Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Newsletter of 12/24/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—December 24, 2006

“Even if we were talking about just one case, it would be a great source of concern, above all as regards the victims. But it’s unjust and hypocritical to generalize the scandals of pedophilia, because 99 percent of priests have nothing to do with it.” Cardinal Claudio Hummes, 72, of São Paulo, Brazil, the new Vatican prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

The good Cardinal has his numbers wrong. In the United States, the only country that has systematically gathered data on clergy sex abuse, the study commissioned by the Conference of Catholic Bishops found that 4,392 clergy have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors. This represents approximately 4% of the clergy active over the time period surveyed. This is still a small number, but it is four times larger than what the Cardinal indicates. The important number, however, is 100%, which is the percentage of bishops and dioceses who have been shown to have been either derelict in their oversight of their priests or complicit in their priests’ immorality by continuing to place them in contact with young people and criminally negligent by either covering up the priests’ crimes or lying to parents and authorities about their knowledge of these crimes.

Yes, 100% - every diocese which has been forced to release its files has been found culpable. If there were a diocese in this country that handled the clergy sex abuse problem in an exemplary way, we would have heard about it - that diocese would be held up as a model. Sadly, no such diocese has been found. So, Cardinal Hummes, it is not “unjust and hypocritical to generalize” about this scandal, since, to date, 100% of the bishops and dioceses have been found to be at fault in their actions.

Note: the study commissioned by the USCCB found that 98.5% of the accusations of clergy sex abuse were credible—meaning, in only 66 of the 4,392 cases were the accusations deemed not credible.

Rejoinder to Anonymous
In the long time I've visited this blog, I have not seen any defense of your pastor at all. Is he so incompetent that he is incapable of leading you?...I find it hard to believe that in all the parishes that he has been a pastor, that this is the only parish where trouble has occurred. It leads me to believe that maybe it isn't Msgr. who is the problem. An Anonymous Blog Contribution, 12/12/06

This contribution to the Blog has clerical turns of phrase that indicate the author is a priest of the Diocese. It is good to hear voices from a different perspective, but the answer to the contributor’s question is, yes—the Monsignor is incompetent. Unless being absent from the Parish offices during much of any week, being routinely late for everything (including almost thirty minutes to a wedding this past weekend), providing no financial reports, conducting Pastoral Council meetings in secret with no reports, and failing to support parents in their home-based religious education is considered competence, of course. The Monsignor’s past isn’t relevant here—he is to serve the Parish, not the other way around. It is not the fault of Holy Spirit parishioners that they expect their pastor to do his job.

I believe Msgr.'s actions to be pastoral and corrective to those members gone astray in his parish. It is sad to see that he is attacked vigorously and openly about this. from Anonymous

On the contrary, the Monsignor has led a smear campaign in the Parish, attacking individuals vigorously and openly with nothing but personal animus as his basis. No one has “gone astray,” People hold different views about what is important in a “vibrant Vatican II parish.” The litany of activities and ministries dismantled in the Parish has been recited many times and those activities and ministries are not the hallmark of people needing correction. The Monsignor has justified the vast majority of his actions with nothing more than an appeal to his authority to take those actions—that is not, and has never been, sufficient at any time in the Church, in any parish.

As I mentioned, it is the platform of the group Call to Action that is what I question and wholeheartedly disagree with. That is what is out of line… I do not believe that the actions of this protest group is the solution to the problem. from Anonymous

Call to Action is a “straw man” in the war on parishioners that the Monsignor is carrying out. If there were not CTA members in the Parish, some other excuse would be put forward. The anonymous contributor certainly doesn’t have to agree with the platform of CTA, but what he sees as “protest” others see as a call for renewal and reform in the Church. Calling for married priests, women priests, increased lay responsibility, transperancy in Church finances, and a just and open resolution of the clergy sex abuse scandal may not sit well with everyone, but these are not at all related to the destruction of Holy Spirit Parish and the efforts that people have made to forestall that.

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $23,275.27 (last year same date: $17,731.71)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $42,697.87
Projected yearly shortfall: $222,028.92

Sharon’s Christmas
I just recently shared this story with some of you – when you are the mother of a precocious 5 year old girl, some stories just resonate. My thanks to Felipe Salinas for sharing the story with me.

“Sharon’s Christmas” (by: John Shea)
She was five, sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity, convinced every word was revelation. She said:

They were poor; they only had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat.
And they went a long way from home without getting lost. The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady. They had to stay in a stable with an ox and an ass (she giggled) but the Three Rich Men found them because a star lited the roof.

Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them. Then the baby was borned.

And do you know who he was?
Her quarter eyes inflated to silver dollars.

The baby was God.

And she jumped into the air, whirled around, dove into the sofa, and buried her head under the cushion. Which is the only proper response to the Good News of the Incarnation.

May the joy of Christmas find you and fill your heart, and may your sofa catch you! from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. Copy this, and pass it on to fellow parishioners, either by e-mail or paper. If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at mailto:gbrazier@rgv.rr.com


Anonymous said...

Don't kid yourself if you think Fr. Brum behaved differently at other parishes. His old staff in Alamo said that as bad as Fr. Ruben D. was he was 100% better that Brum. Ask the people at the Pastoral Center in San Juan who were there when Brum was the Moderator. Ask the priests in this deanery what response Brum gave when one of them asked, "Louis, why do you stay there when it is obvious that you are not a good match for the parish." Brum responded, "If I leave it will make it look like 'they' won." Isn't that sad, spoken like a true servant, right? He is really pathetic. Ask young adults from Alamo who have attended wedding receptions he was at-ask them about his behavior and if they thought he was someone to be respected. The list could go on and on.

Anonymous said...

It is getting harder and harder for an honest, thinking person to remain a practicing catholic. Soon only blind fanatics will occupy the pews plus a dwindling group of Holy Spirit parishioners of old trying to make a point.

C-7 said...

I had occasion this holiday week to attend a morning service with my son at Baptist Temple.

What a joyous ambience; a lot of singing of traditional Christmas songs and an atmosphere of happy anticipation. They even had a large advent wreath near the podium and we watched as the last candle was lit. The preacher gave an inspired sermon on the significance of the birth of Christ and its connection with Easter. It presented it in such a way as to be relevant to our lives today.

I noticed people engaged in his presentation with rapt attention and a few assenting nods of the head from time to time. You could tell this messenger bore well his mandate from the Man. And, of course, since it was a “Baptist preachin”, there were even the occasional heartfelt “amens” from the parishioners.

I felt a peace in that place. I felt part of a loving Body of Christ during that time. When it was over, I felt nourished. At the end it was announced, for those who chose to stay after, that as was presented the week before, the financial “state of the church” would be presented and the proposed 2007 budget would be voted on by all members of the church.

As I was driving home, after pondering my part in God’s plan (as did Mary), I found myself considering the experience as a whole. God how it reminded me of the church I used to attend on Martin Street.

Why doesn’t the oldest church in all of Christianity allow real (as opposed to token) participation of the laity? I have a lot to learn.

Anonymous said...

C-7, you may have seen a number of ex-HSP faithful at Baptist Temple; I know some who have gone there. Louey and the bishop don't give a damn that they drive people away.

Guy Hallman said...

As always, a great newsletter. If only the clergy knew half of what you know about the church.

Cardinal Hummes tossed out 99% as a figure only because it sounds impressive. He could easily find the correct figure (96%) but, like the rest of the hierarchy, doesn't really give a damn about sexual predation by the clergy. Furthermore, the 4% accusation rate is low because many victims have not come forward. God only knows what the real figure is, but do these people fear God? Apparently not.

Why the faithful have not raised up en masse in opposition to this mortal sin by the hierarchy is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Who was the red headed woman accompanying Msgr. Brum checking out steam irons this past Friday at an upscale mall in San Antonio? He was not wearing his priestly collar.

ann williams cass said...

Here's a quote from Elie Wiesel I thought very appropriate regarding our own history. -ann williams cass

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
- Elie Wiesel

C-8 said...

Well said, Ann. Although you never wanted to be a priest, you are wiser than most of them.

About our struggle, some want to take the easy way and actually think they are being noble by staying out of controversy. But you are right; when the "sides" are so lopsided (authority holds all the power) it is a grave sin to NOT speak truth to power.

Anonymous said...

Apparently you also don't "give a damn" about the truth, as you have slandered good pople with your lie that "100% of bishops ... have been shown to have been either derelict in their oversight of their priests or complicit in their priests’ immorality by continuing to place them in contact with young people and criminally negligent by either covering up the priests’ crimes or lying to parents and authorities about their knowledge of these crimes."

I suspect that you know that such exageration was a lie, but it is odd that you would have done it in a post in which you berate someone else for getting his facts and figures wrong.


Guy Hallman said...

Dear Dina,
If it is not 100%, as you seem so sure that it is not, what number is it? If you can demonstrate it to be a different percentage Jerry Brazier will print a correction. Unlike our bishop and pastor, Jerry is a person concerned with the truth.

Jerry Brazier said...

With respect to Dina's comment. The newsletter says "Yes, 100%—every diocese which has been forced to release its files has been found culpable." This, of course, is not the same as all dioceses have been found culpable. The newsletter article needs to be read in its entirety to understand the point being made: if there is a diocese in which abusive priests were dealt with properly, then why have we not heard about it. Such a diocese would be a model and example for bishops everywhere to follow.