Alarm Bell for Cardinal Justin Rigali in Philadelphia

Trying to Avoid the TRUTH in Philadelphia

Just Won’t Work Anymore


On 21 January 21 the Philadelphia Grand Jury issued a Report on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests. According to Clerical abuse campaigner Richard Sipe, it the clearest and most complete account of the pattern and practice of the Catholic Church in dealing with priests who abuse minors and their victims.

The noose is getting closer to episcopal necks as investigations get more objective and the pattern of abuse in the system is laid out. Children are still endangered precisely because cardinals know exactly what their vicars do and vicars do exactly what their boss wants.

The Philadelphia Grand Jury released what has been termed a “sordid”  report on clergy sex abuse, some examples:

         Fr. Charles Engelhardt, 64, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, is accused of orally sodomizing and molesting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1998 in the sacristy at St. Jerome Parish in Northeast Philadelphia.

         Fr. Edward Avery, 68, an Archdiocesan priest who was defrocked in 2006, is charged with the same offenses against the same boy. And this boy’s sixth-grade teacher at St. Jerome School, 48-year-old Bernard Shero, is accused of orally and anally sodomizing the then-11-year-old in the back of the teacher’s car.

         Fr. James Brennan, 47, an Archdiocesan priest, is accused of forcing his penis into the buttocks of a 14-year-old former parishioner when he was in the priest’s bed. At the time, the summer of 1996, Father Brennan was on leave from Cardinal O’Hara High School. In 1997, he was returned to active ministry and assigned to St. Jerome Parish.

         Importantly, Monsignor William Lynn, former Vicar for clergy is charged with endangering the welfare of children by allowing priests to continue to work.

Bishops and cardinals use an elaborate system of denial to cover their tracks.

Chancery offices are filled with people who will take the “fall” for their boss.

Boss Rigali

There have been priests accused and convicted of child rape before, but what is very significant for the entire church in the U.S. is that the supervising priest in Philadelphia, Msgr. William Lynn, is indicted for the endangerment of children.

Monsignor Lynn’s boss, Cardinal Rigali was on the defense immediately once the report became public and he claimed, “there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.” This of course is very strange.

The Philadelphia Grand Jury Report traces 37 credibly accused offenders who are

STILL in ministry.

It’s not just the Liberty Bell that’s ringing in Philadelphia….

A Burkean Flashback : Flashback Catholicism

This weekend we have a bit of a flashback to an earlier posting about Cardinal Raymond Burke. One of my readers, a good friend in London, suggested that I re-post an earlier piece about the former Archbishop of Saint Louis and  recently-removed Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

Cardinal Burke has become a strong critic of theologians, like Cardinal Walter Kasper, who would would argue that change has been and must be an important part of Catholic belief and practice. Burke is in fact a strong defender of what I would call “flashback Catholicism”……..more anchored in the late medieval past than the third millennium.

Flashback Catholicism is at the heart of the storm, now blowing through the Vatican — and certain foreign outposts with flashback archbishops like Philadelphia — as “progressives” battle “conservatives;” and people like Cardinal Raymond Burke accuse the Pope Francis of fostering confusion about church teaching.

Catholic chaos? A Catholic crisis? Or just maybe Catholicism at an historic crossroad? The challenges are there and they are very real. Writing in the New York Times this week, James Carroll phrased it this way: “The joyful new pope has quickened the affection even of the disaffected, including me, but, oddly, I sense the coming of a strange reversal in the Francis effect. The more universal the appeal of his spacious witness, the more cramped and afraid most of his colleagues in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church have come to seem.”

Carroll’s solution is, I suspect, the only real solution for the growing Catholic dilemma: “…(a) Such retrieval of the centrality of Jesus can restore a long-lost simplicity of faith, which makes Catholic identity — or the faith of any other church — only a means to a larger communion not just with fellow Jesus people, but with humans everywhere. All dogmas, ordinances and accretions of tradition must be measured against the example of the man who, acting wholly as a son of Israel, eschewed power, exuded kindness, pointed to one whom he called Father, and invited those bent over in the shadowy back to come forward to his table.”

But now…….another kind of Burkean flashback:

Looking Sharp for Jesus

Best Dressed Cardinal in Rome for 2011

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke

February is World Fashion Month. It is with feelings of great emotion that I announce that Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke — born and raised in Wisconsin, USA — has won the 2011 “Look Sharp for Jesus Award.” The judges found him one of the best dressed members of the Roman Pontifical Court. There is of course no cash connected with this award because — well — we just don’t think he needs it after what his threads cost all of us in the church.

Raymond Leo Burke — “Ray” to most of us — was born June 30, 1948. Heck,  John Greenleaf was already riding his tricycle when little Ray was in diapers…… Ray is the current Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. That’s a big job for a big man.  Ray previously served as Archbishop of St. Louis (2003–2008) and Bishop of La Crosse (1994–2003).

Aside from his judicial expertise and his great fondness for the medieval liturgy of the Council of Trent, Ray is quite the party boy in Rome. Wherever he goes, people stand in awe at his expertly crafted and tailored episcopal dress.

Various young ecclesiastics around the world — and no small number of seminarians at the Pontifical North American College in Rome — are saving their pennies to “dress like Ray when I become a bishop.”

Here is a  quick consumers guide:

You need a big hat — called a mitre. Ray has quite a collection.

This colorful head cover is one of Ray’s favorites. “THE hat” for special occasions, like going out with the Pope. It cost Ray only $8,340.

On less formal, but certainly still very  important occasions, the Cardinal Prefect prefers his simple gold bonnet. This one below was a great buy at $1,042.

But a mitre does not make a bishop…or a cardinal…..Pontifical GLOVES do the real trick.

These beauties — great in a suddenly unexpected  Roman snow storm or for shoveling snow back in Wisconsin — were a great buy at $1,390.



Tahrir Square’s Message for Our Bishops

Forget the Rome-Based Theological Monologue

Invite Your Colleagues to IMAGINE THE FUTURE,  by


Listening to the Voice of the People on the Street



A Five step program for listening to the people on the street

and formulating a contemporary pastoral theology:*


1. Let theological knowledge emerge from the study of what is nontheological.

Reflection on other kinds of experiences in daily life, in politics, in sports, in the arts, etc. and other forms of knowledge (including the sciences, philosophy and literature) are crucial to the formation of our theological imagination. They connect us to CONTEMPORARY REALITY.

2. Let the nontheological understanding of religions and cultures inform theology.

By focusing on questions of human meaning, identity and purpose in other disciplines,  we can better understand the contexts in which faith arises: philosophy, history, literature, sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics and the arts. No single discipline has a corner on the truth….just as no single institution knows it all.

3. Let theological insights be gleaned through inter-religious dialogue.

An understanding of Christian faith through a study of the texts, rituals, ethics and doctrines of others can lead to a deeper understanding of our own tradition.

4. Let the lived experience of  impoverished and marginalized men, women and children be our touchstone for theological learning.

Firsthand learning from exposure to the worlds of poor and marginalized people (e.g. battered women, orphaned children, persons who suffer from stigmatizing diseases, and the like) can lead to a transformation of hearts and an opening of minds. This transformation of hearts and opening of minds opens our eyes to the Sacred.

5. Let the God-mystery stand as the horizon for all learning

God is disclosed in the human even when the human cannot find or refuses to find God.  God as mystery stands as the finality of all activity, even the most “godless.”




* Thanks go to Paul G. Crowley, S.J., a theology professor,

and chair of the religious studies department at Santa Clara University.

He wrote an excellent article in AMERICA MAGAZINE (7 February 2011) titled  “Tomorrow’s Theologians.”




US Catholic (the magazine) has applauded Father Anthony Ruff, OSB

for his speaking out about the liturgical translation

US Catholic deserves congratulations as well!

Now let’s get this ball really rolling……

(See lead paragraph below.)


Bravo, Father Anthony Ruff, OSB

Friday, February 4, 201

By Bryan Cones

Finally a national-level liturgist has refused to any longer be a part of the translation fiasco. Father Anthony Ruff, OSB of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota has long provided on his PrayTell blog a forum for people to discuss the coming translations and had been scheduled to deliver several talks on the new Missal’s implementation in
preparation for its Advent 2011 debut. He has withdrawn from those engagements in an open letter to the U.S. bishops. (More coverage from America magazine here.)


Cracks in the Church: Signs of a New Springtime?

Cracks let in fresh air and sunshine and generate new life

Some hopeful cracks that appeared this past week:

Over one hundred Catholic theologians have called for radical reforms in the Catholic Church.

Around a third of all Catholic theology professors at universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, have called for reforms in the Catholic Church. In their petition entitled “The Church 2011: an indispensable renewal”, which is accessible via the Internet site of the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, these 143 theologians have also called for the ordination of women, and for the Church’s acceptance of homosexual partners.  They also demand participation of the faithful in the nomination of bishops and an end to the “moral rigidity” of the Church. There hasn’t been a comparable revolt by theologians since 1989 when more than 220 academics signed the “Cologne Declaration,” which protested against the authoritarian leadership style of the late Pope, John Paul II.
Ohio Catholic bishops seek to end death penalty
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati and Bishop Frederick Campbell of Columbus are among 10 Catholic church leaders in Ohio who have signed a statement urging the state to stop using the death penalty, weeks after an Ohio Supreme Court justice issued the same call.
An Open Letter to the U.S. Catholic Bishops on the Forthcoming Missal
With a heavy heart, I have recently made a difficult decision concerning the new English missal. I have decided to withdraw from all my upcoming speaking engagements on the Roman Missal in dioceses across the United States….The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church. When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority, how much deception and mischief have marked this process—and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity…I weep. —-  Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey and a professor of liturgy and Gregorian chant. He was on the committee which drafted the 2007 document “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship” for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
AND THIS AS WELL………Irish priests seek to delay use of new liturgical translation
A large group of Irish priests has called upon that country’s bishops to delay implementation of the new Roman Missal, which is scheduled to go into use in November, on the 1st Sunday of Advent. The Association of Catholic Priests, which was formed last year to work for changes in Church teaching and discipline, said that the new translation for Eucharistic liturgies, which adheres more closely to the Latin original, is “archaic, elitist, and obscure.” The group said that the language of the new translation “demonstrates a lack of awareness of the insights gained from linguistics and anthropology during the past 100 years.”

As Church regression set in under Pope John Pail II, my old friend, Archbishop Jean Jadot, who died in his one hundredth year in January 2009, told me to have a broad vision and remain hopeful. “In the church,” he said “ we are going through a hard winter, but spring will come again.”