Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Priest Scandal - Father Was A Terrorist

The past year had been designated by Pope Benedict XVI as the “Year of the Priest,” an opportunity to celebrate the service provided by the thousands of dedicated men to the global Church. Unfortunately, it has been the year that the clergy sexual abuse scandal was revealed to be happening in Ireland, and Europe. Now the British press, including the BBC, has been reporting that one of the suspected IRA planners of the 1972 Claudy bombing, one of the worst acts of terror during Northern Ireland’s Troubles; was a Catholic priest. Not only that, but a government investigation also revealed that the British officials of that time, with Catholic Church officials hushed the matter up, and transferred the priest, Father James Chesney, to the Republic of Ireland. He would die there in 1980.

Now there have been cases throughout history, where priests have been more warriors than shepherds of their churches, but that a priest could be involved in act of terror is mind boggling. And the story of Father Chesney is another scandal that the priesthood and the Church could have done without.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Boston Archdiocese Blocks A Blog

The local Boston media, including the Boston Globe, has been reporting about how the Archdiocese of Boston has been blocking computer access to a blog called The Boston Catholic Insider. No Archdiocesan employee can view the blog using an Archdiocesan computer. The blog has been attacking Archbishop Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM CAP for being a poor administrator; and other officials of cronyism, padding their salaries, and shady business deals. They seem to really pile the vitriol on Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, the Archdiocese Secretary of Social Services.

I will admit that I only did a cursory look at the site, but what I did see did not impress me; a lot of verbiage, a clanging cymbal, signifying nothing. The fact that no authors are willing to put their names to these accusations further lowers my respect for this blog.

Now whether it was a good idea for the Archdiocese to block this blog, I am not sure. However, as an employer, the Archdiocese does have the right to set conditions on how employees use Archdiocesan computers to access the Internet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The New Missal is Coming Soon!

So the announcement is out, the new English translation of the Roman Missal will be implemented during the season of Advent in 2011. As I have written previously, I have had concerns about this translation and the process by which it came about. I will express one more, in that the work of translation was carried out with little or no consultation with the lay faithful. Since we are the majority of participants in the liturgy, some means of consultation should have been established. The translators, the officials who approved the translation, should have been open to feedback from the laity, open to hearing our reactions and concerns about these changes in the translation.

Now it is coming, and now it is important for the bishops, liturgists, and priests not to screw up this implementation; as happened when the vernacular was first introduced. It is not enough to school the laity on how to pray the new translation; we need to know why the changes were made, why the changes make liturgical and theological sense. And a means must be provided for some of us to be able vent our frustrations, our anger over the translation; and know we are being listened to, and our opinions respected.

Strap on your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, this could be a bumpy ride!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Update on Theft of Relic of the True Cross

Earlier I had commented on the theft of a relic of the Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. Yesterday, the New England news outlets, including the Boston Globe, were reporting on the relic’s recovery in Vermont. The Archdiocese of Boston issued the following public statement:

Archdiocese statement on return of the Relic of the True Cross

"Our prayers have been answered as the Relic of the True Cross has been recovered. We are grateful for the great work of the Boston Police Department in their search for the relic. Their professional and diligent work made this effort successful. We also extend our appreciation to the Vermont State Police who assisted in the recovery effort. God has blessed us with His love and capacity to forgive. We prayerfully carry on His call for forgiveness for those responsible."

At a time when many works of art, like the paintings from the Isabella Gardner museum, remain missing; it is wonderful that the relic was recovered in such a short amount of time. This story of its theft and recovery will probably go under the category of “Truth is Stranger than Fiction.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My August 2010 Column for Secular Franciscan Fraternity Newsletter

“Trusting in the Father, Christ chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life, even though he valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.

Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.” (Art. 11, SFO Rule)

On August 11, we celebrated the memory of Saint Clare of Assisi, co-founder with Saint Francis of the Second Order, then known as the Poor Ladies of San Damiano, and today known as the Poor Clares. We sometimes think of her and her sisters as the contemplative branch of the Franciscan family, but I would like to share a reflection on another aspect of Clare’s life and spirituality.

When the Poor Ladies were established at San Damiano, Clare requested a special privilege from the Pope and the Bishop of Assisi, the privilege of poverty. Her monastery would depend only on the income from the work of their hands, or from alms given to them. At a time when the established monasteries had huge incomes from the rents on lands gifted to them, and the dowries of the women who entered the monasteries, this was unheard of. The Popes of Clare’s time continually refused this request, believing that the Poor Ladies needed income and sustenance that only lands and endowments could provide. Now Clare was not an ascetic masochist, nor did she see poverty as an end. She saw evangelical poverty as a means to an end. As she and her sisters gazed on the San Damiano cross, they saw Christ, though He was the Son of God, willing to empty Himself for all humanity. And Clare realized that to follow Christ meant emptying oneself of all possessions, of the need to possess and control, and be dependent on the love of God. Thus, she held out against the Pope, until finally he relented and gave Clare and her sisters the privilege of poverty. She received the written permission shortly before her death.

We are also called to empty ourselves so that we can be open and receptive to the love of God. We, too, are called to empty ourselves and share the gifts of that love with everyone. Let us ask for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, let us be inspired by the lives of Francis and Clare. Let us have the courage to open our arms and share all that we have for the sake of the kingdom of God.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

They Are Still Not Getting It!

When American media and commentators reference persons, or organizations being “within the Beltway,” they are referring to politicians and government bureaucrats who have an inward, insular focus on events and situations in the country; that is totally out of touch with the rest of the country.

The same can definitely be said of the Vatican. Whether it is the fiasco of issuing a statement that seem to equate the clergy sexual abuse scandal with the ordination of women, or this decision on the Irish bishop’s resignations. Now John Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter has offered some insights on what the Pope’s and the Vatican Curia’s thinking may have been. But no matter what valid reasons there may have been, perception is everything. And the perception is that this Pope is willing to give bishops a pass, no matter how culpable they may have been in the cover-up.

It is ironic, that when Pope Benedict XVI was Cardinal Ratzinger, he was more than ready to either remove or reduce the authority of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, formerly of Seattle, WA, for his liberal views.

The Vatican needs to recognize that there is a lot of anger and disaffection among Catholics in America and Europe. And they need to do a better job in addressing, and soon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And So the Path Changes Again!

This past year I have wondering where the Holy Spirit has been leading me. There have been moments of hope, only to have reality come crashing in; and know I am not sure where I am heading. There is also a bit of anger at God, wishing He had not urge me down a certain path; only to have it change so suddenly, so disappointly.

More than ever, I need this prayer written originally by Thomas Merton:

O Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me, I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, And that fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire to please You. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.