I appreciate Bill’s very good report. To be clear, though, my appeals haven’t completely run out.
Bishop Knestout has petitioned the Vatican to expel me from the priesthood. I am fighting the bishop’s petition, with the help of a canon lawyer.
Please pray. If you want to help me pay my canon lawyer, click HERE.
My friend Father James Altman of the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, has now been suspended from sacred ministry, like myself.
Our cases are quite different. We have different personalities. I can’t say that I agree with everything my friend says. And he certainly doesn’t agree with everything I say or don’t say.
Be all that as it may, I found this part of his interview yesterday with John Henry Westen to be quite moving (starting at 15:15):
Father Altman and I have this much in common: We have suffered severe penalties without due process. What exactly did he do or say that required a suspension of his priestly ministry? What did I do or say? The authorities over us have never specified with any precision these “offenses,” for which we have been so severely punished.
That is not fair.
The Church is a mysterious web of relationships. By the grace and power of God, we parish priests form relationships with our people, and those relationships run very deep.
Under circumstances like this, any unilateral and arbitrary exercise of bureaucratic authority will inevitably wound peoples’ souls. Those wounds may never heal in this lifetime.
Parishioners in Rocky Mount and Martinsville speak of the parishes being “cursed” by what the bishop and his henchmen did here last spring. Now another parish in Wisconsin will have to live under a similar curse.
As I mentioned, I do not agree with everything that my friend Father Altman says. If I had been his parishioner, I would have disagreed with him on certain points, just like many of my parishioners have disagreed with me, over the years.
The Catholic Church has to be a place where people can disagree with each other and still receive the sacraments together, kneeling next to each other in peace and mutual love. Our minds simply do not comprehend the mystery that we share at the altar. So anyone who would propose to “police” the boundary lines has to tread lightly.
Also: there has to be room for us priests to be our individual selves.
When we priests have criticisms of managerial decisions made by our superiors in the chain-of-command, we have a right to voice those criticisms. Criticizing management decisions does not involve breaking communion with Holy Mother Church. The bishops ≠ Christ’s Church.
I don’t know the bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin. But it seems to me that he has made a power play that will wound a lot of people, without any real benefit coming from it.
A year and a half ago, I begged Bishop Knestout to leave me in peace. Just let me do my thing. If my blog posts are the work of a whack-job with a crazy ax to grind, so be it. You can show your strength as a leader by tolerating them. Ignoring them. In the end, the world ignores the work of whack-jobs.
He did not take my advice.
Whack-jobs vent their misguided spleens, and, in the end, the world takes no note of them. But when someone without power criticizes authority, and then authority turns around and punishes the critic arbitrarily, with a merciless power-play… That actually proves the criticism to have been valid in the first place.