March 13, 2006
McAllen Monitor Newspaper
To the Editor
Parishioners Should Stand Up for Rights
When a parish is as divided as Holy Spirit is under the new pastor, fasting and praying is indeed needed; I agree with Jay Ramon, Feb. 8, 2006. Many have been doing it for a long time. What Mr. Ramon doesn’t understand, perhaps because he is not a parishioner, is that the struggles of Holy Spirit are not about a priest who was relocated. It is about the new priest who replaced him, who came to rule, not to serve the community with humility and love. From day one, he was frequently absent, unavailable or late. He demonstrated no appreciation for this progressive community, which during 23 years worked hard to make the parish an authentic Vatican II parish, a model of lay leadership and social justice involvement.
With a professional Liturgist on staff, communal prayer followed strict Vatican II and GIRM guidelines and was full of meaning and participation. He came to change it to an antiquated, pre-Vatican II style that satisfied him and a handful of ultra conservatives who never accepted the natural development proper to Liturgy, and who yearned for the rituals of the Medieval Church.
Holy Spirit parishioners learned and practiced the teachings of Vatican II. With no reason, he came to change what didn’t need changing. With arrogance he ignored the Parish Council and eventually dismissed it, creating his own, secret one. He destroyed the morale of employees and laity, especially of those who dared asked why; many of them eventually were banned from ministries. Entire ministries were banned with no reason given.
All documents of Vatican II Council (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, etc.) had clearly given all members of the church rights, as well as guidelines. Nowhere is a priest given the right to authoritarian "reign" and the community a mandate to blind obedience. The documents speak of a hierarchy as serving the entire Church.
Ordination doesn’t make a man a saint. Jesus, after prayer and meditation, acted and loudly denounced the corrupted priests of his time. If a parish gets a pedophile priest, prayer alone will not prevent his crimes; calling the police will. When numerous petitions for dialogue, mediation, or any kind of help from the bishop’s office has been ignored, praying alone won’t change anything; standing against injustice and abuse of power — as Jesus taught us — is our only recourse.
A pastor who has caused so much pain and fed a serious division among parishioners is not fit for that community and should be removed, for the good of the parish.
Ana L. Hallman,
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