Friday, December 13

Three priests resign from Bridgeport diocese

What is Bishop Lennon like?

Really interesting stuff from John Allen today. Written pre-resignation, but still pertinent.

Only the pope can request a cardinal’s resignation, and John Paul II’s personal bias undoubtedly leans against doing so. The pope himself, it should be remembered, has faced calls for resignation, albeit for very different reasons — on the grounds that he is too old and weak to govern. He has consistently spurned those suggestions. “Jesus did not come down off the cross,” he recently said. Hence his inclination would doubtless be that Law should stay put and clean up the mess he’s made. That view is widely held in the Vatican. Seen from Rome, the life of a retired cardinal seems fairly sweet. One enjoys the privileges of high ecclesiastical office with few of the burdens. Staying on the job in the midst of crisis, on the other hand, is a daily ordeal. (Recall that the Vatican never removed Cardinal Michele Giordano of Naples, even when he was facing a criminal trial for loan-sharking in 2000 that could have landed him in jail. Privately, several curial officials opined that resignation was too good for him). Hence keeping Law where he is, which can look from the United States like letting him off the hook, seems instinctively to a certain Roman way of thinking like the most fitting sentence possible.

Gee...he must have been talking to Mark Shea or something...

Never fear to step in and make foolish statements:

If Boston doesn’t get an Archbishop from within, here are my three guesses for the New Man:

Chaput, D’Arcy or Gregory.

BTW, suggestion #9 in the comments is very, very smart...

Plus ca change?

The lawsuits are still being prepared.

The files are still being released

The subpoenas are still out

The Archdiocese of Boston is still in crisis – financial and otherwise.

What does this change at the top signify? What could it accomplish?

First, it clears the way for some leadership that might be able to accomplish something. Cardinal Law’s presence hampered this possibility for several reasons. First, he was too closely involved in the sins at issue, and in too direct a way.

Say I’m the DRE of a parish. (I’m not anymore, but I was once). Say I make a series of lousy decisions that impact the parish negatively – I institute new procedures for reception of First Communion, for example. I ban or strongly discourage traditional First Communion dress (don’t laugh, it’s been done.) I institute a burdensome series of parents’ meetings and declare that if parents can’t attend every one of them, their child may not participate. Etc.

Say that this series of decisions causes great dissension and hurt, but I persist, over a period of three years to enforce them. Say my First Communion classes end up declining by 50%.

I’ve made a mess. I may have had good intentions, but it is highly questionable whether this has brought anyone closer to Christ, which should be my prime motivation in decision-making.

Should I stay to fix it? Or should someone else be brought in?

Well, sure, if I wanted to stay, I could very well stay to fix it. It would take compromise, a lot of meetings, some humility on my part, some openness on the parish’s part, but I could, given a change of heart, remain in this ministry and fix this problem.

But say I’d done something else. Say I had consistently allowed and encouraged incompetent catechists to run wild in my program. Say we were all friends, we hung out together, we supported each other, and I allowed these jokers to continue messing up because I had some attachment to them. Perhaps their incompetence took various forms: some taught heresy, some taught nothing, and some were mean to kids. But no matter what the complaints, no matter how many tearful first-graders were presented to me, I soldiered on, letting my friends stay in place in the classroom. And through it all, I consistently misrepresented the situation to my pastor and to concerned parents, telling them that it was probably the kids’ faults. You know how kids are.

Could I fix this situation?

Perhaps, but the chances are slim. Why? Because of my personal connection to the problem. This is not an issue of misguided programming. This is an issue of personality, of a deeper sense of betrayal of my ministry, one which makes me fundamentally untrustworthy.

It’s not a direct analogy – we have no sense that Law was acting to protect friends. I’m not suggesting that. I’m just suggesting that the nature of his personal involvement in these decisions – his willingness to sacrifice principle and the safety of children for the preservation of some sort of relationship (even if it is bishop-priest) and the well-being of perpetrators, plus his apparent occasional prevarication renders him untrustworthy. He didn’t institute a failed program. He personally supported abusers. It’s not something you can scrap, apologize for and replace. It’s a personal betrayal that cripples you as a leader, both in how you are perceived and truly, how you can act, since you will always, at some level, concerned with self-preservation.

But….only time will tell. There is certainly a power struggle of sorts going on in Boston, and it will take great skill to resolve it. But what’s most important, right now, is that the victims of priestly sexual abuse be given their due, be ministered to, and that the Archdiocese right itself morally and financially, so that it can get on with the business of witnesses to the love of Christ, rather than the desperate need for self-justification.

A busy day in Rome:

Pope John Paul II has named Monsignor Ronald W. Gainer, a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, as the Second Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky.

The announcement was made by Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, papal nuncio to the United States, at 6 a.m. EST today. The papal nuncio is the pope's ambassador and liaison to the church in the United States.

Prior to his appointment today, Bishop-Elect Gainer, 55, served as the Judicial Vicar of the Tribunal and the Secretary of Catholic Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Allentown. He also served as chaplain to the Carmelite Nuns of the Ancient Observance (Calced Carmelites) in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. At the time of his appointment, he served as a member of the Diocese of Allentown's Council of Priests, College of Consultors, and Priest Personnel Board.

Bishop-Elect Gainer was ordained for the Diocese of Allentown on May 19, 1973. He was named a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by Pope John Paul II on August 20, 1991. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters of Divinity Degree (summa cum laude) from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, PA, and a Licentiate Degree in Canon Law and a Diploma in Latin Letters from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy.

He was born in Pottsville, PA, on August 24, 1947, to Anna M. Meko Gainer and the late Francis F. Gainer. He attended Mary, Queen of Peace Grade School, Pottsville, and graduated from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary High School, Pottsville, in 1965. He attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, from September, 1965, to June, 1973.

In addition to his work with the Diocesan Tribunal and promoting works of spiritual renewal and evangelization as Secretary of Catholic Life and Evangelization, Bishop-Elect Gainer has taught canon law, has served in parish and campus ministry assignments, and has served as spiritual director to diocesan chapters for separated, divorced, and widowed persons.

Thanks to Meggan for passing that along

A link to statements issued by various individuals and organizations regarding Law's resignation

Good question:

What about the bankruptcy issue?

Cardinal Keeler and Dontee Stokes take the stand

Spokane County won't pursue clerical sexual abuse cases because of the statute of limitations.

Holocaust Museum honors Polish dissident and Holocaust rescuer

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has seen it all.

At 80, he has outlived most of the friends who shared his intense experiences, those miraculous moments of carving life out of the wreckage of war, while risking death.

Twice the foreign minister of Poland, an author and historian, an anti-Communist dissident and ideologue of the Solidarity movement, a prisoner in Communist jails for seven years, an activist in the Polish underground, a survivor of eight months at Auschwitz, Bartoszewski is also the last prominent founder of a movement that clandestinely rescued, hid and smuggled Jews to safety in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Members and organizers of Zegota, or the Council for Aid to Jews, set up in Poland in 1942, operated under Nazi occupation laws that promised instant execution for any Poles -- and their families -- helping Jewish citizens, even for just sneaking in a piece of bread to a Jewish fugitive.

...Zegota was financed by and functioned as an agency of the Polish government-in-exile. It saved and helped 4,000 Jews, including 2,500 children. The goal of the group, he explained, was to arrange for escapes, secure forged documents, find overnight shelters and ensure fugitives were fed.

..."I did not know I was doing anything great," said Bartoszewski, who became involved in Polish exile groups and intelligence work. "I am a Catholic, raised in a Catholic school. We were taught to love our neighbors. It was one of the Ten Commandments; I simply took it for real.

A list of the nineteen bishops who have resigned since 1990 over sexual issues either their own or the mishandling of others'.

Domenico's got observations from the front line

Peter Gomes, Harvard chaplain and theologian - Protestant, openly gay, for what it's worth professes sympathy and support for Law in the Globe

When I told some colleagues that I, a conspicuous Protestant, thought I should say a word in this sulfurous climate on behalf of a brother cleric, I was advised against it and told that every angry Catholic and militant secularist in town, not to mention the unbridled forces of the city media, would be against me.The question was sharply put: ''Why would you support a man who has lost all support?'' The answer is simple, at least in my profession: ''Because he needs it.''I cannot imagine what breakfast at the cardinal's residence on Lake Street must be like, with the table laid with the morning edition of the local papers. The news is bad enough, but when columnists and editorial writers weigh in with their shrill characterizations and cries for arch-episcopal blood, one cannot help but empathize just a bit with the Nixon-like figure who is damned at every turn. Those who not long ago were pleased to be pictured with the cardinal, kissing his ring and attending his charitable events and proud to be known as archdiocesan insiders, now, like the disciples on Maunday Thursday, have forsaken him and fled. If a public figure is treated like Nixon, we shouldn't be surprised if he behaves like Nixon, to whom Norman Cousins, in The Daily Telegraph of July 17, 1979, ascribed the motto: ''If two wrongs don't make a right, try a third.''

More files released, including that of the reinstated Monsignor Foster

In an interview last night, Foster said Edwards's contradictory accounts are false. And while he said it is possible that Edwards might have been in his living quarters in the rectory, it would never have occurred without others being present - including Edwards's own parents during one Christmas party at the parish, Sacred Heart in Newton.Foster expressed incredulity that the archdiocese would release an incomplete file that appears to exclude almost all of the exculpatory evidence the archdiocese gathered between mid-September and Oct. 30, when the church finally cleared Foster. ''This is a helluva way to restore my reputation,'' Foster said, referring to the archdiocese's promise to take steps to do so.

Who is Bishop Richard Lennon?

Richard Lennon was born March 26, 1947, in Arlington, Massachusetts. After studies at St. John's Seminary in Brighton, he was ordained a priest on May 19, 1973, for Boston. His duties have included assistant for canonical affairs of the Office of the Vicar for the Administration of the Archdiocese of Boston. In 1999 he was appointed rector of St. John Seminary School of Theology.

More here.

His statement:

"Upon the acceptance of the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law as archbishop of Boston, His Holiness, John Paul II, has appointed me apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Boston effective today, Dec. 13, 2002. I will resign my posts as rector of St. John's Seminary and regional bishop-West Region of the Archdiocese of Boston. I will hold the position of apostolic administrator until the appointment of a new archbishop of Boston by His Holiness at a future date.

"In all humility, I accept the position of apostolic administrator in service to the church and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston. I pledge to do all I can with the help of the bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity of the archdiocese, to work towards healing as a church and furthering the mission of Jesus Christ within our community. I am thankful for the good works that his Eminence Cardinal Law accomplished in his service to us as archbishop and for the friendship that I have enjoyed with him. I ask for prayers for him as he continues his life in service to the church. Please pray for me as I pray for all of you, most especially for all victims and families who have been hurt by the sin of sexual abuse of children by clergy, that together we may grow in our love for God and the church. In the words of St. John the Evangelist, 'May we love one another."'

That's it.


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