Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

April 15, 2011


The landscape on which our Church is situated is like a fog-shrouded moor in a Victorian novel. The lights have gone out at the top. Leaders in finance, education, and government tell how important it is to listen. To employees, management, board members, customers. One CEO favors large meetings because, he says, you have more people to listen to, who may come up with creative thinking. Being a leader involves having a vision of goals, communicating that vision to others, and instilling in others the notion that they have a real part in shaping the culture and the end product of the enterprise.

Our Church is not in a listening mode. It tells practicing Catholics, like those in Voice of the Faithful, Dignity, and Call to Action to go away. They are placed outside our walls. Please get off our turf. We are a command and control institution; not a voice that shares, accommodates, and persuades. We don't have to listen; we have the truth. The Vatican, with its appetite for control, increasingly centralizes church activities the better to dominate them. A few years ago, national conferences of bishops were emasculated by being required to show unanimous consent to authorize something in their own name; otherwise it must be refered to Rome. Under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the old magisterium of the theologians has become the magisterium of the pope. This was a naked effort to broaden the scope of papal infallablity and it was used to disarm liberation theologians and saintly bishops like Romero of El Salvador, Arns of Brazil, and Sam Ruiz of Mexico. The Vatican a few years ago dismissed the board and staff of the English translators of the Missal and replaced them to change the direction of the translations. Opponents of the new English translation of the Missal in the US, South Africa, and Ireland are simply not heard. International Caritas has its CEO changed to accomodate a new direction of policies.

B16 has had his share of gaffes: a speech in Regensburg that angered Muslims; upsetting the Jews by reaching out to the Lefebre schismatics, one of whom denied that the Holocaust ever occurred. More recently, the CDF issued an announcement that placed pedophila and ordination of women as having equal gravity. This pairing created an outcry. And finally, the beatification of JPII is coming on express tracks in May. He is the pope who placed Cardinal Law as rector of Rome's St. Mary Major's Basilica with a six figure income after Law had been driven from Boston by his priests and people for his history of reassigning priests who abused the young. After meeting with US cardinals in Rome in the fall of 2002, JPII declared that the Church would help society in addressing the abuse problem. He seemed not to understand that the abuse problem had been brought to the attention of the Church by secular society in the persons of the press, district attorneys, and trial lawyers.

With the Church enshrouded in a fog-draped moorland, I shall turn my future blog notes to the brighter lights of some experiences and personalities I have encountered as a NY priest for some sixty-five years.