Philly Archdiocese Removes Another Priest

Click here to read: “‘Father Jerry’ ousted by Phila. Archdiocese,” by Julie Shaw, Philadelphia Daily News, July 16, 2012

Excerpt: “The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Sunday that another priest is unsuitable for ministry. But it is not clear exactly what the Rev. Geraldo Piñero, who was known as “Father Jerry,” did.”


74 thoughts on “Philly Archdiocese Removes Another Priest

  1. When Father Pinero stepped down (or was removed) as pastor in November 2010, I recalled the presentation detailed in the following link and wondered whether or not there was any association between the two events. Of course, the Philadelphia parishioners will never know since our leadership refuses to reveal any details on their designation of Fr. Pinero as “unsuitable for ministry.”

    Seems like this phrase is very popular with the upper echelon down there at 222 N. 17th St. If they’re comfortable with coining such a phrase as “unsuitable for ministry,” I believe that it just might be the right time for Philadelphia area parishioners to coin the phrase “unsuitable for leadership” and utilize it when appropriate for certain leaders in our Catholic hierarchy.

      1. Is it a ponzi operation, sex abuse, what IS going on? Frankly I would be embarrassed to be associated with anything related to the Philly AD right now….

        See Abuse Tracker article:

        Ex-Delco priest deemed unsuitable for ministry
        Daily Times


        Twenty months after federal agents seized his computer in connection with a potential pyramid scheme, the Rev. Geraldo Pinero has been deemed unsuitable for ministry by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

        The 47-year-old Roman Catholic priest, who served at St. Joseph Parish in Aston from 2000 to 2003, was found to be in violation of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries.

        In a press release, archdiocesan officials declined to elaborate on the priest’s violation, but noted that he has been on administrative leave from his position as pastor of Incarnation of Our Lord parish in the Olney section of Philadelphia since November 2010 “when federal authorities executed a search warrant at the parish rectory.”

        According to the Associated Press, on Nov. 16, 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided Incarnation’s rectory and seized a computer after learning Pinero allegedly endorsed online multilevel marketing companies. Reportedly, none of the companies were found guilty of any wrongdoing, but Federal Communications Commission officials warned that such plans can be dubious pyramid schemes.

      2. It was ICE that stepped in and took Father Pinero’s computer….this whole story is beginning to look like some sort of an effort related to helping immigrants and Haitians…in fairness to everyone the AD REALLY needs to explain what has occurred ….i can’t believe that they won’t.

      3. Joan
        My life has taken me to the heights of heaven and the depths of hell, and this message is not directed at you but rather the “perps”. “an effort related to helping immigrants and Haitians”? The church has an openly stated policy of helping immigrants so helping them would get one a thumb up. You have a kind heart and a gentle spirit, too many in this world do not. I have worked with Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong, Thai and Russians and have friends from those groups. They would tell you that if you are bringing them in illegally you are not helping them, but condemning them to a life of fear and exploitation. Woman and children are sold into sexual slavery and men are embroiled in drugs (making and selling) and other violent crimes. They live in deplorable conditions. Having worked with INS now ICE, I can tell you, illegals pay with $ and/or slavery to the people who “help” them to get here and stay here illegally. Consider a three year old, sometimes younger, sold into sexual slavery. They promise them the good life and when they get them here guess what? The only way you help them is to show them the right way to enter in which case you would not be raided by the INS. To me, a more apt phrase would be “unsuitable to be considered human.” Animals treat each other better. The Holy Spirit thru wisdom has shown me that God’s wrath for those who would destroy the human spirit is truly fearful and powerful, and the antithesis of Jesus Christ. Peace and Love

      4. Be the Change…thanks for the post….I served on the state board of catholic charities …we were the largest (legal) resettlement operation in the state, one of the largest if not the largest in the country and INS was present at state board meetings.

        I am no fan of illegal resettlement, clearly.

        The reason I raise the ICE point was that there were comments in the newspaper articles about the possibility that Father Pinero’s was somehow involved and that didn’t dovetail very well with the implication of abuse…AND if ever there was a time to set the record seems to be now.

        That’s all I was looking for….clarification!!!

      5. Joan
        I think clarification would be wonderful, but we won’t get if from the catholic church. To put it more succinctly as Patrick OMalley said “selling candles or raping children?” ICE was not there because candles were sold. Were children sold and raped? In an earlier post you referred to what God expected of us from this. For me, it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth because only then will children be protected from abuse. God’s wrath I spoke of earlier. It’s called Hell and anyone involved in hurting children directly or indirectly will burn there for eternity. Peace and Love

      6. Joan
        My last post re repentance wound up under Sister Maureen’s comments.


    1. Fr Jerry is either unsuitable for ministry for selling candles or raping children, and you have to decide which it is in this complicated mystery.

    2. I think the give out as little information as the AOP can possibly get away with is going to be the archdiocese’s standard operating procedure from now on IF they can get away with it!

      Will they get away with it? Again, that’s up to all the people of God. Personally I put no stock in any decisions that the AOP spins out whether X has been found “suitable for ministry” or “unsuitable for ministry” for any reason. The AOP has no credibility and AOP has not given sufficient information to persuade me to believe anything they say about any of the matters in question.

      The AOP has been neither accountable nor transparent about much of anything in the recent past, say the last 75 to 100 years at least.

      The hierarchy of the RCC has lost credibility and moral authority and yet their actions don’t reflect that. They are in complete denial. Unbelievable!

      “The Emperor has no clothes.”

      Again, for those willing and/or able, I would suggest burying the AOP in faxes, snail mail letters, phone calls and e-mails protesting their lack of A&T. Faxes are good since they tie up the lines and papers pile up. Send them to as many fax numbers as you can find AND sent faxes to your parish numbers.

      The Vatican and the LCWR

      On another note as some may have heard, Sister Pat Farrell, OSF, president of the Leadership Council Women Religious will be on FRESH AIR with Terry Gross on WHYY today, July 17 from 3 to 4 with a repeat at 7 pm. Out-of-towners check for your local NPR station at

      Sister Maureen

      1. Sister, you’re a woman after my own heart. Years ago, in another advocacy effort, I buried an organization or two with faxes and alleged to have burned out fax machines and was responsible for certain public offices being over budget for toner, ink and other fax machine supplies. The best part there was the wonderfully powerful and inexpensive fax program, WinFax Pro that stored the fax numbers and awaited my new and revised correspondence. With a push of the button, the computer would automatically send out a couple of hundred faxes by accessing the fax numbers stored in the program. An advocate’s perfect dream!

        Hey, in this instance, purchase the Archdiocesan Official Directory from 222 N. 17th St., store the fax numbers in a fax program, and you’re in business. Can you imagine if a handful of parishioners did such corresponding on a regular basis?

        We are members of the organization, the archdiocese and we are sharing our concerns, issues and viewpoints with the leadership.

    3. Of course, there is God’s mercy if they confess, repent, and make restitution (repair the wrong done).

      1. Be the Change, I am posting this stunningly good NCR article for a second time….it talks about hierarchical ‘restitution’….is written by a therapist who worked with priest abusers whose denial was rampant….she draws parallels with hierarchical denial and gross behavior….think C4C folks will really appreciate this…hope so…Joan

        This is a stunning article in the NCR by a psychologist who has treated abusers….she draws some excellent parallels between an abusing priests denial behaviour and the bishops denial behaviour as they too strike out ….very very Ina

        It’s the very best article I have seen on this subject and I highly recommend it!…..Joan

      2. Joan
        Wow! What a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing; it spoke to my heart. When we refuse to accept God’s grace and continue in stubborn defiance, we block the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
        On that same subject have you ever heard of the “Hound of Heaven?” A protestant friend once told me about the “Hound of Heaven” when I was in a battle trying to protect my children. The Hound of Heaven is the Holy Spirit and if you pray and send Him after someone the Holy Spirit will convict them. I was amazed. It freed me from confusion and fear and best of all it worked.
        The Hound of Heaven will chase us til we repent, the goal being to save us from Hell. What a gift. We can save others, and they can save us.
        In the LCWR situation I have prayed for the Hound of Heaven to convict the spirit of the offenders.
        In the child abuse situation, I have prayed for the Hound of Heaven to convict the spirt of the offenders.
        I’m sure others have prayed, and we are seeing the answer. It may not be pretty, or what we want, but Our God is a Mighty God and He can handle it.
        Only by turning our oppressor’s over to God can we avoid being trapped by unrighteous anger and vengeance. We are right to be outraged at this offense against Catholic children; the offender is God’s province. Peace and Love

      3. Be the Change, yes On the hound of heaven issue…

        AND I am glad you liked the article…we have been talking about contemporary social science ‘learnings’ on another ‘thread’ and the author/psychologist really nailed the present episcopal behavior very very psychologically well.

        It’s by far the best explanation I’ve seen, relative to abusers behaviour, and hierarchical garbage.

      4. Joan
        Was the article Why priests abuse by Richard Cravatts at If not could you post the link?


  2. This is the press release from the Archdiocese. Interesting that victim assistance is mentioned.

    “Reverend Geraldo Piñero has been found unsuitable for ministry by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput after a substantiated violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries.

    Father Piñero had stepped down as pastor of Incarnation of Our Lord Parish in the Olney section of Philadelphia in November 2010 when federal authorities executed a search warrant at the parish rectory. His ministry has been restricted since that time and he has not been permitted to exercise his public ministry, wear clerical garb or present himself publicly as a priest.

    An announcement was made at Incarnation of Our Lord Parish when Fr. Piñero stepped down and was placed on leave in November 2010. An update was provided at the parish this weekend. Counselors were present.

    On May 4th and July 6th, Archbishop Chaput announced a total of 14 resolutions to the 26 cases of priests on administrative leave as a result of the February 2011 Grand Jury report. The announcement regarding Father Piñero is not connected to those cases.

    Father Piñero is 47 years old. He was ordained in 1991. He served at the following parishes and schools: Incarnation of Our Lord, Philadelphia (1991-1997); Personal Leave (1997-2000) with residence at Saint Bridget, Philadelphia (1997-1999), Saint Charles Borromeo, Philadelphia (1999), and at a private residence (1999-2000). He also served at Saint Joseph, Aston (2000-2003) and Incarnation of Our Lord, Philadelphia (2003-2011).

    If you would like to report a violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries, contact the Archdiocesan Office for Investigations at 1-800-932-0313.

    If you would like to report an allegation of sexual abuse, contact your local law enforcement agency and/or the Office for Investigations at 1-800-932-0313.

    We recognize that this public notice may be painful to victims of sexual violence. If you need support or assistance, victim services are available to you through the Victim Assistance Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or”

  3. Conclusions on the abuse scandal. After reading the letter in the link below and reader comments, I so wanted to believe that B16 was not a part of this scandal so I put myself in context and figuratively took a seat in Rome prior to April 19, 2005, when B16 became Pope. Actually, I went back to 2001 when according to this author’s personal witness regarding “competencies over abuse cases” Cardinal Ratzinger was “seizing control of the process and bringing it under CDF competence in 2001.” So I ask myself (1) what went wrong, and (2) if he was going against the group think or corporate culture as Weigel, the eye witness states, the group (cardinals) would not have elected him pope in 2005. Proven by numerous studies, we support and vote for people who share our vision. The following link explains how “the pope chose cardinals who agree with him on issues that are important to him, so it is likely that under the next pope “we will see more continuity than change.” Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Papal Transition (footnote 4)

    The only logical conclusion based on the above expert info, my knowledge of human nature, my experience in leadership positions and promotional power plays, they all knew, including B16, and went along with the cover-up; otherwise, B16 would not have been elected pope. Are my evidence, logic and/or conclusion flawed? If so, someone please enlighten me.

  4. So this guy gets removed for some ponsi scheme or selling candles and a Msgr. who has been convicted of endangering children remains the pastor of the 2nd largest church in the AOP? Crazy

  5. The Archdiocese removed another priest and we removed our three kids from Catholic school this afternoon. Final straw was Lynn’s assistant being appointed our parish priest. A sad day in our home but also a happy one as change is taking place…A Pew Sheep no more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. I / we went every Sunday (Saturday) as it was the “right thing to do” thus a Pew Sheep. Six weeks ago we started attending the Episcopal church and wow what a refreshing difference. Keep is mind I was raised Catholic and attended an Episcopal school for 15 years so I can go either way.. The important point is Christ and Church has and will always be a part of our family life however it might not be the Catholic church and I have zero Catholic guilt about that…

      2. WR, one of our kids went to an episcopal Day School and a episcopalian priest had the decency to find my phone number and call me to thank me for a letter I’d written to a local paper on poverty issues.

        I like those guys….I also arranged a large funeral for a very vaguely religious friend at the local episcopal church and they were gracious beyond belief.

      3. Joan – Don’t forget its not just “guys” its “gals” too (lololo)… Oh no a woman saying mass… Woman can get the job done too, some might not be able to lift 300 lbs but they sure as hell know how to get a guy to do it for them… Put a woman / nun in charge down at 222 N 17th and “our problems” would be solved…Thanks for your kind words and have a blessed day…

    1. THE WR FAMILY– thinking, decisive, bold, non-fearing, determined and wise Catholics who will not be held hostage by an AD that will not listen, will not share information, and treats people in a demeaning and uncaring manner. The WR family controls the WR family, NOT the AD!

      Peace to you and yours on this monumental day.

    2. I know this was a well thought out and probably painful decision. But this action alone will teach your children a very valuable lesson. God Bless.

    3. wr, ah yes, reminds me of the phrase that my mother-in-law used from time to time, in the good old days……..she spoke of “fallen-away” Catholics. All of a sudden that is no longer a “bad” thing…..certainly you would agree.

    1. Could someone please explain why the ‘Vatican Insider’ is concerned with one Philly priest?

      LANGUAGE:  Italiano   English     Españ The Pope’s speeches  :: Tuesday 17 July 2012
      :: Home:: NewsWorld News:: Inquiries and Interviews:: The Vatican:: Agenda:: About us
      U.S.: Businessman priest suspended

      The news was announced by Philadelphia’s Archbishop, Charles Chaput

      This time it has nothing to do with paedophilia, doctrinal issues or alleged liturgical abuses. Forty seven year old Geraldo Pinero, former pastor of Incarnation of Our Lord Church in Philadelphia’s Olney neighbourhood was removed “unsuitable for ministry,” due to “a substantiated violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries.”
      Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced the news Sunday. He did not go into detail about the nature of the “violations” but they appear to be business related. Indeed, Pinero was a local face of an Illinois-based enterprise calling itself Teamwork Revolution Power Systems and the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed that back in November 2010 federal agents had served a search warrant on the Incarnation rectory but no criminal or civil action was taken against the pastor. In a statement, a spokesman of the archdiocese allegedly said that “outside secular employment is not permitted for a priest,” except from teaching in Catholic universities or faith related conferences.
      As a result, and following Mgr. Chaput’s announcement last Sunday, Pinero is no longer permitted to exercise his public ministry, wear clerical garb or present himself publicly as a priest.” In autumn 2011, 26 priests were suspended for reasons linked to paedophilia but the Archdiocese is adamant that this particular case has nothing to do with any of these previous cases.
      Geraldo Pinero – commonly known in Philadelphia as Fr. Jerry – was ordained in 1991 and had served in the Incarnation parish until 1997, then in Aston in County Delware from 2000 to 2003, finally returning to the Church of the Incarnation.
      According to the local press, the comments made by faithful last Sunday did not sound at all convincing: “They say he did something wrong, but nothing to do with the kids,” one woman said. “I don’t know what happened. Nobody knows anything.” “We never heard nothing bad about him… Father Jerry, he gave his whole life to the community.”
      It seems Pinero was involved in a number of commercial activities as is evident from his Facebook page; the charges against him are also supposedly to the fact that he appeared on the web without his priestly garments – preferring to wear jumpers or a velvet jacket – promising “progressive income” through the sale of candles and other such items in order to supposedly help people get through this serious moment of financial crisis. The Daily Times called him an “Ex Delco”.
      Pinero himself has made no comment on the matter and seems to be unreachable.

      1. There are ‘over 400,000 catholic priests in the world’…please explain to me why Vatican Insider, which normally deals with Vatican issues and is published in Rome, would devote an article to Father Jerry?

        Could it be that the opening paragraph of the article which states that Father’s problems ‘had nothing to do with paedolphilia’, that this comment was made relating to Philly and the fact that the ‘problems’ were ‘business related,’ would be a Vatican effort to assist the AD who have had, as we all know, LOTS of abuse related problems.

        Frankly, I find it incongruous that the Vatican Insider would mention such an issue but perhaps it is indicative of the importance of the current abuse problems in Philly!
        Have a feeling this will backfire.

      2. Joan
        Don’t know why the Vatican printed it but we know he wasn’t arrested for not wearing priestly garments on the web nor for selling candles. That’s the Vatican spin. Maybe they hope people wil accept that spin and forget it.

        I think the Ex Delco is Delaware County but not sure.

      3. Is the “Vatican Insider” something that the newly hired FOX PR guy would be influencing?

      4. Be the Change …I think it was Vatican spin to protect the AD, but perhaps out of the over 400,000 priests worldwide, they had a sudden inspiration to tell their version of Father Jerry’s story…..

        If that is true than we can expect literally thousands of other Father Jerry articles, worldwide….a frankly horrifying thought.

      5. Kate, I have the faintest idea why an insider Vatican news service wrote that article.

        But one of my closest relatives worked for an international PR firm, and my impression is that you generally DON’T raise additional issues about a difficult situation, which in my view Vatican Insider just did.

        Generally, you put up and shut up and hope it all goes away in the next news cycle.

        The piece of this story that gets my attention is that ICE confiscated Father Jerry’s computer.

        One wonders, if it was just an inappropriate business scheme, WHY ICE was involved.

        I think the AD would be really wise to simply do ‘full disclosure’…and put to rest questions that reasonable folks may have.

      6. Kate
        Possibly. I’m not sure what duties the Vatican PR guy has, but it would make sense. To clean up the RCC image the PR guy would divert attention from any scandal.

        The link below states
        “On Nov. 16, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents descended on the church rectory, leaving with a computer. To thwart fears of a parish-related immigration raid, ICE spokesman Mark Medvesky disclosed that the investigation was a criminal matter unrelated to anyone’s immigration status.

        The enforcement division’s work includes drug crimes, cybercrimes, overseas sex tourism, child pornography and child exploitation.”

        Link defines cybercrime the rest of the “work” noted above is self explanatory

      7. My hunch is that the feds investigated and some news will soon come to light..hence the vatican releasing this press release.

      8. Vatican Insider is a project run by the daily newspaper La Stampa, designed to provide a complete information service on the Vatican, the activities of the Pope and the Holy See, the Catholic Church’s presence on the international scene and on religious issues. It is an independent multimedia tool, produced in three languages: Italian, English and Spanish.

    2. I read another article about this case and it quoted a mother who said something about this priest being nice and often bringing cakes to her daughters…I wanted to scream NO!. Why is a grown man bringing desserts to kids.

      1. Kate I was cracking up when I read the Vatican link calling Pinero an Ex Delco. He served briefly at a parish in Delaware County and the local paper ran a headline that said Ex Delco Priest Removed From Ministry. Guess Ex Delco was lost in translation with the Vatican…par for the course.

      2. Somethings WAY, WAY off with this Fr Pinero.

        Michael Ski’s article above mentions Msgr. Joseph L. Logrip,( regional vicar for the Philadelphia-North vicariate)…Logrip also was suspended from ministry for unknown reasons, 4 months later.

      3. This is getting confusing..the Ex Delco reference was in relation to Pinero..the priest bringing children cake was in reference to the NJ priest

      4. Crystal

        Maybe Msgr. Logrip “appeared on the web without his priestly garments – preferring to wear jumpers or a velvet jacket – promising “progressive income” through the sale of candles” too. I wonder if I.C.E. paid a visit to the Msgr. as well.

      5. As Vicar of Phila-North, Msgr.Joseph Logrip would have been Fr. Pinero’s boss while he served at Incarnation. –?

  6. WR and family, may you and your family continue to be committed parents for your children. It (your decision) is reminiscent of the phrase: “Today is the first day of the rest of your lives.” You and your children are walking away from the darkness toward the Light. You no longer commit yourselves to drinking the Kool aid.

  7. Congratulations WR and family on a decision based on conscience, will, intellect, among many other reasons. Enjoy life in the light of Truth.

  8. The Catholic Church continues its secrets. They terminate another priest, citing boundary issues, but tell us nothing about the evidence that was brought against this man. It’s like standing in a multi-story office building and telling people there’s a fire, but not telling them where it is. They’ll have to figure it out for themselves and hopefully they won’t be burned in the process.

    All these institutions are the same. The Catholic Church is Penn State and Penn State is the Catholic Church. They knew about children being raped and they did nothing. They did nothing! They did nothing! They did nothing!

    Just like in my own case, the church put a predator on a path to do whatever the hell he wanted. They didn’t care about me or the safety of any other child. They cared about covering up the truth to protect their reputation while children paid in full the checks our abusers and their enablers cashed with big f#cking smiles on their faces. They didn’t care. Maybe it was because they lacked policies back then on how to handle allegations or witness accounts of child rape. I don’t know who in their right mind would need a written protocol to figure out what to do if you witness a child being raped in a shower, or if you recieve a telephone call from a parent whose son was sexually abused in a confessional, but then again I don’t think we’re dealing with right-minded people. These are men with moral compasses so screwed up I thinked they’d have a hard time finding their way around a doughnut.

    Then there’s the people who continue to assert that all this is about money and we victims are searching for the “easy buck.” One thing I know for sure, “easy” has been the exact opposite description of my life and the lives of my fellow victims. These are the people who will only believe what their priest tells them at mass and will never conform to the idea that the rest of us have our own brains, free will, and can logically and reasonably come to our own conclusions, even if you are blinded inside by the cold walls of the church. Some predators have been charged criminally, handcuffed and carried off to jail, so where are we wrong by seeking civil action? How many believed O.J. was guilty? Or, what about Robert Blake? Yet, both were found liable and lost in civil court. The families of those victims were let down by the criminal justice system and they filed civil actions in order to get some semblance of justice, and sometimes taking away the money supply will lead to the depression of the guilty, but they will never know what it is like to to experience one ounce of the devastation they caused.

    I happen to believe that the vast majority of people in this world have some sense and are basically good. Top ranking officials at Penn State and in the Catholic Church find themselves in this embarrassing and precarious situation because they failed to act on children being raped. There is no motivation from ordinary citizens, religious people, or governments to pursue exposing institutions as corrupt and criminal because everybody needs more money. Children have a basic fundamental right to safety, and when adults fail to position themselves between a child and an evil action, it is the responsibility of governments to intervene. The subject of child rape is exceptionally more important than Sunday mass and a football team.

    Needless to say, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse and as an adult man, I am disgusted by the passed year of trials and witness accounts. Jerry Scumdusky is an absolute freaking monster, but the reality is so compelling when you walk in my shoes around the Philadelphia Archdiocese a few times and discover the ridiculous amount of Jerry Scumdusky’s preaching to your family about morals and righteousness, while later on in the day he’ll be sexually assaulting your daughter in a confessional or raping your son in a storage closet. Will you be looking for money, or will you be looking for any kind of substitute for the justice you couldn’t get in a court of law (if you’re even lucky enough to even be able to file criminal charges), especially when the defendant admitted to the crime?

    And the one person individual worshippers expected to rise to the occassion when everything was wrong and falling apart around him, Joe Paterno looked the other way, lied about it, while children were raped. This is a man who has been defined as a legend.

    I know quite a few people who are sick and tired of hearing about children being raped, while adults knew and did nothing.

    One of them just wrote this post.

    1. Rich you should really consider submitting some of your posts as editorials to local newspapers. The magic number is usually around 800 word maximum.

  9. Something that hit me like a 2 X 4 the other day was Rev. Wintermyer’s remark that the hierarchy does not care one iota about what we think, and that we can expect this arrogant, insulated, controlling and power hungry modus operandi to last another 100 years considering the JPII and Benedict-cloned bishops in place at the moment. I was well aware of both points, so it was not the knowledge that hit me like a 2 X 4, rather it was the way it completely changed what I intend to do about it. Up until then, I had been advocating for change, intellectually bashing my way through all of the hierarchical obstacles, and publicly registering my dissatisfaction and discontent in order to inform pew Catholics and build a progressive consensus. Now, I’m going to change my focus away from the crippled and frozen in time hierarchy and towards concrete opportunities to promote justice and serve the least among us. It’s a shame the amount of time I spend trying to change the Church. I know I can’t, but I felt a compulsion to try. Advocacy is at the core of me. Ironically, I learned it from my Catholic parents, Catholic school, and my theological education. I believe in advocacy except when it comes to the Catholic Church. The Church is the one construct on the face of the earth that deserves no attention whatsoever.

    1. Kate, I loved Rev.W.’s remarks. I’ve also learned so much from your commentary and observations. I suspect we will never see significant change at the top. We might have to content ourselves with the smaller, but still amazing things we see happening in our church and larger communities.

      It seems more productive and rewarding to do as many nuns, brothers and even some priests have done..That is to ignore the hierarchy and cease spending negative energy trying to change or advance the church through it’s leadership –and instead, dedicate ourselves to more realistic goals–and more worthy causes in the real world –a place our leaders care little about.

    2. Congratulations Kate. You have left the cult. The shift occurred gradually, and we almost missed it. Below is a link to help you identify the programming.

      God made the rules and churches don’t get to change them. No church has the right to be a surrogate conscience or surrogate decision maker. Jesus would never advocate raping children. Peace and love.

    3. Kate,

      Transforming the Church (The People of God) and creating more democratic communities of Catholics is a goal of mine. Spending any time or energy trying to change the institutional church and its leadership would be foolish.

      I highly recommend the booklet below.

      “From Dictatorship to Democracy” by Gene Sharp:

      “Facing the hard truth
      The conclusion is a hard one. When one wants to bring down a dictatorship most effectively and with the least cost then one has four immediate tasks:
      • One must strengthen the oppressed population themselves in their determination, self-confidence, and resistance skills;
      • One must strengthen the independent social groups and institutions of the oppressed people;
      • One must create a powerful internal resistance force; and
      • One must develop a wise grand strategic plan for liberation and implement it skillfully.”


  10. Ms. Fitzgerald(Hadit), may I say that you have hit the nail right into the 2X4. It is a waste of time to try to “reform” the “irreformable”. We have poured out too many words and have lost significant periods of sleep over this question of trying to resusucitate a corpse. The next task will be like Dr. Frankenstein and, in the tower of the castle with lightning flashes and thunderclaps, the antenna on the roof picks up the charge to restart the amalgamated body lying on the laboratory slab. Do we really think that such a miracle will bring this hulk back to life again, and if it did, what kind of monster would be “created”?
    Christian history is filled with the bodies of those who have attempted to bring serious reform to this institution. At times, it looks like we might reach that point of radical shift (Vat.II), but suddenly power of another order steps in and that refom is suddenly swept into the dustbin of frustrated and creative ideas. Many a body has been heaped on the pyres of being “heritics” in accusation agaihst this malestorm.
    Donald Cozzens in his book Sacred Silence gives a real description of the institutional church and its leadeship which just verifys what we have been saying. We will see no reform in this institution for the next 50-100 years.

    Too many religious groups pursue the same type of authoritarian and absolutist dogmatic criteria. Whether Scientology or Mormon, Islamists and Orthodox Jews , radical Hindus,
    or followers of Son Moon, Opus Dei, Fundamentalist Christians, the list gets larger and longer.

    We need to go back to real spirit of Jesus and once again,”Dream the Impossible Dream”.
    We need loving and caring people. Give the institution a rest. Let it chill out for a while..Maybe, after a period of tranquility, something more powerful in terms of real love and hope will emerge. And then, we might find a world community that really understands what life is all about and what we must do to care for each other and not condemn nor ostracize
    one another other.
    “To Dream the Impossilbe dream…..”

  11. Father W and Kate…I think the nuns came to your moment of enlightenment quite some time ago, (although, unlike ourselves, the nuns may have to deal with institutional issues, given recent Vatican critique….unless they ‘decanonize’ ….which could happen.)

    The LCWR nuns have been quietly and effectively working under the institutional ‘radar screen’ at the ‘margins’ of our society to live out Matthew 25. Sister Maureen had mentioned Sister Pat Farrell’s NPR remarks and I put the citation on this ‘thread’…it’s powerful and long…And you really get the sense of a very balanced and determined approach to areas of the nun’s poverty concerns!

    NETWORK has been fabulous. They effectively lobby at the national level for folks on those margins…They were highly instrumental in health care reform. President Obama, at the signing ceremony told Simone that they were the ‘tipping point’ on the health care bill.
    But it’s not just health care reform….the Ryan budget is a matter of huge concern if you care about the poor, as NETWORK clearly does. So are many other legislative ‘challenges’.

    That bus tour is a very striking example of this discussion….those nuns, moving deliberately through 9 states, visited the soup kitchens, homeless shelters et al run by nuns…they also visited national legislators offices and attempted to discuss the national budget impact of proposed legislation on folks at the margin. Interestingly enough, the bishops had provided them with some useful material asking for a fairer budget for the poor. The bus tour was met by a great deal of spontaneous public support….from folks of many political and religious persuasions, that supported the nuns efforts.

    I think in many ways that bus tour was a microcosm of our present discussion. It certainly was not hierarchically supported, it was run by an organization the Vatican had named as part of its nun critique. The players were the folks the Vatican is investigating. Support came from a vast array of folks from many traditions…..And it’s agenda was helping the poor.

    If your focus shifts from fighting institutional intransigence to religious reform to, as Kate says ‘to serving the least among us’ I think you will find that you will still butt your head up against hierarchical intransigence…as opposition to social programs that genuinely help the poor may well be supported by the hierarchy…..but as one who has played that game, it can be incrementally won….And there are many many fine people in that camp.

    I also think that the key issue on C4C of supporting abuse victims and protecting innocent children is best addressed in the courts, prosecutorially and legislatively and I surely hope that everyone is a player on THIS issue. My comments are in no way meant to minimize the hideousness of abuse and the huge need to clean this act up.

    I have always worked personally on the principle of priority of need. Or put another way, I will give time, money and lots of attention to the most vulnerable amongst us….and God knows that abuse victims are at the top of the list.

    1. “…..the nuns may have to deal with institutional issues, given recent Vatican critique….unless they ‘decanonize’ ….which could happen.)..”

      Are there not worse things that can happen than being “decanonized”? Why do these orders of nuns put up with “silencing” and other humiliations from the Vatican? Why can’t they disassociate from Vatican control and just go on with their work?
      Do these orders stand to lose vital assets or benefactors if they are decanonized?

      1. As the problem was explained to me the nuns have considerable assets from charitable contributions that support their work. The church, may be concerned the nuns might leave and what would happen to these assets. If they leave without the assets they would lose their identification with the church. If they leave with the assets well who can say, it might be a charismatic moment. Of course, they would lose tax exempt status which might happen to the church as a whole anyway. There are movements in that direction here and in other countries.
        Of course there is nothing to stop the laity from supporting the nuns outside the church, and they could certainly come up with laity identification for themselves based on my observation of their caring, creative and management skills. The nuns are being very contemplative and gracious while many on the other side shout in indignation. The nuns are doing God’s work, and are loved and supported by many. The church will lose but that’s becoming commonplace for the church.
        The world waits breathlessly

      2. Good questions all…Crystal,

        And I think the answers are varied….the orders that run hospitals are in a very different economic place from some smaller congregations….there are canonical rules that may theoretically have fiscal impact..orders can retain funds for their retirement/pension/ health care needs….But…after that???

        We have seen US laws trump canon law, just recently…so my guess is, and that’s all it is…that should a religious congregation choose to go ‘non canonical’ they would hopefully be fiscally protected, as US entities.

        I believe there is one order that already did this.

        But, I think the more relevant question is one you ask…why put up with Vatican ‘silencing’….

        Right now I think that question is being discussed nationwide amongst the nuns….Sister Pat Farrell addressed it a bit in that NPR citation (39 minutes long NPR piece) …Think if you have the time you might want to listen to it.

        For my money, and I am not a vowed religious with 40 years in an Order, I would opt for an independent status, and continue doing what I had been doing.

        My sympathies are with these women…they have worked diligently, lived very very simply and often been treated like third class citizens by the hierarchy…talk about a ‘women’s issue’!!!

      3. Quick thought to Be the Change…there is no reason why sisters who choose to go ‘non canonical’ could not continue their work as independent 501 C3s with tax exempt status…..and retain a limited church focus…ie instead of the Sisters of——————. They could be renamed as the members of the Christian Renewal Community. (I just made that up). But you get the idea…..same mission, different tax and legal status, no longer subject to Vatican or local hierarchical control.

      4. There’s another piece to the nuns issue. The Vatican has admonished the LCWR, which is an organization made of the leadership teams of about 80% of women’s orders.

        The LCWR could choose, I believe, to become an independent 501 C3 but that doesn’t turn all those orders into 501 C 3s

        I think there are two aspects to this issue. The Vatican has assessed the LCWR and found it wanting….hence their complaints.

        BUT the Vatican a few years ago also did ‘visitations’ to the specific religious orders, themselves. THAT report has not been made public, YET.

        I have heard it argued that the Vatican/LCWR is the first shot across the bow for the nuns….and that it is possible that depending on how that situation plays out, the Vatican would then report with their findings and recommendations on the individual women’s congregations……????

        Stay tuned.

    2. Joan,

      Matthew 25… my favorite Gospel message. I notice you cite it often and am not surprised. As Catholics, our tradition emphasizes attending to the least of these; I love this about our heritage. The message is simple and clear. I am counting on it and can put pretty much everything else aside. I pray I will hear “I was hungry…”


      1. BTW, as I am sure you know this Gospel passage was the cornerstone of Liberation Theology. It is not a very institution friendly message.

      2. Martin, I cut my teeth doing the ‘poverty beat’ with community organizers, direct service providers, and political activists.

        It was the political side that I was most involved in. And one learns early who ones allies are…generally not the monied side of the aisle. Although there are happy exceptions.

        To implement Matthew 25 in the political world is a genuinely frustrating task….Noone wants to fund programs for the ‘voiceless’ poor, however desperately theybare needed…rather, politicians are far more receptive to those issues that benefit Their political donors.

        My boss once had me pull up in CA the Fair Political Practices data on lobbyists….there were thousands of folks lobbying for the Insurance, banking, real estate, et al industries …they were paid very well and donated majorly to key legislators.

        Then there were the ten ‘good guy’ lobbyists (primarily church based)…I particularly liked the Quakers…whose salaries were pathetic and who did NOT make political donations to legislators.

        And yet these good guy lobbyists were effective, and often succeeded legislatively, on behalf of the poor…..this is one reason I am so supportive of NETWORK, at the national level ….3 nuns and 6 other staff…representing nuns nationally…and yet they were the ‘tipping point’ on healthcare reform.

        Who says the Holy Spirit is not helping execute Matthew 25?

        Not me!

        I am glad we share a mutual enthusiasm for THAT piece of scripture! Joan

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