Sunday, August 15, 2010

Just Who Are The Heretics And Schismatics?

Which of these two men is the real agent of heresy?  Archbishop Burke or Fr. Bozek?

The New York Times has a feature on St. Stanislaus Kostka and it's trials and tribulations with the Archdiocese of St. Louis, with in itself, and with it's current laicized and excommunicated pastor, Marek Bosek.  This story has intrigued me for five or so years because it encompasses a number of issues with in Catholicism.

It didn't start out as a battle between progressives and traditionalists, as it seems to have since become.  It started out as a typical brazen corporate raid for assets led by then Archbishop Raymond Burke.  From the Times article:

For more than a century, St. Stanislaus has enjoyed a rare role within the archdiocese. A lay board of directors governs the parish, and church property and financial assets are owned by the congregation. That relationship began to shift in 2003, when the archdiocese proposed that St. Stanislaus’s property and assets — then estimated at $8 million — be brought under an archdiocese-managed trust.

Fearing the archbishop would close the parish and use its proceeds to combat the sexual-abuse scandal, the congregation balked. As negotiations dragged on, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, arguing the parish was out of compliance with canon law, turned up the pressure on the church by removing its archdiocesan priests — effectively denying communion to parishioners.  (In language not covered in Canon Law, this move would be called 'spiritual extortion'.)

With its isolated congregation withering under censure, the board reached out to several archdiocesan priests who surreptitiously conducted Mass. Eventually, the congregation approached Mr. Bozek, a young Polish-born priest from the neighboring Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

“The people of St. Stanislaus had been abandoned for almost two years,” said Mr. Bozek, 35, who said his first Mass at the embattled church at a 2005 Christmas Eve service that attracted an estimated 2,000 people. “As a Catholic priest I felt responsible to provide the sacraments to people who have been spiritually starved by their shepherds.” (These are people who were intentionally spiritually starved by their shepherd in order to access their money and assets.  This could easily be considered heresy on the part of the Archbishop.)

In anticipation of the 2005 Christmas Eve Mass, Archbishop Burke turned up the extortion by excommunicating Bozek and the parish governing board.  He declared them in 'schism' from the Church.  The Vatican subsequently affirmed Burke's excommunications and laicised Bozek last year.  In view of formally being cut off from the Church it's not surprising the congregation felt free to redefine their understanding of Catholicism.  One could make a very compelling case that it was not Fr Bozek who led this parish into heresy and schism, but Archbishop Burke, as essentially there was absolutely nothing left for them to lose. 

As is usual with these kinds of cases in which the Institution can never be at fault by it's own self definition, the official Vatican position is that the Marek Bozek and the parish are at fault:  The victims are actually the perpetrators and the perpetrator is the victim:

“His actions have caused great harm, scandal and sadness within the Church,” Bishop James V. Johnston of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, wrote in a statement announcing the Vatican’s decision. “While Marek Bozek no longer has the status of a priest, I continue to hope for his reconciliation with the Catholic Church.”

While the story of St Stanislaus Kostka is a case of asset abuse rather than sexual abuse,  the same dynamics are in place.  Ecclesiastical authority is never accountable for any of it's actions, no matter what consequences may ensue. What is even more scandalous about this particular case, is the Vatican has now made Burke prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the church’s highest judicial authority.  It looks to me like a Canonical heretic has been put in charge of determining canonical heresy.  Only in the Vatican, where ecclesial heresy is becoming an art form, would this be possible.

For another look at the potential heresy in our bishops, I recommend this article written by victims advocate Vinnie Nauheimer.  Perhaps Mr. Nauheimer is dead on in his analysis.  What Catholics are facing in the upper levels of the hierarchy is not just corruption, self protecting behavior, and fear, but out right heresy.  It wouldn't be the first time this has happened, as Martin Luther pointed out, but maybe it can be the last time.


  1. My vote for heretic! Raymond Burke! No doubt in my mind.

    Here are a few words from Bishop Gumbleton who still has a prophetic voice. The following quote is from the recent issue of the NCR.

    I think it fits the St. Louis situation. What will happen when there are more folks outside the sheepfold and only the hirelings are left? Then it will be clear who the heretics are.

    “That’s another thing we find happening in our church today, where God seems to be leading some of us, many of us in fact, away from sort of a blind obedience to laws that were created, the human laws, even though they were created within the institution of the church.… And, you know, there are 30 million people in this country, 10 percent of this population in the United States, who have walked away from our Catholic church, from the institution of the church, probably some in your families, but that doesn’t mean they’ve walked away from God for some of them because perhaps they’re gay or lesbian and they’ve been excluded, called disordered, and they can’t accept that. They know they’re good people so they have to walk away, but it’s God calling them, and with confident assurance and strong conviction, they go where perhaps they would rather not have gone. But they do it because they have faith.
    So all of us, I think, have to keep on listening in our lives to God speaking to us deeply within our spirit and develop a relationship to God, not a relationship to a human institution, not a relationship to human laws, not intellectual assent to doctrines, but we must develop a relationship with God that will give us that confident assurance and strong conviction that when God asks us to move in some way in our life, or to accept some difficulty in our life that we would rather not, that we can go where God needs us with confidence, with joy, and with peace in our hearts.”

  2. Wild hair, I think it's pretty obvious who has my vote. There is another trend that seems to be happening which is giving me some optimism. Bishop Gumbleton hits on it in this sermon, and that's this whole business of relationship:

    "So all of us, I think, have to keep on listening in our lives to God speaking to us deeply within our spirit and develop a relationship to God, not a relationship to a human institution, not a relationship to human laws, not intellectual assent to doctrines, but we must develop a relationship with God"

    This idea of developing meaningful living relationships with God, as opposed to definitions, nouns, and abstracts may in fact point to the common ground needed by all Catholics. Everything else should be a reflection of that Life with in the Church. Not the past version of this Life, not some hypothetical future of this Life, but that Life as it is right now this very minute. That Life is being choked out of the Church. We may disagree as to why this is, but if we can agree that it is so, that is a very big first step in dealing with the present reality.

  3. Amen! I think relationship is central. It would help if the pope and his minions would begin to proclaim and preach the gospels and forget about kicking people out to satisfy the thirst for power. To me, the present pope and curia and hierarchy in this country, for the most part, are not inviting anyone to relationship with God or Jesus.

  4. My question for a while has been faith vs. fear as opposed to faith vs doubt. I think this last few days worth of posts are in answer to that question. I see doubt as in relationship to laws, and I see fear as in relationship to people. The leaders keep promoting laws and must control doubt, while the Lord (*Be not afraid") went to people and calmed fears, creating some doubt in the process. What a wonderful way to attack the dichotomy. What a powerful way to respond to those who keep laws ahead of people.

    Thanks, all.

  5. mjc I really like your distinction between doubt and fear. The problem is when a person relates to a law or abstract as if it were real, the brain will react as if it is real. Which is why doubting a core doctrine can indeed be fear generating.

    It's sometimes best to approach folks who have trouble with this distinction as if they were onions. The surface layer may indeed produce intellectual doubt, but get too deep too fast and here comes the fear--and the tears.

  6. wild hair my guess is our hierarchy are not inviting people to a relationship with God because in point of fact they don't have one themselves, and there for have no way to demonstrate one except in abstract left hemispheric terms.

  7. Well said, everyone. I touched on this in my comment to yesterday's posting. Burke thinks he can get his way by bullying. It just isn't working the way it used to, and the description of Burke's behavior as a corporate raid is accurate. The only difference between Burke and a secular executive is that Burke claims to wield power over the souls of the members of St. Stan's.

  8. Colleen -

    Any student of history with critical thinking faculties would quickly come to the conclusion that Heresy is defined as:

    'Opposing the Church Administration'.

    Factually, this has literally thousands of cases- and broken bodies - as proof over many centuries.

    Let's starts with Fr. Jan Huss of Bohemia. His 'heresy' was to dare to claim that the Church consisted of all those who believe in Christ. This was not (and still is not!) the Vatican party line.

    While they will pretend to believe otherwise (when politically expedient), the Vatican believes (then & now) that: The Church = the Clerical Hierarchy headed by the Pope. Obey or die.

    So they burned Huss alive at the stake for this. And they have tortured, persecuted & killed untold numbers since then.Most of whose names are known but to God.

    That someone speaks of writes something which is REAL overt heresy (e.g. denying the Trinity, Virgin Birth, etc.) is irrelevant. EXCEPT in its usefulness in a dossier against a real or potential enemy of the Vatican Administration. They DO NOT care that you disbelieve in the Trinity.

    They DO care that something you do, say, or write can be used to actually or potentially undermine their AUTHORITY.

    Canon Law - founded in Aquinas & Augustine & the rest of the spiritually dead Doctors of the Church - is a collection of useful expedients. Ultimately its purpose is to uphold & defend the POWER & AUTHORITY of the Princes of the Church against you, the laity.

    Who actually owns your parish church? They do, despite what any deed or trust says - or even if Canon Law is contraditory on thie (which it is).

    In the final analysis, all that counts is what THEY say.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  9. In the secular world, Burke would have been the classic slimy corporate lawyer....or duplicitous corporate executive. Who would lie very calmly with the same blank expression which is his current professional mask.

    His 'faith' is in the Vatican organization, which enables, promotes & empowers him. otherwise not very intelligent man, devoid of looks or discernible talents beyond the ability to lie well.

    He is a classic example of what I have described before: the Vatican Administrator who makes of himself a demi-god on the terms of the Administration which is his 'god'.

    Anon Y.Mouse

  10. Let us not forget that true faith allows for doubt. True faith is not coerced by God. For God loves us and seeks us and doubt is not the same at all as "unfaith" - indeed doubt is necessary, I think, for people to move along a path of spiritual development as we gradually let the scales fall from our eyes, seeing ourselves more truly, seeing the Living God more truly, as bit by bit we can bear it. And we need the doubts for those scales to fall away! But fear prevents growth. It encourages people to crawl into the fetal position and remain frozen victims, you could say, to be preyed upon bit by bit.

    Heresy is the big word today. And as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, this group would surely be branded either heretics or crazy (something at this point I am sure we are all proud to "suffer" for in terms of righteousness).

    Seems to me the Vatican keeps overplaying its hands. And as it does so, more and more sane people are refusing the "crazy" that the Vatican demands from them! Honestly, from a psychological point of view an institution that behaves as the Vatican is behaving is like the proverbial "schizophrenigenic family" (which says and does things which provoke psychotic breaks from genetically vulnerable individuals). Then you've got those who open their mouths in a desperate need for "certainty" - which the Vatican obligingly "certifies" for them! These are often the people who are scared to begin with. The Vatican has little need to prey on their fears - for they do it so well on their own. And this is the audience the Vatican counts on - to pounce on us.

    I've adopted a new perspective. In an effort to keep anger at bay. Whenever I read about these pitiful souls, I try to pray for them. Even the pope. I'm not sure those prayers will make any difference for them. But I want them to make a difference for me. I really need more compassion here. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm worn out and tired of feeling frustrated. And I'd rather feel compassion and pray... again, with the thought that at the very least it will change ME.

    It's wonderful to see that people are waking up. That some priests and even a few bishops can see the crying needs of the faithful. In addition to ordaining WomenPriests, seems to me that the ordination of married men is an urgent need as well. So many congregations will need Good Men in addition to Good Women. And the People of God rising up to exercise their Universal Priesthood.

    We need Awakened Hearts!

  11. TheraP -

    Your comments here are very good & thoughtful. But one caveat:

    Do not pray for Ratzinger. Do not participate in any 'prayers for his intentions'.

    Your motive in mentioning this is pure. But do not pray for him, as that is spiritually cooperating with the evil he & his confrers are doing. You do not want to do that.

    He & his ilk have made a choice.....and it is not for God.

    If anyone thinks this is 'harsh', I would suggest reading what Christ said about those who are willingly Blind & Deaf. Those who 'have Moses & the Prophets',know them by heart, yet serve....Another. Willingly.

    He made it clear that the reason He spoke in Parables was that: 'hearing they would hear not, lest they be converted'.

    He/they have made their 'choice'. They have made their bed & must now lie upon it.

    Nobody can force conversion. God has set thing up that way, intentionally - as He knew the destiny of each soul when He created it in love. He knows which will or will not love Him.

    If they were living, one would similarly NOT pray for Aleister Crowley or Adolf Hitler. As both were very well versed in the things of God - yet made a choice of their own free will.

    Pray rather for those who still may be converted.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  12. Good shepherds don’t need fences; poor ones erect them.

    “Some of us, supposedly standing for law and order, are merely clinging on to old habits, sometimes to a mere parrot vocabulary, its formulae worn so smooth by constant use that they justify everything and questions nothing.” (The Diary of a Country Priest.)

    “The Roman Catholic Church contradicts my Christian faith because I experience it as a zone of untruth, pervaded by a disregard for truth…..Words were used not to communicate truth, but as a means of preserving authority without regard for truth. Words were manipulated as a means of power……For me Christian commitment is inseparable from concern for truth and concern for people. I do not find either of these represented by the official church. There is a concern for authority at the expense of truth, and I am constantly saddened by instances of the damage done to persons by workings of an impersonal and unfree system.”
    “The sad fact is that the pattern of doctrine, law, ritual and government imposed upon the Roman Catholic Church no longer corresponds to the genuine and ordinary experience of people today. Hence a constant sense of frustration, aggravated by each further instance of backpedalling by authority and by the frequent jeremiads uttered by Rome against modern aberrations.”

    Charles Davis, “A Question of Conscience”, 1967

  13. Mouse,

    I appreciate and respect your concern. I am not praying for his intentions. (God knows that!) I am praying for compassion (for him). We are told to love our enemies - and to me that means to have compassion. I feel I must do this - for my own soul's benefit. Hopefully this clears things up a bit.

    I am certainly well aware that no one can be forced to convert. Nor would that make sense. (Only freely give consent is a true conversion.) Nor do I expect any conversion on the part of the pope. But that those with open hearts may be moved to speak out, no matter the cost - well, God knows that one as well.

    I hope this clarifies things for you. Yes, I realize this is a dangerous business here. And no doubt I am naive. But truly, God knows what I need better than I - and I try to be open to that.

    Thank you again for your concern for me! (All my life people have looked out for me. I'm grateful!)

  14. I pray for Benedict and the his buddies all the time. Whatever happens with those prayers happens. If it somehow turns out that those prayers interfere with their agenda. Oh well, that's life on the quantum life.

  15. Amen, Colleen. We have no idea of the mind of God. We have no way of knowing if even Hitler, for example, was able to view thing differently after death and is somehow spending an eternity in prayer and repentance. I believe in the MERCY of God. That Mercy has no end to its depths. (And thank God for that!)

  16. A very specific suggestion to all (in re the topic of praying for Ratz):


    Rather, in your prayers, include the intention of 'priests, bishops & religious....that those who CAN be converted, be converted'.

    And make this prayer, as all prayers should be, in complete submission to the Will of God.

    Then your personal intention remains pure & you bear no 'responsibility' for him/them. Remember: not everybody can or will be converted. In aligning yourself with the Will of God, you cooperate with His Will for those who can be saved.

    He wants all souls to be saved; but knows all will not be (by their choice). Realize also that Jesus did not come for everybody - in the sense that everybody will not hear Him. He came for those who would Hear.

    The rest will 'be outside, wailing & gnashing their teeth'.

    This is not cruelty or lack of charity; it is reality.

    After all, why did He say to the Vatican Masters:

    "You hypocrites! You shut up the Kingdom of Heaven to men, yet you yourself are not going in!".

    Think about that....

    Anon Y.Mouse

  17. TheraP

    In re Hitler......remember, he took his own life. So did Judas. What did Jesus say of the latter?

    That there would have been forgiveness even for him......but he gave in to despair (i.e. that he was beyond hope; beyond being saved).

    Unfortunately, that is self-condemning. And that is not 'my' opinion......

    The greatest sin is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit to save. To consider oneself 'un-redeemable' or 'beyond hope of salvation' is Despair, which is the Sin Against the Holy Spirit.


    Anon Y. Mouse

  18. I don't believe that the great sin of Judas was his suicide. I believe his sin was to betray Christ. Suicide is a desperate act and it is the "last act" we, the living, are aware of. What occurs at the moment of death, that is hidden from us. We cannot say.

    I suspect we differ on a range of issues, Mouse. And I respect those differences - as I respect you. I'm not sure God considers issues in the narrow (either/or) ways we humans do. What we see as a conflict may be viewed by God as "within" something greater - a vision we may not see with our earthly eyes.

    Peace be with you. We must each follow what our conscience tells us.

  19. Christ teaches in the Gospel that the greatest sin is to Despair of God's mercy. To think "I am beyond redemption/saving". He taught that ALL sins can be forgiven, if we just ask in sincerity.

    To Despair is to refuse to allow God to heal & forgive. THAT is the greatest sin of Judas. Jesus makes this plain: that Judas could have been forgiven.

    I would say that for God to be willing to forgive the one who betrayed Him to torture & a supremely painful not exactly "narrow". Thus the reason for the old hymn:

    "There's A Wideness in God's Mercy".

    The unforgiveable sin is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit save, forgive, heal. He is at one with the Father & Son. And He does the 'leavening' in us.

    " And the Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born." (Mark 14:21)

    In Matthew 27: 3 we read that Judas "....repenting himself he...."....a better translation would be: "full of remorse, he..."

    Judas may have been full of remorse and, even if you will, repented himself, but he committed suicide because he despaired, thus, did not believe that he could be forgiven even after all the examples Jesus had given him of His Mercy.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  20. Mouse, I guess I can see where despair can be a logical outcome of religious system that preached man's congenital despicable nature in a relationship with an unpredictable God of vengeance.

    Jesus came in part to teach a caring loving God, but was eventually undone by the prevailing view of God. In some respects Judas is a perfect example of where the prevailing view of God will take someone.

    Now we have a prevailing view of Christianity which puts forth a God who demanded the brutal death of His own son as repatriation for the fact He created a flawed humanity.

    I don't care how this is dressed up, it's leads to great dysfunction in both individuals and cultures.

  21. The great sin of Judas was, yes, despairing of God's mercy. Recall that there was no essential difference between Peter's sin and Judas's, except the former returned to Christ.

  22. Colleen-

    "Now we have a prevailing view of Christianity which puts forth a God who demanded the brutal death of His own son as repatriation for the fact He created a flawed humanity."

    The problem with that view is that it is delineating between "God" and "Jesus". They are one & the same.

    Secondly, He took the role of Messiah willingly, knowing that He was born to die for our sins. He knew this before the Prophets who wrote of Him....wrote.

    The 'repatriation' concept is interesting. Those who would posit such a thing do not understand Time & Eternity, and their relationship. Nor do they comprehend the role of Messiah & the sacrifice of His death as the supreme act of love.'s not Divine super-glue to fix something God made wrong:p

    But, indeed, I have noted that ppl do believe aspects of this. Largely as the Church has utterly failed to teach properly.

    Anon Y. Mouse