“A lotta stuff going on”

“For it is God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ …”              2 Cor 4:6

This week an old priest friend called when I was unavailable. In his voice-mail message, he said he wanted to catch up with me and then added simply, “… a lotta stuff going on.” Indeed. So much so, I had a bit of a dilemma as to which topic to focus on in this week’s On the Way column. Being practical, I will try to say a bit about three current topics: one local, one national, and one universal.

Visioning Process/Listening Sessions

This week we completed the last of the Listening Sessions held around our diocese, and I want to thank the many who attended. I was pleasantly surprised by the response of the laity—not only the size of many of the crowds (several were standing room only), but also the generally positive, hope-filled tone.

These sessions are a key part of the process we are undertaking together to articulate a common vision for our diocese for the next 3-5 years, along with the three top priorities we will pursue with focus and resources as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. We will also get very specific and concrete on what we will commit to achieve together in the form of goals. These will be measurable and time-bound and, I hope, somewhat new and bold.

As bishop, I already have some ideas and intuitions about a vision, but I have always benefited from the insights and perspectives of others. The listening sessions will help me, along with my team, to sharpen, adjust, and even change my thinking. My team and I will be working on this throughout the remainder of the year. Thanks for contributing to this important work with your input and ongoing prayers. Please pray for this effort as it continues through the Fall season.

McCarrick Fallout

On a national level, the fallout continues from the recent scandal surrounding credible reports of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s sexual abuse of a minor as well as sexual misconduct with seminarians and adults under his care. There are many facets to this story that have implications for the Church in the United States that will play out in the coming months.

First, there is the fact that after all these years, there are still victims that need compassion, healing and care, and there are still abusers who have not been brought into the light, bishops among them. Our compassion, care, and commitment to justice for those who have been sexually abused or harassed in the Church cannot wane.

Second, this event exposes the large gap that was left open by the bishops when they adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People at the 2002 bishops’ meeting in Dallas. I remember wondering, as a priest in 2002, why the bishops were not included under the Charter’s purview. Look for that gap to be addressed at the bishops’ meeting this November.

Third, the McCarrick case brings to light a new dimension of abuse—that of adults who could be susceptible to manipulation and coercion by those in authority over them. A corollary issue includes addressing the dysfunctional dynamic which allowed Archbishop McCarrick to not only continue in ministry, but also rise through the ranks of the hierarchy. Questions are rightly being asked about who knew of his conduct and why action was not taken earlier. We must be able to hold one another accountable and do so without fear.

Finally, I agree with Cardinal DiNardo’s recent statement (see full statement on p. 6), including his assessment that “a spiritual conversion is needed as we seek to restore the right relationship among us and with the Lord. Our Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality.” The teaching of Christ and his Church is clear, beautiful, and liberating; do we believe it and try to live it, challenging as it is? This has to be the bedrock of any meaningful renewal and reform.

Death Penalty Development

Finally, this week brought about a modification in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2267, which addresses the death penalty. The new formulation reads:

Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.

Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” [1], and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide. (The footnoted quote is from Pope Francis himself.)

While some have reacted strongly against this modification, it appears to be merely an extension and further development of the teaching of Pope Saint John Paul II contained in the earlier iteration of the Catechism, when he declared that cases in which the state must resort to the execution of an offender as an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” Pope Francis is declaring that circumstances have changed even more to the point that today, and in continuity with earlier Church teaching, resorting to the death penalty is now “inadmissible.”

The Holy Father has not declared that the death penalty is “intrinsically evil,” but that current circumstances make it no longer a necessary, and therefore, admissible option. (See explanation from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on page 5.)

Much more could be said on this and all the topics above. As they say, “stay tuned,” there’s a lot of stuff going on.

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  • Brian Hoffman

    “Pope Francis is declaring that circumstances have changed even more to the point that today….”

    The text reads, “that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”

    See: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2018/08/08/the-new-wording-on-the-death-penalty/

  • Greg

    Please stop blaming the “whole Church” for this clergy homosexual predation problem.
    It is the CLERGY that are sexually abusing ADULT seminarians.
    They are PREDATORS. Nothing less.
    If you cannot see this, then you DO NOT WANT to see it and have no business leading a diocese.
    Just sound just like Bishop Finn and Ratigan.

    • Phillip

      I’m a victim/survivor. I do not think all Priests are Pedophiles – BUT I do believe all Catholics share in responsibility for this evil. In particular those who continue to financially support this organization having been shown, over decades, the damage it caused and is causing by some accounts. Had the RCC been on the NYSE, it would be no more.

  • Exorcist

    Former vocation director and others knew about Ratigan and said nothing. There are a lot of other secrets they dont want you to know that I know. I hope a grand jury convenes in KCSJ.

  • Mosey Along

    The Gay Mafia is alive and well in KCSJ, right Richard? Looking forward to the grand jury in KCSJ. Your lies will be exposed.

  • J. Toole

    DEAR BISHOP JOHNSON-PLEASE READ THIS AND CORRECT ME.
    COULD THE DIOCESE OF K C BE GAY-INFESTED? ARE MEN OF THE CLOTH USING THEIR POWER TO SOLICIT AND ENGAGE IN PREDATORY HOMOSEXUAL AGGRESSION UPON ADULT MALES? ARE THEY INVOLVED WITH THE LARGE AND WELL ESTABLISHED GAY CLERGY NETWORK, BRINGING LATIN AMERICAN HOMOSEXUALS TO AMERICA? READ THESE FACTS ABOUT THE SALAZAR CASE!
    Fr Salazar was rejected by his superiors in Guatemala after years in a minor seminary and told to spend a year in prayer and discernment. What did they know that convinced them that he wasn’t fit for ordination?
    According to a glowing article in The Key celebrating Salazar’s struggles culminating in ordination and deployment in the Kansas City diocese, he met a priest in his country, whose name he couldn’t recall, Salazar states: “I do not remember his name, but right away, he put me in contact with Father Richard Rocha (diocesan vocations director) and Gustavo Valdez (now diocesan director of Hispanic Ministry) who helped me get through the process,” “He was the angel and the sign I asked God for in those days of despair,” he said. “We were eating breakfast and suddenly we started talking about the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the need for Spanish-speaking seminarians.
    “He looked at me and without knowing who I was, said, ‘Do you want to come?’”
    “My answer was, ‘I could not survive in your country. I do not speak the language,’” Father Salazar said.
    “He said, ‘Come on. Don’t you trust in God?’”
    ISN’T IT TIME FOR FAITHFUL CATHOLICS TO WAKE UP AND DEMAND TO KNOW THE TRUTH!!
    1. FR Salazar couldn’t get ordained in his country
    2. He just happens to meet someone in his home country that changes the course of his life whose name he doesn’t remember.
    3. He can’t speak a word of English.
    4. Referring to his good fortune at the hands of his Kansas City clerical handlers for giving him the express, no-questions-asked approval and full acceptance, he says: while having breakfast “he looked at me NOT KNOWING WHO I WAS”.
    5. Salazar even questioned his own ability to “Survive” in this country during the breakfast encounter, yet he was pushed. I’d say emotionally manipulated when admonished “come on, Don’t you trust in God”.
    5.Then, apparently according to what now is being revealed as the Gay lobby’s formula, he’s shipped off to the notorious Connecticut Seminary which made headlines just this week.
    NEWS FLASH!! {In an official statement released Tuesday, Holy Apostles president and rector Fr. Douglas Mosey, C.S.B. braced supporters for potential fallout from the apostolate’s Aug. 21 exposé showing that for years, former Hartford Abp. Henry Mansell and other U.S. prelates secretly imported gay seminarians from Latin America into the United States}.

    The Bishop needs to provide full disclosure and an explanation as to why he sanctioned Salazar in the first place, let alone receiving Salazar’s “First Blessing”, as shown in the Key article. The faithful should demand answers on what connection has existed between the K C diocese and Latin America in importing homosexual seminarians. Based on the Key article and Salazar’s own statements, it appears more like a case of human trafficking! He was pushed into the priesthood and he may well be as much a victim as his those accusing him.

Thursday
October 18, 2018
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph