Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When Turn About Is Not Fair Play

Archbishop of Denver warns that Conn. bill threatens Catholics everywhere

CatholicNewsAgency Denver, Colo., Mar 9, 2009

Although the legislation in question was introduced in Connecticut, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has issued a statement on a bill that would effectively sever the relationship between a bishop and his pastors and parishes. Archbishop Chaput says in his statement, "What Happens in Connecticut Matters Here," that the bill is "bad public policy in every sense."

The Senate Bill 1098 was introduced last Thursday by the chairs of the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature: Senator Andrew McDonald of Stamford and Representative Michael Lawlor of East Haven.

Sen. McDonald and Rep. Lawlor are both homosexual activists, who have opposed the local Church’s efforts to defend marriage between a man and a woman.

The bill’s supposed purpose is to increase financial oversight of the Church, following two recent embezzlement cases.

However, the proposed legislation also reorganizes the internal structure of the Church, removing the bishop as the head of the board of the parishes in his diocese and requiring the pastor to report to a board composed of laity instead of the bishop. Under the bill, the bishop is also relegated to being an "ex officio" member of the board, without voting rights.

Addressing the perception that outsiders have of the Church as "a monolith," Archbishop Chaput said that "the opposite is true."

"Her real structure is much closer to a confederation of families. Each diocese or ‘local Church’ is accountable to the Holy See and in relation to one another within the Catholic faith," the archbishop explained.

"Bigoted legislators," Chaput said in reference to Sen. McDonald and Rep. Lawlor, "including some who claim to be nominally or formerly ‘Catholic,’ are thankfully uncommon. Most lawmakers, whatever their convictions, sincerely seek to serve the common good.

"But prejudice against the Catholic Church has a long pedigree in the United States. And rarely has belligerence toward the Church been so perfectly and nakedly captured as in Connecticut’s pending Senate Bill 1098, which, in the words of Hartford’s Archbishop Henry Mansell, ‘directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our Faith.’"

"In effect, SB 1098 would give the state of Connecticut the power to forcibly reorganize the internal civil life of the Catholic community. This is bad public policy in every sense: imprudent; unjust; dismissive of First Amendment concerns, and contemptuous of the right of the Catholic Church to be who she is as a public entity," the archbishop criticized.

"If Catholics want Caesar telling them how they’re allowed to live their civil life as a community, this is exactly the kind of legislation to make it happen.

Archbishop Chaput closed his statement by warning that the "legislative coercion directed against the Catholic community in one state has implications for Catholics in every other state. If bigots in one state succeed in coercive laws like SB 1098, bigots in other states will try the same."
Copyright @ CNA


The first time I read this analysis from Archbishop Chaput I kept changing words. I changed everything in this article to refer to gays and Prop 8, rather than Roman Catholicism and SB 1098. The last paragraph reads thusly:

Archbishop Chaput closed his statement by warning the the "legislative coercion directed against the gay community in one state has implications for gays in every other state. If bigots in one state succeed in coercive laws like Proposition 8, bigots in other states will try the same."

Funny how one man's constitutional crisis is another man's right to legislate. While I seriously doubt that SB1098 will pass, because of it's constitutional limitations, I'm also well aware that opponents of gay marriage don't find any problems with changing state constitutions in order to push their agenda. SB 1098 is not an attempt to change constitutional language to pursuit an agenda against the Church. It's an attempt to give laity who actually fund the operations of parishes and dioceses the legal responsibility in how those funds are used and accounted for. The two embezzlement cases which are the impetus for this bill, amounted to over 1.4 million dollars. That's not chump change and it's not novel.

Ultimately, I believe it's the laity themselves who should be taking charge in over site matters, and not state legislatures. The problem is the laity have no real over site authority in Canon Law. Their only recourse is secular law when embezzlement issues come to the forefront. This is exactly the same conundrum faced by sexual abuse victims. The only people who seem to get any justice from diocesan or Vatican officials are right wing fundamentalists, as the Australian Church has found out.

Along these same lines, the Legion of Christ was supposed to have come out with a statement as to the extent of the sexual abuse and embezzlement of Fr. Maciel, but that now appears to be on indefinite hold. Some observers feel Cardinal Rode, who is the head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and has jurisdiction over the Legion, is also in the pocket of the Legion. There for Rode represents a conflict of interest and should be removed from having anything to do with the Legion. Even the very traditional Cardinal Pell has come out in favor of an independent Vatican investigation.

In my mind the Legion represents the two signature issues of transparency and accountability, that of sexual abuse and financial embezzlement. The Vatican could go a long way in restoring the laity's trust in their ecclesial institutions if they dealt openly and honestly with the Legion and Maciel. Continue to stonewall with the Legion, continue to frustrate justice for abuse victims, continue to balk at any financial over site and the laity will continue to seek redress in secular law. They have no other choice.

In the meantime, in Connecticut, turn about is fair play. What goes around comes around and Karma rules.


  1. woohoo!! it takes what it takes!!!
    me likey!

    delizza :)

  2. What I find really interesting is that it seems to be the same names who were telling us that "abortion is all that matters, vote republican or else", the same ones who tried to use their authority to manipulate the election results. It is the same names that seem to be squealing the loudest now. I wonder why?

    Good or bad aside, odds are none of them have read it, and none of them has a clue what it really says.

    In my paradigms, anyone who fights legislation that would ultimately make them accountable for their actions is hiding something, and most likely is guilty and will end up embarrased and/or incarcerated once the legislation is passed.