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Who will free us of these hirelings?

With the faithful in turmoil across the globe, reeling from the multiple revelations of 70 years of clerical pederasty, of the episcopal sodomizing of seminarians, of a culture of moral dissolution from the smallest diocese to the very top of the hierarchy, of bishops transferring offending priests from parish to parish so they could take more altar boys to their beds, of the shuffling of priest to other dioceses in order to run out the statute of limitations for prosecution, and of the widespread practice of bishops buying victims’ silence, Rome stands silent.

Yet more than silent. The Pope has surrounded himself with trusted advisers who actively took part in all of these sins. In homily after homily, he rails against those vocal faithful demanding reform, calling them barking dogs, referring to them as the devil, telling them that they are scandalous, and that they must be quiet. Anyone with the fortitude to call a spade a spade is derided. Those who assent to the doctrines of the Faith are referred to as fringe political radicals, and the dissenters and abusers are raised to positions of high honor. They don’t smell like the sheep, they are hirelings:

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: [13] And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep.” John 10:11-14

Today’s readings from the Liturgy of the Hours Office of Readings give insight to our present day, where Ezekiel’s vision of God enthroned the cherubim, and speaking to Ezekiel that he was about to gather his people back to Israel where they would free the land of it’s abominations.

“Thus saith the Lord God: I will gather you from among the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries wherein you are scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall go in thither, and shall take away all the scandals, and all the abominations thereof from thence.And I will give them one heart, and will put a new spirit in their bowels: and I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: That they may walk in my commandments, and keep my judgments, and do them: and that they may be my people, and I may be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after their scandals and abominations, I will lay their way upon their head, saith the Lord God.” Ezekiel 11:17-21

Those who remain devoted to their detestable abominations, “I will bring down their conduct upon their heads,” says the Lord God. Saint Augustine warns them in the second reading for the memorial of St. Januarius:

Indeed, it terrifies me to think that I could take more pleasure in the honor attached to my office, which is where its danger lies, than in your salvation, which ought to be its fruit. This is why being set above you fills me with alarm, whereas being with you gives me comfort. Danger lies in the first; salvation in the second. Augustine, Sermon 340, 1: PL 38

As he was presenting the phial of St. Januarius’ liquefying blood to the faithful this morning, shortly after 10 a.m. Naples time, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the Archbishop of Naples, fell ill and had to be moved to a seat by clergymen, where he struggled for breath. St. Januarius, pray for us.


Chicago Responds

The first of those named in Archbishop Viganò’s memo has responded, although it really isn’t a response, except to snarkily put the word testimony in quotes. Cardinal Cupich in black, ours in red:

The former nuncio makes a number of references to me in his “testimony.”

Nice snark.

The first is in the sentence: “This is how one explains that, as members of the Congregation for Bishops, the Pope replaced Cardinal Burke with Wuerl and immediately appointed Cupich right after he was made a cardinal.”

The former nuncio is confused about the sequence of these events. In fact, I was appointed to the Congregation for Bishops on July 7, 2016, and was named a cardinal on October 9, 2016.

Yes? That is “right after” in Church minutes. 

The second reference to me is in the sentence: “The appointments of Blase Cupich to Chicago and Joseph W. Tobin to Newark were orchestrated by McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl, united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of coverup of abuses by the other two. Their names were not among those presented by the Nunciature for Chicago and Newark.”

Here it is in a nutshell: “It is customary for the Pope to choose from the list the Nuncio gives him, and I didn’t recommend either of you.

I consider these remarks astonishing. The only substantial conversation I have ever had about my appointment to Chicago with the former nuncio was on September 11, 2014, when he called to inform me of the appointment. The former nuncio started the conversation by saying: “I call with news of great joy. The Holy Father has appointed you the archbishop of Chicago.”

You know he was following protocol. We know he was following protocol. It doesn’t mean he liked it.

He then congratulated me upon hearing of my acceptance. That is the extent of any conversation I have ever had about this matter with the former nuncio. Moreover, the former nuncio personally participated in my installation ceremony in Chicago in November 2014 and personally presided at the imposition of the pallium the following summer, and on both occasions offered only supportive remarks and congratulations.


As to the issue of my appointment to Chicago as well as the question of episcopal appointments in general, I do not know who recommended me for the Archdiocese of Chicago, but I do know that Pope Francis, like his predecessors, takes seriously the appointment of bishops as one of his major responsibilities. Pope Francis has made it clear that he wants pastoral bishops, and I work each day to live up to that expectation in collaboration with many fine lay and religious women and men, my brother priests and brother bishops.

“Pastoral” is a code word. You know that. We know that.

The third and fourth references to me deal with my statements on the causes of clerical sexual abuse as it relates to homosexuality. Any reference I have ever made on this subject has always been based on the conclusions of the “Causes and Context” study by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, released in 2011, which states: “The clinical data do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity or those who committed same-sex sexual behavior with adults are significantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with a heterosexual orientation or behavior.” John Jay researchers came to this conclusion after reviewing many studies on the topic. Their scholarly work is not to be dismissed out of hand.

You mean the John Jay study that distinguished between sexual identity and sexual behavior, and stated that more than 75 percent of the abuse was by males and perpetrated against primarily teenaged boys? That stated that there is a problem in seminaries with those who identify as homosexual regularly behaving as homosexuals with other men? That separated the two problems, of pedophilia and homosexual identity and behavior? Everyone in psychology knows that pedophiles are sexually attracted to children with no hair on their bodies, children of either sex. The John Jay report pointed this out. It also pointed out that priests who either identified as homosexual or practiced homosexual behavior abused themselves with same-sex adults. Reality tells us that they also abused teenaged boys, seminarians, other priests, and other partners. They were also sexually active with bishops and cardinals of the Catholic Church. Ok. Keep your blinders on.

As for the rest of the “testimony,” a thorough vetting of the former nuncio’s many claims is required before any assessment of their credibility can be made.

Rest assured, they will be vetted.


Saturday Night Massacre

I tossed and turned all night, after reading Carlo Maria Viganò’s memo revealing the who, what, when, and where of the McCarrick deception. This is unprecedented in the history of the Catholic Church. My soul is in a knot, fresh as I am in returning to the Lord’s call to follow him, after so many years of acedia. It seems that I heard the call to get right only days before all of this hit the fan.

We just entered a new era. What follows is not going to be pretty, I don’t believe. But none of this hasn’t been prophesied. Fatima. Quito. Our Lady is close to crushing the ancient serpent’s head. But it seems we’re in for a bit of a trial. How do we weather the storm? She has been telling us for centuries, and the answer hasn’t changed. 

We do what only we can do. Because that is the only thing we can do, other than asking people to join us. Get yourself right before God. Love Him! Console His heart! Do what you have to do, to get in the state of grace. Pray the Rosary. Lead a sacramental life. Fast and mortify your flesh.


Fool Me Twice

Gratuitously stolen from Crux News

Fr. Dwight Longenecker earlier today published a blog post titled “What the Bishops Should Do.” I was going to fisk his article, but instead what follows is my own reflection on his suggestions.

The USCCB chair Daniel Cardinal DiNardo should immediately staff the creation and maintenance of a website and database listing every cleric (and laity when they abused as an employee or volunteer of the diocese, parish, or school) from every diocese who abused, protected the guilty, or paid money for silence. The “rap sheet” for each person should include their ordination date, assignments, substantiated claims, age and sex of victims at the time of the abuse. It should go back fifty years, and include expert opinion, based on the evidence, on whether the diocese waited out the statute of limitations. This will be helpful in cases where authorities decide to waive the SoL and allow prosecution and award damages to the victims. This website could be populated immediately with the information available from those dioceses who are already providing such information.

In addition to merely striking a deal with the U.S. Attorney General allowing the bishops to start their own comprehensive investigation, perhaps in approaching the AG, the Church’s lawyers could get guidance on exactly how the investigation should be carried out, agree in writing to abide by those guidelines, and invite unlimited visibility throughout the entire process to the AG’s staff.

The stories of those who have been convicted should be published. Some dioceses are already doing more than this. The diocesan bishops, as these abusers’ spiritual fathers and “bosses” should have the authority to release the information based solely on substantiation of the facts (the abuser confessed or the evidence is overwhelming).

This website and database “rap sheets” should uniformly show certain information pertinent to the cases. Wonderful idea to publish the amount paid, but it should also include whether the diocese made them sign a confidentiality agreement. Such actions are evil given the circumstances and should be the immediate cause of a bishop’s dismissal from the clerical state.

The “rap sheets” should also contain the information on whether the abuser is deceased, whether they were laicized, etc. I don’t know if posturing with “look, we’re getting better” would be appropriate. Let the facts speak for themselves. Because this time, it isn’t so much about the abuse (though it still is), it’s about the cover-ups, the moving abusers around, the satanic silence concerning known abusers, and the paying for silence from victims.

In cases where the bishop himself abused, covered up, allowed priests with substantiated claims against them to continue in ministry, or made a victim sign a confidentiality agreement, that bishop should step down or be forced down.

At the outset (soon!), a joint statement signed by every single bishop in the U.S. should be published and any bishop who refuses to sign it (after the left and right limits have been agreed upon), that bishop should step down or be forced down. Fr. Longenecker suggested the following:

  1. an explanation of how these cases were handled in the past and why
  2. an admission that some cases were handled badly and even criminally
  3. an admission that an insidious homosexual subculture has existed in the church
  4. a promise to root out the underlying causes of clerical abuse including homosexual activity
  5. an acknowledgment that these crimes also exist in other churches, schools, and institutions
  6. a promise that the Catholic Church is taking moral leadership to stamp out all forms of abuse

Monetary compensation for the victims is always at the top of the list. As Americans, that’s how we think, for good or ill. Beyond that, what must be addressed is that phenomenon where a victim can’t even walk into a church because the atmosphere itself is traumatic, or cannot receive Holy Communion because the priest involved the Eucharist in the abuse, etc. Bishops must accompany these victims throughout the rest of their lives, and in fact, so should parish priests and even the lay faithful if the victim is open to it. If a dispensation for the victim is needed from Sunday Mass attendance, it should be given. I would go so far as to say that, for the next hundred years, the priests and bishops should corporately do public penance monthly, and invite the laity to join them. It should involve fasting and willingly offering-up our pains, sicknesses, and sufferings in reparation for the Church’s failures. Every victim who still wishes to maintain their Catholic faith should be given any dispensation necessary for the good of their soul.


Restless Rosaries

Shamelessly stolen from Fr. Z.

Lying in bed last night, I couldn’t go to sleep. Whether it was because of the constant barrage of social media I’d consumed about McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury report, because I’d otherwise laid too much on my plate over the past couple weeks, or a combination of factors, I was staring wide-eyed at the ceililng.

I picked up my Rosary and began to pray. Now that is a sure-fire way to raise the ire of the enemy, as I’m sure that proud creature hates to see anyone pick up that weapon. It is like garlic to a vampire. Like a blessed stake to the heart. Imagine, before the end of the second decade, I was nodding off.

“Gotosleepgotosleepgotosleeplittledarling...” he must have been screeching under his foul breath.

I was able to finish the Glorious Mysteries before drifting off. Mary or my Guardian Angel, qui custos es mei, or whomever had my back was not going to give me peace until I had given Our Lady her due. And that makes me happy. 

You should try it. I wrote the following post seven or so years ago. May it encourage you to … well, you know.


The Women of Nineveh

God is not going to have to bother destroying us. We’re doing fine all by ourselves, John Senior suggested. Forget the men in the famous admonition, “The women of Nineveh shall rise on the Day of Judgment with this generation” and condemn it, he says. Why? Perhaps because even they can see that a society which wades in the spilled blood of nearly 50 million aborted babies since 1970 is doing just fine destroying itself.

There are not easy answers to every problem, but the unborn baby has as much right to life as the mother has to control over her body. These are tiny lives and not simply blobs of tissue. A one-celled zygote is a living organism. It is fully human – a genetically differentiated life – and can never be anything but human.  It is a unique, individual human being. If you want an honest answer to the question of when life begins, look at a biology textbook:

“Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm unites with a female gamete or oocyte to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”
–Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

How we treat the weakest and most vulnerable among us says a lot about us as a society. And the arguments behind the laws regulating that treatment proves to be as enlightening, or endarkening, as it is mournful.

Not only the women of Nineveh, but those who will eventually call us ancestors will condemn us in the same harsh terms they use when they condemn Nazis and slave owners. They may be somewhat kind, attributing our blindness to ideology and puffed up sense of self-importance instead of the endarkened malevolence of a willful and morally bankrupt generation. Most likely they will refer to us as monsters, using the same tone when they speak of us as they do when they speak of gas chambers and mass graves. Equal rights for everyone except the one who was inconvenient! The one who was insignificant! The one who was vulnerable even in the place that should have been safest of all.

The nature of a zygote is a human, the only thing differentiating it at that point from a precocious toddler or an investment banker is its stage of growth. It is not a potential human being, it is a human being, because it is human, and it possesses being. To deny this reality is to reveal an ideological shedding of truth because the truth doesn’t support the ends of the ideology.

I believe that our progeny will be our betters, and will have the clarity of mind to see that our Declaration of Independence guarantees “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There is no liberty without life.




Tolkien Wept

J. R. R. Tolkien, Catholic Tree Hugger

Legend has it that J. R. R. Tolkien wept over the environmental loss that England endured at the hands of industrialization. That the creator of the Ents should be so moved is not surprising to me, as Bradley Birzer points out in “J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth” because the man loved trees, and felt as strongly over their destruction as some people felt over the abuse of animals. To gain a deeper understanding of his sentiments, simply go back and re-read Lord of the Rings, and listen to the words that he puts into Treebeard’s mouth.

Today, if you stand up for the environment over and against unrestrained capitalism, you’ll be labeled a liberal, a tree-hugger, a nature-worshipper, an eco-terrorist, and any number of other hip-pocket ad hominems. You don’t care at this point that I find this disturbing, nonetheless, I do. Why so? Because I find it ironic that many of the people who are unafraid to stand up for the unborn or those on death row display no small timidity when it comes to standing up for the environment. Maybe they don’t even know that their faith requires it.

Wait, what?

I want you to consider that something might be out of place in Catholic circles today, and that you and I may have gotten this thing wrong. To set the stage, please bear with me as I quote a few of Pope Francis’ comments about the environment for your consideration:

  • “We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention to both the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations.”
  • “Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family.”
  • “An economic system centered on the god of money also needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.
  • “There is a need to break with the logic of mere consumption and promote forms of agricultural and industrial production that respect the order of creation and satisfy the basic human needs of all. These attitudes, sustained by a renewed awareness of the interdependence of all the inhabitants of the earth, will contribute to eliminating the numerous causes of ecological disasters as well as guaranteeing the ability to respond quickly when such disasters strike peoples and territories.”

Pretty weighty stuff, yes? Do you think he’s off base? Was he only speaking as a private theologian? Are we obligated to pay him any attention on the matter? Before you answer, consider this: I tricked you.

The first quote is from Pope St. John Paul II, circa 1990. The second is from Pope Benedict XVI, circa 2007. The third is in fact from Pope Francis, circa 2014. The fourth and final one, however, is from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, paragraph 486.

Here is the final one, that might perhaps grab our attention:

  • Insofar as it is part of the Church’s moral teaching, the Church’s social doctrine has the same dignity and authority as her moral teaching. It is authentic Magisterium, which obligates the faithful to adhere to it. The doctrinal weight of the different teachings and the assent required are determined by the nature of the particular teachings, by their level of independence from contingent and variable elements, and by the frequency with which they are invoked.

I liked Benedict XVI more than I like Francis, from a personal perspective, but we are Catholic and the Pope is our Pope. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church laid out the arguments for environmental involvement long before Francis penned Laudato Si. Pope Benedict was actually the most vocal about the problem, and was called “the green Pope” long before Francis was presented to the world. But Wojtyla, Ratzinger, Bergoglio…all of their words have fallen on deaf ears because they weren’t saying what we wanted to hear. The Pope is not our puppet, and I’m sorry that we haven’t gotten the message, but we are as bound to accept the Church’s social doctrine as we are to accept her moral and spiritual doctrine. It is all magisterium.

What has been the consequence of the lack of a strong Catholic presence concerning human caused global warming (there it is!) and environmental devastation? As great as if Catholics had never been involved in or interested in the pro-life movement. As great as if Catholics had never stood praying during a Death-Row vigil. Instead, some of us actively subvert the work that others are doing. Aligning themselves with partisan politicians at cross-purposes with the Faith. Acting as if we were not all called to solidarity with the poor, who are the most adversely affected by the environmental devastation caused by our consumption, our pollution, and our destruction. There is a void, a senseless void, within the environmental movement because Catholics have been peculiarly absent, or actively hostile to it. Nobody with a strong voice is there to counter the Malthusians. Nobody with the wisdom of two thousand years of experience with dynasty change and seemingly “event horizon” level disasters has been visible at Rio or Paris. It is ridiculous.

They took down the trees and replaced them with belching smokestacks. And Tolkien wept. He understood that there are only three relationships we can have as human beings. With God, with each other, and with nature. Sometimes we are pretty good at the first and second. Time will tell about the third.


Unconsummated lives

In the second chapter of “the Restoration of Christian Culture,” aptly titled “The Air Conditioned Holocaust,” John Senior wrote, “Archaeologists rate a culture by the quality of its ordinary pots and bottles, not just by its ‘serious’ art but the everyday utensils preserved by the unprejudiced democracy of its dumping grounds… If future generations exist and think of us at all, they will say, digging in our ruins, ‘this is a people who lived unconsummated lives.” His meaning is deeper than apparent on the surface, I think. What does consummation mean? Yes, the first image that came to your mind was probably of a groom carrying his bride over the threshold on his honeymoon. That may be the most perfect mental image, because consummation has to do with bringing something to perfection. But something that matters. Something of value. Something like life or love. It is a pinnacle experience which by no means suggests the end of the matter. One consummates a marriage on the honeymoon bed. A child  consummates Christmas Morning by tearing into the prettily wrapped presents beneath the tree to finally, finally see what is inside (and then by going to Mass!). One consummates a mortgage by signing his name two hundred times and then receiving the long coveted key to the front door, and then by sticking the key into the door and turning it.

What did Senior mean by stating matter of factly that our lives are unconsummated? In the next paragraph he says that it wasn’t long ago that our grandparents “lived for something other than themselves…” Without getting into whether he was specifically thinking of rampant consumer culture, disposable plastic utensils (including straws), or the Me Generation, it is clear that we have become what my small group leader at the Army captain’s career course called “self-licking ice cream cones.” In short, we have stacked so much “stuff” on top of the things that truly matter, that we’ve lost them in the trash pile. I think at this point that there are stark differences between living “the happy life” as opposed to “the meaningful life” or even “the examined life.” If you have browsed at some lines among the Great Books of the Western World, you may have come across the concept of “the good life” and continuing discussion on what that truly is. Jesus was called good, and he singled out his rich young accuser and interrogated him. “Why do you call me good?” he responded to the question of what he needed to do to inherit eternal life.

“None is good except God alone,” our Lord told him, then rattled off a list of commandments in response to his question.  It is hard to imagine Jesus being startled by a response, possessing foreknowledge as he did, along with the ability to read our souls.”

“I have kept those commandments since my youth,” the rich young ruler replied. Jesus seems to take pause at this. And this is critical because you and I are that rich young ruler. What happened that day? Jesus turns toward us, his Sacred Heart inflamed with love for us and says, “Yes, I’ve seen you struggling to master my commandments. I’ve cheered your victories in self-mastery and picked you up and dusted you off when you battled for the good. But if you want to settle the matter, if you truly want to know how to keep my attention, then shed everything. Everything. Any claim you have on person or thing. Let them go. Give them away. I will supply everything you need when you need it. Leave it all behind and follow me.”

We walk away sad because we are very rich.

Or are we? Is this love more valuable than silver or gold? Is communion with God more beautiful than flawless diamonds? Then why have we lost sight of our calling, covered as it has become by plastic cutlery, styrofoam packaging, and water bottles? For us, the consummated life is nothing, if it is not a mystical union with the Lord who still waits in that silent space before the “big reveal.”

“Give all that worthless stuff away, I’m what you want. Come to me…”


Eleven Years

RestoreI started blogging back in 2007, the year I quit a good paying factory job building transmissions at Chrysler, and I could tell a thousand and one stories based on events that happened during those months. But I won’t. The blogging was sporadic and didn’t gather much of a tribe. Most of it is still hosted on WordPress, except for the posts that were excruciatingly bad. I deleted those. Today, however, I wanted to go back and visit one of those posts, because it’s subject has remained evergreen in my life. It is about a book by John Senior called “The Restoration of Christian Culture.”

Whether Senior knew it or not, his book truly is a blueprint for the restoration that must occur in the West, if the West is to retain what it means to be Western. After a decade of reading and underlining it, studying and praying over it, I’ve decided that the time for me to act has come. And so, with this post, let it begin. As I see it now, my participation and involvement will occur via two initiatives. The first is this blog, and I’ll be at it regularly. The second is a periodical tentatively to be named “Good Soil Magazine.” The magazine may go through several formats until its final form is achieved, but its reason for existence will remain constant. To press Senior’s vision into matter. Will you join me?


Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

I love how the liturgical calendar shapes life, if you let it. Mass this morning was succinct, beautiful, and powerful. What does the world need more today, right now, than to hear repeated again the words St. Margaret Mary Alacoque heard from Jesus: “Behold my heart, which has so loved men, and from the greater part of them I receive in return ingratitude.”

“Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we, who glory in the Heart of your beloved Son and recall the wonders of his love for us, may be made worthy to receive an overflowing measure of grace from that fount of heavenly gifts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

Lord, make my heart beat with yours.


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