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How One Small Town Ridded Themselves of a Heterodox Priest August 10, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, different religion, episcopate, error, General Catholic, horror, priests, scandals, secularism, self-serving, sickness, the struggle for the Church, true leadership, Victory.
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I’m not necessarily advising the below. I will say, however, that concerned laypeople, making use of private investigators and using assumptions that almost always prove to be true, have driven even unworthy bishops from their dioceses.  The former Bishop of Miami is one example.

I’m low on time, but I am curious to know what you make of this (I do add a few comments below):

But I could not imagine what would happen when a new pastor arrived. Fr. Stan, who was in his mid-40s, was creative, an “innovator,” and he set about his “reforms” with unflagging self-confidence. His first move was to hang garish banners from high over the altar. They weren’t exactly “un-Catholic,” just unnecessary, these broad, pastel bolts of cloth with images of birds, candles, or sunflowers, and saccharine messages, likePeace, Harmony, and Sonshine. Next was the invasion of gentle Jesuit junk in the new hymnals, which no one could sing. So Fr. Stan found a woman who believed she had talent, a divorced lady with a lot of time on her hands, it seems. She became the “Music Minister,” stealing our last fifteen minutes before Mass for “rehearsal,” waving her arms in front of us like one of the “weird sisters” in Macbeth, as if trying to conjure up the ghosts of Woodstock. The parishioners just frowned at her in stony silence, which visibly irritated our new pastor.

Fr. Stan gave up on the muzak, a minor setback, but not on his protégée. On the contrary, he decided to promote her. She then began to function as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, the first this parish of barely 200 souls had ever seen. But when this became a little too “ordinary,” she started standing beside the priest during the Canon of the Mass, now vested just like him, hands outstretched and mimicking his every gesture during the Consecration. Then she started uttering all the prayers in unison with the priest. Finally, the coup de grace: After the Prayers of Consecration, Fr. Stan started taking a seat behind the altar-table, and Ms. Lomsheck became the only source for receiving Holy Communion. [This has happened hundreds if not thousands of times all over this country]

This was too much for the farmers, ranchers, mechanics, feed-store owners and large-animal veterinarian, who spent all week in dirt, grime and worse. They were not about to have a priestess take over their one hour of transcendence, and more or less have to become Methodists without any say in the matter. The parish council drafted a letter to the bishop with a simple message: we want something Catholic for Mass. The bishop’s response was artfully courteous. He thanked the letter writers for their love of “being church,” but assured them that Fr. Stan had his complete confidence. He was certain that by following the lead of their appointed shepherd ever more closely on their “faith journey,” they would all arrive harmoniously, somewhere, together. [Typical.  Another unworthy shepherd, more concerned with keeping his priests happy – no matter what damage doing so might cause – than serving as a true shepherd of souls. In all likelihood, he shared the priest’s sentiments towards a different religion]

The parishioners were not reassured. Attendance at Mass dropped dramatically. For many, Sunday became a group rosary day, at alternating farmhouses. Others were making the 50-mile drive to the nearest alternative Mass. With a car so badly rusted I could see some of the road through the floorboard, I had to join the rosary group. The Sunday rosaries spawned a Saturday afternoon offshoot, as another group began quietly meeting inside St. Isidore’s Church at about two o’clock, so as not to relinquish all claim to a building their great-grandfathers had lifted skyward with their own hands. When Fr. Stan learned that the parishioners, who now refused his Masses, were using his church for a “protest” rosary, he started locking the building all week and required the parish council to turn in their keys. Only he and the priestess could let themselves into the church.

Barely six months had passed between Fr. Stan’s arrival and the climax of this confrontation. But the dramatic end took place with even greater speed. One Sunday, as I was preparing to head out to a group rosary, I received a phone call: “Mass in the church in about an hour!” Fr. Stan was gone, there was a new visiting priest, and in a few weeks, a new permanent pastor was to arrive. Our prayers were answered. How exactly had this miracle come about?

Later that week, I ran into the head of the parish council at the Greyhound Diner. Mr. Pulaski (who was also the town pharmacist) was hesitant to answer my questions about Fr. Stan’s abrupt departure, but he finally relented. He himself had conceived the plan that was endorsed by the entire council. They had written Fr. Stan a letter, anonymously, of which the entire message was essentially this:

We know what you are doing. We have photographs and other evidence.
If you do not leave NOW, we will take it to the bishop and the police.

What had they discovered, I wondered? What kind of evidence? How had they uncovered it? “Nothing,” said Mr. Pulaski, “We had no evidence of anything. Just an assumption. It was a pure bluff. And it worked.” I was dumbfounded. How on earth had anyone imagined that such a dubious ploy, which seemed so desperately phony, could ever have the desired effect? [I say good on these people for having the strength of faith, and right understanding of human nature, to pull this off.  Good for them for standing up for themselves, their children, and the Church.]

“Well, it’s like this,” Mr. Pulaski continued. “Pretty simple, really. When a priest hates the Mass as much as Fr. Stan obviously does, it is a sure bet that he is involved in some great immorality, possibly something illegal. Having to preach a Gospel he doesn’t believe in makes him bitter and angry with the Church for ‘forcing’ him to be a hypocrite. He takes it out on the parishioners. We didn’t know what was wrong in his private life, but we were sure it was a damned mess.” 

………Some years later, with a sense of morbid curiosity, I tracked down the priest who had been the source of all the trouble. Was he at some other parish, I wondered, among people more willing to be “innovated?” No, it turns out that he had become a sociology professor at a Catholic university. [and thus gets to infect even more Catholics with his different and incompatible religion]

The practical, day-to-day crisis in the Church in this country, and around the world, in a nutshell.  Bishops and priests who don’t believe, whose unbelief is powered by an addiction to sin.  Just like Luther.  It drives them to reject Catholicism in favor of a worldly, indifferent, man-made religion.  And they use their great numbers and influence over the levers of power in the Church to persecute the faithful, whether they be priest or layman.

Anyone know of any similar tales where such tactics have worked, or may have?  Have any of you ever considered retaining a private eye to investigate the behavior of local churchmen?  Did Roman Catholic Faithful do that for a while, and turn up a very great deal that was very, very bad?

Is this a viable way for the faithful to try to reclaim the Church, or is it unscrupulous to stoop to such tactics?  Do the ends justify “punitive” means, or do the faithful have a right to know? Are we not called to be wise as serpents and simple as doves? If the latter, why aren’t such investigations – which have been successful several times – more frequent?  I have to believe scandals such as those in Miami and the anecdotal story above are depressingly frequent.

Comments

1. sixupman - August 10, 2016

I found it, in both France and Germany, not unusual for the laity to do most things except Confect the Sacrament. Even in the UK I witnessed a ‘supply priest’ having Confected the Sacrament left it to a plague of emhcs to distribute Communion, et al/

2. Brian Springer - August 10, 2016

That article sounds like it was taken from the movie “Doubt” in which the protagonist, Sister Aloysius, pulls off a similar gambit to rid her parish of a liberal, and possibly-predatory priest.

3. The Lord's Blog - August 10, 2016

Reblogged this on Jean'sBistro2010's Blog.

4. richardmalcolm1564 - August 10, 2016

“Is this a viable way for the faithful to try to reclaim the Church, or is it unscrupulous to stoop to such tactics?”

Unscrupulous – even if they did guess right. Timothy Williams (no shrinking violet) appears to share the same objection. But I am not without lots of sympathy for these people, and what they suffered at the hands of their shepherds.

What to do? Well, withholding money from the plate is a start. That does tend to get noticed, if it happens on a large scale.

What set Miami’s effort apart was that the lay Catholic group did their homework, assembled overwhelming evidence of what was going on, and got it into the right hands, respectfully. Even at that, it took a while for Rome to act, of course. And the mess has not been entirely cleaned up under Wenski (to be sure, a true cleanup would have deprived most parishes of any regular Sunday Mass for a long while).

5. richard w comerford - August 10, 2016

test

6. richard w comerford - August 10, 2016

Re: An unworthy priest

This article resurrects an ancient heresy and glorifies the breaking of three of the Commandments.

There is no perfect priest except Christ. There is no perfect liturgy this side of heaven. An unworthy priest does not produce an invalid sacrament. Participation in a sacrament made by an allegedly unworthy priest does not constitute blasphemy on the part of the laity. (See St Augustine and the Donatism heresy.) Blackmail based on a cold blooded lie is a sin against the 5th and 8th Commandments. Voluntarily failing to attend Sunday Mass is a sin against the 3rd Commandment.

Christ told us that the world would hate his followers. (John 15:18) He told us that if we loved Him we would keep His Commandments. (John 14:15). Unworthy priests and poor liturgies are part of the price of living in a Fallen World. Instead of blackmailing allegedly unworthy priests (or making up fairy tales about blackmailing priests) we should instead strive to be Saints. (Matthew 5:48).

The author of the instant article is a professor of ethics at Catholic Steubenville University.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

tg - August 11, 2016

The problem was the woman was saying the prayers with him at the altar. That is blasphemy.

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. tg:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “The one with the really, really long boring posts.”

Read, if you will, St. Augustine on this matter. You may find the great Saint boring also – until you realize the vast number of immortal souls at stake.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

7. Fran Rooker - August 10, 2016

I don’t think anyone involved was looking for a “perfect” priest or “perfect” liturgy. There is also the requirement that a valid sacrament means that the priest intends to do what the Church intends to have happen … this obviates “creativity” and extraneous actions!

Rather, I think, these people were expecting their shepherd to be faithful so that they might “hear My voice and follow Me”. We are under no command to follow a pretend shepherd, a hireling… rather to “flee from strangers” who seek to kill and destroy the sheep. It is one thing to keep His commandments, it is another thing to be faithful to the Shepherd .. the example, I think, is to listen to the true teaching but not follow false actions (something about the Pharisee’s saying but not doing, I think).

Sometimes, I think, we tend to get caught up in the “letter” of the ethics and neglect the “Spirit” of ethical conduct.

8. richard w comerford - August 10, 2016

Ms Rooker:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “I don’t think anyone involved was looking for a “perfect” priest or “perfect” liturgy.”

And how imperfect a priest and liturgy will the blackmailers accept? Was the replacement priest good enough for the blackmailers on the parish council. How about the local ordinary? The Pope? How about parishioners who attended the imperfect liturgy? Do they get blackmailed too?

and in part: ” I think, these people were expecting their shepherd to be faithful so that they might “hear My voice and follow Me”.”

Neither you nor I can look into the heart of the allegedly unworthy priest.

and in part: “We are under no command to follow a pretend shepherd, a hireling… rather to “flee from strangers” who seek to kill and destroy the sheep”

Yes we are. Christ expects us to be obedient. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”.” Luke 22:42

God bless

Richard W Comerford

FranR - August 11, 2016

(1) perfect vs imperfect & looking into the heart … I don’t think it is necesary to be thinking “subjective” here! It is sufficient to look at the objective actions & evaluate if those objective actions manifest faithful behaviors in accord with the teaching of the Church.
(2) obedience …. we are called to be obedient to our Lord … in the event a worldly superior instructs something different we are STILL called to be obedient to our Lord, even to the point of forfeiting our life.
(3) blackmail … rather presumptive don’t you think professor? The priest evidenced (thru his reaction) some aspect of the internal state of his soul … bishop obviously did not desire any further publicity about “whatever” information may/may not be in the possession of these parishoners … even though he chose not to discover what “whatever” actually was! True information is not blackmail! We might well consider that these parish council members acted as wise serpents and gentle doves… no?

9. DM - August 10, 2016

Good on these people for doing this. I think this method is basically the only way we have left to get rid of these disgusting, evil priests. Appealing to the bishop or to the Vatican almost always does nothing. Yes it’s a little sad that drastic steps like this have to be taken, but that’s the state of things today.

10. bluebird4458 - August 11, 2016

It is a shame that these hard-working and faithful people have to put up with this! It happens in so many places – I am happy that they were able to rid their parish of this disgusting priest. No one has the right to mess with your faith!

11. richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. DM:

You posted in part: “Yes it’s a little sad that drastic steps like this have to be taken”

Your “drastic steps” included anonymous blackmail based on cold blooded lies and organized refusal to fulfill Sunday Mass obligation. Violations of the 3rd, 5th and 8th Commandments.

Why not just shoot the alleged unworthy priest in the first place? Savse a lot of time and effort.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

12. richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. bluebird4458:

you posted in part: “No one has the right to mess with your faith!”

So urging and organizing people to violate the 3rd, 5th and 8th Commandments is not messing with the Faith?

God bless

Richard W Comerford

13. DM - August 11, 2016

Ummm, Richard W, let me just suggest from your apparent understanding of things that this may not be the website for you, my friend. That Polyanna attitude belongs on Patheos or the NCR. Please read more of what the Saints had to say about unworthy shepherds and our duty to correct or resist them, not obey them. What a ridiculous, papolatry-like attitude, to go along with abuse like that described here, as if it’s a good thing!

Somewhere in canon law and other studies, I’m sure many examples could be found, is addressed the issue of the Sunday Mass obligation being lifted in grave cases, such as flagrant abuse and a possibly invalid Mass in this case, heresy and endangerment to peope’s Faith. So these people did not violate the 3rd commandment, nor the 5th or 8th since their accusations were true. The priest and the bishop who refused to correct the situation were the ones in the wrong, not the faithful laity.

14. Francis Rooker - August 11, 2016

Dear “professor” Comerford … you are beginning to resemble a troll vs. a Steubenville faculty. Really! Suggesting “shot the alleged unworthy priest” is hardly academic discourse.

15. richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Ms Rooker:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: ” It is sufficient to look at the objective actions & evaluate if those objective actions manifest faithful behaviors in accord with the teaching of the Church”

And that justifies anonymous, threatening blackmail, cold blooded lies and refusal to fulfill Sunday obligation?

and in part: “in the event a worldly superior instructs something different we are STILL called to be obedient to our Lord”

Yes. And Christ founded His Church with a visible hierarchy with which he endowed authority.

and in part: “blackmail … rather presumptive don’t you think professor?”

No. It was a Catholic professor of Ethics who penned this fairy tale. And in many jurisdictions the events as they are portrayed in the fairy tale rise to blackmail and may be actionable both civilly and criminally.

and in part: “The priest evidenced (thru his reaction) some aspect of the internal state of his soul”

And you can look into his soul? You know that his reaction was based on self knowledge of objective, serious guilt? And you yourself are sinless?

and in part: “bishop obviously did not desire any further publicity about “whatever” information may/may not be in the possession of these parishoners”

Are you saying that the Bishop knew that the parish council was blackmailing his priest? If that is the case I wonder what type of replacement (if any) the Bishop sent to this rebellious parish?

and in part: “True information is not blackmail!”

It was not true information. It was a cold blooded lie.

and in part: “We might well consider that these parish council members acted as wise serpents and gentle doves… no?”

Wise serpents and gentle doves do not organize rebellion against their legitimate Bishop based on lies, blackmail and refusal to attend Holy Mass on Sunday.

Although this article is clearly a fairy tale think, if it were true, how many souls would be endangered.

Christ was obedient unto death to the Father. Satan rebelled.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

16. richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Francis Rooker:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “professor” Comerford”

I am not, thank the good God, either a professor or an academic.

and in part: “Suggesting “shot the alleged unworthy priest”.”

Sorry. I did not suggest that anyone be shot.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

17. richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. DM:

You posted in part: ” Please read more of what the Saints had to say about unworthy shepherds and our duty to correct or resist them, not obey them”

Really? Kind of like when St. Francis kissed the hands of an unworthy priest who had been brought to him for correction? And resistance to just authority? What Saint ever encouraged resistance or disobedience to authority? See St. Padre Pio.

and in part: “I’m sure many examples could be found, is addressed the issue of the Sunday Mass obligation being lifted in grave cases, such as flagrant abuse and a possibly invalid Mass”

Name one.

and in part: “heresy”

Hersey! What heresy?

and in part: “So these people did not violate the 3rd commandment, nor the 5th or 8th since their accusations were true”

Yes they did. Reread the fairy tale in question. Their blackmail was based on a cold blooded lie. An unworthy priest does not make an invalid sacrament. See St. Augustine and Donatism.

and in part: “The priest and the bishop who refused to correct the situation were the ones in the wrong, not the faithful laity.”

The priest and Bishop may well be wrong. However their alleged wrongness does not justify cold blooded lying, anonymous, threatening blackmail and defiant refusal to fulfill Sunday obligation on the part of the laity.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

18. Peter - August 11, 2016

One perfectly defensible option is for parish lay leaders to insist on strict cash controls and regular thorough audits of parish finances. Sinful priests need to finance that lifestyle and so probably steal from the collection plate. Cut off that theft and at least put a crimp in their lifestyle.

19. FidelityJane - August 11, 2016

I agree with Richard W for all the reasons he has takren the time to outline. God bless him.

20. deaconmike51907 - August 11, 2016

Reblogged this on News With a Catholic View.

21. richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Re: Donatism – the heresy of Donatus:

In 303 AD the Emperor Diocletian launched a horrific persecution of the Church which lasted until his son issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD which granted legal toleration of Christianity. During these 10-bloody years not only did Bishops, priests and laymen fall away but some actually turned traitor and aided Caesar’s persecutors. Donatus and his followers argued that the traitors were unworthy Bishops and priests and could not make valid sacraments and that those laymen who participated in said sacraments were heretics committing blasphemy.

St. Augustine replied to the Donatists that the validity of the sacraments was not determined by the merit or worthiness of the priest; and that participating laymen did not engage in heresy or blasphemy. It was the power of Almighty God, not the moral merit of the priest, which made the sacraments valid.

Donatists soon outnumbered Catholics in North Africa. They so weakened Christendom that at he beginning of the Muslim conquest, @ 630 AD, the Holy Warriors of Islam, in relatively small numbers were able to march west, on Caesar’s superb roads built for the Roman Legions, almost without opposition from the soon to be enslaved Christians. They continued their victorious march until they were stopped by a Christian army, which was unencumbered with heresy, at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD.

The resurrection of this ancient heresy by the Center of Ethics at Catholic Steuben at a time when the followers of Jesus Christ are facing persecution from both Caesar and Islam is troubling. Christ calls upon us to be Saints – not rebels.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

22. Seraphic - August 11, 2016

Although I suspect St. Augustine would take a hard line on this, I wonder if their solution might be sanctioned “cunning as serpents, mild as doves” advice (Matthew 10.16). After all, these were indeed sheep among wolves (also Matthew 10.16). I feel very sympathetic to these people; it must have cost them an awful lot not to go to Mass. I tentatively suggest that you should not go to Mass if (and only if) doing so has become an occasion for sin. These poor Catholics were stuck between a rock and a hard place. And, as this was a rural community, it could be argued that they had a travellers’ dispensation when they avoided the occasion of sin that was this priest.

It was very restrained of the storyteller not to draw the obvious conclusions about the priest’s relationship with the would-be priestess. Meanwhile, it reminded me more of a Don Camillo story. At the end of the story, Don Camillo would brag of his cleverness to the Lord (like Mr Pulaski to the narrator) and be slapped down for it.

tg - August 11, 2016

“It was very restrained of the storyteller not to draw the obvious conclusions about the priest’s relationship with the would-be priestess.” That’s what I thought too. The good thing is the priest was probably not a sodomite.

Tantumblogo - August 11, 2016

I thought there was a whole boat load being left unsaid, out of charity/desire not to spread scandal. It is quite possible, but far from certain, that if we had all the details, the actions of the townspeople would appear much more rational/justified.

Anyhoo.

23. skeinster - August 11, 2016

Clarification, please-
Mr. Williams says this is true.
Mr. Comerford says it’s a fairy tale.
Which is it?
Don’t want to comment til I know.

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. skeinster:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “Clarification, please-”

What do you wish clarified? The Donatist heresy on which St. Augustine labored for decades to suppress? Or the story itself? Only Professor Williams and the Center for Ethics at Catholic Steubenville U. can easily clarify whether the article is a true and accurate account of an actual historical event or a 21st Century fairy tale.

The key question is, I think, is whether we can break the 3rd, 5th and 8th Commandments becasue we think that the celebrating priest is unworthy to say Holy Mass?

St. Augustine says not.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Tantumblogo - August 11, 2016

Well, that was a small part of the article, but not really the point I focused on. I think that missing Mass was unfortunate, but what I really wanted input on was, is it permissible to investigate heterodox priests for possible/probable sins in their private lives, and to use that against them in order to try to effect change?

Having said that, I have received input from several traditional priests that if a Mass is an occasion of sin because of error taught and/or abuse ongoing, and especially if children or others poorly formed in the Faith may have their faith weakened/corrupted/destroyed as a result of that Mass (the error there taught), it can be permissible to miss it. I don’t know how they reconcile your cite from Augustine or if they are even aware of it, but I do know that such advice is given from time to time, especially in truly egregious situations. We don’t know for certain that error was being taught here but I think we can safely assume it probably was.

Again, however, this is sort of deflecting the discussion down a rabbit hole away from the point I was trying to see addressed. Can investigation be done, morally? Does the laity have the ability/right/whatever to conduct such an investigation?

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. T:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “is it permissible to investigate heterodox priests for possible/probable sins in their private lives, and to use that against them in order to try to effect change?”

An investigation based on justice and charity for a most serious reason, is, I think, indeed permissible. But who decides that a priest is heterodox? Does the 5th Commandment permit blackmail? And in this case does the 8th Commandment permit blackmail based on a cold blooded lie.

and in part: “it can be permissible to miss it.”

Back in the Dark Ages when I was young and living away from the urban Catholic ghettos, we would drive some three hours one way, and partly on dirt roads, to get to Mass. This was not considered an inconvenience. The only perfect priest is Christ. There is no perfect liturgy this side of heaven. At what point do we decide that a priest is so unworthy that we may ignore the 3rd Commandment?

and in part: “Can investigation be done, morally? Does the laity have the ability/right/whatever to conduct such an investigation?”

An awful lot of investigations get kicked off by personal dislike of the subject. That dislike fuels the investigation. That same dislike colors the findings.

In this case no investigation was made. The “good” parish council just decided that their “bad” parish priest must have something to hide; becasue he was, well, bad! Based on their parish priest’s perceived badness the good council sent him an anonymous, threatening blackmail note. There was no evidence that he was guilty of any wrong doing. And of course according to this story everyone lived happily ever after.

In the real world cold blooded lies and anonymous threats do not make for happily ever after.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

skeinster - August 11, 2016

But having siad that, calumny is a sin and sometimes a mortal sin.

Tantumblogo - August 11, 2016

The author says the story is true. Could he be using broad moral reservation in saying it’s “true” in the sense that it’s a morality tale?

It’s a tough situation. It’s a nasty business to hire PIs and turn up dirt on priests and/or bishops, but it has been a fairly effective method at getting rid of at least some of the worst of the rot in the Church. We know that the early Church dealt harshly at times with priests/bishops who left orthodoxy. The Council of Ephesus was conducted under serious threat of violence from the laity if the Council failed to formally name Mary as the Mother of God in a dogmatic belief. There were other, even more direct actions by the faithful in those ages of tremendous faith.

I think all this peering into souls and declaring sin on the part of folks who do such things goes too far. I don’t agree with missing Mass but I do think doing some reasonable investigation into the conduct of a wayward priest is permissible. As for straight up bluffing, it seems they may well have been right in their surmise, but that might be taking things a bit far.

24. skeinster - August 11, 2016

“Or the story itself? Only Professor Williams and the Center for Ethics at Catholic Steubenville U. can easily clarify whether the article is a true and accurate account of an actual historical event or a 21st Century fairy tale”

That.
Because I must say that my original reading pegged my “famous men’s magazine letters forum” meter.
It’s just a little too pat.

But I could certainly be wrong.

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. The Lord’s Blog:

When I was a boy (back in the Dark Ages) one could rise early on a Sunday morning and have a choice of walking to a host of different Masses. No more. But Christians have made incredible sacrifices to attend Holy Mass in the past – to include sacrificing their own lives. Indeed for so much of Christian history it was almost the norm to make a considerable sacrifice in order to attend Holy Mass. In this story if the allegedly unworthy priest was so bad then why did not the protesting parishioners back up their families on Saturday afternoon, make motel reservations, and attend Holy Mass elsewhere Sunday morning?

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Judy - August 11, 2016

You expect blue collar families to pay for a motel every weekend? Most inexpensive motels are not exactly family-friendly. The bishop, the priest, and the wannabe womanpriestess were the ones in error.

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Ms. Judy:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “You expect blue collar families to pay for a motel every weekend? ”

What worth is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? My (distant) relatives in the US South West would sleep on the ground in blankets or sleeping bags. I saw people in Africa trek enormous distances on foot carrying their infants and very young to attend Holy Mass.

Again: What worth is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Judy - August 11, 2016

Dear Mr. Comerford,
It is not safe or economically feasible for a family to pick up and go to another town for Mass every weekend. Do you currently do this? Are you really advising families to sleep on the streets every weekend instead of the bishop doing his duty? That is idiotic and would also surely result in their children being removed from the home by Child Protective Services. This isn’t about the worth of the Mass. It is about the failure of the bishop and priest to provide for their flock. We have many people at our church who drive in a great distance every weekend. But I know many more families who simply cannot afford to do so.

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Ms. Judy:

Thank you for your reply.

The Mass is valid not becasue of the worthiness of the priest-celebrant but becasue of the power of Almighty God. If a party still refuses to attend a Mass citing the alleged unworthiness of the priest-celebrant then that party still has an obligation to attend Mass. My (distant) relatives in the South West attended Mass which was said from the back of a station wagon. Like many other Christians they made enormous sacrifice to attend to include sleeping on the ground the night before.

The Donatism heresy posited a pure, unsullied and perfect Church. St. Augustine countered that the Catholic Church is a Church of both sinners and Saints.

The only perfect priest is Christ. The only perfect liturgy will be found in Heaven.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Ms. Judy:

Thank you for your reply…

The Mass is valid not becasue of the worthiness of the priest-celebrant but becasue of the power of Almighty God. If a party still refuses to attend a Mass citing the alleged unworthiness of the priest-celebrant then that party still has an obligation to attend Mass. My (distant) relatives in the South West attended Mass which was said from the back of a station wagon. Like many other Christians they made enormous sacrifice to attend to include sleeping on the ground the night before.

The Donatism heresy posited a pure, unsullied and perfect Church. St. Augustine countered that the Catholic Church is a Church of both sinners and Saints.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

25. richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. skeinster:
Calumny: making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone’s reputation; slander

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “calumny is a sin”. Yes a violation of the 5th Commandment. And the Church goes farther than the secular definition. We are obliged to protect our neighbor’s good name – even if we have true but damaging information about our neighbor in our possession.

But the oh so cleaver parish council in this fairy tale sent an anonymous, threatening letter to their parish priest based on a cold blooded lie. They in fact did not have in their possession damaging information about their priest’s good name. They only pretended to do so.

Christ expects more of us than casual backstabbing.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

26. The Lord's Blog - August 11, 2016

Re: What the Laity did. Whether it was a fiction or non-fiction story I do not know. I find it very ingenious what they did. My hope is that God doesn’t hold it against them. My hope is they pray for the unfortunate Priest who was the way he is. Its hard for the laity to carry a cross like that but I also think that our Masses should have Priests who are well trained, reverent and have hearts which are linked to God in what they do. I’m sure being a Priest isn’t easy.

27. The Lord's Blog - August 11, 2016

Post Script: I think being the Laity isn’t easy either.

28. tg - August 11, 2016

Richard W remind me of that other guy that doesn’t post anymore. The one with the really, really long boring posts.

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. tg:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “The one with the really, really long boring posts.”

Read, if you will, St. Augustine on this matter. You may find the great Saint boring also – until you realize the vast number of immortal souls at stake.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

29. tg - August 11, 2016

All these comments and no one seems to have a problem with the woman at the altar with the priest? That was the last straw for these people. it would be for me, too. No way will I ever go to a Mass with a woman deaconess.

30. richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Mr. tg:
Re: Woman at altar with priest

A priest who allows a woman to be at the altar still is a priest. No matter how unworthy or unworthy a priest may be it is the power of Almighty God that makes the sacrament – not the power of the priest.

A woman at the altar does not permit us to break the 3rd, 5th and 8th Commandments.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Judy - August 11, 2016

A priest who allows a woman at the altar mimicking his motions and saying the prayers along with him is in grave error, and I would not expose my family to his shenanigans.

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Ms. Judy:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “A priest who allows a woman at the altar mimicking his motions and saying the prayers along with him is in grave error, and I would not expose my family to his shenanigans.”

And if the woman in question was in the first pew, or a middle pew, or the last pew, or on the steps of the Church, or in the parking lot?

At what point do you shrug off the 3rd Commandment? at what point do you engage in anonymous blackmail based on a cold blooded lie?

Christ expects us to live heroic lives of virtue, to strive to be Saints. Not to be liars, blackmailers and bullies.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Tantumblogo - August 11, 2016

We are missing a great deal of critical info.

I would tend to agree that “merely” having the woman present at the altar, mimicking the act of consecration, is gravely redolent of error and a terrible scandal, as is trying to force people to receive from her alone. It could easily be a near occasion of sin to many, and could lead those poorly formed into error from which they never recover. On that basis, I think an argument could be made that Mass could be missed, especially if the priest had been implored to change, letter sent to the bishop, etc., and the problem persisted.

That would primarily apply for those weak/vacillating in the faith or those with responsibility over children.

For those more mature/robust in the Faith, while terrible to endure, the scandal/error should be able to be overcome and they probably have a duty to assist at Mass, but really a spiritual director, someone versed in all the details, would have to make that call.

I generally flee from ascribing sin to those struggling to work out their faith in this time of incredible crisis, confusion, and error. I tended to take for granted that these folks were honest actors who were not motivated by personality factors but out of concern for their souls and those of others. But we really don’t have any hard info to that end. Motivations in matters like this are hugely important. Charity demands we assume they were motivated only by solemn concerns for souls and not because they simply didn’t like Fr. X or Ms. Y – as personalities.

However, making up an allegation out of whole cloth, even if it turned out they were right (and, if the report is to believed, it seems they were), was not the right thing to do. Again, we only have this report to go on, but if they literally had zero knowledge of any personal immorality/sin, and were just guessing, that was beyond imprudent and probably immoral.

As to whether it is OK to dig dirt on heterodox priests, I was recalling this morning that in the cases I know of – Illinois, Miami, and New Orleans – laity had come to know of immoral activities or had very strong evidence of such even before they retained any investigators. In Miami, certainly, it was already a great scandal, and the PIs were hired mostly to prepare a detailed, professional dossier to send to Rome. I think investigation in these cases is no much more solid moral ground than going on a fishing expedition, as has already been noted.

I agree that there is no perfect priest but Christ and yes laity have in the past and continue in this day to go to great lengths to assist at Mass, and that is to be cherished and extolled. I think an assumption is sort of being made, however, that these people were somehow “enjoying” their missing Mass, or doing it for bad/prurient reasons, when in reality it could have been – and sounds like it was – an enormous cross for them. That is, they didn’t do this out of some positive desire, they felt forced/compelled to do so because of positive danger to their souls. Once again, the motivations, which we know nothing of, make all the difference.

No one can be forced to partake in sin. According to the Church from ~400 – 1960s, it was an enormous sacrilege for the laity to ever handle the Blessed Sacrament. Communion in the hand/reception from a layperson would have undeniably been held to be gravely sinful. Yes things have changed, we are told, but that some would see sin in this situation as described is not unreasonable. Not that I recommend this response, prudentially, but I don’t believe it is necessarily immoral, based on the information we have had presented to us.

Now moving onto other things.

31. Fran Rooker - August 11, 2016

Thank you, RWC, for your contributions here. I have researched and read your plethora of comments at Crisis Magazine, particularly the ones concerning this topic. I have no way of knowing whether you have actually read the documents to which you so frequently allude, but they smell like wiki-smoke! At Crisis you posted veiled threats to Prof Williams (see here: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crisismagazine/how_a_small_town_parish_disposed_of_its_troublesome_priest/#comment-2817892340 ) and in this forum your strident tone is wearying. Even Dr. Aquinas, in his most spirited advocacy against the Donatistas, always counseled grace and mercy. A lesson we all need to apply constantly and consistently.
God Bless, I suspect your fans at Crisis miss you!

32. Fran Rooker - August 11, 2016

Correction, excuse my naming Aquinas in place of Augustine … mea culpa.

richard w comerford - August 11, 2016

Ms. Fran Rooker:

Thank you for your reply. You posted in part: “At Crisis you posted veiled threats to Prof Williams”

I do not think I made a “veiled threat”. I was quite clear. Dr. Williams, the Catholic Professor of Ethics, in his numerous very personal attack,s on the non-entity that I am, suddenly also accused me of making false statement regarding my military service. I had made no mention of said service to Dr. Williams. Said service did not impact on the question at hand of Donatism.. However it is a felony to make false claims of military service. (See 18 USC 287) And it is also a crime not to report a felony (See 18 USC 4).

I am deeply involved in Veterans affairs. Our Veterans are treated like trash. IMO the biggest problem is the inability of DOD and the VA to maintain complete, true and accurate records of service which precludes, among other things, Veterans obtain entitled medical care. This is a major reason why there are 25-suicides a day of Veterans. To complicate matters further parties, like Dr. Williams, will make public statements accusing honorable Veterans of lying about their service.

I have appeared so far as plaintiff in 9-cases regarding Veterans’ records and the subsequent unjust denial of, among other things, entitled medical care. If Almighty God grants this old man health I intend to appear as plaintiff in a 10th case. I advise you in the strongest possible terms not to get involved.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Tantumblogo - August 11, 2016

If there are doubts regarding the veracity of the article, I’d prefer they be taken up at the original, and not rehashed here. I don’t think the matter will be settled with this back and forth.

33. Margaret Costello - August 12, 2016

I think it’s about time the laity hired private investigators to discover all of the evil going on behind the doors of the demonic priests and bishops (Cardinal Wuerl anyone?). These men are abusing us spiritually in countless ways, and with Rome either ignoring it or enabling it, it’s about time something was done.

If there is a priest or bishop who is totally off the rails spiritually, then by all means check him out…for the protection of your children and the flock.

God bless~

Margaret Costello - August 13, 2016

And for the record:

A) From what I recall from my Church history course, the Donatists questioned the validity of priests who publicly apostasized when faced with martyrdom. I find it very rational to question whether the masses they continued to perform were valid or not. Thankfully the Church declared they were. But these were priests faced with death for their faith, not a spiritual wolf in sheep’s clothing committing spiritual abuse and starvation to his flock.

B) To all the Patheos crowd who want us to sit back and allow all the sick-o and evil priests to abuse and starve us spiritually, and the bishops who abandon us even when we try and to the right thing, please note that by being ok with that, you are basically saying Our Lord is ok with it…that God the Father is fine with His children being abused. Just sayin’.

C) I think the only thing suspect in this scenario was not doing a formal investigation into this priest. If the priest was innocent, he would have laughed off the letter but it would have been calumny. It would have been much better if the investigation had found out what he was really doing so that he could be removed from the priesthood and more souls protected, including his.

D) It is not breaking the 3rd commandment to not attend Holy Mass on Sunday if there are no licit options or scandal-free, spiritual abuse free options. It’s about setting aside the day for Our Lord. If there is a licit, valid and Mass nearby that will not cause scandal and harm to yourselves or children, then yes, that is the means to make the Lord’s Day Holy. If not, Catholics can view Holy Mass online at the FSSP site and maybe get together as a group like this parish did to recite the rosary. But subjecting yourself or your children to spiritual abuse is NOT ok in any way, shape or form.

E) I can see s few saints reactions to this lost priest: St. Padre Pio would have slapped him. St. Nicholas would have punched him in the face. Our Lord probably would have taken a whip to Him or reminded him of what happened to people who scandalized the little ones. Bringing a lay, unconsecrated lay woman and presenting her as a fellow priest at the Holy Altar? That’s demonic.

Do priests have to be perfect? Of course not. But they have no right to spiritually starve and abuse and harm their flocks…and those flocks, per canon law I believe, do have the right to communicate obvious and persistent spiritual abuse to their Bishops…and the Bishops the duty to protect them.

I say it’s about time we investigate obvious priests and bishops who are spiritual abusers. I don’t recall every reading that it was ok to starve, harm, or abuse fellow Catholics/Christians. If anything, charity demands the opposite. We belong to the Good Shepherd. Let the world, flesh, and the devil have their way with us…the but the Church is supposed to be Our Mother, protector and spiritual nourishment…not our rapist, killer, betrayer, and destroyer of our souls.

God bless~

richard w Comerford - August 13, 2016

Ms. Margaret Costello:

You posted in part: “the Donatists questioned the validity of priests who publicly apostasized when faced with martyrdom”

The Donatists called themselves the “unsullied”. They claimed they stood apart from Catholicism as a “perfect” Church. They judged whether Bishops, priests and laity were “worthy” to participate in the Sacraments. An unworthy priest meant an invalid sacrament. St. Augustine countered that the Church contains both Saints and Sinners and that it is the power of Almighty God, not the worthiness of the priest, that makes the sacrament valid.

and in part: “To all the Patheos crowd”

The Church is the divinely instituted mystical body of Christ with Christ as its Head. Catholic means universal. Christ did not divide hos Church into Patheos and non-patheos factions.

and in part: “If the priest was innocent, he would have laughed off the letter but it would have been calumny.”

And innocents parties arrested for purportedly committing horrific crimes have confessed on video to committing said crimes. See the Innocence Project”.

and in part: “It is not breaking the 3rd commandment to not attend Holy Mass on Sunday if there are no licit options or scandal-free, spiritual abuse free options.”

But Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is attending the Mass in question. After the Consecration He is really and truly present upon the Altar under the appearance of bread and wine. And you would leave Him alone?

and in part: “St. Padre Pio would have slapped him.”

The Saint endured far worse and still kept the Commandments and obeyed his superiors. His sister, a nun did not, and rebelled. Today he is a canonized Saint. She is not.

and in part: “Do priests have to be perfect?”

There is only One perfect Priest.

and in part: “I say it’s about time we investigate obvious priests and bishops who are spiritual abusers.”

Followed by anonymous blackmail based on a cold blooded lie?

God bless

Richard W Comerford

34. dthy - August 13, 2016

When we’re at Mass we’re at Calvary. Calvary is not the most pleasant place to be. The woman imitating the actions of the priest would compare with those who mocked Christ. It is a mockery. How difficult it was for Mary to endure those things. I suppose if I were in that situation I would attend the Mass, bring my Latin-English prayerbook and read the prayers to myself. The article does not say, but if the priest said the proper Consecration prayers, than the Mass would be valid, in spite of the mockery. If, however, he used his own made up words, than the Mass would be invalid, and, through no fault of our own, of course, we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our obligation by attending. But assuming the Mass is valid, it seems a Protestant thing for us to go and have a prayer meeting of our own. (Think, Martin Luther. He left because of abuses, did he not?) So better to attend the Mass, stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross, and then after the Mass gather for a Rosary in reparation for the abuses committed. And also do all in your power to bring an end to the abuses, such as meeting with the priest himself, going to the Bishop, and, this would be the most likely to have an effect if enough people did it–withholding donations from this parish–donate to other Catholic groups instead.


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