Friday, May 17, 2019

Congratulations to Cesar Izaguirre and Wilmer Chirino

On May 11th, Archbishop Charles Chaput ordained five men for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Two of those men were from RMS Guam: Cesar Izaguirre and Wilmer Chirino.  Next year, these men will become priests. Archbishop Chaput can thank Archbishop Byrnes for rejecting these two RMS seminarians from Guam.  You can find more photos of the ordination here.  Congratulations Deacon Cesar and Deacon Wilmer.  

Deacon Cesar Izaguirre receives a chamorro necklace, a tradition in his Guam culture.

Wilmer Chirino kisses the stole that he will wear as a deacon in liturgies.

Presenting themselves in St. Martin’s Chapel are, from left, Cesar Izaguirre and Wilmer Chirino of the Neocatechumenal Way, and Kevin Okafor, Louis Monica and August Taglianetti of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bishop Baldacchino To Lead Las Cruces Diocese

On December 18, 2016, I published a post on Bishop Peter Baldacchino.  In 2014, Monsignor Peter Baldacchino became the new Auxillary Bishop of Miami, Florida. He can speak English, Spanish, Creole, Italian, and Maltese.  He was formed in the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.  He was also in the same community as Father Pius. 

Yes indeed, some of the priests formed in RMS have gone on to become bishops.  Recently Pope Francis appointed Bishop Baldacchino to head the Diocese of Las Cruces in New Mexico, making him the first Diocesan Bishop associated with the Neocatechumenal Way in the U.S. mainland.  Praise the Lord!!!!  We now have an RMS Bishop leading a Diocese in the United States.  The following article can be found here.


Bishop Peter Baldacchino. Credit: Archdiocese of Miami.

.- Pope Francis Wednesday appointed Bishop Peter Baldacchino to head the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico – making him the first diocesan bishop associated with the Neocatechumenal Way to serve in a mainland U.S. diocese.
Baldacchino, 58, has been an auxiliary bishop of Miami, Florida, since 2014. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark in 1996.
As a seminarian in Newark, Baldacchino studied at the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University but lived at the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary.
Baldacchino’s formation was in part guided by the Neocatechumenal Way, a post-baptismal itinerary of Christian formation first approved by Pope Paul VI and supported by each of the subsequent popes.
Seminarians who discern their vocation while involved with the Neocatechumenal Way are encouraged to place special emphasis on the universal missionary character of the priesthood and offer themselves, at the discretion of their local bishop, in service to the New Evangelization anywhere in the world.
Baldacchino is the first graduate of a Redemptoris Mater seminary to serve as a diocesan bishop in a mainland U.S. diocese.
He was born on the European island country of Malta, to a family of four children. His family joined the Neocatechumenal Way while he was a child, but he was not initially drawn to the priesthood.
After studying science and chemistry at the University of Malta, he began working as a technical manager at a bottling plant. At age 28 he attended the 1989 World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, after which he became more involved in the Neocatechumenal Way.
Through the movement he was sent on mission, during which he started to feel called to the priesthood, eventually being matched with the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Newark. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark on May 25, 1996.
Baldacchino served for over a decade as a missionary in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, and speaks Maltese, English, Italian, Creole, and Spanish.
The Diocese of Las Cruces was established in 1982. According to 2015 estimates, it has more than 236,600 Catholics, accounting for just over 42% of the area's population.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Congratulations To Martin Munoz

Congratulations to Martin Munoz on his priestly ordination in the Archdiocese of Miami. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Bringing The Flock To God

The article below stated that the Neocatechumenal Way is like the U.S. Navy in that one would get to see the world.  This is true for one deacon who will soon be ordained a priest.  But then, is that not what Catholicism is about?  Going to the ends of the earth to spread the gospels, to save souls.  The Apostles also made it clear that this was never about them.  It was about Jesus Christ.  The Apostles and all bishops and priests are tasked with bringing the sheep to Jesus Christ.  The following article can be found here

Jonathan Rice, 32, who will be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by Archbishop Charles Chaput on May 18, is like his fellow candidate Francesco D’Amico: a member of the Neocatechumenal Way, a fast-growing movement within the church dedicated to adult faith formation through small, family-oriented parish-based groups.
The Way is rather like the U.S. Navy. If you stay with it long enough you will definitely see the world because active members, not just clergy, can be missioned to spread the Word of God anywhere.
Jonathan is eldest of the seven children (six boys, one girl) of Robert and Mary Elizabeth Rice. He was born in Corning, New York although his mother was originally from Honey Brook in Chester County. The family relocated to Denver, Colorado when he was very young, primarily for his dad’s doctoral studies.
During his early days in Colorado, his parents weren’t really practicing any religion and their marriage was in serious trouble. As matter of fact, on both sides of the family there was a history of broken marriages. Through counseling to save their marriage they somehow came in contact with the Neocatechumenal Way, and it completely changed their lives.
At different times when Jonathan was young, through the Way the family lived at various locations including Colorado and Indiana, and they were even missioned to Philadelphia for a brief period when the Way was first brought to the archdiocese at the invitation of Archbishop Chaput.
Jonathan can’t remember a time from his early childhood that he didn’t want to be a priest, and that persisted through the various cities where his parents were sent to help establish new groups.
“I like to say God gave me a calling before he gave me the use of reason,” Jonathan said. Because of the many relocations his education was variously at public schools, home schooling and Catholic high school.
Participating in the church in his own right from a very young age, he attended World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in 2005 and went directly from there to spend a year in Israel. During that time he stayed at the Domus Galilaeae, the combination retreat house and formation center conducted for young men of the Neocatechumenal Way who might be considering the priesthood.
As a young adult, “I was originally sent to Georgia and then to Switzerland near Lake Lugano not far from Lake Como,” he said. “I was in mission there for about two years when Archbishop Chaput asked the Neocatechumenal Way for vocations. My rector put my name in, and I was happy to come back to Philadelphia.”
He has been here ever since, and meanwhile, two of his younger brothers have also entered Neocatechumenal Way seminaries. James is in South Africa and Joseph, who entered last year, is in Dallas.
As a seminarian of the Neocatechumenal Way Jonathan has been studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary but living at the Redemptorist Mater Seminary, the name given to all of their houses of formation around the world.
While Jonathan’s sense of a religious vocation traces back to early childhood, maturing of course along the way as he grew in understanding, it doesn’t mean there have been no times of trial.
“I was willing to throw in the towel by nature,” he said. “There was always something going on, there were struggles and difficulties, but God worked through them.”
Unlike members of religious orders and congregations, when ordained Jonathan will be a priest fully incardinated into the Philadelphia Archdiocese under the jurisdiction of the archbishop, who will give him his first assignment.
After his ordination Father Rice will celebrate his first Mass on Sunday, May 19 at St. Martin of Tours Church in Philadelphia.
Typically a newly ordained priest asks another priest who has been a mentor or role model to give the homily at that Mass. He can think of a number role models including locally Bishop Edward Deliman, Father Augustus Puleo and Father Martin Cioppi.
But Jonathan doesn’t want a homily that talks about him, so he plans to give it himself. “I want to preach at my first Mass myself,” he said. “It should be all about the people, not about me.”

Friday, May 10, 2019

19 Priests To be Ordained By Pope Francis

There will be 19 deacons ordained by Pope Francis in Rome on May 12th.  Eight of those came from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Rome.  The following article was found and translated by my computer.

Pope Francis orders May 12 nineteen priests

Mass at St. Peter's: 8 ordinands from the priestly fraternity of the Sons of the Cross; one of the Family of Disciples; two from the Roman Major Seminary and 8 from the Redemptoris Mater 

There are 19 deacons who on Sunday 12 May will be ordained priests in the solemn Mass presided by Pope Francis, beginning at 9.15 am, in the basilica of St. Peter's. Of these, eight belong to the priestly fraternity of the Sons of the Cross; one to the Family of Disciples; two studied at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary and eight at the Diocesan Redemptoris Mater College.
The new priests will pronounce their "yes" on the fourth Sunday of Easter, known as the Good Shepherd, in which the Church celebrates the 56th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. For the occasion, on Friday 10 May, at 8 pm, the Office for Vocations of the Diocese of Rome, in collaboration with the Roman seminaries, promotes a prayer vigil for vocations, in the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano; after the testimonies of three ordinands, a reflection by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis is scheduled, followed by a moment of adoration.

They have different origins and experiences, but the nineteen deacons feel the same emotions. "These boys have had the good fortune of being educated in faith in a community context, ever since they were children", comments the general moderator of the Sons of the Cross, Fr. James Martinelli, regarding the eight ordinands who are part of the priestly fraternity he founded. This is Michele Reschini, born in 1990 in Busto Arsizio (Varese), like his fellow student Francesco Maria Sametti, two years younger; Goran Kühner, originally from Zagreb, with his 46 years is the most mature of the group; still Andrea Vignati from Legnano (Milan); Giovanni Maggioni, who is completing his Licentiate thesis in Biblical Theology and comes from Segrate (Milan); Tommaso Fontana, born in 1991 in Gravedona (Como); Massimiliano Maria Spezia, he is also 27, from the province of Varese; Matteo Mussi, from Rho (Milan).
He is a member of the Disciple Family John Larry Flores Panaifo, born in Iquitos, in the Loreto region of Peru. "Currently - says Superior General Don Savino D'Amelio - he carries out his diaconal ministry in Gioia del Colle".
At the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, however, were formed Alessandro Caserio, born in 1980 in Rome, and Johnny Joseph, from Hinche, in Haiti, who will be assigned to his diocese of origin. "I'm 38 years old and I was born and raised in the Centocelle neighborhood - says Alessandro -. Mine has always been a very normal life; I used to go to the parish of San Felice da Cantalice, I went out with friends, I had sentimental stories, one of which was also very long; I studied and graduated in architecture; I worked ... But even though apparently I had everything, I felt that I was missing something ».
He was able to count on the strong support of the Giuseppe Vattimo family, born in 1989, one of the eight future priests of the Diocesan Redemptoris Mater College. "My vocation is born of my parents' call to Christianity - he says -; they had the experience of the shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep, and so we entered the flock of the Church, and in particular of the Neocatechumenal Way. At that time I was little, I was about seven years old, but we can say that since then the Lord was calling me ". Study colleagues at the Redemptoris Mater, who will be ordained with him next Sunday by Pope Francis, are Calogero Amato, 41, born in Rome; Giovanni Cristofaro, also Roman but ten years younger; Aldo Donelli, born in 1987, originally from Castel San Giovanni (Piacenza); Giancarlo Maria Honorati, thirty-nine years old Roman; Claudio Piangiani, 45; Makoto Ota, Japanese of Aomori, and Simone Montori, born in 1983 in Civita Castellana, in the province of Viterbo. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Missionary in Mongolia

While the number of priests have decreased in the western world, they are growing in Africa and Asia.  According to an article:
The Catholic Church has been increasingly turning to Africa and Asia to find priests to staff its parishes in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world because it's now struggling to find native priests in these areas, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
"A growing phenomenon within the Church is the use of African and Asian priests in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere where there are too few native priests to staff parishes," noted CARA in a report highlighted on the Center's blog 1964 Thursday.
Secularism has taken hold of much of the western world.  It appears that the future Catholic Church will be in Africa and Asia.  Below is a story of an RMS priest doing missionary work in Mongolia.  The story can be found here.


Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Apr 30, 2019 CNA.- When Francisco Javier Olivera was born, his mother offered him to the Virgin Mary, praying that he would become a missionary in Asia.

Olivera’s mother told him about the consecration after he was ordained a priest in Japan 22 years ago. Since then, he has served as a missionary, not only in Japan, but in China and Mongolia as well.

Fr. Olivera was born in Salamanca, Spain, 47 years ago. He is a diocesan priest working with the Neocatechumenal Way and has been a missionary for 28 years.

In an interview with Religión En Libertad, Olivera said his priestly and missionary vocation grew “little by little,” influenced by a series of missionaries and catechists who stayed at his family’s house. 

He also believes that his mother’s prayers made a difference.

“She offered me to Our Lady to be a missionary in Asia. I didn't know that, she told me in Takamatsu, [Japan] when the celebration of my ordination was over,” the priest said.
The priest said that Japan has been his toughest assignment, because there “you felt more loneliness, even being in a parish,” while China impressed him very much since “the people have a lot of curiosity and if there were freedom it would be amazing.”

After four years of living in Mongolia, he said he still finds the assignment “quite difficult because of the language, the cold, the pollution, the culture, and especially because of all the legal impediments we have, which are many.”

The Catholic Church arrived in Mongolia in 1992, when three missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were sent to the country following the arrival of democracy and safeguards for religious liberty in the country’s constitution.

Later, other congregations of priests and religious arrived, as well as lay missionaries. Today, there are just over 1,200 Catholics.

“The parishes are young in every respect, many young people are being drawn to the Church…We already have the first Mongolian priest ordained two years ago and now we have a deacon,” Olivera explained.

Olivera works with a team of lay missionaries and families in the Neocatechumenal Way. He celebrates Mass each day, studies Mongolian, and teaches Japanese at a company where he tries to “take advantage of the occasion to talk about God, especially through songs.” He also teaches biblical catechesis at the local parish.

Conversions are not frequent, he said, but he has seen people “drawing close to the Church, especially through all the various social works being carried out – assistance to the impoverished elderly, poor and abandoned children.”

“Without a doubt, the love the missionaries are showing is gradually attracting the [locals].”

As an example, the priest recalled a young man who “was searching for God in beauty.” One day, the man entered the Catholic cathedral, where he saw a group of elderly women praying. Moved by the beauty of the scene, the young man decided to be baptized.

“Some people think that this life is crazy, but I desire it for myself,” Olivera told Religión en Libertad. “If it's getting a bit crazier, better yet, the more we see that it is God who is behind it.”

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Congratulations to Honorio “Ron” Valeavilla Pangan and Junee Valencia 

On April 27th, Honorio Pangan and Junee Valencia were ordained a deacon at St. Pius Catholic Church in Redwood City, California. Prior to their enrollment into St. Patrick’s Seminary, they were formed in the St. John Paul II Seminary together with the RMS seminarians in Guam. Congratulations to these two men, and our prayers are with them as they continue to pursue the priesthood. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Fire in Notre Dame

Some people say that while Notre Dame was burning they saw the figure of Jesus Christ in the flames.  And one of the first things that was seen as the fire was put out was the cross.  The photo on the left went viral as some people claimed to see the figure of Christ.  The photo on the right was taken from the air, where one can see the burning cross. 

Image result for Burning of Notre DameImage result for Burning of Notre Dame

Some people interpreted the burning of Notre Dame as a sign of a burning away of faith across Europe while others interpreted it to mean a revival of faith as they see a figure of Christ in it. The following article was written by Father Gordon MacRae, which you can find here.   

Notre Dame Burned but the Smoke of Satan Is More Subtle

Some time ago, I wrote a post about the great 19th Century French writer, Victor Hugo and his literary masterpiece, the title of which was incorporated into “Les Misérables: The Bishop and the Redemption of Jean Valjean.” Though written several years ago, it remains one of the most-read and visited posts on These Stone Walls.
It was never intended to be so, but its principle readership these days consists primarily of high school students looking for an angle on the story for book reports and term papers. They come to TSW from China and India, England and South Africa, Argentina and Australia, and from across the vast North American continent. Some come from Poland, but virtually none from France or elsewhere in the European Union.
The student marauders of my post seem to find what they are looking for. Teachers across the world must be tiring of my revelation that Victor Hugo received resistance from his young adult son who wanted the character of the saintly French bishop Charles Francois Bienvenu Myriel, Bishop of Digne, written out of the first draft of Les Misérables.
The younger Hugo argued that no one in post-Revolution France could relate to the character of a faithful, benevolent Catholic bishop. He wanted to replace Bishop Bienvenu with someone whose benevolence the people of post-Revolutionary France could more easily envision. He wanted to replace the bishop with a lawyer. Catholic leaders might ponder that irony before handing oversight of the Church over to their lawyers.
This story seems a harbinger of what Catholic Europe went on to become in the century and a half since Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables in 1862. More than just national identity has been absorbed by the European Union. Today only about ten percent of Catholics in France and much of Europe – with the striking exception of Poland – openly practice their faith.
Which brings me to the scene I witnessed from a distance – though with no less sorrow than if I had been there – on Monday evening of Holy Week this year. I returned from work late in the afternoon to a television screen filled with smoke and sorrow as the Paris Cathedral of Notre Dame was fully engulfed in flames. It was night in Paris, and the torturous flames rose high above the city illuminating billows of dark smoke in a scene straight out of the Apocalypse.
As the news spread and the flames burned long into the night, the full weight of what was burning before the eyes of the world cast a pall over Holy Week, that most sacred time of year for Catholics. The next morning in The Wall Street Journal, architectural historian Michael J. Lewis described the scene as “A Hole in the Heart of Paris” (WSJ April 16, 2019).
Mr. Lewis approached the story as “a catastrophe” for world culture, and indeed it is. The mighty oak timbers of the roof, now entirely lost, were a monument to 13th century carpentry. The vast oak timber roof that endured for eight centuries could never be replaced in the same manner in which it was built. The timbers came from trees that even in the 12th Century were over 400 years old. France no longer even has oak trees that can produce such timbers.
The architectural marvel of Notre Dame was begun in 1163, six centuries before the birth of the United States. Construction under three designers, each for whom Notre Dame was a life’s magnum opus, was not completed until two centuries later. Notre Dame survived the onslaught of the French Revolution. Rioters stormed the Cathedral to throw down the statues in the Gallery of Kings above its west façade “in the mistaken belief that these were French, not biblical kings,” according to Lewis.
And it survived Victor Hugo’s other literary masterpiece, The Hunchback of Notre Dame – originally entitled simply “Notre Dame de Paris.” The cover for the 1831 novel featured a sketch of the iconic towers and the elegant spire. Erected in a 19th Century renovation, the spire became, according to Michael J. Lewis, an “essential feature of the Paris skyline” when cameras recorded its fatal collapse into the flames on Monday of Holy Week.
The beloved novel contained entire chapters about the marvel of the cathedral’s construction, magnificence, and “birds-eye view” of 15th Century Paris. While Notre Dame was the framework for Victor Hugo’s tale, at its heart were the rights and plight of one of literature’s most tragic and sympathetic figures, the deformed Quasimodo, abandoned as an infant at Notre Dame’s door. The novel quelled the post-Revolutionary mob and “aroused a swell of public sentiment for the ravaged” cathedral, according to Lewis.
Now Notre Dame is ravaged again. After the Holy Week fire nearly destroyed this beloved monument, a reader of the political site, Conservative Tree House, sent me this comment which was written on Monday of Holy Week and reposted on TSW’s “Waking Up in the Garden of Gethsemane”:
“The architectural footprint of medieval cathedrals is the form of a cross. This afternoon when the burning cross photo from the police drone was posted, my heart sank. All I could see was the full structure ablaze. The photo caption stated that the aerial view showed the spread of the fire far more clearly than the ground view could capture.
“Tonight, having seen the online photos of the post-fire interior, and the miracle of that saved interior, the fiery cross photo reveals something else. Something entirely spiritual and miraculous. Today the blazing Cross of Jesus Christ, the unblemished, beloved, sacrificed Lamb of God, lit up the entire world on the internet. Just hours before, all Christendom turns eyes and hearts toward the Last Supper, the Trial, the Scourging, the Cross, and the Crucified Christ.
“During the holiest time of the year, by way of a terrible fire and a photo taken by a drone in the sky, all eyes were on today’s reminder of the Sacrifice made at Calvary in preparation for the Resurrection of the Son of God.”
Bishop Athanasius Schneider suggested in a commentary that the devastating fire at Notre Dame represents “a conflagration” – a burning away – of faith across Europe. With the roof of the beloved Cathedral burned away, the view from above is one of an interior that is miraculously intact, as the commenter above states, but strewn with wreckage, its vast sacred art and relics rescued by teams of heroic Parisian firefighters.
I was moved to see the throngs of believers across Paris in prayerful vigil for Notre Dame. Perhaps Bishop Schneider is right. If this disaster is a symbol of the burning away of faith across Europe, then Paris has an opportunity here to lead the West through another French Revolution, a revolution against the demise of the nation’s Catholic heritage.
A young Latino man came to speak with me in the Library where I work one day. He told me of his interest in going to the prison chapel on Sunday mornings because he thought this might be good for him. At age 20, he is part of a generation of Catholics lost when a previous generation drifted away. There are two opportunities for Christians on a Sunday morning in the prison chapel. There is a sort of generic Protestant service at 8:30 AM and a Catholic Mass at 9:30 AM.
The following week back in the Library, the same young man asked me why I did not go to the chapel. I explained that I offer Mass in my cell when I can late at night, but I also attend the Catholic Mass on Sunday. “Well, I was there,” he said, “and I did not see you.” It struck me that this young man knew nothing of the difference between a Catholic Mass and the generic Protestant service he attended.
I told him about Catholicism, and about his ancestors going back 2000 years who embraced their Catholic faith as the central force in their lives. “To turn your back on it,” I said, “is to squander your own heritage.” He had no idea, and now attends Catholic Mass where he thirsts for the salvation that had been denied to him by the neglect of a past generation.
And the world accuses us of child abuse! R.R. Reno, a Catholic convert, and the Editor of First Thingsmagazine has an editorial in the May 2019 issue entitled “Faith Amid Corruption” in which he makes a painful observation that sadly, but not irreparably, captures the state of Catholicism in the Western World:
“The Catholic Church in the West is full of corruption – financial, sexual, and spiritual. We are forced to face this hard reality, not the least because the weak pontificate of Pope Francis offers so little of substance. The corruption that afflicts us does not arise from overpowering lusts. Our age is one of nihilism, which empties the soul. The specter of nothingness paralyzes us.
“In an earlier age, the Church’s swaggering spiritual pride bred vainglorious prelates who preached down at the faithful from what they imagined were supreme spiritual heights. In our age, we suffer weak, managerial clergy who address us in therapeutic tones. Their greatest ambition, it seems, is to broker a concordat with the sexual revolution so that Catholics need never feel the least tension with the world’s ethos.”
That assessment, I am sad to write, is brilliant and accurate. An example of the “weak, managerial clergy who address us in therapeutic tones” has been coming from a wave of “top down” clerics – in Rome and across the Western World – who seem willing to set aside the Gospel for the sake of accommodating this world’s current politically correct ethos.
This is most evident in the hierarchical approach to the most visible of our scandals presently burning away the roof of the Church: the Catholic clergy sexual abuse story.
I listened to The World Over with Raymond Arroyo again last week as three men I respect, Raymond Arroyo, Robert Royal, and Father Gerald Murray – the “Papal Posse” – spoke of the need to apply “Pro Bono Ecclesiae” as the operative standard for addressing this story. “Pro Bono Ecclesiae” is one of the most abused terms in contemporary Catholic thought. It means “For the Good of the Church,” but more often it is used to mean for the good of the bishop or bureaucrat who is invoking it.
It is currently cited to justify setting aside the fundamental human rights of the most expendable class of people in this sad story: Catholic priests. To suggest observing or protecting the rights of the accused is now contrary to the good of the Church, but it also requires setting aside the Gospel as irrelevant.
In the ten years in which I have been writing for These Stone Walls, I hear from a phenomenal number of engaged and involved – and sometimes marginalized and estranged – Catholics. They want more than any other quality for their bishops to be more like the faithful Bishop Bienvenu, the hero of Les Misérables, and less like the self-serving “managerial clergy” who celebrate the triumph of the therapeutic that R.R. Reno describes.
I agree with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his recently published statement for which the spiritually corrupt are already attacking him. The sexual revolution of the 1960s to the 1980s – and the accommodation of Catholics to it, including in seminaries and among some of the clergy they produced – had afflicted the late 20th Century priesthood.
And I disagree with Pope Francis that clericalism has been the root cause of this problem. That seems no more than another accommodation to the therapeutic, and a denial of the sexual revolution’s wreckage at the heart of the clergy crisis. If there is anything left of clericalism, it now lays in symbolic ruins on the floor of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
But I cannot agree with Pope Emeritus Benedict – whom I much love and respect – that setting aside the fundamental rights of the accused is what is now for the good of the Church. It is not. Pope Benedict lived his life against a regime that justified the suppression of human rights for one class of people under a pretense that it was for “the good of the Fatherland.” He knows the inevitable question: “Whose rights will they come for next?”
This is a matter that I personally confronted long ago with my own bishop. When the 2002 wave of corruption erupted, I wrote privately to my bishop that I would cease to write and would remain silently – though unjustly – in prison if he asked me to do this for the good of the Church.
The person who awakened me out of that misguided overture was Catholic League President Bill Donohue. He urged me in a letter not to remain silent. He wrote, “What is in the best interest
of the Church is the truth. Pursue the truth, and you are acting for the good of the Church.”
R.R. Rena points out in his fine First Things editorial that “we are being tested,” and that rings true. But passing the test does not mean – must not mean – setting aside the Gospel or the truth.
So when a Catholic bishop shuns one of his imprisoned priests in direct confrontation with the Gospel (Matthew 25:36) it is not for the good of the Church. It is for the good of the bishop, and there is too much of that self-justified virus going around right now. And I am not referring to myself when I write of the shunning of a priest in prison.
On the same night I watched the Cathedral of Notre Dame burn, I received a letter from a priest in his eighties written from prison some months ago. The priest was legally blind, and at the time he wrote it, he was terminally ill. For the sake of his family who may not have known the depths of his suffering, I am redacting his name and, reluctantly, that of his bishop:
“Dear Father: Let me begin this letter asking the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom and insight. As I write this, I received a letter from Bishop N. I have received four letters from him in prison. The first two said that if I ever get out of prison he can do nothing for me. The third slapped me on the wrist for offering the Eucharist for a few fellow prisoners under an unusual circumstance.
“This last letter demands my removal from the clerical state. When I was ordained on June 2, 1962, I heard the words, ‘You are a priest forever.’ You cannot imagine the suffering that I have experienced since receiving this letter. I am 83 and blind. I am imprisoned, confined to a wheelchair and dying, but of all that I suffer, this is the worst. You can’t do anything to change his mind. He wants to announce that I am no longer a priest and that he did something – a knee jerk reaction to the Pennsylvania story. I pray that I may die by October when this is supposed to happen.”
After fifty-six years of priesthood Father N. was dismissed from the clerical state in October and died weeks later in prison. I am sorry, but I do not think this merciless act represents the fidelity that faithful Catholics hope for in their bishops.
There are priests falsely accused and wrongfully imprisoned. I am convinced, for example, that Cardinal George Pell is one of them. The administrative dismissal of Father N. without a canonical trial and a defense – even if guilty – had no honor and satisfied no one. Pornchai Moontri, in his recent guest post, “Imprisoned by Walls, Set Free by Wood” wrote:
“I have learned – painfully but I hope with some honor – the hardest lesson of all: that being the recipient of such mercy means that I must also practice it. I can’t forget what Father G wrote in a recent post: “The Measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” (Luke 6:38)
It seems there are some bishops so unaware of their own need for mercy that they need not practice it. There is no form of “Pro Bono Ecclesiae” that leads Church leaders away from fidelity to the Gospel of Mercy and Truth. We abandon mercy to our spiritual peril. Fires are extinguished but a Church Triumphant would not allow the Smoke of Satan to creep so quietly in.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Pope Francis Goes to Confession

An anonymous poster posted the link to the following YouTube.  Pope Francis going to confession to another priest made headline news because people do not see this very often if not at all.  What Pope Francis have done in public was something that the RMS priests have been doing before Francis became pope.  They have also been confessing their sins to another priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The NCW does not hold their Reconciliation in the traditional manner.  Reconciliation is done where everyone can see them, but confessions can only be heard by the priests even with the cantors playing in the background.    

In fact, here in Guam I have also never seen any of our local priests attend confession.  As one anonymous poster pointed out in my last post, the only time he/she ever saw a priest going to confession to another priest was when he/she entered the Neocatechumenal Way.  I agree with him/her.  I also had the same experience.  When I first saw a priest confess his sins to another priest, I thought how wonderful. And it was in the NCW when I first saw a priest confess his sins to another priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  After the priest made his confession, he stood in one corner to hear the confessions of the laity.  This humble act made me realize that the priest was human just like us.  Right there, in the Neocatechumenal Way, the idea of putting a priest on a pedestal was demolished.  Right there, I understood then how the priest became a brother with us and a father for us.   

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Healing Power of Forgiveness

The short video clip entitled The Confession was dedicated to the "Year of Mercy" and was directed by John La Raw from Myanmar.  The film got five international film festival awards and was nominated in various international film festivals. The short video clip showed the healing power of forgiveness.  The Confession was nominated the best short of the International Catholic Film Festival.

Confession is important in the life of a Catholic.  Sin separates us from God and His Church. Repenting our sins through confession reconciles us with God and His Church.  Forgiveness is the only thing that can bring healing.  Money can never bring healing.  And this is something that our Catholic Church need to teach.  Christ does not just want to forgive your sins.  He also wants to heal your pain.  In the film, you can see the power of forgiveness working both ways.  One needed forgiveness in order to heal from the guilt caused by his sin. And the other needed to forgive in order to heal from the hurt he carried of losing his father. 

Receiving confession only once a year is not enough.  In the Way, we have reconciliation at least four times in a year, but the NCW always recommend that a person receives confession as much as possible especially if one has committed a mortal sin.