Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—July 22, 2007
“An individual layman, … is permitted and sometimes even obliged to express his opinion on things which concern the good of the Church.” from the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church
Excerpts from the Code of Canon Law:
- All Catholics have the right to have their leaders accountable to them. (C.492, C.1287.2)
- All Catholics have the right to express publicly their dissent in regard to decisions made by Church authorities. (C.212.3, C.218, C.753)
In digesting all the entries on Reflections of the Spirit over the past two weeks, a recurring theme is that individuals should not be critical of how those in authority in the Church exercise that authority.
Distilling out all the nastiness, the argument seems to boil down to, “the problem is that you are raising concerns and this is disruptive; so, if you don’t like how things are, then go somewhere else.” The content of the raised concerns is never substantively addressed.
This argument is exactly that made by Bishop Peña. In speaking to the Parish over a year ago, he expressed his distress with the “disruption” in the Parish and called for everyone to be quiet—implying that this would solve the problem, which he described as a “power struggle.” In that presentation, the Bishop did not address any of the concerns that had been brought to him or the Monsignor over a period of at least two years—the only issue was “disruption.”
That position is not really surprising, since both the Bishop and the Monsignor have absolutely refused to deal, in an effective way, with any of the concerns that have been brought to them, whether they be presented in a letter signed by almost 300 parishioners, whether they have been presented in extended e-mail exchanges, or whether they have been presented in meetings with diocesan officials.
There is no power struggle, but instead a set of concerns about the proper exercise of authority that not only need to be addressed for the good of the Parish, but must be addressed for the sake of justice.
People will speak out until there is some sign that their concerns are going to be dealt with—Vatican II says that they are obliged to do so.
Questions and Answers
Well, a question’s not really a question
If you know the answer too. John Prine
In the past few months, Bishop Peña has essentially asked what they mean when requesting that he [the Bishop] “Fix Holy Spirit Parish.”
“…[you have built] a dynamic, progressive Vatican II parish in every respect—spiritually vibrant, financially solvent and generous with many outstanding charitable endeavors, many active volunteers in a wide variety of programs, extensive participation of members in educational and renewal programs, a large number of small church communities…and a strong, prophetic voice in the larger community.” Bishop Peña to the parishioners of Holy Spirit, February 2003
Like the lawyers say, “asked and answered.” It is difficult to see how the Bishop can be in the dark about what “fixing” the Parish means to those who have been asking for over four years. So it seems as if his implied inquiry is not really a question at all.
Honor Follows Behavior
“The appointment of bishops is the constant and probably most serious problem of the hierarchy of the Church. Spellman got his powerhouse see by being friends of Eugenio Pacelli. Spellman beat out cronies of Pius XI. If the Holy Spirit can be cited it is because of the good bishops who make it through unintended.
Vatican II ushered in the finest bunch of bishops in centuries. Yes they suffered more but they were shepherds instead of empire builders. But that is hard to do.
It is easier to make loyalty and subservience the criteria rather than holiness.
This is why bishops should not get the benefit of the doubt. They should not be looked upon as true shepherds in service to their sisters and brothers until they demonstrate it.
Let the honor follow the behavior not the appointment.” from Bill Mazzella, a contributor to dotCommonweal on July 18, 2007
Action and Prayer
It is no accident that the story of the Good Samaritan and of Martha and Mary follow each other. The two stories provide us with a sense of acknowledgement and balance. We are reminded of the importance of action and prayer, and the need for both. We are given different characters to identify with and find our place in the story. And through the characters we can reflect on own lives and see how we are doing in balancing action and prayer. There is a small character in the story of the Good Samaritan that I have become attached to - the inn keeper. The inn keeper accepts the invitation to join the Samaritan in caring for the stranger, takes in the man and nurses him back to a full life. The inn keeper hears a call, accepts the invitation, and uses his or her gifts and resources to bring a stranger back to fullness. Maybe not the fanfare of Harry Potter, but certainly a literary figure to strive for. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena
News From the Desert
Edwina Gateley, a well-know Catholic speaker and writer, withdrew from giving a retreat to a group of nuns in Phoenix when Bishop Olmsted (originally a priest of the Lincoln, NE, diocese) required her to tape her talks so that they could be reviewed for orthodoxy by the diocese. Ms. Gateley refused, citing agreements with her publishers, which preclude any taping of her talks. Here’s a follow-up:
“I was one of the 2,000 or more who signed the petition “Catholic women will not be silenced” to protest the treatment and silencing of Edwina Gateley by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix. In retaliation, the pastor of my local parish, Fr. David Ostler of Our Lady of Lourdes in Sun City West, Ariz., immediately removed me from all leadership positions in our parish ministry. I had been leading the Sacred Heart charismatic prayer community in our parish, a space John L. Allen Jr. referred to as “a place where those of differing experiences and temperaments can meet in an atmosphere of trust.” Another woman, another ministry silenced and banned for no legitimate reason, no recourse, just follow the leader back to Vatican I. What happened to this church of ours? Don’t these men know that women in this century are allowed to speak?” Lynn Norton Sun City West, Ariz. [in a letter to the National Catholic Reporter 7/20/07]
This is another example where someone who makes concerns known to Church authorities and the public is punished at the local parish level by being denied participation in parish ministry.
Total below budget: $55,630.93 (last year same date: $61,792.89)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $133,321.33
Projected yearly shortfall: $173,317.73
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