Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fr Hoban's pain and a possible solution

If I was going to be martyred I think I could be quite heroic standing before a firing squad, especially with a few others. I would want it to be quick, long torture might produce less heroism. A slow death and years of ostracism and humiliation... well, may the Lord have mercy on my poor soul.

Pure and Simple has a rather sad article from the Irish Times which identifies the depression and hopeless of many Irish priests. It is essentially an interview with Fr Hoban, his pain is palpable, as is his sense of frustration. You get the impression from the article that this is the first time someone has shown any interest in him or his feelings. Fr Hoban blames the bishops and blames Rome, he sees the somewhat heterodox Association of Catholic Priests as being the last toss of the dice. There is real pain here, Fr Hoban and his confreres need our prayers and whatever consolation they can be offered.
I fear for my brother priests in Ireland,  for their spiritual and emotional health some will opt out others will struggle on but with the joy gone.
But the paranoia has also infected the priests’ day-to-day pastoral work. “A woman comes to the door who may have psychiatric problems . . . What do I do? Take a chance by letting her into my front room? There is no doubt that priests have withdrawn, that they’ve become ultracareful and ultrasensitive on how they might be compromised.
This is not good for Christ or his Church.
What is seen in Ireland and highlighted by the "abuse crisis" is I suspect present elsewhere in Europe. Low quality bishops,  priests not seeing anyway forward, many seeing the Church is actually going backwards, a conservatism embedded in the seventies, a distrust of Rome, misgivings about young traditionally minded priests, is not just an Irish problem, it is everywhere in Europe. It is I suspect ultimately what the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization is really supposed to address.

The problem with Ireland, as so many have identified, is Ireland's bishops, my wise and balanced friend Fr Sean Fineagans make this perceptive comment:
Now let us look at the bishops. Before the 60s, it was normal that episcopal appointments would be finally approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (or 'Holy Office'). Pope Paul VI changed this to final approval by the Secretariate of State. This is because he wanted to pursue a policy of detente all round; ecumenism and Ostpolitik were the watchwords. So henceforward bishops would be diplomats; nice guys, people who could pour oil on troubled waters, men who would not rock the boat.

These are the men who would not pursue child abusers, for fear that a storm might arise. They are good men, nice men; they are just not what is needed now, if ever.
In a post today he says:
That is why I think that what the Church needs is not bishops like Willie Walsh, much-loved and kind man as he is, but men like Charles Chaput who really get it.
But as I say this is a problem everywhere, especially in Europe, if only someone would start a campaign to give back to the CDF the appointment of Bishops, we need learned theologians and hard nosed canon lawyers who capable of leadership.


Philly said...

Father, have you seen the cut of the CDF these days???

The emotionalism of the ACP is simply the frustration they feel at the failure of their heterodoxy, the abuse of the liturgy, the abuse of sanctuaries, the abuse of catechesis, the abuse of a passive laity, all perpetrated on the lies of the 'spirit of Vatican II'. I struggle not to rejoice in their anguish. They have ruined the Church in Ireland inwardly and outwardly and now they whine that it's all so very hard on them. They throw the blame on Rome, they throw the blame on Bishops. They ignore (because the State and the Irish Times don't care about spiritual things) the deadening of the Church committed by the lower clergy.

They get exercises by threats to confession but less than 10% of Irish Catholics (and it can't just be ALL the Priests) go to confession annually. Confession is rarely available in the average Irish parish. 'Reconciliation Services' take place during Mass where you confess one 'sin' to a Priest in public. How humiliating? Or, as I have often done, you can attend at the scheduled time for Confession and find you must beg the Priest to leave his house to come into the box.

Fr. Hoban should realise that the Curé of Ars always exercised the greatest prudence with women and children. The old Synod of Maynooth regulations were likewise cautious and protective of the Priest and the laity.

Don't feel too sorry for Fr. Hoban and his anxst. Feel sorry for the victims of clerical heterodoxy.

Jeremiah said...

Fr Hoban has been trotting out these sentiments for decades in 'The Furrow' and other publications, and he is one of the founders of the dissident group, 'The Association of Catholic Priests'. It is a pity he is using this sad crisis as another excuse to force his views forward and claim them as representative of priests in Ireland. It's interesting that he mentions in passing the new generation emerging, not recognising the hope it represents but seeing it as something negative. There is little or no sympathy for the ACP among the younger generation of priests and seminarians.

shane said...

Liberal clergy are more affected by the crisis because they have invested their own personal and priestly identity in the cause of trying to reconcile the Church with the modern world. While they have largely succeeded with the Church, they are now finding that the love isn't reciprocal.

The only logical solution is restoration.

Fr. Gabriel Burke C.C. said...

Fr Blake,
Fr Hoban is just doing what he has done for the past forty years, whingeing. You can take a large dose of salt with what he says.As a priest of Cloyne, and so closer to the epicentre of the present scandal, I have not experiences anything like Fr Hobans problems. I wear my clericals everyday and I have not hidden in the sacristy. I have been out doing my parish work like the vast majority of the priests of this diocese. Yes we are hurt and shocked by what we read in the report but we have helped each other by telephone, meeting each other for lunch or just popping in to say hello. Our parishioners have been very good to us, the bond between priest and people is still there.

Sixupman said...

When I first went to Ireland as an adult (1970), on business, I was taken to a popular restaurant in the Dublin environmens for lunch. As I recall, about one-third of the diners were clergy and hobnobbing with the IRA 'Capo' Cahill. I was speechless, but was informed it was normal throughout Eire.

Confession: I once had the temerity to seek Confession in Liverpool Cathedral, although times were advertised, no one appeared available. Upon seeking advice from a nun, she said they were all at a conference and look at me as if I was barmy.

parepidemos said...

Dear Father Blake,

One constant which has come out of the reports from Ireland is that there was a culture of “the clergy can never be challenged” and “protect the Church’s image at all costs”. I also find it interesting that abuse appears to have been more likely in countries, or areas, where the Church was predominant. Child abuse - in any form - is a crime which cries to Heaven for something to be done. It is a scandal a boil on the Body of Christ and it needs to be well-and-truly lanced. However, having bishops who are theologians or canon lawyers will not necessarily guarantee that these tragedies be handled in an appropriate manner.

Considering that many of the child abuse cases were committed by priests ordained in the 1950s (and I do not refer only to Ireland) it is quite unfair for the finger to be pointed at Paul VI. Those abuse cases which were brought to the attention of bishops (any time before, say, 1980) were likely to be dealt with by men appointed prior to the changes which took place after Vatican II. They were most certainly trained in pre-Vatican II seminaries and were most unlikely to be woolly-minded men.

I believe that Fr. Fineagan’s comment that Paul VI wanted bishops who would “not rock the boat” and that they “would not pursue child abusers for fear that a storm might arise” to be scurrilous and completely lacking in grace

Anonymous said...

What I wonder is... Did Fr Tony Flannery of the ACPS have a hand in writing an Taoiseach Enda Kenny's rant in the Dail against 'Roman clericalism'? The speech had the air of a bitter Irish liberal priest whinge about it. Tony Flannery's brother, Frank Flannery is of course a TD (Irish MP) in Enda Kenny's political party and is close to the Taoiseach having master-minded Fine Gael's Election success in the last election.

Gertrude said...

When I posted the article from The Irish Times it was with much trepidation. I was not sure how it would be received. I do not know Fr. Hoban but if he has another agenda, then I feel sorry for him. In spite of Fr. Burkes assurances that all is well in the Diocese of Cloyne (and he is more able to make that assurance than I am) there are still priests in the Republic who are suffering.
Church politics and point scoring, from where ever, do nothing to begin what will be a long process of reconciliation and healing.
Our priests deserve nothing less than our petitions to the Throne of the Most High on their behalf.

Anonymous said...

Thank you,Fr. Ray, for an insightful and intelligent comment.I enjoy reading your blogs. I pray for you daily. Fr. Robert J. Donat

shane said...

Any assertion that the abuse problem is a post-conciliar phenomenon (as opposed to the position that the 60s changes were a contributing factor) would certainly need qualifying but I don't find the frequent retort about the priests being formed in the seminaries before Vatican II to be convincing. It's based on the premise that they retained their pre-conciliar worldview and were unaffected by the conciliar changes (and the considerable social changes, for that matter). Yet we know that didn't happen. The 1960s in the Church can be fairly characterized as a revolution, and all but a tiny handful of priests formed in the ancien regime went along with it, either enthusiastically or reluctantly. Indeed all the bishops who were present at the Second Vatican Council and who implemented its decrees were also formed before the Council. And many of them were very conscious that the Church was entering into a new beginning and leaving the old dreck behind. Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI were all formed before the Council. So were Enda McDonagh, JG McGarry, Cathal Daly, Sean O'Riordan, Austin Flannery, Willie Walsh etc. Yet these are clearly all men of the Council and could not legitimately be described as preconciliar.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't usually allow comments without a name attached but thank you for the information.

I think there is more than sufficient evidence in most biographies of Paul vi and Cdl. Casaroli to substantiate Fr F's comments. Bishops were chosen to implement the "vision" of the Council and the post-Conciliar agenda.
This was the reason why their appointment was moved to the Secretariate of State, if you have evidence of some other reason, please give it.

Gail F said...

Excuse me? Where were these Irish priests for the last 20 years? Did they have no idea what was happening in the United States -- even to have an opinion on it, and how it should have been handled, and how they would have handled it if it had happened to them? This struck them like a bolt out of the blue? As did -- according to that article -- the new mass translation that has been in the works for DECADES?

I am sorry for anyone in pain, and I am truly and sincerely sorry for the pain of priests who have been doing what they were told to do in terms of liturgy, etc., and are now being excoriated for doing it -- common among certain circles here in the USA. And of course, I have nothing but compassion for innocent priests who are being called pedophiles and all sorts of vile names. But this article seems questionable to me.

Elizabeth said...

We live in a part of the US with a weak bishop surrounded by a staff that appears to be disinterested in instructions and teachings from the Vatican. We pray for our bishop, his staff, and the people who will one day decide on his replacement. Thanks for reminding us of the personal struggles of priests around the world so that we can remember to pray for them as well. I sometimes find it difficult as a layperson to be obedient to my bishop; I can't imagine how hard it may be for a priest.

Luke Gormally said...

Dear Fr Blake,

I think Fr Finnegan is correct. I recall being told some years ago by a distinguished Professor of the Law Faculty of the Lateran University (now retired) that Paul VI's reform of the Roman Curia had the effect of making the Secretariat of State the supreme dicastery in the Roman Curia. The professor in question had close connections with a number of dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The supremacy of the Secretariat of State gives it a degree of control over all other dicasteries, with far-reaching effects in the life of the Church. According to my informant the effect on episcopal appointments has at times been disastrous, with candidates proposed by the Congregation for Bishops being vetoed on the grounds that they would not be 'politically acceptable' in one or another country, and names being promoted on the grounds that they would be regarded as acceptable to the political establishment. This has had an eviscerating effect on the life of the Church. The CDF of course continues to be able to veto appointments but it is only in a position to do so on the basis of hard evidence of lack of doctrinal orthodoxy, and since many of the persons proposed for appointment have published little or nothing the evidence required is lacking. I doubt that the CDF under its present leaders would offer a bracing corrective to this state of affairs, but the most obvious requirement in a much-needed reform of the Roman Curia is the demotion of the Secretariat of State from its present supreme position.

Many thanks for your interesting blog, Father.

Luke Gormally

Anonymous said...

I'm from Washington State U.S.A.

I have had the fortune of there being several priests in my life who came here from Ireland. It pains me to know that the Church in Ireland is today experiencing such difficulty.

I pray for my brother and sister Catholics in Ireland, but especially for the priests and bishops of Ireland. Only through fidelity to Christ united with and in obedience to Peter's successor in Rome can there be healing and reconcilliation in the Church.

Steve Davison (O'Rourke)

Pablo the Mexican said...

"... I wear my clericals everyday and I have not hidden in the sacristy. I have been out doing my parish work like the vast majority of the priests of this diocese..."

Good on you, Padre Burke.

May Saint Benedict and all the Mexican Martyrs and Saints accompany you and your brother Priests on your rounds.

Viva Cristo Rey! in all His Faithful Priests.


Pablo the Mexican said...

"...but men like Charles Chaput who really get it..."

Smoke and mirrors, Dog and Pony Shows, sweet words written by speechwriters and avoiding at all cost the public uttering of the Holy Name do not a Bishop make.

I recommend you take a closer look at your choice.

Good Bishops will come from here:

Priests shall be sought among those who wield the hoe, the spade, and the hammer, as David prophesied: God lifted the poor man from the fields to place him on the throne of His people.

This is a good meditation.


JARay said...

The comment that we got bishops the like of Willie Walsh instead of Charles Chaput is a very interesting one.
Where I live we are to receive a new archbishop because the present one has submitted his resignation due to his age and this has been accepted. My prayer at the moment is that we will see an archbishop of the likes of Charles Chaput appointed. My fears are that we are more likely to see one of the bishops from a neighbouring diocese appointed and they are far removed from the calibre of Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"... but men like Charles Chaput who really get it..."

Here is an example of Colorado, USA Catholicism:

"The reason I perform abortions is because I’m a Christian"
- Dr. Richard Grossman

Sign the Petition:

We the undersigned, do hereby proclaim our strenuous opposition to the granting of "privileges" to abortionist Dr. Richard Grossman at Mercy Regional Medical Center of Durango Colorado.

His presence is a scandal that blatantly violates the rights of patients who expect that when they go to a Catholic Hospital to be treated by hands that nurture and respect life, not by hands that cut up and destroy life for profit in the name of population control.

Mercy is blatantly violating Directive #45 of the USCCB for Catholic Healthcare Institutions:

45. Catholic health care institutions are not to provide abortion services, even based upon the principle of material cooperation.

In this context, Catholic health care institutions need to be concerned about the danger of scandal in any association with abortion providers.

Because of this, it is our desire to see Dr. Grossman fired if he does not end his grisly practice of murdering babies at Planned Parenthood.

A Hospital that makes available its facilities to an outspoken executioner of defenseless human beings does not deserve to be called Catholic.

Bishops should be restrained from campaigning for Cardinal’s Caps.

They need to spend time among their sheep.



Richard said...

"a conservatism embedded in the seventies"

A perfect description, Father.

Philly said...

"Yes we are hurt and shocked by what we read in the report but we have helped each other by telephone, meeting each other for lunch or just popping in to say hello."

Business as usual in the merry old land of Cloyne then.

Joseph O'Leary said...

Maureen Dowd in the New York Times quotes Enda Kenny to make it seem that the Cloyne report is all about rape and torture of children. The combox is unanimously in her favor, with really violent rage against the Church. This hysteria could easily lead to bloodshed.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Here is how a Catholic Bishop rules in his jurisdiction:

1795 Oct. 14

Penalver y Cardenas, Luis Bishop
( New Orleans )

1) The Bishop notifies:

a) that examining the parochial books, upon the occasion of the holy visit of his diocese, he notified sorrowfully the great number of adults that die without the sacraments of Penance, Eucharist, and Extreme Unction.

b) That that is due to the non-observance of the physicians and surgeons of the canonical orders of the fourth Council of Lateran under Pope Innocent III, of the holy Bull issued by Pius V whose beginning is "Super Gregem Dominicum" and of the instruction given by the Roman Council under the pontificate of Benedict XIII in 1725.

c) That all of which orders them not only to call the attention of those they cure to prepare themselves to eternal life through the holy sacraments, but also that they must refrain from continuing to help the sick if at the end of the third day of illness they have not been administered.

d) That all those doctors who do not proceed so will be punished with a major excommunication.

2) therefore the Bishop decrees that in order that all those who live amidst vice and licentiousness may be saved by an efficient confession of their sins, this decree is to be made known to every physician and surgeon, thus reminding them of their responsibility and the strict account they must give on Judgement Day to Our Lord for the least failure in the fulfillment of their duties.

3) That in the case of a known and proven neglect to carry out such orders, they will be punished properly for their disobedience. Signed by the Bishop of Louisiana and witnessed by Dr. Joseph Maria de Rivas as secretary.

--To this is added a note by Santiago Saldivar, (Notary Public) certifying that on Oct. 15, 1795, at New Orleans, he notified the following doctors: Jose Monteguin, Estevan Pelgim, Roberto Dow, Joaguin Ablanedo,Jose Lavie, Mr. Fortain, and Crusel de St. Martial of the above decree.

That on Oct. 16, 1795 he notified Luis Guiovelnia of the above decree.

That on Oct. 17, 1795 he notified Santiago Leduc of the above decree. IV-5-d D.S. 3pp. 4to. (Spanish) 9 *********************

Tough as nails, with no thought of compromise or retreat.

The Priests under his jurisdiction were tough guys; they were Sheppards.

If you are awaiting a Bishop the gossip of women has informed is a no good scoundrel, pray that the Dispenser of Divine Graces forms him in the image of her Son, that his heart may be hers, to fill with graces and chrisms.

Pray with all your heart and soul that your Bishop may be a good Sheppard; one that gathers souls for Heaven.

When we consider only that which enriches our personal comfort, bad things happen.


Simon said...

"Whingeing" (Comment 24/7) is defined as:

"to complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner"

There is an awful lot to protest about and if it appears like "whingeing" it is because those who describe it as such are failing to tackle long-standing issues or contribute personally and vigorously towards solving the problem.

Priests ARE uncomfortable (see Fr. Ray's post on guilt by association).

Support those who "whinge" and something might get done.

Lee Terry Lovelock-Jemmott said...

Not to be a typical harbinger but Nvus Ordo faith brought all sorts of maladies into the Catholic Faith. One of them was Paul VI ( Bless his soul) who was more willing to engage the world and its sin on 'there' level than he was to bring the world to engage the Church of Christ on 'Our' level.
It is about time the HR was taken out of the Catholic church ( Bishop Conferences incl) and more spirituality let back in; even if it includes the drastic measure of putting a couple of Eastern candidates into top positions and see how they would run certain departments.

Lee Terry Lovelock-Jemmott said...

Further to the above, this Fr Hoban is also part of the problem including whining about the situation. Has he ever thought about dutiful prayer and spiritual exercises which brings back oneself to Christ ! The ACP is another case altogether.

me said...

"What is seen in Ireland and highlighted by the "abuse crisis" is I suspect present elsewhere in Europe. Low quality bishops, priests not seeing anyway forward, many seeing the Church is actually going backwards, a conservatism embedded in the seventies, a distrust of Rome, misgivings about young traditionally minded priests, is not just an Irish problem, it is everywhere in Europe. It is I suspect ultimately what the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization is really supposed to address. "

This statement, though searching, unmasking and vulnerable can be used to empower, the way stark truth does sometimes, if we embrace it. I sometimes run from clarity.

People sense that we are at a crossroads or even a road block. I am no priest but I've hit a few in my time (road blocks, not priests). One thing I am beginning to realise is, we, aswell as God, are always in the 'now' even if we are not always in the 'know!'

Wherever you are now, whoever you are now, kneel down NOW and submit your vocation, your religion, your doubts, fears, pain, your need to be noticed, acknowledged,valued, to possess, all of it, give it back to Him who gives it to you, for His safekeeping and direction.

And if you can't do that, at a moment's notice, begin to ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to. It don't arf hurt at first mindyou, you wouldn't believe the stuff you are clinging to, without realising. One of my biggies, was lack of trust in God to know what was best for me??????????????(I know!)

Then, when your will's sorted, invoke our Lady's company, (literally I mean, by the way)and wait. Ask for a sign of her presence, if you're that way inclined, spiritually.

Our Lady is gathering groups of people to pray for priests, daily. It's a calling you can hear inwardly but very difficult to articulate. For me anyway.

Therefore, she must have a plan. She always calls for a reason. She's no time waster, she has no time to waste. She lives NOW, forever.

A plan from heaven, where she reigns as Queen, Remember?

When did you last consider that fact? Our mother is the Queen of Heaven! Given to us, by God Himself as He hung dieing on The Cross. Are you beginning to feel precious and empowered and courageous, hearing that truth?
What on earth has Our Lady, got to do with the Bishop's plight?

She is the Queen of the Bishops. A ruling Heavenly Queen.And old nick is terrified of her, so if you are scared of him.......

This may sound like a simple plan (praying for priests). That's because it can only be carried out by little children.
And with that in mind, I would suggest we START 'kidding' ourselves.
Start today, with a decade of the rosary for Our Lady's intention's for her Bishops.

You can go back to being a grown-up tomorrow, or the day after that. Or never atall.

GOR said...

For us here in the States there is a sense of de ja vu about all of this. We went through the same thing about 10 years ago here in the US. Of course the US is a much larger country so the angst of both priests and laity was spread over a wider area. Ireland being smaller and more close-knit everything is magnified and it is hard for people to see light at the end of the tunnel. But there is light and it will become evident in time. There is no shortcut to dealing with this. It will have to take its course.

While it is more difficult for men in their 60s or older to deal with this, the younger generation of priests have age and energy on their side - as well as being better grounded in orthodoxy than many of their older brethren. While one usually hears the bad news about Ireland - declining Mass attendance, vocations etc. - there is much good going on there. I know of parishes where the faithful and their priests (especially the younger ones) are very active on many fronts - youth, Travellers, the sick, the homebound, the bereaved, devotions, pilgrimages, retreats, etc. While Mass attendance is about half of what it was in my younger days, it is still well ahead of many other traditionally Catholic countries.

The Faith is far from dead in Ireland - bruised and damaged, yes - and a long way from what it once was. But it still shines brightly in places, if you look hard enough. I believe it will come back - and stronger than ever - but it will take time. As the saying goes: "It is always darkest just before the dawn".

Crouchback said...

In lourdes lack of time strange key board etc....

Seems funny that the Association of Catholic Priests only reared their heads when their New mass is called in to question.....

Why didnt they orm an association 40 years ago....some of them must have known that there where abusers around...!!!

brencel said...

Let each Diocese have a say in the selection of their bishop. There will be less alienation and a feeling that he is “ours”; more importantly it would be in keeping with the Acts of the Apostles, when replacing Judas.

Anne Mansfield said...

Archbishop Chaput is first rate, A bacon. One of the first of the few fine bishops whomay in future grace us. AND is not hostile to traditionailsts. A man of God.
High intlligence coupled with saintly temperane
A good understanding, coupled with literary gifts,
about what we pray to St Michael for.

Sixupman said...

Brencel: No! They will elect one of the ruling coterie.

In England, there has recently been elevated a bishop in whom I have great hopes - his intial acts speal louder than the Bishops' Conference wallahs. He needs our prayers to persist.

brencel said...

Sixupman, I think you underestimate people and the system for nominations and election would also be important. The main point though is they would be responsible for him being their bishop and would keep a close eye on him.

I would be interested in the name of the English bishop you mention, to follow his progress.

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