Friday, September 29, 2017

Two Articles On Archbishop Hon's New Appointment

Two articles regarding the removal of Archbishop Hon came in Italian.  Surprisingly, one of the articles is from Sandro Magister, who has been very critical of the Neocatechumenal Way.  Below are the English translation.  However, the English translation from the blogsite is not a very good one, but understandable due to the computer translation from Italian to English.  

In Guam, Archbishop Apuron was judged guilty without due process of a trial.  Although he has tried to tell his side of the story to the local media, he was unsuccessful.  Those from CCOG and LFM have already branded him guilty, taking up their signs of "Defrock Apuron" before the canonical trial even started. In Guam, his right to due process was violated. Fortunately, Archbishop Apuron  was much more successful in getting his side of his story told in a Vatican newspaper.  In our democratic society, due process is a human right.  

From Article one:
On September 28, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, 66, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, was appointed a new apostolic nuncio in Greece. Hon has never supported diplomatic missions and is a former professor of theology. In 2016 he was apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam. There could be two reasons for the awesome removal of Hon: his opposition to the obsequious behavior of the Vatican to China, or his erroneous judgment on the situation in Guam, where, after all, the discussed Archbishop Anthony Apuron could become the victim of a real defamatory attack.


From Sandro Magister blogsite:

From China To Rome To Athens, Passing Through Guam. The Ups and Downs of Hon Tai-Fai

The announcement is telegraphic, in “L'Osservatore Romano” of this afternoon:
“The Holy Father has appointed as Apostolic Nuncio in Greece H.E. Mons. Savio Hon Tai-fai, S.D.B., tit. Archbishop of Sila, until now Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.”
But behind these three lines is the sending into exile of the only high official of Chinese nationality in the Roman curia.
His displacement, which is geographic as well, from second in command of the powerful Vatican congregation “de propaganda fide” to nuncio in Athens is in fact anything but a promotion.
Hon Tai-fai had been secretary of the congregation since 2010. And in these seven years he worked actively on the portfolio of relations between the Holy See and China, among other activities participating in the ad hoc committee created by Benedict XVI but not convened again by Pope Francis.
Hon Tai-fai was the point of reference at the Vatican for Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong and an intransigent critic of an agreement with Beijing that would endanger the survival of the Chinese Catholic Church not subjugated to the regime.
A Salesian like Cardinal Zen and a talented theologian, Hon Tai-fai was a member of the international theological commission and edited the Chinese translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
it came as a surprise last year when he was sent to distant Guam, in the Pacific, as apostolic administrator, with the task of restoring order to the diocese of the island, devastated by scandals of every kind.
Charged with accusations of sexual abuse dating back decades and under pressure from the nuncio, the German Martin Krebs, to tender his resignation “at the pope’s behest,” the archbishop of Guam, Anthony Apuron, a Capuchin and a fervent supporter of the Neocatechumenal Way, flew to Rome in May of 2016 to explain his innocence to Pope Francis, but was not able to get an audience. After returning to the island, he suspended himself and asked Rome to send an apostolic visitor, who soon arrived in the person of none other than Hon Tai-fai.
He first ordered the priests of the diocese to resign from their positions, and then proceeded with new appointments that put back in the saddle the priests who had previously been demoted by the bishop and his inveterate adversaries, first among them the former pastor of the cathedral,  James Benavente, with terrible credentials as an administrator, less than exemplary virtues and a flagrantly luxurious lifestyle, and in spite of this a close friend of Filipino cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, an emblem of the new “poor” Church of pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Hon Tai-fai  remained in Guam for five months, until the appointment as new coadjutor archbishop of the diocese - meaning with right of succession - of the American Michael J. Byrnes, who continued working in the same direction.
The price for this upheaval was mainly paid by the Neocatechumenal Way, which had its “Redemptoris Mater” seminary closed and was almost expelled from the island. Curiously, the prefect of “propaganda fide,” Cardinal Fernando Filoni,  is however a great supporter of the Neocatechumens, unlike his then-subordinate Hon Tai-fai, and the events in Guam must have widened in no small part the chasm between the two and hastened the latter’s removal from Rome.
Meanwhile, in February of this year Francis sent Cardinal Raymond L. Burke to Guam in his capacity as a canonist, to substantiate or not the accusations made against the self-suspended bishop Apuron. Burke and four other judges, all bishops, will have to make their ruling soon.
Which, if it should recognize Apuron’s innocence, would again force the diocese into yet another rearrangement, of a character opposite to that set in motion by Hon Tai-fai, who as of today has been sent not very courteously to the modest nunciature of Athens. To conduct diplomacy, but farther than ever from Beijing. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Archbishop Hon Removed From Congregation

Image result for Archbishop HonAfter the publication of the Vatican Insider, Pope Francis removed Archbishop Hon from the Congregation and moved him to Greece. If you recall, Vatican Insider stated that Archbishop Hon cleared both Father Paul and Monsignor James despite the overwhelming evidence against them. He also rescinded the contract with the Lewis Roca and hired "Swanson & McNamara", which was a very expensive law firm in San Francisco.  He also started a series of interrogations of priests and seminarians from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.  The article stated that the seminarians were placed before a cross road: to obey Archbishop Apuron or "an archbishop invested by the powers of God." 

In one of his meetings with the Guam faithful, Archbishop Hon was also heard saying that he is the one with all the power.  Archbishop Hon also stated in news report that he rescinded the Deed Restriction, but Father Pius (the rector of the seminary) came out and stated that only the Archbishop of Agana or his successor have the authority to rescind the Deed Restriction.  Shortly after that, Father Pius was removed as rector of the seminary and told to leave.  In humble obedience, he obeyed.  Archbishop Hon was also the one who judged Archbishop Apuron guilty without due process of the law. 

After the publication of the article from the Vatican Insider, Pope Francis removed Archbishop Hon from the Congregation of the Evangelisation of Peoples and sent him to Greece. According to Vatican news:

Resignations and Appointments, 28.09.2017

Appointment of apostolic nuncio in Greece
Appointment of under-secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples

Appointment of apostolic nuncio in Greece
The Holy Father has appointed as apostolic nuncio in Greece H.E. Msgr. Savio Hon Tai-Fai, titular archbishop of Sila, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

Appointment of under-secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples 
The Holy Father has appointed as under-secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples Rev. Fr. Ryszard Szmydki, O.M.I., currently secretary general of the Pontifical Missionary Societies. 
Fr. Ryszard Szmydki, O.M.I.
The Rev. Fr. Ryszard Szmydki, O.M.I. was born on 26 April 1951 in Tarebiski, Poland; in 1970 he entered the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, in which he gave his perpetual vow on 21 January 1977.
He was ordained a priest on 2 July 1978; he subsequently obtained a licentiate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Urbanian University and a doctorate from the Catholic University of Lublin, where he was also a lecturer for several years. 
He served as a missionary in Cameroon for two years.
In 2005, after returning to Poland, he was appointed as provincial vicar for missions. In 2010 he was elected as provincial superior of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Poland and re-elected in 2013. 
On 3 April 2014 he was appointed as secretary general of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
Aside from his native Polish, he also knows Italian, French and English.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Finally, In Local News

The article published by the Vatican Insider has finally hit local Guam least part of it.  It would be great if the Guam Daily Post had added a link so people can read the entire article published by the Vatican Insider.  So, people (especially the NCW) start requesting the Guam Daily post to provide the original publication of the Vatican Insider.  The people of Guam need to hear Archbishop Apuron's side of the story. According to the Guam Daily Post:

Anthony Apuron
The Vatican City news website Vatican Insider added another alleged twist to the growing cases of decades-old child molestation accusations against former Guam Catholic priests.
Vatican Insider mentioned the child molestation trial of suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron, whom it describes as "now awaiting his verdict by the (Vatican Tribunal) presided by Cardinal Burke in the coming days."
The Apuron trial, continued the Vatican Insider, is allegedly part of a long chain of events on an island it describes as "in the midst of corruption, intrigues, abuses and power plays."
"But what might seem at first glance like another sad story of a pedophile priest on closer inspection becomes a much more complex account of rivalries, plotting, power games, and sex scandals – real or invented – and media campaigns."
Vatican Insider is attempting to make a connection between a failed attempt to legalize casino gambling on the island more than a decade ago, and the sex abuse controversies surfacing now, including against Apuron.
"Everything began in 2002, when a group of Chinese entrepreneurs first laid eyes on the Accion Hotel in Yona, built as a Japanese resort in 2000, but which soon ended up in bankruptcy and set among 20 hectares of seaside property," the report states.
"When it first opened, the property was valued at between $60 million to $80 million," the report added. It claimed David Lujan, the investors' alleged "local lawyer," was authorized to offer $5 million for the site.
‘Las Vegas of the Pacific’
"The idea was to transform the hotel into a grand casino; this was part of a larger strategical project aiming at turning the island of Guam into a 'Las Vegas of the Pacific,'" Vatican Insider claims.
The report paints Apuron as the church official who opposed the casino project because casinos "don't bring money, but moral misery."
Lujan was traveling yesterday and said he couldn't comment immediately because he hadn't read the story.
The failed hotel property later was owned by the Guam Catholic Church after $2 million was raised.
The church is now selling the former hotel-turned-seminary as part of plans to pay multiple child sex abuse claims.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Papal Letter To Japan

Pope Francis sent a letter to the Bishops of Japan in preparation for the visit of Cardinal Filoni.  What caught my attention was the last paragraph of the Pope's letter.  According to the Vatican Insider:
The Pope then spends "a word on the ecclesial movements approved by the Apostolic See", stating that with their "evangelizing drive and commitment to testimony, they can help the pastoral service". In recent decades, "in fact, the Holy Spirit has stirred and aroused men and women in the Church who intend, through their participation, to enliven the world in which they work, and not infrequently, involving priests and religious, also members of the People whom God calls to live their missionary life to the fullest". These realities "contribute to the work of evangelization", therefore "as Bishops we are called to know and accompany the charisms they bear and have them participate in our work in the context of pastoral integration". With these words the Pope is referring to the difficult relations between the episcopate and the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan. 
This letter could have also been written to Archbishop Byrnes.  In response to the Pope's letter, Bishop Isao Kikuchi had this to say (the bold is mine):
I am also delighted to read that Holy Father correctly pointed out our challenges in Evangelisation in Japan as a small minority community in the society. We quite often think these challenging situation in the society against Evangelisation is too huge to change, but the message of Holy Father is encouragement for all of us, not only for Bishops but for all of us in the Church community in Japan to re-consider our attitude towards to the mission ad gentes.

 Indeed, the Bishops of Japan need to "RETHINK" their attitude towards the Neocatechumenal Way.  Statistics have shown that there is an increase in Catholicism in the continents of Asia and Africa.....continents that are predominantly non-Christians....while there is a decline in the U.S. and western Europe.  Even the number of Catholic priests continue to grow in Asia and Africa.  Therefore, if seminaries are closed in this part of the world, how does one expect the growth of priestly vocations?  How does one expect to bring the Gospel of Christ to non-Christians?  Missionary work is not only about witnessing to your family at home.  It is also about announcing the Gospel to the ends of the earth......just as Christ commanded his disciples, bishops, and priests to do.  Bishop Isao Kikuchi expressed the challenges in evangelization; yet, he cannot see the statistics. In other Asian news:

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The Church in Japan must constantly renew its choice for Christ’s mission and be both salt and light": This is the appeal that Pope Francis addressed to the bishops of Japan in a letter issued yesterday by the Holy See Press office, marking a visit by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Card. Fernando Filoni, to the Land of the Rising Sun. In the letter which the Cardinal read yesterday to all bishops gathered in the nunciature, the pontiff asks them to redouble their "missionary enthusiasm" and not to fear the "shortage of workers" that characterizes the Japanese Catholic community, about 600,000 faithful out of a population of over 120 million. 
Warning against  an "irenic and paralyzing dialogue" with society, the Pope asks them not to resign themselves to "the high rate of divorce, suicide among young people, people who choose to live totally disengaged from social life ( hikikomori), religious and spiritual formalism, moral relativism, religious indifference, obsession with work, and gain, as well as the material and spiritual poverty of the Japanese people. He also asks them to "go against the trend and trust in the Lord" 
Finally, Francis exhorts them to collaborate with ecclesial movements. The Japanese bishops resist the presence of different ecclesial movements. In particular, in the past, there have been many questions about the evangelization style of the Neocatechumenal Way, judged by them too overwhelming and "sectarian". For this reason, the bishops wanted to close a "Redemptoris Mater" seminary in Takamatsu, which prepared missionary priests for the far east and that the work of neocatechumenals for at least five years was stopped. Pope Benedict XVI deliberated against this decisionThe bishops demanded greater dialogue between the two sides.
The full letter of Pope Francis can be found here. 
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, 
the pastoral visit of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples gives me the opportunity to extend to you my cordial greeting, remembering our meeting on your visit ad Limina in March 2015. 
I wish to entrust to you that, whenever I think of the Church in Japan, my thoughts return to the witness of the many martyrs who have offered their lives for the faith. They always have a special place in my heart: I think of St. Paul Miki and his companions, who in 1597 were sacrificed, faithful to Christ and the Church; I think of the innumerable confessors of faith, Blessed Justus Takayama Ukon, who at the same time preferred poverty and the path of exile rather than recanting the name of Jesus. And what about the so-called "hidden Christians", who from 1600 to the mid 1800s lived underground, not to recant, but to preserve their faith, and of which we recently remembered the 150th anniversary of the discovery? The long line of martyrs and confessors of faith, by nationality, language, social class and age, shared a profound love with the Son of God, renouncing either his civil status or other aspects of his social condition, all " in order to earn Christ "(Phil 3: 8). Remembering that spiritual heritage, I turn to you dear brothers who have inherited it, and that with gentle solicitude continue in the task of evangelization, especially taking care of the weakest and favouring the integration into the communities of faithful from various backgrounds. I would like to thank you for this, as well as for the commitment to cultural promotion, interreligious dialogue and the care of creation. In particular, I would like to reflect with you on the missionary mission of the Church in Japan. "If the Church is born Catholic (that is, universal) it means that it was born" outgoing ", that it was born missionary" (General Audience on 17 September 2014). In fact, "the love of Christ pushes us" (2 Cor 5,14) to offer our life for the Gospel. Such dynamism dies if we lose our missionary enthusiasm. For this reason life is strengthened by giving it and it weakens itself in isolation and agitation. In fact, those who make the most of the chances of life are those who leave the safe shore and are passionate about the mission of communicating life to others "(Evangelii gaudium, 10). 
I would like to dwell on the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus says: "You are the salt of the earth; [...] You are the light of the world "(Mt 5: 13-14). The salt and the light are in service. The Church as salt has the task of preserving from corruption and giving flavor; as light prevents darkness from prevailing, providing a clear vision of the reality and the end of existence. These words are also a strong appeal to fidelity and authenticity: it is necessary, that salt really gives flavor and light conquers darkness. The Kingdom of Heaven - as Jesus speaks of it - initially appears with the poverty of a little yeast or a small seed; this symbology reproduces well the present situation of the Church in the context of the Japanese world. To her, Jesus entrusted a great spiritual and moral mission. I know that there are no small difficulties due to the lack of clergy, religious and a limited participation of lay faithful. But the shortage of workers can not diminish the commitment of evangelization, indeed, it is an occasion that stimulates us to look for them incessantly, as the master of the vine leaves at all hours to look for new workers for his vineyard (cf. Mt 20: 1 -7). 
Dear Brothers, the challenges that present reality places before us cannot allow us resign ourselves or even give way to an irenical and paralyzing dialogue, although some problematic situations create concerns; I mean, for example, the high rate of divorce, suicide among young people, people who choose to live totally devoid of social life (hikikomori), religious and spiritual formalism, moral relativism, religious indifference, obsession with work and earnings. It is also true that a society chasing economic development also creates among you the poor, marginalized, excluded; I think not only of those who are materially so, but also of those who are spiritually and morally so. In this particular context, it is urgent that the Church in Japan constantly renew the choice for the mission of Jesus, both in salt and light. The genuine evangelizing force of your Church, which also comes from being a Church of martyrs and confessors of faith, is a great asset to be guarded and developed. 
In this regard, I would like to emphasize the need for a solid and integral priestly and religious formation, a particularly urgent task today, especially because of the propagation of the "culture of the provisional" (Meeting with seminarians, postulants and novices, July 6, 2013). Such a mentality leads above all to young people to think that it is not possible to really love, that there is nothing stable and that everything, including love, is related to the circumstances and needs of feeling. A major step in priestly and religious formation is, therefore, to help those who undertake such a journey to understand and experience in depth the characteristics of Jesus' love which is free, involves self-sacrifice and which is merciful forgiveness. This experience makes it capable to go against the predominant trends and trust the Lord, who does not disappoint. It is the testimony of which Japanese society is so silent. 
I would like to also say a word about the ecclesial movements approved by the Apostolic See. With their evangelizing impulse and testimony, they can be of help in pastoral service and in the ad gentes mission. In fact, in the last decades, the Holy Spirit has aroused and inspired in the Church men and women who, with their participation, intend to nourish the world in which they operate, and not often, involve priests and religious, also members of that people that God calls to live fully his missionary life. Such realities contribute to the work of evangelization; as bishops we are called to know and accompany the charisms they are carrying and to make them part of our work in the context of pastoral integration. 
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I entrust each of you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and assure you of my closeness and prayer. May the Lord send workers into his Church in Japan and support you with His consolation. Thank you for your ecclesial service. I extend my Apostolic Blessing upon you on the Church in Japan and on your noble people as I ask you not to forget about me in your prayers.  
From the Vatican, September 14, 2017Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Opus Bono Sacerdotii: Heroic Witness to a Heroic Vocation

I apologize to my readers for not writing in a while.  The world tends to keep us busy at times.  What is Opus Bono Sacerdotii?  It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help priests who are experiencing difficulties in their personal life and priestly ministry.  

The Church should always be a mirror of justice and stand by the truth.  If it has stood by the truth, the sex abuse scandal would not have been covered up as some Bishops had done.  Archbishop Flores should never have covered up the sex abuse committed by Father Broulliard.  As a result of the cover-up, many more boys were sexually molested.  By the same token, there should also be no cover-ups of the financial mismanagement done by priests.  The following article was written by Father Gordon MacRae: 

I recently received a letter from a 25-year-old reader in Washington, D.C. who wrote that since discovering These Stone Walls he has been reading intensely. “At times,” he wrote, “it has brought me to tears.” This was followed by the unexpected and ironic statement: “It makes me want to be a priest.”
The writer went on to describe his decision to continue reading past and future posts, and to explore more deeply his growing awareness of a summons toward a priestly vocation. The irony was that on the same day I received his letter, we posted “Saint Maximilian Kolbe and the Gift of Noble Defiance.”
The latter half of that post was about a priest of my diocese, the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, who was accused, tried, imprisoned, laicized without due process, and abandoned by our bishop and successors. He is now dying of cancer out of sight and out of mind of our bishop and brother priests.
I hope you will read that post if you missed it, but I found myself wishing that the letter writer would not read it. I do not want to discourage him, but if what he has read thus far on These Stone Wallshas not already done that, then I should not underestimate his own heroic witness.
This was not the first time that I have received mail from readers who felt called to priesthood and found that reading TSW pushed them closer to a response. And the response has never once been to flee in the opposite direction.
What could possibly be found in the writings of a falsely accused and wrongly imprisoned priest that would spark life into a dormant priestly vocation? I know priests my age and older who say that they would not foster a young man’s inclination toward priesthood given all that has happened over the last two decades. They assume that I must share that sentiment. I do not.
In “Thoughts Upon My 35th Anniversary of Priesthood Ordination” recently, I wrote of what I imagined my sister to be thinking as I lay prostrate on the floor during the Litany of the Saints at my 1982 ordination:
“I could only imagine her thoughts then: ‘Get up, you fool! Flee!’ Years later, my sister confirmed for me what I had suspected. I asked her if she recalls that moment. Her response: ‘I was thinking that they took my brother from me, and now look at what they’ve done to him!’ But such thoughts could not have swayed me then. They do not even sway me now.”

I find much hope in young men like Michael, the author of the recent letter I received. There is hope for the priesthood in the strength of the Holy Spirit’s divine summons when men like Michael can look at where priesthood has taken me, and yet find in These Stone Walls something that fosters their own vocation. Not a lot makes me happy these days, but that does.
I found another sign of hope that same week when I opened a copy of The Wall Street Journal after it arrived in the mail. This is by far America’s finest newspaper. It’s pricey for a prisoner, but friends chipped in for a subscription. I never find in its pages even a hint of the contempt for the Church and priesthood that has become daily fare in The New York TimesUSA Today, and, sadly, even the National Catholic Reporter.
But even my high regard for the Journal did not prepare me for the counter-cultural shock of this headline on its Editorial Page on August 11, 2017: “The Priesthood Is a Heroic Vocation” by Matthew Hennessey, an associate editorial features editor at the Journal. Here is an excerpt:
“Catholics around the world will celebrate the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe on Monday. [August 14]. His story is one of the Church’s finest, though too few people – Christian or not – have heard it… One thing hasn’t changed. Young men still want lives of heroic virtue and the priesthood offers that in abundance.”
It came for me as a sign of much hope. At a time when most of the secular news media views the Catholic priesthood as little more than a source of lurid headlines, The Wall Street Journal published this outstanding tribute, not only to a Patron Saint of both priests and prisoners but to priesthood itself. It is remarkable to read this in the nation’s largest newspaper.
Matthew Hennessey did not overlook the priesthood’s recent darker days. His op-ed pointed out that vocations to the priesthood have suffered at a time when “the sexual abuse scandal dealt a considerable blow to the priesthood’s once-sterling reputation.” With help, I was able to post a comment on the column at It was comment number 100, posted amid some virulent anti-Catholic rhetoric.
But the wound on the priesthood’s reputation has only deepened through the one remedy – amputation – employed by the Church’s leaders in their time of crisis. Amputation of the accused has not appeased lawyers and insurers, but it has only deepened the wounds. Its legacy is a legion of stories like that of the priest whose plight I described in “Saint Maximilian Kolbe and the Gift of Noble Defiance”:
“I was with him early in the morning as he left prison a few days ago, and went home to his sister to die. I like to think that [Pornchai Moontri and I] managed to fill in some of the cold abyss in which our Church let him wander alone in exile these twenty years. I cannot imagine, even in my most vengeful thoughts, that such alienation and abandonment are what Christ summons forth from the Apostolic witness of His Church.”
I was very proud of the readers of These Stone Walls for their responses to that post. Readers focused – as Saint Maximilian would; as Christ would – not just on the wounds of the innocent, but on the spiritual wounds of one whose sin had caused him to be cast out, alienated, ostracized as a leper.
With no path to redemption, the Prodigal Son stands at a door bolted from within. Readers rejoiced with me over one simple sentence in that post as we stood waiting to enter the prison chapel for Mass after his 16-year absence: “He was reconciled, and we sat with him.”
Our readers should then rejoice all the more at the presence of some real heroism and spiritual leadership in our Church. It emerged at a time of crisis in the priesthood, not from the chancery offices, but from the pews. It is described on the “History” page at the website of Opus Bono Sacerdotii.
“In April 2002, when the Detroit police arrested one of his parish priests on rape charges, Joe Maher did not think twice. Along with his business partner, Pete Ferrara, he drove out to the county jail and paid the bail…”
I wonder how many people, having read that far, would form a spontaneous judgment. It’s easy to do so. It is human nature and the printed word lends itself to that. But accusations are not evidence, and the Church must stop treating them as such.
When he involved himself in the case in Detroit, Joe Maher and his business partner and others obtained competent legal counsel for the priest, assuring an adequate defense. Truth prevailed and the priest was acquitted of the false charges.
After this, recognizing the absence of advocacy for the rights of priests in 2002, Joe Maher and Pete Ferrera founded Opus Bono Sacerdotii, a non-profit corporation whose mission is:
“To find solutions to the problems confronting priests in accordance with the authentic teachings of the Church and the Holy Father and his predecessors. In fulfilling our mission, the priests and staff of Opus Bono Sacerdotii facilitate care for Catholic priests who are experiencing difficulties in their personal life and priestly ministry.”
Opus Bono did not exist before my trial and imprisonment. I do not write that in a spirit of dismay, but rather of urgency for the Church and priesthood going forward.
At the time of my arrest and trial in 1994 – for false charges that were then almost a dozen years old – my bishop and diocese sought only my immediate amputation They embraced in a panic the advice of lawyers who assisted them in drafting a pretrial statement that condemned me as guilty before a trial even began.
With no other evidence in the case, there was little left for a jury to do. I was condemned after just ninety minutes of jury deliberation. Had an organization like Opus Bono existed then, such knee-jerk reaction might have been prevented. This travesty of justice must not be allowed to happen to other priests.
That has been my primary purpose in writing. But I can tell you that since then, this voice in the wilderness called These Stone Walls could not exist without the moral and spiritual support of Opus Bono Sacerdotii. And as my efforts at appeal grew, Opus Bono assisted financially with a fundraising effort.

Seven years elapsed between the time Opus Bono came into being and the time in which we launched These Stone Walls. In the interim, I was contacted by individuals, organizations, and even media outlets offering to take up my cause, but with an implied expectation that I would in turn cast the Church, the bishops, and the priesthood in the worst possible light.
Even representatives of the legal profession came to me in 2002 with a suggestion that all might go better for me if I would join other accused priests in throwing priests and bishops into the fires of a witch hunt. Whether true or not never seemed to matter to some of the serpents ready to take my side.
In all that time, I was aware of and inspired by the faithful witness of Joe Maher, Pete Ferrara, and Opus Bono Sacerdotii. But the strongest influence Opus Bono has had on me and on These Stone Walls is the powerful witness of fidelity to the Church while working for the good of the priesthood. Their work very much shaped the tone and substance of These Stone Walls.

The loyalty and fidelity of the founders and staff of Opus Bono are at the heart of its mandate to support, enlighten, and even challenge our Church in regard to the problems of the priesthood in recent decades. To its great credit, Opus Bono does not confuse fidelity with blind compliance.
As a result, Opus Bono has been the source of some sharp – but ever faithful – witness in the public square. Some of that witness comes as a challenge to bishops, priests, and laity to live up to the spirit and truth of the Gospel. I am very proud of Opus Bono for this.
The most recent example of challenge with unwavering fidelity came in the form of an important article. “When the Church Defames Her Priests” was written and recently published in Homiletic & Pastoral Review by Opus Bono founder and president, Joe Maher, and David A. Shaneyfelt, an attorney in private practice in California and an Opus Bono adviser.
The article addresses a destructive and ill-advised practice adopted by some two dozen dioceses and archdioceses in the United States to create and publish lists of priests who have been merely accused. The Opus Bono authors wrote:
“We take special issue with those dioceses who think that publishing a list of names of clerics who have been ‘credibly’ accused of sexual misconduct is warranted. We disagree for many reasons – canonical, theological, pastoral, and legal. It is this latter reason we wish to address here.”
The article goes on to present a brilliant, even stunning and chilling, explanation of what “credible” means in this context. Joe Maher and David Shaneyfelt present a clear and compelling case for protecting the due process rights of priests who are merely accused. After reading, I could not help but agree with its urgency. The article captured the flagrant injustice here:
“How ironic that a bishop, who aims to demonstrate his concern for one victim of abuse, will thereby create another victim of abuse – and end up paying large amounts of damages to each in the process. How doubly ironic that a bishop who initiates such a policy may someday find himself on the list.”
With this practice, some bishops have created their own private version of “Megan’s Law,” but without the law’s built-in respect for basic civil rights. In American courts, only those convicted in a court of law can end up on such a published list.
But some two dozen U.S. bishops and dioceses have published these lists with no legal entity requiring them, and little recourse on the part of the priests, many of whom are innocent, who have been victimized by them. These published lists replace justice with capitulation to a lynch mob and a scandal-hungry media.
I urge the readers of These Stone Walls to support Opus Bono Sacerdotii, to subscribe to its content, and especially to read and share “When the Church Defames Her Priests.” I have been one of them.
I have also been an eyewitness to the fidelity and courage by which Opus Bono, in its work for the good of the priesthood, has held a mirror of justice before the face of our Church.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Voice In The Wilderness

Father MacRae wrote another article and mentioned Archbishop Apuron in it.  The article is found here.

Among Catholic Blogs, “A Voice in the Wilderness”

Image result for father gordon macraeBack in 2010, I was contacted by a noted documentary filmmaker interested in an on camera interview with me. He and his research team had spent many months reviewing my trial and the public record in my regard and were interested in producing a documentary film about the story. Getting camera footage of an interview with me in my present location is no small affair.
But the interview was approved and the camera crew was allowed admission to the New Hampshire State Prison, a very rare event. Only The Wall Street Journal had previously gained such entry for interviews with me. The documentary interview resulted in two hours of camera footage to be edited into a hopeful film project tentatively titled “Perversion of Justice” as my trial and imprisonment had been described by The Wall Street Journal.
Today, the film footage and the entire project sits unfinished on a shelf somewhere. It was not the only project on the film producer’s plate at the time. He was also researching another documentary with the more general topic of Catholic priests falsely accused. The project gained support and an endorsement from the Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights.
The result is a riveting and compelling production with a focus on the Philadelphia cases of Father Charles Engelhardt, who died in prison during production of the film, and Msgr. William Lynn. The finished documentary was stunning in its factual coverage of a fraud that had grown out of control and destroyed the lives of several priests. It further developed a story I wrote about in “The Lying, Scheming Altar Boy on the Cover of Newsweek.”
But that documentary film also sits unused on a shelf next to the one about me. No American broadcast media venue would agree to air it, so the follow-up project about me was also shelved After my recent post, “Will Fr Charles Engelhardt’s Prosecutor Take a Plea Deal” I received this letter from the film producers:
“The ABUSE IN PHILLY film has gone nowhere, which of course has been a big disappointment. As you know, Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams has been under FBI investigation for corruption and has recently resigned [Note: he will be sentenced to federal prison in October 2017]. So there is still hope in getting the film out there as its main argument is the DA’s corrupt prosecution of these priests.”
Whether the news you consume is in America or Australia or anywhere else in the Western World, do not believe for a minute that you are getting the whole story about the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The original story was, sadly, for the most part true. From the licentious days of the 1960s to the 1980s there were true accounts of some Catholic priests behaving very badly.
But in America, three things happened in response. Church officials adopted a practice of mediated financial settlements with lawyers. This meant that virtually anyone making a claim would get a settlement. Activist groups like SNAP use the news media and the scandal to serve their own agendas resulting, in part at least, in a suspected lawyer kickback scheme in which SNAP leaders had allegedly been involved.
Then the U.S. bishops, in a 2002 time of panic, adopted the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” and its “zero tolerance” for anyone “credibly” accused. “Credible” in this context means that money has changed hands.
Since then, as is now evident in the “trial by media” endured by Cardinal George Pell in Australia, the news media has the story it wants and passively or actively resists all the rest. The media steers the news, carefully vetting what you see and hear. In direct or indirect cooperation with contingency lawyers and activist groups like SNAP, the news media often creates the news.
Here is a stark example. A few years ago, SNAP, the discredited Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, staged a protest in Rome near the Vatican.- “Staged” is indeed the right word.
That night, a CNN commentator reported that “the Vatican has denied an audience with the Pope for 100,000 victims of sex abuse by priests” who gathered in protest to have their voices heard. It was fake news. It was a lie choreographed by SNAP while CNN was manipulated and used.
There really was a protest staged in Rome that day. It was about an hour long and took place a few blocks from the Vatican. The event consisted of about 30 people, mostly SNAP members. It was 99,970 people shy of the 100,000 that CNN reported were there. Another 20or 30 were reporters who showed up to cover the media event. After being called on it by Bill Donohue at the Catholic League, CNN issued an embarrassed apology for the exaggerations.
As a Catholic writer in the “new media” world, I believe I have a single mandate: to place before you a story that “established” media neglects. When These Stone Walls was first launched in July and August of 2009, my first and foremost intent was to tell you the story of Catholic priests falsely accused and to present the evidence that most in the news media ignore.
These Stone Walls quietly turned eight years old toward the end of July while I was caught up in a series of controversial posts. I never set out to be controversial, but as one writer put it to me in a letter recently, “your very existence among Catholic blogs is controversial.”
Should I apologize for that? I much prefer Ryan MacDonald’s analysis of These Stone Walls as “A Voice in the Wilderness.” The Gospel itself begins with such a voice. My “wilderness” is the abyss of false witness. Having experienced first hand the status of an outcast in both the Church and the world, I cannot remain silent as it happens to others.
In his 2012 book, Hope Springs Eternal in the Priestly Breast, author Fr. James Valladares, Ph.D. quoted Cardinal Avery Dulles about an article I wrote that began These Stone Walls:
“Your article is an important one, and hopefully will be followed by many others. Unfortunate though your situation is, you are in a position to carry on an effective apostolate on behalf of falsely accused priests. The time is bound to come when the tide will shift and even the bishops will be ready to hear the priests’ side of the story. The change will come, but not before the public is prepared for it by articles such as yours. Your writing, which is clear, eloquent, and spiritually sound, will be a monument to your trials. – (Card. Avery Dulles, Hope Springs Eternal, p. 274)
That same chapter in Hope Springs Eternal by Father James Valadares includes something presented early on in These Stone Walls about why I write and what I write. It was a response to a letter I received from another falsely accused priest who reacted with bitterness to my call for civility and fidelity.
“It is ironic that this priest is often angry with me because he doesn’t think that I am angry enough. I assure you, he is wrong on that score. But being angry and feeling let down does not excuse me from doing the right thing. It does not excuse me from fidelity to the Gospel, fidelity to the Church, and fidelity to my own sense of right and wrong. At the end of the day, I am still wrongly imprisoned, but I have the freedom to choose the person I am going to be while wrongly imprisoned.” (Hope Springs Eternal, p. 275)
I don’t have a way to measure how I have done on that score, but my aim has been to place These Stone Walls before you with fidelity, not only to the truth but to the Church we serve. To do otherwise is to no longer serve Her.
I am not alone in this goal. This Catholic blog could not be possible without the assistance of four stellar souls from across the globe: TSW’s publisher, Suzanne Sadler in New South Wales, Australia; Father George David Byers who scans and edits my posts in Western North Carolina; Charlene Duline who keeps me in communication with you from Indianapolis, Indiana; and Lavern West in Cincinnati; Ohio who prints and sends me your comments.
After writing and posting “Cardinal George Pell Is on Trial, and so Is Australia,” These Stone Walls had a surge of readers from Down Under. For the first time in our eight years of posting on Catholic blogs, Australia was the second highest country visiting this site over a period of several weeks. Many of the comments on that post were appreciative that I took on the story of Cardinal Pell’s unjust “trial by media.”
But there were also comments that we did not post, and some of them were from Australia as well. One commenter declared that “the evidence against Cardinal Pell is overwhelming.” Then, without describing what that evidence is, the rant went on: “We all know the Catholic Church is a child-raping institution!”
That is indeed evidence, but only of the writer’s blind bigotry. It is not evidence against Cardinal Pell. The truth is there IS no evidence against Cardinal Pell. Accusations are not evidence. This is important. There is more at stake than just one man’s rights, or freedom, or dignity. The integrity of our Church is at stake: not our faith, but our Church, which in the words of St John Paul II, is to be a mirror of justice for the world.
After that post about Cardinal Pell’s “trial by media,” I wrote an article about what is really behind this story as it exists right now. I did not want to publish it on These Stone Walls because it would be like preaching to the choir. I wanted to publish it in a completely secular venue, but no mainstream news media will publish anything that casts your faith or your Church, or especially your priests, in a better light.
So I decided to submit it to an unusual venue, LinkedIn Pulse, the publishing platform of the professional networking site, LinkedIn. The article is titled, “A Weapon of Mass Destruction Catholic Priests Falsely Accused.” Mass destruction, as in the destruction of the Sacrifice of the Mass, really is what is at stake for Catholics if the priesthood’s trial by media continues.
What makes this article so important is the fact that it appears not in a Catholic publication, but in an entirely secular one. Within a single day of being published, it had hundreds of readers at LinkedIn. The article presents hard evidence of how the scandal of sexual abuse in the priesthood turned an even darker corner when the Church was not vigilant about fraud.
While the Church’s leaders were negotiating mediated settlements in decades-old claims against priests, a conspiracy was taking place to undermine your faith and bring down the Catholic Church. The real goal of the conspiracy has been to remove the Church’s moral voice from the public square, and toward that end, the scandal has made many inroads and gained many parasites using it for nefarious agendas.
One of those parasites is the news media, the only profession that currently registers lower than Congress on integrity polls. The news media leans decisively left and leaves “the rest of the story” untold. What has happened to Archbishop Anthony Apuron in Guam is not the end. What is happening to Cardinal Pell in Australia is not the end. The very point of “trophy justice” is that it collects trophies, and each one simply emboldens the next incursion into silencing the voice of Catholic witness.
Those who have used the scandal for agendas of their own – including some claiming to be Catholic – have closed more than just their eyes. There are none so blind as those who will not see. I want to ask you to read and share with others, “A Weapon of Mass Destruction: Catholic Priests Falsely Accused” and pray that the eyes that are opened will in turn help open some minds.
And whether you are new to These Stone Walls or have been reading for eight years, you can help us by sharing links to our posts. If what Cardinal Avery Dulles predicted is true, I thank you for being here with us at the turning of the tide. Your presence here brings hope and meaning to suffering.
“Father Gordon MacRae’s eye-catching, thought-provoking and conscience-grabbing blog, These Stone Walls is deemed by many to be the finest example of priestly witness in the plethora of scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in the course of the past decade.” (Fr James Valladares in Hope Springs Eternal in the Priestly Breast, p. 274)
“While imparting a side of the abuse scandal that the major media refuses to provide, These Stone Walls is informative, thoughtful, and spiritually empowering… One visit will make anyone reconsider the one-sided hysteria we’ve heard in the media for the last two decades.” (Author, David F. Pierre, Jr., The Media Report)