Three More SCG Chapters on the Sacrament of Holy Orders

gospel commission

The “minor” orders:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 75

The order of Bishops and the pope:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 76

Clergymen need not be virtuous in order to give the sacraments:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 77

SCG: Anointing, Holy Orders + An Emmy?

Fra Angelico ordination

Extreme Unction:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 73

Holy Orders:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 74

Back in February of 2020, Kerri O’Brien of ABC8 News in Richmond came to visit St. Joseph’s in Martinsville, to report on the situation.

They have nominated Kerri and her producer for an Emmy Award for the report! Congratulations. Hope you win it, Kerri 🙂

18th Anniversary

McCarrick ordination

Praised be the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eighteen years ago today, then-Cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick ordained nine of us as priests, sacred ministers of the holy mysteries of Jesus Christ, chaste and loving.

At the ceremony, we all promised to respect and obey the bishop. Over the course of the ensuing years, McCarrick gave me my first three parish assignments. I gladly did his will.

But [PG-13] if he asked me to play with his penis, should I have obeyed?

The Cardinal was a criminal. For decades he abused his power as a priest, then as a bishop, to obtain cheap sexual gratification for himself.

In May of 2006, right after he gave me one of the happiest assignments I have ever had, McCarrick suddenly announced his retirement. He was evidently able-bodied and vigorous. Something weird was going on.

Turns out that the highest authorities in the Church were working behind the scenes to cover-up McCarrick’s crimes. My own current bishop, Barry Knestout, was apparently in-the-know about the cover-up.

It was an institutional deception piled on top of a criminal betrayal. When we learned the truth, over a decade later, many of us experienced intense anger and pain. I will spend the rest of my life trying to deal with the effects of this betrayal of my trust in Church leadership.

We priests do our best to obey. But we are also baptized and confirmed Catholic Christians, who have to prepare ourselves for judgment by God, just like everyone else.

We’re human beings. We’re not trained monkeys.

Last year, Bishop Knestout assigned me as prison chaplain for the diocese. I could not undertake the assignment because…

1. The pandemic has prevented prison ministry for the past year.

2. Bishop Knestout suspended my priestly faculties shortly after giving me the assignment.

A local businessman here recently offered to purchase a building for me to set up an independent church. “Father, people will come from all over!”

This kind, well-meaning Christian has the necessary money. But I do not have the will to do such a thing. I believe in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, governed by Pope Francis, and all the bishops in communion with him.

mlk birmingham jail cellI obey my suspension and celebrate Mass in the company of just the Lord, the angels, and the saints. Today my Mass will be for Theodore McCarrick, that he might get to heaven somehow. The pope kicked him out of the priesthood two years ago.

I wrote my bishop last month, asking him if we could try to find a compromise about this blog, so that I could undertake the assignment he gave me last year, before he suspended me.

He wrote back, insisting that I would never have an assignment. He urged me to ask the pope to remove me from Holy Orders. Then he quickly wrote again, informing me that he had asked the pope to laicize me. So I could wind up just like the former Cardinal who ordained me. Seems strange, since McCarrick abused people, and I just wrote about it.

Every priest I know finds Bishop Knestout’s petition breathtakingly unbelievable. Especially when you consider that there are convicted criminal pedophile priests alive and well today, who have never been laicized.

I do not know what my bishop has sent to Rome. I have asked for more information, and for a chance to understand the rationale and defend myself.

In his letter to me, Bishop Knestout referred to my “persistent disobedience.” He says I should be kicked out of the priesthood for a failure to honor my promise to obey. He has ordered me to shut up about all this. I have not done so.

Can’t we keep this in mind here, please: I made my promise of obedience to a criminal, a criminal that everyone in a miter covered-up for.

I’m doing my best here. I really am, all things considered.

How about cutting a suffering dude a break? I will happily minister to the incarcerated criminals.

After all, a criminal ministered the holy priesthood to me, eighteen years ago today.

Holy Virgin, help of Christians and Mother of the Church, pray for us who have recourse to you.

The Constitution

Chris the priest

Today at Holy Mass, we read the conclusion of Christ’s “priestly” prayer. He ministers as High Priest of all creation, offering Himself, the Eternal Word, in union with His human flesh and blood.

All Christians share in Christ’s priesthood. We all find communion with God, and with each other, by offering ourselves to the heavenly Father along with the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.

We base our entire lives on this offering of ourselves with Christ. It gives our lives their true meaning. Our participation in Holy Mass situates us in the universe properly. It makes prayer possible. One Christ, Head and members, glorifying the Father with the eternal and infinite sacrifice of love that Christ revealed on the cross.

Now, for this offering to occur, Christ instituted the sacred priesthood of the altar. He chose from among His disciples those who would minister at the celebration of the Eucharist. Those who would stand in His place, to bring about the union of the Head and the members of the Body of Christ. The sacred priestly ministry of the altar.

priestMy dear Protestant mother and I have been locked in argument lately about this. The sacred priesthood, conferred by the laying on of hands through succession in office, going back to the Apostles. The indelible sacramental mark that makes a man a priest.

We Catholics rightly recognize that in the upper ranks of the hierarchy, a false sense of superiority has produced a class of arrogant and detached men, men who seem incapable of governing the Church honestly and effectively.

So a lot of people rightly question the whole idea of a sacred priesthood. The whole idea that Jesus Himself chose from among His whole flock a “clergy,” a group of men who stand apart, consecrated shepherds, with a unique authority. Why not just have a ‘democratic’ Church?

Now, the building is on fire, to be sure. But that doesn’t mean that the basic idea of the foundation is wrong, or even really changeable. The Son of God did, in fact, start the sacred priesthood of the New Covenant at the Last Supper. He did so in order to make it possible for all of us Christians to exercise our baptismal priesthood as members of His Body. And He made the celebrant at Mass the shepherd.

Certainly there’s a better way to do this, better than the dispiriting mess we’re living through now. But we could search high and low, combing the Scriptures and the countless tomes of learned theology, and we will never a find another, better “constitution” of the Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us our “Constitution” when He walked the earth, when He celebrated the first Mass, when He breathed the Holy Spirit upon the original Apostles.

Our task is to serve Him, to obey Him, to trust Him. To offer ourselves to the Father, in union with Him.

Sinners, Men

Thus spake the noble Prince of Denmark to poor, sad Ophelia:

Why wouldst thou be a
breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest;
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me: I am very
proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at
my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,
imagination to give them shape, or time to act them
in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all.

…I took a brief trip to Guatemala to practice speaking Spanish. Imagine my surprise when I encountered a group of feminist Presbyterians arguing for women’s ordination!

Perfectly delightful. Lovely ladies.

Now, why can’t they be ordained?

Fr. W.'s new amigas

Continue reading “Sinners, Men”

Admissions, Etc.

Book of the Holy Gospels
Book of the Holy Gospels
I admit that my NBA Finals prediction has proven to be woefully inaccurate.

I admit that my last post was both 1) random, and b) insensitive to “Babe” lovers. (“Babe” is the best pig movie ever.)

I admit that I was hoping against hope that we would not have to watch the puppets during the NBA Finals–but these hopes have been mercilessly dashed over and over again.

(I thought it would be brutta figura to run these ads after the Cavs lost, and LeBron did not make the Finals. But apparently Nike does not share these sensibilities.)

gospel commissionYesterday, I had the privilege of witnessing the ordination of a friend to the transitional diaconate. This means that he will be a deacon for a year or two; then, please God, he will be ordained a priest.

It is a thoroughly moving ceremony. One of the questions that the bishop asks the candidates is based on I Timothy 3:9.

After the newly ordained deacon is vested, the bishop hands him the book of the gospels and commisions him:

Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practice what you teach.

May the good Lord help us to fulfill this demanding mission!

He Says He is Alive, Plus Father Cutié

Discussing St. Paul
Discussing St. Paul
In the autumn of A.D. 60, Portius Festus arrived from Italy to begin his assignment as Roman governor of Judea. He inherited a number of problems. One of them was that St. Paul was languishing in his jail.

King Herod Agrippa II came to the seaport city of Caesarea to greet the new governor. The king’s great-grandfather had built the city to curry favor with the waxing Roman empire.

Festus knew little of Judaism and nothing of Christianity. Nonetheless, in his conversation with Herod Agrippa, the new Roman governor unwittingly distilled the life of St. Paul into one single, perfect sentence.

Continue reading “He Says He is Alive, Plus Father Cutié”

Bigger and Better Things

Red in the red.  Caps out.
Red in the red. Caps out.

Dirk hit the...dirt.  Dallas out.
Dirk hit the...dirt. Dallas out.

My teams are out.

Now I have to come up with more subject matter. Yikes.

…By a strange co-inky-dink, a priest friend of mine from the Pittsburgh area is visiting this week.

Soon, he will return to the land of gleeful Penguins people. He promised that he would speak to them about our pain.

BrooklynTrolleyYes, the Penguins won the series fair-and-square. But it hurts. It hurts…

…Did you know that, back in the late 19th century, the borough of Brooklyn was thick with trolley cars?

There were so many trolley car lines in Brooklyn that Manhattanites called their Brooklyn neighbors ‘trolley dodgers.’

mannyThis is the origin of the name of Manny Ramirez’s team

Another question I have is: Why does Notre Dame University hold its graduation ceremony on Sunday? I thought college graduations were customarily held on Saturday, Sunday being the sabbath and a holy day…

…Finally, let’s discuss:

Was St. Matthias the first to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders from someone other than Christ Himself?

matthias