Cowardice Update

Pope Francis bishop Reed ad limina
Bishop Robert Reed, auxiliary of Boston, and His Holiness, last week

One of our New-England bishops, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, gave a brief speech on Monday. He, and his fellow bishops of that region, had just returned from their ad limina visit to Rome, arriving in Baltimore in the nick of time, for the semi-annual American bishops’ meeting.

Forgive me for saying so, but His Eminence’s speech in Baltimore seemed strangely aimed at answering your unworthy servant. Of course I don’t actually imagine that he, or anyone of ecclesiastical significance, ever reads anything I write; I think I merely managed to express a common sentiment. (And I used, in anger, some language unworthy of a temperate Christian, and for that I apologize, dear reader.)

Cardinal O’Malley said to the assembled American bishops, regarding his and his fellow New-England bishops’ sojourn in Rome:

We were not afraid to bring up [to the Vatican Cardinal Secretary of State] the question of the report on Theodore McCarrick, and we insisted on the importance of publishing a response to the many serious questions of this case. [emphasis added]

I note his protestation of “not being afraid.” I note it with some relish.

His Eminence went on to say:

The long wait [for the promised report] has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people, and indeed a harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence.

The “seeming” silence? Let be be finale of seem, your Eminence. The Roman silence has resounded as a genuine worldwide roar. Don’t accuse us of cynicism, when it is we who face reality squarely, not thee.

[Like, for instance: When will our American bishops discuss the findings of the Illinois and Colorado reports on sexual abuse in the Church? Both of these reports pointed out serious shortcomings in the Dallas Charter. Will such a discussion item ever appear on any US-bishops’ agenda? Or shall we continue to think, with good reason, that all the propaganda about putting sex-abuse victims above institutional interests amounts to: the usual mafiosi blah blah blah?]

Anyway. According to O’Malley, the Cardinal Secretary of State in Rome said, regarding the McCarrick report, the very words that my imagination attributed to him. Si, presto, subito. “Yes, soon, very soon.” Then last Friday’s central-Italy earthquake occurred.

So we shall see, dear reader. A full McCarrick report will reach us. Within a couple months. So says the Cardinal.

I do not recommend that anyone hold his or her breath.

…Meanwhile, back here in our humble corner of the world: I have received my annual summons to the principal’s office.

Bishop Knestout letter Nov 19

(His Excellency had reached me via cellphone the night before, as I lay on my couch, suffering laryngitis, and trying to recover from a nasty little head cold I managed to catch.)

Last year, when summoned to show my servility by driving six-hours for no apparent reason, I responded by proposing that bishop and I meet and talk at our annual diocesan priests’ meeting instead. I never got a response to that proposal, and we never had our “dialog.”

Yesterday, I responded by asking which blog posts exactly he means? And why he wants to discuss them? And I asked if we could have our conversation by phone.

I await a response. May God be with us all.

14 thoughts on “Cowardice Update

  1. You never try to stay out of trouble Father Mark. Considering Cardinal O’Malley asked the question you said no one would, you could have given the post a different title to at least spare yourself a bit, but that is not like you.

    If the justice you seek is the Lord’s it will come, if you want more it will be vengeance and will fail. Hopefully someday there will be forgiveness and justice. May all heal and cleanse the Bride of Christ

  2. You know at first i kinda thought you were kidding and it was just a friendly priests meeting….ill tell ya i have a feeling it has to do more with your number three of a few days ago…not because i disagree with what you wrote but because i imagined the bishops head losing its top when i read it. Personally, i get the obedience thing but i was always one of those kids who needed a reason for things and because i said so was never acceptable… i hope the good bishop will alliw the conversation by phone….
    Many prayers

  3. I certainly hope that the Bishop will not try to infringe upon your freedom of speech. We appreciate your speaking the truth, even though the truth hurts. All the bishops would do well to recall John 8:32.

  4. Also, I find it disturbingly ironic that while your blog posts, which are in no way official diocesan communications, are being scrutinized while the diocese saw fit to publish an overtly racist diatribe in the Letters to the Editor of the Catholic Virginian last month!!! Perhaps you could ask your boss about that lapse in judgement.

  5. As I read this morning’s scripture post from the USCCB from Wisdom 6:1-11, I thought of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, in particular, “…but for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends…”
    I thought of the video showing the Pope blessing the Pachamama idols. What about the commandments, Exodus 20:3-4: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image…..”
    I thought of the “waiting” for something to be done about McCarrick and the very real belief that nothing would have been done had it not been for the outpour of anger from not only priests but lay people. Reliable reports about his sinful conduct, from those in positions of authority, were obviously ignored.
    I thought of a skeptical world waiting to see how the Catholic Church would handle these sinful actions. To my observation, the “world” is not impressed.
    I thought of the honest priests and those in leadership roles who are struggling with the effects of the McCarrick scandal. I thought of the steps that have been taken, i.e., publishing the names of past accused abusers. But, it seems that even when transparency is declared as essential, it ultimately goes back to a degree of “secrecy.” It is as if the people in the pews are seen as incapable of understanding the truth and how decisions are made.
    And I think of my priest, Fr. Mark White, who wants only to help the church heal from this hurt, and who believes that truth and transparency are part of that healing. I do not have his courage, but I believe in him and support him totally. He has taught me more about true faith in the few years he has been my priest than anyone else ever has.
    I was raised Protestant. I am the widow of a Protestant minister and was myself a Lay Minister in the Protestant Church.
    Five years ago, I chose to be Catholic. The day of my reception into the Catholic faith was the happiest and most important day of my life. I have never regretted my decision. The troubles in the Church today will not change that decision. I believe in the one true faith, the Catholic faith. I believe that God will ultimately overcome all, in His time and in His way.
    So I pray for God’s mercy on all of us, for His protection again forces that seek to bring down the Catholic faith, for those in leadership roles to seek God’s guidance in all they do, and that they understand the frustration of the “people in the pews” who want to have trust and faith in the “hierarchy” and find it increasingly difficult to do so.
    I pray for healing for those damaged by McCarrick, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, that they may find the strength to forgive him, not for his sake but for their own peace. We are called by God to forgive…as difficult as that may be.
    In the final analysis, McCarrick will be judged by God, as will WE ALL.
    May God’s mercy be upon all of us.

  6. Father White

    Thank you for your courage and your faith. You are a true leader of our Church. I will continue to pray for you. God bless your ministry among us.

  7. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in view of the treatment that Fr Joe Metzger received from his “excellency”. Let’s hope and pray that his “excellency’s” body-count doesn’t rise and we lose the services of another energetic and effective priest because he dares to speak the truth. We are witnessing clericalism at its worst.

  8. Pray God our next pontiff is a Dominican….or a humble parish priest from south-central Virginia.

  9. Not for nothing, but 2,000,000 visits is not insignificant. Seems you’ll be busy next week, but his Excellency should know that a lot of us weekly Mass-attending schlubs are following your fortunes as pastor. There is a growing financial crisis in the diocese and I believe the generosity of its parishioners is directly proportional to the treatment of Holy Mother Church’s favorite sons. Just sayin’.

  10. Again, what’s the worst that could happen if a bishop stood up to the fallible pontiff man and cried, “Justice!”? Immediate retirement? How horrible is that compared to complicit silence in the face of evil?

  11. Bishop Knestout: I believe you are a good man who didn’t realize what he was signing up for. “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

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