Daily Archives: June 23, 2011
You understand that conservative Catholicism is on the rise when you read news like this one.
There was a liberal Catholic parish in Berkeley, California (yes, that Berkeley). Their “social activities” included not only interfaith meetings (we know what kind of ecumenism is that, particularly coming from the lefties), but anti-war protests to boot. You can imagine from this the rest of the parish life.
Two years ago a new priest arrives, Fr Direen, and he is not a retiring wallflower. The parish council is disbanded (shock!), the finance council too (Horror!), even their spanish counterpart, the Consejo Latino *, meets the same destiny (Racism! Fascism!). Furthermore, the “meeting space” is put to some use with the installation of a religious gift store (also good for personal devotion and piety, and an excellent way to raise funds), and Fr Direen obtains the removal of a “respected” (read: very liberal) priest.
This is not all: the parish website now links to “courage” and other conservative, orthodox Catholic organisations. This is, clearly, too much.
Therefore, when Bishop Cordileone arrived to celebrate Mass, there was the predictable group of hippies ready to protest. Fat chance they have, as Cordileone is pretty much of a tough guy.
It is now clear that Catholic restoration is now advancing in the very heartland of liberal madness.
One needs news like this one, every now and then. They allow him to keep his sight on the big picture.
* In Europe, we have official languages everywhere. One of the reasons why we have them is to make clear that the immigrants must adopt the ways of the locals. I live in England and speak – and work, and deal – in English. When I lived in Germany, I did the same in German.
The concept should be introduced, methinks, to the Unites States.
Strange things happen these days at the FSSPX. I have already written about the potential offer of a worldwide ordinariate for Traditionalists, and of the subsequent clarification from Bishop Fellay that no formal offer has been made. On this second occasion, the Italian blog Messa In Latino insisted that the news (Ordinariate on its way of being offered; formal document not ready yet) are authentic and from credible source.
We now have, from the same blog, two pieces of news; the first rather, the second very interesting.
The first is that Bishop Williamson has criticised the offer of Ordinariate (which was clearly expected), at the same time confirming that he has a source of information directly inside of Ecclesia Dei. He adds the definition “Apostolic Ordinariate“, with the adjective not mentioned by Messa in Latino. This sounds like one with one ear inside Ecclesia Dei, and not particularly pleased at what he hears.
The second is that Bishop Fellay has been summoned to Rome, together with his two assistants, for the 14th September, 4th anniversary of the day Summorum Pontificum came into force.
Fellay is supposed to deposit the SSPX’s final relation about the doctrinal talks, but the date is a sensitive, directly relevant and historical one and it is not difficult to imagine that something might be in the making here. What day would be more apt for this second historical step, than the anniversary of when the first came into force…
Against this datum of 14th of September would, on the other hand, speak the fact that in October we will have the questionable “Assisi III” gathering, and it is easy to imagine that the spirits at the SSPX will be rather excited. If, therefore, a formal offer is presented mid-September, the discussion within the SSPX will develop in the weeks leading to the Assisi gathering. Not good for them, and not good for Rome. Good, actually, only for Williamson and the other opposers of full reconciliation.
We will see out this pans out. In the meantime, the clear nervousness of Bishop Williamson and the symbolic date for Bishop Fellay’s meeting with the Pope do give some reason to hope.
The Regional Priest Servant of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) as well as father Corapi’s superior, Father Sheehan, has released the awaited official statement.
What in my eyes transpires is as follows:
1) Father Corapi was placed in administrative leave by initiative of his own superior, Fr Sheehan himself. It would therefore appear to be true that the administrative leave doesn’t originate, formally, from the Corpus Christi Diocese.
2) Father Sheehan felt obliged to do so to comply with the infamous proper canonical procedures, because – as they explicitly say – the Bishop advised them to act in accordance with them. This is going to give Bishop Mulvey some flak and it seems to me that the SOLT is here politely taking some distance from the decision. They basically seem to say “I didn’t want to do it, but I really had to”, which explains why Father Corapi seems to exclusively target Bishop Mulvey and/or the diocesan milieu. If you are in any doubt as to the fact that religious orders don’t feel like contravening the Bishop’s instruction, read what Opus Bono Sacerdotii thinks about it, and shiver.
3) The enquiry was still in its initial phase. This basically means that the enquiry had not even come to the point of deciding whether Fr Corapi’s accuser had any credibility or were just, say, a couple of drunkards who had failed in their blackmail attempt and were seeking revenge. This is going to give Fr Corapi more than some flak, particularly considering the short time occurred (Corapi’s letter announcing the intention to abandon the priesthood is dated June 3rd) and the fact that Fr Corapi’s civil lawsuit had slowed down the process in the first place, as written in a former blog post.
4) SOLT clearly states that if the complaint had been found worthy of further investigation, none of the injustices lamented by Fr Corapi would have taken place: he would have had a right of being fully informed of people, facts and circumstances, and would have had a lawyer at his disposal. More flak for him I’m afraid.
What I think – from the information emerged up to now – happened is as follows:
1. The two accusers target Fr Corapi by writing to the bishop.
2. The bishop writes to the SOLT and tells them to use the normal procedures (the zero-tolerance, zero-intelligence policy of administrative leave)
3. SOLT is more or less forced to comply to avoid incurring the ire of the bishop.
4. Fr Corapi is incensed that a letter should stop his ministry (and destroy his business), reacts strongly and thinks of revenge.
5. Still in the early stages, Fr Corapi reacts with civil lawsuits against the accusers.
6. The civil lawsuits makes the SOLT enquiries more difficult; they must now talk only with people indirectly informed. The procedure now threatens to drag for some time.
7. Fr Corapi has a business he doesn’t want to see fade away, and asks his lawyer how long will it take. “Possibly a long time and no one really knows”, is the likely answer.
8. Fr Corapi already has the looming issue of having to leave the order (not holy orders) or having to leave his accustomed way of life, as already written. He has therefore little interest (and I mean here: economic interest) in waiting for the end of a procedure (the pre-trial phase) which will end up with his being found fully innocent, but asked to hand over all the profits from his activity to the SOLT shortly after.
9. Fr Corapi therefore decides to give precedence to his “ministry” and to ditch his habit, which allows him to: a) continue his preaching activity; b) insert a huge suppository in his accusers’ lower regions, with the immediate end of the canonical procedure; c) go on with the profitable business, before the business fades away; d) avoid the alternative of having to hand over the profits of the business to the SOLT or leave the order, as he would probably have been forced to do at some point in the not-too-far future.
I might be wrong here. This seems to be to me the most probable chain of events. I am curious to see whether the readers agree, or where they disagree, and why.
In my eyes – and as so often in human things – here several motives mix. Fr Corapi is seriously attached to his business, but seriously offended at the way he was – as he certainly feels – thrown to the dogs by the bishop. I’d say that he is sincere when he believes in his possibilities to save souls through his ministry as much as he likes the popularity, and the money.
The SOLT has clearly desired to protect him from the brutal “proper canonical procedure”, but was told by the bishop not to think of it and had to cave in. They also have a parallel problem with Corapi in that his financial and otherwise autonomy was seen as increasingly problematic anyway.
The bishop doesn’t want to appear to give a privileged treatment to the “star preacher”, and clearly expects Fr Corapi to grit his teeth for as long as it takes. Probably not so long, he must have thought at the start of the affair, before Fr Corapi’s lawsuit.
In the end analysis, I see the roots of the evil in the following factors:
1) the “proper canonical procedure” is stupid beyond redemption, and is applied without proper consideration (no children involved here; no criminal offence; seriously, what the frock…).
2) Fr Corapi’s first consideration was always the preaching or, if we want to be a bit more realistic, the business; with the possible added spice of a great desire to get even with his accusers. His civil lawsuit (which very probably could have waited for a wee year or two anyway) and, most gravely, his decision to discard his habit cannot, in my eyes, have been founded than on the motive of not letting the business fade away.
3) If Fr Corapi’s first care had been the preaching, this could have waited a wee year or two. If it had been his reputation, he would have known that nothing damages it like leaving the priesthood. If it had been the desire for revenge (which is not very priestly anyway) this would not have been pursued at the cost of his habit.
The only thing that couldn’t wait here is, in my eyes, the publishing business; a business needing popularity, and sustained media presence.
Of course, everyone of us is more multi-faceted than that. In Fr Corapi, as in everyone of us, several motives certainly mix and interact. I believe in both his Christian sincerity and his desire to help. But there can be no justification for the abandoning of one’s priestly duties. Not after three months of inconveniences, not after three years, not after thirty.
Whatever Fr Corapi’s sincere desires and aspiration are, when these desires are allowed to be put before one’s holy orders something is seriously, seriously wrong.
Prayers for him on their way.
This is a delicious piece of Italian cinema of the Seventies, an excerpt of the episode of a famous comedy (“The New Monsters”, the remake of the extremely fortunate “The Monsters”), called “Tantum Ergo”. This episode is the more savoury, because it shows how the times have changed and how this sketch is, today, read in a completely different way that it was at the time. The lead actor is the great, late Vittorio Gassman.
The facts: a Cardinal has a car breakdown in the middle of a “borgata”, one of those heavily working-class neighbourhoods in Rome. He finds a nearby parish church. This parish is a “modern” parish, led by a “modern” priest.
The priest is holding a meeting of the “collective” (oh, those years!) of the parish, regarding the use of certain public spaces now in danger of being taken away from them to build a supermarket. In the very church, in front of the Blessed Sacrament, unbelievable things happen: loud screaming, very strong profanities, almost a row. The modern priest clearly doesn’t give a straw, so obsessed with “social justice” he is.
The Cardinal enters and when the priest, “Don Paolo Arnoldi”, introduces himself (“what is your name, my son?” asks the cardinal in a suavely threatening tone; the delicious non-verbal communication can be understood without understanding the language!) the Cardinal tells him : “I have already heard of you, my friend Paolo”, and the message is clear enough. He then sits, and listens.
Slowly, the dynamic begins to change: the Cardinal observes the mess, the screaming mob, the priest also screaming and obsessed with “votations” and “democracy”, the most unruly elements calling for violence. Annamo e menamo, says the most colourful and worst of them; this is Roman dialect for “let’s go and let’s thrash (them)”.
The Cardinal then has the word. He targets the very colourful hothead; repeats his words; then slaps him heavily in the face, pointing out that his violence hasn’t really achieved anything, and has only increased his rancor… (this episode became an extremely fortunate one and it is fair to say that still today there’s probably no Italian who doesn’t know it… )
Now fully in control, he goes on the pulpit, and things soon become rather explicit. He openly blames the obsessive search for earthly justice; the justice “of a priest who doesn’t feel the duty of carrying the sacred habit with dignity”, and points out to the necessity to focus first on heavenly rewards.
The mob is slowly persuaded. They listen in reverent silence now, as the Cardinal points out that “a church is not a place for strife and rows”, then restores some Catholic sacredness and reverence by lighting the place and having the bells sing, and the organist play.
He is now triumphing, the mob kneels, they cross themselves, even the violent boor is in tears of redemption. “Make yourselves heard up to St. Peter!”, says the Cardinal. He fully ignores the now openly angry “worker priest”, blesses the mob and goes away, the car being repaired in the meantime. The watcher clearly understands that this is a man of action, and there will be consequences for the priest.
Apart from the delightful sketch of the Italy of the Seventies, an element must be noted: in the intentions of the director, the Cardinal is the villain, and the priest the hero. This is clear from several ironic remarks (the young priest of dubious virility but unquestioning loyalty; the fake quotation from the Gospel; the in those times negatively charged authority of the Cardinal; his use of simple effect to impress the mob; his rhetoric, “manipulative” skills). In the director’s intentions the priest is the future, and the Cardinal the past still in power but destined to fade; the priest wants social justice, the Cardinal the preservation of the status quo, and so on.
The times have changed. As one Italian commenter points out,
the “working priest” has [….] in the end failed both in his aim of being a priest and in the one of being a paladin of the poor.
We see this short piece today and we understand that the “villain” was absolutely right, and the “hero” a complete ass, and a sacrilegious one to boot.
How the times have changed!