Saturday, February 14, 2015

God hates sin, but He hates it because He loves us so much.

Mark 1;40-45 Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 15th, 2015

Today we hear of the healing of the man with leprosy. Leprosy was one of the most disfiguring, disgusting and debilitating diseases in the history of the world. It literally involved a rotting away of the flesh and the extremities, all as, the affected person in agony watched and smelled the rot, until death eventually came. As bad as all of this was, there was however, an even worse aspect of leprosy. Leprosy was not only a death sentence, but also a prison sentence. It literally separated the one affected, not only from the larger society, but also from his loved ones, from his families and friends. Imagine going through a debilitating and terminal disease…now imagine doing it alone.

Because of leprosy’s effect of separating its victims not only from a support system but from those they cared about the most-their family, over the last few years this Gospel has been used to point out the marginalized and outcast of our society. Many priests, speaking from a Social Gospel aspect, have pointed out that Jesus, like he did with this leper, always welcomed the outcast and dregs of society; and so in imitation of Jesus we should do so as well. There is of course nothing wrong with this understanding; it’s a message of tolerance. The Catholic Church in fact came up with the idea of tolerance; it’s expressed in the following way, “Hate the sin, love the sinner; but love him by calling him to repentance. In other words, we must always tolerate the person but at the same time, always be intolerant to sin (or to lies or errors).

Unfortunately, however, many of those who call for tolerance today have redefine tolerance; they have redefined it to mean tolerance of sin. In other words, we are supposed to by tolerant to those who say, that we must not only put up with their sinful lifestyle and look the other way, but that we must accept it and even endorse it. And if we refuse, we are called intolerant. We then become the outcast of society, the criminals of society. In own our lives we can do this as well …we can tolerate sin in our lives and even believe that what we are doing is no longer wrong, that we have no sin. And if someone points out our sin, either directly or by his or her holiness of life, we can attack him or her as being judgmental or “intolerant.

The truth is, is that God never tolerates sin and we can never tolerate sin either. God hates sin, but He hates it because He loves us so much. Our sin doesn’t hurt God it hurts us and others, this is why God hates it, and why in love we should hate it too. Sin is evil; it is devastating to the happiness of man-our happiness; it is truly the cause of all the unhappiness in the world. In fact, leprosy, that horribly disfiguring and separating disease, has been used by the Church from the very beginning to symbolize the devastating effects of sin. Sin does to the soul, what leprosy does to the body. Venial sin begins to damage the soul, making it stink in a spiritual sense; and if it isn’t checked, sin can lead even to the death of the soul, through serious sin or mortal. Serious sin--mortal sin, kills the soul and makes it putrid, spiritually speaking.

Sin kills the soul because it separates the soul from God and from His Church, which is the Sacrament of salvation. How does Sin do this, How does it separated us from God and His Church? Many would answer this question by saying that when we sin, we break the law of God and so, as a consequence, He punishes us. But this answer really isn’t satisfactory; after all God loves sinners. In reality, sin separates the soul from God and His Church by actually making the soul incapable of worshiping God properly and worthily, and so, incapable of receiving fully not only God’s grace, but God Himself and union with Him. Sin is totally against God’s nature; it is unclean, and nothing unclean can enter into union with Him. God is charity-love, and sin is the very opposite of charity. Perhaps to better understand this, we need again to look at our comparison of leprosy to sin.

Leprosy in the time of Jesus frightened people just as terrible and contagious diseases frighten us today. But even more than this, and this is the worst aspect of leprosy, leprosy rendered somebody unclean, that is ritually unclean. What does ritually unclean mean? It means they were prevented from engaging in the act of worship in the temple. By the way, it’s not coincidental that the person who examined the person for leprosy in order to determined if they were unclean was a priest. Why the priest? Well he was the one who was given the charge to monitor the worship of the people to make sure their worship corresponded to the dictates of God. In other words, the priest had to make sure that the people were worshiping God the way God by His very nature has to be worship. God is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. And so, it was the priest, according to the law given by God in the book of Leviticus, who was to determine who could and couldn’t participate in temple worship. The priest was also the one who offered up sacrifices in order to ask God to take away the sins of the people and sins devastating effects; especially the effect of separation.

And so, I hope you see the connection. Sin, like leprosy in the Old Testament times and the time of Jesus not only separate its victim from the community and his family, it separated him from the family of God and from that families’ worship in the temple of the true and living God. Remember, Jesus came to find those who would worship God in spirit and in truth. The point is, is that we are saved by our correct and worthy worship and adoration of God. It’s not that God needs our worship, but it is we who need to worship Him. Sin prevents us from proper and worthy worship of God. Sin either keeps us from worshiping God altogether, or even if we come into the Church, if we do so with un-repented sin on our soul, we cannot possibly enter into the type of worship that God by His very nature demands. And of course, we are to worship God not only in the temple, but after we leave, we are to worship God with the temple of our bodies through our holiness of life; that is, living His Commandments and the teachings of His Holy Church.

This Lent, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us more deeply and truthfully examine our conscience in order to discover hidden sin in our life. Perhaps we could find good examination of conscience on the Internet at EWTN or at a Catholic bookstore. Let us then turn evermore deeply to the Father through the Son and ask for the grace of forgiveness and the grace to sin no more and live more fully the Gospel truth in our life. We do this of course sacramentally through the Sacrament of Confession.

Confession is not so much about sin as it is about returning to the Father in order to experience the embrace of His Mercy and Love. It is in Confession that we can come in contact with the Mercy of the Father, through Jesus Christ forgiving our sins in, with and through the person of the priest. This encounter, if we are properly disposed, purifies us and leads us to a more worthy worship and adoration of God and so into a more intimate union with the Father through Jesus His Son truly present in the Holy Eucharist.

With our souls purified and healed from the corruption of sin, and united with Jesus perfect sacrificial act of worship and adoration of the Father at the Holy Mass, we can then offer ourselves fully and so worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, growing in our communion with Him and with the members of His Church. Through our worthy worship and adoration of God, we will be transformed into instruments of God’s mercy and love; and through us, Jesus will reach out and touch and heal the devastating and separating effects of the contagion of sin in our families, in our communities and in our world, souls will be healed and brought back to life, brought back to the loving embrace of the Father through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wills it…do we?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Preaching the truth leads to salvation and salvation comes to us through the Sacraments, because the Sacraments are intimate encounters with Jesus Christ the Living God, the One who heals and the One who saves-they are real encounters with the very power and love of God Himself.

Mark 1; 29-39 Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 8th, 2015

In today’s second reading we hear St Paul speak of his grave obligation to preach the Gospel to the People of God. This Gospel is the Truth that Jesus Christ gave to the twelve apostles, and to St. Paul as well. St Paul humbly admits that his charge, to preach the teachings of Christ--the teachings and doctrines of the Church, is not something that He boasts about, because it is an obligation placed on Him by Christ Himself. And so, St. Paul rightly realizes that He must give the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth or woe to him if he does not do so.

In the Gospels, Jesus himself tells us that his own mission is to preach, to spread the Good News. Jesus’ Father actually sent Him for this very purpose, to give testimony to the truth, the truth about God and about the truth about man. Jesus then picked the twelve apostles, the first priests and bishops, to take what they learned from Jesus’ preaching and turn around and preach it to others.
The twelve were commissioned to make the truth about God and man known to the whole world through their preaching…Go forth and preach the Good News…Whoever listens to you listens to me.

It’s clear that preaching is the very method selected by God to bring about the salvation He desired for man. So the apostles obviously took very seriously the duty to give the truth their people needed, even if the people did not always want to hear it; and many times, sadly, they didn’t want to hear it. Elsewhere in the scriptures, St. Paul says to Timothy, who himself was a priest and later a bishop, “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and teaching.”

St. Paul knew that an authentic and living faith comes only from hearing the truth. And so Paul
tells his protégé, Timothy, that preaching is not about making people feel good or for entertainment, but to convince the people of the truth and necessities of the teachings of the Church for their eternal salvation; preaching the truth is for rebuking them by telling them about the reality of sin and the need for every one of them to repent because sin (that is not living the truth), keeps them from fully experiencing God and His love and mercy; and preaching exists to exhort the people to amend their lives, to do better and to live more and more fully according to the truth; and so, according to the teachings of the Church (which are the greatest certainty of truth there is in this world, because they come from mouth of Truth Himself-Jesus).

By accepting the truth that they have received by preaching, and living according to the truth with the help of grace, the faithful themselves then preach the Gospel; they preach the truth to world by their lives. By doing so, they lead others to turn away from sin and unhappiness and turn to back to the God who loves them. This is why they Church identifies preaching the Gospel as one of the main tasks of Bishops and priests. St. Pope Pius X went so far as saying that “for a priest there is no duty more grave, or obligation more binding than preaching the truth as found in the teachings of the Church and to do so in order to dispel ignorance and lies.” Vatican II reiterated this duty by saying that “the People of God is formed into God’s true family by the Word of the living God which is given to them and sought by them from the mouth of priests.”

The truth matters for eternal salvation. Nobody can be saved unless they first believe and nobody can believe unless they first hear the truth and hear it in its purity and fullness. So the first task of the priest is to preach the truth unadulterated and in its fullness to all men. And so not only is the priest gravely sinning if he does not preach the teachings of the Church fully and correctly and make them shine, he also is not showing love to his people-a priest who does not preach the truth does not truly love his people, no matter how nice he may be--Period.
The priest’s preaching should always imitate Jesus’ preaching but remember Jesus preaching was not just limited to words. In other words, Jesus’ life bore witness to the truth of His words. And so, the priest too must live what He preaches. His life to must bear witness to the truth of what he preaches. How much more is expected by God of his priests.

Another point. The words and preaching of Jesus were also attested to by His mighty deeds, which brought healing and salvation to the people He touched, if they were open, like the woman in our Gospel today. All of the encounters in the Gospels with the Person of Jesus, brought more than just the experience of mighty works, they were more importantly real, intimate encounters with the Living God, with the True and Living God that these people found in the very Person of Jesus Christ. We might not have thought about this, but it is the Truth that Heals…

This is the real goal of all preaching. Preaching is meant to convince, rebuke and exhort us to the truth, but only in order to draw us into the same healing encounter with Jesus as the woman sick with a fever had and those others had who were ill or possessed by demons. The fact is, is that we are all in need of healing. There doesn’t have to be disease or systemic evil in our lives for us to have a great need of the healing power of Christ. Our need for the touch of Jesus in our lives can be from the burdens of our sins, from the lies and the untruths that have been thrust upon us or just from the burdens of every day.

But where, where do we today experience this healing and saving encounter with Jesus? Again, good preaching from the priest gives us, leads us to the true answer! We encounter Jesus in the Sacraments of the Church, especially the renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary--the Holy Mass!!!

It is in the Sacraments of the Church that Jesus continues to carry out mighty works in and through the Person of the Priest, and so testify to the truth. In the Sacraments Jesus continues to touch in order to heal and so save those who believe, those with faith…”your faith has saved you, healed you.” And at Holy Mass, there we hear not only Jesus powerful words of salvation, the truth of His Holy Word, but we, through faith, can literally and personally encounter God in the flesh, the Truth in the flesh, and experience the power of His healing touch in the Holy Eucharist.

The Sacraments actually effect or carry out the saving words of Jesus. In the Sacraments it Jesus Himself who reaches out in order to touch our feverish bodies, cooling them and calming them, if we but have faith. In the Sacraments it is Jesus Himself who releases us from the power of satan; it is Jesus who releases us from the burdens of our sins, from the poison of lies; and it is Jesus Himself who helps us to carry the heavy burdens of life…It is in the Sacraments that Jesus, He who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, saves us through healing us.

The longer I am a priest the more I see the incredible awesome power of God in the Sacraments, the Sacraments that I, as a priest, have been given the great privilege of administering to souls. I have seen their awesome power not only to heal and to save. But to do so, by bringing souls who believe, who have faith, into an incredible mysterious but very real encounter with Jesus the Son of the Living God. If us Catholics would really come to understand and truly believe in the power that is available to us in the Sacraments, power that enables us to live the truth in our lives, we could change the face of our world overnight…for our lives would be living proclamations of the Gospel, of the truth.

Let us daily pray for all priests that they may always have the courage to preach the truth of the Gospel in all of its fullness not only in their words, but with their lives as well. Let us pray that they imitate the Master Preacher Jesus Christ and preach the truth even if they are rejected as He, even if they are lead to Calvary as He. O Lord give them the strength no to succumb to the great pressures in our day to water down the truth so as not to upset things; give them the grace to, as Pope Francis said, “stir things up.” Preaching the truth leads to salvation and salvation comes to us through the Sacraments, because the Sacraments are intimate encounters with Jesus Christ the Living God, the One who heals and the One who saves-they are real encounters with the very power and love of God Himself.

And may we who have had the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to us harden not our hearts but open them to the truth that heals, to Jesus who is the source of all truth, who is Truth Itself. With a deeper faith, let us go to Sacraments in order to be healed more fully by Jesus. Let us go especially to the Holy Eucharist in order to be touched by the Human Hand of God truly present there and so be healed. May we then lead others as well to Jesus healing touch in the Sacraments by preaching to them the truth of the Gospel with our lives.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Dear Friends, Before you read my homily for this week I beg you to read, and Study the article found below. It is extremely accurate and explains what is happening to so many good and faithful priests. Pray, Pray, Pray and offer sacrifices for the good priests who are suffering for the Church by the Church. Thank you and God bless you. My homily follows:

Accusations against Priests
The Need for More Justice and Psychological Science

The evaluation process of accusations against priests in regard to determining their suitability for priestly ministry would benefit from greater justice and knowledge of psychological science. There are presently severe weaknesses in this process that should be addressed.
Response to Accusations

The practice of immediately removing a priest from ministry after an accusation is made should be reevaluated unless it has significant credibility. When the accusation is questionable and involves supposed boundary violation, grooming behavior, or consensual sexual behavior with an adult, the removal from active ministry harms the good name of the accused priest. A more just approach is that given to most other professionals who continue in their work while accusations are being evaluated.
Also, many priests have complained that some diocesan officials have treated them in a manner that lacked any sense of justice or charity, as though they were already convicted of criminal behavior, based on an unproven allegation.

An inappropriate response of some diocesan investigators is to go to the accused priest’s parish and communicate to parishioners the (unproven) accusations against him. Then, parishioners are asked to report any information they may have of any inappropriate behavior by the accused priest. Such behavior could create false memories in parishioners1and harm the accused priest.
The Accuser

Justice requires an in-depth knowledge of the accuser, given the prevalence of false accusations in the culture such as occurred in the false memory epidemic against fathers that was influenced by mental health professionals.2 This knowledge would include an identification the accuser’s emotional background with his/her father because unresolved anger with a father can be misdirected, perhaps even unconsciously, at another father figure, the priest. It is also vital to evaluate any major weaknesses in secure attachment relationship from childhood and adolescence with parents, siblings and peers, and any traumatic experiences in adult life.

At a 2012 Rome conference on the crisis, a priest-psychologist stated that 95 percent of accusations against priests are valid in his experience. Most mental health professionals with expertise in working with priests do not accept such a view and have extensive experience with false accusations against priests and others, particularly related to divorce and custody issues.
In order for priests to defend themselves when accused, it is essential that priests be allowed to read the accusations made against them, as occurred in the past, prior to the Dallas Charter. If an accuser insists on remaining anonymous, the accusation lacks credibility.
False Accusations

An understanding of false accusations is essential for all involved in the evaluation and discernment process. Participation in ongoing education in this area should be required with a proof of a thorough understanding of the research and writing of the leading expert in memory and false memory, Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine.3

The personality and spiritual temptation of giving into making false accusations undoubtedly is one of the reasons for the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” In view of the commandment, encountering false accusations should not be surprising to anyone.
False accusations against authority figures, coworkers, members of the clergy, and even spouses have been increasing in our clinical experience. Those against priests have been caused most frequently by excessive and misdirected anger and by hope for financial gain.4

When gathering data concerning the accused person, it is important to discover any possible uncovered motives in the accuser. Actual case histories have revealed some of the following conflicts in the accuser:

• significant anger against male authority figures, or other important males, which is
misdirected at a priest
• a compulsive need to control, with intense anger toward the priest, because of an inability
to control him
• intense jealousy of the priest
• profound lack of confidence with a need to feel superior to the priest and to punish him
• depression and mental instability
• substance abuse
• desire for publicity
• hatred of the Catholic Church
• sexual conflicts
• prejudice
• desire for financial gain
• blind zeal for a cause
• anger against the fullness of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and the liturgy, and
the faithfulness in the priest in these areas
• narcissism
• lack of faith
• feminist agenda for the Church
• homosexual agenda for the Church
• sociopathic personality traits

Vicars for clergy who are informed by parishioners that their pastor has a problem with being pastorally insensitive and angry should first ask themselves if they are, in fact, listening to a false accusation. Today, many faithful priests who teach the fullness of the Church’s truth on sexual morality and the sacraments are victims of such false accusations. Unfortunately, some clergy offices and bishops accept these accusations as being truthful without exploring the background and possible motives of an accuser, and then request the priest go for an evaluation of his supposed insensitive treatment of parishioners and anger at a treatment center of the Church.
Also, when the evaluation by the district attorney finds the accusations not credible, priests should be returned promptly to their priestly ministry. Sadly, some priests wait years or have not had their faculties restored.

The Responsibility to Prove the Accusation Is Not False

Mental health professionals who are called upon to evaluate priests should report fully on the background of the accuser and should document how they have determined that the specific accusation against the priest is not false. The need for such an evaluation process is clear, given the extent of the false accusations made in our culture today. The same responsibility applies to review boards.
Since the major unresolved anger that adults bring into their adult lives that is misdirected at others arises from hurts in the father relationship, a thorough history of the accuser’s relationship with her/his father is required.

Unfortunately, some dioceses have supported false accusations by accusers with criminal records, who even spent time in jail. One such accuser, who had no proof of her accusation, received a financial settlement, followed by an attempt to laicize the priest.

A veteran Los Angeles lawyer, Mr. Steier, who was involved in over 100 investigations into claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, wrote in a declaration to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2011, “One retired FBI agent who worked with me to investigate many claims in the clergy cases told me, in his opinion, about one-half of the claims made in the clergy cases were either entirely false, or so greatly exaggerated, that the truth would not have supported prosecutable claim for childhood sexual abuse.”

Other reports of false accusations against priests that were supported by district attorneys’ offices have been documented.5

The Evaluation of Grooming Accusations

Many priests have been accused of grooming youth without meeting the criteria for any of the stages of grooming behaviors. Many of these priests had integrated their sexuality into their total gift of themselves as other Christs, as spiritual fathers, and as spouses to the Church. Enthusiastic ministry to youth and teaching the fullness of the Church’s truth about sexual morality has been misinterpreted as being inappropriate and dangerous to youth.
Dr. Michael Welner, forensic psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, describes six stages of grooming that should be evaluated in those accused. These include:

Stage 1: Targeting the victim
Stage 2: Gaining the victim’s trust
Stage 3: Filling a need
Stage 4: Isolating the child
Stage 5: Sexualizing the relationship
Stage 6: Maintaining control

These behaviors are often never identified. Nonetheless, the priest is accused of grooming.
In response to one case of a priest identified as violating boundary violations and grooming, a highly respected forensic psychologist reviewed the case and concluded that the child protective office of the diocese did not know how to make an accurate diagnosis of boundary violations and grooming, and needed education in this vital area. This priest continues to be denied priestly ministry even though no family or child has ever filed a complaint against him for inappropriate sexual behavior.

The Evaluation of Boundary Violation Accusations

In our clinical experience, priests are being subjected increasingly to accusations of having boundary issues. These accusations of boundary violations are often made by members of the parish and rectory staff, as well as school teachers or principals. In our evaluation of such cases, the priests were often engaging in completely appropriate priestly ministry with youth.
No accusations of boundary violations should be given merit unless the criteria for grooming behaviors are met, especially targeting a victim and isolating a minor.
Priestly behaviors incorrectly labeled as boundary violations include playing sports with youth on the school playground, being present to children as they were getting onto buses after school in a parish in which only a small percentage of the children attend Mass on Sunday, and visiting with an adolescent female in an office with an open door in the parish center before the weekly youth meeting.

Those who accuse priests of boundary violations or grooming behaviors often have the same inner psychological and spiritual conflicts as those who make false sexual allegations.
We recommend that a task force be developed of American Catholic psychologists and psychiatrists, to review the process of evaluation of accusations against priests and the criteria used for claims of boundary violations and grooming behaviors.

The Appropriate Mental Health Evaluation and Review Boards

Presently, a major conflict exists, in that, for evaluations of allegations of grooming behaviors, boundary violations, allegations of troubled behaviors (according to parish staff or other priests or consensual adults), and other inappropriate behaviors, priests are required to go to inpatient treatment centers for priests and religious, rather than to mental health professionals who provide comprehensive evaluations in their offices.

A number of deviations from the accepted standards of care in the mental health field regularly occurs in the evaluations and recommendations at these inpatient centers, which include:

• the recommendation for a six-month hospitalization, rather than a brief psychiatric
hospitalization with a later focus on outpatient treatment;
• the recommendation for hospitalization for a narcissistic personality disorder or traits
which are not treated by hospitalization;
• the regular diagnosis of a narcissistic personality disorder in priests treated by other
mental health professionals who attest that neither the history, nor the testing support
such a diagnosis;
• giving vocational testing to hospitalized priests, and suggesting other vocations be considered in priests who love their priesthood and who have no allegations against them except supposed difficulties in working with parish staff;
• failing to recommend return to active ministry in priests whose outpatient evaluations revealed no psychological conflicts that would interfere with priestly ministry;
• violating patient confidentiality by not communicating to the priest the information provided to the treatment center by a diocese or religious community;
• failing to recommend return to ministry in priests who have made a sexual mistake with one woman and who have worked to resolve the loneliness that made them vulnerable;
• the requirement to return twice yearly to the hospital for week-long evaluations over a five-year period when the standards in the mental health field are that post-hospital care is managed solely by outpatient mental health professionals.

Another grave injustice is that the psychological evaluation of priests has been done by mental health professionals who work in close association with a district attorney’s office.6For example, a psychologist gave a priest the Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest, which has no proven scientific validity.7 The diagnosis given to the priest was that he had a psychiatric disorder related to attraction to girls, which has never existed in the mental health field. Opinions from such mental health professionals should not be accepted by review boards and second opinions should be required.
There are competent mental health professionals in most parts of the country today with a proven sensitivity in the evaluation of accused priests, who could perform evaluations of accused priests without the pressure of needing to fill inpatient hospital beds.

Many priests are fully aware of the difficulties concerning treatment center evaluations and insist upon the right to choose mental health professionals with expertise in treating priests, with the diocese or religious community having the right to request a second opinion.
Procedures, Diagnoses, and Recommendations of Review Boards

The background for the work of the review boards is that the allegations of a charge of sexual abuse seem to be the one “crime” in our society in which the accused is considered guilty until proven innocent. This attitude in regard to accusations against priests, in particular, has led many priests to describe the present situation in the Church as a witch-hunt, comparable to that in Salem, Massachusetts, in the 1600s.

A number of glaring deficiencies exist in the review board process and they include:

1. Lack of knowledge of the science related to memory and to false accusations. In our professional opinion, as stated earlier in this report, a lack of knowledge in regard to the current science surrounding accusations from the past is a serious problem for mental health professionals who evaluate accused priests and for the work of review boards. Review board members should be required to participate in ongoing education about the current science surrounding recall of traumatic sexual memories. Review board members, bishops, and religious superiors should have a thorough knowledge of the work of Dr. Elizabeth Loftus.

In order to properly evaluate accusations, knowledge of the psychological background of the accuser is essential, particularly since the major, unresolved anger that people bring into their adult lives arises from hurts in the father relationship. Such anger can be unconsciously misdirected at other father/authority figures.

2. Failure to interview the accused. In review boards for other professions, no major decision is made against the right of the individual to exercise his/her profession without giving the individual the ability to appear before the review board to defend himself/herself. Priests deserve a similar just process.

3. Lack of ability to read charges against the accused. In the past, a priest was permitted to review the charges against him with his canon lawyer present, But now, that fundamental right has been removed. Today, only the canon lawyer can read the charges and cannot take a copy of them to the priest to review. This action is clearly unjust and damages the priest’s ability to defend himself.

4. Lack of knowledge of the spiritual life and priestly ministry of the accused priest.Many accused priests have successfully integrated their sexuality into their total gift of themselves as spouses to the Church and as spiritual fathers. Priests, who have done so, usually cope well with sexual temptations and are unlikely to engage in inappropriate sexual behaviors. The priest’s spiritual life should be evaluated by a priest member of the review board or by a consultant to the review board. This report should be available for review by all involved and should be an important aspect of the discernment of the bishop.

5. Unscientific diagnoses used against an accused priest. Review boards have arrived at opinions against the suitability of priests for ministry that often have no basis in psychological science. For example, priests have been determined to be unfit for priestly ministry because they were determined to be immature, in the absence of sexual accusations against them. The claim is made that this diagnosis makes them potentially dangerous to youth. The determination of immaturity is rarely objectively described. Furthermore, growth in maturity is viewed as a regular part of normal personality development and can occur at every life stage.
No psychological science exists that supports a relationship between so-called immaturity and a risk of sexual acting-out with youth. In our evaluation of priests so accused, they demonstrated a zeal for ministry to youth in parish schools.
Bishops should require that opinions offered by review boards be based in psychological science and reason, and not upon intuitive feelings against a priest.

6. Lack of transparency. When the review board offers opinions, they should be in writing, and the priest should be able to review them at the time of his meeting with his bishop/superior.
Opinions of review boards, that state that those priests engaged in boundary violations and grooming behaviors, need to be defended with objective criteria that are agreed upon by competent mental health professionals. Each review board should include at least one competent mental health professional who is familiar with the psychological dynamics related to false accusations.

7. The history of priestly ministry of the accused. In addition to the spiritual evaluation of the accused priest, the history of the exercise of his priestly ministry should be documented. This history is vital in the discernment process for each priest.

8. Proof that the accusation is not false. The review board should be required to state its specific reasons as to why it has determined that the accusations against a priest for boundary violations or inappropriate sexual behaviors are not false accusations. They should describe the family background of the accused and the life adjustment at the time of the accusation. The causes of false accusations should be listed and identified as not applicable to the accuser.

The Final Decision by the Bishop

Bishops and religious superiors should be aware of the present weaknesses in the evaluation process. Justice requires that the bishop should insist that the review board present to him a thorough analysis of the adult accuser(s) of priests. The bishop should review with the priest how the review board has determined that the accusations are not false.

Bishops and religious superiors need to exercise caution and prudence in evaluating the review board’s decisions specifically in support of boundary violations, grooming behaviors, and psychological conflicts that the board has determined indicate the need to remove priestly ministry.
Some bishops attempt to laicize priests after one sexual mistake with a woman while reassigning priests who act out homosexually. Other bishops have refused to even open second mental health opinions on priests who attest to their psychological health and fitness for ministry.

St. John Paul II has written that, “The priest should mold his human personality in such a way that he becomes a bridge, and not an obstacle, for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Humanity.”8 Many priests with healthy personalities have been the victims of the injustice of having their priestly faculties removed, due to a flawed evaluation process by child protective services, mental health professionals, and review boards.

Justice requires that many priest cases be reviewed in light of the psychological science related to anger, the nature of false accusations, and memory recall, particularly, those evaluated by mental health professionals working in association with a district attorney’s office or for a treatment center. These priests should have the right to pursue second opinions. Review board decisions based on these reports should be reevaluated.

We recommend a task force be developed of American Catholic psychologists and psychiatrists to review the mental health evaluations of accused priests and the activities of the review boards, in order to develop more scientifically rigorous criteria to protect priests and the Church.

1. Dr. Elizabeth Loftus (1997). “Creating False Memories.” Scientific American, September; 71-75. ↩
2. Mark Pendergrast (1996, 2nd edition). Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives. Upper Access. ↩
3. Elizabeth Loftus (2013). Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse. St. Martin’s Griffin. ↩
4. John L. Allen (2011). “A New Symbol of False Sex Abuse Allegations.” National Catholic Reporter, December 2011. ↩
5. Ralph Cipriano (2013). “Star Witness’ Story in Philadelphia Sex Abuse Trials Doesn’t Add Up.” National Catholic Reporter, April 29, 2013. ↩
6. Richard Fitzgibbons & Peter Kleponis, (2011) ↩
7. Robert Enright’s report on the Abel at ↩
8. Pope John Paul II (1992). I Will Give You Shepherds. St. Paul Books and Media. ↩

About Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D.
B.S. from St. Joseph's University; M.D. from Temple University School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry, Hospital of the University of Medicine, and the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center
Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D., is the director of the Institute for Marital Healing, located outside Philadelphia, and has worked with several thousand couples over the past 30 years. Dr. Fitzgibbons has given many conferences on marriage. He is a board member of the International Institute for Forgiveness.
Over the past 38 years, Dr. Fitzgibbons has consulted with priests from many dioceses and religious communities. He has authored articles in The Priest on identifying and resolving emotional conflicts in priestly life and has given conferences on these topics in many dioceses. He coedited an issue of theCatholic Medical Association’s Linacre Quarterly (August, 2011) on the crisis in the Church, and has served as a consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy. He coauthored Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, 2015, American Psychological Association Books. His website is


The Blessed Mother at Fatima, and other places, warned about our times when she told the children soon will come a time where vice would become virtue and virtue vice, lies would become truth and the truth would be seen as lies-she warned us about the consequences of such hardness of heart, modern chastisements. She said, faithful bishops and priests, the prophets of our day, would be despised and ridiculed; the pope himself would have much to suffer.

Mark 1, 21-28 Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time February 1st, 2015

In our first reading today, we read the great prophecy of the Old Testament: It foretold of God’s promise to send a prophet even greater than Moses. This passage burned in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people for centuries upon centuries. At different times during their national history, God would raise up leaders and prophets in order to bring God’s message and truth to His chosen people in order to turn their hearts back to Him. However, unfortunately, too often than not, they would not listen.

Even though the people had seen great signs and wonders from God, in their exodus from Egypt, they stilled failed to have faith and trust in God. This lack of faith was because they had hardened their hearts, which really means they rejected truth and so rejected authentic love of God and of neighbor. So prompted by God, the prophets would speak to the people about their hardness of hearts, warning them of the consequences of their refusal to conform their lives to God’s truth.

Sometimes the people listen to the prophets and repented as we seen last week with Jonah and the Ninevites. Yet, the majority of the time, unfortunately, the people rejected the truth and so remained in their hardness of heart and even proceeded to stone and kill the prophets instead of changing and amending their lives. They actually believed they could find happiness apart from the truth, by making up their own reality, worshipping their own way, which really means worshiping their own gods. Tragically what they experience instead was a chastisement or punish of their own making; it isn’t God who causes evil in the world…it is us!

It was for this reason Jesus was born into this world, to testify to the truth. It is this truth that sets us free from sin and the devil and gives us life. Jesus offers us this truth! In fact, He is the Truth and He so He offers us Himself and a life of Communion with God through Him…a life lived in the fullness and the freedom of the Truth, here on earth and fully in the life to come if we are faithful to the Truth; there is no faith without accepting and struggling to live the truth in love.

Jesus, as Truth incarnated, Truth in the flesh, is the true fulfillment of all the prophecies and the fulfillment of the hopes of the world. St. Mark today points out that, because He is Truth Itself, sent from the Father, obviously Jesus taught with great authority and his listeners were astonished. Yet, even in spite of this the hearers did not believe; they did not believe God who was truly present before them, they hardened their hearts to the Truth, to Jesus; they did not wish to repent, to conform their lives to Jesus in love. …the fact is, is that the truth is not so hard to find if one makes an effort, but once finding it a person must conform his or her life to it. So too often we just don’t want to know the truth and so we fail in faith, hope and love.

It’s Interesting, as we hear in our Gospel today, that it is actually the demons who believe in the authority and I would add, to the truth and the identity of Jesus, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” Just a little aside--There was a Catholic woman a few years back that spoke about the demons knowing Christ, His authority and His Church and her authority. Her name was Betty Brennan and she went around the country speaking of her experience with Satanism. Betty, through a tragic series of events became involved in Satan worship. Not the satan worship of kids goofing around, but the real thing, the worship of the Devil by some of the very powerful and influential of this world. Betty, later with the help of some friends, a faithful priest and the grace of the Sacraments was able to escape from Satanism.

Interestingly, while she was in Satanism, Betty said that she realized there was not one single person involved in the worship of the devil that did not know the truth. Betty said that, “they all believed without a doubt that Jesus established the Catholic Church as the mouthpiece of truth; that they all knew without a doubt who the pope really was, who the bishops and priest were and the power they possessed. And they even recognized the authority of the pope, bishop and priests but they willingly and intentionally disobeyed that authority. They even believed without a doubt that the Eucharist was the true physical resurrected Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the very Person of Jesus and they hated it, hated HIM. They knew the truth, but they despised the truth but they did not deny it, they just hated it because they hated God, they had no charity, which is the Love of God alive in their souls while living the truth.

Speaking of the Holy Eucharist, Betty tells the story of how on numerous occasions one of the members of the Coven would steal Holy Communion from Mass; she said it always had to be a host consecrated by a Catholic priest. They would take the stolen host and hide it in a room along with a 100 or so other unconsecrated host and then they would bring the witches of the coven in, and without fail the witches could always find and point out the Consecrated host, they knew that the host wasn’t just bread, it was Jesus Christ, Truth itself with full authority and power and they hated Him and hated
His Catholic Church which brings us Him and His Truth.

Today we continue to see this hated for Christ and His authority in our modern world as well. Our world is one of rebellion- disobedience is seen as a virtue and obedience to the truth is seen as a vice. The Blessed Mother at Fatima, and other places, warned about our times when she told the children soon will come a time where vice would become virtue and virtue vice, lies would become truth and the truth would be seen as lies-she warned us about the consequences of such hardness of heart, modern chastisements. She said, faithful bishops and priests, the prophets of our day, would be despised and ridiculed; the pope himself would have much to suffer.

Her words are unfortunately being borne out in out day. In the spiritual life, disobedience to the truth leads to rebellion. And rebellion to the truth is a poison that kills, while obedience instead gives us life, divine life. And so, a culture, a world that rejects the truth and obedience to it, becomes a culture of death, we see this especially in abortion, but in other modern evils such euthanasia, sexual immorality, the sexual exploitation of children and women, experimentation on human life, the dictatorship of relativism, just to name a few examples. Then the words of the devils in this gospel becomes the words of souls dead to sin, “what have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth have you come to destroy us?” Jesus becomes hated. Jesus and His truth and His Catholic Church become the enemy; the faithful, priest and laity alike are persecuted and like the prophets of old even put to death. Jesus and obedience to His truth instead of being seen as something good, something that gives us true freedom and happiness, is now being seen instead as oppressive, intolerant and even criminal; it is seen as nothing but a restriction to our freedom and a hindrance to our happiness.

It is in the teachings of the Church and in her powerful sacraments receive with faith that Jesus gives us his divine grace and power in order to help us to live in obedience to His truth in our daily lives. For our part, we must not harden our hearts but open them up to the truth…this requires repentance on our part; that is, a turning away from sin and a turning more fully toward in love to the truth who is Jesus. If we used the sacraments and use the grace we receive in them in order to live in faithful obedience we will be holy (which means to live the truth), and then even the demons will be subject to us just like they were to the apostles. Our lives will become more and more truly free and full of immense joy because evil itself will lose its power over us and the devils will be subject to us and we will be used to renew the face of the earth.

Let us come before this Holy altar of sacrifice and in adoration offer ourselves in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus by placing our hearts on the paten through Immaculate Heart of Mary to be lifted up to the Father. Here at Holy Mass, let us with Jesus, in Jesus, through Jesus, adore the Father in Spirit and in Truth and become one with God and in Him with one another. Amen.