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Is this his community service?

posted by awelborn

Bishop O’Brien sets up help line

– A helpline linking you with retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O’Brien is up and running.

The public can call and ask O’Brien to visit someone who is seriously ill or dying.

Callers hear a recorded message in which O’Brien asks them to leave contact information, the name of the sick or injured person and the hospital or other facility where they’re staying.

A staffer with the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix will monitor the calls and will relay the information to O’Brien.



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Rod Dreher

posted March 30, 2004 at 12:10 am


Boy, that’s just who I want to come to the bedside of my dying mother: the yellow-bellied, molester-shielding bishop who killed a guy with his Buick and hid out until the cops came to get him.
This is not an episcopate. This is a Monty Python skit gone berserk.



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Tim Ferguson

posted March 30, 2004 at 6:32 am


I hope he’s not driving himself to the hospital



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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted March 30, 2004 at 7:07 am


Bishop O’Brien is complying with the judge’s order to set this up. If you don’t like it, complain to the judge. I read Fitz’s take on this over at “Recto Ratio”, as Fitz is a lawyer. He said that the punishment given Bishop O’Brien was apppropriate and consistent with legal precedent.
While I might agree that Bishop O’Brien is not someone who is likely to be called upon frequently, I think it is dishonest to criticize him for this website, because it was the judge who ordered it to be created.



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Jim

posted March 30, 2004 at 7:11 am


O’Brien should have gone to jail, even if just for 10 days. The notion that bishops are somehow above the law has been reinforced at a time when it needs to be exploded.
The judge in this case failed us all.



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Kevin Miller

posted March 30, 2004 at 7:52 am


Ready … fire … AIM!



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Rod Dreher

posted March 30, 2004 at 7:53 am


Fr. Stanley is right, I see on second reading. This helpline is the judge’s idea. And what an insulting, horrible idea it is. I cannot believe that the judge only gave O’Brien probation. Probation! Not a day in jail for what he did. I still expect to learn that this whole episode was scripted by Michael Palin and Eric Idle.
“[“Beep-beep car horn sound”] Bishop O’Brien helpline, at your service!”



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craig

posted March 30, 2004 at 7:54 am


“For general absolution, press 1…
For confession, press 3 and start speaking after the tone…
For funeral planning, press 3…
For bequests to the diocese, press 4 and an operator will be with you shortly…”



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Gerard Serafin

posted March 30, 2004 at 8:08 am


If I were dying I would be most grateful to have Bishop O’Brien minister the Sacraments of the Church. When I was deathly ill, I did not care who brought me the Eucharist. I was just so grateful to receive Our Lord sacramentally! (I even came not to care whether Sister wore a habit or not, or whether Father was personal or just in-and-out, etc.)
Didn’t I hear in last Sundays’s gospel: “If anyone is without sin, let him cast the first stone?”
KYRIE ELEISON – on all of us sinners.



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The obedient son

posted March 30, 2004 at 8:13 am


Jim, from what I’ve read (I’m not a jurist, and i don’t live in Phoenix,) his sentence was right in line with what would have been given another man his age, with his record.
Giving him jail time would have been making an exception, would have been treating him differently because he was a bishop.
Who knows, this may be the perfect ministry for him?
Surely none of us think anyone, even a bishop we despise, is beyond redemption, or that our God has somehow lost His ability to draw straight with crooked lines?



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Patrick Rothwell

posted March 30, 2004 at 8:18 am


I second Gerard’s comments, but I have to admit that the helpline is pretty damn funny. I laughed when I read it.



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Colleen

posted March 30, 2004 at 8:20 am


I wish I could articulate this better but my thoughts run toward the fact that the bishop – one of us – has been handed back to us. Only Catholics would call for extreme unction, etc. What Mark Shea says keeps popping up in my mind “we get the bishops we deserve.”
I won’t complain, in fact, I will be joyous if I have a priest, any priest, at my bedside for Holy Communion and Last Rites when my time comes.
I hope and pray people do call him… this is really what he was ordained to do. And Phoenix, thanks be, has a new wonderful and faithful bishop at the helm.
PS. I don’t think Bishop O’Brien will be setting up a website to give us his reflections and thoughts ala Bishop Weakland! Bishop O’Brien’s new mission is much more useful to our souls.



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jerry

posted March 30, 2004 at 9:16 am


Rod doesn’t want a sinner at the bedside of his dying mother. I’m afraid her last days will be lonely indeed.



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craig

posted March 30, 2004 at 9:47 am


Actually, I agree with Gerard too, but when I read “recorded message” above I couldn’t not think of the Dilbert-esque voicemail scenario.



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David Kubiak

posted March 30, 2004 at 9:50 am


Better a lousy bishop at one’s bedside than an EEM. I have already decided that if one of these people is dispatched to my death bed I will make a Spiritual Communion and hope for the best.



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Henry Dieterich

posted March 30, 2004 at 9:57 am


Mr. Serafin is absolutely right. I did not find this funny at all, but entirely appropriate. He proved himself unworthy of the office of bishop, so his penance is to serve as a simple priest, ministering to anyone who calls on him.



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SAHMmy

posted March 30, 2004 at 10:14 am


At first blush, it rather irritates me that O’Brien is being treated like Joe Six-Pack, no better, no worse. He wasn’t treated like Joe Six-Pack prior to his crime, and I just don’t understand why we shouldn’t expect MORE from a bishop than Joe Six-Pack, in terms of charity and behavior, and even penance. It just doesn’t translate to my sense of balance. But that is my error, I guess.
I really HOPE that this kind of ministry will heal, both the bishop himself and those he ministers to. Our Pastor, who is Vicar General of the Diocese, had to practically pry O’Brien’s fingers, one-by-one off the Diocese and beg him to step down. That horrendous and pathetic desire to hang onto his power despite everything……worries me about O’Brien. I suppose I need to just get over it and pray very hard for him.



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Father Wilson

posted March 30, 2004 at 11:23 am


Courtroom observers reported the impression that Bp O’Brien seemed curiously detached from the proceedings (of course, it’s always unsatisfactory to have to rely on the subjective impressions of others, but several people commented thus).
So, one hopes that, if this ministry to the sick takes off at all, contact with genuinely suffering people and their loved ones might grund him a bit in reality.
If he were looking for my advice, I’d suggest he seek out a chaplaincy, something meaningful like a hospital or a nursing home. There is always some quiet corner of the Church where a priest can go and, by dint of patient, diligent, quiet labor, bit by bit put back together the shattered pieces of his ministry and reputation. This could be the best and most fruitful phase of his life, and in a quiet way he could accomplish something and learn a great deal.



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Patrick Sweeney

posted March 30, 2004 at 11:59 am


The task of visitation of sick and dying is given to a priest in good standing.
The community service given to a convicted person ought to have a aspect of disgrace to it.
I think it is particularly insulting that the judge drags in the sick and dying of Phoenix and their families into this plea deal.
If offender O’Brien works off his community service time only when he actually makes a sick call, his community service obligation may not be filled in this century.



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Fr. Paul

posted March 30, 2004 at 12:02 pm


I don’t think anyone has answered Amy’s original question: is this community service? Or more precisely, will this be counted towards his 1000 hours of court-mandated community service? I don’t know how long he has been given to perform these 1000 hours – perhaps over the 4 years of his probation? In which case, it amounts to about 5 hours a week.
My problem with this sentence is that he’ll get to live like a prima donna retired bishop (ala Law and Weakland) and perhaps put in a few hours each week of things he should be doing anyway. And like Law and Weakland, we’ll be hearing from him again, trust me.
IMO, he should be working in an inner-city soup kitchen or StVdP for his community service.



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S.F.

posted March 30, 2004 at 12:20 pm


Shouldn’t a priest be visiting the sick and dying anyway? This is his punishment? That’s his freaking job. If I had committed this crime, would the judge “punish” me by requiring that I go home and raise my sons?
I don’t know if he should have gotten jail or not. But this is crazy. Either make it him pick up trash and clean toilets or no punishment at all. Don’t pretend he’s being punished.



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Victor Morton

posted March 30, 2004 at 12:35 pm


I think Patrick hit the nail on the head. Punishment involves some element of disgrace, some consciousness that something bad (whether it’s being killed, scourged, locked up, made to wear stripes and break rocks, not allowed to leave your home … whatever) is happening to you in retribution.
This sentence seems simply the state counting on one doing what one does anyway (priests are always SUPPOSED to be on call to give last rites). It’s not different in principle from one of the terms of OJ Simpson’s probation for an early wife-beating conviction against Nicole — he had to make a couple of his numerous public appearances for domestic-violence group fund-raisers.



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SAHMmy

posted March 30, 2004 at 1:00 pm


How do you know that this ISN’T a disgraceful and humiliating punishment for O’Brien? It surely wouldn’t be for the average priest, I’d like to think, but it might be a very humiliating way to spend time for O’Brien.
Since I came to this Diocese about 8 years ago, O’Brien impressed me as a humourless, cold and disconnected Shepherd to his flock. Maybe this could bring him back.



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Jim D.

posted March 30, 2004 at 1:01 pm


Two items worth considering:
* The combination of his conviction and pectoral cross bring a level of shame and humilation upon him (and the Church, not incidentally) that most other class 4 felony convicts in Maricopa County do not get.
* The community service portion of his sentence is to be administered to people of all faiths. He will not be making calls for Last Rites. Though these may be included, he will be ministering to the dying, no matter their faith. Which is exactly what he didn’t do the night of his crime. Seems that this bit of punishment fits the crime nicely.
* Though I don’t know, I suspect that he will, in fact, go into retirement quietly. He may still function as a bishop, should Bishop Olmsted allow him – but I don’t expect much public nonsense, a la Weakland, out of O’Brien.



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Meggan

posted March 30, 2004 at 1:16 pm


but it might be a very humiliating way to spend time for O’Brien.
If that’s true, then it’s really really sad.
By the way, I assume that the Bishop has been ordered never to drive again. If he is not in jail due to his age, then he should not be behind a wheel due to his age. Anyone who hits a person and thinks it’s a dog should never have been driving in the first place.



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Fr. Paul

posted March 30, 2004 at 2:13 pm


Jim D – I can appreciate your willingness to see the best in this, but I just don’t see it.
As to point 1, sure he is a convicted felon and also a bishop and that should be shameful, but very few bishops have demonstrated the ability to be shamed. As one of the earlier posters has pointed out, Fr. Fushek practically had to beg O’Brien to resign and his clincher was “look, you’ll still be a bishop, just not bishop of Phoenix.”
As to point 2, I think someone else has also pointed out: it is highly unlikely that people of another faith would seek him out. Now, if he were on call at a local hospital as a chaplain (as I am once a month or so), yes, he would receive calls from all faiths. But this is a private line through the diocesan offices only advertised perhaps in the diocesan paper and website. Ain’t gonna happen.
As to point 3 and a quiet retirement, who knows, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at the next bishop’s conference. I know these guys – they take care of their own. Something comfortable and soothing to his ego will be found for O’Brien. One bishop once lamented to me what had happened to Bishop Ziemann saying, “Poor, poor Patrick.” Ziemann, of course, is residing at a monastery in the SW but still very active in the upper-class social life in the area. Trust me, the egos are too great all around, as is the inability to see how foolish they look in the eyes of the world. I’ve seen only one disgraced bishop actually show remorse for his scandal, and that was Abp. Marino who lived his final days as a chaplain in a cloistered convent and, as Fr. Groeschel once told me, was very remorseful.
From what I’ve seen of O’Brien, I have no high hopes that he will be an inspiring penitent.



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Gerard Serafin

posted March 30, 2004 at 2:50 pm


Fr Paul, you seem to have the gift of discernment of spirits. Another Padre Pio in our midst?



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James Freeman

posted March 30, 2004 at 3:07 pm


Perhaps we all would be better off — mentally, spiritually and blood pressure — if we began to give these, ahem, shepherds all the due they are due.
In other words, little to none until they, in union with the Bishop of Rome, have something to say we are bound by faith not to ignore.
Until then, might I suggest that we cut the episcobsession back to a mere keen vested interest and work on making ourselves into good examples for the poor wretches who “lead” us.



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Fr. Paul

posted March 30, 2004 at 3:27 pm


Actually, Gerard, my first mystical experience was when I had the opportunity to hold a bloodied glove once worn by Padre Pio. And I once had a self-proclaimed visionary corner me in the sacristy and say, “Padre Pio is standing next to me, and he wants me to tell you that you’re a good priest.”
So you never know. ;)
Nevertheless, I’m speaking from my experience with bishops and having lived and worked with some of them in the Southwest – many of them who were self-absorbed Mahoney cronies. As a former priest, you should know what I mean when I say, “I know the type.” I’m willing to give O’Brien the benefit of the doubt… but my doubts are sky-high.



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caroline

posted March 30, 2004 at 4:31 pm


I’ve just gotten home from a weekly activity, bringing Holy Communion to sick people in a hospital. I represent the parish in which area the hospital is located. Without the services of myself and my companions, these people wouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion at all during their hospital stay. If that makes me a detested EEM, tough. Some people have even wished I were empowered to give absolution. Today after I did my rounds I phoned the parish rectory at the request of a family member of one of the sick to arrange for a priest to visit and do what I can not do, give absolution and the Sacrament of the Sick. Hopefully the parish priest will visit the person this very afternoon. Why wouldn’t I have been delighted to have Bishop O’Brien on call or, better yet, part of our regular Tuesday and Friday team? Another hand and we could open a third day of the week for sick folk to receive.
What is accomplished by schaming or punishing a person when one can make him useful? Why waste him?
What is gained? Too practical here.



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craig

posted March 30, 2004 at 4:42 pm


Gerard, it’s not necessary to be a visionary to make such confident predictions — only a statistician. And that’s the real scandal. James Freeman’s prescription seems about right to me.



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Rod Dreher

posted March 30, 2004 at 4:56 pm


Shouldn’t a priest — even, heaven help us, a bishop — want to make sick calls anyway? This is punishment?
As far as the Catholic episcopate goes, cynics are realists.
It does not at all seem right that the former Catholic bishop of Phoenix runs over and kills a guy, and hides out from the cops for a couple of days until they arrive to carry his sorry butt off to the pokey — and the only punishment he gets is probation. But if that’s what the punishment for that offense usually is, then fine, give it to him.
But like somebody said up above, to rope in the sick and the dying into this so-called punishment for O’Brien is rotten. It seems to me like the judge wanted to do a favor for O’Brien, who is as disgraceful an example of a Catholic bishop as we’ve seen. And now he gets to lounge in his quarters, sipping sherry and watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, until his manservant rings him and says an elderly Mexican with a goiter needs prayer across town.
This is punishment? Sheesh, how can people not be cynical?!



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Rod Dreher

posted March 30, 2004 at 5:40 pm


Beep-Beep O’Brien’s Hotline number is:
(602) 354-2122



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Gerard Serafin

posted March 30, 2004 at 6:15 pm


Rod, did you hear last Sunday’s gospel?
Just wondering….



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Fr. Paul

posted March 30, 2004 at 6:22 pm


Right now, I’m 95% in agreement with Rod. I’ll be 100% in agreement when someone can tell me for certain that this “hotline” goes towards fulfilling O’Brien’s 1000 hours of community service. And I’ll be in 110% agreement if someone can confirm that this service must be fulfilled over 4 years (i.e. 5 hours per week). Talk about a sweetheart deal!



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Gerard Serafin

posted March 30, 2004 at 6:51 pm


Fr Paul, I can’t say “I know the type.” My experience has been different than yours apparantly.



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caroline

posted March 30, 2004 at 7:10 pm


Since when is community service supposed to be a punishment? And if it is a punishment, why do so many Catholic schools require X hours for graduation as a form of religion class and public schools require X hours for graduation as a form of civics class and many a diocese requires X hours for confirmation eligibility? If community service is a punishment, then why do we require it of kids? If community service is education or re-education, then why do we expect it to be punishment?



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Father Wilson

posted March 30, 2004 at 8:04 pm


But it’s done. The only thing I can hope is that the practical experience of dealing with sick and suffering people might wake him up; we all know that we’re supposed to hope for a conversion here.
I also suspect that we don’t know all of the conditions of this. And, I hope, he’s getting some kind of serious help, in the form of counseling, in the wake of his humiliation.
After all, he DID have to step down, which apparently is almost unthinkable for a Diocesan Bishop. Consequences. Apart from the loved ones of his victim, I’d think the people who really have something to complain about here are the Faithful of Manchester NH, St Petersburg FL, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Santa Fe, Louisville, Albany, Rockville Centre, New York…



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Victor Morton

posted March 30, 2004 at 9:25 pm


You mean “let him without sin cast the first stone”? You are so right, Mr. Serafin. That is exactly how the law should operate.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone at Timothy McVeigh. Or protest if he only gets probation. After all, I’ve lusted with an impure heart. Who am I to say Timothy McVeigh should be executed (or jailed or anything else).
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone at Osama bin Laden. Or protest if he only gets probation. After all, I’ve lusted with an impure heart. Who am I to say Osama bin Laden should be executed (or jailed or anything else).
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone at Matthew Dreher. Or protest if he gets ice cream when he hits his little brother. After all, I’ve lusted with an impure heart. Who am I to say Matthew Dreher should be sent to his room (or spanked or anything else).



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Brian Amend

posted March 30, 2004 at 9:58 pm


Gerard is right insofar as he is pointing to those comments that have made a show of Bishop O’Brien’s legal and moral disintegration. One can observe irenically that this man has sinned and seems to have gotten off more lightly than he deserved (and seems is the proper word since we are to judge not). But taking delight in scandal is sinful, and that includes even horrified delight. Gerard is pointing to a text that makes us focus on our own conversion rather than the lack of conversion we see in others, and that is not just a healthy focus but a necessary one.
To be clear, I’m not saying we can’t discuss these things; I’m saying that, doing so we have to be careful that the effect of the scandal does not rub off on our souls.
Saint Padre Pio, no slacker he in calling sin sin, was horrified that a priest spent time in jail because of crimes that priest committed against Padre Pio himself. The holy friar was heard repeating to himself, “A priest in jail! Because of Padre Pio!”



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Fr. Paul

posted March 30, 2004 at 10:07 pm


Another thing I just found:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,115389,00.html
“Bishop Thomas Olmsted, the diocese’s new leader, said O’Brien has an open invitation to participate in the church and would be welcome to celebrate Mass. “I am relieved and grateful that Bishop O’Brien will not be going to jail,” said Olmsted, who said he continues to pray for Reed’s family as well.”
Well isn’t that just swell? Jim D’s well-intentioned prediction of quiet retirement seems a bit unlikely.
And Gerard, if you don’t “know the type”, it would seem you weren’t a priest long enough or you weren’t paying attention.



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Paul Pfaffenberger

posted March 30, 2004 at 10:35 pm


I was at the pre-sentencing hearing on 3/12 in Judge Gerst’s court. Heard testimony from Jim Reed’s family, 3 survivors of clergy abuse who were told by the bishop to keep quiet and not report to the police, and a parking lot security guard who saw the bishop inspecting his car (bishop denied it, and wasn’t sure how the matching scrapes got on his car and the one parked behind him). A also listened to the 1.5 hour long explanaiton / justification of the sentence on Friday.
A few things …
yes, the “hotline” time, to be spent with the “severely injured and dying” per the judge, does count toward the community service. And it was so ordered by Gerst, 800 number and all. 4 years to serve 1000 hours, or about 2 hours a day with 2 weeks vacation.
Three problems with the sentence. First, the cases the judge used to justify no jail time were all for folks who had pleaded guilty – the good bishop pleaded not guilty. Even worse, the judge considered “concealment” as a factor in many of the cases where the convicted DID receive jail time, but determined that O’Brien did not “actively” conceal his crime. Not sure how calling the windshield repair place instead of the police rates as passive. Lastly, his cover-up of priestly abuse, although well documented and presented in pre-sentencing testimony, was not considered a factor in his “character”. What was considered was that the poor high-profile felon would be shamed by people talking about him behind his back. No, I’m not making this up.
The really terrible thing about the hotline is not in allowing (requiring) a convicted felon to visit the dying as a form of punishment (???!). Its that there will be a diocesan staffer screening the calls, and allowing O’Brien to only hear about and visit those who they choose. Once again he is shielded from the reality that he so desperately needs to face in order to reconnect.



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Fr. Paul

posted March 30, 2004 at 11:24 pm


Thank you, thank you, Paul, for reporting that info. Alas, it makes the situation even more distressful, but not unexpected. The pleading guilty vs. not part is very interesting, considering what I read of his testimony: he *wished* he had seen Reed and he *feels* responsible. Even at sentencing after having been found guilty, he refused to *accept* and *acknowledge* responsibility.
Gerard can quote last weekend’s Gospel all he wants, but the woman caught in adultery didn’t say “I’m sorry… I’m sorry that you all feel this way, and I feel responsible that all of you have misunderstood me so.”
The man is still in denial. Look for him at a website with his reflections or a confirmation near you, soon.
SeƱor, ten piedad. It’s a beautiful thing.



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Rod Dreher

posted March 30, 2004 at 11:36 pm


Paul P., thank you for adding that clarifying information. Do you think the judge went light on O’Brien because he is a Catholic bishop? And thank you, Fr. Paul, for digging the information up about Bp. Olmsted welcoming O’Brien back into the life of the Church. Just like old times.
What a dirty, rotten shame. And to my knowledge, not a single bishop — not a Chaput, not a Dolan, not a Bruskewitz — has dared to utter a peep in public about this scandal. The National Review Board suggested that the bishops start engaging in “fraternal correction.” What a sad joke that is. One is reminded of that bitter line from the Clash: “If Adolf Hitler flew in today/They’d send a limousine anyway.”
Gerard, I sure hope that if I’m ever put on criminal trial, I get you on my jury. All I’ll have to do is remind you that you can’t judge me, because you once called ONION a “bad dog” for pooping on the petunias, and you’ll have a Dr.-Smith-on-Lost-In-Space breakdown right there in the jury box.



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David Kubiak

posted March 30, 2004 at 11:40 pm


He may be a saint, but that quotation from Padre Pio above is precisely the sentiment that has brought us to the deplorable situation the Church is in now. Never let a priest be the cause of another priest going to jail — yep, we get the message loud and clear.



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James Freeman

posted March 31, 2004 at 1:26 am


Why do we insist upon giving the episcopate powers over us (the Catholic clergy present here excepted) they otherwise could not posess?
I think everyone needs to take a deep breath, go to the kitchen, grab a beer and chill.
The common thread in all the recent hyperventilation, it would seem, is Catholics voluntarily handing over power over their actions and souls that bishops — good, indifferent or rotten to the core — simply have no right to.
If Sister Stretchpants, Father Foppish and Cardinal Taj Mahony insist that we all stand during and after Communion, yet we all know that is not “as the Church does,” then, dammittohell, KNEEL! If the Liturgy Nazis yell at you, it is they who are disrupting Mass and giving themselves a coronary . . . it ain’t you. Smile sweetly and tell them that, you’re sorry, but that’s not as the Church does.
If Archbishop Curt-ish assigns you a penance for telling the God’s honest truth in a letter to the editor, politely write back to suggest he shove it where the sun dares not shine.
If an ex-bishop, now a convicted felon, doesn’t go the the pokey even though justice probably requires that he at least should have spent a few months in the addled-jailbird ward or something, whatcha gonna do? Go stone him or something?
And if the present malefactor . . . uh . . . shepherd is falling all over himself to AVOID calling His Mad Maxness to repentence, duly note it and DON’T GIVE TO THE DIOCESAN APPEAL. Ignore the milquetoast; give him no due he is not due.
DO WORRY about making the world better in whatever way God has gifted you. DO WORRY about the young people in your parish and in your families — they need to be encouraged to be better people than we are. And supported in that process.
But just stop the hyperventilation and stop giving yourselves ulcers. Conserve your energy, your ammo and your position on the moral high ground for when you will really, REALLY need them.



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Gerard Serafin

posted March 31, 2004 at 8:05 am


Bottom line: if your mother was dying, Rod, would you allow Bishop O’Brien to minister to her the Sacraments of the Church.
That is the ONLY comment I commented on. I am not commenting on the sentence nor the crime nor the hot line, etc.
I found your own comment at the very start of this thread profoundly contrary to what I had just heard in Sunday’s gospel.
Enough.



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Brian Amend

posted March 31, 2004 at 9:09 am


David:
You did not get my message loud and clear. Of course, it seems I can depend on you to practice a deeply cutting hermeneutic of suspicion. You were the one after all who chided Mark Shea for having the gall to be a convert rather than a cradle Catholic.
My real message was that we should not delight in scandal (which I said explicitly, btw). Padre Pio had more right than us to do so but is a good example of one who did not. There’s a difference between calling sin sin and taking delight in the scandal caused by the sins of Christ’s chosen ones. Without looking up chapter and verse, I can guarantee you this loud and clear message is loudly and clearly in the Catechism itself.
Of course, there’s also that part in the Gospel about those who question Jesus because they want to justify themselves. It sucks having arrogance thrown out you like that, doesn’t it? Please don’t do so again.



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SAHMmy

posted March 31, 2004 at 9:16 am


The fact that our new bishop chooses NOT to dogpile on O’Brien does not diminish him in my eyes. I think Olmsted is a “good” one, and I’m grateful to have him.



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Rod Dreher

posted March 31, 2004 at 9:53 am


Is it “dogpiling” on O’Brien to insist, quietly, that he keep a low profile, given the gravity and scandal of his deeds? I think not.



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SAHMmy

posted March 31, 2004 at 10:03 am


No, the dogpiling is what’s going on in comment boxes all over the blogsphere. Hey I should know, I’m one of them! But the fact that bishop Olmsted is not publically participating in that seems to be some sort of consternation to you.
O’Brien’s modus operandi PRIOR to his hit-and-run WAS low profile. I never saw the guy anywhere outside his own home parish. What did Olmsted do his first day on the job? He showed up for a Rosary and prayer vigil in front of a local abortion mill.
It isn’t necessary for the new bishop to beat the old bishop over the head. He isn’t defending O’Brien, he said he’s glad O’Brien did not go to jail. What, you think he should be saying, “Well bishop O’Brien belongs in jail and I’m PO’d that he didn’t get any jail time.”? What would that serve? Not God.



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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted March 31, 2004 at 10:43 am


Rod,
To insist quietly that the bishop keep a low profile is one thing. But in an earlier post, you complained that not one other bishop has spoken publicly — or made a peep — about this scandal. Now, I think, to be fair, you need to choose which you want, because you’ve called for both now. Which is it: do you want public repudiation of Bishop O’Brien by the other bishops, or do you want those bishops to confront him privately and discreetly? Or do you want both? I am not clear on what it is you want.
Myself, I’d prefer not to have bishops taking each other to task in public. I think such would invite public recrimination, and then we have “Family Feud” played out episcopally.



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Vicki

posted March 31, 2004 at 11:09 am


I am sorry, but this guy broke the law and tried to cover it up. I have a hard time understanding why he is still allowed all of the trappings and comforts of being a bishop.
And his sentence is now, TO BE A PRIEST??
He should have been doing that from the get go.
I am very disgusted, I have seen the same things happen in my own diocese with a pedophile bishop.
The road to hell is certainly paved with the skulls of bishops!



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Rod Dreher

posted March 31, 2004 at 11:57 am


Fr. Stanley: To insist quietly that the bishop keep a low profile is one thing. But in an earlier post, you complained that not one other bishop has spoken publicly — or made a peep — about this scandal. Now, I think, to be fair, you need to choose which you want, because you’ve called for both now. Which is it: do you want public repudiation of Bishop O’Brien by the other bishops, or do you want those bishops to confront him privately and discreetly? Or do you want both? I am not clear on what it is you want.
A fair question. I would rather have Bp. Olmsted repudiate Bishop O’Brien in some public way, as a witness to the Catholics (and non-Catholics) of Phoenix that the Church takes this kind of thing seriously, and that the Church is not just about making things as comfortable as possible for the bishops. Because that’s sure what this looks like.
But if Bp. Olmsted couldn’t bring himself to do that, he could at least refrain from behaving like nothing much happened here, and that Thomas O’Brien has nothing much to be sorry for. That there’s nothing much to see here, so let’s get back to business being the Easter people that we are. This stinks to high heaven — and I mean that literally.



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Rod Dreher

posted March 31, 2004 at 12:04 pm


I mean, look at the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, and its disgraced former ordinary Daniel Ryan. He’s still swanning around town participating actively in the life of the Church as a bishop emeritus, even though he had to resign his office under a dark cloud having to do with his homosexual rent-boy derring-do. It’s one thing to welcome a penitent back into the fold. Where’s the evidence that Bp. Ryan was ever penitent? Why does the current ordinary allow this kind of scandal to go on? If I were a parent in that diocese, I would do my utmost to find a bishop somewhere else to confirm my children rather than participate in the charade of allowing that Ryan to use me and my family to put forward the facade that all is well with his relationship to the Church and her people.



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Father Wilson

posted March 31, 2004 at 12:42 pm


Actually, just as a matter of record, after his premature retirement Bishop Ryan was indeed exercising public ministry and even was a principal co-consecrator of an auxiliary of (I think) Joliet.
But in 2003 the allegations against him were deemed ‘credible,’ according to the audit the Diocese made public as part of the National Survey, and Ryan is no longer permitted to exercise ministry.
The Ryan case is an excellent study for anyone wondering why so many people are angry about the Situation. Stephen Brady of Roman Catholic Faithful was piling up proof after proof after proof, only to be ignored by the Church. The late Father John Hardon had gone to Rome with proof… nothing was done. Brady persevered at great personal cost, and was vindicated.
As for the O’Brien sentencing: Paul Pfaffenberger’s facts are… well, sadly, I cannot say, “surprising,’ can I?
The Situation is sad, sad and tawdry. People who are uncomfortable when others express outrage over these things need to stop and consider: “Should ANY of us feel comfortable?”



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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted March 31, 2004 at 11:52 pm


I agree with you, that the Church cannot proceed as if nothing has happened. Fr. Wilson’s commentary on the Situation and its specifics in Springfield, Illinois, are just plain depressing to me. You know, I’ve been at this for nearly twenty-four years, back to when I was a fresh-faced freshman at Notre Dame, beginning my studies at Old College for the Congregation of Holy Cross. And I’ve been around — Colorado Springs, Berkeley, Chicago, Detroit, and now the Kalamazoo Diocese. I’d like to think that I’m fairly well-travelled, and you’d think I’d get used to it, but it still makes my flesh crawl and my stomach turn to read of these crimes in the Situation. It’s damned depressing, and I mean that theologically. I know that the answer to all of this for me personally is a recommitment to the evangelical counsels and to prayer and especially to personal accountability: to brother priests in fraternities/support groups [oh how I hate the latter term, but it seems de rigeur now], to a spiritual director, to one’s bishop [even if total trust in that bishop is lacking, I believe I am called to respond forthwith and fully to any inquiry by the bishop or his delegate]. Nonetheless, it would seem that so many who have been promoted and admired by both clergy and laity have been shown to have feet of clay caked with manure. The role models get fewer and fewer, and I shudder to think that my generation is in its ascendancy for responsibility and diocesan leadership in the Church. I only hope and pray that my generation of clergy will acquit themselves better than the previous generations of the hierarchy. I subscribe to the term that Fr. Rob Johansen uses over at his blog, Thrownback: that “hapless bench of bishops” that currently make up the USCCB. I just get so plain disgusted, especially because I believe that so many policy decisions continue to be made with the final approval of Mark Chopko in the legal office at the USCCB, with the main concern being how to avoid litigation, rather than asking the harder, and more expensive question, “What is the moral thing to do?” I realize the myriad problems concerning litigation and the responsibility for being good stewards of the church’s assets. Some of the priceless assets the bishops’ had, their credibility and good will/good motives, have been whittled away by the jack-knife of political and financial expediency. There are times that I think the Church would be better served by losing its tax exemption and becoming a very poor institution. But I also know how many more would suffer from neglect if we were to drop off the face of the earth.



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Vicki

posted April 1, 2004 at 12:45 am


So…what is the believing laity to do?



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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted April 1, 2004 at 7:42 am


Might I suggest that the laity pray for the clergy, that said clergy might become more faithful and disciplined in the Lord’s ministry. I think it is important that the laity send a message to incompetent bishops by withholding contributions. This seems to be the only way to get the attention of some of these bishops. I know that sounds cynical, but there have been too many instances of sincere laypeople writing their bishop and getting the brush off or worse [See related stories coming from archbishop in St. Paul, Minnesota, or the legal gymnastics employed by the cardinal-archbishop of Los Angeles. People can make up their withheld contributions by giving directly to the Catholic charity in their community.



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Father Wilson

posted April 1, 2004 at 9:37 am


Vicki, within the last month I have had two illuminating experiences. One was preaching a Parish Mission in Park, Louisiana, near Lafayette, and the other was a Baptism in Dallas.
On both of these trips I had the opportunity to spend time with some wonderful Catholic families. I saw again how deeply edifying and encouraging fervent Catholic family life is whenever I encounter it. In Dallas, I was standing in a living room after the Baptism, watching young Catholic parents chatting happily, and it struck me that they probably derive much more support for their Catholic life from each other’s example and friendship than from any relationship they have with their pastors.
A couple of the families in Louisiana could have served as models of Catholic life for anyone, their children poised, well-educated and happy, and love of the Faith permeating their home life.
What is the believing laity to do?
Pray hard. Frequent the sacraments, especially daily Mass. Read widely, immersing yourself in the multi-faceted Catholic vision of reality — lives of the saints, spiritual books, history of the Church etc.
Catholicism, far from being the puritanical moral code or list of things to be memorized so many think it is, is a deep, wide and fruitful way of looking at all reality in light of the Incarnation and the Atonement. Once one understands that, everything changes, and everything is seen in that light. Immerse yourself deeply in that, impart it to your children, share it with your friends… and you’ll find that you have plenty of spiritual resources to deal with the temptation to discouragement which have to come every time you contemplate the institutional Amchurch.
Because the institutional Amchurch is not going to get better any time soon. Any sensible person can see that it is just biding its time, waiting for what it imagines to be a “public relations crisis” to pass so things get back to “normal.” It’s striking that, after the last forty years, in the midst of a serious spiritual disaster, there’s no sense of crisis, no consciousness of being indicted by the fact that sixty percent of our people have walked away from the sacraments because we have nothing to say to them, and Mass attendance limps along at seventeen percent.
No sense of crisis at all. The Good Shepherd leaves the ninety and the nine to go off in search of the one who strayed; the Amchurch shepherd has no idea where eighty-three percent of his sheep are, so he takes the seventeen percent, summons a synod, breaks them up into small groups so they can dialogue about their Vision of the future, and forbids them to kneel for communion. And issues a synod document celebrating the age of RENEWAL.
In her life and her Tradition, the Church makes available to us everything we need. We must simply focus on the important things, and work hard on supporting and loving one another.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 1, 2004 at 9:42 am


And the +Haggis. You mustn’t neglect the +Haggis.



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Brian Amend

posted April 1, 2004 at 12:19 pm


Fr. Wilson:
“No sense of crisis at all. The Good Shepherd leaves the ninety and the nine to go off in search of the one who strayed; the Amchurch shepherd has no idea where eighty-three percent of his sheep are, so he takes the seventeen percent, summons a synod, breaks them up into small groups so they can dialogue about their Vision of the future, and forbids them to kneel for communion. And issues a synod document celebrating the age of RENEWAL.”
This is I think the most brilliant summary I’ve yet read. You go, Fr. W.



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