Friday, March 30, 2012


There are two very serious civil trials going on or soon to occur. One is a misdemeanor trial of a bishop in Kansas who failed to report criminal activity of one of his priests in a timely fashion. The other is much more sordid and involves a Vicar General of Philadelphia following the orders of the now deceased Cardinal-Archbishop in covering up the sexual mortal sins and crimes of several priests and failure to report them to the authorities.

All of this re-opens wounds not only for those who are abused by supposedly trusted bishops and priests but for the rest of the Church both clergy and laity who are bewildered by the way so many bishops mismanaged their dioceses in terms of priest personnel and their ministerial role in the Church. Many of these priests got away with murder, killing the souls of children and teenagers and killing the souls of those who discovered their deeds done in darkness without impunity!

I pray that the suffering of so many because of this horrible scandal will not be in vain, but will lead to the continuing purification of the order of bishops, priests and deacons. I pray too that the laity will be drawn closer to God in this time of suffering and anguish of so many, especially the true victims of sexual abuse.

But this brings me to the point of this post, the dereliction of duty of some bishops (many bishops) in the supervision and discipline of their priests and priests themselves who were the epitome of the antithesis of what it means to be a priest, abusing children, adults, and the Church not just through sexual abuse but also the abuse of prayer and liturgy especially in these past 50 years since Vatican II. It is the abuse of religious power and authority!

We have to ask the hard question about the "spirit of Vatican II" opening up Pandora's box to all kinds of liberality as it concerns the identity of the bishops and priests and the abuse of their ministry through mortal sin, cynicism or just plain incompetence, intellectually and professionally, not to mention spiritually and morally. The bankruptcy that many dioceses are experiencing financially is a powerful metaphor for the moral and professional bankruptcy that has been going on for way too many decades. The chickens have come home to roost.

The two most important roles of a bishop is firstly to minister and manage their priests in order to protect the faithful's souls, spirituality and moral well being, not to mention their eternal salvation. When bishops and priests fail in their high calling they fail to be Good Shepherds and become wolves in sheep's clothing. For the most part, this scandal that came to international light at the turn of this new century could have been entirely avoided if bishops simply followed existing canon law in the discipline of their priests. But they didn't because law in general (civil law) and Ecclesiastical Law (canon law) in particular came to be despised during the 1960's in both the religious and secular worlds. In the religious sense, the once scrupulosity that so many Catholics had in observing moral and civil law as Divinely given for the benefit of Church and society was thrown under the bus for situational ethics and "do your own thing" regardless of what authority tells you to do. I'm the master of my own domain mentality developed as well as "let the buyer beware" when it came to the ministry of priests.

Secondly bishops should be ministering and supervising the liturgy of the Church and her devotional life. But isn't this linked precisely to the ministry and management of priests? After all, the Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief. That is how important the Church's official prayer and liturgy is! And when that law is corrupted or neglected it will and has had a deleterious effect upon the entire Church!

I've been around the country and seen first hand the quality or lack thereof of the manner in which the Church's liturgy is celebrated and the godawful music that is shoved down the throats of parishes as supposedly "good, modern" liturgical music. I've had so many tell me of the horror stories they experience in their own parishes where priests manipulate the texts of the Mass because that prideful priest thinks their judgement about language and style of worship is of a higher authority that the Magisterium who gives us the Liturgy, even if that language and style has some warts. Pride is the source of the scandal in the priesthood in all of its forms as well as a lack of proper management and discipline of priests who break liturgical law not to mention moral and civil law.

Isn't this the main scandal of the Church today; priests gone wild with children, teenagers and adults and priests who fail to celebrate the liturgy of the Church as Vatican II actually intended it and as Pope Benedict is now modeling; and most importantly bishops who fail to manage and discipline their morally bankrupt priests thus diminishing the morale and enthusiasm of the majority of priests and laity who simply want direction and encouragement in doing what the Church now asks and Pope Benedict now models?

Isn't there a failure to make sure that every priest be encouraged now to celebrate the EF Mass and learn how to do it? I promise you if a priest takes this seriously it will change how he celebrates the normal and Ordinary Form of the Mass. This is a no-brainer and so many of our bishops just don't get it and after all of the revelations about errant priests and bishops' failure to protect the faithful from them. This remains a scandal.

Pray for our bishops, priests and deacons. God will purify the Church through secular means if the religious authorities fail to do it as God commands them. Save the Liturgy and save the priesthood and then save the world!


Vonito said...

where do you find images like the first one?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I just do an internet search for images, "Jesus Weeping" brought the image up.

Bill Meyer said...

There are indeed many bishops who have been derelict in their duty. However, I am surely not the one to identify which have failed. I know that I have heard years of media commentary on one who I had thought was a villain, only to more recently read a book on the scandals--and on the falsely accused--and I must say that this one in particular appears to have been more victim than villain.

A failure of greater concern to me, horrible as was the sexual abuse, is the failure of many (most?) bishops to fail to ensure adequate education of their flocks in true Church teaching. I count as failed those parishes in which the CCC is not to be found in the parish library, much less in RCIA. Parishes in which the lower grades receive questionable religious education at the hands of the same folks who denigrate the use of any Catechism for adults. My own parish is among these.

How does a member of the laity take any action in such cases? How can we approach the pastor or bishop? How not to be dismissed as a crank?

The aftermath of Vatican II brought many changes which I find deeply objectionable, if not downright evil. The failure to properly instruct children and adults is a failure to arm them for battle against those who seek to harm.

Anonymous said...

Terrible as it is, I think the damage suffered by victims of clerical sexual abuse scandal may not compare with the cumulative spiritual abuse so many millions of the faithful have suffered at the hands of bishops and priests through liturgical abuse. Though the two are (as you make clear) closely related, as manifestations of the same dereliction of duty.