Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wisconsin Bishops Issue Immigration Letter

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki and his fellow Wisconsin bishops issued a pastoral letter on immigration December 12th, "Traveling Together in Hope."  December 12 is of course the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron of the Americas.  The central message of the document is a verse from Matthew 25: "Welcome the stranger."

The letter does not call for amnesty, but asserts that the number of visas for immigrants needs to be increased and a path for citizenship created for many of our neighbors to the south.  The documents even mentions the possibility of restitution, but does not name any particular circumstances.

The reasons listed for illegal immigration include the insatiable desire on the part of Americans for cheap goods and services as well as the domestic and foreign policies of the United States of America.  I would assume that the latter includes free trade agreements and subsidies to American corporations that create an inequality of competition in many parts of South America.

This is a fantastic document that also appropriate for this time of year because according to the Gospel of Matthew, the Holy Family emigrated to Egypt in search of a better life.  Thank God the Egyptians did not deport them.

Have a great Advent and a blessed Christmas season.

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Local Franciscan Priest Concelebrates with Woman Priest

Fr. Jerry Zawada, who is part of the local province of Franciscan Friars concelebrated mass with a woman priest November 19th at the School of Americas protest.  Zawada concelebrated with Janice Sevre-Duzynska, who coincidentally, was the woman whose ordination Fr. Roy Bourgeois witnessed.  On November 29, Zawada met with his Provincial Minister to discuss the matter.  At this time, no action is being taken by his order.  No action has been taken YET by the Vatican. 

Zawada is firm in his belief that the ordination of women is a justice issue in the Catholic Church and is prepared to receive whatever punishment may be handed down.  Nevertheless, he will not recant his action and will not willingly leave the Church that he loves. 

Zawada is a long time peace activist who has gone to jail on a number of occasions.  Thank you Fr. Jerry for your courageous witness.  You are a true priest - a mediator of God's will to God's people.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fr. Roy Bourgeois Arrested at Vatican

Fr. Roy Bourgeois, of School of the America fame, was arrested at the Vatican when he tried to deliver a petition to the Vatican with a number of women priests, who were dressed in their liturgical garments.  The groups was attempting to deliver a petition supporting Fr. Roy and women priests, which was signed by 15,000 Catholics.

Perhaps Arab Spring will make its way to the Vatican.  As the linked article points out, the group was told that protesters are not allowed in the Vatican.  When the group dropped their signs, they were told that women wearing vestments was a protest, therefore, only Fr. Roy could proceed, since he was a "real" priest.  After Fr. Roy stated that the women were legitimately ordained priests and need to accompany him, the police arrested Fr. Roy, a woman priest, and the translator.  It is unclear if they will actually be tried.

Many thanks to Fr. Roy and the many brave women priests.  This public stance against the Vatican is wonderful.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Altar Girls are Confusing... to Bishops

The Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, printed an article in early August in which they praised the use of altar girls: "The exclusion of girls from all of this, for the sole reason of their being female, has always weighed heavily and represented a deep inequality within Catholic education."  They paper also refers to altar serving as an important and informative experience.  As the Catholic News article points out, the L'Osservatore article was printed the same week that Pope Benedict thanked 53,000 altar services, 60% of whom were girls, for their important service to the Church.  

Now fast forward two weeks.  The Cathedral for the Diocese of Phoenix is now barring altar girls from serving at that parish.  This will not affect the other parishes in the diocese and it was made clear that this was the decision of the rector of the Cathedral.  Nevertheless, I cannot believe that a decision like this is made at the Cathedral without the bishop's approval.  The rector states that he wants to have only boys in an effort to attract vocations to the priesthood, but there is not proof that this practice has ever led to more vocations.  In addition, this action is very strange when one considers that the Pope just thanked tens of thousands of girl altar servers for their service.  The rector stated that girls could be sacristans, but that is a slap in the face.  To the rector, all girls are good for is ironing and washing clothes.  Perhaps the bishop and rector in Phoenix should pay attention to the Pope and L'Osservatore Romano.

A Faithful Catholic

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weakland and Sklba called to Bankruptcy Court

Retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland and Bishop Richard Sklba will be called to give testimony in court, under oath, regarding the sexual abuse cover up for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy case. Although the judge has said the statements will be sealed, these statements have a way of eventually being made public. In any case, I am glad that there will be some type of official record of the sexual abuse cover up in Milwaukee.

In one sense, this is a strange turn of events. It is speculated that Milwaukee and other dioceses have filed bankruptcy to avoid having bishops give depositions. Milwaukee filed for bankruptcy on the eve of Sklba's deposition in a sexual abuse case. If the primary purpose of the Milwaukee bankruptcy filing was to avoid Sklba's day in court, the plan failed. Weakland and Sklba will be called to answer questions in mid-October.

A Faithful Catholic

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Austrian Priests Call For Married and Women Priests

The exact details are fuzzy, but it appears that about 300 priest from all over Austria launched a "Call to Disobedience" in June to support the ordination of women priests and married priests. Interim actions might include prayers for a more inclusive priesthood at Sunday liturgy, having women preach, and welcoming remarried Catholics to received communion.

This is a powerful reminder that there are still a lot of great priests in the Catholic Church. The response of the various bishops in Austria is uncertain. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna disagrees with the priests, but plans on meeting with some of them in the next month or so to discuss the action. So far, no priests have been disciplined. I am thankful for all you brave priests in Austria. Perhaps this effort can someday be coordinated on a more global scale until all those who are called to the priesthood are able to serve the People of God.

A Faithful Catholic

Saturday, July 9, 2011

If Fr. John Corapi's Boats Could Talk

Fr. John Corapi is very famous for his conversion story to a Catholic priest from a drug-using, womanizing, Hollywood lifestyle. In the wake of a fact-finding commission from his own order, it appears that he was trying to live both lifestyles at once. The commission discovered that:

"He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute; He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs; He has recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana; He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the Society."

It appears that when Corapi talked about his former lifestyle, he forgot to mention that he probably only left that lifestyle for a short time. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, it seems that he fell back into this lifestyle when he became a famous priest and temptation returned. Unfortunately, he still completely denies all the allegations and offers no reasoning why his order would lie. In response to his current situation, he says that most of it was "beyond my control." Unless he's talking about addiction to drugs, women, and money, I highly doubt it. I must admit, I am suspicious of any priest who sells their own story without making sure the money goes somewhere other than their own pocket. In his statement, he also takes the time to talk about his future ventures, stuff his followers can buy in the future so that he can remain a millionaire.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fr. Corapi Leaving Priesthood

Fr. John Corapi, an ultra-conservative Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity priest, announced plans on June 23rd to leave the priesthood. He has had a radio program on Relevant Radio and was a featured personality on EWTN. He was known for his conversion story from rich drug parties in Hollywood, to homelessness, to becoming a priest. His Bible was the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the teaching of the hierarchy.

Therefore, it is strange to hear him talk about the problems with the leadership of the Church. From his time as a radio personality, I thought the leadership of the Church could do no wrong. All that changed when an allegation of sexual abuse came forth. His order was attempting to check the validity of the allegation, but Fr. Corapi would not cooperate, citing his "civil and human rights."

If he really is leaving the priesthood because of the stress caused by a false allegation, then I truly feel for the man. But at the same time, assuming he is innocent, he should realize that the mistakes of church leadership in the past concerning sexual abuse warrant a greater transparency on behalf of bishops and clergy to rebuild the trust that has been lost. In any case, I will not miss hearing Fr. Corapi's voice over the airwaves. His theology was the pre-Vatican II pray, pay, and obey... which not even he wants to follow anymore.

A Faithful Catholic

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Document on Preaching

During the first day of their spring Assembly, the U.S. Bishops approved the writing of a 50 page document on preaching for next year. Based on input from bishops at this assembly and from when the topic came up in previous meetings, it can be assumed that this document will shift the focus of preaching from a reflection on how God is acting in our everyday lives as seen through the eyes of scripture to an emphasis on doctrine.

In one sense, this may be necessary. The average post-Vatican II Catholic's knowledge of the faith is not something to brag about. But I hope that this document does not bring us back to pre-Vatican II sermons that prooftexted a Gospel in order to catechize on an element of the Catholic faith, usually with the desire to cover the basics of the faith during a one year cycle. I can almost see it now: Week 1 - Abortion; Week 2 - Birth Control; Week 3 - Marriage (anti-gay); Week 4 - The Sacrament of Penance, etc.

Although Catholics are less knowledgeable about their faith, they have computers and information at their fingertips that was not available before. With a move towards catechesis in preaching, I hope that there will be an emphasis on inspiring the faithful to learn more about their faith outside of Mass by illustrating how the truths of the faith are meaningful in their everyday lives - particularly the truth of Jesus Christ. People are thirsting for spirituality, which I define as doctrine in action. Preaching needs to touch on both aspects of spirituality to move people.

A Faithful Catholic

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fr. Don Hying named new auxiliary bishop in Milwaukee

As most people reading this in Milwaukee already know, Fr. Don Hying has been named the next auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. This type of appointment represents the continuing state of our church towards a conservatism that sees abortion as the only issue in the Catholic Church. In the past few months, Hying has led a holy hour for the sanctity of marriage at the seminary and wrote about his time at the "abortion mill." Marriage and abortion... these are the issues that define the modern church for new bishops.

I hope that Fr. Hying also realizes that the church is larger than these two issues. On occasion, he has mentioned the defiance shown by Archbishop Romero toward the injustice of the El Salvadoran government. Unfortunately, this ended up being a segue for a anti-abortion story. Callahan was such a disappointment as an auxiliary bishop, I hope Hying can be more pastoral with Catholics he does not agree with.

A Faithful Catholic

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In Milwaukee: "In Lawyers We Trust"

The sexual abuse crisis continues to cause shame all over the globe and right here in Milwaukee. As reported in the local paper, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is denying that it owns the Cousins Center, which houses the offices of the Archdiocese. Originally, the Cousins Center was the St. Francis de Sales Preparatory Academy, and even though that institution is defunct, the Archdiocese is maintaining in bankruptcy court that they rent from the Academy and that the land is not available for the victims of sexual abuse. In 2004, the Archdiocese began listing the property separately in their financial statements and until Archbishop Listecki came last year, Dolan had been trying to sell it with the express purpose of funding a sexual abuse fund FOR victims.

Listecki has made it known that he likes the Cousins Center, does not want to sell it, and wants to relocate the offices that had vacated the Cousins Center back at that location. This all smells really bad. But that is what happens when you depend on lawyers and the letter of the law rather than Jesus Christ and Christian morality. Most of what happened a couple years ago to the cause the housing market crash was legal, but it definitely was not moral. The same basically holds true for the Archdiocese in this case. It is also telling that there is not a written lease agreement between the Academy and the Archdiocese, it is just understood that the Archdiocese rents there in return for keeping the place up. A spokesperson for the Archdiocese admits that there may have been some "imprecise communications." If Milwaukee was on the national scene, I could see this phrase catching on. I wonder if Listecki will confess these "imprecise communications" the next time he goes to confession.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, May 2, 2011

Australian Bishop Sacked

Buried in all the news this morning dedicated to the assassination of Osama bin Laden AND the beatification of John Paul II is what newspapers calling the sacking or firing of Bishop William Morris, who had been bishop of Toowoomba in Australia since 1993. This "firing" is the result of a statement of Morris in 2006, in which he stated that women and married persons who are called to the priesthood should be ordained by the Catholic Church.

From Morris's own admission, it is clear that he is vacating his seat unwillingly. Obviously, Pope Benedict had hoped that he would resign and make the axing go much smoother. On a side note, this type of action does make it look like the Pope is in charge of a corporation called the Catholic Church, Inc., which give credence to lawyers who want to sue the Pope for not removing priest-rapists.

Nevertheless, it is oddly appropriate that Morris was fired for promoting women priests in the same news cycle as the beatification of John Paul II. This is an act of injustice that would have warmed the previous pontiff's heart. Up until this time, I had been led to believe that Benedict was more open to disagreement within the Catholic Church than John Paul, but I guess disagreement can only happen when the Pope says so (i.e., condoms).

A Faithful Catholic

Friday, April 22, 2011

Renounce Violence...

In prior years I have posted a Happy Easter blog. I thought that this year it may be appropriate to have a Good Friday entry. Good Friday is the scandal on which are faith rests. As St. Paul said: It is a scandal to the Jews and folly to the Greeks. Even our beloved Muslims brothers and sisters cannot reconcile this suffering to a prophet and messenger of God; hence, they say that Jesus did not die on the cross.

A Muslim from Ivory Coast asked: "As an ambassador of Jesus, what do you advise for our country?" In his response, the Pope stated: "The only path is to renounce violence, to begin anew with dialogue." Some may say the Pope is being naive. How can nonviolence and dialogue solve problems of extreme violence? Nevertheless, Benedict witnessed the horrors of Nazi Germany as a boy and young man. So his words cause me pause. As with the British military of old, the sun never sets on the American military. Should we not heed the words of the Holy Father and make drastic cuts to our military?

As Good Friday illustrates, Jesus did not repay violence for violence. He took the violence (sin) of the world upon himself and died so that others would have new life.

A Faithful Catholic

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bishops Want to Keep Lovers Apart

In a sad piece of news from a couple of weeks ago, the US bishops are against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) adopting a proposed regulation that would add sexual orientation to a list of categories for which one receiving HUD funds cannot discriminate. They believe that this would cause many faith-based initiatives to not participate in HUD, especially when it comes to "shared" housing projects. I guess that they are scared that a couple's gayness may rub off on some of the nearby children. Later on in the statement, they also state that they are against unmarried straight couples living together in shared housing. This seems to be an addendum of sorts to try and prove that they are not homophobic, because the proposed regulation has absolutely nothing to do with unmarried straight couples.

Basically, the bishops are stating that if this passes, they may take their ball and go home. It is actually quite disgusting that the bishops are putting out a document that essentially states, "We are not against gay couples having housing, but they should not be near anybody else." This is simply another embarrassing move for US bishops regarding their thoughts on pelvic issues. Sadly, this could affect where some people could live.

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Marquette Likes Gays and Lesbians Now

Marquette University put out a statement earlier today that beginning in January 2012, the University will extend the same benefits that are currently offered to the spouse of an employee to a same-sex registered domestic partner of an employee. Although the statement does not mention it, this action is obviously in response to the criticism that Marquette received last year for rescinding a job offer to Jodi O'Brien, an openly lesbian professor at Seattle University.

After the disgrace, which can be remembered in a blog entry from last year, Marquette promised to work more diligently to make gays and lesbians more welcome on campus. For a while, it seemed as if Marquette was dragging its feet and not making an substantial moves to make a penance for their terrible actions last year.

Now at last, this is a very substantial contribution toward making up for last year's fiasco. Bravo Marquette!!! It's about time. Maybe there doing this during the season of Lent makes their action more appropriate.

A Faithful Catholic

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vatican Technology

The average American probably thinks of the Vatican being behind the times. Although that may be true in some instances, it has not been the case as concerns technology. This has especially been true during the pontificate of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Recently, the Vatican put up a Facebook page in honor of John Paul II. Click here to see it. They have also begun posting speeches of JPII on youtube, which are accessible from the Facebook page. It is good for the Vatican and Catholics in general to be spreading the good news of their faith on the internet as well as on street corners.

Nevertheless, the distribution of resources by the Vatican for a facebook page dedicated to the cause of one proposed saint does raise some questions. Although John Paul II was himself known for including more saints from non-consecrated life as well as those from outside of Europe, at the end of day, clericalism still matters. Our Church is trying to fight a supposed war on secularism by putting forth the worship of the pope and cleric. This same clericalism is found in many of the coming liturgical changes (those comments will be forthcoming). I suppose clerical emphasis is what conservative Catholics believe makes the Catholic Church unique, therefore we MUST emphasize it.

Although pope, bishop, and priest serve a necessary unifying function in our Church, the cult of the cleric indicates the false belief that a priest is needed to access God. This is not the case.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Sex Abuse Scandal is NOT over.

It is just amazing to me that bishops in the United States can still be choosing to protect priests with substantial allegations of sexual abuse against them. The Cardinal in Philadelphia, Justin Francis Rigali, suspended 21 priests earlier today that a grand jury investigation found have credible allegations of sexual abuse against them. Why were these priests not put on a leave of absence earlier? Why does the heavy hand of the law need to be brought in to strong arm certain bishops and Cardinals to protect children? Oddly enough, there was an article in the National Catholic Reporter last week indicating that there has been discussion about loosening the restrictions that the bishops put in place 10 years ago to protect children from sexual predators in the Church. This situation seems to indicate that the restrictions should be greater. The District Attorney praised Rigali for his response to the report. Why is he praising a bishop for doing something that he should have done years ago? This scandal adds insult to injury and makes the teaching authority of the bishops less credible and newsworthy than before.

A Faithful Catholic

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Catholic Year of Revisions...

As most readers of this blog probably know, beginning Advent 2011, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will begin using the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. There is be changes to a number of responses for the person in the pew and almost all the prayers for the priest. Many of the changes are biblical and makes sense, other make less sense: "And with your spirit" instead of "And also with you." Here is a good article that explains this specific change. It makes sense, but probably does not justify the change.

Also, next month the New American Bible Revised Edition is set to be released. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon among other places. It replaces words that were the 1970 edition, such as cereal, booty, and holocaust. It is the first time since 1970 that an entire new edition will be released. Until now, separate parts had been updated. This translation is for private use and will not be used at mass. With any translation, there are senses of betrayal. I will share some of mine in the coming months as we get closer to Advent. Nevertheless, I do hope that most of the changes serve us well as a Church and bring us closer to Christ.

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Listecki: Must Protect Union Rights

Archbishop Listecki, on behalf of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, released a statement today defending the rights of workers to unionize and bargain. He quotes Caritas in veritate #25, where Benedict speaks of the need to especially protect the rights of organized labor during this difficult economic time. He also quotes John Paul II's Laborem exercens #20, where the previous pope wrote on the necessary rights of workers in protecting the social order.

I applaud Listecki for this statement. It is an unexpected surprise. The statement is timely and I hope that it can have some impact on the current situation. I disagree with Archbishop Listecki regarding a few church policies, but in this instance, I am very glad to call him my shepherd.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Benedict on Family... Good and Bad

This past week, Pope Benedict gave some comments on same sex unions and wifely duties to officials from the city and province of Rome and the Lazio region of Italy. He spoke of the "penalizing" effect that same sex unions have on heterosexual marriages. I must admit that I don't understand how married couple are penalized. I have asked some married couples how they could possibly be penalized by the existence of legalized same sex unions and no answer was found. I look forward to comments from my conservative readers about how this occurs. I do not think that "It's not fair that they have the same rights as me," counts as penalization.

A bright spot in this speech was Benedict's emphasis on the need to make provisions in society for women who would like to work in addition to having the role of child rearing. Because society does not often honor working mothers, women often feel compelled to wait to have children. He stated that women should not be put in a position that makes them have to choose between one or the other. This is a significant departure from John Paul II (who should not be beatified). JPII was pretty clear in his writings that a women's place is with the children. It is part of their special womanly nature (another term not present in Benedict). JPII made concessions about the right of women not be be discriminated against in broader society, but a working mother was never ideal in his mind. Benedict, on the other hand, has never stated that mothers should ideally not work.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Milwaukee Archdiocese Files for Bankruptcy

As reported this afternoon on jsonline.com and per a video by Archbishop Listecki on the Archdiocesan website, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is filing for bankruptcy today. It had been known for a long time that this was an option on the table that might one day be executed. Listecki states that the process will probably take 12-18 months. He also states that this only involves the Archdiocese and NOT any parishes. I do not see how he can make such a claim just yet. Although the parishes of the archdiocese are separate corporations, it will be up to a judge to decide just how separate our parishes really are.

In one sense, it will be good to finally have all the expenses related to the sexual abuse scandal behind us. It will also mean a payday for victims. In another sense, it leaves bad taste in my mouth. There will be the conflicting interests of preserving the structures and monies of the Archdiocese that accomplish good works with the need to fairly compensate the victims. And how exactly do you fairly compensate someone who has been raped by a priest, especially one that should have already been removed from ministry. In addition, I feel uncomfortable anytime the Archdiocese makes use of lawyers. I have nothing against lawyers per se, but dioceses usually use them with the sole purpose of protecting themselves when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse (see the movie "Deliver us From Evil"). I pray that this gut feeling is wrong in this case.

A Faithful Catholic