Wednesday, August 15, 2007


When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain- and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot – and so it is.” Luke 12;54-55.

Nothing like a summer storm to keep you on your toes.

The Diocese of Cleveland is filling sand bags and moving the cattle to higher ground preparing for a predicted downpour with record high winds and flooding that has battle weary Catholics feeling disheartened. On the Feast of the Assumption began the trial of The United States of America vs. Joseph H. Smith and Anton Zgoznik. If you are not already aware of sordid details, here, here, and here are a few articles to catch you up to speed.

Our bishop, The Most Reverend Richard Lennon, stated that, “The trial is likely to generate coverage by the media.” How he knows this is mysterious. They say a prophet is only known after the fact. Time alone will tell if he is right or not. (Yes, I am being snarky and not toward the Bishop.)

Anyway, in a letter to his priests he asked us to share this information with interested persons. If you read this blog you might be more interested than the average bear about such things and so I share the following points from the Bishop’s letter with you.

1. The Diocese of Cleveland is NOT on trial; it is the victim of the alleged crimes.
2. The Diocese has fully cooperated with the investigation.
3. Any suggestion that those involved with the administration of the Diocese knew or approved of the activities charged against the defendants or engaged in similar conduct is false.
4. The Diocese does not condone criminal activity. (Did we really need to say that? O my.)
5. The Diocese was (allegedly) defrauded by a person who held a position of trust and by his business associate. While it is difficult to protect against fraudulent conduct, the Diocese has implemented steps since this matter was first discovered to strengthen its financial controls.
6. Catholics and all others who generously support the spiritual and social work of the Church can be confident of the continued good stewardship of by the Diocese.
You know, I remember when I was an assistant manager at a movie theater and some boys from a local Catholic high school came in wearing their varsity jackets and vandalized the men's room. It is a quirky thing that those Catholic boys were seen as a nuisance. Not those boys, but those Catholic boys from that Catholic school. Though the media has stopped reporting that every Tom, Dick, and Harry caught in the commission of a crime was a former Catholic altar boy or sang in the choir and St. Suchandso Catholic Church at some vague point in their history, there still is some thrill at finding a ne're-do-well who is Catholic.

To some extent there is a back handed compliment there I suppose, but on the other, what a clarion call for Catholics to be aware that their actions reflect more than on themselves. Professing to be Catholic and being no different from anyone else sexually, concerning drugs and alcohol, using inappropriate language, watching degrading programming, committing a crime, showing approval of ugly actions does not simply reflect upon oneself, but can reflect on the faith.

What would you not want to see you priest doing? Do you think there are movies you would not want them to be seeing? Bars you don't want them to go into? Are there jokes you would lose respect for them telling? Are there manners of dress that you would be scandalized they wear? I hope so. But never forget that the same standard falls on everyone's shoulders. We are all called to be holy, priests are not called to be holy for anyone. And just as ugly as a fallen priest is to the general public, a fallen Catholic is ugly to someone searching for God and holiness. Both have someone's soul at risk.

That is what is truly ugly about this case.


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Father: Excellent post. Your last 2 paragraphs express ideas that we all need to hear more often then we do.

Anonymous said...

The last 3 sentences are priceless. Next to the last is something I tried to say, but failed each and every time to do.

Oh Lord, what solace it is to come here. Not just because you succeed in all the places I fail, but just because you have a decent grasp of the priesthood in the midst of all the chaos in the world.

God bless you.