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Here is the HHS Compromise, be attentive because it gets complicated: “With respect to self-insured group health plans, the eligible organization would notify the third party administrator, which in turn would automatically work with a health insurance issuer to provide separate, individual health insurance policies at no cost for participants. The costs of both the health insurance issuer and third party administrator would be offset by adjustments in Federally-facilitated Exchange user fees that insurers pay.”

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Since the Archdiocese is self-insured, this would in effect mean that some of our employees would have to be insured by an outside organization, either in whole or in part. Look at all the actors in this play: (1) the Church; (2) the third party administrator; (3) an outside health insurance issuer; (4) the federal government; (5) the supplier of services; and (6) the insured person. The user fees are essentially a tax to insure that contraceptives are free and to pay the third party administrator. What happens to the viability of the self-insurance program if people opt out for the third party insurer?

In any case, I still think people are going to pay more for heart and blood-pressure medicine to make up the cost for free contraceptives. What insurance company will cover just contraception, sterilization and abortifacients without funds to shift from other medical coverage? I doubt federal fees with be sufficient. It will be exploited. Is the Church still morally culpable if we collaborate with other agents in such a scheme? Are we culpable for money given to the government to pay the insurance companies to supply people with contraceptive services?

Given the intransigence of the administration with insisting that health care include free contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization; I cannot say that I trust the latest offer of exemption to the Church and associated religious entities. It seems to me that religious liberty is still very much threatened. Remember, this is the same administration which sought jurisdiction over ministerial assignments; no doubt supposing that if they lost one ridiculous or outrageous battle, it would make churchmen more passive about what was viewed as a lesser campaign. I think they were genuinely surprised by men like Cardinal Dolan. Suddenly Catholic bishops had teeth and could bite back.

I suspect this newest offer is to convince the bishops of a need to see the dentist. The administration still insists that the agenda of Planned Parenthood will become the official policy of government. No matter how you spin it, that means a confrontation with the Church and the Gospel of Life.

I was amazed that some critics and churchmen quickly rejoiced and sang Hallelujah when the revised policy was announced. We must not return to a posture of passivity and ineffective opposition to Big Brother and modernity. More level-headed religious leaders argue that we need to look at this offer closely. It may be a trick. It seems to me, upon closer examination, that there is no miracle break-through or adequate accommodation. The shell-game continues.

The question proposed is this: can such a policy be mandated against Church institutions with religious and moral reservations? The response of the administration seems to be that some institutions have more of a claim upon religious liberty than others. If the previous offer only preserved such liberty within the walls of the churches, this new policy will only add the porch or parking lot. Churches, individually or corporately, are protected, as are religious orders, but the rest is still up for grabs. Again, this administration has a very narrow notion of what constitutes “church.” Ministries in the area of community service are understood entirely within the matrix of secular humanism. President Obama’s religious vision is wholly a horizontal one (earth-bound) with little or nothing of the vertical or transcendent. In other words, God made us— great; but WE make the rules.”

We still have a fight on our hands because of the indiscriminate outreach of our religious charities, hospitals and schools. This element of the policy has not really changed. Okay, even if self-insured, we would not be required to pay “directly” for the contraceptive coverage; however, we still have to find other insurers to dirty their hands for us. The cooperation with evil becomes more remote but they will still be our agents.

Throughout it has saddened me that we have stressed the religious liberty of the Church as an institution but not the same rights of individual believers and citizens. There is no exemption for them and their businesses. It is bad enough that pro-life groups, EWTN, the Knights of Columbus and others might be forced to comply; however, what about the good Catholic entrepreneur who bakes donuts or fixes cars or cuts the grass. There are no exemptions at all for them. I know, some will say that they could fight and pay out hard-earned money to litigate for themselves. But this is America, our rights are supposed to be guaranteed, not entitlements for which we have to fight and beg.

I bet if it had not been for the courts, we would not have seen even these concessions. No doubt the administration wants to promote a particular public perception: a liberal government wanting to dialogue about national healthcare and a backward-thinking Church wanting to deprive couples of pills and condoms. President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius know full well that many if not most American Catholics are out of sync with Church leadership and moral teachings. As in Maryland with the proposition for same-sex marriages, they hope to exploit this advantage and show that they are the true magisterium, not the ecclesial shepherds largely abandoned by their flocks. As much as the USCCB has sought to frame this debate under the banner of religious liberty and the First Amendment, the administration has been highly effective in convincing many people that it is about reproductive choices and health. God help us!

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I would not argue against the desire for the Society of St. Pius X to preserve its identity, as long as such does not include a persistent and deliberate opposition to the rest of the Church’s self-understanding.

I would also not argue against the discernment of a silent apostasy to which we must respond. However, we must not be deaf to the loud or blatant rebellion and dissent from various members, on the right and left, that afflicts the institution founded by Christ. The greatest threat to papal authority today is not a strained collegialism but an arrogant disobedience. Given their continued participation in this assault, I am not optimistic that the conditions demanded upon by the Society will pass muster with the Holy See.

Despite the negotiations, reconciliation will not come by spurning the directives of the Holy Father while not budging upon their own obstinacy toward an authentic Ecumenical Council of the Church, Vatican II. Any such forced reconciliation would damage real ecclesial unity. While they speak of “canonical normalization,” they cannot even concur with the living Church over which Code of Canon Law actually applies and is in force. Despite their profession in the “monarchial constitution” of the Church under the Pope, they feel they still need a “deliberative vote” before deciding if they will listen to him or not. Is it not peculiar that they attack collegialism in the universal Church but demand upon it for themselves, even arguing that it trumps papal demands? That is certainly not my idea of ecclesial obedience.

I am also not blind to the possible shades of Father Feeney in reference to the Church “outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find means leading to salvation.” They are usually very careful not to associate themselves with these extremists, despite a shared affection for traditionalism. While the Church is certainly the great mystery or sacrament of salvation where we encounter Christ, this would seem to invalidate even the more restrained strands of ecumenism. The Church has affirmed that elements of Catholicism with which the Protestants absconded like baptism and faith in Jesus Christ still have some pervading value. While the issue is more complicated with Jews, we acknowledge that Christ is the fulfillment of the one covenant that God first established with them (Cardinal Dulles and Cardinal Ratzinger, i.e. the Pope). The Church is necessary for salvation because there is no way to the Father apart from Jesus Christ. The Church is his Mystical Body. Thus, both are one and integral to salvation. The irony is that if the Society refuses reunion then they will be condemned by their own definition as outside that visible body “by which the supreme power of government . . . belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth.” The only possible solution they might find for this conundrum would be the sedevacantism that some of them apparently have already embraced. Declaring the Chair of Peter vacant, they can define themselves as the true Church and appoint one of their own bishops as the Pope, or in actuality as an anti-pope. Given online sermons and writings from various of their priests, my suspicions are that a number of them will join the Society of St. Pius V in this regard. I hope I am proven wrong.

Further, it is one thing to say that we oppose the abuses from the nebulous spirit of Vatican II; however, they continue to castigate the council itself. As I recall, the Holy See implied that such would be a deal-breaker. It is certainly okay and proper “to uphold the declarations and the teachings of the constant Magisterium of the Church.” Vatican II must be understood or interpreted in light of the traditions and constant faith of the Church. However, instead of seeing continuity, they stress a break “in regard to all the novelties of the Second Vatican Council which remain tainted with errors, and also in regard to the reforms issued from it.” While it lacks certain specificity, this statement can readily be interpreted as a general repudiation of the Church today in all her elements from the catechism to the sacraments. Is this what they meant to say?

Only one of the four traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X has shown any real interest in the overtures of Pope Benedict XVI. Bishops Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta and Richard Williamson threatened internal schism within the Society, warning that any agreement with the Vatican would result in surrendering the fight against worldwide apostasy. This is strong language, literally saying that contemporary Catholicism is a false religion. Indeed, when we look at a number of their priests and apologists, they slam the whole business as capitulation to “the Modernist Pope” and “the Modernist Rome.” Some of their sermons online and various writings go so far as to call counterfeit both the “Novus Ordo” priesthood and the “new” Mass. One writer claimed that since Cardinal Ratzinger was made a bishop under the new ritual that he did not share in the episcopacy and thus could not be a genuine pope. People like that will not want to “pollute” themselves with any association with the rest of us. There is a lot of wishful thinking, but after almost a half-century separation, many of them have gotten used to their independence. Slamming the rest of the Church and slurring the Holy Father, at least in sermons and in routine discourse has become second-nature. They do not seem the least bit afraid that they might be committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Even Bishop Bernard Fellay has lamented this problem. It has become a habit hard or next to impossible to break. They will not reconnect with what they see as the enemy.

Pope Benedict XVI was very kind to lift their excommunication. However, I would not be surprised if Lefebvrites should invoke its reimposition. After all, they never actually acknowledged it anyway. All it would take is the consecration of another unapproved bishop. Such would force the Church’s hand. The Society itself seems aware that their current response will not suffice for Rome. Thus, they will not be coming home any time soon. While pledging fidelity, they are not going to budge until (in their estimation) the day comes “when an open and serious debate will be possible which may allow the return to Tradition of the ecclesiastical authorities.” In other words, they are saying that they are RIGHT and Rome is WRONG and that nothing will change until the post-Vatican II leadership gives in.

(Lumen Gentium) “Each and all these items which are set forth in this dogmatic Constitution have met with the approval of the Council Fathers. And We by the apostolic power given Us by Christ together with the Venerable Fathers in the Holy Spirit, approve, decree and establish it and command that what has thus been decided in the Council be promulgated for the glory of God.”–Pope Paul VI

Given in Rome at St. Peter’s on November 21, 1964.

I will now wait for hell to freeze over.

I do not think the devil will be wearing a coat any time soon.

Responding to the Pope, here is the difficult condition laid down by the Lefebvrites for reunion: “The freedom to preserve, share and teach the sound doctrine of the constant Magisterium of the Church and the unchanging truth of the divine tradition and the freedom to accuse and even to correct the promoters of the errors or the innovations of modernism, liberalism, and Vatican II and its aftermath.

Indeed, it looks like the devil is stoking the fire.

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller explains (July 20): “The purpose of dialogue is to overcome difficulties in the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, but we cannot negotiate on revealed faith, that is impossible. An Ecumenical Council, according to the Catholic faith, is always the supreme teaching authority of the Church.”

Can the Society of St. Pius X Really Be Reconciled?

Archbishop DiNoia, Ecclesia Dei and the Society of St. Pius X

SSPX recognizes papal authority, hints discussions will continue

Eternal Rome vs. the Magisterium: A Contemporary Myth

SSPX Calls Vatican Recociliation Offer ‘Clearly Unacceptable’

Society of St. Pius X vs. Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

Lefebvrians say they can only accept doctrinal preamble on three “conditions”

Vatican’s Doctrine Chief: Pius X Society Must Accept Vatican II Teachings

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I am slowly deciphering some of the written materials left by the late Msgr. William J. Awalt. For review and comments, they are being posted at my BLOGGER PRIEST site.

http://bloggerpriest.com/category/awalt-papers/

Msgr. Awalt was the pastor of St. Ann’s Church in NW Washington , DC for just over 30 years, retiring in the year 2000. I was honored to preach at the Mass celebrating his 60th anniversary as a priest in 2007. His pastorate was marked by a deep devotion to the Eucharist and a never-ending preoccupation with preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith.

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The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity has put out an official press release on the FATHER CORAPI SCANDAL. Fr. Gerard Sheehan, the superior writes:

“While SOLT does not typically comment publicly on personnel matters, it recognizes that Fr. John Corapi, through his ministry, has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics, many of whom continue to express their support of him. SOLT also recognizes that Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight.”

While I can appreciate the need for a statement, I must admit that I am surprised at the bluntness and the depth of revelation. He remarks about the investigative process and what they discerned from emails, witnesses and other sources that has been going on during the time of the priest’s public ministry:

  • Fr. Corapi already handed in his resignation in early June.
  • He paid $100,000 to silence the woman making charges.
  • Other witnesses were similarly silenced and Fr. Corapi refused to release them for testimony to the investigative team.
  • He had violated his promise of poverty by holding legal title to over one million dollars in real estate, luxuary cars, boats, etc.
  • He cohabitated in two states with a known prostitute, recently began sexting one or two women and resorted to repeated drug and alcohol use.

I would not normally even post about such matters, but I can well appreciate the frustation of his superior. Fr. Corapi is a powerful communicator and people love him. If he is guilty of such things and is falsely placing the blame on the leadership of the Catholic Church, then public correction needs to be made. Having said this, I think that the leadership in SOLT must be faulted for allowing this situation to grow so out of hand. They should have reigned him in years ago. Their passivity has now made for a far worse and more scandalous situation. The press release continues:

“SOLT has contemporaneously with the issuance of this press release directed Fr. John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.”

A letter of resignation would not release him from his priestly promises and those made to SOLT. A good priest does as he is told. This is a bad situation all around. I wonder how Fr. Corapi will respond? I suppose die-hard fans will contend that the evidence is contrived and that the priest is innocent. And indeed, I would still argue that if he is innocent then he should make his case and work with the process. It is unfortunate that Fr. Corapi has forced this whole matter and scandal into the public forum. But souls are at stake and this delicate situation is about more than one man. If he is guilty, then he should demonstrate sorrow and contrition, placing his ministry and future into the hands of his lawful superiors. It would be a wonderful teaching moment and maybe the highpoint of his ministry. Christ is speaking to him through his superiors. That is how priestly obedience works. But will he listen? Will he fight for his priesthood? This battle cannot be won with militant rhetoric or tactics of subterfuge. He can only find victory by being a faithful son of the Church and a humble priest. He must be courageous and forthright about any revelations exposed by the truth. He must reckon himself as any confessor to be the first among sinners, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” Things will never be the same but God may not be finished with him yet. I pray that Fr. Corapi will make the right choice and work with God’s grace in this.

An element which really upsets me about this situation is how one segment of the Church is set against another. Father Corapi comes under investigation and the priest comes out with a statement that the bishop and his superior have a right to do what they do; but next he talks about the real enemies of the Church and we all know he is targeting those who put him on administrative leave. Then he claims obedience but his personal corporation makes a statement that they are under no one’s thumb and the ministry media business will continue as if nothing has happened. By the beginning of June he submits his resignation and tells his fans weeks later that the Church has forced him out. Bishop Michael Mulvey and his lawful superior, Fr. Gerard Sheehan, SOLT, seek to clarify matters but then there is the public intervention on his behalf of the founders of SOLT, Father Flanagan and the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Bishop Rene Gracida. Critics and fans of the priest can now take their pick and decry the other side as wrong-headed or evil. The impression is given that the Church is fighting with herself. Despite the lament of Fr. Corapi that this is a plot of the liberals who are out to get him, the battleground that emerges is between very conservative or orthodox churchmen and laity. Liberal revisionists are no doubt having a delight in watching the so-called “religious right” of the Church rip itself apart over the media priest. This has all the makings of a new voyeuristic television program called THE BATTLING BISHOPS. Since the clarification released from SOLT, I notice now that Bishop Gracida seems to have shifted somewhat from supporting Fr. Corapi to attacking SOLT for allowing the situation to develop in the first place. However, it seems to me that the stage was set by those who initially allowed Fr. Corapi to set up his independent operations. In other words, there is blame enough to go around. It is troubling that Bishop Gracida took a public stand against a man’s lawful superiors even though he admits that he has not talked with the priest for years! Now Fr. Corapi is telling his fans on Twitter to look forward to an important announcement on Thursday. Enough already! I discern a manipulation of good men behind all these tensions that is due to evil human machination and/or to the intrusion of something devilish.

I would beg people to separate the truths Father taught from the possible failings of the messenger. All are tempted, but the devil delights in targeting priests; while he could not seduce the high priest Christ, he often settles for corrupting those men who participate in his priesthood. Pray for priests, pray for Father Corapi and pray for “the little ones” who might despair of their faith.

CLICK HERE to read the SOLT press release.

CLICK HERE to read my post on this matter last month.

POST COMMENTS at BLOGGER PRIEST

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Recently I entered into a heated discussion with Dennis on an assortment of topics. He is very negative to the Catholic faith. PLEASE NOTE that it is an apologetical dialogue that might make some readers uncomfortable.

To easily follow the discussion, it has been posted to the BLOGGER PRIEST Blog.

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Bill and Susan are both baptized Catholics. But they rarely went to Mass. You might see them in the pews at Christmas and Easter, but that is about it. One Easter they came to Mass and had the surprise of their lives. The parking lot was empty. Going up to the church doors, they discovered that everything was locked. Confused, they almost decided just go home but it was Easter so they drove a little further to another church. Again, they were shocked. There was no one there, either. Now the mystery was intriguing them. What had happened? Had there been a revolution and the churches forcibly closed? Were the Protestants right and all the good Christians taken away by the rapture? They traveled outside of town to a third church. Here they found cars but services were ending. Although they had missed Mass, they entered the church for a quick visit and to find reassurance that nothing else had suddenly changed. Everything appeared to be in place, although the congregation seemed a bit small from the celebrations remembered in the past. They saw the priest and approached him with their puzzlement.

Susan spoke first, “Father, we are sorry about missing Mass but we had trouble finding an open church.”

Father Flynn responded, “I take it that you are new to the area. We would love to have you register here. We can always use new members.”

“No Father,” said Susan, “we have lived here all our lives. We were married at St. Margaret’s.”

“Oh my,” responded the priest, looking somewhat disturbed and maybe upset.

Bill entered the conversation, “We went to St. Margaret’s this morning and finding no one there went over to Holy Spirit. Both places were empty.”

“Yes,” lamented the priest, “I guess you both feel inconvenienced.”

“It certainly ruined Easter, what is going on Father?” asked Susan.

“You won’t like my answer. It might even make you angry,” added the priest.

The priest motioned for them to sit in a pew next to him.

“What is it, Father?” asked Bill.

“I will tell you,” said the priest, “it is your fault.”

Taken aback by the answer, they immediately insisted that he explain.

“You and so many people like you, killed St. Margaret, Holy Spirit, and almost a hundred other churches in the diocese. You want the church for a wedding, as if the building is only a decoration on a cake. You might ask for a baby’s baptism, when grandparents nag you. But then we have trouble finding a godparent who is not in mortal sin. Everyone who comes is a stranger. No one is practicing his or her faith. You come to Mass a couple times a year, throw a few dollars in the basket and expect the church to still be here waiting for you when you feel like coming back. Some only come to church twice in a lifetime, the day of baptism and the day of final repose. You did not know about those churches because they were not a part of your life. You did not support your parish through donations. You did not add to the parish life by your participation at Mass and in the various volunteer opportunities. You did not have children or if you did, you did not encourage vocations. How did you expect us to keep the churches open when we have no priests and empty pews? You broke the hearts of your priests who gave up the possibility of spouse and children to take care of the family of God. Priests weep over their people who neglect Confession and the Mass. Priests yearn to forgive your sins. You became comfortable with sin and made excuses. You said by your neglect that our sacrifices did not matter. Some of you were even vocal in arguing for married priests and condemning all celibate men as deviates and predators. In essence, your dissent and absence told the priests that we were wasting our time. Worst of all, you were saying that you did not need the Church. You forced God to the periphery of your lives, if he were there at all. The churches closed were wonderful places once. God lived in those houses and in the hearts and souls of the people. But when you stopped coming, things began to run down. Where there were once three priests, now there was one. Eventually even that one was shared between parishes. Many young people stopped coming. The congregations got older. The average parishioner age at Holy Spirit was around eighty! God called the faithful remnant home. Grandparents tried to give the faith to their grandchildren, but sometimes with opposition from their own children. They suffered terrible guilt. What had they done wrong? Why did their children stray? Bills started to grow and resources were strained. The new Bishop had to take action. Critics hated him and spouted condemnations when he closed beautiful old churches. Many of these same voices were those of fallen-away Catholics. They still had sentiment about their childhood parishes, but nothing of a deeper or lasting value. Catholics today are twice as populous as in the old days, but less than 15 to 20% go to weekly Mass. Back in 1960, that figure was 90 to 95%. Our schools are dying and increasingly expensive. Our churches are relegated to the status of museums instead of as places of worship and community life. You did not pray— you did not pay— and now you are upset that the churches did not stay. We are drowning in a sea of hypocrisy. A housing developer will be bull-dozing Holy Spirit within the month. Who knows what shall become of St. Margaret Catholic Church? There is talk that a Baptist group might buy it. Some of the churches have become condominiums with the guts torn out. What the enemies of the Church could not do, we have done to ourselves.”

The couple was silent. The priest reached into his pocket and pulled out a broken piece or marble or plaster made out as marble.

“See this,” said the priest, “this is a fragment from the altar at Holy Spirit. I was pastor there. On the morning I came by to pay my final respects, demolition men were hacking the altar to pieces. It was on that altar that bread and wine became the body and blood of Jesus. It was from that altar that the faithful received the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation. I did everything I could think of to save the church. I went door-to-door in an attempt at outreach. But there was a bigger Catholic church down the road and we had no school. Even they were struggling. Most people of faith in the area were Protestants. Others spurned all religion. Many Catholics had moved away and those who remained did not come, except for my small faithful remnant. I buried most of them.”

Staring straight into the faces of the couple, he lamented, “I cried and cried after seeing that altar destroyed. Here, take this,” offering the altar fragment.

“It means too much to you Father, no, we couldn’t take that,” returned Bill.

Not taking no for an answer, the priest forced the fragment into his hand, and said, “It is okay, I really want you to have it. You are right, it meant a lot to me, but it is my hope that someday it might come to mean something to you and your wife.”

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