Category Archives: Confession

Father Byers’ tender snowflake exam

dung snow

So, there’s a secular business in ultra super liberal Connecticut called Silent Partner Marketing that has come up with a pre-employment exam (chapeau to FoxNews for picking that up). The exam takes the tender snowflakes out of the running straightaway. Methinks that this kind of questionnaire would be useful for candidates coming in to the seminary. The article repeats some of the questions. Let’s just see how I fare for those questions for a secular business. I will be honest. Here goes:

WHAT DOES AMERICA MEAN TO YOU?

While any democracy of fallen human beings will have its faults and foibles and even downright wrongdoing, these can be overcome with the pursuit of justice and mercy, the honesty and integrity of which come about with the acceptance of salvation from God who has redeemed us all. I am everyday thankful for those who serve and lay down their lives in service. Upholding the Constitution by way of the first enumerated inalienable right to the free exercise of religion (along with the others) has pride of place in my heart and soul.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GUNS?

Self-defense / defense of the innocent is a right and duty enshrined in our Constitution and held up by natural law as a contribution to the virtue of justice. I’m happy to carry a concealed carry permit.

WHAT DOES ‘PRIVILEGE’ MEAN TO YOU?

No matter what unrepeatable circumstances we have, we are all gifted by God with some circumstances that we can rightly claim to be privileges if we humbly get out of those circumstances whatever we can in the time we have, that is, for our own sake and the sake of others. Being bitter and envious is sheer idiocy. Throwing away gifts for the sake of mere political correctness is madness.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED AND WHY?

This is a bit of a touchy-feely question, but that’s the world we live in here in these USA, right? I too can wear my heart on my sleeve. Here goes: I distinctly remember the entire scene in extreme detail since I remember everything when I was a little kid back to even one year old. It might be the one and only time I’ve ever cried. My mom told me I never cried as a baby. When I was two and a half years old, in mid-Summer, I was beaten to a pulp by my four year old brother. He had chased me into the basement with its tile floor. He tackled me and, sitting on my stomach (I thought my hips were breaking), he smashed my head repeatedly against the floor, making me see stars though not making me pass out, just whaling on me with repeated punches. I hid behind an old couch pushed against the wall and the tears flowed, making a puddle, the old “cry me a river” was true in this case. And that was that. When I was done it was over. I started to learn some self-defense after that with one of the neighbor kids, successfully I might add. Oh, yes, my eyes welled up when dad died, and then not long after when mom died. I do sometimes get choked up when speaking of a friend’s death.

WE WORK VERY, VERY CLOSELY WITH A LOT OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND SO YOU NEED TO BE COMFORTABLE AND WILLING TO SUPPORT THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVE AND PROTECT. ARE YOU?

Yes. I’ve even put on the Officer Down! Memorial Dinner in our little town with seven counties of local law enforcement in attendance, along with various levels and departments and bureaus of the Feds coming to pay their respects to those fallen in the line of duty, and also to have an enjoyable day together. I’m thinking of taking the civilian FBI course for those interested in working closely with law enforcement.

==================================

O.K. Well, that’s that. But how about if we add a few more questions for the priesthood, you know, for would-be seminarians. I’ve come up with a few here, but help me by adding more questions in the comments. I admit, I’m ruthless here. The rule is that any insufficiently or otherwise dodged question demands a lengthy grilling, not necessarily GITMO style, but a grilling nonetheless. So, here goes, in two sessions:

First session:

  • What is a vocation?
  • To what, exactly, are you entitled as a priest? Be specific.
  • What do you think about mercy and contraception?
  • What do you think about mercy and divorce and remarriage?
  • What do you think about married priests?
  • What do you think about gay priests?
  • Is any truth absolute?
  • Is any moral law without exception?
  • Is hell forever?
  • What is your take on authority and the freedom of the children of God?
  • Have you ever volunteered for anything? List them all. If not, why not?
  • What do you think of the SSPX? If you have no opinion, why is that?

Second session:

  • Have you read the Bible? If yes, how many times?
  • Have you read the proclamations of the ecumenical Councils of the Church? Vatican Council II? Vatican Council I? The Council of Trent?
  • Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
  • When’s the last time you knelt in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament?
  • When’s the last time you recited the Holy Rosary?
  • Do you make a regular sacramental Confession?

Again, please add more in the comments section. Perhaps you can see where I’m going here. I remember an Archbishop who had would-be seminarians volunteer at the Cathedral parish for the Summer. He told them his own personal schedule to start the day with adoration at an early hour and invited the would-be seminarians to attend though it was up to them to do so or not. Their “real” duties were to be given them every day in the parish office. All the seminarians excelled in their “real” duties. Only some came to the adoration. The one’s who came to adoration were accepted, the others let go. Some think that is a good idea, some think it is horrible. It is what it is.

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Filed under Confession, Priesthood, Vocations

Accompaniment: “When I am lifted up on the cross I will draw all to myself”

A priest-friend sent this in from a twitter account. So, we have an analogy: This is the image of the fall of a venial sin in which we are nevertheless still assenting to being dragged to heaven by our Lord (via Calvary and the Cross). A mortal sin would be to jump off altogether in contempt.

Saint Thomas Aquinas speaks of repentance from a mortal sin, whether one can, as it were, jump back on where one left off in the spiritual life. He answers that, yes, this is possible, depending on one’s contrition, one’s purpose of amendment, the grace of God’s charity to which one assents in order that this contrition is brought to fruition with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity. It does, in grace, also depend on our generosity in following the grace being given. What would prohibit this assent would be presumption, lack of contrition, lack of firm purpose of amendment. But, all things being equal, as it were, yes, one can come back into God’s good friendship, whether a bit diminished, whether pretty much the same, whether far advanced. But NO presumption, with contrition and purpose of amendment being necessary.

Tangled webs can be woven. But tangled webs can be broken. Sometimes things are difficult.

Confession brings things back in good order. Sometimes we need the help of others, of the Church, of Jesus. Find a good confessor.

 

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Canon 915, Confession, Missionaries of Mercy

Re-post for humility’s sake: “Saint and sinner: it’s both or neither one”

philomena-mary-magdala

Philomena with the anchor; Mary of Magdala with burial supplies

[[This was written in the days of “Holy Souls Hermitage.”]]

I just love that: the Virgin Martyr Philomena and the sainted penitent Mary of Magdala, together. This is the glory of the Church Militant, the Church Triumphant, and the aim of going through purgatory in this life instead of the next. Both knew themselves to be saints and sinners.

It’s not that Philomena didn’t know that she was totally weak and conceived in original sin, absolutely deserving of hell because of that. It’s because she knew that all so well, and was filled with such humble thanksgiving for Jesus, the greatest love of her life because of His grace, that she was able to persevere in being a martyr because of the virginity which she gave to Christ Jesus, knowing that He appreciates the utter agility of soul which goes along with this, one’s very life becoming an act of intercession for the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Having said that…

It’s not that Mary of Magdala wasn’t a saint, though knowing full well her “past history” not only of original sin, but she must have felt somehow besmirched by having been possessed by seven demons (though feelings don’t make you besmirched at all). It’s because she knew of her need all so well by the grace of Christ — the standard of goodness and kindness — that she was able not to look to herself and get depressed and despair, but was able to take up the invitation of the goodness and kindness of Jesus in order to be a great, great saint, for whose intercession we are all of us so very thankful, never forgetting, however, why she needed that invitation in the first place.

If one gluts oneself in sin, one no longer knows oneself to be a sinner. For the sinner, there seems to be no sin. For such a one, saintliness is out of the question. If you’re not a sinner, you can’t be a saint! That is to say…

If one easily, simply, fully accepts one’s weakness, that one would easily fall into sin (the possibility not being a sin) without the grace of Jesus, then one can know that one is invited by our Lord’s goodness and kindness to be a saint, that is, to be His good friend, as He called us in a creative act after the Resurrection.

So, saint and sinner: it’s either both or neither one. Confession brings all this home gloriously. When’s the last time you’ve been? It’s a great experience of our Lord’s goodness and kindness.

Just to be clear: When people say “I’m a sinner” and they are not, or “I am in the dark” but they are walking with our Lord, they are not calling virtue “sin”, but are merely saying that this is the way they would be if they were without Jesus’ grace, His goodness and kindness, His love and truth, His friendship, the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity.

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+CJ Scicluna’s Amoris laetitia usurps papal authority, rejecting dialogue, discernment, accompaniment

scicluna

The Archbishop of Malta, C.J. Scicluna has high praise for dialogue, discernment and accompaniment in a document directed to priests which he published in the Vatican newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano (Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia), but he rejected all of this, including papal authority, by adding this:

10. If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).

The words “cannot be precluded” are directed at the priests, telling them that they have no real voice in dialogue, discernment and accompaniment, undercutting their priestly ministry and, quite frankly, threatening them with what would have to be removal from active ministry if they wish instead – knowing well the smell of their sheep – to prolong  the process of dialogue, discernment and accompaniment for the good of those very sheep.

The Times of Malta reports that “Archbishop Charles Scicluna refuted the criticism, insisting Bishop Mario Grech and himself had decided not to engage with individual bloggers on the matter.” “Decided not to engage” is also not a dialogue. The “criticism” refers to Ed Peters, a canon lawyer whose blog entries on this topic can be found HERE and HERE. Ed Peters has a serious analysis. I’m amazed that +CJ Scicluna, a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, dismisses Ed Peters so readily, since Peters is a Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura, the Holy See’s top tribunal.

Archbishop Scicluna then turns his attention to those he might think are a more vulnerable class of people, the priests: “I am saddened by the reaction from certain quarters and invite priests who may have concerns to come forward and discuss them directly with us because we want to be a service to our people.” I’m sure the priests want to be of service to their people as well. But here’s the problem. If any priests go to him with their concerns they are merely self-reporting that which is absolutely intolerable, reporting that they are precluding or envision precluding that which Archbishop Scicluna says cannot ever be precluded. If they open up a dialogue with him they will simply have their heads cut off. That’s another example of what he really thinks about dialogue, discernment and accompaniment. Moreover…

The threat to impose sanctions that is inescapably implied in the absolutist phrase “cannot be precluded” goes so far beyond Pope Francis’ direction in this matter that Archbishop Scicluna is de facto usurping the authority of Pope Francis to guide the Barque of Peter. And that I find disgusting.

The direction Pope Francis gave to us Missionaries of Mercy began by all of us singing together the Salve Regina with Pope Francis. I’m sure he remembers the exuberance:

Pope Francis brought all of us Missionaries of Mercy together and brought us through, with incisive distinctions, refined moral and sacramental theology, using anecdotes some of which were terribly sad and some of which were hilarious. He did his best to form us priests into being good confessors, those who would dialogue with, discern with and accompany penitents on their journey to know the will of Christ Jesus in all of their unrepeatable circumstances.

But Archbishop CJ Scicluna rejects that effort of Pope Francis. Sad, that. Sad for him. Sad for the penitents. Sad for the priests who are treated as his robots, not as Jesus’ fathers of their parish families. And this is also the point: CJ Scicluna rejects the unrepeatable circumstances of people, ideologically putting them all in one group.

Much more could be said about anthropology, psychology, grace, sacramental theology, ecclesiology, etc., with some saying I say too much and others too little. What I’m writing about in this post is just this one aspect of what is happening:

the ministry of priests is unimportant in the Church because + Scicluna said so.

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Fearful Roman Curia discerning the way of the Holy Spirit in the Beatitudes

JESUS I AM

You have heard that it was said that those working in whatever capacity in the Holy See (the “Vatican”) are scared. I say that if they are ever afraid, whether priests or bishops or religious, they shouldn’t be. Fear is a sign of the lack of truth, a lack of discernment of the truth, a lack of the Holy Spirit who would instead lead us to the truth. To be established in him who is truth is not to fear. Being one with him who fearlessly says “I AM” cannot at the same time tolerate fear.

“But what should we do? Give us clear direction!”

So, I guess you missed it the first time around. Here it is: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

“But you don’t get it, Father George, that’s considered Pharisaical, Pelagian, Promethian self-absorbed idol worship.”

“Really? Are you making that application? Even if that were true on whoever’s part, so what? Since when did we lose sight of the Beatitudes? Since when are we to mope about, have nervous sweats, panic attacks and ulcers instead of rejoicing and being glad that great is our reward in the Kingdom of the heavens because we love Jesus and want to share the greatest love of our lives, namely, Jesus? Is not Jesus the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will be the one to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, the very fire of God’s love, the fire of the Holy Spirit? Yes, that would be him. He’s the One who said: “I AM.” So what are you afraid of? Amen.

P.S. I mean, really, what are these protestations of fear about? Is this a way of making an excuse? “Oh! I’m so fearful that my fear acted as a coercion forcing me to do something I otherwise would never do! It’s all the fault of fear! I’m soooo afraid.”

To which I say, grow up, love Jesus, and be a good son of his good mom. Also, and I don’t say this lightly, have some respect for your guardian angel who sees God in the face.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Canon 915, Confession, Jesus, Marriage, Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Spiritual life

Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit?

Holy Spirit Saint Peter Window

John’s Baptism in the river Jordan called to mind the soldiers of Pharaoh getting drowned in the Red Sea as they pursued the Israelites. Those soldiers deserved to be drowned for unjustly enslaving the Israelites in physical labor. When everyone went down to the river Jordan confessing their sins and getting smashed down under the water by John to symbolize the death they deserved for having enslaved each other in sin, this was an occasion to have a humble and contrite heart, and was thus a baptism that was an occasion for the remission of sin. When Jesus was baptized, He wasn’t saying he was a sinner, but that, as the innocent Son of God, he was playing the part of the worst sinner of all, the One who enslaved all people of all time in sin, from Adam until the last man is conceived. He was thus saying to his heavenly Father: “Treat me as being guilty, as being worthy of death.” Right after that baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and our heavenly Father spoke thunderously: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” But straight after that, Jesus said that he longed for the baptism for which he came, that of his own blood, by which he would fulfill what he did in the baptism of John by taking on the guilt of all our sins. By standing in our stead, the innocent for the guilty, he would have the right in his own justice to have mercy on us: “Father forgive them,” he now commanded from the cross. He wants to give us as a gift to our heavenly Father in heaven.

Meanwhile, John says that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The fire is the very love of God who God is. The Holy Spirit makes us one with Jesus, who is the Head of the Body of Christ while the Holy Spirit forms us into being the members of the one Body of Christ. As the Holy Spirit introduces us to who we are in Christ Jesus, we see Jesus as the Standard of Truth and Goodness and Kindness and we then see ourselves by way of a comparison we could not previously make that we fall short of that Standard, and we are brought by the Holy Spirit to have a humble and contrite heart before the Divine Son of God, who in all his majesty lays down his life for us, standing in our stead. It is then that we make our way to Confession (as the people were doing at John’s baptism) and we receive sacramental absolution, being reconciled to God and all the other members of the mystical body of Christ simultaneously, getting the grace directly from Jesus, but by the words of the knucklehead priest (like this donkey priest) who, by his ordination, represents all other members of the Body of Christ. We then hear the absolution, which includes something about the Holy Spirit, that he was sent among us for the forgiveness of sin. That is how Jesus baptizes us in the Holy Spirit.

The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit build on this baptism of the Holy Spirit. Other special gifts are totally secondary to all of this. The main thing is being one with the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, Jesus, King of kings, Lord of lords, Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will – do not be mistaken – come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, the very fire of God’s love, the fire of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Repeat: Confession Settlement that could halt the Sacrament of Confession in the Catholic Church

lourdes confessional

One of my most favorite places in the world is the penitent side of a confessional screen. This is where we meet with the goodness and kindness of Jesus ever so personally, which is precisely what brings the great joy experienced by those who go to confession.

There is renewed interest in this post up in the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, USA. I wonder if something is up on whatever side of the issue…

More than 3 1/2 years ago there was a little news story covering the fact that the Diocese of Manchester made a monetary settlement for a complaint that advice alleged to have been given by a Priest-Confessor under the Confessional Seal was inappropriate. The story plays out like it was scripted by Satan himself, what with the Diocese of Manchester just so eager — if, perhaps, unwittingly — to cooperate against the Sacrament of Mercy, against the Holy Spirit, who was sent to us for the forgiveness of sins, not so that we stop the forgiveness of sins.

This story had been simmering for months at the time, but May 17, 2013, Tricia L. Nadolny wrote about it in the tiny newspaper called the Concord Monitor. I commented on this story at the time, and, since the priest involved is still off on the peripheries (as far as I know), and since we now have completed the Year of Mercy, I think it is high time to bring this story back into the light of day in hopes that Bishop Libasci will admit his mistake for the sake of the good of the Church, pro bono ecclesiae. The [comments] are by myself, Father George David Byers, at https://ariseletusbegoing.com/

* * *

Diocese of Manchester settles with parents over sexual comments lawsuit

The Pembroke parents who accused a Concord priest of making inappropriate sexual comments to their son during the sacrament of confession will be paid $2,000 to settle the lawsuit they filed in February, according to a spokesman from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester. The settlement, reached Wednesday, stipulates that the money will go to future educational costs of the 14-year-old boy, who is a student at St. John Regional School. [Sounds nice, that settlement, but let’s see how this plays out, and for what reasons. It couldn’t be more nefarious from the settlement side of things.]

Spokesman [for the Diocese of Manchester] Kevin Donovan said the settlement is not an admission of guilt by the Rev. George Desjardins [Yes, well, Father Desjardins can’t say anything one way or the other. He’s bound by the Seal of Confession. However, no matter what the Diocese says, the Diocese is, to all intents, constructions and purposes, saying that he is guilty by way of the settlement made, which is amazing, since they don’t know what went on during that alleged Confession, since the priest cannot say anything about it. Such a settlement destroys a priest for life. It is disingenuous to say that a settlement does not speak to someone’s guilt. Practically, a dark cloud remains over the head of the priest for life. Since that is the case, there must be very serious reasons that we don’t know about for the Diocese to make such a settlement, right? There are reasons, but, stunningly, they have nothing to do with the priest or the penitent, as we will see later in the article.], who was accused of talking about pornography and rape in a December 2012 confession held during the school day. [Of course, a 14 year-old, a young man, is entirely capable of looking at porn and committing rape, especially statutory rape. Many girls have gotten multiple abortions by the time they are fourteen. Boys are, of course, involved. This is not an unlikely scenario. Confession is about forgiveness of sin, such as pornography and rape, right? At any rate, it’s extremely easy to come up with a scenario that would back Father up. In fact, what I’ll imagine here has plenty of indications that it is the true scenario, truer, it seems, that the inconsistent accusations.]

[Diocesan Spokesman] Donovan called the payment “minimal” [That’s a foolish statement, implying that for other cases, the “payment” could be much bigger. That’s a strange phrase of the reporter: “payment” instead of settlement. If’s she’s accurate, something’s wrong. Anyway, speaking about anything “minimal” is a huge invitation to create bogus cases, the more salacious the better it will be for all the more $$$ dollars $$$.] and a “means to an end, so the community can move on.” [“means to an end” of “the community moving on.” In other words, this has nothing to do with the priest, nothing to do with the penitent, nothing to do with justice. The Diocese admits that they are doing something evil, slitting the throat of a defenseless priest, to achieve what they think is a good end, shoving money down the throat of any accuser, not for the accuser’s sake, who is ignored as he chokes on that money, but for the sake of the community, using what they assume to be the greed of the boy’s parents as bait, all of which — the demonic principle of doing evil to achieve good — is justly condemned by Saint Paul (see Romans 3:8). At any rate, the community will not only not move on, but will be condemned with the weight hanging over them of the dynamic of an accusation that obtains money without any accompanying due process for the accused priest. This is something that cheapens their lives, cheapens their religion. They have been insulted by the Diocese, which has effectively said: Go and choke on your money. That’s not a service to the community. The benefit for the diocese is save money in view of a possibly successful litigated claim.]

The parents, who are not being named to protect the name of their son, maintain that Desjardins’s comments were unacceptable, their lawyer, Peter Hutchins, said. [Peter Hutchins has a long history with the Diocese of Manchester, mocking the Diocese for their nefarious idiocy in handling the sex-abuse cases he brought to the Diocese, saying that he just couldn’t believe that they didn’t care about dates or allegations (and therefore neither did the Diocese care about any possibly real victims), but just wanted to shove as much settlement money down as many throats of alleged victims  as they could in as little time as possible so as to avoid possible litigated claims)].

In the lawsuit filed at Hillsborough County Superior Court, they [the parents] accused Desjardins of asking the boy whether he had “engaged in watching pornographic material and masturbating.” [Scenario: Perhaps the boy confessed to kind of not keeping custody of his eyes in regard to, kind of like, you know, looking at some, like, you know, immodesty, and ended up committing, you know, impure acts, kind of, maybe. Now, if that were the actual confession, there is a risk that the boy would not celebrate an integral confession, but would rather suffer making a sacrilegious confession in that he didn’t confess circumstances so important that they would add more grave sins to what was already confessed. Asking a pertinent question begged by the ambiguity is a favor to the boy. If the priest asked if there was a partner in sin, this would be laudable. Though, it is said, he asks about a lesser interpretation, about porn, perhaps expecting that what the boy is being ambiguous about concerns a partner in sin. Finding out about a partner in sin, especially regarding a young man, brings with it further questions about the age of the other person, as there are then questions about statutory rape. Such questions are also necessitated for a proper penance and for advice to be given, such as to cut any untoward relationship. One should also ask if the other person is vulnerable in any other way. If one finds out that the other person was an adult, well now, that changes things altogether, doesn’t it? It does. If this were all the case, the priest is to be commended. Of course, we won’t know on this earth, as the Seal of Confession is involved.] When the boy said that he hadn’t and that he had a girlfriend [Hah! There we are: there was, in fact, a partner in this sin, adding another sin to what was confessed. Way to go, Father Desjardins! Good work!], Desjardins [allegedly] told the boy to use “rubbers” [Or maybe the boy had actually said that he had a girl-friend, but that it was all O.K. since he was using prophylactics. And maybe the priest then justly reprimanded the boy for trying to make an excuse for having had sex with his girlfriend. Using condoms does not lessen the sin! The boy, perhaps used to doing whatever he damn well pleases, so that no priest is going to stop him, perhaps became angry with the priest and blamed the priest for all this. Right? People can, at times, be very damning of the Church’s morality in confession, which means they are not repentant. People can go to Confession to try to get permission to sin. Some priests will do that. It doesn’t sound as if Father Desjardins is one of them. But now watch what happens:] and warned him to be careful because a girl can “yell ‘rape’ ” during sex [Hah! Is it that Father was reprimanding him for committing statutory rape, which really threw the boy into a rage? The priest wouldn’t counsel condom use and warn the boy that he is committing statutory rape. That’s just ludicrous. PFffffttt!!!], the lawsuit continued. The parents also accused Desjardins, who is an assisting retired priest at Christ the King Parish, of attempting to grab the boy twice as the student tried to avoid him. Donovan has said that physical contact was nothing more than a handshake after Mass. [Hah! “A handshake after Mass”… Really? Ooooo! Nefarious, that! Wow! A handshake after Mass! No one does that anywhere in the world, ever! A handshake! After Mass! Unheard of. What scandal! What horror! The parents of this kid really, really seem to hate all priests and the Catholic Church and have, it seems, tried their best to instill that in their son. Sad, that. So, O.K. Fathers! Hear that? No more shaking hands after Mass. Just pray some thanksgiving prayers alone, kneeling on the steps of the sanctuary. Actually, that’s a good idea. I digress. At any rate, don’t forget that the parents are best friends of Hutchins, zillionaire abuse attorney. And with this, they get some tuition money.]

Yesterday, he [Donovan, the Diocesan Spokesman] said the diocese still believes the lawsuit had no merit. [Great! But…] But in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed last month, the diocese took a different route when it neither denied nor admitted that Desjardins made the comments [nor can they because the Diocese doesn’t know anything about the Confession since the priest is under the Seal of Confession] and instead argued that the suit should have been thrown out because it interfered with the church’s First Amendment rights. [That’s true, but it ignores that the priest cannot defend himself in any way. It’s the priest’s inability to defend himself that will push courts in future cases (and there may well be future cases, right?) to put the priest on the stand and try to force him to break the Seal of Confession, the very thing the State of New Hampshire already tried to do very recently at that time. One has to wonder what will happen when tens, then hundreds, then thousands and tens of thousands of cases pile up. No one ever needs to have gone to Confession to any priest to claim that one did go, and that one got bad advice or worse. It’s all too easy. Just get any bulletin, find out when confessions times are, retaining proof, and see who hears confessions that day. Then make up a story. Easy peasy. It’s really easy to go to hell. Untold $$$ dollars $$$ will be paid to anyone who makes a complaint, no matter how ludicrous. It seems to me that “payments” for this, The Perdition Crisis, risk dwarfing the billions of dollars paid out for The Judas Crisis.]

Gordon MacDonald, the diocese’s lawyer, argued that the topics Desjardins was accused of discussing – including pornography, masturbation, premarital sex [“pre-marital”… really? But that’s just the paraphrase of the reporter.] and rape – all are considered sins under Catholic doctrine. And he said resolving the case would require a judge or jury to examine the appropriateness of those doctrines as well as whether the alleged discussion was in line with tenets of the Catholic faith. [And there it is: The Perdition Crisis. This is a cave-in to Peter Hutchins, the abuse attorney. This is a practical admission that any and all accusations, no matter what, are accepted as the honest truth, no matter how ludicrous, how inconsistent, and that we can just move on now to discussing the faith and being consistent with the faith. That’s giving a win to the attorney just to do it. That priest cannot defend himself. The diocese cannot pretend to argue for the priest, because they cannot know what the priest said.  The diocese is treating itself as the defendant, not the priest, which was the same thing as had happened with The Judas Crisis, where the priest is always guilty no matter what, with no due process, as any innocence would get in the way of making immediate and even blanket settlements in hopes of saving a few bucks. Manchester Diocese has a long history of leading the destruction of the Church by way of throwing due process for priests out the window so as to serve themselves. /// Note that the lawyer also does something just as nefarious. He not only throws judgment of consistency with the faith by the State into the equation, but also the acceptability of the faith before the State in the first place. This is just plain EVIL. This invites the State to say that, for instance, the Catholic Church’s faith in regard to the nefariousness of homosexual marriage is illegal (to take another case that is sure to come about). Sure, the diocesan attorney is saying that these are reasons that the case should be dismissed, but in making the settlement at the very end, he is not only saying, but highlighting, screaming it out, that first amendment issues are vacuous for the defense, and are legitimate avenues for the State to pursue in future cases. The Diocese says that the settlement is just meant to sweep the problem under the carpet. However, there are implications, whether they like it or not.]

“A civil factfinder would become enmeshed in determining whether a Catholic priest [any priest] may discuss pornography, masturbation, sexual intercourse out-of-wedlock [a better phrase], and rape with a penitent during the Sacrament of Penance and whether those subjects are consistent with Catholic doctrine and the Catholic faith’s overall mission,” MacDonald wrote in the motion. [A civil factfinder couldn’t care less. The point would be what was said about these things in view of any civil laws. For instance, if a priest were to say that divorce and the attempt to marry again without a declaration that the first marriage was null from the beginning is wrong might be considered nefarious and illegal by the State. That’s what the State is judging. The State of New Hampshire would gladly shut down the Catholic Church altogether. At any rate, all this immediately goes from Father Doe priest to Father Desjardins, and, again, the priest has no defense, as he cannot break the Seal of Confession. What is most ludicrous is that the Diocese, in saying all this, is acting as if it and the State can reliably act upon the information given by whatever accuser when it all must remain perpetually one-sided because of the Seal of Confession. This simply doesn’t occur to Manchester Diocese, since it seems that they have never given due process to any priest, with the possible exception, in all irony, of convicted felon Monsignor Edward Arsenault. Other priests are non-existent in the actual judgment. This lending of credibility to such accusations, and then offering a monetary settlement for them, means that there will never be a time when any accusations are ever not given credibility and acted upon with settlement money, no matter how inconsistent and ludicrous. This is quite the invitation to anyone and everyone to come to the money-tree by way of making bogus accusations about something imagined to have been said in an imaginary Confession.] He said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and also the state Constitution “prohibit this type of intrusive inquiry into the doctrinal affairs of the church.” [Hutchins may well win his point that he only wants to discuss if any alleged advice goes against State law. So, the point is this: The priest cannot make a defense, and the Diocese cannot defend him, since the Diocese has no idea what the priest said, or, indeed, if there was ever a Confession to begin with. The Diocese must insist on dismissing the case, and not ever pay any settlement. But they caved on the dismissal by going for the settlement. The effect of mentioning the Constitution only to throw that argument out the window with a settlement is to insist that the Constitution does not matter in such cases. Ironic, no? Or is that what Manchester Diocese wanted. That would be in line with what they’ve always done. The next step for the State will be to repeat their attack on the Seal of Confession. And, if there are tens or hundreds of cases in Manchester Diocese alone, you can bet that one priest will cave and say something to defend himself, which will be then be used as a precedent by the State, at least to continue a cross-examination of the priest. If he refuses to continue, realizing he’s been caught out, he’ll be in jail for contempt of court until he decides otherwise.]

[But then the obfuscations get worse:] The family sued specifically for breach of contract, saying the diocese failed to provide their son with the safe learning environment promised in the school’s handbook. In the motion to dismiss, McDonald also claimed that document isn’t a contract. The handbook – which includes a mission statement and sections on, among other things, school rules and student responsibilities – doesn’t include contractual promises, MacDonald said. He said the family accused the diocese of violating “a series of aspirational policies,” not binding promises.

Hutchins said yesterday that he disagrees that a student handbook doesn’t act as a contract in a private school setting. “It’s our position that absolutely all of those materials that basically promise what the school’s going to do and also gives the responsibility to the students and parents (create a contract),” he said. “It goes both ways. Here are your obligations; here are ours. It’s a contract. Period.” [Contract=Money. Hutchins needs to win this point for any future case from a school, etc. But this is not necessarily what will break any bank. Just the fact of the settlement will more than break the bank, regardless of talk of any contracts being broken or not. This is a purposed distraction, but a welcome one to Hutchins if it hits pay-dirt. It’s a bluff. Just one more way to put pressure on the Diocese to make a settlement. He guessed it right. But it’s more than this. He’s saying that the safe-learning environment is to extend to the Confessional, so that the Confessional is to have an oversight it cannot have because of the Seal of Confession. But this is what he is going after: the Seal of Confession. The State is on side with that. This whole thing seems to fly right over the heads of those in the Diocese. And maybe, just maybe, those in the Diocese have absolutely no idea just how evil they are acting with all of this. Or maybe they just don’t have the faith. Or maybe they just literally don’t give a damn…] He also disputed the diocese’s stance that the lawsuit violated its First Amendment rights, saying the suit focused “on the conduct, not the religion.” [Again, I bet Hutchins could win this argument, but not the war, it being that all of it is always hypothetical, since the priest cannot defend himself. At any rate, Hutchins actually has all he needs, for the Diocese acts like any accusation, no matter how ludicrous and inconsistent, will be accepted immediately as the truth. And this is confirmed with the settlement. Hutchins can take that and run with an unlimited number of cases.] Hutchins, who has been involved in litigating more than 150 child abuse cases against New Hampshire clergy [making himself a zillionaire, because it’s all about the children, of course.], said the church is not immune to being held accountable for violations of secular law, such as state statutes or local ordinances. He said a breach of contract falls into that category. “We do not focus on, criticize or try to change religious beliefs or religious procedures,” he said. [I think that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.] “Those are protected.” [He certainly did laugh all the way to the bank when he respected how the diocese threw procedures of justice and due process out the window for those abuse cases. He mocked the Diocese of Manchester for, in some cases, not even asking about dates or allegations. He can accept the word of the Diocese as an attorney for an out of court settlement that all priests are always guilty, no matter what, but he’s also got to know that something’s just not quite correct there, right?] Hutchins is a longtime friend of the father who filed the lawsuit [Kudos to the Monitor for noting the friendship this time. On the other hand, Hutchins was, in effect, given free advertising to fish for more clients with more accusations with more money to be thrown at them], and yesterday he said he is not collecting attorney’s fees for his involvement [that is, for THIS testing of the waters case, that is, for THIS case with his best friends. This was leaning toward being a test case for the Seal of Confession, but the Diocese caved with the settlement. The settlement does nothing by way of precedent to protect the Seal of Confession all the more. Quite the opposite. For the Diocese, whatever an accusation claims is exactly what happened, even though the priest cannot say anything. This is a mockery of the Seal of Confession, plain and simple.]. He said the family decided to sue the diocese after feeling their concerns, which they raised with school administrators shortly after the confession, weren’t taken seriously. Hutchins said diocese [sic] officials called Desjardins’s conduct “innocuous” [That could be a lie, but, anyway, how would the Diocese know, since the priest cannot say anything? Hutchins knows that better than the Diocese. He wants them to say something like that, perhaps to use it as proof that, in fact, they did get the priest to defend himself privately at the Chancery offices. Then Hutchins could claim that the Seal of Confession means nothing, and therefore the priest can in fact be cross-examined in court. If the Diocese accepts the alleged comments of the priest at face value, they are going in that direction. Even if they don’t say that the priest revealed the confession, they are saying that an accusation in itself makes the accusations true, the way they always said that accusations are always true no matter what in abuse cases. Regardless of what Hutchins says the Diocese says, the Diocese, in making the settlement, does say that they accept all accusations as absolutely true no matter what. Moreover, since the Diocese accepts the alleged comments of the priest saying that the using of condoms is great, and if it also says that these comments are “innocuous”,  well, that actual comment of the Diocese would be against the faith of the Catholic Church. Contraception is a sin, also in a case of statutory rape, however “consensual”. The priest is most likely innocent of all this, but if Hutchins is right and the Diocese did make such statements, then it is the Diocese that is guilty of acting against the faith and morals of the Church, along with acting against the priesthood and the Sacrament of Confession.] and did nothing to put the family at ease [How would they do that? Take them bowling?] or tell Desjardins that the comments were inappropriate. [But they don’t know what the comments are, since, ad nauseam, the priest is under the Seal of Confession.]

“It shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but once it did happen, they should have had a much more pastoral and immediate human response to it,” Hutchins said. [And he’s just the one to say how that’s to be done, right?]

[Diocesan Spokesman] Donovan said the diocese takes all allegations against priests seriously and places them on leave if officials believe the accusation rises to the level of misconduct. That wasn’t the case here [So why did they make the settlement, just out of meanness, to destroy his good name and his life as a priest?], he said, so Desjardins wasn’t removed from his role as chaplain at the school after the parents went to administrators. [Uh huh. I’m not so sure. At any rate, nothing good can come from this except to put people off of confession, and make priests wary of hearing confessions. That’s not what’s needed right now or ever. This sickness of shoving money down everyone’s throat has got to stop, and it’s got to stop now. Hutchins played the Diocese and won, as he does at will. The Diocese will never consider going to court. They will now make settlements without question every time. As in The Judas Crisis, it all seems to be legal, because it’s all out of court. That doesn’t mean that it is moral or acceptable in Church Law. But this will surely go the way of The Judas Crisis, with mountains of money spread about everywhere. Cui bono? To what good?]

He [the Diocesan Spokesman] said Desjardins did decide [Or was that decided for him?] to take a leave of absence from the school after the lawsuit was filed in February. He was unsure whether the priest would be returning next school year. [“Unsure.” Really?] Read the rest there.


Usually, abuse lawyers go in two years cycles of bringing cases for settlements. Now that the Holy Year of Mercy (and confession!) is completed, we’ll see what happens. But, in the meantime, I think Bishop Libasci would do well to admit the mistake for the sake of the good of the Church, you know, pro bono ecclesiae.

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Filed under Confession, Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Year of Mercy

Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors (II)

PROMETHEUS

It seems that those at Santa Marta in the Holy See are having some late night discussions about my original post on:

Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors

It seems that it was directed that that a link to said post be sent up North to the “Bergoglio of Italy,” +Mattheo Maria Zuppi by name, and another, +Angelo Scola by name. It seems the latter then took a gander at another post. If there were any ambiguity about where I myself stand on Amoris laetitia, this other post will make it crystal clear about what I think about the power of the grace of the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception:

Amoris laetitia 351 gradualism casuistry

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Confession, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family

Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors

pope-francis-cardinal-burke

Respect and joy in the Lord

I love and respect both Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke.

You have heard that it was said by the latter:

“My position is that ‘Amoris laetitia’ is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities that confuse people and can lead them into error and grave sin. A document with these defects cannot be part of the Church’s perennial teaching. Because that is the case, the Church needs absolute clarity regarding what Pope Francis is teaching and encouraging.”

This Missionary of Mercy says in response:

  • Amoris laetitia cannot yet be spoken about as if it were a document already published by the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, for it is not.
  • Amoris laetitia, even if published as is, is not an Apostolic Constitution or even an Encyclical, but simply an Apostolic Exhortation, whose author, mind you, goes way, WAY out of his way in articles 3-4 of Amoris laetitia to assert that Amoris laetitia is simply a conglomerate of opinions for the sake of encouraging more dialogue on the matters at hand. Pope Francis completely disowns this having anything whatsoever to do with any kind of Magisterial intervention of the Church whatsoever, whether ordinary or extraordinary. If it’s published as is in the Acta, well, that just doesn’t make any difference, to wit:

“Since ‘time is greater than space’, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. […] The various interventions of the Synod Fathers, to which I paid close heed, made up, as it were, a multifaceted gem reflecting many legitimate concerns and honest questions. For this reason, I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.

  • To say that Amoris laetitia would be part of at least the ordinary Magisterium of the Church (see “perennial teaching”) if anyone might like to agree with its contents but that it cannot be part of at least the ordinary Magisterium of the Church (see “perennial teaching”) if anyone might like to disagree with its contents seems to me to be saying that the Pope has no authority to teach on matters of faith and morals to the universal Church as the Successor of Peter. That, of course, would be quite wrong. Amoris laetitia is not part of any teaching of the Church whatsoever not because of anyone’s opinion, however well founded, but because Pope Francis himself denies that it is part of any teaching of the Church whatsoever, insisting as he does on dialogue, etc.

A question might be asked as to whether Pope Francis has a good understanding of Papal Infallibility. Let’s analyze his extensive statements on the matter, and then compare that with what Scripture has for us. This is from Pope Francis’ speech on October 17, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Synods of Bishops:

On the eve of last year’s Synod I stated: “For the Synod Fathers we ask the Holy Spirit first of all for the gift of listening: to listen to God, so that with him we may hear the cry of his people; to listen to his people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us”.(14) The Synod process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called to speak [chiamato a pronunciarsi=called to pronounce (a word used for ex-cathedra statements)] as “pastor and teacher of all Christians”,(15) not on the basis of his personal convictions but as the supreme witness to the fides totius Ecclesiae, “the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church”.(16)

The fact that the Synod always acts cum Petro et sub Petro — indeed, not only cum Petro, but also sub Petro — is not a limitation of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. For the Pope is, by will of the Lord, “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful”.(17) Closely related to this is the concept of “hierarchica communio” as employed by the Second Vatican Council: the Bishops are linked to the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) while, at the same time, hierarchically subject to him as head of the college (sub Petro).(18)

14) FRANCIS, Address at the Prayer Vigil for the Synod on the Family, 4 October 2014.

15) FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus (18 July 1870), ch. IV: Denz. 3074. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 749, § 1.

16) FRANCIS, Address to the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 18 October 2014.

17) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 23. cf. FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Prologue: Denz. 3051.

18) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 22; Decree Christus Dominus (28 October 1965), 4.

Impressive. This makes us wait for an infallible pronouncement by:

  • The Bishop of Rome precisely as the Successor of Peter
  • pronouncing on a matter or many matters of faith and/or morals
  • especially deciding a matter or many matters of controversy
  • directing the instruction to the entirety of Christ’s faithful.

Just to say the obvious: This has not happened to date (this being written on December 9, 2016), and, just to repeat, Amoris laetitia has been excluded from any consideration of it as any kind of teaching of the Magisterium of the Church by the indications of Pope Francis himself.

Meanwhile, I do believe I understand what Pope Francis is doing in not answering various theologians and Cardinals, to wit, he is trying to emphasize Matthew 18:18 (the voice of some of the laity and some of the Synod members) more than Matthew 16:19 (the lone voice of Peter, the Rock), at least for the moment. He is interested in the richness of dialogue, but we see from that October 17, 2015 speech cited above, he is also interested in what can be provided by infallible Peter. Let’s analyze these passages and see some surprising take aways:

Let’s review Matthew 16:19 in utterly pedantic translation

“Whatever you may bind at any given time (second person singular subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in the heavens.”

What do the verbs mean in this context?

  • Second person singular subjunctive aorist active – The second person singular refers to Peter alone. The subjunctive here is not so much a kind of conditional or wishfulness, but rather depicts the state of actually choosing an option; from the perspective of the actor, there is freedom to the choice: “Whatever you may bind at any give time.” The aorist time frame, whatever delusion your introductory Greek grammars insist on providing to you, is literally “without borders”, that which can happen in the past, present or even future (as is the case here: see below), though usually something which itself happens in a defined time frame, such as the choice to bind. Active simply refers to something actually being accomplished.
  • Third person singular indicative future middle – The third person singular refers to any given object of the action, its state of being. It will simply be what it is (indicative) at that time (future). The middle voice is here used to indicate the status quo to which the actor is also subject, that is, retroactively to his decision to bind something, the truth of that which is described by the following verb, which this singular indicative future middle (“will”) helps to describe.
  • Nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive: The nominative neuter singular refers to the object which is being bound (passive), that is, in an ongoing fashion (participle) in a perfect manner (perfect); mind you, in Greek, “perfect” never refers to a perfectly accomplished action at one point in time, but rather to an action which is perfectly ongoing in a perfect manner since its inception: it always was and will be this way, perfectly, with no change: “already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way.” This “perfect” action structures the capacity of the actor, Peter, to act subjunctively, preempting all choices of Peter except for the one which is consonant which the truth which has always been this way in the heavens. Whatever he may choose to bind at any given time will already have been the case, is the case, and will always continue to be the case in the heavens. Peter cannot choose anything which is not already perfectly established in the heavens. What is in heaven is not an affirmation of what Peter might pronounce; what is in heaven simply is what it is, absolute truth, so to speak. If Peter is wrong about what he intends to pronounce upon, he simply will not be able to pronounce upon it.

Indeed, the part of this equation that people always forget about when trying to figure out the tenses, is that there is a part of this equation which is utterly expendable: Peter. If he is going to get it wrong, he will either die or be incapacitated, but he will not be able to work against what is in heaven already. Being the Successor of Peter isn’t so much an honor as it is a service that may involve laying down his life, for, after all, what do we know? The Orthodox or any others should never be envious of infallibility.

The bit about loosing is exactly the same, verbatim:

“Whatever you may loose at any given time (second person singular subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in the heavens.”

Let’s review Matthew 18:18 in utterly pedantic translation

“Whatever ye may bind at any given time (second person plural subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be things perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in heaven.”

And then:

“Whatever ye may loose at any given time (second person plural subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be things perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in heaven.”

There are some differences besides the plural heavens and singular heaven. Matthew 18:18 is addressed also to the laity about any number of things that may be under dispute. But the verbs and their meanings are exactly the same. But the context removes any infallibility from this other crowd. Let’s see how:

Firstly, in Matthew 16:19, where Peter alone among the Apostles is addressed, only Peter is given the keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens. There is no reference at all to such keys for anyone else in Matthew 18:18. That they have the same access to the understanding of the faith as does Peter is contingent for them in agreeing with Peter, for, as we see in context, the process of a dispute will bring them right back to the Church, that is, as differentiated from Christ’s faithful in general so as to refer to Peter in particular. They are not infallible, he is.

What if Peter is wrong? He can’t be wrong. That’s the point. But say that it could happen, that wouldn’t mean that we ignore him, correct him, unseat him, burn him at the stake, say that he’s not a nice guy or something like that; that would mean that there is no such thing as the Church at all. It can’t happen. Period. Is “dialogue” among the faithful expected by our Lord? Yes. He explicitly speaks of it. But then there is a process to follow. But there is a richness to be expected among so many. That richness is not to be ignored, calling the faith provided to the faithful useless, thus insulting the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis knows this. He respects it. After Matthew 18:18 we go to Matthew 16:19. We are still in the Matthew 18:18 phase.

Might Pope Francis choose to go to Matthew 16:19, to pronounce in an infallible way on the matter? Sure. That is yet to be seen. He surely has set up a scenario in which it seems he truly wants to pronounce an infallible statement. He surely has prefaced this with a great deal of dialogue. To the degree that he is insisting on dialogue, that is the degree he may be incisive in pronouncing an infallible statement.

Have some perhaps jumped the gun? Perhaps. Can it be said that all involved may well be filled with Apostolic charity, that is, both the four Cardinals and the Holy Father? Yes. Are they merely asking him to move from Matthew 18:18 to Matthew 16:19? Perhaps. Again, I don’t like the statement of one of the Cardinals who said: “My position is that ‘Amoris laetitia’ is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities…” His opinion is not why Amoris laetitia is not magisterial. It is not magisterial because Pope Francis said it is not magisterial. Otherwise, how many popes do we have? So…

We pray. That is to be expected and desired by all involved, right? Yes. We pray.

Does my having written this article mean that I don’t have my own concerns which happen to be well stated in the five dubia? No, it doesn’t mean that. Does the present non-answer of Pope Francis mean that he doesn’t agree with the intent of the five dubia? No, it doesn’t mean that. What it all means is that we haven’t yet moved from Matthew 18:18 to Matthew 16:19. That’s all. Might I say to Pope Francis that I sure do hope for the good of the Church that our Lord’s desire that our present dialogue with Matthew 18:18 will move to Matthew 16:19? Sure. But the timing is the judgment call of Vicar of Christ, not mine or anyone else for that matter. Again, might we ask him politely to move to Matthew 16:19? Sure, and I think everyone has been polite, although, again, that bit of one of the Cardinals about why he thinks Amoris laetitia is not magisterial is, I think, out of place. And in view of that, I must defend the fact of the papacy itself. Might that make me lose many friends. I suppose. That saddens me. But I am also filled with fortitude. Hier stehe ich and all that. Amen.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Canon 915, Confession, Eucharist, Holy See, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family, Year of Mercy

Missionaries of Mercy into the future. This Missionary is dancing for joy.

byers dance paul vi audience hall

**** EN ****

Important Notification to all Missionaries of Mercy

Dear Father,

Please click on the following link: […] where you will find, in a PDF format, the letter from the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Prot. N. NE/672/2016/P dated December 7 2016, to all Missionaries of Mercy.

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for the ministry that you have carried out and to wish you every blessing of the Lord for your continued pastoral service for the good of souls.

Mons. Graham Bell
Undersecretary
Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization

======================

Receiving that note this very morning, and clicking on that link, the news was provided that the special faculties for absolution have in fact been extended to all Missionaries of Mercy at this time until otherwise indicated (until logistics can be accomplished in the next number of months),with the Missionaries bidden, with consultation with the local ordinary, and if they so desire, to request that they might retain such faculties into the future. Those who want to remain as Missionaries of Mercy will be granted such faculties into the future. O.K. I’m doing that now. On behalf of all priests especially who need now or will need to take advantage of such faculties, I once again dance for joy. I hope that dance doesn’t scandalize too many… ;-)

Here’s a video about dancing for joy sent in by a reader for this post:

Update: I’ve now communicated with the local ordinary, who is “very happy” to have me continue in the extraordinary ministry of Missionary of Mercy into the future. I have communicated that agreement to the PCPNE as requested. :-)

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Can I be forgiven for the killing I did as a soldier? I enjoyed pulling the trigger.

In that short video Chris puts the RPG guy down, but not the kid. It’s important to see the difference in Chris’ face when he pulls the trigger for the RPG guy and then almost for the kid. There’s a difference, right? But a Vet might say…

When I killed a guy like the RPG guy, I mean, that guy was still some guy, the son of his mother, the husband of a wife, the father of his kids, caught up in some horror much bigger than him, and it haunts me…. it just does…. especially because, you know, in myself, while I was pulling the trigger, I mean, I really enjoyed it, because I was killing a bad guy who was a danger to us, to me and my brothers on the scene. I don’t think I can be forgiven because it was such a rush of adrenaline and and it was like, YEAH! I GOT HIM! which is inhuman now that I think about it. I should have regretted it and I guess I did, but right then, you should have seen the wryness of my smile. That smirk could have killed someone all on its own.

Sure you can be forgiven. That reaction of fallen human nature is to be expected. You can count on it. That doesn’t mean you’re a monster. You did what you had to do. Just because your emotions went overboard doesn’t mean a thing. It’s a cross to carry. Pray for the repose of the souls of those you killed, and their families. That’s O.K. It’s not hypocritical.

Also, just to say, what if you killed innocents, you know, just to do it? Can you be forgiven for that? Yes, you can. Go to confession. There isn’t a sin greater than our Lord’s mercy. He loves us, and let Himself be killed in our stead. Jesus is the warrior. He has the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to claim us as His booty, bringing us to heaven to give as a gift to our heavenly Father.

Look, all you Vets out there. Don’t beat yourselves up. Be good friends with Jesus.

And to all of us, let’s go to Confession!

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Filed under Confession, Military

Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Reset Button edition)

flores-election

Seen out front of the rectory this morning.

America gets a temporary reprieve. Kind of.

Meanwhile, the fascist liberal students in Boston are having street protests to show how hateful they are of democracy, with them saying that everyone is America is wrong and only they are right and they’re going to bring down the system and that they hate America, blah blah blah. They should go to Canada with with their intellectual equals in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, the gubernatorial election results in NC are not to be finalized for some time as the race is close, with the challenger running pretty much solely in favor of older men who just maybe can’t figure out whether they are male or female having the “right” to use the same bathrooms and locker rooms as little girls, because, you know, that’s the ONLY thing liberals care about so as to bully everyone else in the state with. Conservatives listen to liberals and shrug their shoulders. If liberals note that you disagree with them they will beat you down like fascists.

Meanwhile, Obama’s executive order but really new legislation activities continue until January 19. The damage that will be done now to these United States will be incalculable…

Meanwhile, you know what we need to do? We need to start a project about getting priests to go to confession. If the laity go to confession, a lot, priests will start to go. Not all priests go to confession or only go extremely rarely, but quite a few never go. That’s the reason there is little confession time available. That’s why few go. Priests don’t talk it up. You talk it up, people will go.

When very many people get the idea that they need to press the RESET BUTTON, realizing that they are meant to be temples of the Holy Spirit, they will go to confession and have purity of heart and agility of soul and razor sharp discernment about the ills of society and how to overcome them with more coming to know our Lord, and they will be at the ready in any and every way to bring people close or closer to the Lord Jesus, our Way, our Truth, our Life, our Freedom. But let’s start with priests going to confession, regularly, frequently. That’s the key.

An Opus Dei bishop (I am not in “The Work”) was asked what to do with teens who were immersed in the aggressive ways of society with drugs and lust and what not, and who lived across the street from a Catholic church but didn’t even know where the church was or what it was. His answer was: “Offer Mass better.” Indeed. Respect and reverence and humility are so contrary to what the world has to offer, so other-worldly, that it can grab the attention even of such youngsters. Yes. But…

No priest is going to make the liturgy (Mass and all the other sacraments) better in reverence and humility unless he goes to confession with reverence for our Lord, with humility before Him. How to do that?

Hint: The Immaculate Conception is Our Lady of the Rosary, the title she gave herself in Fatima, obviously giving us a hint about how to go about this. The Rosary is our RESET BUTTON.

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Filed under Confession, Flores, Politics

Forsooth! Foolish fugitive’s final fixing

prodigal-son-maze

Feeling footloose, fancy-free and frisky, this feather-brained fellow finagled his fond father into forking over his fortune. Forthwith, he fled for foreign fields and frittered his farthings feasting fabulously with fair-weather friends. Finally, fleeced by those folly filled fellows and facing famine, he found himself a feed flinger in a filthy farm-lot. He fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from fodder fragments. “Fooey! My father’s flunkies fare far fancier,” the frazzled fugitive fumed feverishly, frankly facing fact. Frustrated from failure and filled with forebodings, he fled for his family. Falling at his father’s feet, he floundered forlornly. “Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited further family favors…” But the faithful father, forestalling further flinching, frantically flagged his flunkies to fetch forth the finest fatling and fix a feast. But the fugitive’s fault finding frater , faithfully farming his father’s fields for free, frowned at this fickle forgiveness of former falderal. His fury flashed, but fussing was futile. His foresighted father figured, “Such filial fidelity is fine, but what forbids fervent festivities? The fugitive is found! Unfurl the flags! With fanfare flaring, let fun, frolic and frivolity flow freely, former failures forgotten and folly forsaken. Forgiveness forms a firm foundation for future fortitude.” – Originally composed by Rev. W. O. Taylor

Here’s the deal: It’s not a maze to come back to the practice of the faith. Simply:

  • Go to Confession
  • Go to Mass
  • Keep the commandments
  • Go to heaven
  • Don’t do any of this with your own strength, but depend on Divine Son of God who laid down His life for ours, taking on the punishment we deserve so that He would have the right in his own justice to have mercy on us, which makes that mercy credible, majestic, putting us in reverence and humble thanksgiving before Him.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the theme of a recent post or two, Father George David in real life is the prodigal of the parable, while the elder brother of the parable is the fellow who stole my identity in real life. (See: At the Safe House: George David Byers meets George David Byers: Hi George!) The elder brother kept himself away from the practice of the faith out of contempt for his little brother and the rest of the family, mother and father. But, here’s the deal: even the elder brother can return to the family of the faith. Simply:

  • Go to Confession
  • Go to Mass
  • Keep the commandments
  • Go to heaven
  • Don’t do any of this with your own strength, but depend on Divine Son of God who laid down His life for ours, taking on the punishment we deserve so that He would have the right in his own justice to have mercy on us, which makes that mercy credible, majestic, putting us in reverence and humble thanksgiving before Him.

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When Padre Pio met Saint Michael. When Father Byers knew nothing at all.

elijah judas tree

Elijah with the flaming fiery sword on Mount Carmel, Israel.

You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword. I am vindicated on that academic level at least, for I am alone across the millennia in what I have written. But on a spiritual level, well, I am thrust to the ground in deep humiliation, for I obviously know nothing of the spiritual life. But at least I know that I know nothing. These days, that’s something. And it’s way more than enough to ask for this great saint’s help. Apologies are given in advance for the inadequacy of [my comments] below. You can see from my Coat of Arms (thanks to Elizdelphi! No words on the banner yet) that I am grateful to have written about the sword of which Padre Pio speaks…

GEORGE DAVID BYERS - COAT OF ARMS - revision

From the Letters of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest (Epist. I, 1065; 1093-1095)

I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him

“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 [Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus] and all day on the 6th [Feast of the Transfiguration].

cherub-sword-eden

“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel, a cherub] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cutesy cutesy. Pio speaks of torment and terror, and this angel is from heaven!]. He had in his hand a sort of weapon [“weapon”] like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. [This is the sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24. It is the sword which “turns into its contrary by way of the fiery grace of enmity against Satan and by way of friendship with God whatever is presented to it.” This is the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. This is the sword of Saint Michael. This is the sword of Saint Teresa of Avila…] At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. [Seeing that a cherub could crush the entire universe if given permission from the Most High, this is saying really a lot…] I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boys to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. [What an understatement of all time. They must have been scared for him.] This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, [“weapon”] and nothing was spared. [“nothing” – and here I try to hang on to this and that. And in doing that I am totally lacking in generosity. I’ve done nothing in my life. I’ve not laid down my life as so many have done. Pio is going through his purgatory all at once, 40 some hours for him. And what would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of the world?]

discalced-carmelite-coat-of-arms

Elijah’s fiery sword on the Discalced Carmelite Coat of Arms

“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [And this is no longer his wound, but that of humanity, with Pio now being in solidarity with Jesus on the Cross even as Jesus is in solidarity with us, loving us while we are yet sinners, drawing all to Himself as He is lifted up on the Cross. And we watch with Him…] I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! [For we do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior. We come to realize this. We are nothing. He is all. He shows us what He has saved us from, and not just us, me, but we see how He has saved all of us as we gain some heightened perspective on the cross.]

padre-pio-stigmata

“On the morning of the 20th of last month [two weeks later], in the choir [making the traditional thanksgiving prayers after Mass], after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August 5th. [We entertain angels and even the Son of Man and do not know it. How much the angels reflect the Son of Man! And the fiery love of God, issuing from the throne of the Most High, from the Heart of Him who loves us so much, is just that fierce on that sword which transforms us utterly in God’s love.] The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. [We are utterly weak. It is all Jesus.] The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. [He speaks also and especially of his embarrassment, for he, as all of us from Adam until the last man is conceived, caused those wounds in our Lord. How is it that he, Pio, or any of us could share such wounds of love for all those Jesus has redeemed and wills to save?] The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

Padre Pio reprimanding the Bishop about the Seal of Confession.

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Thus, we don’t take from the Tree of the Living Ones, though we can humbly receive its fruit (the Eucharist from the Cross).] My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffering.” [If it were I who had to respond to him, knowing I know nothing, but despite that, I would say that in our very reception of mercy we must show mercy to the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, those whom Jesus has redeemed and wills to save. Our suffering is occasioned by the lack of others, lack of faith, etc., but it is not their cross we carry, but instead we come to know what we would be like if we ourselves were to be without the grace of our Lord in therefore our lack of faith, etc…. and our remaining in friendship by the grace of God in such horrific circumstances acts as an intercession for those who are truly without faith, etc. This is drawing all to Christ on the cross in solidarity with Jesus, who does this by His grace. He, the Head of the Body does this, but we are members of that Body and we are with Him. If we only knew! If we only knew! Now Pio had his eyes opened, his soul torn open, his hands and feet and heart torn open. But it’s all Jesus. Jesus’ love taking on our lack. Embarrassing to us? Yes. And we run away. Pio couldn’t run any more. The angel presented himself, and, fiercely raising his weapon of God’s love… I know nothing. Saint Pio: help this donkey-priest to come to know Jesus! Help all of us priests!]

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Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy, Priesthood, Saints, Spiritual life, Vocations

99% chance this priest won’t go to jail

handcuffsWhile the new judge on this case will most likely give me a reprieve for jury duty (I have a first amendment conflict of interest), there is a tiny chance he won’t, in which case he’ll have to sentence me for criminal contempt (though I have no contempt whatsoever), or a tiny chance that he will say that I have to wait in the courtroom to see if they get only eleven on the jury with two alternates and so therefore need me to continue through the interrogation of the whys and wherefores and bits and pieces of knowledge of the jury candidates, something I manifestly cannot do and so therefore he will have to sentence me straightaway for criminal contempt (though I have no contempt whatsoever). I simply cannot risk jury tampering for someone who is innocent until proven guilty by giving an impression to the jury pool that I heard the poor fellow’s confession and am risking jail so as not to break the seal of confession, when the whole time I actually never did hear his confession (though I don’t know that if he came to me behind the confessional screen, which I won’t know until all the unrepeatable details come out in court). I can’t let the judge stack the jury on behalf of the defense in the latter case, or let the guy walk without ever getting a trial as he could never get a fair trial after the impression was received, however wrongly, but really necessarily, that I heard the guy’s confession. The questions, you have to know, about the whys and wherefores and prejudices involved in having knowledge of plaintiffs or defendants are intense. When I refuse to answer, the jury must get the idea that I heard his confession as I go off to jail. I wouldn’t want some jerk priest giving that impression to the jury if I were in the hot seat. Would you? This is not about “getting off jury duty.” I don’t want to get off jury duty. That’s just a result of the conflict of interest I have. As Thomas More said: “I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” Here’s the deal, the judge might well say that there is zero chance that I heard the guy’s confession since they caught him in the act of the murder or rape or whatever it is. Instead, people also confess things they are sorely tempted to do even years before committing the crime, giving all sorts of unrepeatable details about how the crime will occur, telling me about others involved or who has prior knowledge, telling me about motives of ongoing feuds or whatever, etc. And I can know all this for years beforehand from both future plaintiff and defendant clans and friends, knowing much more than the investigators could ever dig up. Again, it doesn’t matter, Catholic or non-Catholic, it pretty much all comes to the priest. The seal of confession is respected by all, except, perhaps, a court of law, though we will see what happens. Also, don’t forget, I may well know of someone’s innocence, how a crime actually occurred with someone else taking the fall. That happens really a lot. A parent dying of cancer might take the fall for their offspring. A spouse for a spouse. Etc. Jury nullification is really easy. Anyway, I fully expect to get a reprieve… Watch this space. Today’s the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. If I don’t give you an update in another post by the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, tomorrow, you can surely rightly assume that I’m in jail.

By the way, a priest in New York just broke the Seal of Confession saying basically he got permission to do this from the defendant in a murder. A friend in the Holy See told me that this case may already be before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to decide if the priest is formally declared excommunicate. The thing is, it is not a matter of Father getting permission. The Seal is his to keep regardless of any permission, regardless of any good for himself (such as taking care, he thinks, of his overly tender conscience being wounded by his own silence [not!]). People can give “permission” to reveal a confession for all sorts of reasons (coercion, manipulation, guilt, thinking this is pleasing to the priest so as to get an absolution, etc.). The priest must ignore this. He gave the guy absolution. It’s a confession, indeed sacramental, that must be respected regardless of how it started, and it sounds like an intended confession from the beginning. Why else would anyone go to a priest? Regardless of what the CDF concludes about his malice, I think that the priest should be much more worried about going straight to hell when he dies for having broken the Seal of Confession. If one is guilty of breaking the Seal, one is malicious. It is an attack on the very precious blood of Christ which was poured out for the forgiveness of sin. Father thinks he is a policeman and not a priest. How sad. And to me, that’s totally infuriating. He has damaged the trust of penitents, perhaps stopping untold numbers from going to confession. I could give him absolution if he asked for it, as I’m a Missionary of Mercy, right? But I’ll tell you this, I would absolutely give him the lecture of his life before doing so. He had no right whatsoever to break the Seal of Confession. I can’t risk doing that either, or even give the impression that I am while the whole time I never heard the guy’s confession, ensuring his conviction when otherwise he could have walked as the innocent man he just might be.

Again, just to be clear, I don’t know those involved, whether this was a group or individual, a man or woman (or whatever), what the crime supposedly is or when or where it occurred, etc. I must make a blanket refusal to speak about possible penitents absolutely every time. I don’t know if they ever came to me even behind a screen, even before a crime was committed, looking for arguments not to commit a crime, which may have worked for a while, but then… I just don’t know, do I? No, I don’t. At any rate, there is a conflict of interest for the Constitutional right to free exercise of religion. I must fight for this to be respected. It may just be that the judge wanted to see if I would risk going to jail, given that other priests literally don’t seem to give a damn about breaking the Seal of Confession. When he finds out I am serious, he may just congratulate me for setting a good example for both society and religion, what it means to be a good minister and what it means to be a good citizen. That’s actually what I fully expect, well, 99% sure.

This would be the judge’s opportunity to condemn the Archdiocese of New York for also giving that priest “permission” to break the Seal of Confession. Apparently, the Archdiocese (surely this absolutely must involve ol’ Cardinal Dolan [sigh…]) thinks that a guy confessing a sin and getting sacramental absolution is not a sacramental confession. It seems to me that Jesus will lay on them the penitent’s guilt unless they also repent.

But then again, fewer (arch)dioceses seem to give a damn, literally, about the Sacrament of Confession. See the utterly ridiculous action of the Diocese of Manchester for which I provided some rather incisive commentary some time ago:

https://ariseletusbegoing.com/2015/12/02/confession-settlement-that-could-halt-the-sacrament-of-confession-in-the-catholic-church-pope-francis-missionary-of-mercy-complains/

For many more articles on this little drama, click the category “Confession” or simply go directly to ariseletusbegoing.com/ and see the articles on the first couple of pages. By the way, say a prayer for that priest who broke the Seal. He will need those prayers regardless of what the CDF says. I just offered Mass for the good of his soul just now, this very day.

By the way: Many people have let me know by phone or email that they prayed to the Lord and are convinced that I have already received a miracle of getting a reprieve. I would like that!

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Jail on perpetual lockdown? “We don’t run this place like a Holiday Inn.”

cherokee-county-jail

There were “people whose relatives were in the jail calling us thinking we were running around with M-16s and Billy clubs bashing people in the head,” [Captain] Patterson said. “It wasn’t anything like that.” (Andrews Journal)

“It wasn’t anything like that,” but almost? The reason I ask is that it’s then also noted that there is now an extremely rigorous tracking of razor blades handed out to prisoners. I don’t want to imagine the bloodletting that caused such tracking and the re-imposition of a lockdown.

Anyway, as I’ve said previously, if I were bashed in the head, or sprayed with pepper spray, the inside of my throat would swell up and I would suffocate, which is just my own weirdness of a genetic lack of an enzyme. This is an example of how people with the same hereditary lack of a particular enzyme die, to the rate of up to 1/3 of those who have it, there simply being no chance in whatever circumstances for a tracheotomy…

“By law, we only have to let them out for one hour every three days for exercise,” [Captain] Patterson said. […] For now visiting hours are on the inmates’ free hour.

If I am put in jail for protecting the integrity of the Seal of Confession, I think it will do me good, that it will do my priesthood good. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Just to be clear. I have not been briefed on the case for Wednesday. No names or details have come my way. I don’t know if I’ve heard anything about it by way of anyone whomsoever saying anything in Confession, even from any defendant even previous to the commission of any crime. And I could never say. Again, in jury selection, it’s really a big deal to find out if a possible juror knows any of the defendants or plaintiffs. When I belligerently fail to say whether I do and how it is that I know what I know or not, I will be cited for criminal contempt. I won’t even go into the courtroom. I’ll sign in outside to show I was there, and will once again make an attempt to get the judge to give me a reprieve.

Some have urged me to just go ahead and answer the questions. They urge me to do this publicly, giving the impression to any court that it really is O.K. for me to break the Seal of Confession, which I won’t do, which sets me up for going to jail.

Anyway, see: Subtle jury tampering is still effective and is still a felony. I won’t do it. Jail?

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The irony! My very own jury box chair. It’s empty and it will remain empty.

jury chair

I’m guessing this jury box chair was constructed in 1884, when a certain town in Nebraska was well on its way to embracing law and order. In favor of something more modern, the chairs were given away in the 1950s. My 191 million year old neighbor lady in Transylvania county got hold of one back then, and it has now come my way as that property is also being sold along with that of my other neighbors. The chair needs lots of dowel and expanding wood-glue work on it, but it’s a good solid chair.

The irony, of course, is that I am called to jury duty on superior/criminal court here in the district of far Western North Carolina. Because of arguments I’ve laid out previously, I cannot sit on a jury. The judge has twice granted me reprieve for the North Carolina Supreme Court case law that I’ve cited. I’m thinking that his only real politically acceptable option is to continue giving me a reprieve every six months, or better, give me a third reprieve without making this permanent, but nevertheless having my name quietly removed from the list of jury pool candidates.

The way the Supreme Court wrote their decision, if the judge makes my reprieve permanent, all candidates for a jury pool will have a viable excuse and the viability of the court itself will be sunk. That’s unacceptable of course. We do need a court system, broken as it is. The decision rightly said that the State cannot decide what a religious minister is as different from a religious member of whatever group, congregation, church. The court stated that, therefore, a reprieve for a minister must be given to any congregant.

The conflict of interest I have is that as a Catholic priest, I cannot break the Seal of Confession to the point that I cannot say if someone went to Confession or not. Imagine that in jury selection the clerk of court asks us to turn to the plaintiffs and defendants and say if we know any of them.

I cannot say that, yes, I know whoever. The next question will regard how it is that I know them, and I will reply that I cannot say that, at which point I will be cited for criminal contempt of court. It is known that a priest has a privileged forum guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution, a forum, the confessional, in which someone might offer a confession say, for murder, a confession given with full expectation of confidentiality unto death, a confession that is sincere, voluntary, given without pressure, with utter sincerity, baring one’s soul, a true confession. It’s a fair assumption that if I refuse to speak to my knowledge of the person that I know something about them by way of the confessional. Pretty much everything comes to a priest, who might get the story from the one who committed the crime, from the one who is taking the fall for the crime, from the friends and relatives and witnesses of both sides of whatever incident. That a priest or any minister would go to jail for such a reason would not fill the newspapers, but people would immediately conjecture that it was a confession I heard and that, therefore, the person is guilty. The confession might have been, however, that he is taking a fall for a loved one.

I cannot say that, no, I do not know whoever. The problem is that Catholic priests hear confessions with people having the option to speak from behind a screen. I don’t know if I do not know any of those involved, but will only find out when the case plays out in court. And then what? Do I recuse myself? For what reason? That I heard someone’s confession, thus tampering with the jury? I mean, it would be obvious what it was that I heard in confession. Not only would I be revealing a confession, thus getting myself excommunicated, but I would also be guilty of criminal jury tampering and be sent with that felony conviction to the state penitentiary.

Also, at that point, I would no longer be a juror, but rather a witness to a confession to the crime being judged. Law enforcement would want to interrogate me for all the details that might tie up some loose threads, etc. The judge will want to hear the whole story. If I refused to be a witness I would also be committing the crime of contempt. The same North Carolina Supreme Court says that the State has compelling interest to hear a witness, more compelling than the first amendment of U.S. Constitution. It’s a poorly written law and it needs to be refined. But I don’t want to be the guinea pig for that. I hope the judge just gives me another reprieve and then forgets me.

By the way: The clerk of court, a really nice guy whom the whole world respects, suggested I make a deal with the judge in case of an adverse decision against my wanting to enjoy my Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. He suggested that I beg the court’s clemency in favor of my sitting on a jury for non-criminal court, you know, for only civil matters of property disputes and disputes over last wills and testaments, that kind of thing. No, I said, all that can come to confession as well. Of course it can. For instance, did anyone every get impatient or angry over someone continuously moving the property line markers? Did anyone ever dispute a will? Ever? It doesn’t matter how small the matter is. I will not betray a confession or put myself in a position in which I will eventually, surely sooner than latter, be put in a position where I cannot but reveal a confession even by my silence. Get it?

If I’m convicted of criminal contempt… I will immediately make a move to appeal, but also to obtain an unconditional pardon from the Governor of North Carolina. For the former, I would surely have the help of any number of pro bono Constitutional attorneys. There are many. For the latter, I would attempt to get together a list of supporters, including the Catholic bishops of North Carolina, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (not that far from me), the local Ministerium, etc. If one minister is thrown in jail for the free exercise of religion, all are at risk. I would hope all non-Catholic ministers would say on that day, “I am Catholic,” as a kind of Christianized, “Je suis Charlie.”

Have other ministers/priests/bishops served on juries? Sure. But this has been more rare and by and large only recently. Most all states exempted clergy from jury duty for good reason. Only recently has the trend gone the other way, so that now there are almost no states offering an exemption. Massachusetts, a “catholic” state, is rather abrupt, in-your-face about this change. Because this has only been a recent change in state law, clergy have only rarely served on juries. They haven’t thought this through. I’m guessing that I’m pretty much the first to make a stink about it. C’est la vie?

“Getting out of jury duty…” Some have remarked that I’m just trying to get out of the hassle of doing jury duty. That “hassle” bit is their own unworthy attitude toward this service of justice and one’s neighbor. I’m totally willing to serve, and am laying my own well being on the line to not serve for the reasons stated above. Also, I could not serve on a capital case, for which there is a quite a list in North Carolina. I don’t think capital punishment is necessary with the by and large secure prisons we have today. Few prisoners have Shawshank capabilities.

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Taking the Seal of Confession seriously. To go to jail or not; that is the question.

SEAL OF CONFESSION

There are many martyr priests, such as Saint John of Nepomuk, who have been put to death because they would not reveal what was said to them in the confessional. It’s not pretty:

BLUDGEONED SEAL

Sometimes Confessionals are bugged, as certain FBI totally malicious idiots had done with the confessionals in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, continuing the practice even after being reprimanded and being caught again. That is, of course, an offence against the free exercise of religion guaranteed in the Constitution. But what do some Feds care about the Constitution? I’m guessing that the Confessionals at Saint Pat’s are now swept for bugs on a regular basis. Then there is the chief liaison between Italy and the Holy See, a military attorney, who wanted to establish me in a parish in southern Italy and, as he admitted, bug the confessional if he got permission from the even higher-ups to do so. Um… No! Then there are the ecclesiastical idiots who bugged the confessional of the great Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. He was none too happy, indicating the silence that had to prevail:

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

When priests themselves violate the Seal of Confession a special kind of justice takes place, I reckon, whereby all the sins of the penitent are now attributed to the priest himself, who will be responsible for those sins at his last judgment. Besides that, already on this earth, he stands automatically excommunicated from the Church, carrying this curse with him until he repents, but even then there is every chance that he will never be readmitted to sacramental duties, but will likely be dismissed from the clerical state, “laicized” so so speak (although he remains a priest forever).

What if I were to sit on a jury for a capital crime? What if I know about the case by way of the Confessional? What if I know that the father, who is dying of cancer, takes the fall for his son who is the actual murderer? Happens all the time. Do I act on my knowledge I came about by way of the confessional?

Diversely, do I ever opt for the ol’ jury nullification? Or if ever the defendant or plaintiff would insist that they don’t know me and never came to confession to me, that wouldn’t matter, for the Seal of Confession is to be respected by the priest regardless of what the penitent says, and besides, the penitent can be mistaken, for I hear confessions all over the place, also behind a screen, and the penitents don’t even know that they went to confession to me.

Or could I ever just go ahead and poison the entire jury pool at the time of jury selection and say that I know the defendant because he came to me in Confession? Talk about a mistrial! Do I decline to be on a jury just for one case but not for another, and what does that say? Another mistrial. And what if I don’t recognize anyone among the defendants or plaintiffs at the time of the selection, but recognize the case as the unrepeatable details start to be revealed in court, and then I know I didn’t recognize this fellow because he’s been coming to confession for years but only behind the screen that we Catholic priests also use during Confession? Do I back out then, forever poisoning any future jury?

And of course, the people who can come to confession to me can be from other parishes, other counties, other states, other nations. More than that, they don’t have to be Catholics to come to Confession, but can do so as catechumens, getting ready for a Confession they will make latter. This applies to all, no matter what, even if they don’t know they may well be utterly impressed by what they experience and then later become catechumens. Also, there need not be an absolution for the seal is always present regardless; it may take many times before the penitent, even Catholic, is willing to be absolved. Non-Catholics of all kinds, including non-Christians may well want to go to a priest who is bound by such a seal, confessing as best they can, seeking a blessing, perhaps preparing in this way for an actual sacramental confession in the future so that this is actually part of that later confession. That is the way I would treat it, as that can be the way it is. Etc. Such matters of conscience are not matters for a court to decide.

Some say that I am NOT a witness, am not testifying, and so can sit on a jury to judge what was just confessed to me even moments before the jury selection, simply putting it in my mind that what I did judge in the confessional is not necessarily what I will judge in the court room. A lawyer actually said that to me, pretty much yelling at me with incredulity at how stupid I was. But, as another priest says: B as in B, S as in S.

Here’s the deal: I can certainly be a witness to the confession of a crime spoken only to me under what is effectively an oath before God in the most intimate and prayerful and reflective and voluntary and sincere of circumstances. THEREFORE: I would absolutely be ripped from the jury so as to be a witness in court by the prosecutor if this were known to be a fact.

The law in North Carolina has the pretense of trumping the Constitution, saying that the State has compelling interest over against the First Amendment to the Constitution so as to demand that a witness testify in court, particularly for a capital crime.

Do you think the defense attorney wants me on the jury? No? However merciful I might be in the Confessional, I will surely take the juror’s oath seriously lest I myself go to hell, won’t I? I’m not going to lie as a priest, am I? In the eyes of the court, should a deciding witness in a case secretly hide himself in the jury box? No? Can I speak up? No? Can I really expect to have a poker face in front of my fellow jurors when they know I may well know much more about the facts, whether I do or not, and ignore me or defer to me? No? Actually, no. My head is going to explode. I can’t ever be on a jury. This isn’t hard.

This isn’t my role in society. The Constitution, which actually trumps State law, backs me up, but this is clearly something that is now being pushed, and hard. Why?

Why would a judge, knowing all this, call me a third time to jury duty on Criminal High Court after giving me a by the first two times? The clerk of court said that this going to a third time has never happened for this reason (he has never seen this reason, ever). I don’t know; maybe the judge is just seeing if I’ll be consistent, which is laudable. If I’m not he may be obliged to judge the other trials I missed to be mistrials.

But since I am consistent in not sitting on any trial, and say hypothetically that the judge doesn’t give me a by, and possibly sends me off to jail for criminal contempt of court for refusing to sit on a jury, and this possibly with a fine, possibly with loss of any number of societal privileges… in that case, what’s actually going on?

Worst case scenario: whatever about the other penalties, if he does hold me to be in felonious criminal contempt of court, but does not take away my right to sit on a jury, and I find another summons to jury duty in my mail box after doing any jail time, and then immediately find myself back in jail, and therefore have to be reassigned as a priest out of this court district, how long do you think it will be before the other judges do the same and actually exile this citizen out of the state of North Carolina? Would this kind of persecution smashing the right to free exercise of religion be fair? No? Let’s see what happens. I should be finding out the judgment of the judge, or be called to a special hearing, within the next couple of weeks.

A good case scenario: no jail time, no loss of privileges, a one dollar fine and an encouragement from the judge to appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court so as to have the law refined. As it is the law as it presently stands actually baits judges into forcing an appeal if they think that the viability of the court is being injured. The way the law is written is that it seems the viability of the court would be injured, you know, the part about the State not being able to decide between a minister and a member and so all decisions in such matters would apply to all (which is simply not the case). This would be a hassle, but it is what it is.

The best case scenario for me anyway would be that I were to be permanently excused, the judge hoping that the ruling would not be used as an excuse maliciously to get out of jury duty by anyone and everyone who doesn’t want to bother.

Or, am I missing something with “IN RE WILLIAMS” 1967?

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Going to Confession in China, or not

chinese patriotic association

In China, churches by the thousands are being defaced and destroyed by the communists of the Patriotic Ass. (an abbreviation), which also hunts down, spies on, murders, imprisons, jails and tortures the bishops and priests and laity of the underground church, sending them off to labor and reeducation (torture) camps. It is illegal for any priest to enter into a hospital to provide pastoral care regardless of whether the priest is faithful to Rome or is a freakoid marxist belonging to the Patriotic Ass. Oh, is that impolite? At any rate, there is no chance at all for the sacraments or last rites. The Patriotic Ass. was always a joke, meant as a stepping stone for something even worse.

But hey! I have an idea! Let’s give a Catholic Church to the Patriotic Ass. right here in these USA! Sorry, we already did that back in the 1990s. I spoke with those priests at some length at the time face to face and a number of times by phone. They were trying to fake like they were not the Patriotic Ass., but finally admitted it:

  • “It’s complex,” they said, just as they had been trained.
  • “But how can you enjoy all the benefits of having a church and car and the nice things of life when you know that your fellow bishops and priests and seminarians are being hunted down, spied on, murdered, imprisoned, jailed and tortured, and sent off to labor and reeducation (torture) camps?” I asked.
  • “It’s complex,” they said, just as they had been trained.
  • “Who am I to judge,” said I, “not being in dire circumstances in China, but I do think that God gives the grace to be faithful to Him and His Church especially in dire circumstances.”
  • “It’s complex,” they said, just as they had been trained, insisting that the US bishops were behind them, fully supporting them, though not saying a word about those faithful to Rome.
  • “And when you die and go before the Judge, and those martyr bishops and priests are standing next to Jesus, what complexity is it that you will offer to our Lord, who was Himself tortured to death, betrayed by His fellow priests?”
  • “I have to make a phone call,” they all agreed, running away.

Perhaps I am bad and evil, impolite and discourteous, but I’ve had this exact same conversation with priests and seminarians of the Patriotic Ass. so very many other times throughout the subsequent years, throughout the world (especially frequently at the Casa Santa Maria in Rome where they were guests) always with the statements about complexity and phone calls being made.

The phone call thing, by the way, is actually a threat. They will make a call and report who was giving them trouble, for, you see, I could be a Patriotic Ass. plant, presenting them such trouble to test to see if they will make the call or not. And I don’t say that just to be paranoid about it. This is what happens:

Say there is a priest who wants to be faithful to Rome but has caved under pressure to the Patriotic Ass., has a church and car and servants and a nice life, but is feeling guilty, which is immediately known. So, he is tested in the confessional. A fake penitent from the Chinese communist police goes to confession and confesses, say, to having recklessly endangered the lives of others by organizing a protest against the Patriotic Ass. that will be televised by foreign media. If the priest, who is bound by the seal of confession does not report that confession and that person to the police, he himself will be put into prison as a traitor. So, what does he do?

“It’s complex!” they scream, eating ice cream and smiling a sick smile. But it’s not complex. One can be faithful. No one is ever “forced” to do the wrong thing. One can always suffer. It’s as simple as saying, “Abba, Father! Not my will but thine be done.” Heaven is forever. And so is hell. It’s not about our lack of strength. Jesus lifts us up into His strength.

Oh, and the upshot of all this? Let’s all of us go to Confession regularly while we can. Let’s walk humbly with the Most High God who has walked among us. Let’s pray always.

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Dear Pope Francis: Be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, or nothing, because, really, it’s God or nothing

wp-1455076244099.jpg

This picture was taken while in procession with all the other Missionaries of Mercy about to go through the Holy Door of the Year of Mercy, accompanying the relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and Saint Leopold Mandić. Hey, maybe I could be burned at the stake tied with chains to this obelisk.

Pope Francis, we see in your homily of June 9 2016 (which I reprint below in English and Italian for the convenience of readers), that you call a lot of Catholics non-Catholics and heretics, perhaps even Cardinal Sarah (though you didn’t actually name him). John-Henry at Lifesite has a great article, as does NewCatholic over at Rorate.

Am I, your Missionary of Mercy, also a declared heretic?  Am I also not Catholic? Do I therefore lack faculties for the Sacrament of Mercy?

Here’s the deal, my little negotiation with you: To be called a heretic and a non-Catholic even by you is laughable to me, for, you see, I’ve already beat you to the accusations. I’ve been saying about myself for as long as I can remember that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sin. I am the most damned of all. So, what you say about my being a heretic and non-Catholic means nothing to me. I believe that I have no strength at all to follow any moral law, any commandment. None of it is possible for me. It is impossible for this man. I am nothing. But I’ll tell you this, for me, Christ Jesus is everything, He is my strength who provides me with His love and goodness and kindness and fortitude and enthusiasm and joy, making following the commandments, however much they are impossible for me, not only possible, but that which I do because of the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, the very love that is the greatest love of my life that I want to share with others.Without Jesus’ love and joy, I would at most say, “I will do this but the rest is impossible for me.” And you would be content with that. Shame on you! For with Jesus’ love and joy, I say, “I will do it all, for I do not do it on my own, as I am dead to myself, but I do this by Jesus’ love and joy!” I would never tell others that they are good enough in their efforts with their own strength which they don’t have anyway, leaving them on their own far from Jesus, Mary’s Son. No! I introduce them to Him, to His love and joy, to His wounds, His torture, His death, so very much did He love us. And they thank me for it. And if that makes me the most damned of all heretics and non-Catholics in your view, then, well, I am really sorry for that, but, so be it. As I’ve said so many times with intended irony, Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir.  Condemn me if you have to. I will be happy to suffer for Jesus. That is my little negotiation with you. Deal?

Please, let me add that I love you to pieces Pope Francis. Please, rejoice with me. Again I will say, rejoice!

Below is Pope Francis’ homily in the “Vatican Radio English translation” (which I did not read) and what was provided of the original Italian (which I did read):

Continue reading

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