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.”
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.