Address to the Knights of Columbus

Monday, May 13, 2002/Categories: Parish News

My Dear Brother Knights,

Tonight I will be doing some things that I would not normally do. First of all, you will receive a copy of a Resolution adopted at the State Convention as a show of support for the hierarchy of the Church and for priests especially. Secondly you will receive a copy of what I spoke to the parishioners of my three parishes. Thirdly, I want to comment on the Convention Resolution.

The first three propositions, I feel are commendable. The Order was indeed founded by Fr. Michael J. McGivney, a priest, as a kind of burial society and welfare source for Catholic immigrants. From the beginning the Knights were to be helpers to the local pastor in furthering the work of the Church. Indeed the Knights fill this role admirably up to the present day. The Knights have been truly those who live by the principles of the Order. The Knights have always defended the priests and bishops of the Church. They are doing this even as we speak. In fact, their defense is the reason that we speak.

We are a Eucharistic Church with a sacrificing priesthood. Priests offer sacrifice. A Communion Service, while a good thing under certain circumstances, is not the Mass. The Mass, the Eucharistic Meal and Sacrifice “makes” the Church. That being the case I would hope that the Church explore other ways of ministry, e.g. optional celibacy for the Diocesan priests.

For my part I want to comment especially on the paragraph following the fourth “whereas” of this resolution. I fully agree in my heart that “the overwhelming majority of (priests) lead exemplary celibate and chaste lives and (hopefully) perform immense spiritual, human, and social good.” The support is deeply appreciated. I am afraid, though, that I would have to take exception to the first part of that “whereas.” For my part, I cannot agree with the implication that the press (media) in this country is deliberately anti-Catholic. I agree that some elements of the media are of that mind. But I do not see that attitude as universal. Secondly, I do not attribute this turmoil to “liberal dissenters.” There are some who classify themselves as liberals and who might be dissenters (not all who classify themselves as liberals are dissenters) that have spoken on this crisis. Conservative commentators have spoken as well. William Bennett has called for the resignation of Cardinal Law. I suggest that the source of our troubles is not an anti-Catholic press (the media) nor so called “liberal dissenters.” The problem is far deeper. The problem is that some men who are priests, good, loving, and generous human beings have, for some reason, sought human intimacy in inappropriate ways. Why they chose these ways is a mystery too deep for me to probe. Behaviors have come to light and it is news, pure and simple. News is the business of the media. Some elements of the media tell the truth and others tell half truths. It is up to the reader to be discerning. I have no doubt that some have taken the current atmosphere as an opportunity to ridicule the Church. All one needs to do is listen the some of the talk shows on WIBW. But these talk show hosts are not the cause of the problem.

Yes, some so called liberals have been critical of the Church and of the some of the Archbishops and Bishops who, with the presumption of good will and ignorance, have been demonstrably incompetent in handling these sexual issues. But these liberals, so called, have not caused the problem. Some parts of the media and others have exacerbated the problem. There is no doubt of that.

I as a priest appreciate the support of my Brother Knights who stand in solidarity with me. I would hope we can all join together in prayer and fasting on May 18-19 in solidarity with those who have offended and with those who have been offended. I also ask that we take as an intention of our good works that the Church has the courage to look at itself and address this issue in love and forgiveness under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I as your chaplain appreciate the support of Council #1769.

Thank you.

Father Owen

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