By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK at THE WANDERER:
For many years now, it has become quite common for priests to be treated as if they have do not have a conscience. They have been led to corrupt the sacraments without their consent and now it is being directed from the top.
Some years ago I was stationed by the Navy in Florida. A woman came to the chapel with a child to ask about Baptism for an infant. Her visit led to one of the greatest crises of my naval career, perhaps of my priesthood. You know the tale: Adult wants Baptism for a child, adult hasn’t been attending Mass, adult is in mortal sin and scandalizing the child or children as well as unable to raise them in the faith. Adult needs to return to regular Sunday Mass first. After Confession.
Establishing a reasonable hope that a child will be raised in the faith, which the Church requires for infant Baptism, has always been understood by me to mean that, at a minimum, the child should be educated in the faith and enabled to practice his or her faith by at least attending Sunday Mass, depending upon the help of an adult to get there until he or she is old enough to drive.
Out of compassion in such situations most priests probably, as I did, launch into a nuanced explanation leading to the conclusion that Baptism is for the purpose of going to Heaven, we go to Heaven by cooperating with the grace of Baptism and loving God, we love God by keeping the Commandments, to include keeping the Lord’s Day holy through Mass, and we cannot reasonably assume we are going to Heaven if we choose not to do so of our own free will. I usually also offer the information that a grave reason excuses from the grave obligation to keep the Third Commandment and ask the adult if he or she has indeed omitted to attend Mass for such a reason.
Well, she left my office and lodged a complaint. Word came back that the military archbishop was going to pull my endorsement. The reason was that he had been led to believe that I told the woman “she was going to Hell in front of her six-year-old daughter.” It didn’t matter that it was a lie. For a military chaplain losing an endorsement means you’re out of the service in 24 hours: no retirement, all one’s years of active duty lost. Disaster.
The Navy chief of chaplains at the time convinced the archbishop to look into the matter with the help of a senior chaplain who would meet with me and discuss the accusation. We did, and I told him that I had never said those words to the woman and had, in fact, never said them to anyone. How do I know where someone is going after they die? Impossible, for anyone, including a priest, as well as irrational. But also, as I would later write in a letter to the archbishop, I consider such behavior a pastoral abuse. If I had indeed done such a thing it should be treated with the utmost seriousness.
The archbishop also said it was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” because there had been other complaints previously. In my defense I made it known that no one from the archdiocese had ever informed me that was the case. The story ended with me finishing out my term of active duty, after affiliating with the Reserves, and retiring last year. Unscathed.
It is true I was known to preach about Humanae Vitae and other taboo topics and otherwise upset the carefully balanced apple cart in the Catholic chaplain world at the time, then documented in other places as a holding tank for errant clergy. The senior chaplain interceding on my behalf offered a solution by saying “baptize them all.” That’s not what the Church says. And that’s where the conscience of the priest comes into play. The Church says that the priest must establish a reasonable hope that the child will be raised in the faith. The priest must ascertain the facts and, if such is not the case, work to bring it about. But he cannot do it without the cooperation of the parents. He must follow his conscience and deny Baptism if the parents reject the faith by refusing to practice it.
The corruption of the sacraments is the greatest threat to the faithful in the pews. Yes, they will fight you tooth and nail to try to get grace under false circumstances, but priests and faithful Catholics must strive mightily to give them salvation in true love. Priests have often become mindless sacramental machines to give our sacraments unthinkingly like candy to every comer.
The Archbishop Viganò Letter currently causing a furor in the Catholic world is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back with Pope Francis. We have been steadily subjected to more and more abuse of the sacraments and of the faithful like frogs in steadily increasing hot water. It is logically a short distance from corrupting Communion by giving the Lord sacramentally to fornicators or adulterers, as called for by Amoris Laetitia, to allowing a homosexual predator cardinal back into circulation after the previous Pope attempted to protect the faithful by sanctioning him. This is what it appears was done by Francis in the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick with knowledge of his crimes. Regardless, Francis is the Pope and as such it is his job to know. I choose to believe Archbishop Viganò when he writes that he gave the Pope every opportunity to learn of McCarrick’s crimes before he put him back into circulation.
These are pastoral abuses: Silence when speaking would dispel confusion. Propagating error instead of Catholic doctrine. Restoring sanctioned reprobate clergy back into good standing. Appointing pro-homosexualist bishops and cardinals to meetings.
All priests have consciences like every Catholic and also a right and duty to speak out. To all our priests I plead: You owe your flock courage and clear leadership. Be silent no more. Form and follow your consciences. Refuse to corrupt the sacraments and betray souls, for we who are priests betray our own salvation if we do thus.
Let’s at least not lie to ourselves: The Viganò testimony is merely the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The evidence is already in and it is abundant. Guilty as charged. Any reasonable person would expect a priest or bishop who so abused his flock to be deposed.
Pope Francis is continuing his course of destruction by disastrous episcopal appointments to Newark, Chicago, and San Diego with prelates in his image who mock our intelligence with their nonsensical prattle and pro-homosexualist ideology. If we do not speak our consciences we jeopardize our own salvation as well as those we betray also by our silence.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
Thank you for your candor. We must hear more like this to change the course of church history!
Father Cusick is very brave, because this pope takes revenge on anyone who dares to criticize or disagree with him. Calling for this pope’s resignation probably merits a special category of revenge.
We lay people can help by showing our support for such priests, but ultimately it will be those good, holy, and faithful bishops who will have to defend good men like Father Cusick.
“‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord.
‘Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds who tend My people:
You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have notattended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your deeds,’ declares the Lord.”
This is a turbulent time for the Church, but the revelations are about things that have been occurring since the 1960’s. The revelations are shocking, but needed. They make it harder for those who wish to twist doctrine to accuse the timeless Catholic doctrines and blame them for the abuses. The fact that good, honest and brave priests such as Father Cusick are coming forward and that their defence of orthodox practice is validated by current events, is a purification. Pope Francis can appoint his cronies who will implement his agenda, but the consequences of muddy doctrine are becoming more apparent and the stance of those priests who refused to conform to the world is being affirmed.