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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Run Around with the Diocese

One would think that after leaving the message I did in the chancery office on the phone line for the bishop Sunday night that someone from the diocese would have gotten back to me personally at the latest before the close of business Tuesday, seeing as how I had left the message within an hour of the incident happening.

Not so. Funny, I would have thought by day two SOMEONE would have called me first and apologized, unprompted. But. No. Not in THIS diocese. It would have been nice if at the end of Monday, someone would have called to say: "We're SORRY, the bishop is hearing Fr. Mark's side of the incident, etc." [In the left message I said I'd like to set up a meeting with the bishop .]

It was nearing the end of the workday Tuesday, when I had to call the diocese to see if the janitor had erased the message or what. There hadn't even been the simple courtesy call from the diocese to acknowledge the message I left almost 48 hours previously. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nichevo. BUPKIS.

So around 3:45 give or take on Tuesday, I called the diocese and got the bishop's secretary. I said "I'd like to speak with the bishop." I told her who I was, and it was clear SHE knew about what I'd said. on the macine "Sorry, he's on another line." "I'll hold." 5 minutes later: "He's still on line."

I asked what time the office closed and she told me 4:30. I called at 4:25 and he was "in a meeting." So I asked her to speak with whomever sets up the bishop's meetings. I was told he did that himself. Riiight. So I said "Please have the bishop call me. My job doesn't allow for calls during my work day, so please call during my lunch hour, or he may call at his leisure after 4:30."

Today, I got a call from the diocese. Bishop? Nope. The chancellor. A layman, with no power to tell the priests to do anything. I said that I'd like a meeting with the bishop. I said as I understood it, people had a right to request a meeting with the bishop - and that I wanted to bring a letter of formal complaint. He said he didn't know where I'd gotten that idea. He said that he'd recommend me meeting with the pastor first - as that's their "policy." I told him I didn't see what could be gained by that. I told him again what the incident entialed and said that I don't know why a bishop would not be concerned with preserving the sanctity of the Eucharist. And he said I was "putting words in his mouth."

They know the pastor has had a stroke in the past, and has been known to "go off" on people since the stroke. I am not the only one to have run into his temper. So they essentially want to throw me into a one on one private meeting with the pastor, where I have no "Friend at court" or have any power to discipline him to do the right thing. I.E. For him to stop instructing people not to stop people walking away to the pews with the Eucharist unconsummed. Frankly, what's to "discuss?" We're not having a "difference of opinion" if the hymns are any good or not. As regards protecting the Host, I feel perfectlly safe in saying I was 100% right in guarding it, and he was wrong.

I have no power to compel him to do ANYTHING. I believe correcting priests is the job of a bishop. Not a layperson. It's "above my paygrade." I thought that was the point of having bishops, in part - to see that the priests in the diocese were "With the program."

The chancellor said "nevertheless, we'd prefer you to meet with him first before requesting a meeting." I said "I'll *consider* it, and get back with you tomorrow." At that time I hadn't even thought that they MUST know of the pastor's tendency to temper when he's under stress. What were they thinking? Are they sitting there chortling and hoping this will go away?

I'd already been thinking of possibly writing to the appropirate dicastery for such things. Although, apparently these things tend to get kicked back to the diocese. But I think I will send a registered letter to the bishop, also requesting a meeting (if I don't get an apology, etc) and frankly if bishops aren't going to do their job of correcting the priests when they need to, then maybe things like this should be the nail in the coffin for Communion in the hand.

I think the ball is *supposed* to be in their court. If they HAVE spoken to the pastor, then they should have had the courtesy to tell me. But they seem to think the ball is in my court, and sadly, I think it is. I shouldn't have to do all the work. If they are being ostriches, they need to stop and wake up.

I expect people in Holy Orders to have enough sense to be on the same page on this, and it's appalling that they are not. Why should a laywoman have to do the bishop's job, frankly?

The irony of all this is that at times the pastor can be warm and generous. And I've known him for over 26 years. This PAINS me.

NO LAYPERSON should be put in this position!

[I probably ought to ALSO send a registered letter cc: directly to the diocesan archives.]


Rob said...

Hang in there! You are fighting the good fight and it's an important fight to boot. Praying for you.

The Digital Hairshirt said...


It's a drive, but feel free to join me and the DigiFamily at the 11:00 on Sunday at St. Joseph's. At my parish, I *shudder* to think of what would have happened to that lady if the 11:00 sacristan had gotten a hold of her. We just went through recertification training for EMs and the sacristan - who also leads the EMs for the parish - is VEHEMENT about RESPECT and PROTECTION of the REAL PRESENCE.

It's incredible sad, but I think you're best off switching parishes.


Anonymous said...

The Diocese ids being discourteous but do not let their fsilure to show respect to you cause you to lose your inner peace. That can sometimes happen when we our digbity is offended. It could divert you from the main purpose.
I think you have achieved you aim. I doubt that the priest will do that again, and many priests and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion will be aware anew of their responsibilities. So good jub dome, despite the affront to your dignity.
The parish priest will, I am sure, be aware of your call to the Bishop. I am surprised he has not called to visit you...but you mention he has had a stroke. As one who has had three strokes I have some sympathy for him. They can cause unwarranted bursts of outrage etc. if one is not fully aware of ones inner workings and alert to one's own feelings!
I hope true peace will be restored ...that peace that only The Lord can give.

X said...

I had a friend who also had an issue with a priest, somewhat similar to yours. She wrote a letter, etc. to the bishop. It was never dealt with. They just hoped she was some overwrought female who would eventually go away.

gemoftheocean said...

I love this. The chancellor himself (a layman) does not have the ability to tell priests what to do in these types of discipline.

They have to know this. They are not stupid. They must think I'm the stupid one.

so essentially they expect me to believe that the bishop himself is not in charge of disciplinging his own priests, and it's to be fobbed off on to the offend person who was 100% right in stopping someone walking away with the Host.

I wonder if the "religious editor" of the San Diego Union Tribune would be interested in such a story, if I do not get satisfaction from the diocese in taking responsibility.

Packrat said...

My FIL worked for the LA diocese for 40+ years. I can honestly say that from the stories he told that the politics/pass the buck/back biting/ignore it stuff was worse than that in the Federal Government (where I shamefacedly worked for over 10 years). Hang in there.

Dymphna said...

Do you think you could just forgive him? After 26 years he is the way he is and the bishop isn't going to do much about it.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I skip the line and go straight to the private line that I have with various people...makes my life a LOT easier ;)

gemoftheocean said...

Dymphna, I'm shocked at YOU.

"just skip it" is for when you don't like the music they play or he rear ended you in the parking lot.

Let's review here:

A PRIEST, you know, the guy that has the power and charism to confect the Eucharist by the power of the Holy Spirit, tell one of his EMs (and EM who has served this particular parish for 34 years, no less) that she will never assist again because she DARED to stop someone who is walking away pewward with an unconsumed Host.

You seem not to realize that this priest still thinks it's okay for people to walk away with the Host and say "God can take care of Himself" -- his EXACT words last year when he chastized me.

It may have escaped your notice but I expect ANY Catholic to tell someone or stop them if a person is walking off wtih a consecrated Host to do who knows what.

The priest needs to be taken to task by the bishop himself, and he needs to follow the procedure AS HE WAS TRAINED in the seminary regards the Eucharist.

Otherwise it's open season for Satanists.

Anonymous said...

You write "he needs to follow the procedure AS HE WAS TRAINED in the seminary regards the Eucharist.".
May the Lord bless your innocence! When I was a seminarian - a late vocation - I often had to enter into "battle" with one professor as I stood out against his teaching what appeared to be more about "the real absence" rather than the real presence. Indded the other seminarians were often heard to laugh at his belief in the Real Absence.
I am convinced that the laity can save the Church when they work with charity.

gemoftheocean said...

E.P. Faith and Hope seem out to lunch too! ;-D

Well, he did go to the seminary in the mid to late 60s and early 70s (iirc he was ordained in '72 or thereabouts)

I don't know what sort of acid trips they were on back then, but it hasn't done the church any favors.

Why BE a priest at all if you're not gooing to do your best to preserve the sanctity of the Eucharist.

Day 5 and counting. To my knowlege, unless there has been a lot going on behind the scenes I don't know about, no one from the diocese has apologized, and they seem to think it's my duty to have a meeting with him first (why? what's to discuss? I can't discipline him, only the bishop can do the bishop's job)

How hard is it to get them to tell Fr. M.C. not to do that again, to apologize, to start stopping people himself and tell other EMs to stop people? In otherwords, to do his job correctly?

It should be a no brainer.

Amy said...

I don't know what sort of acid trips they were on back then, but it hasn't done the church any favors.

There are some for whom the 60s were something that happened 40 years ago and then there are those who've relived the 60s 40 times.

Praying for you and a good outcome to this situation. For what it's worth, I think you were absolutely 100% correct in how you handled the situation and how you feel about the Eucharist.

Adrienne said...

Just catching up here. Verizon has had THREE major outages this week so I am waaaaaaaaay behind.

I admire your willingness to take up the "good fight." And I'm sure I would do the same thing in your position. Some things just can't be ignored.

Thankfully, I was never faced with such a situation. I know our EMHC are instructed to watch for people that do not consume the host yet I have seen people not consume it until they are halfway down the side aisle.

I think this is ignored because the priest and EMHC "know" the people doing this and as a result, "know" they will consume the host, yada, yada. But it does send a message to others that this is an ok practice.

At my age and having been a fighter all my life, I now choose to just go to a different church. Every other week we go to the FSSP EF Mass and the weeks in between we go to the NO up the street where there is quiet and respect (and the majority receive on the tongue.)

gemoftheocean said...

EP: "Real Absence" wow.

Adrienne: How far of a drive is the FSSP for you?

I haven't decided re: where I will go tomorrow. I'm assuming here no abject apology from the party in question. I suppose I could go serve the Sainted Fr. Shipley at his home Mass. I could go to the EF, although I don't find it so "saitisfying" for a Sunday Mass in the sense of the given and take I'd get at the Byzantine rite. And there's a really GOOD NO Mass where everyone knows what he/she is doing and the pastor is bang on.
[That last is St. John the Evangelist.]

Many thanks for the support, all.

Adrienne said...

The FSSP chapel is just a few miles to Coeur d' Alene. It takes about 10 minutes max to get there.

Two weeks ago the pastor ripped into what bad attitudes some trads had. He was sent to clean up the crazies that all came from SSPX and he has done an admirable job. The guy is abut 5 feet tall (no lie), but you DO NOT WANT TO CROSS HIM!!

...shows Post Falls. We're just north of I-90 off Hwy 41. If you go to the west you will see Coeur d' Alene and the FSSP church is roughly at 15th and Harrison. I guess we're kinda lucky...

Anonymous said...

Someone, somewhere, sometime has to stand firm and insist NO MORE. And it looks like you are that Someone. Keep St Michael on side and fight the good fight.
I am tired of the way bishops refuse to deal with anything, no matter how desperately important. If preserving the Holy Eucharist matters so little, no wonder there's such a mess with family life and abortion.

gemoftheocean said...

mum6 - I think so.What has surprise me a little is that they tried to shuffle this off on someone who has NO authority to discipline a priest.

Monumental head in the sand ineptitude.

Do they really think saying "well, go talk to the guy who was 100% wrong in his direction to you [and no, we don't have enough brains to even say "sorry."]

Is it any wonder the clowns in this diocese didn't have a clue how to hand the sex abuse scandal?

And you're right re: abortion, et al. 100%

Dorothy B said...

Hello Gem. This is typical of me: I'm very slow off the mark with comments, and by the time I get round to it the caravan has moved on.

However, here goes. Your post says: 'The chancellor said "nevertheless, we'd prefer you to meet with him first before requesting a meeting." I said "I'll *consider* it, and get back with you tomorrow." '

Unless you have heard from someone by now, I suspect they may consider that by this exchange they have offloaded the issue back onto your shoulders, and have no need to pursue the matter any further, unless you yourself approach them again.

I think you did really well. The announcement from the lectern may well have clarified things for a number of people in the congregation who would otherwise have thought the priest was right to give you such a public telling-off for your defence of the respect that is due to the Real Presence.

gemoftheocean said...

Dorothy (after a little assistence with the wording from a helpful priest) I will be sending the bishop a letter and give them two weeks -- if nothing to my satisfaction, the next letter goes to the appropriate power at the Vatican.

Thanks for your support. In part the lectern thing was due to him having lied from the pulpit Easter Sunday of 2008 re: the status of our supply priest. He said he'd "Fractured" his leg and was essentially retiring him -- I'd talked to the priest in question that same day and at that point he'd thought he merely banged it up. I didn't want it said of me that I was "feeling unwell."

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