Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Personal Aside: Bishop Thomas Paprocki Responds…A Counter-Comment…and an Urge of Readers’ Plebiscite.


The Bishop Has His Say.

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a longstanding friend of mine, responded by telephone to my remarks concerning the reportage of his speech concerning the danger that he sees to Catholic Charities with unlimited jury awards due to priestly pedophilia. I told him I would run the remarks as he wrote them. Here goes--.

“In your blog for 11/15/2007 with reference to my Red Mass homily delivered October 15, 2007 in the cathedral of Grand Rapids, Michigan to the Catholic Lawyers of western Michigan, you had this to say to me:

`If busting dioceses to poverty through exorbitant lawsuits returns the Church to its original simplicity , penury may be worth it and souls may be saved because of it. And as such may not be the design of Satan but the mysterious work of God. Penury-time might mean a return to bishops who werre men first of all and not merely costumed potentates sitting on thrones as princelings with gold-leaf miters and crosiers and living in ornate mansions, with chauffeurs, servants and first-class air tickets, serving padding noiselessly down long dark halls on which oil paintings hang.’

“Well, that doesn’t quite describe my lifestyle but if it is God’s will that I live in penury I will ask for the grace to accept that cross. However, the concern in my homily was not with preserving the lifestyle of bishops buit with preserving the charitable services that the Church provides. I noted that the Catholic Charities of the archdiocese of Chicago has recently been forced to discontinue its forster care program after ninety years of providing such services due to the $12 million settlement of a lawsuit that has resulted in the loss of insurance coverage.

“I wish to clarify that I am not calling for a return to full charitable immunity but a way to provide just compensation to victims while at the same time preserves charitable services. My reference to charitable immunity was in tracing the history of how we have reached the point we are at today. The pendulum has swung from charitable immunity to charitable bankruptcy. We need a happy medium that I am now calling `charitable preservation.’ In fact, in my homily I said, `While a full return to the complete charitable immunity of the past is neither likely nor desirable, the civil law of our land needs to reflect a more rational and reasonable balance between equitable remuneration for those who have been harmed by agents of charitable and religious institutions and protecting the charitable contributions that have been given in trust to be used for charitable and religious purposes.

“My reference to the devil must be seen in the context that this was a homily in which the theme from the Gospel for the day was Jesus’ statement, `This generation is an evil generation,’ also translated as `This is an evil age’ [Luke 11:29]. I did not mean to suggest that victims who seek just compensation for their damages are doing the work of the devil and I regret that some people have taken it that way. I also could have been clearer that the attacks by the devil directed at priests and bishops start with Satan’s temptation to lead them into committing the sexual sins that give rise to the lawsuits. In my experience over ten years as the Cardinal’s delegate to the Review Board that handles allegations of sexual misconduct with minors, I recall many times thinking to myself, after listening to the descriptions of the alleged sins and crimes that the devil himself had to be behind these heinous acts. It was also my experience that victims often said, at least initially, l that they weren’t seeking any money; they only wanted to make sure that the perpetrators would no longer be in positions to have access to minors, to receive some acknowledgment and apology for the wrongdoing and to receive assistance such as counseling for their emotional damages.

“There is nothing wrong with that. However, I would still not hesitate to say that anybody who actually intends to use a lawsuit as a way to harm or destroy the Church is, albeit unwittingly, acting as an instrument of the devil, since nothing would please Satan more than to destroy the Church, the Body of Christ. Fortunately we have the promise of Christ Himself who said when He built His Church on the rock of Peter that `the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ [Matthew 16:18].

Tom, please feel free to quote any or all of the above.

My Counter-Reply.

I have long admired Bishop Paprocki for his courage in defending the mission of the Church and regard him as an outstanding exemplar of what it means to be a good bishop. For one thing he has been singular in establishing a counseling and self-help program for young people afflicted with same-sex attraction known as “Courage.” I cannot thank the Bishop enough for his unsparing attention to that mission while he was Chancellor of this archdiocese under Cardinal Bernardin. And I do accept his clarification and fuller explanation of his views on the work of Catholic charitable enterprises.

And it was unfortunate that the news coverage may have over-stressed his advocacy of limitation of lawsuits rather than his equal support of the full rectification of the problem. The problem here transcends either Tom Paprocki’s or my dispute. What’s needed is for the hierarchy of this archdiocese to stop hiding behind honeyed words that things are going to change and then continue with the same-old, same-old.

For example, there was no grounds whatsoever for Cardinal George accepting the candidacy of Bishop Gerald Kicanas as vice president given that the Cardinal knows full well…or should know full well…that Kicanas presided over Mundelein and the Niles adjunct when in the 1990s they were at the nadir of their disreputability. And further that he defends the ordination of Dan McCormack—which it was easy to ascertain before his election—and also his scandalous, if I may use such a word, reference to McCormack’s derelictions as “developmental” adding that he was far more worried about McCormack’s drinking than these transgressions.

I don’t know how many times it takes to bring home to the hierarchy that the lavender coterie is so corrupt it doesn’t understand what homosexual concupiscence is. It accepts the common secular psychological explanation that to experiment sexually is, after all, part of the “developmental process” to use Kicanas’ words which replaces the theological understanding of sin.

Once again, this is not to say that sin should not be forgiven or that we are not earthen vessels each with our own frailties. . But if we don’t understand the difference between heterosexual concupiscence and homosexual concupiscence in seminaries—and if current hierarchy here doesn’t recognize it—there will be no change.

Heterosexual concupiscence regrettable as it is can and often does lead men to decide to lead the seminary because they either aren’t fitted for celibacy or they prefer married life—so the priesthood is spared. Homosexual concupiscence in the seminaries does just the opposite and may continue to thrive, thanks to Kicanas’ permissive rationale. Tolerance of such concupiscence in the seminaries, terming them as “developmental,” does just the opposite. It makes them want to stay in the seminaries because seminaries provide an attractive and welcoming association of young men, many of whom have the same associations—and makes them want to be priests since identical associations can be cultivated. If the hierarchy does not understand this—and there is ample reason to believe the hierarchy here does not—there is no hope for reform.

The Bishop and I are agreed that the Church will endure, that its philanthropy should survive onslaught. I am in his debt for his amplification of his original statement. But the crux of the problem is this:

But if there is no other way to bring home the abuse that continues…and the promotion of bishops who celebrate homosexuality as a “gift” as Kicanas has been reported as saying in Tucson by people who have written to us here…and if there is no other recourse to end this stuff but by lawsuits, why then I say let the sheriffs padlock the material possessions and all of us go to Mass in the catacombs as our ancestors did in ages that involved persecution but also great holiness.

. The lavender priesthood must be stopped and bishops and priests who enable it…and who stubbornly refuse to understand its danger…should either be sent to join Cardinal Law in comfortable Rome retirement to be succeeded by other men of authority who do.


At this time I urge readers to express their views in Reader’s Comments. Let this be a plebiscite.


  1. "For example, there was no grounds whatsoever for Cardinal George accepting the candidacy of Bishop Gerald Kicanas as vice president given that the Cardinal knows full well…or should know full well…that Kicanas presided over Mundelein and the Niles adjunct when in the 1990s they were at the nadir of their disreputability."

    The problem with the Cardinal is that, in spite of his potential for greatness, he seems to accept acting like a mediocrity by simply getting along with whatever the crowd demands--whether so-called progressive politicians, media, or Catholics. It's truly a tragedy that he wastes his obvious God-given talents on often acting as just another Church office holder of little or poor repute when the Lord has asked greater things of him.

    In addition, for the good of the Church, not to mention his own soul, Bishop Kicanas needs to offer his resignation as Vice President-elect of th USCCB. He would provide truly an example of humility and courage in doing so. And he needs to reconsider his scandalous and rather stupid remarks concerning Dan McCormack. That's the very least that needs be done--for a start.

    Thank you, Tom, for this forum and thank you, Bishop Paprocki, for your remarks and carification.

  2. I am sure that when Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker were at the height of their ministry that funds were flowing to good works ala the Catholic Charities. But then came the immorality then the fall and then the collapse. At the core there was moral failure because of illicit sex and its related financial implications.

    Propping up the Bakker Ministries for the sake of preserving its good works or the jobs of the innocent employees was not possible due to the depth of the moral failure at the top of the organization.

    The same can be said for the Catholic Church, Catholic Charities, or the economic future of those who derive income from the Church who are innocent but caught up in the whirlwind. The sexual perversity that is at the core of the Church's problems today is wide spread in the Church. Many in the hierarchy of the Church are guilty of arrogance and coverup. If Catholic Charities and its good works fall because of this, SO BE IT! If decent people like Bishop Paprocki find that the Church is humbled and diminished because of this, remember that this deviant sexual sin is a most serious matter. Tom is right in his view on this. If it takes a financial collapse of the Church to remove the arrogance of those in high places then it will have served a good purpose and will have taught a very import lesson that pride comes before a fall. All the oil paintings, investment portfolios, and gold of the Church should not insulate the wrongdoers from justice.

    It is obvious that sexual perversion in the Church runs deep as evidenced by the large number perpetrators. Church cover up and arrogance at the upper levels has been appalling. To put it simply, fear of GOD has to be put back into the Church hierarchy.

    By stripping the church of its financial veil, there will be no place to hide, there will be no room for arrogance, there will no means for a cover-up, and a harsh penalty for sexual deviancy will have been firmly established.

    Also nothing is written that says the Catholic Church in its present form will be guaranteed existence for ever! The Church is not so big and so powerful that it can't go the way of Jim and Tammy Fay's Ministry.

    To many conservative, traditional, paleo-Catholics (like the term Tom?) such a shake up to the core is long over due!

  3. I lived in the Boston Archdiocese when the stuff was hitting the fan (God bless the Boston Globe and Phoenix). Editorials, Voice of the Faithful, SNAP protests - zero effect. When we withheld our annual donations to the Cardinal's Appeal (later hypocritically renamed the Catholic Appeal) then some flexibility started coming out of the chancery. Then enough people started putting 2 and 2 together and figured that under "Corporation Sole" laws that our donations to Catholic Charities were going to get swept down the drain as well - the long time (lay) head of Catholic Charities publicly came out for Law's resignation. Of course he was promptly replaced with a tonsured head. But Rome finally started to pay attention.

    Bishop Tom mischaracterizes the motivation behind big lawsuits. No one is trying the hurt the Church - they are just trying to stop the hierarchs from destroying the Church. Unfortunately the only two-by-four that our legal system gives the ordinary citizen is a big-bucks law suit.

  4. I tend to concur with the insights of the Bishop on this one. Be very careful in embracing lawsuits as a mechanism that will purge the church of bad actors --it wont. It will just run up the costs for those who believe they are contributing to a charitable or religious cause to buy the peace of the powerful. Sure, an occasional pedophile is run out of the church. However, is'nt the better tool to use our criminal justice system to prosecute felony rape and child sexual abuse. That way, the bad actors are actually punished and removed not only from the church, but also from society. The civil justice system is not going to fight to restore orthodox Catholics to the heirarchy of the church. It will be content to leave them in positions of power so long as the money keeps flowing to pay off litigants. Victory in the civil arena will never be defined as restoring the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church to positions of respect and moral authority. Victory will never be defined as seeing some of the excellent clerics you write about elevated, and the "Lavender mob" vanquished. Victory will be defined in dollars and cents, not in spiritual renewal. Dr Tom, in your quest to help heal this ailing church, a quest in which I pray you succeed, and admire your efforts, please consider alternate medicines.

  5. Joe D's cousin RalphNovember 20, 2007 at 9:52 AM

    Faith in lawsuits is not the kind of faith needed right now to address problems in the church