Category Archives: Clericalism

Financial clericalism & crimes


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  • Pope approved move against cardinal, who says he is innocent
  • Former head of Vatican Financial Intelligence denies charges
  • Becciu most senior Vatican official charged with financial crime
  • Trial to start July 27 2021

VATICAN CITY, July 3 (Reuters) – A prominent Italian cardinal was among 10 people sent to trial in the Vatican on Saturday charged with financial crimes including embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, extortion and abuse of office.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, formerly a senior official in the Vatican administration, as well as two top officials at the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Unit will go on trial on July 27 over a multi-million euro scandal involving the Vatican’s purchase of a building in one of London’s smartest districts.

The trial will inevitably bring a swirl of media interest to the tiny city-state surrounded by Rome, and appears to underscore Pope Francis’ determination to cure the rot in Vatican finances, even if it involves messy public hearings.

Becciu, 73, whom the pope fired from his senior clerical post last year for alleged nepotism, and who has always maintained his innocence during a two-year investigation, becomes the most senior Vatican official to be charged with financial crimes.The pope personally gave the required approval last week for Becciu to be indicted, according to a 487-page indictment request seen by Reuters. The Vatican announced the indictments in a two-page statement.

The charges against Becciu include embezzlement and abuse of office. An Italian woman who worked for him was charged with embezzlement and the cardinal’s former secretary, Father Mauro Carlino, was accused of extortion.

Becciu said in a statement that he was a victim of a “machination” and reaffirmed his “absolute innocence”.

Carlino’s lawyer said his client was innocent, had been “acting under orders”, and had saved the Vatican millions of euros. He said starting a trial so soon did not give defence lawyers enough time to prepare.

Two Italian brokers, Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione, were charged with embezzlement, fraud and money laundering. Torzi, for whom Italian magistrates issued an arrest warrant in April, was also charged with extortion.

There was no immediate response to attempts to reach their lawyers, but both men have consistently denied wrongdoing.

Four companies associated with individual defendants, two in Switzerland, one in the United States and one in Slovenia, were also indicted, according to the document.

POLICE RAID

The investigation into the purchase of the building became public on Oct. 1, 2019, when Vatican police raided the offices of the Secretariat of State, the administrative heart of the Catholic Church, and those of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF).

The then-president of the AIF, Rene Bruelhart, a 48-year-old Swiss, and AIF’s former Italian director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, 46, were charged with abuse of office for allegedly failing to adequately protect the Vatican’s interests and giving Torzi what the indictment request called an “undue advantage”.

Di Ruzza was also accused of embezzlement related to alleged inappropriate use of his official credit card, and of divulging confidential information.

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who has been caught up in a real estate scandal, speaks to the media a day after he resigned suddenly and gave up his right to take part in an eventual conclave to elect a pope, near the Vatican, in Rome, Italy, September 25, 2020.

Bruelhart said in a text message that he had “always carried out my functions and duties with correctness” and that “the truth about my innocence will emerge”.

Di Ruzza did not immediately respond to a voicemail requesting comment.

In 2014, the Secretariat of State invested more than 200 million euros, much of it from contributions from the faithful, in a fund run by Mincione, securing about 45% of a commercial and residential building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London’s South Kensington district.

The indictment request said Mincione had tried to deceive the Vatican, which in 2018 tried to end the relationship.

It turned to Torzi for help in buying up the rest of the building, but later accused him of extortion.

‘ENORMOUS LOSSES’

At the time, Becciu was in the last year of his post as deputy secretary of state for general affairs, a powerful administrative position that handles hundreds of millions of euros.

All told, the Secretariat of State sank more than 350 million euros into the investment, according to Vatican media, and suffered what Cardinal George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, told Reuters last year were “enormous losses”.

Torzi was arrested in the Vatican in June 2020, and spent a week in custody.

According to the indictment request, Becciu is charged with five counts of embezzlement, two of abuse of office, and one count of inducing a witness to perjury. About 75 pages of the document are dedicated to Becciu.

It says Becciu tried to “heavily deflect” the inquiry into Vatican investments, including the London building, and tried to discredit the investigating magistrates via the Italian media.

Becciu continued to have influence over money transfers at the Secretariat even after he left the post, the document said.

The main charges against Becciu involve the alleged funnelling of money and contracts to companies or charitable organisations controlled by his brothers on their native island of Sardinia.

Another Sardinian, Cecilia Marogna, 40, who worked for Becciu, was charged with embezzlement. Her cellphone was not connected.

The indictment request said she had received about 575,000 euros from the Secretariat of State in 2018-2019.

She has said on Italian television that the money, sent to her company in Slovenia, was to ransom kidnapped missionaries in Africa. But the indictment request said much of it was used for “personal benefit”, including the purchase of luxury goods.”


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Indictments for Vatican financial crimes a sign of progress
Jul 6, 2021
by Thomas Reese, SJ, Vatican

:The Vatican’s criminal tribunal indicted 10 people July 3, 2021, including Becciu, and four companies on charges including extortion, abuse of office and fraud in connection with the secretariat of state’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate venture. Becciu helped engineer the initial London investment when he was the chief of staff in the secretariat of state.

The Catholic faithful are rightly outraged by news of financial crimes in the Vatican, especially since the latest alleged crimes involve Peter’s Pence, the collection for the pope’s charities. But last week’s announcement of indictments by Vatican prosecutors is not a scandal but a sign of progress.

Indicted by the Vatican are six former Vatican officials, including the cardinal who was behind a real estate investment in London involving hundreds of millions of dollars. Also indicted are Italian businessmen who worked with the Vatican on the investment, as well as a woman accused of buying luxury goods with Vatican funds intended for ransoming Catholic hostages.

The charges include embezzlement, corruption, extortion, money laundering, fraud, abuse of office and falsifying public documents.

For some years now, experts at Moneyval, the international agency dealing with money laundering, have complimented the Vatican on improvements in its laws and procedures, but they have wondered at the absence of prosecutions for financial crimes. In its most recent report, Moneyval warned the Vatican that it was still susceptible to money laundering and faced financial risks from “insiders.”

Many presumed that the Vatican preferred to cover up these crimes when they involved cardinals and other clerics. Vatican officials feared the scandal would hurt the church’s image and reduce giving. In addition, the accused were colleagues and friends.

In 2017, when two laymen were charged with diverting money from Bambino Gesu Hospital to finance the renovations of a cardinal’s apartment, the cardinal was not indicted. He was not even called to testify at the laymen’s trial. The occupant of the apartment was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, one of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s closest collaborators and a former secretary of state.

Nor did the Vatican have prosecutors or investigators competent to dig up the truth.

In March, a Vatican presentation to a British court was so poorly prepared that it was laughed out of court. The judge ruled that the Vatican request to seize the bank accounts of Gianluigi Torzi, the broker involved in its disastrous London real estate investment, was “appalling” and riddled with “non-disclosures and misrepresentations.”


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What has changed?

First, Pope Francis, two months ago, changed the rules so that cardinals can now be tried like anyone else in Vatican court with lay judges. Before that, only the pope could judge a cardinal. The pope has also mandated more financial transparency and the disclosure of conflicts of interest. For the first time in modern history, a cardinal and his secretary are being charged with financial crimes by the Vatican.

Nor is this just any cardinal; it is Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who had dreams of someday becoming pope. Prior to becoming a cardinal, he was sostituto (substitute) in the Vatican secretariat of state — technically a position just under the secretary of state, but in reality, the sostituto acts as chief of staff to the pope. It was as sostituto that Becciu orchestrated the Vatican’s disastrous $400 million investment in London real estate in 2014.

Second, the pope beefed up the Vatican legal team dealing with financial crimes. In 2019, he appointed Giuseppe Pignatone, a former Italian prosecutor known for his anti-mafia efforts, to head the Vatican tribunal. He has been working with investigators from other countries to dig up the truth. The indictments announced last week are a result of his investigations.

The other good news in the current round of indictments is that this investigation does not involve the Vatican bank, which has been tarnished by major financial scandals in the past. The Vatican bank was cleaned up thanks to Benedict’s insistence that it be subjected to review by Moneyval. This cost millions of dollars as forensic accountants combed through the bank’s accounts.

In fact, it was the bank that first sounded the alarm over the London real estate deal when the secretariat of state tried to get a loan to cover its losses. For the bank to say “no” to the secretary of state, who is on its board, was an extraordinary act of financial responsibility and shows that the banking reforms are working. It is other parts of the Vatican that need to be cleaned up.

The Vatican’s criminal tribunal on Thursday, Jan, 21, 2021 convicted the former head of the Vatican bank and his lawyer of embezzling some 57 million euros in proceeds from the sales of Holy See-owned real estate and sentenced them to nearly nine years in prison.

What is next?

A preliminary hearing will be held July 27, but don’t expect a quick trial. The Vatican, like Italy, is not known for speedy trials, especially with complex financial issues. Tons of paper will be submitted, and there will be long stretches between actual sessions of the court while judges review the documents.

The cardinal will undoubtedly say he is innocent and was tricked by the people with whom he was dealing. Those outside the Vatican who worked with the cardinal will argue that he knew and approved what they were doing, and if he did not understand the consequences, it’s his fault, not theirs.

Will the prosecution be able to prove its case? That remains to be seen. Although the appointment of Pignatone is encouraging, remember that the “appalling” submission rejected by the British court was prepared after his appointment. That is not encouraging.

In addition, the most surprising indictment is that of René Brülhart, the former president of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, who has an international reputation for integrity and competence. The evidence against him has to be overwhelming or his peers will conclude he was set up by enemies who opposed his efforts to investigate Vatican finances. This could undermine the credibility of the judicial process.

Finally, there are unanswered questions about the role of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state, in the scandal. It was his shop that made the investments and it was he who asked the Vatican bank for the loan. The Vatican says he had not been “effectively informed to be fully aware of the juridical effects that the different categories of actions would cause.” At a minimum, he should testify at the trial, lest it look as if those closest to Francis are immune from prosecution while their subordinates take the fall.

There are three lessons from this fiasco.

First, papal leadership is needed to get Vatican finances under control. Most popes want be pastors and therefore delegate finances to others. This does not work.

Second, the church must put in place financial controls like those in any well-run nonprofit or business. The Vatican does not have to invent something new; policies and procedures already exist that the church can use.

Third, cleaning up Vatican finances costs money, as the reform of the Vatican bank showed. The Vatican is heavily criticized when it spends millions on outside accountants and lawyers, but doing so is cheaper in the long run. The credibility of Vatican financial managers is already diminished because they are not paid as well as their equivalents in the secular world. Some employees see “side deals” as ways to make up for low salaries.

There is more work to do. Numerous financial entities in the Vatican, including the city state, Propaganda Fide (the mission fund) and APSA, the Vatican investment and finance office, need to be examined. Real estate holdings in Rome and around the world need to be regularized, as do scores of contracts and purchases.

The Vatican bank has shown how to ferret out abuse and avoid scandals. Since Vatican finances are currently in the red, some big Catholic donors must go to the pope with a detailed plan and the money to clean up Vatican finances. Once the outside auditors arrive, the pope must make clear that anyone who obstructs their work will be fired.

Vatican financial scandals have repeatedly tarnished the image of the church. It is time for the Vatican to get its act together. Ironically, that will mean more bad news in the future as crimes and incompetencies are uncovered. But these should not be seen as scandals but good news.”

“History is being made with the upcoming Vatican financial crimes trials. It’s painful that the ugly underbelly of Church finances is being exposed, but it has to happen. In truth, money is at the root of much of the evil suffered by the Catholic community in the last 30 or so years. Most especially, the child abuse scandal took on gigantic proportions because protecting Church assets was treated as more important than getting to the truth.

As of today, we have made parishes and seminaries safer places, to be sure, but we have not dealt with financial clericalism – the sick tendency to hide financial realities from the laity.

The clergy and the laity are still not partners in managing finances, and this is no longer acceptable. For the Church to accomplish her mission in the late-modern world, bishops and those in the pews must be collaborators at every level. Certainly, it is harder to run large institutions when the financial knowledge is a shared commodity, but building a collaborative Church is worth whatever difficulties might come from opening the books.

It is shocking that a cardinal has been charged with financial crimes. But it is not shocking for the right reasons. We have learned to expect the crimes. The shock is the prosecution.” -Cy Kellett, Catholic Answers Radio

The Catholic Church never met a $ it didn’t like!!! I rate parishes based on how many asks for money are in the Sunday bulletin.

Judas was stealing from the purse. “‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” -John 12:4-6.


-Venerable Aloysius Schwartz

“Christ Himself was marked by the sign of poverty. He was born under it, lived under it, died under it. The historical Christ chose to be poor and a concomitant fact is, his disciples have no choice but to follow.”
— Venerable Aloysius Schwartz
Quoted in the book Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz by Kevin Wells (Kevin Wells is a Catholic writer, speaker, and former sports reporter with the Tampa Tribune, where he covered major-league baseball. He is the author of the best-selling Catholic book The Priests We Need to Save the Church (Sophia, 2019) and Burst, A Story of God’s Grace When Life Falls Apart (Servant). His most recent best-selling book, Priest and Begger, tells the story of the heroic life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz, a priest from Washington DC who went on to serve the poor in South Korea. Within 15 years, Father Schwartz had changed the course of Korean history, founding and reforming orphanages, hospitals, hospices, clinics, schools, and the Sisters of Mary, a Korean religious order dedicated to the sickest of the sick and the poorest of the poor. All the while, he himself–like the Sisters–lived the same hard poverty as the people he served and loved.
Wells is currently the president of the Monsignor Thomas Wells Society for Vocations. He also serves a Director of Public Relations for World Villages of Children, which supports the works of Fr. Al Schwartz. His work with youths earned him the James Cardinal Hickey National Figure Award from the Archdiocese of Washington. He lives in Millersville, Md., with his wife and three children.)

Bitterly weeping,
Matthew

Diocese of La Crosse, WI

1/18/20

The Diocese of La Crosse released the names Saturday of more than two dozen clergy who have faced a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse.

The diocese said none of the accused are now in public ministry. Many are listed as deceased. The list comes from an independent review of clergy files dating to 1868 by the audit firm Defenbaugh & Associates Inc.

Established in 1868, the Diocese of La Crosse serves nearly 200,000 Catholics in 19 counties: Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, Richland, Trempealeau, Vernon and Wood.

Those identified are:

Bruce Ball

Raymond Bornbach

Albert Sonnberger

James Stauber

Patrick Umberger

Raymond J. Wagner

Two were identified as being from another order or diocese, but whose allegation occurred while service the Diocese of La Crosse:

Timothy Svea

Bogdan Werra

Five more were identified as non-diocesan clergy whose whose names appear on a list in another diocese or religious order. The Diocese of La Crosse has no specific information relating to the allegations.

Those clergy are:

Dennis Bouche

Daniel Budzynski

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/usccb/natureandscope/dioceses/lacrossewi.htm

“The statistics for the Diocese of La Crosse reveal that, out of 705 clergy who have served in the diocese between 1950 and 2002, there have been 10 individuals (including one who was not a priest of the diocese) with substantiated allegations against them. The result is that only 1.4 percent of the total clergy population in that time period had substantiated allegations.

Accused Clerics: 28 (of which allegations were substantiated against 10; of that 10, one was not a priest of the diocese)
Total Priests: 705 (of which 478 diocesan priests, 187 religious order priests, and 40 deacons)
Allegations: 58 (of which allegations against 3 were “withdrawn” or the priest was “exonerated”; 24 were unsubstantiated)

On January 6, 2004, the Diocese of La Crosse released its statistics regarding sexual abuse of minors by clergy.”

2/5/20

“The Diocese of La Crosse has released the names of seven more priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

These additions, made Wednesday, include two priests who held assignments in La Crosse and four who worked at a now defunct Jesuit boarding school in Prairie du Chien.

They are:

At least five of the priests have died, and the other two were long ago dismissed by the Society of Jesus. It is unclear whether Cannon (dismissed in 1997) and Haller (dismissed in 1982) are still alive, still working with children or still serving in religious roles.

Though they served within the boundaries of the La Crosse diocese, none of the seven priests were official diocesan clergy or directly overseen by the bishop.

Wednesday’s disclosure came less than three weeks after the diocese released the names of 20 priests who were credibly accused of child abuse while serving in the diocese.

The list included J. Thomas Finucan, who was president of Viterbo University in La Crosse from 1970 to 1980.”

God is merciful. God is just.

Love,
Matthew

“Woe to you scribes & pharisees…” -Mt 23

Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, attends the third day of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 23, 2019. Sister Openibo told the gathering that clerical sexual abuse “has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SUMMIT-OPEN-OPENIBO and SUMMIT-MARX Feb. 23, 2019.  Please click on the image for greater detail.
Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, attends the third day of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 23, 2019. Sister Openibo told the gathering that clerical sexual abuse “has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SUMMIT-OPEN-OPENIBO and SUMMIT-MARX Feb. 23, 2019.  Please click on the image for greater detail.
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, attend the third day of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 23, 2019. Sister Openibo told the gathering that clerical sexual abuse “has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SUMMIT-OPEN-OPENIBO and SUMMIT-MARX Feb. 23, 2019. Please click on the image for greater detail.

Church credibility ruined by silent hypocrisy, sister tells summit

-by Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

2.23.2019 6:25 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The hypocrisy of Catholic leaders who claimed to be guardians of morality yet remained silent about clerical sexual abuse has left the church’s credibility in shambles, an African woman religious told bishops at the Vatican summit on abuse.

“Yes, we proclaim the Ten Commandments and ‘parade ourselves’ as being the custodians of moral standards-values and good behavior in society. Hypocrites at times? Yes! Why did we keep silent for so long?” asked Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

Addressing Pope Francis and nearly 190 representatives of the world’s bishops’ conferences and religious orders Feb. 23, Sister Openibo insisted the church needed to be transparent and open in facing the abuse crisis.

In a poignant yet powerful speech, the Nigerian sister reminded the bishops of the church’s universal mission to be a light for the world and a “manifestation of the Christ we know as both human and divine.”

However, she said, the “widespread and systemic” sexual abuse of children by clergy and the subsequent cover-up have “seriously clouded the grace of the Christ-mission.”

Clerical sex abuse, she said, “is a crisis that has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should be the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ. The fact that many accuse the Catholic Church today of negligence is disturbing.”

She also called out bishops, particularly in Asia and her native Africa, who dismiss the abuse crisis as a Western problem, citing several personal experiences she confronted while counseling men and women who were abused.

“The fact that there are huge issues of poverty, illness, war and violence in some countries in the global South does not mean that the area of sexual abuse should be downplayed or ignored. The church has to be pro-active in facing it,” she said.

Church leaders cannot think they can “keep silent until the storm has passed,” Sister Openibo told them. “This storm will not pass by.”

Outlining steps the Catholic Church can take to move toward true transparency and healing, she suggested beginning with the admission of wrongdoing and publishing “what has been done since the time of Pope John Paul II.”

“It may not be sufficient in the eyes of many, but it will show that the church had not been totally silent,” she said.

Along with clear and comprehensive safeguarding policies in every diocese and devoting resources to help survivors heal from their suffering, Sister Openibo said the church also must give seminarians and male and female novices a “clear and balanced education and training” about sexuality and boundaries.

“It worries me when I see in Rome, and elsewhere, the youngest seminarians being treated as though they are more special than everyone else, thus encouraging them to assume — from the beginning of their training — exalted ideas about their status,” she said.

Religious women also are susceptible to a way of thinking that leads to “a false sense of superiority over their lay sisters and brothers,” she added.

“What damage has that thinking done to the mission of the church? Have we forgotten the reminder by Vatican II in ‘Gaudium et Spes’ of the universal call to holiness?” she asked.

Looking toward Pope Francis seated on the dais near here, Sister Openibo spoke directly about his initial denial and subsequent about-face regarding the abuse crisis in Chile and accusations of cover-up made against bishops.

“I admire you, Brother Francis, for taking time as a true Jesuit, to discern and be humble enough to change your mind, to apologize and take action — an example for all of us,” she told the pope.

Transparency, she said, also will mean treating equally all clerics who abuse children and not shying away from acknowledging the names of abusers, even if they are high-ranking churchmen or already have died.

“The excuse that respect be given to some priests by virtue of their advanced years and hierarchical position is unacceptable,” she said.

Of course, “we can feel sad” for clerics whose offenses are being brought out into the open, Sister Openibo said, “but my heart bleeds for many of the victims who have lived with the misplaced shame and guilt of repeated violations for years.”

By protecting children, seeking justice for survivors and taking the necessary steps toward zero tolerance of sexual abuse, she said, the Catholic Church can fulfill its mission to preach the good news, announce deliverance to the captives and “proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.”

“This is our year of favor,” she said. “Let us courageously take up the responsibility to be truly transparent and accountable.””

Lord, have mercy,
Matthew

Mar 1 2017: Marie Collins, lone childhood clerical sexual abuse survivor on Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, resigns in frustration.

I heard Marie Collins speak and met her August 2 2014 at the SNAP Conference in Chicago, after her address. While I can never possibly claim to understand Marie’s level of frustration, if you want to be as happy and carefree, unscarred and unscathed a Catholic as possible, next best thing to totally disengaged, although I DO NOT believe that is a feasible, reasonable, or actual goal of being a Christian, look how the boss wound up, AND HE IS GOD!!!, NOT SO YOU & I, go to Mass, pay your tithes, shut up!, say your prayers, and NEVER DO ANYTHING ELSE!!!!!!!! You have been warned.

https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/lone-survivor-vatican-abuse-commission-resigns-frustration

https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/exclusive-survivor-explains-decision-leave-vaticans-abuse-commission

https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/cardinal-muller-responds-collins-and-defends-not-responding-survivors-letters

https://cruxnow.com/commentary/2017/03/05/problem-anti-abuse-panel-isnt-survivors-roman-curia/

https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/exclusive-marie-collins-responds-cardinal-mullers-allegations-about-abuse

Love, Lord have mercy!!!!,
Matthew

Clericalism – Fr. Richard G. Rento, STL

“We know that clericalism, a caste society, exists in the church when we recall how priests have been regarded as a class apart, a privileged minority, more than merely human, idols of a sort. The current sexual scandals certainly help to restore reality in that regard.

We see clericalism in our memory of the church into the 1960s that allowed its people to say not a single word in the entire Mass until it was over, when the three Hail Marys were recited!

Clericalism rules when intelligent men and women ask their priest, “Father, is it a sin for me to miss Mass because I will be traveling to Asia on the weekend?”

We are a clerical church as long as we have no say in the selection of our leaders.

We are all called to be yeast and salt and light in the real world of human beings; that is how we become the church of Jesus. Each of us—with no exceptions—is gifted in many wonderful, unrepeatable ways. Our task, our joy and fulfillment, is to share as generously as we can.”

We need an examination of our corporate, sorry not sorry for the loaded word, but its the correct word, in too many ways, tragically, of what elements of our corporate culture have led to Judas Iscariot tragedies betraying our brothers and sisters, the most vulnerable, and the Lord, our Master, throughout our history. We seem eager and at ease, confident, even, to identify, notice, categorize, dissect, and analyze, in excruciating detail the faults of “other”, but not ourselves? How very tragic. How very human, and sinful. Lord, have mercy.

Love, always praying for myself and our heroic ordained that we might always more faithfully imitate our Master, 1 Cor 9:27, pray for me, and may we join Him, together, in His Kingdom. His will be done.
Matthew

Holy Year of Mercy: Muddy shoes – Hos 6:6/Mt 9:13

Muddy-shoes

donaldcozzens

-by Rev Donald Cozzens

“Finally, there appears an issue that our divided church can agree on. Catholics of all stripes—conservatives and liberals and in-betweens—are declaring a pox on clericalism. From Pope Francis to the back pew widow, from seminary rectors to lay ecclesial ministers, it’s agreed that clericalism is crippling the pastoral mission of the church. At the same time it is strengthening the secularists’ claim that Catholic clergy are nothing more than papal agents bent on enforcing rigid moral controls which smother our human instinct for pleasure and freedom. So let’s end clericalism in the church.

Yes, of course, let’s end clericalism. It’s just plain right to heed the growing consensus that clericalism must go. But something tells me, “not so fast.” This cancer crippling the Catholic world—from local communities to Vatican offices—is so deeply embedded in our past and present church fabric that a careful pre-surgery examination is called for. So, pull on your surgical gloves and join me in the pre-op room.

We know clericalism when we encounter it, whether on the parish level or in the media’s caricaturist portrayal of priests and bishops. But although we know clericalism when we see it, it’s not so easy to define it.

Here’s how I see it: Clericalism is an attitude found in many (but not all) clergy who have put their status as priests and bishops above their status as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ. In doing so, a sense of privilege and entitlement emerges in their individual and collective psyches. This, in turn, breeds a corps of ecclesiastical elites who think they’re not like other men.

Clergy caught up in this kind of purple-hewed seduction are incapable of seeing that it freezes their humanity—their ability to simply connect on a human level with the various sorts of God’s holy people. Of all the sour fruits of clericalism, this inability to connect with others might be the most damaging. When the ordained come across as somehow superior to their parishioners and people they encounter, the playing field is tilted. This kind of disconnect can be fatal to a priest’s efforts to build a sense of community in his parish.

It’s often difficult for parishioners to feel comfortable with a clerical priest. They simple don’t find “Father” approachable. The same can be said of bishops who are all too comfortable thinking of themselves as princes by divine selection. They connect neither with their priests nor with the people they’re meant to shepherd. And you won’t find the smell of the sheep on them.

Often that’s exactly what clergy caught up in clericalism want: They believe a certain distance from the non-ordained is fitting and right. Of course, priests need not be chummy with their parishioners, and the pastor-parishioner relationship requires maturity and prudence on the part of the ordained. Most pastors are all too aware of the smothering demands of some of their flock. Without question, they need to safeguard their privacy and find time when they are, so to speak, “off the clock.” But clericalism by its nature exaggerates this need. Without fail, it breeds artificiality and superficiality between pastors and parishioners. Though often unnamed, something real is missing.

Clerical priests and bishops (and yes, clerical deacons) come to see their power to confer sacraments, to preach, and to teach and administer as the bedrock of their identity. When this happens, they lose sight of the truth that the church’s power is ultimately the power of the Holy Spirit. Without words, they seem to say “We are clergy… and you’re not.”

Years ago, when I served as my diocese’s vicar for priests, I spoke with a highly placed lay diocesan official who related his fear that he was being co-opted by the system—that he was becoming “clerical.” I told him not to worry. The very fact that he sensed the danger was his deliverance. We agreed that a number of his lay colleagues apparently didn’t see the danger. These lay chancery workers thought of themselves as insiders. And in a real sense they were. And like many of their ordained colleagues, their first loyalty was now to the church as institution rather than to the Gospel and to the faithful they served. So the cancer of clericalism, in its broadest sense, is not restricted to deacons, priests, and bishops.

Clerical culture, it should be clear, is the breeding ground for the disease of clericalism. The two, however, are distinct. We must understand this before any attempts to surgically excise the cancer of clericalism. Most professionals, skilled workers, and artisans develop a culture, a pattern of behavior and language and image that shape the identity of those who belong. Such cultures can foster a healthy esprit de corp. So clerical culture itself isn’t the culprit here. Priests regularly speak of the “brotherhood of the ordained.” They share a similar seminary training. They understand the joys and sorrows of parish ministry, the freedom and loneliness of celibacy, and the frightening responsibility of preaching God’s word. But a healthy clerical culture fosters a spirit of humility and gratitude in the hearts of deacons, priests, and bishops. It leads a priest to say to himself, “By the grace of God I’m a priest. But I’m first a baptized disciple in need of ministry myself, in need of mercy and the fellowship of lay men and women.” However, a clerical culture that exaggerates the role and scope of the ordained minister in the life of the church becomes fertile soil for the cancer of clericalism.

So, what can we do to end clericalism? The following steps should excise the disease, or at least put clericalism into remission:

  1. Bishops, priests, and deacons are called by the gospel—and by Pope Francis—to see discipleship and service as foundational to ordained ministry. Baptism confers all the dignity they (we) need. Many clergy get this. Many still do not. So let our seminaries teach candidates for the priesthood that baptismal discipleship rooted in prayer is the foundation of priestly ministry.
  2. Some clergy insist on being addressed with their title, Father or Monsignor. And some prelates insist on their courtly honorifics, Excellency or Eminence. Titles have their place, but we shouldn’t insist on them. We might smile at a lay person who insists on being called Mister, Doctor, Professor or Judge. Calling a physician Doctor is appropriate in the consulting room or hospital, and addressing a pastor as Father is likewise appropriate in parish settings. But most people wince when an individual insists on always being addressed by his or her title.
  3. Mandated celibacy needs to be revisited. It’s true that we find clericalism in the married clergy of Eastern rite Catholic and Orthodox churches. But the inherent burdens of celibacy lead some clergy to a sense of entitlement and privilege, hallmarks of clericalism.

But, some will argue, isn’t the critique of clericalism an attack on the priesthood? The logic behind this question goes something like this: It’s difficult to exaggerate the dignity and spiritual power of the priesthood. Think of how many, if not most, of the laity perceive the priest primarily in terms of offering Mass and forgiving sins. So great a vocation, it’s concluded, requires that a priest be someone “set apart.” And with being set apart comes responsibility and privilege. In other words, this line of thinking accepts as natural a certain clericalism in Catholic priests because they belong to a kind of noble spiritual class. And while nobility has its obligations, it also has its perks.

But Pope Francis has answered this way of thinking by saying the priest is not so much a man set apart as a servant-pastor placed in the center of the community. The pope believes a priest and bishop should have a missionary heart, the antithesis of a clerical heart. In “The Joy of the Gospel,” Francis writes that “a missionary heart never closes itself off, never retreats into its own security, never opts for rigidity and defensiveness. It realizes that it has to grow in its own understanding of the gospel and in discerning the paths of the Spirit, and so it always does what good it can, even if in the process, its shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.”

So, yes, let’s end clericalism and follow the example of our non-clerical pope. He keeps reminding his bishops, priests, and deacons that they are trail guides for a pilgrim people. They are ministers of mercy—with muddy shoes.”

Love & in need of His mercy, always,
Matthew

Woe to you scribes and you Pharisees!!! -Mt 23

bishopsashpectoralcross

The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility.” -St. Vincent de Paul

We must feel pity for the ordained.  Their burden of justification is higher and greater.  (CCC 1987-2029)  They have had the authority.  Thus, the greater need for humility.  God, Whom, I understand, the ordained work for, or even seek to imitate, was brutalized, tortured, and executed, shamefully.  Aspire to impress the Boss?

I must say, even before I entered novitiate, friends of my parents and neighbors began sending me money and treating me differently.  I did not like this.  It was uncomfortable and felt strange.  I have not changed my opinion one iota since, thirty years hence, quite the contrary.

As a recovering egomaniac, this I knew even then, is not healthy for me or anyone.  It is bad.  It is evil.  It feeds a deadly sin:  pride.  The sexual abuse scandal, and others not so widely publicized, there are many/plenty, priests are human, they do EVERYTHING all other men do, and some do lead, God bless them, marginally holier lives, moment by moment, as do laity, and some of us, the exception, become saints; but, the sexual abuse scandal, was and is a sin of pride and of culture – a true, profound disconnect, denial, dysfunction of EVERY kind, stunning, absolutely-ly mind-numbing, faith-destroying/shattering, despicable, detestable, damnable treason against Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Until we change the culture of the hierarchy of the Church, the hierarchy will always face this grave temptation, and sin, and be a scandal, again, a danger?, to the Body of Christ.  Saints struggled, feared, cowered, resisted, denied, equivocated, and were tempted, just like the rest of us.  Just like.  However, I believe in His Grace and the awesome power thereof, too; my ONLY hope!  My ONLY trust!!!!!  My ONLY need!!!!!

Robert-McClory

-by Robert McClory, National Catholic Register, 4/4/13

“I’m beginning to think the many amazing choices Pope Francis has been making in these early days of his pontificate will have an important, long-lasting effect on the church of the 21st century. He is preaching almost daily a powerful, silent sermon denouncing the scourge of clericalism that is at the root of most of the problems bedeviling Catholicism.

It’s the simple way he lives; his decision to move into the visitors’ quarters and eat his meals with them; his lack of interest in pomp and pageantry; his decision to wash the feet of prison inmates (including women) on Holy Thursday; his insistent concern for the poor and the state of planet Earth.

He hasn’t yet addressed any of the hot button items, including birth control, the aspirations of women, the collegiality of bishops or the Vatican’s failure to address the priest abuse scandal in a meaningful way. And I suspect he will not, at least for some time.

Instead, he may be building by example a case against the arrogance and self-satisfaction that provides the foundation for a multi-tiered, class-conscious society of those who make the decisions and those who don’t, those who have given up earthly rewards in favor of honorific titles, fancy liturgical attire and, above all, power.

Francis seems to be harkening back to an earlier age of the church when the equality of believers was at center stage and a feudal structure of society had not yet become the norm for both state and church.

For many generations earnest, young male seminarians have been taught that they are aspiring to a higher level not available to the laity, a level at which they will have the authority to teach, sanctify and govern those below. They will carry with them sacred powers that will accompany them even into eternity. For such privileges they promise to become eunuchs for the kingdom, and they pledge to defer their own judgments without reservation to the authoritative pronouncements of those on still higher levels, be it pastor, bishop or pope.

In effect, they become members of a kind of boys club that is warm, supportive and exclusive — and never breaks ranks. For what they give up, they can expect a relatively high standard of living and the respect, even adulation (at least until the abuse scandal hit), of their grateful congregations.

Of course, priests have always been urged to develop an active spiritual life, to nourish virtues like humility and self-sacrifice. And a great number of the clergy do manage to live holy, creative lives and inspire their people with their integrity. Their membership in the boys club is loose.

But not everyone succeeds. Clericalism is contagious, breeding a kind of mentality that revels in ecclesiastical ambition, status and power. For some, especially those attracted to the episcopacy, it often leads to indifference toward the experiences and needs of ordinary Catholics. It encourages the creation (or repetition) of teachings and regulations worked out in ivory-tower isolation from the real world.

And now comes Francis.

It will not take him long to recognize the extent of clericalism rampant in the Curia and to realize how it corrupts the church and strangles the Holy Spirit. Even before he arrived for the election, he was undoubtedly aware of clericalism and its effects in other countries. I want to believe he is laying down a kind of platform to reconnect the church of this era to the Spirit that inspired the early Christians and authentic leaders, like Francis of Assisi, to both proclaim the gospel and live it.

When that happens on a wide scale, the hot buttons will surely be addressed but in a different way. No longer will they be so front and center. The church, possibly the larger Catholic church, could be involved in finding solutions to these nagging, peripheral issues, which deafen us from hearing the radical gospel message.”

Love,
Matthew

Bullies in the pulpit

bully bishops

Was Jesus a bully?  Was the Lord overbearing?  Aggressive?  Manipulative?  Belittling?  Power focused?  Demeaning?  Dismissive?  We MUST PRAY for the salvation of our ordained, as we PRAY for our OWN!!!  I do, always.  Always.  Pray for me, please!  Please!!!!

Jn 9:41  It is from profound weakness bullies act out, the effect of sin.  Allowing abusers to abuse is NEVER love, NEVER holiness, and should ALWAYS be avoided!  The strength and power and righteousness of God allow us to say NO to abuse!

We must pray for, and love, but NEVER enable.  It’s not love anyway.  It’s pathology, emotional disease, sickness, sin.  The Lord is the Lord of LIFE & HEALTHY relationships!!!!  The only kind to which we should spend our time subscribing, when free to choose.  Free will is God’s gift commensurate with LIFE.  There is no love without free will.  It is antithetical to LOVE’s very definition.

True Love is the most powerful force, ever.  🙂  Praise Him!!!!  Praise Him, Church!!!!  Praise Him!!!!   He LIVES!!!!!!

from:  http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/lessons-learned-clerical-bullying

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-by Isabella R. Moyer

“Pope Francis has asked us to be the reform we want to see…But, what if we are the unlucky ones stuck with a mediocre or dysfunctional parish or pastor? Pope Francis is challenging mediocrity and clericalism from the top. How do we do challenge the same on the local level?

John Allen writes that we cannot expect rapid change and reform to come from the ranks of bishops. It will take many years for a new breed of men to take over the episcopal reins of the church. This is true.

Change needs to come from the bottom as well as from the top. Recent fresh breezes of hope are providing a graced time for laity in our church and a serious challenge for us all. God may have given us a modern-day Francis to rebuild the church, but it is up to us to put his inspiration to work. We finally have a pope who is adamant about pulling down the pedestals of clericalism. I, for one, will be happy to help!

How do we do this? I don’t have a magic answer. I wish I did. All I have is my personal experience and the lessons I learned from it.

Many years ago, my parish lived through the dark ages of an authoritarian priest. He happened to be the sidekick to an even more authoritarian bishop. It was a sadly dysfunctional time in the diocese as a whole. Heads were rolling. Priests and laity were being dismissed without explanation. Lines were being drawn in the sand. Folks sucked it up, grumbled and stayed, or they spoke out and quickly found themselves on the other side of the church door. I was in the latter group.

I learned several lessons about church politics from this experience. My priest friends, who were skittishly looking over their own shoulders at the time, were not willing to stand up for me. They offered a shoulder to cry on and affirmed the injustice that had been done, but that was the extent of their help. I was left alone. But when two of their own were unceremoniously removed from the diocese, we lay folks were expected to raise our voices in loud protest and support.

When power and authority are abused, they must not be supported. For my husband and me, this meant withdrawing our time, talent and treasure, and we had given generously in all. Eventually, it meant walking out the door.

This was our response to an abusive form of clericalism in our parish. I wish I could say our action changed things. It didn’t. I also learned that each parish has a small flock of obedient sheep that will continue to do the pastor’s bidding regardless of the extent of his nastiness. They will commiserate and grumble loudly about the injustices being committed, but never directly to the priest. Their silent acquiescence is interpreted as support. They remain faithful minions to the clerical bully, and the bullying goes on.

Yes, we need to go beyond talking of reform at the vision level. We need to talk practicalities. We need to share our own experiences and share the lessons learned. I learned that clericalism can only survive if supported and enabled by those in the pews. To this day, I’m saddened by how much support and enabling actually takes place. I’m also saddened by how little support is given to those who have suffered at the hands of dysfunctional clericalism.

HE LIVES!!!!!

Love,
Matthew

Lead Us Not Into Clericalism – Daniel P. Horan, OFM

http://americamagazine.org/issue/lead-us-not-clericalism

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“Next month I turn 30. While that might seem like an old age to me as I approach the milestone, most people are quick to remind me of how young a friar and priest I still am. That statement of fact is often, but not always, accompanied by some well-meaning remark by a parishioner after Mass or an audience member after a talk suggesting that I’m not like other “young priests” they know.

What generally follows that sort of comment is an expression of concern about the perceived unapproachable or pretentious character of so many of the newly ordained. They appear to be more concerned about titles, clerical attire, fancy vestments, distance between themselves and their parishioners, and they focus more on what makes them distinctive than on their vocation to wash the feet of others (Jn 13:14–17), to lead with humility and to show the compassionate face of God to all.

What concerns people, in other words, is clericalism.

What I hear in these moments is not so much a compliment or praise for me as the worry people have for the future of ministry. As St. Francis cautioned his brothers, I realize that anything good that comes from my encounters in ministry is God’s work, and the only things I can truly take “credit” for are my weaknesses and sinfulness (Admonition V). And, trust me, there are plenty of both in my own life. At the heart of this encounter is the intuitive recognition that we are all sinners, yet we all have equal dignity as the baptized, and that those ordained to the ministerial priesthood should serve their sisters and brothers on our journey of faith.

While I know many good and humble religious and diocesan priests, I’ve encountered far too many clergy who, for whatever reason, feel they are above, better or more special than others. Pope Francis also recognizes this and spoke critically about it in the impromptu interview he gave during his return trip from World Youth Day.

Catholic News Service reported the pope’s words: “I think this is a time for mercy,” particularly a time when the church must go out of its way to be merciful, given the “not-so-beautiful witness of some priests” and “the problem of clericalism, for example, which have left so many wounds, so many wounded. The church, which is mother, must go and heal those wounds.”

Pope Francis names this the culture of clericalism, which maims and distorts the body of Christ, wounding those who seek God’s mercy but instead encounter human self-centeredness.

In an interview published in America (9/30), Pope Francis suggested ministers could help heal these wounds with mercy. He said: “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”

St. Francis of Assisi is often remembered for having had a special reverence for priests, a characteristic that appears frequently in his writings. But he also had a particular vision for how the brothers in his community, ordained or not, would live in the world. His instruction seems as timely as ever in light of the persistence of clericalism.

In his Earlier Rule St. Francis says, “Let no one be called ‘prior,’ but let everyone in general be called a lesser brother.” He also wrote in Admonition XIX:

Blessed is the servant who does not consider himself any better when he is praised and exalted by people than when he is considered worthless, simple, and looked down upon, for what a person is before God, that he is and no more. Woe to that religious who has been placed in a high position by others and [who] does not want to come down by his own will. Blessed is that servant who is not placed in a high position by his own will and always desired to be under the feet of others.

All members of the clergy, not just Franciscans, should be challenged by these words.

Eight months into Pope Francis’ pontificate, I sense that he is challenging the whole church, but especially its ordained members, to a similar way of living. His call for humbler and more generous priests is a call to work against a culture of clericalism. It is a call for priests and bishops, young and old, to remember that their baptism is what matters most.”

Lord, You have called me to priestly ministry
in a particular moment of history,
as in the times of the first Apostles,
when You desire that all Christians,
and in a particular way Your priests,
might be witnesses to the wonders of God
and the strength of Your Spirit.

Allow me to be a witness to the dignity of human life,
to the grandeur of love,
and to the power of the ministry which I have received.
May my entire life be dedicated to You:
for love, only for love, and for a higher love.

May my commitment to celibacy
born of Your mission,
be a joyful and happy affirmation
and a total dedication of myself to others
in the service of Your Church.
Give me strength in my weakness,
and gratitude for my steadfastness.

Holy Mother Mary,
greatest and most wonderful mother of all time,
grant that I may entrust my life to you each day.
Mary, font of generosity and dedication,
grant that I may be joined with you
at the foot of the greatest crosses of the world,
experiencing the redeeming pain of the death of your Son,
so that I might enjoy the triumph of the Resurrection
for eternal life. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP