If you ever wondered what experiencing a Catholic Mass might be for a nun or a priest should do yourself a favor and get up early during the week and attend an early morning Mass. In fact, to get the full experience, you should attend a very early morning Mass on Mondays, preferably at a Catholic Church run by a religious order such as the Jesuits or the Dominicans. After Mass, you can proceed on to work where I think you will find your day different from other days.
First of all, you should go within the next month or two when the sun still rises late in the early morning hours. The sky’s color goes from dark blue to a light yellow as it stretches its light rising over the eastern horizon. During these days of winter, there is still a bit of a chill in the air, but you don’t worry because your memory reminds you that a caretaker has already awoken and fired up the boiler to warm the church.
As you begin to pull open the tall, heavy wooden doors, you can see the flickering of light from candles which burned throughout the night. As you cross over the threshold, your mind suddenly reminds you that you are stepping away from the craziness of the secular world into the sanctity of sacred space. With each step, you begin to feel yourself letting go of the trials and tribulations brought by the material world. There is a sudden calmness. Still making your way over the threshold, you see out of the corner of your eye, a tiny baptismal font. Your instincts have taken over as you dip your finger into the holy water, flick the excess water from your finger that you don’t want to fall on the floor. Without thought, you raise your hand to touch your forehead, then your left shoulder, and finally your right shoulder. Making the sign of the cross is the most natural part of the Mass.
As the doors give way to the inside of the Church, you can feel the warmth and smell the non-flavored scent emanating from the heated wax of the candles. You gaze from one side of the church to the other side. There are less than two dozen attendees, half with their eyes closed, the other half with their eyes fixed on the crucifix behind and above the altar.
Throughout the Mass, everyone knows the responses to the priest’s commands; everyone knows when to stand, sit, and kneel. Other than the voice of the priest or the other churchgoers, there is absolute silence.
Weekday Mass has an Old Testament reading, a responsorial psalm, and a Gospel reading. Unlike Sunday Mass readings, these scripture passages are not printed. Unlike Sunday Mass readings, you pay strict attention to what is said, especially the priest’s homily because it never extends beyond five minutes. Your active listening somewhat excites you because for the first time in a long time you understand the message the scriptures are teaching you. Each part of the Mass is accentuated. The messages from the Liturgy of Word are clearly understood; in other words, you know how you are supposed to act with other people. The Liturgy of the Eucharist has taken on a new level intensity. Rarely is there a crying infant or the rustling of feet of a bored child to distract you in the least bit. The bread has become the body, and the wine has become the blood of Jesus.
Perhaps the most significant change from a Sunday Mass can be experienced in the exchanging of the sign of peace. No back-slapping, high fiving, or jumping over someone else to pay one’s respects. None of this takes place during a weekday Mass. A simple turn, a simple smile is all that is necessary. Everyone can see the look of fatigue on the other person except their smile which is bright as the sun will soon sign after Mass.
Communion is a reverent exercise where there is no hymn to sing or music to play. One cannot be distracted when receiving the body and blood of Christ. Following communion, you return to your pew to kneel one more time before the Lord our God. The priest’s final blessing is actually a command from God that you can actually hear which is to go out at spread the good news in word and in action.
The celebrant departs the altar silently, and so does everyone else. Suddenly, you feel charged with the responsibility to be one of Jesus’ disciples. As you open the door to the outside world, you remind yourself that you are leaving the sacred world to re-enter the secular world which is a broken place with problems too grand to fix by oneself. Today, however, is different because you understand clearly that you have been given the responsibility to make your part of the world better – for yourself and for those in your community. Amen!
Just when you think that a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church has done the right thing by stating unequivocally that he will release the names of priests and bishops involved in abuse cases, the bishop cowers. This latest case involves the Rev. Michael Barber, S.J., Bishop of the Diocese of Oakland, California.
Barber announced on October 8, 2018, that the diocese would publish the list of names within 45 days, or to be specific, on November 22, 2018. November 22 came and went, and the names were not released. On Friday, November 23, the last weekend of the Catholic liturgical calendar, CBS News reported the Diocese of Oakland issued a statement delaying the release of names until after the first of the year. Why? Who got to Barber and told him to delay?
My guess, the Catholic Mafia. Think about it…you have the Godfather, the Boss of all Bosses; then you have the Underboss or Lieutenant; then there is the consigliere, who is not officially part of the hierarchy of the Mafia, but who is very powerful in the organization. Then you have the Capo, the Captain of the crew. Let us not forget the attorneys who defend these scumbags.
With an understanding of the hierarchy of the Mafia, here are some names to consider: Pope Benedict XVI is the Godfather who according to a December 2018 issue of the Vanity Fair, lives in a monastery he remodeled, paid for by the Vatican, after he displaced a group of cloistered nuns who were living there. The Underboss or Lieutenant is Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, current Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Although DiNardo has been one of the most vocal critics of the church’s handling of its sex abuse scandal, he is now accused of protecting two priests: Rev. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez and Rev. John Keller. La Rosa-Lopez, a priest whom DiNardo promoted, was arrested for allegedly molesting two children in the summer of 2018; Rev. John Keller, whom DiNardo allowed continuing to preside over one of the largest Catholic churches in Houston is accused of molesting John LaBonte when he was 16 years old. CBS News reported that in 2002 LaBonte spoke out about being molested by Keller who acknowledge in a letter from the archdiocese he held “[LaBonte] in a manner inappropriate for a priest,” but “[denied] any sexual intent.” Ultimately, Catholic Church officials “could not conclude that what happened constituted sexual abuse.” Keller remains the pastor at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Houston, Texas.
The Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, currently the Archbishop of San Francisco, and wannabe Cardinal is the Capo, the Captain. Hand-picked by Benedict XVI to shepherd the flock of Catholics in San Francisco, Cordileone was the architect of Proposition 8, a law passed in 2008 defining the term “marriage” is solely between a man and a woman. In 2010, however, the law was ruled unconstitutional. In 2014, Cordileone, Chair of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, was the featured speaker at the June 2014 March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. Critics of Cordileone accused the gathering as anti-same-sex marriage and defamatory of the LGBT community.
There is Cardinal William Levada, former Archbishop of Portland and San Francisco, and Prefect emeritus for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith. Levada is the consigliere of the group because he is retired and no longer involved in the day to day operation of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Prior to being the Archbishop of San Francisco, Levada was Archbishop of Portland from 1986 to 1995. In 1992, Levada removed the Rev. Joseph Baccellieri after learning about complaints stemming from cases involving teenage boys in the 1970s. Two years later, Levada allowed Baccellieri to return to his ministry on a limited basis under close supervision. The problem for Levada is that he never told the parishioners he brought back Baccellieri. Ultimately, the Portland archdiocese settled its sex-abuse lawsuits for more than $50 million in 2007, which resulted in the Diocese becoming the first Roman Catholic diocese in the nation to declare bankruptcy.
The attorney for the Archdiocese of San Francisco is Larry Jannuzzi who is employed by the Archdiocese and by the Weintraub Tobin law firm. Jannuzzi’s character is one similar to Al Capone’s accountant portrayed in the movie Untouchables, someone with little integrity, who thinks he has a lot of power, yet runs scared behind the scarlet colored robe and yes, socks, of Archbishop Cordileone.
Extortion money is the last item associating the mafia with the Catholic Church. This is well worth mentioning because the Bishop’s Annual Appeal requires each parish to donate a specified amount based on the number of parishioners. This is extorted money because if a parish church does not reach its revenue goal, (arch)diocesan officials will mandate that money collected during Mass will be deposited in the Annual Appeal fund. It is despicable to think that parishes and schools in poor neighborhoods run the risk of losing their programs such as providing confirmation classes.
Catholics have a choice and their question is whether they want to take on the Catholic mafia? Do Catholics in San Francisco have the resources to stand up to the Catholic mafia? Perhaps Catholics in the city named after Saint Francis will take their lead from Pope Francis who on September 18, 2018, told the mafia in their own backyard in Palermo “You cannot believe in God and be mafosi.”
DiNardo, Levada, Cordileone, if you are listening, “You cannot believe in God and be mafosi.”
For 72 hours, from Monday, November 12, 2018, through Wednesday, November 14th, (Arch)bishops from all over the United States gathered in Baltimore, Maryland for their Fall General Assembly (FGA). For many of us practicing lay Catholics, all we wanted to learn from their meeting was their solution to resolving the clergy abuse cases and their cover-up by bishops. So what happened at this meeting?
Well, if one looks at the FGA’s three-day agenda, one would see that it was not until the afternoon of the second day that 3 1/2 hours was allocated to discuss the Clergy abuse. Three topics were discussed: (1) The Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, chaired by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR talked about the Standards of Accountability for Bishops; (2) The Executive Committee led by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron discussed the proposal to establish a Special Commission for Review of Complaints Against Bishops for Violations of the Standards of Accountability for Bishops; (3) The Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance led by Bishop Robert P. Deeley shared their thoughts about the Protocols Regarding Restrictions on Bishops who were Removed from or Resigned their Office due to Sexual Abuse of Minors, Sexual Harassment of or Misconduct with Adults, or Grave Negligence in Office.
As insightful as the three above topics are, there was no mention of what steps will be taken to ensure all bishops release the names of their accused colleagues. The only good that came out of this as far as I am concerned was the Vatican’s intervention to delay approving any element of their proposals to strength the USCCB’s policies on clergy sex abuse. Mark Pattison of Catholic News Service reported that the Vatican asked for the delay “until they can be reviewed for their conformity to canon law and until after the February meeting at the Vatican for presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide.”
Pattison reported that CNS obtained a document listing the seven standards currently in place with the USCCB that includes an acknowledgment statement all bishops must sign:
There are seven standards, which deal with: diocesan and eparchial codes of conduct; protection of children and young people; sexual misconduct with an adult by a bishop; sexual harassment of an adult by a bishop; responding to allegations of sexual abuse of minors, or of sexual misconduct with or harassment of adults by priests or deacons; reporting and resolving complaints against bishops; and further commitments to ensure integrity.
CNS also published a photo of the FGA, and two faces stand out: Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordeleone. Levada and Cordileone are both Pope Benedicts’ appointees and god knows what else. Cordileone has yet to publish the name of priests and bishops accused of abuse and cover-ups. Gee, I wonder why? Both of these supposed servants of the flock should be defrocked because they believe we lay Catholics are here to serve them. All I can say, judgment day is waiting and it won’t be when both are facing their maker in heaven but their leader here on earth.
This segregation of power points to a problem within the Catholic Church, and that is ownership. The USCCB thinks they own the Church in America, and we lay Catholics are to serve them.
As a layperson, I have studied many different types of leadership styles; from democratic to transformational, from bureaucratic to autocratic, but the one that I employ is Servant leadership. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says to his disciples, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” Perhaps the bishops should have had a session on this Gospel quote from Mt. 20:28.
A few weeks ago, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordeleone sent a second letter to all parish pastors calling for an investigation and resignation of Pope Francis. Cordeleone has a lot of nerve calling for Francis’ resignation. After all, this is the same archbishop who refuses to release the names of priests who are accused of abusing young children. This is also the same archbishop who condoned a bogus investigation into the immoral actions by a principal at a local Catholic high school by Maureen Huntington, the former superintendent of Catholic schools. This is also the same archbishop who dismissed a female teacher’s complaint about her students taking pictures underneath her skirt and the skirts of other female teachers. Ultimately, both cases resulted in lawsuits and both were settled out of court. In addition, Cordeleone continues to permit Deacon Brian Bromberger, an openly gay deacon to write for the Bay Area Reporter, a free weekly newspaper serving the LGBT communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lifesitenews.com reported that Bromberger’s articles “have included numerous positive reviews of sexually explicit movies depicting homosexual acts.” My concern isn’t about who is gay and who is not because I have wonderful family members who are gay and devout Christians. This is solely about Cordeleone and that his actions are the essence of hypocrisy.
One example is how Cordeleone promotes the San Francisco Archdiocesan Annual Appeal. If you go to the Archdiocese’s website you will find that Parish Ministry and Schools is positioned at the top of the four components where money is supposedly allocated. Sadly, Parish Ministry and Schools receive the least amount of money, and all one has to do look at the back page of the annual appeal pamphlet and look at the pie chart which illustrates four areas where the money will be distributed and the goal amounts. The four areas include: (1) Clergy Support – $2,220,000; (2) Universal Church and Communications – $1,800,000; (3) Social Ministry – $1,430,000, and (4) Parish Ministry and Schools, which receives $1,370,000.
No one should be surprised by Cordeleone’s hypocritical behavior, after all, it is learned behavior. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “priests who belong to a religious order, for example, Dominicans, Benedictine, and Franciscans, all take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Diocesan priests make two promises – celibacy and obedience.”
In addition to making promises instead of vows, America Magazine reported in their September 17, 2017 issue that “The national median total taxable income for priests is $45,593.” Despite receiving a salary and allowed to have a bank account and make investments, such as purchasing a house, the greatest percent of the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal for 2018 is earmarked for “Clergy support.” Perhaps even more disappointing is that not one penny of the monies collected goes to assist religious women (nuns). My question is why does a parishioner have to pay the expenses to care for a retired diocesan priest when these priests were earning money their entire life?
The most troubling thought is what happens to a parish if they do not meet their Annual Appeal Goal? According to the Diocese of Oakland, “These goals are simply that – goals, not assessments, however, under the “Good Faith Effort” policy, if it is determined that parish leadership did not make an effort to succeed, the goal amount could be assessed to that parish.” In other words, the (Arch)bishop can eliminate programs allocated for parishes and schools to make up the difference. One would think there must be another way the Archbishop can raise money without continuously laying a guilt trip on parishioners?
Here is an idea: perhaps the Archbishop can sell off pieces of land at the Saint Patrick’s Seminary & University in Menlo Park, CA. In a January 25, 2018 memo from Catholic San Francisco, Saint Patrick’s sold one acre of its land to the Menlo Park Fire Department for $6.6 million. The memo also says “In need of money in 1998, the seminary sold 43 acres to a land and housing developer for $22 million. (Jane Knoerle, “Marking a Century: St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park Begins a Year of Centennial Celebration,” The Almanac (Menlo Park), Sept 16, 1998.).”
All one can say is that Cordeleone has a lot of nerve sending out his second letter to all parish pastors calling for the investigation of Pope Francis. If there is one person in the Catholic Church that needs to be investigated it is Archbishop Cordeleone. What additional evidence does Pope Francis need to replace Cordeleone with a real shepherd to lead a flock of dedicated Catholics in San Francisco?
As a practicing Catholic and former Catholic educator, I am sick to my stomach reading and watching about the continuing pathetic saga of Catholic priests abuse cases. When will it ever stop?
As someone who is devoted to my Catholic faith, I have read most of the report filed by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. The report confirmed what we Catholics already knew, that there are many names of priests which never surfaced to the public but whose names are etched their victim’s hippocampus.
As of October 4, 2018, a total of 13 states are investigating clergy sexual abuse cases. While it took an attorney general from Pennsylvania to publicly state the obvious, what remains anonymous are the names of the law firms and attorneys who to this day, continue to defend these evil priests. Why aren’t the names of these law firms made public? Why aren’t the names of attorneys who handled these cases for (Arch)dioceses made public?
I asked a relative how is it possible that a mutual friend who is Catholic, who graduated from a Catholic elementary, secondary, university, and law school continue to defend cases on behalf of the Archdiocese of San Francisco? My relative responded: “that’s his job.” I was stunned by this response. If a Catholic attorney defends an (Arch)diocese in cases involving alleged clerical abuse, then the attorney should reject handling such cases. Would these same attorneys defend a member of Hitler’s army who gassed thousands of children in concentration camps knowing there is a big paycheck waiting for them at the end of the day?
The Archdiocese of San Francisco’s website list Larry Jannuzzi as their “Legal Counsel.” The website also lists Paula Carney as “Assistant Legal Counsel.” In addition to his normal daily activities, Jannuzzi is also responsible for working with outside counsel on matters such as priest abuse cases. The Archdiocese’s preferred law firm for such cases is Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation. Prior to merging with Weintraub Genshlea Chediak Law Corporation in 2011, Tobin & Tobin, San Francisco’s oldest law firm, was the Archdiocese’s preferred outside counsel.
Although there are far too many cases to address the horrendous comments by attorneys litigating on behalf of the Catholic Church, there is one exchange worth noting by the attorney for the Archdiocese of San Francisco which exemplifies the sheer arrogance of lawyers. Jean Guccione writes in her March 29, 2005 article for the Los Angeles Times:
The San Francisco case involves Father Joseph T. Pritchard, now deceased, who is accused of molesting at least 22 children throughout the 1970s. In a statement read by a judge Monday to prospective jurors, the archdiocese admitted that it did not investigate “thoroughly enough or do enough at that time to protect the children.”
The statement also acknowledged that three fellow priests “sometimes walked into the room where sexual molestation had been taking place and should have seen enough circumstances to make them suspicious of Father Pritchard’s behavior” and reported it to his superiors.
A jury last week awarded one of Pritchard’s earliest victims $437,000. Jury selection began Monday in the case of four other victims who have brought civil suits.
Attorney (Name Withheld), who represents the archdiocese, warned not to read too much into the statement. “It’s an acknowledgment of negligence, nothing more or less,” he said, declining on elaborate about why the archdiocese made the admission.
But attorney Laurence Drivon, who represents hundreds of people suing the church in California, including one whose case is among those being tried in San Francisco, said the statement is significant.
Drivon said the sexual abuse contributed to his client becoming “a full-blown drug addict by the time he graduated from high school” and living on the streets for months at a time when he was unable to hold down a job.
I cannot fathom why any attorney defending the Catholic Church would use such callous, insensitive language involving a legal case of sexual abuse of a minor. How troubling it is to know that despite the outcome of the case, an attorney will receive his paycheck irrespective of the outcome of the case.
I think it is only fair that the names of the legal firms defending the Catholic Church are made public; this will at least make such law firms insignificant to those individuals who would otherwise have hired such firms because of their legal acumen.
The moral fiber of our world is shredding. Decisions such as which legal cases to take should matter. Catholics who defend the Church in alleged abuse cases should recuse themselves – case closed!
I don’t know about you but as a faithful Catholic layperson, I do not want to be associated with evangelical Christians. When I think of evangelical Christians, I think of people who are members of Protestant religions such as Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians who are extremely vocal about professing their faith.
I have many friends who are Protestants; in fact, I have been to two Episcopal services in the last six months, and I only saw were well-mannered adults and children. I have never encountered someone who is Protestant who can be described as an evangelical Christian. So, who is an evangelical Christian?
Danielle Kurtzleben writes in a December 19, 2015 article for National Public Radio (NPR):
According to the Pew Research Center, around 35 percent of American adults (that is, roughly half of all Christians) consider themselves evangelical or born again. So when reporters and politicians talk about “evangelicals,” it can sound like they’re talking about a huge chunk of the population — more than a third.
But then, other national political pollsters, like CNN/ORC, add a modifier onto most of their evangelical polling, focusing on white evangelicals. (And this is the group most pundits are talking about, particularly when it comes to Republican primary politics.
Greg Smith, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center told Kurtzlebun:
White evangelical protestants are some of the most reliably conservative and Republican voters in the electorate, African-American protestants, on the other hand, are some of the most strongly and consistently Democratic voters in the electorate.
In a May 4, 2018 report for ABC7 News Denver, reporters Phil Pruitt and Chance Seales identified four core beliefs of evangelicals as described by the National Association of Evangelicals:
- Conversion: Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice able to wipe away sin. This is the “born again” experience.
- Biblical supremacy: The Bible is the highest moral authority.
- Evangelizing: Taking the gospel to the ends of the Earth, converting sinners.
- And then, exclusivity: Only those who’ve been “saved” through Jesus are granted eternal salvation
As a member of the Catholic faith, I take issue with each of the above four core beliefs.
First, no one needs to experience a “born again” experience to gain eternal salvation.
Second, the Bible is not the highest moral authority. The Bible gives many examples of good and bad moral behavior. A key element to exhibiting good moral responsibility is forming a good conscience. “Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.1796) In addition to forming one’s conscience, there is the responsibility of understanding and living a virtuous life. For Catholics, there are four Cardinal Virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance and three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.
Third, regarding the issue of converting sinners, I am in agreement with evangelicals, however, I prefer a softer approach. For example, Father Ed Broom, OMV writes in his article on March 28, 2017, for Catholic Exchange, “One of the greatest desires of Almighty God is the conversion of sinners. That poor sinners will leave their sinful lifestyles and turn back to the love of God is high on the list of God’s desires.”
Lastly, I am troubled by this evangelical notion that “Only those who’ve been “saved” through Jesus are granted eternal salvation.” This indeed is not the case for Catholics. Even Pope Francis spoke out on this topic saying that the Catholic Church wants all men and women to be saved.
Bottom line: Catholics are not evangelical Christians. Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should be voicing concerns at least to news agencies that the term “Evangelicals Christians” should be changed to “Evangelical Protestants.”
Why does the topic of evangelical Christians irritate me? Because many of Trump supporters are white evangelical Christians. For the life of me, I cannot believe how it is possible that evangelical Christians, who I assume believe that God creates all of humanity in his image and likeness, can support Trump who spews hatred about other people? Do evangelical Christians think about what the sons of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford must be thinking each time Trump mocks their mother? Megan Garber writes in an October 3, 2018 article for the Atlantic magazine, that Dr. Ford was “treated by the president, and by so many other people in power in America—treated as an inconvenience.”
Nicole Wallace, a lifetime Republican is totally embarrassed by the words Trump has used to describe women; words such as Miss Housekeeper, slob, pig, degenerate, Miss Piggy, wacky, low I.Q., not my first choice, Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? When Trump humiliates women, he is humiliating God. When Trump bullies anyone, he is bullying God. Do evangelical Christians believe otherwise?
Tim Morris, a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, says, “Trump pledged during his campaign to defend religious liberty, stand up for the rights of the unborn and appoint conservative jurists to the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts. And he has done exactly that.”
Is Trump’s pledge to defend religious liberty applicable to Muslims and Hindus? Is Trump standing up for the child in school who cannot sit still because they inherited an addiction from their mother who was a crack addict?
As for nominating conservative judges to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was not so much about selecting a conservative Republican as it was about choosing a minion who will ultimately bail Trump out from all of his legal problems that will eventually surface.
Each time I am watching a television report mentioning evangelical Christians, I cringe with disgust because of their behavior. As a practicing Catholic, all I can do is continuously remind myself of what Jesus told his followers: “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” (Mt 20:16)