PEP Newsletter

Ideas For Your Parish

_____________________________________________________                                                     February, 2021 (Begun in Feb. 2002)

Taking the Risk To Speak Out

            After the incident at the US Capital on Jan. 6th, I asked a number of pastors whether they mentioned anything about it in their homilies or bulletins.  A number responded, one was even quoted in a prominent newspaper.  The article appeared in the Jan. 16, 2021 edition of the Chicago Tribune.  Written by Mary Schmich, it was entitled, “A Catholic pastor speaks out about Trump.  Some parishioners walk out.”  “On the Sunday morning after the deadly riot at the United States Capitol,” it began, “Father William Corcoran put on his black suit and clerical collar and stepped into St. Elizabeth Seton Church in the Chicago suburb of Orland Hills.  .  .   When it was time for the homily, Fr. Bill stepped up and said, “On this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we drink in the last goodness and glories of the Christmas season, and begin ordinary time on Monday.  Goodness and glory are not two words that we would use describing our past week when we saw an angry and violent mob seize our United States Capitol and interrupt Congress in its duty of certifying the State Elector votes for President and Vice-President.  Such an action has left many of us angry and hurt.  Since then we have entered a typical moment of finger pointing, blame, and holding people responsible for what happened.  Such finger pointing is not new.  In the very story of creation Adam points his finger at Eve for tempting him with the apple, and Eve points to the snake as the cause of the trouble.  Finger pointing often leads to avoidance of responsibility. 

            “I too want to engage in finger pointing and point to myself, and accept personal responsibility in part for what happened in the Capitol this past Wednesday.  As President Trump has lied about so many things, I have never spoken out, and fear we are teaching the young that truth and facts do not matter.  To remain silent now, in the face of the violence, is to give tacit permission that this is how we settle some things. .  .  When you lance a boil, it’s messy, it’s painful, it’s smelly.  But it lets the poison out.  We need to let some poison out of the system for the process of healing.”

            The reaction?  The article continued, “By Corcoran’s count, a dozen people walked out of the early Mass that morning.  Nearly two dozen more at the 9:30 Mass. “Probably 30,” he estimates, at the 11:30.  Each time he was startled.  Saddened.  ‘Awful,’ is how he described it later.  And each time he knew he was doing what he had to do. . .  ‘I didn’t think it was courageous,’ he said.  ‘I thought it was necessary.’”

            Another pastor, Fr. Bob Kinkel at St. Jude’s Parish in Lakewood, CO, a suburb of Denver, had a similar response.  “I spoke about Trump’s impeachment at this morning’s Mass.  A woman started shouting at me.  I asked her to leave.  She didn’t like the idea evidently.  I said that this is an unprecedented day in our history that a president should be impeached twice because of what happened last week with all this lying.  She finally left, shouting all the while. . .  And of course, we are not to speak of politics at Mass.”

Uncovering Truth

            Fr. Norbert Maduzia, pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola in Spring, TX, just north of Houston, began his bulletin reflection, “This is a difficult column to write.”  He went on to mention the attack on the Capitol and admitted, “I know there are parishioners among us who believe that the attempted insurrection was the right thing to do and those involved were justified in their actions.”  He then declared, “Truth prevails.  Senator Mitt Romney remarked, ‘The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.  That is the burden and the duty of leadership.’”  The pastor said, “We are called to live the Truth.  Jesus has called us to live in unity, to be healed of division and hatred.  Violence is never the answer. . .  I probably will be verbally attacked and there will be at least a few who may choose to leave the parish.  But, in my opinion, it’s a little price to pay for the truth.”