Monday, July 23, 2007

Parishioners' Newsletter 07/22/07

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.

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
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


Anonymous said...

In a more recent talk to HS parishoners (more soliliquy than sermon) Bishop Pena outlined for us all, his wishes for our behavior (perhaps the word "mandates" is closer to the truth. He named many activities that he wanted stopped, including this blog. I think we were all aware that the canons that came from Vatical II included an obligation to follow your conscience in your actions and this is one of the reasons we continued to do our "actions" that our opponents label "disobedient" and "slanderous".

I can only wonder why those who oppose us so vociferously, if not violently, feel justified going against the bishops orders when he specifically told them not to. Unless of course Fr. Louis told them to go ahead on the qt to defend him. Toshie and Lois you haven't even bothered to change the way you write.

It is really sad that we can't get together and talk rather than throw anonymous jabs back and forth. Just because it didn't work the first time doesn't mean it should never be conidered again. It should comfort and reassure everyone that we came to our appointed meeting time, there was no shouting epitaths, no violence, just extreme disappointment that all the people on the other side who previously stated that they wanted to talk, never showed up. Do we try again?


Anonymous said...

Just a note to congratulate "Reflections" as it nears its 100,000 marker! Hopefully the dialogue will continue as we all travel in our faith journey and help the church we love be the Body of Christ. This site has been a gift as not only this parish but Catholics struggle with issues regarding the rites and obligations of laity, being a voice for peace and justice, prayer, the sex abuse scandal, transparency in the church regarding finances, etc. Thanks for being a source of information and a place that strives for open and constructive dialogue.

Anonymous said...

“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)


Anonymous said...

Maybe the sign should read:

And maybe the other sign should read:

I think you people are just bringing up the past and can not live in the present. Let the past remain, why are you always stirring it up. It is like a swinging door always hitting you in the behind. Let it swing no more.

Anonymous said...

To Daisy,
Where did you come from? Daisy I believe that if the Bishop asked for this blog to stop, then it should have stopped. This is down right disobedience to what our Bishop asks of us. Even my contribution is wrong. You do have to admit Daisy that there is slander and character slander on this blog. If you don't agree with that then you are blind. Also, your comment about our pastor. Again you need to blame him for the actions of some of our parishioners. Fr. Louie would not ask any one of us to defend him. He believes in his God and he stands behind his belief. Maybe that is what is wrong with us, we don't believe enough. Then you go ahead and blame Toshie and Lois, what about Guy Hallman, Gerry Brazier and the like? They have not changed the way they write. You know Daisy, you are not being fair to point a finger at those who do want peace, because it continues with the lies,etc. I was the one who asked for the meeting but as far as I am concerned until this blog is stopped and people start acting the way of Jesus then I can not and will not meet. I know who I am before God, do you?

Anonymous said...

I just came across something from and unknown author.

I see no calm in your peace.
Keep trying, God will help you.

Anonymous said...

How funny?

Is this not what the Bishop does or has the authority to do - approve what goes on the Catholic channel, etc.

You people don't read the restrictions put on by those who oppose your opinions. This is such a controlling blog. That is why everyone is writing it is one-sided. Give it up like the Bishop is asking or don't write about how our pastor doesn't put things in our bulletin. Talk about controlling. Let me see if this gets in.

Anonymous said...

To Kanickers and those who support it.
Do you realize what type of public witness you are giving in regards to being Catholic? I believe if we belong to a community such as HS then we should not be publizing everything that happens in our church. I am appauled at the words, actions used against our church leaders and I am a Catholic who is very upset. I don't read these kinds of slander from the other religions. Why do you insist on hurting us Catholics?
A really upset Catholic of HS

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen anybody hurt the Catholic church the way pedophile priests have, the way many bishops have by covering these crimes up, and now by the way our own new Pope has recently done with his latest proclamations.
How come some of you are not demanding of them to "start acting the way of Jesus", or that they just leave ?

Ben Salinas said...

Re: Anonymous
"To Kanickers and those who support it.
Do you realize what type of public witness you are giving in regards to being Catholic? I believe if we belong to a community such as HS then we should not be publizing everything that happens in our church...I don't read these kinds of slander from the other religions. Why do you insist on hurting us Catholics?"

This is an argument that I have heard oftentimes before, and to me it makes no sense. If I understand you correctly, it sounds as though you are advocating for a policy that says, "Whatever happens inside of the church should stay inside of the church."

I understand that this blog might be hurting the reputation of Holy Spirit. I also understand that it is hurting the reputation of the Catholic Church. However, the reason it exists isn't to destroy the church, but to record what has happened within the church.

The policy that I have been brought up with is that if you are embarassed by other people knowing what you've done, then it probably isn't the right thing to do. If there truly wasn't anything wrong with what is happening at Holy Spirit, then why does the Bishop want this blog to be shut down (and if he does, why has he not approached the moderator directly; it turns out that if you want someone to do something, it is usually best to go and ask them directly instead of hoping they get the idea)?

At the same time, I find it funny that so many people who comment on this blog do not use their names.

Chayo said...

Words for today...

Jesus knew the truth about his own divinity. He demonstsrated it through daily living. He also knew the truth of the divinity of all humanity.

By us knowing this we also should show love, forgiveness, and compassion. I perceive the power of God active within all creation.

Aware of a need for healing, prosperity, or peace, I know the truth for myself and others. In thought and word, I affirm the underlying power of wholeness, abundance, and serenity within, that is waiting to be expressed.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5
"My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God."

Peace and God's Love,

Anonymous said...

It has been brought to my attention by Kanickers that my name has been brought up again in comments and with false information about what I said. So, let me set the record straight.
When we were fired on June 18th of 2003 a couple hundred people gathered that evening in the parish hall to organize. The last I heard was that there would be a prayer service in the field on Sunday. We were advised by our attorneys not to attend Mass that Sunday, and we did not. I found out that at each scheduled Mass time there were lay led communion services held in the courtyard.
I never told anyone that a communion service was the same as Mass. I never told anyone to stay outside rather than go to Mass. In fact, many of us attended Mass AND went outside. Many people called me and told me that they were going to go inside to Mass and was that alright? I told them what I always tell people when they ask a question like that: "You do what you need to do. I respect you for what you need to do." So, I know many friends were inside for Mass.
I am one that would never compare a communion service to Mass, you can ask my friends. That is a big issue for me, that most people do not know the difference. And it is the biggest complaint I have about what is happening now at Mass at Holy Spirit Parish. It is a gross abuse and grossly in opposition to the GIRM and any Vatican II understanding of Eucharist for the Presider to go himself, or to send someone, to the tabernacle during the fraction rite for hosts that were consecrated at a previous Mass and then comingle them with hosts consecrated at that particular Mass. It is no wonder that most people cannot make the distinction between communion service and Mass because of this gross liturgical abuse. We used to count and estimate the number of hosts for each Mass so adequate numbers would be consecrated for each Mass. Rarely would we have to go to the tabernacle, that happened only after we would run out. And, let me beg your pardon, it was not hosts but real bread that the GIRM calls for as well, that we usd. A licit, valid recipe of unleavened bread.
But back to the point, I never criticized people for going to Mass rather than the courtyard, I never told people that the communion service was the same as Mass. If anyone tells you that I did that they are lying. And I never had a conversation that could be confused. I am very clear on this subject!
So, criticize me for my size, or whatever else that might be true, but make sure you have the facts first or you are slandering me.

And, isn't it interesting that none of the women religious in the parish are supportive of the behavior and decisions of our pastor? As much as I want to understand those of you who have written these negative comments, please stop and think clearly about what you are saying. You remain in my prayers as the parish does, that the bishop will bring a facilitator in soon to bring about healing and conversation and peace.
--Ann Williams Cass

Secret Admirer said...

Ann, I know you don't want to be a priest, but you know more about the Church and how it should function than any priest I know. I salute you!