Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Chrism Mass--Archbishop Thomas Collins

Today at St. Michael's Cathedral Archbishop Thomas Collins in a profound homily on the Catholic Priesthood during the Mass of Chrism addressed the issue of priestly fidelity and the heinous crimes committed by certain priests and the neglect by some bishops. He also gave a firm call for all Catholics to give thanks to God for Pope Benedict XVI during this time. He spoke about the necessary "purification" in the Church and no less than three times referred to the evil one and invoked the Prayer of St. Michael the Archangel.

Here are some excerpts and the complete text and Mp3's are linked below to the Archdiocese of Toronto website.

”Each baptized disciple is anointed with Chrism as he or she receives the gift of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. The Christian is consecrated to be a faithful witness to Christ, to proclaim the Gospel through words and deeds, and most profoundly through a life of Christian integrity lived amid the temptations to infidelity that come from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Every Christian, consecrated with Chrism, must daily engage in the spiritual combat against all three sources of temptation, and is strengthened and filled with joy through the power of the Lord, who is always near. When we Christians look around at the evil in the world, and look within at our own weaknesses, there is no cause for dismay, for fundamentally, the strife is over, the battle won, but until we finally finish the journey of life we must always confront the manifold temptations of fallen humanity.

Recognizing that, it has occurred to met that we should pray more frequently the ancient prayer, rooted in Sacred Scripture that invokes the patron saint of our Archdiocese: "Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in this day of battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humble pray, and do you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast down into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander through the world, seeking the ruin of souls." A little realism is healthy in a disciple.”…

"Each of us here present can think of the faithful priests who were used by God to inspire us with the call to the priesthood. Their example of lifelong joyful priestly service speaks more than words can do of the significance of being consecrated as a priest. After Mass we will gather to celebrate the priestly service of those ordained 25, 50, and 60 years. This day we give thanks to God for their fidelity. In May, we will celebrate the ordination of five more new priests, whom we welcome into the presbyterate of this Archdiocese."...

We learn about the real meaning of the priesthood at ordinations, when we experience the beginning of the joy of the consecration to the priestly mission, at anniversaries, when we celebrate milestones of priestly service, and finally at the funeral of a priest, when we gather to give thanks to God for a life of faithful service.

People expect that one who is consecrated with the holy oil of Chrism, will act in an exemplary manner, and never betray the trust which people know they should be able to place in a Catholic priest. At his ordination we pray: Bless this chosen man, and set him apart for his sacred duties. And yet to our shame some have used the awesome gift of the holy priesthood for base personal gratification, betraying the innocent and devastating their lives. When that happens, our first concern must be for those innocent young people who have been abused, to help them overcome their suffering, and to resolve to take whatever steps are needed to be as sure as is possible that this does not happen again. We have all had to learn through failures and mistakes and that is especially true of bishops, who have sometimes failed in their responsibility to act effectively.

For this diocese, anyone who looks at our website can see the policies that are in place to help us to act rightly, but we must never be satisfied.

We cannot escape the horror of this by pointing out that almost all priests serve faithfully, though that fact is a grace that gives joy to the Catholic people, whose love and prayerful support sustains us all. But even one priest gone wrong causes immense harm, and throughout the world priests have done unspeakable evil.

We should be grateful for the attention which the media devotes to the sins of Catholic clergy, even if constant repetition may give the false impression that Catholic clergy are particularly sinful. That attention is a profound tribute to the priesthood which we celebrate at this Mass of the Chrism. People instinctively expect holiness in a Catholic priest, and are especially appalled when he does evil.

As we look to the continuing painful purification of the Church, we all need in a particular way to give thanks to God for the leadership of Joseph Ratzinger, as Cardinal and Pope, who has acted decisively, fairly, consistently, and courageously to purify the priesthood and to make the Church a safe place for everyone. Anyone with any knowledge of this terrible reality realizes that Pope Benedict has led the way in confronting this evil."...Very Reverend Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto

A friend recently attended the "Come and See Weekend" at St. Augustine's Seminary in his discernment of the call to the Priesthood (Pray for JS). He told me that the Archbishop attended and the matter of certain behaviours homosexuality and an attraction to children was addressed with firmness and clarity and Christian truth. Toronto is fortunate that beginning with Cardinal Carter's sweep of the Seminary back in the late 1970's things have been run as a pretty tight ship. I know myself that at the very hint of an offense, the policy linked above is implemented and there is no sweeping it under the rug. Cardinals Carter and Ambrozic deserve much thanks in this regard for defending the priesthood. Archbishop Collins is no fool and by his own words today and by witness has proved he will not allow any backsliding.

That being said, the Church as a whole must continue to address the issue; it is not just a matter of someone with homosexual inclinations being admitted to the Priesthood and have them practice celibacy. Celibacy is a given. You cannot put anyone with any homosexual tendencies, into the priesthood period. It is simply unfair to them to put them into an occasion where they will be constantly around those whom they, in a weakened moment may desire. Lust is powerful be it heterosexual or homosexual and in fact, with the latter may even by stronger. It will represent a constant danger to someone in the future. Not all men with homosexual desires act out on them with post-pubescent boys (these are the greatest amount of victims, the predators or pederasts; paedophiles act out on pre-pubescent boys or girls with no pubic hair, however, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of victims were boys over the age of 11 preyed upon by men with deep-seated homosexual desires for young boys. Fact.

These priests and bishops and cardinals must be found out and they must be put out of the Church.

The irony, is that the vile media will label the Church "homophobic" yet condemns the Church for the actions done by priests who are active homosexuals not seeing the hypocrisy in their distorted reporting. The truth is that the dissenting Catholics, the media and the homosexualist lobby, the globalists, environmentalists, communists and Freemasons don't really care about the children at all; if they did, they would ask why the Church has permitted so many homosexualists to infiltrate to seek out their victims and to destroy the Church and the peoples' faith from within. This was Stalin's plan. This was Satan's plan. This is the truth.

Archbishop Collins is to be commended for his words and his recognition of the "painful purification." Yes, it has begun. Let us rejoice!

You may read all of it

Listen here on Mp3 to the complete Homily:

Listen here on Mp3 to his statement on the Priesthood and Pope Benedict XVI.

And this:

Setting the record straight in the case of abusive Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy

Then-presiding judge for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee gives first-person account of church trial


For CatholicAnchor.org

To provide context to this article, I was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1995-2003. During those years, I presided over four canonical criminal cases, one of which involved Father Lawrence Murphy. Two of the four men died during the process. God alone will judge these men.

To put some parameters on the following remarks, I am writing this article with the express knowledge and consent of Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, the Archbishop of Anchorage, where I currently serve. Archbishop Schwietz is also the publisher of the Catholic Anchor newspaper.

I will limit my comments, because of judicial oaths I have taken as a canon lawyer and as an ecclesiastical judge. However, since my name and comments in the matter of the Father Murphy case have been liberally and often inaccurately quoted in the New York Times and in more than 100 other newspapers and on-line periodicals, I feel a freedom to tell part of the story of Father Murphy’s trial from ground zero.

As I have found that the reporting on this issue has been inaccurate and poor in terms of the facts, I am also writing out of a sense of duty to the truth.

The fact that I presided over this trial and have never once been contacted by any news organization for comment speaks for itself.

My intent in the following paragraphs is to accomplish the following:

To tell the back-story of what actually happened in the Father Murphy case on the local level;

To outline the sloppy and inaccurate reporting on the Father Murphy case by the New York Times and other media outlets;

To assert that Pope Benedict XVI has done more than any other pope or bishop in history to rid the Catholic Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse and provide for those who have been injured;

To set the record straight with regards to the efforts made by the church to heal the wounds caused by clergy sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church is probably the safest place for children at this point in history.

Before proceeding, it is important to point out the scourge that child sexual abuse has been — not only for the church but for society as well. Few actions can distort a child’s life more than sexual abuse. It is a form of emotional and spiritual homicide and it starts a trajectory toward a skewed sense of sexuality. When committed by a person in authority, it creates a distrust of almost anyone, anywhere.

As a volunteer prison chaplain in Alaska, I have found a corollary between those who have been incarcerated for child sexual abuse and the priests who have committed such grievous actions. They tend to be very smart and manipulative. They tend to be well liked and charming. They tend to have one aim in life — to satisfy their hunger. Most are highly narcissistic and do not see the harm that they have caused. They view the children they have abused not as people but as objects. They rarely show remorse and moreover, sometimes portray themselves as the victims. They are, in short, dangerous people and should never be trusted again. Most will recommit their crimes if given a chance.

As for the numerous reports about the case of Father Murphy, the back-story has not been reported as of yet.

In 1996, I was introduced to the story of Father Murphy, formerly the principal of St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. It had been common knowledge for decades that during Father Murphy’s tenure at the school (1950-1974) there had been a scandal at St. John’s involving him and some deaf children. The details, however, were sketchy at best.

Courageous advocacy on behalf of the victims (and often their wives), led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to revisit the matter in 1996. In internal discussions of the curia for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, it became obvious that we needed to take strong and swift action with regard to the wrongs of several decades ago. With the consent of then-Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, we began an investigation into the allegations of child sexual abuse as well as the violation of the crime of solicitation within the confessional by Father Murphy.

We proceeded to start a trial against Father Murphy. I was the presiding judge in this matter and informed Father Murphy that criminal charges were going to be levied against him with regard to child sexual abuse and solicitation in the confessional.

In my interactions with Father Murphy, I got the impression I was dealing with a man who simply did not get it. He was defensive and threatening.

Between 1996 and August, 1998, I interviewed, with the help of a qualified interpreter, about a dozen victims of Father Murphy. These were gut-wrenching interviews. In one instance the victim had become a perpetrator himself and had served time in prison for his crimes. I realized that this disease is virulent and was easily transmitted to others. I heard stories of distorted lives, sexualities diminished or expunged. These were the darkest days of my own priesthood, having been ordained less than 10 years at the time. Grace-filled spiritual direction has been a Godsend.

I also met with a community board of deaf Catholics. They insisted that Father Murphy should be removed from the priesthood and highly important to them was their request that he be buried not as a priest but as a layperson. I indicated that a judge, I could not guarantee the first request and could only make a recommendation to the latter request.

In the summer of 1998, I ordered Father Murphy to be present at a deposition at the chancery in Milwaukee. I received, soon after, a letter from his doctor that he was in frail health and could travel not more than 20 miles (Boulder Junction to Milwaukee would be about 276 miles). A week later, Father Murphy died of natural causes in a location about 100 miles from his home

With regard to the inaccurate reporting on behalf of the New York Times, the Associated Press, and those that utilized these resources, first of all, I was never contacted by any of these news agencies but they felt free to quote me. Almost all of my quotes are from a document that can be found online with the correspondence between the Holy See and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In an October 31, 1997 handwritten document, I am quoted as saying ‘odds are that this situation may very well be the most horrendous, number wise, and especially because these are physically challenged , vulnerable people. “ Also quoted is this: “Children were approached within the confessional where the question of circumcision began the solicitation.”

The problem with these statements attributed to me is that they were handwritten. The documents were not written by me and do not resemble my handwriting. The syntax is similar to what I might have said but I have no idea who wrote these statements, yet I am credited as stating them. As a college freshman at the Marquette University School of Journalism, we were told to check, recheck, and triple check our quotes if necessary. I was never contacted by anyone on this document, written by an unknown source to me. Discerning truth takes time and it is apparent that the New York Times, the Associated Press and others did not take the time to get the facts correct.

Additionally, in the documentation in a letter from Archbishop Weakland to then-secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone on August 19, 1998, Archbishop Weakland stated that he had instructed me to abate the proceedings against Father Murphy. Father Murphy, however, died two days later and the fact is that on the day that Father Murphy died, he was still the defendant in a church criminal trial. No one seems to be aware of this. Had I been asked to abate this trial, I most certainly would have insisted that an appeal be made to the supreme court of the church, or Pope John Paul II if necessary. That process would have taken months if not longer.

Second, with regard to the role of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), in this matter, I have no reason to believe that he was involved at all. Placing this matter at his doorstep is a huge leap of logic and information.

Third, the competency to hear cases of sexual abuse of minors shifted from the Roman Rota to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001. Until that time, most appeal cases went to the Rota and it was our experience that cases could languish for years in this court. When the competency was changed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in my observation as well as many of my canonical colleagues, sexual abuse cases were handled expeditiously, fairly, and with due regard to the rights of all the parties involved. I have no doubt that this was the work of then Cardinal Ratzinger.

Fourth, Pope Benedict has repeatedly apologized for the shame of the sexual abuse of children in various venues and to a worldwide audience. This has never happened before. He has met with victims. He has reigned in entire conferences of bishops on this matter, the Catholic Bishops of Ireland being the most recent. He has been most reactive and proactive of any international church official in history with regard to the scourge of clergy sexual abuse of minors. Instead of blaming him for inaction on these matters, he has truly been a strong and effective leader on these issues.

Finally, over the last 25 years, vigorous action has taken place within the church to avoid harm to children. Potential seminarians receive extensive sexual-psychological evaluation prior to admission. Virtually all seminaries concentrate their efforts on the safe environment for children. There have been very few cases of recent sexual abuse of children by clergy during the last decade or more.

Catholic dioceses all across the country have taken extraordinary steps to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. As one example, which is by no means unique, is in the Archdiocese of Anchorage, where I currently work. Here, virtually every public bathroom in parishes has a sign asking if a person has been abuse by anyone in the church. A phone number is given to report the abuse and almost all church workers in the archdiocese are required to take yearly formation sessions in safe environment classes. I am not sure what more the church can do.

To conclude, the events during the 1960’s and 1970’s of the sexual abuse of minors and solicitation in the confessional by Father Lawrence Murphy are unmitigated and gruesome crimes. On behalf of the church, I am deeply sorry and ashamed for the wrongs that have been done by my brother priests but realize my sorrow is probably of little importance 40 years after the fact. The only thing that we can do at this time is to learn the truth, beg for forgiveness, and do whatever is humanly possible to heal the wounds. The rest, I am grateful, is in God’s hands.

Father Thomas T. Brundage, JCL

Editor’s note: Father Brundage can be contacted at brundaget@archmil.org or by phone at (907) 745-3229 X 11.

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