Cleansing Fire

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Zeal for Thy House Will Consume Me — Part XII — Rome Bound

May 2nd, 2011, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Update: 

The story of the St. Jan’s Sanctuary was interrupted for the public service announcement that the demolition had taken place (Part X) and we first posted archive pictures and a sad cartoon, not intending to raise discussion about what needed renovation or what one’s personal preferences are in church design, but to punctuate the long, arduous and unfair process the people of St. Jan’s have suffered through.  The pictures of the destruction were next posted as a meditation reminiscing on Psalm 74, among other relevant Scriptures (Part XI). 

Yes, in spite of parishioners’ strong desires and pleading for Fr. Robert Ring to wait at least until after Easter, he went ahead with the demolition beginning on the Monday of Holy Week, and completing the jack-hammering by Good Friday.  St. Jan’s parishioners had to celebrate Easter in the Parish Hall because of Fr. Ring’s refusal to wait even a week.  We again raised the question how any priest, who had shepherded a people for nearly a decade, could wreak such destruction in what was then 64 days prior to his departure (now 55, and counting) without even apparent respect for the desires of an incoming pastor (still unnamed).

In the Comments to Zeal Part X, we pointed out 16 problematic issues and tried to bring front and center the disrespect for the pain of a large majority of parishioners, and for which they have no mechanism to be heard. When the bishop’s reply contains half-truths and ignores facts, and when one isn’t even allowed to speak at a Care of the Community meeting, it says as much as the pictures do.   Remember — all this is happening in a parish in which attendance has dropped now 47% since Fr. Ring arrived on the scene, and in which even more people are likely to leave in anger and frustration.  There is a science to destroying churches and in getting the laity to aid and abet the plan —  a science which is well-honed in the Rochester Diocese.

The main issue on which we now focus is how the whole process in parish, diocese and even Rome is not responsive to parishioner input, fails to investigate the truth of complaints, and is negligent even in the process which has been given to the faithful to exercise their rights under Canon Law.  

I requested and received copies of what the petitioners submitted to Rome.  Rather than rehash much of what has already been said in the Zeal series, we will excerpt for the sake of some brevity, and leave out the names of the petitioners, because of the abuse suffered by earlier petitioners resisting amalgamation of parishes, abuse suffered at the hands of the Chancellor, Pastor, and OLOL Pastoral Council.

First Stop:  Apostolic Nuncio, Washington D. C.

For those not familiar with the process to Rome, we want to explain and share the experience, to hopefully help others, since the process is often shielded from eyes which have a genuine interest in the proceedings.  Here’s what we’ve learned.  The petitioners, after receiving a letter from Bishop Clark which left no room for hope, re-appealed to him as they are required to do before their appeal could be submitted to Rome.  They then had to wait until the Bishop either replied to their re-appeal (or the period for his response expired, in which case a negative response is presumed) before they could appeal to Rome.  

Nevertheless, because of the imminent and irreversible damage threatened to the St. Jan’s Sanctuary, the petitioners were permitted to request an intervention when Bishop Clark did not respond in the required time to the first (October 2010) appeal.  That is exactly what petitioners did in mid-November 2010, as permitted under Canon Law.  This submission was done by parishioners of St. Jan’s and not through a Canon Lawyer.  Because the people have a right to make their submission under Canon Law, there is a corresponding obligation on the part of the receiving party to respect and respond to those rights.  If the people themselves can’t be heard, then do they really have any rights supported by the Church? 

First, one simply doesn’t send a package to Rome.  It must go through the proper channels, and that means the Apostolic Nuncio in the U.S. who forwards the materials by diplomatic pouch to the proper Congregations in Rome.  It has been our experience that the Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, and his office have been diligent in doing what they have responsibility to do in these circumstances, as best we are able to assess.  They receive the materials (documented through US Mail receipts) and they promptly acknowledge to the senders that the materials were received, and the Nuncio confirms that they are or will be sent to the addressees in Rome.  The correspondence is quite standard, and we don’t reproduce the correspondence with the Apostolic Nuncio, for that reason.  But for those intending to use such a route, we simply mention that the sealed copies to the proper dicastery in Rome are accompanied by a set of the same materials for the Nuncio’s information.

Cardinal Llovera

To Two Dicasteries (Congregations): Cardinal Llovera & Cardinal Piacenza

Cardinal Piacenza

It is our understanding that writing to Rome directly is futile, and correspondence must go through the Apostolic Nuncio.  Many of the laity have not seen such correspondence before, so we share excerpts in the spirit of helping all to become more informed on how the process works.

The petitioners believed that two dicasteries or congregations  in Rome had “competence” (i.e. jurisdiction) in these matters.  Their request for intervention was addressed to both dicasteries.  It is common practice when two dicasteries have competence that they will decide among themselves which should take over the case.  Below are excerpts from the first letter sent to Rome, mailed on November 15, 2010, asking for intervention, and which was accompanied by petitioners’ signatures.

The petitioners then gave details on many significant points contesting the renovation/demolition, which have already been recounted in earlier Zeal posts.  Appeal for timely intervention was made, lest irreversible damage occur.  There were 7 pages of content, with multiple exhibits indexed, and citations of relevant Canons for a number of the complaints.  (We don’t reproduce most of the complaint detail here, for the sake of brevity, and for the protection of petitioners.)  However, there is one section, #9, to which Rome’s attention was directed, and which conveys both questions of motivation and pleas for urgent response.  It was written before the announcement of Fr. Ring’s departure to St. Louis in Pittsford, but a departure that was not unexpected.  In retrospect, his pressing this project forward was even an indication that he was likely to be moved two years early, as it seems most doubtful that he would ever want to celebrate Mass in the Sanctuary he is advocating.

Setting aside the remainder of the input and commentary, the petitioners also proposed an alternative, expecting that people of good will would strive to find a resolution for the good of souls. 

The signed letter was accompanied by petitioner signatures, addresses and necessary information. 

The letter of re-appeal which had gone to Bishop Clark in November, and his answer in the negative in late December 2010, are both reproduced in Zeal Part X.  The year 2010 closed, with nearly seven weeks having passed since the request for urgent intervention, without having heard anything from either the Congregation for the Clergy or from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, not even an acknowledgement of receipt of the submissions. 

Demolition was scheduled to begin the first week of January, 2011.

As a reminder, comments and corrections are most welcome.  May the Truth always prevail. 

After publishing this installment of Zeal,  there was yet another mailing of the entire package a second time, to both Dicasteries, through the Apostolic Nuncio’s office, because neither Dicastery had acknowledged receipt.  That second mailing went to the Nuncio on December 18, 2010, and he confirmed that he again forwarded to both Dicasteries in Rome.  The year 2010 ended with imminent destruction of the Sanctuary expected.

Your sister in Christ, Diane Harris

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