I wrote this for the victim of Fr. Fugee, whoever he is. Because his pain will last a lifetime longer than the headlines, and people need to be reminded of that.

Touch

Touch creates communion
through a language all its own.

A mother’s strokes and caresses
tell her newborn he is wanted and loved,
her eyes tell him he is, he exists.
A father’s arms firm and strong
tell him he is safe and protected.

Being bathed and changed
tells him his body deserves care;
being made clean is being loved.

Caring hands pick him up
when he cries,
when he’s hungry,
when he’s tired.

Arms around him rocking
against a safe warm body.
The world is a warm and gentle place.

A Father blesses his forehead
anoints with oil.
He is named,
he belongs.

His child arms exploring his body
knowing, learning
this is me, this is mine.

Feet touching the floor
hands held then let go
he is strong and stronger now.

He feels the air on his skin
the rain on his tongue.
Holding a bat, wearing a glove
throwing a ball
casting line
skinning fish.

High fives
hugs.
You’re never too old for hugs
his mother says
mussing his hair.
His father pats his shoulder.

Life is good
his body is his ally
he is safe
he is loved.

Then a Father’s hand on his shoulder
like his dad’s touch
but with different eyes
looking where they don’t belong,
hands following the eyes.

Let’s wrestle, the Father says
and then the touch.

His body’s momentary
unbidden response;
betrayed by his own skin.

Feeling sick, afraid,
dirty, shamed.

He is helpless and alone
with his hate
for his body,
his pleasure,
himself.

One touch
and everything changes
from safe to lost
happiness to despair.

He lives with strangers now
his parents
who think his frame
is solid
but he is empty.

Who he was
has gone forever,
all he wants is
to peel away
the skin
that makes him vulnerable
to the cruelty of touch.

Don’t give up hope give up blind obedience!

Another Voice

Professor Hans Küng — now 85 like his former professorial colleague Joseph Ratzinger — offers some reflections about church reform and Francis the new Bishop of Rome.

“What is to be done if our expectations of reform are dashed? The time is past when Pope and bishops could rely on the obedience of the faithful. A certain mysticism of obedience was also introduced by the eleventh-century Gregorian Reform: obeying God means obeying the Church and that means obeying the Pope and vice versa.

“Since that time, it has been drummed into Catholics that the obedience of all Christians to the Pope is a cardinal virtue; commanding and enforcing obedience – by whatever means – has become the Roman style. But the medieval equation of ‘obedience to God = to the Church = to the Pope’ patently contradicts the word of Peter and the other apostles before the High Council in…

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Meaning # 1
A 2010 movie starring Sylvester Stallone and other over-the-hill hit men.

Meaning # 2
Children.
In different ways all over the world children are the Expendables:
They work in sweat shops.
They are sold as sex slaves.
They star in porn movies.
The are used as bartering chips in divorce proceedings.
They are an investment for a larger government handout.
They are collateral damage in the Catholic abuse scandal, where the priorities are institutional image, the brotherhood of the priests, the good old boy network of the bishops, the protection of assets.

According to an article on JSpace.com about children of the holocaust who were abused by those who hid them from the Nazis, “the pain of sexual abuse often impacts childhood survivors far greater than other losses and traumas endured during the Holocaust.”

This is the kind of information that Catholics need to hear: from the parents of victims who refuse to believe their children; to those who think they should just get over it; to the bishops and priests who continue to shield their friends and deny the abusers’ guilt and their own culpability and continue to minimize the criminal nature of child abuse.

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Mark Mueller at the The Star-Ledger has been following the Fr. Fugee / Archbishop Myers story. This is what the Archbishops’s spokesperson has had to say:

Priest who admitted groping boy appointed to high-profile position in Newark Archdiocese
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/02/priest_who_confessed_to_gropin.html
The Rev. Michael Fugee, who is barred from unsupervised contact with children under a binding agreement with law enforcement officials, has been appointed co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests, the archdiocese recently announced in its newspaper, the Catholic Advocate.

….. Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese, called Fugee’s new role an administrative position based in the chancery office in Newark. Under no circumstances, Goodness said, will Fugee be alone with children.

“We have every confidence in him,” the spokesman said.

———-

Newark archbishop allows priest who admitted groping boy to continue working with children
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/with_approval_of_archbishop_pr.html

But Goodness denied the agreement had been breached, saying the archdiocese has interpreted the document to mean Fugee could work with minors as long as he is under the supervision of priests or lay ministers who have knowledge of his past and of the conditions in the agreement.

“We believe that the archdiocese and Father Fugee have adhered to the stipulations in all of his activities, and will continue to do so,” Goodness said.

Even if Fugee heard private confessions from minors, those supervising Fugee were always nearby, Goodness said. “The fact is, he has done nothing wrong,” the spokesman said. “Nobody has reported any activity that is inappropriate, and I think that’s important to know, especially given that he’s a figure whose name is public and whose past is public.”

———-

Priest at center of Newark Archdiocese scandal quits ministry
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/newark_archbishop_monmouth_cou_1.html

Earlier this week, The Star-Ledger reported Fugee had violated that agreement, openly engaging in youth group activities at St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck. Fugee is longtime friends with the church’s youth ministers, Michael and Amy Lenehan.

Since the disclosure, Goodness has argued that Fugee did not violate the agreement because he was under the supervision of the youth ministers or other priests. Tonight, the spokesman sought to clarify his statements, saying that while it was “good” Fugee was under supervision, the priest did not seek permission from the archdiocese before participating in youth activities.

“He engaged in activities that the archdiocese was not aware of and that were not approved by us, and we would never have approved them because they are all in conflict with the memorandum of understanding,” Goodness said.

————


Priest admits violating ban on ministry to children, says actions are ‘my fault alone’

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/priest_admits_violating_ban_on.html

“In conscience, I feel it necessary to make clear to all that my actions described in recent news stories were outside of my assigned ministry within the archdiocese,” Fugee wrote. “… My failure to request the required permissions to engage in those ministry activities is my fault, my fault alone.”

The archdiocese released the full text of Fugee’s letter yesterday in an apparent effort to quell a public uproar over Myers’ handling of the priest, who signed the agreement with law enforcement in 2007 to avoid retrial on charges he fondled a teenage boy.

For days after The Star-Ledger’s report, a spokesman for the archbishop
Insist Fugee’s interactions with children were within the scope of the agreement, arguing he was under the supervision of lay ministers and other priests.

But amid mounting public pressure, calls by elected officials for Myers to resign and a criminal investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the archdiocese reversed course Thursday, acknowledging Fugee violated the agreement and saying he acted alone.

Myers’ spokesman, Jim Goodness, reiterated that stance in a statement yesterday.
“The archdiocese only learned about two weeks ago when approached by a reporter that Fr. Fugee had engaged in other activities or ministries,” Goodness said. “Had the archdiocese known about them at the time, permission to undertake them would not have been granted.”

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Photo taken on a Pilgrimage in 2010. Fugee was convicted of sexual abuse in 2003. Facing retrial in 2007 because of a technicality regarding his self-description in his confession, he instead signed an agreement with law enforcement barring him from unsupervised contact with children.

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A friend died yesterday. Death is always an event that raises existential questions. And so I have been thinking about God and meaning and I wonder if perhaps the reason we need to believe in a God is not so much that we need to believe in an all powerful creator, and a grand design and purpose for the universe, but rather that we simply want to believe in “I.” We want the Self that we experience to be a reality, and, for that to be true, our Self has to be important to someone or something beyond ourselves. We don’t want to believe that we are just an anonymous part of a chaotic universe in which neither the universe or our Self has a purposeful beginning, history, or future. We don’t want to believe that our actions and reactions are just a matter of chemicals and neurological responses. We want to believe in the I, the Self, and the power of free will. For our individual Self to be real, we have to believe that there is something intrinsically different, ontologically different, between our species and other species: our ability to create ideas from nothing, not just imitate; our ability to love selflessly; our ability to recognize and respond to the Divine. And so we are drawn to the notion of a God who created it all from nothing, the universal Thou to our personal I. A Being who created us, chose us, knows us, loves us – and not just us collectively but individually.

I attended synagogue services Friday evening and prayed for my friend’s recovery. But I find the Reform Jewish service unsatisfying. It identifies the concept of a God, a creator, the name above all names, but without a re-enactment, without God’s words being spoken directly to us in some ritual drama, we never quite cross the threshhold of an invitation to believe in God and move into an engagement in communication with God.

In a Christian eucharist the words and acts of Jesus at the last supper (in so far as Paul remembers them) are re-enacted. We enter into that drama through our responses, and we participate, allbeit in a theatrical fashion, in a relationship with a God who knows us and loves us – each of us individually in our very Self – loves us enough to die for us. There is great power in this experience. It can bring about changes in a person’s life, elicit a decision to pursue a vocation, bring about conversion, provide relief from despair. It doesn’t matter who takes the role of Jesus, there is no magical power bestowed at ordination and no significance to gender, what is important is that someone speaks in Jesus’ place, addressing us in the first person, and that that someone believes in what they are saying. If you like, they have to be a good actor. If you love live theatre and live music as much as I do you will know the power of a good performance: for a while you can be completely drawn in to an alternate reality. The Eucharist is live drama and at it’s best it has the power to draw us in to an alternative reality to the one presented by society. And what it teaches us is that this alternative reality – a God centered universe – is the Truth.

Love relationships have a similar power to affirm the Self. We are known and chosen by another, our Self becomes more real because someone else acknowledges it. One level of devastation in a break-up is the loss of that sense of Self, our I. Without someone to love us how do we know who we are? Or even if we really exist. People will even comment, She seems lost.

It is common knowledge by now the degree of damage done to an infant that does not have its existence affirmed, that does not bond to a caretaker, that does not experience loving eyes and touch – statistically they have a harder time simply staying alive, and certainly they will struggle to thrive. But that need does not end in infancy. Without the love of parents and close friends and partners and children to identify us, who are we? If we at least have faith in a God, we have a chance of believing in our reality, our existence as an I, a separate Self. But without belief in the love of God and without the love of intimate relationships? It is easy to understand the descent into hopelessness and despair of the isolated and depressed individual who faces a world in which he seems to be invisible.

Does technology help here? I don’t think so. People do not encounter us as who we are through social media, so our identity, our I, is not affirmed. There are layers upon layers of deception and secrecy on the internet that we use to shield ourselves from others. So it does not really help in our quest to affirm out existence, our identity, our uniqueness. Encountering our true Self requires real interaction in person with another, and seeing and experienceing their acceptance of us as an I that exists and is unique and worth knowing.

My friend was with my husband and me for four months in Houston after Katrina, part of an uprooted high school community from New Orleans. We all became friends and I discovered in him a brooding, anxious, angry side that made me afraid for him. But after Katrina he married and had a baby. He was more mellow, his existence had been affirmed, his identity had been acknowledged: he had been singled out and chosen above all others. There was less anger, more real joy. I’m so glad he had that experience – of being (re)created, of his Self being affirmed – before he died at the young age of 39. And if there is a God, my friend will now know for certain who he is and how much he is loved.

Book co-written with Argentine rabbi sheds light on Francis’ views | National Catholic Reporter.

According to the research of NCR columnist Jamie Manson, Pope Francis’ apparent penchant for simplicity in dress, and for rejecting certain aspects of Vatican ceremonial tradition that emphasized his superiority over the other Cardinals, should not be mistaken for a desire for a more collegial view of authority. Far from it! As a long standing supporter of the movement, Comunione e Liberazione, or Communion and Liberation (CL), Francis apparently favors the view that the Church’s authority is the authority of God and cannot be wrong, rather like the view held by fundamentalist Protestants regarding the Bible. And, moreover, this authority, which is best expressed by the pope, is binding not only on the consciences of Catholics but on all of society. Doctrinal fundamentalism at a whole new level.

This new information is unsettling; comparisons of CL to Opus Dei and the Legionaries of Christ are chilling. But let’s not mourn the future of the Church just yet. A commitment to evangelization is not in itself a bad thing and neither, certainly, is a commitment to the poor. But anyone expecting a broader commitment to collegiality, equality, and justice, or a decentralizing of authority, may have to wait for another papacy.

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A powerful message from Sr. Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter, March 6

Read the entire post here:
NCRonline.org/blogs/where-i-stand.]

“To a vast population of the world, the papacy of the Roman Catholic church is some kind of meaningless monarchy, colorful, intriguing and irrelevant. It is a fantasy game played by Catholics. How seriously is something like that to be taken when the issues to be dealt with are so contemporary, so important, not only to Catholics and their idea of church and faith and the spiritual life but to the world at large? How can we believe that the answers arrived at in a medieval setting have anything to do with the real world?

And so, when the pope waved goodbye from the balcony at Castel Gandolfo, I felt a twinge of sadness — for him, for us and for the world at large. Because of his presence of mind, because of his willingness to step out of a position that has been surrounded by fairy-tale expectations, the church has been brought to a new point in its own conversion and development. And those points are not easy for anyone. In fact, women religious have themselves known them in a very special way.

For that reason, women religious may have something to teach the church about the process of conversion and development at this very important moment.

Religious life, too, had been encased in another world. Women religious lived separately from the world around them, they dressed in clothes that had been designed centuries before, they gave up a sense of personal or individual identity. As a result, they got further away from the people they served by the day, further away from their needs, further away from their feelings.

The renewal process of religious life required three major changes before they could possibly pursue anything else of a particular nature, like future planning or ministry decisions. Renewal, they discovered, was a matter of demystification, integration and relevance.

Religious life had its own kind of monarchies to be deconstructed before anything creative could possibly happen or the gifts of its members be released for the sake of the world at large.

The first step was to take the Second Vatican Council’s direction about collegiality and subsidiarity, the concepts of shared responsibility and personal decision-making. That meant that the kind of absolute authority that had built up around religious superiors had to be relinquished. Major decisions began to be shared with the community at large. Personal decisions began to be entrusted to the sisters themselves, all adult and educated women who had been deprived of the minutest decision-making: for example, the hour at which they would go to bed; the right to make a doctor’s appointment; the structure of their lives between prayer times. Major superiors began to be expected — and allowed — to be Jesus-figures in the community, spiritual leaders not lawgivers, not monitors, not queen bees.

In the second place, religious had to learn to integrate themselves into the society they were attempting to serve. That did not necessarily mean eliminating a kind of symbolic dress, but it did mean updating it in a way designed to simplify rather than to separate. Most women religious chose, like Jesus, to set out to be the sign rather than do it the easy way and wear the sign.

Grave and sober voices everywhere warned women religious that to do something like that would eliminate generations of respect from the people around them. I can only speak personally for my own community, of course, but I can promise you that separated from the people, locked away from the world like specters from another planet, and dressed to prove how special we were in relationship to everyone else around us generated nowhere near the mutual respect the community feels now from those who come to the community to seek spiritual support, to search out individual sisters for compassion and guidance, and to take their rightful places with us in ministry and spiritual reflection.

Finally, addressing the questions of the time that plague the world — peace, justice, women’s issues, sustainability — and admitting the questions undermining the current credibility of the church, as well — clericalism, sexism, sexuality, the implications of interfaith societies — make sisters honest and caring members of a pilgrim church.

From where I stand, the church hierarchy itself could well take the opportunity, the crossroad, that Benedict provides us now and themselves do a little demystifying, a large bit of collegiality and a serious amount of communal discernment with the people of God on the great issues of the time.”

From the Introduction:

Catholic children, given these teachings, did not at first know that there is no historical evidence for Peter being bishop anywhere—least of all at Rome, where the office of bishop did not exist in the first century CE—or that the linear “apostolic succession” is a chain of historical fabrications. What we were supposed to accept is that all priesthoods are invalid ones except the Roman Catholic. Even if we grant the Roman myths, and say that the Catholic priesthood is valid, how is it Christian to make that priesthood a means for excluding all Christians but Roman Catholics?

I shall be arguing here that priesthood, despite the many worthy men who have filled that office, keeps Catholics at a remove from other Christians—and at a remove from the Jesus of the Gospels, who was a biting critic of the priests of his day. To make this argument, I must consider the claim that has set priests apart from all other human beings, their unique power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. On this claim the entire sacramental structure of the medieval church was built up. The priesthood stands or falls with that claim. I mean to examine it here—dispassionately, thoroughly, historically. The outcome of this debate will determine the future (if any) of the priesthood.

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2013-02-13/garry-wills-why-priests-failed-tradition

A history lesson the whole church should be given!

Another Voice

I thought I would take advantage of “sede vacante”……there NOT being a pope……to reflect on facts and fantasies about the papacy.

Concerned about the Catholic Church and the survival of the papacy, one of my pen-pals has been sending emails, reminding people that “Our Blessed Lord picked Saint Peter to be the first pope and he will surely take care of the church today by selecting a new one.”

An American archbishop wrote in his diocesan paper a few days ago that “Our Lord selected St. Peter to be the first pope, making him the rock on which the Catholic Church would be solidly built.”

There are facts, for sure. There are a lot of fantasies as well.

Let’s start from the very beginning……..

Peter was a young married man, probably around twenty years old. Most likely he had children but we don’t know for certain. He must have been…

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