Monday, July 07, 2003

Response to the bishop, 07/07/03.

In his news conference about the Holy Spirit Parish controversy, Bishop Pena said he did not understand why the fired parish workers had joined a union, since "they have excellent health benefits … ."

Sounding more like a coal mine owner than the champion of social justice that the diocesan website presents him as, the bishop should realize that the events of June 18th are the strongest evidence possible that unionization seems to be the only option for parish employees to gain protection from such an arbitrary exercise of raw power that deprives them of their livelihood.

In the Monitor of June 22nd, the bishop speaks of the parishioners' protest as "carefully orchestrated." The only "orchestration" in the events of the past week has been shown by the diocesan officials who carried out this putsch with all the style of a Gestapo raid or a Mafia hit—even down to the alarming detail of having an armed guard present.

In his letter to members of the parish, the bishop has the audacity to call upon the spirit of the Second Vatican Council to justify the destruction of the parish staff. In words that rival George Orwell's newspeak, the bishop says that dismantling the professional staff, which has been instrumental in creating the most vibrant and involved parish community in the diocese, will create more involvement and more effective ministries.

Such patent nonsense borders on blasphemy when it invokes the Council, whose documents describe a parish in terms that the bishop is either unfamiliar with or simply does not want to exist in his diocese.

Finally, in his news conference the bishop reminded the faithful of their obligation to attend Mass, implying that those who participate in alternative liturgies will be failing that obligation.

When the time for judgment comes, I have full confidence that my participation in an alternative liturgy will not place me in the same jeopardy that the Bishop Pena's role in this sad affair, either as instigator or enabler, will place him.

Gerald Brazier

[This letter appeared in the McAllen Monitor on July 7, 2003.]

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