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December 28, 2003

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Sandra Miesel

Criticizing a bad episcopal decision only makes prelates dig in their heels and stick to their plans. In a few years this church--and any like it--will be shut down. Watch for the poor pastor to be shunted off to work removed from a parish setting.

Rod Dreher

That may be, Sandra, but somebody has to bear public witness to the persecution of this holy priest by the Bishop of Dallas. +Grahmann is going to do what he wants to do, and to hell with the Catholic people here. But he's bloody well going to be told what he's doing -- and so will Dallas. I tell you, this parish is so wonderful. Fr. Weinberger is everything you could want in a priest. His faith is ardent and palpable, he's so warm and loving, and he preaches the orthodox Catholic faith fearlessly, but with good cheer. He is unswervingly loyal to the Holy Father, too. The other day I was thinking about him and praying for him, and it occurred to me that Karol Wojtyla was probably a lot like Paul Weinberger in his parish days. I wonder if a Fr. Wojtyla would stand a chance in the Diocese of Dallas.

The heartbreaking thing about all of this is not so much what's going to happen to Fr. Weinberger; he'll land on his feet somewhere, and whichever parish gets him will be richly blessed. But what will become of Blessed Sacrament parish and its people? They love him so much. On Christmas Eve, we drove by the rectory to leave a Christmas gift, and there in the parking lot after dark was a Mexican immigrant gentleman, keeping watch over the parish (remember, it's in a bad neighborhood). My wife said, "You know, I don't think there's been a time that I've been here when that man isn't sitting right here in the parking lot, keeping an eye on the place." The devotion these poor people have to their parish and its pastor, who cared for them when nobody else did, is incredible.

Of course, faithful Mexicans are the easiest Catholics to trample on here in Dallas, especially if they're poor... .

Please pray for Fr. Weinberger and his parish. They really need a miracle. And if you want to see what kind of parish this is, check out the Blessed Sacrament parish website.

Nicole

Sigh. I'm emotional today for other reasons, but reading about this just made me so sad for that Parish. I think it was/is important for Rod and others to speak out. No way can we sit by and let things things go w/out comment. Yes, it may not change anything, but at least you will know you spoke up.

God Bless,
Nicole
St. Louis, MO

Rod Dreher

That's what I don't get about so many Catholics today: why we put up with this kind of treatment from the episcopate. After all they've put us through with the scandal, to say nothing of wreckovations, liturgical nonsense, catechetical calamities, and so forth, to have to have a beloved and much-needed priest ripped out of his parish for no good reason -- no reason at all, actually; the bishop has never told Fr. Weinberger why it is that he should be removed from Blessed Sacrament now -- is just beyond the pale.

Honestly, folks, what is the Church and who is it for? Is it the plaything of the episcopate? We do believe in a hierarchy, that the bishops are our fathers in God. But as we heard in today's Scripture readings, the obedience a child owes to his father also comes with an father's obligation to be just to his children. There is no justice in what is being done to the pastor and people of Blessed Sacrament parish by the current bishop of Dallas. It is capricious and cruel, and if it serves the building up of the Kingdom, I can't see it at all.

At what point are the common, ordinary Catholics going to say, "Enough, bishop. Enough. You can't carry on like this. You can't treat people like this."? What is it going to take, folks?

Rod Dreher

I apologize for blogging so much on this issue, but it's one that's close to my heart, and I only had a limited amount of space in my newspaper to tell this story.

If you want to know more details about what's going on with this parish, Fr. Joe Wilson has written about it recently here.

I should say one other thing. After reading either that article, or Fr. Wilson's Wanderer story on the situation, a layman in San Diego contacted Deacon Bronson Havard, the bishop's spokesman, to express his concerns. According to the layman, Havard dismissed the numerous masses and hours in confession and devotions Fr. Weinberger offers at this parish as "busy work." Havard also allegedly told this layman that the diocese had had other priests doing the same kind of "busy work," and they'd turned out to be pedophiles.

I asked Havard via e-mail if he had in fact told this layman these things. The only response he gave me was to say that the layman's accusations against him were "spurious." Take that for what you will.

Ken

According to the parish website, Fr. Weinberger has withdrawn his request for a sabbatical, which was to be a break between parish assignments. I had'nt seen his Thanksgiving letter before; it's heartbreaking. You have to wonder what's really going on.

Father Weinberger promised obedience to the Bishop of Dallas and his successors at his ordination. He is therefore bound to the bishop's directives. Nothing says he has to be quiet about it, but history has tales of God blessing the obedient and that will certainly happen to this good man.

If nothing else, maybe this will finally force Bp. Grahmann into the retirement Bp. Galante's coming was supposed to herald. Whether Bp. Galante will be any better remains an open question.

Ken

I just remembered something: I've been told by a priest that a Latin Rite priest always has the right to say the Novus Ordo in Latin. Isn't that true?

Fr. Rob Johansen

Ken:

The so-called "Novus Ordo" mass is The Mass of the Roman rite, according to the Missal of Paul VI. It is the Mass of the Roman Rite. English or other translations of it are derivations of it, but the normative Mass of the Roman Rite is the Mass of Paul VI in Latin, according to the Latin liturgical books.

A bishop could not forbid a priest to use the Novus Ordo in Latin, because an ordinary cannot locally abolish what is universally normative.

However, Bp. Grahmann isn't saying to Fr. Weinberger, "don't celebrate Mass in Latin." The deviousness of it is that Bp. Grahmann isn't saying anything about Latin at all. He's just transferring Weinberger and thus putting an end to his work there at Blessed Sacrament. The Bp. has "plausible deniability", except it's not really plausible.

What is most discouraging about this is that it's an act of cowardice and dishonesty on Bp. Grahmann's part. If Grahmann had come out and said "I don't want anymore of those Latin shenannigans going on", he'd at least be acting the part of a man in this.

Rod is right: this isn't about what happens to Fr. Weinberger, its about what's being done to the parish in order to enforce a moribund diocesan mediocrity.

Nancy

Rod, your plea - "At what point are the common, ordinary Catholics going to say, "Enough, bishop. Enough. You can't carry on like this. You can't treat people like this."? What is it going to take, folks?" certainly resonates with me, but what exactly can we common, ordinary Catholics do? I have been as frustrated as anyone with abuses such as a planned wreckovation at my parish, horrendous liturgies, pathetic cathechism, arrogant pastors, the pedophile scandals,etc., but WHAT CAN I DO? My feelings of powerlessness and the resulting increasing alienation from the Church is the biggest frustration of all.

Ken

Father Johanson -

Thanks for the clarification on the Latin. It was, in fact, Deacon Havard and not the bishop who claimed that Fr. Weinberger failed to get permission to celebrate in Latin. I just didn't understand why he would need permission.

With due respect, I'm not sure that invoking diocesan mediocrity completely answers the question of why this is happening (although one should never underestimate diocesan mediocrity). For one thing, the Catholic Church in Dallas has grown dramatically under Bp. Grahmann, even as a percentage of the population. If I'm not mistaken, they constitute 25% of the population, which is the national average. That's amazing here in the Baptist Belt. Moreover, when they split the old diocese into two - Dallas and Fort Worth - we in Fort Worth got the "progressives" and Dallas got the more traditionally minded. Granted that was two or three bishops ago, but my impression was that Dallas was generally more traditional. Certainly, Dignity doesn't operate under diocesan auspices in Dallas (it does in Fort Worth, although disguised).

It may be racism - Bp. Grahmann hasn't demonstrated much competence with the hispanic community. I don't believe that the bishop is listening anybody within the parish, and the location can't have that much value as real estate.

Maybe I shouldn't be looking for the "ah-ha!" element - the one thing that's REALLY behind it all. You may be right, after all and it's just professional - or, God forbid - spiritual jealousy.

Rod Dreher

Ken, the Dallas diocese loves to say how much the Church has grown under Grahmann, but what they don't tell you is how the growth of the diocese parallels the population growth in Dallas, especially the large number of Hispanic immigrants who have moved into the diocese. They could have a potted plant as bishop, and the numbers would still have increased simply because Dallas itself is growing. Unless you think these Catholics are moving to Dallas to be part of whatever it is Bp. Grahmann does, these numbers don't count for much.

Nancy, I hear you: it's frustrating because you feel like there's nothing much that can be done. I feel the same way. I'd love to be part of something like Voice of the Faithful, but a VOTF that was truly faithful to the Magisterium. I wish there were a group here, for example, that would hold public prayer vigils and rallies to protest the bishop's moving on Blessed Sacrament church. I wish there were a way for us to withhold contributions and direct them to doing the work of the Church, instead of the schemes of the bishop. You know, though, I have been told by a number of faithful priests that they are so encouraged by laymen who tell the truth about what's going on in their dioceses, and who stand up and make their voices heard, in the local media and in whichever way possible, for the side of righteousness and the Faith.

It's just such a damned discouraging thing to see a priest like Fr. Weinberger who does everything right, the kind of priest that makes us all so proud and grateful for the priesthood, the kind of priest that would make the Holy Father beam, being treated this way -- and more importantly, the people who have so little in their lives, and who depend on him so much, treated with such contempt by the chancery. In its own way, what's happening to Blessed Sacrament now is not all that far removed from The Mission.

David Morrison

If people were fired up about this in Dallas, and if I were there, I might take into my cap to organize a formal protest of sorts. Sit ins at the parish, sit ins at the Diocesan offices and rectory might be options. Also, I might explore the Hispanic power factor of the situation and try to find some parishioners to speak to the Hispanic press and try to draw some of the National Hispanic Organizations like La Raza into the discussion. In other words, make moving Father Paul more embarassing to the Bishop than leaving him in place would be.

Rod Dreher

You know, David, I wonder about whether the Hispanic Catholics here will be moved to do anything. I was told two years ago by a prominent lawyer active in abuse litigation that Hispanic Catholics in America today are where Anglos were 20 years ago: they still can't bring themselves to believe that priests do these things to children. She told me that in the next couple of decades, get ready for an explosion of abuse litigation from Hispanic adults who were abused as children. It's also the case now that with many of these Catholics, especially immigrants to America, they have a fatalistic and overly deferential view of the bishop. They're not going to protest because one doesn't do that sort of thing. One just sits back and takes it.

I hope this is a situation in which they say: "NO. Not this time, bishop. Not this priest, and not this parish."

Ken

Mr. Dreher -

Some think that Dallas does have a potted plant for a bishop - unfortunately, a carnivorous species.

I was under the impression that the growth in the Church in Dallas outstripped the population growth (I would have assumed by local converts), but you would probably have better stats. In any case, if a lot of the growth is coming from the hispanic influx, that would skew growth data.

Bp. Grahmann ticked off the hispanic community once by selling off St. Ann's School, the old parish school that served them back in the day. I don't remember how it all turned out, but there were some pretty serious protests. Of course, he was selling it to pay for the costs associated with the Rudy Kos case, another of his finer moments.

Fr. Brian Stanley

This is such a sad story. I have little understanding of Bp. Grahmann, who seems to have made, time and again, such poor decisions. As much as I disagree with Bp. Grahmann's decision to move Fr. Weinberger, I have to admit that the bishop must maintain the right to transfer, regardless of the public protests. Otherwise, it is just possible to have "creeping congregationalism," and parishes will dictate only specific priests to be assigned, and will miss out on the opportunity to grow, just as Blessed Sacrament had the opportunity to grow under Fr. Weinberger's pastoral care.

There is a situation in Chicago, at St. Sabina parish, where the Cardinal will not move a priest who is very vocal, and has much public support. I forget his name -- I think his first name is Michael. Anyway, he stirs up the people to protest his transfer -- all the publicity makes the front page of the Sun-Times and the Trib. The problem is that this priest Fr. Michael is neither faithful or obedient, and has taken tremendous liberties liturgically and otherwise. Maybe his last name is Pifher -- something like that. He is a political fellow, a self-styled champion of the poor, who has no doubt done much advocacy for the poor and made a difference in the community. The problem is that the priest suffers from the delusion of indispensibility. His argument was that all his good work would fall apart if he wasn't there. This is not necessarily a good thing, to perform a ministry so stylized that it is totally dependent upon one particular person. It hamstrings the bishop to make personnel moves that may be advantageous for another suffering parish.

I do not make the claim that Bp. Grahmann moves Fr. Weinberger with the intention of having Fr. Weinberger perform his most excellent ministry in another parish. I do not know Bp. Grahmann's intention. I just know that a diocesan bishop has to have the freedom to move his priests around at will, for the good of the diocese. It remains to be seen that any good will come from this particular move by Bp. Grahmann. I am just sorry that Fr. Weinberger has become so indispensible to Blessed Sacrament.

Charles M. de Nunzio

"That's what I don't get about so many Catholics today: why we put up with this kind of treatment from the episcopate. After all they've put us through with the scandal, to say nothing of wreckovations, liturgical nonsense, catechetical calamities, and so forth, to have to have a beloved and much-needed priest ripped out of his parish for no good reason...."

A good question and the heart of the reason why, Faith taking precedence over obedience, I have been frequenting the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X and its allies for almost 20 years. Refer to II Corinthians X.8: the authority of the Apostles (and hence their successors) is given, as also common sense would indicate, for the edification and not the destruction of the Church. The faithful have no obligation to tolerate a rigged status quo that is the direct result of a set of policies systematically resulting in the destruction of the Church, as their rights to authentic doctrine and Sacraments are rooted in the absolute necessity of these things for their salvation.

Interestingly enough, a recent letter from Msgr. Camille Perl to an inquiry, published by several of the "Ecclesia Dei" associations, very begrudgingly concedes that Catholics could attend, and even make token financial contributions to, chapels of the SSPX, without sin so long as the attendee has no intentions of partaking of a schismatic mindset or intent. (The Una Voce Web site has this letter.)

And no matter what anti-traditionalist polemicists may say, there is no formal schism, i.e. guilt for the mortal sin of schism, without there first being the explicit and deliberate intention to be a schismatic. (See the Catholic Encyclopedia 1913, "Schism," for an excellent explanation distinguishing schism from disobedience.) Material schism (which I'm still not convinced is true of the SSPX anyway), so to speak, isn't enough for guilt, just as one incurs no guilt for material heresy but does when the heresy becomes formal, i.e., explicitly intentional.

Ken

My last post was flippant and I apologize for it. Whatever Bp. Grahmann's faults, he remains a successor of the apostles, a Catholic bishop, and I, a Catholic laymen, should show more respect to his office than I did.

Which is not to say that we should be silent in disagreement. Duty requires, I believe, that we speak our minds fully, but in charity, remembering, as Fr. Stanley implies, the story may have more than one side, and the bishop does act within his perogatives.

Again my apologies.

Rod Dreher

From what I understand, the bishop has (allegedly) made several canonically unsupportable moves in the case of Fr. Weinberger's transfer, and there may be a canonical lawsuit before this is all over. As I indicated in my column, the bishop -- any bishop -- has the right to move priests around, but one also has to be mindful of pastoral prudence. This move would be a lot easier to understand if Grahmann had shown any enthusiasm for the work Fr. W. had done in that parish over the years. Do you know that of the 66 parishes in the diocese, Fr. W.'s alone baptizes 15 percent of the Catholic babies here? There have been so many fruits of his ministry in that parish, and I know that at least one Catholic homeschooling group in town relies on him from time to time to give religious instruction to their children: kids love Fr. Weinberger, because he's so gentle with and kind to them, and parents know he's catechetically trustworthy. Our four-year-old prays for Fr. Weinberger all the time, and not because we ask him to; he's been around him enough to know that Jesus is in that good priest.

My guess as to why things there are so dependent on Fr. W's ministry is the kind of ministry he does. He is deeply, deeply involved in the spiritual lives of his parishioners, to a degree I've never before observed. My sense is -- and again, I'm just guessing -- that the people of his parish are so stressed by their circumstances, economic and otherwise, that they need a priest with Fr. Weinberger's extraordinary gifts and energy and devotion to make the parish work. Remember, this parish was going to close down before he got there, and he made it into an oasis of faith, hope and beauty -- so much so that even non-Catholics noticed that something good was happening there.

If Fr. W. were sent away, there would almost certainly be no more Latin Novus Ordo there, and it's a safe bet that the other things he offers that attract so many faithful Catholics -- like Gregorian chant, Eucharistic adoration, the chanting of the Hours throughout the nights of Holy Week -- would disappear too. You go there, and you find people who literally drive a hundred miles or more just to attend mass at Blessed Sacrament, or have Fr. Weinberger hear their confession. Blessed Sacrament has become a center of hope not only for the poor of that neighborhood, but for orthodox Catholics all over this region. Why should it be destroyed? What good does that do any of us?

Rod Dreher

And to be more precise: Why should the bishop do this, and not expect to have to be accountable for his decision to the people who would be affected by it: the Catholics of that parish, and of this diocese?

Kris

It seems to me that I have seen laity at, ahem, progressive parishes assert themselves with new pastors to prevent changing things, even though what may be in place was bordering on liturgical abuse. What couldn't the members of this parish do the same--make it clear to the Bishop and the new pastor what they will expect of them in terms of conserving what is now the tradition at their parish, and is in line with Rome?

If we as parishoners do not hold our priests and bishops to a high standard, why should we be disappointed when they fail to live up to it?

Lynn

"Havard also allegedly told this layman that the diocese had had other priests doing the same kind of 'busy work,' and they'd turned out to be pedophiles."

This is slander, and evil, and Havard should be prosecuted for it. Is there a good lawyer in that parish or diocese who's willing to take it?

And numerous Masses, confession hours, and devotions are "busy work?" What kind of idiocy is that? Enough is enough! What can we do? Multiple emails to the bishop? Write to the Pope? Certainly Catholics should be informed that this situation exists.

Rod Dreher

To be scrupulous about it, I don't think what Havard said, if true, is legally actionable, however wicked. He didn't say that Fr. Weinberger is a pedophile; he said (or is alleged to have said; Havard, again, says the claim that he made this statement is "spurious"), in effect, that the fact that Weinberger offers so many masses and hours of confession proves nothing about his character. Even the pedophiles do that much.

It is a horrible thing to have said, but I don't think it constitutes the legal definition of slander. Still, if it's true -- and offered a clear opportunity to deny it, Havard told me only that the allegation made by the San Diego man was "spurious" -- it's ... well, it's useful for Catholics here and elsewhere to know what kind of mindset operates in our chancery.

You know, Lynn, I wonder if writing to Rome, or to this or any bishop, would do a bit of good. But I guess doing something is better than nothing. Maybe heaven will grant Blessed Sacrament parish its miracle.

Father Wilson

I am jumping in here late, but I have a few thoughts to offer.

First, with all respect to Father Stanley, I'm sorry, but the last thing a Bishop needs is the power to transfer priests at will. The authority to transfer is carefully circumscribed by canon law, and a wise bishop will respect that. One of the worst things I have ever heard from a superior was a talk given by our seminary rector, in which he told us that he sincerely hopes that we'd feel free to tell himself, or the vice-rectors, anything we told our spiritual directors.

That was really horrifying. The Church has a careful distinction between internal forum (confession; spiritual direction) and external forum (rector, pastor, bishop), to the point where our rector or vice rectors could not even hear our confessions (unless we were dying). But this rector had so forgotten his own limitations as to disregard the wisdom of the Church through the ages, and decree that the distinction was irrelevant!

CANON LAW carefully circumscribes the authority of a Bishop in appointments. A wise Bishop understands that this is for himself -- lest he become a despot -- as well as for his people. ALL of Christ's Faithful need to find themselves within the law, so that they can dwell together in charity.

Fr Weinberger finds himself in a situation in which nothing but contempt has been shown for his rights under the law. He received a decree removing him as Pastor which had very serious problems and was unfounded under the Law: the Bishop ignored his respectful requests fot it to be withdrawn. The Bishop's spokesman made hurtful and inaccurate statements in an interview printed nationally; the bishop ignores repeated requests for public clarification. The outrageous comment that the Bishop's spokesman has known pedophiles who occupied themselves in 'busywork' as Father Weinberger does ('busywork' being synonymous with sacraments) was VIGOROUSLY protested to the Bishop. No clarification. No reply. Nada.

Father Weinberger's situation is not a question of obedience to the Bishop -- Bishop Grahmann has not accused Father of being disobedient, or of breaking a canon, at all.

The situation is one in which a basic imbalance must be corrected. Bishop Grahmann and Father Weinberger, the Diocese of Dallas and Blessed Sacrament Church all need to find themselves, as Christ's Faithful, within the law.

As it is, I believe that Bp Grahmann wants Fr Weinberger out. Issued an invalid decree. Ignored his letters (FIVE letters since Nov. 17, 2003) attempting to address the situation, all because he was trying to run out the clock, until the date of Jan 6, the transfer date, was reached. Letters asking for correction of the decree ignored; letters asking that possibly slanderous statements be corrected, ignored.

This is how a Father-in-God acts. One of his Priests writes FIVE LETTERS to address their differences amicably, and the Bishop cannot even pick up a telephone to say, "Let's talk."

Amy has linked to the BishopAccountability website. Charles Grahmann has a horrible long page there, folks. I'm watching this whole situation, I'm privy to the facts, and I'm just amazed that this can go on in the Catholic Church in our country.

I will stake my whole reputation on this: I know Father Paul Weinberger as well as anyone. He is a man of absolutely perfect integrity and a Priest of the very highest ideals. If the needs of the Church genuinely required his transfer he would be the first to say, "I'm gone." But this nonsense of, uncanonically, with complete disregard for the rights of a Priest, of due process, of anything at all, forcing a transfer, all the while allowing one's spokesman to denigrate the character of a dedicated Priest, and all of this coming from a Bishop with the appalling record of Grahmann:

Well, folks, maybe you do, indeed, have the Bishop you deserve, if you're going to put up with this!

Todd

Peace, all.

I've followed this story with interest, as I have seen many progressive parishes upended by such transfers. Every time a priest is transferred, parishioners worry about getting someone who will dismantle good work.

I suspect that Fr Weinberger is a successful pastor more because he cares about liturgy and the people, and less because of the specifics of Latin Masses or "busy work." I've known success stories on the other side. My own home parish in the 80's attracted people from across the ideological spectrum because of its intentional Catholicism.

Rod asked, "At what point are the common, ordinary Catholics going to say, "Enough, bishop. Enough. You can't carry on like this. You can't treat people like this."? What is it going to take, folks?"

Withholding cash: one of the few powers the people retain.

The "busy work" comment, if accurate, indicates a sad disregard for good liturgy and spirituality. The real test ahead for Blessed Sacrament: will people hold fast to what has begun, or will they roll over like sheep? Though not a fan of worship in Latin, it would be interesting to see the 10:30 Mass respond in Latin no matter what the new pastor's language was.

Having said that however, I can't imagine any priest is going into this assignment with great relish. Unless Fr W has formed the people well in charity and patience, this is going to be a nightmare for the replacement guy.

Rod Dreher

Withholding cash: one of the few powers the people retain.

Ah, but here's where the bishop has Blessed Sacrament over the barrel. If it's true, as many suspect, that he ultimately wants to close this parish down, sooner rather than later, what better option than to have its people stop donating money to support it?

Like I said, these people need a miracle. We Catholics in America have more to suffer from the Church, it seems, than for the Church.

Ken

Todd -

Fr. Weinberger's interest in the Latin Mass was to unify the parish, originally at the Christmas Midnight Mass.

I'm no devotee of Latin, but I am an Anglo in a predomimately Hispanic parish. Latin is a practical alternative to the "bi-lingual" Mass and eliminates any trace of discrimination. Blessed Sacrament also offers Masses in Spanish and English.

Lynnq

I see your point, Rod. Perhaps we should start with prayer (novel idea)! I was just casting about for straws...I doubt writing the Pope would help either, although a stream of letters might inspire a response. I share the frustration expressed by Nancy and others here.
Where do we go from "Enough is enough!"

Franklin Jennings

I've been working twelve hour days since the middle of December (barely making my Mass obligation even!) and am exhausted. Then I read mroe about what is happening to this fine preist and it brought me down even farther. But then...

I have to nominate Rod for funniest comment all day!

"They could have a potted plant as bishop..."

David Kubiak

With respect to Fr. Johansen I'm afraid he is wrong about a bishop's ability to forbid the Novus Ordo in Latin. This issue has been discussed by canonists, and the conclusion is
that while technically a lower authority cannot forbid what a higher one permits, practically speaking the Roman authorities will not interfere with a bishop's right to be the overseer
of liturgy in his diocese. One of the best priests in my diocese was threatend with
suspension 'a divinis' if he celebrated the NO in Latin, and there is little doubt the
bishop could have made good on his threat.

And to repeat by own version of 'Carthago delenda est', the rite of Pope Paul VI is juridically the current Roman rite of the Church; historically it is not.

Fr. Brian Stanley

Dear Father Wilson,

Perhaps my use of the phrase "at will" failed to express the proper legal term. Of course, my respect for the office of bishop presumes the exercise of that office within canonical boundaries. While I am not at all privy to the extensive list of particulars in Fr. Weinberger's case, I agree that given the facts you present here, the bishop in this case has acted outside of canonical norms.

A bishop would be ill-advised to move a pastor, pastors having very particular rights in canon law, who does not wish to be moved. That being acknowledged, a priest has to have very good reason(s) to say "no" to a bishop. I still do not agree with the notion of indispensibility, which is the strong undercurrent to earlier comments. DeGaulle observed that the cemeteries are filled with indispensible men, and I agree. I live and work in this parish, and give of myself to this parish, with the notion that I am replaceable, and that I should have a proper detachment from this parish if the bishop should need me elsewhere. I am his co-operator, his vicar in this parish. I admire Fr. Weinberger's obedience and detachment, and fully repudiate the actions of Bp. Grahmann in this case. But a diocesan priest has no right to a particular parish, and the bishop, for good or for ill, makes the personnel decisions in the diocese; even when a personnel board exists, assignments are made in the bishop's name. Yes, there will be petty despots -- the history of the Church is replete with martinets in chanceries. There have been and will also be bishops who have an accurate and compassionate view to the entire diocese, one view that the local pastor may lack. The apostolic nuncio needs to have this brought to his attention. Protests, sit-ins, withholding contributions are not as effective as a whole truckload of letters complaining about the actions of the bishop of Dallas.

The apostolic nuncio in Washington is:

The Most Reverend Gabriel Montalvo
3339 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008-3687
tel: 202-333-7121
fax: 202-337-4036

I am informed that Abp. Montalvo's opinions were very important to the changes made in Boston this year. Please let the archbishop know of the lack of confidence among the Dallas faithful in Bp. Grahmann.

kevin lents

David, what about using ANY Latin in a NO Mass?

Does a bishop have the authority to forbid any use of Latin at any of his parishes by one of his priests?

(say the Kyrie, Santus, Agnus Dei etc.)

cs

I agree with Fr. Stanley. The last thing a papal diplomat wants is a truckload of letters, ESPECIALLY if they are well written, concise, and honest. Name-calling will defeat the purpose, of course.

Could other parishoners unleash the power of the Blog?

David Kubiak

In reply to Kevin, I think it is entirely a question of the bishop's whim how much Latin can or cannot appear in the NO. I wonder, for example, if it is widely known that in the much admired diocese of Arlington, the bishop forbade the student choir at Christendom College from singing the Kyrie of the Missa Papae Marcelli at their Commencement. My territorial bishop has used the GIRM to argue that private prayer after Communion can no longer be tolerated. The point being that collegiality has come to mean local tyrrany pure and simple. If you write the Roman authorities the first thing they will do is send the letter right back to the prelate you are complaining about.

Father Wilson

Dear Fr Stanley,

"That being acknowledged, a priest has to have very good reason(s) to say "no" to a bishop. I still do not agree with the notion of indispensibility, which is the strong undercurrent to earlier comments."

I agree absolutely. Fr Weinberger does, too.

Fr Weinberger's request was to be permitted to stay at Blessed Sacrament, at least to finish out the customarey two terms if a pastor (two more years, bringing him to twelve). If this were not possible, then he requested a sabbatical before being transferred. All of this is in writing and was agreed upon at a meeting last June between Fr Weinberger and his bishop.

Father was shocked to receive a decree on Nov 17 removing him as Pastor, releasing him for a sabbatical beginning Jan 6th and announcing the appointment of an Administrator. He IMMEDIATELY wrote pointing out that he had NOT resigned as Pastor.

Instead of appointing an administrator so that on Jan 6th Fr Weinberger could go off, as Pastor, on sabbatical, to return, as Pastor, in June, either to Blessed Sacrament or to receive another assignment, the Bishop expected to strip him of his canonical office of Pastor, send him off to sabbatical and a wholly uncertain future dependent upon the good will of Bishop Grahmann. This is wholly irregular and unfair. Repeated attempts to have it corrected have been met with the silence of the Bishop. Father finally, in frustration, withdrew his request for a sabbatical -- his life has been in such turmoil that he knew a sabbatical would be neither restful nor helpful.

Finally, on Sat Dec 20, Fr Weinberger received an astounding letter. Ignoring almost all of the concerns raised in the five letters Fr Weinberger had sent him, Bishop Grahmann said that in light of the fact that Fr Paul had withdrawn his sabbatical request, he was proposing a new transfer to occur on January 6th, and gave Father until Tuesday December 23rd to respond.

In other words, all of a sudden Bishop Grahmann introduces a wholly new subject -- a JANUARY transfer, which had never been considered, rather than a JUNE transfer. Ignoring the customary canonical "you have seven usable days to consider this," meaning not counting holydays, weekends... the Bishop abruptly demands a reply within less than two days. He made a point at the beginning of his letter that he had carefully secured canonical counsel, so one can only conclude that the contempt for Father Weinberger's rights is deliberate.

Not to mention that Father Weinberger's demand that the comments of the Bishop's spokesman denigrating him be corrected is simply swept away, ignored by the Bishop.

At this stage of the game, it becomes an issue of conscience, I think. For Bishops like Charles Grahmann, the episcopate isn't a position of service, but a personal eminence to which one has attained by dint of one's personal sterling gifts, and to be held onto at all costs. The record set out on his BishopAccountabiity page is shameful, yet he clings to office. The Holy See appoints a coadjutor (hint! hint!), yet he remains. And if he gets away with this behavior with Father Weinberger, the next priest who gets dumped on by him will have nowhere to turn.

As for the Nuncio and other letter campaigns: this matter is not unknown to the higher reaches of the hierarchy, and there have been very helpful contacts. I do not think a letter campaign will help now; I am, frankly, very hopeful that this matter will have a happy resolution.

Father Wilson

Actually, as I review this post, I think it's TEN usable days you'd ordinarily have to reply to such a letter. But it ain't TWO!

Ken

When Bp. Grahmann was first appointed to Dallas, a priest of my acquaintance noted that they had been in seminary together and that whatever Bp. Grahmann did in Dallas would be "by the book". That was not, I think, a compliment. Nor does it sound, with the present information, especially accurate.

Kirk

A parish must be stronger than its pastor. My own parish, a Jesuit parish in Washington, has seen its share of exceptional pastors. But, in the Jesuit tradition, no one remains pastor beyond six years (our most recent retired from his position after 3 years only to be almost immediately pressed into duty as interim president of Loyola University of New Orleans.)

Still, the parish remains strong and, perhaps because of the regular pastoral changes, the people of the parish are particularly active in leadership roles. (Then, again, it may be because the Jesuits are not intimidated by active lay Catholics but rather encourage us.)

If a strong foundation has been laid, Blessed Sacrament of Dallas will be fine under its new pastor.

Finally, kudos to Rod for recognizing the value of Voice of the Faithful! VOTF believes that the lay should have a greater role in Church decisions. Some of you may THINK that VOTF is heretical, but what you are arguing for in the case of Fr. W is what many VOTFers would want, too. Get beyond the orthodox vs. progressive debate and recognize that VOTF can be a voice for ALL of us on certain issues.

Gray Eminence

"Some of you may THINK that VOTF is heretical, but what you are arguing for in the case of Fr. W is what many VOTFers would want, too. Get beyond the orthodox vs. progressive debate and recognize that VOTF can be a voice for ALL of us on certain issues."

"Get BEYOND the orthodox vs. progressive debate"??!

I don't know how others feel, but to me, truth in faith and charity are much more important than power and politics.

Pax Christi vobiscum.

Darrel

We should all confront the undeniable fact that the Catholic Church in America slides to Gomorrah every day. Fr. Walter Cuenin of Boston -- surely a closeted queen if that term has not become redundant when applied to 50 - 60 per cent of the priesthood -- has dissented publicly for so long that there is no possibility he will experience anything other than approbation from his undoubtedly legions of Jesuit friends. Certainly Archbishop O'Malley will do nothing against Cuenin's heresy.

The Church is moribund. Take it off life support. Stop giving money to continue the AHN that will only prolong the agony of believers.

Joe McFaul

I think Kirk's point is that much of the "orthodox/progessive" debate is merely of the "tastes great/less filling" variety--neither side has a monopoly on charity or truth.

JACK

Rod:

Maybe this is the naive person in me, but do you think it would be possible for the parish community itself to preserve what Fr. W. has started there? I mean, is there a strong enough culture there that they could force the new pastor to preserve what by all accounts is a thriving and prayerful parish? I realize that no one wants to see a beloved pastor leave, but why make that the battle point? I think Fr. W. is far likely to be left in place if the diocese came to realize that there would be no changing this parish (essentially, why not leave in place a guy who actually seems to like to do the work entailed than one who wouldn't). But you are on the ground, not me, so I would love your thoughts.

Patrick Rothwell

The Jesuit parish that Kirk refers to is not at all a similar situation to that of Blessed Sacrament. I believe he is referring to Holy Trinity. Father Maier left the Jesuits because he did not want to live a chaste celibate life. He moved out West and joined the Metropolitan Community Church, I believe. The second pastor, Father Madden, ran afoul of Cardinal Hickey (rightfully so) because of gross liturgical abuses at that parish including allowing women ministers from other denominations in the sanctuary to preach, distribute communion, and otherwise act in a manner that suggested that they were priests. The third, Father Byron, the ex-President of CUA, was a compromise candidate that all parties could live with. He is now, as you say, engaging in damage control at a University down South.

When it comes to Blessed Sacrament, I am reserving judgment, and I won't say anymore than that. No matter whether the Bishop of Dallas is right or wrong, it can be fairly said that the issues involved are very different.

Franklin Jennings

Thank you for setting the record straight there, Patrick.

Therese

Modern Definition of Heretic: Heretic -- someone who believes heresey still exists in a postmodern world.

Therese

Modern Definition of Heretic: Heretic -- someone who believes what the Church has always held and who even goes so far as to believe that heresey still exists in a postmodern world.

Modern Inquisition Punishment for Heretical Clergy(see above for definition of heresey):

If offender can be goaded into open dissenion with authority -- remove them from priesthood while iron is hot.

If offender persists in annoying habit of "obeying", issue statements painting said individual as an extremist and implement the slow but sure spiral of maddening and more maddening inconsequential pastoral posts: small parish 200 miles from the nearest gas station as an assistant in a parish, assistant to the past of the most progressive parish, hospital chaplain, or a supporting role in the archdiocesan cemetary support services corps.

Therese

Modern Definition of Heretic: Heretic -- someone who believes what the Church has always held and who even goes so far as to believe that heresey still exists in a postmodern world.

Modern Inquisition Punishment for Heretical Clergy(see above for definition of heresey):

If offender can be goaded into open dissenion with authority -- remove them from priesthood while iron is hot.

If offender persists in annoying habit of "obeying", issue statements painting said individual as an extremist and implement the slow but sure spiral of maddening and more maddening inconsequential pastoral posts: small parish 200 miles from the nearest gas station as an assistant in a parish, assistant to the past of the most progressive parish, hospital chaplain, or a supporting role in the archdiocesan cemetary support services corps.

cs

Don't joke about the cemetery corps! Way back in '49 Queen -- oh, Cardinal Spellman made the seminarians dig graves in the snow when the gravediggers went on strike.

David Kubiak

I am certainly ready to believe the worst of the American hierarchy, but what exactly is the proof the Cardinal Spellman was leading a secret homosexual life? People seem to take it as a given today, but I have never heard anything but 'everybody knows about that' adduced to support the claim.

Ken

A friend of mine in Dallas told me he is going to write the nuncio about Fr. Weinberger - to recommend him for the episcopate.

Now that might be a letter campaign worth the effort.

And while we're at it... Fr. Johanson... Fr. Stanley... Fr. Wilson...

And they say the Catholic Church in the U.S. has no future!

austin

I think Rod is on the right track when he writes publically about these issues. Bishops get embarrassed too as their foibles are revealed and do not like to be seen as dictatorial despots. More letters and flyers informing people about the Dallas Bishop's heavy handed 'rule' and refusal to respond to the laity would help. People don't know (they are busy working, etc.) and marketing experts say people have to hear something seven times to get the message.

James Kabala

Fr. Weinberger certainly seems like a holy priest, and Bishop Grahmann seems like an awful bishop, but I agree with Fr. Stanley that some of the comments have treated Fr. Weinberger as indispensible and acted as though Blessed Sacrament would fall apart without him. What would have happened if Fr. Weinberger had been moved two years from now as part of the normal course of things? Obviously those who attended Blessed Sacrament only for the Latin Mass could follow Fr. Weinberger to his next assignment, but the poor Hispanics whom both Mr. Dreher and Deacon Harvard invoke probably have an attachment to their local parish, and the same, of course, goes for any whites, blacks, or Asians who are Catholic and just happen to live in Blessed Sacrament's neighborhood.

Daniel Muller

Whereas individual members may be sincere in their devotion, VOTF as a group is against the mind of the Church. Their unwillingness to define what "structural change" they support in their small corner of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church is the tip of the iceberg. The next, rather blunt, icy chunk is the kind of speakers they attract. The scandal is still truly being hijacked as we write, and some of the most effective loci are gatherings such as these. Again, sincere members of VOTF deserve our sympathy and prayers.

Those who are genuinely interested in their rights as laity (or pastors!) WITHIN the Church, and are not already in the know, as it were, may be interested in the work of the St. Joseph Foundation, headed by Charles Wilson (no relation to Fr. Joseph Wilson!). The St. Joseph Foundation exists to help preserve the rights of the faithful under the new Codex Juris Canonicis, promulgated under the present Pope, who hailed the "novus habitus mentis" revealed in it.

Chuck and his associates seem to be doing a very good job with the limited but growing resources they have at hand. The staff includes Duane L.C.M. Galles, who has contributed to the CMAA journal Sacred_Music.

Here is Chuck's history of the first ten years of the St. Joseph Foundation.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/CANONLAW/LEAD125.HTM

The following link did not work just now, which, given the vicissitudes of [local telco] and the Internet, probably means nothing but that it will be reachable shortly:

www.st-joseph-foundation.org

Gray Eminence

much of the "orthodox/progessive" debate is merely of the "tastes great/less filling" variety--neither side has a monopoly on charity or truth.

Discussions about faith are like beer commercials?

With all due respect, the substance of my faith matters to me.

Fr. Brian Stanley

Yikes. Leave a thread for a day or two and find out someone thinks I should be a bishop. Take my name off any list for bishop. I'd rather be martyred: boiled in oil, flayed alive. Can't think of a more thankless task in the Church today than the episcopacy. And bishops should be made of sterner and smarter and holier stuff than I have.

Fr. Brian Stanley

Now Fr. Wilson as bishop is a different story altogether. Has a nice "ring" to it.

Gemma M. Stanford

After having read this site from top to bottom, where to begin?

The primary language spoken at Blessed Sacrament Parish is Love. Mass is celebrated in Spanish, and English, as well as the Latin Novus Ordo. It does not matter what tongue we speak, but that we offer our very best---that the Lord our God is worshiped in spirit and truth. Holy Charity is always a byproduct of authentic worship. "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est."

As it now stands, Blessed Sacrament Parish is unique in that it affords opportunities for spiritual growth that are simply unavailable elsewhere in our diocese. It is beyond sad to learn that the formation of souls is considered by some to be "busy work". A soul is a terrible thing to waste.

Deacon Bart Hock

Just finished the thread and I have a few comments.

I just transferred from a mostly Hispanic parish here in Houston. We'd frequently had 100 baptisms on a weekend. We also had an almost complete turnover in membership every two years or so as folks move through Houston on their way elsewhere. The lack of consistancy in memberships means the people of the parish are unable to sustain the "flavor" of the parish, either for good or ill. Fortunately we had a succession of good priests (O.M.I's all) who did extremely well ministering to the people. It sounds as if this parish may have a similar problem keeping the soul of the parish intact.

To influence the bishop, write to the nuncio of course, but also to the archbishop and to the head of the USCCB. Those who would run a diocese their own way don't like to be put in the spotlight by their peers. I do not wish to critize either the pastor or the bishop. From experience I have seen pastor's in one place too long and I know of bishops who insist on limited tenure for the good of the faithful. We all want to keep our "good" priests and dump those we consider "poor", but our faith must stand on the rock of authentic teaching and the authority of Peter. We will always have great sinners and even greater saints within our clergy. It may be more or less difficult to worship with any given priest, but any priest forgives my sins and confects the Eucharist for me; therefore he will be held in honor. Having said that, we as Catholics have a RIGHT to Catholic liturgy and a formal complaint to the diocese, archdiocese or if necessary to Rome is not only our right but our duty.

As for bishops, I thank God that as a married deacon I never have to worry about becoming a bishop. If you want to know about agony and the cross, read the documents of Vatican II and realize the bishop is responsible before God for ALL the souls within his diocese, not just the Catholic faithful. Being a deacon is frightening enough, being a bishop would be terrifing.

Pray for the bishop and for the priest and trust in God and Our Lady to make it right. If the new pastor wishes to introduce novelity into the Mass, remember you can appeal to Rome. The curia is not, generally, without concern for the faithful. They have responded to several questions I have asked and it is amazing what a letter over the seal of a curia cardinal does to focus attention at the local level.

The parish and diocese are in my prayers. May you all have a blessed new year.
God Bless.

Kathryn Lorton

I'm in K.C.Ks. and have just read about Blessed Sacrament and your wonderful Preist. I've been attending a Catholic Church here in K.C. (thats also named Blessed Sacrament and has the Latin Mass) What a shame that your Bishop would move a truly holy Preist and take this wonderful Latin Mass away from the people. I'll pray for your Bishop to do the right thing.

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