Thursday, August 21, 2008

VOTF Speaks Out

VOTF Asks Cardinal George To Resign

The recently revealed deposition by Cardinal Francis George is a clear indictment of his pastoring skills and his inability to lead the people of Chicago. His repeated failures in both the Bennett and McCormack cases indicate a trend to disregard advice from outside clerical circles and continue to follow precedents of deceit, cover-ups and secrecy (imbedded in the clerical culture) in lieu of protecting innocent children from irreparable harm.

Voice of the Faithful, reviewing the concrete revelations in the deposition, has no choice but to ask the Cardinal to step down. We call for his resignation.

We also call for a criminal investigation of the actions within the Archdiocese revealed in this deposition. (325 IL. Comp. Stat. Ann.5/4 (West, WESTLAW through 2003 Reg. Sess.))
We ask, “Where is the criminal justice system in light of demonstrated criminal failings repeated across the country, diocese after diocese? When will Catholic citizens demand morality and justice in our own Church?” (That's a very good question. One I've had for quite some time now.)

We have seen bishops and other diocesan officials who aided cover-ups and enabled abusers rewarded with greater responsibilities and titles rather than being held accountable for their misdeeds. Does this system of rewards for failure encourage additional cover-ups?
Insincere apologies and large financial settlements are “street theater” whether the apologies come from Cardinal George, his brother bishops or the Pope himself. If no consequences accrue to those engaged in committing, perpetuating, or hiding crimes from Catholic congregations, the behavior continues. (This is another very good question. It seems to be the case with Archbishop Wilton Gregory.)

We believe that as Catholics we must exercise our baptismal rights and responsibilities, which include calling for our bishops to be accountable to the people they serve.

With evidence of this latest transgression, and reports of the settlements made in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and so many other dioceses, we have no trust in promises made by the hierarchy who created this breach of confidence. (We also note that Cardinal George was one of the authors of the bishops’ Charter to Protect Young Children, which his deposition indicates he then violated.) (Unfortunately the charter doesn't extend to bishops, just priests.)

Words of regret and apology, and promises of “unequivocal condemnation,” mean little if they are not supported by action.


This release is short and to the point. There really isn't much sense in mincing words. Cardinal George simply did as Cardinal George wanted to do, and then gave the obligatory empty apology for the fact he let Fr. McCormak loose to abuse more kids. Good job Cardinal George. I'm sure Rome will find a spot for you too. Nice way to pad your resume, using the backs of kids while you protect the brethren. Maybe you and Law and Burke can write a book: The Fast Track To A Vatican Appointment.

I don't have much more to say either. Good luck VOTF, I appreciate the effort very much, but we all know how this comes out. On the other hand, it's just one more nail in the ecclesiastical coffin. Maybe some day one of these enabling perpetrators will actually wind up behind bars.
In the meantime the voice of the laity is getting louder and louder.


  1. Colleen, I have two very sharp memories from the election of Ratzinger as Benedict XVI. Up to that time, I had never known much about either Cardinal George or Cardinal Pell, except their names. I have never been interested in church politics of the sort that interest Vatican watchers or watchers of diocesan headquarters.

    Then, in the news coverage of Benedict's election, I "met" George and Pell. And I felt a deep, instinctual repulsion to both men when I saw them on t.v.

    In George's case, what I remember so clearly is that when Benedict's name was announced as pope, some folks in St. Peter's Square booed. George remained on the balcony long after Benedict and the other cardinals had gone back inside, scanning the crowd in a menacing way that really gave me the creeps.

    Pell I saw interviewed by Raymond Arroyo the day of or day after the election. He was nattering on and on about how wonderful we'd all find Benedict. Then, he added something to the effect, "And especially the youth will love him."

    And as he said that, he winked a smarmy, conspiratorial wink at Arroyo.

    Both men turned my stomach.

    I think often of a friend of mine who told me back when we were in college that he just couldn't see spirituality on the faces of many church leaders.

    At the time, I was taken aback and slightly offended. I thought it was judgmental.

    Now I have learned to understand his point. And he's right.

  2. William, I know it is pontificated that we are supposed to look beyond physical appearances of others, but I have always felt that to some degree a person's physical appearance is a reflection of that person's consciousness. There was a book that was written approximately 15 years ago. I cannot remember the title or the author. Wonderful book that I found accidently, that gave evidence to support the premise that over time, a person's personality becomes expressed in a series of physical characteristics. For example, men who are otherwise strong and robust but with a weak emotional support strutcture in their lives, over time will develop a stout body, but very skinny legs. A person whose life is essentially balanced, over time, will develop a body style that is relatively proportional. It also discussed the unvisible aspect, the gut feeling we have when we meet people.

    Of course, we also have to consider our own personal issues before judging on appearances, but I have found over the years this analysis extremely accurate.

    I personally find Naumann, Burke, George, Benedict repulsive and repugnant. I met Naumann once, and had to take a long shower afterward to feel really clean again. I had reservations when Benedict was announced. First, the name he chose, in US vernacular, is synonomous with "traitor", which I believe is prophetic. The fact that he was part of the hitler youth concerns me as well. But mostly, I just didnt care for the way he looked.

    We do have to be careful about judging others by their appearance, but we also have to be careful we dont make mistake of NOT discrerning by their appearances as well.

  3. Carl, I think you're right. Look at the Dali Lama, who attracts people who simply see him, and you have to ask whether what's inside shines out in folks who are transparent. Or at Gandhi. Or at John XXIII. Or at Mother Teresa.

    And then compare them as icons with, well, some of the "pastoral" leaders we've been given by our church, and you have to shake your head and wonder.

    For me, one of the recent pictures that makes me shake my head is Burke bidding goodbye to his flock in St. Louis, preaching with his crozier in his hand. When I look at the crozier and his face, I wonder if he thinks the crozier is a symbol of a good shepherd--or a weapon?

  4. I am glad that VOTF is speaking out about this and asking Cardinal George to Resign. I have to admit that initially I felt sad for Cardinal George. After reading a little about him doing a google search and finding he had polio and recently slipped on holy water while blessing Easter baskets and broke his hip.* Other than this, my knowledge of this man is really very distant, impersonal and detached. I can't seem to find the type of disgust that have been commented on here by my friends, but I view your comments as understandable, especially when knowing that underneath the surface of these scandals is a person in the Church with a lot of authority, responsibility, knowledge of good and evil, who regularly dispenses laws upon the faithful, but seems to not adhere to the law himself. That I find disgusting, rather than the person, so maybe my view is a little more from a detached perspective.

    In a true sense the old Church is dying a very slow death and his slipping and falling in the holy water seems very symbolic.

    On another note here, I was watering our parched plants outside on Wednesday since we have not had much rain in a while and my husband called me over to take a look at a butterfly. It was an unusual place for a butterfly to be within the leaves of a small tree by an oak tree. It's wings were spread open and we watched it for about a minute and I tried to identify which type of butterfly it might be. Since my recent discovery of the butterfly wings it dawned on me that there might be another message here. When I looked at the wings I began describing to my husband what I was seeing. The outer edges were black but the interior was mostly a light yellow and there were three thick vertical lines and several very thin black lines below that. The best way to describe each of the wings was that they looked like piano keys.

    While this butterfly was attached to the leaves with its wings open, a breeze of air moved the entire branch full of green leaves and the butterfly held on and as my husband described it, the butterfly seemed to become a part of the leaves, closing its wings. Then the breeze of wind left and the butterfly was in full view and it spread its wings opened again for another viewing and then flew away.

  5. Butterfly, what a beautiful description of the butterfly you saw--and of its parabolic significance. Steve and I often go to a place in the Ozarks where we can sit beside a stream that has several waterfalls in view.

    Because rain causes the creek to rise, and it then quickly subsides since it's on a porous sandstone basis, the spot where we sit to watch nature has what are like islands, but they're not actually in the creek. They're low spots turned into quasi-islands by the constant changing of the stream bed.

    One of the gifts of that spot is that it produces many kinds of plants that attract butterflies--milkweed, tiny wild irises, and all kinds of other flowers too numerous to name.

    What fascinates me is the different varieties you see at different seasons, depending on what's in bloom. I never knew there were so many kinds of butterflies in this area.

    Which is a reminder that, living in a city, I just don't get to see them, though I have butterfly-attracting flowers in my garden. We are depleting the earth of its wonderful diversity by how we live now, and that's deeply sad.

    Another topic: you're right about the slow death the church is dying institutionally. I struggle not to get pulled into the dying process, even as I try to keep my eye on it. I think many of us find ourselves in that same position today. May what dies produce fertile ground for new birth!

  6. Bill, I love the description of the place you and Steve frequent in the Ozarks. We are fortunate that our yard is partly left in its natural wooded state on the north and east sides. On any given day, after my husband spills some small piles of bird seed onto the ground, we go into our little mosquito netted gazebo after a swim in the pool and spy on the wildlife that comes to take a bath in the birdbath or who come for a free meal, like the rabbit, the squirrel, the chipmunk and the yellow finches, blue jays, cardinals and hummingbirds and dragonflies. There are a few butterflies occasionally who are very attracted lately to the neighbors butterfly bush and our impatiens. The rabbit is being somewhat of a nuisance lately in that my beautiful hostas have been chewed up pretty badly and he or she also ate the flowers off my marigolds around the mailbox. I guess that's a small price to pay for having some wildlife around. One year the squirrels took up residence under the hood of my car and rendered it useless.

    There are bats around here too and you can see them circle around the large cul de sac every night just before dusk.

    We've noticed this year that the leaves on the oak trees are much much smaller. It could be due to a lack of enough rainfall in the spring. Also, the acorns are very small. Some years there are bushels of acorns that come down this time of year. It is a little different this year and don't know the extent of the acorn crop yet this year.

    We moved to this little neighborhood over 16 years ago and I have learned so much about wildlife and life in general in this little sliver of paradise we have been blessed to live. I am hopeful for the future but at the same time I really fear for the future of humanity. While it only takes a few to set us on a positive course, I am all too aware that it only takes a few to destroy what beauty there is.

  7. Butterfly:

    What you describe sounds like a tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucas)
    one of my favorites. A large, gentle and very graceful creature. I am blessed to live next to 2000 acres of undeveloped nature preserve, literally across the street from my front door. They are in abundance this year in our area. The link below has a photo of one. (Entomology was one of my minors in college. Buitterflies were always my favorite.)

    Thank you for the reminder to find the actions disgusting, but to remember that behind it all, no matter how deep it is covered in intestinal waste, there is still the divine presence that is the core of all of us.

    From my perspective, the church isnt dying, it is already dead and has been for a while. What we are witnessing are the residual spasms and gas venting of a lifeless body as it decays. Out of that is already sprouting the seedlings of the new church.

  8. Butterfly, I, too, see many signs of a significant shift in the natural world around me--and not for the better. Plants that used to bloom in our area only once winter was over now bloom in the middle of winter, only to have the blooms nipped when another frost comes. This is especially devastating for fruit trees.

    And in the hot, dry summers we've had year after year for almost a decade now, leaves begin falling in mid-summer, just to allow the trees to stay alive. Like you, I really wonder about the ability of the earth to recover from the damages we're inflicting on it.

    Carl, I like your metaphor of the dead corpse with seedlings sprouting in it. Yes, I can see that. To me, the recent ordinations of women in the Catholic church represent just that process.

  9. William:

    The shifts you mention are interesting. Armadillos are now showing up in kansas and missouri, previously they were confined to texas and southern oklahoma.

    I believe the planet is simply reflecting the chaotic consciousness of humanity. Six billion + people is a LOT of consciuosness, more than has ever existed on this planet as far as we know. There is the physical damage that this number of people do to an environment just taking care of the daily necessities. Beyond that however, I believe that the real issue is our consciousness.

    I used to think my moods fluctuated with the weather. Now I am noticing the weather fluctuating with my moods, which no doubt are a reflection of a general mood in the area at the time.

    As I see it, it is even more essential than ever that we spend time daily in peace, as you do by the stream, as butterfly does when she is captivated by the beauty around her, or as I do, just spending time being quiet. The how is not important, the beingness in the moment is. I dont fully understand the connection, but I do know that when I am quiet, I am at the center of a wave that connects with a LOT of other people. When I let the wave be peaceful, the synchronicities are amazing as they unfold.

    I find that the things I observe in the church are not quite as disturbing, probably because I can see them for what they are, a group of frightened people hanging on to the last knot in the rope, their eyes closed in fear, white knuckled, afraid they will fall to their death if they let go. If they would open their eyes and look, they would see the ground is only 6" below their feet. The fear is empty and meaningless.

    That chaotic consciousness is what I believe is manifesting in the environment around us now. As our consciousness evolves upward, I believe the environment will stabilize as well.

  10. Carl, thanks for the link to the tiger swallowtail. The one I saw was definitely very similar but only had a very thin outer color of black and the interior color was a pale yellow. There was no blue on the bottom. The three lines at the top were thick black like in the picture, but did not extend down as low and really did look like the three black keys on a keyboard/ piano.

    I didn't realize there were so many different types of butterflies either. I would love to see the Zebra swallowtail floating around my yard. It's really exciting to have a library at one's fingertips via the internet to look up so much information.

    Carl, I died laughing at reading about the "gas venting."

    Bill, we were hoping that Fay would have come up the East coast to give us some rain, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. The past few storms we've had we really didn't get enough rain here and with the low humidity, any humidity in the plant life just seems to get squeezed right out in the hot sun. Areas just to the north and south of us did get a lot of rain though. And it does seem that whenever a storm comes through it is packed with a more powerful punch with wind gusts exceeding 60 mph and hail and threats of tornadoes. It would be nice to just get a gentle rain shower.

  11. Carl, interesting you mention that eastward move of armadilloes. When I was growing up, they weren't ever seen in Little Rock. They were almost completely confined to the southwestern border of the state, where Arkansas meets Texas.

    Now, I see them right on my street in Little Rock!

    Butterfly, I hope you get some rain. Nothing is harder than trying to keep plants alive in the hot summer, when it doesn't rain--and when the climate is also becoming hotter. I grow things in my garden in Little Rock that, in the past, wouldn't have made it over the winter--like sweet olive and butterfly ginger.

    Now, I can grow them here just as I used to grow them in New Orleans.

  12. About the armadiloes from Wikipedia:

    "In the United States, the sole resident armadillo is the Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), which is most common in the central southernmost states, particularly Texas. Their range is as far east as Florida and as far north as Kansas, and while cold winters have slowed the expansion of their range (due to a lack of sufficient body fat), they have been consistently expanding their range over the last century due to a lack of natural predators and have been found as far as western Kentucky, and are expected to eventually reach Ohio before the cold winters inhibit their expansion."

  13. yum... bbq armadillo. smak!