survey of 1,600 respondents from across the Archdiocese. This effort involves surveying practicing Catholics and those who have fallen away from the Church.

In 2012, the Archdiocese was a member of a coalition which defeated the physician assisted suicide ballot initiative in the Commonwealth. In conducting research at that time we gathered valuable information about the thoughts and concerns of Catholics on a wide range of issues statewide. The current effort has been focused specifically on the Archdiocese.

This type of research is a standard practice for other nonprofits, colleges and universities including many Catholic institutions. We have conducted similar surveys on a more informal level from time to time. In the spirit of evangelization our hope is to learn more about the people we serve as well as learn how we can help those who have fallen away from the church to consider rejoining us on their faith journey. The project is not quite completed and there will be an extensive analysis of the information gathered.

We are confident that this initiative will help us to be more engaged with our people, to be better communicators in spreading the beauty of our faith and in helping Catholics grow closer in their relationship with Christ.

Thank you for all you do each and every day in your priestly ministry.

Sincerely Yours,
​Terry Donilon

Where to start?

If the Boston Archdiocese truly wants to better understand what is in the hearts and minds of Catholics, help those who have fallen away from the church consider rejoining the Catholic Church and help Catholics grow closer in their relationship with Christ”, then how can Terry Donilon explain this feedback on the survey provided by “Iwassurveyed” about the design flaws of the survey?

 

First, there were direct questions with multiple choice answers such as strongly disagree, disagree, disagree somewhat, agree, somewhat agree, strongly agree etc. Many questions concerned Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s being chosen for the Pope’s circle of 8 and also as head of the new sex abuse unit at the Vatican. Not one question concerned Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s performance as head of RCAB.. Another question concerned the RCAB handling of sex abuse by clergy TODAY, not in the past. Another question was, “Do you intend to see SPOTLIGHT or have you seen it? “Some questions about contraception, abortion etc.

Not one question concerned RCAB finances; church closures and sales; the new and improved collaboratives; mergers and takeovers, school closings, EVANGELIZATION. WHERE IS IT ANYWAY?

Soooooo, I suggest that the questions were carefully formulated to minimize any real criticism of RCAB and Cardinal. Sean O’Malley. Not many people are going to criticize his participation in circle of 8 or the new sex abuse unit of the Vatican, no matter their feelings on what is happening locally.

There was no opportunity to control the interview. No open ended questions and no opening for you to reformulate the questions into something else. This was as programmed as possible.

We know from the Boston Globe article that questions included, Is your opinion of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley very favorable, favorable, unfavorable, or very unfavorable? And, “Which best reflects your attitude about abortion? 1) It is morally wrong and should not be legal; 2) It is morally wrong but should be legal; or 3) It is morally acceptable and should be legal.”

So, clearly the Boston Archdiocese has some other motives in the survey besides bringing people back to the Catholic Church, and they are interested in finding out Catholic faithful feel the leadership of the Boston Archdiocese is doing at its main mission–carrying out the saving mission of Jesus Christ.

Not that BCI is supportive of such surveys, but similar surveys done elsewhere have typically reported the following reasons why people stop going to Mass:

  • Liturgies are uninspiring
  • Homilies are uninspiring
  • Parishes are not welcoming
  • Money concerns abound
  • No attention paid to youth and young people
  • Like priests, but they are overworked
  • Runs too much like a business
  • Disagree with one or another of Church’s teachings

So, there is reason to believe that the Boston Archdiocese could save between $100K and 250K by simply using the sort of feedback gotten already from similar surveys. These will likely be the results of the very expensive survey RCAB is taking in 2015 and reporting in 2016. What will be done with this ground-breaking feedback? NOTHING.

 

A reasonable person might also ask why–if a survey was really needed–was there not a comprehensive survey of RCAB done by a group like the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).  If a survey was called for, and we still do not think so, a group like CARA could design surveys for individual groups, and thus get a more specific view of the state of the diocese by separately surveying priests, religious, lay leadership, Mass attendees, fallen away, and youth.

We will repeat and paraphrase what we said in our last post.  Cardinal Sean O’Malley needs to teach with the authority and confidence of a man who knows he has been given the keys to eternal life. Those who reject the immutable truths of the Catholic Faith will put their souls in grave danger. What might we expect from the current survey? The likely answer of what will come: Instead of sound doctrine clearly stated with authority, we are likely to see the Archdiocese pander to those who no longer attend Mass with lukewarm statements, cleverly worded to remain as inoffensive as possible while stating the bare minimum in terms of doctrine. We have already had this over the past 50 years and seen nothing but declining Mass attendance. It certainly is not the way Christendom was built.

We have a flawed survey designed and executed by a consultant who works for political candidates who hate the Catholic Church and work in strident opposition to our teachings. The fact that such a survey is being employed by a prelate whose primary duty is to guard the deposit of Faith delivered to the Saints is capitulation to the spirit of the age.


Boston Archdiocese Spending $100K+ to Survey Apostates

December 2, 2015

According to an article just published in the Boston Globe, the Archdiocese of Boston “has hired a top Democratic consultant to poll Catholics in Eastern Massachusetts – most of whom no longer attend weekly Mass – to find out what they think about thapostatee church and its leaders.”  A random phone survey will be taken  of whomever of 1,600 people want to respond, plus there will be six focus groups of fallen away catholics.   Participants will be asked a series of 90 questions including their views on church teaching such as abortion and contraception as well as their opinion of Cardinal Sean. (Since when are the prelates of the Church of Christ up for a popularity contest?)

While Terry Donilon, the Archdiocesan spokesperson refused to share the cost of the poll, sources tell BCI that the cost was $100K or more. Not only does BCI question the morality of giving church funds to John Martilla, who has served as a strategist for the likes of John Kerry, Joe Biden and Deval Patrick, we also question the purpose for marketing the Bride of Christ. After all, She alone has the words of eternal life.

What exactly does the Archdiocese hope to find by polling baptized Catholics who are no longer attending weekly Mass? The ills that afflict them are the same ills that have caused every apostate since Jesus first began preaching the Gospel to leave the bosom of Holy Mother Church. They leave because they refuse to accept the teaching authority of Christ and His Church. The only remedy for the situation of these unfortunate people is repentance.

As Christ ascended to Heaven, when the Church consisted of only a handful of disciples, Christ commanded the apostles to “Teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them all things whatsoever I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) “And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.” (Luke 24:47). By Apostolic Succession, this is the mission also for the bishops of today.

Instead of teaching with the authority and confidence of men who know that they have been given the keys to eternal life and that those who reject the immutable truths of the Catholic Faith will put their souls in grave danger, the Archdiocese of Boston plans to invert Christ’s command and in the words of Terry Donilon “learn” from those who do not show respect or reverence for God and His Church.

What might we expect from this inversion? The likely answer is more of the same. Instead of sound doctrine clearly stated with authority, we are likely to see the Archdiocese pander to the godless multitude with lukewarm statements, cleverly worded to remain as inoffensive as possible while stating the bare minimum in terms of doctrine. Only a halfwit could imagine that this will fill the pews again. It certainly is not the way Christendom was built.

Pope Leo XIII clearly condemned this approach in his 1899 encyclical Testem Benevolentiae:

The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order the more easily to attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. … Let it be far from anyone’s mind to suppress for any reason any doctrine that has been handed down. Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ.”

The mere fact that such a survey is being employed by a prelate whose primary duty is to guard the deposit of Faith delivered to the Saints is capitulation to the spirit of the age.

That the Boston Archdiocese is spending even $1 on such a boneheaded initiative is a travesty and scandal, let alone donor funds at a time when most parishes are operating in the red.  Readers, please take this post, forward it to Terry Donilon (tdonilon@rcab.org), and ask him to cut the Archdiocese’s losses on the survey and stop this waste of time and money.

(This post was contributed by a local Catholic who wishes to remain anonymous)


Cardinal O’Malley: Please Correct Heresy and Discipline Your Priest

September 17, 2015

Msgr. Paul Garrity is at it once again–this time with perhaps his most egregiously heretical public comments ever–published in the official Archdiocesan newspaper, The Boston Pilot. And Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese have been silent about the scandal and done nothing to correct the heresy.

What Garrity wrote in his editorial column, “Synod Needs Your Prayers” is thoroughly BAD. It is so heretical that it needs to be removed from being accessed and he needs to be made to publicly retract and correct his words.  Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute expressed the problems very well in this Open Letter to Cardinal O’Malley.

In his article, Msgr. Garrity directly assaults the indissolubility of marriage.  He said:

“It is ludicrous to assert that divorced couples who have found love and fidelity with new spouses are still recognized by the Church as being married to their former spouses after the passage of many years. It is equally untenable (and disrespectful) to try to convince these happily married couples that, in fact, their relationships are sinful. Moreover, the Church’s current prohibition regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried couples would seem to be at odds with the consistent teaching of the Gospel about love, forgiveness and mercy.

In this one paragraph, Msgr. Garrity heretically denies three teachings of the Catholic Church and then heretically asserts that there is a division between Holy Mother Church’s loving guidance of sinners and the Gospels.

As you know, the Catechism of the Catholic Churchparagraph 2089, defines heresy as “the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.” Given this definition, it is clear that Msgr. Garrity is proclaiming heresy in the following circumstances:

  1. Monsignor Garrity said, “It is ludicrous to assert that divorced couples … are still recognized by the Church as being married to their former spouse after the passage of many years.” This claim is at complete odds with paragraph 1614 of the Catechism, which expressly states, “The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it ‘what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.'” Given this, divorce cannot actually dissolve a marriage bound by God Himself. Furthermore, when bride and groom take their wedding vows, they promise before God to be faithful to their spouses “until death,” so the caveat provided by Msgr. Garrity of “the passage of many years” likewise cannot dissolve a marriage. In light of the definition of heresy provided by Holy Mother Church, the only conclusion can be that Msgr. Garrity preached a heretical principle in your publication.
  2. Monsignor Garrity said, “It is equally untenable (and disrespectful) to try to convince these happily married couples that, in fact, their relationships are sinful.” Our Blessed Lord said, according to Mark, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11–12). In order for Msgr. Garrity to maintain this position, he must also blaspheme by claiming that what was said by Our Blessed Lord was “untenable and disrespectful.”
  3. Monsignor Garrity said, “The Church’s current prohibition regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried couples would seem to be at odds with the consistent teaching of the Gospel about love, forgiveness and mercy.” In this statement are two grave errors.
    1. Monsignor Garrity implicitly denies the sacrilege committed by those who receive Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin. Saint Paul very clearly teaches, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” The Catechism of the Catholic Churchparagraph 2120, says, “Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist.” What Msgr. Garrity says in this article is extremely scandalous, as it will likely embolden divorced and re-married Catholics to commit sacrilege against the Eucharist, thereby placing their souls in extreme peril.
    2. In this one statement, Msgr. Garrity attacks the Holiness of the Church.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 824, “United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. ‘All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God.’ It is in the Church that ‘the fullness of the means of salvation’ has been deposited. It is in her that ‘by the grace of God we acquire holiness.'” In contrast to the teaching that “The Church … is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy” (para. 823), Msgr. Garrity suggests that the Church’s work to help poor sinners avoid sacrilege is somehow unloving, unforgiving and unmerciful. But even worse, Msgr. Garrity implies that Holy Mother Church is at sinful odds with Herself through a perceived inconsistency in Her teachings and in Her disciplines.

Your Eminence, this is not the first time Msgr. Garrity has openly preached views in direct opposition to Catholic Teaching. In 2013, Msgr. blasphemously compared homosexual “families” with the Holy Family in his parish bulletin.

[As BCI reported in 2013 in our post, “Boston pastor praised by Cardinal O’Malley puts Holy Family on par with homosexual couples“,] Garrity wrote:

 Taken all together, the first family of Christianity reminds us that there is no such thing as normal. Every family is different and this means that we need to broaden our understanding of family life beyond TV sitcoms and applaud the virtues of family living wherever we find them: two-parent families, single-parent families, blended families, families with two mommies or two daddies and adoptive families. What is most important is that we continually hold up the family as the instrument that God has chosen to communicate God’s unconditional love to the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society.

Your Eminence, countless souls are gravely imperiled by the outright heresy being preached by Msgr. Garrity. At this current time, where there is so much confusion and anxiety over the Church’s authentic and immutable teachings regarding the family, we beg you, for the sake of Msgr. Garritys soul and the souls of those led astray by him, to remove this article from your publication and publicly correct the error proclaimed by your priest.

Yesterday, the Catholic League of Masschusetts weighed in:

The Catholic Action League called Garrity’s column “a shocking disavowal of Catholic morality by a prominent pastor of the Archdiocese of Boston, in the Archbishop’s own newspaper.”

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: “Garrity’s heretical assertions go far beyond the so-called concessions in pastoral practice envisaged by some synod fathers. Garrity unambiguously repudiates, and holds up to public ridicule, the constant, 2,000 year old doctrine of the Catholic Church on the indissolubility of a valid, sacramental marriage. Ordinary Catholics, reading Garrity in a diocesan newspaper published by Cardinal O’Malley, could be led to the erroneous belief that Catholic moral teaching is changeable.”

“Although Garrity invokes ‘love, forgiveness and mercy,’ he doesn’t practice it. Apparently, for him, the Spiritual Works of Mercy — counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, and admonishing the sinner — are obsolete. Warning the flock of the dangers of mortal sin is intrinsic to the priesthood. For Garrity, such priestly duty is ‘disrespectful.’”

“There are three scandals here: that a Catholic pastor would propound such heresy; that an official Catholic newspaper would publish it; and that a Catholic archdiocese, would, by its silence, acquiesce in it. Twice in recent years, lay columnists who wrote opinion pieces in The Pilot critical of homosexuality were forced to clarify their comments. We will see if a different standard applies to a chancery connected cleric who mocks Catholic morality.”

Everyone reading this should be outraged. Here is who you should both call and email:

Cardinal Sean O’Malley:  ArchbishopSean_O’Malley@rcab.org; 617-782-2544

Vicar General Bishop Peter Uglietto: vicar_general@rcab.org; 617-746-5619

Episcopal Vicar (West Region) over Msgr. Garrity: Very Reverend Brian R. Kiely: 508-647-0296

Interim Episcopal Vicar and Secretary for Parish Life: Fr. Bryan Parrish: ReverendBryan_Parrish@rcab.org; 617-746-5618

Editor of The Boston Pilot Antonio Enrique: aenrique@thebostonpilot.com


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