My most recent article; “Come Holy Ghost Heal our Pain” was written to bring to light a darkness that has come upon our Church. I can not help but believe that this is another notch in the armor of Satan that disruption within our ranks is attempting to do untold harm to our clergy, and those they minister to. Many doubts will try to weaken the Presence of Jesus Christ, through His Holy Spirit and pull down the Trinitarian Reality of Almighty God.
Fall-out: a word, according to Webster, (1) “the descent to earth of radioactive particles after a nuclear explosion. (2) ”these particles”. However, in light of all that has happened there are more examples of fall-out coming upon our Church that are not just dangerous, they put the sanctity of the Church in jeopardy when good-meaning people begin to gather as groups with a “Lynch-mob” attitude without thinking through the results of their actions and what it is going to accomplish. This morning after Mass, several men discussed getting together with men from other parishes with the intent of rallying, as a mob, (their demeanor represents that) to ask for Bishop Zubic to step down as our bishop. Their primary reason is the Attorney General’s report that both Zubic and Wuerl are criminals. Without even giving these bishops an opportunity to defend their non-actions in this scathing report, these Catholic men, and maybe women, as well are intent on lynching the bishop. Of course not from a tree with a rope, but appearing as some who will do what they can to wipe away from our presence the semblance of our leaders, without due process, and begin anew to what we can not imagine.
Let’s for a moment digress back 50, 60, or more years to our southern states when mobs led by only a few lynched blacks for no other reason than they were black. Perhaps most in the crowds wouldn’t have taken this upon themselves, but with a charismatic leader at the helm these people were easily led in this mob-scene to destroy innocent people. Is this is the primary intent of Catholic men, upset and reasonably so, with what has just reached our eyes and ears? My concern is does this represent the Church Jesus Christ intended? I agree, those guilty of sexual molestation are justly removed from ministry and incarcerated. Those who covered up the actions of others also need to be removed. But, let’s not be quick to find scape-goats just because we desire to do so. Give them a chance to defend their actions from the past, if indeed there is sufficient reason to do so.
Allow me tell you about 44 years of ministry and a genuine relationship with my closest alliance: Catholic Priests. As deacons there are common requirements to be performed, mostly in charity since we are ordained to serve. Our role model is Jesus Christ and trying to emanate Him is not always easy, but the Grace God gives us makes the task seem much easier.
One position we have is sharing the altar of sacrifice in our role as server, along with the priest who stands as the person of Christ. Here is where our roles take on a particular aurora not created by us but called by God and accepting Him.
As Will Rodgers said; “I never met a man I didn’t like” so too I never met a priest I didn’t like or look up to. Sure they are human and as men have flaws, much like me. But behind that collar stands Christ whenever the Sacraments are given and shared with us.
In light of what just occurred in the Dioceses of PA some are struggling with their faith, support of their Church, and of course anyone wearing a Roman Collar. I just heard of one family, staunch Catholics, and the husband is so upset he vowed to leave the Church. “I will not come back”, he told his wife “except attending weddings and funerals with you”. I could not hold back my tears, not so much for his anger, but what might be happening with the faith of so many. Please, I pleaded to myself, don’t let this happen. Don’t punish yourself by leaving Christ and His Church over something we had no control over. Don’t lose your soul over things that need to be healed, and spread doubts and fear.
Bishop Zubic was a recently ordained deacon when my class was called to orders at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh (June 8, 1974). He was the deacon who did the Call. I worked with Bishop Zubic for several years when we were both assigned to St. Paul’s, and when Cardinal Wuerl was Bishop here, and for several years before that, I also functioned as a deacon with him. My point is, when you work with someone, be it in secular life or as in this case clerical functions, you get to know the people you’re with in a much better way than seeing them from afar. I know both of these bishops perhaps more than the general population attending Mass, and I would lay my life on the fact these two are not who many are accusing them of. It is through their demeanor and the holiness both exuded that makes me an advocate for their reputation and discretion. Those who are adept at accusing them of covering up should dig a little deeper and not want to nail them to the cross. This includes the Attorney General.
Being a parent one can watch their children grow and as they reach for goals, sometimes beyond our own initiative, we realize one day this child of ours will become………….! I have watched as Cardinal Wuerl went from a Pittsburgh priest, as Secretary to Bishop Wright, Bishop in the State of Washington, Bishop of Pittsburgh, and now Archbishop of Washington D. C.. Somewhere, in my own viewing I wasn’t surprised at the continued growth that the Holy Spirit has placed upon him. I also saw the same scenario with Bishop Zubick. As with Cardinal Wuerl, there is something in our bishop’s tenure that seems to demand a deeper look into the interior man that may not be obvious, but it is there. One might say it is mystical. I don’t know, but I see something. Let’s all pray, that whatever God has in store for these Bishops we can accept with the Grace that God allows each of us.