BY John Lilly
August 12-18, 2007 Issue | Posted 8/7/07 at 2:55 PM
I have long maintained that the Church has become obsessed with mercy and has forgotten that the maintenance of order basic to its preservation and the protection of all of its members require a balancing attention to and execution of justice.
Those persons include falsely accused (of sexual and other offenses) priests and other employees of the Church.
The cases of the priests mentioned in your very well-written July 15 story, “Helping Accused Priests Is His Calling,” bring to our close attention the need to re-balance mercy and justice by such actions as:
1. Ensuring that a civil action is filed against the false accuser and those assisting or encouraging her/him as soon as possible and well within the statute of limitations for such actions;
2. If that statute of limitations is longer for bringing actions against accused sexual predators than against their accusers, use that fact as a defense against late accusations; and
3. Bring criminal charges against false accusers (and, any conspirators with them) as soon as possible, but well within the time limits set by law to ensure that justice is done and to give others who might bring false accusations some pause to think before they do evil.
Some would say the Step No. 3 is inconsistent with mercy and forgiveness as taught by the Church.
They are wrong! Prevention of evil is better than forgiveness, and forgiveness requires confession or finding of fault and penance — the civil penance contained within our criminal codes.
When such false accusers are found guilty of crimes, then both ask for restitution and such mercy as the courts, who deal with what belongs to Caesar, may deem appropriate in cases where an attempt was made to destroy another person.
James Pawlak West Allis, Wisconsin40 Days
What great coverage on the 40 Days for Life (July 22). We here in Bremerton were quite involved with this effort, and choose Lent as the best time for this event; as Father Pavone put it, self-sacrifice in behalf of the innocent. Also, it is during the spring, a time for “new life,” and is about six months from the national event “The Life Chain,” which takes place the first Sunday in October. I’m sure, though, whenever the 40 Days for Life occurs, it will continue to make a big impact on the community. It sure did in Bremerton. In-between time, may I suggest that this power of prayer continue anytime in front of abortion mills across the country. The spiritual war on life is huge, and prayer offers the “big guns.”
Respect Life Committee
Our Lady Star of the Sea
We have a program in our parish called “Catholics Come Home.” We have large outdoor signs inviting Catholics who have left the Church to check it out and also an open invitation to anyone who wants to know more or come to sessions dealing with various aspects of Catholic teaching. We have had good turnouts from this program.
Thanks to masstimes.org (410-676-6000), anyone can find a parish near a loved one who is no longer in “the fold,” call the parish and ask them to send an invitation from the church to their loved one.
Most parishes have RCIA programs but few have welcoming committees. How could a parish know who in their area might just need a nudge? We have invitations often from other religions, but never from our Catholic Church. This could be such a quiet, unintrusive method of influence. They would never feel pressured and would not even know that we were instrumental in the invitation.
Canby, OregonDRE’s Crucial Role
Relevant to “Assessing Parish Safety” (June 10):
Much energy and effort has been expended by the Church in helping to assure that no child is ever the victim of abuse, especially at the hands of Church employees.
Concern must extend beyond protecting God’s children from physical, sexual or emotional harm. We must, in addition to protecting their human bodies, be vigilant about protecting the immortal souls of our children. Popes, parents and priests all have important roles to play.
But a crucial role for the salvation of our young people’s souls is entrusted to the local director of religious education (DRE).
Space available here does not allow for a complete listing of everything a DRE must be. We can, however, list a few things a DRE must not be. A director of religious education should never profess disloyalty to the Church through membership in or sponsorship of dissident, anti-Catholic groups. A DRE should not support dissident groups by acting as a member, speaker or contributor of any kind at any time. Seriously problematic groups like Future Church (demanding an inclusive priesthood, i.e. the ordination of women and married priests) and Call to Action (promoting dissent against Church teachings on a broad range, including women’s ordination, homosexuality, creation spirituality, married priesthood, and liturgical reforms, while incorporating new age and Wiccan spirituality) should be avoided by competent directors of religious education (and all loyal Catholics in general) at all times.
Membership in, allegiance to, or commitment to any organization that denies the Magisterial teachings of the Church while at the same time being appointed to teach what the Church teaches can only redound to absolute confusion for and harm to our little ones. Acceptance of the authority of the Church and a reverence for what she teaches, whether definitively or through the ordinary magisterium, must stand at the very heart of what a DRE must be. External or formal support of groups which deny the Catholic Church’s teaching on any issue should automatically disqualify a person from official teaching roles in the Church, especially when that role involves imparting or overseeing instruction of innocent children and potential converts. Whether you agree with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz or not, the fact that he formally excommunicated anyone affiliated with the above groups should at least raise the question about suitability for educational ministry. The delicate minds, hearts and souls of our children demand vigilance.
Perhaps a nationwide or diocesan-wide program of intellectual, academic, and doctrinal background checks on directors of religious education would be a good step in keeping our children safe. No diocese tolerates physical, emotional or sexual abuse of children, yet there seems to be total obliviousness to this most insidious form of detrimental spiritual abuse.
To protect its treasury almost every diocese has in place a user-friendly mechanism by which priests and directors of religious education who violate children and young peoples’ bodies can be put out of commission. Probably no diocese has a user-friendly device by which priests and directors of religious education can be taken out for damaging minds with false and misleading information and destroying souls with formal and informal heresy.
Shannon M. Jones
State College, Pennsylvania
Editor’s note: Shannon Jones is chief executive officer of Goldhead Group Ltd., which provides catechism class material online (CatechismClass.com).
Regarding “New Hopes for the Old Mass” (July 22):
Deo Gratias, and also a special thanks to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict for the publication of the motu proprio. As someone who attends the Latin Tridentine Mass regularly (and also a member at a church of the Society of St. Pius X) I am very happy that this document has come out in order to educate others.
Rather than offending anyone, it should reassure so many souls who have been fearful to attend the Mass of all times and give glory to God, as he most certainly deserves. The document clearly states that the Latin Mass was never abolished or forbidden. It clears up this misunderstanding and restores minds and souls with peace and calm.
Heather Nicole Hamtil
Bishop’s Double Standard?
In his recent interview with the Register, “We Are Very Happy” (July 22), Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, attempts to justify his dissent from the teachings of Vatican II by an appeal to their supposed “ambiguity.” In his words: “The major problem we have with the council is ambiguity.” Later he adds: “The ambiguity is in the text. We say the text is the problem because it leads to another possible interpretation.”
Does the bishop apply this same standard in his approach to Sacred Scripture? I certainly hope not. After all, many passages of the Bible are also extremely ambiguous. St. Peter witnesses to this fact when he states that there are certain verses in the letters of St. Paul that are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16).
The binding authority of Sacred Scripture is not negated because certain key biblical texts are “ambiguous” and need magisterial interpretation. Neither is the binding authority of the documents of Vatican II nullified because of the “ambiguity” and frequent misinterpretation of the council’s teachings.
Father Raymond N. Suriani
St. Pius X Church
Westerly, Rhode Island
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