"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious." - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1972
THE ILLEGITIMATE REMOVAL OF FR. PAUL GOFIGAN-PART XI: TEAR OFF THE ROOF!
While writing the next episode in the Fr. Paul saga - which will reveal and document the real reason for Fr. Paul's brutal ouster - it occurred to me that we could all benefit from a little more context.
It is no secret to anyone that the Neocatechumenal Way, or at least its leadership, was behind the persecution of Fr. Paul. The Archbishop simply intends to institute the Neocatechumenal Way in every parish and Fr. Paul was in the way. The fact that this was almost immediately recognized by a local radio talk show host - where it was first mentioned in a rather knee-jerk fashion - is an indication of just how large this reality is and how well it is not only known but expected.
But why does the Archbishop want to do this?
To answer that, one needs to better understand the Archbishop's personal issues that I'd rather not discuss here. I'm not getting overly personal. The Archbishop's issues were clearly noted and commented on in the 2010 archdiocesan study: Cultivating Unity. (Sadly, had something been done to address those issues then we wouldn't be where we are now.)
And then those aspects need to be understood within the context of his falling into the orbit of a very intoxicating ideology propagated by a man who is as much demagogue as he is business mogul, a truly dangerous mix. Then one must put the whole thing into the milieu of the post-conciliar confusion that caused even the stoic John Paul II to fall for the likes of Fr. Marcial Maciel in the name of a "new movement of the Holy Spirit." (Fr. Maciel is the now dead and discredited founder of the Legionnaires of Christ - a personal favorite of the now St. John Paul II).
Historically, schisms, heresies, and damaging controversies have always followed periods of confusion and weak leadership in the Church. The Great Schism followed a particularly ugly period known as the Iron Age of the Papacy, and the reign of Alexander VI, one of the most morally compromised men to ever darken the Chair of Peter, immediately preceded the Protestant Reformation.
Alexander's last name was Borgia, and without getting into a list of his personal escapades and abuses, suffice it to say that his last name became a roman synonym for libertinism and nepotism. And we must remember that Luther, who was a Catholic priest and an Augustinian monk, had no intention of breaking away from the Catholic Church. He only, at first, sought to reform it, and all of his points were pretty valid. In fact, Rome was willing to work with him and tried to. But there were some points on which Luther could not and would not agree, and to which he would not submit. Sound familiar?
The Iron Age of the Papacy is worth mentioning. It was not just one of the most bizarre periods in church history, it was one of the most bizarre periods in history period. During this 94 year period (872-965), there were no less than 24 popes in which seven of them were assassinated or died under suspicious circumstances: John VIII was bludgeoned to death by his own entourage, Stephen VI strangled, Leo V murdered by his successor Sergius III, John X suffocated, Stephen VIII horribly mutilated - having had his eyes gouged out and ears, nose, and hands cut off - died of his injuries, Hadrian III poisoned, and John XII beaten to death.
And to add to the fun, this was the period in which Stephen IV dug up the body of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, dressed his decomposed remains in papal robes, sat him on the papal throne, and tried
him for heresy. This macabre episode came to be known as the Cadaver Synod. Look it up. It's a great read!
With the popes in the West busy killing each other and cutting off each other's noses (literally!), we can guess that that there wasn't much time for pastoring the Church, and it is no accident that the Great Schism (the separation of East and West) soon followed in 1054.
That's a bit more history than I wanted to get into, but I thought you'd enjoy it. However, it is important to note that while the Church has survived, simply because Jesus promised to be with us always, the damage to souls wrought both by the Great Schism and the Protestant Reformation, and even more so, the damage to the unity of the Body of Christ, is still with us and remains a wound.
Part of my bringing this mess up is to answer a question/challenge I have received many times: "Why can't you just respect the canonical process and let the church take care of it?" Translation: "Why don't you just shut up and go away?" They are referring to my publicizing the Apuron-Gofigan affair and, by extension, the problem of the Neocatechumenal Way.
As an answer, allow me to share one more story from Church history. For the better part of our history, there was no separation of church and state and church politics was state politics, and state politics was pretty much a matter of warring clans and competing city states. Thus the election of the most powerful person in the Church was also the election of the most powerful person in the world, or at least "their" world.
Palazzo dei Papi di Viterbo,
the roof of which was removed
in an attempt to speed up the election
Powerful families and political alliances thus often played into the election of the next successor of Peter, and it was not uncommon for the process to be stalled for months if not years. During one particular delay in 1269, the townspeople of the city of Viterbo, where the meeting had convened, got tired of waiting so they tore the roof off the meeting place to speed up the election.
And that is what we are doing here.
The Vatican II call for the "active participation of the laity" did not just mean a call for more lectors and CCD teachers, it was a call for the laity to take personal responsibility for their faith and their church. History has shown that clerics left to their druthers and without accountability to the people is not a good thing, as most recently evidenced by the horrific burden the church has had to bear as a result of the clerical sex abuse scandal and 50 years of silence from the laity.
The intent of the Neocatechumenal Way may be a good thing, but the lack of accountability for the huge sums of money it collects, the under-the-counter attempt to reassign the control of a major archdiocesan asset, the en masse firing of the members of the archdiocesan finance council who objected to it, the importation of a relatively huge amount of neocatechumenal foreigners to become priests for our diocese (?) while our own men are turned away, the expectation that the people of Guam finance the living expenses and education of these men with zero accountability from those who ask for our money, the brutal treatment of priests (Fr. Paul wasn't the first) who do not submit to this imperialism, the complete submission of the entire chancery to a new and shadowy hierarchy, and the ABSOLUTE SILENCE about these things when we ask about them...