Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Newsletter of 01/07/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—January 7, 2007

Just and Equitable
In the McAllen Monitor of January 5th, Bishop Peña wrote very thoughtfully on the immigration issue. Arguing from the Gospels, he presents the case that “we must indispensably work toward the creation of just and equitable immigration laws.” It follows that the Bishop would support the case that, as Christians who follow the Gospel, we must work toward the creation of a just and equitable society, in general, not just in relation to immigration reform.

His words bring to mind the 1990 “Call for Reform in the Catholic Church,” which serves as the platform of Call to Action:

The church should be providing wisdom and encouragement to believers to enter the dialogue on these [social justice] issues. Unfortunately, today's church is crippled by its failure to address fundamental justice issues within its own institutional structures. It thus becomes a stumbling block both to its own members and to society.

We therefore appeal to the institutional church to reform and renew its structures. We also appeal to all the people of God to witness to the Spirit who lives within us, and to seek ways to serve the vision of God in human society.

If Bishop Peña is to call for us to engage in the task of producing a just and equitable society, then he must take every step to ensure that the Church itself is a just and equitable institution. It cannot be all high sounding phrases and exhortations directed at others, or it is simply a case of “do what I say, not what I do.”

Our Church leaders lose credibility when they preach Gospel values and morality, but are unwilling to apply the same values and morality to the way they conduct the activities of the Church. The clergy sex abuse scandal is the current example of this. Remember that the greatest erosion of confidence in the Church’s leadership as a result of this scandal has been due, not to the immorality of abusive priests, but to the failure of the bishops to “do the right thing” and put the safety of children above the protection of Church image and assets.

Our own Bishop Peña loses credibility when he speaks of justice and equity, but allows an inherently unjust situation to continue to exist at Holy Spirit Parish. Parishioners have been, in effect, banished from the Parish for no reason other than their Pastor’s dislike for them. These people are being prevented from living out their Catholic faith in their own parish and have been denied any formal opportunity to seek redress. This is neither just nor equitable.

The further irony is that the first casualty under the Monsignor’s regime was the Peace and Justice Commission, the very group within the Parish most directly concerned with working toward the creation of a just and equitable society. Recall that old saying, “I can’t hear what you are saying because your actions speak too loud.”

This Sunday the Parish had (once again) visiting priests celebrating Eucharist with us. The 12:30 celebration was presided over in very odd fashion (elevation of the Host and the Cup each for almost a full minute, idiosyncratic changes in the language of the Eucharistic Prayer, etc.) In some sense, a certain amount of “personalization” isn’t such a bad thing, but what was striking to someone of a certain age is how reminiscent the whole Mass was of former times: fussy primness and ostentatious actions of the priest that, instead of being an integral part of the celebration, were distractions drawing attention to him.

Many of us old enough to have been even young adults at the time of Vatican II actually have real experience with the pre-Council Church and its liturgy and not just mythologized versions passed on to us from older friends or the wing-nut world of the ultraconservative blogosphere and do not have fond nostalgia for those “Tridentine Rite” celebrations. The Eucharistic theology exemplified in those celebrations and reemphasized by the celebrant at the 12:30 Mass are not the teachings of the early Church and are not the teachings of the scholars of the liturgical movement that formed the foundation of Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. It is a shame to see the increase of this “hearkening back” to some supposed “Golden Age.”

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $17,060.33
(last year same date: $16,907.13)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $40,367.45
Projected yearly shortfall: $174,925.62

In Absentia
As indicated above, the Monsignor was once again not in the Parish for the Sunday liturgies. In fact, he has been absent from the Parish almost totally since Christmas. There is much blather from the pulpit about the Parish being a family, etc. If that is really how this Parish is perceived by the Monsignor, then shouldn’t he be in the midst of his family at this, the most family-oriented part of the liturgical year?

This sort of disengagement from not only the administration of the Parish (well-documented and frequently discussed) but from even its Eucharistic and spiritual life, is cause to question whether the Monsignor really is part of the community. Is he, instead, just going through the motions of being a pastor and taking every opportunity to be away, pursuing his real interests, whatever they may be?

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 gbrazier@rgv.rr.com.


Anonymous said...

What a GREAT newsletter, Jerry Brazier! As usual, right on target discribing the actions and attitudes of both our Bishop and our Monsignor. How have we allowed this to happen in our Catholic Church?

Sister Moira said...

Speaking of the substitute priests - gone, obviously are the days of welcoming and hospitality at Holy Spirit. When Ann was there, there wasn't a visiting priest who wasn't introduced at the beginning of Mass and thanked at the end by her. Sunday, at least at the 12:30, we had no idea who the priest was. Too bad - too sad.

Anonymous said...

Why has nothing been posted on this site regarding the conduct of Fr. Carlos Zuniga of McAllen? I mean, here you are criticizing the bishops for their handling of the clergy abuse cases as if the priests were just as much victims as the children. Why so? Because the institutional Church which does not and will never understand true love decreed celibacy for them?

Call a spade a spade for everyone, don't exonerate those who support your cause if they are guilty of the same criminal action: COVER UP. His DRE operated with utmost impunity in an environment of permissive "flexibility" but I guess it's okay because it was in the south end of town and that teenager he accosted is not that important.

This duplicity does a great disservice to your witness of the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know more what "anonymous" is referring to regarding Carlos Zuniga and his DRE. Did I miss something? I thought the man was dismissed immediately and the police were called. Didn't that happen? What else would "anonymous" want to have happen in this case? Let us know if there is more to the story. And, it is ironic, when a layperson gets accused of child abuse they are fired and the police are called, as it should be. Not so if they are ordained. Not one priest in this diocese who has been removed from ministry for child abuse has a police record and they are living in our neighborhoods, teaching in our schools, counseling people. How are we to protect our children?
Ann Cass wants to know!