Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Washington. Tomorrow, Monday, 2/18, is the national holiday most people seem to call “President’s Day,” but which is actually officially called “Washington’s Birthday.” It’s sad that we forget this, because we should celebrate the birth and life of the Father of our country. He was a remarkable man. An intelligent man, largely self-educated, an industrious and successful farmer, business man and entrepreneur, a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, a victorious general and unrivaled statesman. But above all, he was a patriot—he loved his native Virginia and the new nation he helped found, making great sacrifices for both. And while certainly being an ambitious man, after winning the Revolutionary War the victorious and beloved general could have contrived to have himself named king. But instead, he worked for the establishment of a federal republic. And while achieving so many great things for his country, he repeatedly and strongly credited the intervention of God for the success of the Revolution and Founding.
It is true that he was a slave owner. But he also advocated for the abolition of slavery. Like many well-meaning men of his times, he struggled to find a solution to the issue that would be just for the slaves and still not rip apart the peace and unity, and so the very survival, of the fragile new nation.
Humble, dedicated, industrious, loyal, intelligent, courageous, moral, and God-fearing, but also flawed like all of us. He stood head and shoulders above his peers, literally and figuratively, and so became the only American president elected unanimously by the electoral college, without an opponent.
I wish the leadership of our nation today would take their example from him—in all parties and all branches of government. And I hope that we all remember that example as we celebrate his birthday, and pray for our leaders today.

McCarrick. As I write this on Wednesday, the rumors abound that sometime in the next few days—maybe before you read this—the Vatican trial of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, will conclude, finding him guilty of various charges of sexual misconduct/abuse. Word is that his punishment will be the harshest penalty the Church can give a priest: laicization/defrocking. The rumors seem to come from every credible source in Rome, and so I can’t help but think they’re true.
If this IS true, thank God! If he has been found guilty and defrocked, the damage this villainous priest has perpetrated be finally be recognized, and he will be driven from the ranks of active priests. And the Pope would have taken decisive action against one of the powerful leaders of the homosexual cadre of priests, bishops and cardinals that have had so much influence behind the scenes in the halls of power in the Church.
However…Much is left to be done. McCarrick may have been a leader of the “lavender mafia,” or “gay mafia,” but he was old, 88. It may turn out that he is merely a sacrificial goat, and his punishment may end any further investigation into the other members of the cadre, which will go on, unhampered in power and influence. Recall that the sexual accusations against McCarrick came with three other accusations: that 1) Vatican officials knew and covered up his sins and crimes, 2) Pope Francis undid the punishment/sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on McCarrick and restored him to powerful influence in the Church, 3) McCarrick had influenced the Pope in promoting other homosexual (or homosexual-friendly) priests to become bishops, and cardinals.
Will there be any follow up investigation to these accusations? Whenever Pope Francis has spoken about McCarrick he has treated it as an isolated case, as if it has no consequences beyond this one offender. And as if there has been no coverup, and no cadre behind him.
Since 2002, when the American bishops came up with new rules under the so-called “Dallas Charter,” the bishops have largely dealt with the problem of abusive priests relatively effectively (note: the vast majority of the cases in last summer’s Pennsylvania Grand Jury report were cases arising before 2002). But their effort hasn’t been entirely successful with regards to offending priests, and it has not been successful at all with regard to bishops and cardinals who are themselves predators or have protected predators. Literally, the rules that have applied to priests since 2002 in no way apply to bishops.
Vatican Summit, This Week. Many hoped that would change when the American bishops met last November in Baltimore, specifically to enact rules to punish offending bishops and cardinals. But that hope was dashed on the night before the bishops’ conference, as the Pope ordered them not to vote on any changes, but to wait for the results and conclusions of a special summit of bishops from all over the world that he was convoking in Rome from February 21 to 24—this coming week.
Since then, however, hopes have dimmed that that summit will yield any immediate meaningful changes. In November, Pope Francis announced that Cardinal Blase Cupich would be one of the leaders of the summit; recall that it has been alleged that Cupich was appointed Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago through the efforts of none other than McCarrick. Cupich also publicly stated about the accusations surrounding McCarrick: “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants …”
Moreover, in the last few weeks Pope Francis himself has made it clear that not much is going to happen at the summit. On his flight back from Panama on January 27, the Pope told reporters: “The expectations need to be deflated…The problems of abuse will continue. It is a human problem, everywhere….We felt the need to give a ‘catechesis’ on this problem to the bishops’ conferences.” Not very encouraging.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit intervenes to bring some good out of the summit this week. And let us pray, and advocate, that a full investigation be done into the web of sins and lies exposed by the McCarrick case. Enough is enough.

Correction. Last week I referred to “Senator Harry Byrd” of West Virginia as being a former leader of the KKK. That was my typo: I meant to write “Senator Robert Byrd”. My apologies.

Clarification. Three weeks ago, in my homily on volunteering, I made the claim, “I don’t need your help.” Since then, several parishioners have made it clear to me that they were so stunned and upset by that isolated statement that they didn’t hear very clearly what I said right after that. And that’s my fault: I was probably not very prudent in the way I presented it.
But when I said, “I don’t need your help,” I immediately went on to say, essentially, that my request for volunteers isn’t about helping me to make my life easier, it’s about making the parish better. And I then concluded, by saying, “And for that, I do need your help!”
So, to be clear: I ABSOLUTELY DO NEED YOUR HELP to make this the best parish possible. My apologies if wording or approach was clumsy.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles
Washington. Tomorrow, Monday, 2/18, is the national holiday most people seem to call “President’s Day,” but which is actually officially called “Washington’s Birthday.” It’s sad that we forget this, because we should celebrate the birth and life of the Father of our country. He was a remarkable man. An intelligent man, largely self-educated, an industrious and successful farmer, business man and entrepreneur, a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, a victorious general and unrivaled statesman. But above all, he was a patriot—he loved his native Virginia and the new nation he helped found, making great sacrifices for both. And while certainly being an ambitious man, after winning the Revolutionary War the victorious and beloved general could have contrived to have himself named king. But instead, he worked for the establishment of a federal republic. And while achieving so many great things for his country, he repeatedly and strongly credited the intervention of God for the success of the Revolution and Founding of our nation..
It is true that he was a slave owner. But he also advocated for the abolition of slavery. Like many well-meaning men of his times, he struggled to find a solution to the issue that would be just for the slaves and still not rip apart the peace and unity, and so the very survival, of the fragile new nation.
Humble, dedicated, industrious, loyal, intelligent, courageous, moral, and God-fearing, but also flawed like all of us. He stood head and shoulders above his peers, literally and figuratively, and so became the only American president elected unanimously by the electoral college, without an opponent.
I wish the leadership of our nation today would take their example from him—in all parties and all branches of government. And I hope that we all remember that example as we celebrate his birthday, and pray for our leaders today.

McCarrick. As I write this on Wednesday, the rumors abound that sometime in the next few days—maybe before you read this—the Vatican trial of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, will conclude, finding him guilty of various charges of sexual misconduct/abuse. Word is that his punishment will be the harshest penalty the Church can give a priest: laicization/defrocking. The rumors seem to come from every credible source in Rome, and so I can’t help but think they’re true.
If this IS true, thank God! If he has been found guilty and defrocked, the damage this villainous priest has perpetrated will finally be recognized, and he will be driven from the ranks of active priests. And the Pope would have taken decisive action against one of the powerful leaders of the homosexual cadre of priests, bishops and cardinals that have had so much influence behind the scenes in the halls of power in the Church.
However…Much is left to be done. McCarrick may have been a leader of the “lavender mafia,” or “gay mafia,” but he was old, 88. It may turn out that he is merely a sacrificial goat, and his punishment may end any further investigation into the other members of the cadre, which will go on, unhampered in power and influence. Recall that the sexual accusations against McCarrick came with three other accusations: that 1) Vatican officials knew and covered up his sins and crimes, 2) Pope Francis undid the punishment/sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on McCarrick and restored him to powerful influence in the Church, 3) McCarrick had influenced the Pope in promoting other homosexual (or homosexual-friendly) priests to become bishops, and cardinals.
Will there be any follow up investigation to these accusations? Whenever Pope Francis has spoken about McCarrick he has treated it as an isolated case, as if it has no consequences beyond this one offender. And as if there has been no coverup, and no cadre behind him.
Since 2002, when the American bishops came up with new rules under the so-called “Dallas Charter,” the bishops have largely dealt with the problem of abusive priests relatively effectively (note: the vast majority of the cases in last summer’s Pennsylvania Grand Jury report were cases arising before 2002). But their effort hasn’t been entirely successful with regards to offending priests, and it has not been successful at all with regard to bishops and cardinals who are themselves predators or have protected predators. Literally, the rules that have applied to priests since 2002 in no way apply to bishops.
Vatican Summit, This Week. Many hoped that would change when the American bishops met last November in Baltimore, specifically to enact rules to punish offending bishops and cardinals. But that hope was dashed on the night before the bishops’ conference, as the Pope ordered them not to vote on any changes, but to wait for the results and conclusions of a special summit of bishops from all over the world that he was convoking in Rome from February 21 to 24—this coming week.
Since then, however, hopes have dimmed that the summit will yield any immediate meaningful changes. In November, Pope Francis announced that Cardinal Blase Cupich would be one of the leaders of the summit; recall that it has been alleged that Cupich was appointed Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago through the efforts of none other than McCarrick. Cupich also publicly stated about the accusations surrounding McCarrick: “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants …”
Moreover, in the last few weeks Pope Francis himself has made it clear that not much is going to happen at the summit. On his flight back from Panama on January 27, the Pope told reporters: “The expectations need to be deflated…The problems of abuse will continue. It is a human problem, everywhere….We felt the need to give a ‘catechesis’ on this problem to the bishops’ conferences.” Not very encouraging.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit intervenes to bring some good out of the summit this week. And let us pray, and advocate, that a full investigation be done into the web of sins and lies exposed by the McCarrick case. Enough is enough.

Correction. Last week I referred to “Senator Harry Byrd” of West Virginia as being a former leader of the KKK. That was my typo: I meant to write “Senator Robert Byrd”. My apologies.

Clarification. Three weeks ago, in my homily on volunteering, I made the claim, “I don’t need your help.” Since then, several parishioners have made it clear to me that they were so stunned and upset by that isolated statement that they didn’t hear very clearly what I said right after that. And that’s my fault: I was probably not very prudent in the way I presented it.
But when I said, “I don’t need your help,” I immediately went on to say, essentially, that my request for volunteers isn’t about helping me to make my life easier, it’s about making the parish better. And I then concluded, by saying, “And for that, I do need your help!”
So, to be clear: I ABSOLUTELY DO NEED YOUR HELP to make this the best parish possible. My apologies if my wording or approach was clumsy.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

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