James Still Deserves an Amanuensis + Lincoln’s Second Inaugural

from the “When Will the Scandal Be Over?” file…

Abraham Lincoln faced defeat in the election in 1864. But then General William T. Sherman took Atlanta (as recounted in Gone With the Wind). The victory restored the voters’ faith in the war effort. Lincoln won re-election and gave a second inaugural address in 1865, as the war neared the end of its fourth year.

lincoln-readingLincoln kept his second inaugural speech blessedly short. He quoted, or alluded to, the Holy Bible at least six times. His theme: the workings of Divine Providence.

Lincoln meditated on the preceding four years. Civil war had come shortly after his first inauguration. Neither side imagined that the war would drag on as it had, with 600,000 dead. But God had willed it so.

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

In other words: The U.S. owed the Civil War to Almighty God, as a kind of debt for centuries of chattel slavery. Lincoln prayed that the war would soon end, but then continued:

If God wills that it continue until… every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, …the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

…The bishop of our sister diocese in West Virginia recently wrote in a letter to his people:

As some of you have told me, we need to put the Bransfield saga behind us and move on.

But at least one of Bransfield’s victims does not agree.

On August 20, Bishop-Emeritus Bransfield published a “Letter to the Faithful” of our sister diocese, in which he wrote:

I am writing to apologize for any scandal and wonderment caused by words or actions attributed to me… There have been allegations that by certain words and actions I have caused certain priests and seminarians to feel sexually harassed. Although that was never my intent, if anything that I said or did caused others to feel that way, then I am profoundly sorry.

BISHOP MARK E. BRENNAN
Most Rev. Mark E. Brennan, current bishop of Wheeling-Charleston WV.

One of those seminarians that Bransfield harassed goes by the initals VGD. After Bransfield published his letter, through diocesan channels, VGD issued a statement, pointing out that…

1. Michael Bransfield’s attempt at apology and reconciliation is, in our Catholic Tradition, inadequate and unsatisfactory… We Catholics do not apologize for ‘actions attributed to us,’ or for hypothetical ‘ifs.’

2. Sitting Bishop Brennan had suggested to the public that Bransfield had privately apologized to his victims. VGD notes: Michael Bransfield did not reach out privately to apologize to me or other victims of his with whom I exchange support. [emphasis added]

3. VGD filed a lawsuit, after he had tried to meet with Archbishop William Lori, and with Lori’s investigators, and got rebuffed both times. The lawsuit outlines the web of cronyism involved in the situation. The suit also describes the sexual harassment VGD suffered at Bransfield’s hands. VGD writes, about his lawsuit:

I would not be seeking legal recourse if justice would be done by my church. The bishops in charge…delay, draw out, and stay my case…while at the same time telling us to “move on.” That is the language of perpetuating abuse, it is the language of cover-up.

Let’s just briefly recall the facts. Bransfield was about to reach mandatory retirement age, after decades of abuse of power–abuse that had been reported to Church authorities repeatedly, over the course of those decades. When it was all about to end anyway, with the malefactor’s retirement, one of Bransfield’s chancery priests denounced him to the Archbishop of the province, Lori.

Lori then received a mandate from the Vatican to conduct a secret investigation. Someone on the inside of that investigation apparently ran out of patience with the endless secrecy of the ecclesiastical cronies and leaked the whole report to the Washington Post. This gave the world access to the stunning details of Bransfield’s abuses of power. One of those details: Bransfield had given Lori cash gifts.

Archbishop William Lori
Archbishop William Lori

Lori suppressed that fact from the final version of the report. (Lori’s deception there may be what pushed the leaker over the edge.)

The investigators’ report recommended punishments for Bransfield, most of which have never happened. As someone Bransfield sexually harassed, VGD asked:

Are we supposed to simply sleep well at night crossing our fingers and just hoping that the re-empowered “bishop” Bransfield doesn’t get drunk and call us in the middle of the night, again? Or text us in the middle of the night, again?

VGD went on:

We can keep waiting for a scrubbed McCarrick report, or we can simply watch Bransfield unfold. We can watch our bishops demonstrate how to give gifts, how to make payments, how to promote your proteges, auxiliaries, and successors, how to bury and defy an abuse report, how to redact your own names, how to get away with it.

…A few weeks ago, a group of clerical sex-abuse survivors in Buffalo NY wrote to Pope Francis. They lamented that they had tried to communicate with the Apostolic Administrator currently running their diocese, without any success.

From the time the apostolic administrator, Edward Scharfenberger. came to Buffalo, he stated on numerous occasions his willingness to meet with any Survivor and offered the opportunity to see the files of our offenders. To this date, even with our reaching out to him, he has never personally followed through to contact any of us, making his words as a representative of the Catholic Church ring hollow. As Survivors, we are forced to relive our past experiences of sexual abuse, and being ignored re-traumatizes us.

pope francis head rubThe sex-abuse survivors asked the pope:

Why have you not taken swift and decisive action in putting and end to the sexual abuse of children and punish the perpetrators under your authority?

…The pattern has long since gotten familiar. Promises made by prelates of personal interactions with survivors that will bring about reconciliation. Then it never happens.

Reminds me of one fact recounted in the Minnesota Public Radio series Betrayed by Silence, which won a prestigious journalism award in 2014. The series exposed the duplicity of  three Twin-Cities Archbishops, including the late Harry Flynn, who had previously served as bishop in Lafayette LA.

(Flynn also chaired the committee that drafted the Dallas Charter of 2002, sharing the limelight on that occasion with Theodore McCarrick.)

The Scandal began in Lafayette, with the predations of Father Gilbert Gauthe. The MPR reporters found one of Gauthe’s victims, Mr. Scott Gastal. They told Gastal how Flynn had said he met with Gauthe’s victims. “Did he meet with you?”

“That’s the first I’m hearing of anything like that,” Gastal replied.

Betrayed by Silence also recounts how Mr. Tom Mahowald sought justice and reconciliation by seeking an encounter with a diocesan official, Father Kevin McDonough–only to have Father Kevin slam the door in his face:

…My point is: President Abraham Lincoln recognized that he had no right to exhort anyone to “move on.” If the Civil War was to drag on longer, with all its misery, so be it. The nation owed God all that misery and more, in exchange for the misery that slavery had cost the slaves.

In our Church, a huge debt of pain remains. If every ounce of suffering drawn by acts of clergy sexual abuse shall be paid by another ounce of suffering drawn from the institution, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

James Grein speaking in Baltimore
Mr. James Grein

…You may remember that, 26 months ago, I committed myself to the task of collecting all of James Grein’s public statements. James recently spoke on a “Catholic Project” podcast called Crisis. He recounted the abuse he suffered at the hands of Theodore McCarrick.

Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick last year. But the malefactor still has the ear of at least one high-ranking Vatican cardinal. And the web of deceit involved in covering up for McCarrick remains very much in place.

Don’t give up hope on my book about this, dear reader. I actually have almost all of it written, but it needs editing and emendations. I will post the draft of chapter three soon.

West-Virginia Update

During the four-month period when I didn’t publish any blog posts, our sister diocese in West Virginia experienced some notable developments. Here’s the update that I promised, from the old-post mailbag

(written 1/26/20)

Bishop Michael Bransfield governed the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, from 2005 to 2018, sexually harassing numerous seminarians and young priests, and spending multiple millions on himself.

Bransfield reached retirement age a few weeks after the truth about Theodore McCarrick began to become public, in the summer of 2018.

Remember: truth about McCarrick did not become public owing to the honesty of any sitting bishops or popes. It became public thanks to the work of two lawyers in New York and the courage of Mr. James Grein.

If McCarrick had not been “outed” by circumstances outside the hierarchy’s control, we can well imagine that Bransfield would have retired quietly and uneventfully to the plush West-Virginia digs he had prepared for himself.

But, as we know, panic mode had struck the halls of ecclesiastical power in late summer, 2018.

We have previously covered what happened:

The Archbishop of Baltimore came to “rescue” the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

–An insider grew impatient with the dubious “rescue,” and revealed to the Washington Post that: 1. Archbishop Lori had commissioned a report, which found, among many other things, that Bransfield had given Lori thousands of dollars. 2. The report went to the Vatican with the information about Bransfield’s gifts to Lori expunged.

–Then it turned out that: The Archbishops of Baltimore, and the Vatican, had long known about Bransfield’s profligate ways. The faithful had complained repeatedly, through two papacies. The higher-ranking prelates just ignored all the complaints.

We traced the eerie similarities between how people complained up the ecclesiastical chain-of-command about McCarrick for over a decade, and got nowhere. And how they complained about Bransfield for over a decade, and got nowhere.

–In mid-summer of last year, Lori yielded to pressure applied by laypeople in the diocese. The Archbishop promised that an independent audit of the diocesan finances would be commissioned and made public. In November, the diocesan spokesman promised that the audit would come out “early next year.” Nothing so far.

[That is: nothing as of January 26, when I originally wrote this. On February 21, 2020, the diocese released a financial report. I discuss the contents of that report in an addendum below.]

–In late July, Pope Francis announced the “punishment” of retired Bishop Bransfield–even though no Church official had ever publicly spelled-out Bransfield’s crimes.

–Mark Brennan became bishop of West Virginia in August. Pope gave Brennan an impossible mandate. Then Archbishop Lori went to talk at Notre Dame University.

–In November Bishop Brennan announced a “plan of amends.” He went to Rome and discussed it with Marc Card. Ouellet. But Brennan said nothing publicly about the outcome of that meeting. Meanwhile, a former seminarian, abused by Bransfield, discussed the plan with a journalist. In the interview, the young man had some inspiring things to say, and cut through an ecclesiastical lie or two.

–Then the Washington Post stepped into this swirling nebula of feckless non-disclosure of facts. They went ahead and published the entire internal investigative report that someone had leaked to them in June.

Here’s one of our heroes, Michael Iafrate, commenting after the Post published the report:

Your humble servant read every word of the report. It illuminates the way that bishops can abuse their authority. The report has these shortcomings:

1. The Post published the edited version. That is, the version without the precise details of Bransfield’s apparent bribes to higher-ranking prelates, including Lori.

2. The report does not recount the efforts that good Catholics in West Virginia had made for years, to alert authorities about Bransfield. As noted above, West-Virginia Catholics had complained repeatedly to the Metropolitan Archbishops of Baltimore, and to the Apostolic Nuncios of Popes Benedict and Francis.

3. The Post has in its possession, but has not published, the letter that gave rise to the report. In August of 2018, the Judicial Vicar of West Virginia, Monsignor Kevin Quirk, wrote to Archbishop Lori to raise the alarm about Bransfield.

The Post has quoted Msgr. Quirk’s letter, but has not published it in its entirety. I can only imagine that someone attuned to the subtleties of the communiques of ecclesiastical officials could understand things about that letter that Post reporters probably cannot grasp.

At this point, a year and a half later, it seems to me like the Post really ought to publish the whole letter. Given the extensive consequences that the document produced, the public has a right to see it. (With names of victims blacked-out, as necessary, of course.) But maybe there are reasons not to do so.

What does the Bransfield Report teach us? Independent investigators ought to subject every diocese to the same scrutiny. Every diocese ought to have a similar report done, with the findings published for the world to see.

Because: Bransfield engaged in some conspicuous excesses of self-indulgence, to be sure. But, when it comes to excessively exercising mind-controlling authority over subordinates, Bransfield did not stray far from the norm. If anything, he was less severe than many others.

It’s the same playbook, followed far and wide: Demand unqualified, irrational obedience. Demand that everyone around you see the world precisely as you see it. (After all, if they don’t, they can’t be good Catholics.) Demand that they accord you the center-of-the-universe dignity that accrues to every man with a miter.

Make these demands capriciously, unexpectedly. But insist on immediate satisfaction. Punish anyone who refuses to submit. With the greatest possible severity.


Addendum

On February 21, 2020, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston published the promised financial audit. It covers only fiscal year 2019.

Last October, reporters raised questions about former-bishop Bransfield diverting Medicare and Medicaid money for diocesan use, possibly committing a federal crime by doing so. As far as I know, those questions remain unaddressed by the diocese.

The report released on February 21 does not disclose the lavish spending made by Bishop Bransfield during his tenure, which ended just as the fiscal year 2019 began. Genuine transparency would seem to call for a full disclosure, by the diocese, of all those expenditures over the Bransfield years.

The published report does disclose the amount that the diocese had to pay for the investigative report that the Washington Post obtained and published.

Over a year has passed since the secret investigative “Bransfield Report” landed on the desk of the Archbishop of Baltimore. It resulted in “punitive measures” taken by the Holy See. Those measures amount, at this point, to a reduction in Bransfield’s pension.

The Church never released any of the specific information contained in the report. An insider (or insiders) leaked it to the press. That provided the people of the diocese with a window inside a dysfunctional situation–a situation they had long known from the outside.

The Church still has not found Bransfield guilty of anything in particular.

Which means the hierarchy found him guilty, basically, of being a dangerous, self-serving autocrat who had the bad fortune of getting caught at being one.

 

Regional Church Scandal Update

Question 1: How did McCarrick thrive as a predator for decades, until June 2018?

Number of promises made by Cardinals/popes to provide an answer: At least four (Wuerl, Tobin, DiNardo, and the pope)

Number of answers actually given: Zero.

Question 2: How did former-West-Virginia-bishop Michael Bransfield thrive as a predator for decades, like his old friend Theodore McCarrick, until September 2018?

Number of investigative reports selectively edited by Baltimore Archbishop William Lori with information about this: One

Number of such reports made public by Lori and Pope Francis: Zero.

Question 3: How many former seminarians in West Virginia have sued the Church in the past six months?

Answer, provided by the West-Virginia press: At least two.

How many secret settlements of these cases did the diocese reach, under the governance of William Lori? One.

How many of these cases assert that the victim tried to communicate with Lori, but got rebuffed and treated like an enemy? At least one.

Question 3: How many bishops spoke at last week’s Notre Dame University forum on the sexual abuse crisis?

Answer: One.

Who? William Lori.

Forgive me for asking, but is this a joke, Notre Dame?

During the forum, Lori told his usual self-pitying and self-justifying sob stories. And he regaled the world with his typical mind-numbingly tedious tales of his own feckless bureaucratic bumblings.

Notre Dame University: What do you mean by this charade? Glamorizing the machinations of a documented liar and cover-up artist. Are you trying to shove the reputation of our Church even deeper into the bottom of the trashcan? Do you not realize that there are some serious people out here, people who actually know the facts about what has happened in West Virginia over the course of the last year, and who see William Lori for the charlatan that he is?

John Allen and Peter Steinfels: You should be ashamed of yourselves. For playing patsy to William Lori’s endless self-justifying nonsense. You show yourselves to be the hacks that you are, more interested in a secure paycheck than in any kind of real integrity.

The RMS Titanic of Roman Catholicism in our part of the world continues to sink, my dear ones, with bloviating nabobs on the bridge. Men utterly unprepared to deal with the catastrophe that they, and the men they kissed up to when they were younger, have wrought.

Let’s try to hasten to heaven as eagerly as we can. Let’s try to help as many people as we can along the way. Part One of such a business: Living in the truth.

Which includes this fact: The Metropolitan Archbishop of our ecclesiastical province is a careerist fraud. No honest human being should trust him any farther than Lori himself can throw medicine ball.

Spotlight Continues

Spotlight movie

The possibility of his returning to lawful courses and restoring to his fellow citizens their freedom and their rights was no longer open to him: because during the thoughtless days of his youth he had entangled himself in such terrible crimes and committed so many guilty acts that he could only return to sanity at the cost of his own destruction.

The ancient Roman philosopher Cicero’s description of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse. Or maybe his unwitting prophecy of McCarrick and his confederates.

Where do we stand now? A year after the most painful and confusing August in the history of the Lord Jesus’ Church?

1. In a December report on the dioceses of Illinois, the state attorney general pointed out that the terms “credible allegation” of abuse, or “substantiated allegation” do not have a clear, standard definition in the Catholic Church in the United States.

Even though the disciplinary procedures of the bishops’ Charter for Protection of Children and Young People utterly rely on these terms.

James Grein speaking in Baltimore

2. No state outlaws inappropriate attentions that could constitute “grooming” for sexual abuse. Grooming, in and of itself, involves no civil crimes. But grooming certainly involves a profound betrayal of any priest’s–or any adult’s–duty.

Over the course of the past year, no ecclesiastical official has so much as attempted to define what constitutes grooming.

3. Earlier this month a former member of the bishops’ National Review Board published a list of myths about the Catholic sex-abuse crisis. He defended the decade-and-a-half-long record of the large administrative and educational apparatus that the 2002 Charter erected.

Dr. Plante insists that the bishops can reasonably claim: they basically fixed this problem in 2002.

But, doctor: What about the fact that most victims do not find the courage to speak out for many years? Couldn’t many cases of as-yet-unreported abuse since 2002 still come to light, thereby altering your statistics?

Dr. Plante insists: That’s outdated thinking. It used to be difficult for victims to come forward, but now it’s easy.

I think most sex-abuse victims would strenuously disagree.

4. Last August, Carlo Maria Viganò reported that he had informed Pope Francis about McCarrick’s thick Vatican file, which included testimony about McCarrick’s sexual abuses.

Viganò wrote that he told Pope Francis about McCarrick at a meeting they had in June of 2013. That is, well over four years before two lawyers in New York uncovered evidence against McCarrick, more or less by accident–leading to his eventual downfall.

A reporter asked the pope about Viganò’s claim, later that same day, last August. The pope would not answer.

In October, one of the pope’s assistants, in an open letter to Viganò, insisted that Pope Francis could not possibly be expected to remember such a detail. (Namely, that a sitting papal nuncio to the US informed him of a file on a Cardinal, containing information about the sexual abuse of seminarians.) How could His Holiness remember everything he deals with, in the rush of events that a pope confronts every day?

Archbishop Vigano

In May, the pope himself echoed that sentiment, in an interview with a Mexican journalist. He could hardly have remembered what Viganò told him.

In other words, no one ever has denied the truth of what Viganò said about his June 2013 meeting with Pope Francis. He told the pope about McCarrick. Pope Francis did nothing until five years later, when he had no choice but to act. He hadn’t acted previously because he “forgot.”

5. Last September our bishop promised his “full co-operation with any independent, lay-managed, authoritative investigation into the scandal of Theodore McCarrick.” As far as we know, no such investigation has occurred.

I hate to quote myself. But, at that time, when the Catholic airwaves coursed with prelates promising a thorough McCarrick investigation, I predicted:

“Maybe sometime next year we will learn that the pope quietly laicized McCarrick. And that, supposedly, will satisfy justice. When the good faith of thousands of American Catholics has been cruelly mocked.”

I take no pleasure in pointing out: time has proven me right.

Lying, self-interested mafiosi make lots of promises of future disclosures of information. But then they never disclose any. They make endless pledges to study and solve problems. But they never solve them.

mccarrick and wilton gregory

These problems did not emerge for the first time last summer. At the time when McCarrick preyed on his victims–back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s–all these issues of Church governance already sat squarely on the table:

How do you foster an environment in which sex-abuse victims feel free to accuse the criminals? How do you verify accusations of sexual abuse? How can the Church give justice to victims in situations where the civil authority cannot, or will not, act? What rules must we have for priestly life that would prohibit interactions that could lead to sexual abuse?

These questions hardly arose out-of-the-blue last summer. If you want to blow your mind, dear reader, click this link and read the report submitted to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by Thomas Doyle, Ray Mouton, and Michael Peterson. In 1985. 1985.

Among victims’ advocates, that report came to be known at “The Manual.” The report raises dozens of disciplinary, legal, and pastoral questions. Questions that the prelates of the Church must find a way to answer.

Over 34 years later, most of the questions remain unanswered.

A lumbering, multi-generational mafia of incompetent frauds runs the Church. It’s a sad and evident fact, with no short-term hope in sight.

A couple weeks ago, a West-Virginia theologian named Michael Iafrate published an essay in the Washington Post about the crisis of leadership in the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

If you’ve followed my posts about Bransfield and Lori, you know the saga. Bransfield did wrong, and nobody paid attention for over a decade. Then everyone panicked last August. Archbishop Lori of Baltimore “investigated.” Bransfield got “punished.” New bishop installed. Case closed.

Iafrate concludes his essay:

From the start, some West Virginia Catholics including myself were suspicious of the investigation because Lori wouldn’t reveal the investigators’ identities and other basic details of the probe. We felt justified when The Washington Post report came out in early June showing that Lori was among the recipients of Bransfield’s gifts — using funds for which Bransfield was later reimbursed by the diocese. Lori received $10,500 in checks from Bransfield, The Post reported, and then redacted the names of gift recipients, including his own, from the report before it went to Rome.

The archbishop later apologized for the decision, but he told a West Virginia newspaper, “As you can see, it didn’t prevent me from authorizing a no-holds-barred report.” “As you can see” is funny language to use in reference to a report that remains hidden from the public.

Now that Rome has issued its sanctions on Bransfield, church officials want us to trust that the punishment fits the crime and that healing can now begin. But Lori’s tight control of the report and his misrepresentation of its contents still prevent us from knowing the truth about the crimes in the first place.

All of this suggests that the new system of bishops investigating bishops is simply a new face of the church’s textbook protectionism. At some point, the bishops could very well convince us that they are capable of investigating one another, and that justice has been done in West Virginia.

The only way to do that, though, is by atoning for Lori’s sins of omission through real transparency, including the release of the full Bransfield report and a full accounting for what happened in Philadelphia [Bransfield’s hometown, where he stands accused of sexual abuse, a diocesan “exoneration” notwithstanding]. Short of that, welcome to the same old story.

A full accounting for what happened with McCarrick? Looks like we will have to wait for Judgment Day for that. Because the mafiosi can only return to sanity at the cost of their own destruction.

Ecclesiastical Discipline in Our Province

Knestout Lori

The discipline of Catholic bishops relies on the oversight of Archbishops, and the pope. If our bishop did something wrong–like, for instance, suspending the ministry of a priest without a commensurate cause–the wronged person must seek justice from the Metropolitan Archbishop of the ecclesiastical province, or from the pope.

Here in Virginia we find ourselves in the ecclesiastical province of Baltimore. If Bishop Knestout does wrong, we appeal to Archbishop William Lori, or to Pope Francis.

We would appeal to them, that is, if we thought we could trust them. I have pretty thoroughly documented for you, dear reader, why no reasonable man can trust Pope Francis to do justice. What about this question: Can a reasonable person trust Archbishop William Lori?

Long-time readers might remember my noting last September that Archbishop Lori made a public statement about another one of his suffragan bishops, Michael Bransfield. Bransfield had just retired as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. Lori referred to “troubling allegations” against Bransfield.

Now, what I found most troubling about Lori’s statement was: We, the general public, had no idea what these ‘troubling allegations’ were.

A decade earlier, Bransfield had been accused–by a convicted pederast–of sexually abusing minors in Philadelphia (Bransfield’s hometown). Bransfield had been exonerated.

And Catholics in West Virginia had gone to their local press with complaints about Bransfield’s apparently profligate spending.

They went to the press in 2006, a year after Bransfield became West Virginia’s shepherd. And they went to the press again in 2013, shortly after Pope Francis became pope–and supposedly set a new standard of simple, poor living for bishops. (Even though the pope actually lives in a $20-million Vatican hotel, paid for by a donor-friend of Donald Wuerl.)

Archbishop William Lori

Anyway, no Metropolitan Archbishop of Baltimore had so much as acknowledged those earlier complaints about Michael Bransfield. No churchman had ever referred publicly to any ‘troubling allegations.’ Not a word.

So what in the world was William Lori talking about, last September?

Actually, it was not difficult to see through the smokescreen. The long-slumbering hand of ecclesiastical discipline had bestirred itself to imitate action. The McCarrick Affair had exposed to the world the utter paralysis of the prelates of the Catholic hierarchy, when it comes to disciplining each other. So Lori–and Pope Francis–had something to prove.

Of course they had no trouble finding “troubling allegations” against Bransfield. All they had to do was search their own files, where repeated complaints had languished for years. (Probably in the same Vatican drawer as the McCarrick sex-abuse settlements from a dozen years ago.)

Anyway, Archbishop Lori proceeded to announce this past March that a ‘preliminary investigation’ had run its course. Bransfield should no longer minister as a bishop or priest. At least not in Lori’s territory.

That would have been the last anyone ever heard about any of this. Except: Someone on the inside had gotten fed-up with William Lori’s endless self-serving nonsense. Some insider(s) decided to provide the Washington Post with extensive documentation of the case.

Question #2: Why had the complaints against Bransfield gone unaddressed for over a decade? Maybe because Bransfield had greased the palms of his ecclesiastical superiors? (Using diocesan funds.) Including, of course: the palm of William Lori.

Investigators found that Bransfield had given Lori checks totalling $7,500. In February, Lori privately attempted to suppress that information. In June, it leaked.

Lori had known about the allegations against Bransfield for years. Lori attempted to suppress that piece of information. This month, it leaked.

mccarrick…An old, familiar pattern, my dear ones:

During the 80’s and 90’s, aggrieved individuals went to the Metropolitan Archbishop, and to the papal nuncio, seeking justice. They reported the wrongdoing of then-bishop (and later Archbishop) Theodore McCarrick.

Nothing happened.

(Until investigators from outside the hierarchy uncovered something. In the fall of 2017.)

During the 00’s and 10’s, aggrieved individuals went to the Metropolitan Archbishop, and to the papal nuncio, seeking justice. They reported the wrongdoing of bishop Michael Bransfield.

Nothing happened. Bransfield retired. Then, because the McCarrick Affair rattled the cage: An investigation!

Which led to: Lori getting caught covering up his role in the earlier cover-up.

…The mafia of self-righteous tinpot dictators that reign over our Church do not realize how corrupt they are. They always have some cockamamie rationale to try to paint themselves as angelic. William Lori styles himself a thoroughgoing Boy Scout. But I would rather seek justice from Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall.

We live in a windswept wilderness when it comes to ecclesiastical discipline, my dear ones. We might as well face that fact. We will need another Council of Trent, and an ensuing century of saintly self-sacrifice, to recover from the reign of these prissy, dishonest a-holes. But God will provide.

ἐπορεύθησαν Pro-Lifers

Huge Hoyas game today. In Morgantown WV. Against the Brokeback Mountaineers. If you need emergency pastoral care in Franklin or Henry counties, please make sure it’s not between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. Thanks. (Kidding.)

After their audience with Herod, the magi set out for Bethlehem.

Literally, the magi eporeuthesan. Whenever this Greek verb appears in the New Testament, it indicates a journey of some distance, a removal from one’s usual location. The word suggests a pilgrimage.

The 2,012th year of grace lies open before us, like a spiritual New World to discover. Where will we go? Where will the star of Christ lead us?

The Lord expects us to share the attitude the magi had:

Lead on, heavenly light. We will follow. Shine wherever you will. We won’t complain about the rigors of the trip, about sore feet or weary bones. We will not lament the comfortable homes we left behind to follow after you. No. To reach You, O Christ of God—to reach You will reward every effort we make. All the hardship will seem like nothing.

Of course, the magi knew what they were doing when they left their homes to follow Christ’s star. After all their long journey, what did they find? They found a beauty beyond what they could have imagined. God, the Lord of the heavens, had become one of us. And He did not sit on a terrible throne, lording it over His subjects with wrath and fire. No. He lay in a manger, a cooing child, smiling up at them.

Continue reading “ἐπορεύθησαν Pro-Lifers”

Mortmain + Ascension Homily

First, I have to apologize.

Back in February, I told you an untruth. I claimed that the covered bridge in Philippi, West Virginia, crosses the Buckhannon River.

In fact, the Buckhannon flows into the Tygart Valley upriver from Philippi. The bridge crosses the Tygart Valley River.

Union troops marched across the bridge 150 years ago today. The ‘first land battle’ of the Civil War ensued…

…From the Sister-Death File:

“Mortmain.” Know what it is? This is a legal term for the way in which a community of vowed religious owns property. (The term can also apply to corporations or charities.)

Vowed religious individuals are already civilly dead. The passage of time does not bring the usual legal events in ownership of their property, like wills and estate taxes. The mort main, the ‘dead hand,’ grasps the property forever…

…Not sure when Ascension Day occurs?

Me, neither.

But here is a sermon:

Continue reading “Mortmain + Ascension Homily”

Some Catching Up to Do



If you are like me, you might find yourself in such a state that you need to check yourself into a mountain hermitage and take up manual labor.

Thankfully, in such cases, the good Lord has a lot more than $6 million at His disposal.

…I wanted to let you know that the covered bridge over the Buckhannon River at Philippi, West Virginia, is one of the coolest things on earth.

Also, in honor of Hosni Mubarak, here are a couple of deposed-king speeches written by William Shakespeare:

What must the King do now? Must he submit?
The King shall do it. Must he be deposed?
The King shall be contented. Must he lose
The name of king? I’ God’s name, let it go.
I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,
My gay apparel for an almsman’s gown,
My figured goblets for a dish of wood,
My scepter for a palmer’s walking-staff,
My subjects for a pair of carvèd saints,
And my large kingdom for a little grave,
A little, little grave, an obscure grave;
Or I’ll be buried in the King’s highway,
Some way of common trade, where subjects’ feet
May hourly trample on their sovereign’s head;
For on my heart they tread now whilst I live,
And, buried once, why not upon my head? (Richard II)

For what is in this world but grief and woe?
O God! methinks it were a happy life,
To be no better than a homely swain;
To sit upon a hill, as I do now,
To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
Thereby to see the minutes how they run,
How many make the hour full complete;
How many hours bring about the day;
How many days will finish up the year;
How many years a mortal man may live.
When this is known, then to divide the times:
So many hours must I tend my flock;
So many hours must I take my rest;
So many hours must I contemplate;
So many hours must I sport myself;
So many days my ewes have been with young;
So many weeks ere the poor fools will ean: (=give birth)
So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:
So minutes, hours, days, months, and years,
Pass’d over to the end they were created,
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.
Ah, what a life were this! how sweet! how lovely!
Gives not the hawthorn-bush a sweeter shade
To shepherds looking on their silly sheep,
Than doth a rich embroider’d canopy
To kings that fear their subjects’ treachery?
O, yes, it doth; a thousand-fold it doth.
And to conclude, the shepherd’s homely curds,
His cold thin drink out of his leather bottle.
His wonted sleep under a fresh tree’s shade,
All which secure and sweetly he enjoys,
Is far beyond a prince’s delicates,
His viands sparkling in a golden cup,
His body couched in a curious bed,
When care, mistrust, and treason waits on him. (Henry VI)

…Did anyone catch John Travolta outside the Waldorf Astoria when we were talking about the Roosevelt Tunnel last fall? Well, it seems he has decided to get back on the train.

Coming up Short

marchmapThe March for Life just keeps getting shorter and shorter.

We used to start at the Ellipse (15th St., N.W.) Then we started at 7th St. This afternoon we started at 4th St.

So it was really the Stroll for Life up Capitol Hill. Nonetheless, it was inspiring and beautiful. There were lots and lots and lots of people. It was the most warm and sunny day we have had for the march for years.

So there is hope. But…

Continue reading “Coming up Short”