Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not just for Religious, is a great article on Religious Life

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, numbering 110 here

Fr. Brian Mullady, OP has been a delight to read over the years. I became familiar with him through his articles in Homiletic and Pastoral Review.  Some of you may recognize him from EWTN. 

Many people in the Church today acknowledge that poor formation in the years following Vatican II in the basics of the faith has contributed to the crisis we have today. I think other things have also been neglected, such as emphasis on practicing the virtues - all of them - and how they counter our sinful tendencies.  Similarly, few have ever heard of mortification of the will and apetites and how they fit into the spiritual life equation for everyone. Going one step further, I have felt that there are many misunderstandings about consecrated life, the priesthood, and religious life.

Fr. Mullady writes an article, specifically targeting misunderstandings about religious life.  It is appearing in the National Catholic Register: "The Trials of Religious Life".  He makes many points about religious life touching on some topics that have been on my mind. He writes with the eloquence and flow that comes with many years of study and wisdom sharpened by personal experience in a religious community.  I have fumbled along in my own way trying to express many of the same things, but he hit one out of the park with this article, and in very few words for what it's packing.

This article is not only a must-read for religious and those discerning religious life, it is good for everyone to have a deeper understanding of religious life and what it means for those who take it on.  There are many misunderstandings.  Father weaves it together with the precision of a professional marksman.

Here is just one excerpt from the article:

Together, with one’s own will in obedience and the ability to own and use material goods in poverty, religious men and women strive to desire the perfect love of God. Since Christ sends the Holy Spirit into each baptized person’s heart with sanctifying grace, one must now live the law of God with the pure intention of divine love.

Lust wars against this. According to 1 John 2:16, three types of lust war in man against the perfection of this love: “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.” Christ gave three counsels of perfection that religious embrace by vow to diminish these lusts and allow us to love Christ as he loves us. Poverty roots out the lust of the eyes; chastity, the lust of the flesh; and obedience, the pride of life.

In the three vows, religious freely embrace a way of life which, if observed well, leads to being head over heels in love with Jesus. One does not give up money, marriage and freedom because these are evil. One does so for love’s sake and because we are weak regarding these things, even when healed by grace.

The real problem is not these goods, but the fact that they are the tinder of our desire to dominate and rule others. Instead of surrendering to God, people in our state between Adam’s justice and the blessedness of the saints often manipulate others in pride and possessiveness. These counsels are recommended to free us from this desire to dominate. The real issue in lust is not feelings, but power.

Do read the entire article.

I will leave the combox open, but I ask that if you want to comment, please stick to the topic as he has discussed it, without unnecessary references to people. 

I have some photo posts to complete, but it has been a long week.  I will have more time this weekend and am off on vacation next week (a "stay-cation" at home, if you will).  Perhaps I'll finally get some of that backlog flowing.

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Pope Benedict Announces New Portal for Vatican News... via Twitter on iPad

Cute .... The Holy Father using an iPad to kick off the Vatican's new portal for news.   This is just to help with the flow of news, and if you are in an English speaking country, or know English, you are fortunate.  It seems the two main languages right now are Italian and English. I believe others will follow.

The site will likely be bug-prone as are most new launches (note the "Beta" in the far right of the icon), so be patient.  Also, from what I understand, the site does not yet have an archive system, so stories will only be there for a limited time.  Keep that in mind if you link to something and perhaps look for an alternate news service if you want the information to remain with your post more indefinitely.

This new site combines several news-related functions into one place (click on the tabs), but the original site is still there where you will find archives of the Holy Father's various addresses and homilies, etc.

Go check it out, click around, "Like" them on Facebook (upper right hand corner), follow them on Twitter, etc. 

In any, it's a nice start.  And, even the secular press is taking notice that, as shown in the pic at top, Pope Benedict announced the launch o the new site on with a Tweet on an iPad.  Follow Vatican News on Twitter @news_va_en

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Ed Peters talks Canon Law and Gov. Andrew Cuomo

The Bishops of New York recently issued a statement concerning gay "marriage" bill just signed in that state:

Statement of the Bishops of New York State on SSM

June 24, 2011

The following is a statement from Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the bishops of New York State:
The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.

We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.

We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.

Our society must regain what it appears to have lost – a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.”

Canon lawyer discusses questions surrounding Catholic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's actions
A little lesson in canon law from blogging canonist, Ed Peters concerning the actions of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the recent approval of gay "marriage" in New York. 

Some may feel that it is none of the Church's business what Cuomo does.  It's true that he can make choices for himself, and he can choose to govern as he pleases. God has given all of us a free will.  But, the Church has a right, and even a duty, to offer clarity when those actions are not in harmony with the Gospel and Church teaching, lest others be led into scandal.  This is especially true, when one uses their Catholic status in discussions (the Pelosi-special) or is well-known to be a Catholic. This is explained by Dr. Peters.

In his footnotes, I especially like his drawing our attention to a 1962 case in which several lay people were dealt with for creating a resistance against desegregation of archdiocesan schools (see his footnotes).

Ed first starts out with a few points since the secular news media has misrepresented him and his position so many times. Do follow the link to read his full post to get a complete understanding. 

What canonical consequences might Andrew Cuomo face now?

Reminder: 1. This website offers my* commentary on the canonical implications of certain news events. 2. My regular readers are familiar with sound Catholic thought in such areas as, for example, the nature of marriage, the moral parameters of private and governmental decision-making, personal sin and public scandal, the theology of holy Communion, and the basic role of canon law in the Church, and so I do not lay the kinds of foundations in such matters that one engaged in, say, apologetics would otherwise have to provide. 3. If anyone finds himself insufficiently familiar with some of the Catholic terminology and concepts assumed in this discussion, I would urge study of the pertinent passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or consultation with the auctores probatos.

The Catholic Church, drawing upon the teachings of Jesus Christ and echoing Natural Law, holds that marriage is possible only between a man and a woman and, consequently, that only men and women who have undertaken to live in such a relationship should be recognized and treated as married. The male-female requirement for marriage is an unalterable teaching of the Church and, while it might be subjected to ridicule by some nowadays, it is not subject to revision by either Church or State. Moreover, unlike some teachings of the Church that have no practical implications in the civil arena, that teaching which holds marriage possible only between a man and a woman has vital ramifications for civil society and—long story omitted—for those Catholics privileged to be especially charged with caring for the common good through political institutions.

Continue reading: What canonical consequences might Andrew Cuomo face now?  See also his footnoes there.

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With a Click from Pope Benedict, new Vatican News Portal will Launch

From the National Catholic Register:

VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA) — On June 28, Pope Benedict XVI will launch the Vatican’s first multimedia news portal, which is also designed for mobile devices.

“We are trying to give everybody an opportunity to have Vatican news immediately in a modern and accessible way, using new technology,” said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in an interview with EWTN News on June 27.

He explained that the Pope will have the privilege of giving the “first click” to take the site online, a reflection of the way Pope Pius XI inaugurated the transmission of Vatican Radio 80 years ago.

Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s Press Office, explained to EWTN News that the Pope’s first click will be “a simple but powerful and symbolic action” to demonstrate that the new initiative is a response to “a desire of the Pope for the new communication of the Church.”

Read more:

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Corpus Christi Procession this Weekend (2010 Video Featured)

Below is a slideshow video of a past Corpus Christi procession at Assumption Grotto. This Sunday, the Extraordinary Form Mass (1962 Missal), which is usually at 9:30, moves to the Noon slot. Fr. Perrone will conduct the Assumption Grotto Choir and Orchestra in Schubert's Mass in G, and the procession will follow.

After several years of celebrating the EF Mass at Assumption Grotto, sheets containing readings have ceased printing in large quantities. However, visitors should check with an usher as a small number of them is printed for those who come and would not ordinarily have a hand missal.

A few notes about this slideshow video:

  1. This took place on Sunday, June 6, 2010.  The Noon Mass was a solemn high in the extraordinary form, and it was an external celebration of Corpus Christi which fell on Thursday, June 3.  It was an orchestra Mass: Haydn's PaukenmesseThe celebrant was Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.s.o.
  2. The photos of the Mass are few and begin at the homily because I, the photographer, was also in the choir.  I escape through the back of the risers in the back to get a few choice shots (shhhh... don't tell Fr. Perrone). 
  3. Fr. Perrone was not celebrating because he was conducting the orchestra.  He had just enough time to put on his cassock, surplice, and stole, and to grab his biretta.
  4. Immediately following the Mass, the annual Corpus Christi procession began around the grounds of the parish, to the altars set up by families.   
  5. Regrettably, I did not have the right lens on for crowd shots of the roughly 250 who participated. 
  6. I tried to find a nice Pange Lingua for the background music, or the sequence of the day, Lauda Sion.  However, nothing was of the right length for what I had.  Alas! I discovered the Sanctus in the Missa Pange Lingua by Josquin des Prez, which was nearly perfect in length, which is what you hear playing in the background.

If you liked this, you might also like a similar kind of video made of the annointing and benediction of the sick on Assumption Day.  Only those who are properly disposed and eligible for the Sacrament are annointed, and confessions are available before hand.  Most of those seen are quite ill or infirm.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bloggers and Church should learn from each other...

"the Church has something to learn from bloggers"

Those are the words of Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in an interview in the latest issue of L'Osservatore Romano online. 

As a blogger I appreciate this while at the same time feeling that there is so much more that the Church and bloggers can learn from each other.

Asked if interaction with bloggers could make communications in Vatican dicasteries more effective...

"I am absolutely convinced of this. On blogs there is open communication with up-to-date language. We still experience difficulty due to a certain type of ecclesial language that young people find hard to understand. Blogs are sites of authenticity and, at the same time, of provocation..."

There is a ring of truth to Catholic blogs and these two poles, if you can call them that.  Provocation can be negative, such as when someone offers authentic teaching, but puts it out there like a clanging cymbal or noisy going.  Bloggers must practice virtue, and before it can be practiced, it must be understood as it applies today. 

There can be positive forms of provocation, such as when something in popular culture is challenged as being contrary to the Gospel or Church teaching,  such as abortion, contraception, and co-habitation.  Also in a positive way, bloggers can provoke readers to think about the virtues and how they apply to life today. 

Is there something "the Vatican" can help bloggers with?


Continue to analyze the writings of bloggers and offer a continuous flow of encouragement to conform our evangelization and enthusiasm online to the Gospel.  It is not just what we offer in social media that matters, but how we offer it.  Do not confuse this with avoiding controversial topics. Controversial topics can be discussed, but the way we discuss these things should always be sharpened with the 10 Commandments and the virtues. 

I don't think it is enough to avoid grave matter online like detraction and calumny.  Similarly, I think few have a solid understanding of rash judgment (see all three of these in the CCC on the 8th Commandment).

I believe that we must also strive for perfection by learning about the virtues and how they apply to our online activities.  We need to talk about them to help others to see these things. 

These are not things that any of us can learn overnight.  It is a life long process.  It must be supported by a sound Sacramental life, with Sacramental Confession being a part of that process.  When we recognize that we have crossed some line - be it grave matter, or a matter of virtue, many graces can come to a blogger from the use of Confession, especially if you have access to a very virtuous priest. 

Virtue ought not be confused with orthodoxy.  One can be very orthodox in their undertanding of the faith, and have intimate knowledge of Church documents, Sacred Scripture, the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors, and be entirely unvirtuous.   For example, we might be tempted to follow the example of popular pundits online who use a form of humor that crosses into mocking and ridicule.  What do the saints have to say about such things?  This we need to learn, and we should never dismiss their teachings as not relevant for today, or for the web.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).  We just need to apply those timeless teachings to social media.

I recommend Archbishop Vigneron's, "10 Rules for Handling Disagreement Like a Christian" as just one example of the kind of thing bloggers and others in social media could use help with from "the Vatican". 

There is really much more to say about all of this and it is worth a post series, so ... I will save it or another time.  After more than five years of blogging, many experiences have altered my approach.

For now, what comes to your mind about virtuous blogging? Let's keep specific names and organizations out of the discussion and keep it to general principles. 

Veil-tip: Catholic Culture

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Metro Detroit this weekend: Pilgrimage for Christian Culture 2011

From the inbox:
For the third year in a row, our group of young adults is organizing a local pilgrimage in the southeast Michigan area.  - This time around, we'll be walking and praying along Woodward from Pontiac to Detroit over the course of next Friday and Saturday (spending Friday night at Shrine of the Little Flower). 

See the homepage with much more information: Pilgrimage for Christian Culture

The first part of a movie concerning last year's pilgrimage (featuring, among other, Fr. Paul Ward) can be viewed at this link:

There is a place on Facebook to register for Day 1 and Day 2.  Deadline is coming up quick.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Helpers of God's Precious Infants Prayer Vigil this Saturday

These events by the Helpers, usually draw several hundred people. Please come and join the peaceful prayer event.

In my inbox, for this Saturday in metro Detroit

Dear friends of Helpers of God's Precious Infants:

The next Prayer Vigil for Life will held on Saturday, June 25th. The celebrant of the Holy Mass will be Fr. Eduard Perrone, pastor of Assumption Grotto Church and will also be held there, followed by the rosary procession to the 2 abortion mills on E. Eight Mile.

Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament will conclude the vigil back at the church and refreshments will be served afterwards in the school.

These formal prayer vigils are so very important and we pray that you will attend if you possibly can, and ask your help by spreading the word and inviting all your family, friends, priests and parish, and all of your prolife internet contacts. Attached are copies of the flyer for your perusal.

Thanks and God bless you - hope to see you there!

Mary B.
Helpers of God's Precious Infants of Michigan

To see photographs from several of these events, visit my section for the Helpers of God's Precious Infants prayer vigils. This includes photos from the last event, led by then bishop-designate, Byrnes - Detroit's new auxiliary bishop.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Fr. Corapi: What if Christ had quit because of injustice?

"Ecce Homo" by Antonio Ciseri, 1871

UPDATE JUNE 6, 2011 @7:05am | On July 5, 2011, Fr. Corapi's Superior, Fr. Gerry Sheehan issued another statement concerning his case.  Please see my post: SOLT superior responds to Corapi's "false statements and characterizations"

UDPDATE JUNE 19, 2011 @10:30PM | Folks, the National Catholic Register has a statement from Father Corapi's superiors. I am more disheartened than ever at what I am reading. I see several problems, but I simply do not have the time to offer anything right now, and it is way past my bed time. It may be days before I can get back to it. Let me just say this: In the old days, and even in some quarters today, men give up their good names, reputations and lives before their Roman collars. This case is an example of how when the going gets tough, the tough simply create confidentiality agreements, then sue people if they issue a complaint, and tie the hands of superiors trying to get to investigate to find the truth.   There are so many worldly things coming to light in this case, and unfortunately, I'm afraid they may go right over the heads of too many people.  I'll offer more another time, perhaps later in the week, but the schedule is very tight.  I stand by what is in my post below for general purposes and much of it is still applicable.

With regards to the latest development in the case of Father John Corapi, I was going to refrain from any comment until there was some reaction out of the Diocese of Corpus Christi or the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.  That was because I found the video theme, imagery, and certain arguments put forth odd enough to consider the possibility that Father Corapi's site had been hacked after it was suggested to me by a priest.  [see audio in video form here | transcript of text here]. This post is made with the assumption that it is authentic, and if it later proves to be a hoax, then the general principles laid out here, ought still to be of some benefit for reflection.  I hope to read some thoughts after you read what I present, most especially from priests.

I will refer to him as "Father" in this post because while he can quit acting as a priest he cannot remove the mark of the priesthood on his soul that will be with him for eternity (ccc 1583).  When the Church declares or affirms him laicized, I will then change how I refer to him.

I have been reading, and discussing the case with people as they learn of the situation.  In person, and online, among those who respected him for his solid preaching, whether they like his style or not, reaction has varied.  Some are dismayed, disturbed, and indignant; others are angry with the bishops feeling he had no choice. 

First, let me say that I too feel there is injustice in how certain cases are handled.  It also seems that the bishops are unwilling to subject themselves to the same fate should similar accusations come forth.   Father Dwight Longenecker gives some sad examples from Philadelphia in his post on this subject, and I was drawn into his post to offer a comment.  Here, I am repeating that comment, editing it with additional quotes, thoughts and comments, expanding on it, if you will.

I can't possibly know what it is like for an innocent priest to wait for that false accusation to come, or to be accused, causing him to loose his faculties, to be suspended from public ministry, to be scorned and humiliated in such a way.  But Christ does know.

Father Corapi's Third Option

I don't know if Father Corapi is guilty of the things he is accused of.  That's not even the point of this post.

Father Corapi said he had only two options.  I believe he had a third option: Imitate Christ who suffered the greatest injustice known to mankind, at our own hands, in silence. 

It's true that Father Corapi is not St. Pio.  Many are bringing up the great Italian Capuchin as a role model for priests who are unjustly accused because of what he suffered.  No two people are alike.  We may not all receive the same graces.  That is not in our control, but acting on graces, and practicing virtue is within our control.  Only God knows the fullness of truth here, so I want to shift and examine what some of the saints have to offer in the area of unjust accusations, persecutions from within, and more.

But is the experience of "yesterday's saint" relevant today?

We should never look at the saints of yesterday as not relevant for today. There are many more saints who have entered heaven, than are recorded.  Why then, do we know of some, and not others.  If we weren't meant to use them as role models, why bother going through a canonization process? It does not change their status, but it puts a spotlight on them for us to reference. The circumstances may change, but the principles do not because they are rooted in Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

In the book Padre Pio: The True Story by Bernard Ruffin, he recounts that after Vespers on June 11, 1931, Padre Raffaele summoned Pio to the friary parlor to read the decree received, without comment:
"Padre Pio is to be stripped of all faculties of his priestly ministry except the faculty to celebrate the Holy Mass, which he may continue to do provided it is done in private, within the walls of the friary, in the inner chapel, and not publicy in church".

The saint's response:

"God's will be done,"...then he covered his eyes with his hands, lowered his head, and murmured, "The will of the authorities is the will of God."

Following the will of God, right to the Cross

That is the point. The will of God for a priest will come through his bishop and/or religious order/community superiors. It's easy to see that an assignment a priest gets to a parish from his bishop is the will of God.  He might be happy there.  But his next assignment may be as a chaplain at a hospital or university, or at a desk in the chancery, and he may not desire this.  Saying, "yes" in such a case, is taking up one's cross.  For a Carmelite monk in a monastery who may desire to work outside in the garden, and may have a talent for doing so, it may be the will of God for him to work in the kitchen or laundry room.  Such a monk who has grown with grace and reached a certain level of spiritual maturity understands that the suffering he endures by having to do one thing, when he wants to do another, is a form of redemptive suffering, which is pleasing to God when done meekly and without complaint.  (Col. 1:24)  Anyone discerning a vocation needs to understand this point.  You are giving up your life to God, and His will for you, will come through those put over you, imperfect as they may be.

Father Corapi certainly has a gift in preaching.  But as a priest, especially a  priest in a Society of Apostolic Life, he does not get to make the call on where he is assigned, and what he does.  There are many priests, religious, and even lay people who have talents for doing certain things, but circumstances hinder them.  God can open doors, and he can shut them.  God shut the door on Father Corapi's preaching when he was put on administrative leave.  When the matter is out of our control, it is all but certain that God is permitting the thing to happen.  It's our response to the thing that God is looking for.

Opportunities for redemptive suffering can come for a priest in the form of persecution and injustices.  We have Christians in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa, and other parts of the world suffering in ways that we cannot imagine, often by the hand of governments, or the people next door. We can easily see the connection between this suffering and the imitation of Christ on the Cross.

Other persecutions and injustices include those that can come from within the Church. That these happen, should not be a surprise.  Reading the lives of many saints, we see this over and again, that among the trials they suffered, came at the hands of those who were suppose to be at their side.  The very people who should have held them up, were pushing them down.  But did not Christ suffer similarly?

While Satan can be an instigator, or even drive that bus, more often than not, what is involved is human imperfections.  Also, God could be drawing straight with someone else's crooked lines, using them as an instrument to give us an opportunity to practice some virtue, or to offer up some sacrfice.  Saint Teresa of Avila said, "I'm sick and tired of those people who go about saying: 'The devil, the devil, the devil,' when instead they should be saying 'God, God, God'. I fear these kinds of persons more than the devil himself." (ST. TERESA OF AVILA,Vol. I; p. 13 and p. 170).  The very bishops that some look upon as "the enemy" may make errors of judgment, accept misguided advice, or take an imprudent path, more than to willfully engage in wicked behavior.

Think about a pearl, which is created by friction within the shell of a clam.  In a  like manner, God permits people in our lives to "rub us the wrong way", to hurt us - physically and emotionally, to misunderstand us, to humiliate us, and even to end our lives.  Not only do these serve as opportunities for redemptive suffering, but the friction serves to shape our souls into perfection like that beautiful pearl.   Saint Lawrence, who was literally being executed by roasting, told his executioners to turn him over, "this side is done". Even as he died a horrific and painful death, he practiced virtue. Perhaps his example at such a time won a few souls over to Christ.

God will often permit this kind of trial and persecution of priests from within the Church - by both the good and virtuous  (i.e., misunderstandings, imprudence, poor judgment), or through the wicked (false accusations, envy, revenge).  The reasons for such things are known only to Him. However, as we see in such cases as St. Pio, one's response to persecution from within can prove out heroic virtue.   St. John of the Cross prayed to be despised and suffered immensly from persecution from within.  Why would he do this, if not for a desire to follow Christ in his Passion?

Next to accepting with docility a physical martyrdom, there can be no greater imitation of Christ for an innocent priest who is falsely accused than to accept with docility a fate that comes to him through those put over him by God, even if it involves an unjust system. God coulld easily remove this obstacle, if and when, He so willed because He is God.

I believe that there is a serious deficiency in our understanding of the spiritual life, most especially, the virtues and how the Cross comes in to play. It's not sufficient for us to know the facts of the faith well. We have to practice virtue, and we must practice it "in season and out of season".  Virtue doesn't wait. Not acting on opportunities - big and small - to practice it weakens a soul's response to temptations. Our priests are under tremendous strain with the shortage today, but not greater than what the priests of yesterday experienced. Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who saw a priest with scarcity in his youth due to conditions in the former USSR, can attest to that. I believe that priests and lay people back in those days had the benefit of understanding the importance of practicing the virtues more intimately, and the role of the Cross in our daily life. (Luke 9:23) This needs to be recaptured to stem this loss of good men who are yielding in various ways.

St. Pio's postulator - Father Florio Tessari, in an inteview in L'Osservatore Romano had this to say about him (Catholic News Agency, June 2009):

Padre Pio was “a friar, a religious priest who profoundly observed the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity and obedience) in his life. He suffered difficulties in silence like an authentic Cyrenean and at the same time was crucified without a cross..."
He went on to point to two fundamental elements that led to Padre Pio’s canonization: “Faith to the bitter end and obedience also to the bitter end, despite the difficulties he encountered in his life..."

One more quote from St. Pio is worth meditating on.  It comes from the same book by Bernard Ruffin.  He talks about a visit made by his friend and former teacher, Padre Agostino.  The priest said that Pio did not complain or make objections, especially in a public way.  Agostino asked him how he passed his time.  The saint responded:

"I pray and I study as much as I can, and then I annoy my Brothers."

He went on to elaborate on that last part, that he jokes with his brothers. In other words, he fully accepted God's will for him, not stewing in the injustice that had befallen him.

The Simplicity and Docility of St. Dominic Savio

St. Dominic Savio, a patron saint of the falsely accused was faulted in school for a prank he did not commit and was punished for it after he did not protest his innocence. He chose a path of docility and silence. Later, when the teacher, Father Cugliero discovered he didn't do it, he asked Savio why he didn't defend himself. St. Dominic said:

"I thought of our Lord when He was unjustly accused. He didn't say a word either."

Bottom Line: That persecution of innocent clerics and lay people happens is nothing new in the history of the  Church, including that which comes from within. What is most important is one's response to that persecution. Grace always leads us to imitate Christ, who was obedient unto death, death on a Cross (Phil 2:8).

What if Our Lord Jesus Christ had not been silent, protested his innocence, and "quit" because he was falsely accused and suffered injustice at the hands of the imperfect men God had put over him?

Several times in this post I have used the word, "docility".  What does this mean in the spiritual life? Let's look at what Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ has to say.  Yesterday, June 18, marked not only the day of his birth, but of his priestly ordination.  He remarks in an article on virtues concerning "Childlikeness" about docility thus:

It means therefore to be willing to learn from God and here’s the hard one: the willingness to learn from God not of course as though God will, though of course He might, send us His own divine angelic messenger, normally not. Normally God teaches us through the circumstances of our daily lives. Especially those most painful circumstances called other people. That’s where we tend to be less than docile. Openness then to God’s teaching us especially through all whom He places into our lives. It is great, great wisdom to be so disposed as to be ready to learn from and I mean it, everyone from the youngest child to the oldest speaking to religious golden or diamond jubilarian .

Defending oursleves against untruths and injustices - St. Francis de Dales

A lamb, even as it is led to slaughter, is docile, unlike a pig which kicks and squeals to the bitter end.  And, so must we be when we are led to the kind of emotional slaughter that comes with injustice and false accusations.  Does this mean we ought never defend ourselves? See the answer below as St. Francis de Sales quotes St. Gregory on this point.

When any evil befalls you, apply the remedies that may be in your power, agreeably to the will of God; for to act otherwise would be to tempt divine Providence Having done this, wait with resignation for the success it may please God to send; and, should the remedies overcome the evil, return Him thanks with humility, but if, on the contrary, the evils overcome the remedies, bless Him with patience.
"The following advice of St. Gregory is useful: whenever you are 'justly accused' of a fault, humble yourself, and candidly confess that you deserve more than the accusation which is brought against you; but, if the charge be false, excuse yourself meekly, denying your guilt, for you owe this respect to truth, and to the edification of your neighbor. But if, after your true and lawful excuse, they should continue to accuse you, trouble not yourself nor strive to have your excuse admitted; for, having discharged your duty to truth, you must also do the same to humility, by which means you neither offend against the care you ought to have of your reputation, nor the love you owe to peace, meekness of heart, and humility."

On Father Corapi

A  priest should always lead us to Christ.  If we find ourselves being led to the man, rather than to He whom the priest must always lead us, then it is time to remedy the attachment. 

In closing this post, I can only encourage you to pray and offer sacrifices up for Father Corapi, and for those who have developed a deep attachment to him.

We do not know his status, not until it is reported to us by the Church.  Some believe that he is doing this to help other priests who may be innocent victims of a flawed process. Pope John Paul II, in Veritatis Splendor (75) condemned consequentialism.  The end (fixing a process most of us feel is broken), does not justify the means (of breaking a promise he made when he put his hands into the hands of Pope John Paul II upon his ordination to the priesthood 20 years ago).

The mark of the priesthood is ever in the cross-hairs of the Angel of Darkness.  If he can get one priest to fall in some way, he knows very well how to use that attachment some have developmed to "the man" to win dozens, hundreds, or many thousands of others.

The Church is perfect, and Christ promised that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against it.  But, he also established a hierarchy made up of men - men who are no less prone to the effects of Original Sin as the rest of us.  He knew some would lead with heroic virtue unto martyrdom, others would die to self in white martyrdom, and still others would do a great deal of time in purgatory, or earn their way into Hell for eternity.  Thank God, that judgment is up to He who knows the fullness of truth, and any mitigating circumstances even a guilty cleric may have.  We, for our part, should pray for their sanctity, do reparation for our sins and theirs, and beg for mercy for all mindful of our own sinfulness.

If you want to do something useful, go to an Adoration chapel and pray, and do so regularly for priests and bishops. 

Got thoughts?

I'm interested in hearing from you on this, most especially priests.  Also, if you have any examples of other saints who suffered persecution from within the Church, drop a mention in the combox.  Provide links or citations, where possible.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cardinal Ruini: Commission “still far from being able to publish an official judgement…”

Cardinal Camillo Ruini - Head of the Commission on Medjugorje

I've been observing some news floating in Croatian press recently. Some of that news has been making it into other languages in various forms.

On June 14, 2011, Cardinal Camillo Ruini who is heading the international Commission on Medjugorje responded to an inquiry concerning a definitive judgment with the approaching 30th anniversary of the alleged apparitions.  Cardinal Ruini responds:
the Commission of inquiry is “still far from being able to publish an official judgement” concerning the alleged Marian apparitions of Medjugorje.

That comes from a blogpost at the website of retired University of Montreal researcher, and editor of The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Louis Belanger, who is fluent in several languages.

You will want to keep an eye on his Medjupedia homepage in English or French because he is planning on discussing that 1986 document Bishop Peric added to the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno website I mentioned the other day (from the International Medical Association of Lourdes concerning testing conducted on visionaries in the early 80's). Louis writes:

After a long “health break”, I will come back soon to the important critical text published by Mgr Ratko Peric on the website of his diocese

It will be  interesting to see Belanger's thoughts.  He conducted,  "the study of paranormal phenomena while teaching at the Faculty of Theology of the Université de Montréal and at the Department of religious studies of the Université du Québec à Montréal."   He took an interest in the case of Medjugorje and traveled there.  Belanger captured an interesting moment while filming the visionaries in Medjugorje back in the early 80's.


There are reports in Croatian press that visionary Ivanka Invakovic-Elez is in Rome.  This information came about through an online news article which claims her husband admitted as much in a phone interview.  I offer here, a loose translation/paraphrase of the relevant paragraph:

"...Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez, one of the visionaries, is in Rome.  Her husband, in a telephone interview with us, said that he could not say a word about his wife was doing in Rome because everything about the subject involved an oath which is like the seal of confession."
If she is being interviewed, and/or tested, I think that is pretty good news.  It shows the Holy See is going all out in it's investigation, leaving no stone unturned.


The report also menions that she is there with Fr. Mijo Nikic, SJ - professor with the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, Archbishop Zelimir (Zeljko) Puljic of Zadar (formerly of Dubrovnik), and Dr. Mato Zovkic, the Vicar for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue in the Archdiocese of Vrhbosna (think Sarajevo). 

While Nikic is already being consulted by the Commission, I must say that I am very happy to see Archbishop Zeljko Puljic (not the same as Cardinal Puljic in Sarajevo) and Dr. Zovkic involved.  More on that later. I suspect those names may be triggering some thoughts that Mr. Belanger is soon to offer, so I'm going to wait.

Stay tuned.  In the meanwhile, pray for Cardinal Ruini, his Commission and all involved in the process.  May the Holy Spirit guide them to truth, and grace them with all that is needed to help everyone affected. 

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Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ Podcasts!

There are several interesting things I would like to pass on about Fr. John Hardon, SJ. 


From - the website for the cause of Fr. John Hardon (emphasis mine in bold):
Be sure to check out our podcasts under the "Archive and Guild" tab. We have discovered many beautiful articles by Father Hardon here at the Archive and Guild, and so we decided to read them and convert the recordings into podcasts, which are also available on iTunes.

The dates for the few available podcasts are from May and June 2011, so this endeavor is just starting.  You can listen online there, or hit a link in that page to go over to iTunes where you can subscribe as I just did!

Please mark your calendars for two Masses that will be held to commemorate Father John A. Hardon S.J.'s 64th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood as well as his 97th birthday. One Mass will be celebrated at noon on June 18th at the National Shrine of Saint Maximilian Kolbe at Marytown in Libertyville, Illinois. The other Mass will be at the Jesuit Conference and Retreat Center at Colombiere, in Clarkston, Michigan. This Mass will be celebrated at 9:30am.

Father Robert T. McDermott, Postulator to the Cause of Father Hardon, will be the main celebrant for the Mass at Marytown. Father Brian Van Hove, S.J., will be the main celebrant at the Mass at Colombiere, and Father Francis Budovic S.J., will be the homilist.

Fr. Robert McDermott, the postulator for Fr. Hardon's cause, is interviewed by Kresta about sainthood causes in general, what is involved, and how cases like Fr. Hardon's or Bishop Sheen's differs from that of others like Fr. Michael McGivney. 

You can listen to the audio online, or go here to subscribe to Kresta's podcast.  It is the third segment of the first hour on June 15, 2011 (click here to listen online, but note that the audio may start running as soon as you get there, so if you are not at home.... you know... LOL)

Third Topic -Memorial Mass for Fr. John Hardon on his Birthday / Anniversary of Ordination

Servant of God, Fr. John Hardon, was a Jesuit priest, writer, and theologian. Father Hardon wrote dozens of books on religion and theology including: The Catholic Catechism, a defining volume of Catholic orthodoxy; and the Modern Catholic Dictionary, the first major Catholic reference dictionary published after the Second Vatican Council. The talk to Fr. Robert McDermott, Postulator of the Cause of Fr. Hardon.


Fr. Hardon was a prolific writer, one of the reasons his cause will take longer than others who did not have many writings. He was a master catechist, one who guided faithful and confused Catholics alike during the turbulent post-Vatican II years when teachings were being distorted. Here are just a few of his books.  I highly recommend, especially, the Treasury of Catholic Wisdom.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Audio: Interview with Arch/Detroit spokesman about liturgical abuses at ACC dissent-fest Mass

Al Kresta, host of Kresta in the Afternoon on Ave Maria Radio
speaks at the 13th Call to Holiness about dissent in the Church on June 11, 2011

Yesterday, Al Kresta spoke with Archdiocese of Detroit (AoD) spokesman, Ned McGrath about the American Catholic Council (ACC) conference which just took place in Detroit this past weekend.

You can find the archived audio at this link to listen online, or use get the podcast from the sidebar.  I'm providing quite a few notes from the interview below.

Catholics, especially priests and deacons were urged to stay away from the conference, and more importantly, to avoid the "Eucharistic Liturgy".  The archbishop expressed concern in a June 3rd letter on the archdiocesan website, addressed to priests and deacons, about  a potential "forbidden concelebration with the laity" taking place there. 

In the interview, McGrath acknowledges that the AoD was concerned enough about the liturgy, to send a few people there to document what happened.  Because there is a review underway by those commissioned by the archbishop to do so, the spokesman said he could not make public certain details at this time.

Reports back to the archdiocese indicate not just liturgical abuses, "but some that could be deemed flagrant", said McGrath.  He also clarified that what is under review is the liturgy which took place, not an individual or individuals. 

SIDEBAR #1: To my mind, that does not mean that it won't lead to disciplinary action against certain individuals, but that at this point they are merely reviewing what happened.  Simply put, they are not making it personal, but are looking at behaviors that need to be addressed.  Disciplinary actions within the Catholic Church are meant to be medicinal, so to speak, to get someone away from a fragile cliff edge which could harm them.   We are not to yield to things like illicit sexual temptations, but rather accept the sacrifice of associated with saying no in imitation of Our Lord who, "humbled  himself, becoming obedient unto death, death on a Cross." (Phil 2:8)  And, so it is with a group who submits their will, for the will of the Church, and of the local bishop in communion with the Church, with regards to the celebration of the Liturgy.  As Al later points out, groups like the ACC are anti-hierarchical and want a democracy, yet goiing back to the beginning of the Church, specifically referencing the writings of St. Paul, she has always been hierarchical and Eucharistic.

Continuing on with the interview, Kresta establishes first, the point that for any celebration of the Mass to take place, there must be permission from the local Ordinary, in this case, Archbishop Vigneron.  The American Catholic Council was not given the necessary permission, but went ahead with it despite awareness that Detroit's archbishop did not want the Mass taking place.  Kresta points out that the first abuse which took place was defiance to the archbishop who urged them not to hold a Mass.  Referring to +Vigneron's June 3rd letter to priests and deacons [page may load slowly], Kresta and McGrath talk about how that defiance flies in the face of Vatican Council II.  From the archbishop's letter:
Of particular concern is the "Eucharistic Liturgy," noted on the schedule for this conference on Pentecost Sunday, June 12. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council instruct us, "Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is regulated by the bishop, to whom is committed the office of offering the worship of the Christian religion to the divine Majesty and of administering it in accordance with the Lord's commandments and with the Church's laws, as further defined by his particular judgment for his diocese." (Lumen Gentium, 26). I take my role as moderator of the liturgy for the archdiocese (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22) very seriously. To confirm the legitimacy of what they had planned, the ACC had been asked to provide details regarding this liturgy. The response received was ambiguous, and there are good reasons for believing forbidden concelebration will take place by the laity and with those not in full communion with the Church.

McGrath goes on to say that back in the fall, the archbishop wrote and asked the organizers to cancel the event (which was chased by this advisory sent out in October 2010).

SIDEBAR #2. Just for background, the celebrant of the Mass was Fr. Robert Wurm of Detroit, a priest who retired in 2004 after last serving at St. James parish in Ferndale, Michigan.  The Detroit Free Press discussed his defiance with him:

Wurn told the Free Press afterwards he was aware that Archbishiop Allen Vigneron had explicilty warned all priests and deacons to not participate. But Wurm said he's not worried being punished.

"I don't see that happening," Wurm said. "I'm older than he (Vigneron) is."

Wurm criticized Vigneron's letter that told clergy to stay away.

"He was making a big mistake," Wurm said.
In my humble opinion, his presumption is a big mistake.  In the Detroit News, Janet Hauter, the co-chair of the ACC basically said he cannot be disciplined because he is not a diocesan priest, but from the Benedictine order.  According to the Free Press, John Hushon of Florida who was a lead organizer stated, "He didn't violate canon law....we went right down the straight and narrow".

Who is John Hushon?  Is he a canon lawyer? It appears not.

*John Hushon is a graduate of Brown University (1967) and Harvard Law School (1970). He practiced international corporate law with a major firm in Washington DC, New York and Eastern Europe. He has taught international business transactions at the graduate level at Widener University and Northwestern University as an adjunct. He became the CEO of El Paso Energy International Corporation in 1995, retiring in 2001. He has a Master of Theology from Washington Theological Union with a concentration in Scripture (2005). He has completed significant additional doctoral work in Theology. He co-chairs American Catholic Council and teaches history of religion and Scripture courses at the Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University. He lives in Naples, FL with his wife, a PhD environmental consultant who is active in (mostly) volunteer efforts concerning the ecology of Southwest Florida and the Everglades. [source page]

If John Hushon was consulting himself on canon law for this event, he ought to pass it up.  If they consulted a bona fide canon lawyer, they ought to pass him up next time they have questions and that canon lawyer ought to ask for a refund from whatever school he graduated.
Getting back to the interview, Ned McGrath said that if a "forbidden concelebration" was determined to have happened, then Archbishop Vigneron has a responsibility to turn that information over to the Vatican. 

The 20 minute interview continued, but I must take leave now to get off to work.  The remainder of the hour was also devoted to discussion about the problems with the American Catholic Council. 

Al also spoke about the Call to Holiness conference which took place Saturday, June 11th as the ACC dissent-fest was going on.  He lauds Fr. Eduard Perrone for his stalwart defense of the faith, especially with the work he has done as co-founder of the Call to Holiness, and pointed out that the Assumption Grotto pastor was celebrating his 33rd anniversary in the priesthood.  Al also mentions in this segment, Mrs. Grace Perrone, Father's mother, whom he got to meet at the Call to Holiness conference. 

Please note that I just received a note that Al Kresta will be interviewing Fr.  Robert McDermott at around 4:30pm today.  Fr. McDermott is the postulator for the cause of John A. Hardon, SJ, who spent his final years working out of an office in what is now a convent at Assumption Grotto.  Tune in locally to AM 990 or listen online at   There will be two Masses celebrated on June 18th - one in Michigan and one in Illinois.  See details here.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Excerpts from 1986 medical report concerning Medjugorje Visionaries released on diocesan website

The Diocese of Mostar-Duvno has released a report in English concerning medical and scientific studies performed on the visionaries of Medjugorje.  While it was given in 1986, I believe this may be the first time we are seeing it in English. 

When googling the subject, the search list turns up quite a bit of positive information about such testing of the visionaries.  The Holy See, which currently has an international commission studying the phenomena, has such positive studies, but also those of a critical nature like the one from which we are seeing excerpts below.  Those interested in the phenomena might want to be aware of it as we wait for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to convey the answer to the question of Medjugorje.

It is important to note that the International Medical Association of Lourdes will sometimes study cases sent by bishops who are discerning other phenomena.  Many can claim a cure, and some may be truly miraculous, but few can be proven as miraculous because of the rigorous standard that must be used.  Some alleged cures of certain conditions or diseases do not really qualify for further study because of the potential for lengthy remission, for example. On the other hand, when several MRI's document a growing tumor, then it suddenly disappears and is no longer traceable following an event or prayer; or when a blind person suddenly regains vision, it is easy to document.  Such a case is still scrutinized to rule out other possible explanations for the cure. 

The excerpts released here concern the testing of visionaries themselves.

Here is the lead-in....
KIUM, 2011-06-10

Prof. Henri Joyeux and Father René Laurentin (both French), in collaboration with some other professors and doctors, published in 1985 the book „Etudes médicales et scientifiques sur les apparitions de Medjugorje“, published by O.E.I.L. (Medical and Scientific Studies On the Apparitions At Medjugorje". The work has been translated and published in Croatian, too, (Duvno 1986). A critical look at this work was addressed by a member of the enlarged Diocesan Commission (1984-1986), Father Nikola Bulat, in his study on the phenomenon of Medjugorje Istina će vas osloboditi, Nepouzdanost izvora i nedoličnost poruka. Studija o nekim međugorskim pitanjima ["The Truth Shall Set You Free. The Unreliability Of the Sources And the Indecency Of the Messages. A Study On Some Issues Of Medjugorje”] (1986), Mostar 2006, pp. 96-98.

A few months after the exams conducted by Dr. Joyeux, further medical tests were carried out by an Italian group, led by Dr. Luigi Frigerio, in 1985.

Prof. Théophile Kammerer, then President of the International Medical Committee of Lourdes, after having studied the French dossier and having known the results obtained by the Italian group (through the report of Dr Cherubino Trabucchi), presented his criticisms in a meeting of the Committee in 1986.

We asked Mrs. Pascale Leroy-Castillo, Director for Archives and Heritage of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, to send us a transcript of the conference. She replied on May 13, 2011, with the consent of Dr. Alessandro de Franciscis, head of the Lourdes Medical Bureau, that publication of the contents of the conference of Prof. Kammerer is allowed, stating that it was held at the meeting of that Committee in September 1986. Also on this occasion, we sincerely thank the officials of the International Medical Committee and of Archives and Heritage of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes for their kind permission. Here are some passages from the exposition of Prof. Kammerer.

*Go read the excerpts from the 1986 report concerning scientific testing of Medjugorje visionaries the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno website...

Further reading about medical and scientific testing of Medjugorje visionaries:

  • Retired University of Montreal researcher, Louis Belanger, also has a site with considerable information in French and English at

  • I refer you also to my own blog on the Medjugorje phenomena which has some interesting facts to sift through.
  • Richard Chonak has done a lot of translating, into English, items from German and Italian on the subject, as well, including interviews.  See his tag for Medjugorje and scroll.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Archdiocese of Detroit responds to defiant priest's celebration of Mass at ACC dissent-fest

Photo: Susan Tusa/Detroit Free Press
Fr. Robert Wurm, 78, celebrates an unauthorized Mass at Cobo Hall in Detroit
which closed the American Catholic Council's conference
UPDATE: I have made another post which contains a more extensive audio interview with Archdiocese of Detroit spokesman that Al Kresta had the other day. I've provided some pertinent quotes in the body of that post, as well.

The Archbishop of Detroit was quick to react through a spokesman to the liturgical abuses which took place at the Mass which closing the American Catholic Council's dissent-fest.

This post has been updated, and may undergo further updates.
The Archdiocese of Detroit website is not yet updated, but Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press has reaction about the Mass in which organizers claim dozens of priests and deacons attended.  (Note: There are a number of photos in a slideshow in that link, with captions if you hover your mouse over them.  The article continues to be updated with additional info and pics, so you may want to revisit it).  Niraj writes:
The top Catholic leader in Michigan slammed a big liberal Mass today in Detroit, saying it had significant abuses and he ordered a review of a Ferndale priest who led the services before 1,500 Catholics, a church spokesman said.

“There were several, serious liturgical abuses at that service,” said Ned McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese. “It’s disheartening that a Detroit priest would preside over a service with so many…serious liturgical abuses. There will be — has to be — a careful and thorough review.”
The Detroit News has a similar quote attributed to McGrath, but it goes one step further, saying it will also potentially be reviewed by the Vatican.

Photo: Susan Tusa/Detroit Free Press
Left, Suzanne Thiel, president of Roman Catholic Women Priest USA,
from Portland, Oregon, and Juanita Cordero,
from Los Gatos, CA participate in the liturgy celebration.

The celebrant, Fr. Wurm is a resident of Detroit.   The Free Press article goes on to read:
Wurn told the Free Press afterwards he was aware that Archbishiop Allen Vigneron had explicilty warned all priests and deacons to not participate. But Wurm said he's not worried being punished.

"I don't see that happening," Wurm said. "I'm older than he (Vigneron) is."

Wurm criticized Vigneron's letter that told clergy to stay away. 

"He was making a big mistake," Wurm said.

Catholics at the conference defended their conference and Mass, saying they are in accordance with the laws and values of Catholicism.

“He didn’t violate Canon law,” John Hushon, of Florida, a lead organizer of the conference, said. “We went right down the straight and narrow.”

According to the Detroit News, he is a Benedictine whose last assignment before he retired in 2004, was St. James in Ferndale.

Janet Hauter, the co-chair of the American Catholic Conference, said her group followed the rules and did not use a diocesan priest for the Mass. She said Wurm can't be censured or defrocked because is from the Benedictine order of priests.

Do they seriously think that a member of a religious order has got some kind of diplomatic immunity which hinders the Church from disciplining it's priests?

While Fr. Wurm is a Benedictine, his incardination in that order is a separate issue from the faculties given to him to celebrate Mass.  From what little is provided in the article, it seems that he had faculties here in the Archdiocese of Detroit back in 2004 when he retired.  Those can be revoked, at least for celebrating Mass.  Further, he is not out of reach of disciplinary action by the Holy See.  Some background on incardination and faculties can be found in this post on the excommunicated and laicized ex-priest, Marek Bozek.

Here is video from local ABC affiliate, WXYZ.  In the article that accompanies the video, they quoted Archbishop Vigneron from a recent statement:

“The American Catholic Council portrays itself as something other than what it is. In effect it advocates for what it calls ‘change’ by putting Catholic sacraments, church teachings and even the sanctity of life up to a vote. That’s not even close to liberal or left-leaning thinking; it’s beyond a bridge too far.”

Please pray for these misguided Catholics, and for the unity of the Church. 

More to come.



I hope to have a photopost up soon on the Call to Holiness Conference which took place with the blessing of Archbishop Vigneron, and from today's Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Assumption Grotto.

I know.... I'm really behind.  I still have Easter photos to edit, among others.  The last two months have just been packed.

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