Sunday, November 27, 2016

Year of Mercy


Pope Francis declared 2016 to be the "Year of Mercy."  His declaration was well publicized.  Proof is still wanting about whether or how seriously an appreciable number of Roman Catholic clerics, lay individuals and lay leadership groups have heeded the pope’s message and acted upon it.  

Negative personal attacks between presidential nominees and their supporters have made 2016 among the worst of political campaigns.  There continues to be an urgent need for more Catholic politicians and clerics to step forward and do more than lip service to stem the tide of negativity. 


The continued lack of naming African American priests to the level of cardinal demonstrates that the African American segment of God’s ministries continues to be invisible in the eyes of individuals/groups who have vetted clerics Pope Francis has inducted as cardinals.  Some individuals or groups with clout had to have brought to his attention the merits of the final finalists.  According to a write-up in the October 21-November 3, 2016 issue of the National Catholic Reporter, there were “…only 13 spots for cardinal electors…” Consequently, only 13 were made cardinals.   The rule is that cardinal electors must be under the age of 80.  College of Cardinal members (electors) elect popes.   

Pope Francis gave recognition to clerics over the age of 80 by naming them to what I consider to be honorary cardinals:  Archbishop Anthony Soter is retired and from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bishop Renato Corti is retired and is from Novara, Italy; Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai is retired and is from Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho; and Father Ernest Simoni has not been listed as retired but he is from the archdiocese of Shkodre-Pult, Albania.                                            

Pope Francis has been quoted as saying that his main concern was “to have a balance of representation from around the world.”  Since no African Americans are among the electors or honoree cardinals, the balance is skewed; the selection of cardinals is diverse, but not totally inclusive.


Individuals/groups who advise Pope Francis or who make suggestions to him have demonstrated that they follow a pattern of ignoring African Americans. The cultures of native Africans and South and Central American blacks who have ascended to the level of cardinal differ from the culture of African Americans, which puts African Americans in a different and distinct category.  Consequently, adding black images to the College of Cardinals does not compensate for the snubbing of Americans of African descent.

Chicago’s own archdiocesan leader, Cardinal Blasé Cupich, is one of three American clerics elevated to the level of cardinal.  Based upon his background and experience, Cardinal Cupich certainly deserves the honor. Moreover, he should and does appear to serve his constituents impartially.  His first parish visit after being assigned to the Chicago Archdiocese was to an African American church where the church’s previous pastor, Daniel McCormack, was criminally convicted for sexually abusing boys.  During Archbishop Cupich’s visit to that church, he made a public apology for McCormack’s atrocities.

In lieu of my aforementioned observations of racism within the Roman Catholic Church, a plausible question is: Why an appreciable number of Roman Catholic African Americans still profess faith in the Roman Catholic Church?  Garry Wills in his book, WHY I AM A CATHOLIC, published in 2002, covers reasons that could be attributed to why Roman Catholic African Americans continue to believe in the Roman Catholic Church.  Father Byron Massingale, who is reported to be joining the faculty of Fordham University, has during speaking engagements voiced his reasons for continuing his Roman Catholic priesthood.  His highly acclaimed book, Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, also, posits his reasons for remaining Catholic and a priest. 

A pertinent question that can be asked is, if Roman Catholic clerics/lay groups/politicians/individuals, etc., who have been traditionally active in discriminating against minorities, particularly African Americans, actually believe in life after death, where do they envision themselves to be when they pass onto eternal life?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Native African & African American Cultural Differences

I have been impressed with Pope Francis’ modus operandi, but I question whether he is aware of the racism that exists among an appreciable number of American Roman Catholics, both lay and clerical.  I question whether he understands that there is a difference between the cultures of native Africans and Americans of African descent (African-Americans).  Native Africans as well as Caribbean blacks have been elevated to the level of cardinal, but not Americans of African descent

Since there is an appreciable number of Americans who are cardinals, it is understandable that Pope Francis would by-pass Americans in his elevation of clerics to the College of Cardinals; but ignoring African Americans continues to be remains a blight on the vetting process.  How and why African Americans have been left out of the loop of American cardinals is a question that has yet to be addressed.


The latest elevation of clerics to the level of cardinal included three from Asia, three from Latin America and two from Oceania.  I believe that these newly elected cardinals are deserving of the title.  However, in by-passing African Americans, I question whether the Pope is even aware that African Americans constitute a distinct ethnic group such as Irish, Polish, German, etc.  Hopefully, those who have Pope Francis’ ear will bring to his attention the glaring omission of African American cardinals.

Chicago’s newly appointed Archbishop Blasé Cupich began his Chicago ministry by making his first church visit to an African American Church, St. Agatha’s, where a defrocked priest molested boys during his ministry at the church.  Archbishop Cupich extended his apologies to the congregation and was well received.      

Unfortunately, an appreciable number of clerical and lay Roman Catholics have overtly and covertly copped the practices of ‘mainstream’ individuals and groups in discriminating against African Americans.

The acclaimed movie, Selma, is vivid in dramatizing the grassroots struggles of African Americans, the progeny of slaves, to gain their civil rights.  It was nominated for the best picture award as was David Oyelowo for best actor.  However, since white male membership in the Motion Picture Academy is dominate; their partiality toward white contenders is no surprise.  However, I presume that the song, Cry, was the consolation award.

As I watched the movie, I was reminded of the time during Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s marches here in Chicago when a Roman Catholic cleric, a Father Lawler, led demonstrations to keep African Americans out of the then all white Marquette Park.  This residential area is currently integrated and includes a number of Latinos.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Encouragement from our President

Here's an email I got back from President Obama recently:

Dolores, the hardest thing in politics is changing the status quo. The easiest thing is to get cynical.

The Republicans had a good night on Tuesday, Dolores -- but believe me when I tell you that our results were better because you stepped up, talked to your family and friends, and cast your ballot.

I want you to remember that we're making progress. There are workers who have jobs today who didn't have them before. There are millions of families who have health insurance today who didn't have it before. There are kids going to college today who didn't have the opportunity to go to college before.

So don't get cynical, Dolores. Cynicism didn't put a man on the moon. Cynicism has never won a war, or cured a disease, or built a business, or fed a young mind. Cynicism is a choice. And hope will always be a better choice.

I have hope for the next few years, and I have hope for what we're going to accomplish together.

Thank you so much, Dolores.

Barack Obama

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Still No African-American Cardinal

Pope Francis' recent appointment of Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Washington, to succeed Chicago's Cardinal George as leader of the Chicago archdiocese, is comparable to his elevation to the level of cardinal of Bishop Chibly Langlois of the Les Cayes diocese in Haiti, making Laglois Haiti's first cardinal.  Sitting archbishops in Haiti as well as in Chicago were by-passed.  Bishop Cupich's title was changed from bishop to archbishop.  It is conceivable that his title will be changed to that of cardinal.

The appointment of Archbishop Cupich has received raving reviews by the news media.  The only dissent appears to have come from representatives of the Survivors Network of those abused by priests (SNAP).  Representatives of the organization question some decisions Cupich made during his tenure in Spokane, Washington.  Archbishop Cupich has been described as being a moderate, while Chicago's Cardinal George has been described as being a conservative.  Archbishop Cupich has also been described as being in the mold of Pope Francis, having a preference for living simply and opposed to the ostentatious life-styles of many Roman Catholic hierarchical personalities.  

The fact still remains that, to date, there is only one African American archbishop and no African American cardinals.  The questions remains, will this insult reach the ear of Pope Francis, and if he becomes aware of the slight, will he make amends?  

The Chicago Office of the Diocesan Postulator has announced its completion of the investigation into the life and virtues of Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897).  The ceremony of the sealing and binding of the dossier that will be dispatched to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, is scheduled for Monday, September 29, 2014.  In 2010, Cardinal George appointed Bishop Joseph N. Perry to spearhead the investigation of Father Tolton's virtues.


Fortunately, there was never an issue over an exhumation of Father Tolton's body.  Not so regarding the body of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.  The dioceses of Peoria, Illinois and New York appear to be at odds regarding the exhumation of Archbishop Sheen's body.  An article in the September-October publication of the National Catholic Reporter reported on a disagreement between Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.  Bishop Jenky wants Bishop Sheen's body exhumed and buried in Peoria.  (Bishop Sheen was a native of Peoria.)  Cardinal Dolan has been accused of thwarting Bishop Sheen's expected beatification by "reneging on an agreement to return Bishop Sheen's body to Peoria."  Since his death in 1979, Bishop Sheen's remains have been sealed in a white marble crypt at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.  I was privileged to have been in the congregation when Bishop Sheen visited my church, Corpus Christi.

I have noted that Cardinal Dolan was the archbishop of the Milwaukee diocese from 2002 to 2009.  During his tenure in Milwaukee, he was accused of moving $57 million off the diocesan books into a cemetery trust fund in order to protect the money from damage suits by victims of sexual abuse by priests. It has been noted that much of the abuse took place before his appointment as archbishop of the diocese.  Also, Cardinal Dolan was accused of authorizing payments as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive to get them to agree to being dismissed from the priesthood.  This was estimated to have avoiding a lengthy process leading to dismissal and getting the accusers off the diocesan payroll.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Racist Cartoon Inappropriate

The situation regarding the racist cartoon that was reprinted in Milwaukee's official Catholic newspaper, The Catholic Herald, has recharged my discontent with the Catholic hierarchy.  A Milwaukee friend e-mailed me a copy of the cartoon.  It depicts caricatures of two African American males standing side-by-side.  One has his arms up saying "You're not helping, you know," and wearing a tee shirt that reads, "HANDS UP, DON'T SHOOT."  The figure standing next to him has his arms up holding a 42-inch TV wearing a tee shirt that reads, HANDS UP, JUST LOOT."  There does not appear to have been any immediate response from Archbishop Listecki.  According to e-mails I received, black Catholic well-known personalities living in Milwaukee are incensed and have been vocal in making their feelings known.  This is just another proof of insensitivity Catholic decision makers have in regards to African Americans.

Chicago's archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic New World, is replete with human interest stories.  It follows traditional Catholic doctrine in its editorials and has been my source in keeping up-to-date on ordinations of priests and deacons.

The Catholic hierarchy, like the mainstream decision makers, is delusional in its attempts to portray situations as if we live in a society with little racial overtones.  Of course, the growing victimization of African American and Latino males belies such thinking.

Another sample of the insensitivity of Catholic decision makers regarding African Americans is the passing-over of African American clerics regarding the appointment of cardinals.  I understand that the vetting process is underway regarding the successor to Chicago's Francis Cardinal George.

I have noted that a Haitian Bishop, Chibly Langlois, was elevated to the level of cardinal, being the first Haitian to achieve that level.  According Internet writings, two Haitian archbishops (Loius Ke`breau and Guire Poulard) were by-passed.  It was reported that at the time of Cardinal Langlois' appointment, Archbishop Poulard was his superior in the ecclesiastical province at Port-au-Prince.

There may be valid reasons for a bishop being elevated to the cardinal level, above that of an archbishop, but Cardinal Langlois' appointment appears to be a precursor of a possible trend to make cardinal appointments below the archbishop level.  Only time will tell whether this will figure into the continued ignoring of African Americans whose credentials and demonstrated commitment to the Roman Catholic Church doctrines make them worthy cardinal candidates.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Paul V. Kane's Recent Commentary / Cardinal George

In a recent widely-publicized commentary, Paul V. Kane describes Pope Francis as  "a rare man and gifted leader who lives the message of Jesus...and as one who seeks to convert the church..."  He goes on to suggest three needed reforms with which I agree:

        1) Dropping from 75 to 70 the mandatory retirements age for bishops and cardinals.
        2) Ending the celibacy requirement.
        3) Establishing a parish leadership council composed of lay women and men and eliminating the parish leadership model that "is built around an all-powerful pastor."

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's

His stated reason for dropping the mandatory age retirement is that, in the past, "church officials have found it more important to promote men into leadership positions whose orthodoxy and embrace of traditionalism were never questioned."  Many, he states, "were possessed by a severe theology that saw the church under siege in a hostile world."  Consequently, the age and inflexible leadership models came at an "enormous expense...It denied the advancement of sounder, more dynamic leaders willing to move in new directions..."  This, according to Kane, resulted in a massive exodus of good people from the church and "accompanied a wave of horrific child sex abuse scandals."  Kane applauded Pope Francis for publicly asking forgiveness for the scandal.

Kane pointed out that during the Church's first thousand years of priests, there was no rule baring their service due to marriage.  According to Kane, "the rule of celibacy arose mainly for human, not divine reasons" because "the motivation for keeping priests unmarried came as some bequeathed church land to their sons."  This prompted church decision makers to institute measures to protect church property.

Kane proposed that a papal commission be established, made up of lay Catholics and clergy to end the celibacy requirement.  He named two individuals he thought would make "ideal co-chairs of such a commission -- Archbishop Sean  O'Malley of Boston and Mary McAleese, wife, mother, canon lawyer and former president if Ireland."

Moving on . . .

It appears that Cardinal George's health has caused church leaders to seriously begin vetting candidates to replace him.  Gossipy news media personalities continue to publicize names they  project to be on the "short list."  Archbishop Wilton Gregory's name continues to be named by these media personalities.  THE CONTINUED SURFACING OF PEDOPHILE COMPLAINTS AND THE RESULTING PAY-OUTS FROM DIOCESAN COFFERS prompt me to question whether I should wish such a appointment on a cleric I admire and respect.  Nevertheless, without a doubt, Archbishop Gregory status is deserving of being elevated to the level of cardinal.

Recently, more lawsuits have been filed against the diocese in relation to former priest and convicted sex offender, Daniel McCormack.  His offenses took place under Cardinal George's watch.  As of March 2014 it has been reported that up to $2.1 million was paid an abuse victim.

Cardinal George has indicated his wish to have input in the vetting process.  Due to his weakened condition, his recent meeting with SNAP (Survivors Network of those abused by Priests) leaders was taped in the event his health does not permit him to testify in court.  Another such taping is scheduled for the future.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Replacing Chicago's Cardinal George

Recently, the names of two archbishops who were speculated to be on the short list of candidates to replace Chicago's Francis Cardinal George, are currently dealing with leadership issues in their respective diocese.

Cardinal Francis George presided over the blessing of the palms before mass at Holy Name Cathedral Sunday morning.

Employees in some of Seattle's Catholic dioceses are experiencing credit card fraud.  Their social security numbers have been usurped and they have been billed for purchases they never ordered.  Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia has been criticized for building and moving into a $2.2 million dollar residence.  The situations in both dioceses have placed the archbishops in compromising positions.  Speculators have now added to the list the name of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky.

Francis Cardinal George's cancer has recurred and he is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy.  It is questionable about how much longer he can effectively fulfill his diocesan duties.  He had hoped to travel to Rome for the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.  However, due to his health, he has followed his doctor's recommendation not to travel to Rome. 

He is quoted in Saturday's (4/12/14) issue of the Chicago Sun-Times as stating that the official process to replace him has not yet been launched, but that he has urged Catholic officials to start it.  He is further quoted as remarking, "the fact that my health is's just not fair to the archdiocese to have someone who may not be able to do the job as well as I believe it should be done...I'm not going to be dying I don't think in the next few months..."  He said, "Hopefully, the chemo will not only slow the cancer down, it will shrink whatever tumors are there and contain it."  He said that once his successor is chosen, he hopes to meet with him "to be able to be of service if he wants it...Inevitably after 17 years...I know a lot of people, and if he wants to ask questions, I will be available for service." 

Although Archbishop Sartain is in no way involved in the credit card scam in his diocese. It is having a devastating financial impact on employees in his diocese.  However, it is occurring on his "watch."  I understand that his is "pulling out all stops" to correct the situation.

On March 31, 2014, conservative Fox News Associated Press posted an article about Atlanta's Archbishop Gregory's purchase of a $2.2 million mansion.  There was speculation in the article that the purchase of the property was part of a real estate deal made possible by money by Joseph Mitchell 's estate.  Joseph Mitchell is said to be the nephew of Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With the Wind," a Civil War epic that made his family wealthy.  When Mitchell died in 2011, according to the article, he left to the archdiocese as estate valued at more than $15 million on condition that it be used for "general religious and charitable purposes." 

Millions spent on Catholic clergy anger parishioners photo 

It was reported that Archbishop Gregory's intent in purchasing the $2.2 million property was to design a home with large meeting spaces and rooms for receptions and gatherings.  It was reported that cathedral officials were planning to expand the Archbishop's old home where its priests could live while freeing up space on the cathedral's cramped campus.  The Fox article listed tax record as one of its sources.

Archbishop Gregory responded immediately to the criticism, taking full responsibility for the purchase of the property.  According to an April 5, 2014 press release, Archbishop Gregory convened a meeting at the Chancery with three archdiocesan consultative groups to seek their counsel.  Following the meeting, Archbishop Gregory was quoted as saying, "After consultation with members who were available to attend, from the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Archdiocesan Finance Council and the Council of Priests, and hundreds of well-meaning parishioners of differing points of view -- some who sent written observations -- as well as my own personal reflections and prayers, I have decided to sell the Habersham property and invest the proceeds from the sale into the needs of the Catholic community."

Archbishop Gregory's reported plan is to vacate the residence in May and to move to another archdiocesan property, not his previous residence.   

Archbishop Gregory's forthrightness, his humility and his impeccable record of leadership, definitely  make him worthy of being elevated to the level of Cardinal.