March 12, 2022 Column Father De Celles

Ukraine. I commend to your prayers and generosity the
people of Ukraine. They are suffering greatly in an unprovoked
attack on their homeland by a tyrant aggressor, Russian President
Vladimir Putin. We need to pray for the Ukrainian warriors, both
civilian and military, and for the innocent victims whose homes,
businesses and culture are being destroyed. And also for the
refugees as many, with no alternative, flee the war zones.
Some of you have asked me if we should join the fight
directly, or indirectly. Privately, I have my own opinion. But here
I stress that we are all free to make a prudential judgment in this
regard. Although it seems that some effort must be made to
supply humanitarian aid, but the extent of this is also a prudential
We also need to remember to love our enemies here. It
seems clear to me that Putin and his regime are our enemies. So
we need to pray for their conversion, that Christ may penetrate
their hearts, and lead them to end this savagery. And that they
may repent, make restitution and seek forgiveness and salvation.
Don’t be Afraid to Go to Confession! Our daily confessions
have started out well, as we’ve had a steady flow every day. But
there’s still room for you! Please remember to come during Lent,
and to come early to avoid the long lines during Holy Week—if
for no other reason, out of charity to your priests.
I know some people are afraid to go to Confession and
so haven’t been in years. Some are afraid because they are
embarrassed by their sins. But remember, you can confess behind
the screen, so the priest won’t even know who you are (and we
almost never recognize a voice).
Others are afraid because they think their sins can’t be
forgiven. But remember, Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, all sins
will be forgiven the children of man…” As long as you are truly
sorry for your sins and want to stop sinning, the priest, with the
power of Jesus, will forgive you.
Some are afraid because they think the priest will be
angry with them. But that’s just not true. In all my 55 years of
going to Confession I’ve only had one truly unpleasant
experience. Okay, priests have bad days like all of us, but even on
a bad day priests won’t get upset with you. Priests love forgiving
sins—the bigger the better. And just because a priest seems stern
in the pulpit doesn’t mean he’s that way in the confessional. A
father may sometimes be stern when he teaches his children to
behave, but when an apologetic child comes to him in tears, that
same father opens his arms with tenderness. “A lion in the pulpit,
a lamb in the confessional.”
Some think they will shock the priest by what they’ve
done. As Ecclesiastes tells us: “what has been done will be done
again; there is nothing new under the sun.” I’ve heard over
25,000 Confessions in the last 23 years, and I have heard almost
every sin imaginable—really. Nothing shocks me anymore.
And finally, some are afraid the priest will tell someone
about their sin. This just doesn’t happen. In all my life I have
never heard a priest reveal the sins of anyone in Confession.
Priests are forbidden, under pain of automatic excommunication
(that can only be lifted by the pope himself), from ever directly or
indirectly revealing the particular sins of a particular penitent.
This is called the “seal of Confession,” and extends even to
revealing things that are not sinful that are discussed in the
Confession. A lot of priests, including myself, pray and try to
forget what they hear in Confession and avoid even admitting
that a particular person came to Confession. (A great movie
dramatizing this is Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess.”)
So don’t be afraid. Come to Confession! Soon!

Lenten Thursday Holy Hour. Please join us for our Thursday
evening Holy Hours which include Exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament, the Rosary, and Benediction. I will also give a short
talk on the topic: “The Lifelong Suffering of Our Savior.”
All Night Adoration. After the Holy Hours, we will
continue Exposition/Adoration continuously through Thursday
night until 3pm Friday afternoon. Please join us, and, if you can,
sign up on our website for 1 hour of adoration.
Zanchetta and the Pope. A week or so ago Bishop Gustavo
Oscar Zanchetta, former Bishop of Oran, Argentina, was
sentenced to four and a half years in prison for the sexual abuse of
two former seminarians. Zanchetta has spent the last few years
living and working in the Vatican in a special post created for him
by Pope Francis. Here is an excerpt of interesting analysis of the
situation, taken from, “Pope Francis’ ‘Zanchetta problem’,” by Ed.
Condon and JD Flynn in The Pillar, March 4:
“While the court focused on his brief tenure leading the
diocese, scrutiny is now likely to fall on the years Zanchetta spent
in Rome, under the patronage of Pope Francis…Zanchetta was
appointed Bishop of Oran by Francis in 2013, one of the new
pope’s first episcopal appointments. But within two years local
clergy were complaining to the Vatican about the bishop’s
behavior towards seminarians.
“Yet, despite mounting complaints from local priests,
Francis sided with the bishop. According to the former vicar
general of the diocese, even after obscene photographs of the
bishop and of young men were discovered on Zanchetta’s phone,
the pope accepted his explanation that he’d been hacked by
“conservatives” and “anti-Francis” forces in the diocese.
“Even after the pope finally accepted Zanchetta’s
resignation in 2017 — ostensibly for health reasons — the Vatican
still insisted that it had not received any firm complaints against
the bishop until the following year, despite considerable reporting
appearing to show the contrary.
“Francis went further than just accepting Zanchetta’s
resignation for “health reasons,” though, creating a sinecure
position for him in the curia, and giving him a home in the Vatican
hotel where the pope himself lives.
“Perhaps most awkwardly for the pope, he kept
Zanchetta in a Vatican job and residence during exactly the
period when the Church was reeling from the scandal of former
cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and as the pope was convening a
global summit of the world’s bishops to address the question of
episcopal accountability….
“While Francis did order a preliminary investigation
into Zanchetta, and announced that there would be a canonical
trial at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2019, the
results of neither process have been made public, or shared with
the Argentine authorities, despite papal policies explicitly aimed
at transparency in such cases…
“The pope has promulgated several policies aimed at
preventing and prosecuting cover ups or abuse itself. But he has
also shown himself reluctant to act on allegations against friends,
as in the case of Zanchetta, or when he believes the allegations
could be politically motivated, as was the case in a 2018 fracas
over a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse, whom
Francis vigorously defended, before eventually apologizing to
victims and accepting the bishop’s resignation from his diocesan
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles