Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Challenging A Bishop's Authority

The following article was given by one of the commenters in the last entry post.  The Catholic Church was never a democracy, and the Bishop does have the right to move priests to another parish and even to remove him.  The division in Guam's Church is mainly in the clergy rather than the people.  Someone in the clergy is bringing the division to the people by leaking out information to the jungle.  Whatever problems the clergy has should be resolved between them.  It should never be brought to the people.  The bold in the article is mine. 
Bishop Liam Cary
Bend, Ore.  This story was updated Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 at 7:38 a.m. central time.  Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of a five part series on the dispute between a pastor and his bishop in  St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Bend, Ore. Removed from his post last October, Fr. James Radloff filed an appeal, but his request was denied by the Vatican, as the Congregation for Clergy sided with Baker, Ore., Bishop Liam Cary. The Jan. 31 decision allows Cary to keep secret the reason for the ouster and permits a continued bar on Radloff’s public ministry. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Baker, Ore. Bishop Liam Cary's emphasis on the vow of obedience in his May 7, 2013 open letter to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Bend, Ore. is viewed by many as a key to Fr. James Radloff's removal as pastor.

Petitions were circulated asking the bishop to back down on plans to transfer popular Spanish-speaking priest Fr. Juan Carlos Chiarinoti, a native Argentinian. In the letter, Cary admonished parishioners and Radloff for the petition effort.  He called it “out of place” and said it “thrust into public view matters that must be dealt with in private and whetted the appetite for an explanation that could not be forthcoming."

Cary also directly rebuked Radloff: "In launching this movement to pressure me to do what he wanted, your pastor made a very serious error of judgment. He actively recruited you to stand with him against your bishop. ... On the day of his ordination, a priest places his hands between those of the bishop and publicly promises 'respect and obedience' to him and his successors. ... To build up the unity of the Church, priests must be willing to walk the way of obedience; and a bishop must be able to count on his priests to be true to their promise."

In a 2007 interview then-Fr. Cary expanded on how critical it had been for him as a diocesan priest to be obedient to his ordinary. 

One priest who has known the bishop “for many years” and worked with him, said Cary and Radloff's understandings of obedience and priestly ministry “are about 179 degrees apart.”

The priest — who asked not to be named — feels Cary views a diocesan cleric's core work should be carrying out the bishop's vision of ministry and parish, and that a priest is first accountable to his ordinary. Radloff operates from a mandate of “serving the people of God to the best of his ability” and that is his “first line of allegiance.”

Fr. Leo Weckerle strikes a middle ground. “I know Fr. Radloff extremely well,” he said Feb. 21. “He is an extremely hard-working priest, a great priest, although he can be somewhat precocious at times and can think with his mouth, and that can get him into trouble.”

“It would be a great shame if his talent were to be wasted,” said the retired priest who resides in the small community of Terrebonne, Ore. and who has had his own run-ins with bishops in the past.  

“The bishop really is the pastor of all the people in the diocese,” added Weckerle, a former chancellor and judicial vicar of the diocese.  “It is up to the priest using his knowledge gained in the seminary and in private study to put all his talents toward … carrying out the vision of the bishop.  A priest cannot do his own thing outside the bishop's vision for the diocese. It is up to each one of us priests to adapt ourselves to the bishop. ….”

The bishop has spoken

In letters to the editor of Bend's major newspaper, The Bulletin, and in reader posts following NCR reports, some accuse Radloff of episcopal disobedience. 
Summarizing some of these views, one parishioner told NCR: “So many Catholics here do not understand that the church is not a democracy and they certainly don't understand that we accept whatever comes our way cheerfully and with humble obedience. My comment will fall on deaf ears of those who want their way no matter what. … I would hope that they will receive the grace to forgive and just let go. That is what I am praying for. Those who have already accepted what has happened want to move on and make our parish a positive, welcoming, loving, and helpful place.”

Mentioned multiple times as “a major actor in the present drama,” in the words of one parishioner, John Henchman might echo those thoughts.

A parish council member and “longtime pillar of the parish,” in the words of another parishioner, Henchman told NCR on Feb. 8 that he did not want to comment, but he did say, “The bishop had every right to make his decision,” and indicated it should be accepted and respected.

Thirty-year parishioner Ken Roberts seems to agree: “We have no idea what prompted the decision but believe it had been brewing for quite some time and not done rashly. My take is that a lot of the people are still upset, not so much about Radloff’s removal but the manner in which it was done and the bishop’s seeming unwillingness for any kind of reconciliation or any public explanation of his decision.”

Many do not accept at face value Cary's insistence that he refuses to divulge the reasons for Radloff's removal to protect “the right to privacy of all involved parties,” as he wrote in his letter to parishioners attending Feb. 15-16 Masses.
Some say the language rings reminiscent of statements used by church officials to cover up clergy sexual abuse. 

Said one parishioner, “I understand the bishop is the bishop and all that, but my generation is not going to just follow blindly.”

While Radloff did take a vow of obedience, the priest did not break that vow by appealing the bishop's decision “to a higher authority because the priest believes the order to be wrong,” wrote Radloff's canonical adviser, Fr. Thomas Faucher, in a 2,300-word statement on the case released in early January. Written in a question-and-answer format, the narrative was later published as a full-page advertisement The Bulletin, paid for by a group of Radloff supporters
In a portion of the statement on the vow of obedience, Faucher wrote: “That promise has to understood in the full context of the church. No priest can be disobedient to the bishop if he appeals what the bishop has ordered to a higher authority because the priest believes the order to be wrong. The priest cannot just ignore the order, he has to appeal the order to Rome.

So, no, Fr. Radloff has not been disobedient. Fr. Radloff has done every single thing the bishop ordered him to do except resign as pastor. He has correctly appealed that order, using the official law of the church. Fr. Radloff has been totally obedient. He has not disclosed the reasons for his removal even though there are canon lawyers who say he could. But out of obedience to Bishop Cary he has not done so. He has not exercised public ministry, even though there are canon lawyers who say he could. Again out of obedience to Bishop Cary he has not done so. He was willing to go to Merrill, and then out of obedience did not go to Merrill. Fr. Radloff has never spoken to a reporter or given any type of interview since he was removed on Oct. 1, 2013

Faucher issued the document, he explained at the time, to combat the “destruction” of his priest-client's “good name and reputation” as well as to call attention to the “large amount of erroneous information” swirling around that priest's removal.”




  1. 'Caring and happy attitude'

    “Archbishop Vlazny will be missed for his caring and happy attitude that he gave out to the people. One thing that stood out for me was his sincerity and his gentle voice. St. Patrick Church in Independence was honored to have Archbishop Vlazny celebrate the 100th parish anniversary in the year 2010. He was entertained with a guitar group from 4-H which consisted of 45 local youth. It will always be a memorable experience for the youth because they felt his respect and attentiveness when he listened and showed his appreciation for their music. Our eternal gratitude goes to Archbishop Vlazny for supporting the Neocatechumenal Communities at our parish and other parishes around Oregon. We thank him for the love of God and for the church. He will never be forgotten.”
    — Elena Pena of St. Patrick Parish, Independence

  2. 'Respectful presence’

    “I distinctly remember meeting Archbishop Vlazny at the breakfast table in Rome in 1989 (he was Bishop Vlazny then). He made it easy to be in his company. His ready friendliness and early-morning cheerfulness stuck in my mind. Eight years later in a noisy Roman restaurant I was on the edge of Archbishop’s conversation with the person across the table from me. To add my two cents, I said, ‘Archbishop.’
    “He turned completely around, faced me directly, set both hands on his lap, and gave me his undivided attention. I had nothing of importance to say, but he made me feel I was worth listening to. That moment has stayed with me, too. More than once I have used it to illustrate how deeply we can be touched by the simple gift of respectful presence. This was by no means the last time Archbishop Vlazny touched me with his.
    “Of the many gifts Archbishop Vlazny has given his people, these are not the least — his perpetual good cheer and the way he gently conveys it to the person before him. These are qualities which are hard to forget. They invite imitation.”
    — Baker Bishop Liam Cary, former priest of the Archdiocese of Portland

  3. I know its off topic, but I wonder what Diana and the cats make of the support of their good friends - The Jews - for the recent US Supreme Court ruling in favour of so-called same-sex marriage?


    I wonder if Ernie would like to tell us how we should be more like the Jews now?

    1. Dear Anonymous at 3:50 pm,

      Forget the Jews! What do you have to say about the majority of Catholics who support gay marriage???

  4. Thanks for letting the article through, I felt it was worth sharing.

    -Jokers Wild