Becciu’s Nixon moment

— In media blitz, cardinal insists he is not a crook

Cardinal Angelo Becciu appearing in an interview with Rai News, Nov. 22, 2023

By Ed. Condon

With the Vatican City court due to deliver its verdict in the landmark financial crimes trial in just three weeks, defendant Cardinal Angleo Becciu has once again insisted on his innocence and said he “has faith” he will be acquitted of all charges.

Over the past week, the cardinal and his legal team mounted a full court press in Italian media, with Becciu giving a rare TV interview and his lawyers seeding friendly coverage in local and national newspapers.

Becciu stands accused of embezzlement and abuse of office, conspiracy, as well as perverting the course of justice. But while the cardinal and his team are predicting total exoneration, how confident should they really be about his chances?

‘Modest’ means and good intentions

In an interview last week with Italy’s state broadcaster, Rai, Cardinal Becciu appeared to present himself as a kind of suffering innocent, patiently awaiting his vindication.

“I continue to proclaim my innocence and I can say that I have never stolen,” Becciu said, suggesting that his personal financial circumstances were themselves a kind of proof of his honesty in office at the Secretariat of State, where he oversaw departmental finances until June of 2018.

“I have never improved my economic position. I don’t have villas, I don’t have houses, I don’t have apartments and my accounts are very, very modest.”

But Becciu’s claim to “modest” financial circumstances will likely strike many trial watchers, perhaps including the Vatican City judges, as curious, given some of the evidence they have heard over the last two-and-a-half years.

Among the charges he faces, the cardinal is accused of diverting Church funds to employ Cecilia Margona, a self-styled private intelligence agent, who has claimed to have been paid by Becciu to engage in clandestine work for the Vatican, as well as to spy for the cardinal on other curial officials.

According to evidence presented during the trial, Becciu instructed his deputy at the secretariat to pay Marogna via her Solvenian holding company without explaining where the money was going or why — and later upbraided him for not deleting departmental records of the transactions.

Financial records also show that the money sent to Marogna by Becciu was spent on designer label goods, luxury travel, and five-star resorts.

While the cardinal said on TV last week his own bank accounts are “very, very modest,” when his arrangement with Marogna was flagged by Interpol, Vatican police have testified Becciu offered repay the funds — more than half a million euros — from his personal account at the IOR, a Vatican bank, and asked them to keep the matter confidential.

Becciu is also on trial for his role in a range of complicated investments, on which the Holy See lost hundreds of millions of euros — including the deal which involved the purchase of a London building.

“My intent was only to create advantages for the Holy See, to do only the good of the Holy See,” the cardinal told Rai, echoing his previous statements in court that he had been presented with “a proposal that was totally advantageous for the Holy See” but that he found recalling the details of the deal “difficult” for him and laid responsibility for the structuring of departmental investments on his staff.

But Vatican judges will have to weigh Becciu’s claims to have only ever acted for the good of the Holy See against testimony that he was actually the architect of a plan to funnel hundreds of millions of euros to a friend of his in the African nation of Angola.

That deal, The Pillar has previously been told by Becciu’s co-defendant Raffaele Mincione, would have seen Church money used to pay off the debts of Antonio Mosquito but offered little if any prospect of a return on the investment.

Becciu’s alleged largesse with Church funds also supposedly extended to his own family, for whom he is accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of euros in Church funds.

A key transaction is 250,000 euros sent by Becciu to bank accounts controlled by his brother, Antonio Becciu, who runs the Spes Cooperative, a Catholic charity in Sardinia.

Cardinal Becciu has insisted during the trial that it is ordinary practice for Vatican funds to be deposited with individuals, including family members, for charitable purposes, but Vatican and Italian prosecutors have taken a different view, and identified forged delivery receipts for nearly 20 tons of bread, which was supposedly delivered to parishes by Spes for distribution to the poor.

Both Cardinal Becciu’s brother Antonio and the local director of Caritas, Fr. Mario Curzu, are under investigation by Italian authorities in Sardinia as part of their enquiry into the matter. Both have refused to appear during the Vatican trial, despite repeated summons.

Sources close to the prosecution have previously told The Pillar that the priest and Becciu’s brother refused to appear in court because they were concerned they would face the choice either to implicate themselves in criminal activity or make false statements, which could have been used against them by Italian prosecutors.

The pope’s good servant?

Throughout his investigation and trial, Cardinal Becciu has repeatedly said that any suspect activity he may have engaged in was done with explicit papal approval.

Francis, for his part, has pointedly disagreed with that narrative, turning over to the court his private correspondence with the cardinal in which he rebuffed demands by Becciu that he shield him from prosecution.

Ever since his dismissal from curial service in 2020, Becciu has made a point of asserting his deep, personal loyalty to Pope Francis. But those assertions have also come under close scrutiny during the trial.

One year ago, Becciu asked Francis for a private meeting to explain evidence in court showing he secretly recorded the pope discussing state secrets, and allegedly conspired with members of his family to embezzle Church funds.

The cardinal has since insisted the matter is overblown — despite his recording of the pope appearing to constitute a separate criminal act all its own. In his TV interview last week, he sought to brush the incident aside saying that it was a non-incident until prosecutors got ahold of the tape.

“That phone call was already dead, no one knew about it,” Becciu told Rai. “I’ve never used it, but someone else wanted to publish it.”

Whether the pope and the judges feel the same way will become clearer in the coming weeks. But Becciu went further in his interview, trying to paint himself as a champion of reform and — though it may strike many court watchers as incredible — a victim for his efforts to bring financial transparency to the Vatican.

Asked if he agreed with “the effort the Pope is making to bring more cleanliness and transparency to the use of money in the Vatican,” Becciu responded “I can say that I am proud to have helped the Pope initiate these reforms.”

Given that those charged with actually bringing Francis’ economic reforms have repeatedly and publicly identified Becciu as the single greatest roadblock to their work, and that he acted to prevent any external oversight of the Secretariat of State’s financial affairs.

Speaking to Rai, Becciu went further, claiming that, as part of his reforming record, he “also took the liberty of pointing out to the Pope that certain people did not deserve to be in the Vatican.”

That boast would appear to be a bold reference to the case of the Vatican’s former auditor general, Libero Milone, whom Becciu had detailed by Vatican police and forced to resign from office under threat of criminal prosecution in 2017.

Becciu said at the time Milone had been “spying” on the private financial affairs of senior Church officials, including Becciu, and that the cardinal had convinced the pope to order his ouster.

He told Rai last week that he was “certainly” a victim of people opposed to financial reforms, and that “they almost accused themselves by making accusations against me.”

The logic and wisdom of those statements is likely to come under very close scrutiny by Vatican judges like Giuseppe Pignatone who, in addition to being the chief judge in Becciu’s criminal trial, is separately hearing a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal brought against Becciu’s former department by Milone.

While Becciu insists in television that he was a champion of reform and a victim of the likes of Milone, lawyers for his former department have recently walked away from the cardinal’s arguments in a bid to avoid liability for Milone’s termination.

Lawyers close to the Milone lawsuit have told The Pillar that all sides of the case increasingly see Becciu’s criminal conviction for abuse of office as presenting a “gentlemanly way of resolving” of the suit for all sides.

‘I have faith’

In that event that Becciu is convicted, the cardinal would face a potential prison sentence of up to seven years — something he told Rai he refuses to consider as a possible outcome.

Asked if he would appeal to the pope for clemency in the event he faced a lengthy jail term, he told Italian TV that “I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to think about the possibility of conviction.”

“I have faith,” Becciu said. “The same Holy Father, who meets the all same various people I have, has always told me to have faith, to have faith.”

While the cardinal will have to wait a least a few more weeks to discover his fate, many around the case will likely remember the long list of times he’s invoked his faith in Pope Francis to come to his aid during the trial.

In this life, at least, that faith has not yet saved him.

Complete Article HERE!

‘Excuse me, Your Eminence, she has not finished speaking’

— Francis’ opening to women in church management is promising. Getting women into the sacristy is trickier.

Participants of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops attend a daily session with Pope Francis, not shown, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 16, 2023.


Without doubt, the best line to emanate from the Synod on Synoldality is “Excuse me, Your Eminence, she has not finished speaking.”

That sums up the synod and the state of the Catholic Church’s attitude toward change.

In October, hundreds of bishops, joined by lay men and women, priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers met for nearly a month in Rome for the Synod on Synodality. At its end, the synod released a synthesis report brimming with the hope and the promise that the church would be a more listening church.

Some 54 women voted at the synod. Back home, women are still ignored.


It is not because women quote the Second Vatican Council at parish council meetings. It is because too many bishops and pastors ignore parish councils.

It is not because women of the world do not write to their pastors and bishops. It is because without large checks, their letters are ignored.

The Synod on Synodality was groundbreaking in part because it was more about learning to listen. It was more about the process than about results. Its aim was to get the whole church on board with a new way of relating, of having “conversations in the Spirit,” where listening and prayer feed discernment and decision-making.

Even now, the project faces roadblocks. At their November meeting this week in Baltimore, U.S. bishops heard presentations by Brownsville, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores, who has led the two-year national synod process so far. His brother bishops did not look interested.

To be fair, some bishops in some dioceses, in the U.S. and other parts of the world, are on board with Pope Francis’ attempt to encourage the church to accept the reforms of Vatican II, to listen to the people of God.

But too many bishops are having none of it.

An individual takes a photo of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
An individual takes a photo of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 9, 2023.

The synod recognized the church’s global infection with narcissistic clericalism. It said fine things about women in leadership and the care of other marginalized people. Yet the synod remains a secret in many places. Its good words don’t reach the people in the pews.

Ask about synodality in any parish, and you might hear “Oh, we don’t do that here.” You are equally likely to hear “When I” sermons (“When I was in seminary,” “When I was in another parish”), and not about the Gospel.

Folks who were excited by Francis’ openness and pastoral message just shake their heads.

The women who want to contribute, who want to belong, are more than dispirited. They have had it. And they are no longer walking toward the door — they are running, bringing their husbands, children and checkbooks with them.

In the Diocese of Brooklyn, it was recently discovered that Mass attendance had dropped 40% since 2017. It is the same in too many places. The reason the church is wobbling is not a lack of piety. It is because women are ignored. Their complaints only reach as far as the storied circular file.

What do women complain about? Bad sermons, as discussed. Autocratic pastors. And the big one: pederasty. If truth be told, women do not trust unmarried men with their children. Worldwide, in diocese after diocese, new revelations continue. Still.

Many bishops and pastors understand this. Francis certainly does, but he is constrained by clerics who dig their heels into a past many of them never knew. More and more young (and older) priests pine for the 1950s, when priests wore lace and women knew their place. That imagining does not include synodality.

Will the synod effort work? Francis’ opening to women in church management is promising. Where women are in the chancery, there is more opportunity for women’s voices to be heard. No doubt, a few more women there could help.

Getting women into the sacristy is trickier.

While it seems most synod members agreed about restoring women to the ordained diaconate as a recognition of the baptismal equality of all, some stalwarts argued it was against Tradition. Still others saw the specter of a “Western gender ideology” seeking to confuse the roles of men and women.

So, they asked for a review of the research. Again.

Women know the obvious: Women were ordained as deacons. There will never be complete agreement on the facts of history, anthropology and theology. Women have said this over and over.

If there is absolute evidence that women cannot be restored to the ordained diaconate, it should be presented, and a decision made.

The women have finished speaking about it.

Complete Article HERE!

The Catholic Synod Offers Little Hope for Real Change in the Church

The synod session included some laypeople, including women, but all final decision-making is in the hands of Pope Francis.

By Mary E. Hunt

The Roman Catholic Church made history this year by allowing women to vote in a synod for the first time in 2,000 years. This “victory” was dubious, as the voting was on a consensus document that did not advance anything and even managed to backburner several important issues, like LGBTIQ+ inclusion, that figured in the reports leading up to the meeting.

At a conference of progressive Catholics held in Rome at the same time, former president of Ireland Mary McAleese observed: “Equality is a right, not a favor. The women attending the Synod on Synodality are there as a favor, not as a right.” From a feminist perspective, this synod portends little change in the near term, which in Catholic years is a century or more. Given the Roman Catholic Church’s track record on women in my 50 years of paying attention, high expectations were naïve at best. It is hard to think of another global institution that still prohibits by law qualified women from certain jobs, as in the case of Roman Catholic priesthood.

The synod, a Greek-inspired word for “walking together,” has roots in early Christian church practices that were revived by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). A synod refers to the gathering, until now, of bishops who develop proposals for the pope to consider. Adding lay people who can vote is the novelty here, but it does not change the advisory nature of the outcome and the hierarchical, pope-topped structure. Pope Francis initiated the current synod in 2021 with local, regional, and continental gatherings culminating in two international sessions in Rome, this year and next.

Blowback against the process was swift and stern by conservatives, who rightly discern that widespread demands by progressives for change are in the air. Some local bishops ignored the expectation that they lead their dioceses in participating in the synodal process. Nonetheless, the unquestioned assumption that a tiny cohort of bishops (there are more than 1.3 billion Catholics in the world and only 5,500 bishops) could or should make decisions for an institution with global reach will be hard to enforce now that a more inclusive model has been tried.

Catholic market share is dropping like a stone in the West, especially in Europe, though it is growing in Africa. Catholicism remains the largest single denomination in the US, but former Catholics now comprise the second largest group.

The Vatican had to do something. A synod with a small percentage of non-bishops gave the appearance of change without changing any structures, teachings, or laws. A future pope can act as if it never happened. Those who attended had a powerful experience. Some reported new friendships, the obligation to talk with people with whom they disagree, an experience of listening as much as talking, some spiritual deepening. But the rest of the Catholic community is largely uninformed about and unmoved by the synodal effort.

Catholic problems are due in large part to the worldwide scandal of clergy sexual abuse that many bishops have covered up for decades. The credibility of the church continues to tank as the institution refuses to recognize the equality of women. Failure to share decision-making, to ordain women to the priesthood from which the right to jurisdiction stems, and the rejection of women’s right to reproductive justice chase people out the doors. Theological teaching against LGBTIQ+ persons (same-sex activity is considered “morally disordered”) and pastoral rejection of queer people (the sacrament of marriage is limited to heterosexual couples) are integral parts of traditional patriarchal Catholicism despite (or perhaps also because of) a large number of closeted gay clergy.

Pope Francis is perceived as relatively open to and even welcoming of LGBTIQ+ people. His recent tentative consideration of maybe, someday far away, blessing same-sex couples was lauded by people who took it at face value. But on closer inspection, it was mired in hopelessly heterosexist norms which could be deviated from only in the most limited of circumstances for reasons of pastoral “prudence” and “charity.” Many self-respecting queer Catholics would sooner line up with the gerbils and cats for a blessing on the feast of St. Francis than beg such an offensive blessing.

Some Catholic-identified but not churchgoing Catholics claim and reshape their spiritual heritage while distancing from the institution. Groups like Catholics for Choice, the LGBTIQ+ organization DignityUSA, and the various Roman Catholic women priest groups are people who, despite many being officially considered excommunicated, claim that their Catholic faith inspires their social activism, which includes calling the institutional church to account. Women voting in a synod is quite a tame little step given the expectations such movements engender. When progressive Catholics work with secular groups and other religious movements for justice, they function as a powerful counterwitness to the institution’s damaging antiwomen, antisex stands, and they take many people with them.

The first synodal vote by women took place at an oddly titled event: “XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops First Session” in October 4-9, 2023, in Rome. Odd but telling. Instead of the usual gathering of bishops (only men can be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church, hence all Catholic bishops are men), this time the group of 464 people included about 20% lay women and men. Nuns, sometimes mistakenly considered to be clergy, are in fact all lay because they are women. Of the participants, 365 were eligible to vote, including about three dozen women. The rest were theological consultants, facilitators, and staff. Still, the Vatican could not concede the obvious and drop the word ‘bishops’ from the title, a sign that not much would change—and it didn’t.

The monthlong synod session in Rome displayed the symbolic and liturgical trappings of Catholicism with clergy dressed up in vestments and cassocks to reinforce clerical hegemony. The synodal process, for all its claims to inclusion, dialogue, and discernment, had the fatal flaw of still leaving all final decision-making in the hands of the pope. Francis made abundantly clear that a synod is not intended to resemble, even remotely, a democratic or parliamentary model of governance. It is not meant to make rules or change teachings. It is advisory at best.

The pope put a lid on the meeting. He insisted that the doors be closed, that discussion and debates not be shared beyond the walls. Periodic press conferences were tightly scripted. Even seasoned members of the press complained bitterly about the lack of transparency, though they understood that the safety and well-being of some participants would be in jeopardy in their home settings if they were known to have held controversial views. The biggest innovation of this meeting was that participants sat at round tables and used computers. That was touted, pitifully, as if the whole crowd had just left the 19th century in their dust. Otherwise, this synod was like previous ones but with a smattering of lay people included.

Efforts to claim the pure, sacred, even mystical nature of this all too human meeting were in vain. People leaked information strategically on background, as is common. The Vatican played politics and the media with the best of them. Just as the gathering got underway, Pope Francis published Laudate Deum (2023), a short update to his popular encyclical Laudato Si’(2015) on the environmental crisis. Would that issues of women and queer people were discussed with the same level of scientific rigor as climate change.

At the same time, he published his responses to his harshest critics, five cardinals who expressed their “doubts” about his willingness and/or ability to avoid giving away the store when lay people were at the table. They worried about how solid he was on keeping bishops in charge, keeping women out of the priesthood, keeping queer people from receiving blessings, and other such gatekeeping functions that they expected him to fulfill. His jesuitical responses seemed to satisfy no one, but served as a reminder of who is in charge.

The “Synthesis Report,” which was voted on by the assembled, fulfilled the low expectations of synod skeptics like me. While it claimed to convey the major issues discussed, there is no mention of LGBTIQ+ anything. Leaked reports from the floor made clear that homosexuality was the subject of much, not always friendly, discussion. Apparently, a story was told of a young queer woman who killed herself because of church teaching, moving many participants to tears. Yet not even the initials LGBTIQ+ merited a mention in the report despite their prominence in the preparatory materials and many synod reports from around the world. Backsliding in the face of opposition is not surprising, but complete ghosting (other than two cryptic mentions of sexuality) suggests the pathological fear that grips some church officials at the mere mention of the truth of many lives, including some of their own.

The lightning rod that is the priestly ordination of Catholic women was studiously avoided in the document. Ordination of women to the diaconate seems to be gaining traction. This makes a perverse kind of sense in that the model of diaconate is basically service-oriented and without decision-making power, a recipe for a woman’s job in patriarchy. The Vatican succeeded in having women participate fully in a process that was not, finally, in their best interest. No wonder the Catholic Church has endured for two millennia.

Many progressive groups went to Rome to meet outside the walls to make their cases for women’s ordination, queer rights, reproductive justice, justice for abuse survivors, and more. They presented another face of Catholicism, and gained great momentum from being together and clarifying the contradictions of the institution. But even they were swept up in the centripetal force that is 2,000 patriarchal years old and not about to yield much. The synod process managed to recenter Rome as the place of pyramidal power. Very clever.

The Synod Assembly will meet in Rome again next year. Barring a miracle, it will be more of the same slow-walking, spiritualized, status quo tolerating of teachings and practices that emanate from a structure that has long outlived its usefulness and that degrades its own message of love and justice. Let the buyers beware.

Complete Article HERE!

Two Illinois Parishes Live on Either Side of a Catholic Divide

— As the pope and church leaders meet in Rome to discuss the Roman Catholic Church’s future, they face a chasm between conservatives and progressives in the pews.

An exterior statue of Jesus Christ, right, reflected in glass near a prayer niche, left, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Libertyville, Ill.

By Ruth Graham< When the Rev. John Trout heard that Pope Francis wanted feedback from parishes before a major Vatican gathering this month on the church’s future, he decided that his suburban Chicago congregation would go all in.

St. Joseph Catholic Church hung banners about the meeting, distributed surveys, and invited an expert from Loyola University Chicago to speak to parishioners. The parish hosted sessions in person and on Zoom to discuss questions offered as prompts by the Vatican: What are your hopes and dreams for the Roman Catholic Church? What about the church breaks your heart?

Less than an hour south of St. Joe’s, the Rev. Anthony Buś of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Chicago said he viewed the gathering in Rome not as an opportunity but as a potential threat, or at the very least an irrelevance.

“Our voices are not going to be heard in the halls of the Vatican,” he said. “It’s ‘dialogue,’ but only if you toe the party line.”

Father Buś has barely mentioned the synod to his parishioners, and he said that few people at St. Stan’s filled out the archdiocese’s open survey about the meeting.

The Synod on Synodality, the sprawling meeting in Rome, has become a flashpoint among different factions of the church’s leadership. Women and laypeople are participating in the meeting for the first time. Attendees have a broad mandate to discuss the future of the church, including ordaining women as deacons and outreach to L.G.B.T.Q. people.

Relatively progressive leaders, including those appointed by Pope Francis, see the synod as a hopeful moment that could lead to much-needed changes. Conservatives fear that the meeting will decay church standards and unleash chaos. They have compared it to Pandora’s box, and warn that it could cause a schism.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, a close ally of Pope Francis, is among the 14 American bishops attending the meeting. He strongly encouraged his parishes to contribute their thoughts. But in a moment when the American church is especially polarized at the top, the synod is also laying bare the divide in the pews, and the scale of the challenge facing the pope.

Men and women standing and kneeling in wooden pews.
Some women at St. Stan’s wear veils during Mass

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago said in a statement that the archdiocese’s synod process “was a meticulous and impartial effort to collect and report on the thoughts of its clergy, religious and faithful.” She said the archdiocese’s report to the Vatican was “an honest reflection of their contributions.”

St. Stan’s and St. Joe’s both belong to the archdiocese, the nation’s third-largest. But their spiritual emphases and even their aesthetic sensibilities are worlds apart: St. Stan’s adheres strictly to tradition, with an emphasis on confession; St. Joe’s has embraced Francis’ emphasis on environmental causes and adapting to the changing world.

St. Joe’s 1960s-era sanctuary, with curved pews arranged around a simple altar, was inspired by the Second Vatican Council’s emphasis on the church as the “people of God.” “You don’t have a church if you don’t have people,” Father Trout likes to say. He has celebrated Mass in parishioners’ backyards, at a local park, and at drive-in services in the church parking lot. The parish is active on social media and has been experimenting lately with contemporary music and podcasting. One of its four confessionals was recently turned into a snug production studio for streaming services online.

A priest faces a parking lot of cars.
The Rev. Martin Luboyera celebrated a drive-in Mass at St. Joe’s in mid-October. The parish started offering drive-in Masses during the Covid pandemic.

St. Joe’s fall parish calendar includes a solar-panel workshop and a screening of a documentary about the pope’s environmental encyclical, as well as an anti-abortion prayer event and community volunteer opportunities. “We’re a big tent, and the sides are open,” Father Trout said.

Kathleen O’Connor, who was raised in the parish and has served on its leadership council, said, “Our role is just to love each other where we’re at.”

In the city, St. Stan’s, built in the 1880s, features an imposing gilded altar and a spectacular monstrance — a vessel that holds a consecrated eucharistic host for veneration — that the parish says is the largest in the world. The church is open 24 hours a day.

The Kennedy Expressway, one of the major highways connecting Chicago with its suburbs, was originally planned to cut through St. Stan’s church property. Construction would have required the demolition of the sanctuary. But the parish’s large Polish population protested until the planners relented, and curved the road to barely miss the church complex, with cars speeding by just a few feet from some of the windows. St. Stan’s calls itself “the parish that moved an expressway.”

The highway clash illustrates something deeper about the character of St. Stan’s: It asks the world to bend to it, not the other way around.

“The notion in the popular culture is that we’re going to accommodate the spirit of the world and then they’re going to come in droves,” said Father Buś, who describes himself as a traditional orthodox Catholic. “But it’s just the opposite.”

Young people in particular often turn to the church because they are disturbed or disillusioned by secular culture, he said. The church should stand firm in its doctrines on matters like sexuality and the sacredness of the eucharist, rather than watering down its dogma in hopes of fitting in with the outside world’s values.

A large catholic church with large paintings.
St. Stanislaus Kostka, a 19th-century church in a historically Polish neighborhood of Chicago, offers masses in English, Polish and Spanish.

“When you start compromising on doctrine, you run the risk of pushing people who really believe in the doctrine away,” said Zach Morris, 29, who attended a recent Mass at St. Stan’s and described himself as someone who approaches change with caution.

Father Buś has clashed privately and publicly with Cardinal Cupich, who has reined in traditionalist parishes, especially those that continued to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass that was standard in the church before the Second Vatican Council. Some traditionalists in the archdiocese are wary of speaking publicly about Cardinal Cupich’s leadership, for fear of attracting his attention. When Father Buś requested special permission in 2021 to celebrate the Mass facing East, toward the altar — rather than facing the congregation, which is the style of the newer form — he was denied permission and then disciplined for his public statements on the matter. (The archdiocese did not respond to a request for comment on Father Buś’s characterization of these events.)

Father Buś described his congregation as “the little people” — the faithful who work and worship in near-anonymity, far from the elites in Rome. “The church will survive through these people,” he said, “not through the people that are in the synod, but through the people who are on their knees praying and trying to just navigate through life and take care of their families.”

St. Stan’s is in an historically Polish neighborhood that has gone through several transitions. Father Buś now offers 11 Masses each week, in Polish, Spanish and English. St. Stan’s offers seven hours of open confession time a week, in contrast to many more progressive parishes like St. Joe’s, which typically offers one hour on Saturday mornings and by appointment.

At a Mass on a recent Tuesday evening, Father Buś acknowledged the presence of a reporter from the pulpit, and led a prayer for the participants in the synod in Rome, “that they be deeply infused with the spirit of God, and that the spirit of the world or any Luciferian spirit be eradicated from the halls of the Vatican.”

A large cross near an expressway.
The busy Kennedy Expressway passes close by the grounds of St. Stan’s.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope forcibly removes leading US conservative, Texas bishop Strickland

FILE – Bishop Joseph Strickland walks in front of a reliquary bearing the bones of Saint Maria Goretti, dubbed “The Little Saint of Great Mercy,” into the sanctuary at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in Tyler, Texas. Pope Francis on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023 forcibly removed from office the bishop of Tyler, Texas, a conservative active on social media who has been a fierce critic of the pontiff and some of his priorities.


Pope Francis on Saturday forcibly removed from office the bishop of Tyler, Texas, a conservative active on social media who has been a fierce critic of the pontiff and some of his priorities.

A one-line statement from the Vatican said Francis had “relieved” Bishop Joseph Strickland of the pastoral governance of Tyler and appointed the bishop of Austin as the temporary administrator.

Strickland, 65, has emerged as a critic of Francis, accusing him in a tweet earlier this year of “undermining the deposit of faith.” He has been particularly critical of Francis’ recent meeting on the future of the Catholic Church during which hot-button issues were discussed, including ways to better welcome LGBTQ+ Catholics.

The Vatican earlier this year sent in investigators to look into his governance of the diocese, amid reports he was making doctrinally unorthodox claims.

The Vatican has not released the findings of the investigation, and Strickland had insisted he wouldn’t resign voluntarily. He had said in media interviews that he was given a mandate to serve by the late Pope Benedict XVI and couldn’t abdicate that responsibility, and had complained that he hadn’t been told what the pope’s investigators were looking into.

It is rare for the pope to forcibly remove a bishop from office. Bishops are required to offer to resign when they reach 75. When the Vatican uncovers issues with governance or other problems that require a bishop to leave office before then, the Vatican usually seeks to pressure him to resign for the good of his diocese and the church.

That was the case when another U.S. bishop was forced out earlier this year following a Vatican investigation. Knoxville, Tenn. Bishop Richard Stika resigned voluntarily, albeit under pressure, following allegations he mishandled sex abuse allegations, and his priests complained about his leadership and behavior.

But with Strickland, the Vatican statement made clear he had not offered to resign, and that Francis had instead “relieved” him from his job.

Most recently, Strickland had criticized Francis’ monthlong closed-door debate on making the church more welcoming and responsive to the needs of Catholics today. The meeting debated a host of previously taboo issues, including women in governance roles and welcoming LGBTQ+ Catholics, but in the end, its final document didn’t veer from established doctrine.

Ahead of the meeting, Strickland said it was a “travesty” that such things were even on the table for discussion.

”Regrettably, it may be that some will label as schismatics those who disagree with the changes being proposed,” Strickland wrote in a public letter in August. “Instead, those who would propose changes to that which cannot be changed seek to commandeer Christ’s Church, and they are indeed the true schismatics.”

There was no immediate comment from the diocese, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops merely posted an English translation of the Vatican statement with data about the size of the diocese.

In a social media post sent a few hours before the Vatican’s noon announcement, Strickland wrote a prayer about Christ being the “way, the truth and the life, yesterday, today and forever.”

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