Wednesday, June 19

From the NYTimes (LRR):

That brave principal in Queens, Barbara Samide, is suing the Brooklyn Diocese for sexual harrassment:

The complaint, filed yesterday morning in State Supreme Court in Queens, alleges that the pastor, the Rev. John Thompson of St. Elizabeth's parish, continually boasted of his homosexual relationships, describing in detail his activities with an 18-year-old man who lived in the parish rectory in 2001.

The principal, Barbara Samide, also alleges that Father Thompson tried several times to take her to bars frequented by gay men, and threatened to fire her if she did not make thousands of dollars in questionable payments from school funds.

Here's the NYPost's take on the case in which you will find hints of what I've been telling you is the answer to the question we've been asking, "How could these things be allowed to continue?"

Blackmail, blackmail, blackmail.

From the NYTimes (LRR): Research clinic in Ohio specifically for Amish and Mennonite children:

The Amish are 12 percent of the local population, but their children represent close to half of the area's most severe cases of mental and physical retardation. The nonprofit Deutsch center will specialize in deciphering and treating dozens of obscure genetic and biochemical disorders the children suffer. Many of these are still unnamed but are considered the result of the "founder effect" — a reference to genetic disorders that become unusually common in an insular population descended, like the Amish, from a small group of progenitors.

As you read, please note how the father featured in this story refers to his four severely handicapped children: as "the blessings."

On of the flying Schultz brothers has an excellent idea:

It seems there are a lot of Church reform retool restore replace revive rebuild rehab groups popping up these days. Has anyone thought of writing up and profiling these start-ups and up-starts and posting the list online? I mean in a non-biased way - just stating the facts and letting readers decide for themselves if they are nuttier than something that is chock full o' nuts. That would be a good project for someone with a bit time on their hands. Actually if you are reading this and in one of those groups please email me some info and I'll try to pull this together. Contact info and URL would be ideal. If you know of any other groups please email me.

Be sure to check out his rating scale, too.

There have been worse times in the Church, yes.

Think globally, through centuries. Christians have been subject to seizure, torture and execution. And still are. Christianity has been split a hundred ways in a hundred heresies. There have been terrible popes, questionable popes, and three popes at a time. Bishops, for much of Catholic history, have been far more concerned about the income from their lands and other holdings than about the Faith. Good, holy people, from Francis of Assisi to Joan of Arc to John of the Cross to Teresa of Avila to Bernadette to Padre Pio have been viewed with suspicion and worse by church authorities. Catholics have been led in prayer by priests of all types since the beginning. And still we are here. Because, of course, Jesus promised that we would be.

(Thanks to Mark Sullivan for the apt Belloc quote on his blog: An institute run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight. The Church, as described by Hilaire Belloc An institution run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight...)

But even given the flawed, chaff-filled history and future of the Church, don't you think we still have a right to be angry, mourn and seek change? Don't you think we have an obligation to see the particular harm this Situation has wrought in these particular times?

In a time when the Church's teaching on sexual morality is held up for general ridicule as an impossible standard that is ill-suited to the realities of human nature we have the sight of church leaders, responsible for conveying that teaching, indicating that maybe it's not so important at all. Maybe they really don't believe in its value. Some bishops evidently don't even care if their priests live that standard.

In a time in which the culture discourages trust in we have authorities demonstrating that indeed, they aren't trustworthy.

In a time in which shallow commentators and many of the general public like to spout off the line that Catholics may be anti-abortion, but they only care about kids until they're born, we have bishops, including some who write pro-life editorials and all of whom fund Respect Life Offices, evincing a shocking disregard for the welfare of kids already born.

Let's go even further.

In a time in which the world desperately needs to hear the Gospel, is starving for the truth Jesus speaks of love, healing, reconciliation and compassion, is drowning in relativism and we have the Rock, the Body of Christ, torn, divided, rocked and distracted by internal affairs and totally discredited by its leaders.

No, this is not about the Church everywhere and every time. This is, admittedly, about the Church in the West. Already weakened, already laboring mightily to make its voice heard in the din of the quick cheap pleasures of modern life, already compromised in so many ways, the behavior of our leaders only confirms the worst that the world thinks of us: that the Church is about hypocritical repression, secret profligacy, opportunism and power.

So is despair the only answer? Of course not. Despair is not an answer at all. In fact, despair is a serious sin.

One answer - not the answer, because this problem defies simple solutions, no matter what some say - is for the laity to really see that what Vatican II said was right. We are the light of the world. It is our Church, we are called to be Christ in the world.

The bishops (most of them) don't particularly care about that, do they? They care about PR and "pleasing" the public - whatever public that might be referring to, I'm not sure. But do you know what?

There are more of us than there are of them. Lots more.

And do you know what else?

Naming and claiming this truth requires no commissions. It calls for no mission statements. It needs no councils, committees or workshops.

In this modern age, with technology at our fingerprints and most of us literate, there is no mystery as to what it means to be Catholic and what following Christ is all about. So many of our bishops have shown, time and time again, that bringing Christ to a needy, hungry world is not at the top of their agenda. Does that mean we can't put it at the top of ours?

Sure, there are things for which we're depend on the bishops - who are priests are and the shape of the liturgical life in our dioceses, as well as the shape of Catholic education in our dioceses. And that's a lot. And those areas are, indeed, a big mess in many dioceses. But think hard about this. You can still pray during a liturgy filled with what you call "abuses." No - it's not that you can pray. You must. Try to make changes, yes. Sure, head to another parish if it gets too bad, but whereever you are, stop being a critic, stop passing that attitude on to your children and your friends, and throw yourself into praying during Mass. Jesus is still there.

If Catholic schools are doing nothing or worse for your children, then put your money where your mouth is, pull them out, start new schools or homeschool them. Stop complaining about the spirituality programs that the diocese or parish offers and find some sympathetic local group - another parish, a monastery, an apostolate - to sponsor some that are more in line with the richness and breadth of authentic Catholic spirituality. Form your domestic Church.

And most importantly, don't let the actions of these bishops define what it means to be Catholic in America in 2002. Throw yourself into following Christ more closely, and treat others accordingly. Rededicate yourself and your family to the works of mercy, join others in your community who are doing so. Despite the pain and the doubt, commit yourself to joy. Because Jesus still lives. Jesus still loves, redeems and binds wounds. Jesus has not gone anywhere. Despite what the fellows in mitres would have you think.

Don't let them discourage you from finding, embracing and sharing the love of Christ.

Or else someone else...not the terrorists, this time, but somebody else...will have won.

This just in from a source:

Someone who has a....
Vatican source within the Curia, says that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will order the American bishops to halt its policy of removing abusive priests until Rome can rule on the measures. That means the Vatican is going to order an immediate halt to the removal from ministry of priests with a history of sexual abuse of minors on their records. The man who gave this information to me was unclear as to whether this had already been communicated to Bp. Wilton Gregory, or was soon going to be told to him.

Personally, I'm not sure Rome has the right to do this, but of course I'm no expert. Whatever the case, if it's true, it's going to look very bad indeed in the papers.

Well, that's an interesting development. Peter Vere? Any comments?

Grand Jury contemplating charges against Law and others

The grand jury convened by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly has been investigating for weeks whether Law and other leaders broke the law in allowing priests accused of molesting children to remain in positions where they could continue to abuse youngsters.

A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the chances that charges would be filed against Law or other top officials are small because of the statute of limitations and the difficult standards for prosecuting someone as an accessory

Does Stephen Carter's novel The Emperor of Ocean Park shine or stink? Was it worth the 4.2 million advance?

The American Prowler looks at the wildly varied reviews:

Newsweek first; its review, gratuitously nasty, took up a full page, and pointed out that Carter, a Yale Law School professor, was "a black public intellectual who dissents from leftist orthodoxy -- though he hates to be called a conservative." David Gates, the Newsweek critic, wrote that Carter, "a Christian, opposes abortion, supports school vouchers, [and] has a near-unconditional belief in the sanctity of marriage."

Was Gates annoyed by all that? In enlightened circles, after all, black public intellectuals have no business dissenting from leftist orthodoxy. Liberals punish them when they do. It may be mean-spirited to ask, but is that why Newsweek was so nasty?

Obviously, I'm busy. I'm doing research for the parables book - not direct parabolic research, but looking for supplementary material from church history, spiritual writers, and so on. Hence the St. Therese quote below.

I also ran across a passage from a Flannery O'Connor letter for which I've been looking for months. I don't know how I missed it - I opened my copy of The Habit of Being, and it fell open right to the page, which I had previously marked. It has nothing to do with parables, but it's a good passage to contemplate if you're annoyed about the way Mass is celebrated in your parish and wondering what the point is:

My cousin's husband who also teaches at Auburn came into the Church last week. He had been going to Mass with them but never showed any interest. We asked how he got interested and his answer was that the sermons wer so horrible, he knew there must be something else there to make the people come....

To "A", August 22, 1959.

While you're here, don't forget to check out the comments sections, especially the posts that have lots of comments. There's a debate going on about the NeoCatechumenate Way and one about the Knights of Columbus and their chaplain....Bishop Dailey of Brooklyn, home of Fr. John "Catholic School Parents Should Support My Gay Lover" Thompson.

St. Therese of Liseux on prayer:

“I heard talk of a great criminal just condemned to death for some horrible crimes; everything pointed to the fact that he would die impenitent….Feeling that of myself I could do nothing, I offered to God all the infinite merits of Our Lord, the treasures of the Church, and finally I begged Celine to have a Mass offered for my intentions. I didn’t dare ask this myself for fear of being obliged to say it was for Pranzini, the great criminal. I didn't even want to tell Celilne, but she asked me such tender and pressing questions, I confided my secret to her. Far from laughing at me, she asked if she could help convert my sinner. I accepted gratefully, for I would have wished all creatures would unite with me to beg grace for the guilty man.

I felt in the depths of my heart certain that our desires would be granted, but to obtain courage to pray for sinners I told God I was sure He would pardon the poor, unfortunate Pranzini; that I'd believe this even if he went to his death without any signs of repentance or without having gone to confession. I was absolutely confident in the mercy of Jesus. But I was begging Him for a "sign" of repentance only for my own simple consolation.

My prayer was answered to the letter! In spite of Papa's prohibition that we
read no papers, I didn't think I was disobeying when reading passages pertaining to Pranzini. The day after the execution I found the newspaper "La Croix." I opened it quickly and what did I see? Ah! my tears betrayed my emotion and I was obliged to hide. Pranzini had not gone to confession. He had mounted the scaffold and was preparing to place his head in the formidable opening, when suddenly, seized by an inspiration, he turned, took hold of the crucifix the priest was holding out to him and kissed the sacred wounds three times! Then his soul went to receive the merciful sentence of Him who declares that in heaven there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance.

I had obtained the "sign" I requested, and this sign was a perfect replica of the grace Jesus had given me when He attracted me to pray for sinners.

From The Story of a Soul, ICS Publications pp. 99-100

From Zenit, the Pope's itinerary in the Americas:

The Pope´s 97th international trip, which will take him to Canada, Guatemala and Mexico between July 23 and Aug. 2, will begin when he lands in Toronto´s Lester B. Pearson international airport. He will travel to Strawberry Island, located on Lake Simcoe, for three days of rest.

On Thursday afternoon, July 25, John Paul II will travel to Toronto, where he will be welcomed by the youth in the city´s Palace of Exhibitions. During his stay in Toronto, the Holy Father will reside at Morrow Park, the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

One of the most anticipated moments of the Pope´s third trip to Canada will be the vigil with youth in Downsview Park on Saturday night, July 27. This event will follow earlier meetings of the Holy Father with the country´s civil authorities and bishops.

John Paul II will preside over the Mass on Sunday morning, July 28, in Downsview Park, where the young people will have spent the night.

The Pontiff will leave from Toronto´s international airport on Monday morning, July 29, and fly to Guatemala, where he will stay for 26 hours. The highlight of this visit will be the canonization of Blessed Brother Pedro de San José de Betancurt, apostle of the poor and needy in Guatemala.

The Pope will then fly to Mexico where he will stay until the morning of Aug. 2. While in Mexico, on July 31 he will canonize Juan Diego, the Indian who witnessed the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The next day, the Holy Father will beatify two Indian lay martyrs: Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Angeles. Both ceremonies will be held in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

An interesting column from Editor and Publisher about the coverage of the Kelly case

(In case you've forgotten or don't know - 21-month old Frances Kelly was forgotten in her family's van in the driveway for 7 hours. She was only discovered by a neighbor passing by. She had died, of course. The Kellys are a large, Catholic family and many in their parish have rallied around in "support" of the father, who is being indicted by a principled prosecutor in Manassas.)

It seems that papers are more willing to find voices to question how religion can be hurtful when it's nontraditional. We rip Jehovah's Witnesses who deny modern medicine to their children. We quote moderate imams to disparage oppressive and murderous fundamental Muslim practices. The press had a field day with the parents of John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban." We hashed over their "California lifestyle," their "New Age" dabbling. And it took a while for us to begin asking whether some self-anointed "Christian" counselor led Andrea Yates' husband to force babies on his unstable wife.

I have no easy answers on how to cover tragedies where mainstream religion is part of the background noise. But I think that if the "deeply religious" shield had not been thrown up by Kelly's fellow parishioners, the Post stories of Frances Kelly's death (particularly on June 10) would have focused more on the dilapidated home and police reports on the forgotten kid -- and writers would have asked more demanding questions of their priest. That's what I've seen in other stories on children's deaths.

Thanks to Nancy Nall for the link.

ks Disgusting

This is the rot that "the Policy" doesn't cover:

Something bad was going on at St. Elizabeth's parish in Ozone Park, Queens, and Barbara Samide said recently that she had tried to get the Diocese of Brooklyn to do something about it since shortly after she was hired as principal of the parish's elementary school nearly two years ago.

The problems, she said, could hardly have been more serious, and at least two dozen times she sought out senior officials with the diocese to lay out what she insisted was a shocking situation: the Rev. John Thompson, the parish's pastor, had an 18-year-old gay lover living in the rectory and was lavishing gifts on him that were paid for with school funds; the school's budget was nearly $300,000 in the red, and Father Thompson had disbanded the parish committee charged with overseeing tuition collection; many parishioners had already sent a letter to the diocese expressing concerns, and were in near revolt.

The diocese's response, she said, never varied for more than a year and a half: keep quiet, its officials told her. The church, one of the diocese's vicars said to her, will handle its own priests and problems.

Bishop Dailey.....Governor Keating's on the phone...

A reader adds:

Notice that no minors appear to have been abused, but the parish itself was financially and spiritually raped by its pastor, largely to service his gay-sex habit. He invited the principal of the parish school to visit a West Village leather bar with him. He forced the principal to hire his gay lover, who lived with him at the rectory. He raided the school's funds to buy things for his lover, and when he started being questioned, fired those running the schools finances. Eventually, the principal had trouble paying her staff because of Father's corruption.

And the principal went to the diocese on numerous occasions, telling them what was going on. They did nothing. Finally she threatened to go to civil authorities, and they threatened her job. When authorities opened an investigation, the diocese told her not to cooperate. They transferred the priest, whose internet nom de gay-chat is "Papi Chulo" (something obscene in Spanish, they say), to another parish.

"To hell with that," said this brave woman. And now the Church's shameful dereliction is all over the New York Times. Thanks be to God.

If you ask me, this sordid story is a perfect example of why the laity must not trust the diocese to handle these things. Despite all the talk of "getting it" in Dallas, these habits are too entrenched to change overnight, and certainly not with the current episcopal leadership. Catholics ought to take an example from this principal: document everything, and go to the civil authorities and the news media with what you've found out. That's the only way to exorcise these demons. It's a miserable day when The New York Times and its ilk is a greater friend to truth, justice and the Church than the hierarchy, but that's the sorry state to which our bishops have reduced us.

An interview with Governor Frank Keating:

Keating acknowledged in Dallas that he was "just one man with no authority," but did surprise those gathered at that press conference when he pledged to go to the pope when he found that a bishop had abused his power.

On Tuesday, Keating backed off a bit on his claim that he would go to the pope to seek sanctions against any bishop found to have concealed the sexual abuse of minors, even in the past. He said he would report his board's findings to Gregory and expects that those findings would be forwarded to Rome.

"I don't think it's going to be Keating alone that will determine accountability," said Jason Berry, an investigative reporter who wrote an expose on the church scandal. "But I think he has the opportunity to do a historical service to the church. I hope he doesn't blow it."


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