Archive for the ‘Year for Priests’ category

Prayer, fellowship and teaching in Scranton

April 26, 2010

Starting this Wednesday, April 28th, The St Thomas More Society in Scranton will present a 4-week adult education series on “The Priesthood” taught by Fr Eric Bergman.  The details are in this pdf:

Adult Ed with St Thomas More Society

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Pondering the Priesthood today

April 1, 2010

I came across the article below on the blog of Fr. Dwight Longenecker, called “Standing On My Head.”  Please pray for the Priesthood today — Holy Thursday in the “Year for Priests.”  My thanks for all the support that so many of you have given to me over the years.  I hope you are all able to participate in the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening.  These days of the TRIDUUM are a sacred time for us all.  Try to bring your whole family to these special days.  Below are some of Fr. Longnecker’s thoughts.  His blog is well worth reading.

The Myth of Pedophile Priests

As more pedophile priest scandals blow up across Europe we should be ashamed of the offenders and those who sheltered them and oppressed the victims. The guilty should be weeded out, removed from office and handed over to the civil authorities where they are guilty of crimes. Systems to avoid abuse must be established and rigorously maintained, and victims should be justly compensated for their suffering.

However, Penn State professor Philip Jenkins (who is not a Catholic) has written the most objective book on the subject, and he summarizes his arguments in this excellent article. In light of his work, we should remember some basic facts and principles:

  • Priestly celibacy is not the issue – married men are more likely to abuse children than unmarried
  • Most child abuse takes place within the home.
  • All religious groups have pedophile scandals, and the Catholics (while the largest religious group) are at the bottom of the list statistically.
  • Child abuse is prevalent in all areas of society: schools, youth organizations, sports, etc.
  • Statistically, of all the professions, Christian clergy are least likely to offend. Doctors, Farmers and Teachers are the professions most likely to abuse children–not clergy.
  • Among clergy offenders Catholic priests are least likely to offend.
  • Catholic cases of pedophilia make more headlines because of anti Catholic prejudice and because the Catholic Church is bigger and more lucractive to sue.
  • Pedophilia and Euphebophilia are different problems. The former is sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. The latter is attraction to teenagers. Most cases branded ‘pedophila’ are actually ‘euphebophila.’
  • Most of the cases of euphebophilia are homosexual in nature, however the politically correct do not want this problem to be associated with homosexuality.
  • The number of Catholic priests guilty of pedophilia is very small.
  • What we now call ‘cover up’ was often done in a different cultural context, when the problem was not fully understood and when all establishment organizations hushed scandals. They did so for what seemed good reasons at the time: protection of the victims and their families, opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender, the avoidance of scandal to others. It is unfair to judge events thirty years ago by today’s standards.
  • When lawsuits are looming people smell money. We must be wary of false accusations.
  • The accused must be entitled to a fair hearing. The church should insist on hard proof of the abuse, and for the sake of justice, ensure that the innocent are not prosecuted.
  • When guilt is established the offender must be punished, not sheltered.
  • Distinctions must be made between types of abuse. Some offenses are worse than others. Verbal abuse or corporal punishment during a time when that was acceptable, while lamentable, is not the same as sexual abuse or extreme physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse of an adult, or a sexually experienced older teenager is wrong, and damaging, and should be punished, but it is not the same as the sexual abuse of a younger, innocent child.
  • Number of offenses must be considered. One lapse is not of the same seriousness as repeated, persistent and premeditated offenses. 

I am in no way wishing to be soft of pedophiles and those who covered for them, however justice and truth demand an objective analysis of the facts.

Accidents happen.

March 24, 2010

From “Fishers of Men”

“…a priest forever…”

November 6, 2009

Year-for-Priests congratulations to Fr Leo McKernan, Chaplain of the Guardian of the Redeemer Catholic Men’s Fellowship, who yesterday (Nov 5th) celebrated the 26th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.  Fr Leo was ordained by the then Bishop of Scranton, John O’Connor, who was subsequently tapped to run the Archdiocese of New York.  Fr Leo is shown below at today’s weekly 6:30 a.m. meeting of the Service Team of the Guardian of the Redeemer CMF at St Leo’s Rectory in Ashley, where Fr Leo resides with Fr Thomas O’Malley, the pastor of St Leo’s/Holy Rosary.  Shown from the left:  Lou, Glenn, Fr Leo, Bob, & Christian (I took the pic).

SvcTm 06-Nov 09

Superheroes.

October 20, 2009

Well as Stan Lee says, ” Greetings, True Believers!”  I’ve just returned from my Florida Vacation, and though I’ve come down with some kind of virus (not the H1N1), I was all revved up to start a series of new posts.

And then, last night I read about Fr. Bob Timchak.

As so many of you were, I was simply thunderstruck.  It is now 3:15 AM and whether it was the fever or the news;I was having nightmares about it and I honestly can’t sleep.  I ask your indulgence as I set some of my thoughts down in an attempt to work out my feelings, I apologise for any disjointedness or rambling — it’s late.

I had followed his saga with a lot of interest a few years ago and was really rooting for him to come back.  I even sent him an encouraging letter.  Even though I didn’t know him personally, I had a few encounters with him over the years (even attempted to send my daughter to his Transfiguration when it was still his parish), and of course like so many, had read his columns fairly regularly.  Through the medium of his newspaper column he is the only Catholic Priest a lot of people have ever heard, and takes on the role of an emissary for the church.

I would be an outright liar if I said this didn’t hit me pretty hard.  It really took the wind out of my sails and robbed me of all the enthusiasm I had been feeling for the faith.  At first, I thought I wasn’t going to post on the subject, figuring that so many blogs, and newspapers would talk the story to death.  I would ignore the story.   Then I read some of them.  Though not unexpected, the comments in the online newspaper accounts really brought me down.  A somewhat popular local traditional Catholic Blogger is simply spitting venom.  Where is our charity?  Where is mine?  Don’t misunderstand me, Fr. Bob needs to face justice.  I think that I might be able to find it within me to ‘love the sinner, and hate the sin’ — but it simply isn’t there yet.

So it seems Fr. Timchak has a form of an addiction that a lot of men have: Porn.  Granted, he seems to allegedly be addicted to a form of it that is horrifying to most men who have porn problems. But nevertheless, it boils down to porn.  A few weeks back I posted on a great Catholic site designed to help men fight porn addictions, called Who does it Hurt? For so many people, the anonymity of the computer leads them to ask that very question about their own porn addiction.  Here is a classic example of how the subterfuge we put into play to hide our addictions and sins simply pulls apart our spouses, families, friends, and even churches.  Although I am truly trying to find it in my heart to pray for Fr. Bob’s soul, I am really upset over the damage this causes to the souls of the rest of the community.  Fury, resentment, depression, grudges, taking pleasure in the justice coming– I don’t think these are fruits of the Spirit.

My father walked away from the church in 2002 during the height of the last sex scandal.  I had always seen him to be an example, a rock of faith and a real soldier for Christ.  He was (and is, though in different ways now) a superhero to me.  His fury and anger somehow took root and lent a logical justification to him for the shoddy arguments he now poses against the faith.  I pray and hope that someday he will see the Church more clearly, but until then it hurts me a lot.  Just as it hurts me a lot to see all of these other Christians giving reign to their emotions and letting it change their perspectives on faith.  Just as I have let it change my own perspective and really makes me want to crawl under a rock and not be proud of the fact that I am Catholic — and share that joy with others.  It has robbed me of the joy, and set a fear in my heart.

Fr. Bob’s sin was undoubtedly committed with the idea that the privacy and anonymity the situation afforded allowed it to only hurt himself.  How many of us have sinned with the same justification, only to find that like a pebble dropped in a pond, the ripples travel out to the edges, touching everything.  Whether it is porn, lying, theft, abortion, whatever — each sin damages everyone we touch and those who learn of our sins.  I may not be the victim of Fr. Bob’s sin, but the scandal of seeing a person whose very life is meant to be upheld as an inspiration, has caused me to sin in turn.  I am now guilty of a lack of charity in my thoughts, a certain amount of despair,  seeking pleasure through the justice coming to others, and unbridled anger with some of my fellow Christians for their own visceral responses.

I highly reccommend those of you struggling with the news today to read this article on Catholic.com about scandal in the church.  I think it strikes just the right tone.

Somewhere on the internet, I read about how Satan hates priests with such a mighty fury that he throws his strongest assaults against them.  They are, after all, only men with the same sinful nature as the rest of us, and if he could just pick off one of them, Oh the damage it would do…  We somehow think that Holy Orders creates Saints, and infuses them with an ability to be superhuman.  Is it any wonder a priest falls?  We live in an age where they have fewer of each other for company, support, and cameraderie; a society where it is a wonder if even the best of us can truly live out our Christianity, a media which is intent on desensitizing ALL of us to the basest impulses, a culture which is rapidly destroying the very basic supports we rely on in times of personal trouble.  The enemy attacks our foundations with the most subtle of arguments.   Religion as a concept is openly questioned as though scientific principles could reveal it.  The Church as a force for good is questioned by joining vice to virtue in wondering why so many evils have been done by men and women of the Church ? Sex as a covenantal sign of marriage is torn apart by calling it merely a sign of love.  Marriage is undermined as really only just ‘a union born of love.’ Children are seen as glorified puppies, fulfilling the needs of the parents  — If I ‘want’ a child I will go so far as to create one from a test tube and a stranger.  If ‘I’m not ready for one’ I’ll kill it; it’s just a collection of cells.  The idea of the self is undermined by the constant message of the culture,’ I can be whoever I want to be, I can have whatever I want to have — I am my own’.  “Who does it hurt,” we ask.  I’ll bet you could take the seven deadly sins and find ways how the culture is desentisizing and glorifying all of them.

To my priest friends and readers — I apologize if writing about this causes you further pain.  I apologize for sometimes thinking you to be superhuman, and taking greater umbrage when you have injured my feelings in ways small or large.  Although you are not superhuman, you have willingly volunteered for what seems to be a superhuman job in this culture today.  And to me, that makes you superheroes.  But when your hero’s fall , super or otherwise, it behooves us all to remember that we are all but men, and there is only one Hero we can truly lean on without fear.  I will pray for all of you my brothers, will you pray for me?

I believe Lord, help my unbelief.

Miscellany

October 16, 2009

I had never heard of Diwali, but the POTUS was all over it

Catholic singer/songwriter Annie Karto has a supercool way for you to honor priests in this Year for Priests

Did a Eucharistic miracle take place just a year ago in Poland?…

Beauty and the Priest

September 25, 2009

See Phoenix Bishop Olmsted’s recent column.
Go here to see the first three articles in his series for the Year for Priests.